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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oliveira miffed about schedule


Staff writer

Kashima Antlers manager Oswaldo Oliveira has launched an angry tirade against his club's hectic schedule ahead of Wednesday's Asian Champions League clash with Beijing Guoan.

A win or draw in China would virtually guarantee Kashima's qualification for the next round, but the Brazilian is fuming over the busy workload his club has faced leading up to the match.

Antlers have played against two of their strongest J. League rivals in the two weeks since their last ACL fixture, losing 2-0 to Urawa Reds before playing out a tough 0-0 draw with Gamba Osaka on Saturday.

"We have not enough time," Oliveira said. "I don't know if something strange has happened. I don't understand why we have to play against Urawa and Gamba in a row."

Oliveira is angry at what he perceives to be yet another obstacle in the way of his side's progress in the competition.

"It is not fair," he said. "We had to go to Thailand and play at three o'clock in the afternoon. I don't know if I am going to have to face any other surprises. I am waiting."

But the Brazilian is taking nothing for granted in Wednesday night's game, despite his side's three-point advantage and vastly superior goal difference in a group from which just one team can advance.

"If we lose 1-0, we have a chance because we have scored a lot of goals, but we can't think about this," he said. "We have to go there and win. I don't know what surprises there will be. We are prepared for it. We won't change anything — we'll just play our normal attacking game."

Oliveira also paid tribute to in-form captain Mitsuo Ogasawara, but insisted his team is more than just a one-man show.

"Ogasawara is a fantastic player, and he is very important for our team," he said. "He is the balance in our team.

"But having said that, he doesn't play alone. We have (Masashi) Motoyama, we have (Takuya) Nozawa, we have (Takeshi) Aoki, who fights until the very last moment. Ogasawara is very important, but I can't tell you he is more important than anyone else."

Antlers have won three games out of three in Group F, having scored 16 goals and conceded just one.

Zidane has no regrets

Geneva AP Zinedine Zidane may enjoy his charity matches, yet has no regrets about retiring from soccer.

The 35-year-old former France international was the main attraction Monday in a charity match at the Stade de Geneve, which will stage three matches during the European Championship June 7-29.

"Not at all. It is going to be a great tournament but I have been there and done it, and I have to do other things now," Zidane said before the match.

Zidane helped lead France to win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship, but ended his career at the 2006 World Cup final in Germany, ejected in injury time for head-butting Italy defender Marco Materazzi in the Azzurri's penalty-kick win.

Still looking fit, Zidane was lured into action again through his friendship with Switzerland midfielder Fabio Celestini, who plays for the Getafe and has launched 442, a children's charity.

Zidane was named a United Nations goodwill ambassador during his playing career and now makes occasional appearances for charitable causes.

"I have met Fabio because our kids go to school in the same town," he explained.

"It is a pleasure to play here and a good idea to give something to the kids."



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