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World Cup Roundup

German defender Woerns could miss finals

Posted: Friday May 10, 2002 11:10 AM

WINDEN, Germany (AP) -- Christian Woerns could become Germany's second central defender to miss the World Cup, depending on the result of arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, team officials said Friday.

The 30-year-old Borussia Dortmund defender will undergo the surgery Saturday.

"Christian has had problems in the left knee for several weeks," assistant coach Michael Skibbe said. "There seems to be some damage to his meniscus. We want to be sure."

"Right now I am confident that he will be ready to practice again in 10 to 14 days and that he will travel with us -- if the damage proves to be small," Skibbe said.

If the damage to Woerns' knee proves to be major, he would be replaced on the World Cup roster by Frank Baumann from Werder Bremen.

Baumann, one of eight players on standby, already has been told to be ready to jump in for Woerns if necessary, Skibbe said.

If Woerns is unable to travel, Germany will be without its usual starting pair of central defenders at the World Cup.

Jens Nowotny of Bayer Leverkusen had to pull out of the World Cup after tearing knee ligaments.

With Marko Rehmer still recovering from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since March, Voeller could end up without his first-choice defense line.

Midfielder Sebastian Deisler, just back from a knee injury, received a knock in his thigh during Thursday's 7-0 win over Kuwait and missed Friday's practice in Germany's training camp.

Turkish squad starts training camp

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- The bulk of Turkey's national soccer squad on Friday started a weeklong training camp on the country's Mediterranean coast -- where humidity levels are similar to South Korea, the team's World Cup base.

Turkey faces Brazil in its Group C opening game on June 3. Other opponents are Costa Rica and China.

Twenty players joined the camp at the resort town of Belek, near the city of Antalya. Parma striker Hakan Sukur was expected to return to Turkey later Friday to join the camp, after being left out of his team's squad for Friday's Italian Cup final against Juventus, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Sukur is nursing a minor injury, a recurrence of tendon strains suffered earlier this season. He is expected to be fit to train.

Six of the squad's 11 Europe-based players could not travel to Turkey because of club commitments but will join the team after May 17 in Hong Kong, where Turkey is due to play two warmup matches, said coach Senol Gunes.

"We're turning the key of success in the World Cup here," Turkey Gunes told a news conference hours before his players went on the training ground.

Gunes said he had no injured players in the squad and that defender Alpay Ozalan of Aston Villa, who has been sidelined for five months with an ankle injury, was in good shape.

"Alpay has no physical problems," Gunes said.

Umit Davala, who rejoined Galatasaray on Thursday after struggling to make the team at Italy's AC Milan, would have a chance to regain match fitness at the camp, Gunes said.

"He had been away from the pitch for 10-12 days," Gunes said of Davala. "We will try to fix that here."

Gunes said the camp will be a relaxed one. Players are attending with their families.

"I want them to feel as if they're coming to training from home," Gunes said. "We want to spend this period without getting exhausted."

Meanwhile, Gunes rebuffed criticism of his decision to axe former captain Ogun Temizkanoglu of Fenerbahce. Temizkanoglu had already announced that he would retire from international soccer this summer.

"We are doing what is necessary to achieve success," Gunes said. "Especially, a player who served as a captain has no right to be offended."

Turkey is going to the World Cup after a 48-year break, and Gunes called on the public and authorities to show more interest in the team and motivate players for the country's first appearance in the World Cup since 1954.

Squad numbers give clues to England team

LONDON (Reuters) -- England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson revealed the shirt numbers of his World Cup squad Friday but denied they indicated which players would start the opening game against Sweden.

With the exception of number nine Robbie Fowler, numbers one to 11 are almost exactly the team expected to line up against Eriksson's homeland in Japan in their opening group F game on June 2.

But Eriksson told the Football Association's Web site on Friday: "This is the way that the shirts have been allocated.

"As for my starting XI to face Sweden, we will wait and see on that one, but I can say for sure that squad numbers will certainly not play a part in my team selection."

There are few surprises in the allocation of the numbers in the 23-man party, with Eriksson handing goalkeeper David Seaman the number one jersey and striker Michael Owen his favoured number 10.

At the 1998 World Cup, 18-year-old Owen wore number 20, and together with 19-year-old number 21 Rio Ferdinand, enjoyed the rare privilege of having an age lower than his shirt number.

Owen's Liverpool teammate, number 11 Emile Heskey, is favorite to partner him in the England attack against Sweden.

