European Roundup: Fans Divided for Bosnia-Serbia World Cup Qualifying Match
FANS DIVIDED IN BOSNIA-SERBIA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING MATCH
SARAJEVO Bosnia-Herzegovina (Associated Press) --Playing at home should be a big advantage in soccer. That may not be the case when Bosnia hosts Serbia-Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier this weekend.
Bosnia may feel like the visiting team in a highly-charged match underlining the deep ethnic divisions left over from a bloody civil war that ended a decade ago with 250000 dead.
Saturday's game at Kosevo Olympic Stadium has been designated as "high risk" by police.
Postwar Bosnia is divided into a Serb part and a Muslim-Croat part linked only by joint state institutions. Most Bosnian Serbs don't relate to Bosnia as their homeland.
"I am a fan of Serbia-Montenegro because I do not feel anything for the Bosnian team. I cheer for those where my heart is -- Serbia said Ljubisa Marinkovic 29 a resident of the Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka.
"My brain tells me Bosnia but my heart tell me Serbia so Serbia it is. We are one nation one religion one people said Radivoj Tomic 50 also of Banja Luka.
Sarajevo residents however regardless of their ethnicity seem to support the Bosnian squad.
"Soccer is a game. It should not have anything to do with politics said Zoran Hadzic a 35-year-old Sarajevo resident whose mother is Serb and father is Muslim. "My nationality is irrelevant. I am a Bosnian and the Bosnian national squad is my squad."
Njegos Radovic 45 an economist from the Bosnian Serb-controlled part of Sarajevo said he would wear a Serbian jersey to the stadium and carry the flag of Serbia-Montenegro.
"I am a Serb a Bosnian Serb but still a Serb. Serbia is my true homeland and there is no reason for me to cheer for Bosnia he said.
Relations between the two neighbors have been strained since the 1992-95 war which began when Bosnia declared independence from the Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.
Serb troops from then-Yugoslavia supported Bosnian Serbs as they fought in a fierce war that pitted Muslims Serbs and Croats against each other killed 250000 people and drove 1.8 million from their homes. A 1995 peace agreement ended the bloodshed but left Bosnia divided along ethnic lines.
"To ask someone in Bosnia which team they support is like asking them what nationality you are. In 90 percent of cases the two are the same said Arduan Katana 45 a Banja Luka journalist.
Two years ago Bosnia and Yugoslavia -- since reshaped into Serbia-Montenegro -- played a friendly in Sarajevo which is mainly Muslim. The match was followed by clashes between Bosnia fans and Bosnian Serb supporters of Yugoslavia injuring several fans and 19 police officers.
Back then the Yugoslav supporters carried posters with the photo of Bosnia's most wanted war crimes suspect Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic.
This time police will confiscate all nationalist symbols at the stadium gates. Only official flags and symbols will be permitted said police spokesman Magbul Skoro.
"Nationalist flags emblems or pictures of those who have nothing to do with football but (are) intended to provoke the anger of the other side like pictures of Karadzic will be confiscated Skoro said.
Asked about the ethnic makeup of the team Bosnian team spokeswoman Slavica Pecikoza said politics was irrelevant adding that officials "do not divide players into Muslims Serbs and Croats."
"For the entire team there's no politics involved in this game. It is all about sports and the quality of our game is the single priority Pecikoza said. "We are more worried about the injury of our goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic than about the fuss that the media are creating."
Both teams are longshots to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Playing in Group 7 Spain and Belgium are the favorites to advance.
HEAVY SECURITY FOR BOSNIA-SERBIA QUALIFIER
SARAJEVO (Reuters) --Bosnia's soccer chiefs say unprecedented security measures are being put in place for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Serbia & Montenegro.
More than 25 people were injured during violent clashes in Kosevo in 2002 their first match on the former Yugoslav federation's soil which was supposed to symbolise good relations between the two FAs.
"We will not take any chances Bosnia Football Association (NSBIH) general secretary Munib Usanovic said on Wednesday.
Eight hundred policemen and an additional 500 security guards will be deployed this time in and around the Kosevo Olympic Stadium.
Organisers also plan to erect 900 metres of security net around the pitch to prevent fans from throwing objects.
