Premiership unfinished business for Celtic striker Scott McDonald

April 30, 2009

“He’s not about to barrel out of Celtic Park, but it is something that is on his horizon: the Premiership represents unfinished business for Scott McDonald. The Celtic striker, who struck his 18th goal of the season against Aberdeen on Saturday, insists he sees his immediate future in Scotland, but can’t hide an ambition to prove himself south of the border.” (tribalfootball)

Iran’s coach to focus on psychology before vital World Cup games (m&c)
“Iran’s new coach Afshin Qotbi said Thursday he would focus on the psychological rather than technical and tactical status of the national football team before the team’s three remaining World Cup qualification games.”

Silvio Berlusconi: An Italian Mirror (TIME)
“What do Italians make of Silvio Berlusconi? Easy. Most think: ‘He’s one of us.’ He loves his family, his football, his friends, his food. And his money, of course.”

South America: Ronaldo the Comeback Kid (Soccer By Ives)
“It doesn’t seem too long ago when many were calling on Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima to call it quits after suffering a serious knee injury early last year while playing for A.C.Milan, who let his contract expire and released him. The injury was the third such setback he suffered in his illustrious career.”

Brian Ching’s Ultimate XI (GOAL)
“He has surprising skill for a big guy (6 feet 1) and remains in the mix as the United States national team sets its sights on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”

Carmelo Valenica Learns Honesty is Not Always the Best Policy (The Offside)
“Watching the replay (above) it’s pretty obvious that Millonarios striker Carmelo Valenica took a deliberate tumble in the big Colombian derby vs Santa Fe last Sunday. Millonarios equalized from the spot and Santa Fe keeper Agustin Julio was sent off.”

The Big Decision Webb and the Media Missed

April 29, 2009

“Sitting at the opposite end of the pitch, there was no way I could see Michael Carrick deserving that penalty. The direction of the ball changed, something all media commentaries have picked up on, meaning Gomes had made a save. But at 2-0 down and our title challenge hanging in the balance I’d happily take it.” (SoccerLens)

Common ground for Argentine duo (FIFA)
“The meeting of Paraguay and Chile in the South American qualifiers on 6 June is one of the most eagerly awaited of Matchday 13. Not only are the two teams major contenders for berths at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, but the showdown in Asuncion will also pit against each other two coaches with a shared history.”

Striker Boyd slams door on Scotland return (ESPN)
“Kris Boyd today slammed the door on a Scotland return under George Burley after the manager once again extended an olive branch to the Rangers striker. Boyd made a dramatic exit from the international stage in October after becoming frustrated with a lack of opportunities under Burley.”

Super Eagles names squad for Ireland, France friendlies (CAF)
“Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu has named a 29-man squad for upcoming friendly matches next month. The Super Eagles play The Republic of Ireland in London on Wednesday, May 27 in London and five days later engage France at Saint Etienne.”

FC Barcelona – 0, Chelsea – 0

April 29, 2009

“For the first time in this season, FC Barcelona were unable to score a goal at the Camp Nou. A boring but disciplined Chelsea held FC Barcelona to a goal less draw, now they have the advantage of playing the next match at their home. Both the coaches had earlier promised an open encounter but Hiddink realised early that attacking against Barca at Camp Nou can be of dangerous proportion.” (All About FC Barcelona)
FC Barcelona Player Rating against Chelsea on 28/04/09 (All About FC Barcelona)
Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea (BBC)
Live – Champions League (BBC)
Power intimidates art as Chelsea hold firm (Guardian)
Chelsea v Barcelona Champions League reactions – Video(Guardian)
Disciplined Chelsea frustrate Barca (ESPN)
Chelsea show defiance of the highest order (Times)
FC Barcelona – Chelsea (0-0) Champions League, Highlights 28.04.09 – Video(Mighty Football)

Quarantined Vela rejoins Arsenal squad

April 28, 2009

“Mexican striker Carlos Vela has rejoined the Arsenal squad ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final against Manchester United after spending a day in quarantine due to fears over the swine flu outbreak. Vela, 20, was told to stay away from the Gunners’ training session following a visit by some friends from Mexico, where more than 150 deaths have been blamed on the virus.” (ESPN)

Young targets South Africa (FIFA)
“Aston Villa winger Ashley Young has set himself the target of getting in England’s 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad after giving Fabio Capello a reminder of his talent over the weekend.”

Talent alone isn’t always enough (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“In my last column, I announced that I was on my way to Lima to write a piece on the Peruvian game for World Soccer magazine, and invited comments on the matter from readers.”

African goals in Europe: 25-26 April (BBC)
“Here’s the BBC’s weekly round-up of the feats of African footballers across the European leagues.”

The Joy of Six: European Cup semi-finals (Guardian)
“From the violence of Dundee United’s visit to Rome in 1984 to Milan’s evisceration of Real Madrid in 1989, here are six of the most thrilling European Cup semis.”

Klinsmann Is Out at Bayern Munich

April 27, 2009

“Perhaps now Jürgen Klinsmann can return to a more sedate life in Southern California, where he has lived the past few years with his family. The former German international star who took the host nation to a surprising third-place finish place in the 2006 World Cup, was fired Monday as the coach of struggling Bayern Munich after less than a full season in the job.” (NYT), Bayern call time on Klinsmann experiment (Reuters), Klinsmann sacked as manager of Bayern Munich (ESPN)

All smiles in San Martin (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“Much to my regret, I’m just too young for the 1970 World Cup. I was only five and I’m not sure we had a TV at the time – but I do remember the sticker album like it was yesterday. A neighbour a couple of years older was collecting, and he gave me some of his swaps. The first one I received was a Peruvian, Ramon Mifflin if memory serves me right, staring seriously at the camera in that striking white shirt with the red sash.”

Top 12 Goals of the Week – Video (101 Great Goals)
“There were a couple of candidates who made a strong case to claim the schmuck of the week award this week.”

More arrests expected in Poland (World Soccer)
“More Polish football officials are likely to be detained on suspicion of corruption and the country may have to use referees from abroad to ensure the top league can continue, the sports minister has announced.”

Outcasts United: African Refugees in Georgia, And The Coach Who Created A Miraculous Team (The Huffington Post)
“How does a soccer coach find a practice field for her team? Google Earth. But why, in a town that’s not short of parks, is she looking for a field on Google Earth? Because the mayor keeps issuing what seem like illegal orders to deny her team access to any of the lush local fields. And why would he do that?”

To CONCACAF’s chagrin, subpar club destined to represent at FIFA

April 26, 2009

“Sometime in December, either Atlante or Cruz Azul will line up against some powerful club from some far-off locale in some far-off venue. That’s because on Wednesday, one of the two Mexican clubs will walk away with the CONCACAF Champions League crown, booking a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup in the process.” (SI)

Dread, Panenka, Cliché, Casquero (The Run of Play)
“The kicker is removed from his usual learnt improvisation and thrust into a situation where he must consciously plot his next move, which will have a consequence far greater than most. Moreover, the extra thinking time allowed by this scenario lulls the taker into contemplating the unknowable variable and the root of the dread—the goalkeeper.”

German Football – The Good, the Bad and the Grafite (SoccerLens)
“Why do we love English football quite so much? We have a Premier League that is consistently contested by just four teams. We have the swanky stadiums but a fundamental lack of fans to fill them. In addition we have clubs being operated by billionaire owners who have little interest in football bar the money that can be squeezed out of it.”

Jozy Altidore: Twitter and Toenails(GOAL)
“I’m back blogging and I’m now on Twitter. Check me out and follow me at JozyAltidore17. I thought it would be a good idea to set something up so I can stay in touch with the fans.”

Valencia 2 – 2 Barcelona

April 26, 2009

Spain Soccer La Liga
“A late equaliser from substitute Thierry Henry ensured Barcelona snatched a point in a 2-2 against Valencia on a dramatic night at the Mestalla. Two goals in as many minutes from Hedwiges Maduro and Pablo Hernandez at the end of the first half turned the match on its head after Lionel Messi had given the league leaders the advantage in the 24th minute.” (ESPN)
La Liga: Late Henry goal saves Barca at Valencia (ESPN)
Draw at Mestalla; Valencia-2, Barca-2 (All About FC Barcelona)
Barca Player Rating against Valencia (All About FC Barcelona)

Michael Essien

April 25, 2009

“Michael Kojo Essien … (born December 3, 1982, in Accra) is a Ghanaian footballer nicknamed The Bison due to his formidable strength, competitiveness and combativeness in the midfield area.” Wikipedia, ESPN, YouTube

Giants lose touch with World Cup

April 25, 2009

“Europe is where most of the world’s top players are. When it comes to discussing national teams from outside Europe, that discussion usually focuses on Brazil and Argentina and how they will always contend for a World Cup.” (The London Free Press)

Colombian authorities under fire amid hooligan outbreak (World Soccer)
“The stoning of a team bus left a player in hospital amid calls for firmer action to tackle the growing problem of football violence. Colombia’s football authorities have been criticised for their reaction after Deportivo Cali’s bus was stoned on its way to a match with Millonarios.”

