Women’s World Cup: England v Argentina – Keira Walsh ‘inspired’ by opponents

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Highlights: England 2-1 Scotland
Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019
Host nation: France Dates: 7 June – 7 July 2019
Coverage: Live across BBC TV and Red Button, Radio 5 Live & Sports Extra and the BBC Sport website & app.

England midfielder Keira Walsh says she was “inspired” and “humbled” to see their next opponents Argentina overcome adversity to claim their first point at the Women’s World Cup.

Argentina drew 0-0 with 2011 winners Japan on Monday, a team ranked 30 places above them in the Fifa rankings.

They had lost all six of their previous World Cup matches and qualified for France despite only returning to action in 2018 following a two-year period with no games and no coach after issues with their own football association.

“It reminds us how lucky we are,” said Walsh, 22, before Friday’s Group D match in Le Havre.

“The facilities we’ve got, the fact that Phil Neville is our coach, and we have countless amounts of staff. It puts into perspective what our nation does for us.”

While women’s football in the UK has grown rapidly in recent years, with record crowds and multimillion pound sponsorship deals, it is a very different picture in Argentina.

The women’s national team’s two-year hiatus came after the Argentine FA refused to finance them, and they are still battling to be represented in the same way as the men’s team.

Highlights: Argentina 0-0 Japan

In their last World Cup appearance in 2007, the team was made up of amateur players and only this year did the AFA back a professional league in the country.

“When you saw their celebrations after getting their first point at a World Cup it was inspiring and almost humbling seeing how much it meant to those girls,” continued Walsh, who plays at club level for Manchester City.

“It inspires us to push on and go that bit further. We want to bring that trophy home to say thanks for everything everyone has done for us.”

Walsh, who made her World Cup debut in the 2-1 win against Scotland on Sunday, is one of the youngest players in Neville’s 23-strong squad.

She earned her place after impressing for City, where she has won six domestic trophies, and said a lot of her success is down to the support of her parents.

“My mum and dad sacrificed a lot when I was growing up,” said the Rochdale-born midfielder.

“I’m an only child, so I was quite lucky in that sense. I was taken everywhere that I needed to be.

“Every night after work I’d mither [pester] my dad to take me out into the field and practise. There were definitely times when he didn’t want to do it, but he never said no.

“My mum would take me to every competition and got me all the kit I needed. I’m very grateful for that. If it wasn’t for their support I wouldn’t be at my first World Cup.

“They both wore England shirts [on Sunday], which was cute.”

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