Thursday, September 23, 2021

Southgate urges England to ´start again´ ahead of ´hugely challenging´ qualifiers

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Sep 2021

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Gareth Southgate warned England must “start again” ahead of two “hugely challenging” World Cup qualifiers away to Hungary and Poland in the next week.

Southgate says the Three Lions have grown in confidence as a result of a run to the final of Euro 2020.

England have turned their attention to qualifying for the World Cup in Doha next year following the heartbreak of losing to Italy in the final of the European Championship at Wembley.

They lead Group I with a 100 per cent record from three matches, but face a big test against second-placed Hungary at the Puskas Arena on Thursday.

England face Andorra at Wembley on Sunday before a trip to take on Poland at the Stadion Narodowy next Wednesday.

Three Lions boss Southgate, who revealed winger Jadon Sancho is being assessed after taking a “small knock” in training, urged his side to kick on after they came agonisingly close to Euro 2020 glory on home soil.

“The players have gained confidence from what they’ve achieved [at Euro 2020] and the progress that they’ve made, not only this summer but over the last four years,” he said.

“Equally, we have to start again. The chance to have another run like that is under way. Mentally, it’s a very big test for us, we’ve got to go away from home now, 60,000 fans, they’re a very good team to play against.

“We’ve got to be able to pick results up away from home. The two away games this week will be hugely challenging – two good teams and pivotal games in terms of qualification.

“Hungary are a good side, they’ve taken points off Poland, they took a point off France in the summer and off Germany.”

Southgate added of the threat posed by Hungary: “If we allow them to play, they can play. If we dominate possession, they are very resilient.

“France had that problem, and it took Portugal over 80 minutes to score [against Hungary] in the summer. They are a very well organised team and we’ve got to be at our very best.”

Southgate wants England to take charge of the group by stepping up in Budapest and Warsaw.

He said: “It is an important opportunity for us. If you can take points off your nearest challengers in their own home, then it puts us in a really strong position and we’d be in control of the group.”

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