England fans in Doha believe the winner of the quarter-final clash with France will go on to secure World Cup glory.
Three Lions supporters in the Qatari capital were in a buoyant mood after the 3-0 second round win against Senegal, and quietly confident of more success against the reigning World Cup champions.
France await England on Saturday at the Al Bayt Stadium, with the phrase “it’s coming home” starting to pass the lips of some supporters while others prefer to take it one game at a time.
Marketing executive Jordan Fox, 24, from Oxford, landed in Doha on November 20 in time for the first game of the tournament and is staying until England “either win it or get knocked out”, telling the PA news agency: “Hopefully win it.
“I think we’re the best team player-for-player in the tournament, the stats back it up. The game on Saturday – whoever wins that will win the World Cup.
“If we get past France we will beat anyone, but it’s a shame we’ve got France so early.
“We’ve got nothing to be scared of. Everyone talks about (Kylian) Mbappe but they should be more worried about our frontline and midfield.”
James Swann, 28, from Barnsley, has been to 12 games in two weeks and fancies England’s chances.
Mr Swann, who works in property and construction, is staying in a villa with nine others and said he has been “very impressed” by England so far.
On the quarter-final tie, he told PA: “I think we can beat them.
“Mbappe is the main man, I’ve seen him twice in this tournament and he’s like lightning, I’ve been impressed with him.
“(Olivier) Giroud, I think (Harry) Maguire will be decent in the air with him … but, apart from that, I don’t think they’re as good as they were four years ago without (Paul) Pogba and (N’Golo) Kante in the middle, (Raphael) Varane is past it as well and I think the goalie (Hugo) Lloris has an error in him.”
Mark Trigg, 48, from Derby, said he will keep wearing his “lucky” red England top and shorts, his hat made by his mother and a lucky St George’s Cross ring made by his father.
The chef said he has realised a “childhood dream” by travelling to his first World Cup, something he said he wanted to do since watching the 1982 and 1986 tournaments on television.
Mr Trigg, on how to follow England throughout a World Cup on a budget, joked: “Not drinking a lot helps – don’t drink a load of beer and you will save a fortune – and a few days staying in the villa, you can have a few pool days, catch a game on the TV just like you would at home but you’re in the thick of it.”
He added: “Now we’ve just booked up for another six days, it’s another little jolly, isn’t it?”
Mr Trigg said he correctly predicted 3-0 wins against Wales and Senegal, adding on France: “I’m still mulling it over, maybe 2-1 (England), it’s not going to be plain sailing.”
He added: “The build-up for me starts as soon as I wake up, I’m antsy, I get the music on, pacing up and down, just like I am back home, it’s no different.”
Asked if he has any lucky routines, Mr Trigg said: “I play the national anthem on a match day, lucky suit every game, I can’t not wear the lucky suit.”
He added he is “still confident” about England’s chances.
Steve Hopper, 36, from Eastbourne, mulled over England’s chances against France when asked for a prediction.
Mr Hopper, who works in media, told PA: “This is the dream match between England and France, this is a World Cup final quality match-up and to have it in the quarters is almost a shame.
“But if we do get through that then it’s big matches all the way this time.”
He added: “I think whoever wins this has the strongest chance of winning the World Cup, between England and France, I think we are on paper the best team in the tournament right now in terms of our level of players.”
Tickets through official outlets for the quarter-final tie range from 450 Qatari riyal, around £100, to 1,550 riyal – which amounts to almost £350.
Fans have been repeatedly advised to avoid using touts or secondary sites if they want to guarantee they will be able to access the stadium.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “come on England, football’s coming home” from his train to Edinburgh.
Downing Street hailed Sunday’s World Cup victory against Senegal as a “massive win”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was asked about Rishi Sunak’s reaction to the match.
“I think this is a massive win for England, all credit to the team.
“It was a great match to watch and he wishes the best of luck for the rest of the tournament.”
England could face penalties in their bid to overcome France, but Bukayo Saka insisted he is ready to step up if needed.
The Arsenal forward missed the decisive penalty as England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy in a shoot-out last summer.
He told reporters: “I would not have stepped up the times I have stepped up for Arsenal to take a penalty if I wasn’t confident, so if the moment comes and I am selected to take a penalty, I am more than happy to.”
Elsewhere, police are working to determine when a burglary reported at the home of England forward Raheem Sterling took place.
The 27-year-old Chelsea star was given leave to return to the UK from England’s World Cup camp in Qatar after he learned about the burglary.
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