England will be hoping to register a much-needed victory in their first World Cup match against Iran this afternoon, with kick-off set for 1pm at the Khalifa International Stadium. Gareth Southgate will be desperate to get off to a strong start in Group B by seeing off the challenge of their unfancied opponents, who will be equally determined to upset the odds and boost their hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the tournament.
Southgate is likely to be without two of his England players for today’s test against Iran, with Kyle Walker ruling himself out of the match last week and James Maddison having skipped a number of recent training sessions in order to manage a knee problem. The England boss is expected to name a strong side, though, with the likes of Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Jordan Pickford and Jude Bellingham all set to feature for the one-time World Cup winners over the course of their Group B opener in Doha.
The build-up to the match has been somewhat overshadowed by the situation regarding the OneLove captain’s armband, which was initially set to be worn by Kane before the FA backtracked on their plans despite previously insisting that it would go ahead regardless of FIFA’s stance on the matter.
An official FA statement read: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.
“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”
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