17 Oct 2013

Criticism turns to praise for England coach

7:32 am on 17 October 2013

A month after facing criticism for a conservative style, England coach Roy Hodgson was being heaped with praise for guiding the side to the World Cup finals.

England's roller-coaster ride through a tough qualifying pool culminated in Wednesday's 2-0 triumph over Poland, ensuring his men finished a point ahead of Ukraine to take the automatic qualifying spot for next year's finals in Brazil.

Hodgson, 66, described the achievement as the finest of his long career, while at the same time emphasising he was also proud of leading Switzerland to the World Cup in 1994 and the European championships two years later.

England are ranked 17th in the world and will be joined in their pool in Brazil by one of the top eight seeds like Spain, Brazil or Germany.

Hodgson says his team is growing in terms of dealing with pressure and blending the established players and the rookies.

Since he took over in May last year following the departure of Fabio Capello, England has played 22 matches and lost just one in regulation time - a 4-2 friendly defeat to Sweden last November.