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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Veron relief at win
Argentina captain Juan Sebastian Veron outplayed his opposite number Nigeria's Jay-Jay Okocha
Veron won the midfield battle with Jay-Jay Okocha
Argentina stand-in captain Juan Sebastian Veron expressed his relief at beating Nigeria 1-0 in their opening World Cup game.

The tournament favourites outplayed their African counterparts and won the game courtesy of Gabriel Batistuta's superb header.

But they now face an anxious wait to see if skipper Roberto Ayala, who hurt himself before the match, will be fit for their next game - against England on Friday.

Coach Marcelo Bielsa said: "He felt a pain as he was warming up and with the difficulty he was feeling, it was advisable to withdraw him as a precaution."

Open Quote
Now we have to play England, which is going to be a very tough game
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Juan Sebastian Veron

However, Argentina coped well without him and Veron was clearly delighted to get off to a winning start.

"We're very happy to have achieved an important victory over tough rivals," he said.

"It was a hard match we dominated for most of the 90 minutes and had lots of chances to score but it was very difficult.

"What was important was the team. This is a very difficult group with great teams and great players and we were able to show the world what we are worth as a team."

Asked if this victory made Argentina stronger favourites to win the Cup, he said: "No, there are six more games."

"Now we have to play England, which is going to be a very tough game.

"I'm sure England will be ready. They have speed, they have good players and whatever the result it will be close.

"The history between the two countries is not important."


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Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron
"We still have a long way to go"
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ARGENTINA V NIGERIA
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 SQUAD PROFILES
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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