Bulgaria’s Maradona queues for Sundowns job (The Times)
“A Bulgarian football legend wants to bash the bruised and battered Brazilians back into shape. Hristo Stoichkov is among the candidates vying for the Mamelodi Sundowns coaching vacancy. About 30 applicants hope to get the nod from hard-to-please billionaire club president Patrice Motsepe.”

Nigeria in another call-up clanger (BBC)
“Nigeria have bizarrely handed a call-up to Hamburg midfielder Dennis Aogo for World Cup qualifiers even though he is not eligible to play for the country.”

Checking out the lie of the land (The Times)
“World Cup teams search for tournament’s best base camp. World football figures are scouring SA, searching for suitable venues for their countries to set up camp for the 2010 World Cup. With 410 days until the first World Cup on African soil kicks off, only South Africa has qualified for the quadrennial soccer showpiece (by virtue of being hosts).”

Nigeria: The Race to the Gold Vault of Europe (allAfrica)
“As the war to become the kings of club football in Europe rages, a side battle is going on that is no less as hot as the main one, the race to become the owner of the season’s Golden Boot of the championship.”

Al Ahly to play in Wembley Cup (BBC)
“African champions Al Ahly of Egypt will line up in the inaugural Wembley Cup to be staged in England in July. “

Hull City 1 – 3 Liverpool

April 25, 2009

“Dirk Kuyt struck twice as title-chasing Liverpool ground out a crucial 3-1 Barclays Premier League victory at Hull. The Reds were given a rigorous test by the relegation-threatened Tigers, who were reduced to 10 men, but held on to keep the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table.” (EPSN)
Hull City v Liverpool: Preview (ESPN)
Alonso and Kuyt keep Liverpool’s faint hopes alive as 10-man Hull slide further (Guardian)
Dirk Kuyt’s brace keeps pressure on United (Times Online)
DIRK KUYT struck twice as championship-chasing Liverpool …(Sun)
Reds tame Tigers as chase goes on (SETANTA)
Hull 1-3 Liverpool (BBC)

Weekend Predictions: Spanish Civil War

April 24, 2009

Messi. “There’s a dearth of quality games this weekend – at least going in – with many leagues already wrapped up or others not asking us before scheduling fixtures (how dare they). However, Spain has come to save the day with the top four teams all taking on one another and three of the four on something of a roll.” (The Offside)

Superstition from the reins

April 24, 2009

Carlos Bilardo
“Like any activity where good fortune comes into play, football is certainly not free from superstitions. The list of those in the game prone to strange beliefs is a long one, so brings you just a selection of the most bizarre rituals – starting this week with coaches from around the world.” (FIFA)

Milutinovic dreams of Iraq title (AFC)
“Bora Milutinovic, who has made a career of engineering football shocks by taking five different countries to the FIFA World Cup, believes his Iraq side can clinch the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.”

U.N. Ambassadors Kick It Around in N.Y.C. (GOAL)
“For too many people in the United States and around the world, the game of soccer is viewed as a divider, not a uniter. That is not how Jakob Silas Lund, 26, a Columbia University graduate student from Denmark who is working toward a master’s in international affairs and student rights, sees things.”

Revs at the forefront of African scouting in MLS (EPSN)
“Outside of North America, it’s becoming apparent that Africa is producing most of MLS’ new talent. In the past two seasons, the league has tapped into Africa more than ever before.”

Kilbane targets Irish century (FIFA)
“The third is Kevin Kilbane, Republic of Ireland’s left-back, who represented his country at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ and is hoping to play an instrumental part in taking the boys in green all the way to South Africa 2010.”

Keane’s gone to the dogs (BBC)
“Word has it that the real driving force behind Roy Keane’s move to Ipswich was his dogs.”

Pro Vercelli: The Ghosts of 1910

April 23, 2009

“If you go to Pro Vercelli’s ‘records’ page in Football Manager 2009, you’ll see that the worst defeat in the club’s history came in a match against Inter on April 24, 1910, which Pro Vercelli lost 10-3. 10-3 is a catastrophic defeat by any standard, but the numbers don’t convey the magnitude of what happened that day. It wasn’t just the biggest defeat in the 124-year history of Pro Vercelli. It was one of the gravest injustices in the history of Italian soccer.” (The Run of Play)

Iran Asks Iranian-American to Salvage Cup Bid (NYT)
“On Wednesday, news reports out of Tehran said Ghotbi, 45, was named coach of Iran’s national soccer team, the third person to be named to the post in a month. Iran is a team in turmoil, struggling to advance from the Asian confederation to next summer’s World Cup in South Africa.” Q. & A. With New Iran Coach Afshin Ghotbi (NYT)

Brian Glanville witnesses some fallible goalkeeping at Wembley (World Soccer)
“With the deepest respect for certain confused colleagues, there were some strange analyses of Chelsea’s Wembley semi final win against the Gunners.”

Rash Tackles and Inconsistent Referees Challenge MLS (SoccerLens)
“There were seven sending offs this past weekend in relatively unimportant MLS match-ups. In the contest between the hapless Galaxy and Chivas USA, the referee red-carded LA’s US international star Gregg Berhalter in his MLS debut for hauling down a player with a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and ejected the Galaxy’s Alan Gordon (dissent) and Chivas’ Paulo Nagamura with two yellow cards apiece.”

The Rooney dummy (uefa)
“Score with a trick from the Manchester United ace…”

Campioni del mondo (ESPN)
“Triumph temporarily took Italian minds off scandal as the Azzurri returned home as World Cup champions on July 10.”

Iniesta’s day Out; Fc barcelona-4, Sevilla-0

April 23, 2009

Spain Soccer La Liga
“FC Barcelona restored their lead on top with an emphatic victory over the Andulucian side, Sevilla at home. Barca scored 4 goals within an hour mark to completely rout a sorry looking Sevilla side, who were condemned to their third straight league defeat.” (All About FC Barcelona)
FC Barcelona Player Rating against Sevilla on 22/04/09 (All About FC Barcelona)
Barcelona’s New Record Will Worry Shaky Chelsea Defence (SoccerLens)
Barcelona 4 – 0 Sevilla FC (ESPN)

Flávio Amado

April 22, 2009

“Flávio Amado da Silva (born 30 December 1979), better known as Flávio, is an Angolan football forward who currently, as of May 2006, plays for Al Ahly in Egypt. He is a member of the national team, and was called up to the 2006 World Cup, in which he scored Angola’s only goal of the tournament, with a header against Iran to clinch a 1-1 draw.” Wikipedia, football database, YouTube

Qualifying unearths new gems

April 22, 2009

“With national teams invariably more stable than their club counterparts, supporters can be forgiven for arriving at a new FIFA World Cup expecting to see the same stars who illuminated the previous edition. Yet every global showpiece has its own, unique cast, and while some of Germany 2006’s luminaries will be back for an encore in South Africa, others have passed on top billing to a new generation.” (FIFA)

Simeone takes on his toughest gig (SI – Gregory Sica)
“Five months after his latest coaching disaster, Diego Simeone is about to confront what’s currently the most difficult job in Argentine soccer: manager at San Lorenzo, a club sunk deep into crisis. Simeone’s job will be to pull the team out of the doldrums, and eventually help the Buenos Aires giants return to being one of Argentina’s most successful clubs.”

No New Viewers for the World Cup? (Road to 2010 World Cup Final)
“So you’d think that with more people in the world (isn’t the world population increasing?) and new avenues to watch football (cell phones, etc.), the audience for the 2010 World Cup would be the highest ever.”

Europe’s top ten goalkeepers (Times Online)
“Gabriele Marcotti, in his latest column, argues that the established truism that excellent goalkeeping is essential in knockout competitions has been somewhat undermined this season by some notably ordinary performances from the likes of Petr Cech and Pepe Reina.”

African goals in Europe: 18-19 April (BBC)
“It was a thrilling weekend of football across the European leagues, with African players making a huge impact as usual. Here is BBC Sport’s weekly run-down of Africa’s finest in action.”

Q&A with Yuya Osako (AFC)
“For someone who is turning 19 this May, Yuya Osako’s ball skills belie a level of maturity way beyond his assembled years. It is not every day a teenager, no matter how prodigious the talent at his disposal, gets to see continental action and that too for a storied club like Japanese champions Kashima Antlers.”

Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal: Arshavin hits four

April 22, 2009

“Four goals from Andrey Arshavin put a huge dent in Liverpool’s Barclays Premier League title hopes as Arsenal drew 4-4 at Anfield. The hosts went ahead of Manchester United on goal difference having come from behind three times, starting with Arshavin’s first in the 36th minute.” (ESPN)
Benitez: Manchester United in driving seat (ESPN)
Benitez defiant after title blow (BBC)
Aurelio not giving up on league (BBC)
Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal (BBC)
In pictures: Liverpool v Arsenal (Guardian)
Liverpool – Arsenal (4-4): English Premier League – Highlights – VIDIO (Mighty Football)
Downcast Benitez fears worst (BBC – Phil McNulty)

Hernán Crespo

April 21, 2009

“Hernán Jorge Crespo (born July 5, 1975 in Florida, Buenos Aires) is an Argentine footballer who is currently playing for Internazionale.” Wikipedia, ESPN, The Sport Blog, YouTube, (1)

European Soccer Wrestles With Its Inner Demons

April 21, 2009

“Sporting empires, rather like the real thing, tend to fall apart from the inside. Right now, England appears to be the dominant club culture in European soccer, while Italy rules as world champion of nations. Both are wrestling with the beasts within. And Fabio Capello, the Italian who is the highest paid coach in the world, has been hired to try to make England’s national team better than Italy’s.” (NYT)

Mexico scraps plans for friendly vs. Argentina (SI)
“After further discussion, the Mexican Football Federation has scrapped plans for a tune-up match for the national team. Mexico had reportedly been close to lining up a friendly against Argentina, which was supposedly set for May 20 in South America. On Monday, FMF officials insisted that no such match is possible.”

Pro Vercelli: This Longue Durée (The Run of Play)
“Fits and starts this season. We finished second in our Europa League group, which was technically Group L but which lived in my mind as Group V2-Prime, with a record of 2 wins, one draw, and a loss. (Specifics: we beat Falkirk twice; split with Lille, the group winners; and took four points against Villarreal.)”

South Africa ‘safe to visit’ (The World Game)
“One of South Africa’s most prominent law enforcement officers has refuted claims that next year’s World Cup would be ravaged with crime and promised fans visiting the country that they will be safe if they stay within bounds.”

The great entertainers (uefa)
“There was always a danger that after last Tuesday’s thriller at Stamford Bridge, the second leg of Wednesday’s quarter-finals would prove anti-climactic. As it turned out, they were anything but. Cristiano Ronaldo’s wonder goal against FC Porto had pundits puzzling over their superlatives once again, and Arsenal FC’s terrific performance against Villarreal CF laid down a marker that Manchester United FC will do well to match in the semi-finals.”

World Cup 2010: For Official Sponsors Only (World Cup Blog)
“If you think the Premier League is copyright crazy, then wait until you meet FIFA. World football’s governing body is like the Premier League’s bigger, older and ten thousand times more paranoid brother.”

Spanish soccer facing ‘financial disaster(Guardian)
“A financial disaster could engulf Spanish professional soccer unless action is taken to prevent profligate clubs slipping deeper into debt, according to the president of top-flight club Osasuna.”

Worgu struggles to adapt in Sudan (BBC)
“Nigerian striker Stephen Worgu says that he is finding it difficult to adjust to life in Sudan, where he is playing for Khartoum club Al Merreikh.”

Beckham backs new anti-malaria campaign (SOCCERWAY)
“England football star David Beckham and world-class British tennis player Andy Murray joined Prime Minister Gordon Brown to launch an anti-malaria campaign on Monday.”

Zidane: Enjoy every moment

April 20, 2009

“‘Zizou, you are a legend!’ The cry comes from an overexcited young boy in the midst of a crowd gathered at Sun City, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, to watch Zinedine Zidane play in a five-a-side tournament. The French icon appears relaxed and unfazed as eager fans try to squeeze past his four bodyguards for a photo or an autograph. He grins, but says little.” (FIFA)

Drogba is unlikely Chelsea hero (BBC)
“Just three months ago, this season looked like being one to forget for Dider Drogba. But now the Chelsea striker is threatening to make it the most memorable of his career. The powerful Ivory Coast star capped an impressive display at Wembley on Saturday with a dramatic late winner to sink Arsenal and put his side into the FA Cup final.”

English clubs are the envy of Europe, so why listen to MPs? (Mail Online)
“With three teams in the Champions League semi-finals for the third year in succession and the national team enjoying a 100 per cent record in their World Cup qualifying games (matched only by Spain and Holland in Europe), it could be argued that English football has been doing pretty well of late. ”

UK inquiry: Man U, Liverpool in ‘financial doping’ (AP – Forbes)
“British parliamentary report Monday of engaging in ‘financial doping.’ Among 27 recommendations at the end of a yearlong inquiry, legislators urged England’s football authorities to curb ‘ludicrous levels of borrowing’ and the use of profits to service large debts.”

Gold Cup favorites Mexico, USA have challenging summer ahead (CONCACAF)
“Both Mexico and the United States will have multiple challenges this summer, and that doesn’t even take into account another potential meeting for the CONCACAF Gold Cup title. The two are in the midst of the final round of World Cup qualifying, with Mexico having to adjust to Javier Aguirre, the team’s fourth different manager in less than a year.”

The big attraction of the Libertadores (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“Same old same old in Europe, all change in South America. The Champions League has the same semi-finalists year after year, but it’s a very different story in the Copa Libertadores. The group phase is not yet complete in South America’s premier club competition, but even before the action got under way there was a guarantee that there would be no repeat of last year’s final.”

Football’s second period threatened by neanderthals

April 19, 2009

“Professor Rogan Taylor is head of the Football Research Group at Liverpool University, the sort of job title that frequently makes people smile and wonder where to obtain the application form, though his academic and historical perspective cut through the emotion of the Hillsborough anniversary.” (The Sport Blog – Paul Wilson)

Dark days ahead for the North East? (ESPN)
“The North East has long been the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of English football, swallowing up the brave souls who dare to dip a toe in its mysterious waters. Time and again, some of the game’s biggest names have tried and failed to bring glory to Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, yet the next month could prove to be the most painful for a quarter of England renowned for it’s passionate football followers.”

Obama Lends Weight to World Cup Bid (NYT – GEORGE VECSEY)
“Having shown his deft touch on the basketball court, President Obama is now testing his prowess in the politics of sport. The president recently sent a video praising Chicago in its bid to hold the 2016 Summer Games. Now he has endorsed the United States’ effort to hold the World Cup of soccer either in 2018 or 2022.”

Lyon: Falling From Grace? (SoccerLens)
“What a difference a year makes; in Lyon’s case, add to that managerial changes. Last year, the club won its seventh consecutive title, and did its first ever double by winning the Coupe de France. Despite being heads above shoulders in Ligue 1, the had club failed to win any Cup titles – Coupe De France & Coupe de la Ligue – during its run of league coronations.”

Ultimate XI: The Game of Their Names (GOAL)
“A soccer player by any other name is merely Fred. Here’s my Ultimate XI of the guys with some of the most interesting names in soccer: some funny, some serious, some palindromes. This time, I’ve limited it to current players culled from the Web sites of, and There are, of course, some Brazilians on my team (club and home country in parentheses).”

Getafe 0 – 1 Barcelona

April 19, 2009

EU Spain Soccer La Liga
“Barcelona moved nine points clear at the the Primera Division summit – for a couple of hours at least – with a narrow but richly-deserved 1-0 victory at Getafe. Pep Guardiola’s team dominated the first half but had only one Lionel Messi goal to show for their toils due to the outstanding performance of on-loan goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.” (EPSN)
Bota Rolls On; Getafe – 0, Barca – 1 (All About FC Barcelona)
Barca Player rating aginst Getafe on 18/04/09 (All About FC Barcelona)

UEFA’s Elite Football Stadia – Part 2

April 18, 2009

Atatürk Olympiyat Stadi – Istanbul
“Confusion reigned supreme after the last part, so let’s keep this painfully simple: 5 star and Elite are not the same thing. 5 star stadiums were based primarily on attendance whereas the new regulations are based primarily on nonsensical gibberish (head to first part for the brief discussion). And just because a stadium may look Elite – lookin’ at you, Emirates – doesn’t mean it is; conversely, just because a stadium may not look Elite, doesn’t mean it isn’t.” (The Offside)

The Specialist: the Penalty kick (World Cup Blog)
“It appears to be so simple. The penalty kick. You, the ball, eleven meters and that goal. Oh, and somewhere there is the keeper too. But, Diego, Marco, Zinedine, Roberto and Johan have all missed at least on in their careers. Every team therefore, has it’s own specialist. Someone with steel nerves. At NEC, it’s Youssef El-Akchaoui.”

