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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 06:42 GMT 07:42 UK
Silence golden for Bielsa
David Beckham is sent off in the 1998 World Cup match against Argentina
Argentina's coach wants to banish references to 1998
Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa is keen to avoid a war of words developing ahead of his side's clash with England in Sapporo on Friday.

Bielsa sent low-profile squad members Matias Almeyda and Claudio Husain to Tuesday's press conference, after some outspoken comments from players the previous day.

Open Quote
It's just a football match, there's nothing political about it
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Claudio Husain
Juan Sebastian Veron and Pablo Cavallero both brought up the subject of the 1982 Falklands War, when Britain went to war to reclaim the South Atlantic islands after an Argentine invasion.

But after a closed training session on Tuesday, Bielsa began the diplomatic offensive by claiming to admire the English players "for their individuality and their conduct".

And Almeyda and Husain continued the theme.

"England, as ever, will never give up and we're expecting a tough game," said Parma midfielder Almeyda.

"They're quick and good in the air, but we're trying not to think too much about the opposition and, instead, focus on ourselves.

"But you pay heavily for mistakes at the World Cup, and we must try not to commit any against England."

Husain also refused to give the media any provocative statements during the press conference, which Bielsa limited to 15 minutes.

"It's just a football match," he said, "there's nothing political about it."

And there was no chance that either player was going to give England captain David Beckham more reason to be motivated for the match.

"Beckham is a great player who stands out because of all he's done," said Husain, "but all of England are a good team, to be feared."

Veron had earlier said: "This match is about more than the men on the pitch - it's also important in a historical context."

And he was backed up by Argentina's captain Roberto Ayala, who is doubtful for the match in Sapporo with a thigh injury.

Ayala, for whom Veron stood in as captain against Nigeria, described England-Argentina matches as "a derby in the Argentina v Brazil mould".


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1




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