Southgate: “Every team can qualify”

England manager Gareth Southgate has warned his players not to take qualification for granted after their favourable World Cup draw against Belgium, Panama, and Tunisia.

On the face of it, apart from Belgium which will definitely be a difficult encounter, the Three Lions players will look at the group and consider it relatively easy.

England line up for a world cup qualifier.
England line up for a World Cup qualifier.

Southgate though, feels that they underestimate teams at their peril, pointing to the fact that Costa Rica were considered easy opponents at the last World Cup in 2014, and ended up topping the group whilst England crashed out in the group stage.

Southgate said: “We’ve been good at writing teams off and getting beaten by them! We’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared for all of the games.

“It’s so exciting to be here with every other coach, it’s been a great experience and now we just can’t wait to get on with it.

“There was a danger you get someone like a Serbia from pot 4, which would be really extremely tough opposition. We need to find out more about Tunisia and Panama as we haven’t been tracking them.

“We know everything about Belgium. I think that will capture the imagination back home as they have so many players in our league. They have probably the best group of players they’ve ever had.

“My experience of tournaments is you need to get a result in all three matches. Tunisia takes me back to Marseille in 1998. Leading my country into a World Cup is an incredibly exciting moment for me.

“It could fit perfectly with what we have arranged [for pre-tournament friendlies]. We’ll let you know what those are when they’re finalised.

“What’s exciting is we can start to put some meat on the bones of what we do at end of season. Our season finishes later than some of the other countries.

“In the past we’ve assumed we’ll be in certain rounds but we need to make sure we get out of our group.”

Southgate’s managerial experience will be vastly important, as he looks to take England to World Cup glory.