Skip to content

England will be disappointed with draw at Montenegro, but it’s hardly the end of the (qualifying) world

Mar 26, 2013, 9:20 PM EST

Montenegro v England - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

There was a quiet confidence surrounding England ahead of today’s match in Montenegro, a mood that was reflected on the field. A sixth minute header from Wayne Rooney gave England and early lead, and through halftime there was little doubt the Three Lions could carry their 1-0 to final whistle. But after veteran attacker Dejan Damjanović capitalized on Montenegro’s second half control and converted through the chaos of a 77th minute corner, England had to content themselves with an objectively 1-1 decent result, even if their standing will engender fears ahead of their final four qualifiers.

Undefeated by thrice drawn through six rounds, England sits second in their group with 12 points. Montenegro has 14 points, but because the teams are set to meet at Wembley to finish qualifying in October, England still holds their qualifying fate in their own hands. So does Montenegro, for the matter, with the winner of Group H earning a spot in Brazil. Second place in all likelihood heads to a playoff.

Montenegro has only been an independent nation since 2006 and has only competed in two major qualifying tournaments. They finished a disappointing fifth while trying to qualifying for South Africa 2010, but they nearly made the 2012 European Championships after finishing second in their group. With a full roster of talent playing in mid-to-major leagues throughout Europe, the Montenegrins have the ability to get through a qualifying tournament when things go well.

All of which should go without saying, but because their name doesn’t carry the international prestige of one of Europe’s established powers, there is a perception that England should be able to beat them. Given the talent on each team, that’s a fair perception, but as we learned earlier today, road qualifiers can be tricky for the best of sides. Even in Europe.

“We’d had control in midfield initially, but we lost that,” England manager Roy Hodgson said after the match, explaining where things went ‘wrong’ for his team. “So my overall feeling is one of disappointment, because things were looking so good for us at one stage.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly bad result because Montenegro are a difficult team to beat, but it would have been nice to have built on that lead at half-time and profited from it to go home with three points.”

England remaining qualifiers, beyond Montenegro: hosting Moldova (Sept.6), Poland (Oct. 15) and a trip to Ukraine. (Sept. 10).

Meanwhile, Montenegro still have a trip to Poland (Sept. 6) and a visit from Ukraine (June 7) before going to Wembley. Moldova (Oct. 15) is in there, too, though it’s unlikely the Montenegrins will be troubled with that visit.

With the group leaders facing difficult matches against the Poles and Ukrainians, England may be able to take Group H’s lead before Montenegro arrives in London.

That won’t diminish the feeling of disappointment around England’s team (one that’s already seen some of Roy Hodgson’s post-match comments criticized), but it’s a possibly unfounded emotion. The Three Lions aren’t so talented that they should scoff at a draw in Podgorica.

Keeping control of their own fate after their group’s most difficult away match, England should find peace with the result.

Latest Posts
  1. Buffon, Chiellini pledge future to Juventus with contract extensions

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:55 PM EST

    112014-Chiellini-PI.vadapt.320.medium.0 Getty Images

    Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini are set to stay at Juventus with fresh deals.

  2. Wigan owner Dave Whelan accused of anti-Semitic remarks

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:39 PM EST

    Wigan Athletic v Arsenal - FA Cup Semi-Final Wigan Athletic v Arsenal - FA Cup Semi-Final

    Whelan: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”

  3. What to expect as USA, Premier League star Geoff Cameron joins ProSoccerTalk

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:02 PM EST

    Cameron AP

    Details on Geoff Cameron’s exciting new role with ProSoccerTalk.

  4. FIFA saga takes new twist: World Cup corruption report to be reviewed

    Nov 20, 2014, 2:31 PM EST

    64th FIFA Congress 64th FIFA Congress

    Review of FIFA’s corruption report ordered, as Qatar, Russia scrutinized once again.

  5. VOTE – Best choice for MLS expansion: Las Vegas, Sacramento or Minneapolis?

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:32 PM EST

    Vikings Stadium Football AP

    You get your say. After MLS held talks with cities in California, Nevada and Minnesota, is this the right move for the league?

  6. Mix-up: Manchester United say Daley Blind out for six months, then deny it

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

    Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Blind was ruled out for six months by United’s Twitter account… but there’s been a twist.

  7. Finalists for 2014 MLS awards announced: No MVP for BWP, and much more

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:54 AM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy - Western Conference Championship - Leg 1 Getty Images

    Here are the finalists for MLS 2014 awards. Agree? Disagree?

  8. Olivier Giroud makes shock return for Arsenal, fit for Manchester United clash

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:39 AM EST

    Olivier Giroud AP

    Giroud back a month ahead of schedule to hand Gunners massive boost.

  9. Report: Arsenal have deal in place to sign Chelsea’s Petr Cech

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:05 AM EST

    Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Getty Images

    Cech set for a move to the Emirates in January according to reports.

  10. MLS Expansion Draft rules released; existing teams can protect 11 players

    Nov 19, 2014, 8:59 PM EST

    MLSLogoEdit1

    Ready yourself for the MLS Expansion Draft, slated for December 10th.

  11. WATCH: Funny Arsenal mockumentary with player’s “relatives”

    Nov 19, 2014, 7:05 PM EST

    Darren Ox

    Meet uncle Kenny Wilshere, Trudy Mertesacker and Darren Oxlade-Chamberlain.

  12. Dan Kennedy selected first by FC Dallas in MLS Dispersal Draft

    Nov 19, 2014, 6:21 PM EST

    Vancouver Whitecaps v Chivas USA Getty Images

    Dan Kennedy is heading to FC Dallas. See where all 7 players selected in today’s draft are heading.

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United