Moroccans lined up for HK's Lunar tournament

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 June, 1998, 12:00am

LUCKLESS Morocco, out of the World Cup because of a very dodgy penalty decision, may find themselves with a bonus trip to Hong Kong coming up next year.

The north African side, rated 13th in the world before the tournament began, are pencilled in for next year's Carlsberg Cup as one of the three overseas teams to be involved in the annual tournament.

Morocco, still likely to be coached by Frenchman Henri Michel, could follow on the heels of Nigeria, who won this year's tournament.

Carlsberg PR consultant, Derek Currie, who is at the tournament here, said that a return trip for the current holders was unlikely.

Putting on his diplomatic hat, Currie said: 'The Nigerians deserved to win this year's event, but there were quite a few problems involved in bringing them and I know that those involved with us in the tournament do not relish a repeat.' Currie, like most of us, was also less than impressed by the Nigerians dire performance against Paraguay that resulted in the elimination of Spain.

Morocco, however, could be an entirely different matter.

A spokesman for KAM Sports International, the key agency involved in securing the teams for the annual quadrangular event, said: 'Morocco were very unlucky in the World Cup and many of their players actually play at home in what is a good league.

'We have asked about their interest in going to Hong Kong and they are studying the position.

'Their style of play would certainly be attractive to Hong Kong fans.' The man who was basically responsible for bringing Morocco's hopes crashing was American referee Isfandiar Baharmast, who officiated at the Carlsberg Cup two years ago.

What about a return for Baharmast? 'Well, he would certainly create a headline or two,' said Currie.

AT 101, Robert Erbhart is the oldest known survivor from the first French FA Cup final in 1918. He was due to attend the game between France and Denmark in Lyon but pulled out because of tiredness.

No stamina, that's his problem.

TALKING of stamina, the World Cup does take its toll. As the weeks and days pass, the media contingent gets trimmed down - some through attrition with their own country's teams departing and others because life on the road can be tough.

One Argentinian decided that basing himself in Paris had to be the answer after turning up in Lyon to discover the hotel he'd booked was in another town 60 miles away.

The bank balance was reduced with taxi trips to and from Saint-Etienne at around $1,000 per trip.

ENGLISH fans aren't all bad - believe it or not. It's not too often you'd find a Scottish supporter with much good to say about his southern counterpart but it happened last week.

The supporter in question was sharing a taxi that had seen better days to Saint-Etienne from Lyon when the engine blew on the outskirts of Lyon.

He was suitably attired in Scottish national dress and took the excellent suggestion of his travelling companion - also keen to get to the game but more routinely dressed - that he stand on the side of the road and thumb a lift.

The clear desperation showed through and within five minutes a car had stopped - driven by a diehard English fan taking in the Scottish game before decamping north to Lens.

After the Scots' dismal performance, the lad in question could have been pondering whether the journey had really been worthwhile.

THOSE who follow Dutch football via television in Hong Kong may have been more than slightly surprised that Manchester United coughed up GBP10 million for central defender Jaap Stam of PSV.

That makes the balding Stam the most expensive defender in the world and, if Alex Ferguson was watching the Group E game between Holland and Mexico, he would surely have wondered if that much money was truly well spent.

Stam was utterly embarrassed by the last-kick equaliser and was also at fault when Ricardo Pelaez outjumped him for the first.

There could be interesting times ahead for Stam and United in the Premier League next season.