England will face Iran in the opening game of the tournament on November 21-Zamkuwire - Zamkuwire.com

England will face Iran in the opening game of the tournament on November 21-Zamkuwire

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England will play USA, Iran and potentially Scotland, Wales or Ukraine in the group stages of the Qatar World Cup.

Gareth Southgate’s side were drawn in Group B against the Americans who they played in the 2010 World Cup, drawing 1-1 in the group stages.

England will face Iran in the opening game of the tournament on November 21 who they have never played before.

The clash with the USA will take place four days later on November 25 and England will conclude the group phase on November 29 against a currently unknown opponent.

In the past two major tournaments, England have reach a World Cup semi-final and European Championship final, to increase expectations.

“We recognise the expectation and we have got to live with that – I don’t think we should hide from that,” Southgate told ITV News.

“We have got a team who have improved over the time we have been working with them. It’s about playing your best football when these tournaments come around and making sure keep improving over the next six months to give us the best chance.

 


 

USA coach Gregg Berhalter said he was relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against Southgate, whom he regards as a “mentor”.

Berhalter told BBC Sport: “We go way back – he is a guy that I look up to and he has always been there for me and always given me advice.

“When I first took the job as national team coach I looked at him as something of a mentor and I have a lot of respect for what he’s doing.

 

Gregg Berhalter knows Southgate well.
Gregg Berhalter knows Southgate well. Credit: PA

“I reached out when I got the job and said, ‘would you be interested in telling me more about international football?’. And being the guy that Gareth is, he was more than happy to have those conversations and since then we’ve stayed in touch.”

The other team in the group will be the victor in June’s remaining play-off matches. Scotland and Ukraine will play for the right to face Wales in the final to decide who gets the spot.

England played Scotland at Euro 2020. Credit: PA

England have never faced Scotland or Wales at a World Cup finals, but do have recent Euros experience against both sides.

Reflecting on the prospect of facing England, Wales’ caretaker manager Rob Page said: “Of course it whets the appetite.

“We have been waiting years and years for this opportunity so trust me when I say there will be no stone unturned.

“We will prepare right, have a group of lads ready, and throw everything at this opportunity that we have been given.

“Yes, it is a mouth-watering tie, potentially, Scotland will be thinking the same, but our full focus is on getting there.”

Scotland faced England at Wembley in the group stage of Euro 2020 last June, while Wales and England came together at Euro 2016.

England won that match 2-1 but Wales progressed further in the tournament, reaching the semi-finals.

Gareth Southgate in attendance at the draw. Credit: PA

England captain Harry Kane tweeted in response to the draw: “Always exciting to see who we get in the group! Playing on the opening day will be incredible as well.”

Most of the pre-draw talk was about the human rights abuses, the number of workers who have died building the tournament’s stadiums and the conservatism of Qatar, where homosexuality is banned.

The finals get under way on November 21, and finish on December 18.

There will be up to four matches a day in the group stage. Matches at the group stage will kick off at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm UK time.

The draw in full:

 Group A

QatarNetherlandsSenegalEcuador

Group B

EnglandUSAIranWales, Scotland or Ukraine

Group C

ArgentinaMexicoPolandSaudi Arabia

Group D

FranceDenmarkTunisiaUAE, Australia or Peru

Group ESpainGermanyJapanCosta Rica or New Zealand

Group F

BelgiumCroatiaMoroccoCanada

Group GBrazilSwitzerlandSerbiaCameroon

Group HPortugalUruguaySouth KoreaGhana

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