Moscow: England football coach Gareth Southgate believes his players have given supporters reason to dream again as they prepare to face Colombia on Tuesday for a place in the World Cup quarterfinals with hopes of progressing even further in the tournament.
Southgate took over the England job after Sam Allardyce’s short tenure in charge in the wake of Roy Hodgson’s departure following the depressing exit from the 2016 European Championships, which marked a low point for England, reports Efe.
Although they were unbeaten in their qualifying campaign, Wembley Stadium was never full for a game and on several occasion the players were booed by their fans.
“Ten months ago we qualified and people were throwing paper aeroplanes onto the pitch at Wembley,” said Southgate.
“We were driving back to our hotel in Malta with some obscene chants being thrown at us from supporters,” said the England coach, who notices a change after impressive displays in warm-up games and wins against Tunisia and Panama to start the World Cup.
“I feel like we’ve started to connect the team with the public again. I feel like we’ve created excitement, like we’ve played in a style that has really shown an expression of what young English players are capable of,” he said on Sky News.
Speaking to the press on Sunday, England midfielder Jesse Lingard looked ahead to the Colombia game saying the South Americans were a “tough and physical side, but we are aware of our qualities and our threats.”
He also praised Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, who had an unsuccessful spell at England with Manchester United and Chelsea, but who has returned to form in France.
“He is a great finisher in and around the box, but we have to be aware of it and deal with it,” said Lingard.