England Coach Southgate: Why We’re Playing Nigeria, Costa Rica Friendlies

England coach Gareth Southgate has said he is looking forward to the friendly matches against the Super Eagles and Costa Rica as the Three Lions make their final preparations for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

England take on Nigeria at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 2 June, before Southgate’s men face Costa Rica at Elland Road in Leeds five days later.

“All of the feedback from the team before Euro 2016 was really positive, the players enjoyed it and it was definitely well received by the public,” Southgate told the FA’s official website.

“We’re immensely proud to play the majority of our matches at Wembley as our national stadium and it’s always special.

“Equally, it’s nice when we have an opportunity to take the team on the road. We have a huge following in Yorkshire with large numbers of our members and travelling support coming from that area.

“Having been to Manchester and the north east last time, it’s nice to be able to go to Yorkshire for a different experience for everybody.”

Nigeria and Costa Rica also qualified for this year’s World Cup, and Southgate feels the African and Central American nations will offer contrasting styles for the team to face.

England will face Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in their World Cup group games, while the Super Eagles are up against Croatia, Iceland and Argentina.

“We’ve mostly played European opposition up to now and the Brazil game acted as a reminder that we need to challenge ourselves in different ways as a team,” he explained.

“We’re going into a World Cup where we will play African and Central American opposition so we get that with the games against Nigeria and Costa Rica but it’s not just about the games we’ve got in the group but hopefully beyond that as well.

“We want to expose the team to different styles and different experiences.”

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