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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Eriksson in good heart
Emile Heskey is congratulated by fellow goalscorer Gareth Southgate
Heskey (right) scored on his return to the England fold
Sven-Goran Eriksson defended his decision to take England to South Africa after watching his players win 2-1 in Durban.

The England coach has come under criticism from some quarters for playing the friendly in Durban.

But Eriksson insisted the exercise had proved a useful one and would stand England in good stead ahead of their Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia on 11 June.

"We came here and we played okay in the first half and played much better second half and we won," he said.

"The game was part of our preparations so it is very good.

"I think now and then you have to go outside Europe to play friendly games and it was a good occasion to do it. The qualification game is 11 June so it was a good time.

I'm glad I came - it's something we have to do now and then, leave Europe
Sven-Goran Eriksson
England coach

"In the first half we didn't play very well and defended a bit poorly as a team in not closing our opponents down. Our passing was also not the best in the world.

"But the second half was much, much better and those players coming on did very well. We deserved the victory.

"A victory is always a victory even if it is only a friendly game.

"I think we performed rather well. It's good, it's very good. I'm glad I came - it's something we have to do now and then, leave Europe.

"It's good for England and it's very good for South Africa."

Gareth Southgate scored the opener for England after just 36 seconds before Emile Heskey sealed the win with the second.

"Emile Heskey played very well and I'm very happy for him," added Eriksson.

"He's had a difficult season but he did very well, was very strong, kept the ball and scored the winning goal. Very good."






ENGLAND'S SUMMER MATCHES

ENGLAND 2-1 SLOVAKIA

ENGLAND 2-1 SERBIA & M

SOUTH AFRICA 1-2 ENGLAND


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