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WORLD CUP NOTES

They Will Have the Last Word

June 29, 2002|From Associated Press

Just before the World Cup champion is crowned Sunday, two tiny nations will play in a Himalayan kingdom for a different title: the world's worst team.

Bhutan and Montserrat will meet to determine who ends up at the bottom of the world rankings, only hours before Brazil and Germany play in Yokohama, Japan.

Billed as "The Other Final," the Bhutan-Montserrat match at Thimphu, Bhutan, is no small affair to its competitors.

"We are doing this because we are part of the global football family. We're happy to play Montserrat," says Khare Basnet, the Bhutan Football Federation's general secretary.

Bhutan, one of the most unspoiled Himalayan areas, came out of isolation in 2000 to become the youngest member of FIFA, which ranks the team No. 202, just ahead of last-place Montserrat, a Carribean nation.

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Switzerland's Urs Linsi was appointed as acting general secretary of FIFA.

Linsi, FIFA's finance director and deputy general secretary, will replace Michel Zen-Ruffinen, who agreed to quit after FIFA general secretary Joseph "Sepp" Blatter won reelection to a four-year term in May. A permanent replacement will be named later.

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One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's top aides, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, added his voice to the growing calls for Russia's national team to seek a foreign coach after its disappointing World Cup performance.

Russia was knocked out in the first round and Coach Oleg Romantsev and assistant Mikhail Gershkovich reportedly offered their resignations.

"We need to stop walking around in one circle, it is necessary to consider public opinion and find a coach from abroad," Yastrzhembsky said, according the news agency Interfax.

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Zbigniew Boniek, thought by many to be the best Polish soccer player ever, is mulling a proposal to coach Poland's national team, according to a published interview.

Boniek told Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza that Polish Soccer Assn. President Michal Listkiewicz told him "he would listen to other candidates but he really wants me to take care of our team."

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Four countries are in the running to stage the 2003 Confederations Cup and a winner will be picked on Sept. 23, Blatter said.

The contenders are Australia, France, South Africa and the United States. The competition will be held June 18-29.

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