Belfast Telegraph

England's family spirit will keep World Cup dream alive: Kane

Battle ready: Harry Kane addresses the media yesterday
Battle ready: Harry Kane addresses the media yesterday
Adrian Rutherford

Harry Kane has described the band of brothers mentality which has carried England through the World Cup.

The striker is the tournament's top scorer, with six goals so far. He revealed the bond between the players is a key reason behind their journey to the quarter-finals.

The England captain Kane spoke in glowing terms about the unity within the camp.

Fabian Delph used the word "brothers" when talking about his return to the England camp from the birth of his daughter in the UK earlier this week.

Kane spoke in similar terms about his "family" in the camp ahead of today's showdown with Sweden.

"We are just like family - we spend a lot of time together," he said.

"We all get on very well. I spoke about that before the tournament - the togetherness, the trust.

"You always want to prove it on the pitch and show on the pitch that you can do that, and we've done that so far and it's just made us even stronger.

"After the game against Colombia, you could see the joy on everyone's face.

"We've worked so hard and to come through that, it makes us even more proud of each other.

"I look at them like my brothers and I know they look at me the same - we'd do anything for each other.

"That is what we've got to do for the rest of the tournament."

England have beaten Sweden in just two of their 15 meetings, including draws at the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.

The sides' most recent meeting came in a friendly in Stockholm in November 2012. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored all four goals in a 4-2 Sweden victory. Many are predicting a tight, tense game in what is likely to be in stifling heat.

Kane insisted England are ready to go the distance - including another penalty shootout - to keep their dream alive.

"When you go through a battle like Tuesday, when you come through as winners, it gives you so much energy and so much belief to do it again," he added.

"The feeling after is amazing. We're hungry for more - we want that feeling. If it goes to extra time and penalties, then we'll be ready for that. If we can win in 90 minutes, great.

"We're ready to do whatever it takes."

Meanwhile, Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist is happy to delay meeting his newborn daughter if it means extending his World Cup dream.

Granqvist's wife Sophie gave birth to the couple's second daughter, Mika, yesterday while the veteran defender continued preparations for his side's quarter-final.

England midfielder Fabian Delph missed the last-16 victory against Colombia to be there for the arrival of his third child but Granqvist was under instruction from Sophie not to leave his team-mates.

"It was good timing. I didn't sleep very much last night, so I'm glad that it's happened now," the 33-year-old said.

"My wife did a wonderful job back home. Everything went well. Both baby, my daughter, and wife are doing really well."

"It's quite simple, getting a daughter is the most beautiful thing you can get."

A place in the last four also figures high on the Swede's hit list, with the Helsingborgs centre-half admitting: "It's a dream for every football player to play a quarter-final in the World Cup. I'm raring to go."

Granqvist and Manchester United's Victor Lindelof will become the latest pair to try their hand at shackling tournament top-scorer Harry Kane.

The striker has netted six times in three games so far, including three from the penalty spot, and will be hungry for more at Samara Arena.

"We have been very strong on set-pieces but this is one of England's strengths as well and they have Harry Kane, who is really dangerous in the penalty box," he said.

"We need to be very strong in the box and make sure they don't get the service they need. He is incredibly skilled, not just on penalties, but as a striker - he is good at everything.

"It's going to be a very tough match against him but we're going to do everything to stop him."

Sweden expect to have Albin Ekdal and Jimmy Durmaz available after injury, with former Birmingham, Sunderland and Hull midfielder Seb Larsson back from suspension.

Celtic's Mikael Lustig will be missing after collecting two yellow cards.

Granqvist said the team spirit in their camp has made up for what is perhaps a lack of quality compared to some of the favourites to win the World Cup.

Sweden dispatched the Netherlands and Italy in qualifying and went through to the knockout stage at the expense of Germany, despite losing their game against the defending champions.

"We might not have on paper the best team individually but as a team we're very high achievers," he added.

Manager Janne Andersson was steeped in English football from a young age but sees a new style in Gareth Southgate's squad.

"I grew up in the 70s and we used to follow English football. It was only one televised match a week in those days," he said.

"I was always a huge fan of English football, I can remember watching Kenny Hibbitt's Wolves and the muddy pitches.

"I grew up with this and England was my second nation. It's a wonderful feeling to face them as head coach of the Swedish team.

"But football has developed a great deal. What they still have is the heart and the spirit of fighting. I have always appreciated that but it's not the England I grew up watching."

Andersson also pinpointed the spirit of togetherness among the squad as the reason behind the progression to a first quarter‑final since 1994.

"The joy we feel, we're in day 45 now, and even I will have a bad day sometimes. And then you go to your room for a little rest and you come back with new energy and you can contribute to the team," he said.

He said the Sweden side has been preparing a game-plan for potential extra time and penalties, and he knew which players would take spot-kicks in the event of a penalty shootout.

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