No North African side in the last eight

January 30, 2013

Algeria's Sofiane Feghouli and South Africa's Dean Furman
Sofiane Feghouli, Algeria
“Didier Drogba scored his first goal of the African Nations’ Cup to ensure Ivory Coast go into the quarterfinals on an unbeaten run in the competition. Their opponents in that match, Nigeria, and their place in the group was already decided but they surged back anyways from 2-0 down to draw level with Algeria. The group’s bottom-feeders left with their respect intact. Although Algeria failed to record a single win in the competition, similar to their 2010 World Cup, the much-talked about Sofiane Feghouli made his impact on the competition with a goal through a penalty and assist for Hilal Soudini. But Algeria’s disappointment was compounded with Tunisia’s exit which means that no North African team will play the quarter-finals of the 2013 ANC.” ESPN

Mali’s Seydou Keita hails ‘priceless hope’ brought to crisis-torn land
“For Mali, this is becoming a habit: win the first group game narrowly, lose to Ghana, do just enough in the third match to get through and set up a quarter-final against the hosts. What they did in Libreville a year ago, when they beat Gabon on penalties, they will have to do again on Saturday as they face a newly enthused South Africa in Durban.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Tiny Cape Verde is Africa Cup of Nations’ Cinderella story
“When Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes entered the press conference room in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, he found his team had gotten there before him. They were lined up on the dais behind the desk, bouncing up and down in glee as a African Football Confederation official sat sheepishly in the foreground, aware he had formalities to complete but unwilling to interrupt the jubilation. Defender Gege, wearing his shirt back to front, leapt on a chair and carried on dancing. Antunes, at 46 and a little too old for that sort of thing, initially looked a little uncomfortable but then, after some awkward shuffling, draped himself in the flag and began directing the celebrations. Usually, he directs planes.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Salomon Kalou, Ivory Coast eye missing Africa Cup of Nations title
“he Africa Cup of Nations has always been one of my favorite international tournaments, and for the first time it’s possible for fans in the U.S. to watch every game live easily and legally, thanks to ESPN3 picking up the rights. One of the biggest storylines is whether a remarkable generation of Ivory Coast players — Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Touré, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho and others — can finally get over the hump and win the tournament after falling short in each of the past four occasions.” SI

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Galatasaray adds Sneijder, Drogba and intrigue

January 30, 2013

“You have to feel sympathy for Schalke fans this week. As they gathered around televisions to watch the Champions League second-round draw in December, they would have been content with a meeting against Galatasaray. There was the problematic trip ‘to hell’ to overcome, of course, but over two legs and looking at the two lineups, Schalke would have been confident of progression. But in the same week that Lewis Holtby’s transfer to Tottenham was brought forward, robbing Schalke of their inspirational attacking midfielder, Galatasaray completed one of the most remarkable double swoops in recent footballing history.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Galatasaray 2-1 Besiktas: Gala comfortably win the derby – now for Sneijder and Drogba
“Galatasaray outplayed Besiktas across the pitch – and were rarely troubled even after Felipe Melo’s red card. Fatih Terim was without right-back Emmanuel Eboue and left-sided midfielder Nordin Amrabat because of the Africa Cup of Nations, so played Sabri Sarioglu and Emre Colak. Johan Elmander started rather than Burak Yilmaz, and Wesley Sneijder was only on the bench. Samat Aybaba was forced to cope without striker Hugo Almeidia, which meant Filip Holosko was pushed upfront to play as a lone centre-forward, and Roberto Hilbert was moved forward to play on the right of midfield, perhaps to deal with Albert Riera. Mehmet Akgun made a rare appearance at right-back, while Gokhan Suzen came in at left-back.” Zonal Marking


Defining Relations

January 30, 2013

“Due to the forthcoming footballing encounter between France and Germany on February 6, which is part of the festivities surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Elysee treaty ratified by France and Germany in 1963, this post will look at how relations between countries can be defined and shaped by treaties and agreements and if this is necessary at all.” Do not mention the war


