Cockerill at helm as Grimsby sack Buckley

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The Independent Online

Grimsby have sacked their manager, Alan Buckley, just two games into the new season. His assistant, John Cockerill, was yesterday put in temporary charge for tonight's home tie with Carlisle in the first round of the Worthington Cup.

Grimsby have sacked their manager, Alan Buckley, just two games into the new season. His assistant, John Cockerill, was yesterday put in temporary charge for tonight's home tie with Carlisle in the first round of the Worthington Cup.

Buckley, 49, was in his second spell at Blundell Park having rejoined the Mariners in 1997 after an unsuccessful period at West Bromwich Albion. He won promotion back to the First Division via the play-offs at the first attempt and, in the same season, Buckley also guided the club to Wembley where they won the Auto Windscreens Shield.

However, they flirted with relegation last season, sold the striker Lee Ashcroft to Wigan Athletic in the summer and lost on the opening day of the new campaign to Preston North End. "Results have not improved and we felt it was time for a change," the vice-chairman, Bryan Huxford, said.

The Bulgarian international Ilian Kiriakov is poised to join Steve Archibald's foreign legion at Airdrie. Kiriakov, freed by Aberdeen at the end of the season, has been training with the Scottish First Division club this week and could secure a contract. "We have been having a look at Ilian and I am well aware he would be a handy guy to have around as he can fill so many positions," said Archibald, the club's owner.

"If he can improve his fitness level, he has a chance of playing against Ross County in our league match at the weekend. Really, it's down to the player to show what he can do. I am always interested in players who can do a job for this club."

The 33-year-old utility player spent four years at Pittodrie after being signed from the Cypriot side Anothosis.

The Japanese Football Association has invited the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, to Tokyo to discuss next year's Confederations Cup following an apology from world football's governing body over its proposal for the tournament.

Shun-ichiro Okano, the JFA president, said there was still a possibility Japan might co-host the event with South Korea next summer as a trial run for the 2002 World Cup, which would be in line with Fifa's wishes. His comments came after Blatter sent a letter apologising for Fifa's handling of the matter in Zurich last month.

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