WORLD CUP : Offside

Australia’s Aloisi fit

SYDNEY: Striker John Aloisi said on Sunday he would be fit to play in Australia’s World Cup warm-up match against the Netherlands in Rotterdam next weekend. Aloisi, who missed Australia’s 1-0 win over European champions Greece in Melbourne last Thursday with a foot injury, told television here: “I’m sure the foot will be alright, so I’ll be looking to play against Holland.”

Business on backburner

SAO PAULO: Football-mad Brazilians will put business on the backburner next month when Brazil defends its World Cup crown and competes for a record sixth championship title in Germany. The Sao Paulo stock market Bovespa and the Brazil Federation of Banks plan to close two hours early on the days when Brazil play. The main stock market in South America announced that on June 13 and 22, it would close transactions early. All Brazilian financial markets will be paralyzed when Brazil take the field.

Dutch fans fear hosts

AMSTERDAM: The Netherlands will head to the World Cup next month with a simple mantra hammered into them by their expectant fans: “Don’t lose to Germany.” And Dutch fans are already contemplating the possibility of a potentially explosive quarter-final meeting against the hosts on June 30. “You just don’t want to lose to Germans. The worst-case scenario is that Germany wins this World Cup,” football fan Joris Rotmans said. Whether its bitterness over World War II or the enduring heartache of Holland’s defeat in the 1974 World Cup final, playing Germany makes the normally mild-mannered Dutch behave quite strangely.