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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Ortega on the offensive
Ariel Ortega in action during the qualifying stages
Ortega missed only two qualifying matches
Argentina's Ariel Ortega has issued a World Cup plea to coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Ortega was a regular during his country's dominant performance throughout the South American World Cup qualifying competition, scoring five goals in 16 matches.

However, since Argentina secured their place in Korea and Japan he has been overlooked by Bielsa, despite his good form for club side River Plate.

After missing three consecutive friendlies, including Wednesday's 1-0 win over Germany, Ortega fears the dream of a place in the 23-man squad could be slipping from his grasp.

However, he is not going to give it up without a fight.

"When I am not in the squad for the friendlies it makes me very angry," the 27-year-old told Argentine sports daily Ole.

"But I'm not even thinking of not going - I'd die if I didn't go to the World Cup."

'El Burrito' - the little donkey as he is known - usually plays on the right wing for Argentina, but the return to form and favour of veteran Claudio Caniggia has seen the younger man frozen out.

Ortega made it clear he had "respect and admiration" for Caniggia, but added: "I want to play."

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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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