Football: South Africa aim for 2006

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S hopes of hosting the 2006 World Cup suffered a setback yesterday - not from their rivals Germany but because South Africa officially launched their bid to stage the finals.

The South Africans said they hoped to benefit from the contest between Germany and England for the right to host the tournament. Their Football Association's president, Molefi Oliphant, in Burkina Faso for the African Nations' Cup, said he was confident his country would become the first African country to stage the World Cup.

"We have noted the battle between England and Germany and we believe we are a strong third candidate. We are able to offer the same facilities in terms of infrastructure and the same passion for the game," he said.

Joao Havelange, the outgoing president of Fifa, world football's ruling body, has expressed his desire in several recent interviews to see the tournament hosted in Africa - which is bad news for both the German and English bids.

Sheffield United's Don Hutchison looks likely to be reunited with his former manager, Howard Kendall, this week. The former Liverpool and West Ham midfielder is set to sign for Everton with another midfielder, Jon O'Connor, going in the opposite direction. Kendall took the 27-year-old Hutchison from West Ham to Sheffield United two years ago.

The former Liverpool and Wales striker Ian Rush has joined Sheffield United on a month's loan from Newcastle United. The 36-year-old has been linked with the coaching job vacated by Willie Donachie, now at Manchester City, at Bramall Lane.

Manchester United will be without eight players for tomorrow's FA Cup replay at Barnsley. The Old Trafford manager, Alex Ferguson, yesterday learned that Jordi Cruyff, who suffered a hairline fracture to his right fibula on Saturday, has been added to an injury list which also includes Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Ronny Johnsen, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Henning Berg, Paul Scholes and David May - who has played only one game this season due to a knee injury but is near to a return.

Ferguson has, however, allowed the 20-year-old midfielder Mark Wilson to join Wrexham on a month's loan.

Police were yesterday investigating allegations that the Norwich City striker Robert Fleck made "inappropriate gestures" to Ipswich Town fans during the Canaries' 5-0 thrashing at Portman Road on Saturday.