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By ESPN Staff

Rooney can be World Cup revelation

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 20 (Reuters) - England's Wayne Rooney will be the revelation of the World Cup, says former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo.

'There are good players in several national teams but I think the kid Rooney of England is going to be the revelation,' said Bilardo, who steered the side captained by Diego to Argentina's second world title in Mexico in 1986.

'(Rooney) is a potent player, fast, a good finisher and for defenders he'll be hard to mark,' added Bilardo in an interview with Reuters on Friday.

'In Mexico we had the luck to have the best Maradona.' Bilardo, whose team were also runners-up in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, said Argentina teenager Lionel Messi and Italian striker Luca Toni were also among the top players.

He said Brazil were favourites to retain their crown but that coach Jose Pekerman's Argentina can beat them.

'Brazil, from the middle forward, because of their players, look invincible but in a World Cup it's all very different and you have to show (your superiority),' Bilardo said.

'For me the champions will be Argentina, Brazil or Germany because they are the home team.

The only other teams likely to win the June 9-July 9 tournament were European former winners England and Italy.

'There are no African (world) champions, or Asian so there's no way (they can win it),' said Bilardo, a qualified doctor who now hosts a football radio programme.


Bilardo, whose cautious tactics were not in the Argentine attacking tradition, has a small core of fans who in the past have lobbied for his return when the team have played badly, like after their shock first-round elimination under Marcelo Bielsa in the 2002 World Cup in Asia.

Asked if England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's problems with the British media would affect him or his team, Bilardo said he did not expect any consequences.

'That's always happened in England. They have a few very hard newspapers that always do those things, but nothing's going to happen with that subject.'

Eriksson was lured into a tabloid sting in which he talked about a possible lucrative post-World Cup job and made private comments about some of his England players.

Bilardo played down the apparent difficulty of Argentina's first round group in which they meet Ivory Coast, Serbia & Montenegro and Netherlands, in that order.

'Better to have Holland in the first round. Two go through and I don't think Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro are better than Argentina and the Dutch,' he said.