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'Hope Sven leaves England on a high'

Soccer coach Bob Houghton praises Eriksson while talking to Varun Gupta.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 13:22 IST

Being an Englishman, I will naturally wave the St George's Cross, although not literally. However, patriotism is not the only reason behind my allegiance to England.

Sven Goran Eriksson, presently in charge of the England team, is a close personal friend of mine and is a very amiable fellow.

The fact that he is Swedish and I personally lived and worked in Sweden for 30 years and had many engaging conversations with him makes him all the more endearing to me.

I remember that when I used to work in Sweden, Sven used to come to the training ground and watch my modus operandi. He picked a lot of my traits, and I'm not just blowing my own trumpet here as he has mentioned this in his book.

He has extolled me in his book and I would love to see him leave the England job on a high. Sven is a very reticent follow and he has been given a torrid time by the implacable English media but I hope that he has the last laugh.

England possess the players that can propel them to lift the consecrated chalice after a seemingly eternal wait in Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard among others.

However, my gut feeling tells me about the team whose name has been dancing merrily on everyone's lips - that Brazil is the team to beat.

The talent, determination and adventure that seep through the side boggle the mind. Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka are some of the players who can deliver the guillotine any moment.

Their genius is unmatched and the ebullience that suffuses the Brazilian spirit makes them almost irresistible.

Earlier, their style of play was a bit susceptible when playing in Europe but now with almost all of them playing there they have been able to bridge that shortcoming too, if at all it can be called a shortcoming.

After Brazil, I think the creative yet deceptive Argentines have to be the favourites. They've matched Brazil step for step in the South American qualifying and I won't be surprised if they do manage to ruffle the Brazilians' feathers if they play to their potential.

In fact Italy, Holland, England and Argentina stand at the same rung and anyone of them can lift the World Cup.