Southgate wary of lack of prep time

England will face Iran on opening day of World Cup, eight days after final EPL games

AFP April 03, 2022


England manager Gareth Southgate is wary of the little time he will have to prepare his squad for the 2022 World Cup despite a kind draw for the group stages on Friday.

The Three Lions will face Iran on the opening day of the tournament in Qatar on November 21, just eight days after the final Premier League games before the international break for the World Cup begins.

England will also face the USA and potentially a British derby against Scotland or Wales should either of those sides see off Ukraine in a playoff.

The playoff semi-final between Scotland and Ukraine has been delayed until June due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The first two are obviously teams we've not played for quite a while," Southgate told the BBC.

"The third is a total unknown but obviously throws up a possible British derby, we know what they are all about and had plenty of them.

"For us, we're in on day one so it's quite clear now what our programme looks like for the end of the Premier League season and getting out here as quickly as possible."

England have never previously met Iran, while they have unhappy memories of facing the USA at major tournaments.

The Americans famously beat England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup and the two sides drew 1-1 in their opening game of the 2010 World Cup.

However, Southgate's men are now considered one of the favourites for the tournament after reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup four years ago and then the final of Euro 2020.

"I think when you're seeded then you get the advantage, obviously, of missing out on those big six or seven teams," Southgate responded, to suggestions that his side have a comfortable draw.

"I think for most of the first seeds, they would be pleased with the first group that they get. There's obviously some really highly ranked teams in pot two, the US is an interesting one.

"I know (USA coach) Gregg Berhalter quite well, we've met a few times and had long chats about things, in fact, only a couple of weeks ago, so we were smiling at the end there.


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