Hitzfeld confirms English interest

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The Independent Football

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the coach of Bayern Munich who a week ago was rumoured to be the Football Association's No 1, choice to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson, admitted yesterday that he is being sounded out about coaching jobs in England.

"Yes, in the meantime several people from England have called who are interested in me," Hitzfeld said. "But to talk about it now is hypothetical, too early."

The highly-regarded Hitzfeld, who has guided two different teams to victory in the Champions' League, did not specify which teams or organisations have been in contact with him.

Last week it was reported that the FA chief executive, Mark Palios, had targeted the German to take over if Eriksson turns down a contract extension as England manager.

However, Hitzfeld said he planned on staying with Bayern Munich, whom the former mathematics teacher has led to four Bundesliga titles in five years. "No one has asked me about the job and it doesn't interest me much at the moment," Hitzfeld said. "I want to fulfil my contract with Bayern Munich until 2005."

The agent of the Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo has dismissed reports that the 31-year-old midfielder has joined Saudi Arabia club Al Ittihad.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) claimed yesterday that Rivaldo had signed a six-month contract with Al Ittihad, but his agent, Carlos Arini, denied reports of a move.

Arini maintained that Rivaldo, who was given a free transfer by Milan last month, wanted to stay in Brazil and was likely to sign for either Brazilian champions, Cruzeiro, or the newly-promoted Botafogo in the next few days.

"The soap opera is close to a finish," Arini said, "but Rivaldo will be playing in Brazil at the start of 2004. He's not changing his plans because of more money."

According to the AFC's website, Al Ittihad president Mansour Al-Balawi announced the signing of Rivaldo on Saturday. The AFC quoted Al-Balawi as saying Rivaldo, who helped Brazil win the World Cup for the fifth time in Japan and South Korea in 2002, would arrive in Saudi Arabia on 12 January.