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A Busy Week Lies Ahead With Euro 2000 Qualifiers

7 June 1999

sponsored by TEAMtalk


TEAMtalk is the United Kingdom's
 leading internet football (soccer) site.

SOCCER

There's a busy week of international football ahead as the British nations bid to boost their chances of qualifying for the European Championships of 2000. England top the agenda, but they are no longer the favourites to qualify from the group after Saturday's disappointing draw with Sweden. England now make the trip to the out-of-form Bulgarians knowing that nothing less than a win is required if they are to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the finals, which will be staged in Holland and Belgium next summer. England will go into the match as favourites and should be able to sneak a win in Sofia, where the Bulgarians have struggled to not just win points, but also to score goals. The two sides drew in London in October, so Kevin Keegan will be urging his side to push forward in search of goals.

Craig Brown's Scotland will also be in action where they will face group leaders the Czech Republic in Prague. The Scots go into the game on the back of a very disappointing draw with the Faroe Islands on Saturday and will need to pick up a good result against the Czech's, who have won all six of their group matches thus far. The Czech Republic also beat Scotland earlier this season, so Scotland will do well to avoid defeat in this one.

Elsewhere, Wales will face the Denmark knowing also that a win will be the minimum requirement if they want to qualify for the Euro 2000 finals. The Welsh will be under temporary management following the resignation of their previous coach after Saturday's 4-0 reversal by Italy. However, in Wales' favour is the fact that they actually picked up their best result in recent years when they came away from Denmark earlier in the season with a win. With Denmark eager for revenge and looking for a morale-boosting win that would boost their hopes of qualification, a draw is the most likely outcome.

CRICKET

The World Cup super six sees the clash of two great cricket rivals on Tuesday at Old Trafford. India play Pakistan amid fears that the trouble in Kashmir will overspill in Manchester. Hopefully, the cricket will make the headlines with some great individual battles to look forward to. The pace of Shoaib Akhtar against Saurav Ganguly, the guile of Saqlain Mushtaq verses the world's best batsman Sachin Tendulkar, and Anil Kumble verses the hard-hitting Moin Khan all promise to be cracking encounters amongst many others.

India must win to retain any hopes of semifinal qualification and Pakistan will be looking to bounce back after South Africa's thrilling win against them on Saturday. Once again, the ball is expected to dominate in overcast conditions and, if selected, India's medium pacer Robin Singh could take the plaudits away from some of the bigger names. Azhar Mahmood took three wickets verses tournament favourites South Africa and he could again inflict some damage. It's a tough one to call, but Pakistan should just have enough to see them through.

On Wednesday, Australia should keep up their momentum against Zimbabwe at Lords, and on Thursday South Africa should have too much strength for New Zealand. Friday sees Zimbabwe verses Pakistan on an Oval pitch which has been untypically docile, and the super six stage finishes over the weekend with India verses New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Saturday and South Africa verses Australia at Headingley.

RUGBY LEAGUE

Controversy surrounds the fixture schedule for Rugby League's Super League this season with sides occasionally asked to play three games in six days. Teams find it impossible to give their best in such circumstances in what is such a physically demanding sport.

Sheffield Eagles played three times last week and performed badly on each occasion and this week provides a similar scenario with Bradford Bulls, London Broncos, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants all asked to play both in midweek and at the weekend. However, the clash of the week is on Friday night when last season's champions Wigan and this season's Cup winners Leeds clash head to head. Wigan and Leeds are evenly matched, but the bookmakers make the home side (Wigan) the slight favourites.

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