England captain Harry Kane vowed to end England’s history of World Cup misery in knockout games and prevail against Colombia on Tuesday night in Moscow as Gareth Southgate’s team bid for a victory that has eluded them for 12 years.
England haven’t won a knockout game since 2006 but Kane, still No1 in the race for the Golden Boot, said that this young England stars could kick off a new era after years of failure.
Kane said: ‘This is the moment of truth. Colombia are a tough team and they have got some great players and we have to be ready for that.
‘We have had a great start. This is the business end. It’s a totally new tournament now. You focus on finding a way to win.
‘This is what you put in all those hours for. This is why you work technically and tactically, for big games like this. There’s going to be a bit more pressure on us now but I think it’s important for us to have that mentality just to be calm in those situations: enjoy it still.’
And Tottenham and England team-mate Dele Alli insisted that England could reach the quarter-finals even if the game does go to a dreaded penalty shootout.
England have lost six of the seven penalty shootouts in which they have participated.
Manager Gareth Southgate, who missed the crucial spot-kick in the Euro 96 semi-final, has the whole squad practicing and insists that they emulate the walk from the centre circle to the penalty area in training. FA technical director Dan Ashworth has prepared a dossier of research to help the players prepare while psychologist Pippa Grange is ensuring they approach a potential shootout unburdened by history and that their nerves are calm.
Alli said: ‘We’ve been practising a lot on the training field. Everyone has been, not just those who want to take the penalties. We’ve been trying to make it as realistic as we can and it’s been good.
‘Every situation you have to control it, you have to own it, and I want to go help the team. I’m confident in myself and what’s meant to be will be.
‘We’ve got to try to work hard on the penalties and we have been, we’re trying to own the situation, not let it own us. It’s changed the whole mindset for us.’
FA technical director Ashworth has complied the dossier which reveals that previous England players have rushed into taking their penalties unnecessarily.
He said: ‘You can break the penalty shootout down. So when the whistle goes you’ve got a couple of minutes to prepare, so how do you do that? Where do you do that on the pitch? Who’s involved? Where do you stand? From where do you begin the walk?
‘There’a been a little bit of research done to show that English players are quick to the ball when the whistle goes.
‘When the referee’s whistle goes, you’ve got as long as you want to take the penalty.
‘You look at the other nations, they definitely take a bit more time before their penalty.
‘There are some interesting patterns.’