‘Don’ Jupp and His Spanish Past

January 30, 2013

“Jupp Heynckes is one of the few people who probably has to employ a cleaning lady just for his trophy cabinet. Even as a professional footballer he has won almost every trophy there is in European football. The striker has scored most of his goals for the club that belongs to the city of his birth: Mönchengladbach. He scored 218 goals for Die Fohlen which combined with the 25 goals he scored for Hannover, where he spent three years, made him the third best goal scorer in the history of Bundesliga. Whilst being at Gladbach he won the German Bundesliga title for four times, the DFB-Pokal once and the UEFA Cup during the 1970s. He was also successful with the German National-team and can proudly call himself European Cup and World Cup champion.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Offsides, Part 1, Part 2

January 28, 2013

montenegroMap
“Mirko Vučinić showed up to the first day of soccer season this summer with a mustache. It was a thin one, and it made him look like a character out of an Italian neorealist homage to the dignity of the working class—handsome and proud, and heroic because ultimately he is up against forces that are far too great for him to succeed. Vučinić is the starting striker for Juventus, Italy’s Serie A defending champion. To date, though, he may be most famous for dropping his shorts, placing them on his head, and running around the pitch in his underwear after he scored a goal in an international match against Switzerland in 2010. You likely wouldn’t see that in an Italian neorealist film. But that’s all right, because Vučinić isn’t Italian. He’s Montenegrin, and Montenegro has a story of its own.” The Paris Review – 1

Offsides, Part 2
“Like Savićević, the Croatian Zlatko Kranjčar, fifty-six, had been a successful, offensive-minded player in his day, and one who understood the importance of international soccer. Nearing the end of his career in 1990 at the age of thirty-four, Kranjčar captained Croatia’s first national game of its post-Yugoslavia era. As a coach he led the Croatian national team into the 2006 World Cup. He had experience, and a lot of it. When Savićević hired him in 2010 as Montenegro’s new manager, it was Kranjcar’s eighteenth year of coaching and his twentieth job.” The Paris Review – 2


Braga 1-2 Benfica: Lima stars on his return

January 28, 2013

“Benfica produced a fine away performance to preserve their unbeaten Liga Sagres record. Jose Peseiro was forced to use an inexperienced centre-back combination of Vincent Sasso and Max Haas. The rest of his side was roughly as expected. Jorge Jesus was without Oscar Cardozo and Ezequiel Garay. Lima started alone upfront, while Ola John was selected on the left of midfield. Braga weren’t outclassed and had some decent moments, but intelligent attacking play and swift counter-attacking meant Benfica deserved their victory.” Zonal Marking


The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: Seconds Outs, Round Two

January 28, 2013

CAN2013-Bafana
“The 2013 AFCON is neither the first nor last international football tournament to have an, ahem, ‘disappointing’ opening round of group matches. But that has usually been down to teams’ fear of losing their first game, something which the laws of football say you must not do. In South Africa, even when the attitude wasn’t fearful, the football was mostly dreadful. The second round had to be better. Didn’t it?” twohundredpercent

Tiny Cape Verde is Africa Cup of Nations’ Cinderella story
“When Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes entered the press conference room in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, he found his team had gotten there before him. They were lined up on the dais behind the desk, bouncing up and down in glee as a African Football Confederation official sat sheepishly in the foreground, aware he had formalities to complete but unwilling to interrupt the jubilation.” SI – Jonathan Wilson
Jonathan Wilson

Salomon Kalou, Ivory Coast eye missing Africa Cup of Nations title
“The Africa Cup of Nations has always been one of my favorite international tournaments, and for the first time it’s possible for fans in the U.S. to watch every game live easily and legally, thanks to ESPN3 picking up the rights. One of the biggest storylines is whether a remarkable generation of Ivory Coast players — Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Touré, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho and others — can finally get over the hump and win the tournament after falling short in each of the past four occasions.” SI