Thursday, Sep 20 2018 | Time 05:58 Hrs(IST)
  • Palestinians say Israeli troops fire on Gaza protesters, one killed
  • Ex-Trump adviser Flynn to be sentenced on Dec 18 -court filing
  • Israel to present findings in Moscow over downing of Russian plane
  • Hezbollah leader says group will stay in Syria until further notice
  • Libya imposes fee on hard currency transactions to bridge black market gap
  • Ordinance to make Triple Talaq punishable offence gets assent of President
  • Brexit progress elusive as sides ask each other for help
  • U S ready to restart talks with N Korea, seeks denuclearization by 2021
  • Hezbollah leader Nasrallah says group will stay in Syria until further notice
  • President gives assent on triple talaq ordinance
  • Germany approves arms sale to Saudi after Yemen war ban promise
  • Libya imposes fee on hard currency transactions
  • U S ready to restart talks with North Korea immediately -Pompeo
  • May and other EU leaders ask each other for Brexit help
Sports Share

England no longer expects, despite World Cup qualification

By Martyn Herman
LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) England's players lined up to congratulate each other following the win over Slovenia which assured World Cup qualification on Thursday but when they turned to acknowledge the crowd, they saw nothing more than thousands of empty red seats.
Wembley Stadium, which had been barely half full all night, had largely been vacated with only a 1,000 or so hardy souls remaining to salute Gareth Southgate's squad.
A winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time -- as Harry Kane provided to rubberstamp England's ticket to Russia -- could normally have been expected to spark joyous scenes and dreams of World Cup glory.
Instead, it arrived in almost surreal circumstances with the majority of the crowd having already lost interest in a match so puerile that fans spent most of the second half amusing themselves by constructing and flying paper aeroplanes.
It was all a bit different to the atmosphere at Old Trafford almost 16 years ago to the day when David Beckham's last-gasp free kick earned England a 2-2 draw with Greece to seal a place at the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.
Then, it sparked a wave of euphoria and triggered months of rising expectations for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side, who were supposed to have provided a match for anyone.
The following year it all went wrong in Shizuoka as England bowed out at the quarter-final stage to 10-man Brazil.
Another quarter-final defeat came four years later before Germany ensured an earlier exit in South Africa, and at the 2014 tournament in Brazil, England failed to even survive the group stage after defeats to Italy and Uruguay.
Last year's Euro 2016 exit by Iceland sucked any remaining hope out of even the most diehard England optimists, so much so that Thursday's laboured 1-0 win over Slovenia was greeted with casual indifference and mockery.
After watching England huff and puff against such modest opposition, many fans would have left wondering whether there is actually any point to booking hotels in Russia next year.
Manager Southgate insisted afterwards the only thing that mattered was England had qualified.
In that sense he is right, but he could also have said it was "blindingly obvious" that the side were way off challenging the best teams in world football.
Had he done so, few would have disagreed with that healthy dose of realism.
"England are a million miles away from winning the World Cup," former England defender Phil Neville, summarising for the BBC, said. "The performance tonight proved that.
"If you can't play against Slovenia at home, you can't play on the world stage."
Former England winger Chris Waddle, a member of the side that reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1990, said the display against Slovenia was "very, very poor".
Despite the gloom, England do possess a world class striker in Kane, who has now scored 11 goals in 22 appearances, pace and skill in Manchester United winger Marcus Rashford and bags of potential in Dele Alli.
However, a midfield chronically short of imagination and a back four that, despite conceding only three goals in nine Group F games, will be vulnerable to more potent attacks, means England head to Russia as rank outsiders.
"There are lots of question marks," Waddle said. "We want them to do well but you have to be realistic. There is not a lot of difference between England and Slovenia."
After negotiating a mediocre qualifying group, England will have a chance to test themselves against better opposition when Germany and Brazil turn up for friendlies at Wembley next month.
If any lowering of England's expectations were still required, those two heavyweight nations should provide it.
More News

19 Sep 2018 | 11:53 PM

Earlier, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat against India.

 Sharesee more..

19 Sep 2018 | 11:45 PM

(Rptng, correcting slug)
Captain Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan, who scored 127 in the last match, first added 86 runs in 13.

 Sharesee more..
Asia Cup : India beat Pakistan by 8 wickets

Asia Cup : India beat Pakistan by 8 wickets

19 Sep 2018 | 11:28 PM

Dubai, Sep 19 (UNI) After Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a fluent start in 163-run chase, India defeated Pakistan by eight wickets at the Asia cup here on Wednesday.

 Sharesee more..

England name ODI squad for Sri Lanka tour

19 Sep 2018 | 10:53 PM

London, Sep 19 (UNI) England have announced a 16-man squad for next month's ODI
series against Sri Lanka.

 Sharesee more..
China Open: Srikanth enters pre-quarters, Prannoy crashes out

China Open: Srikanth enters pre-quarters, Prannoy crashes out

19 Sep 2018 | 10:29 PM

Changzhou, Sep 19 (UNI) Ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth sailed into the second round of the ongoing China Open in men's singles category after beating Rasmus Gemke of Denmark by 21-9, 21-19 points here on Wednesday.

 Sharesee more..