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Haaretz

Lackluster under-21s scrape by Malta 1-0

VALLETTA - A very poor performance by Israel's under-21 side was still enough for a 1-0 victory over its Maltese counterparts on Friday as Moshe Sinai's men opened their challenge for a place in the Olympic soccer tournament to be held in Athens in 2004.

A lone goal from Guillermo Israilevich in the dying seconds of the first half was all that Israel needed to gain all three points, but the performance was one of the worst by the under-21s in recent years. On this sort of showing, they have no chance of making it to the finals. The weak Maltese did not present much of an obstacle, although a strong wind at the national stadium in Ta'Qali saw to it that there were hardly any positive moves by either side.

The diminutive Israilevich, a recent immigrant from Argentina, scored his first goal in national colors. Yaniv Luzon almost made it 2-0 in the second half, but his shot hit the post. (Asher Goldberg)

Hapoel TA names Florence as its new home

Hapoel Tel Aviv told UEFA on Friday that it intends to host Leeds United in its UEFA Cup clash on November 14 at the Fiorentina stadium in Florence. The Italian police has still to give its okay in order for the game to be confirmed in the picturesque Italian city, although Hapoel officials are hoping that they will receive authorization by tomorrow.

In the event that Florence is not approved, Hapoel will play at the impressive Amsterdam Arena, the home stadium of Ajax Amsterdam; the Dutch club said last week that they would be happy to host an Israeli club.

The modern stadium in Amsterdam has with a roof that closes and could become the stadium for all future matches for Israeli teams in the next stages of European competitions, assuming that they advance. (Doron Bergerfreund)

Ferguson says assault complaint baseless

JOHANNESBURG - Manchester United soccer manager Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday strongly denied allegations of indecent assault brought against him by a woman in South Africa. In a statement issued on the club's Web site, Ferguson said he had been informed that a complaint had been brought by a South African woman and that police and the director of public prosecutions were doing their utmost to complete investigations and decide on the matter. "I would like to make it clear that any allegations of improper conduct, let alone sexual assault, on my part are untrue and entirely without foundation," he said. (Reuters)

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