European footbal teamsbegin journey to Germany

16th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 August 2004 , HAMBURG - While most countries throughout the world have long ago begun their qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the journey for European countries starts only on Wednesday. Four qualifiers will be played. In Group 1, Macedonia and Armenia clash in Skopje, with the home side being the favourites. Not only is Macedonia ranked 92 in the world - compared to 116 for Armenia, but coach Dragan Kanatlarovski can call on several players playing throughout Europe. Midfielder Van

16 August 2004

HAMBURG - While most countries throughout the world have long ago begun their qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the journey for European countries starts only on Wednesday.

Four qualifiers will be played.

In Group 1, Macedonia and Armenia clash in Skopje, with the home side being the favourites. Not only is Macedonia ranked 92 in the world - compared to 116 for Armenia, but coach Dragan Kanatlarovski can call on several players playing throughout Europe.

Midfielder Vanco Trajanov, for instance, has just joined German Bundesliga club Arminia Bielefeld, while Artim Sakiri plays his club football for West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.

The pick of the matches on Wednesday takes place in Bucharest, where Romania take on Finland in another Group 1 match. With the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Andorra also in the group, the two teams will know that they can ill-afford to drop points at this early stage.

The home side suffered a setback ahead of the game, when captain Christian Chivu broke a bone in his foot during beach football whilst on holiday. Although the foot was put in plaster, it did not heal sufficiently and requires corrective surgery ruling him out for the next four international matches.

They still have a host of exciting players to call on, with Chelsea's striker Adrian Mutu being one of them.

Finland coach Antti Muurinen had to replace Anderlecht defender Teemu Tainio and Auxerre midfielder Hannu Tihinen after they both were ruled out through injury.

In Group Three, two of the weakest teams in European football play their first games. Luxembourg, who are ranked 157th in the world and second-last in Europe, seem to have an impossible task away to Slovakia, who are ranked 86 places above them.

Luxembourg's record in World Cup qualifiers is - nor surprisingly - very bad and they have won only two (1961 4-2 against Portugal and 1972 2-0 against Turkey) out of 91 games. They have finished last in their group every time they have played in the qualifiers.

Luxembourg will, however, fancy their chances to avoid that this time around as also in their group is Liechtenstein, who are ranked just three positions above them in the rankings.

Liechtenstein are at home in Vaduz against Estonia on Wednesday. Although several of their players are part-timers, Liechtenstein coach Martin Andermatt can call on several players who play for Swiss clubs.

Andermatt, who took over the side in March, will be looking to improve on the Liechtenstein record from their last qualifying campaign, when they were last in their group without a point or a goal.

The other three teams in Group Three are: Portugal, Russia and Latvia.

The next qualifiers will be played on September 4, when the majority of other teams enter the competition.

DPA

Subject: German news  

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