Football: Passarella turns down Atletico


WHILE TROUBLED Real Madrid ponder the future of their beleaguered coach, Guus Hiddink, the Spanish capital's other senior club are also in a state of some disarray.

Carlos Aguilar will remain in caretaker charge of Atletico Madrid for at least another month after the club failed to reach an agreement with Daniel Passarella, Argentina's former coach.

Passarella travelled to Madrid last week for talks with Atletico officials, but failed to reach an agreement. However, he hinted he could be interested should the job still be available at the end of the season.

"The meeting went well, but I understand what Atletico need at the moment is continuity," Passarella said. "It is a job that interests me - but for a longer period of time than was talked about."

Aguilar, who took over from Arrigo Sacchi following the Italian's departure last week, will take charge of the side until next month's Uefa Cup quarter- final against Roma is decided, after which the situation will be reviewed.

While the Atletico first team were going down 3-2 at Real Sociedad on Sunday, the Second Division match between Atletico's reserve team and Toledo ended with just 17 players on the pitch, after the referee gave five men their marching orders.

Toledo played the second half with just eight men, and Atletico used a two-man advantage for most of the half to win 2-1. One of the two Atletico players sent off - for the fourth time this season - was the South African World Cup midfielder Quinton Fortune.

Meanwhile, Madrid newspapers have reported that a decision to sack Real's Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink, has already been taken. Speculation about his successor, should his departure be confirmed, centres on the former Real and Milan coach Fabio Capello. The Italian lead Real to the title in 1997 at the end of his only season in charge.

Hong Kong

IF MARTIN KUHL, the 34-year-old former Birmingham City and Portsmouth midfield battler, and Gary McKeown, a former Shrewsbury midfielder, were still in England, they would probably be playing non-League football. Instead, last week, they were competing against World Cup men like Bulgaria's Hristo Stoichkov and Luis Hernandez of Mexico.

Kuhl and McKeown played for the Hong Kong League XI in the Carlsberg Cup, a four-team tournament which also featured Egypt. Michael Midwood, a forward whose League experience consists of one substitute appearance for Huddersfield Town, also played for the Hong Kong side, who lost to Mexico (the tournament winners) on penalties and were then beaten 3-0 by Bulgaria.