Soca Warriors plot another shock
NUREMBERG: David Beckham has pledged that England will turn on the style as the team attempts to secure its passage to the World Cup second round with a victory over Trinidad & Tobago here on Thursday.
The Real Madrid star acknowledged England was well below its best during a drab opening win over Paraguay and is determined to lay down a more convincing marker against the minnows.
"The fans are aware of how we can play and the potential we have in our team. We do want to perform, we do want to excite, and we want to prove to people that we can play at this level and we can perform like the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Holland or Italy," he said.
England's players are anxious to put the disappointment of the Paraguay match behind them, when they wilted in the heat and looked anything but World champions-in-waiting. With cooler temperatures expected in Nuremberg for a match that will kick off in the evening, Beckham and company are aware that anything other than a convincing victory will be viewed as a disaster.
No changes likely
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is expected to continue with the 4-4-2 line-up that started against Paraguay, meaning Michael Owen will get another chance to play himself into form alongside Peter Crouch. Owen was replaced after 55 minutes in the opener and looked desperately short of his usual sharpness as he returns from injury.
Meanwhile, Trinidad & Tobago will go into the match looking to write another chapter in what is rapidly emerging as the fairytale story of the finals. The team pulled off the first shock of the tournament in its opening match, holding Sweden to a 0-0 draw despite being reduced to 10 men.
Coventry striker Stern John said Trinidad & Tobago, the smallest nation ever to participate in the World Cup, has already proved that it is worthy of a place in the finals.
"We know the England game will be very tough. You are only as good as your last game but we ground out a result against Sweden and hopefully we can build on it. People who have been watching all over the world will be talking about our players for years to come," he added.
The team's Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker who must be the only coach in the World Cup who bicycles to training has been in a relaxed mood this week, allowing fans into practice sessions for team autographs. The 63-year-old former Holland and Real Madrid coach says Trinidad showed against Sweden that his players would not be intimidated by facing England's superstar line-up.
"The Swedes had players from Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona. We had lads from Jabloteh, Gillingham and Wrexham," he quipped. "We're not talking mathematics here. Normally two and two make four, but in football they often make three or five," he added.
He also questioned whether England was a genuine title-contender. "It has great players but it still fails to win tournaments and you have to ask yourself why. It's like Real Madrid. You can have all of the stars in the world but if you cannot play as a team then they don't matter," he added.
Likely line-ups: England: 1-Paul Robinson, 2-Gary Neville, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 6-John Terry, 3-Ashley Cole, 7-David Beckham, 8-Frank Lampard, 4-Steven Gerrard, 11-Joe Cole, 10-Michael Owen, 21-Peter Crouch. Coach: Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Trinidad & Tobago: 1-Shaka Hislop, 6-Dennis Lawrence, 5-Brent Sancho, 8-Cyd Gray, 11-Carlos Edwards, 12-Collin Samuel, 7-Chris Birchall, 18-Densill Theobald, 15-Kenwyne Jones, 14-Stern John, 19-Dwight Yorke. Coach: Leo Beenhakker.
Referee: Toru Kamikawa (Japan). Agencies