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World Cup-hopefuls England media centre world class

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England have left nothing to chance in their 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup quest.

The Three Lions have been quietly training at their base at Al Wakrah Sports Complex, situated some 21km by road from central Doha.

They safely made it to the quarterfinals where they will face reigning champions France at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Saturday from 10pm.

What many people may not know is that the base was identified by the English Football Association in January and confirmed in July for use by England.

The training ground is a 12,000-seat stadium that is home to top tier Qatar Star League side Al Wakrah SC. Other facilities include a multipurpose hall and 25m indoor swimming pool.

It is easily accessible using the Doha Metro and alighting at Al Wakra metro station which is some 2.6km from the sports complex.

The English players are staying at a five star beach resort called Souq Al-Wakra Hotel just a couple of minutes away by road.

While Fifa has organised mandatory pre-match and post-match press conferences for teams, individual countries have, separately, set up their own press interviews.

The FA has put up an elaborate media centre at the Al Wakrah SC where players and journalists interact.

The media centre can accommodate over 200 journalists. It has 70 working desks and several lounge sofas where journalists can relax amidst their heavy work schedule.

Internet facilities are provided at no cost and the FA has even thrown in complimentary refreshments, a pool table, a six-pole table soccer and game consoles for Play Station for those so inclined.

The media centre also has a branded press conference room. FA employees are on hand to assist journalists with their inquiries.

An FA official who did not want to be named said they understood the need of the media to cover the national team and had made every effort to ensure that journalists had access to the team in a controlled way that did not disrupt the training of the players.

Other big teams including France, Brazil and Argentina have also set up their own media centres open to all Fifa accredited journalists.

Heavy security is provided including thorough screening for all visitors.

On Thursday, England defender Kyle Walker was the man in front of the cameras at the England press conference.

Journalists were allowed to ask questions without being hurried or harassed while Walker attempted to reply to every question in a civil manner. It actually looked cordial.

Walker even appealed to the journalists in the room to support the team as they fought to qualify for the next round.

The level of interaction would put to shame Football Kenya Federation that is notorious for blacklisting critical journalists and giving information and access to the team only to media persons they perceive to be friendly to the federation.

The Manchester City defender promised that England would give as much as they got against the reigning world champions in Al Bayt on Saturday.

“Each and every one of us will not roll down the red carpet for them to perform. We also have a talented team,” he said.

“We have to back ourselves, we can win this tournament. The confidence is high; we are scoring goals and not conceding many.”

On marking on-form Kylian Mbappe, who is the tournament-leading scorer with five goals, Walker said: “I understand what I need to do to stop him. But that will be easier said than done. I will give him respect but not too much.”



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