England to face Haiti in Women’s World Cup 2023 opener as full group confirmed

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Haiti have been confirmed as England’s first opponents at this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

The Lionesses will face debutants Haiti in their opening Group D game after the Caribbean side beat Chile 2-1 in an inter-continental qualification play-off.

England also face Denmark and China in the group stage in Australia and New Zealand.

They will face Haiti, ranked 55th in the world, in their opening fixture on July 22 in Brisbane. The island nation is the first of three teams to qualify for the finals from a 10-team inter-continental play-off in New Zealand.

Haiti midfielder Danielle Etienne says the team want to bring “joy” and a “breath of fresh air” to the country, which has been in crisis since the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in 2021.

"I feel joy and pride,” said Etienne. “I'm happy we got this qualification because our country, our people needed it. They were counting on it. We were focused, we were motivated and that's why I'm happy.”

Haiti’s only other World Cup appearance came when in 1974 when their men’s team lost all three games in West Germany.

England continue their preparations for the World Cup tonight when they play Belgium in Bristol.

The Lionesses, unbeaten in 28 games under Sarina Wiegman, will retain the Arnold Clark Cup crown if they avoid a two-goal defeat at Ashton Gate, having beaten South Korea 4-0 and Italy 2-1.

“They played really well in the Euros,” Wiegman said of Belgium. “They play a recognisable style of play. We expect that we’ll be in possession a lot but they can challenge us if they give them the opportunity.”