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NOTEBOOK: RESPECT ISN'T ENOUGH FOR JAPANESE COACH.

Byline: - Daily News Wire Services

Although he gained respect by leading his team to three one-goal losses in his nation's World Cup debut, Japan coach Takeshi Okada considered his effort a failure and resigned Friday.

Okada quit following a 2-1 loss to Jamaica that left Japan without a point despite gritty earlier efforts in 1-0 losses to powerhouses Argentina and Croatia.

``When a coach fails to achieve what he sets out to do, he should quit,'' Okada said. ``It is my responsibility. I was not able to draw the best out of the players in this match.''

Japan hoped for at least one victory to help justify its role as co-host with South Korea of the 2002 tournament. The rival Koreans did manage a point, tying Belgium in their final game.

Jamaica coach Rene Simoes said Okada had nothing to be ashamed of.

``I think Japan should feel very proud as well,'' Simoes said. ``They played three wonderful games - as Jamaica did.''

Suicide watch: A 24-year-old man in Hanoi, Vietnam, committed suicide after losing a bet on the Germany-Yugoslavia World Cup match.

Bui Van Dang was found dead after hanging himself at the office of the people's committee of Quyet Thang precinct in the central highlands province of Kon Tum, police said.

Dang had lost his Honda Dream motorcycle on the Sunday match between Germany and Yugoslavia, which ended in a 2-2 tie. His family paid to get the motorbike back, but he killed himself after he was cursed by relatives, according to police.

Vietnam has become obsessed with the World Cup, even though the country never has qualified for the sport's biggest event. All matches are shown on state television, and streets are virtually deserted when they are aired.

For the record: The goal by Yugoslavia against the United States was the 1,700th in World Cup history.

Slobodan Komljenovic's goal for Yugoslavia in the fourth minute of Thursday night's match also was the 118th goal of the tournament.

Posh pass: The crowd rooting for England against Colombia on Friday night in Lens may have been large, but it definitely lacked Spice.

Victoria Adams, the Spice Girls' very own Posh Spice, was in the midst of a U.S. tour with the pop-music group and unable to cheer in person for her boyfriend, England's David Beckham.

A large group of players' wives and girlfriends traveled from England for the game.

Keeping quiet: About the only people not talking about the referees at the the World Cup are the referees themselves. They are strictly forbidden to give interviews about matches and FIFA said Friday that would not change despite several hotly debated calls in the tournament.

Federation spokesman Keith Cooper also said there were no plans to have referees issue brief statements regarding controversial decisions, as is done by umpires and refs in baseball, the NFL and the NBA.

``We don't think they have to explain their decisions,'' Cooper said. ``It's there and it's gone. How do you determine the decisions that have to be explained and those that don't? The referees take the decisions. We stand by the referees.''

TODAY'S BEST BETS

The second round begins with defending champion Brazil playing another South American squad, surprising Chile, and Italy facing Norway.

At Parc des Princes, the Brazilians will be back at full strength after sitting out several regulars in a 2-1 loss to Norway that meant nothing to them. They're likely to press Chile's suspect defense from the outset with the surging attacks of Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Chile, which showed plenty of offensive spark in the first round behind Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano, will need strong goalkeeping from Nelson Tapia to upset the champs.

At Marseille, Italy also has looked strong on offense with a four-pronged group of strikers. Christian Vieri has four goals, Roberto Baggio has two, and Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi had solid efforts in the last game with Austria. The Norwegians advanced when Brazil played a half-hearted 45 minutes in their game, but in Tore Andre Flo, they have a super striker of their own.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 27, 1998
Words:682
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