Hodgson: England will not underestimate Moldova

The Three Lions kick off their World Cup qualfiying campaign in Chisinau on Friday, and the 65-year-old is taking nothing for granted against unfancied opponents
Roy Hodgson has promised that there is no danger of England underestimating opponents Moldova on Friday, as the Three Lions look to kick off their World Cup qualification campaign with a win in Chisinau.

The Eastern European minnows will start the match at the Zimbru Stadium as overwhelming underdogs, but Hodgson expressed his belief that there are few easy games at international level anymore.

"That's international football these days," Hodgson told reporters.

"It doesn't matter who you are playing you know that if you don't prepare for a game against a well-organised and well-disciplined side that will work very hard to stop you scoring then you're not preparing properly.
16/1 Jermain Defoe is 16/1 with William Hill to score a hat-trick against Moldova

"So we are aware of that and we're also aware from the games we've studied that they're also a team that are capable of playing very well and causing problems so we won't underestimate them."

The hosts have reason to be particularly motivated for this game, after it emerged that there are lucrative bonuses on offer should they attain a good result, but the former West Brom manager is insistent that his side must only stay focused on themselves.

"Their bonus system is their bonus system and we have our own fish to fry," he continued. "You can argue those things and debate those things as much as you like."

Hodgson was also keen to play down any expectations of England running away with the match, pointing to their opponents' respectable record in Euro 2012 qualifying.

 "Obviously if you can come in at half-time with a healthy lead everyone would like that but it's naïve to think that's going to happen," he explained.

"We're well aware that a very strong Holland team only won here 1-0 and only won away 1-0.

"So if they can hold Holland on two occasions to a 1-0 victory then what we've got to do is to make sure we get our victory. And if it comes with an early goal or a late goal then it's of no consequence to me.

"At the moment goal difference doesn't come into it, the most important thing at the moment is to try and get points on the board and get off to a good start in this qualifying campaign."

Some observers have raised fears that the poor quality of the Moldovan pitch might disrupt England's performance, but the boss gave this theory short shrift.

"We haven't seen the pitch yet and quite frankly we haven't spoken about it either, at least not as a group," he said.

"We'll see what the pitch is like tonight [Thursday] but I'm pretty sure I've got an experienced group of players who have played on many pitches all over the world and I really don't envisage any particular problems there.

"But it's up to us to deal with whatever playing surface. I'm sure the Moldovan national team want to play on the best pitches possible also."