|Thursday, June 29, 2000,
Attacking Dutch face acid test
|Numan ruled out; Kluivert recovers
HOENDERLOO (The Netherlands), June 28 Left back Arthur Numan has been ruled out of the Netherlands Euro 2000 semifinal against Italy tomorrow because of a foot injury and is almost certain to take no further part in the tournament.
Italian defence ready for goal-happy Dutch
AMSTERDAM, June 28 Two schools of thought in world soccer will collide in the Euro 2000 semifinals here tomorrow, when Hollands goal-happy total football comes up against the gritty realism of Italian defending.
Maldini faces ex-team-mates
Kirtane in last 4
Attacking Dutch face acid test today
AMSTERDAM, June 28 (Reuters) The attacking philosophy that threatens to carry the Netherlands all the way to the Euro 2000 title faces soccers acid test in tomorrows second semifinal when the hosts and highest-scorers come face-to-face with Italy, the masters of defence.
The 6-1 thrashing of Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals has sent the Dutch soccer-crazy and the team are being swept towards Sundays final on a wave of orange.
But Italy, with their hugely experienced rearguard conceding just two goals in four victorious games, will not crumble so easily in Amsterdams Arena.
And while coach Frank Rijkaard is doing his best to dampen Dutch expectations, Italy have suddenly come to believe in themselves and their ability to reach their first final since the Azzurri won their only European title in 1968.
The match promises to be a fascinating duel, and though there is more to it than simply a clash of attacking and defensive policies, it is true that the two sides have reached the last four with differing approaches.
The Dutch, after scraping past the Czech Republic in their opener, have gelled as a unit and looked more exciting and inventive with each match.
Patrick Kluivert and Dennis Bergkamp have been combining superbly with Bergkamp creating the chances and Kluivert greedily converting them.
Edgar Davids has had an excellent tournament in the middle of midfield while Marc Overmars and Boudewijn Zenden have been a growing menace on the flanks.
They will be without in-form left back Arthur Numan, who is out of the tournament with a foot injury, but his rangers club mate Giovanni Von Bronckhorst is an able replacement.
Rijkaard has said he expects Thursdays match to be tight and tense but has pledged not to change his tactics and promised his side will try to impose their style from the start.
They are the masters of defence as they have shown over the years and we know we have to find new ways to get through them, Rijkaard said.
We have seen how they can soak up pressure then break and with a moments brilliance win a game they have been under pressure in. But we cannot be concerned about that. We have to try to dominate the game and let them do the worrying about how to stop us.
The Italians, whose progress to this stage has been somewhat more functional, have their ideas on how to do just that and unsurprisingly they mainly involve stopping Kluivert adding to the five goals he has already scored in the tournament.
Lazio captain Alessandro Nesta, who has been superb so far, is the man likely to be given the task and the clash between the two will be one of the highlights of the game.
After a low-key start it seems Italy have really begun to believe in themselves since the 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Romania and now the camp is alive with confident predictions.
The Dutch have great players without a doubt but playing the way they do is a bit risky if you ask me, said captain Paolo Maldini, who looks set to play despite a lingering thigh strain.
Stop Kluivert, says Dino Zoff
GEEL (Belgium), June 28 (Reuters) Dino Zoffs message is simple. Stop Patrick Kluivert.
The man he has sent it to is Alessandro Nesta, fast emerging as the tournaments top defender.
Kluivert and Nesta are both hitting their peak at Euro 2000 and their confrontation promises to be both gripping and potentially decisive.
The Barcelona strikers hat-trick against Yugoslavia in the Netherlands 6-1 quarterfinal win has marked him out as the man Zoffs defence just has to stop.
Lazio defender Alessandro Nesta, after a series of confident displays in the watertight Italian back line, is clearly the man for the job.
Long considered the future lynch-pin of Italys defence, he took over from Alessandro Costacurta in Zoffs side after the World Cup two years ago and, with his accomplished performances for Serie A title winners Lazio this season, his presence in the final 22 for this tournament was never in doubt.
In the four Euro 2000 games so far Nesta has shown himself to be the epitome of the modern central defender.
He possesses the traditional necessities of power in the air and strength in the tackle but is also accomplished on the ball, confident moving out of defence and capable of dealing with threats from the flanks as well as through the centre.
