Football: Sweden spoil Italians warm-up

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The Independent Online
ITALY'S World Cup preparations suffered a setback when they lost 1-0 in a warm-up match against Sweden yesterday. However, the team was buoyed by the news that Alessandro Del Piero, who has been suffering with a groin injury, will take his place in the Italian squad for the World Cup finals.

Japan have dumped their veteran striker Kazuyoshi Miura, surprisingly leaving him out of the squad for their first appearance at the finals.

The exclusion of Miura created as much controversy in Japan as the decision to drop Paul Gascoigne did in England. But while the Middlesbrough man was dropped from England's squad because of poor on and off-field performances, Miura was left out the day after he scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win by Japan against a Swiss club side.

"He appeared much more shocked than I'd imagined at being told to leave," Japan's coach, Takeshi Okada, said. "Kazu has no place in my game plans for our World Cup. I couldn't find a place for him even when thinking about the possibility of him being a substitute."

Miura helped Japan to win their first and only Asian Cup in 1992 and played for Brazil's Santos and Italy's Genoa in an international career that started in 1990. He has scored 90 goals in 137 J-League appearances for Verdy Kawasaki, and 54 goals in 86 internationals.

Romania's coach, Anghel Iordanescu, included the former West Ham and Tottenham midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu when he named his squad yesterday.

Dumitrescu started only three matches and played eight as a substitute last season for his Mexican side, Atlante. He was dropped from the three warm-up friendlies played earlier this year against Israel and Greece in Bucharest and against Belgium in Brussels - but Iordanescu has reprieved him.

Bulgaria's coach, Hristo Bonev, turned to the 1994 old guard yesterday when he named his squad for France. He picked eight players who played in the United States four years ago when Bulgaria, who had not previously won a finals match, beat Germany to reach the semi-finals.

The former Reading goalkeeper Borislav Mihailov is among the eight veterans of USA 94 - but there was no recall for the midfielder Yordan Lechkov, whose goal beat the Germans four years ago.