Dedicated followers of fashion (FIFA)
“Football and fashion have become inextricably linked, and today’s game is filled with players who follow the trends and also create a few of their own. takes a look at football’s highest-profile slaves to fashion and its most unique style-setters.”

Aguirre The Great

April 18, 2009

“Javier Aguirre is called upon once more to clean up the mess left by Sven Goran Eriksson. The last time he was called up it was to clean the mess left by Enrique Meza. He answered the call and led the Mexican team to the 2002 World Cup.” (Goal)

Soccer is a hot topic for these letter-writers (Los Angeles Times)
“The United States and Mexico do not resume qualifying play for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa until early June and do not play each other again until Aug. 12 in Mexico City, but that does not mean interest in the two national soccer teams has evaporated.”

Three easy suggestions for Mexico (SI)
“Javier Aguirre was officially welcomed to his new job Thursday as he began his second stint with the Mexican national team. And while the hope — perhaps expectation is a more adequate word — is that Aguirre not only will turn around a struggling Tricolor side, but will have the team firing on all cylinders. Still, he started his era off trying to stress he’s no Superman.”

Aguirre shuns `savior’ or `superman’ role (AP)
“Mexico’s fanatic fans are expecting new coach Javier Aguirre to be the club’s savior — even a type of superman. Aguirre officially took over the team Thursday, but promised to be neither.”

Loew hint gives Lehmann hope of Germany recall

April 17, 2009

“Germany coach Joachim Loew has offered 39-year-old former international goalkeeper Jens Lehmann a glimmer of hope over a possible return to the squad. Lehmann, who called time on his Germany career following the 1-0 defeat to Spain in last year’s European championship final, had a recent change of heart and said he would like to play at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.” (EPSN)

De Almeida sacked as Angola coach (BBC)
“Angola national coach Mabi de Almeida has been fired after just seven months in charge of the Palancas Negras. The announcement was made at a news conference in Luanda on Friday despite recent assurances that he would not be sacked.”

Scudamore takes risk by backing Bin Hammam (Guardian)
“Richard Scudamore has taken the unprecedented step of providing political support to Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Conference’s president, as he stands for re-election to the Fifa executive committee.”

Gavin Hamilton on ways to revive the UEFA Cup (World Soccer)
“So the UEFA Cup Final in Marseille will be an all Ukrainian-German affair, after Hamburg and Werder Bremen and Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk made it through to the respective semi-finals.”

Rash Tackles and Inconsistent Referees Challenge MLS (SoccerLens)
“There were seven sending offs this past weekend in relatively unimportant MLS match-ups. In the contest between the hapless Galaxy and Chivas USA, the referee red-carded LA’s US international star Gregg Berhalter in his MLS debut for hauling down a player with a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and ejected the Galaxy’s Alan Gordon (dissent) and Chivas’ Paulo Nagamura with two yellow cards apiece.”

Feature: South America Special (FourFourTwo)

Fast and furious – PDF (Times Online)

Archie Gemmill

April 16, 2009

Wikipedia – “Archibald ‘Archie’ Gemmill (born 24 March 1947 in Paisley, Renfrewshire) is a Scottish former footballer, most famous for a goal he scored against the Netherlands in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. The goal is so famous that it overshadows a successful career in which he won three English league titles and captained his national side.” Wikipedia, EPSN, S C O T L A N D – Internationals 1976, TimesOnline, US Soccer Players

Latapy’s loveless liaison

April 16, 2009

“So Russell Latapy’s former teammates think he should stop playing and somehow erase the indiscretions of his past. His employer, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) or-if you prefer-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, felt it necessary to reveal that he lacks ‘total confidence’ in his appointee and could remove Latapy at any time.” (Trinidad & Tobago Express)

Brian Glanville on zonal marking (World Soccer)
“To zone or not to zone; that seemed to be the question. At least it was after the strapping Chelsea defender, Branislav Ivanovic, twice came roaring through the Chelsea defence on set pieces at Anfield to beat Liverpool’s keeper Jose Reina with fulminating headers.”

The loyal few fading away (FIFA)
“There is no loyalty in football anymore. It is the sort of statement that is aired whenever, as happens with great regularity, a club dispenses of its manager, or when one of football’s nomads adds yet another employer to an already extensive CV. Yet it is not entirely true. Virtually every one of Europe’s major clubs can produce a recent example of faithfulness and fidelity over an extended period.”

Is it time to switch back to a 4-5-1 formation? (Aston Villa Blog)
“Well, another home game where we failed to win. Another home game where we conceded first again, this is a habit we seriously need to get out of, it means we have to go on the all out offensive which, plays into the hands of the away team, who will just look to hit us on the counter.”

Safety Guaranteed at 2010 World Cup (Road to 2010 World Cup Final)
“Safety has long been an issue when talk turns to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Yesterday, organizers of the upcoming Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup assured the world that these events will be safe. Recent crowd control issues in the Ivory Coast have sparked concern when it comes to the situation in South Africa. But organizers have moved swiftly to calm fears.”

Most Valuable Soccer Teams (Forbes)
“The financial crisis has yet to derail the world’s most valuable soccer teams. Our calculations show the top 25 teams are now worth, on average, $597 million, 8% more than the previous year.”

You Be the Blogger (The Run of Play)
“Thanks to Easter and a home-maintenance emergency, I didn’t watch a single game this weekend, and I’m just now trying to get caught up. Can someone tell me what’s going on in soccer?”

Michel Platini (FIFA)
“He never did win the FIFA World Cup, the ultimate prize for a footballer. In fact, it is the only trophy missing from Platini’s stunning collection, but that does not detract from his status as a footballing legend.”

La Volpe opens his mouth and puts his foot in it

April 15, 2009

“Mexico’s recent tribulations — four coaches in the last three years, two defeats to Honduras in five months, an even more humiliating loss in Jamaica — have left many supporters with a certain nostalgia for former coach Ricardo La Volpe.” (Reuters)

Bastos ready to break (FIFA)
“Brazilian he may be, but Michel Bastos does not count Ronaldinho-style flicks and tricks among his repertoire. Nor can he execute stepovers at the same speed as Ronaldo or go off on mazy dribbles like Robinho. What he can do, though, is cover every blade of grass, pass the ball with precision and hit the ball hard, very hard.”

Who is the most exciting Brazilian? (FIFA)
“Brazil has definitively produced a series of the most thrilling talents in football history. And while the question of the country’s greatest-ever player has frequently been debated, would now like to know who is the most exciting Brazilian you have seen; be it at the stadium, on television, from video footage or internet highlights.”

South Korea reports Bin Hammam to ethics committee (FOX)
“FIFA’s ethics watchdog has been asked to investigate accusations brought forth in an increasingly aggressive battle for a seat on its most powerful committee.”

Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has pleaded for the country’s fans and media to be patient with the Super Eagles. “Dark cloud over Lesotho football (BBC)
“Lesotho’s national team is facing an uphill task in the next year to improve its footballing friendly opponents. After failing to make it to the final round of 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifying Lesotho are now struggling to find friendly opponents.”

 Brazil Second After 3-0 Win (sambafoot)
“Brazil have moved into second place in South American qualifying after a 3-0 routing over strugglers Peru on Wednesday evening. The Seleção took full advantage of Argentina’s shock 6-1 defeat to Bolívar with the return of Kaka seeming to reinvigorate Brazil’s attack and help the Selecao dominate the full 90 minutes. Luis Fabiano provided two goals, one from a penalty kick and Melo sealed the victory with the 3rd.”

6 Year Old New Zidane in the Making Tracked by Europe’s Elite – VIDEO (metacafe)

B Munich 1-1 Barcelona (agg 1-5)

April 15, 2009

“Barcelona reached the Champions League semi-finals after drawing their last eight second leg with Bayern Munich to seal a comprehensive aggregate victory.” (BBC)
Bayern Munich 1 – 1 Barcelona (EPSN)
Bayern Munchen – FC Barcelona (1-1) UEFA Champions League, Highlights (Mighty Football)

Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (agg 7-5) – (BBC)
“Chelsea v Liverpool: The Blues start with a seemingly insurmountable lead to Stamford Bridge following their 3-1 first-leg win at Anfield.”
Chelsea 4 – 4 Liverpool (ESPN)
Shaky Petr Cech has alarm bells ringing at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea – Liverpool (4-4) UEFA Champions League, Highlights (Mighty Football)

Hillsborough disaster

April 14, 2009

“Twenty years after Britain’s worst football stadium disaster, in which 96 people died, Mike Bracken shares his painful memories for the first time – and describes the ongoing fight for recognition of what really happened.” Guardian, The Indeependent, the echo, Wikipedia, The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, BBC, This Is Anfield, Sun, YouTube, (1)

State Championships past sell-by date

April 14, 2009

“In football administration, democracy is an awkward concept. One Rochdale, for example, clearly does not have the same weight as one Manchester United – even 30 Rochdales together would struggle. It was the realisation of this basic truth that helped launch the Premier League, on the basis that if the major clubs were creating most attention and spending the most money, the structure of the game should reflect their importance.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Hleb: Belarus are getting better (FIFA)
“After five years in Germany, the man christened The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by local sports media switched to the top of the English Premier League with Arsenal in 2005.”

