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COACHING AID FOR SOCCER - TRANSLATORS

SHARE COACHING AID FOR SOCCER - TRANSLATORS

For proof positive that soccer's World Cup is a truly international affair, you don't need to look any further than the coaches. While it's true that a country's players have to be card-carrying citizens, either by birth or by adoption, coaches can come from just about anywhere - and speak just about any language.

The coach of Saudi Arbia, for instance, is a man named Jorge Solari from Argentina. Solari speaks only Spanish and his players are of course only fluent in Arabic. Hence, whenever the coach and the players communicate, they both have translators.The system seems to be working, too. After their 2-1 victory over Morocco, the Saudis not only have their first World Cup victory but also have a good chance at advancing into the second round.

Nigeria's coach is a man named Clemens Westerhof from Holland who speaks only German. He, too, is constantly accompanied by a translator. And so, for that matter, is Bora Milutinovic, the American coach who is a Yugoslavian Serb. As it states in the media guide for the U.S. Soccer Team, Milutinovic is "fluent in Spanish, French, Serbo-Croatian and Italian."

Alas, English did not make the list. When the U.S. coach talks, his players listen - to his translator.

Perhaps the most "foreign" of all the coaching mercenaries is Ireland coach Jack Charlton. Charlton is an Englishman.

EVERYTHING BUT A TEAM: Speaking of the British, a wave of Fleet Street journalists have converged on The Colonies even if the English side failed to make it through the qualifying. Since they're not hampered with the chore of covering an actual team, the British writers have been able to do what they do best: critique everyone else. In Monday's Los Angeles Times, an editorial written by soccer writer William Tuohy of The (London) Times was excerpted. Tuohy wrote, in part: "If the Americans aren't converted by this World Cup, it serves them right. Let them languish in heathen worship of fat men playing rounders, freaks of nature mucking about at glorified netball or the tedious travesty of rugby league that is American football. We are witnessing a prolonged epiphany of the one true sport. Now let us pray for a final in which (German's Juergen) Klinsmann is sent off for cheating. But only after Romario has given Brazil a 7-0 lead."

SOME THINGS DON'T CHANGE DEPT.: The new regime may be in place in Moscow, but that doesn't mean the Russian coach, Pavel Sadyrin, has any more job security than his predecessors.

After Russia lost its first two World Cup matches, a senior Russian team official told the San Francisco Examiner, "If he doesn't resign, the Russian federation will replace him."

DIFFERENT WORLDS DEPT.: The team from Cameroon in western Africa threatened a boycott of its first-round match with Brazil unless the country's soccer federation made good on back pay that reportedly went back as far as the last World Cup in Italy in 1990. It took a last-minute bail-out of $1 million from the Cameroon government to avert the strike.

Meanwhile, the team from Saudi Arabia has made no such threats. Just for qualifying into the American finals, each player received $100,000 and a Mercedes.

ACCLIMATIZING: At first, the team from Belgium wasn't too excited about playing its first two matches in Orlando, where the heat and humidity combine to create the most infernal of venues.

But after two straight wins over Morocco and The Netherlands, the Belgians have changed their tune.

"We are very happy to stay here," said goalkeeper Michel Preud'homme. "We like Orlando and we like Daytona Beach."

"Now we are used to the weather and maybe the team we play (next) won't be used to it," added Philippe Albert. "That would be an advantage for us."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Alan Rothenberg, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, on the hot and humid playing conditions that greeted the first 10 days of the World Cup: "So far, I have yet to hear a winning coach complain about the weather."