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17th of July 2018

Sport



England seek to end 12-year drought

MOSCOW (AP):

Young and inexperienced, England are still hungry to beat Colombia and end its run of 12 years without winning a FIFA World Cup knockout game. England has the joint-youngest team left in the tournament along with France, and the team with players who have the fewest international appearances.

Today's game against Colombia in the round of 16 is "a great opportunity to go beyond where more experienced teams went before and I think they're relishing the chance," coach Gareth Southgate said yesterday. "You want to be involved in the games that matter and the lads have the chance to write their own stories now."

The last time England won a World Cup knockout game or any knockout game was a 1-0 victory over Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup.

 

Youth and experience

 

"We are the youngest team left in and we are the most inexperienced team left in, but we've got some old fogeys as well who help the younger ones to get through it and show super leadership," Southgate said.

One key player is 22-year-old Dele Alli, who has recovered from a thigh strain that sidelined him from England's last two games.

At the older end of the scale, the 32-year-old Ashley Young said he would be keen to take a penalty if the Colombia game goes to a shootout. England fans and players have long worried about the team's poor run in shootouts, without a win since 1996, but the team has been working on the psychological techniques to cope with the pressure and Young said he'll volunteer if needed.

Beating Colombia would set up a quarter-final against either Sweden or Switzerland, potentially offering England a simple route to a first semi-final appearance since 1990.

The team has repeatedly denied it's looking beyond the Colombia game, something Southgate called 'pointless'.

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