Football: Turkey still heading for Belfast

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The Independent Online
NORTHERN IRELAND'S European Championship qualifier against Turkey on 4 September will be played despite last week's earthquake.

The Turkish Football Association has suspended domestic football for three weeks because of the disaster and it had been feared the Windsor Park encounter could also be postponed. However, the Irish Football Association and Uefa insist the Group Three game is still on.

A Uefa spokeswoman said only domestic games have been called off, and the Turkish champions, Galatasaray, are playing Rapid Vienna in Istanbul in a Champions' League qualifying game tonight. "As far as we know the match will be played as normal," she said. "We would need to receive an official request from one of the two FAs but that has not happened. The reason why the domestic games have been postponed is more out of respect for the victims than because it is unsafe for the teams to travel."

The IFA president, Jim Boyce, said they would be sympathetic to any request to postpone the match and the Under-21 game the previous night. "We have had no communication at all from the Turkish FA and as far as we are concerned the game is still on," he said.

The Middlesbrough midfielder Christian Ziege is delighted with his recall to the German squad after an absence of over a year.

"I am totally happy that [head coach] Erich Ribbeck asked me. But I'm not there to train or to have fun. I'm there to play, to secure a place in the team and to make sure that Germany holds on to its 1996 Euuropean title," Ziege said. Ribbeck recalled Ziege, who has scored twice in his first four games for Boro, to an 18-man squad to play group two qualifiers against Finland in Helsinki on 4 September and Northern Ireland in Dortmund on 8 September.

Ziege, who has impressed Ribbeck since moving to Middlesbrough from Milan this summer, will replace Fiorentina's Jorg Heinrich, who Ribbeck said was not fully match fit because the Italian championship had yet to get under way.

Sebastian Deisler, Hertha Berlin's 19-year-old midfielder, has been called into the squad for the first time after impressing with a number of assured performances since his transfer from relegated Borussia Monchengladbach during the summer.

Liverpool's injured midfielder Vladimir Smicer has been named in the Czech Republic squad for the qualifiers in Lithuania and at home to Bosnia- Herzegovina.

Gerard Houllier's pounds 3.75m summer signing from Lens injured his ankle on his home debut against Watford and has missed Liverpool's last two matches.

However, the Czech coach, Jozef Chovanec, whose team have already clinched group nine, has still included Smicer along with his Liverpool team-mate Patrik Berger and the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek.

The Swedish coach Tommy Soderberg has named 17 foreign-based players in a 20-man squad for the Euro 2000 qualifier against Bulgaria on 4 September, including the Coventry goalkeeper Magnus Hedman and Arsenal's midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg.