GENTING HIGHLANDS — A young England team punched above their weight by making the semifinals, former internationals Paul Scholes and Robbie Fowler believe.
The duo, who have 92 caps between them, said no Englishman would have predicted Gareth Southgate’s men reaching the last four in Russia.
England bowed out on Wednesday after a 2-1 extratime loss to Croatia.
They play Belgium in the third place playoff tonight (10pm).
“They’ve done well considering it’s a young team. It was a surprising run,” Manchester United legend Scholes told reporters at Resorts World Genting yesterday.
“They’ll definitely gain some invaluable experience from this journey.
“Hopefully in four years they’ll go one step further and reach the final.”
Midfielder Scholes played at two World Cups and only managed to reach the quarterfinals in 2002.
Liverpool great Fowler, who scored seven goals in 26 appearances for the Three Lions, said England lost to a better team.
After finishing second in Group G behind Belgium following wins over Tunisia and Panama, England beat Colombia 4-3 on penalties in the last 16 and Sweden 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
“Their group was relatively easy and the games were kind to them,” said the 43-year-old, whose only World Cup was the 2002 edition in South Korea and Japan.
“Unfortunately they couldn’t get past Croatia, a fantastic team.”
Scholes and Fowler are in Malaysia for Genting’s Football Fever event in conjunction with the World Cup final.
— By Chris Mohan