Saturday, July 7, 2018 10:17 pm
England’s coach, Gareth Southgate, on Saturday in Samara said his team was still evolving in spite of their progress to the semi-finals of ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Southgate said at the post-match conference after his team beat Sweden 2-0 at the Samara Arena in the quarter-finals that the team was just starting to create a new identity.
“We are just starting to establish a different identity from the way people used to know England, with the way we play.
“That’s why I believe I am privileged to work with this team. It is a super team with strong mentality.
“That’s also why I joined the (English) Football Association (FA) five years ago, because I believe playing like this is possible,’’ he said.
Southgate said that he was happy his team was playing the way he and his staff, as well as the players, wanted to be playing.
“We don’t really have any of the world stars yet, but we have young players who are evolving into great players, who want to work hard.
“We their coaches believe in them and believe they can play at a high level.
“Today’s match against Sweden was a huge opportunity for us to prove ourselves and we have done so, and the more remarkable thing is that we are in the semi-finals.
“So, we play the way we want to play, with pride, and the way we should, as a group, brave and inspired to succeed,’’ he said.
The coach, who acknowledged that there were others who contributed to the team’s current success, however, said that his team was still not where it should be in world football.
“I can imagine all the party going on back home in England after this win, but we are not yet finished, and we are not yet the team we should be.
“We are still improving; there are still other players in the team, especially the older ones, who can contribute more.
“Their attitude has been crucial in our getting through two difficult games (against Colombia and Sweden) this week. Standing up to the physical test is a test of resilience for such a young team.
“But we also remember that we couldn’t have been here today without the contributions of others, like Joe Hart who made great efforts against Slovenia during the qualifiers,’’ he said.
Southgate praised Sweden, their quarter-finals victims, saying they still held them in great esteem in spite of the 2-0 win.
“We hold them in high esteem. We are only privileged to be in the semi-finals, because we identified a couple of areas in their game and utilised our observations.
“This helped us to overcome them. But they are a really difficult team to play; if you recall they have in recent years overcome teams like Holland, Italy, France and even Germany.
“That is an incredible achievement. They are strong as a collective unit,’’ he said.
Reports that England are reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1990 in Italy, and have only won the competition once, in 1966.