David Villa returns the conquering hero only to play the villain (The Sport Blog)
“Behind the goal, supporters peered through cameras, ready to immortalise the moment. Heavy-set stewards took their eyes off the fans and turned to the pitch. Ball boys stood open-mouthed. There was a collective pause, an intake of breath. Some wondered if he would really do it. Then the whistling began, as heavy-hearted as it was necessary.”

Alan Hansen’s column (BBC – Alan Hansen)
“The task facing Liverpool in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea is mega, simply huge. Having lost 3-1 at home in the first leg, Rafael Benitez’s side must go to Stamford Bridge, against a top side in great form, and win 3-0 – and when was the last time any side went there and did that?”

Beckham is world’s highest earning player (CNN)
“It’s fair to say David Beckham may be seeing more green off the football pitch than he does on it. Despite a difficult and expensive period negotiating an extended release from his LA Galaxy club — Beckham has been named as the world’s highest-earning footballer by Forbes magazine.”

Iker Casillas

April 13, 2009

“Iker Casillas Fernández … (born 20 May 1981 in Móstoles, Madrid) is a Spanish football goalkeeper who plays for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid and the Spanish national team.” Wikipedia, Iker Casillas, YouTube, (1)

Salvation and damnation (ESPN)
“Antonio smiles and nods: ‘Yes, fortunately Betis play on Sunday. I wouldn’t be able to watch the match if they played today, I wouldn’t miss this for anything’. It’s the night of Holy Saturday in Sevilla, and Antonio speaks as he gets dressed to take part in a procession, one of hundreds celebrated all over Spain during Easter. It’s one of the rare occasions in which Spaniards actually practice their stated Catholicism, and probably the one preferred by most.”

The first cut is the deepest (ESPN – John Brewin)
“‘Manchester United never lose, they just run out of time,’ was a quote once attributed to that great sage Steve McClaren. The erstwhile former England manager and sometime Dutchman was speaking as United closed in on the treble of 1999.”

Van Bronckhorst: My Final dream (FIFA)
“Alongside Spain and England, the Netherlands are currently the most successful team in European qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. With five wins out of five, 12 goals scored and just one conceded, the men in orange have utterly dominated their Group 9 opponents so far.”

From many, one Team USA (FIFA)
“Soccer, as it is known in America, was long the domain of the country’s ethnic patchwork of immigrant populations. With competition from more steadfastly ‘American’ sports like gridiron and baseball, soccer was, and remains, a way for immigrants to maintain ties to their ancestral homes.”

A World Traveler Comes Full Circle

April 12, 2009

USA Costa Rica
“It feels great. I signed all the way back in August, and it felt like an eternity until we got started. There was so much time that you begin to think about whether you should have done one more year in Europe. All that down time, too much time to think.”(NYT – Jack Bell)

Pellegrini finds right blend for Villarreal (BBC – Tim Vickery’s Blog)
“Some years ago there was speculation linking Manuel Pellegrini to the job of assistant coach at Manchester United. Whether or not there was any foundation to the rumours, it didn’t happen, and Old Trafford’s loss has been Villarreal’s gain.”

Pro Vercelli: The Takeover (The Run of Play – Brian Phillips)
“Keeping the team together after this minor-key organ blast appeared in the Vercelli Soccer Express was one of the more difficult man-management challenges I’ve faced this season, not least because I had to keep myself together, too.”

Altidore spotlights overseas pitfalls (SI – Ridge Mahoney)
“Surely by the time he returns to Spain, Jozy Altidore will be a must-use for his club Xerez, seeing as how he drilled four goals in two hours of action for the U.S. against El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup qualifying matches.”

Saving Soccer in a Football World (SoccerLens – Alan Worrall)
“Trolling the site for some interesting articles to read recently, I came across Ahmed’s article from the fourth of July of last year (side note, probably not the best day to write the article, Ahmed!).”

La Liga: Iniesta strikes early as Barca cruise

April 12, 2009

“A first-minute strike from Andres Iniesta and a Nasief Morris own goal gave Barcelona a 2-0 win over Recreativo Huelva on Saturday, a fifth straight victory that stretches their lead over Real Madrid to nine points.” (EPSN)
On-song Barça go nine clear (FIFA)
Iniesta the key (FCB)

Contrasting Fortunes Take the Field at Nou Camp (NYT)
“Henry will have an opportunity to make his mark tonight at the Nou Camp when he starts up front with Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi in what Guardiola promises will be an aggressively attacking formation.”


April 11, 2009

Wikipedia – “Romário de Souza Faria (born January 29, 1966 in Rio de Janeiro), better known simply as Romario, is a Brazilian football center forward who helped the Brazil national team win the 1994 FIFA World Cup and is one of the most prolific strikers in the world.” Wikipedia, The Independent, FKM

Top 10 African Youngsters at the 2010 World Cup

April 11, 2009

Soccer - Bafana Bafana VS Equatorial Guinea 7th June 2008
“My friend Tom Legg has a keen eye for talent. He’s often telling me about this new prodigy or that new wunderkind that I should be keeping my eye on. He knows more about the Beautiful Game than just about anyone I know!” (Road to 2010 World Cup Final)

Forget it Adebayor, your ‘wonder goal’ doesn’t even make it into our top 10 of all time – but Spurs and West Ham do…(Mail Online)
“Emmanuel Adebayor combined balance, poise and power to score his stunning bicycle-kick goal on Tuesday night. Our man at the game, Neil Ashton, hailed it ‘a masterpiece . . . already in goal of the century territory’.”

UEFA’s Elite Football Stadia – Part 1. (The Offside)
“After a severe bout of curiosity resulting in far too much time perusing the internets, we finally came upon a conclusive list of Europe’s Elite football stadiums – UEFA’s codeword for the ability to hold a Champions League final. We contacted Bill of Bill’s Sports Maps to have him make one of his infamous maps for UEFA’s Elites and it’s, as Michel Platini would say, fantastique.”

World Cup Qualifying Wackiness Round-Up (World Cup Blog)
“There’s been a lot of oddball fallout from last week’s World Cup qualifiers. We didn’t cover these stories when they broke, but figured it would make a nice weird Friday afternoon roundup for anyone who hasn’t already seen these stories somewhere else.”

Reds Leapfrog United with 4-0 Win

April 11, 2009

“A Fernando Torres brace helped lift Liverpool two points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 4-0 win over Blackburn on Saturday lunchtime.” LiverpoolFC
Liverpool 4 – 0 Blackburn Rovers (EPSN)
Liverpool 4-0 Blackburn (BBC)

Iran plummet in FIFA World Ranking

April 11, 2009

“Iran, who suffered a stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers recently, plummeted 11 spots to drop outside the top-50, according to the latest FIFA World Ranking released Wednesday.” (AFC)

Uruguay begins training thinking of Paraguay and Chile (CONMEBOL)
“The national football team of Uruguay, with 19 footballers from abroad and five locals, began trainings this weekend in view of the matches in front of Paraguay and Chile, corresponding to the eleventh and twelfth rounds respectively, of the South American Qualifiers for the World Cup of South Africa 2010.”

Bolivia 6 – Argentina 1: repercussions of the incredible barrage of goals (CONMEBOL)
“The news of the unforgettable and categorical 6 to1 of the Bolivian national team over that of Argentina, of this Wednesday, April 1st, spread as an earthquake among the fans and in the press of South America and of the whole planet.”

Bahrain’s 2006 qualifying saga (AFC)
“Bahrain’s recent narrow win over Qatar in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier has raised fear-tinged expectations of an encore of their qualifying drama for the 2006 edition.”

Iraq to face Poland, Egypt (AFC)
“Asian champions Iraq will face Poland and Egypt in newly-appointed veteran Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic’s first games in charge, the Iraq Football Association said Thursday.”

Paulo Wanchope

April 10, 2009

“Paulo Cesar Wanchope Watson …(born 31 July 1976 in Heredia) , also known as “Chope” or as “La Cobra” in Central America and South America, is a former Costa Rican footballer.” Wikipedia, FIFA, Chicago Fire

FIFA World Rankings: April 2009 (World Cup Blog)
“We haven’t done a FIFA World Rankings post since back December 2008, mostly because it’s all been much of a muchness. Spain ruled the roost, everyone else didn’t and the top 20 barely moved. There was no news to report. And so we didn’t.”

