Football: Wales set up Brazil double

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The Independent Online
Wales are on the brink of landing a prestigious double header with the world champions, Brazil. Bobby Gould's side, rated 90th in the world by the sport's world governing body, Fifa, are negotiating to play the Brazilians home and away before the World Cup finals start in France on 10 June.

The home match would be played outside the principality on a Premiership ground near the Welsh border, with Everton's Goodison Park, Old Trafford, Anfield or Villa Park the favourites. Negotiations began while Wales were in Istanbul preparing to face Turkey this week.

The stumbling block is that the first match could be fixed for next month, while the return in early June next year sees the Brazilians asking for a fee to take part. Yet Brazil will be looking for preparation friendlies in Europe to acclimatise for France '98, and matches against Wales would be to their benefit.

Wales desperately need funds to bolster the meagre coffers of the Football Association of Wales and a match on a major English ground as a money- spinner. Paying Brazil a big fee, however, would cut into profits.

The game in Brazil could take place on 9 September, in the same week that England play Moldova at Wembley in their World Cup qualifying group.

The Brazilians are so keen on this early match that when their request for Wales to go to Brazil on 10 September was rejected, they immediately contacted the FAW secretary, David Collins, and suggested the previous day. Wales could not guarantee returning players to their clubs in time for the Saturday League programme if the game was staged on the Wednesday. The Brazilians are offering to pay all Wales' expenses.

Whether Wales would be able to secure the release of all their top players for a friendly - such as Manchester United's Ryan Giggs - particularly a trip to South America, is debatable.

However, the opportunity to give emerging Welsh players the chance to experience a match at this level could be invaluable to Bobby Gould's plans.

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