Football: In demand Seric grapples with country versus country dilemma

AROUND THE WORLD

Australia/Croatia

THE 19-year-old midfielder Ante Seric has a dilemma to resolve before Croatia face Australia in a friendly on 6 June. He has been named in both countries' squads.

Seric, an Australian Institute of Sport graduate, has to decide whether to represent Australia or his parents' homeland of Croatia, where he plays his club football for Hajduk Split. On Thursday he was named in Terry Venables' squad for the friendly in Zagreb, while yesterday he found himself selected in Miroslav Blazevic's party of 25 for that game and also the Croatia coach's provisional World Cup squad.

Brazil

BRAZIL'S World Cup preparations began inauspiciously this week as a bout of influenza, a spate of injuries and club commitments reduced the first training session to just nine players.

It quickly became clear that the coach Mario Zagallo, who had hoped to start preparing his team in earnest this week, would have to wait until the team arrived in France before getting down to any serious work.

The central defender Marcio Santos was dropped from the squad because of a pulled muscle on Wednesday, while the next to drop out of the tournament, on Thursday, was Flavio Conceicao.

Andre Cruz, of Milan was named as the replacement for Marcio Santos while Ze Carlos of Sao Paulo came in for Flavio Conceicao. Romario and Cesar Sampaio are also on the injured list, while seven players were allowed to remain with their clubs until next week.

Azerbaijan

THE team with the most points has won the league championship of Azerbaijan - for a change. Kepez Ganca sealed the title in the former Soviet republic on Thursday.

Last year, in an unusual experiment, Neftchi Baku collected the most points but second-placed Garabag Agdam were declared champions - on the basis of their junior team's better performance in a separate youth league.

The Azeri championship is rarely orthodox. Calculating the league table this year had been complicated by the exclusion of two clubs from the 14-team top division in mid-season for failing to meet financial commitments.

Andorra

CLUB Esportiu Principat - known locally as Charlie's Restaurant - secured their second successive Andorran title this week, after finishing the season unbeaten with a 5-0 win at Magatzems Lima.

The team's nickname comes from the meeting place of the Andorran branch of the Real Madrid supporters' club, who formed Club Esportiu. They will be competing in the Uefa Cup again next season. Last August, as Andorra's first European representatives, they were thrashed 17-0 on aggregate by Dundee United.

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