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   June 12, 2002 | 1545 IST


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Eriksson glad to survive trial in heat

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England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was satisfied with the 0-0 draw with Nigeria which sends his side into the last 16 at the expense of Argentina but said the heat had given them problems.

He added that he was relieved that their next match against group A winners Denmark, will be played in the evening on Saturday in Niigata and should be much cooler.

Eriksson said: "It was hot today, very, very hot at the end of the game. We wanted to score early."

He added: "The biggest surprise for me is that France and Argentina are out of the World Cup. You couldn't expect that and nobody believed that (would happen). Argentina were the big, big favourite."

England needed a point to progress at the expense of Argentina who could only draw 1-1 with Sweden in the other final game of group F, dubbed the group of death before the tournament began. Eriksson's men beat Argentina 1-0 to set up their qualification.

He said African teams were always difficult to play.

"It was important for us today to control the game as we did nearly all the second half. With a little bit of luck, we could have scored as well.

"We tried to win, but it was very hot and 0-0, it's okay," he said, adding that it would have been crazy to concede a goal to a Nigerian counterattack.

"Hopefully on Saturday we will do the same job but scoring (as well)," he said.

Eriksson was asked if England would have preferred to have met Senegal in the second round rather than the fast-breaking, hard-working Danes.

"It's Denmark and we have to do that and try to win," he said. "We're playing a Saturday game. Now it's Wednesday. It's all about trying to recover now."


"They (the Danes) are doing very well, of course, in the World Cup. They are a very good team. They are very good up front, they have two strikers."

Pressed on Saturday's game, he predicted "another difficult game for us but hopefully for Denmark too".

He said the performances of co-hosts Japan and South Korea in this World Cup, both on the verge of second round berths too, were good for the game.

"Japan and Korea are playing at home, of course. It's very nice to see them playing good. For football around the world, it's very good."

Millions of English football fans will have watched the match around breakfast-time at home and the result will have lifted the nation, Eriksson was told.

"I hope we can do that until June 30 (date of the final). That's very wonderful."

Commenting on England's supporters, including Japanese, attending the England games, he added: "Our supporters are fantastic and there were a lot of Japanese supporters we had today. Today we had maybe 90 percent of the supporters in the stadium."

One of Eriksson's most impressive players, defender Rio Ferdinand, said: "Luckily we got through in the end. We knew they would play for pride and they didn't disappoint us.

"We're a young bunch and hold no fear of anybody else. There was enough pressure because people expected us to win after our Argentina result."

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