Wigan’s Zaki mystery (Simon Austin – BBC)
“As I write this, Amr Zaki still hasn’t returned to Wigan after apparently injuring his hamstring playing for Egypt against Zambia on 29 March. I use the word ‘apparently’ because the club has not been able to see the Egyptian FA’s scan of the injury, let alone carry out its own assessment of the player.”

Noboa’s improbable impact (FIFA)
“Christian Noboa’s star has been rising inexorably in recent months, and a hugely promising future awaits the Ecuadorian attacking midfielder.”

U.S. Soccer Pitches Big Tent for World Cup Bid (NYT)
“This week, the United States Soccer Federation offered up 50 metropolitan areas and 70 stadiums in its bid to host either the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup.”

Mystic Ball (The Run Of Play)
“A couple of months ago, when I wrote about the soccer-like Burmese sport called chinlone, I mentioned a documentary about the game, Mystic Ball, that I was hoping to track down.”

Hillsborough – a personal memory (Steve Wilson – BBC)
“It was a run-of-the-mill conversation with a friend in a pub. The kind of conversation you might have any night of the week – the kind that might change your life.”

FC Barcelona

April 10, 2009

“It is best known for its football team, which was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Spanish men led by Joan Gamper. The club has become a Catalan institution, hence the motto ‘Més que un club‘…” Wikipedia
Fc Barcelona History

Liverpool F.C.

April 10, 2009

Phil Neal
“Liverpool Football Club is a professional association football club based in Liverpool, England. The club plays in the Premier League, and it is the most successful club in the history of English football; the club has won more trophies than any other English club.” Wikipedia
Liverpool F.C. (TV)
“When it is completed, the History channel will chart the rise and rise of Liverpool FC to the very summit of the England game, from the struggles of the early years right up to Gerard Houllier’s historic treble in 2001. This channel will recall glorious domestic victories and European triumphs and reflect on the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough.” (1)
This Is Anfield
Yahoo! – Liverpool
Premier League

Andriy Shevchenko

April 10, 2009

“Shevchenko’s career has been highlighted by many awards, the most prestigious of which were the Ballon d’Or in 2004 and the UEFA Champions League in 2003 with Milan. Along with this, he has won various league and cup titles in Ukraine, Italy, and England.” Wikipedia, EPSN, YouTube

Bora to Take on His Eighth National Team Job, Iraq

April 9, 2009

“The adjective peripatetic traces its roots to the followers of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who strolled around the Lyceum while the great man pondered the important questions of his time. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, it means ‘walking or moving about; not staying in one place; itinerant.’ Some synonyms, from, are: ambulant, migrant, mobile, nomadic, perambulant, roaming, roving, vagabond, vagrant, wandering, wayfaring.” (NYT)

Petr Rada pays the price as Czech Republic get lost in the desert (Guardian)
“As anybody who’s ever seen Poltergeist would know, it’s never a good idea to try to build on an old Indian graveyard, so perhaps Petr Rada was always doomed in his attempts to replace Karel Bruckner as coach of the Czech Republic. His dismissal yesterday brings to an end a reign that lasted only nine months and has left the Czechs in serious danger of failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup.”

Jose Mourinho’s former pupils turn on style (Times)
“Even Jorge Valdano would have enjoyed this one. Who didn’t — Kopites aside — as Liverpool raced into an early lead and Chelsea retaliated in quite breathtaking, and, let’s be honest, unexpected fashion to underline football’s never-ending capacity to surprise? Perhaps the football did not match Barcelona’s exhibition at the Nou Camp for grace and beauty but 31 shots, the majority from Chelsea, amounted to crazy abandon for these two clubs.”

Drink, women and more drink: When international players go on the rampage (Mirror)
“It’s a well know fact that footballers love the sauce, and we’re not talking HP. Booze and football go together like, erm, gin and tonic, and international duty is traditionally a good opportunity for players to get in a bit drinking practice.”

Forget it Adebayor, your ‘wonder goal’ doesn’t even make it into our top 10 of all time – but Spurs and West Ham do… (Mail)
“Emmanuel Adebayor combined balance, poise and power to score his stunning bicycle-kick goal on Tuesday night. Our man at the game, Neil Ashton, hailed it ‘a masterpiece . . . already in goal of the century territory’.” Video.

Balkan tradition alive and well (FIFA)
“For decades, Yugoslavia produced some of the most admired teams and individual players in world football. Reaching eight FIFA World Cups™ and claiming gold at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in 1960 and 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship was no mean feat, yet the Plavi’s name became as synonymous with style and skill as it did success.”

Wait, Is That Ronaldo?

April 8, 2009

“The extra pounds, the new crop of hair and the unfamiliar jersey make him hard to recognize. His long career as a millionaire striker in Europe for teams like Real Madrid ended amid a knee injury and a personal scandal. Nowadays he splits $89-a-night rooms with teammates in remote Brazilian burgs with names like President Prudent.” (Wall Street)

Flashes of Inspiration Light European Night (NYT)
“The game is 66 minutes old. The coach is considering replacing Emmanuel Adebayor, who looks far from fit after a long injury. Then, out of nothing but his playful imagination, the center forward conjures an extraordinary goal.”

Warriors FIFA Rankings Plummet Further (The Zimbabwean)
“The latest FIFA rankings, released today by the football governing body, places the men’s senior soccer national team at 106 after losing 16 points from March.
At 329 points, the underachieving team is 1 400 adrift of world champions Spain, who maintained a stranglehold on the number one spot after impressive performances in the World Cup 2010 qualifiers and European friendly matches.”

Spain has record hold on top soccer spot (UPI)
“Spain, which has been rated No. 1 since last June, has opened a record lead over second-ranked Germany in the FIFA men’s soccer rankings released Wednesday.”

South American Qualifiers: statistics and curiosities after round 12 (CONMEBOL)
“The ten matches disputed in the recent double round of the South American Qualifiers for 2010, beginning with the impacting barrage of goals of Bolivia against Argentina, left an interesting statistical balance that well deserves to be reviewed. Chile’s yield out of home and the fantastic goal average of Joaquín Botero stand out.”

Stumble brings trouble for Egypt (FIFA)
“When Egypt’s star-studded side failed to overcome Zambia in Cairo Stadium in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying, it wasn’t merely two points they lost. The shaky draw in their first test of the final round was a sudden jolt to the nerves of fervent supporters, who have seen their side falter at the final hurdle of qualifying all too often.”

Where has Adriano been?

April 7, 2009

“A missing person’s hunt has ended happily in Brazil. Inter Milan striker Adriano has been found. The burly 27-year-old, who has battled drink and personal problems in the past, failed to return to Italy last week after being an unused substitute in Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers with Ecuador and Peru. Inter had no idea where he was.” (Reuters)

South African passion set to explode (FIFA)
“A sea off green and white is unmistakable from a distance as the noise of a vuvuzela (a vibrant South African instrument) invigorates the streets of Mangaung/Bloemfontein. There, Bloemfontein Celtic are about to play Orlando Pirates, and deep passion is evident in the faces of the anxious-looking supporters, many of whom arrived four hours before kick-off.”

Nigeria and the 2010 World Cup (Guardian)
“The recent pedestrian display by the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national football team, at the start of the campaign for a slot in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is a reflection of the total confusion that has characterised football administration in the country for many years.”

Greeks faces FIFA disciplinary proceedings (ESPN)
“FIFA disciplinary proceedings were opened against Greece on Tuesday over allegations their fans tried to distract Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate with laser beams during last week’s World Cup qualifier.”

Aguirre returns to Tri hot seat (Soccer America)
“Changing coaches in the middle of qualifying or before the World Cup is nothing new for Mexico. But having four coaches in less than a year — Hugo Sanchez, Jesus Ramirez, Sven Goran Eriksson and now Javier Aguirre — is extreme. Aguirre returns to take over the Tri in remarkably similar circumstances to those that existed eight years.”

Capello allows his mask to slip (BBC)
“Fabio Capello’s iron mask slipped for just a moment in a rare public display of emotion that emphasised the importance of England’s scrambled victory against Ukraine.”

Former Ireland boss Kerr takes Faroes job (ESPN)
“Former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr has been appointed Faroe Islands coach on a two-and-a-half-year contract. The 56-year-old, who left the Republic job in October 2005 after the FAI opted not to renew his contract, will assume his new position immediately.”

