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England's World Cup Group Has Been Drawn In Qatar

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England's World Cup Group Has Been Drawn In Qatar

England has drawn the USA, Iran and either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine in the World Cup.

The Three Lions have been drawn in Group B at the tournament, which will take place in Qatar in the winter.

The host nation will kick off the tournament on 21 November, in what will no doubt feel like a very different World Cup for football fans.

As always, the pressure on England will be great – particularly given that the nation reached the semi-finals in the last World Cup and cruelly lost out on penalties in the final of the last Euros at Wembley.

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England came so close at the Euros. Credit: Alamy
England came so close at the Euros. Credit: Alamy

Asked about the expectation levels, England manager Gareth Southgate said: "You've got to live with it.

"I think we've got to rationalise it, in that we know there are some other very good players. But equally we have to accept there's a belief, and part of winning is being able to handle that.

"When you've got evidence you can get results, then the gap between expectation and what is possible is smaller and that makes the team less anxious.

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"We know that the team are further on their journey of learning from those big-match experiences than we were before, so I think that helps you handle it in an even better way."

He added that his side would have to be 'close to perfect' to go one step further and make it all the way.

Gareth Southgate (Credit: Alamy)
Gareth Southgate (Credit: Alamy)

He said: "We have said to the team this week, 'If we can get to a semi-final, we can get to a final, and we did. If we can get to a final, we can win.' That's clear.

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"To do that is incredibly difficult and we'll have to be as close to perfect as can be.

"That's the challenge for us, not just when we get to Qatar, because we've got to be in the right condition, even before that. That's what we've got to work towards every day we're together.

"We know we've had consistent performances over a three, four-year period and we are one of the teams – I think there are a few – that could win this tournament."

The initial decision to award the World Cup to Qatar was criticised amid allegations of corruption in the bidding process. The nation's human rights record and strict anti-LGBTIQ+ laws have also been widely condemned.

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Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari – a senior leader overseeing security for the tournament – said LGBTIQ+ people would be welcomed to the country, but they may have rainbow flags taken from them for their own safety.

"If he [a fan] raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it's not because I really want to, really, take it, to really insult him, but to protect him," he told the Associated Press.

"Because if it's not me, somebody else around him might attack [him]. I cannot guarantee the behaviour of the whole people. And I will tell him, 'Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point'.

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"You want to demonstrate your view about the [LGBTIQ+] situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted.

"We realise that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political [act] or something which is in his mind.

"Watch the game. That's good. But don't really come in and insult the whole society because of this."

Featured Image Credit: FIFA/Alamy

Topics: Sport, Football, World Cup

Jake Massey
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