Football / World Cup USA '94: World Cup Diary: Foreign legion on the march

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IT HAS been a good World Cup for those guns for hire, the itinerant coaches recruited mainly to get nations to the tournament and claim some of its kudos and currency. Five of the have-chalkboard-will-travel brigade have reached the last 16.

While it would probably never be countenanced by major footballing nations, such as Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany and, er, England, those without such tradition have benefited considerably from 'foreign' imports.

Jack Charlton and his Republic of Ireland are the most familiar to British viewers, followed by Roy Hodgson's Switzerland. Then there is the Nigeria of the Dutchman Clemens Westerhof, the United States of the Serbian Bora Milutinovic and the Saudi Arabia of Jorge Solari from Argentina.

They are expansive characters, much quoted here, Charlton and Hodgson acknowledging the influence of their English roots. 'There's nothing special about the Swiss air or the players . . . I'm not afraid to say that the English game is my greatest influence,' says Hodgson, Croydon-born and a former Maidstone United player. He once said that a spell at Bristol City cured him of wanting to manage in England but he may yet change his mind.

Milutinovic, it has been said, manages to be indecipherable in five different languages - 'I am so happy' is his favourite phrase - while the colourful Westerhof has a quip for every occasion. 'If you have no luck, you can't even find a wife,' he said after one of Nigeria's games.

Solari, though, has kept a low profile as his team has quietly surprised. 'From the coaching standpoint, everything has remained the same, technically, but the obvious personal and cultural differences are there,' is his only utterance of note about his job, hinting at the fabled work-rate deficiency of Arab players. That and, no, he hasn't had time yet to visit the desert.

Solari took over in Riyadh only in February, after the Dutchman Leo Beenhakker was sacked. Previously he was assistant to the present Argentina manager Alfio Basile. Solari played for the national team, notably against England at Wembley in the 1966 World Cup quarter- final when he was somewhat forgotten due to one Antonio Rattin. He is the father-in-law of the Argentinian midfield player Fernando Redondo.

Perhaps England do have the best of both worlds. Though seemingly Essex man incarnate, Terry Venables is part Welsh.

NAMES are part of the game at the World Cup. Brazil's Dunga, for example, means dopey in Portuguese while if Belgium's Enzo is pronounced Ski-fo, as opposed to the correct Shee-fo, in Italian it means something akin to disgusting.

The United States seem to have the most imaginative nicknames. There is Harkes 'the herald angels sing' and 'I'll pick up the' Tab Ramos. A few more along the same lines occur, such as Sweden's Martin 'Move Over' Dahlin and Nigeria's Rashidi 'Yellow Polka Dot' Yekini. Incidentally, with the Nigerians qualifying for the second round, and the US losing their Derby County player to suspension, is it a case of Hello Adepoju, Goodbye Harkes?

A NIGERIAN player was being interviewed by a compatriot journalist when he was interrupted by a quote-seeker from a Wapping tabloid. 'Could you speak in English, please?' asked our reporter. 'We are,' said the player.

A LOUISIANA drycleaner, Wally Yipp, has won a competition that gives him the chance to shoot for a million dollars in San Francisco at the Brazil v US game. He won't be nervous, ventured the man from the ESPN television station - he already has the Yipps.