England’s road to Rio starts tonight when they face Moldova in their first world cup qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
A host of England stars will be absent for the match in the capital Chisinau, with Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole and Andy Carroll all ruled out through injury. England will still be expected to gain the three points, but boss Roy Hodgson admitted that despite his side’s favourites tag, Moldova would not be an easy game.
"I think when we talk about international football, what we've seen over certainly the last 10 years is how nations which have emerged are competing as independent nations, Moldova being a classy example. A country like Estonia, and other Baltic countries being other very good examples. We have seen over the course of the last 10 years they've grown in stature, they have grown in confidence and what maybe 10 years ago would've been a big team against a small team there is no longer the case. Today we talk about two international teams. We have to accept we are going to the game as favourites. So we accept that burden if you like of being the favourites but there is no way that we can think it is going to be an easy game. There is no way I would ever sit here and say that only one result is possible. As far as I'm concerned three results are possible - we can win, we can draw, we can lose. And our aim, because we are prepared for the game in the best possible way, is not to lose or draw, but to win. But the beauty is going to be, that tomorrow night 90 minutes of football will decide which of those fates await us. "
Despite limited time to prepare for the European Championship, England managed a respectable quarter final exit to Italy on penalties. For Roy Hodgson now, this is where the work truly begins, as he must navigate a tricky qualifying campaign that includes the hosts of that tournament, Poland and Ukraine, and shape a side that whilst dogged and determined currently lacks the skill in possession to compete with the top international teams.
Written and presented by Alfred Joyner