Edmundo returns at Romario's expense

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South America

South America

The veteran striker Romario, who has scored seven goals in Brazil's last two internationals, was forced to withdraw from their World Cup squad yesterday after being injured in training. In an ironic twist, his bitter rival Edmundo was named as his replacement for tomorrow's South American qualifier against Colombia in São Paulo. The game will be Brazil's first under their new coach Emerson Leão.

Romario pulled a muscle as he went for a cross during practice and immediately asked for help. He had limped out of Sunday's Brazilian league match between Vasco da Gama and Botafogo but had said he would be fit for tomorrow's international.

Romario spent two years in the international wilderness before being recalled for a qualifier against Bolivia in September. He celebrated with a hat-trick and then scored four more goals in a 6-0 demolition of Venezuela last month.

Edmundo, whose talent is often overshadowed by problems on and off the field, was sent off against Peru in his last international in April. Previous to that, he had not played for Brazil since the 1998 World Cup final in France.

Romario and Edmundo have been bitter personal rivals since the former decorated a toilet door in his bar with a mocking cartoon of the latter. Their rivalry was clear earlier this year when they both played for Vasco and refused to talk to each other on the pitch. The problems only stopped when Edmundo left to join Santos.

Romario said in a recent interview: "They say his dream is to play alongside me in the national team. My dream is to never play with him again."

Tomorrow's other key South American qualifier sees Argentina travel to Santiago to tackle Chile. The Boca Juniors striker Martin Palermo has been named by Argentina as a replacement for the laryngitis-stricken Gabriel Batistuta.

Palermo, a prolific scorer at club level, wins another chance to resurrect an international career which last year appeared to be in ruins. The striker was ditched by the coach Marcelo Bielsa after last year's Copa America when his three goals were overshadowed by three penalties he missed in a match against Colombia.

Injury-hit Argentina will be without three other strikers: Hernan Crespo and Claudio Lopez of Lazio and River Plate's Pablo Aimar. Bologna's Julio Cruz and Guillermo Barros Schelotto of Boca Juniors have been called up. Two key midfielders, the injured Javier Zanetti and the suspended Diego Simeone, are also out.

Asia

Cambodia spent the weekend celebrating their first victory since their return to international football in December 1995: a 3-0 win over Laos in the Tiger Cup international tournament in Thailand.

Two gals by Hok Sochetra and one by Chea Makara gave the Cambodians their historic win. After several decades of self-imposed isolation, they returned to the international scene at the South-east Asian Games in 1995.

Belgium

The League leaders Club Bruges travel to fourth-placed Charleroi on Friday when a win would see them equal a 36-year-old national record of 13 straight wins at the start of a league season.

The record, set by Paul van Himst's Anderlecht in 1964-65, could then be broken if Bruges went on to beat promoted Antwerp at home on 26 November.

Bruges have set a blistering pace in the league this season. On Sunday they demolished lowly Beveren 6-0 to maintain a 100 per-cent start to the campaign, with 12 straight wins, hitting 47 goals in the process. They have opened up a six-point lead over Anderlecht.

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