Number 23 Kieron Dyer of Newcastle, the only player likely to be in the first XI without a corresponding shirt, is favorite to start in the left midfield position.

Superstitious Fowler

Fowler prefers wearing the number nine jersey. When he joined Leeds from Liverpool earlier this season he opted for 27, treble nine, because Mark Viduka already had the nine shirt.

Fowler's Leeds teammate Danny Mills gets the right-back's traditional number two jersey, with Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole number three.

Central defenders Rio Ferdinand of Leeds and Sol Campbell of Arsenal have numbers five and six.

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has the number four shirt, with captain David Beckham and his Manchester United club mate Paul Scholes seven and eight respectively.

West Ham United's 19-year-old midfielder Joe Cole, a surprise inclusion in Eriksson's squad, will wear the number 19 -- the same number worn by inspirational midfielder Paul Gascoigne at the 1990 World Cup.

Squad numbers: 1-David Seaman, 2-Danny Mills, 3-Ashley Cole, 4-Steven Gerrard, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 6-Sol Campbell, 7-David Beckham, 8-Paul Scholes, 9-Robbie Fowler, 10-Michael Owen, 11-Emile Heskey, 12-Wes Brown, 13-Nigel Martyn, 14-Wayne Bridge, 15-Martin Keown, 16-Gareth Southgate, 17-Teddy Sheringham, 18-Owen Hargreaves, 19-Joe Cole, 20-Darius Vassell, 21-Nicky Butt, 22-David James, 23-Kieron Dyer.

Striker Yang, midfielder Yu rejoin China

BEIJING (Reuters) -- Top striker Yang Chen linked up with China's World Cup squad from his German second-division side Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday ahead of Saturday's friendly against Thailand, state media have reported.

Injured midfielder Yu Genwei, who was in Belgium for almost a month receiving treatment on a ruptured knee ligament, was also due back in China on Friday, the Beijing Morning Post said.

Coach Bora Milutinovic welcomed the return of both players to a side which appears to be nearing full strength just two weeks after six first-team players had to sit out a scoreless draw with South Korea in a friendly.

Milutinovic expressed full confidence in the 28-year-old Yang, who scored in each of his last two games in Germany after struggling for early-season form and disappointing for China in World Cup qualifiers.

"Now he's scoring more. So we have hope he will score at the World Cup," Milutinovic said.

The Chinese coach compared Yang, who has played for four years with Frankfurt, to Brazil's Ronaldo, saying he would be ready to play despite missing several team sessions while playing in Europe.

Yang looked fresh in practice and is expected to start in Satyrday's friendly to be played in the south eastern city of Kunming.

Milutinovic said Yu, who was due to fly into Beijing before travelling to Kunming, would feature in China's final World Cup squad if his recovery from injury continued.

Yu played 70 minutes in a practice game with the Belgian first division side Standard Liege on Tuesday, hitting the post twice and impressing Liege players and coaches, the coach said.

China, making their first appearance in the World Cup finals after 44 years of trying, are drawn in Group C, with Brazil, Turkey and Costa Rica.

France's Lizarazu warns of violent Uruguay

BOURG SAINT-MAURICE, France (Reuters) -- World champion France should get through the first round at the World Cup but is wary of the violent reputation of its second opponent Uruguay, defender Bixente Lizarazu said Friday.

"They have the reputation of being violent and they are very tough in individual challenges," the Bayern Munich player said.

"There is only one way to deal with such a behavior and that is to make them respect us physically," he said. "But we will have to be smart to avoid having players sent off."

"Actually, the main fear we have is that they (Uruguay) may turn the game nasty, as they will gain some advantage from this situation."

Apart from their recent successes against Brazil, the French have had some difficulty against South American sides in the past.

En route to their 1998 World Cup triumph, France came very close to making an early exit against Paraguay in a very tense and balanced second-round match in which the teams were finally separated by a Laurent Blanc golden goal in the 114th minute.

"We eventually snatched the victory but it confirmed we always have had trouble dealing with the South American teams," said Lizarazu.

The international defender has had a foretaste of what the world champion can expect when he won the World Club Cup with Bayern Munich by beating Argentina's Boca Juniors last year.

"I had not played in a match like this one. They (Boca Junior) were incredibly violent in the physical contact and in their language too."

"Actually, we found the right answer. We made them respect us physically and we never lost our cool. Eventually, one of their players was sent off and we won."

Lizarazu said he has a pretty good idea of what could happen in the two other group A games against Senegal and Denmark.

"I guess Senegal will give everything as we take them on in the opening match. As for Denmark, there is not much to say. We know them as we face them in almost every finals."

