Coach of the Three Lions of England Gareth Southgate has explained why they will be playing Nigeria in a pre World Cup friendly at Wembley on the the 2nd of June.
England will take on Costa Rica, five days after the game against Nigeria at Elland Road before the fly out to Russia for their campaign at the World Cup 2018.
Grouped alongside Tunisia, Panama and Belgium at the World Cup, Southgate explained the reason behind their choice to face Nigeria and Costa Rica goes beyond the logical reasoning of facing teams from same continent as the above mentioned nations.
He explained that the games will provide a different challenge to his team as opposed to the opponents they have been playing in the past, when they have mostly played against European nations.
Southgate cited the friendly game against Brazil last year as a reminder of the need for his team to test themselves in different ways , as it will help them become better in the long run.
“We’ve mostly played European opposition up to now and the Brazil game acted as a reminder that we need to challenge ourselves in different ways as a team,” he explained.
“We’re going into a World Cup where we will play African and Central American opposition so we get that with the games against Nigeria and Costa Rica but it’s not just about the games we’ve got in the group but hopefully beyond that as well.
“We want to expose the team to different styles and different experiences.”