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Top World Cup coaches face date with destiny

Written by: Staff
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MUNICH, July 4 (Reuters) Four proud men of contrasting appearances and demeanours, not to mention backgrounds and philosophies, face a date with destiny this week when they contest the World Cup semi-finals.

In Dortmund today, the man once dubbed 'Paul Newman' by Alex Ferguson because of his deadpan looks and handling of pressure meets a blond, enthusiastic newcomer, 16 years his junior, as Italy take on hosts Germany.

The cigarillo-smoking Italian Marcello Lippi, 58, will pit his vast tactical acumen and years of experience against the energy and adventure of Stuttgart's most famous baker's son, Juergen Klinsmann.

The 41-year-old German World Cup winner from 1990 is revelling in his first management job and the kind of popular adulation that Robert Redford once enjoyed.

It is a classic clash of a battle-hardened veteran, steeped in the tactician's crafts and wiles, and a California-based idealist, a man of great goals and visions generated on trans-Atlantic return flights from his home at Huntingdon Beach to his German employers' offices.

'BIGGEST CHANCE' ''Our two goals have been to reach the final and for Germany to show the world a new face,'' said 'Klinsi'. ''This is our biggest chance to do this for decades.'' In 108 appearances for his country, he scored 41 goals and won the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship. He played in Germany, Italy, France and England. He succeeded and he smiled, as he does now.

But only one man will enjoy 'the Sting' and the silver-haired and bespectacled Lippi, a strict disciplinarian who has created a club atmosphere with an Azzurri squad besieged by injuries, bribery scandals at home and tragic news, may have that role.

He has, after all, guided Juventus to five Italian titles and four European Cup finals, winning only one. Now may be his time.

MORE REUTERS PM BST0940

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