Football: Blow for Denmark as Schmeichel faces fitness test

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The Independent Online
THE DENMARK goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, looks likely to miss the Euro 2000 play-off with Israel in Tel Aviv today after failing to train with his team mates.

Schmeichel had to convince his coach, Bo Johansson, that he was fit enough at a closed training session last night. His absence would leave the way open for Sunderland's goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen, to make his international debut.

MSV Duisburg's stocky midfielder, Stig Toefting has recovered and is fit, but Tottenham's Allan Nielsen will almost certainly miss the match after failing to train at all since Denmark's arrival in Israel earlier in the week.

The Israelis, a strong team on their home turf, are expecting a packed house of 45,000 to cheer them on.

Israel's Celtic midfielder Eyal Berkovic said: "This match is like a cup final, anything can happen, but I think we can win, although we must try not to concede any goals. Even a 1-0 win will be good for us ahead of the return game in Copenhagen on Wednesday night."

In the other play-off match, Slovenia's defenders are gearing up to keep out Ukraine's double strike threat of Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov of Dynamo Kiev when the two sides meet for the first leg in Ljubljana.

The Slovenian champions NK Maribor have already beaten the Dynamo Kiev in this season's Champions' League, a 1-0 victory away. Although the Slovene team lost the return leg, the international side will take heart from Maribor's unlikely success.

Ukraine nevertheless remain the favourites, and are considered by many to be the toughest team in the qualifiers.

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