Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds are loving the Women’s World Cup which reaches a climax when USA play Holland in the final at the Stade de Lyon, France on Sunday.
Manager Warnock, along with Cardiff City players and staff, have been avid viewers of matches beamed from France over the last month.
The semi-final between England and USA registered the highest viewing figures for any programme so far this year – 11.7 million. That is more than 50 per cent of the national audience.
“I’ve been amazed by the quality,” says Warnock. “I watched women’s football even before the World Cup and is unbelievable.
“The media coverage can only help young girls coming through, but the players are not given enough credit.
“I’ve been astonished by the high standard of crosses going into the penalty, passing and general play.
“People of my age still think of the past, but now the people are so good and skilful.”
This is the seventh Women’s World Cup finals with the first played in China during 1991. USA (twice), Sweden, Germany and Canada have all previously hosts finals.
England play their final match of the tournament this afternoon (4pm) when they take on Sweden in the third/fourth place play-off, while the final between USA and Holland is played on Sunday.
“I’ve been supporting England,” says Cardiff captain Sean Morrison. “It’s been a fantastic tournament.
“Coverage by the media has been outstanding and for women’s football to get as much publicity has been a long time coming.
“That should have happened a long time ago.
“It’s been fantastic to tune in and see the quality on show.”
Bluebirds defender Sol Bamba has also been won over by the World Cup and says: “I’ve been watching and enjoying it.
“It’s been a turning point in the women’s game. The quality has been extremely good and fans have turned out in numbers.
“I am French and have been following coverage from there. Everybody has been happy with the World Cup.”
USA are hot favourites to be crowned World champions for a fourth time, while Holland, going for their first title, are aiming to cause an upset.
“One more match and we might be World champions,” says Jackie Groenen, whose extra-time goal earned victory for the Dutch against Sweden.
“It’s one match – anything could happen,” said coach Sarina Wiegman.
Holland insist they are happy for USA to be favourites.
“We love being the underdogs – it’s the best role to be in,” says midfield player Daniëlle van de Donk. “They [USA] don’t think we’re that good. I hope that is going to be an advantage.”
Women’s World Cup remaining fixtures
Saturday, July 6, England (FIFA ranking 3) v Sweden (9)
At the Stade de Nice, kick-off 4pm UK time.
Sunday, July 7, USA (1) vs. Netherlands (8)
At the Stade de Lyon, kick-off 4pm UK time.