Spain's Juan Valeron was hit in the head with a small pool ball during last month's qualifier with Spain in the central Bosnian city of Zenica which prompted FIFA to ban Bosnia from playing in Zenica for two matches.
The net will also protect a stand for visiting fans who are mostly expected to come from Bosnia's Serb Republic. Usanovic said NSBIH's counterparts from Serbia and Montenegro have refused to organise the trip for their fans.
Bosnian Serbs -- who were backed by Belgrade during the war in which they held Sarajevo besieged for 43 months -- see Serbia as their motherland and almost unanimously support Serbia and Montenegro teams. The same goes for Bosnian Croats and Croatia.
Several dozen Bosnian Serbs cheered the-then Yugoslavia in August of 2002. But it was home fans that clashed with police who prevented them from attacking the visitors.
More Croats and Serbs joined Muslim players in the national side in the last several years but little has changed in Serb and Croat sentiment. A national side match in a mainly Serb or Croat town like Banja Luka or Mostar is not an option for now.
The expected crowd of 31000 will have to pass through three security rings and will be stripped of umbrellas mobile phones and any other possessions that could be used as missiles Usanovic said.
Police will also take away any banners or flags with nationalist insignia or messages.
GREECE CAN'T AFFORD ANOTHER SLIP AGAINST UKRAINE
KIEV Ukraine (AP) - Greece will be without injured striker Dimitris Papadopoulos in its World Cup qualifier against Ukraine Saturday but goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis will be available for the match despite being charged with bringing a Greek league game into disrepute last the weekend.
Coach Otto Rehhagel will rely on the same core of players who led Greece to the European title in July. The only other exception is defender Nikos Dabitzas of Leicester who didn't make the team.
Papadopoulos a forward with defending champion Panathinaikos was taken off the pitch on a stretcher with a thigh injury during a league game on Sunday leaving the defensively-minded Greece team with just three forwards.
Still Greece is confident ahead of the European Group 2 clash.
"We eliminated Ukraine in qualifying for Euro 2004 let's eliminate them from the World Cup too Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stelios Yiannacopoulos said.
Nikopolidis has been charged with bringing the game into disrepute after throwing his gloves at the referee at the end of Olympiakos's 2-1 defeat by Xanthi on Sunday but his case will be held in absentia and would not affect his place on the national team.
Ukraine will miss defender Yuriy Dmytrulin who injured his ankle in a recent practice.
Coach Oleh Blokhin will rely on Andriy Shevchenko the in-form AC Milan striker and Andriy Voronin the Bayer Leverkusen forward who scored against Dynamo Kiev in their Champions League game in Kiev last week.
Greek defender Michalis Kapsis described Ukraine as a dangerous team noting that Shevchenko "is currently in a very good shape."
"We must win the game ... the title of the European champion compels us to play only for victory Kapsis said.
Ukraine shares the lead in Group 2 with Georgia at four points from two games. Greece is sixth in the seven-team group with one point after sensationally losing to Albania and managing only a 0-0 draw with Turkey.
CYPRUS SQUAD LOOKING TO BEAT FAROES FRIGHTEN FRANCE
NICOSIA (Reuters) -- Cyprus face contrasting fortunes in their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and France on Saturday and Wednesday.
Their Montenegran coach Motsa Vukotic naming his 18-man squad for the two Group Four games told a news conference: "There is only one result acceptable on Saturday against the Faroe Islands and that is a win."
Against France though he will be hoping that his team can frighten them as they did when they only lost 2-1 at home in the qualifiers for Euro 2004.
Cyprus have lost their opening two qualifiers against Ireland (0-3) and Israel (1-2) but Vukotic said they were now in better shape than they were a month ago at the start of the season.
Vukotic has named eight players from league leaders APOEL Nicosia in the squad and says: "They have now played three league matches which means they are fitter than a month ago.
"So if we considered that against Israel we were much better than against Ireland than I am sure that my players will be ready for Saturday's match."
Striker Marios Neophytou the top scorer in Cyprus in 2003 with 33 goals for Anorthosis has joined APOEL after a poor season in Greece with OFI and returns to the squad.
Vukotic is hoping that Yiannakis Okkas who plays for Champions League contenders Olympiakos in Greece will be fit for both matches but if there is a doubt he will be rested for the Faroes game. Two years ago he scored an outstanding goal in the Euro qualifier against France.
Goalkeepers: Nicos Panayiotou (AEK Larnaca) Michalis Morfis (APOEL)
Defenders: Nicos Nicolaou (Anorthosis) Stelios Okkarides (APOEL) Marios Elia (APOEL) Stavros Georgiou (APOEL) Lambros Lambrou (Ethnikos) Loizos Kakoyiannis (Ethnikos)
Midfielders: Simos Krasas (AEK Athens) Costas Charalambides (APOEL) Marinos Satsias (APOEL) Costas Makrides (APOEL) Costas Kaiafas (Omonia)
Forwards: Michalis Constandinou (Panathinaikos Greece) Yiannakis Okkas (Olympiakos Greece) Marios Neophytou (APOEL) Yiasemis Yiasemaki (PAOK Greece)
ESTONIA DITCHES COACH AHEAD OF QUALIFIER
TALLINN (Reuters) -- Arno Pijpers has been sacked as Estonia coach and replaced by fellow-Dutchman Jelle Goes a week before a World Cup qualifier against Baltic neighbours Latvia.
Goes was appointed on a temporary basis after it was decided that Pijpers's contract would not be renewed the Estonian soccer Federation said without any further explanation on Wednesday.
Estonia have won two of their three ties in Group Three and Goes's first job was to select a 23-man squad for next Wednesday's match in Riga.
Goes coaches the under-21 side and will continue in that role as well until after the qualifier against Russia on November 17 when the federation will decide whether he will remain as head coach.
ALBANIA LOSES ANOTHER DEFENDER TO INJURY
TIRANA Albania (AP) --Albania will be without another key defender for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Denmark after veteran Geri Cipi was injured during training a soccer federation spokesman said Wednesday.
Cipi suffered a muscular thigh problem during training Tuesday afternoon said Lysien Nurishmi. Doctors say Cipi needs to rest for a month making Albania's defense a "great concern Nurishmi said.
Midfielder Altin Lala is training separately from the team as he prepares for the match despite a chest injury.
"True the Danes are a strong team but we should not overestimate them said midfielder Edvin Murati. "We have always played well and achieved good results in our pitch."
Albania's German-born coach Hans-Peter Briegel is already missing some key defensive players and must do without injured Ardian Aliaj and Elvin Beqiri suspended for three matches after receiving a red card in the qualifier against Georgia.
Albania took a 2-1 win over European champion Greece in their qualifying opener Sept. 4 but failed to repeat that performance at Tbilisi Georgia where it lost 2-0.
Albania is third in Group 2 with three points after Georgia and Ukraine with four points each. Trailing are Turkey Denmark Greece and Kazakhstan.
After hosting Denmark at the Albanian capital Tirana the Albanian team travels to Kazakhstan on Oct. 13.
Goalkeepers: Foto Strakosha (Panionios Greece) Ilion Lika (Dinamo Albania) Arjan Beqaj (Ionikos Greece);
Defenders: Geri Cipi (SK Tirana Albania) Suat Lici (Vllaznia Albania) Arjan Pisha (Dinamo Albania) Lorik Cana (Paris Saint-Germain France) Arjan Sheta (Kalithea Greece) Besnik Hasi (Anderlecht Belgium) Henri Ndreka (Partizani Albania);
Midfielders: Klodian Duro (Arminia Bielefeld Germany) Altin Lala (Hannover '96 Germany) Ervin Skela (Arminia Bielefeld Germany) Edvin Murati (F.C. Iraklis Greece) Altin Haxhi (Apollon Greece) Ardit Beqiri (SK Tirana Albania) Mehmet Dragusha (Eintrecht Frankfurt Germany) Devi Muka (SK Tirana Albania) Ardit Beqiri (SK Tirana Albania) Genti Shkembi (Kamen Ingrad Croatia);
Forwards: Igli Tare (Bologna Italy) Alban Bushi (Istambulspor Turkey) Florian Myrtaj (Verona Italy) Altin Rraklli (SK Tirana Albania).
