Abby Wambach has set her sights on World Cup glory with United States to crown a stunning career in women’s football.
The decorated USA international has won two Olympic gold medals was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2012 and is the highest goalscorer in all international football with 182 strikes in 242 caps.
However, World Cup success continues to elude her as she embarks on a fourth finals in Canada, and that is a record she is desperate to change.
“We need to be a team that has no fear,” Wambach said. “We need to go out there and fly at other teams — that’s a team that I think is unbeatable.
“If we don’t … that’s a team that I don’t know if it gets out of our group.
“There is a sense that when nerves rise on the big stage people play a bit different. People don’t take so many risks, they don’t want to be the one that messes up. But you can’t worry about failing.
“How bad do I want it? I want it as bad as my body needs air.”
Wambach’s desire to add to USA’s two previous titles is evident, not surprising given she was part of the squad who have failed to win the past three tournaments – losing to Japan on penalties in 2011, and finishing third in the two before that.
There are eight debutants at this year’s event – including Spain and Ivory Coast – the field expanding from 16 to 24 teams as the women’s game continues to grow in stature.
The tournament kicks off on June 6 as hosts Canada face China, with the final taking place a month later in Vancouver.
Two-time winners Germany will face another former champion in the group stages, in the form of Norway, but with at least two sides progressing from all six groups, they should both be able to reach the knockout stages.
Much of the tournament’s build-up has been centred on a row over the use of artificial pitches for the tournament.
Players have protested vociferously against the use of astro-turf, but FIFA and organisers have been unmoved.
England international Toni Duggan is keen for the surfaces not to become an excuse as her side look to get past the quarter-finals for the first time.
“I think it’s something we don’t have control over to be honest and we’re prepared, we’re ready,” she said.
“We’re blessed with St George’s Park [England’s training facility] so we’ve been able to use those facilities and come match day when we are playing on the artificial turf it’s going to be no different because we have prepared for the last couple of months on it.”
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