"The next time somebody tells you football isn't worth the chequebook it's written on, that it is rotten beyond redemption, just show him a picture of the kid. The Iraqi kid, that is, the one who for once is smiling despite the clatter of gunfire; smiling because his team have just won the Asian Cup."........from James Lawton writing in the Independent
July 2007 Archives
More evidence of life after Henry.See Robin van Persie bamboozle Daniele Pedrelli with a step-over, then a drag-back, before hammering his shot beyond Francesco Toldo at his near post.It was also the winning goal and Arsenal lifted the pre season Emirates Cup.
Iraq are the champions of Asia.Their captain and star striker Younis Mahmoud Khalaf scored the winning goal.Blatter was there to give out the trophy.And "We are the champions" by Queen was played in the background as the victorious team stood on the podium.An incredible victory against overwhelming odds.Truly a game that makes football "joga bonito"...So perhaps it is no coincidence that the Iraqi coach who made the dream come true- is from Brazil.
And you can find out more on Younis at his very own website here.
Arsene Wenger's current Arsenal side showed a few glimpses against Paris St Germain on Saturday afternoon that life without Thierry Henry may not just be so bad.They opened their Emirates Cup campaign with a 2 -1 win.The goals came from Mathieu Flamini and Niklas Bendtner .
SIR ALEX FERGUSON has has banned Nani from performing his trademark somersault goalscoring celebration.You can see him[ Nani not Fergie] doing the somersault after scoring his first goal for Manchester United and apparently Fergie is worried about how much strain Nani's ankles can take.
The last 3 months have been bizarre, controversial, and frankly, soul searching for many clubs and for England.
Shockingly, no sticker shock with the new Chelsea transfers. They have acquired some big names names through mostly Bosmans. The only exception, Florent Malouda, at a relatively modest sum of 13m pounds. There was talk of bringing Guus Hiddink as a technical director in a complex two coach scheme. Fortunately, Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich kiss and make up.
The clubs in the 'break the bank' transfer market: Spurs, Man Utd, and Liverpool. Darren Bent, Owen Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson, and Fernando Torres all totted up cost a little less than 100m pounds. Add lesser lights like Younus Kaboul and Gareth Bale, along with the expected 30m Carlos Tevez transfer to Man Utd and these three clubs would have splurged close to 200m pounds.
David Dein resigns after an Arsenal hostile takeover fails. The off season repercussions include the Premiership's crown jewel, Thierry Henry exiting to Barca after nine seasons, Wenger's much rumoured exit, and a flurry of media generated Kroenke and Ecclestone bids. Meanwhile, in the absence of Henry and a takeover, Arsenal's death watch begins.
Man City is acquired by Thaksin Shinwatra, exiled from his native Thailand where he faces charges of graft, tax evasion, and more seriously, possible human rights violations. He installs Sven Goran Erickson as manager, whose previous history is more replete with off field dalliances with high profile women, rather than any substantive soccer accomplishments. Erickson hopes to resurrect his winning ways with Lazio back in the mid '90s. The takeover spawns a million articles documenting the death of the soul of English soccer.
In a separate police investigation, three clubs were raided including Newcastle and Portsmouth and warrants alleging financial irregularities and kickbacks were issued to these clubs. Meanwhile, the Quest investigations unearths circumstantial evidence that Pini Zahavi, the kingpin amongst player agents might have financially benefited from greasing the palms of club officials. His license to practice could be revoked. He threatens to counter-sue.
Man Utd and Liverpool are now butting heads with each other over Gabriel Heinze. At stake a sacrosanct tradition of not allowing player transfers between both clubs. It appears a legal showdown is the only way to resolve this issue.
But if there is one club that will be inextricably linked to the 2007 off season, it would be West Ham, who might change the character of the English game, with their 2006 acquisition of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, now being fought out in the courts. Third party ownership of players might become a distinct possibility forcing changes in PL law to deal with this eventuality.
The controversy has led four clubs with Sheffield Utd leading the way, to appeal against West Ham's continued presence in the Premiership, MSI filing legal papers claiming that they own the economic rights to Carlos Tevez, and Man Utd appealing to FIFA to step into the dispute. Arrest warrants are out in Brazil for Kia Joorabchian and Boris Berezovsky, partners in MSI, on charges of money laundering, using payments from players like Carlos Tevez. In a bizarre way, the tapping allegations by Bolton against the Hammers for Anelka, might reflect their need for a quality striker, now that it seems likely that Tevez might end up in Old Trafford.
Certainly the amount of media and blog space season suggests an extra-ordinary off season. The hope is that what has been an eventful three months now translates into the more meaningful season itself. Its time to play soccer.
Let Heinze go. He does not fit in with the recent injection of speedy and pacier players in Man Utd with Nani, Anderson, Ronaldo, Rooney, and even Heinze's understudy, Patrice Evra.
The rivalry between the two clubs just got raised a notch with the Gabriel Heinze affair which is now spiraling into a confrontational lawsuit as Heinze himself is assembling a team of lawyers that have worked with Liverpool to force a transfer to Anfield. This pits him directly against Sir Alex who has been adamant in his refusal to accept the Liverpool offer. His contention is that he was made publicly available for transfer to clubs if they met Man Utd's fees. Privately, Man Utd officials says that the exception was other PL rivals.
The 2005 player of the year is damaging his standing with fans making it virtually untenable for him to stay on at Man Utd. He is already been accused of being an ingrate by Sir Alex who reminded him that they went out of their way to treat his knee last season. Heinze's concerns are that he is losing his first team place to Evra who shone last season with his pace. A sizzling Evra run with a superlative cross scored Rooney's emphatic header past a stranded Lehmann in the Arsenal Man Utd rematch.
Frankly, I don't think Man Utd is losing too much if they lose Heinze. I followed him in the Copa America matches and except for a brief moment of alacrity against Mexico, Heinze looked slow, indecisive, and afraid to tackle. He was particularly bad in the final against Brazil. Zanetti looked leagues sharper with his well time tackles and forays up front.
And it is just plain ridiculous to hang onto a 43 year record since a player crossed over to the other club. Heinze might just mirror Phil Chisnall's dreadfully ordinary career at Anfield. As for Heinze, he is finished at Man Utd. Its not a West Ham situation where they desperately need Carlos Tevez to save them from relegation.
Brazilian coaches rank a distant second to their players, the number one export to the soccer world. From Washington in the J-League, Zinha in the Mexican Primera, to Edgar Barretto in the Indian NFL, Brazilian players don't just make up the ranks but are their league leaders. The amount of financial transactions and business that involve Brazilian soccer players must be equivalent to the GDP of a small country.
There have been a handful of Brazilian big name coaches, Big Phil Scolari, Carlos Alberto Parriera, and Zico who shared the spotlight in the 2006 World Cup but none went the distance. Since then, Parriera has moved to South Africa, Big Phil has been retained as Portugal's coach, and Zico resigned following Japan's dismal showing.
The perception so far is that Brazilian players make their coaches look good. And since attack is the best form of defense, both defenders and coaches in Brazil are often overlooked and derided. That maybe one reason why when you peruse Globoesporte or any other sport periodical there is hardly a mention of Jorvan Vieira, the present coach of the Iraqi team. He is a former coach of Vasco da Gama and Botafogo, and since those days has gone onto coach 26 club teams and five national squads.
A nomad who has coached numerous small clubs and countries under the radar. In the high flying world of Brazilian soccer he is small potatoes. He is a legend in Morocco where he converted to Islam and assisted Jose Faria in leading the country to the 1986 World Cup, the first African country to do so. Vieira looks more like an ascetic and carries a professorial air, he in fact holds a doctorate in sports sciences from France and speaks 7 languages, including Arabic. He is a very well respected club coach in the Middle East and has also coached the Oman and Kuwait U20 squad in a career spanning 15 years.
The Iraqi coaching job came to him as three other candidates rejected the offer as they were issued death threats. In Brazil, coaches are unceremoniously removed. In Iraq, you don't have that luxury. Vieira's predecessor Akram Ahmed Salman tried to quit after he and his family received death threats, but Iraq's soccer chiefs rejected his resignation. Vieira's assistant can't return to Iraq because the last time he was in Baghdad, gunmen threatened to kidnap his son. In fact, this is the story of many soccer players in the team who have lost family members in the civil war sweeping the country. The dislocation caused by the war is so severe that the makeshift Iraqi FA headquarters is a hotel lobby in Amman.
For someone who came only five weeks before the Asian Cup, Vieira shows a remarkable grasp and understanding of his players and the effect the war has had on them.
"Some of them, if they go to Iraq, they are going to be killed," Vieira said of his squad. "When you don't know where your home is, where your things are, you are lost in space. It's the same when you have no organisation in your house. You don't know where you put your socks or your trousers. It's the same here. They are lost people because of the war."
Very few gave him a chance to succeed. But Vieira understood his job did not entail just coaching a team but acting as a healer.
"They've been through so much. The players are so strong, but sometimes too strong. They have so much pain that I have to be not only a coach, but a psychologist, a father, and a friend to them.They are a very good example of unity to the Iraqi people."
He has been clear on one thing. He and his team are here not just to participate but to play well and challenge for the Asian Cup despite the almost insurmountable problems and the abbreviated training period.
