Acuna to miss Chile match

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The Independent Online

Newcastle United's new midfielder Clarence Acuña will not play for Chile in the World Cup qualifier against Argentina on 15 November, despite completing his suspension for a positive dope test.

Newcastle United's new midfielder Clarence Acuña will not play for Chile in the World Cup qualifier against Argentina on 15 November, despite completing his suspension for a positive dope test.

The 25-year-old, capped 55 times for his country, said: "I have just arrived here and I did not feel it was the right thing to do to go back and play for my country after such a short time. It would be disrespectful to Newcastle if I did that. I still want to play for Chile, and after the Argentina match our next game is in March and I would like to play in that."

Fifa, world football's ruling body, suspended Acuña for four months in May after he tested positive for the prohibited stimulant isoproterenol in the World Cup qualifier against Peru on April 26. He was given a four-month suspension from 15 May to 15 September and missed six World Cup qualifiers.

Acuña signed for Newcastle for £1m from Universidad de Chile two weeks ago and made his debut in the 1-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday.

Chile are currently struggling in the South American qualifying group. With nine matches played they are seventh in the 10-team competition, having lost five matches and won three.

If they fail to beat the leaders Argentina in Santiago their campaign will effectively be over. The top four teams qualify automatically for the finals of the 2002 tournament, while the fifth-placed team must meet the winners of the Oceania zone for a place in the finals.

The Paraguayan international goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert yesterday signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the French First Division side Strasbourg. "Those who are successful are those who take on big challenges," he said after finalising his contract. "I'm completely dedicated to my work and hope I can do well here."

Chilavert, who joins Strasbourg from the Argentine First Division side Velez Sarsfield, signed after two days of talks with club officials.

The 35-year-old cost Strasbourg around £15m. The club's president Patrick Proissy said he hoped the former South American Footballer of the Year would add a new dynamism to his struggling side. Strasbourg, 17th of 18 teams in the league, have conceded 30 goals so far this term.

Celtic have pledged to give Morten Wieghorst all the support he needs as he recovers from a serious illness.

The Danish midfielder is now out of intensive care after contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome last month. He was rushed to hospital with the virus, which affects the brain nerve endings, but is said to have made a considerable improvement.

"Morten will continue to receive all the support he requires from Celtic," said a club spokesman.

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