The Lionesses face Women's World Cup holders, the USA, in Lyon tonight, aiming to reach the final for the first time. After an impressive 3-0 victory over Norway in the quarter-finals, with a record-breaking UK television audience of 7.6 million tuning in to watch on TV, the now have the chance to become the first senior England team to reach a major global final since 1966.

We spoke with UCFB women's academy football coach, Kevin Braybrook, about the tournament so far and the progression of the women's game in recent years...

What have you made of the World Cup so far?

Two sides of it have been really pleasing. The on-pitch performances by England have been very good over the five games so far, showing lots of different qualities with examples of how the team has evolved over the last 18-months.

But also off the pitch – the numbers that have been watching the game, the response and feedback from the general public. And hopefully, this is adding value to further sponsorship and further support for the England women’s team.

What do you make of England’s chances in tonight’s semi-final?

I think their chances are very good. They’ve had five games so far in the campaign - they’ve conceded one goal having scored 11 goals, so they’re in really good form. Yes, they are playing the powerhouses of the women’s game – the USA – that have got a fantastic infrastructure of participation and elite performance with the women’s programme. But I think that England, over the last 18-months, have really enhanced their qualities and I think they have a really good chance – they’re on good form, they have momentum on their side. And I think the fear factor has come away a little bit because of England’s growth over the last couple of year’s and their own performances. We have got some world-class players now that are playing all around the world, so we’ve got a great chance.

From your perspective as a coach, how do you go about creating a winning side and a winning mentality like Phil Neville has done with the Lionesses?

There were some difficult moments for the national side when Phil was appointed – but in those 18-months he’s galvanised them. He’s got a clear vision of how he wants the team to play. The Football Association and the whole team have bought into that. With leadership, it’s about having a clearly defined, common goal and it’s about making sure everyone understands their role within that. It’s fantastic that he’s had a strategy for the last 18-months and we’re at a point tonight where we can see if they can fulfil that destiny.

And that’s down to his qualities and appointment as well as the support staff and players that have all bought – which has been very evident.

With the US being three-time World Cup winners, what have they done to maintain such a high level of performance in recent years?

With the women’s programme in US soccer, there are huge levels of participation over many years now. It’s been heavily supported and financed through the marketing and media side – it’s been the major area for growth for women in sport. So I think they’re a bit further ahead in terms of a DNA and a culture but we’re developing that as well. And it has a real impact in terms of the mentality and the performances – the US has got a winning mentality because they have won World Cups. They’re a bit more experienced with more know-how, they know how to win and get over the line. And that’s the exciting thing about tonight’s game – can we take a couple of semi-final appearances and huge development over the past few years, and actually take on the world’s best and go one step further and get to the final, and hopefully win that as well.

The US women’s team are currently in dispute with US Soccer over pay disparity with the men’s team. What are your thoughts on that?

There are often stereotypes that males should get paid more because of the media coverage and sponsorship, but the US women’s team are a leading team, a world-class team and staff and hopefully, they can get over the line with this issue. It is further demonstrating that there is no real difference between female or male performers – the US team are world class, and they’re bringing in huge revenue to the country so they should be paid on parity with the men’s team. If you look at the men’s team in the US, they haven’t achieved anywhere near the level of success that women’s team have. So if you’re looking at elite performance, if you’re looking at world-class athletes, if you’re looking at revenue, the women’s team are far higher than the men, so there will be some very interesting discussions going on, and I think many people in the industry will want it to be on a level playing field because it can only further enhance participation and young female players and girls that want to play the game because they can see a full-time route into the sport.

A record 7.6 million fans in the UK tuned in to watch England beat Norway in their quarter-final meeting. What’s changing in women’s football and what’s led to this growth?

There are many factors. The FA are really driving the programme – there are far teams now and more grassroots being done by the national set-up which is great. There are now several leading clubs with women’s teams – we see that with Manchester United and Manchester City and lots of clubs now with female teams associated with the men’s set up. It gives a pathway and that is really important because female players need to see that there is a chance that they can go full time and earn a full-time wage and fulfil their aspirations. And the national team will only benefit from that – we’re seeing female players play abroad at Barcelona and in Germany and France which again can only act as inspiration for young players wanting to play.

The base is getting far stronger through participation and young girls are now watching the world cup and getting really excited by watching their role models play and to have aspirations of one day representing their country and having a fulltime income which is huge as well and something tangible that girls can aspire to.