England recently returned home from the WAFF World Cup in Istanbul, Turkey, following 12 days of competitive football. Despite returning without any silverware to reflect on their campaign, Owen Coyle’s side is now ranked ninth in the world.
Reflecting on his side's journey, Coyle said: “The reality is for this group of players to come on to a world stage and to win it (World Amputee Football Cup) was probably going to be a step too far.
“But we’re dreamers, we’re believers and what we did see was we can go and mix it with the top teams.”
Two defeats and a win in Group C meant the young side had to wait to hear if they had progressed through to the knockout stages. To their surprise, a place in the round of 16 was confirmed. But Angola would stand in their way.
Heading into the tie as huge underdogs, it was a performance that reflected just what Coyle and his team had built across the last nine months! To be relentless, fearless, and confident. Taking the reigning world champions into the dying embers of extra time, but to their misfortune, a goal late on halted any hopes of world cup glory.
Meanwhile, with a packed fixture list, there was no time to dwell on the result. World rankings were still all to play for and this time it was Poland whom they would face next. A rampant display gifted a three-nil triumph and the momentum the young lions needed.
With the wind beneath their sails, England went head-to-head with Japan, knowing a win would seal a top 10 finish. A convincing two-nil victory meant it was three clean sheets in their last 150 minutes of football and a force to be reckoned with heading into the final game.
Having lost to Argentina in the group stage, it was time for revenge! But the South Americans wouldn’t go quietly, and it took two additional 10-minute halves to decide the result. A Rhyce Ramsden spot kick secured a ninth-place finish and Argentine despair.
“It’s been a turbulent but enjoyable campaign for this young group of players who have gone on a real rollercoaster of a journey - to conclude the tournament with a win was important,” said Coyle.
The Scotsman added: “But I said to them at the end, that games are only beneficial if you learn from them.
“We’re doing well, we’re in a good place but we want even more in the coming years to go and compete at that top level.”