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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
World Cup is quite a journey
A concourse at Kansai airport
Japan's Kansai airport rises out of the sea


Coming from the UK, the land of crumbling roads and disintegrating railways, the first thing you notice when you arrive here in Japan is the amazing transport network.

Where else but in Japan would you land at an airport built in the sea (Osaka/Kansai)?

After that it is a ride along a 40-mile motorway built 100 feet above the rooftops (Kobe) and then you cross the largest suspension bridge in the world to get to England's base (Awaji).

The cities' subway systems run on time. They are fast, clean and safe, and if I could book myself an open return ticket on the Bullet Train back to London I would.

A Bullet Train sits beside a platform at a Japanese railway station
Bonnet is a big fan of the Bullet Train

Just as well the fans can get around of course. This is a vastly bloated World Cup across two countries and 20 venues, but getting to a venue does not necessarily mean getting into it.

England fans found that to their cost at Saitama.

Sections of empty seating during the match against Sweden will have made infuriating viewing for those fans watching on TV just a short trip away in Tokyo.

And it is even worse now that they have learned Fifa moved the goalposts and decided tickets WOULD be made available via the Internet on match day.

Even then their website crashed after half an hour.

Fifa has promised further investigation.

Open Quote
Inevitably, the Argentina build-up will focus again on Beckham
Close Quote

Those who did have a seat in Saitama's truly magnificent stadium provided the most enduring image so far.

I swear I saw 10,000 thousand flashlights pop together as David Beckham swung that corner across for Sol Campbell.

In the instant before the roar that greeted the goal, there was a collective gasp of astonishment.

Not just because it was a truly spectacular sight - like maybe a constellation exploding - but somewhere in there too was the acknowledgement of Beckham's astonishing power as the brightest star of them all.

No matter that a wide-angle shot from Row Triple Z will reveal Beckham as a pin-prick in the bottom corner of the frame.

A disappointed David Beckham (left) and Sven-Goran Eriksson walk off after the 1-1 draw with Sweden
Beckham (left) is Eriksson's trump card
Whether the photo finds its place in an album in Tokyo or Totnes, it represents a moment that says "I was there".

You would have believed Sweden goalkeeper Magnus Hedman if he had said he had been distracted by the snapper-fans as Campbell's header hit the back of the net.

He did not, but what he did say was that England were "predictable".

We might have predicted that.

Sven-Goran Eriksson is right to remain calm and optimistic ahead of the game against Argentina, but he had no real explanation for the second-half degeneration against Sweden.

He knows that the football writers will turn nasty if England lost to Argentina.

So much depends on the Bespectacled One.

The main man

And the Tattooed One, who was the first name inked in on the team-sheet for Sapporo on Friday.

Beckham was certainly down ahead of Heskey, who got the coach's reassurance nice and early ahead of the Sweden game.

However, his role against Argentina now has the uncertainty of a "maybe, maybe not" quote from his boss.

Inevitably, the Argentina build-up will focus again on Beckham. Can he get match-fit? Can he inspire the team? Can he exact revenge?

And will he last the 90 minutes? Though this time we are talking about the fragility of his metatarsal, not his temperament!

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