Nigeria/Mozambique: Outrage Trails Eagles’ Annoying Barren Draw With Mambas (Vanguard)
“Many Nigerians are still mortified at the colourless outing of the over-rated ‘Super’ Eagles against the mobile Mambas of Mozambique who could beat their chest over two disallowed goals in their barren draw with the Paper Tigers of Nigeria.”

Time for FIFA to chop the “deadwood”

April 6, 2009

“World Cup qualifying resumes Wednesday with a slew of games as countries from all over the globe continue to jockey for position and try to stamp their passport for next summer’s festivities in South Africa.” (CBC)

South America’s World Cup qualifiers provide a huge shock, writes Brian Homewood (World Soccer)
“After a perfect start to his career in charge of Argentina, Diego Maradona was brought back down to earth with a bump, following a humiliating defeat in Bolivia.”

I had to set an example – Burley (BBC)
“Scotland manager George Burley says he ended the international careers of Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor to retain the respect of his squad.”

Soccer: All Whites to take on Italy for first time (The New Zealand Herald)
“In another giant coup for New Zealand soccer, the All Whites will play World Cup champions Italy in a first ever-meeting in June. New Zealand Football today announced a June 10 date has been set for the historic international friendly in the Pretoria township of Atteridgeville.”

Soccer in Bolivia can be a breathless experience (Yahoo)
“Diego Maradona was a good sport, saying his team was simply outplayed. But the Argentine manager’s star player, Lionel Messi, was perhaps more honest. Heavyweight Argentina’s historic 6-1 defeat this week to soccer flyweight Bolivia in the rarefied air of the Andes reopens a politically charged debate about whether teams can reasonably be expected to play in such extreme conditions.”

The final lap is in sight (Dispatch Online)
“WITH less than 400 days to the 2010 opening match, do you feel South Africa is on course to host the greatest World Cup ever?”

Faroe Islands usher in new era with Kerr (uefa)
“Former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr has been installed as coach of the Faroe Islands on a two-and-a-half year contract.”

Bruce fumes over Zaki’s absence (BBC)
“Wigan boss Steve Bruce has described Amr Zaki’s absence from the club as ‘unbelievable and ridiculous’. The striker failed to return to England after scoring in Egypt’s 1-1 draw with Zambia last Sunday.”

Zidane’s charity is more of a business: Dhorasoo (The Telegraph)
“Vikash Dhorasoo, the former French international footballer of Indian origin, is well known for his active participation against discrimination of all sorts and for his generosity towards street kids.”

Robin van Persie

April 5, 2009

“Robin van Persie (born 6 August 1983) is a Dutch footballer who plays as a forward for English Premier League club Arsenal and the Dutch national team.” Wikipedia, YouTube, (1), (2)

Hungary: Magyars Magical Again? (NYT – Goal)
“Lost amid the hubbub and headlines from the week’s global smorgasbord of World Cup qualifying matches is the sudden and surprising success of Hungary.”

Reasons for optimism and room for improvement (The Sport Blog)
“While it is never completely safe to make assumptions about England, Kazakhstan were beaten 5-1 at home by Belarus in midweek, so it appears the journey to the next game could be more daunting than the actual opponents.”

CONCACAF Gold Cup Preview (Goal)
“On a Thursday afternoon conference call, CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer announced the three different four-team groups for this summer’s Gold Cup, taking place across 13 United States venues between July 3 and July 26.”

Not Much Style in Bari (NYT- Goal)
“Soccer is a serious matter in Italy. You can be told that, and get the idea, but it’s only when you’re here that the reality sets in. It’s a matter of national and vital importance. After yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Ireland, the Italy manager Marcello Lippi spent ages talking to the Italian media.”

Football tables (BBC)
“The nine European group winners qualify automatically for the finals. The eight best runners-up go into four play-off matches with the winner of each two-legged tie also reaching South Africa.”

Resurgent Saudis eye automatic World Cup spot (ESPN)
“Saudi Arabia’s new coach is confident of securing automatic qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals after instigating a stunning turnaround after only two games in charge.”

World Cup 2010 qualifiers (Guardian)

Marco Materazzi

April 4, 2009

“He made his international debut in 2001 and won his first major trophy with Italy in 2006, as part of the World Cup team. Materazzi played in the final of the competition and became the centre of much controversy when he was headbutted by Zinédine Zidane mid-match after having insulted him.” Wikipedia, YouTube

The art of stress management (BBC – Andy Swiss)

April 4, 2009

“Steve Coppell is lying on the floor with four metal clips attached to his hands and feet. He’s in the process of being wired up to some sort of electronic device. For a brief moment, I fear the Reading boss is about to be sacrificed in the name of scientific research.” (BBC)

Pro Vercelli: From the Diary of Walter Colombo, 31 August 2014 (The Run of Play – Brian Phillips)
“By the time we made landfall near Palermo, the hours of steady rattling had left me sore from head to toe. I crawled ashore, my muscles aching, my tie dangling in the surf. Before I reached the bar of dry sand at the top of the beach, a deafening roar and a sudden wave-churning wind told me the Achilles was gone.” (The Run of Play)

Once again, Super Eagles on the precipice, Nigerians are crying (Vanguard – Patrick Omorodion)
“Again Nigerians have started another permutations on another World Cup qualification series. After the exit of Dutchman, Clemens Westerhof, Nigeria has never found it easy qualifying for any World Cup. When he quit after the 1994 World Cup in the United States, the boys he groomed to win the Africa Nations Cup were still around and qualified for the France edition in 1998 almost effortlessly.” (Vanguard)

Capello must tackle flaws of England’s work in progress (Guardian – Kevin McCarra)
“Fabio Capello proved more resilient than his back four. Following the unkempt 2–1 victory over Ukraine, the manager’s own defensive work was impeccable. England may now have won all five of their World Cup qualifiers but the sole shut-out came against Andorra.” (Guardian)

Solid Performance Goes Unrewarded

April 4, 2009

“If the England national team was hoping to tilt the Wembley pitch and roll over Ukraine in their World Cup 2010 qualifier, those dreams evaporated quickly into the London haze. Oleksiy Mykhaylichenko’s side proved they are not pushovers as they produced their best showing during the tenure of their much-maligned manager.” (World Cup Blog)

Only Spain can deny England global supremacy (Times Online)
“To return from Wembley late on Wednesday night, turn on the television and find Argentina being mangled by Bolivia was to be reminded of just how close England are to world supremacy.”

Can England win the World Cup? (The Game)
“In his latest Times column, Patrick Barclay says England deserve to be considered as one of the early favourites for the 2010 World Cup.”

Axed Scottish Pair Shame The Nation (SoccerLens)
“What Scotland needed least of all following a morale-boosting victory over Iceland was a nightmare scenario which sees both the nation’s captain and a promising goalkeeper banned from ever playing for Scotland again.”

Bizarre Happenings In Wales v Germany (World Cup Blog)
“Craig Bellamy was left out of the starting lineup for a knee issue. At least that’s what they’re saying publicly. To open up the sans-Bellamy proceedings, Michael Ballack scored a fantastic goal in front of what looked to be precisely no one at Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.”

Hot-headed Wayne Rooney (Guardian)
“Wayne Rooney’s two-footed lunge against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Aliyev was the latest in a long line of moments when he has lost his rag.”

2010 FIFA World Cup Qualification

April 4, 2009

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualification (Final Round) seventh match day action takes place on April 1, 2009. Easy links to all the previews, match reports and coach reactions are available on this page, which will be updated regularly throughout the period of action. Click on the links to get the latest news from the qualifiers.” (AFC)

Mixed reactions in Asian media (FIFA)
“While winning is supposedly the be all and end all for football coaches, it seems that even maximum points are often not enough to keep the critics at bay. Just take Pim Verbeek.”

‘Japan face tough Uzbek match’ (AFC)

Iran held by Senegal (AFC)

Miroslav Klose

April 3, 2009

“Miroslav Klose (… born as Mirosław Marian Kloze on 9 June 1978 in Opole) is a German footballer who plays as a striker. He plays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga in Germany, and for the German national team. He is known for his goalscoring instincts, aerial ability, and unselfish play.” Miroslav Klose, YouTube, (1)

Surprises all over the world

April 3, 2009

“Shockwaves were sent around planet football this week as some of the powerhouses of the world game fell to unexpected defeat. Take Argentina and Mexico, for example, who are currently licking their wounds after Wednesday’s setbacks.”

Resurgent Saudis eye automatic World Cup spot (ESPN)
“Saudi Arabia’s new coach is confident of securing automatic qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals after instigating a stunning turnaround after only two games in charge.”

Egypt and Nigeria in shock draws (BBC)
“Egypt and Nigeria have been held to shock draws at the start of their campaigns for a place at the World Cup in 2010. Egypt, who are reigning African champions, were held 1-1 at home by Zambia. Nigeria played out a goalless draw with Mozambique in Maputo.”

