FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Unbeaten England look to get past attacking USA in quarter-final clash
Despite the return of Jadon Sancho for his commitments with Borussia Dortmund, England still have enough firepower to go further.
Margao: England and the USA will face each other in their FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter-final match on Saturday, aiming to enhance their reputation in this age-group event which they are yet to win despite a strong tradition of qualifying for global finals.
The United States of America's best effort remains a fourth-place finish in the 1999 edition.
England made their FIFA U-17 World Cup debut a decade ago, with India 2017 being the Young Lions' fourth outing on the global stage at this age level.
They reached the quarterfinals on debut in 2007, when they were beaten by Germany.
At Mexico 2011, the Germans once again dispatched their English counterparts. Last time, at Chile 2015, England failed to reach the knockout stages.
While the likes of Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling — who were part of the earlier squads — have since graduated to the senior level and star striker Jadon Sancho have left for his club commitments in Borussia Dortmund, England still have enough firepower to go further.
England will take some confidence from the fact that they finally broke the penalty shootout jinx, with goalkeeper Curtis Anderson pulling off some fine saves when the pressure was intense against Japan.
They should be battle ready having registered a hard-fought 5-3 win in the penalty shootout.
In the absence of Sancho, England struggled to open up the Japanese defence and looked less penetrative.
Angel Gomes, who replaced Sancho in the pre-quarters against Japan, along with Callum-Hudson Odoi and Philip Foden, need to show more creativity in the midfield.
The US attacking trio of skipper Josh Sargent, Tim Weah and Ayo Akinola is expected to pose problems to the England defence. Weah will be high on confidence having scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 drubbing of Paraguay.
The Americans are quick when it comes to attack and the English back four, comprising Timothy Eyoma, Joel Latibeaudiere, Marc Guehi and Jonathan Panzo, will have to be on their toes.
England coach Steve Cooper said, "We have shown a lot of character to remain unbeaten so far, which shows our strength and quality.
"USA too have given good account of themselves to reach this stage and we are ready for them. Hopefully, we can do what we have done in the league stage, take the game to the opposition and we will not be underestimating anybody."
His counterpart, John Hackworth said, "We are playing for the first time against an European team in the World Cup. We have played England in the past three years and tomorrow's match will be exciting.
"Tomorrow, we are playing against a strong opponent who have been unbeaten in this tournament, but we are ready to face them and will play to our potential to beat them and progress."
England: Curtis Anderson, Josef Bursik, William Crelin; Timothy Eyoma, Joel Latibeaudiere, Marc Guehi, Jonathan Panzo, Lewis Gibson, Steven Sessegnon, Morgan Gibbs White, Tashan Oakley Boothe; Conor Gallagher, Angel Gomes, Nya Kirby, George McEachran, Callum Hudson Odoi, Philip Foden, Emile Smith Rowe, Rhian Brewster, Danny Loader
USA: Goalkeepers: Alex Budnik, Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin Garces. Defenders: Sergino Dest, Christopher Gloster, Jaylin Lindsey, James Sands, Tyler Shaver, Akil Watts. Midfielders: George Acosta, Taylor Booth, Christopher Durkin, Blaine Ferri, Chris Goslin, Indiana Vassilev. Forwards: Ayo Akinola, Andrew Carleton, Jacobo Reyes, Bryan Reynolds, Joshua Sargent, Tim Weah.
Match starts at 8pm.
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