LAZIO GOALKEEPER HAS KNEE OPERATION
ROME (AP) -- Lazio goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi had his right knee operated on Wednesday and will be out of action for about a month the Roman club said.
Peruzzi Italy's third 'keeper at Euro 2004 will likely miss league matches against Chievo Verona Parma and Messina. He will also sit out Lazio's UEFA Cup game against Villareal on Oct. 21.
He could return for a UEFA Cup match at Middlesbrough on Nov. 4.
Club officials said he could return to practicing after the arthroscopic surgery in 3-4 weeks.
SCHALKE'S VAN HOOGDALEM THREATENED BY ILLNESS
GELSENKIRCHEN Germany (AP)-- Schalke's Dutch defender Marco van Hoogdalem has been diagnosed with a rare liver disease that may force him to end his career Schalke announced Wednesday.
The 32-year-old who has played 151 matches for the Bundesliga club has PSC an incurable disease in which blood can't adequately circulate through the organ.
Van Hoogdalem and Schalke's management will meet Thursday to determine if the Dutchman can continue his career. His contract with the German club runs until 2006.
INJURED TANGHE PULLS OUT OF BELGIUM SQUAD
BRUSSELS (Reuters) --Utrecht midfielder Stefaan Tanghe has pulled out of the Belgium squad for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Spain because of a hand injury.
Tanghe who broke a bone in his left hand in a Dutch first division match last weekend and was unable to get through a training session on Wednesday will not be replaced.
"I can't help it said Tanghe. "After the game against Waalwijk my hand hurt and it was like that on Monday and Tuesday when a scan revealed a small bone was broken.
"This morning the pain was still acute and I cannot play like that. It is very frustrating to leave the team like that."
Belgium coach Aim Anthuenis had already lost one player for the Group Seven match in Santander when Celtic defender Joos Valgaeren withdrew with a hamstring strain and was replaced by Olivier Doll on Monday.
CROATIA CALLS UP UNCAPPED DUO FOR BULGARIA MATCH
ZAGREB (Reuters) -- Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar has called two uncapped players into his squad for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria.
Brazilian-born Dinamo Zagreb striker Eduardo da Silva and Varteks Varazdin midfielder Nikola Safaric were called up after Kranjcar was forced to field a team without six regulars in a friendly against a local second division club on Tuesday.
He also invited Dinamo Kiev defender Goran Sablic to join the squad as Igor Tudor of Juventus is struggling with a knee injury local media reported.
"We had severe problems. Six players were suffering from injuries or exhaustion the coach told Vecernji List daily newspaper.
Kranjcar's main concern is leading striker Dado Prso who has a sore knee.
"It does not look good. At this moment Prso's appearance is doubtful he said.
Croatia lead Group Eight with six points from two games.
GIULY PULLS OUT MOREIRA CALLED UP
PARIS (AP) - Barcelona striker Ludovic Giuly has pulled out of France's upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Ireland and Cyprus the French soccer federation said Wednesday.
"Giuly is leaving the team for the next two matches the FFF said on its Web site without giving details of Giuly's injury.
Coach Raymond Domenech has called up Toulouse striker Daniel Moreira to replace Giuly who scored in the 2-0 win over Faroe Islands last month.
Moreira has been in good form for Toulouse this season scoring four goals in nine games.
He has won two caps for France both as a substitute and last played for Les Bleus against Egypt in April 2003.
France plays Ireland at Stade de France on Saturday and travels to Cyprus on Oct. 13.
Domenech has been plagued by injury problems with striker David Trezeguet and midfielder Benoit Pedretti also absent.
LOKO ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
PARIS (AP) --Former France striker Patrice Loko announced his retirement from soccer Wednesday.
Loko scored seven goals in 26 appearances for Les Bleus and won a French first division title with Nantes in 1995 and European Cup Winners Cup with Paris Saint-Germain in 1996.
"I decided to end my career although physically I feel I could continue for another season at the highest level the 34-year-old said on his Web site.
Loko was top scorer in the French league with 22 goals in 1995. He also played for Montpellier Lyon Troyes Lorient and Ajaccio.
Both the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.