Can Belgium's Scifo Produce a World Cup?
The, Raf Casert, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Born Italian, Enzo Scifo has been called anything from a fickle prima donna to an undisputed maestro during a decade of ups and downs at the heart of Belgium's national team.
But at 28, he is the unchallenged leader of the Red Devils going into the World Cup. The way he's playing for AS Monaco, he should add the creative spark so dearly lacking in Belgium's often dour, if effective, play.
His talent to float like a butterfly on soccer's fields of green is undisputed. His elegant footwork and his long-range passes can be flawless. It is his ability to sting like a bee that continues to be questioned.
In 10 years in international competition for his clubs and nation, he still has to win his first trophy, something which is beginning to haunt him.
"I already have a great career I can look upon with pride," he says. "The only thing that is lacking is a European Cup or - let's dream - a World Cup."
He is convinced Belgium's blend of youth and experience gives the team as good a chance as any to break through into the final stages of the World Cup. Belgium heads Group F in Orlando, Fla., and will play the Netherlands, Morocco and Saudi Arabia in the first round.
During his first World Cup in Mexico eight years, Belgium reached the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Argentina. Scifo, all of 20, failed to fulfill high expectations.
In Italy four years ago, Scifo became one of the stars of the tournament, but Belgium was extremely unlucky to miss the quarterfinal when it lost to England in the last minute of overtime.
However big the disappointment, it marked the moment Scifo came of age. "It swept away any lingering doubts," he said.
He had fought critics ever since Anderlecht, the nation's premier club, discovered him in Belgium's industrial heartland of La Louviere. He was immediately declared a child prodigy. …