Football: Uefa abandons play-off plans

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE governing body of European football, Uefa, anxious to protect European interests when Fifa enlarges the World Cup finals are enlarged from 24 to 32 teams, is abandoning support for a system of inter-continental play-offs.

A meeting of its executive committee yesterday decided on their own proposals to prevent the need for extra World Cup qualifying matches.

The Uefa president, Lennart Johansson, will present the proposals to Joao Havelange, the president of the world governing body, Fifa, before Friday's meeting of the Fifa executive in Zurich when Havelange's proposal for a 32-team final from 1988 is expected to be adopted.

Johansson said last month that he was in favour of favoured a system of inter-continental play-offs to decide four of the extra eight places in the finals a move he suggested thought would increase European representation.

However, a Uefa spokesman, Salvatore Cuccu, said yesterday that play-offs were not part of the new plan. 'We are moving in the opposite direction,' he said although he refused to give details.

He said the plan Johansson would submit to Fifa embraced all the continents and was not confined to a system of European qualifiers.

The Belgium coach, Paul Van Himst, yesterday named a defence-oriented World Cup squad. But there was no place for Left out was the Cagliari striker, Luis Oliveira, who had criticised Van Himst.

South Korea will base their campaign on two foreign-based players. Kim Joo-sung, who plays for Bochum in Germany, is expected to fly back to in Seoul soon, while Noh Jung-yoon, who plays in the Japanese J League arrives tomorrow.

Clemens Westerhof, the Dutch coach of Nigeria, said he will quit his job after the World Cup because he is too popular. 'I have become too popular and therefore I have too many enemies,' he said.

Westerhof, the former coach of Feyenoord and Vitesse Arnhem, has received offers from Egypt, South Africa, Thailand and India. But he first wants to take a half-year break to spend time with his family.

Australia will replace Argentina in the Kirin Cup in Japan this month. Argentina withdrew in protest last week following the Japanese government's refusal to issue Diego Maradona an entry visa because of a drug conviction.

Belgian World Cup squad,

Sporting Digest, page 35