- WORLD CUP 2002

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Friday, April 6, 2001
Taibi nets hero status with Reggina
By Dale Johnson

Many of you will remember the antics of Italian goalkeeper Massimo Taibi during his less-than-impressive spell at Manchester United.

Massimo Taibi
Massimo Taibi: Late goal
Sir Alex Ferguson dug deep into his pockets to pay 4.5m for the then-Venezia stopper in his bid to find Peter Schmeichel's long-term replacement at Old Trafford.

Taibi's debut came in the big derby against Liverpool at Anfield, and he had a stinker as he let goals from Sami Hyypia and Patrick Berger slip past him.

He made a number of good saves, but they were soon forgotten amongst the calamitous attempts to stop the efforts from Hyypia and Berger.

Taibi made only four appearances for United before being shipped off to Reggina, initially on loan and then permanently 2.5m.

However, things seem to be looking up for Taibi back in Serie A as the former United blunder king was hailed as the hero of struggling Reggina

Last weekend he became only the second goalkeeper in Serie A history to score in open play.

Taibi headed home Reggina's 88th minute equaliser in their 1-1 home clash with Udinese on Sunday following a corner taken by Portuguese midfielder Jose Mamede.

'To tell the truth I just went up into the penalty area to create a bit of chaos but Mamede's corner was too inviting and I just stuck it in the net with all my anger,' Taibi said on Reggina's official website.

'Giant Taibi' screamed the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper in a headline that would amuse United fans, who came to refer to the 31-year-old as 'the Blind Venetian' and 'Calamity'.

Although keepers in Serie A have scored eleven penalties, the only other open-play strike was Michelangelo Rampulla's injury time header for Cremonese in a 1-1 draw against Atalanta Bergamo in February 1992.

Back to more everyday matters in the game, Barcelona have agreed a deal with Boca Juniors to sign Juan Roman Riquelme for a reported 18m.

But the Argentine midfielder said on Friday he had yet to be notified by Boca about the proposed transfer, which is subject to him reaching agreement with the Catalan club within 30 working days.

'I only know what I've read in the papers,' Riquelme told Spanish state television in an interview from Buenos Aires. 'The Boca president has told me nothing but it makes me happy that an important club like Barcelona are interested in me.'

Barca's Spanish international midfielder Gerard is to miss the rest of the season after surgery to deal with a knee injury. The expected recovery period for the operation, which will take place on Wednesday, is three months.

John Toshack
John Toshack: Moving upstairs at Real Sociedad

Also in Spain, Real Sociedad coach John Toshack has confirmed he will take over as general manager of the club next season.

But the Welshman, now in his third spell in charge at the Basque club, insists he will still take responsibility for on-field results after choosing his own successor as coach.

'I want a Real Sociedad cut to my own fit,' Toshack told reporters on Saturday. 'I might have to shake up a few people along the way. I want to be an English-style club manager, sitting on the bench during the game but not running training every day. All the responsibility will be mine.'

There has been trouble in Russia, however, where Moscow police arrested 669 people after riots broke out before and during Saturday's derby between fierce city rivals Spartak and CSKA.

A police statement on Monday said 63 fans and three police were hurt, both in clashes before the match and the riot that broke out when Spartak scored the only goal of the match at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.

Twenty-seven people were taken to hospital with injuries while 42 fans were locked up for being drunk, the statement added. Rioters also tore up 1,436 orange plastic seats to use as missiles.

The fans fought in the centre of Moscow before the match, resulting in nine arrests and 11 injuries. The main incidents occurred at the stadium, however, where another 660 were arrested.

It's been said for some time that player power is going too far these days, but Fiorentina put goalkeeper Francesco Toldo in his place after he claimed the Italian Serie A club had put him up for sale.

Toldo was widely quoted on Wednesday as saying club vice-president Mario Sconcerti had told him he would be sold at the end of this season - and that landed him with a club fine.

'I read that I had promised to let Toldo go,' Sconcerti said. 'I had spoken with him but that is not what I said.'

Fiorentina said in a statement that Toldo had been fined 14,500.

Robert Waseige
Waseige: In health scare

Belgium national coach Robert Waseige left intensive care on Tuesday after heart bypass surgery, the Belgian soccer federation said on Monday.

Waseige, 61, was diagnosed with blocked arteries during his annual check-up last Thursday and underwent surgery the next day.

'It was in fact preventive surgery,' spokesman Nicolas Cornu said. Cornu said Waseige should be released in about 10 days and he assumed he would be in charge for an April 25 friendly against the Czech Republic.

In Holland, Ajax Amsterdam introduced latest signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the media on Monday and suggested they may still be in the hunt for further reinforcements up front.

The 19-year-old Swedish striker, who has Bosnian Croat parents, has signed a five-year contract, beginning on July 1. The Dutch club are said to have paid Malmo around 5.3million, an exceptionally high figure for a Swedish player.

'You just have to see this sort of player for 15 minutes. Then you know you want him,' coach Co Adriaanse told Dutch television.

Meanwhile, over in France, disgraced former chairman Bernard Tapie is making a return to Olympique Marseille, the club he bankrolled to the 1993 European Cup before being banned and imprisoned in a bribery scandal.

Following overwhelming backing from supporters, Tapie's return as a minority shareholder and sports manager was announced this morning by club president Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

'Olympique Marseilles has had a disappointing two seasons which have put the club in a situation which does not fit its rank and which I have been unable to modify with my own very important financial outlays,' said Dreyfus, who has forked out large amounts of money on buying players with little success.

