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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 18:16 GMT
Mols right for Rossi debut
Youssef Rossi isn't sweating over his Premier League debut
Youssef Rossi isn't sweating over his Pars debut
By BBC Sport Online's Clive Lindsay

Youssef Rossi is looking forward to once again getting the better of Scottish - and Dutch - strikers.

The Moroccan international defender is poised to make his debut for Dunfermline Athletic against Rangers at East End Park after a year out of the game with a cruciate ligament injury.

Should he do so, the 27-year-old faces the prospect of shackling the undoubted talents of Michael Mols.

However, it will not be the first time that he will have done so, Rossi recalling: "I was marking him when Morocco won 2-1 in Holland just after the last World Cup."

World class

Of course, the Tartan Army have an even more painful memory of Rossi, who picked up one of his 58 caps in the 3-0 defeat of Scotland in St Etienne during the group stages of those 1998 finals.

It was in France where Moroccan football first emerged from the African shadows and the likes of Mustapha Hadji became recognised as world class players.

Indeed, the little midfielder, now starring for Coventry City in the English Premiership, has spent weekends in Dunfermline helping his international colleague adapt to his new surroundings.

It has been a frustrating time for Rossi, who sports the same ponytailed hairstyle as his so-far more famous national team-mate.

Baited breath

Having fallen out of favour at French first division club Stade de Rennais, Rossi went on loan to NEC Nijmegen, the Dutch club previously managed by Dunfermline's Jimmy Calderwood, only to suffer one of the most serious injuries known in football.

Youssef Rossi tackles Ronaldo in the World Cup
Youssef Rossi tackles Ronaldo in the World Cup
He has been living, somewhat appropriately, in temporary accommodation in nurses quarters at Queen Margaret Hospital and has even acted as a confidante for Hicham Zerouali, Aberdeen's young Moroccan striker, who himself suffered a long-term injury.

Now the long haul is almost over for Rossi and East End awaits with baited breath the arrival of a man tipped by Calderwood to be one of the best defenders in Scottish football.

Rossi, who helped Casablanca club Raja win the African champions cup in 1997, is himself relishing the prospect as the shy, quietly-spoken defender believes he will enjoy the more physical challenge of Scottish football.

"It is more technical in France, but there are more good players in British football," he suggested.

Good ambience

"It is good football here, the style suits me and there is a good ambience."

Rossi is likely to team-up in a tough yet talented central defence with Lithuanian international Andrius Skerla, who also had a spell in Dutch football with PSV Eindhoven.

However, the Moroccan will be hoping that his first-team debut lasts longer than the one he endured with the Under-21s.

Rossi was sent off after only 25 minutes and his colleagues have yet to let him live it down, waving imaginary red cards in his direction at every appropriate moment.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 |  Scot Prem
SPL weekend preview
16 Nov 00 |  Rangers
Numan fit to return
08 Nov 00 |  Dunfermline Athletic
On-off debut for Pars' Rossi
04 Nov 00 |  Scot Prem
Pars have too much for Saints
21 Oct 00 |  Dunfermline Athletic
Pars will not rush Rossi
08 Jul 00 |  Dunfermline Athletic
Dunfermline snap up Moroccan Rossi
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