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England ready for crucial tie

Beckham, centre
England's captain Beckham celebrates his penalty against Argentina  


OSAKA, Japan (CNN) -- English and Nigerian fans were greeted by brilliant sunshine as they arrived in Japan's second city of Osaka for the final game in Group F of the World Cup's first round.

England needed only a draw to go forward to the last 16 while Nigeria are already out of the tournament.

Thousands of supporters, mostly dressed in the red and white of England, poured into Osaka, 450 kilometres (280 miles) west of Tokyo, waving flags and chanting team songs in preparation for the big game.

Back home in England workplaces were expected to come to a standstill as Sven-Goran Eriksson's team were expected to go through to a second round clash with either Denmark or Senegal.

Sweden and the Argentina were simultaneously battling for the other survival slot from what became known as the "Group of Death."

England has been starved of success in recent years. At Euro 2000, England failed to clear the group phase after conceding a late penalty to lose 3-2 to Romania.

They lost on penalties to Argentina at the 1998 World Cup after David Beckham was sent off early in the second half, and squandered another lead to Germany at the Euro 96 semifinals before again bowing out on penalties.

Though Friday's victory over Argentina was a major achievement, so too was last September's 5-1 drubbing of Germany in Munich during qualifying.

However, that historic victory was followed by a very scrappy 2-0 win over Albania and a fortuitous 2-2 draw with Greece, sealed with virtually the last kick of the game from Beckham.

"That should be a very good lesson for us," Eriksson told reporters after watching world champions France go out. "If you are not 100 percent focused on what you are doing you will not win a game at this World Cup."

After two consecutive defeats, Nigeria were simply seeking a face-saving result before making their exit.

Striker Nwankwo Kanu has been ruled out of the game by injury, thereby missing the chance to take on three Arsenal team mates in the England side -- Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and David Seaman.





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