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  • Thursday, June 15, 2000

    Schedule gives edge to Canada

    By BOB MCMAHON -- Winnipeg Sun

     With the win over Cuba, Canada can now focus on a tougher task, beating out Trinidad and Tobago and Panama to reach the final World Cup qualifying group that will take place in 2001.

     You will notice no mention of Mexico. Even though they lost to Canada in the Gold Cup, consider the Mexicans certainties to make it through. Any side that can go to Mexico City and escape with a draw will be doing very well. Heat, smog and altitude combine to create the most testing of conditions.

     The CSA confirmed that the opening game will be in Edmonton against Trinidad and Tobago before three consecutive away games between July and September. They'll return to play Panama in Winnipeg Oct. 9 and finish off in Toronto Nov. 15 against Mexico. The schedule may suit Canada, as they look much more comfortable defending than going forward. However Paul Peschisolido's performance Sunday against Cuba was promising and Canada desperately need him to start knocking a few in during the next round.

     INCREASING SCRUTINY

     As referees come under increasing scrutiny, the English Premiership is now making it a viable financial proposition for referees to turn full time. This coming season match fees will rise to $2,200 per game and extra money will be made available for referees to participate in regular meetings with coaches and players to discuss rule changes and interpretations. The Premiership is concerned about the disregard exhibited by players for each other and the men in the middle. Just as we have seen North American players move to Europe, how long before we see officials doing the same thing.

     While Euro 2000 gets much of the attention, the final of the Libertadores Cup, the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League, promises to be a cracker. Boca Juniors of Argentina face defending champions Palmeiras of Brazil. Coached by Carlos Bianchi and Luiz (Big Phil) Felipe Scolari, this is the first Argentina-Brazil final since a Bianchi-led Velez Sarsfield defeated Sao Paulo in 1994. Palmeiras needed penalty kicks to dispose of archrival Corinthians in the semifinal while Boca slipped past America of Mexico 5-4 on aggregate. Although the Brazilians start out the two-leg final as favourites, Boca has made great strides under Bianchi after languishing in mid-table purgatory for a number of seasons and is looking to add to Libertadores victories in 1977 and 1978.

     Best goal of Euro 2000 to date: Luis Figo's rocket past David Seaman. Worst blunder: Belgium goalkeeper Filip de Wilde showing why he's a goalkeeper by falling over the ball and gifting Sweden's Johan Mjallby the easiest goal of his career. Most criticized decision: Holland's 89th minute penalty kick award against the Czech Republic by Italian referee Pierluigi Collina. Replays showed De Boer's shirt being pulled by the Czech defender prior to his exaggerated fall and that is why it was a penalty. Collina got it right.

     Just because your country didn't make it doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. News from Scotland that many Rangers fans have taken to supporting Holland and the Celtic Web site, after an Internet poll, has adopted little Slovenia. But it seems that there is one thing that the Scots can agree on and that is that they don't care who beats England! Pub owners have been running a promotion that involves a free pint every time England concedes a goal so you know that three Portuguese goals in 35 minutes on Monday sent many home very, very happy.



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