FIFA World Cup draw: Southgate wary of challenges ahead for England

England manager Gareth Southgate warned against complacency from his players after they were handed a favourable group stage draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

England were drawn alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in Group G at the ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow.

In 2010, England scraped through a similar group including the USA, Algeria and Slovenia, and Southgate was wary of any over-confidence.

He said: “We haven’t done much research on the African teams yet. We’ve been good at writing off teams and then getting beaten.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are prepared for all of those games.”

Tunisia, who Southgate’s men will face in their first game in Volgograd on Monday June 18 at 7pm, were defeated 2-0 by goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes at France 1998.

They then face World Cup debutants Panama for the first time ever in Nizhny Novgorod at 1pm on Sunday June 24.

Belgium, managed by Roberto Martinez and ranked fifth in the world, have only ever beaten England once, coming 81 years ago.

England last met them at a World Cup in 1990, when David Platt’s 119th minute winner clinched a place in the quarter-finals for Bobby Robson’s side.

Southgate saw being drawn against as an exciting challenge for the England squad to test themselves against.

He said: “They’re rated where they are in the world because of the quality of players they’ve got.

“Since Roberto has been there he has done a fantastic job. They are a top quality opposition and a great game to prepare for.”

Belgium head coach Martinez, who managed Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton before being appointed to his current role, said his side would benefit from their knowledge of the Premier League.

He said: “They say football is a way of living and I lived in England for almost 21 years.

“It’s fair to say that we’ve got a really competitive group. 25 Belgian players are now in the British game, we are very well-known names for the British public.

“They are great ambassadors for Belgian football so we’re looking forward to the preparation before we start the World Cup.”

The two sides will meet in the final group game in Kaliningrad on Thursday June 28 at 7pm.

Southgate, went to the 1998 World Cup in France as a player, spoke of his excitement at now being able to manage his country on the biggest stage.

He said: “You watch the previous finals, the big games, the big finals and it brings you back to the pureness of football.

“The country knows what’s coming, they get excited about it and we can start preparing.

“It is fantastic to be involved with, it’s been an incredible journey to play for my country and now to lead it – I am really looking forward to it.”

Should England progress, they will meet one of Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan from Group H in the second round, with Iceland as potential quarter-final opponents.

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