June 23, 2018 / 2:09 PM / 5 months ago

Panama pick same team for tougher test against England

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - Panama will field the same line-up that lost their opening World Cup game to Belgium when they face an England side that coach Hernan Dario Gomez expects to be an even tougher proposition on Sunday.

Soccer Football - World Cup - England Training - England Training Camp, Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 23, 2018. England's players during training. REUTERS/Lee Smith

Gomez confirmed he was sticking with the team beaten 3-0 in Sochi on Monday in their opening match in Group G as Panama lost on their World Cup debut.

“We have a certain stability and I liked how hard my team worked (against Belgium). One of our assets is the experience that our starting eleven have got by playing together regularly,” he told the pre-match news conference on Saturday.

But Gomez predicted a tough afternoon at what forecasters say will be a sun-baked Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

“Tomorrow is going to be a very tough match. We’ve been watching video footage of England and they’re a very tactical outfit, they recover ball possession very quickly, they speed up play very quickly and have a one-touch approach that is amazing.

“They also have a great deal of depth on the bench. It’s going to be our hardest match by far.

“If we are distracted, even for a millisecond, we are going to suffer. We need to concentrate 100 percent for the full 90 minutes and put in a lot of tactical work and organisation in our defence. Otherwise we’ll suffer a lot because of the type of team that England is.

“They don’t have a lot of individual stars like Belgium do but they work together well as a team, especially when it comes to ball recovery.”

Gomez said he gained no advantage from a possible insight into England’s plans after an image of a notepad held by assistant coach Steve Holland, taken during an open training session, was published by some British outlets.

The suggestion from the images was that Raheem Sterling was to be replaced by Marcus Rashford in England’s attack.

“Every coach has to ensure they are 100 percent prepared regardless of the opponent,” said Gomez.

“My concern is that my players work well, that they stay true to their style of football, work hard and go for the win.

“Who England pick is not a concern for us. If one player isn’t there, the one that replaces him is just as good.”

Editing by Ian Chadband

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