Morientes stays happy at Real
Athens: Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes has dismissed suggestions he is unhappy with the club following the recent attempt to include him as part-exchange in the deal to sign Ronaldo. “I am very satisfied with the club,” the Spanish international said on Thursday, ahead of Spain’s Euro 2004 against Greece. “I am a very positive person and believe that I am lucky to be doing something I enjoy. The only negative aspect was the uncertainty about my future, but I am happy the way everything has turned out.”
The 26-year-old centre forward was poised to leave Real for Inter Milan or arch-rivals Barcelona in order to raise funds for the 45 million euro deal to sign Ronaldo.
“I am not stupid and know that ahead of me will be one of the best players in the world but my intention is to give 100 per cent to ensure I play at Real,” he said.
Zico wants European stars
Tokyo: Japan coach Zico is intent on calling up European-based players Junichi Inamoto, Shinji Ono and Hidetoshi Nakata for next month’s home friendly against Jamaica, his first match in charge. The Japan Football Association (JFA) confirmed on Thursday that the Asian champions will face Jamaica on October 16 in Tokyo after Zico had pushed for a second match to be scheduled before the end of the year.
Japan will also play Argentina in a second Kirin Challenge Cup fixture on November 20. The JFA announced, however, that they have switched the venue from Tokyo to Saitama. “Of course I am intending to call up the players in Europe, so I will have to negotiate with their clubs to make sure they are available,” said Zico.
Qualifier under fire threat
Moscow: Saturday’s Euro 2004 qualifier between Russia and Ireland here is under threat due to forest and peat bog fires in the Moscow region, Russian football officials said Thursday.
Air traffic was disrupted early Thursday as airplanes were unable to land at the Sheremetyevo International Airport, north of the capital. Departures from Domodedovo Airport to the south were suspended for an hour because of the smoke, which was expected to disperse slowly during the day.
France’s time confusion
Paris: Defending champions France left Paris on Thursday not knowing what time they will play their Euro 2004 qualifying game against Cyprus on Saturday.
According to all official schedules, the game is to be played at 2030 local time (1930 French time, 1730 GMT) but the private television company TF1, broadcaster of the French national team games, decided otherwise.
“Kickoff will be at 1800 French time,” a TF1 spokesman announced on Wednesday. “We have reached an agreement with Cyprus soccer federation.”
Madrid: Real Madrid have already begun to recoup their 45 million euro ($44.87 million) investment for Ronaldo with record sales of the number 11 shirt bearing his name.
The first official Ronaldo shirts, costing 72 euros ($71.78) a time, went on display at club outlets at exactly the same time as the player’s presentation to the media on Monday and staff say they sold the first one just 10 seconds later.
“We didn’t even have time to put them on the hangers,” said sales chief David Tello.
Hawk-Eye in tennis
London: Armchair tennis fans will soon have the benefit of Hawk-Eye technology on controversial line calls, the system’s owner said on Thursday.
Hawk-Eye, which reproduces the flight of the ball for virtual action replays, has proved particularly popular with cricket viewers who can now judge for themselves whether umpires have made the correct calls.
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