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Qualifying for '06 Cup Starts Sept. 6

May 16, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany will begin Sept. 6, barely 14 months after Brazil won the title at the Korea/Japan '02 World Cup.

Meeting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on Wednesday, the leaders of South America's 10 national soccer federations mapped out a schedule of 90 qualifying matches stretching over two years that eventually will produce the continent's four World Cup teams.

There will be 18 rounds of five matches apiece, starting Sept. 6 and ending Oct. 12, 2005, said Nicolas Leoz, the Paraguayan president of CONMEBOL.

Brazil will begin defense of its world championship with a road game against Colombia, while other first-round matches will feature Paraguay at Peru, Venezuela at Ecuador, Bolivia at Uruguay, and Chile at Argentina.

At the same meeting, Peru said it will invite Mexico and the United States to take part in the 2004 Copa America tournament, which it will host. The dates of the tournament have yet to be established.

Deadline Moved

FIFA, which earlier in the week said that Thursday was the deadline for countries to formally bid for the 2003 Women's World Cup, changed its mind without explanation and extended the deadline until Monday.

By Thursday, only the U.S., Sweden and Canada, which wants to share the event with the Americans, had made their intentions known.

"We have received documentation from Sweden," FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot told Associated Press. "Italy and Australia have expressed their official interest for hosting the competition, but we haven't received their official documentation yet.

"Brazil also have expressed their interest of staging the competition but not officially, and there has been no exchange of documentation."

Pain in Spain

Newspapers in Madrid bemoaned defending champion Real Madrid's ouster from the European Champions League at the hands of Italian champion Juventus.

"[Coach Vicente] Del Bosque's game plan was terrible," said the sports daily Marca. "The team was a disaster from start to finish."

Marca published a front-page headline that read "Black Hole" and accompanied it with a photograph of Madrid's club badge against a night sky and bearing the caption: "Juventus swallowed up the stars of the galaxy."

The daily As newspaper was equally scathing. Its headline read "Disaster in Turin" and it blamed Real Madrid defender Fernando Hierro for an "awful display" that caused Juventus to overcome a 2-1 semifinal loss in Madrid with a 3-1 victory in Turin on Wednesday.

In Barcelona, meanwhile, there was joy. "Madrid humiliated by Juventus," gloated the daily Sport, illustrating its point with the giant letters "KO."

Fulham's Choice

Fulham, the English Premier League team owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, ignored several more experienced candidates and selected former Welsh international Chris Coleman as its new coach.

Coleman, 32, thus becomes the youngest coach in the Premier League. He took over on an interim basis from former French World Cup star Jean Tigana last month and helped the club avoid relegation and finish 14th in the league.

Others in the running included former Bayer Leverkusen coach Klaus Toppmoeller, former Barcelona and Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal, and lame duck Paris Saint-German Coach Louis Fernandez.

Quick Passes

Two goals by Edgar Garcia and another by Emanuel Ruiz gave Toluca a 3-0 victory over Club America Wednesday and put the defending Mexican league champion in the final of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, where it will play fellow Mexican league team Morelia.... The Inaugural East Asian Championship, featuring the national teams of China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea and set to begin in Yokohama, Japan, on May 28, was postponed indefinitely because of the SARS epidemic.... This week's two decisive European Champions League semifinals, in which Juventus and AC Milan advanced to the May 28 final, were watched by a combined TV audience of 27.6 million in Italy.... Benfica and Portugal striker Nuno Gomes, who has scored 14 goals in 31 games for the national team, has been sidelined for several months by an ankle injury that requires surgery.

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