Win over Greece will give team Beckham W'Cup berth

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Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Manchester :

England captain David Beckham has urged his teammates to beat Greece in their final World Cup qualifying match and win automatic passage to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Victory at Old Trafford would put England through as the automatic qualifiers from group nine, barring a miracle scoreline by Germany, who take on Finland on Saturday. But England will have to play without first choice goalkeeper David Seaman and Michael Owen, one of the world's top strikers - both are out through injury. New coach Sven Goran Eriksson has transformed the English side. They were at the bottom of their group a year ago, but are the group leaders now. England know they are only a win away from the World Cup finals, and captain David Beckham says they must be patient in their final qualifier on Saturday. "I always thought we had the ability to do it. It was just getting the confidence and getting a better start than we got. Once the new manager came in and things changed around the team and there was freshness in the team and we started playing well," he said. Beckham is also confident that England can dispose of the Greeks despite losing the core of their team to injuries including chief goal scorer Michael Owen, central defender Sol Campbell and experienced keeper David Seaman are all out. England also have the psychological edge over Greece. They had beaten them 2-0 in June this year in the away encounter. For Germany, the shadow of last month's 5-1 drubbing at home to England is still looming large. The defeat knocked Germany off the top spot in Group nine and in turn left England in prime position. The German camp is hoping it will be back to business as usual in their final Group nine game against Finland. "We think that we are strong enough at the weekend. (We are) In better shape than the match against England and we hope that it will be possible to win, and - on the other hand - that the Greece team are in better shape than they were in Finland a few weeks ago," said Michael Skibbe, the German deputy coach. Oliver Kahn was the man who suffered the ignominy of picking the ball out of the net five times in Munich. Germany's goalkeeper will be hoping his defence gives him more support this time out: If they beat Finland and England stumble to a draw or defeat against Greece, Germany would qualify automatically. However, unless that happens, the three times World champions will face a playoff match against either Ukraine or Belarus.

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