DOHA: If you’re good enough, you’re old enough, so the saying goes, and the young guns of England and the United States added credence to that theory with eye-catching performances in their opening games at the World Cup this week.
On Friday the two nations meet in Al Khor where England’s Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka will try to match the levels they reached in a 6-2 victory over Iran which put Gareth Southgate’s side in command of Group ‘B’.
In the same match captain Harry Kane had a injury scare but Southgate told that the Tottenham Hotspur’s striker will be fit to play against US.
“Harry is fine. He has worked slightly separately from the group but all good for Friday night,” Southgate told the BBC.
“He had a scan to make sure everything is fine.” Southgate also said Harry Maguire was feeling better after the Manchester United centre-back was substituted having become ill in the closing stages of the Iran match.
England have yet to beat the United States in World Cup meetings, suffering an unthinkable loss in 1950 that was regarded at the time as a national humiliation and playing out a 1-1 draw in South Africa in 2010.
But they will be oozing confidence after an emphatic return to form in their opening rout of Iran after a six-match winless streak, a game in which 19-year-old midfielder Bellingham scored the opener and 21-year-old Saka struck twice.
Despite the soaring confidence England will be extremely mindful of Gregg Berhalter’s callow American squad who, with an average age of 25, are the second youngest of the 32 nations assembled in Qatar after Ghana.
Berhalter, like Southgate, has put his faith in youth and is being rewarded, even if there was a sense of disappointment that a team which began with 11 World Cup debutants against Wales could not see out the victory.
Some of his players looked fatigued by the end but asked if he needed to lift his players, Berhalter said: “We get to play one of the teams we think are one of the favourites for the tournament and I don’t think there’s going to be many tired players come Friday.”
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022