Football: Jamaicans learn some hard lessons

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The Independent Online
Jamaica

The n national team are discovering the hard way that football is not always a big party. They have been on tour in Brazil to prepare for both the Concacaf Gold Cup next month and for the World Cup, and they have suffered some heavy defeats to club sides.

A 4-0 thrashing by Corinthians and then a 3-0 defeat by Romario's Flamengo has left 's Brazilian-born coach, Rene Simoes, in no doubt as to the tough challenges that lie ahead. However, he said: "We're not worried about winning or losing. Any score is fine as long as we learn from it.

" is not going to go into crisis because it loses. loses and we simply reflect on the game. That is an advantage we have."

None of 's English-born players are with them in Brazil. The four who played in the World Cup qualifiers plus one newcomer, Chelsea's Frank Sinclair, should arrive in time for the Gold Cup in Florida.

Wimbledon's Marcus Gayle ought to be joining Sinclair - but he is being thwarted by his club, who want him to make himself available only for England, and not .

The n Football Federation has written a "strong" letter of protest to Wimbledon and has also written to the Football Association and Fifa, world football's governing body, which is expected to rule on the matter next week.

The English imports - when their clubs release them - will be crucial to his team's prospects, but Simoes is still proud of his home-grown men. The midfielder Theodore Whitmore and the defender Ricardo Gardner drew particular praise.

"They play with a very Brazilian philosophy - confident with the ball, calm and looking for space," Simoes said. "As for the heavies, no one plays hard in . I'll have to look to the players from England for that!"

Guatemala

A stadium where 80 people were killed 15 months ago was the venue for a riot this week.

A scuffle between two players at a club game on Wednesday sparked a major breach of the peace between the teams and their fans, leaving 72 people injured and several cars wrecked at the Guatemala City's Mateo Flores stadium - which was the scene of a stampede (due to over-selling) that left 80 dead and more than 200 seriously injured in October 1996.

Martin Macho of Comunicaciones and German Ruano of Municipal started trading punches on the pitch soon after the game ended with a 3-0 victory for Comunicaciones. Other players, coaches and fans quickly joined in, spreading the free-for-all to the stands, dressing rooms, and ultimately the car park. It took 300 police officers and volleys of tear gas to quell the riot.

Croatia

On the day that Croatia were drawn in the same group as Yugoslavia in the qualifiers for the next European Championship, news broke of an unprecedented football deal in the politically troubled Balkans.

Damir Stojak, the top scorer for the Yugoslav club Vojvodina Novi Sad, could soon be moving to Croatia Zagreb. Such a transfer would be the first between the two hostile countries since the break-up of former Yugoslavia and the 1991 war.

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