Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 17, 1994 · Page 33
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Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico · Page 33

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Friday, June 17, 1994
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Page 33
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ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL Friday, June 17, 1994 C7 :P rt) WORLD CUP ij. A rwiss Are 12 ways Unlikely Entrants Situation Is Similar To That of the U.S. By Johnette Howard THE WASHINGTON POST MONTREAL They arrive as the team that threatens everything the homestand-ing U.S. soccer team hopes to achieve in this World Cup. The mastermind behind Switzerland's unlikely rise, English-born coach Roy Hodgson, unblushingly allows his World Cup biography to describe him as an "average" soccer player who had a vagabond career. Before taking over the listless Swiss national team two years ago, Hodgson coached a powerhouse club in Neuchatel, a quaint Swiss town not far from the French border. But as world soccer goes, Neuchatel doesn't register as a blip on the radar. Neither did the Swiss national team until its 6-1-3 qualifying run under Hodgson landed them in the World Cup for the first time since 1966 a feat that has left Hodgson gratified but not irresponsibly giddy, even if Switzerland's tear to the World Cup included a draw and an eye-popping win over world power Italy. Perched now on a stadium railing in Montreal after a recent practice, the jocular Hodgson laughs heartily when a Canadian reporter asks: "What woujd it take for you to say you can win the World Cup?" "Why, I imagine you'd have to get me on a day I'm drunk out of my mind," Hodgson chuckles softly. Could coaching alone win it? "Maybe if you gave me you and 10 Brazilians," Hodgson cracks. "But then," Hodgson adds brightly, "sometimes in World Cup, the winners aren't the same ones who return home covered in glory, now are they? "The ones who come home in glory sometimes are the Cameroons, the French team after Italy in 1990 teams that surprise or give great performances. That's what we're hoping for. That's what a lot of World Cups are remembered for the great performances, not just the winners." Switzerland begins World Cup play against the United States on Saturday inside the Pontiac (Mich.) Silverdome. The striking similarities between the teams, their predicaments, even the way players from both sides talk, is enough to make you believe in the existence of parallel universes. Both teams ardently believe they must win the opener to have any chance of advancing to second-round play. Neither the U.S. nor Switzerland has had much international soccer success. America's brightest moment in World Cup play was a 1-0 upset of mighty England in 1950 that left Brazilian fans hoisting American scorer Joe Gaetjens on their shoulders and carrying him off the field. While the United States at least has a band of returnees from the 1990 World Cup team, the Swiss haven't a single player with World Cup experience. When Swiss midfielder Alain Sutter is asked to list the current sports heroes in his homeland, he names champion skiers Permin Zur-briggen and Vreni Schneider. Then Sutter pauses. His brow knits. "That's it," he laughs. When the Swiss failed to qualify for the eight-team European Championships in 1992 (the country never has qualified for them), little portended the team's turnabout under Hodgson. Qualifying for the World Cup was considered nearly impossible until the team played homestanding Italy to a 2-2 draw in Caliguiri early in the 18-month World Cup qualifying tournament. . By the return leg this spring, interest within Switzerland had grown so much the Italy game was moved to Zurich's more-modern 20,500-seat stadium. "We could have sold three times as many tickets as we did," Swiss media officer Andre Francioli says. Another 10,000 fans gathered outside the stadium, within earshot of the grandstand roar, to watch the game on a huge, billboard-sized TV. After fullback Marc Hot-tiger scored the winning goal in Switzerland's 1-0 triumph, the euphoric nation fawned over him like a groom at his own wedding. For weeks. "We hope to make this normal," Sutter says, smiling. Reyna Questionable for U.S. FROM JOURNAL WIRE REPORTS ROCHESTER, Mich. U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna said Thursday he wasn't sure whether he would be able to play in the Americans' World ' Cup opener against Switzerland on Saturday because of his sore right hamstring. . Reyna, the college player of the y sz. I - K X ?