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Friday, December 5, 1997 Published at 00:03 GMT



Sport

We can go all the way - Hoddle
image: [ Glenn Hoddle, before and after the draw ]
Glenn Hoddle, before and after the draw

Facing the prospect of beating Romania, Colombia and Tunisia to progress to the last 16 of the World Cup, Glenn Hoddle confidently announced: "I'm still confident we can win it."

England open their campaign against Tunisia on June 15 in Marseille. They have met the north Africans once before, when they drew 1-1 in a warm up game for Italia 90.

Hoddle's men then play Romania in Toulouse on June 22 before moving to Lens in northern France on June 26 to meet Colombia.

Hoddle is refusing to let the draw upset his planning: "It could have been easier, but it could have been a lot harder," he said.

"Romania will be a lot more experienced at World cup level than us ... Colombia are so unpredictable ... but the one we've got to focus on now is Tunisia, and I'm delighted that we're playing them in the opener.

"We wouldn't have wanted to have to start against Romania and if we can get off with a win over the Tunisians the momentum could really start to build."

England, though, are notoriously poor starters in big competitions. It was 1982 when they last opened with a win - against France in the World Cup in Spain.

Hoddle, however, is not interested in history: "There's no point in looking back at things, we've got to get on with it."

The Romania coach, Anghel Ionescu, doesn't share Hoddle's confidence in his team's prospects. "I'm not happy at all, England were the one team we wanted to avoid."

His views were echoed by Chelsea Romanian midfielder Dan Petrescu. "We've been very unlucky in the draw. Not many teams wanted to play England, but for me Colombia are just as dangerous in the group."

Colombia's manager Hernan Gomez is much more upbeat: "I'm satisfied. It's a group of great quality, but we're confident of going through."

Colombia have already called off a friendly match scheduled for February against England at Wembley, and will play Germany instead.

England's match against Colombia will throw up an interesting club clash, between Newcastle strikers Alan Shearer and Faustino Asprilla, providing both are fit.

Shearer is looking forward to it. "It should be fun possibly coming up against Tino, it's just about impossible knowing what he's going to do."

Tunisia's coach Henryk Kasperczyk was a member of the Poland side that ended Sir Alf Ramsey's reign at Wembley in 1973, and he is looking forward to the match. "I've put England out of the World cup once. Why shouldn't I do it again?"

Glenn Hoddle reacts to England's World cup draw. Dur 1.10





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