England take on Sweden in World Cup quarter final, with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions just three victories away from lifting the trophy for the first time since 1966.
The exit of Wayne Rooney from the international football scenario marked the end of an era for England and Wayne Rooney left the legacy of a spectacular career as well as the pressure of winning the World Cup on the shoulders of an amateur team who have zero or little experience of playing in the big leagues.
The World Cup came to England last in 1966 and among other things, the English have been eager to ensure that it returns home and this is precisely the hunger that has been the cause of the salvation of Harry Kane and his men! They have risen magnificently to the occasion and England has emerged as one of the tournament favourites.
Kane is not new to criticism and his detractors have always been present since his first breakthrough season in the 2014-15 campaign. Many felt he would fall to the second-year syndrome but the Tottenham forward just went from strength to strength and has defied his critics time and again. The fact that he is a 3-time Golden Boot winner in the Premier League and helped Tottenham finish in the Champions League places in each of the last 3 seasons is no mean feat.
Thus, Gareth Southgate’s decision of Harry Kane leading the English campaign shows that he is aware of the fact that even individually Harry Kane enshrines what his team is, fearless and hungry.
The fact that he has 6 goals already to his name in this World Cup gives him an excellent opportunity to attain some personal glory and announce his arrival on the world stage. His critics would state that 3 of his 6 goals were penalties but they still had to be put away. Keeping into consideration the illustrious names like Ronaldo, Messi, Modric and even his Tottenham mate Eriksen who have missed their spot kicks at various moments during the course of the tournament one has to agree that the penalties are no cakewalk!
This is not to patronise Kane and elevate him to a pedestal but to state that when his team needed him the most, albeit penalties, he has always delivered. Apart from the two times he scored his spot kicks against Colombia, his hold up play against the South American nation was one of great maturity and the sign of a player who is immensely confident in his own abilities.
The match certainly had its controversial moments. Players of both teams ran the risk of leaving their team one player short but Kane was one of the few who kept his calm and allowed his game to do the talking.
Comparatively, England have a favourable draw this time around in spite of finishing second in their group. Although this World Cup has thrown its fair share of surprises, a possible semi-final clash against fellow dark horses Croatia may prove England's only major obstacle from reaching a World Cup Final in over 50 years.
England certainly failed in 2014 and 2016 in the most dramatic of circumstances and they would be wary of that prior to playing Sweden. However, under a new and hungry manager on the side-lines and one of the best centre-forwards in the world leading them on the pitch, this may well be their best tournament in the last 50 odd years.
Read Exclusive COVID-19 Coronavirus News updates, at MyNation.
Last Updated 7, Jul 2018, 5:08 PM