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South Africa
By ESPN Staff

Gerrard targets perfect record for England

Steven Gerrard believes England must aim to win all their remaining games in their qualifying group if they are to ensure a place in the 2008 European Championship finals.

England gained a morale-boosting draw against Holland in the Amsterdam Arena yesterday to restore pride after their dreadful showing in Croatia last month.

But the harsh reality is England are out of the top two in their group and heading into the new year behind Croatia and Russia - with a testing clash with Israel in Tel Aviv awaiting them in March.

Gerrard is still confident England can make sure of a place in Austria and Switzerland in just over 18 months' time but insists they can afford no more slip-ups.

The Liverpool skipper said: 'Looking at the bigger picture, we are confident we can qualify but I think it is important we try to win all the rest of our games in the group.

'The lads were really disappointed about the Croatia game and a big improvement is needed for the remaining group matches. I think draws and defeats are no good for us.

'We know we have got the talent to win all of our remaining games. We saw Croatia as a slip-up because up until the first goal we were controlling that game as well and 0-0 would have been a good result.

'The most important thing is to try to react to it and try to perform better and we have done that in Holland. We need to build on that performance for the next qualifier.

'As a football player, you understand if you don't perform and don't get results, criticism will come your way but we are big enough to take it on the chin and can put things right by qualifying.'

Gerrard's midfield partner Frank Lampard said: 'If you can't affect things for a few months, there is no point in over-dwelling on them - but I am confident.

'There is only one way to look at the qualifying group and that is to worry about us. I know we've had the hiccup lately (against Croatia) which means all of a sudden we are not in top position.

'But we have to think if we win all our games and perform like we can do, we should qualify still and we really believe that.

'We will concentrate on our clubs for a couple of months now and when those Euro games come around, we have to be on top form.

'Let's make no bones about it, we are in better form than we were a month ago. As a team and as individuals we were all firing against Holland and we have to take that forward.

'We showed we are moving more towards our top form. We can get better, we will get better - and will be ready for Israel.'

Skipper John Terry conceded: 'We can't afford another slip-up like in Croatia. We have got some tough away games coming up but we have come away to one of the best teams in the world in Holland and got a result.

'If we achieve that, there is no reason why we can't go to other places and do the business - but we have to start winning now.

'We owed it to the fans and the manager after the disappointing performance in Croatia to perform in Holland. Now we have two qualifiers coming up in March against Israel and Andorra and it is a `must' six points.

'We are still very confident we can go through. It is not about the start or the middle of the group. It is about the end and we are confident in our ability and ourselves that we will be there.

'It is going to be difficult. We still believe and owe it to ourselves to qualify. There is a long way to go and we are moving forward in the right direction.'