Rijkaard takes time off

MADRID - Frank Rijkaard has decided to take a year off after being sacked by troubled Spanish football club Barcelona, the Catalan daily Sport said yesterday.

MADRID - Frank Rijkaard has decided to take a year off after being sacked by troubled Spanish football club Barcelona, the Catalan daily Sport said yesterday.

According to Sport, Rijkaard and his family will continue to live in the Catalan capital and he will not be interested in any other coaching jobs that become available for next season.

Rijkaard, 45, has been linked with the vacant bench of Chelsea and with other clubs as well.

The Dutchman remains popular in Barcelona, after leading Barca to two Spanish league titles and the Champions League as well in his five-year reign.

His contract did not expire until June 2009, but Barca sacked him in May - after a second trophy-less season - and brought in former captain Josep Guardiola as his replacement.

l Italian media lambasted the world champions yesterday for a woeful performance in their 3-0 defeat by the Dutch in their Euro 2008 Group C opener.

"Ouch. What a blow!" read the banner headline on the front page of Gazzetta dello Sport, the widely read national sports daily. "Holland gives us a lesson."

In the first clash of the heavyweights on Monday, the Netherlands consigned Italy to their worst loss at a European Championship.

"The Dutch deserve it... [because they played] as if they were the world champions and not us," wrote one Gazzetta columnist.

"It is the beginning that already feels like the end," he continued. - Sapa-DPA

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