"I have to be confident about winning. I can't talk about my problems, and say we'll do nothing, because I am not a loser. I've lost very few times in my life."
But Vieira has been modest about his own achievements with this overachieving Iraqi team.
"The congratulations should not go to me. It should go to my players, my staff who are working behind me," a humble Vieira told a press conference after his side's stunning 3-1 victory over the Socceroos. "Because without these people I can not do anything. I'm not a magician."
His influence in unifying this team has been nothing short of miraculous, proving many naysayers wrong. He again mentioned that he was not a magician. Humility seems to be a defining trait. He mentions how everyone was at loggerheads in the beginning and his first initiative was to get them all together, bringing players from the various sects, Shia, Sunnis, and the Iraqi Kurds, together.
"I tried to unify them. Now they are together, they kiss each other, they shake each others' hands. They are not fighting or talking politics. They accepted my way. I am not a magician, but I know football can change people."
Vieira may claim not to be a magician but he seems to have a strong sense of destiny. He knows this is no ordinary coaching job.
"When I see everyone working together, it touches my heart, I cannot explain this feeling," he said. "But if the results don't come, maybe the problem will come back. I hope I can make a difference."
So far it is working out fantastically. Iraq are through to the finals to meet Saudi Arabia, a country where Nashat Akram, one of Iraq's heroes plays his club football. The Iraqis have surpassed Vieira's own expectations.
"I want to be in the last four," he said. "If I had more time, I would tell you I'm going to make the final but now that's not possible. If we got to the final then, as the Arabs say, 'it is with God'."
The Iraqi soccer team, the power of football, God, and Jorvan Vieira. The Iraqis love him and want him to remain. As for Brazilians, some should be getting warm fuzzies that it is one of them that is shaping the Iraqis historical run. And it is not a player.
The fairy tale run of the Iraqi team continued as they overcame S.Korea in the semifinals in a penalty shootout. The S.Koreans looked like they had lost their legs and their penalty taking was woeful. But I think this is destiny. Iraq was meant to win. They now meet Saudi Arabia who beat Japan, 3-2. There was jubilation and wild celebrations in Iraq following the win. But 11 people died and 30 were wounded as a bomb went off in Mansour, in a grim reminder that violence is never to far away from Iraqis daily life.
Jose Mourinho, the master of mind games has targeted Liverpool and their shiny new acquisitions. He also lets in a bit of a historical slip.
"In the last three years it's been Chelsea and Manchester United in the league, and it's been a long time since Liverpool won the Premiership.
Jose, since the Premiership began the Reds have not won the title. Only four teams have. But of course, you knew that. You were just rubbing it in. Like you did with Arsene when you mentioned winning the CL with Porto.
It gets better.
" But it's been four years with Benítez and they want the Premiership. They don't hide it - Benítez, the players, they all speak about winning the title. "
Just in case Tom Hicks and George Gillette were unaware of how long Rafa was at the helm, here comes a reminder to put him in the doghouse.
"In other years they could say: 'Oh, these guys, they've spent a lot of money so they have to win.' This season they have to talk differently. They have high responsibilities and high expectations."
Deconstructed: If these guys fail to win the title this year, it is all Rafa's fault.
Liverpool will face Portsmouth in the final who got there via this goal from Benjani against Fulham.
Amazing footage from the Beeb which shows the rituals of the Kop tribe. A great moment as they go onto crush Arsenal, 5-0. This was the year that Phil Chisnall made his Anfield debut also against Arsenal. It was also the first MOTD.
Apparently, he did not do much in the three seasons at Liverpool making just 9 appearances and scoring two goals before being traded to Southend.
So Carlos Tevez costs 30m pounds? And Man Utd is willing to pay that much? Add all the money up and their bill is over a 100m pounds in transfers this season. Meanwhile, paying off the Glazers borrowings of 660m pounds to finance the takeover just got more expensive because the interest rates went up.
Somewhere down the line, does someone smell another buyout or a foreclosure? Meanwhile, look for a big fat Cristiano Ronaldo transfer to Real or to Milan to get some money back. Or palm off the costs to the patsies, the Man U fan now mortgaging his house to see a match.
Sheffield Utd threatens to take West Ham to High Court, and now Kia Joorbachian and MSI have served West Ham with legal papers to resolve the issue of who gets the transfer fee for Carlos Tevez dispute. Its all connected at the hip.
Meanwhile Man Utd's chance of making up some money in the form of a Gabriel Heinze transfer rests on keeping an old tradition of not allowing a transfer between the two bitter rivals. The last such trade was in 1964, when Phil Chisnall departed Merseyside. A passage of time that has seen England's World Cup title, Vietnam, Woodstock, the last days of disco, Joy Division, Margaret Thatcher, the falling of the Berlin Wall, the AIDS epidemic, the morning after pill, and the execution of Saddam.
Strangely enough it is what Gabriel Heinze wants. He wants to leave Old Trafford to ply his trade with Rafa Benitez. It is becoming a civil rights issue. Man Utd claims that he is being tapped but according to Benitez it was known to all clubs that Heinze was up for sale. Liverpool is willing to meet the Man Utd's price of 6.8m pounds but it was rejected. Apparently, the Red Devils put him up for sale but forgot to mention 'except Liverpool' in the official documentation. So this too appears for a legal showdown.
Its all cruising to a smashing climax in the final weeks to the start of the season. So keep you hands on deck otherwise you might get blown off.
Well, the change has begun from the top for France as the Sarkozy government has called upon the French to abandon their “old national habit” of thinking too much. From Rene Descartes, Jacques Lacan, and Emile Durkheim, France has been known for its philosophers, who use their leisure for scholarly and intellectual pursuits. This goes squarely against the Sarkozy government's avowed anti-intellectualism. Its not as terrible as George W Bush's library collection that includes a single copy of My Pet Goat but for the French it comes close. The backlash has been swift as France's intellectuals have weighed in with Bernard-Henri Lévy aka BHL, the irascible mascot of the movement leading the way.
“This is the sort of thing you can hear in cafe conversations from morons who drink too much,” said Mr. Lévy, who is so well-known in French that he is known simply by his initials B.H.L. “To my knowledge this is the first time in modern French history that a minister dares to utter such phrases. I’m pro-American and pro-market, so I could have voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, but this anti-intellectual tendency is one of the reasons that I did not.”
But if Nicolas Sarkozy is looking for any French athlete who might have dared to stray from his jogging track or from the soccer field to ponder the vicissitudes of life, he can be reassured. Except for Pierre de Coubertin, and his contribution came more than a century ago, no other man or woman from France made the Scholar Athlete International Hall of Fame. Pindar and Plato do make the list. Plato comes as a wrestler and Pindar as a somewhat woolly headed chronicler of the Pan Hellenic games. These selections will come as a shock to Sarkozy and his notion of mankind as a giant group of wind up toys.
Never fear. All French athletes are hard at toil and not wasting time taking courses at the Sorbonne or École Nationale d’Administration (Enarque). Sarkozy is proud of the fact that most of his administration are not "Enarque." You are paid not to think but to do. Jogging is in, walking out. The public veneration of money rather than ideas is being celebrated. And Zinedine Zidane's leads the way with the disclosure that he earned $18 million last year, more than singer Ronny Halliday, or any other political figure.
Which would put Sarkozy at odds with the US mens soccer team with many players earning college degrees and the NSCAA regularly awarding scholar athlete awards. Certainly, I would have never thought of the soccer team as the vanguard of the US intellectual movement but David Brooks caught my eye with this entry during the 2006 World Cup.
Says Brooks, " Going into today's World Cup match against Ghana, no American player has managed to put a ball into the back of the net, but the US team leads the world in one vital category: college degrees. Most of the American players attended college. Eddie Pope went to UNC, Kasey Keller went to the University of Portland, and Marcus Hahnemann went to Seattle Pacific. "
Brooks compared them to their European counterparts joining soccer academies when young, living and breathing nothing but soccer. Zidane at the age of 16 played for AS Cannes, Figo with Sporting Lisbon at age 17, and David Beckham signed with Man U when barely 17. The point being made was that US soccer players have lots of things going for them compared to the Europeans, including a superior university system, that make them thinker players.
Bruce Arena called them a group of fiercely intelligent individuals who have very enlightening conversations on every topic under the sun in the locker room. But maybe the public veneration of ideas and not money has to do with fact that most MLS players earn a fraction of Zidane's 18 million salary.
Fortunately for Sarkozy, the face of the contemporary US soccer player is changing. Under Generation Adidas (formerly Project 40), players from US universities can be drafted into the MLS before completing their college degrees. The recently concluded Copa America squad had players like Marvel Wynne who left UCLA after two years and joined the MLS (Toronto FC) under Generation Adidas. Foreign clubs are also snapping up US talent early and Benny Feilhaber, the hero against Mexico in the Gold Cup finals, signed with Bayer Leverkusen in his second year at UCLA. So it seems likely that the tradition of the scholar athlete increasingly appears outmoded and quaint. Locker room conversation may now center around salaries, clubs, and 'that damn Beckham;' not the theater of ideas.
By the way, I expect David Brooks any day to come out with an article praising the anti-intellectual bent of the Sarkozy government because of course it has to with keeping those darned French elites under tether, individuals that hate the war on Iraq, and love big government. He may, however, have not much to say if the US loses again in South Africa.
It seems the buzz is that MLS is willing to trade Freddy Adu for $7.5 million to Benfica. Adu has done very little of note at RSL since he joined and seems to be biding his time at the club for the big time. Adu has scored exactly one goal in 11 matches in a team that is at the bottom of the Western division. In fact, the U20 World Cup came along at the right time for Adu to showcase his talent.
But $7.5million? Does Benfica have the kind of money to pay for a player that Sir Alex hinted very gently, has some ways to go. Oscar Cardozo signed recently became the most expensive striker in Benfica history for 9 million euros ($12 million). And Cardozo was a star in the Argentinian league for Newell's Old Boys scoring 22 goals in 33 matches with international experience as a Paraguay senior squad member. At 24 years he is considerably older than Freddy Adu. For the record Simao Sabroso is the most expensive Benfica player and 13 million euros ($17.5 million) were paid for his services.
Benfica maybe interested but not at this price.
The latest installment. Marina Hyde's voyeuristic contribution. Seriously, in its Beckham fetish, The Guardian is channeling its inner tabloid nature sounding like a rip off of The Sun or The Daily Mirror. Majorly disappointing. In fact, the US media has been far more measured. As for Hyde, LA might be her permanent beat.
Freddie Ljungberg and his undie clad bod will be seen at Upton Park. Yeah, the nine season Arsenal mainstay whose injuries the last two season saw depleted minutes, has transfered as a 3.5m pound signing all part of the Hammers whose rebuilding efforts included a near signing of Darren Bent before being Spur-ned and who now have to contend with Carlitos Tevez likely to leave for the rarified climes of Old Trafford.
His reason: It was all Henry's departure.
"For me that didn't really happen. I stayed because I wanted to stay loyal to Arsenal. But when Henry left this summer it felt like the end for me unfortunately."
That might be. But Ljungberg's injuries and consequent lack of pace saw falling minutes which meant that the writing on the wall was clear. He had become incidental to Wenger's future plans and even the touted leadership role was a bit overblown because Freddie was never a locker room leader, despite being Sweden's captain. Well, he did give Arsenal a lot of glam and some great goals. His personal best 17 goals helped Arsenal win the double in 2002 coming on as Roberto Pires played hurt that season.
So thanks for all the memories, Freddie!
After playing out a gruelling goalless draw against Iran, S Korea went ahead into the semi-finals of the Asian cup by eventually beating them 4 -2 in the penalty shootout- which can be viewed here....
Iraq got into the semi's by beating Vietnam and Australia's Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy almost got shot in Baghdad in the celebrations that followed.The S Koreans will have to be wary of Iraqi firepower - says this report.
Argentina took the world Under-20 championship for the sixth time, coming from behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Sunday.
The Czechs took the lead on the hour through a brilliant strike from Martin Fenin.
Argentina drew level a couple of minutes later through Sergio Aguero - who was also the tournament's top scorer with six goals.
The game looked to be heading for extra-time until Zarate cut in from the left and beat Czech keeper Radek Petr at the near post with a fierce shot from the edge of the area.
"It's gonna be huge" - the official tournament slogan of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2007 - has fulfilled its promise.
The tournament has already set an attendance record for a FIFA U-20 World Cup and will finish on Sunday with a cumulative attendance of 1,195,239. Along with the final two matches, 31 of the 52 matches were sold out. The competition has been broadcast in 200 countries and territories around the world.
FIFA's flagship youth event has become not only the largest single-sport event in Canada, but has also made history beyond the host country's borders.
The record breaking attendance shows that there is obviously great support for soccer for Canada. I think the country is ready to take soccer to the next level. How about Canada bidding for the World Cup? Great infrastructure, friendly people, beautiful country, and lots of good beer. Ding, Ding. We have the makings of a winner.
This was the Socceroos first Asian Cup, played in less than perfect conditions, sticky and hot. But that is the climate in vast swaths of Asia during this time of the year. It is not just Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, or Djakarta, that have these conditions.
Its sweltering hot in India which could be a potential Asia Cup host as is Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and China, where temperatures can reach above 40C. Do we expect the same enervated performance from the Socceroos if these countries host the Asian Cup? Because the climate in Asia will always be an issue. It will be a bit too much to expect Australia, S.Korea, or Japan to continually host the Asian Cup.
On the other hand what should not have been an issue were defensive breakdowns shown by Patrick Kisnorbo, Brett Emerton, Mike Milligan, the bone headed Vincent Grella foul, the lackadaisical Lucas Neill taking the PK, and a host of other attitudinal and mental errors of judgement that a perceptive coach should have picked up on. You really don't have to be a Guus Hiddink to address the casual preparation of the team to the Cup. A lot of this was mirrored on the field. Much of it reflected in the Australian media.
Mike Cockerill in the SMH getting defensive.
"Ultimately Australia were undone not by a demonstrably superior opponent, but by an act of wanton ill-discipline from Vince Grella, who raised an arm at Naohiro Takahara in a contest for a bouncing ball and was handed a straight red card by the Kuwaiti referee."
How about Mark Viduka? Wasn't he the weapon that the Socceroos had? The man who would pound the undersized Japanese defense? Harry Kewell? Lucas Neill? There is plenty of blame to go around. Why single out Grella? How about a Japanese team that could have seen deja vu after the Aloisi goal but chose not to?
"Japan cleared for a corner, but they knew they were in for a match."
I thought it was the other way around. All week long we had heard statements like "To win the tournament you have to beat the best teams. Japan are the favorites and we have to finish them off first if we want to go on and win the cup," said striker Aloisi. "Hopefully we won't leave it until quite so late this time."
The climate was a factor, being reduced to ten men was a factor, but the main factor was that the Socceroos put in a sub-standard performance all through the tournament save for the Thailand match. The Socceroos should take the Asian Cup seriously. Most of the worst offenders were the Premiership players who probably think of Asia as a large fan base for Man Utd, nothing more. I think the next coach should put an emphasis on younger, fitter players, and the A League. A more debatable question. Has Guus Hiddink's good work been undone?
Clear and concise words from Keith Edelman, Arsenal's managing director:
"I just want to make sure that fans really do understand that if a billionaire buys any club in the country, it doesn't automatically mean that they're going to have success or be able to invest further sums in the squads."
In other words. Keep your hands off the till, Stan Kroenke and Bernie Ecclestone.
Correction: It is Keith Edelman, not Ken. Thanks, Ralph.
Iraq beat Vietnam, 2-0 on the strength of two Younis Mahmoud goals. The victory set off celebrations in Iraq and claimed two lives.
It is noteworthy that the two countries that have provided the most defining moments in recent US foreign policy met up against each other. Two countries that have bitterly divided the USA are meeting on the soccer field. Maybe they can share their experiences under occupation. One country that is now unified meets another that political pundits increasingly whisper in terms of a 'soft partition.' The success of the Iraqi soccer team is being celebrated bringing a torn nation together. Ah! The beauty and power of soccer
Meanwhile, Graham Arnold's resignation watch begins. 2 losses, 1 draw, and just the 1 win can't make the Socceroos too happy. Arnold blamed the conditions and being down ten men. You really can't use the hot and sticky weather as an excuse. A good coach would have had them prepared for these contingencies. Australia was ill prepared, too over confident, and frankly out played for most part of the Asian Cup.
Japan eliminated the socceroos from the competition after the game ended at 1 -1 after extra time.
Arsene Wenger has indicated that he is not interested in signing another striker. There was a lot of hoo recently as Anelka was resurrected again but it was shot down by the gaffer. So far Soccerblog's prediction has held good. But there is no reason to panic.
Theo Walcott has been in impressive form scoring a goal and assisting in one of RVP's goals against Genclerberligi ( did I get that right?). Wenger thinks that Theo is ready for the big time. Which could only mean that Wenger is thinking of Theo partnering RVP up front.
Da Silva's came on for the final 21 minutes and his form impressed Wenger and this is what he had to say:
"You could see that straightaway when Eduardo came on he is a quality player," said Wenger. "His movement, his sharpness, the quality of his runs, and his final ball was perfect."
Lets face it, if Da Silva can score a third of what he scored for Dinamo Zagreb, he would be an outstanding success. In the absence of a consistent 20+ goal striker which Henry was, the Gunners need smaller contributions from other strikers and midfielders.
That means Cesc, Gilberto (who had a great season scoring 10 goals), Flamini, Hleb, and Rosicky need to put in more goals. At least 30. The promising part was that the goal scoring aspect came alive when Henry was out all of December and January. The Arsenal defense was one of the more adventurous ones in the Premiership last season with Toure and Gallas scoring 6 and if they can score that many this season we have about 35 from these two areas.
Many have written about Arsenal being undersized and certainly, Da Silva with his 5' 6" frame is no Henry in his physical presence. I think Wenger has a very good option in Nicklas Bendtner with his 6' 2" height, to hold off the more intimidating defenses like Blackburn, Bolton, and Newcastle, and use his aerial ability to score goals. So we do have a solution. Adebayor is coming along nicely as a super sub.
Wenger is confident that Freddie Ljungberg is not going anywhere and sees the experienced Swedish winger playing a leadership role. Ljungberg has lost a bit of pace but can still be an asset in limited appearances, if healthy, and if necessary.
Gael Clichy's widening the left side of the field with his speed was refreshing. Now if we could get him to serve up some quality crosses. Eboue's forays on the right could be further developed into a more formal wing back position. It was a beauty of a cross from Eboue that led to Henry's winner against Man Utd, so the man has talent in that area.
Arsenal needs 75 goals to remain competitive with no drop off expected in Man Utd and Chelsea and an upgrade in Liverpool and Spurs. Lets put this in perspective.
The key as I see is that Chelsea score a consistent 70+ goals, get their defense to then shut down attacks to achieve their titles and Liverpool who score a sub 60 goals but get their wins consistently through low scoring games; with Arsenal in recent years, its feast or famine, they either come out like gangbusters or dry up inexplicably.
Arsenal's hyperactive 87 goals in 2005-2006 was only good for the runners up position as they won 4 fewer games than Chelsea. Similarly, in 2002-2003, they scored 85 goals and fell short in wins compared to Man Utd. Both years saw the defense giving up plenty of goals and a clumping of blowout wins followed by a string of losses.
In contrast, it was the Arsenal defense that shut down the opposition in their unbeaten 2003-2004 season as the attack only scored 72 goals, in relatively low scoring wins and many draws. So there is no reason to mourn the loss of Henry and filter the doomsday predictions of scrapping with the Spurs for fourth.
70+ goals can get us the title. I think this year may see the return of consistency and low scoring wins with a more distributed attack BUT we need a tighter defense.
Manchester United win 4-0 against FC Seoul in a friendly on Friday- Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Chris Eagles, and Patrice Evra being the goalscorers.
Beckham's ankle rolls over in the Estonia match and he limps off in pain. He is diagnosed as having strained his internal lateral ligament. This took place on June 6th. He again aggravates it on June 17th playing against Real Mallorca in the last Liga game and had to leave the game in the 66th minute. Beckham said he heard his ankle 'snap.' On the flight over from London to LA, the ankle again became boggy and painful.
He is now doubtful in his debut game on Saturday against Chelsea and may make a last minute appearance towards the end.
If I were a betting man I would be very, very worried. What Beckham may have is chronic ankle instability where the ankle gives way on the outside. Symptoms include:
* A repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
* Persistent discomfort and swelling
* Pain or tenderness
What causes it?
"Chronic ankle instability usually develops following an ankle sprain that has not adequately healed or was not rehabilitated completely. When you sprain your ankle, the connective ligaments are stretched or torn. The ability to balance is often affected. Proper rehabilitation is needed to strengthen the muscles around the ankle. Repeated ankle sprains often cause and perpetuate chronic ankle instability.Having an ankle that gives way increases your chances of spraining your ankle repeatedly. Each subsequent sprain leads to further weakening and stretching of the ligaments resulting in greater instability and the likelihood of developing additional problems in the ankle."
Chronic ankle instability is notoriously difficult to treat.It appears Beckham's ankle is in need of extensive rehabilitation. Otherwise, his MLS career maybe limited to cameo appearances which still means that he could remain productive. After all it takes just seconds to put a ball into the back of the net from a spot kick.
Unfortunately, unlike Morten Anderson who can trot in and out to kick a field goal in American football, soccer does not afford Beckham the same luxury. It also appears that Beckham will be flying back and forth from LA to Europe a lot to make his appearances for the English squad that now desperately needs his services to qualify for the 2008 Euro. Hardly what the doctor ordered to heal that ankle.
Yeah! The man that Ramon Calderon turned out after leading Real to the Liga title is reported to have been approached by an offer of a job in the US. Capello's words are quite leading as he says that "It would be a new experience that would intrigue me, not for the money but to see if anyone could make American soccer take off."
It can't be too hard to extrapolate that to mean a position where he can influence soccer development in the US. Capello has never been anything else other than a club coach with limited knowledge of soccer development. So all this would be new to him. There were rumours of Ged Houllier being tapped for that position.
Is Capello the right person to undertake such an endeavour? No. Whereas, Houllier never a good coach, was an acknowledged master at recognizing and developing talent, and the force behind the 1998 World Cup winning French squad. Capello seems to have less patience for such results. He is a master of improvisation and motivation. A tactical supremo. An ideal on the ground coach who has had bitter and contentious feuds with his leading players. He has had no national experience and has only coached clubs.
The other longer shot possibility is that he may replace Frank Yallop at the LA Galaxy and be united with David Beckham. There maybe an additional dynamic in play if Santino Quaranta is to be believed that the gaffer and Alexi Lalas maybe at loggerheads and all this has to do with the arrival of Beckham hogging all the oxygen. Yallop has to deal with the other 22 players in the squad and make sure that they are not consigned to the dustbin of history because the colossus of Rhodes walked into town.
Lalas seems to be more concerned about keeping Beckham happy. Remember Capello's relationship with Beckham began to mend at the end of his Real career and a concerted bid was put forth to re-sign him even as Beckham was packing his bags to leave for LA. It would be a shrewd move to bring Capello as the gaffer to retain Beckham and the financial windfall that he will bring the LA Galaxy. Frank Yallop is a decent man but this is all about business and not about the soul of US soccer.
Very good news. Peter Hill- Wood to the paparazzi. There has been no contact with Stan Kroenke since June. Where do these rubbish rumours originate?
Spurs and Gunners will be following the U20 finals closely. Czech Republic's Tomas Pekhart, the highly rated Slavia Prague transfer and a Spurs reserve team player meets Argentina's Angel Di Maria, the high flying striker out of Rosario Central on his way to Salamanca, linked to Arsenal in a loan transfer deal that brings him to the Emirates next year, after completing EU residency requirements. This is a similar sort of arrangement which will bring Carlos Vela, another U20 standout to Arsenal from Salamanca.
Di Maria is highly regarded in the Argentinian league and scouting reports by Giles Grimandi have been very favourable. He has already justified his selection in the Argentine U20 squad by scoring 3 goals and is one of the tournament stars.
Tomas Pekhart, a 2006 transfer from Slavia Prague scored 19 goals in 20 appearances for the Spurs academy and made 12 appearances for the reserve squad before being injured. Martin Jol sees a bright future for this lad whose breakthrough to the first squad might be a bit iffy given the striker depth the Spurs have at the moment. Pekhart has been mostly used as a substitute by coach Miroslav Soukup in the Czech squad in the U20 matches.
Argentina will face the Czech Republic in the final of the under 20 world cup.In an ugly semi final two Chilean players were ejected and nine yellow cards were issued - seven to Chile. German referee Wolfgang Stark called 53 fouls - 30 against Chile and had to run for his life at the end.
The Czech Republic will meet Argentina this Sunday in the U20 final. The Czechs beat Austria, 2-0 and Argentina beat Chile, 3-0 in an ill tempered semi-final that saw El Rojitos down to nine players. Sergio Aguera did not score a goal but team mates Claudio Yacoub, Angel di Maria, and Maximiliano Moralez did. The Argentinians have poured in 14 goals and conceded just the one. Aguero has scored 5 in 6 matches and will probably win the Golden Boot as this U20 tournament's top scorer. In fact, there are three Argentinians in the top five list, with Maximiliano Moralez with four and Angel di Maria, with three.
So the Czechs know who they have to stop. Or do they? The Argentinians have 12 assists which means that the Argentinians have been combining phenomenally well as a team and their heart and soul is Boca's Ever Banega, the stylish midfielder who has taken Fernando Gago's position and will soon no doubt become a transfer target himself. The midfield has been superb with Damian Escudero, Matias Sanchez, and Claudio Yacoub feeding their hungry strikers.
The Argentinians lead in every strike category. Goals scored, goal average, assists, and shots on goal. The Argentinians have not been lacking in defense either just conceding the one and on the way beating high scoring offenses of Mexico and Chile. On the face of it this should be a stroll against a Czech team that has struggled to score and conceded quite a few.
But and there is always a but. The Argentinians were forced into a draw with the Czech in their group E encounter with a steely and determined wall of midfielders and defenders stopping Aguero and Mauro Zarate. The Czechs are also the top team in fouls committed so look for a repeat of a very physical game where they will try and throw off the hight octane offense.
News does not live in a vacuum and the Czechs will have no doubt heard about how a stubborn and active Brazilian defense stopped the likes of Leo Messi and Carlos Tevez in their tracks at the Copa America. And if it comes down to penalty shoot out which is what the Czechs will be hoping for, they have a huge edge having already won two crucial matches, against Japan and Spain.
Of course, in all of this one should not forget that the overlooked Czechs, who were not favoured to go anywhere near the finals, have a fair bit of talent on attack with Martin Fenin and Lubos Kalouda having combined for five goals.
Simon Kuper thinks so. Alex would have been a better bet than dud Khalid Bouhalrouz. Anyways, now that Mourinho has signed him this season we shall soon get to test this theory.
We did see Alex in the Copa swat Messi off his stride and render Riquelme ineffectual. So is Alex ready to become the Premiership's best central defender as many believe?
Milan’s manager Carlo Ancelotti named him his favourite centre-back, Holland’s manager Marco van Basten picked him for his world eleven and, after PSV overcame Arsenal in March, Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger said: “He kept their defence tight, saved them every time and dominated our players in the air easily.”
Not since Roberto Carlos has a Brazilian defender earned such accolades. However Brazilian defenders invariably remain under the radar which is why Alex has not been rated by the English sports pundits. Jose Mourinho may not give him too many starting minutes with a line up that includes the Premiership's two best central defenders in Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry. Alex will have to earn his place the hard way and maximize his limited appearances.
"We're confident in ourselves that we can get a good run together and get the wins that we need and hopefully qualify for the World Cup."
Ashley Cole speaking to ESPN Press Pass in LA. Which competition are England trying to qualify for at the moment?
No wonder England is having a tough time at the Euro. Its all the same. Its some qualifier.
Some other gems:
"He's got two legs and two arms just like everybody else."
LA Galaxy supremo Alexei Lalas makes some startling observations about Beckham.
Nope. You can never accuse Lalas of being a rocket scientist.
"99% of the letters and e-mails are supporting us and that's not bad. That's as good as Saddam Hussein did and he was fiddling the figures."
Ken Bates after winning his battle to retain control at Leeds.
Arsene gets one in: "Despite the global warming, England is still not warm enough for him."
Arsene Wenger on the reasons it is likely Jose Reyes will leave Arsenal for sunny Spain.
For the complete list >>
Probably the hottest singer in Asia right now. See her in Dhoom Machale.
The striker situation in Man Utd was getting a trifle complicated with Carlos Tevez being courted by Sir Alex. Now there is news that Alan Smith and Giuseppe Rossi might be departing Old Trafford. It is the clearest indication that Sir Alex is confident that the Tevez saga will be resolved in his favour by the end of August as soon as all the legalities are sorted out and West Ham settles on their fee. With Tevez in the squad, Smith and Rossi would drop low in the pecking order.
Smith may land up in Boro as the rumours are that they have tabled a fairly substantial offer and Rossi will be snapped up by Parma where he impressed the club with nine goals in 16 outings to keep them from relegation in the Serie.
Meanwhile Gaby Heinze is off the market as far as Sir Alex is concerned but the Argentinian left back seems to constantly test the waters with Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Michael Carrick might be sharing minutes with Owen Hargreaves in Sir Alex's preferred four man midfield configuration. Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo are locked in as starters. The only way Carrick would get full minutes is if Man Utd were to switch to a lone striker in a 4-5-1 configuration which probably will not happen now that it appears Tevez is on his way and Saha has indicated that he is ready to see first squad duty.
MSI co-owner Boris Berezovsky is back in the news after a Russian man was arrested by Scotland Yard on suspicion of plotting to murder Berezovsky. Russian president Vladimir Putin has been gunning for Berezovsky who has been living in exile in London and faces charges of embezzling millions of dollars from Aeroflot. This comes days after a judge in Brazil issued an arrest warrant for Berezovsky and MSI owner, Kia Joorabchian on money laundering charges.
If I were Berezovsky, I would plead guilty to those charges and get hauled off to a jail in Recife which looks a lot safer than Belgravia Square right now.
Not suprisingly Berezovsky mentioned that he was unconnected to Carlos Tevez and the MSI deal because he is an Arsenal fan. I don't know think Arsenal really cares much for his endorsement. I almost imagine Peter Hill-Wood having a fit hearing this.
The Saturday showdown between these two rivals and clear contenders for the Asian Cup has come too prematurely. But there is no way around it as the Socceroos were the second best team in their group behind Iraq after being humbled by them in a shocking 3-1 defeat. Japan on the other hand topped their group.
So the mind games have begun as John Aloisi and Timmy Cahill, the two players who shot Japan's chances in the 2006 World Cup have stated that they wish to see Japan off early.
"To win the tournament you have to beat the best teams. Japan are the favorites and we have to finish them off first if we want to go on and win the cup," said striker Aloisi. "Hopefully we won't leave it until quite so late this time."
But Japan has been in good form in the group after an insipid draw against Qatar with Shunsuke Nakamura and Naohiro Takahara really opening up the offense against UAE and Vietnam. Takahara has three and Nakamura two. The Socceroos have relied mainly on their physical and aerial presence to score goals against their shorter opponents. Mark Viduka has three and Michael Beauchamp has one. Viduka plays best with his back to the opponents where he can hold them off, creating chances to score.
My feeling is that Graham Arnold will open with either John Aloisi or Tim Cahill to keep an edge psychologically. Cahill is now becoming a super sub. The other factor is Marcus Tulio Tanaka, the powerful central defender for Urawa Reds missing through injury, which opens up the aerial game for the Socceroos who will float a lot of long balls and crosses for Beauchamp, Viduka, and Aloisi to head home. A lot of pressure will fall on Yuji Nakazawa as the only tall defender who matches Viduka's 6' 2" frame. The other defenders give up almost 5" to 6" in height to the Newcastle man.
Goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi will have to summon all his experience and be at his acrobatic best. To keep the Socceroos busy the Japanese will have to force them to play a long field by challenging them early in play and cut off the passing lanes quickly. Make them predictable with their long balls. Counter the physical and aerial presence through speed. Nakamura believes that is why Japan lost in the World Cup when they sat back too deep and allowed so much space.
The Socceroos are rightly worried about Nakamura and face a similar quandary that other teams face when playing Kaka. Man to man or defend him by committee.
All in all, it makes for a very engrossing match up as two coaches who believe in very different philosophies pit their wits against each other and two teams with distinctly different styles of play that has yielded success in the past come together for this long awaited rematch.
For someone with a bum ankle, Beckham sure gets around. OK, its not Becks, its his wife who is blowing air kisses at his ankle and putting ice packs so that he can make the most lavish introduction given to an athlete in Hollywood history.
Yes, buddies Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are pulling out all the stops in an exclusive 600 star power event at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary, to welcome the Beckhams to LA. The guest list includes A-list celebrities, many who will surely love to pitch Beckham and Posh in their new productions. Steven Spielberg, Jerry Bruckheimer, Brian Grazer, David Geffen, Alan Horn, and Ron Meyer are names that keep summer hits coming. The paparazzi is not invited which leads to the many rumours afloat.
The buzz is that Cruise and Ron Meyer will sequester Beckham in a corner and ask him to become the next villain in Mission Impossible:LA Galaxy. The story follows Beckham, an evildoer (George W Bush will have a cameo), as an agent from Real Madrid planted in the Galaxy, plotting to implode their MLS season so that he can be sold back for $20,000, thereby bankrupting the club. What's the point? Dunno. That is why they make Hollywood movies. There is a scene in which he and Tom Cruise in the role of wholesome Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy hero, play hakki sack with a soccer ball filled with RDX, on a pitching helicopter with a dead pilot, while down below lies a muddy pool of ravenous crocodiles who have just thumbed down Posh Spice and her fake meat.
The final scene involves Becks taking a free kick that swerves down on a button the size seen in the Staples ads with letters that read IMPLODE. But he looks up and sees a TV monitor that shows the LA Galaxy losing to Tigres, 3-0 and he is overcome by waves of compassion, sympathy, and diarrhea. But it is too late, the ball is well on its way, locked into the far right hand curve of the button. Out of nowhere charges Landon Donovan, flinging himself down, headfirst, and deflects the ball just nanoseconds away from making contact with the button, saving the LA Galaxy from doom. Becks turns to the heavens and takes a few steps towards Donovan and collapses on his bum ankle. As Beckham is stretchered off, they exchange wry smiles. The LA Galaxy is saved from bankruptcy but not relegation and will have to fight Sheffield Utd (who have moved to the US under political asylum) to get back to the MLS.
Wait a minute. This is not true.
Who said it is? Tsk! Its a Hollywood movie.
Good news for those who want to see Eduardo Da Silva aka Dudu and Bacary Sagna, Arsenal's new signings in action. Wenger has promised that both of them will get sustained minutes in the Emirates Cup starting 28th July. The Gunners will play Inter, Valencia, and PSG for the Emirates title. This promises to be a great tournament because Inter is back with Patrick Vieira and Valencia has ex-Gunner Edu. Inter was the Serie champions while Valencia finished fourth in the Liga. So this is a good test for Arsenal in their post Henry days. Question marks are the thin talent in wing play and the continued absence of a quality left back.
Lukacz Fabianksi should also get a look in and with his challenge thrown down at Jens Lehmann of making the first squad, sooner than later, the former Legia Warsaw will be watched closely. Nicklas Bendtner, the tall Danish striker should also be on display after having a fantastic loan season at Birmingham City where he helped them to the Premiership.
Arsenal also plays in the Amsterdam Cup that will pit them against Ajax and Roma before their first Premiership fixture against Fulham. So there is plenty of opportunities to see Da Silva, Sagna, Fabianski, and Bendtner.
There is talk of making Cesc Fabregas the captain and Arseblog explains why this is not a good idea. Jokes aside, Gilberto Silva should be captain with his experience and his solid presence in the midfield. Mathieu Flamini has agreed to another year at Arsenal and this is good news because he was a hardworking and busy midfielder with some key goals during the absence of Titi Henry. Wenger is also very confident that Freddie Ljungberg will suit up as a Gunner in the new season.
The new away kits are so campy and the only hope is that they shock the opposing teams into giving away silly goals. For the kit we have to thank Herbert Chapman.
Arsenal is at present playing Turkish club Genclerbirligi (there I hope I got it right) in Austria.
Nelson Mandela's birthday football game between a world XI and an African XI ended in a 3 -3 draw.Mandela also celebrated his birthday by bringing together a group of 12 senior statesmen called The Elders whose mission would be to try and bring peace to a troubled planet.The Elders include ex-US president Jimmy Carter and former UN chief Kofi Annan
Mr Mandela said that they would .... "work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.They don't have careers to build, elections to win and constituencies to please. I hope that they succeed in bringing light to some of the darkness that affects our world."
Great goals.. and we can only hope that they will be achieved.Meanwhile the goals of the game can be seen below....
Zidane ruled out the possibility of joining Beckham in America.."I will not come back, no,....When you stop for a year, it's very hard to start again. What matters to me today is the chance to do everything I couldn't do before - spending time with my family and my friends, promoting some events and discovering the world.There is life after football -or, at least, there has been for me. The past 12 months have been very different, but my life is as full now as it was when I was playing football.'' So here he is below...playing football with his kids.
Down 1 - 0 in the first half Manchester United ended the game with the score tied at two goals apiece against J-League champions Urawa Reds in a friendly match.
Chelsea in the recent past have tied up a marketing deal with Walt Disney,beaten Club America 2 -1 in a friendly called the Disney Friendship Cup and are now heading towards the historic game on saturday in which you know who is going to be making his debut for Los Angeles Galaxy.Goals of the Club America game below.
Talk about saving the best for last.Argentina were outplayed...
Ye Gods! What was that all about? Did I see the worst exposition of poor passing and aimless freekicks. It just looked like the Argentinians were smitten by ennui. If it was not ennui then it was fatigue as deep into the second half many milled around the backfield with their hands on the hips.
In one game, the Argentinians went from the expositors of the beautiful game to the creators of dreck. But we have seen this stumble before from the Argentinians as they also began their 2006 WC campaign in spectacular fashion only to fade away. They have been brittle in that regard and today, the Ayala own goal seemed to deflate them. They looked awful in the second half. Their passing crumbled as the Brazilians bottled up the lanes.
On the other hand, the Brazilians looked sharp in their counter attacks with Dani Alves coming on as a substitute outstanding in his speed and creativity. Elano picked up an injury allowing Alves into the game and he made an instant difference. Ayala turned a wickedly inswinging cross sent in by Alves from the right, into his own goal. The third goal was the result of a nifty little pass bisecting Milito and Ayala as Love picked out Alves and the Sevilla wingback finished off his chance. Baptista's first goal was a nice bit of trap, sidestep, and shoot, all in one smooth sequence as Elano's lofted pass isolated Baptista against Ayala. The Argentinian captain had a nightmare game.
It was not a pretty match as one lost track of the many fouls. Messi was a bowling pin, picking up at least 20 of them. He did not do much but he was not alone. Riquelme's free kicks fell dreadfully short or were badly off target. And he had plenty of chances. His best chance was a stinging shot that carromed off the right post minutes after the Baptista goal.
It was a strange final as immediately after the first half, Doni began time wasting. Luckily, the referee was not going to have any of that and yellow carded him. Minutes later he gave a card to Juan for doing the same thing.
A huge letdown as finals go as one was expecting a well contested, entertaining,and free flowing game but it was Brazil who came out to play.
Copa America final: Brazil vs Argentina
Lots of subtexts in this game and a chance to see Lionel Messi with the goal of the tournament taking on Robinho, the top scorer so far with six. The match is not just about these two players but it is also about their clubs as they pushed each other in the race for the Liga title with Real just squeaking through on a better head to head with Barca. Overlying all this is the Argentinians bitter loss in the 2004 Copa on penalties. Carlos Tevez is billing this as a revenge final.
However the biggest claim. The Argentinians are claiming that they are the ones playing Jogo Bonito, implying that the Seleccao have given up that distinction.
Some how I don't think Dunga mourns the loss of Jogo Bonito if he comes away with a win today, no matter how ugly. Lets face it, Brazil's Jogo Bonito has for a long time been used as product placement to sell Adidas. On the field, it has practically disappeared.
Dunga, a tough central midfield player and former captain, has a selection of responses to that. “The media seem to think the beautiful game is just about dribbling,” he said. “For a defender, beauty is about a great piece of anticipation. For a goalkeeper, it’s a decisive save. For a full-back, it’s making a great cross. If we carry on this debate about beautiful football, we’ll wait another 24 years before we win the World Cup again.” This refers to the dry years as Brazil won in 1970 and then waited till 1994 for their next title. Of course, Dunga fails to mention that the 1970 Brazil team was arguably the greatest in history a distinction that can hardly be used to define the 1994 team.
Dunga would have started three holding midfielders in Gilberto Silva, Minero, and Josue, but Gilberto Silva is out with a suspension and his replacement is the more attack minded Elano. He unites with his Sao Paulo partner, Josue. For Argentina, it is the same lineup that won against Mexico, as Tevez gets the start over Crespo, who returns from injury.
There is not much statistically different with these two teams. They have met 87 times. Each has 33 wins and drawn 21 times. Goals scored: Argentina 142 and Brazil 134. However over the years, qualitatively, Brazil's emphasis on how to play the game has dropped off, as their focus has shifted to the more practical matter of winning matches. Argentina, on the other hand, after seeing a dip in soccer attractiveness in the '90s and early 2000's has roared back, playing beautiful soccer.
Argentina deserves to be champions the way they are playing. They have the better players who are playing attractive soccer. The Argentinians won the Copa in 1993 which was also their last time that they won any major silverware. But this is Dunga's Brazil playing their version of catenaccio. So don't count them out.
Prediction: Argentina 2 Brazil 1.
Mihir Bose, BBC's sports editor tries to explain the Carlos Tevez saga and does a good job except when he mentions that the U18 rule is very obscure and cannot be applied to third party contracts.
I checked back on the PL ruling and Jane Purdon, the company secretary was aware of the law, except that she did not bother to inform WHU's legal director, Scott Duxbury, explicitly about that law. Mr Duxbury was advised by Ms Purdon against making private arrangements in a third party contract. The MSI arrangement was that they should be able to rent out Mascherano and Tevez on notice to other clubs.
Rule U18 "No club shall enter into a contract which enables any other party to that contract to acquire the ability materially to influence its policies or the performance of its teams in league matches or in any (other) competitions."
Granted it was written originally with a view to regulating single ownership of two clubs or more. The PL is very well aware of it but they make the case that third party contracts should be covered under this law, and no new one needs to be instituted. In a way it is a duopoly. The club has the playing rights but the private company owns the economic rights.
Simple case in point. When Alan Pardew was benching Tevez and Mashcherano, as his coaching call, was MSI sitting back and taking it? The number of appearances influence loans and transfer fees. That is why Masche was transfered to Liverpool for a higher fee which gave registration to the club.
WHU could not have railroaded this law. That is why they pleaded guilty and accepted the fine. In court, the penalty of point deductions would have been far worse. So the big question is whether you want to continue third party arrangements? Because there is clearly a law against it.
Guardado's cracker of a goal sealed Mexico's win. Sebastian Abreu's header after a gem of a cross by Ignacio Rodriguez put Uruguay up (Video). Diego Lugano was sent off after a foul in the box in the 35th minute. Blanco converted the PK for the equalizer (Video). Omar Bravo put Mexico ahead with this stinging first timer (Video). Lugano's sendoff hurt the Uruguayans as El Tri exploited the extra space and passing lanes very effectively. But kudos to the Mexicans. They were the surprise team of the Copa.
I am. It has not been 72 hours since the man landed up at Carson and it seems the anointed messiah of US soccer has been here for a decade what with all the wall to wall media. While the person benefiting most from all of this, basked in its breathless attention. Yes, that's right. Posh lapped up every minute.
The man himself seemed a bit dazed and confused. What on God's name is the fuss all about? And if someone were to ask him, "David, are your expectations to take soccer to the masses?" I am sure he would have replied. "Erm, no. ...... to sell a few more T shirts really." In that regard number 23 has already been an outstanding financial success. 250,000 jerseys sold for $80 to $100 in the last few days. Nice.
Meanwhile, the serious business of taking US soccer to the masses goes on as the outstanding U20 squad crashed out against Austria. Freddy Adu and the boys notched up a dream win against Brazil, whipped Poland, and shattered Uruguay's hopes. It is just too bad that the media chose to overlook all this while it fixated over Beckham's crinkly eyes. We need an English import to save soccer akin to Hollywood's equation for hit movies casting villains from Daniel Craig to Rufus Sewell, sporting dulcet Brit accents.
To be a US soccer fan is to live the life of a dissociated personality. We are told that Beckham will turn the MLS around. Meanwhile, the U20 squad's overachieving MLS players earn the equivalent of food stamps compared to Beckham's $32m salary. We are told that Beckham will turn the spotlight of the soccer world to the US. Meanwhile, we do not even bother to send our first squad even when invited, to the Copa America. This is strange and frankly nettling.
For all of Alexi Lalas bombastic expectations of Beckham, we are far from a conduit for the Man Utd football academy. Meanwhile, I am going back to the Copa where Mexico overcame Uruguay for third place. According to my calculations, if the US had sent its first squad that beat Mexico in the Gold Cup, we should be playing Argentina in the final today. Right?
USA go down fighting.The US challenge ended in the 105th minute when Erwin Hoffer scored for Austria.The US team was down to 10 men by then having lost Wallace to a second yellow card shortly before this. The final score was Austria 2 , USA 1.Jozy Altidore was the goal scorer for the US team
The Iraq team might accomplish more to unite their country and bring it back from civil war than George W Bush's moronic 'surge' and Nur Al Maliki's sputtering government. Indeed the only undisputed benchmark of progress, if Dubya had included them in his report card to Congress, would be the success of the Iraq soccer team. It's a telling tale that Peggy Noonan, a Reagan acolyte, and a longstanding Dubya die hard, has abandoned him. According to her he has jumped the shark. Lost his marbles. Drunk the Kool-Aid. As he continues to entertain delusions of grandeur about the success of the war, the public and now Congress have begun to desert him. The emperor wears no clothes.
However there maybe a very good reason that Dubya did not include the Iraqi soccer team as a benchmark because the last time he touted them as a success the Iraqi national team rose up as one in their disillusionment of him. The Iraqi team became a focal point of the Bush re-election campaign as their participation in the 2004 Olympics, post Saddam Hussein was touted as a success, a symbol of free Iraq. One small problem was that Bush now familiarly, as his wont, conveniently forgot to take into confidence the Iraqi players.
At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."
In a truly astonishing interview with Grant Wahl, the soccer team took their gloves off as election advertisements blatantly used them as campaign talking points.
Salih Sadir, a Iraqi midfielder: "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."
If one looks at the Iraqi team, it is a rorschach of sectarian and regional divisions throughout the country. Kurds, Sunnis, and Shias united by the sport that Iraqis love the most.
Hawar Mulla Mohammed, is an Iraqi Kurd, born in Mosul, plays for UAE's Al- Ain, and anchors the midfield. Nashat Akram, the hero in the Australia win, plays for Saudi Arabia's Al-Shabab, and is a native of Al-Hillah, in central Iraq. He is one of Iraq's most promising talents increasingly linked to Roy Keane's Sunderland. Mohammad Yunus, playing for Al Gharafa, in Qatar, but born in oil rich Kirkuk, in Iraq Kurdistan is the country's most prolific striker. Qusay Munir, born in Sadr City, Baghdad, and one of the architects of Iraq's success in the 2004 Olympics, plays for Arbil FC, a northern club. Emad Mohammed, a star forward of the U19 team and subsequently, a key player in the 2004 Asian Cup was born in the holy city of Karbala, and presently plays for Sepahan, an Iranian soccer club.
Soccer as a uniting symbol for Iraqis, as a sport that rallies nationalism, is thus antithetical to the insurgents goal of unleashing sectarian forces. The inevitability of Iraqi soccer being targeted. This is a country that has seen many soccer officials and players kidnapped or murdered. No less than Ammo Baba, an Iraqi soccer icon, and the manager of the Iraqi team in its golden years of the 80s, was spared as he was assaulted and robbed at home by Iraqi insurgents.
Despite the violence, the players themselves are clear eyed about who is at fault. As much as the players detested the brutal Uday Hussein, his violence was entirely predictable.
When the Games are over, though, Coach Hamad says, they will have to return home to a place where they fear walking the streets. "The war is not secure," says Hamad, 43. "Many people hate America now. The Americans have lost many people around the world--and that is what is happening in America also."
Their resilience in a climate of overwhelming violence is a celebration of the human spirit. Their 3-1 dismantling of the Socceroos, admittedly aided and abetted by the most woeful display of defending seen since the fall of the Maginot line, was not something new or unexpected. The Iraqis have had their share of success, defying all odds, coming fourth in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, en route beating Portugal, Costa Rica, and Australia. The Iraqis also won the silver medal in the 2006 Asian Games, just beaten by Oman, 1-0. Their next opponent in the Asian Cup is Oman, setting up a rematch where the Iraqis will be looking for redemption.
Coach Adnan Hamad is gone and in his place is Jorvan Vieira, a Brazilian who accepted the position after three others turned it down because of death threats. The continued success of the team under his tenure will probably do more to further amity in Iraq than any other measure, because in the end it is their national team.
Dunga is not playing mind games here and building up the Albiceleste. He recognizes that they are the most formidable team in the Copa and a win over them would be nothing short of miraculous.
Dunga's lineup shows no surprises. Gilberto Silva is not in the final due to suspension and in his place Elano will start. He joins Julio Baptista as the other attacking midfielder. Dunga also has two holding midfielders in Minero and Josue. On paper there is perfect balance in the midfield.
Elano has been described as a template of the Brazilian team under Dunga. A player who provides the perfect balance of defense and attack, with intelligent ball movement connecting the two components. Elano's addition may also have been influenced by the fact that Brazil beat Argentina on the strength of his two goals, the last time they met.
Brazil's team: Doni, Maicon, Alex, Juan and Gilberto; Minero, Josue, Elano and Júlio Baptista; Robinho and Vagner Love.
For Argentina, Hernan Crespo should be back from injury, and getting him back will be huge.
Argentina's team: Abbondanzieri, Ayala, Zanetti, Heinze, Gabriel Milito, Cambiasso, Mascherano, Riquelme, Veron, Crespo, and Messi.
The Argentinian bench is so deep that Crespo can be replaced by Tevez, Palacio, or Diego Milito. Veron by Gago. Riquelme by Aimar. Gabriel Milito by Burdisso. Quality replaced by quality.
Carlos Tevez is calling this a revenge final as the Seleccao beat them in the 2004 Copa. So this is going to be one intense final.
According to Sepp Blatter, the best players in the Copa America are Leo Messi and Vagner Love. Vagner Love?? Blatter says Love is better than Robinho and is one of the finds of the tournament.
Let me say this. I am glad that Sepp Blatter was never a manager of a club and he can practice his ineptitude at FIFA. He would never recognize talent if it came up and wrapped its arms around him and tongued his ear.
I have tagged this entry under Soccer Humour.
Lamar Hunt and the fellow owners of the now extinct North American Soccer League recruited in the past stars such as George Best,Johan Cruyff,Pele,Carlos Alberto,Beckenbauer,Johan Neeskens,Bobby Moore and Rodney Marsh in their attempt to bring soccer to America. James Lawton writing in the Independent analyses Beckham's chances of succeeding where they failed. .Article here...and a look at a bit of Beck's speech at the unveiling ceremony below.
This is news. Usually it is the Socceroos showing up in the Premiership but Robbie Fowler, the iconic Anfield hero is on a scouting mission to find his new club and is visiting Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League.
Fowler came back to Liverpool in the middle of the 2005- 2006 season and the Kop saw some vintage Fowler before being released at the end of the 2006-2007 season. In his second stint at Liverpool he became the highest scorer in club history beating King Kenny's record. However, he was part of the old guard and was never going to figure in Rafa's makeover.
It appears that Sydney FC is trying to make the city the main attraction in their bid to woo Fowler. They do have an advantage in terms of the great weather and the lifestyle. Actually, the great weather might be a bit overstated as it was pouring buckets for a week in Sydney just a few days ago. The Hyundai A League is trying to attract big name talent just like the MLS.
Clubs like Cardiff and Leicester are also in the running to get Fowler who at the age of 32 has plenty of great soccer left in him. Cardiff is keen on replacing him as Michael Chopra, their top goalscorer is back in the Premiership with Sunderland.
As per the SMH, the most embarrassing moment in Aussie sporting history was the 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Indian soccer squad in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The match saw the first ever hat trick scored by an Asian in an Olympics game as Neville D'Souza, India's captain put three into the Aussie net.
Well, I think Iraq's, 3-1 win over the Socceroos should make the top ten.
Iraq stunned Australia with a 3-1 victory in the Asian Cup Group A leaving them on the verge of an early exit from the competition.
The Chile - Portugal match in the under 20 world cup will be remembered for this.Chile’s Christian Sepulveda was fouled by Portugal defender Mano and while the referee was going through the business of showing him the red card Portuguese midfielder Zequinha came up and took the card out of his hand.Needless to say he got his marching orders too.Video below.
The full list of who's who on the teams that will be playing in the charity game in honour of Nelson Mandela's birthday on July 18th.
African Team :
Goalkeepers: Ezaki Badou, Jacques Songo'o
Defenders: Owen Augustine Eguavoen, Mark Fish, Stephen Keshi, Doctor Khumalo, David Obua, Stephen Tataw, Okechukwu Uche.
Midfielders/Forwards: Abedi Pele, Daniel Amokachi, Kalusha Bwalya, Samuel Eto'o, Hossam Hassan, Lomana Lualua, Rabah Madjer, Pedro Mantorras, Phil Masinga, Francois Oman Biyik, Dennis Oliech, Samson Siasia, George Weah
Coaches: Jean Manga, Jomo Sono.
Rest of the World.
Goalkeeper: Andoni Zubizaretta
Defenders: Zoubaier Baya, Christian Karembeu, Gary Mabbutt, Patrick M'Boma, Santos Muntubile, Lucas Radebe
Midfielders/Forwards: Ali Daei, Emilio Butragueno, Stephane Chapuisat, Youssouf Fofana, Julen Guerrero, Ruud Gullit, Joo Sung Kim, Leonardo, Pele, Fernando Redondo, Wynton Rufer, Ivan Zamorano
Coaches: Roy Hodgson, Claude Le Roy
The Carlos Tevez transfer saga underwent another twist as a Brazilian judge issued arrest warrants to Kia Joorbachian and Boris Berezovsky for money laundering. The charges allege that Joorbachian and Berezovksy as partners in MSI, the company that owns Corinthians, used a complex system of off shore accounts for illegal monetary transactions involving the transfer of players. Joorabchian's MSI assets have been frozen by Brazilian authorities.
"The [MSI] transactions are carried out with the use of numerous offshore accounts which have the single and well-known intention of distancing the investor and the illicit origin of the resources from their final destination, in this case the purchase and sale of [football] players," the federal attorneys Silvio Luis Martins de Oliveira and Rodrigo de Grandis were reported as saying by the Brazilian legal website consultor Juridico.
What is the implication of all of this? It just added another level of complexity to the Carlos Tevez transfer saga. Kia Joorabchian and MSI are insisting that they have the economic rights to Carlos Tevez with Man Utd ready to deal directly with them. However the Premier League is insisting that part of the proceeds should go to West Ham, should the transfer go through. Joorabchian is ready to ask FIFA to intercede and settle this in his favour. Something tells me that FIFA is not going to listen to a suspected felon and neither will the Premier League after learning that MSI players and the transfer money paid for them is funneled illegally through a series of bank accounts. The PL will be even more insistent that West Ham be one of the beneficiaries.
It is hard for me to see Man Utd doing anything other agree to pay up the fee the PL feels belongs to West Ham. The question is will they? Kia Joorabchian just lost the last shred of credibility that he had.
Spain qualified for the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals eliminating Brazil in a thrilling 4-2 win that went into extra time.
Down 1-0 with two minutes to go, the USA needed a miracle. It came in the form of an own-goal from Uruguay’s Mathias Cardaccio in the 87th minute and a Michael Bradley winner in the 107th minute.
The best little goal. An absolute gem by Leo Messi. Messi with his goal against Getafe, the 'Messidona' goal, and now this. Dare we say he is taking over a certain legend whose address is the Bombanera and charting his own.
I have to hand it to the game El Tri but they came up arguably against the best team in the world at present, the talent so deep that as soon as Tevez left he was replaced by Rodrigo Palacio, Veron by Fernando Gago, and Riquelme by Pablo Aimar. Brazil would kill to have such players on the bench. And as the Mexicans predictably went after Riquelme, the play maker, and manhandled him till he lay crumpled on the ground, it was Juan Sebastian Veron whose pinpoint passing set up foray after foray. He was easily Argentina's best player. El Tri had their chances but lady luck favoured the Albiceleste as Andres Gaurdado's and then Nery Castillo's shot cannoned off the crossbar.
So Argentina meet Brazil as many predicted. But the path taken to the final could not be more different for both countries.
Bakari Sagna of AJ Auxerre, the only club never to be relegated in Ligue 1 history is set to join Arsenal except that his club seems to be holding out a wee bit longer probably for another half a mil. Arsenal will most likely sign him for 7 million pounds. His choice is a bit puzzling because even though he is a highly rated right back, we are fairly well endowed in that department having Emmanuel Eboue and Justin Hoyte.
A few factors that might have influenced Wenger's choice. Fiorentina is likely to announce Freddie Ljungberg's signing in a few days so that leaves us thin on the right flank even though Ljungberg was clearly not firing on all cylinders in the last two seasons. Wenger would like to develop Eboue's right wing play as Sagna sits back. Eboue will also see Africa Cup duty along with Toure for Cote D'Ivoire leaving Arsenal hollow at the back for three weeks (depending on how far Cote D'Ivoire goes). Concerns about the goals conceded on the right side also may have prompted Wenger to sign Sagna.
Sagna has seen plenty of U21 action and has already earned his first cap for Les Bleus. He is eventually slated to replace Willy Sagnol.
Amongst the razzle dazzle of Henry, Torres, Bent, Hargreaves, Pizarro, Bale, as transfers, the signing of Arsenal's more low key acquisitions, seems to be but a footnote. There is plenty of talk of Obafemi Martins on target as our next signing but his undoubted talent and direct, powerful style reminiscent of Drogba should be tempered by the fact that Martins seems to be a bit of a loose cannon. Personally, I would prefer Anelka because he would love to be back in Arsenal with the requisite attitude correction. However, the baggage he brings seems to be something the Arsenal board does not want to deal with.
First things first.I had to look up Uzbekistan on the map.I found out that it's the bit in red.....and a little more here..
Then the highlights of a fairly high voltage match which included things like an early self goal by Iranian defender Rahman Rezaei and Iranian coach Amir Ghalenoei getting a red card for chucking water bottles on the field.Iran are making an attempt to break a 31-year Asian Cup title jinx after winning three in a row from 1968-1976.
Apart from giving full coverage to the Galaxy - FC Chelsea game on July 21 ESPN will also present a one hour documentary called "David Beckham: New Beginnings". During the game, a Beckham camera will follow solely what the player is doing on the field for visitors to espn360.com.
Pablo Garcia could have taken the Uruguayans to the finals but his shot hit the inside right post and bounced clear. Then Doni saved Diego Lugano's shot after Gilberto slotted his PK past Carini. It did look like Doni broke his line early. The game ended in regulation time, 2-2 with goals from Maicon (video), Forlan (video), Julio Baptista (video), and Sebastian Abreu (video).
The Independent, a credible source and not Tribal football are reporting that Liverpool's offer of 13m euros for 20 year old Ryan Babel, a winger with blistering pace out on the left, but shoots with his right, has been accepted by his club, Ajax with just his medical left to complete the transfer.
Rafa Benitez was spurned by Florent Malouda who is joining Chelsea, pairing up with ex-Guingamp team mate Didier Drogba, to give another point man. With Babel pairing up with Fernando Torres, the Liverpool attack just got better a hundred fold. Imagine what they could do with that speed and the amount of space that they could potentially create.
Babel was keen on joining Arsenal, publicly proclaimed, because of his admiration of Wenger and friend Robin Van Persie. However, Wenger himself was not keen on paying such a price for someone who was a bit short in commanding a first squad position.
I can see Wenger being wary of the hype but Babel played extremely well in the U21 Dutch team that won the Euro, scoring two goals for the champions. He has also earned 14 caps for the senior squad and has already found the back of the net, four times. So although he is very young Babel has already had quite a bit of international experience. He was much more on the radar than Eduardo Da Silva, for which Arsenal is reported to have paid 15m euros. Babel also plays in the more highly rated Eredivisie.
As much as I admire Wenger with his eye for cut price talent, I think his decision not to pursue Babel will hurt us. We would have benefited by both De Silva and Ryan Babel at a cost less than 30m euros, money underwritten by the Henry transfer, and the proposed Reyes and Ljungberg transfers.
If Nery Castillo can't make it back from injury then El Tri have nary a chance. One of the most entertaining matches in the last World Cup was the stage 2 encounter between Argentina and Mexico resulting in a 2-1 defeat that saw the Mexicans almost snatch a draw after they pounded the Argentine goal in the last minutes of that game. So the Argentinians know not to take Mexico lightly.
However El Tri face a rejuvenated Riquelme in blemishless form and without goalpoacher Hernan Crespo out with an injury. Instead, it has been Riquelme, Messi, and suprisingly Javier Mascherano who have come up big. The Argentinians have the complete balance in every department of the game. The Mexicans on the other hand have been very reliant on Castillo whose first touch has been sublime.
If Castillo is out, Argentina should have an easier win, 2-0.
With Castillo, a brace from him is always possible and the Albiceleste will have to up the ante on attack. It will be tight but they should prevail, 3-2.
The only conclusion that you can draw so far is that Brazil saves its best against Chile. Three matches, three wins, 13 goals for and one against. Chile has been good to Brazil and today their coach Nelson Acosta resigned.
The 6-1 win against Chile received the media's approval and Dunga was celebrated for sticking to his guns. This after the loss against Mexico and a hard earned victory against Ecuador courtesy a dubious PK awarded to Robinho.
A 3-0 win over Argentina in Dunga's early days was followed by a sequence of narrow wins, desultory draws, and losses against Portugal and Mexico broken by the Chile blowouts. The record in context looks a little above ordinary but even World Champs Italy have been struggling under manager Roberto Donadoni. So it is not just Dunga having his work cut out.
However, under Dunga, Brazil is charting an entirely different direction, albeit an untenable one. What one sees is his desire to "out-europeanize" Europe in their soccer. Reliance on set pieces, emphasis on defending a scoreline, and a virtual wall of defensive midfielders and physically imposing defenders. Dunga's vision seems to be a variation of the catenaccio.
Of course, this was all a part of the CBF's strategy in the late 80's to rein in the showboating attack and the indiscipline on defense that was Tele Santana's hallmark and a failure in the eyes of the CBF in his ability to win the World Cup in' 82 and '86. The agents of change chosen to steer the new course were Carlos Alberto Parriera and Mario Zagalo. Dunga was the player on the ground to execute that vision and now he is their manager, wary of skill and big name strikers. You take any win however narrow and/ or ugly.
But the times have changed for Europe too. European soccer is no longer defined by its set pieces and steel trap defenses as some of the most exciting names in attack are coming out of Europe and not Brazil. France, Netherlands, Germany, and now Croatia are the incubators for attacking talent. Italy's success in the World Cup showed that they did not need a Paolo Rossi as their goals came from different sources. In contrast, the new Brazilian strikers look fairly ordinary. Alexander 'