As the World Cup approached a worrisome weekend, more suspensions were doled out and only one goal was scored.
With the Dutch playing at Marseille today, the much-hyped U.S.-Iran game Sunday in Lyon and England's second game, vs. Romania, at Toulouse on Monday, authorities are gearing up for potential trouble. Security will be tight at all three matches, particularly England's after hundreds of English hooligans made trouble a week ago in Marseille.The aftermath of "Red Thursday," when five ejections were made by referees, saw three suspensions handed out Friday. Gone for three games in the stiffest penalty of the Cup is South Africa's Alfred Phiri for elbowing Denmark's Thomas Helves in the forehead.
Suspended for two games were French star striker Zinedine Zidane and Miklos Molnar of Denmark. Zidane was suspended for "violence against another player" after stepping hard on Saudi captain Fouad Amin's side.
Denmark's Morton Wieghorst and Saudi Arabia's Mohammed al Khilaiwi each received the normal one-game suspension for a red card.
But FIFA pulled a red card on itself, saying it failed to reach the right balance in judging on-field fouls and even may have helped create the flood of expulsions.
Players and coaches pleaded for consistency after Thursday's calls. So FIFA sent two top officials to the referees' compound outside Paris to try to clear up confusion over what it should take to get a player kicked out of a game or given a warning for roughness.
"What needs to be made clearer is the disciplinary action," FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper said Friday. "There is some room for improvement as to how the actions are punished. The first days, there was too much leniency. Yesterday, the movement was in the opposite direction."
There were no red cards Friday, when Bora Milutinovic showed he still can weave his World Cup magic. He coached Mexico into the quarterfinals (1986), Costa Rica (1990) and the United States (1994) into the second round, and now he's led Nigeria to the top of Group D.
The Nigerians joined France and Brazil in the second round by edging Bulgaria 1-0.
In the other game Friday, Paraguay tied Spain 0-0, damaging the Spaniards' chances of advancing, even though they were favored in Group D.
NIGERIA 1, BULGARIA 0: At Parc des Princes, Nigerian's creative attack got one goal, from Victor Ikpeba, and that barely as enough as Emil Kostadinov hit the crossbar in the waning moments for Bulgaria. The Nigerians clinched first overall in Group D.
"For people who like the spectacular, we make it spectacular," Milutinovic said.
PARAGUAY 0, SPAIN 0: At Saint-Etienne, Paraguay played its second scoreless tie, placing it second to Nigeria in the group. Spain, meanwhile, is in danger of going home far earlier than anyone expected.