England must not write off Tunisia & Panama, Southgate says

03 December, 2017, 01:08 | Author: Ora Austin
  • FA chief executive Martin Glenn has given Southgate a vote of confidence ahead of next year's World Cup

"I think we've got the talent, yes, to compete against anyone", he says.

Gareth Southgate has reacted to England's World Cup draw, telling talkSPORT underestimating any teams in their group would be a mistake.

But then top seeds Belgium landed England in Group G.

England secured their spot in Russian Federation after topping their qualifying group in a relatively easy run of games and Gareth Southgate will be hoping for another simple route to the Luzhniki Stadium for the World Cup final. But with a group of emerging young players to complement the likes of Harry Kane, Eric Dier, John Stones and Raheem Sterling, England certainly possess the quality and depth to target a quarterfinal spot at least. We've even dared to look as far as the knockout stages, and at who might end up sending them home.

"What's exciting for our team is, although we lack some big match experience and we don't have at the moment trophies and medals on the table for a lot of the lads, I think that's all ahead for them and what's possible is exciting".

"Tunisia takes me back to Marseille", the 47-year-old said, "one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere and I remember the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game".

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"Belgium are ranked fifth in the world (rankings) - and are one of the great nations in the world, not only in Europe".

"The danger is that you underestimate any of the teams". "But it's how we cope with expectation, how we can be a balanced team, how we enjoy the responsibility in a World Cup".

However, Maaloul - who is in his second stint as Tunisia coach after a brief spell in charge in 2013 - believes his side can correct that unwanted statistic.

"Gareth will be telling the lads, 'We need to be super professional going into them two games, ' he said. But if we do not beat Panama and Tunisia, we should start again!"

"About a 50 per cent chance we get England", Vertonghen says, before admitting: "I don't want to [get them]".

Tunisia have never reached the knock-out stage of a World Cup, having failed in 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

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