Brazil in must-win clash with Paraguay
World Cup qualifying games and friendlies make for action-packed night of soccer.
World soccer looks forward today to busy evening, with decisive games in the South American qualifying group for World Cup 2002, as well as numerous friendlies and two official matches in Europe.
Attention will be focused tonight on the game between Brazil and Paraguay. With newly-appointed coach Luiz Felipe Scolari taking charge, Brazil is in a must-win situation if it wants to avoid further complications in its bid to make it through to the World Cup next year. The Brazilian coach has called on his players to shoot at their opponents' goal from all distances and take advantage of Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert's "overweight" condition.
South American group leader Argentina can take a big step toward qualifying for the World Cup with an away win against Ecuador, which also has a good chance of going through to soccer's biggest competition.
Colombia faces Peru tomorrow and if the former comes away with a win, it will join Brazil and Uruguay in the running for the fourth South American place at the World Cup. The top four teams in the group qualify automatically, with the fifth-placed country going into a two-leg playoff with Australia.
Europe also sees two official World Cup qualifying games this evening. In Group One, Yugoslavia should have no problems overcoming the Faroe Islands in Belgrade and keeping up its challenge for finishing second in its group. Estonia hosts Cyprus in a Group Two game that has no bearing on qualifying places for the World Cup.
Aside from Israel's encounter with Lithuania in Kaunas (see adjacent story), 17 more international friendlies will be played tonight, with the most interesting game taking place at White Hart Lane in London, where England hosts Holland (live on Channel 5 at 9.45 P.M.). England is preparing for its decisive Group Nine clash with Germany in Munich on September 1. Since his appointment as England coach in October last year, Sven Goran Eriksson has maintained a 100 percent record with his charges.
Austria, Israel's main rival for second place in Group Seven, will host Switzerland in Vienna; while Bosnia, Israel's next opponent in its World Cup qualifying campaign, is at home to Malta.
World Cup holders France play at home against Denmark, while Germany travels to Budapest for a friendly against Hungary.
Other games: Bulgaria-Macedonia, Czech Republic-South Korea, Finland-Belgium, Iceland-Poland, Ireland-Croatia, Latvia-Ukraine, Norway-Turkey, Portugal-Moldova, Russia-Greece, Slovakia-Iran, Slovenia-Romania, Sweden-South Africa, Japan-Australia.