Published 19 April 2022 4 min read
England Para Teams
Countdown begins to England CP team's World Cup campaign
Find out more about Canada, Venezuela and the Netherlands as England's Para Lions prepare to face them at the 2022 IFCPF World Cup...
With just two weeks to go until England's cerebral palsy team start their 2022 IFCPF World Cup campaign, we sat down with head coach Andy Smith to discuss the Para Lions’ Group A opponents.
The 2022 IFCPF Men’s World Cup will take place in Salou, Barcelona, between April 27 and May 16, with England CP’s opening match against Canada coming on Tuesday 3 May.
The Para Lions will then face Venezuela and Netherlands before the week is out, as they look to finish in the top two and qualify for the quarter-finals.
It is hoped that Ukraine will still be able to compete despite the Russian invasion but the uncertainty does mean that the organisers have named 14 and 15-team schedules. The dates of England’s group stage matches would not change but the timings would alter.
Smith named a 14-man squad for the competition on April 6 and discussed how excited he was to see his side compete in their first tournament since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2019.
England finished fourth at the 2019 IFCPF World Cup and are hoping to go even better at this year’s event in Spain.
Here, Smith discusses the three teams his side will look to overcome in the group stages...
World ranking: 12th
2019 IFCPF World Cup: 12th
Play England CP on Tuesday 3 May
“Canada have three or four really good players who have been there a long time and they have supplemented them with younger players, so from my point of view, we'll have to see what they've added.
“We have them in the first game so we don’t really have the opportunity to see what they are like before then, so we will be looking at their squad when it comes through and looking back on my notes to see if there are new faces.
“Because you don’t get to see them train or play very often, we will be going into the unknown but in CP football you have to play your strongest team from the start of the game so I will go into the opening match playing my strongest team and making sure we don’t take any chances.”
World ranking: 17th
2019 IFCPF World Cup: N/A
Play England CP on Thursday 5 May
“Venezuela, from a personal point of view, are a team that are close to my heart. They are a very young team who are developing and it will be strange because during the pandemic, their head coach – who was such a fantastic person with the players and other coaches – unfortunately lost his life. So it is going to be quite an emotional one for all their players and staff just to be at the World Cup because it will be the first time they have been at the World Cup without their coach.
“He was such a fantastic person who every coach talked to and spent time with because he was so passionate about the sport. So they will be led by a new coach and I'm sure they will want to do very well for obvious reasons.
“They are a younger, developing team who we hope to navigate past and it might be a chance to potentially get some of our other players on the pitch to get some game time.”
World ranking: 8th
2019 IFCPF World Cup: 8th
Play England CP on Saturday 7 May
“Netherlands are probably going to be an unknown for us a little bit because up until 2016, they were a very, very strong team and then a lot of the money went out of their programme and they lost a lot of their top players. But these top players would still be of an age that they could play at this World Cup and in the last couple of years, one or two have come back in so we are going to prepare for them being as strong as they were in 2016.
“They have a very good programme and they should be our biggest challenger for the top of the group based on previous tournaments but we will have to see because of the two-year gap.
“The Dutch have some really good players and a very good style of play. They are very difficult to beat and like most Dutch teams, they have their own philosophy.
“In the CP World Cups, they generally leave the top two teams in a group to the last game in the group, so we will have the opportunity to see them in their two previous games. I expect the group to be decided in the last game.”
You can find out more about the England CP team, including interviews with a number of their star players, here and you can learn more about disability football and our Football Your Way campaign here.
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