- -4 ' Brazil's Rai, left, and Viola stretch out during practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday. Brazil opens World Cup soccer play Sunday against Russia in San Francisco. The team is heavily favored to win the Cup. Brazil Seeks Ultimate Glory Team Is Aching For A Repeat of History By Michele Himmelberg ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER SANTA ANA, Calif. The World Cup began with 141 national teams, and it'll end with one the best one July 17 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. If the experts and the oddsmakers are right, the champion toting the heavy gold trophy will be the team in blue and yellow, the team with the rapturous fans and samba drums, the team that has been aching for 24 years to recapture its soccer glory. Brazil. Or, as the fans will be chanting: Braa-seel, Braa-seel, Braa-seel. Brazil has won the coveted Cup three times, in 1958, '62 and 70. But since 1970, it seems to be stuck in a state of mourning for the legendary Pele, the superstar of soccer who played a role in all three World Cup titles and then retired. Another Pele never will live, but coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has restored the roots of Brazilian soccer. Once again, it has become a confident side with lovely passing and creative playmaking. Anyone who says Brazil will win also comments on Brazil's attractive style of play. Many note that the steamy summer weather should suit the South Americans; at the same time it could sap the leading European challenger, Germany. Soccer Invades American Scene CONTINUED FROM PAGE C1 effect on soccer in this country. We thank FIFA for the confidence is has placed in us in the United States." FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, will make more than $200 million from the 52-game tournament. World Cup USA 1994 could see profits in the $20 million range, much of which will be channeled back into the sport through the U.S. Soccer Federation. A vast majority of the games are sold out, with 97.3 percent of all tickets sold. That's 3.55 million tickets, far more than the previous record of 2.51 million sold in Italy four years ago. Early estimates spoke of nearly $4 billion year in 1992 and '93, pulled the hamstring in practice June 8 and hasn't participated in drills since. "Right now, if the game was today, I couldn't play," the 20-year-old from Springfield, N.J., said. "I don't know if Saturday is a possibility of me playing. It's still up in the air." NIGERIAN VISA PROBLEMS: Hundreds of Nigerians have been denied visas to the United States to watch their team play in the World Cup, Nigerian officials said Thursday. Nigerian Consul General Charles Awani said he heard from the consulate in New York that the State Department denied visas to hundreds of supporters of the Super Eagles soccer team. f : Ladbrokes of London, the king of soccer oddsmakers, lists Brazil as the favorite with 3-1 odds. Chasing right behind is Germany, the defending World Cup champion, at 4-1. The United States has been on Ladbrokes' list for some time, not budging from its 50-1 shot. The FIFA world rankings, a less reliable predictor of success, also place Brazil No. 1 and Germany No. 2. A panel of international journalists originally listed Germany as its favorite but since has been swayed in favor of Brazil. Italy, Argentina and Colombia also are considered serious contenders. The Netherlands and Sweden are frequently mentioned as dark horses. Local patriots should note that the U.S. team didn't make the top 10, nor did it beat out Nigeria or Belgium as a World Cup favorite. In the United States, sport thrives on the major events that produce a single winner the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NCAA basketball tournament. World Cup takes its sweet time, all of four years, to whittle down a winner. And even then, followers of the game prefer to talk about who's playing the game most beautifully, not who will win. The emphasis on the game's aesthetics makes it difficult to predict a winner without using the aforementioned odds. But those obsessed with the game love to discuss the fates of the final 24 teams, nonetheless. Paul Gardner, recognized as a dean of soccer journalists in the United States, said he hopes Brazil wins the 1994 World being added to economies of the nine host sites by World Cup fans, be they Americans or foreigners. Those numbers apparently were misguided. Hotel bookings aren't approaching predictions in any of the host cities. While sales of World Cup merchandise are strong, fewer than 5,000 stores nationwide are carrying paraphernalia. Mayor Richard Daley brags about Chicago being an "international city," and it has looked the part in the buildup toward the opener. World Cup hanners, flags and signs are visible throughout the city, and souvenir shops and kiosks have multiplied in the last few days. Soldier Field, site of the opener, underwent a $14 million renovation. But one thing Daley and the city can't control could have a major effect on today's game, in which Germany is a heavy mi PURCHASE TICKETS AT FOR 1 OF 3 TO BE mm "a, v . :.-. (r . " i j '' v ... r THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Cup. "If we're to take seriously the idea of jump-starting the game here in the U.S., it would be best if Brazil won the World Cup," Gardner says. "And I think they can win. They have the most attractive style of play and the best fans. They bring the most ambience with their flags and singing and dancing." Rigoberto Cervantes, who writes for L'Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles, says Brazil is ready to make a comeback. "This final will be between two Latin American teams," Cervantes says. "I like Brazil and either Colombia or Argentina. Colombia has been playing very well lately, but Argentina always comes up with something extra about this time. "The weather for these games will kill the European teams. They're afraid of it. And we haven't seen one really strong European team this year. I think Brazil is hungry for the Cup. It's been 24 years." Brazil's magic is its seeming ability to create goals