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England face old nemesis

By unknown | Sep 08, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ENGLAND will be hoping to seal their place in next year's World Cup finals by beating Croatia in their Group Six qualifier at Wembley tomorrow.

ENGLAND will be hoping to seal their place in next year's World Cup finals by beating Croatia in their Group Six qualifier at Wembley tomorrow.

Fabio Capello's side are well clear at the top of their group after seven wins from seven matches and an eighth victory will ensure they can start looking up their flights to South Africa.

England warmed up for their battle with Croatia by beating Slovenia 2-1 in a friendly on Saturday and though the nature of the win was far from convincing, England's players are focused on the task at hand.

"It would be huge for us to qualify on Wednesday - Holland are the only other team to qualify so far (in Europe)," England captain John Terry said this week.

"The quicker we do it the better. If we can get there we can relax and enjoy our football going into the World Cup."

England were lacklustre against Slovenia and Capello admitted he will be jacking up his players to ensure there is no repeat of the defeat by Croatia that ruined England's European Championship qualifying hopes in 2007.

"At the next team meeting, I will try to stop the players sleeping on the job," the Italian said. "I have to use my system - and I have a system. I do not shout at them all the time. No, no, no. Sometimes I shout, but after Slovenia, absolutely not.

"I will speak with them and I will explain what I want them to do. And if they want to stay with me, they have to do that.

"At some moments on Saturday I was happy. At some moments I was not so happy because during training we tried some movements that I didn't see on the pitch. For this reason I was not happy.

"The mistake for me is when the players don't make the movements I ask for. But I think they are good learners."

Capello will again be without Rio Ferdinand, who is injured, so Matthew Upson is again likely to deputise.

Jermain Defoe is pushing for a starting place in attack instead of Emile Heskey after another impressive performance, coming off the bench to score against Slovenia.

David Beckham could start on the right side of midfield but otherwise the team is likely to be largely unchanged.

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, who was hailed as a hero when his side won in England in 2007, said his men were better suited to playing away.

"For some inexplicable reason we often lose concentration at home," he said. "We quickly become nervous and it is easy to detect. If, after 20 minutes, we do not take the lead or if the opponents have two consecutive corner kicks, we are nervous.

"Our crowd is great, but sometimes their passion doesn't always help." - Sapa-DPA


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