The Cup eluded them after 1966, but England bank on their dream team

By Avinash Kr Atish

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS): Among all the other big teams, England are also one of the favorites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup from Sunday in Qatar and they have the opportunity to fulfill the dreams of their fans, who are waiting for the prestigious trophy since 1966.

There is no doubt that the Three Lions have one of the best teams in international football, with excellent players – Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford – at all positions. .

The side led by Kane (29) have all the ingredients needed to beat any team but it will be interesting to see how coach Gareth Southgate uses these assets in the tournament. The skipper feels England need to believe they can win that coveted trophy in the Middle East.

“We have to believe we can win. I think back to England 10, 15 years ago and it was almost [like] we were afraid to say we wanted to win. I think one of the big changes we’ve made over the last four or five years with Gareth is not being afraid to say it,” Kane told Sky Sports.

“Listen, we’re going to this tournament to win it because we believe we can. It would be a mistake to think otherwise. What’s the point of going to a World Cup and not believing you can? take the trophy home?

“It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to work extremely hard, get a little lucky and do a lot of things to get there. But I think it’s important not to be afraid to say that’s what we’re going to. do there,” he added.

Having reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and finished runners-up at the European Championships last year, Group B shouldn’t worry England, with the United States, Iran and the Wales as opponents. In the round of 16, the strongest team they can face is the Netherlands, while there is a good chance of a quarter-final encounter with Argentina or France if England leads the group.

Moreover, England may not have won a World Cup since 1966, but they have since provided two Golden Boot winners in Gary Lineker (Mexico 1986) and Harry Kane (Russia 2018).

Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane has been in fine form for his club with 12 Premier League goals this season. He is also on course to become England’s top scorer, with 51 goals in just 75 appearances to his name – just two shy of Wayne Rooney’s mark of 53 in 120 appearances – and could conceivably go on to break the record at the Qatar.

England have arrived in Qatar for the World Cup and are preparing for their tournament opener against Iran on Monday. However, they are on a six-game winless streak after losing to Italy and drawing with Germany in the UEFA Nations League during the recent international break.

But, Kane believes their poor form helped lower expectations ahead of the mega event.

“Of course it hasn’t been the best time in a long time for England. Since Gareth took over – we haven’t had a spell like we’ve had. But somehow before a major tournament, that can be a very good thing because it allows you not to get carried away, or even to get carried away by the media or the press,” he said.

“I feel like if we had won every game leading up to this tournament, it would have been ‘We’re sure to win it’ and ‘We’re going to win it’, and that can come with different pressure. .

“We think the main thing is to be judged at major tournaments and the last two we’ve had have been good. We have good confidence in ourselves that we can go and organize a big tournament in Qatar,” he said. -he adds.

Notably, England have performed well in recent majors under Southgate, reaching the last four of the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Nations League, as well as the Euro 2020 final.

But England fans would like their team to take a step forward, emulate the heroes who won the competition in 1966 and get their hands on the World Cup trophy again.