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  • Thursday, August 3, 2000

    Hargreaves cracks Bayern Munich first team

     (CP) -- Calgary teenager Owen Hargreaves could be in some elite company this weekend.
     The 19-year-old midfielder, who has cracked the first team squad at Bayern Munich, could see action Friday against UEFA Cup champion Galatasaray in a tournament celebrating Bayern Munich's centenary. If host Bayern wins, then the German champion will play either Real Madrid or Manchester United, the last two European champions, in Saturday's final.
     "I think he will play some time in this tournament," Werner Kern, who oversaw Hargreaves during his time with the Bayern Munich youth team, said Thursday from Munich.
     "It's absolutely great. He has made a very positive development and is very well appreciated by the coach and the officials of the professional (first) team."
     Hargreaves, who wears No. 23 for Bayern Munich, saw action Tuesday as Bayern defeated Hertha Berlin 5-1 in the final of the DFB League Cup. He came on as a substitute for Michael Tarnat in the 78th minute.
     Hargreaves is in pre-season training with the first team and has appeared in several exhibition games already.
     He plays midfield but dropped back to right fullback against Hertha Berlin.
     Canadian national team coach Holger Osieck says he has his eye on Hargreaves.
     "He is not out of sight. I'm in touch with (Bayern Munich president) Franz Beckenbauer and I'm getting all the information," Osieck said. "He's not lost."
     Asked if Hargreaves might be called up during this current round of World Cup qualifying, Osieck said: "Maybe not yet, but later probably."
     "In midfield, we don't have any problems at all," Osieck added. "If he was a striker, it would make things different."
     The Munich tournament could mark the debut of Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo, the world's most expensive soccer player, with Real Madrid. But French star goalkeeper Fabien Barthez is not expected to make his debut for Manchester United until Saturday with backup Raymond van der Gouw starting Friday.
     Watson Woes: Things don't look bright for Canadian defender Mark Watson, whose contract negotiations with Oxford United have stalled because of his commitments to the national team.
     "I can't justify paying him that kind of money when he's not with us," Oxford manager Dennis Smith said Thursday.
     Oxford has offered Watson a lesser salary if he plays internationally "so I can cover (for) him," said Smith. Or his normal salary if he is available for all the club's games.
     Watson told the Oxford Mail that he believes he will only miss three games with the Second Division side over the next three years because of international commitments.
     Watson told the Mail he would retire from international football after a tournament next summer, presumably the Confederations Cup in June.
     "It's easy to say," Smith says. "The next minute the national team calls him up and we don't want him to go but he's got to go. And I'm stuck."
     Smith pointed to the Gold Cup earlier this year.
     "He says 'I'll be back in less than a week' and (they) went through to win it. I never saw him for ages and when he came back he was absolutely shattered. Very, very fatigued."
     Smith said the fans like Watson and so does he.
     "But I would have liked this to be settled long before now," he said. "The only reason you've caught me in the office is I'm sitting here waiting for an agent to turn up with another central defender."
     Smith is also upset he has had to deal with Watson's agent and not with the player himself.
     "As far as Mark's concerned, he's disappeared off the face of the earth."
     "I'd be the last person to tell anybody don't play for your country," Smith added. "I'm very patriotic and I wouldn't have agreed to it, but then I would have tried to work around it, to fit it in with my life."
     Watson, 29, has played for Canada 60 times.
     No More World of Soccer: TSN has pulled the plug on Graham Leggat's World of Soccer after more than a decade.
     "A highlight program like TSN's World of Soccer isn't in demand as it once was," said Keith Pelley, TSN's senior vice-president of programming and production. "Because fans can now access soccer information, scores and highlights instantaneously via the Internet. And it isn't as relevant as it once was."
     With CTV Sportsnet showing live and taped English Premier League games, TSN moved World of Soccer to 8 a.m. Saturdays "but it just didn't work there," Pelley said.
     Ratings were in the 30,000 to 40,000 range.
     TSN will continue to show Champions League game this season and bid for major championships like the World Cup. Leggat, a former Scottish international who has been the face of soccer to many Canadian fans, has been asked to stay on and help with that soccer coverage.
     World of Soccer will probably be replaced by a magazine-style show like Canadian Sportsfishing or a repeat of Sportsdesk, Pelley said.
     In other broadcast news, Bell ExpressVu will offer pay-per-view English Premier League games to its satellite dish customers. The full menu of 32 games costs $99 with individual games costing $8.95 live and $5.95 on replay.
