Hodgson reveals England play-offs fear
LONDON (AFP) –
England manager Roy Hodgson has admitted that his side’s inability to take control of their World Cup qualifying group leaves them facing the possibility of having to qualify via the play-offs.
England would have gone top of Group H if they had beaten Montenegro on Tuesday, but the 1-1 draw in Podgorica left them two points behind their opponents with four games to play.
They could even find themselves five points off the pace by the time their campaign resumes in September, if Montenegro defeat Ukraine in June.
With only the top teams in each group qualifying automatically for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, England run the risk of having to navigate the play-offs, where Croatia, Portugal and France could all be among their potential opponents.
“No-one wants to be in the play-offs, but the fact is, in World Cup qualification, one team qualifies (automatically),” said Hodgson.
“Everyone knows that to qualify as the team that wins the group is that much harder.
“And if you do get in the play-offs, whoever you meet is going to be a good team because there are some groups in which I would suggest there are more than two good sides.”
“At the moment I shall focus all my attention on the friendlies in the summer (against Ireland and Brazil), then I shall work even harder on those important four qualifiers that we have through September and October.
“If, as a result of our performances, we are second in the group, then we will worry about the team we have to qualify against.”