Lionesses get ready to roar: England’s women footballers prepare for today’s World Cup opener against Haiti after winning over the nation when they triumphed at the Euros

England’s Lionesses are just hours away from kicking off their World Cup campaign down under as they look for an emphatic start to the tournament against Haiti in Brisbane later this morning.

Fans are already flocking towards the Lang Stadium with the match set to get underway 7.30pm local time (10.30am BST).

St. Georges flag-clad supporters, fit with England-branded bucket hats and scarves, were pictured marching along the Brisbane River as they prepare to have their emotions stirred once again by England’s Lionesses.

After capturing the nation’s heart with their enthralling win over Germany last year to lift the Women’s European Championship trophy, Sarina Wiegman’s women will again be looking to create memories as they kick off their tournament opener.

England sit 49 places above Haiti in the world rankings, and are expected to win comfortably in a game that has been dubbed a potential goalfest for the Lionesses. 

Wiegman’s women are one of the most fancied teams at this year’s tournament, but her squad is already depleted with several injuries to key players, and will need to be able to contend with double-reigning champions USA and Spain.

England fan group, Free Lions, pose for photos in the city prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup match against Haiti in Brisbane

England fan group, Free Lions, pose for photos in the city prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup match against Haiti in Brisbane

An England fan poses next to Story Bridge prior to the match at Lang Park, Brisbane

An England fan poses next to Story Bridge prior to the match at Lang Park, Brisbane

Sarina Wiegman, Head Coach of England, looks on during an England Training Session at Brisbane Stadium yesterday, ahead of today's match

Sarina Wiegman, Head Coach of England, looks on during an England Training Session at Brisbane Stadium yesterday, ahead of today’s match

England’s build-up to the tournament has been clouded by an ongoing dispute between the players and the Football Association over bonus payments on top of the money they will earn from world soccer governing body FIFA.

But the Lionesses have agreed to pause discussions with the FA as they aim to back up their continental triumph with success on the global stage.

Wiegman, who has not been involved in the talks, said the stalled discussions had not been a distraction in the teams preparations for the tournament.

‘We’re here and we have a dream,’ she said. ‘Of course there is always a chance to win the World Cup. We will give everything. You call it noise (the bonus row).

‘When we go on the pitch, everyone is aligned and everyone is focused on football. I haven’t seen any other behaviours, so yes, we are ready.

‘They felt comfortable to use their platform (to put their side of the bonus argument) and their platform has become bigger. But now it’s all about football — the only focus is on football.

‘We said we want to be ready and we are. We have had our last session and we are ready to go.’

England are overwhelming favourites to beat Haiti on Saturday, who are competing at their first World Cup and ranked 53rd in the world. ‘We have a lot of respect for them, they’ve done really well,’ Wiegman said. ‘We have a whole team behind us to analyse our opponents, so we know everything we need to know about Haiti.

‘We have never played them but we are very well prepared and I don’t think there is any stone unturned in our preparation for this game.’

England supporters visit a local pub prior to the clash against Haiti in Brisbane this morning

England supporters visit a local pub prior to the clash against Haiti in Brisbane this morning

England fans visit the pub ahead of the Group D match at Lang Park, Brisbane, today

England fans visit the pub ahead of the Group D match at Lang Park, Brisbane, today

England fan group, Free Lions, explore the city prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, Group D match at Lang Park

England fan group, Free Lions, explore the city prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Group D match at Lang Park

England's Lionesses familiarise themselves with the Brisbane Stadium on Friday ahead of today's campaign opener against Haiti

England’s Lionesses familiarise themselves with the Brisbane Stadium on Friday ahead of today’s campaign opener against Haiti

Players of England pose for a photograph during a training session at Spencer Park yesterday

Players of England pose for a photograph during a training session at Spencer Park yesterday

Head of Women's Football at the Football Supporters Association, Deborah Dilworth, shows her painted nails prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup

Head of Women’s Football at the Football Supporters Association, Deborah Dilworth, shows her painted nails prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup

Four England supporters from the fan group Free Lions explore the city prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, Group D match at Lang Park, Brisbane

Four England supporters from the fan group Free Lions explore the city prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Group D match at Lang Park, Brisbane

St. Georges flag-clad supporters, fit with England branded bucket hats and scarves, were pictured marching along the Brisbane River as they prepare to have their emotions stirred once again by England's Lionesses

