Roy Hodgson’s England start the road to Brazil on Friday night when they kick off their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign against Moldova at the Zimbru stadium in Chisinau. Kick-off: 19:45
After England’s disappointing exit at the hands of Italy in a penalty shoot-out at Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson’s men will be keen to wipe the slate clean and start on a positive note against their eastern-European opponents and anything other than a victory in the Moldovan capital will be seen as a failure for England.
England hold a 100 per cent record in their previous two games against Moldova after beating them twice in qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup, winning 4-0 at Wembley before easing to a 3-0 triumph in Chisinau, which saw a young David Beckham make his international debut.
Moldova sit 141st in the FIFA rankings and have never qualified for a major tournament. Their most recent efforts in major qualifying campaigns saw them finish second bottom in their EURO 2012 qualifying group.
Moldova manager Ion Caras says he’s happy that England will be without ‘key players’ such as Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll and believes that Moldova can create a shock tonight. The 61-year old will be relying on his star player Stanislav Ivanov, who plays for FC Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova.
Hodgson looks set to give Jermain Defoe his 50th England cap from the start in Chisnau with both Wayne Rooney and Andy Caroll unavailable while widemen Ashley Young (knee) and Adam Johnson (thigh) are also missing. Gary Cahill looks favorite to partner his club colleague John Terry in defence and Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard could line up together for the first time since the 4-1 defeat to Germany at the 2010 World Cup:
Moldova 0-2 England
England: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Cahill, Baines, Carrick, Lampard, Walcott, Gerrard, Milner, Defoe.
Moldova: Namasco, Bulgaru, Racu, Epureanu, Armas, Gatcan, Patras, Ivanov, Onica, Doros, Picusciac.