(AFP): England are determined to get their World Cup campaign back on track Thursday with a victory over Trinidad and Tobago that will see them march into the last 16.
England will be on course to finish as winners of Group B if they take all three points against the Caribbean islanders, who stunned Sweden in their opening game by scrapping to a shock 0-0 draw.But the ‘Soca Warriors’ will need to take their resilience to a whole new level against England, however, who are determined to produce a convincing performance after a disjointed 1-0 win over Paraguay last Saturday.
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men wilted in the heat of Frankfurt and finished the game on the back foot against the South Americans as their age-old tendency of surrendering the initiative reared its head again. While Eriksson was disappointed with aspects of the performance, he remains confident England will get stronger as the competition progresses.
“Everybody thinks its easy, to just go out there and beat a team like Paraguay, a team who are third or fourth in South America,” Eriksson said. “You’re not going to dominate them for 90 minutes. They’re a good side; but I’m not worried. We have a very good team. We will play better with every game we play.”
While England have struggled in the heat, the weather gods are forecast to be on their side against Trinidad and Tobago, with rain expected to fall on the match which kicks off in Nuremberg at 6pm local time (1600 GMT). There had been speculatione earlier this week that the match would see the return of Wayne Rooney, a move guaranteed to send Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson purple with rage.
However it is now understood that Eriksson is unlikely to play Rooney, who was only cleared fit to play last week after a scan revealed the fracture in his broken right foot had healed. Rooney has told Eriksson he is fit and ready to play and has been anxious to impress in training by flying into challenges.
Sources in the England camp are worried however that in his determination to prove his fitness Rooney could injure himself again, concerns which may yet delay the Manchester United player’s return. Either way, Eriksson is expected to continue with the 4-4-2 line-up that started against Paraguay, meaning that Michael Owen will get another chance to play himself into form alongside Peter Crouch.Owen was replaced after 55 minutes in England’s opener and looked desperately short of his usual sharpness as he returns from injury. Eriksson is adamant that the goals will come for the Newcastle Striker.
“How many games has he played now? Four,” said Eriksson. “I’m sure Michael Owen will do better and better. He just needs to play and play.”
Trinidad meanwhile will go into the match looking to write another chapter in what is rapidly emerging as the fairytale story of the finals. Coventry striker Stern John said Trinidad and Tobago, the smallest nation ever to participate in the World Cup, had already proved they were worthy of their place in the finals.
“We know the England game will be very tough,” John said. “You are only as good as your last game but we ground out a result against Sweden and hopefully we can build on it.” “People who have been watching all over the world will be talking about this and Trinidad and Tobago players for years to come.”
Trinidad’s Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker has been in relaxed mood this week, allowing fans into training for an autograph signing session on Sunday. The 63-year-old former Holland and Real Madrid coach says Trinidad showed against Sweden that his players would not be intimidated by facing England’s superstar line-up.
“The Swedes played with strikers from Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona. We had lads from Jabloteh, Gillingham and Wrexham,” he said. “We’re not talking mathematics here,” said Beenhakker. “Normally two and two make four – but in football they often make three or five.” Beenhakker has also questioned whether England are genuine title contenders, and believes they have struggled to gel as a unit.
“England have great players but they don’t win tournaments and you have to ask yourself why,” Eriksson said. “It’s like Real Madrid. You can have all of the stars in the world but if you cannot play as a team then the stars do not matter.””
Posted By : Rob Woollard (caribbean Net News)
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