St. Georges flag-clad supporters, fit with England branded bucket hats and scarves, were pictured marching along the Brisbane River as they prepare to have their emotions stirred once again by England’s Lionesses

An England fan poses next to Story Bridge prior to the match against Haiti in Brisbane this morning

An England fan poses next to Story Bridge prior to the match against Haiti in Brisbane this morning

England fan group, Free Lions, explore the city prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, Group D match at Lang Park

England fan group, Free Lions, explore the city prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Group D match at Lang Park

Fans draped in St. Georges flags explore the city prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup clash at Lang Park later this morning

Fans draped in St. Georges flags explore the city prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup clash at Lang Park later this morning

Wiegman admitted the title of European champions would bring extra pressure but believes her team have become adept at handling expectation.

‘The pressure is always on England,’ she said. ‘Everyone expects England to win — that was the same last year (at the Euros). What we’re trying to do is play our game and focus on what we have to do and how we can do it.’

It came after holders United States began their quest for an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup title against debutants Vietnam in Auckland in the early hours of this morning.

The Americans are plotting a fairytale sendoff for the retiring Megan Rapinoe, playing at her fourth and final World Cup, with co-captain Lindsey Horan saying they want to send the veteran forward ‘out on a high’ by retaining the title.

‘She was a role model for me growing up,’ Horan said before the Group E opener. ‘It’s hard thinking about someone who has been so close to you on the field, that this is her last major tournament and is retiring.

‘But it is also a way to celebrate her. We want to win for this team, this country. But to send her out on a high would be incredible.’

England manager Sarina Wiegman during a press conference at Brisbane Stadium, ahead of the match today

England manager Sarina Wiegman during a press conference at Brisbane Stadium, ahead of the match today

England's Chloe Kelly smiles as the Lionesses familiarise themselves with the stadium ahead of their match today

England’s Chloe Kelly smiles as the Lionesses familiarise themselves with the stadium ahead of their match today 

Players of England look on during stadium familiarisation at Brisbane Stadium yesterday

Players of England look on during stadium familiarisation at Brisbane Stadium yesterday

England fans walk through Brisbane on their way to the stadium ahead of their match today

England fans walk through Brisbane on their way to the stadium ahead of their match today

An England fan group poses for photos in front of the Storey Bridge in Brisbane today

An England fan group poses for photos in front of the Storey Bridge in Brisbane today

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell (left), poses for photos with England fans prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, Group D match

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell (left), poses for photos with England fans prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Group D match

An England fan waves a scarf in the air as they sit in a pub ahead of today's match

An England fan waves a scarf in the air as they sit in a pub ahead of today’s match

And England fan shows their tattoo prior to the match today as they hope to ad 2023 beneath 1966 in the coming weeks

And England fan shows their tattoo prior to the match today as they hope to ad 2023 beneath 1966 in the coming weeks 

Japan, who won the title in 2011 and were runners-up in 2015, will get their Group C campaign underway in Hamilton, New Zealand against Zambia – another team making their tournament debut.

Denmark, led by captain and all-time top scorer Pernille Harder, return to the World Cup after a 16-year absence and will face Asian champions China in their first Group D game in Perth.

England fan Emily Taylor poses for a photo prior to the match in Brisbane today

England fan Emily Taylor poses for a photo prior to the match in Brisbane today

Britain's high commissioner leaves a message on an England flag wishing the Lionesses every sucess

Britain’s high commissioner leaves a message on an England flag wishing the Lionesses every sucess

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell, takes part in fan activities prior to the match today

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell, takes part in fan activities prior to the match today

England fan group, Free Lions, explore the city prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 match

England fan group, Free Lions, explore the city prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 match

Vicki Treadell, British high commissioner, speaks to the press ahead of England's tournament opener today

Vicki Treadell, British high commissioner, speaks to the press ahead of England’s tournament opener today

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell, poses for photos ahead of the match toaday

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell, poses for photos ahead of the match toaday

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell, poses for photos with England fans prior to the match at Lang Park, Brisbane

British high commissioner, Vicki Treadell, poses for photos with England fans prior to the match at Lang Park, Brisbane

Maureen Mackey

Maureen Mackey is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Maureen Mackey joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: maureenmackey@wstpost.com.

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