Nesta accepts that the close nature of tomorrows match means the one-on-one encounters will be decisive.
Italys zonal defensive system means Nesta will be expected to deal with more than just the threat posed by Kluivert.
It is not just Nesta vs Kluivert as far as our defence against their attack is concerned, said the Lazio captain.
They have Bergkamp too and they all get forward we saw against Yugoslavia that if a hole opens up, their two midfielders join the attack too.
Nesta recognises that the Dutch striking pair have different qualities but are equally dangerous.
Kluivert is good and he is scoring a lot of goals but I like Bergkamp too. He has scored fewer goals but he has created chances for the others, said Nesta.
Both Dutch strikers have
had experience of playing in Italys Serie A but
Zoff will perhaps be heartened by the fact that neither
of them were able to make much of an impression playing
against Italian defences every week.
Numan ruled out; Kluivert recovers
HOENDERLOO (The Netherlands), June 28 (Reuters) Left back Arthur Numan has been ruled out of the Netherlands Euro 2000 semifinal against Italy tomorrow because of a foot injury and is almost certain to take no further part in the tournament.
A hospital scan revealed yesterday that the defender had ruptured a muscle at the bottom of his right foot.
The doctor said the chance I could play for Thursday was nil, he said. And its almost impossible I can play the final. So I think at this point the tournament for me is over.
The defender hurt his foot during the 6-1 quarterfinal victory against Yugoslavia on Sunday and has not trained since. He went to hospital for a scan in Amsterdam yesterday.
Three other players also
missed full training yesterday because of light injuries
goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar, midfielder Phillip
Cocu and striker Patrick Kluivert. But the trio are
expected to be fit to play tomorrow. Cocu left the
session early while Van Der Sar and striker Kluivert, who
scored a hat-trick against Yugoslavia, just carried out
Italian defence ready for goal-happy Dutch
AMSTERDAM, June 28 (AFP) Two schools of thought in world soccer will collide in the Euro 2000 semifinals here tomorrow, when Hollands goal-happy total football comes up against the gritty realism of Italian defending.
Dutch football has been influenced for decades by the attacking wizardry of Johan Cruyff and the swashbuckling style of play he later transferred at club level to Barcelona in a prestigious coaching career.
That line continued with Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit, who guided Holland to the European title in 1988, and the old school tie has been in evidence again at Euro 2000 on the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert.
The demolition of Yugoslavia in the quarters showed just how much damage Frank Rijkaards side can wreak against a side who are sloppy and over-run in the middle of the park.
Kluivert, ditched by ac Milan in 1998 after a miserable debut season, scored a hat-trick, Bergkamp was omnipresent in his playmaking role and Marc Overmars again used his speed and ball skills down the flank.
The Dutch may have put Yugoslavias defence through the shredding-machine, but they will not find it so easy to do the same with the likes of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro. Holland may have been attacking at full tilt since the 1970s but Italian defences have been weathering storms for a lot longer than that.
And the nation who gave football the word catenaccio, for a gridlocked defensive system, has not betrayed its ancestry at Euro 2000 - conceding just a miserly two goals in four matches.
Italy have an enviable generation of flair players in Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero and midfielder Stefano Fiore, but solid defending and counter-attack has been the basis of Italys success at Euro 2000.
Rijkaard, who as a player won two European cups and two Italian league titles in a five-year stint with ac Milan, has an insiders understanding of Italian football and knows the problem he has to crack.
Two of the men he will try to foil Maldini and Demetrio Albertini are former team-mates.
But although he knows that Italy will be waiting for Holland to leap for the jugular - and therefore expose themselves to a potentially fatal Italian strike on the break - there is little he can do.
Holland cannot change their approach to football just for one match. We want to play our own offensive game, but the Italians have a tight defence and give very few chances, he admitted, adding that Italys other skill is to score goals at the right moments.
Maldini, who should recover from a thigh strain or make way for Gianluca Pessotto, is equally clear about his teams tactics against the Dutch threat.
Weve just got to be careful, but then Italy are masters at that, at not giving opposing attackers any space, he said.
Theyre a side who attack a lot, he said of Rijkaards men. But that means taking risks - and Italy have the players who can exploit that.
Holland will have the
momentum, the form and the home crowd on their side in
the Amsterdam Arena here. Italy have an unshakeable
belief in their defensive barricade. But tomorrow, only
one school will get a good report.
