Football: Kalla banned for two games

THE CAMEROON defender Raymond Kalla has been suspended for two matches after receiving a red card in Wednesday's match against Italy.

Kalla was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Luigi Di Biagio in the 43rd minute of the Group B game in Montpellier, which Italy won 3-0. Fifa, the game's world governing body, announced yesterday that he will miss Cameroon's last group match, against Chile on Tuesday in Nantes, and Cameroon's second-round match, if they qualify.

Kalla became the second player to be suspended for two matches after the Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert, who was sent off for raising an elbow to the Belgian Lorenzo Staelens in Saturday's goalless draw at the Stade de France.

The Scottish striker Darren Jackson and Moroccan midfielder Said Chiba will both be suspended for one match after each received their second yellow card.

The pressing need to achieve a victory over Paraguay in St Etienne today after an opening 3-2 reverse against Nigeria is being felt acutely by Spain's beleaguered players.

"We all really want to make up for what happened, to go out and play another game to demonstrate that we really are a good team," said Fernando Hierro, one of the squad's most influential players.

As well as trying to eliminate the defensive blunders that handed victory to Nigeria, the Spanish coach, Javier Clemente, is planning to make changes to the attack. One possibility is to bring in Real Madrid's Fernando Morientes, who has scored four goals in his two appearances for the national side.

The South Americans are equally concerned about their continued inability to score. In the goalless Group D draw against Bulgaria, their most dangerous moment came from a free-kick by their adventurous, goalscoring goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert.

"Spain absolutely have to win this game. For us, with the point we have, we are going to take advantage of that. If I get a chance to score against Spain, I'll take it," Chilavert said.

Nigeria, meanwhile, are refusing to countenance defeat in Group D's other match today, against Bulgaria in Paris. Victory at the Parc des Princes would take the Olympic champions through to the second round for the second successive finals. However, unlike Spain and Paraguay, who have not met at international level, Nigeria and Bulgaria staged a memorable match at the last World Cup. Meeting at the group stage at USA 94, Nigeria emerged 3-0 winners.

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