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World Cup players send messages of hope to trapped youth team

England and Sweden players competing in the World Cup sent messages of hope Thursday to the members of a youth soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.

"We're hoping and wishing that they get out safe and sound," England defender John Stones said.

"Everyone, their friends and families, all of the boys (here), all the England squad, all our thoughts are with them,'' he added.

A rescuer filmed one of the boys wearing an England jersey, and a Thai navy SEAL who spent time with the boys in the cave said they asked about the World Cup results.

Sebastian Larsson, a member of the Swedish team that faces England in a quarterfinals match Saturday, also hoped for good news, saying, "All you can do in any situation like that is just pray for them.''

The Japanese squad that competed at the World Cup tweeted a good-luck message to the trapped team.

Japanese Football Association president Kohzo Tashima afterward praised the national team for sending the public message of support, saying, "Japanese players have grown to be able to do these kinds of things naturally, and I realize that Japanese soccer is becoming mature.''

"I would like to pray with everyone here so that they are safely rescued,'' he added at a news conference at Japan's Narita airport. Japan was knocked out of the Cup competition when they were beaten 3-2 by Belgium in the round of 16.

Ahead of more rain, rescuers are racing to pump water from a flooded cave before they try to extract the 12 boys and their soccer coach from a chamber where they were found on Monday after being missing for 10 days. A firefighter who has been working on draining the water said parts of the passage leading to the chamber are still flooded all the way to the ceiling, making diving the only way out.

Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said Wednesday that the team may not all be extracted at the same time depending on their health. He said authorities will evaluate their readiness each day, and if there is any risk they will not proceed.

The boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach disappeared after they went exploring in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province after a soccer game June 23.

Authorities said the boys, who appeared skinny but in good health in several videos released by the Thai navy, were being looked after by seven members of the Thai SEALs, including medics, who were staying with them inside the cave. They were mostly in stable condition and have received high-protein drinks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.