Mankad, Kirtane in last 4
NEW DELHI, June 28 Second-seeded Harsh Mankad and third-seeded Sandeep Kirtane kept Indian hopes alive when they stormed into the semifinals of the ITF Mens Satellite Tennis Masters at the Delhi Tennis Association courts here today.
While Mankad had it easy, Kirtane had to labour hard for his victory over young Rishi Sridhar. Seventh-seeded Barry Fulcher of Britain decided to retire when he was trailing 1-6, 0-2 against Mankad.
Mankad played confident tennis against the hard-hitting Fulcher, and the Briton saw the writing on the wall, and opted to concede the match, citing exhaustion as the reason. Mankad was on court for just 35 minutes, while Kirtane had to battle it out for two hours and 33 minutes to overpower the sixth-seeded Rishi Sridhar 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 7-5.
The experienced Kirtane hung on tenaciously, and waited for his younger opponent to commit mistakes, to cash in. Sridhars hurry to get quick points was his undoing as he squandered the big points to throw away the advantage of winning the first set. He surrendered rather tamely in the second set, but in the decider, he once again fumbled after putting up a good fight to lose out, narrowly.
Another Indian, Ajay Ramaswamy, tried to put up a game fight against Thornadtsson Per of Sweden, but the visitor proved to be a better strategist, though the Indian saved three match points in the final game before he allowed the Swede to coast to a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
For top-seeded Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, it was yet another day in office as he posted a quick 6-3, 6-3 victory over eighth-seeded Marian Leysek of Slovakia in just 54 minutes. With the second and third leg titles under his belt, Udomchoke, who has set his sights on a hat-trick, takes on Sandeep Kirtane while Harsh Mankad meets fourth-seeded Thornadtsson in the semifinals tomorrow.
Maldini faces ex-team-mates
GEEL, June 28 (AFP) Italy captain Paolo Maldini will be facing his own past in Thursdays semifinal against Holland, pitting his wits against former AC Milan team-mates Patrick Kluivert and Frank Rijkaard.
Maldini, who is hopeful of overcoming a thigh strain picked up last Saturday, was playing alongside Rijkaard, now the Holland coach, in Arrigo Sacchis great Milan side of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
And he also watched Kluivert as the former star of Ajax Amsterdam battled in vain to make it in Italian football, admitting defeat after little more than one season and joining Barcelona in 1998.
Kluiverts hat-trick in their 6-1 demolition of Yugoslavia on Sunday has made him the talk of the tournament and a sharp contrast with his flop in Milan.
He always had the talent, Maldini said at Italys training base here on Monday.
But during the two years from 1996 to 1998, nobody at AC Milan particularly distinguished themselves and, unfortunately, anyone who arrived during that period paid the price for that.
He was a lad of 21 at the time, starting out at San Siro in a team that was used to winning and which never had the time or the patience to wait for players, because it had always had great stars.
It certainly wasnt the ideal conditions for a new player to succeed. However, Maldini underlined that Kluiverts scoring ability here is also down to the support of Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and Boudewijn Zenden.
Hes a finisher, but hes in a team that work very hard behind him, Maldini said. I watched them last night and they went for goal 15 times during the first half between shots on target and shots wide.
This is a team who play well and who have certainly improved. They didnt play like this at the start (of the tournament).
Rijkaard, who conjured up a memorable performance from his men, will now draw on his career as an AC Milan defender when deciding his tactics for the Italy match.
Rijkaard knows Italian football and therefore knows the difficulties that we might face and where we might have weaknesses, in his opinion, Maldini said. We certainly dont have many secrets from him.
On a personal level, he added: It seems strange to see him as a coach, because as a player he was already very reserved. He liked playing, and that was it.
Maldini is confident that Italys traditional ability to soak up pressure and keep a tight defence could unnerve the Dutch in Amsterdam.
Weve got to stop Bergkamp, to stop Kluivert, to stop Overmars..., Maldini said, trailing off. Weve just got to be careful, but then Italy are masters at that, at not giving opposing attackers any space.
If we are always there and we never leave them alone, even a team who are in great shape and playing great football might lose their cool.
