belfasttelegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Rio relies on super subs

Rio Ferdinand is delighted England were baled out from the bench on Sunday.

After a sloppy first-half performance against a lowly-ranked Japan outfit, the Three Lions eventually emerged from their slumber in Graz to record a 2-1 win.

Although the triumph was gained thanks to a couple of own goals — the first time in England's long history that they have benefited from such largesse — as they approach the World Cup, it is coming to the point where results are all important.

And, as he heads into his fourth tournament, Ferdinand is also acutely aware that it might be the impact players England have amongst their substitutes who could make all the difference in South Africa.

“I would say Joe Cole made the biggest impact but all the substitutes made impacts in different ways,” said captain Ferdinand.

“All of them were very lively and they gave us a bit more drive and forcefulness.

“That is what you need going into a tournament. You need players who can make an impact off the bench.”

Aside from an outing against a local league side Platinum Stars, in Rustenburg next Monday, England's match preparation is now complete.

Once Fabio Capello unveils his 23-man squad today and England head to South Africa 24 hours later, the focus will be exclusively on becoming the first side since 1966 to 'bring football home'.

For Ferdinand that means the chance to emulate Bobby Moore and lift the most coveted prize in the game.

It could easily be argued that Sunday's overall performance will convince no-one of England's ability to overcome tournament favourites Brazil and Spain.

However, the 31-year-old looked a bit deeper than the actual result and was happy to discover a team able to adapt to difficult circumstances on the pitch when defeat seemed inevitable following Frank Lampard's penalty miss.

“Obviously there was an own goal or two involved but we will take that,” said Ferdinand.

“We are getting questions asked. Against Mexico last week and again against Japan we have found ourselves in difficult situations.

“Fortunately we have come through and got the results we wanted.

“At 1-0 down we had to work it out for ourselves and did it, which hopefully bodes well for the coming games.”

Meanwhile, Scotland legend Archie Gemmill would have “no problem” watching England win the World Cup this summer.

The current Scotland boss Craig Levein last week claimed “it would be good” if England won the tournament for the first time since 1966 before a Tartan Army spokesman contradicted that view by saying: “We just hope they lose every game.”

However, Gemmill, who became a hero to the Scottish fans for his famous goal against Holland in the 1978 World Cup finals, even though Scotland exited the tournament, said he is relaxed about the prospect of Fabio Capello's side emerging triumphant in South Africa.

“It is fascinating. There are possibly eight teams who can quite easily win it and England are obviously one of them,” Gemmill said.

“You have got Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Holland, you can go on.

“If England win it, then they deserve to win it, it's as simple as that.

“No problem for me at all, it won't change my life.”

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