Eriksson confident of England seeding

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The Independent Online

The England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, is confident England will be named as one of the seeds for the World Cup finals today.

Fifa's World Cup organising committee will announce today which six sides will join the holders Brazil and hosts Germany as seeds for 2006.

England are ninth in the world, but Eriksson said: "The world ranking is important but it is also what you did in the last two or three World Cups. I doubt very much the US and Mexico will be seeded before us."

England are one of the favourites to win the tournament, but they face an anxious wait to see whether or not they will be seeded and therefore ensure they will not be paired with any of the other seeds in the group stage. In the world rankings, they trail Brazil as well as the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Argentina, France, Spain, Mexico and the US.

However, if Fifa uses the same system as the last two finals, England are likely to be included as a seed. Whatever happens today, Eriksson is confident his side can go all the way in Germany.

He added: "We asked Fifa if we would be seeded or not and what are the rules and they did not answer. I hope we are seeded because that will be very important. If we are not, we cannot protest about it. We are one of five or six teams that can do it. The players are convinced, like I am, that we can win the World Cup. If we do not have any injuries and are not tired at the end of the Premier League season, we have a good chance."

Eriksson revealed that England are likely to use the town of Baden-Baden, near the Black Forest, as their base for the finals.

The smart ball containing an electronic chip will not be used at the World Cup, Fifa announced yesterday. "We consider the technology is not yet ready," said Fifa's general secretary Urs Linsi.

The technology, designed to rule out mistakes on goal-line decisions, was tested at the World Under-17 Championship in Peru. The smart ball contains a microchip which sends out a radio signal when the ball crosses the touchline. That signal is relayed to a computer, which then sends a message to a watch worn on the referee's wrist.

Thomas van Schaik, an adidas spokesman, said: "We are still developing the tracking system and when we are convinced it is 100 per cent bulletproof, 100 per cent perfect, that will be the time for it to be used."

The official tournament ball will be unveiled during Friday's draw ceremony.

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