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We deserve to go through to knockouts: England coach Cooper
We deserve to go through to knockouts: England coach Cooper

IANS

Kolkata, Oct 11: England coach Steve Cooper on Wednesday said they deserved to get all three points and qualify for the quarter-finals of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup despite letting Mexico comeback and score two goals after being 3-0 up before the hour mark.

England rode goals from Rhian Brewster, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho to take a healthy lead before Diego Lainez pulled two back in the space of seven second-half minutes.

England have six points from two outings and play Iraq at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Saturday.

"I don't think we should forget how good we were. To go 3-0 up against a really strong opposition like Mexico. We have played some outstanding football. Looked very dominant with our positioning," Cooper said at the post match press conference. 

"We were worthy of going 3-0 up and we missed going further up by missing chance. About conceding the two goals late on, that can happen with young players. We will look and learn from it. Everything we do is a learning opportunity but we did not crumble. We did not concede that third goal.

"We did not completely lose 3-0 and got six points from two matches. That is the outcome. So I won't lose sight of how well we played for an hour. Right in the way we want our England teams to play," he added.

England won against Chile in their opener by a handsome 4-0 margin.

Cooper brought Manchester United forward Angel Gomes at halftime replacing the impressive Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Asked if that was a tactical move, he said: "I am quite comfortable in playing the 21 boys we have. We were doing managing energy levels and managing legs. Little bit tactical as well. But really happy with Callum and Angel. It actually went to plan."

On the weather, the coach said it was not a problem for them despite it being warmer than the last game.

"It was definitely warmer today but we dominated for an hour and credit to the boys they played with a lot of heart. They make sure we got three points which overall we deserved," he said.

"I don't think one player went down with cramps. We were running till the end. We are pleased with the fitness levels. Tournament football is about being resilient," he added.

England have highly-rated individual players like Sancho, Hudson-Odoi, Gomes and Foden. Cooper said he is aware of "players who can make a difference" but reiterated it's about the squad.

"We know we have got players on the pitch who can make a difference but I think you can make a difference anywhere on the pitch. Some of the connection of the boys in terms of getting into areas is brilliant."

Cooper said the team has loved being in Kolkata and would do some charity work before leaving as a way of "giving back."

"It's a luxury to qualify after two games in a tournament like this. We are not going to be naive enough to think we have topped group already. We have absolutely loved being in Kolkata. 

"The people at the training ground and hotel and support have been brilliant. We are going to do some community work tomorrow. We are going to schools and just want to be visible in the local community. The local people have been so welcoming so we want to give something back."

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Update: 11-October-2017

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