AL WAKRAH: England captain Harry Kane trained with the team on Wednesday ahead of their clash with the United States despite an ankle injury that required a scan, team-mate Jordan Pickford said.
Kane suffered a knock to his after a tackle by Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji early in the second half of England’s 6-2 opening win in Group ‘B’ and was replaced late on.
The Football Association confirmed that the striker, whose 51 goals for his country is just two behind Wayne Rooney’s record, had undergone a scan, but Pickford offered an upbeat assessment.
“Yeah I think he’s good, obviously a little but sore, but I think he’s fine, he was out on the grass with us,” goalkeeper Pickford told reporters at England’s training base. “It’s good because he’s our captain.” Although on the flip side, five England players found the net against Iran with Bukayo Saka scoring twice and teenager Jude Bellingham notching his first international goal.
The possibility of Kane’s well-chronicled ankle injuries returning during a World Cup that has started in almost perfect fashion for England will be a worry for coach Gareth Southgate.
Kane remains England’s talisman, however, having won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup with six goals as England reached the semi-finals before losing to Croatia.
Southgate would be unlikely to risk a less than 100 per cent fit Kane against the United States on Friday, when a win could send them into the last 16 with a game to spare, preferring to make sure he is ready for the latter stages of the tournament.
If so, Pickford is confident England have enough quality in the squad to make do without their skipper.
“I think everyone took their chance when Harry came off, Callum (Wilson) came on and played really well and got the assist for Jack (Grealish) and was very unselfish.
“Everyone’s training really hard and everyone’s here for a reason,” the Everton stopper said. “But obviously Harry is an unbelievable player, he sets an example in the squad.
A youthful United States team drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening Group ‘B’ game on Monday and while England will be favourites to beat them for the first time in three attempts at a World Cup, Pickford said they posed a threat.
“He’s the leader, he’s the captain and we all look up to him but there are opportunities for the other lads too.”
Defender Kyle Walker, who was not deemed fit enough to play against Iran after recovering from groin surgery, trained on Wednesday and could be an option for Southgate. —Reuters
‘Danes won’t support Infantino after armband spat’
AL RAYYAN: The Danish Football Association (DBU) has said that it would not support the re-election of Gianni Infantino as FIFA president after world football’s governing body threatened teams wearing the “OneLove” armband with a yellow card at a minimum.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, DBU president Jesper Moeller said that he was angered by FIFA’s actions and that the association had ruled out voting for Infantino in next year’s election.
“There is only one candidate, and we’ll have to see if there’s another candidate, there is still time, but Denmark will not be supporting the current president,” he said. “This situation is quite extraordinary. I’m not just disappointed, I’m angry. This is my seventh finals… It is that the players have to be exposed to this is completely unacceptable. We have to respond to it,” Moeller added.
Jakob Jensen, CEO of the DBU, outlined the communication that the association had with the governing body, telling them before the tournament that they intended to wear the armband in support of diversity.
While it is not solely aimed at the rights of the LGBTQ community, the armband carries special significance in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable with prison.
Jensen said that the English FA was then expressly told at a meeting that the team captain might receive a yellow card for wearing the armband.
The Danes have worked hand-in-hand with the other Nordic football associations as they visited Qatar and raised concerns over migrant workers’ rights and diversity, with Jensen saying that they had witnessed some success.
“I think if you listen to the speech that Infantino gave in his press conference, there was a lot of words, and if you listen in between those words, you could also hear him addressing the very critique that we’ve been voicing for years,” Jensen told reporters.
The government of Qatar has said its labour system was still a work in progress but denied allegations in a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers in the country were being trapped and exploited.
The DBU has come in for stark criticism at home for not simply instructing captain Simon Kjaer to wear the armband and accept whatever sanction came their way.—Reuters
FIFA opens proceedings against Mexican FA
DOHA: FIFA have opened proceedings against the Mexican Football Association following chants by the country’s fans during Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Poland at the World Cup in Qatar, world football’s governing body said on Wednesday.
FIFA did not elaborate on the chants but Mexicans were heard directing abuse after Poland striker Robert Lewandowski saw his second-half penalty saved by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has opened proceedings against the Mexican Football Association due to chants by Mexican supporters during the Mexico v Poland FIFA World Cup match played on 22 Nov,” it said.
“The proceedings were opened on the basis of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”
FIFA had also opened disciplinary proceedings against Ecuador over homophobic chanting by their fans in their World Cup opener against Qatar on Sunday.—Reuters
No need to copy Germany’s armband protest: Swiss captain
DOHA: Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka said on Wednesday his side did not have to copy Germany’s mouth-covering protest against FIFA’s stance on rainbow-themed armbands.
“I don’t think we need to do anything as the Swiss team. We need to respect the rules and concentrate on our football, that’s all I intend to do,” captain Xhaka told reporters ahead of his team’s Group ‘G’ opener against Cameroon on Thursday.
“We’re hear to play football and not hand out lessons to anyone.”
The Swiss were one of seven European teams whose captains were to wear the armband in support of LGBTQ people at the tournament in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.—AFP
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2022