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Neville says World Cup win would see women’s football ‘explode’

London (AFP) – England women’s coach Phil Neville believes winning next year’s World Cup in France would help the women’s game “explode” back home.

The Lionesses started their build-up campaign for next summer’s showpiece with an impressive 1-0 victory over Brazil on Saturday and face Australia on Tuesday.

“I think this is probably our moment really, where it can explode,” the former Manchester United and England player told Britain’s Press Association.

“I say to everyone at the FA (Football Association), that the only way the game can explode is if an England team is successful — and that means winning,” he said.

Neville, appointed in January, said the team “did unbelievably well” to finish third at the last World Cup in Canada in 2015 before going on to reach the semi-finals at the 2017 Euros.

“Now we have to start getting to finals and winning because that is the only way we are going to inspire the next generation, by seeing a gold medal around our neck and lifting the trophy,” he said. “That is the challenge really.”

Neville believes Australia will offer his side another marker of their own progress on the road to France 2019.

“There is a consistency to their performances and structure,” he said.

“Physical strength is their biggest quality. They have a really good system of players who are playing in top leagues in the world. Australia could be one of the dark horses for the World Cup.”

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