"But what I'm certain of is that playing Uruguay is not going to be a great joy."

Uruguay was the last of the 32 teams to qualify thanks to its win over Australia in a playoff.

Charlton expects Ireland to out-do England

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Jack Charlton, who played on England's World Cup-winning team in 1966 and twice coached Ireland into soccer's greatest tournament, says this time the Irish will have a better chance of winning than the English.

"There'll be nobody happier than me if Ireland meet England in the final. But I don't believe that's going to happen because England have no chance of getting that far," Charlton was quoted as telling the Irish Star newspaper Friday.

"Everyone says that England have better players than Ireland, but I don't agree."

He said that while his successor as Irish coach, Mick McCarthy, had patiently built a solid starting core around star Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane, England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson had an unpredictable mix of new faces and injury-troubled veterans.

McCarthy "already knows his starting team," Charlton told the paper, "but I don't believe Sven has a prayer about his first choice."

Charlton said he considered one of England's group rivals, Argentina, as favorite to win the 2002 World Cup.

He said the English must beat Sweden in its first game June 2 because, he was quoted as saying, "I don't feel they are capable of beating Argentina" in England's second match June 7. England plays its remaining group competitor, Nigeria, on June 12.

By contrast, he said the defensively strong Irish squad could draw against both of its group favorites, African champion Cameroon and traditional powerhouse Germany, and advance by beating the group's minnow, Saudi Arabia. Ireland plays Cameroon June 1, Germany on June 5 and Saudi Arabia June 11.

Ireland went undefeated in its World Cup qualifying group, when it finished in second place alongside Portugal and knocked out talent-laden Netherlands.

England struggled badly in its first qualifying games, but Eriksson achieved a remarkable turnaound after the Swede became England's first foreign coach. He led England from the bottom to the top of the qualifying group, thanks partly to a stunning 5-1 road defeat of Germany.

The 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, featuring 32 teams, starts May 31 and concludes June 30.

Morioka return gives Japan World Cup boost

OSAKA (Reuters) -- Co-hosts Japan have received a timely boost three weeks before the start of the World Cup with the news that central defender Ryuzo Morioka has recovered from his long-term hamstring problems.

The 26-year-old played the full 90 minutes for Shimizu S-Pulse in its Nabisco Cup tie at Vissel Kobe on Thursday and suffered no ill effects from the hamstring injury that had threatened to rule him out of the World Cup.

"I felt a bit rusty and was a bit slow in my first one-on-one situation but, on the whole, it went better than I expected," Morioka said after a comfortable 2-0 win.

"It's just a question of finding my legs and getting used to the pace of the game again."

Japan coach Philippe Troussier names his final 23-man World Cup squad on May 17 but Morioka is one of a handful of players for whom the Frenchman would be prepared to extend that cut-off date.

Only Hidetoshi Nakata (Parma), Shinji Ono (Feyenoord) and goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Portsmouth) command the same kind of respect from Troussier.

Morioka, who captained Japan to their second Asian Cup triumph in Lebanon in 2000, tore a hamstring in pre-season training and has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation since early March in a bid to be fit for the World Cup.

The finals, being co-hosted by South Korea, kick off on May 31.

Morioka's return will come as a huge relief for Troussier after forwards Naohiro Takahara (lung infection) and Akinori Nishizawa (appendix) were all but ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week.

Although Japan have compiled a seven-match unbeaten run in internationals dating back to October, they have looked shaky in defense without Morioka, who has been a permanent fixture since making his debut against Brazil in Tokyo in March 1999.

Gamba Osaka defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, once a target for English Premier League club West Ham United, has been unconvincing as deputy for Morioka in recent matches.

Miyamoto was at fault for two of the three first-half goals Japan conceded in the 3-3 Kirin Cup draw with Honduras in Kobe on May 2 when his lack of pace and poor positioning at set pieces was exposed by the visitors.

But with Morioka restored to the middle of the back three, Japan immediately become more solid. The S-Pulse defender has genuine pace and is one of the best readers of the game in Asia.

Morioka, who has played 32 times for Japan, is set to continue his comeback at home to FC Tokyo in the Nabisco Cup on Sunday.

"Right now it feels different back on a full-size pitch. I've got to keep working my way back into shape in the time that's left (before the World Cup)," he said.

For Troussier, whose side play a friendly against Norway in Oslo on Tuesday, Morioka's return to the national side cannot come soon enough.

 
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Reuters contributed to this report.

 


 
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