|Monday, June 26, 2000,
Figo was a threat throughout
|Golden generation to
AMSTERDAM, June 25 Portugals golden generation clinched a special place in their countrys soccer history at Euro 2000 but were not ready to open the champagne yet.
Hagi blasts referee
BRUSSELS, June 25 Romania captain Gheorghe Hagi has blasted the referees decision to give him a second yellow card for diving inside the penalty area during his sides 0-2 defeat to Italy in the Euro 2000 quarterfinals.
Injured Conte out of Euro 2000
GEEL (Belgium), June 25 Italian midfielder Antonio Conte has ruptured ligaments in his right ankle and is out of Euro 2000, Italys team doctor said today.
England recall Cork
Portugal, Italy book berths in last four
BRUSSESL, June 25 (AFP) Portugal and Italy became the first two countries to book spots in the last four of Euro 2000, with both nations coasting to easy 2-0 victories over Turkey and Romania, respectively.
Portugal eased home against 10-man Turkey thanks to two Nuno Gomes strikes after Alpay Ozalan had been sent off. Arif Erdem also missed a penalty for Turkey.
Italy also were well in command of their match with Romania, seizing control with first-half goals from Francesco Totti and Filippo Inzaghi in a match also notable for the sending-off of Romanias legendary playmaker Gheorghe Hagi in his last appearance for his country.
Portugal, with Barcelona star Luis Figo continually causing mayhem among the Turkish defence, have now equalled their best ever performance in the European Championships in 1984 they also reached the last four in the 1966 World Cup.
Their semifinal defeat to hosts France was generally considered the match of the tournament in 1984. But a repeat of that match could be on the cards again as the Portuguese now face either a match with the world champions or an all-Iberian clash with Spain in the last four.
Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho said afterwards: It was an easier match than I thought when you consider (Vitor) Baia stopped a penalty and the Turks had a player sent off.
Turkey were just not able to give us any problems playing with 10 men. Of course its an important victory and we are already thinking about the next game, the coach said.
He added with a smile he would prefer to play France in the last four because he had a French wife.
This victory is the result of a long-term job. We enjoy our job working as a group and a lot of people have contributed to it.
When asked if Portugal were ready to be European champions, he said: We are ready to stay on one more week.
Turkey coach Mustafa Denizli said afterwards he was disappointed with the loss.
Unfortunately the whole team had to bear the consequences of individual lack of self-control, said Denizli in a thinly-disguised jibe at Alpay who was dismissed when he aimed a petulant push at Fernando Couto while both players were on the ground.
That sparked off some real drama at the Amsterdam Arena and Nuno Gomes put the Portuguese ahead with an angled header after the irrepressible Figo had crossed from the right.
But in first half injury time Turkey had a golden opportunity to level.
Couto brought down Arif and the same player got up only to hit his spot kick straight at Portuguese Vitor Baia with Hakan Sukur unable to direct the rebound on target.
It was Gomes who killed the game with the second strike but again it was Figo who did all the hardwork.
He bamboozled Hakan Unsal on the left side of the Turkish penalty area and laid the ball across to Gomes, who could hardly miss.
Portugal had plenty of opportunities to square the match but failed to take advantage with Rustu Recber playing superbly in the Turkish goal.
Italy booked their place in the Euro 2000 semifinals with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Romania in Brussels with Hagi ending his distinguished international career with a sending-off.
Totti and Inzaghi caught
the Romanian defence flat-footed in the 33rd and 43rd
minutes for Italy, but there was a humiliating end for
35-year-old Hagi, the greatest player in the history of
Romanian football and who now retires from the national
Figo was a threat throughout
AMSTERDAM, June 25 (AFP) Luis Figo confirmed himself as one of the worlds great footballers with a virtuoso display for Portugal in their 2-0 victory over Turkey in the Euro 2000 quarter-finals here yesterday.
Continually threatening the Turkish defence with dazzling dribbling and clever ball skills, Figo was a threat throughout the 90 minutes.
The 27-year-old Barcelona player, who won the world under-16 and under-20 titles with Portugal, has now become a senior player of supreme quality on the international stage.
Figo might not have got on the scoresheet, with the limelight going to Nuno Gomes who found the net in the 44th and 56th minutes, but he created both goals.
