Game of lies bonds England ahead of Senegal World Cup clash

Doha; Round 16.

A game of roleplay and deduction, Werewolf has become a popular pastime for the team between matches in Qatar.

“It’s about the best liar,” midfielder Declan Rice said. “The villagers had to drive the wolves away, and the wolves lied and told everyone why they weren’t wolves. There’s a lot of teamwork and camaraderie.

Whatever England is doing at its base at Al Waqra, it is working so far.

They will face Senegal on Sunday after topping Group B and equaling Spain as the tournament’s top scorers with nine goals.

No other team has taken more than the seven points recorded by England en route to the knockout rounds, which are still only one of three unbeaten.

But the message from coach Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane this week is about staying focused and level.

Belgium and Germany were high-profile losers from the group stage, while defending champions France and Argentina, Spain, Brazil and Portugal were on the wrong end of defeats.

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England’s 0-0 draw with the United States was regarded as a shock, prompting huge jeers from Three Lions fans after that match last week.

“I think it’s always difficult when you see big teams or big players in teams that don’t get the success you want or live up to a country’s expectations or don’t live up to where they see themselves,” defender John Stones said. “We never want to fall into that category. I think it’s a big motivation for us as a reminder – you never want to take anything for granted or who you’re playing against.

England can be considered a major soccer nation, but its only tournament success was when it hosted and won the World Cup in 1966.

The later years are frustrating and unachieving.

Under Southgate, who led the team to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the final of last year’s European Championship, they lost to Italy on penalties.

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The bond he fostered between the players is considered a key factor in England’s progress.

Southgate is meticulous in his planning, too, from psychological help to small details to deal with the pressure of taking penalties.

At a team meeting this week, players were reminded to leave their socks “the right way” for Kitman to collect after practice.

“We’ve created those standards so we hold each other accountable for those things,” Stones said. “If you start slacking off on the little things, the big things start to slack off very easily. Any one percent or two percent things that we can do to improve… obviously those are small things, but they’re important to us.

So England should not risk taking Senegal lightly.

Africa Cup of Nations winner They finished second behind the Netherlands in Group A. That was despite the pre-tournament disappointment of star striker Sadio Mane being ruled out through injury.

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Senegal coach Aliou Cisse was unable to attend Saturday’s press conference due to illness and also missed team training on Friday. But he plans to attend Sunday’s match at the Al Bait Stadium.

“He’s been sick for a few days now and according to his instructions he let us take charge of training yesterday,” Senegal assistant coach Regis Bogart said on Saturday. “Hopefully he can be on the bench tomorrow. We are sure he will be with the team at 10pm.

In 2002, Senegal defeated defending champions France in the World Cup with Cisse captaining that side.

“We saw that Cameroon can beat Brazil and Tunisia can beat France, so we know Senegal can beat England,” Bogart said. “That’s what we’re aiming for. That is an important message.”


James Robson


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