Romania's Anghel eyes smiling
ROMANIAN coach Anghel Iordenescu presents a face to the world that suggests he is expecting the worst to happen. It is not quite the depressed bloodhound look of former German coach Helmut Schon but you would not find Anghel plastered across billboards in America selling soft drinks.
But he was certainly smiling when his Romanian side brushed aside favourites Colombia in the first big Group A game on the West Coast, the 3-1 final tally equalling the country's best previous score in any World Cup tournament - and that back in 1930.
For those who came into contact with Anghel when he brought Romania to the Carlberg Chinese New Year series in February, this excellent result - considered a real shock - will have also produced broad smiles.
Anghel, never mind his hangdog looks, is one of soccer's nice guys and when I talked to him on several occasions in Hong Kong, he did hold out some hope that Romania would acquit themselves well in America.
''It's a team that has to have belief in itself. That is important and is my biggest task. We have good players - some of them here but most of them back in Europe - and we are capable of producing the best performance of any Romanian team,'' he said.
And Anghel knows all about that - he played for his country on 54 occasions and hit the net 26 times. He was a lethal striker for Steuea Bucharest, whom he later managed with great success, and could have made a major name for himself in the West - but, of course, the time was not right.
Romania under dictator Ceaucescu was not, by all reliable accounts, a pleasant place but it's not something that Anghel, or many Romanians, want to talk about.
''For some, if you were good at football or the gymnastics, it was not so bad but for the ordinary person, no it was not good.
''Life is much better now, although there is still little money - and it is important for the country that we do well in America.'' They've certainly started right and, with any sort of luck, we could be seeing a lot more of a smiling Anghel Iordenescu.
Not so happy after their World Cup opener was another Hong Kong visitor over the past few years - Swiss national coach Roy Hodgson.
The Englishman first achieved coaching fame in Sweden and brought Malmo to Hong Kong a few years ago and returned with his Swiss side 15 months ago.
The Swiss came away with a point from their 1-1 draw with host nation America and Hodgson said: ''It was like a morgue in our dressing room after the game. We should have taken all three points and it could end up being vital.'' The game was played in the Silverdome in Detroit and more problems can be expected at the indoor venue which amazingly has no air-conditioning, despite the summer heat.