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Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the country's soccer authorities at the weekend authorized the holding of Israel's two remaining Euro 2004 qualifiers against Slovenia and Malta in Tbilisi's Lokomotiv stadium.

Israel, which has been unable to play at home because of the UEFA ban on foreign teams traveling here, has already hosted France in Palermo and is set to play against Cyprus at the same venue at the end of this month.

The game against Slovenia set for June 6 or 7, which is currently second in qualifying group 1 behind France, could be the one which determines which of the two countries takes the coveted playoff spot for a place in the finals in Portugal. The game against Malta is set for September 9 or 10.

While Georgia is a real option, IFA chairman Gavri Levi said yesterday that nothing has yet been concluded, and other options such as Hungary and Lithuania are also being explored. A decision could be made this week, after the associations from both countries relay their stances on the matter in the coming days.

The Georgian association is planning to send its outline for the game and is hoping to play a friendly against Israel on August 19 or 20 in Tbilisi as well.

Georgia's capital still has a sizable Jewish community and that could also be a factor after Israel played in an almost empty stadium in Palermo against France last week.