Down to the final four

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Classic European football will be on display on Wednesday at Edmonton's Commonwealth Games Stadium when Austria meets the Czech Republic in one semi-final of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

The national teams of these two countries used to battle starting in the 1930s, although the latter country was then known as Czechoslovakia.

Edmonton fans, however, will not be treated to such stars as Austrian striker Matthias Sindelar, or the brilliance of the Czechoslovakian midfield of Kostalek, Boucek or Kolsky.

The other semi-final in Toronto will welcome for the second time the U-20 team of Chile, yesterday's 4-0 winner against Nigeria in Montreal.

ORDERLY FASHION

Hopefully, this time the Chilean fans will conduct themselves in a more orderly fashion than they did after that 3-0 spanking of Canada in the tournament's opening game at Toronto's National Soccer Stadium.

It has been kept under wraps, but an accident almost caused a young fan a serious injury. It happened when ecstatic Chilean fans tried to climb the fence separating them from the mixed zone where media reps could talk to coaches and players. Many of the fans were hanging on the fence when the World Cup security officers took action.

"The fans were trying to get to the players, seeking autographs and wanting to take pictures with some players," veteran security guard Barry Smock said. "A bunch of us (security guards) tried to encourage them to move away from the fence.

"Just then a fellow, in about his mid-20s, tried to get through the crowd and on to the street, when a car came to the same spot and couldn't help but hit the fellow. In moments, there were paramedics on the scene, but didn't want to move the fellow until a doctor approved.

"The poor fellow lay on the road for about an hour before a doctor came to examine him and okayed to take him to the hospital in an ambulance. It was quite a commotion with a fire engine, an ambulance a couple of police cruisers trying to clear the area. It was just an accident, but we don't know the extent of the injury to the young man."

Hopefully, that won't happen following Wednesday's semi-final game.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Austria-born Toronto billionaire Frank Stronach sponsored the building of a youth soccer development centre at Hollabrunn, 40 kilometres from Vienna. Four players from the semi-finalist Austrian U-20 team came from that camp: Captain Sebastian Proedl; Veli Kavlak, Peter Hackmair and striker Erwin Hoffer ... Didi Mateschitz, a wealthy Austrian businessman who owns the Red Bull soft drink factory bought the Red Bull hockey and soccer teams. Both won their respective championships.


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