By Jay Mwamba
Stephen Carr’s World Cup dream for Ireland was shattered last week after the Tottenham Hotspur defender broke down in training while recovering from a niggling knee injury. He was ordered to rest for eight weeks, effectively ruling him out of Mick McCarthy’s plans for Japan/Korea ’02.
“The World Cup’s gone and it’s now about getting myself fit and playing football again,” Carr said on Tottenham’s club website. “I found out last week and it’s a massive disappointment.
“I knew my season more or less had gone at Tottenham, so I just wanted to get fit, play a couple of games and get into the World Cup squad, but it’s not to be for me this time.”
FIFA has turned down a request from Ireland’s Group E opponents Cameroon to wear their new sleeveless shirts in the finals.
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Cameroon debuted the shirts in hot and arid Mali during their successful defense of the African Nations Cup last February, but, according to FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper, the tops won’t be allowed in Japan/Korea because they are vests and not shirts.
The Lions’ kit sponsors will now go back to the drawing board to design a new strip for the African side, who open against Ireland in Niigata on June 1.
Back to form Saudi Arabian playmaker Nawaf Al-Temyat is reportedly causing a stir in Europe following his performances in back-to-back wins over South Africa (1-0) and Uruguay (3-2) recently by Ireland’s foes.
Al-Temyat, one of the players to watch with the Republic face the Arab representatives in Yokohama on June 11, also starred in Saudi club Al-Hilal’s 2-1 Asian Cup-Winners’ Cup final triumph over Chonbuk Hyundai of South Korea last week.
The 26-year-old, who was voted the 2001 Asian Footballer of the Year, reportedly has Dutch club Roda JC Kerkrade, Lens of France and Italians Perugia chasing his signature.
The Tunisian FA has appointed Ammar Souyah and Khemaies Laabidi as joint national team coaches for the duration of the World Cup. This follows the recent departure of Frenchman Henri Michel after a run of poor results.
Souyah and Laabidi are the second pair of co-coaches that will be in charge of a team in the Far East. The other is the managerial partnership of Tommy Soderberg and Lars Lagerback in the Swedish camp.
The Tunisian duo made their coaching debut last week in a goalless draw with non-qualifiers Norway in Tunis. Tunisia are drawn in Group H with co-hosts Japan, Belgium, and Russia.
FIFA has given the 32 finalists up May 21 to submit their 23-man rosters for the World Cup. FIFA will publish the lists, which must include three goalkeepers, on May 24.