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   June 20, 2002 | 1830 IST


Umit Davala
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Owen fit for England-Brazil classic

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The chances of the World Cup quarter-finals kicking off with a classic worthy of the occasion improved considerably on Thursday with the news that England striker Michael Owen would be fit to face Brazil.

The 22-year-old Owen, scorer of 17 goals in 40 England matches, trained for the first time with his team on Thursday after picking up a groin injury in the second round game with Denmark in which he scored his first goal of the tournament.

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said Owen, European Player of the Year last year, would lead the front line in the first quarter-final of the tournament against Brazil in Shizuoka.

"They are all fit and Michael will start," he told reporters. "This is a game for Michael, and for the others, but Michael is waiting, waiting for the big, big game -- he's always shown that in his life."

The clash between two former champions -- Brazil have won the World Cup four times and England once -- could be one of the highlight games of a tournament packed with shocks and the winner will certainly be installed as favourite for the title.


Brazil were being mysterious on the eve of the game. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari abandoned his usual first team vs reserves practice session and opted for a light kickaround instead, giving observers no clues as to his likely line-up.

Rivaldo, who has scored in every game so far, said Scolari had not told the players whether there would be changes.

"He hasn't made any comment so far to us," he said. "There's not a lot to change. We have played four games, we have four wins, the team is doing well so the prof didn't even need to have a training match."

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