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Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
A gloomy homecoming
Team-mates Claudio Lopez (left) and Juan Sebastian Veron (right) on their way home
Argentina's players were stunned by their early exit

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The head coach of Argentina's football team and a number of players have arrived back in Buenos Aires, following their surprise elimination from the World Cup.

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Communication [with the players] was perfect and I cannot fault them
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Head coach Marcelo Bielsa
"To the good and the bad," read one banner at the airport arrivals hall. "We're with you all the way."

It summed up the mood here as the country continues to gaze into its entrails in a search for reasons as to why its beloved team bowed out of the competition at such an early stage.

Hundreds of fans crowded into the airport, banging drums and cheering, in spite of, rather than because of, their team's performance.

Bad luck

There was plenty of frustration and disappointment in the hall, but few fans were angry.

Bielsa's World Cup hopes were shattered
Most felt they were simply victims of bad luck.

The man many blame for the result, head coach Marcelo Bielsa, has already described it as his worst moment in a decade.

"Communication [with the players] was perfect and I cannot fault them," he told reporters at the airport.

Bielsa accepted responsibility for the team's performance, but Argentines do not admit defeat easily.

Although they finished third in the group, he insisted they were still the best team there.


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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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