Sports

England to play Nigeria and Costa Rica in final World Cup warm-ups

England to play Nigeria and Costa Rica in final World Cup warm-ups

England have played twice at Leeds' 37,890-capacity Elland Road - a 2-1 defeat to Italy in March 2002 and a 3-3 draw with Sweden in June 1995.

England will face Costa Rica in their final World Cup warm-up game in June, sources have told ESPN FC, after Gareth Southgate handpicked the Central American nation as ideal preparation for the Russian Federation 2018 clash against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod.

And with England due to face World Cup debutants Panama in their second Group G game on June 24, manager Southgate has secured a friendly against the Costa Ricans at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium on June 7. The failure of the U.S. to win that match, and then failing to get at least a point against Trinidad and Tobago, meant that the USA failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The US lost a vital home match against the Ticos at Red Bull Arena, home of the New York Red Bulls, in a match where a number of Costa Rican fans attended the match and created a pretty impressive atmosphere, given that the United States fans outnumbered the Ticos fans.

GK Jack Butland
GETTY GK Jack Butland

Gareth Southgate's side also face Costa Rica's central American neighbours Panama in Russian Federation, with Belgium completing Group G.

"Equally, it's nice when we have an opportunity to take the team on the road".

"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", Southgate told the FA website.

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