> Sports > 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP 

   3 June, 2002 | 1100 IST



France get the blues

  More Slide Shows

England seeking to avoid errors

E-Mail this report to a friend
Print this page Best Printed on  HP Laserjets

England's stay at the World Cup finals is set to be a short one unless Sven-Goran Eriksson's men can avoid the mistakes made against Sweden when they face Argentina on Friday.

After ruling the roost in the first half on Sunday, England stood off the ball and the advancing Swedes in the second and were left to hang on grimly to salvage a 1-1 draw in their group F opener.

Individual errors compounded the problems at Saitama, along with a level of humidity that did not seem to affect the Swedes but clearly hampered England in the second half.

Beckham and Eriksson Under no illusions, Eriksson's men know full well they can ill-afford to struggle in the closing stages against Argentina in Sapporo as they did against Sweden.

The central midfielders, particularly Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves, if he is again preferred to Nicky Butt, need to stamp their authority on the game and provide a supply line to striker Michael Owen.

On the flanks, more will be expected from captain David Beckham, who was substituted midway through the second half because of tiredness and an ache in the foot he broke two months ago.

Kieron Dyer, a late substitute against Sweden but expected to start against tournament favourites Argentina, needs to use his pace and attacking instincts to cause trouble down the left.


The one encouraging sign from a disappointing second-half display is that the England players know they must now move up a gear.

"It was tough, a real battle and thank goodness we have a point to show for it....I think it took a lot out of us all," Hargreaves said.

"We did make a lot of mistakes, it was uncharacteristic of us. But mistakes happen. They put us under a lot of pressure...and we're going to have to get rid of that for the Argentina game."

Right back Danny Mills, whose scrambled clearance led to Sweden's second-half equaliser, was left to rue his blunder.

"It goes to show that in international football, you make one mistake and you get punished," he said.

Another mistake nearly cost England the game when left back Ashley Cole mis-cued an interception, almost handing a late winner to Swedish striker Henrik Larsson.

Like Hargreaves, Cole suggested that England had shot their bolt in the first 45 minutes and then had to live with the consequences.

"It was getting a little bit hot out there and hard to run, what with the humidity," he said. "The lads ran their hearts out in the first half.

"Hopefully, we'll go into the next game with our heads held high and try and play like we did in the first half."

With only one point on the board and the showcase match of the first round looming, Eriksson now has only a few days to set things right.

Argentina's 1-0 win over Nigeria on Sunday will have lifted their morale before facing a side they knocked out of the World Cup in 1998 and 1986.

Summing up the task ahead, Eriksson expressed both confidence and a degree of disappointment about the performance against Sweden.

"We have to look forward with great faith," he said. "And hopefully we'll do more than 45 minutes against Argentina."

Back to top
(c) Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.


(c) 2002 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.