Soccer / 3,000 Supporters Book for San Siro

Hapoel TA, fans angered at high prices.

Some 3,000 tickets to Hapoel Tel Aviv's historic clash with AC Milan at the San Siro stadium had been sold by this morning, according to club sources yesterday.

Hapoel expects over 6,000 supporters to make the trip to the northern Italian city for Thursday's UEFA Cup quarterfinal second leg tie, but there was great anger at the airlines and travel agencies as prices for a package to the game rose from $520 yesterday morning to as much as $640-650 by the afternoon.

Hapoel officials said that they had noted those responsible for hiking the prices and trying to boost their profits at the expense of their supporters and those who were doing everything to help the fans.

The club has set up a fund for the fans to which the players have already contributed 100 tickets to the game and said they would add two euros to each ticket sold. By yesterday evening, NIS 25,000 had been collected for the fans, many of whom have already spent a fortune in travel expenses to away games this season.

The club held a training session yesterday but Assi Domb was missing for the second consecutive day. The central defender is suffering from a knee injury and team doctor Moshe Levinkopf is trying to get the player fit for the game on Thursday.

One player definitely out of action at San Siro is Ben Luz, who has been ordered to rest until the end of the week.

The team used new balls to train yesterday, they are the same as the ones which AC Milan uses in its home games. After the session most of the players watched their illustrious opponents' clash with Torino on TV in the Serie A last night.

The Milanese are expected to open the return leg with both their star strikers, Andrei Shevchenko and Filipo Inzaghi. AC coach Carlo Ancelotti said yesterday that the efforts being made to get Shevchenko fit for the game are looking promising.

Italian media representatives also said that they expected both players, who were missing from the opening leg in Nicosia, to open, particularly as the Spanish duo of Javi Moreno and Jose Mari were disappointing in the 1-0 loss to Hapoel.

Two other Milan players are not expected to be fit for the game: Paolo Maldini and Thomas Helweg.

The Milan Web site published a strange statement from coach Ancelotti yesterday in which he claimed that he is "the best man to lead AC Milan." Italian journalists speculate that the coach is under tremendous pressure as the club enters a very important week, but they do not think that he will be fired even if the club fails to overcome Hapoel on Thursday.