POST TIME: 11 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Aminul rates England high in second semis
Aminul feels the centre of attraction would be English captain Harry Kane. He also echoes England coach Southgate’s view that this time English team looks determined to end the 52-year title drought
Syed Mohammed Pithu

Aminul rates England high in second semis

 Although England never played a World Cup final since their glorious 1966 outing, this time, they have proved to be a tough nut to crack because of some their spectacular performances. They have all the ingredients in their arsenal to be crowned as the world’s best, says Aminul Haque, arguably one of the best goalkeepers Bangladesh have ever produced.

As England take on Croatia in today’s semi-final, he has no reservation in saying that England are on the threshold of glory. Three Lions chief Gareth Southgate has already said winning the World Cup in Russia would be the greatest achievement ever for any English team. He went on to say that a World Cup win in Russia would be better than the triumph by the Boys of 66.

 Aminul Haque has not seen England’s most exhilarating win in the 1966 World Cup but held the same view like Southgate, saying this England looks more determined to end their 52-year championship drought.

The centre of attraction would be the English captain, Harry Kane, feels Aminul Haque. Kane has emerged as the highest

scorer of the tournament so far as an effective finisher. “He has the ability to make a difference,” said Aminul, a player who played for the country’s two popular teams—Abahani Limited and Mohammedan Sporting Club—in his 20-year-long illustrious career. “He is not a great footballer. He cannot create something in the box on his own like Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar, but he is very effective. I saw him missing hardly anything when it was in his zone. So my bet is on him.” Kane has netted six times in the tournament and if Aminul’s version is proved right, he would add to his tally as well. But three of his six goals came from penalty shots. However, that bit of statistics hardly bothered Aminul. “It doesn’t matter. A goal is a goal always. If he wins the golden boot, no one will count how many goals he scored from penalties. As I said earlier, he will make a difference.”

Aminul was clear in his assessment as to why he rated England so highly, even though Croatia also played some effective football to move into the last-four stage for the first time since 1998.

“Whatever Croatia plays, England would be my favourite because the way they devised their plan and altered it when it mattered. It is very important to know when you should change your game plan. I think Southgate showed his mastery of changing the plan time and time again,” Aminul opined.

“They played positional football; they are good in zonal marking. Moreover, from whatever I have seen, their defence is stronger than that of the Croats. Yes, Croatia have two good midfielders in Modric and Rakitic and, I guess, they would have better ball possession but the counter attack will make the difference. According to me, Croatia have no good finisher like Kane, and that will prove costly in the big and pressurized game like a semi-final.”

Croatia’s form also forced Aminul to see England as the favourites of the second semi-final.

“Croatia played good football in the first round and beat a team like Argentina. But as the tournament progressed, they started losing their charm. They won the last two knock-out matches on tiebreaker but didn’t play any good football to make us believe they could survive in the big stage,” Aminul remarked. Even though Croatia rode on luck to seal the semi-final spot, Aminul believes their match against England would not go on to the extra time.

“I think the result will come within in the scheduled time. But you never know, it may also go to the tiebreaker. Whatever it is, my favourite is England.”