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The Independent Online

The n League, which is due to open for business again in March for the 1997 season, has a problem - or, to be more accurate, two problems. Two clubs calling themselves CSKA Moscow are planning for the new season, and both are claiming to be the "real" CSKA.

The controversy centres on a power battle within the Army Central Sports Club, which in its prime established the Red Army's football team as one of the strongest sides in eastern Europe. Now, though, things are different.

Last season Alexander Tarkhanov coached CSKA to fifth place in 's Premier League. Earlier this month, though, Colonel Alexander Baranovsky, the chief of all CSKA sporting activities, sacked Tarkhanov and replaced him with the former n national coach, Pavel Sadyrin, who had been sacked by Zenit St Petersburg last season.

Tarkhanov, it seems, is not going to give up his job without a fight. He claims to have the backing of a Moscow businessman who owns 40 per cent of CSKA. Sadyrin, though, is supported by the army, which controls the other 60 per cent of the shares. Now both Tarkhanov and Sadyrin are training "rival" CSKA squads - and the League does not seem too keen to resolve the controversy.

"We were not too surprised to see two applications from CSKA," Vitaly Krechetov, the league's general director, said. "They are at odds over who can legally represent the club and it is not for us to judge." Ultimately, he added, it could go to court.


A groundsman at the Italian Third Division club, Viterbese, turned up at their stadium on Wednesday this week to find 11 wooden crosses, each bearing the name of a team player, planted in the middle of the pitch.

Police claimed disgruntled fans of the team, which has lost its last four matches, were to blame. The crosses were removed, and the players later ended their losing streak, beating Sicily's Juveterranova 1-0 that afternoon.

The team captain, Massimiliano Nardecchia, is not happy, though. "This is the sort of intimidation that cannot pass in silence," he said. "These so-called fans must be singled out and banned. We played with death in our hearts today."


Playing football in Africa is never an easy business. Sudan have pulled out of the African Nations' Cup, according to its football association, because of "aggression on Sudan's eastern frontier and a consequent general mobilisation" to counter invasions by rebel forces.

Sudan's withdrawal is a blow to Bruce Grobbelaar's Zimbabwe side, who won 3-0 in Khartoum last October in their opening qualifier for the finals in Burkina Faso next year. That result will now be expunged, leaving Ghana top of a group which also features Angola.


The Paris St-Germain squad travelled to the Indian Ocean isle of Reunion for their training camp during the French League's winter break with their Brazilian coach, Ricardo, insisting it was not a holiday. "You'll have to work and run until you vomit, if it's necessary," he said to his players. The result of his efforts? A 6-1 home defeat to Juventus in the first leg of the European Super Cup on Wednesday.