'Tremendous Belief': Gareth Southgate Explains Reason Behind Making Harry Kane England's Captain

Jun 03, 2018, 21:21
'Tremendous Belief': Gareth Southgate Explains Reason Behind Making Harry Kane England's Captain

"I had a decision to make whether to play him [Sterling] after turning up late but, actually, that wasn't a decision after he started to come under fire from every other direction", Southgate said.

Shortly after the break, however, Nigeria pulled a goal back when Alex Iwobi responded quickest to a rebound off the post.

"To the Super Eagles, I wish you all d best of luck in Russian Federation go and make us proud".

As it was they were allowed to go in search of a second, with Sterling heavily involved. They stretched a sloppy Nigeria for much of the first half which ended with England 2-0 ahead.

That comes against Costa Rica - also Russia- bound - at Leeds on Thursday night.

Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope have all been selected for the final squad, However, ahead of the game, Southgate remarked: "We know what we want to see in that area and we're clear on what we think".

This is the phoney-war period before the World Cup, the last couple of friendlies are about to commence and in the absence of actual football to talk about side issues such as Raheem Sterling's tattoos are being blown up into big news.

Nigeria was looking for a second goal right until the final whistle with England working hard to see out the match, but ultimately it was the hosts who claimed a hard-fought win in preparation for the upcoming World Cup in Russian Federation. It is the kind of competition for places Southgate will be pleased to cultivate.

Speaking just before kick-off, Southgate admitted he had doubts about selecting Sterling after he arrived a day late for the start of England's training camp due to a flight mix-up as he returned from holiday.

England found the going tougher in the second half against an improved Nigeria but held on for victory in their penultimate friendly before the World Cup.

It was certainly an introduction to remember for Nigeria's raw teenage keeper Uzoho who emerged as the No1 choice after Carl Ikeme had to stop playing after being stricken with cancer.

Raheem Sterling admitted he would have had no cause for complaint if Gareth Southgate had dropped him for England's friendly with Nigeria on Saturday. What is more important is how well they gel as a team and how confidently they get to grips with the tournament. What World Cup experience has tended to show is that it does not matter how many great players you have, or think you have.

Southgate must hope, however, that England - and in particular Raheem Sterling - can find a ruthless edge to take some of the weight off Kane, whose goal was his eighth in his last seven global appearances.