Saturday, February 25, 2006

Paraguay squad for World Cup warm-up against Wales

Veteran striker Jose Cardozo has been included in Paraguay's squad for a World Cup warm-up friendly against Wales next week despite nursing a left knee injury.

Coach Anibal Ruiz picked a 20-strong squad for the match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Wednesday but had to withdraw injured captain and centre back Carlos Gamarra.

Paraguay are in Group B with England, Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago at the World Cup in Germany starting on June 9.


Goalkeepers: Derlis Gomez (Sportivo Luqueno), Justo Villar (Newell's Old Boys)

Defenders: Denis Caniza (Cruz Azul), Julio Cesar Caceres (River Plate), Delio Toledo (Real Zaragoza), Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Julio Manzur (Santos), Juan Daniel Caceres, Jorge Nunez (both Estudiantes de La Plata)

Midfielders: Edgar Barreto (NEC Nijmegen), Roberto Acuna (Deportivo Coruna), Carlos Humberto Paredes (Reggina), Julio Dos Santos (Bayern Munich), Cristian Riveros (Libertad), Diego Gavilan (Newell's Old Boys), Walter Fretes (Cerro Porteno)

Forwards: Salvador Cabanas (Jaguares de Chiapas), Cesar Ramirez (Flamengo), Nelson Haedo (Werder Bremen), Jose Cardozo (San Lorenzo).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Back in New York, Beckenbauer predicts trouble-free World Cup

Back in the city where he helped sell soccer to America with the Cosmos more than a quarter-century ago, Franz Beckenbauer predicted a World Cup free of fan trouble.

"I don't see any problems," he said Thursday night. "Our security people in Germany, they have a very, very good relationship to the English, to the Polish, to the Dutch, so I trust them. They are telling us, `Don't worry. We have everything under control.'"
Beckenbauer, president of the German organizing committee for this year's tournament, was making the final stop on an 11-day, eight-nation trip. As he tours the 32 countries in the tournament, he has just two remaining: Serbia-Montenegro (March 9) and Australia (March 27).

He was not aware that a Dutch firm is selling replica Nazi helmets bearing pro-Dutch slogans ahead of the World Cup. Germany and the Netherlands are soccer rivals, and the orange plastic helmets, which sell for $6, have small Dutch flags printed on the side and bear slogans such as "Attack!" and "Go, Netherlands Go" in Dutch.

"You know the Dutch, they're always a little bit funny _ some of them," Beckenbauer said.

He made light of the German consumer group Stiftung Warentes, which released a study last month saying four of the World Cup stadiums lacked adequate fire safety measures and escape routes.

"We have a funny consumer group _ normally they are testing face creams," he said. "They are the most secure stadiums in the world.

"But you know the Germans," he added. "If they don't have anything, they like to criticize themselves."

He also said that when he took over as Germany's coach in 1984, fans were disenchanted.

"The fans at the stadium, they disliked the behavior of the team," he said. "They didn't like the team because they were a little bit too arrogant."

Before speaking with reporters, he told jokes before a crowd filled with soccer officials and former players, and he commented on the tournament, which runs from June 9 to July 9. He said that American Kasey Keller, who plays in Germany for Borussia Moenchengladbach, is "one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga," but said German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is "maybe one of the best."

He commented on a controversial call in Germany's 1-0 win over the United States in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals. Gregg Berhalter's shot bounced off a diving Kahn and went partially over the goal line, where it hit the left arm of defender Torsten Frings. The ball bounced back to Kahn, who smothered it, and Scottish referee Hugh Dallas declined to call a penalty.

"Now it's too late, but it was a hand ball," Beckenbauer said. "Thanks God for the Germans the referee didn't see."

Now 60, Beckenbauer was captain of the German team that won the 1974 World Cup, then coached his nation to the title in 1990. He may run next year for president of the Union of European Football Associations, the second-most powerful job in the sport behind FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

But in the United States, he is best remembered for his time with the Cosmos. After leading Bayern Munich to consecutive European Champions Cup titles from 1974-76, he came to New York, signing with the Cosmos after Clive Toye took him on a helicopter ride above Manhattan.

"It was the best time of my life," he said.

He played alongside Pele in 1977, helping the Cosmos with the North American Soccer League title, and was part of Cosmos championship teams in 1978 and 1980 before returning home to play for Hamburg SV.

He said that while in New York, he got a chance to see Werner Roth, Shep Messing and Giorgio Chinaglia, and video was played of Beckenbauer in his Cosmos' days.

"We had a lot of good memories," he said.

