Football: Tenerife's turn in Europe's spotlight

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The Independent Online
A glimpse of glamour beckons for two of Europe's more unfashionable clubs when Tenerife meet Schalke 04 of Germany in tonight's Uefa Cup semi- final first leg in the Canary Islands.

While Internazionale and Monaco, who play in the other semi-final, can both claim a glittering past and would provide glamour opposition in the final, neither Schalke nor Tenerife have figured prominently either in Europe or even in the more earthy confines of their domestic competitions.

Schalke have lifted the German championship seven times, but not since 1958, and they currently lie seventh in the Bundesliga. Tenerife have won no major honours since their formation in 1910 and, after their 3- 1 defeat by Celta Vigo at the weekend, are moored in ninth place in the standings.

Even so, their coach, Jupp Heynckes, who graced the Bundesliga in his playing career, can be excused for thinking that Tenerife deserved to be drawn in the weaker of the two semifinals after overcoming some of Europe's best teams in earlier rounds.

The Spaniards knocked out Lazio of Italy and Feyenoord of the Netherlands before a dramatic extra-time win over Brondby of Denmark in the quarter- finals. The delights of Europe, though, have affected Tenerife's league form in recent weeks and this was reflected by Saturday's defeat.

"We couldn't find our position on the field, and that's why we lost," said Heynckes, who was formerly at Borussia Monchen- gladbach, Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt.

The short-term good news from the game was that none of Heynckes' players were injured. The long-term bad news is that a well-publicised row over flights means that Heynckes may not stay on.

Heynckes wants to take the team to away games in chartered flights rather than the regular flights preferred by club management. His patience was strained to breaking point when the return flight from Celta arrived home at three o'clock on Sunday morning and training later in the day had to be abandoned.

The Germans, however, have been left to rue the fact that the tie may be decided by the men off the field rather than those on it. The absence of injured strikers Martin Max and Youri Mulder for the rest of the season will be a huge blow.

Max and the Dutchman Mulder, who helped steer the club into the last four with a quarter-final win over another Spanish club, Valencia, were both injured in the the goalless draw at Karlsruhe in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Mulder underwent an operation on his left knee and could be out of the game for up to eight months while Max, who has torn ankle ligaments, is not expected to play for six weeks.

"We have no alternatives up front. This has obviously been a double blow," the general manager, Rudi Assauer, said.

The options are not obvious with David Wagner the only other striker in the squad although Belgian Marc Wilmots could play up front.

Tenerife (possible): Ojeda; Suarez, Gomez, Paz, Mata, Llorente, Cruzado, Minambres, Dorado, Castano, Kodro.

Schalke 04 (possible): Lehmann; Thon, de Kock, Linke, Latal, Eigenrauch, Nemec, Anderbruegge, Bueskens, Wilmots, Wagner.