out of nothing. Midfielder Rai is dancing in his cleats one moment. In the next, either of Brazil's agile strikers, Bebeto or Romario, is launching the ball into the back of the net. Meanwhile, Jorginho ably handles Brazil's defense. In great contrast to this style come the defending champions. Germany's game is power, concentration and a disciplined blasting of the ball up the field. It works, too. The Germans also are three-time Cup winners, in 1954, '74 and '90, and Germany has made it to the final game in the past three World Cups. favorite. A heat wave has struck the area, and temperatures are expected to be in the 90s, with high humidity, for the 1 p.m. MDT kickoff. "We're very concerned about the heat," says Germany coach Berti Vogts. "If it stays this hot, it'll be difficult to go full-pace for 90 minutes." . Similar temperatures are expected in Dallas for the other game today between Spain and South Korea. But that'll be a night game. FIFA is concerned about the artistic success of its showcase. The 1990 World Cup was plagued by ultraconservative strategy, rough play and low-scoring games. Such tactics bothered longtime soccer fans; they could be disastrous for the sport in America if they're repeated. leincko I MW; lhrcoi vil ivnfTTmrB h frriilr,rr,mi..ha Tj ADVANCE DISCOUNT HEINEKE t REGISTER NASCAR PEDAL CARS GIVEN AT SHOWII j MM WE i 'tJuUL WW luiy&Al lUA Uil hott u sracufisrj mossy rn jtket nn jr irotw ran ui ma mt n- mi t yii1 '"r i"yt'""i w T To Start Enjoyinj It Is Different, But Maybe That's Good By Phil Hersh CHICAGO TRIBUNE CHICAGO So, you think soccer is just a game for a lot of guys with unusual names? So, you think it's a game where the same guys run around a lot for an hour and a half but don't do much else? So, you think those guys would have a lot more fun kicking field goals for an NFL team? So, you can't figure out why your kids have been hounding you to take them to a World Cup match at Soldier Field and to buy them enough videotape for all 52 matches that'll be played in nine U.S. cities from today until July 17? So, you want to know? With the Cup opener between Germany and Bolivia today at Soldier Field, here are a dozen ways and whys soccer is worth some of your time and money. 1. Look, Ma and Pa, no hands. Soccer's difficulty and beauty is magnified by forcing everyone but the goalie to handle the ball with their feet. The best soccer players can do with the ball what the Harlem Globetrotters do with a basketball using their hands. 2. Games don't take forever. Barring overtime, used only in the final stages of major tournaments, a soccer game is over in less than two hours. No huddles, no groin scratching, no timeouts, no breaks for TV commercials, no Carlton Fisk. 3. Great tenors like it. Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras generally don't have much truck with each other, but they did a concert together at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome before the 1990 final and will reprise it at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles before the 1994 final. 4. There are no rotisserie leagues. 5. The teams have wonderful names. This applies mainly to league teams like Grasshoppers and Young Boys, '(Switzerland), Newell's Old Boys (Argentina), Wan- (COMMENTARY- derers (several countries), Sheffield Wednesday (England), Oryx (Cameroon), Hearts (Ghana), Green Buffaloes (Zambia) and O'Higgins (Chile). But it also includes nicknames for national teams such as Cameroon's "Indomitable Lions" and Nigeria's "Super Eagles." 6. It teaches U.S. citizens humility and geography. In soccer, we're just another Third World country, no match for most American teams. That's right, American. Soccer reminds us that America refers to everything from Tierra del Fuego to the North Pole. 7. It's a link to the rest of the world. The U.S. is among only a handful of countries in which soccer isn't the national pastime. Former U.S. coach Alkis Panagoulias, now the coach of Greece's World Cup team, always was dismayed at how the U.S. failed to use soccer emissaries as a way to build goodwill in developing nations. Panagoulias, a conservative, swears some of east Africa's allegiance to communism was built by the visits of Soviet soccer teams. 8. Your daughter will be encouraged to play it as much as your son. 9. People of all sizes can play. Soccer isn't a sport only for those with raging pituitary glands. 10. Bicycle kicks. What dunks are to basketball, bicycle kicks are to soccer, except they (bicycle kicks) are rarer. This is a gymnastic maneuver in which a player starts with his back to the goal, then does a somersault and kicks the ball while his head is pointing down and his feet "pedaling" in the air. If you think hitting a curveball is hard, try this. 11. It's inexpensive. At its most basic level, soccer requires only a ball and an . open space. Goals can be improvised with a couple rocks or shirts on the ground. Any kind of shoe will do. Many poor children play barefoot with a ball of rolled-up rags sewn or taped together. 12. It's safe. While soccer definitely is a contact sport, injuries are relatively few, partly because the contact isn't between two giants. Most injuries involve knees and feet. mm EQISTER AT ANY ALBUO. Ml ESTERDAVE8 BAR 1 ORILLI FREE TICKETS TO THE SHC CM WWW I 'wiPl If Hi I JiTT

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