England’s forward Harry Kane arrives to give a press conference in Volgograd on June 17, 2018, on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between Tunisia and England. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON
England stars will be ready for third place play-off’
England Captain, Harry Kane, believes his team has learnt valuable lessons from their semifinal defeat by Croatia in the on-going FIFA World Cup in Germany, which would come handy in subsequent competitions.
A heart-broken Kane, whose team took the lead before succumbing to the Croats in the second half on Wednesday, said his young team has learnt from the loss and promised their fans that they would not wait for too long to see the team in another semifinal.Wednesday’s match was the first time England would get to the semifinals of the World Cup since 1990 and Kane believes Gareth Southgate’s team has come to stay among the elite of the game.
“The aim is to make sure England don’t have to wait 28 years until our next World Cup semi-final. That’s why we have to make the most of these experiences.”He described the inability to beat Croatia as a huge disappointment, adding, however, “hopefully, at the World Cup in four years’ time, we can go one step further. The aim is to always improve as a team and as individuals.
The last four weeks has made me hungry to get back here again at the European Championships, as well as the next World Cup. It’s just annoying we have to wait that long. That’s the bad thing and why it hurts so much because you don’t get to play in that many World Cups. To get this far and get so close is going to hurt for a while. But I know we can hold our heads high. I am extremely proud of this team and to lead this team. We just have to go again.
“We have built an amazing foundation. Two years ago, we were in a bad place after Euro 2016, so to pick the nation up and make them feel proud of us again is a big feeling for us.”
Meanwhile, Coach Gareth Southgate is faced with the task of rousing his players from Wednesday’s disappointment to face Belgium in the third-place play-off on Saturday in St. Petersburg. It is a big challenge as the coach admits that nobody wants to play in such games.
“The honest thing is it’s not a game any team wants to play in,” Southgate said ahead of the match against Belgium.“We have two days to prepare. We want to give a performance of huge pride. There’s no question about that. It’s always there every time we wear the shirt of our national team, we want to play with pride, we want to play well and win.
“Of course, it is going to be a really difficult task over the next 24 hours to assess everybody and to get everybody mentally back to where we want them for a game like that. But that will be the challenge. I think it is too easy to move on immediately from what we’ve just been through. But we will do that and we’ll make sure we are ready as a group to go again because the group has huge pride in their performances, in the way that they work.“I’m trying to get the balance right of recognising tonight was a wonderful opportunity for us and you can’t guarantee that those opportunities come again,” the England boss said.