On the ball

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The Independent Online

Not long to go now. The geisha girls are preparing, the sushi chefs are limbering up, Sven Goran Eriksson has finalised who he will be taking with him. All eyes are on Hertfordshire, where, this Sunday, David and Victoria Beckham will host a party featuring Sir Elton John and 60,000 orchids to mark the imminent departure of the England soccer team to Korea and Japan.

Forgive us a small frivolity. Here, we are fully committed to the fortunes of our boys. We are alive to the pace of Nigeria, wary of Swedish guile and the Argentinian variation from 4-3-3 to 3-3-1-3 to, even, 4-1-2-3; cognisant, too, of the dietary and psychological importance of the Jaffa Cake. Above all, we recognise that soccer is the vital symbol of our national health, scanned with anxiety as England places its hope, faith and future in the triumph of honest energy and combative skill. So, no pressure there, then. Good luck, everybody!