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Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004

Japan trio doubtful

Japan coach Zico, who is gearing his side up for a match against Oman in the preliminary round of the World Cup Asian qualifiers, cast doubt on the readiness of injured Feyenoord midfielder Shinji Ono and other top players for the Feb. 18 fixture at Saitama Stadium 2002.

Arriving at Narita airport after a trip to Brazil, Zico said it might be pointless to have Ono, who has sustained a left ankle injury, to travel to Japan for the match.

He also called into question fielding Sampdoria striker Atsushi Yanagisawa and Reggina midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, both of whom are suffering from lower back injuries.

"If guys who are hurt come to Japan with these bad conditions, it won't really make sense," Zico said, adding that if their conditions remained unchanged he would consider making replacements.

The Japanese squad will start a training camp for domestic players on Monday in Miyazaki.

Zico recently renewed his contract with the Japan Football Association while back home in Brazil.

Nadoveza stays home

OSAKA (Kyodo) Petar Nadoveza, who was appointed coach of Cerezo Osaka for this season, will absolve his contract with the first division side due to cardiac angina, soccer sources said Saturday.

The Croatian will not come to Japan to take the helm at Cerezo and will be replaced by Fuad Muzurovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Club sources said that Nadoveza told Cerezo in mid-January he would not come to Japan after he was diagnosed with the heart ailment and advised by his doctor not to take the new coaching position.

Muzurovic played for the former Yugoslavian republic and coached Bosnia and Herzegovina after his retirement.



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