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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Captain defends coaches
Belgium's Marc Wilmots runs onto the ball as Wesley Sonck outmuscles Victor Onopko
Onopko (right) in action against Belgium

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Victor Onopko has been left devastated by Russia's poor World Cup campaign but refused to blame the coaching team for their early return.

His former international team-mate Andrei Kanchelskis blamed Oleg Romantsev and his fellow coaches for the elimination at the group stage.

Romantsev and his staff resigned after the tournament.

However, Onopko, who won his 100th cap in the final match against Belgium, leapt to their defence.

"Within the team we don't say who exactly is to blame," the captain said.

"We win together, we lose together. We all made errors."

Onopko found no consolation in coming home at the same stage as Argentina and France and has now tipped Spain to go all the way.

His team-mate Vladimir Beschastnych, who is also backing Spain, prefered to talk up Russia's efforts in the Far East.

"We were not that bad. We tried, but didn't succeed," he said.

"It was just tough luck. If the fate was on our side, we would have qualified from the group.

"All four teams were of the equal strength. I don't think someone was stronger than us."


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GROUP H
  P GD PTS
JAPAN 3 +3 7
BELGIUM 3 +1 5
RUSSIA 3 0 3
TUNISIA 3 -4 1

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