England get lucky but Gareth Southgate urges caution

03 December, 2017, 02:03 | Author: Ellis Copeland
  • GETTY    
   The FA plan to stand by Southgate's contract regardless of England's showing at the World Cup

We've even dared to look as far as the knockout stages, and at who might end up sending them home.

"I think we haven't had a clear captaincy figure for a little while and I think we could have jumped into a decision and not given other people the chance to step forward and do the things they've done".

"They're an outstanding team", Southgate said of Roberto Martinez's side.

"Having played Brazil last month, I wasn't disappointed to be missing out on that game in the group because I think they're going to be one of the serious contenders", said the 47-year-old.

Their first fixture is against Tunisia on June 18, with Panama next and the mighty Belgians 10 days after the opener.

That was the Carthage Eagles' very first game at the finals but they have failed to win any of their 11 World Cup games since - the longest winless run of any team in Russian Federation next year.

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When asked about England's chances of winning the tournament, World Cup victor Gordon Banks said: "If they start straightaway, getting some results, playing pretty well, then they'll stand a chance". "It is the key game for us, and I think if we can get a positive result there we have every chance of qualifying", added Maaloul.

"We haven't done as much preparing on the African teams yet so now that's what we can focus in on".

That will be followed by a meeting with Panama in Nizhni Novgorod, 400 kilometres east of Moscow, on June 24. Now 61, he coached his native Colombia at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Asked for his memories of that game, he said: "The goal Beckham scored!" 95 per cent of our squad plays overseas, and when they play for the national team they look forward to it and enjoy it. We will come up against big teams, strong teams.

Diego Maradona drew the balls from Pot 2 and put Gareth Southgate's side in Group G, with a relatively modest amount of travelling and a relatively easy task of progressing to the last 16.

Many of those players that take to the pitch will know each other well from playing in the Premier League week in week out, and the two managers will also be accustomed with one another after working as TV pundits together before worldwide management.

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