     Orient Express -- As expected, the 2001 Confederations Cup will take place in Japan and South Korea and serve as a test event for those venues in advance of the 2002 World Cup.
     Canada will be joined by the two host countries, defending champion Mexico and the other continental champions: Australia (Oceania), Brazil (South America), Cameroon (Africa) and France (Europe) in the eight-county field.
     Dates have yet to be finalized but FIFA said the event will probably take place in June 2001.
     Canada also has a summer date in Colombia for Copa America, the South American championship scheduled from July 12 to 29.
     Canadian coach Holger Osieck declined comment on dates for the two tournaments until he has consulted with Canadian Soccer Association officials who attended the FIFA meeting in Zurich.
     The CSA has said it would choose the Confederations Cup over Copa America if the dates clashed.
     Canada won invitations to both tournaments by virtue of winning the Gold Cup in February.
     FIFA also announced that Spain will host next year's Club World Championships. The event will feature 12 teams, four more than during this year's inaugural event in Brazil, which was won by the Brazilian side Corinthians.
     W-League Final Four: The Toronto Inferno, who suffered through a 3-11 expansion season last year, are now one win away from the W-League championship game. The fourth-seeded Inferno take on the top-seeded, unbeaten Chicago Cobras and star Canadian striker Charmaine Hooper in Raleigh, S.C., on Friday evening in one semifinal while the No. 3 Boston Renegades meet the No. 2 Raleigh Wings in the other.
     "We're definitely not going down there to lose," Toronto coach Tony Marmo said. "But we also know we've got our work cut out for us.
     "We need to play our best game in order to do some damage."
     Raleigh won the title last year, defeating Chicago 3-2 in a shootout.
     Toronto (8-5-1) finished tied with the Laval Dynamites (7-6-1) with 35 points atop the Northern Conference but moved into the final four by virtue of having more victories.
     Marmo pointed to consistency in goal -- Sarah Buckland and Dawn Boone -- as one reason for the turnaround.
     "Last year we used seven (goalies) in 14 games," he said.
     Marmo also pointed to striker Tina Blaskovic (10 goals and two assists) and midfielder Tanya Franck as key performers.
     Chicago finished the season at 14-0 while Raleigh was 11-0-1.
     Hooper was named to the W-League team of the week along with Toronto defender Janine Willis and Franck.
     The third-place game and final are slated for Sunday.
     In short -- The Canadian under-17 team will take on their U.S. counterpart on Aug. 12 in Oneonta, N.Y., in the National Soccer Hall of Fame Game ... Osieck says Millwall midfielder Marc Bircham has recovered from his ankle injury and is likely to be called up for the Aug. 15 game against Mexico. No. 1 goalie Craig Forrest is back training with West Ham but Osieck says he doesn't know whether he is ready to play yet .... Canadian women's coach Even Pellerud has called in three new faces -- goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek and midfielders Kami Wiebe and Janine Willis -- for games against the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Aug. 16 and the U.S. in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 20. Wiebe has previous national team experience but not under Pellerud. ... Canada's bid to make the FIFA world youth championships in Argentina in July 2001 has been boosted by news that Vancouver will host CONCACAF's under-20 qualifying tournament from Feb. 28 to March 4, 2001. The top two teams from the four-country competition will advance to Argentina. Another CONCACAF tournament will take place in Trinidad ... The Canadian under-20 squad is 0-1-1 at the U.S. Soccer Festival in Rhode Island after dropping a 1-0 game to the USA South Region under-23 team. The Canadians will play the U.S. under-20 squad (2-0-0) on Friday in the featured match of the tournament ... Canadian Olympic team striker Steve Kindel has rejoined the Vancouver 86ers after stints with the Richmond Kickers and Hampton Roads Mariners.
     Overseas: Shaka Hislop, the No. 1 'keeper at West Ham ahead of Canadian Craig Forrest, returned to action this week in a 4-0 exhibition win over Exeter City. Hislop, who broke his leg in February, scored three goals as a midfielder before replacing Stephen Bywater in goal ... Goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert and Roberto Bonano both scored in a Copa Mercosur tournament game between Argentine clubs River Plate and Velez Sarsfield on Tuesday night. Both 'keepers converted penalty kickers as River Plate won 2-1 ... Italian striker Perluigi Casiraghi and English club Chelsea have finally parted ways after a painful, unproductive association. The $12-million Cdn striker appeared in just 10 games for the Blues before suffering a serious injury in November 1998. He has undergone 10 operations since and has yet to play again.
     CP 1741ES 03-08-00




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