Football: Romario is in obliging mood: Fifa president's tip for World Cup stardom responds with a hat-trick while the weather forces Irish outsiders to stay inside

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THE prediction of Joao Havelange that Romario would be the outstanding player of the forthcoming World Cup finals had barely left the Fifa president's lips when Barcelona's Brazilian responded with a hat- trick in an 8-2 win over Honduras in a warm-up in San Diego on Wednesday, writes Clive White.

As a test of Brazil's championship credentials, though, it hardly sufficed: Honduras could not have afforded them more space if the game had been played on the prairies of the American midwest. Nevertheless, it was a pleasing result after Sunday's 1-1 draw against Canada even if the coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, confessed to being 'worried by the fact that we conceded two goals from headers'.

The best of the Brazilian goals was a swerving free-kick by Bebeto, who scored twice, and a thunderous 30-yard strike from Dunga. Rai and Cafu were the other Brazilian scorers while there were reminders of Pele's arrival in '58 with the second- half introduction of the 17-year-old striker, Ronaldo.

At least Brazil have been able to take to the field, unlike the Republic of Ireland whose preparations were again washed out by thunderstorms at their base in Orlando. Putting aside that disappointment, Ireland's manager, Jack Charlton, described himself as 'one of the best coaches in the world at analysing matches,' He added: 'We shouldn't really be competitive but I can guarantee we will be.'

Germany were left counting the cost of their final preparatory match: Mario Basler (knee injury) and Thomas Strunz (thigh strain), both midfielders, could be forced to miss the world champions' opening match against Bolivia because of injuries picked up in the 2-0 win against Canada in Toronto. Meanwhile, the Bolivians lumbered to a goalless draw against Peru in Santa Cruz.

Martin Edwards, the Manchester United chairman, said his club were not interested in a proposed swap involving Eric Cantona and Internazionale's Dennis Bergkamp. 'We're not interested in breaking up a winning side,' Edwards said, 'only adding to it.'

(Photograph omitted)

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