Football: Heat is on for German coach

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The Independent Online
GLENN HODDLE is not the only national coach under pressure. His German counterpart, Erich Ribbeck, has made an unimpressive start in his new job, but, like Hoddle, today faces opponents who will be perceived by the fans back home as easy to beat.

Ribbeck's Germany side lost 1-0 in Turkey on his debut on Saturday in the opening match of their European Championship defence. They now play weak opponents in Moldova, but expectations are always high in Germany.

"A victory is our obligation, nothing else would satisfy us," Ribbeck said. "We have to turn up the pressure, we have to win the ball, and I'd like to feel more of a desire to win."

Turkey will be striving for their third consecutive victory in the qualifiers when they take on Finland in Istanbul, after the defeat of Germany and an earlier 3-0 win over Northern Ireland.

The Turkish coach, Mustafa Denizli, said that his team held the advantage after Finland's defeat by Northern Ireland in Belfast. "But we are not underestimating anything," he said.

Spain's coach, Jose Antonio Camacho, will be eager to avoid matching Ribbeck's setback in his first game, away to Israel. Camacho's problem is that he inherited a side from Javier Clemente who had already lost their opening qualifying game, 3-2 away to Cyprus.

Spain have been preparing for eight days with the critical Spanish media suggesting that Israel, often lightly regarded but undefeated in two years at home, are a real threat.

"This is a like a final for us," the striker Raul said. "Clemente is history." His team-mate Luis Enrique was just as straightforward. "We have to win so that we can be a little calmer about the future," he said.

Since taking over last month, Camacho has been credited with raising team morale. He now faces his first official game after notching up a 1-0 victory in a friendly against Russia.

Hungary and Romania may be neighbours, but they have not met on the football field since 1981. Despite their relative success over the past decade and Hungary's long-lasting slump, Romania have never beaten their traditional rivals in 15 matches, the Hungarians winning 11 of them. Hungary's coach, Bertalan Bicskei, is struggling against a crop of injuries to key players following a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan.

Romania and Slovakia top Group Seven with six points from two games, while Hungary and Portugal have three points from two games. Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein have no points.

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