Ngassa tries for Tanzania history (BBC)

Team ‘heard of deaths’ before game (BBC)

World Cup Qualifying – CAF (FIFA)

Qualifiers: the day after in the continental press

April 3, 2009

“As in each round of the South American Qualifiers, the coverage of the continental and international press of these last 10 matches of the race toward South Africa has been of massive character, occupying the front pages of each newspaper and specialized. media. Here is a review of what was expressed by the media in the countries of South America.” (CONMEBOL)

Coping with high altitude (BBC – Tim Vickery’s Blog)
“Outside South America there is little recognition of the difficulties of the continent’s World Cup qualification campaign. Carlos Alberto Parreira and Luiz Felipe Scolari are agreed – the pair coached Brazil to World Cup triumph in 1994 and 2002 respectively, and came to the same conclusion. Winning the competition was relatively straightforward. The hard part was qualification. Both of their teams lost in Bolivia.”

Six reasons for Argentina’s 6-1 defeat to Bolivia (Reuters)
“Argentine media allocate dozens of pages to football daily and the country has two 24-hour cable channels almost exclusively dedicated to the sport. Quite often it’s a struggle to fill all that paper and airtime — so much so that one of the TV channels passes away the afternoon with a programme in which the presenters play foot-tennis.”

World Cup Qualifying – CONMEBOL Qualifying Stage Results (ESPN)

Still warned Sven over Mexico

April 3, 2009

“Sven Goran Eriksson’s personal manager Athole Still believes that the Swede should never have taken charge of Mexico. The former England manager was sacked as head coach of Mexico after the 3-1 defeat to Honduras in midweek.” (Sky Sports)

Eriksson sacked as Mexico coach (BBC)

Sacked Eriksson eyeing move back to England – agent (Reuters)

Sven upbeat after being sacked by Mexico (ESPN)

Honduras 3 – 1 Mexico

April 2, 2009

“Carlos Costly scored twice to help Honduras beat Mexico 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, the second time they have beaten Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team at home in six months.”(ESPN)
Ominous signs for Eriksson (Reuters)
Mexican FA discuss Sven’s future (FIFA)
Short honeymoon for Mexico (FIFA)
Mexico to discuss Eriksson’s future after latest loss (ESPN)

Italy 1-1 Ireland: Keane snatches late point (ESPN)
“Robbie Keane kept the Republic of Ireland’s dreams of automatic qualification for the World Cup alive with a last-gasp equaliser to deny 10-man Italy victory.”

Pundits’ verdict on N Ireland victory (BBC)
“Northern Ireland won ugly against Slovenia but it was a fantastic way to end a tough week. Both teams had expended a lot of energy, both mentally and physically, on Saturday but it was a very, very spirited display from the boys in green.”

Can the Balkans do a World Cup quadruple? (Reuters)

Big guns fire as Poland cut loose (FIFA)

Altidore Scores Three for Dominant U.S.

April 2, 2009

“Jozy Altidore became the youngest American to score three goals in an international soccer match Wednesday, and the United States beat Trinidad and Tobago, 3-0, in Nashville to maintain its lead in the final round of regional qualifying for next year’s World Cup.” (NYT)
Jozy Gets a Hat Trick (NYT – GOAL)
Altidore’s three goals propel U.S. to qualifying victory over Trinidad (SI)
VIDEO: Bradley And Son Talk About US Victory (Goal)
Altidore shines as U.S. dismantles Trinidad & Tobago (ESPN)

England 2-1 Ukraine

April 2, 2009

“John Terry kept England firmly on course for next summer’s World Cup in South Africa as his priceless late winner sank Ukraine and made it five wins out of five in their qualifying group. Ukraine had threatened to take a point their approach barely deserved when substitute Andriy Shevchenko struck with 16 minutes left to cancel out Peter Crouch’s 29th-minute volley.” (BBC)
Ukraine overawed by (lack of) Wembley atmosphere (Reuters)
Capello happy with England effort (BBC)
Groups and Standing (FIFA)
Is there any way back for Owen? (Reuters)
England 2 – 1 Ukraine: The Evening in Five Clive Tyldesley Quotes (The Run of Play)

England defy striking crisis (FIFA)

Bolivia 6-1 Argentina: Mardona’s mob thrashed

April 2, 2009

“Joaquin Botero netted a hat-trick to help Bolivia hammer Argentina 6-1 and keep their slim 2010 World Cup hopes alive. Although Lucho Gonzalez brought Diego Maradona’s side level in the first half but the onslaught that followed stunned Argentina.” (ESPN)
Maradona: There’s nothing to say (FIFA)
Argentina hit for six in Bolivia (FIFA)
Maradona Heartbroken After Argentina Humiliated By Bolivia (Yahoo)
Bolivia annihilates Argentina 6-1 in World Cup qualifier (SI)

Ecuador 1-1 Paraguay: Benitez snatches point (ESPN)
Paraguay steal late point (FIFA)

Stephen Appiah

April 1, 2009

“Stephen Appiah (born December 24, 1980) is a Ghanaian international football midfielder and captain of the Ghana national team. With the Ghana national team, he has played at the 1995 FIFA U-17 World Championship, the 1997 and 1999 World Youth Championships, the 2004 Olympic tournament, and the 2006 World Cup, where the team reached the second round.” Wikipedia, Stephen Appiah profile: 10 Things you need to know about the imminent Tottenham signing (Mirror), YouTube

Brian Glanville on Beckham’s England record (World Soccer)
“As non events go, David Beckham’s 109th cap for England, thus notionally at least overhauling the proud record of Bobby Moore, must be high or if you prefer it, low – on the list.”

Europe’s fight for World Cup places hots up (AFP)
“Europe’s fight for 13 World Cup places hots up on Wednesday with seven months to go before the end of qualifying for South Africa 2010. Nine group winners and four runners up from a two-leg play-off slot into place at the momentous, 32-nation football jamboree from June 11 to July 11 next year, the first finals to be held in Africa.”

Order retained as European powers show intent (The Age)
“WORLD Cup winner Italy, European titleholder Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands showed the soccer fraternity on Saturday that the established nations were only getting stronger. Less than 15 months before the start of the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, European top nations gave a lesson to the rest in cup qualifying games.”

Formidable Italy hold all the aces (Irish Times)
“ITALY v REP OF IRELAND: JOURNALISTS ON these sorts of trips are rarely happier than when managers start bandying metaphors about in answer to questions ahead of big games and, to the delight of the assembled press, there were a few flying about at yesterday’s pre-match press conferences in the San Nicola stadium.”

Preview – Brazil v Peru (sambafoot)
“After Sunday’s disappointing 1-1 draw in Ecuador, Brazil head home to continue to their World Cup qualifying campaign against Peru on Wednesday.”

Bafana Crash to Portugal (Kick Off)
“If Joel Santana had not realised how much work lies ahead before the 2010 World Cup kicks off, he will most certainly know after his Bafana Bafana side were taught a footballing lesson by Portugal at the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday night.”

Nigeria: Super Eagles Needs Foreign Coach Now – Babayaro (allAfrica)
“Former Golden Eaglets’ goalkeeper, Emmanuel Babayaro, believes that the Super Eagles now needs a foreign technical adviser to steer the ship of the team to safety after a sloppy start in the final phase of the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Mozambique last weekend.”

Nigeria: Pressure Now on Us – Shittu (allAfrica)
“Nigeria’s Danny Shittu has admitted the Super Eagles will face criticism back home following their goalless draw in Mozambique on Sunday. The result in Maputo leaves Nigeria two points behind early Group B pace-setters Tunisia in the 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.”

 In Defence of International Week (World Cup Blog)
“I’ve heard a few complaints about the international break this week. Chris at Studs Up called it ‘a necessary evil’, while Travis at Arsenal Offside has branded it ‘the interlull.’ But me? I love it. I genuinely look forward to international week. Maybe not when it’s just friendlies, but when it’s World Cup qualifiers from all around the world… what’s not to like?”

Ferguson/McGregor on Scots bench (BBC)
“Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor will be substitutes for Scotland’s World Cup qualifier with Iceland after a breach of team discipline.”

Victory leaves Aussies on cusp (FIFA)
“Australia are on the verge of reaching for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa after a 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan. The Socceroos, on top of the Asian Zone’s Group 1 with 13 points, will become the first team to qualify if Bahrain and Qatar, both on four points, draw their match in Manama later today.”

Korea Republic snatch derby win (FIFA)
“A late goal from substitute Kim Chi-Woo gave Korea Republic a vital win over Group 2 rivals Korea DPR in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifier in Seoul.”