Soccer officials in Germany and the United States have developed a close relationship since Beckenbauer's playing days. Germany's current coach, Juergen Klinsmann, commutes to his job from the Los Angeles area, where he lives.

"It's a little bit strange, but it works," Beckenbauer said, adding that Klinsmann had introduced American training methods and coaches to the German team. "He will bring the team to a very, very good performance."

He said that preparations in Germany for the tournament were at or even ahead of schedule.

"The World Cup can start tomorrow. We're ready," he said. "We are not looking to have the most successful World Cup or a perfect World Cup _ nobody's perfect. But we try to be a good host, in a friendly and in an optimistic way. That's our target."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Non-sponsor Pepsi taps into World Cup

Pepsi-Cola is not an official World Cup sponsor but it still plans to spend 100 million baht on football-themed marketing to challenge arch-rival and official sponsor Coca-Cola this year. Pepsi plans various sports-related campaigns from now through June, including Pepsi Football 2006, which will feature 11 of the world's greatest football players in its advertising and on limited-edition cans.

''Though we are not a sponsor of the 2006 World Cup, we are confident that our football campaign will be as successful as in the past two World Cup tournaments,'' said Charlie Jitcharoongphorn, marketing director of Pepsi-Cola (Thai) Trading Co.

On the back of the campaigns, the company expects the cola market share of Pepsi to increase to 64% by the end of this year. Last year the company claimed a 63.5% share in Thailand, one of the few countries where it leads Coke.

Sales of Pepsi last year grew by 8%, compared to 3% for the soft-drink market.

Monday, February 06, 2006

BBC announces World Cup coverage

The BBC will also have live coverage of England's first knockout clash - possibly against hosts Germany or Poland - if they qualify.

First choice of quarter-final also goes to the BBC, which would again be England if they make the last eight.

And any England semi-final or final appearance would also be on the BBC as well as ITV.

ITV will be showing England's group games against Trinidad & Tobago and Sweden.

The BBC's coverage, revealed on Monday, will also feature the opening game of the tournament - Germany v Costa Rica in Munich on 9 June.

Brazil's two peak-time matches - against Croatia and Japan, kicking off at 2000 BST - will be on the BBC, as will Italy's opening game against Ghana.

All three group games involving France will feature on the BBC as well as Germany v Poland and the final group games involving Italy, the Czech Republic and Spain.

BBC Radio will have commentary from every match at the World Cup, with broadcasts on both Five Live and Five Live Sports Extra.

The BBC Sport website will also provide extensive coverage of every match.

Games to be shown on the BBC & ITV:
All times BST

9 June
1700: Germany v Costa Rica BBC
2000: Poland v Ecuador ITV

10 June
1400: England v Paraguay BBC
1700: Trindad & Tobago v Sweden ITV
2000: Argentina v Ivory Coast ITV

11 June
1400: Serbia & Montenegro v Netherlands BBC
1700: Mexico v Iran BBC
2000: Angola v Portugal ITV

12 June
1400: Australia v Japan ITV
1700: USA v Czech Republic BBC
2000: Italy v Ghana BBC

13 June
1400: South Korea v Togo BBC
1700: France v Switzerland BBC
2000: Brazil v Croatia BBC

14 June
1400: Spain v Ukraine ITV
1700: Tunisia v S Arabia ITV
2000: Germany v Poland BBC

15 June
1400: Ecuador v Costa Rica ITV
1700: England v Trinidad & Tobago ITV
2000: Sweden v Paraguay ITV

16 June
1400: Argentina v Serbia & Montenegro BBC
1700: Netherlands v Ivory Coast ITV
2000: Mexico v Angola ITV

17 June
1400: Portugal v Iran BBC
1700: Czech Republic v Ghana ITV
2000: Italy v USA ITV

18 June
1400: Japan v Croatia ITV
1700: Brazil v Australia ITV
2000: France v South Korea BBC

19 June
1400: Togo v Switzerland BBC
1700 S Arabia v Ukraine ITV
2000: Spain v Tunisia BBC

20 June
1500: Ecuador v Germany/Costa Rica v Poland ITV
2000: Paraguay v T'dad & Tobago/Sweden v England ITV

21 June
1500: Iran v Angola/Portugal v Mexico ITV
2000: Netherlands v Argentina/I Coast v Serbia & M ITV

22 June
1500: Czech Republic v Italy/Ghana v USA BBC
2000: Japan v Brazil/Croatia v Australia BBC

23 June
1500: Ukraine v Tunisia/S Arabia v Spain BBC
2000: Togo v France/Switzerland v S Korea BBC