Figo ran down the right and his cross bounced in front of an unmarked Gomes whose header went just inside Turkish keeper Rustu Recbers right hand post for Portugals first goal and his second of the tournament.
For the second goal Figo, on the right wing, pushed the ball to the right of Hakan Unsal while running past him on the left to beat him with a clever bit of trickery. Figo then hit a low cross to an unmarked Gomes at the far post who side-footed the ball into an empty net.
Hapless Turkey were reduced to 10 men after the sending off of Alpay Ozalan and Arif Erdem missed a penalty both late in the first half.
Figo said afterwards: The coach told us to keep moving positions to confuse other teams. It does not matter if Im on the left side or the right side. The most important thing is that all the positions are occupied when we have got the ball.
The penalty save was crucial because it was seconds before the end of the first half, Figo said. (Vitor) Baia was able to stop the penalty and Portugal not only went into the break 1-0 ahead but the Turks were a man down.
Of course we would like to play the final. I would particularly like to play against Holland because I have many Dutch friends.
He dismissed the thought that he could go on to win the 2000 FIFA World Player of the Year award. Its always difficult to talk about individual awards especially when they are chosen by 50 to 100 people who do not always reflect the feeling of the world of football.
It is important for every player to be in tournaments like this though. If you are not at these events you cannot show yourself to the world.
When asked if Portugal could improve on this performance he said: You can always improve and we really want to do better. Our football has been good up till now but we want to succeed so the team can really prove something.
Brazilians of Europe
AMSTERDAM, June 25 (AFP) Brazilians of Europe is a label which is all the more apt for Portugal following their 2-0 beating of 10-man Turkey to reach the Euro 2000 semifinals.
Portugals golden generation, possessing the talent of their colonial cousins yet not the silverware to match, could finally end their championship-winning drought at senior level in the July 2 final in Rotterdam.
Rui Costas shimmies and body serves, Figos breathtaking skills in running at defenders, and the teams unpredictability and flair on the edge of the box smacked of the famous four-time world champions in the yellow shirts.
This tournament has been dubbed the last hurrah for a golden generation of Portuguese players yet it was a relative youngster 24-year-old Nuno Gomes who grabbed the headlines with two goals to set up Wednesdays tie in Brussels with either France or Spain.
The pedigree of Portuguese key performers has never been in question. Barcelonas Figo and Fiorentinas Rui Costa are a couple of attacking midfielders who would grace any side.
Paulo Sousa, who won the European Cup with different clubs in successive years Juventus in 1996 and Borussia Dortmund a year later is still performing at the highest level with Parma in the Serie A.
Striker Joao Pinto, defenders Jorge Costa, Fernando Couto and keeper Vitor Baia also have an enormous amount of experience on the international stage.
All those players, Figo, Costa, Sousa, Joao Pinto, Jorge Costa, Couto and Baia are either in their 30s or they will be by the time the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea comes around.
It must be all the more satisfying for them to have at last put on a spectacular exhibition of football. Figo confirmed himself beyond all doubt as a footballing superstar with a virtuoso display.
He continually threatened the Turkish defence with dazzling dribbling and clever ball skills throughout the 90 minutes. He was the architect of both Portuguese goals against the Turks and has been the outstanding player so far at the tournament.
Admittedly hapless Turkey were reduced to 10 men after the sending off of Alpay Ozalan and Arif Erdem missed a penalty both late in the first half. Figo said afterwards: The coach has told us to keep moving positions to confuse other teams. It does not matter if Im on the left side or the right side. The most important thing is that all the positions are occupied when we have got the ball.
Portugals positioning was fluid. Sergio Conceicao would one minute be threatening down the right wing and the next he would be installed in the classic right back position.
Figo would be on the
right flank, then the left flank and there was always a
player to fill the void as soon as another player left
his position. Rui Costa continually altered his
positioning behind the strikers and the variation was
clearly unsettling Turkey.
Golden generation to the fore
AMSTERDAM, June 25 (Reuters) Portugals golden generation clinched a special place in their countrys soccer history at Euro 2000 but were not ready to open the champagne yet.
Inspired by midfielder Luis Figo, Portugal reached the first semifinal in a major competition since Euro 84 with a 2-0 defeat of Turkey. The Portuguese, who also reached the 1966 World Cup semifinals, have never reached a major final.
