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WORLD CUP DAILY REPORT / TODAY'S GAMES

GROUP D: Nigeria vs. Bulgaria

June 19, 1998|GRAHAME L. JONES

SITE: Paris.

TIME: 8:30 a.m. TV: ESPN2, Ch. 34. RADIO: KWKW (1330 Spanish).

* ABOUT BULGARIA: A scoreless tie against Paraguay in a game they were lucky to get a point from has left the Bulgarians facing an early trip home. Matters were not helped when midfielder Anatoli Nankov was red-carded for a blatant foul in that game. He is suspended from today's match. Also missing will be defender Ivaylo Iordanov, who is injured.

* ABOUT NIGERIA: Buoyed by a stunning 3-2 victory over group favorite Spain, Coach Bora Milutinovic's squad comes into the match in great spirits. A victory would clinch a place in the last 16, making Milutinovic the first coach to achieve that feat with four countries, and the Nigerian players are not contemplating defeat. Milutinovic might give 1996 Olympic hero Nwankwo Kanu his first World Cup appearance, but isn't tipping his hand.

* OUTLOOK: At the 1994 World Cup, Bulgaria was beaten, 3-0, by Nigeria in Dallas, and that defeat will have an impact today, one way or another. Either Hristo Stoitchkov and friends will want to avenge it, or they will be overly cautious and allow Nigeria to dictate the game. A physical match is very likely, and with the way red cards have been flying, a few more might be seen. A tie looks a good bet.

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