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Argentina keep feet on ground amid the praise

Written by: Staff
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GELSENKIRCHEN, June 17 (Reuters) Argentina were quick to say that just because they had put on a superb show in the 6-0 victory over Serbia&Montenegro at the World Cup they had not reached the Holy Grail.

Jose Peckerman's team were justifiably lauded for their performance in yesterday's Group C match that, with the Netherlands' 2-1 win over Ivory Coast, secured Argentina's place in the second round.

They are aware, however, they will face quite different rivals next, starting with the Dutch in a match next Wednesday in Frankfurt that will decide which team tops the group, and different tactics.

Pekerman may also decide that the next match is good for some changes to the line-up, resting players for the second round and looking to wipe out the yellow cards of defender Gabriel Heinze and strikers Hernan Crespo and the brilliant Javier Saviola.

Yellow cards collected during the first round are not carried through to the knockout stage unless two successive bookings are given.

Peckerman did not want to discuss the future as he basked in the delights of Friday's match and he and his players were unlikely on Saturday to look further than Marco van Basten's Dutch side.

'KEEP CALM' ''Now the most important thing is to be calm and turn our minds to the next rivals,'' said Saviola, for many Argentine observers the man of the match even though he did not score, which is his speciality.

''We must be the first to calm down and give a message that calms everyone's anxiety,'' he said of the euphoria back home.

''The older players keep reminding us that this is a World Cup and we still have to face the toughest teams,'' added Saviola, who has rediscovered the form of his River Plate days and added some defensive duties on the weaker right flank.

''We had a perfect, complete match, there was nothing missing ... the right side is the more exposed and I have to do the dirty work.'' Saviola pointed to the strength of the left where full back Juan Pablo Sorin and winger Maxi Rodriguez worked well together and often had the added help of Juan Roman Riquelme, FIFA's man of the match.

Rodriguez, who scored twice in the first half, said: ''It all came off for us.

''We have to continue on this path, the team must stay as solid as this but we have no right to think beyond Holland.

''Our first big victory will be to qualify in the first place. Having qualified already only permits us not to go into the last group match with so much tension.

''Jose (Pekerman) was really happy and he congratulated everyone. He said today we saw a real team,'' added Rodriguez of the coach's succcess in erasing the hurt of Argentina's shock first-round exit in Japan four years ago.

REUTERS PM KP1545

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