Coach Javier Clemente said on Wednesday that he was ready to leave the struggling club. The former Spanish national team coach's position, which had already been in doubt, was placed further under the microscope this week following the controversial return of Tapie.

And, of course, we can't leave Europe without our usual visit to passport corner.

Inter Milan claimed on Tuesday they were being victimised over their alleged role in a false passports scandal after learning they will be the first club to be hauled before the Italian league.

Alvaro Recoba
Recoba has been found to have a false Italian passport

The Milan-based league announced on Monday night that it would hear evidence against Inter's Uruguayan forward Alvaro Recoba and two club officials on April 19. It will then deal with charges against AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida on April 20.

The league has given no indication of the punishments the clubs would face if found guilty of conspiring to obtain false European Union passports for their non-EU players.

But Italian media have reported that Inter, Udinese and Sampdoria could be docked between two and eight points each for the alleged irregularities, while players and officials from all five clubs could face bans of between three and 12 months.

In France, a Paris court has banned three South American players for two years for their involvement in a false passports scandal.

Colombian Farid Mondragon, Argentine Emiliano Romay and Chilean Pablo Contreras, who all played for French professional clubs while holding fake passports from European Union (EU) countries, were also handed heavy fines.

Colombian International goalkeeper Mondragon, who is still contracted to Metz, was ordered to pay 26,600 for playing with a fake Greek passport.

But Mondragon has appealed against the ban. The official Metz website said on Thursday that Mondragon's legal team had lodged papers contesting the ban - leaving the player free to play for the First Division side until the appeal is heard.

The Spanish Football Federation suspended the licences of three more players on Wednesday after being told by Italian authorities that their papers were not in order.

Argentinian-born Gustavo Bartlet of First Division Rayo Vallecano, Brazilian-born Barata of Second Division promotion hopefuls Tenerife and Argentinian-born Daniel Moya of Third Division Granada will not be able to play until further notice, the RFEF said.

The Spanish Football Federation suspended the licences of three more players on Wednesday after being told by Italian authorities that their papers were not in order.

A total of five players have now been suspended in Spain's passport probe, following similar action taken against first division Espanyol's Paraguayan-born Delio Cesar Toledo and Brazilian Sandro Marques Santos of second division Badajoz.

Onto global news, and Botswana coach David Bright has resigned following the country's Cosafa Castle Cup exit earlier this month.

Bright, also in charge of club champions Mogoditshane Fighters and an army officer, said the southern African nation needed a full-time coach if they were to end a run of disappointing results. Botswana soccer officials said they might look to neighbouring South Africa for a replacement.

Botswana lost 1-0 at home against Malawi on March 18, the fifth successive year they have failed to win in the southern African championship.

Meanwhile, former Algerian international Rabah Madjer will take over as his country's national team coach two months later than planned.

Madjer, currently living in Qatar, said on Thursday that he had to delay his transfer to Algiers until June because of 'administrative paperwork.'

Madjer, who coached Algeria for a brief period in 1999, will not join the team for their next World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar on April 22, the agency said.

Esperance of Tunisia and South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns, both serious contenders for the African Champions League title, made mediocre starts in their first round, first leg matches at home.

Last year's beaten finalists Esperance managed only one goal against unheralded Jeunesse Tenere of Niger and face a tricky away leg in Niamey in a fortnight.

Sundowns, held to a goalless draw at home in Pretoria on Sunday by Costa do Sol from neighbouring Mozambique, will also have their work cut out in the return match.

Esperance and Sundowns fought for a place in last year's Champions League final with Esperance it on goal difference in their group to qualify for the two-legged decider which they lost to Hearts of Oak of Ghana last December.

Philippe Troussier
Troussier: Named squad for next Japan training camp

In Japan, national team coach Philippe Troussier, whose team were thrashed 5-0 by France last month, has named 14 new players in his squad for a training camp next week.

Troussier, who is on holiday in his native France and is due to return to Tokyo on Thursday, released a list of 28 players on Tuesday for the two-day camp, which starts next Monday.

The Jubilo Iwata contingent has been boosted from three to seven by the return of four players not taken to France because of Jubilo's participation in the Asian Club Championship quarter-finals in Indonesia.

Midfielders Toshiya Fujita, Daisuke Oku and Takashi Fukunishi and World Cup striker Masashi Nakayama join teammates Toshihiro Hattori, Hiroshi Nanami and Naohiro Takahara.

Chile national coach Pedro Garcia has received a vote of confidence from his country's football federation despite losing his first two matches in charge.

The coach's job appeared to be in danger after last week's outspoken attack by Chilean federation president Mario Mosquera. He said Garcia, who took charge a month ago, had not been his first choice for the job.

But federation directors agreed at a meeting on Monday that Garcia should remain in charge for the rest of Chile's World Cup qualifiers. Mosquera did not attend because he had a cold, officials said.

And finally.....

Romanian champions Dinamo Bucharest are demanding soccer chiefs ban a referee from officiating their matches for the next five years after his decisions appeared to have cost them the title this season.

Dinamo's executive director Cristian Borcea said the club objected to Sorin Corpodean's performance in a derby match against Rapid Bucharest and in particular a penalty he awarded Rapid in the game's final minutes, which squared the match 2-2.

'We are deeply frustrated,' Borcea said. 'He changed the match result, which has now killed our hopes of the title.'

The referees' commission has ruled Corpodean's decisions in the game were unsatisfactory and banned him for the next four games of the season. But Borcea says this is insufficient.

  • If you have any thoughts you can email Dale Johnson.


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    Dale Johnson

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