Group C Euro 2000 Finalists Diary

Published June 9th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Briefs on Group C finalists for Euro 2000, to be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium between June 10 and July 2. 

 

SPAIN’S CASILLAS YOUNG AND STRONG 

Spain have often flattered to deceive in big tournaments and want to bury their tag as "chokers" - but currently only positive feelings surround Spanish football. 

Camacho has steadied a Spanish galleon that was listing badly last year under the leadership of former boss Javier Clemente. 

The performance of Spanish teams in the Champions League - winners Real Madrid, runners-up Valencia and semi-finalists Barcelona - ensured an unprecedented domination for one country in Europe's top club event and illustrates the strength of the Primera Liga that has provided all 22 men in Camacho's squad. 

However, Real's Fernando Morientes has been omitted although his perennial partner Raul will feature. 

Camacho plumped for two uncapped youngsters in his squad with Real's 19-year-old goalkeeper Iker Casillas and 21-year-old Valencia forward Gerard Lopez getting the nod. 

Spain are the reigning world youth champions - Casillas played in that team - and can rely on a string of young players coming through in the next few years. 

 

 

NORWAY ALWAYS ENJOYS BEATING BIG BOYS 

Norway continued their happy habit of beating major international teams after a second-half John Carew goal defeated Italy 1-0 in Oslo.  

Italy's defeat was another blow to embattled manager Dino Zoff, who still has to find his right team and formation with no more games left before Euro 2000 

But, the fact is Semb has had a difficult task in filling the boots (Wellington boots that is) of his eccentric predecessor Egil Olsen, who transformed the Scandinavian country into a real force in world football. 

He has stuck with the same system bequeathed by Olsen playing a direct and uncomplicated style - not surprising as many Norway players ply their trade in the English Premiership. 

A good performance in Holland and Belgium will allow Semb to firmly consign the Olsen era into the history books. 

They will face three more technically gifted sides in Spain, Yugoslavia and Slovenia but none of those three adversaries have the same solid team ethic that underpins Norway's impressive record in the late 1990s. 

 

YUGOSLAVIA SUFFERS FROM TIGHT SECURITY 

Yugoslavia qualified for Euro 2000 in a group that was wrecked by the NATO offensive in Kosovo - with matches having to be postponed for security reasons. 

And to add spice that qualification group included Balkan arch-enemies Croatia and Macedonia. Their 2-2 draw in Zagreb that saw Yugoslavia through and Croatia eliminated sparked wild celebrations in a country that had a miserable 1999 even if, unlike Turkey, that misery was at least in part self-inflicted. 

The architect of that victory was Mihajlovic, who is widely held to be the best free-kick taker in the world. 

Veteran Boskov only took the helm in June 1999 after Milan Zivadinovic was sacked for agreeing a deal with a Saudi Arabian club. 

The match with Slovenia will be another Balkan bust-up while Boskov will be renewing acquaintances with Spain boss Camacho and Slovenia boss Srecko Katanec, who both played under his management at club level for Real Madrid and Sampdoria respectively. 

 

SLOVENIA GOT NOTHING BUT SURPRIZE 

No-one expected them to qualify but after their heroics in Group Two no-one should take Slovenia lightly. 

The fledgling Balkan nation is the long shots after qualifying against the odds via the play-offs against a star-studded Ukraine side including Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov. 

The fact that Ukraine had twice held world champions France in their group matches illustrates the achievement. 

Zahovic has proved a prolific scorer and could make an even bigger name for himself in Holland and Belgium. 

Galic and Milanic are supremely gifted defenders who are also dangerous on the attack. 

Whatever happens, just being there is an achievement for the Slovenes. But the best could be yet to come. 

The match with Yugoslavia will be seen as a great chance for Slovenia to settle old historical scores but Katanec is one of the few Euro 2000 coaches who will not face calls for the sack if they fail to progress – (Several Sources) 

 

June 13 

Spain v Norway (Rotterdam 1600GMT) 

Yugoslavia v Slovenia (Charleroi 1845 GMT) 

June 18 

Spain v Slovenia (Amsterdam 1600 GMT) 

Norway v Yugoslavia (Liege 1845 GMT) 

June 21 

Yugoslavia v Spain (Bruges 1600 GMT) 

Slovenia v Norway (Arnhem 1600 GMT)

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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