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  • Tuesday, July 11, 2000

    Man U striker to face Canada

    By NEIL DAVIDSON -- The Canadian Press

     Canada will face a $28-million man Sunday when it kicks off the next stage of World Cup qualifying in Edmonton.

     Striker Dwight Yorke, Manchester United's most expensive purchase, will lead Trinidad and Tobago, which promises to have most of its European-based players in place.

     That list includes striker Stern John, who plays alongside Canadian Jim Brennan at English First Division team Nottingham Forrest; Hibernian midfielder Russell Latapy, Raith Rovers defender Marvin Andrews, Chester's Angus Eve and Crewe Alexander goalie Clayton Ince.

     Starting 'keeper Shaka Hislop, No. 1 at England's West Ham ahead of Canadian Craig Forrest is recovering from a broken leg. Forrest is also out as he recovers from a hernia operation.

     Despite the foreign-based talent, Trinidad looked unimpressive in a 4-2 loss on the weekend to Jamaica. Team officials have dismissed the defeat as a mere blip.

     "Notwithstanding the disappointment on Saturday, people have considered this team one of most talented in a long while, since 1989," team administrator Neville Chance said Tuesday from the Trinidad and Tobago football headquarters just outside of Port-of-Spain.

     In 1989, the team came within one point of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup but lost to the visiting Americans. Chance was an assistant coach that day.

     Trinidad will look to Yorke to lead the way this time.

     Yorke has scored 52 goals since joining United for 12.6 million pounds in August 1998 from Aston Villa, who had paid just 120,000 pounds ($268,500 Cdn) for him in 1989 after spotting him during a pre-season tour of the West Indies.

     The five-foot-nine, 175-pound striker was named player of the year in the Premier League in 1998-99, his first season with United when he scored 29 goals. Last season he added 23 more.

     The striker with the huge smile scored on 32 per cent of his shots last season and completed 82 per cent of his passes, the highest among strikers in the Premiership.

     According to Carling Opta, the English soccer equivalent to baseball's Elias Sports Bureau, Yorke ranks second only to Paolo Di Canio among Premier League strikers last season.

     Canada is in a semifinal group, one of three in the CONCACAF region, with Mexico, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago. Teams will play other home and away with the top two advancing to the final round of qualifying.

     At No. 13, Mexico is the top-ranked team in CONCACAF, although it was beaten by Canada in February at the World Cup. Canada (No. 55) is expected to challenge Trinidad and Tobago (No. 37) for second position ahead of Panama (No. 119).

     Trinidad and Tobago's fortunes were boosted off the pitch with a $2-million US sponsorship deal with Carib Brewery.

     ------

     BIG PRICETAG: Canadian soccer officials looked at the cost of buying into the Women's United Soccer League but quickly concluded it was too rich for north of the border.

     "Capital required to even sit down on the table was $5 million US," said Kevan Pipe, chief operating officer of the Canadian Association.

     "That's a lot of money. Trying to put that in perspective, the budget for most of the clubs in the A-League is not even $1 million Cdn."

     The good news is that the new league, slated to open in eight U.S,. cities next spring, has approached the CSA about at least half-dozen Canadian players.

     ------

     NOTES: Canadian international Jeff Clarke, who once helped St. Patrick's to the Irish title, is heading back to Ireland after signing with Longford Town. Most recently, Clarke was with the Hampton Roads Mariners of the A-League ... Canadian under-20 international Julian deGuzman is in Germany with FC Saarbrucken after three seasons in France in the Olympique Marseille system.



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