England are looking no further than the pre-quarterfinal game against Japan here on Tuesday and the team would not get carried away by their perfect finish in Group F, coach Steve Cooper said.
The Young Lions won all three of their games in resounding fashion scoring 11 goals and leaking just two.
“It was business as usual for us. We weed to look back at the things we did really well. And rest, recover, prepare and get a plan ready for a strong Japan team. We are happy still to be here at Kolkata. It was important we got the result tonight make that happen,” Cooper told reporters at a post match press conference here after England thrash Iraq 4-0 in their last group engagement.
“We are pleased with qualification and returning with nine points, scoring 11 goals and conceding two. That’s very pleasing. The first objective was to get out of the group and to do it as top team in a tough group is something that the players should get a lot of recognition for.
“But we are looking no further than Japan. Nobody’s going to get carried away. It’s really important that we reflect on the good things that happened tonight some of the things we can improve on as well. We always have the mentality of how we can get better and strive to reach even better levels.
“The group is very together. They have all had experience of playing in this wonderful event and at this wonderful stadium. They have all had good returns from this tournament so far. The obvious ones are the points and scoring some goals. But we are also planning for the long term as well. The outfield players have had substantial minutes on the pitch but we have only had three games. It’s something that is very pleasing,” the coach said.
Asked whether there is any update on Borussia Dortmund prodigy Jadon Sancho who is slated to leave after the preliminary round due to club commitments, Cooper said: “There is no update on Jadon at the moment. He is here with us at the moment, recovering from another good game tonight, so there is no news on that. I think you asked about the Japan game- its a game we are looking forward to and we want to congratulate them for qualifying. We are very excited.”
Cooper admitted it will be a happy headache before the last game to pick a side after Danny Loader scored a quickfire second-half brace and Emile Smith-Rowe also got on the scoresheet.
England made wholesale changes to the team that won against Chile and Mexico in a bid to rest key players.
“We made some changes tonight but we picked a team to win the game and ended up winning it well against a strong opposition in Iraq. They have made a good job of having played against Mexico and Chile. It wasn’t by luck they deserved the points.
“We showed we have 21 players who can start games and make a difference in a tournament at this level which is obviously great. It will be difficult to pick the team for the next one but it bodes well that we have got so many players that our developing from our system and can come away from the World Cup and be better players,” Cooper said.
The coach signed off by stating that besides their desire to do well in this tournament, they also want to develop players for the long-term.
“There are always aspects in a performance that can get better. I think at this stage of players development, there are lots of new things that they are experiencing like playing for points and game management and all that.
“What’s important is the curriculum of work around the games where we get them to reflect what they have done and put a plan on how we got about in the next game. They are developing as individuals as well. We want to do as well as we can in this tournament but we also want to develop players. That’s really important to our work.”