Football: Troussier avoids a sticky situation

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The Independent Online
Burkina Faso

THE host nation's defeat in this week's semi-finals of the African Nations' Cup saved Philippe Troussier from an awkward situation in today's final in Ouagadougou.

The much-travelled Frenchman worked wonders to steer through the first-round group stage - against expectations - and to the last four, where they lost on penalties to Egypt. But his time in charge of the Burkinabe is over - next week he begins his new job as the coach of South Africa, who face the Egyptians in the final.

Today's match will Jomo Sono's last in charge of the South Africans. He took over as caretaker coach when Clive Barker, who took the reigning African champions to the World Cup finals, resigned, but he knew his appointment was temporary.

"If God helps me to win the trophy, I just want to take it home," Sono said after his side's semi-final victory over the Democractic Republic of Congo, adding that his aim had been to prove domestic critics, who said that the team would never win anything with a South African-born coach, wrong. Asked whether he would work with Troussier, he replied: "I will think about it later on."

As for Troussier, known throughout West Africa as the "White Witchdoctor", he was proud of his current team's achievements. " is a poor country economically but it is very rich in other senses. I am very proud to have taken charge of this team and to have got them to this level," he said.

's big problem was scoring enough goals - which is not something that should worry Troussier when he takes over as South Africa's coach. Benedict McCarthy may be only 20, but he already has a huge reputation. Now with Ajax, he scored four goals in 12 minutes in a first-round match against Namibia plus two in Wednesday's semi-final. Both McCarthy and Egypt's veteran striker, Hossam Hossan, have each hit seven goals in the Nations' Cup so far - two short of the record that Zaire's Mulamba Ndaye set in 1974.

Romania

THE appointment of Victor Piturca as Romania's new national coach has not met with universal approval in Bucharest.

The former Under-21 coach, who will replace Anghel Iordanescu after the World Cup when the latter becomes the coach of Greece, spent two months in jail in 1981 for gambling, which was illegal in Nicolae Ceausescu's Communist state at the time.

One might think that such a record would increase his credibility in the new Romania, but it seems not. "From a moral point of view, Piturca is not the right person," the newspaper Pro Sport said. "A public person as the national team trainer has to be `clean'."

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