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  • Tuesday, August 8, 2000

    Forrest still not ready

     (CP) -- Starting goalkeeper Craig Forrest, recovering from a hernia operation, won't be ready to rejoin Canada in time for next Tuesday's World Cup qualifying game in Mexico.
     
     But midfielder Marc Bircham, who missed the last five months of the English season with an ankle injury, is healthy and has been recalled to the squad.
     
     Canada is 0-1-1 after two games while Mexico is 1-1-0. Trinidad and Tobago lead Canada's group at 2-0-0. Panama is 0-1-1.
     
     The top two teams in the group, one of three in the CONCACAF region, will advance to the final round of qualifying from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
     
     Canada put itself behind the 8-ball with a 2-0 loss in Edmonton to Trinidad and Tobago to open the semifinal round.
     
     "The result at home against Trinidad is the one that could come back to haunt us," Canadian captain Jason deVos said Tuesday from Scotland, where he plays for Dundee United.
     
     "I think we're going to need to win three of our four (remaining) games and hopefully we can pick up a point against Mexico as well."
     
     Pat Onstad will start in place of Forrest, who while not quite ready to play has rejoined his West Ham club side for pre-season training.
     
     Dropped from the roster from the first two games are backup goalie Lars Hirschfeld, midfielder Robbie Aristodemo and striker Duane de Rosario.
     
     Bircham last played for Canada on Sept. 2, 1999, in a 2-0 win over Jamaica. He was injured in a tackle Jan. 4 playing for Millwall in an English Second Division game against Bury.
     
     DeVos's manager at Dundee United, Paul Sturrock, handed his resignation after a 3-0 weekend loss to Hibernian. He has been replaced by Scottish under-21 coach Alex Smith.
     
     "I had a very good relationship with Paul Sturrock," deVos said. "He was the one that signed me (from England's Darlington) and brought me to the club. I came to the club because he convinced me that he could make me a better player, which I am very convinced he has done.
     
     "I've never hidden the fact that I want to play at the highest level and if it's possible to me to move to a big club down south (in England), then it's certainly something I would have to entertain.
     
     "As for where I stand at the moment, it's very difficult to say. I've got two years left on my contract and unless Dundee United receive a bid for me that they feel is acceptable, then I'll have to stay here for the two years of my contract.
     
     "Beyond that it's very difficult for me to say what will happen or where I will be going. But like I said, it's my intention to play at the highest level and as soon as I can do that, the better."
     
     United has been unable to find a striker to replace Billy Dodds, who was sold to Rangers midway through last season.
     
     ------
     
     Oxford Blues: It appears Canadian defender Mark Watson's career with Oxford United is over.
     
     "We've signed another player and so Mark won't be re-signing for us now," Oxford club secretary Mick Brown said Tuesday.
     
     The English Second Division team bought former Exeter City centre back Jon Richardson to replace Watson, who has played for Canada 60 times.
     
     Oxford was worried about Watson's international commitments, offering him a reduced contract if he left the team to play for Canada. Watson, who became a free agent after last season, reportedly responded by saying he would retire from international play next summer and would only miss three games.
     
     ------
     
     Young Lions: Canada's under-20 team scored a huge win last week at the U.S. Soccer Festival, defeating their American counterparts 2-1. The Canadians, coached by Paul James, finished the tournament with a 1-1-2 record.
     
     The victory over the U.S-under 20 side was impressive because the Americans were playing at home and have a rich roster that includes Olympic team striker Conor Casey and Chicago Fire midfielder DaMarcus Beasley.
     
     "No question this is the biggest accomplishment for our young group at this stage," said James. "It was terrific."
     
     Top Canadian performers include defender Victor Oppong, defender-midfielder Chris Pozniak (Toronto Lynx) and midfielders Miguel Campos, Mike Klukowski (Lille FC), Julian deGuzman (FC Saarbrucken) and Tam Nsaliwa (Nurenberg FC), according to James.
     
     Still James is quick to note the win over the U.S. is just one step down the road to the FIFA world youth championships in Argentina next summer.
     
     Vancouver will host one of the two CONCACAF qualifying tournaments leading up to the world championship.
     
     The full Canadian side probably won't reassemble until February in advance of the qualifying event.
     
     Canadian goalkeeper Wojtek Zarzycki, who started every game, has left German's Werder Bremen and is going to Ipswich Town in England for a tryout.
     
     ------
     
     NPSL News: The Toronto Thunder-Hawks finally have some players. The new NPSL franchise picked 12 players in an expansion draft, one from each of the existing indoor league teams. The draft includes Canadian defender Patrick Diotte (from the Montreal Impact) and Bermudian international defender Meshach Wade (Harrisburg Heat). Forward Carlos Olivas was the most productive player picked with 59 points for the Kansas City Attack last season.
     
     The Thunder-Hawks open play Oct. 20 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont.
     
     The new team will play in the National Conference with the Detroit Rockers, Edmonton Drillers, Kansas City Attack, Milwaukee Wave and Wichita Wings.
     
     The American Conference includes the Baltimore Blast, Buffalo Blizzard, Cleveland Crunch, Harrisburg Heat, Philadelphia Kixx and North Carolina, a new team that has yet to unveil its nickname.
     
     Previously the two conference were each split into two divisions.
     
     The NPSL has also raised the number of imports allowed to six per team, up from four last season. Teams will play 40 games each this season.
     
     ------
     
     Notes: Best name for a soccer team? The Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs from Ghana ... Calgary midfielder Owen Hargreaves came on as a substitute in Bayern Munich's 3-1 win over Manchester United on Saturday in the final of the Masters 2000 exhibition tournament. The 19-year-old also played Friday against UEFA Cup champion Galatasaray ... Toronto goalkeeper Tom Zawislan, who had brief stints with MLS teams in Kansas City and New York/New Jersey, is awaiting a visa to allow him to join Friska Vilijor FC in Sweden. Zawislan was a college star at Creighton University in Nebraska ... Don't touch that head. Newly acquired goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, whose pre-game tradition for France included allowing defender Laurent Blanc to kiss his shaved head, has warned Manchester United teammates not to try emulating Blanc. United was unsuccessful in three bids this summer to buy Blanc. "I don't think Laurent will be coming to join me at United and that is a shame," Barthez is quoted on the team's official Web site. "One of my new teammates will not be kissing my head."



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