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» » News18 Shorts

NRI spills beans on Preet Mandir

18:54 PM June 27, 2006

Berlin: Fans will be hoping holders Brazil can give the World Cup a lift on Tuesday when they take on debutants Ghana in the second round. The tournament is crying out for some Brazilian flair after a series of low-scoring defensive struggles have bogged down the second round. Tuesday's other knockout match is also a mouthwatering prospect, Spain playing 1998 champions France in Hanover. After Brazil made a sluggish start, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira made five changes for their final group game against Japan, tapping the talent on his bench to produce a 4-1 win and offer a tantalising glimpse of the squad's prowess. Four of the six spots in the quarter-finals decided so far are held by former world champions - Italy, Argentina, England and Germany. Portugal and Ukraine are the only two without a World Cup triumph behind them. On Monday, Ukraine beat Switzerland in a penalty shootout after a sterile scoreless draw. Italy, down to 10 men, scored a last-minute penalty against Australia to advance 1-0. Argentina's stirring extra-time win over Mexico stands out as the only memorable encounter of the knockout stage, although Germany looked good in their 2-0 win over a hapless Sweden. Much of the talk in recent days has been about the referees who have brandished a record 24 red cards so far. "I'm sure we'll see two better matches on Tuesday than we saw on Monday," said Franz Beckenbauer, Germany's organising committee chairman. Brazil coach Parreira has given few clues over his lineup for their match versus Ghana in Dortmund. Ghana will be without their powerhouse midfielder Michael Essien, who is suspended. The Black Stars will have a psychologist with them to help the players overcome nerves for the match against the five-time World Cup winners. Ghana, making their first appearance at the World Cup, surprisingly finished second in a difficult Group E after beating Czech Republic and the United States. France, feared by many for a strike-force that includes Thierry Henry, have relied mostly on a tight defence. After two draws, France finally produced a 2-0 win against Togo in their last group match, their first victory at the finals since they won the trophy in 1998. Spain beat Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in their group games.

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