DOHA – England defender Connor Cody says Garrett Southgate’s side will “accept” the harsh conditions in Qatar as they prepare for their World Cup opening match against Iran on Monday.
Temperatures in Doha have been over 30°C (86°F) this week – dramatically different from the cold autumn weather in Europe players have just left behind.
And the 29-year-old centre-back admitted, after a training session at the team’s Al-Wakrah base near Doha, that the sweltering heat had been a challenge.
“It was tough this morning,” he said. It was a long session. It was something we needed as a team to get used to, to feel, to understand and it’s difficult.”
“It’s the World Cup, no matter when it is at this time of year,” he added. “It’s winter now and it’s 30 degrees here but we want to enjoy it as much as possible.
“Going out there and thinking it’s too hot or thinking it’s too hot isn’t going to get us anywhere, so we’re going to go out there to cuddle.”
Cody, who has 10 caps for England, said the players were confident they would do well in Qatar despite an incomplete record since reaching the final of last year’s postponed Euro 2020 tournament, which included relegation from the first division in the Nations League.
“We know as a team how we want to play, how we want to defend, what we want to do and the defensive record over the last few years has been absolutely fantastic in terms of the way we try to do it so it’s important we keep focusing on ourselves…we’re going to go into the tournament full of confidence.” .
Leicester’s James Maddison did not train on Thursday but Cody played down concerns about the attacking midfielder, who injured his knee in the Premier League at the weekend.
“He was great at camp,” said the former Wolves captain. “We’ve seen in training over the last couple of days what quality he has… As far as I know, he’s OK. A great person, a great player who will be tremendous for us in this competition.”
The England team later met a group of 17 migrant workers, who played pick-up football between themselves before taking penalties against Southgate’s men.
Al-Muhajireen were given signed shirts and tickets for the England-Iran match.
Concerns about the Gulf state’s treatment of workers, women and the LGBTQ community dominated the run-up to the tournament in Qatar.
Speaking before the event, Cody said, “The boys are really looking forward to it. It’s something we want to do. We’re coming to a country that not many people have been to before, and if they have, it won’t be many times.”
“We want to experience everything. We want to help out and try and enjoy these things as much as we can…we want to do everything we can while we’re here.”