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Gazza on China adventure

Beijing: Former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, hoping to revive his footballing career with a Chinese club.

“Am I confident' Yeah, I’m confident,” Gascoigne said on arrival at Beijing’s Capital Airport.

“My physique is good. My football is good. I don’t have any problems,” said the 35-year-old, who has been without a club since leaving first division Burnley at the end of last season.

He was due to try out with first division side Liaoning Bodao later this week at the team’s winter training camp on the southern island province of Hainan, Liaoning chairman Cao Guojun said. Cao said Gascoigne had contacted his team via the agent for former Liaoning midfielder Li Tie, now playing for Everton in the English Premier League.

“Gascoigne has been around a long time. We understand him very well,” said Cao. But he said no deal had been reached.

Star duel in Paris

Paris: The duel between Australian swimming star Ian Thorpe and Flying Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband heads for the French capital this weekend during the star-studded fifth round in the seven-leg Fina short course World Cup from Friday to Saturday.

Three-time world 200m champion and world record holder Thorpe will be bidding for supremacy over Olympic champion Van den Hoogenband, the only swimmer to have beaten the 20-year-old Australian over 200m freestyle in the past three years.

The Flying Dutchman knows, however, that he has to be more focussed after his defeat by Thorpe’s Olympic teammate Grant Hackett in the 200m freestyle in the World Cup meet in Melbourne last month.

It had been the 22-year-old’s first defeat in the series after swimming in Brazil and the US.

Crespo has torn ligaments

Rome: Inter Milan striker Hernan Crespo is expected to be out for at least two-and-a-half months after a medical examination revealed torn ligaments in his thigh.

The injury is a major blow to Inter, who will have to play without Crespo for the rest of their Champions League second group phase matches, which end on March 19. The striker is their top scorer in Europe this season with nine goals in eight games.

The Argentine was carried off during Inter’s 2-0 win over Modena at the weekend and initial reports put his recovery time anywhere between two and five months.

Ullrich joins Team Coast

Berlin: Germany’s former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has joined Team Coast, signing a three-year deal after parting with Team Telekom. Sports agency SID said on Wednesday the 29-year-old is likely to earn about two million euros ($2.10 million) under the deal which will keep him with the team until the end of 2005.

Telekom and Ullrich agreed to part last September, the former team leader deciding it was time for a fresh start. The split followed a drug test which revealed Ullrich had used amphetamines. Ullrich, who had been with Telekom since 1995, admitted taking two pills at a night club during a personal crisis.

Pablo Alfaro punished

Madrid: The Spanish football federation (RFEF) has banned Sevilla defender Pablo Alfaro for four matches after examining video evidence of an incident involving Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado.

A disciplinary committee found him guilty of aggressive behaviour after studying TV pictures that showed him stepping on Salgado in a league match on January 2. Alfaro was not booked as a result of the incident which occurred early in the second half of the game.

n Tennis: Australian Open live from 5.30 am on STAR Sports n Cricket, New Zealand vs India: Seventh ODI, highlights from 12 noon on ESPN n Soccer, Spanish League: Highlights from 8.30 pm on ESPN


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