Williams sisters triumph
LONDON, June 28 (AFP) Eighth seed Serena Williams needed just 35 minutes to notch a lightning-quick win over Dutch qualifier Yvette Basting here today to storm into the third round of the womens singles at Wimbledon.
The 18-year-old US power machine, seeded to face former champion Conchita Martinez in the quarter-finals, whacked down nine aces to win 6-1, 6-0 in an embarrassingly one-sided contest on court 18 against Basting, who is ranked 187.
Williams next meets Cristina Torrens-Valero of Spain, who edged past Magdalena Grzybowska of Poland 7-6 (8/6) 7-5.
There was a shock, meanwhile, in the mens singles as sixth seed and 1997 finalist Cedric Pioline of France lost in five sets to 237th-ranked Vladimir Voltchkov of Belarus, who sneaked through 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4.
The win, brought about partially by some dreadful serving by Pioline, was an early birthday present for Voltchkov, who turns 22 on July 4.
Williams was joined in the third round by elder sister Venus, the fifth seed, who scored a comfortable 6-1 6-4 victory over Ai Sugiyama for her fifth win over the Japanese in as many meetings.
Serena Williams, who last year captured the US Open crown, is making only her second appearance at the All-England Club having missed the tournament last year because of injury.
She reached the third round on her 1998 debut and says this time taking the title is a realistic goal.
I havent even begun to reach my peak. Theres always room for improvement, she said firing an early warning across the bows of her rivals.
Venus has beaten
Sugiyama in all four of their previous meetings but the
powerful American has had fitness problems this year,
missing a large chunk of the season after suffering
tendinitis in both wrists.
Tauziat bids adieu
LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) A tearful Nathalie Tauziat, beaten by a woman almost half her age and under attack over a controversial book, has said goodbye to Wimbledon.
Tauziat, seeded seventh and by far the oldest woman in the singles draw at 32, was defeated 3-6, 6-3, 2-6 by Belgian teenager Kim Clijsters in the first round.
Thats it. Its finished, said the Frenchwoman who has spent much of her time recently defending her book, an insiders guide to the womens tennis tour.
Ive had too much pressure and Ive exploded. As the matches went on, the pressure intensified, Tauziat said yesterday, before breaking down in tears before mediapersons.
She now plans to retire at the end of the year. Im just going to take some time off for a while and afterwards I will decide what Im going to do.
Unbeaten 82 by Jayasuriya
KANDY, June 28 (Reuters) Sanath Jayasuriya became the third Sri Lankan player to score more than 3,000 test runs on his way to an unbeaten 82 on the first day of the third and final Test against Pakistan today.
Captain Jayasuriya, dropped on 50 by wicketkeeper Moin Khan, combined with Marvan Atapattu to take Sri Lanka to 140 for no wicket before bad light ended play early. Atapattu has made 50.
The start had been delayed until after lunch because of heavy overnight rain.
Jayasuriya, who had scored only 87 runs in his previous four innings of the series, hit nine fours and a six.
He reached the 3,000 milestone when he had made 19 after winning his third consecutive toss of the series and choosing to bat.
Sri Lanka (first innings):
M. Atapattu not out 50
S. Jayasuriya not out 82
Extras (b-4 lb-2 w-1 nb-1) 8
Total (for no wicket) 140
India beat Pak in kabaddi
JIND, June 28 India defeated Pakistan 51-35 in the kabaddi match held at local Arjun Stadium yesterday evening.
Patiala need 193 to win
Patiala, June 28 (FOSR) Young Gautam Mandora (5 for 45) came up with a smart piece of bowling with a good content of spin to dash Jalandhars hopes of setting Patiala a sizeable fourth innings target , as the hosts need 193 runs with nine wickets in hand to win the final of the Katoch Shield Cricket Tournament played at the Dhruv Pandove Stadium here today.
On a hot and sultry day, the Patiala bowlers called the shots as Jalandhar managed to score just 155 in their second essay. At the draw of stumps on the third day the hosts were defending stoically with opener Rakesh Raini batting on a well made 30.
Jalandhar: (Ist Innings) 308 all out. Patiala: (Ist Innings) 218 all out.
Jalandhar: (IInd Innings) 155 all out (Sandeep Sharma 48,Vivek Mahajan 42,Gautam Mandora 5 for 45, Kiran Kumar 2 for 16, Babloo 2 for 49)
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