Baggio is tipped for surprise comeback

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The Independent Online

Roberto Baggio could make an unlikely return to action – and possibly stake a late claim for World Cup consideration – with Brescia this weekend after recovering from knee surgery.

There were fears that the 35-year-old's Italian's career was over earlier this year when he suffered a serious knee injury, but his rehabilitation has gone well. The striker had hoped to play last weekend against Internazionale but team doctors ruled out an appearance.

Baggio has been such a prominent player in Italian football that many of his adoring supporters, and legions of fans in the media, are calling on Giovanni Trapattonni to put him in his World Cup squad.

However, the Italy coach has repeatedly said in the last few weeks that he has no chance of playing with the Azzurri in Japan and Korea.

The Brescia coach Carlo Mazzone, meanwhile, has been suspended for one game and fined €1,500 (£920) for verbally abusing the referee during Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Inter.

Senegal won all three major trophies at the African Football Awards in Johannesburg yesterday. The Lens and Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf was voted African Player of the Year while his national team manager, Bruno Metsu, was named Coach of the Year.

Also, the Senegalese national team, who will face the defending champions France in the opening game of the World Cup on 31 May, were named African Team of the Year.

The Spanish club Real Betis are furious after being banned from their home ground for two games following incidents in the Seville derby last month and plan to appeal. During the match a Betis supporter fired a Roman candle at Sevilla fans. Objects were hurled at the visiting supporters and large numbers of seats in the ground were destroyed.

"The committee's decision is totally unfair and disproportionate, we are the main victims of the events that happened," said Real Betis's director and legal advisor, Manuel Castano.

Castano said he believes that clubs like Sevilla and Betis, based in the poorer rural south, are unfairly treated in comparison to the likes of Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid from Spain's urban north. "The Spanish FA should look after order in sport," he said. "It seems there are two ways of measuring and two types of justice: one for the north and another for the south."

Sevilla have also been fined €1,500 (£920) for their fans' behaviour, but spokesman Jaime Camacho has said the club will not appeal. However, Betis's neighbours and rivals have surprisingly backed Betis in their appeal for justice.

"It is lamentable, whether it be in Betis' ground or anywhere, that there are supporters who don't know how to behave," said Camacho.

The Norwegian club Rosenborg Trondheim are to replace their outgoing coach, Nils Arne Eggen, with Aage Hareide, who resigned as manager of the Danish club Brondby last week. The former Manchester City player has accepted a three-year contract beginning on 1 January 2003.

Eggen, one of the most successful coaches in Norwegian football history, announced on Monday that he plans to resign at the end of this season.

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