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This week in soccer

Corner Kicks

Five things happening around the world:

May 28, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

1 In a move characteristic of his "going-my-own-way" philosophy, France Coach Raymond Domenech has determined that the route to the 2008 European Championship next month runs through South America.

France on Tuesday played Ecuador in Grenoble -- and came away with a 2-0 victory on two goals by debutant Bafetimbi Gomis -- and next will play Paraguay on Saturday and Colombia on June 3 in Paris in its run-up to the June 7-29 tournament.

"I really like the South Americans," Domenech said. "They know how to send you to sleep, quietly, and they have this ability to raise the level of play. They give you the impression that they're walking, whereas in fact they're already in front of goal. It requires an awful lot of concentration to play against them."

With his goals on Tuesday, Gomis, 22, became the first French player since Zinedine Zidane to score twice in his debut.

2 France, the winner of Euro 2000 and runner-up in the 2006 World Cup, is one of four favorites to win Euro 2008. The others are Germany, the Netherlands and world champion Italy.

The Germans, playing their next-to-last warm-up match, on Tuesday wasted a two-goal lead and were tied, 2-2, by Belarus. Coach Joachim Loew blamed fatigue.

"Some of the players were tired today . . . they have trained very hard in the past few days and you could see that," Loew said.

A goal by Miroslav Klose and an own-goal by Vladimir Korytko gave Germany a first-half lead, but two goals by Vitali Bulyga earned Belarus the draw.

Germany's final warm-up is a tough test against Serbia on Saturday in Gelsenkirchen.

Meanwhile, the Dutch, who shut out Ukraine, 3-0, on Saturday on goals by Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel and Ajax Amsterdam's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, will play Denmark in Eindhoven on Thursday and Wales in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Italy will play Belgium on Friday in Florence.

3 A crowd of 120,000 jammed the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata, India, on Tuesday to see German champion Bayern Munich defeat India's oldest club, Mohan Bagan, 3-0, in what was goalkeeper Oliver Kahn's last game for the Bundesliga team.

Kahn, 38, has retired and Kolkata was the last stop on Bayern's post-season Asian tour. The three-time world goalkeeper of the year was presented with a gold trophy studded with 8,640 diamond chips in a halftime ceremony.

4 The game of musical chairs being played by Europe's top coaches shows no sign of slowing down.

On Tuesday, Roberto Mancini, who has led Inter Milan to three consecutive Serie A titles in Italy, was said to be on his way out after a meeting with Massimo Moratti, the club's president.

Former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has been widely tipped to take over Inter Milan, and reports in Portugal revealed he has been taking Italian lessons for several months.

Meanwhile, fired Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard is the favorite to take over at Chelsea, whose former coach, Avram Grant, is being linked to Manchester City.

5 In one of a spate of decisions made by FIFA at its annual congress, this time in Australia, the right to host the 2009 and 2010 FIFA World Club Championship was awarded to the United Arab Emirates, with Japan gaining the 2011 and 2012 tournaments.

Also, FIFA suspended its ban on matches being played at high altitude after a furious protest from South American nations, notably Bolivia and Ecuador, which would have been forbidden from playing games in La Paz and Quito, respectively.

Mexico was granted the right to stage the Under-17 World Cup in 2011, with Trinidad and Tobago landing the Under-17 Women's World Cup in 2010. Colombia was awarded the Under-20 World Cup in 2011.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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