Yesterdays quarter-final victory was a special moment but Barcelonas Figo, who set up both goals for the 23-year-old Benfica striker Nuno Gomes, dismissed suggestions that his team would relax or become complacent.
Yes, this is an historic moment for this group of players and for Portuguese football, said Figo, 27, who was nominated Man-of-the-Match for his energetic and skilful display.
But we want to reach the final. That is what we have come here for.
After a frustrating season in Spain with Barcelona which culminated in the Catalans losing a European Cup semifinal to Valencia, Figo said he now wanted to set his sights on success with a Portuguese squad known as the golden generation.
He said individual awards meant little to him and played tribute to the teams coach and his team mates for their triumphant path to the last four.
In our play, in attack, movement is a very important thing and the team coach asks for it, he said.
That is why I am moving around a lot. We do it to try and confuse the other team, but the important thing is when you lose the ball, on the left or the right or anywhere, that you occupy that position for the team.
Figo agreed that the key moment of the game for his team was goalkeeper Vitor Baias penalty save from Arif Erdem in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time after Turkey defender Alpay Ozalan had earlier been sent off.
It was important, mainly because it came just before the halftime interval and because we were one goal ahead and they were one player down. It was very important, he said.
Asked if he had spoken to any of his friends and Barcelona team mates in the Netherlands squad about a potential meeting in the final in Rotterdam on July 2, he laughed.
It is our objective to be there and it will be a very good atmosphere, he said. Of course, I have a lot of friends in the Dutch team and, of course, everyone wants to play in the final. He added that he felt yesterdays display, during which they wasted a series of good openings after a ragged and disjointed first half, was not their best.
We always feel we can do better and I am sure we can after that, he said.
The main thing is to improve in all things, all the time, at all levels. We want to keep working together as a group. We want to improve. Every player in this group wants to do better and have success.
In the last four the Portuguese will meet the winner of todays quarter-final between France and Spain.
Asked if he relished
meeting France and their midfielder Zinedine Zidane in a
mouth-watering creative clash, Figo said: He is a
great player....but it would not be Zidane V. Figo. It
would be 11 against 11.
BRUSSELS, June 25 (Reuters) Romania captain Gheorghe Hagi has blasted the referees decision to give him a second yellow card for diving inside the penalty area during his sides 0-2 defeat to Italy in the Euro 2000 quarterfinals.
Hagi yesterday insisted he had been fouled inside the box in the 59th minute, five minutes after receiving his first yellow card for a foul on midfielder Antonio Conte.
You could see from an aeroplane that it was a penalty, he said. The Italian defender deserved a red, not me a yellow. But the 35-year-old playmaker said the incident was unimportant.
Whats important is that Romania demonstrated that they are a good team in this competition and that we have talented players, good young players who have a future, he said.
Asked if the match was his last for Romania, Hagi shrugged his shoulders and left the area where players speak to reporters after the game.
Hagi was widely expected to retire from competitive international football after Euro 2000 but had said he would play one last game for Romania in a farewell friendly against Yugoslavia in August.
Romanian coach Emerich Jenei spoke out after his sides defeat, saying refereeing in general at the tournament was not good enough.
He refused to be drawn on the sending off of Gheorghe Hagi but told reporters: I repeat that the refereeing here is not of the required standard.
In general, the refereeing was not first class. I am speaking about the whole tournament, not our game tonight especially.
When asked if Hagi had played his last match for Romania, he replied: Hagi will decide himself.
Asked when, he answered Maybe now, maybe in September when we have our next games.
Jenei accepted the loss of four of his players before the game through injury or suspension had been a factor.
Injured Conte out of Euro 2000
GEEL (Belgium), June 25 (Reuters) Italian midfielder Antonio Conte has ruptured ligaments in his right ankle and is out of Euro 2000, Italys team doctor said today.
He has suffered a third grade injury to the anterior ligaments on his right ankle, doctor Andrea Ferretti told reporters at Italys training camp.
It means hes out of the rest of the tournament. He had a magnetic resonance test in hospital this morning and now hes back on base.
Conte was the victim of a brutal challenge by Romanian playmaker Gheorghe Hagi in the 54th minute of Italys 2-0 quarter-final victory last night and had to be stretched from the pitch.
