‘I didn’t know what to say’: Wiegman praises England despite Olympic blow
Manager ‘proud’ but 6-0 win over Scotland was not enough
‘We really thought we got it, and then we didn’t make it’
Sarina Wiegman said she “didn’t know what to say” to England’s heartbroken stars as they stood in a huddle on hearing the news that the Netherlands had scored a fourth against Belgium to knock them out of the Nations League on goal difference and end any chance of qualifying for the Olympic Games next year.
England looked to have done enough when Lucy Bronze’s late header capped a 6-0 victory against Scotland after 90 minutes of playing leapfrog with the Netherlands at the top of League A Group 1. But Damaris Egurrola’s 95th-minute goal for the Dutch earned them a 4-0 win minutes after England’s game had ended.
Alex Greenwood and Lucy Bronze console one another after hearing the news from the Netherlands.
England thrash Scotland but cannot avoid Team GB Olympic heartbreak
After the third Dutch goal in the 91st minute Wiegman, who had been relaying news of the score to the team via Bronze, who was nearest the dugout at right-back, urged them to go on the hunt.
“I said: ‘We have to score now,’” she said. “We were pushing to score that goal anyway, because things can change any minute. So, then they scored, and we said now we have to go, we couldn’t play any scenario because there was no time, it was the end of the game, so she just ran forward, got the goal, that was really good, and I thought now we’re going to get it, but … it was not enough.”
England grouped in a circle, as hopes of Olympic qualification for Team GB died with England’s exit from the Nations League. Only the top two European sides and France as hosts will be at Paris 2024.
“We were waiting for some long minutes, and we really thought we got it, and then we didn’t make it,” the manager said. “I said I didn’t know what to say. All I could say was I’m really proud of our performance and what we did this whole week. But it’s not enough and it’s really, really disappointing.”
On whether there was a small silver lining in England’s players getting a summer off and some much-needed rest in an increasingly packed calendar, Wiegman said: “Well, you want to go to every major tournament. The career of a football player is only a certain amount of time, so if you can play every major tournament of course every player wants that. In the bigger picture, we have to look at the calendar.