Harry Kane insists England are “not afraid” of saying they can win the 2022 World Cup and believes their poor form has dampened expectations of heading to Qatar.
Gareth Southgate’s team is one of the bookmakers’ favorites to win the tournament after reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, while finishing second in last year’s European Championship.
But Kane believes the Three Lions can take another step forward in the Middle East and win their first major title since lifting the World Cup in 1966.
In an exclusive interview with Sky SportsEngland captain Kane said: “We have to believe we can win it.
“I think back to England 10, 15 years ago and that was almost [like] We were afraid to say we wanted to win it. I think one of the big transformations we’ve had over the past four or five years with Gareth is not being afraid to say it.
“Look, we’re going to this tournament to win it because we think we can. It would be a mistake to think otherwise. What’s the point of going to the World Cup and not believing you can bring the cup back home?”
“It’s going to be tough and we’ll have to work very hard, have a little luck and have a lot of things on our way to make it happen.
“But I think it’s important that you don’t be afraid to say that’s what we’re going to do.”
‘Bad level lowered expectations’
However, Southgate’s side are running into the World Cup finals after their Nations League campaign went without a win and ended in relegation.
England start the tournament against Iran on November 21 in search of their first win in seven matches after three draws and three defeats, but Kane believes their poor form has helped dampen expectations of heading to Qatar.
“The first match is really important for sure,” Kane said. “Of course this hasn’t been the greatest period for England in a long time. Since Gareth took over – we haven’t had a period like this.
“But in a way before the major championship, that can be a really good thing because it allows you to not get carried away, or even the media or the press from drifting.
“I feel like if we won every game before this tournament it would have been, ‘We’re guaranteed to win’ and ‘We’re going to win it,’ and that can come with different pressures.
“We feel that judging the big slams is the main thing and the last tournaments we’ve played have been good.
“We have great confidence in ourselves that we can go and have a great tournament in Qatar.”
Kane: Going straight into the middle of the season at the World Cup ‘helps’
Kane has been in good shape with Spurs this season having scored 13 goals in all competitions, including one in Spurs’ final before the World Cup in Saturday’s home win over Leeds.
But the 29-year-old has played 22 consecutive games for Spurs, which has raised question marks over his fitness levels.
However, Kane believes the mid-season World Cup, which begins on November 20, is beneficial to him.
He said: “Sure, I prefer to go into a lot of matches where you feel in good shape.
“Sometimes after the season ends in the summer you have a break and then you have to come back to play and you haven’t played a lot of games.
“I think getting into it can help – as long as you manage it well and recover well. I think recovery is the most important thing for any player in this period.
“You can try and practice as much as you can but the bottom line is you need to be ready to have all your energy ready for the game, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The 2022 World Cup will be Kane’s fourth major tournament with England and he explained the challenges they bring.
“I think the major tournaments test you more in terms of high pressure,” he said. “Playing for England is always a lot of pressure but in a major tournament there is always that extra motivation.
“There will probably be penalties – teams that get to the final have to win penalties at least once, so it’s a lot of pressure moments.
“The mentality of being away from home, being in camp for five or six weeks, but that’s pretty fast because during the season. You’re usually away from home four or five weeks before the tournament and after that you’re away four or five weeks into the tournament, so It is a long period of time where you are outside your comfort zone.
“But I think what separates the big countries and the winning countries from the others is who can handle that better.”
Neville: We must stop England slack at the World Cup
talking on Sky Sports World Cup Special Gary Neville said: “I think we should be very proud of these players. Taking a look at my own career and the tournaments I have been in, these players have gone further than I have ever gone before. They have reached the finals and a half. Final This is a great achievement for England.
“Gareth has earned the right to be able to take on a more difficult tournament. I’m not saying we should go out of the group, but if he makes it to the second round or is knocked out in the quarter-finals, he still has to be in a position to decide what whether it will continue or not.
“These players have built a tremendous relationship. You can see that they have changed the dynamic and the spirit of the team. They seem to deal with each other, you can see that when they play with each other in the Premier League. I think they will give us success in the tournament.”
“I think they’re going to struggle to get past the quarter-finals because of the path they ended up on but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad tournament and these players should be ridiculed for that. They’ve had a fantastic four, five years under Gareth and to be fair we should avoid some lax participation in this tournament.”