Ferretti said Hagi went into the Italian changing room after the match to apologise. The doctor said there was no further word on Italy captain Paolo Maldini, who injured a left thigh muscle and was substituted at half time.
GLASGOW, June 25 (Reuters) Mike Tyson needed just 38 seconds to dispose of another pitifully inadequate challenger in his latest step on the road to a possible world title fight against Lennox Lewis.
The former undisputed world champion felled fellow-American Lou Savarese with his first punch of the evening yesterday in their scheduled 10-round non-title bout at Hampden Park.
Tyson threw a left hook in the 15th second to send Savarese crashing to the canvas. He then floored referee John Coyle who became entangled with Tysons left arm as the 33-year-old American sprang on to the attack.
A series of combinations to the face and body left Savarese helpless on the rope and after 38 seconds Coyle had seen enough, stopping the fight despite protestations from Savarese and his corner.
Even Briton Julius Francis had managed to extend Tysons first fight in Europe last January into the second round and the 15,000 spectators who had waited until 10 minutes before midnight on a cold, rainy night felt justifiably cheated.
They booed the decision, jeered Savarese and left the stadium reluctantly as Tyson was led from the ring.
I could have continued, Savarese protested, but the swelling under his eyes told another story. I got caught with a left hook. I threw a jab and he slipped it. I got caught with a great punch.
Tyson spoke for longer than he had fought, saying initially he was not yet ready to meet Lewis.
But he warmed to his task of keeping his chaotic career on track with some ghoulish soundbites.
I only trained two or three weeks for this fight, he said. I am the most ruthless, brutal champion ever. There is no one who can match me. I want your (Lennox Lewiss) heart. I want to eat your children.
Dalmiyas term ends today
LONDON, June 25 (PTI) As betting and match-fixing controversy cast its shadow on the cricketing world, the crucial annual general meeting of the International Cricket Council begins here tomorrow seeking to grapple with the problem and decide on the Test status for Bangladesh.
At the meeting, the games world governing body is expected to discuss the ranging match-fixing scandal and the recent revelations made at the Edwin King Commission of inquiry in South Africa with English cricket chief Lord Maclaurin suggesting stricter measures.
Indias Jagmohan Dalmiya steps down as the president of ICC here tomorrow after an eventful tenure of three years.
Mr Malcolm Gray, the Melbourne barrister, will succeed Mr Dalmiya at the helm of ICC for a two year term.
Lord Maclaurin, who had summoned an interim meeting of ICC member countries last month to thrash out a common response to allegations of match manipulation, admits that deliberations are fraught with danger.
Contrary to the noises that have come out of Pakistan indicating that the Qayyum report is now thing of the past, Mr Maclaurin said nothing could be further from the truth.
It cant possibly be closed, he told Daily Telegraph. Because we have not discussed it at the ICC. It has to be referred to us.
If the ICC feels the home board has not taken a strong enough view then they can ask them to think again. There are lot of unanswered questions here because players and administrators refused to give evidence. You cant refuse to give evidence in a case like this.
I hope we can do what is right for the game. This is the most important meeting ICC have ever had and I trust that people will not take up entrenched positions. If we fail we will fail the game.
Elevation of Bangladesh to Test playing nation is an important agenda with white countries opposing the move.
Mr Dalmiya, a strong proponent of the scheme to add Bangladesh to the present list of nine Test playing countries, has faced the opposition as Bangladeshs entry as full member would mean a strong four-member Asian bloc at ICC.
The ICC is also expected
to decide about Thilanga Sumathipala, a bookmaker
recently elected president of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board
despite an ICC regulation that anybody involved with
bookmaking was barred from holding high office.
Leadership crisis hits Pak hockey
KARACHI, June 25 (AFP) The leadership crisis in the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) could harm Pakistans chances of regaining lost glory at the Sydney Olympics this year, manager Islauddin Ahmed said yesterday.
With less than three months to go before the Games, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) this week sacked PHF president Arif Abbasi for alleged mismanagement and federation secretary Manzoor Atif quit last week amid differences with Mr Abbasi.
In another major blow to the teams chances in Sydney, coach Hanif Khan quit on Sunday saying he could not work amid the PHF turmoil.
Such a situation does affect players performances but I hope they will just concentrate on their game and fitness, former Olympian Ahmed told AFP.
I hope that the hockey coaching camp for the Olympics will start from July 1 and will continue until the teams pre-Olympics tour of New Zealand and Australia in August.
