Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

World Cup spot to help Wilshere shine for Arsenal?

Gareth Southgate embraces Harry Kane after the striker scored a late equaliser in Scotland Gareth Southgate embraces Harry Kane after the striker scored a late equaliser in Scotland
Damon Campbell | 08 October, 2017, 01:01

Captain Harry Kane scored an added-time victor against Slovenia to hand Gareth Southgate's side the three points they needed to seal their place at Russian Federation 2018.

England defender Gary Cahill was relieved to see Kane's latest display of predatory finishing put a flattering gloss on his team's spluttering display. During its run England has had five different managers, but from the debris of the debacle at Euro 2016, when Roy Hodgson's team was sent home after losing to Iceland, England has barely improved.

Yet a year into the senior job - and having spent a long time working in youth development -there is hope.

Michael O'Neill: We were great in the second half, especially after being 2-0 down against that level of opposition.

"It was imperative: they have to go to a World Cup. We want to learn thing from the game and don't want to waste that opportunity".

Whose place in Russian Federation is already assured, who is in contention and who is at risk of missing out entirely?

"But what we have to do is look at what we have got".

'For sure we'll make changes but want to get the balance right, ' Southgate added.

"The only way we are going to do that is by doing well at a tournament".

"It feels wonderful to get [to the World Cup]".

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A previous controlled tour for diplomats scheduled for last week was abruptly canceled. Hindus and ethnic Rakhine were also among the dead.

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Aware of the criticism following England's limp performance against Slovenia, Southgate acknowledged his team are still a work in progress. "It really is tough".

"I know from when I worked in Qatar with him he was saying how good Kane was. They're giving everything they've got".

When asked about picking Wilshere, Southgate said: 'We're in a position where there's no way we would dismiss any creative player.

"I am able to rationalise it all, I understand it completely".

"We have to keep winning football matches".

Gareth Southgate has succeeded in steering the team to next year's finals, but it remains to be seen if England's fortunes will change in Russian Federation. Azerbaijan, who have won only three of their nine games and lie fifth in the group, are not expected to cause them any problems.

"There are one or two players we'd definitely like to have a look at and it's one of very few games we have now to build towards the World Cup".

Dull, flat and uneventful all aptly describe a Group F encounter that may secure World Cup qualification but leaves just as many questions as answers - an all too common theme in recent matches.

Captain Kane capped a dour performance at Wembley with a stoppage-time victor to ensure England are the the fourth European team to reach next summer's tournament in Russian Federation. "We should be proud as a team and as a nation", the Spurs striker said.

CAF: Ivory Coast can move a big step closer to clinching its fourth consecutive World Cup invitation with a victory over winless Mali on Friday (beIN Sports, noon PDT) while on Saturday Nigeria can lock up a sixth World Cup invitation in seven tries with a win over once-beaten Zambia (beIN Sports, 9 a.m. PDT).

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