AL KHOR, Qatar — Gareth Southgate has described the Qatar World Cup as “the tournament of external noise” after his England team were booed off at the end of Friday’s 0-0 draw against the United States.
England remain top of Group B and on course to qualify for the last 16 but an underwhelming performance in which they managed just one shot on target was greeted by jeers from a predominantly England-supporting crowd at Al Bayt Stadium.
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While making a passing reference to a competition that has been blighted by a series of off-field controversies including the treatment of migrant workers during stadia construction and the freedom to express LGBTQIA+ rights in the Gulf state, Southgate called for perspective given England’s fate is still firmly in their own hands ahead of Tuesday’s decisive match versus Wales.
“Look, of course I want our fans to go home happy and our fans at home to have a smile on their faces, so we haven’t quite managed to achieve that today,” he said.
“But people are going to react how they react and I can’t let that affect how I feel about the team or the feel feels.
“The objective is to qualify, we have three games to do it and I imagine most teams in the competition will take three games to do it.
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“And we have to stay calm in these moments. We’ve been through tournaments before and I know as a player and a coach.
“We had a unique thing in the last two of getting through in two games, partly because in the Euros three teams go through so that’s not really realistic anyway.
“Look, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of noise. This is the tournament of external noise. We’ve added another layer to that, I’m sure. But we’re on track, a bit to do, we can still win the group, that’s got to be our target.”
England need only to avoid defeat by three goals against Wales on Tuesday in order to be sure of qualifying for the knockout stages.
This is the World Cup of noise