Category: Archive

Saudis’ soccer slide continues

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Saudis’ soccer slide continues

By Jay Mwamba

Saudi Arabia slumped to a 2-0 defeat by Estonia in Florence, Italy, last week, as the Group E contenders continued their dismal buildup to the World Cup. Center forward Zelinski (11th minute) and midfielder Serguei Tirnhof (51st) had a goal in each half to consign the Saudis to their third straight loss en route to the finals, where they will play Ireland, Germany and Cameroon in the first round. Regarded as the minnows of Group E, Saudi Arabia went into the friendly having suffered losses to Denmark and Brazil in the past month.

In other pre-World Cup friendlies, Mexico hammered Albania 4-0 in San Diego on goals by Jared Borgetti (24th), Ramon Morales (36th), and Adolfo Bautasta (52nd, 90th); while Tunisia and co-hosts South Korea battled to a goalless tie in Tunis.

Mexico will play in Group G alongside Croatia, Italy and Ecuador. Korea tackle the United States, Poland and Portugal in Group D, and Tunisia are draw in Group H with Japan, Russia and Belgium.

Argies face Lions

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In a replay of their Italia ’90 opener, which Cameroon won 1-0, Argentina and the “Indomitable Lions” meet in a friendly in Geneva next Wednesday.

The match should attract a lot of interest from both the Lions’ Group E rivals and experts who are picking Argentina to win the World Cup.

The Argentines, members of the dreaded “Group of Death” have named a full-strength side, including Manchester United linkman Juan Sebastian Veron, for the tussle.

Queiroz quits

South Africa’s Mozambican-born Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz has stepped aside following a clash with newly appointed technical director Jomo Sono over the composition of the World Cup squad.

Sono was brought in following the South African’s poor showing in the recent African Nations Cup, leaving Queiroz with little control over the national team.

According to press reports, Queiroz favored European-based professionals, while Sono wants to blood more players from the domestic league.

South Africa are in Group B with Spain, Paraguay and Slovenia.

Brazilian Sumarai

Japan have included Brazilian-born midfielder Alessandro Santos in their 40-man provisional side for the finals.

The 24-year-old, who goes by the name Alex, has played in the J-League for seven years and received Japanese citizenship last November.

Japan’s coach Philippe Troussier said he was eager to find out how Alex could fit into the team before making a decision on his World Cup status.

Eriksson’s nightmare

English boss Sven Goran Eriksson fears the axe if England flop in Asia this summer.

“Our group is very difficult and contains Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria. If I lose three matches out of those group qualifiers I could be sacked,” he said in London last week.

Eriksson, who has a contract with the FA until 2006 said if that happened, his first option would be to return to Italian Serie A club Lazio, who he quit early last year to take up the England position.

African freebie

FIFA is coming through with its guarantee to provide television rights to the World Cup free to African viewers.

Soccer’s world governing body announced last week that so far, 43 of 54 African nations and more than 50 networks and stations have finalized arrangements to show all the games live free of charge. This covers over 80 percent of the continent.

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