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Soccer/ DAILY REPORT

Mexico Still Unhappy

July 19, 2002|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mexico's soccer fans, already unhappy at their team's so-so performance in the World Cup, are voicing their displeasure over the fact that a foreign coach is being considered to replace Javier "Vasco" Aguirre.

Alberto de la Torre, president of the Mexican soccer federation, said earlier this week that Argentina's World Cup coach, Marcelo Bielsa, is a candidate to take over from Aguirre, who resigned after the World Cup.

Also on the list of potential replacements are former Mexico standout Hugo Sanchez, along with two other foreign but Mexico-based coaches: Argentine Ricardo Lavolpe and Brazilian Ricardo Ferreti.

Meanwhile, Aguirre, now coaching Osasuna in the Spanish league, accepted the blame for Mexico's 2-0 loss to the United States in the second round of Korea/Japan '02 by saying he had made a tactical mistake by substituting forward Luis Hernandez for midfielder Ramon Morales.

World Cup Referee Admits Error

Ali Tomusange, the assistant referee whose incorrect call in the World Cup quarterfinals cost Spain a game-winning goal and eventually allowed South Korea to reach the semifinals, Thursday admitted he might have erred.

"I could have made a mistake when I raised my flag and disallowed the goal [in sudden-death overtime by Spain's Fernando Morientes]," Tomusange told Reuters in Uganda, where he was being honored by the government for his part in the tournament. "I have no regrets. I tried my level best to do what I could do and I achieved my goals."

Morientes headed the ball into the net off a cross by Joaquin, but Tomusange ruled that the ball was out of play when Joaquin made the pass. TV replays showed that it was completely in play and that Tomusange was not in position to make the call.

Copa Libertadores Finalists

Olimpia of Paraguay and Sao Caetano of Brazil have advanced to the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America's annual club championship.

The Paraguayan team did so the hard way, winning the first game of the two-game series, 3-2, in Asuncion, Paraguay, then losing the return, 1-0, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on Wednesday night before prevailing on penalty kicks, 5-4.

Even the shootout was not without controversy because Argentine referee Daniel Gimenez ordered Olimpia striker Mauro Caballero to re-take his penalty kick after ruling that Gremio goalkeeper Eduardo had moved off his line before the shot was taken and therefore his save was nullified.

The decision led to angry scenes and a delay as police had to remove protesting Gremio officials.

Olimpia won the Copa Libertadores in 1979 and 1990.

In this year's two-legged final, to played Wednesday in Asuncion, Paraguay, and July 31 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, it will face an unheralded Sao Caetano team that not too many years ago was struggling in the second division.

But the Sao Paulo-based club reached the final by eliminating a team with greater pedigree, Club America of Mexico. Sao Caetano earned a 2-0 shutout at home and then held Club America to a 1-1 tie Tuesday night in the rain in front of 60,000 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

The Copa Libertadores winner will play European champion Real Madrid of Spain in the Toyota/Intercontinental Cup on Dec. 3 in Yokohama, Japan, for the mythical world club championship.

It's Chinese to Everton

Soccer's global reach was underlined when Everton of the English Premier League announced that it had signed a two-year, multimillion-dollar agreement to be sponsored by the Chinese cellular telephone company Kejian.

As part of the deal--the first between a Chinese company and a leading European club--World Cup defender Li Weifeng of China will join Everton on a one-year loan, two Chinese youth team players will train with the club and Everton will send coaches to China to help develop the sport there and will travel to China for exhibition matches.

Li will become the second Chinese player in the Premier League, joining national teammate Sun Jihai, signed by Manchester City.

Hungary Rejects Matthaeus

Former World Cup winner Lothar Matthaeus of Germany, who in his first stint as a coach last season led Rapid Vienna of Austria to its worst finish in 128 years before being fired, claimed Thursday that Hungary wants him to coach its national team.

The claim, made in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper, was immediately rejected by the Hungarian soccer federation, which said it had not been in contact with Matthaeus and that it was quite satisfied with its current coach, Imre Gellei.

Seaman Sticks Around

England goalkeeper David Seaman, who left the field in tears after conceding the winning goal to Brazil in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, signed a one-year contract to remain at Arsenal.

Seaman, 38, who last season led Arsenal to the English Premier League title and the F.A. Cup, had considered retiring. His future as England's first-choice goalkeeper, however, remains in doubt.

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