POLAND'S HOPES of gaining the draw or win they need away to Sweden on Saturday to deny England a place in the European Championshipqualifying play-offs have been hit by the loss of two of their strikers - and a big doubt over another forward.
Radoslaw Gilewicz and Maciej Zurawski have both dropped out of the Polish squad. Tirol Innsbruck's Gilewicz, the top scorer in the AustrianLeague this season with 11 goals, is out for at least a month after pulling a hamstring. Zurawski, who plays for Lech Poznan, has a badly bruisedankle. Another striker, Andrzej Juskowkiak, is uncertain after missing the last two games for his German Bundesliga club, VfL Wolfsburg.
The Polish coach, Janusz Wojcik, has called up Widzew Lodz's Artur Wichniarek and Pawel Kryszalowicz of Amika Wronki to replace Gilewiczand Zurawski. The Polonia Warsaw defender Arkadiusz Kaliszan has been called up for the first time in two years, but the midfielder Tomasz Iwanof PSV Eindhoven is absent after picking up his second yellow card in Poland's 0-0 draw with England last month.
Sweden, who have already qualified for next year's finals, have included four English-based players in their squad: Magnus Hedman of Coventry,Sheffield Wednesday's Niclas Alexandersson, Fredrik Ljungberg of Arsenal and Sunderland's Stefan Schwarz.
In contrast, Italy's coach, Dino Zoff, has snubbed the Premiership's entire Italian contingent with his squad selection for Saturday's Group Onequalifier in Belarus. All 22 men chosen by Zoff play in Italy's Serie A. Among them is the Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero, who has not playedfor his country suffering knee ligament damage in November 1998.
Macedonia, who entertain the Republic of Ireland in a crucial Euro 2000 qualifier on Saturday, will be without six key players in Skopje. Thedefenders Mitko Stojkovski and Igor Nikolovski, the midfielders Milan Stojanovski and Viktor Trenevski and the goalkeeper Oka Nikolov are allinjured.
Macedonia's coach, Dragan Kanatloravski, remained defiant despite his selection problems. "We will play for national pride," he said. "We want tobeat Ireland but we would also be happy with a draw." The Republic will win Group Eight if they win in Skopje and Yugoslavia lose in Croatia.
A EUROPEAN nation will have to play off against a country from Asia for a place in the 2002 World Cup finals.
Meeting in Las Vegas last week, the executive committee of world football's ruling body, Fifa, agreed to give Asia an additional "half-place" at thetournament, which is to be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, after Asian delegates had walked out of a Fifa congress in July in protest at theirallocation.
The Asian request that their team should play-off against the Oceania representative was not accepted by Fifa. Instead, the Oceania country will playoff against South American opposition.
THE AUSTRALIAN club South Melbourne qualified for the Fifa World Club Championship in Brazil when they beat the Fijian champions, Nadi5-1, to win the Oceania Champions' Cup last week. On Sunday the Mexican side Necaxa also booked their trip by winning the Concacaf Champions'Cup in Las Vegas. They will join Manchester United, Al-Nasr of Saudi Arabia, Vasco da Gama and Corinthians of Brazil and Spain's Real Madrid inBrazil in January.
MARIO ZAGALLO, the former Brazil coach, lost his job as the coach of the little Sao Paulo club Portuguesa last night following a 1-0 defeatagainst Corinthians in the Brazilian League on Sunday.
Portuguesa have failed to win any of their last seven matches. Zagallo appeared to be on his way two weeks ago after a home draw with Gremio, butwas given a stay of execution after a directors' meeting. Last night, however, a team spokesman said he had been sacked. Zagallo, 68, joinedPortuguesa in January, six months after leading Brazil to the runners- up position at last year's World Cup finals.
In Peru, police came on to the pitch as players brawled during the second half of Universitario's 3-0 defeat away to Union Minas at the weekend.Reuse content