Nigeria eye up Robson

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL
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The Independent Online
Manager madness descended on West Africa last week, as Nigeria's search for a new national football coach began in a frenzy of speculation on Friday.

Ruud Gullit and Bobby Robson were just the first among equals to be touted in the local media as possible successors to succeed the former coach, Frenchman Philippe Troussier, who was sacked on Thursday, and take Nigeria to the World Cup finals in France next year.

The early front runner, according to the mainly government-owned Daily Times, is the former England manager Robson, who is currently filling the role of technical director at Barcelona, having been down-graded at the end of last season from the manager's post at the Spanish club.

If Robson can't be persuaded, the Nigerian Football Association appears likely to go Dutch on the deal, with Johan Cruyff and Clemens Westerhof, the man who took Nigeria to the World Cup in 1994, as well as Gullit, likely to be courted.

The former Wales manager John Toshack and the German Burkhard Ziese, a former Ghana coach, are also said to be in line for a telephone call.

One German coach who could soon be available is Cologne's Peter Neururer, who may find his position at the struggling club untenable should they lose against promoted Hertha in today's Bundesliga basement battle. Hertha's Jurgen Roeber is also under pressure with his side having gleaned just two points from their first seven games.

The path into the top flight needn't necessarily finish at the job centre, though, as the Mallorca coach Hector Raul Cuper has shown by leading them to second place in the Spanish Primera Liga. Their game today at rival islanders Tenerife will be a full test of their staying power.

Another attractive derby taking place today is in Italy's Serie A, where a Tuscan tussle is set between Fiorentina and Empoli. Christian Amoroso is likely to play for Fiorentina against his old club in place of the injured Andrei Kanchelskis. Otherwise Fiorentina are at full strength, with the Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta being partnered in attack by the Brazilian Oliveira.

Milan are also hopeful of fielding a first-choice team against Vicenza, with their captain Paolo Maldini returning to a side boosted by their first competitive win of the season - a 2-0 defeat of Serie B side Reggiana in the Italian Cup on Wednesday.

It may be a good time to play Vicenza, who will have one eye cocked on their Cup-Winners' Cup return leg away to Legia Warsaw this Thursday, although they take a 2-0 cushion from the home leg with them to Poland.

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