The camp was scheduled to start from June 27 but was postponed because of the leadership vacuum at the PHF.
Pakistan have a tough group in the Olympics. They face Holland, Germany, England and Spain. Pakistan have not won Olympic gold since 1984.
We have not played against Holland and Germany for very long and they looked very good outfits, said Ahmed, who was in Holland last month for the Champions Trophy.
I have brought video films of these matches which can help the boys in the camp.
England recall Cork
LONDON, June 25 (AP) England have recalled allrounder Dominic Cork in the 14-man squad named for the second Test against the West Indies at Lords on Thursday.
Also named are 23-year old fast bowler Matthew Hoggard and allrounder Craig White, one of the 12 centrally-contracted players yet to play a Test this season.
Cork, who made his Test debut in the corresponding match five years ago has been hampered by injury and indifferent form and hasnt played since appearing against Australia in Perth in November 1998.
England squad: Nasser
Hussain (captain), Michael Atherton, Mark Ramprakash,
Graeme Hick, Alec Stewart, Nick Knight, Andrew Flintoff,
Robert Croft, Craig White, Dominic Cork, Andrew Caddick,
Darren Gough, Ed Giddins, Matthew Hoggard.
India win subjunior Asia Cup
SINGAPORE, June 25 (PTI) Artistic Indian juniors made history by winning the inaugural sub-Junior Asia Cup Hockey Championship when they beat subcontinental rivals Bangladesh 5-2 in the final here today.
Scripting a historic moment in the annals of Indian hockey, the boys showed total domination save for few sporadic raids and penalty corners earned, Bangladesh were made to eat a humble pie.
Somesh Kanta struck a brace while Amarjit Singh and skipper Prabodh Tirkey displayed tremendous character in the rear which inspired others.
Johnson runs years fastest 400m
EUGENE (US) June 25 (Reuters) World record-holder Michael Johnson clocked the fastest 400 meters of the season while rival Maurice Greene ran a quick, but wind-aided 200 meters at the Prefontaine Classic.
In a meet featuring most top US stars, Johnson looked on top of his game yesterday, running an aggressive opening 200 meters before winning in 43.92 seconds.
I wanted to run under 44 seconds and not just sneak under it, said Johnson, whose world record is 43.18 seconds.
Greene, meanwhile, clocked a wind-assisted 19.93 seconds in his first 200 meters of the season Marion Jones won both the womens 100 meters and long jump and Romanian Gabriela Szabo preserved her two-year winning streak by overtaking American Suzy Favour Hamilton on the last stride, winning in four minutes, 0.73 seconds, the worlds fastest time this year.
Three-time world champion Gail Devers also looked impressive in her season-opening 100-meter hurdles race, clocking 12.64 seconds, the second fastest time of the year.
Greene would give himself a C plus grade only average for his 200 meters.
I have to work on coming off the curve, said the 100-meter world record-holder who plans to challenge Johnson over 200 meters at next months US Olympic trials in Sacramento next month.
Jones, clad in a flashy bodysuit replete with hood, overcame a horrible start in the 100 meters to win in 10.93 seconds, then decided the long jump on her first attempt, a leap of 6.97 meters (22 feet, 10 1/2 inches).
The distance was her best of the season and fourth best in the world this year.
Its a step in the right direction, said Jones, who hopes to win gold medals in the long jump and four other events at the Sydney Olympics.
It also set up a meeting with long-jump world leader Fiona May of Italy in Rome on Friday.
It will be good for Marion, said Joness coach, Trevor Graham. It will be a good competition and will set her up for the (US) trials. It also will put a lot of pressure to jump far.
Jones said she felt comfortable in the Nike swift suit, which she wore only in the 100 meters, and that it had nothing to do with her performance.
A headwind affected Johnsons performance early, but the double world record-holder said he still ran the first 200 meters in 20.8 seconds.
The 200- and 400-meter world record-holder said he experienced a twinge in his left quad at about 100 meters, but had no other problems.
His physical therapist, Dale Smith, said he did not believe it was anything to be concerned about.
Favour Hamilton led Szabo by about 20 meters entering the final curve in the womens 1,500 meters but the Romanian used a tremendous finishing drive to just catch the collapsing favour Hamilton at the finish line.
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