FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
- Luxembourg take part in qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the first time
- Daniel Santos has been leading the selection since 2020
- “We would like to grab a point or two,” he says as a goal
Luxembourg is participating for the first time in the preliminary competition for the FIFA Women’s World Cup ™. Daniel Santos, at the head of the team since August 2020, will be in charge for this first campaign, which promises to be complicated. “We discussed it for a long time within the federation because we hesitated”, admits the coach at the microphone of FIFA.com. “We knew that we were necessarily going to meet a couple of big names and that we were definitely going to get some fixes. But we would have had the same problem in two years. We have a lot of questions, but at some point you have to jump in. at the water.”
As a baptism of fire, Luxembourg will face England, Austria, Northern Ireland, Latvia and North Macedonia, the only team in the group to be worse off in the FIFA / Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking. . “We would like to grab a point or two. The most important thing for us is to gain experience,” admits Santos, whose team is on average 21 years old. “It’s very young, but it also bodes well for the future. Now is the time to learn and gain as much experience as possible. But I am also sure that we have the means to create the surprise; maybe not in terms of results, but at least in the game. “
A big project and difficulties
Officially founded in 2003, the Luxembourg women’s team is only 18 years old, which makes it one of the youngest in Europe. The federation now hopes to perpetuate women’s football in Luxembourg, building on solid foundations. This task is also the responsibility of Santos, who is also responsible for training. “As a first step, we want to introduce women’s football in schools. We want to show children that girls can and know how to play football,” he says. “After a big detection campaign, we spotted 70 players. They train with us once a week. The best then move on to the U-12s and so on.”
However, Luxembourg women’s football has to face some difficulties. “We have formed U-14, U-15, U-16 and U-17 selections. Unfortunately, we still lack a lot of players. For example, we are not able to field a U-19 team. We have a big deficit in some categories. But we are moving in the right direction. Starting next year, we will present two new selections, in U-12 and U-13. “
Another Luxembourg characteristic: the country has nearly 48% of foreigners. There are thus nearly 170 different nationalities on the territory of the Grand Duchy. “These players are training with us, but they are not allowed to play in official matches. We have signed up for the qualifiers for the U-17 Women’s World Cup, which starts in September. We have six or seven players who are playing. train with us, but who do not have a Luxembourg passport, “notes Santos.
Motivation and enthusiasm
However, the announcement of Luxembourg’s participation in the 2023 Australia / New Zealand preliminaries has sparked some interest in the country, which the federation hopes to maintain on social networks. From September, every ten days, a player will be playing on the different platforms. “Through these initiatives, we want to show girls that they have their place in football,” says Santos, who can draw on a generation of enthusiastic players.
“This group only thinks about football, from morning till night. After a few practice sessions and a few conversations, I realized that they were just waiting for someone to take matters into their own hands. They wanted us to do it. tell them: together, we can get there. We trained in -10 degrees. Whether it’s raining, snowing or bragging, nobody ever misses the call, “says the technician of 39. years.
The best proof, Santos had it last year, before facing the Faroe Islands in a friendly. Unfortunately, the meeting had to be canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “When I told the players that the game was canceled, they immediately said, ‘Coach, can’t we train instead?'” Said Santos. “If my players ask to work, how can I refuse them? So we trained. They want to learn and progress. I find this attitude very motivating. It is a pleasure to work in these conditions,” he concludes.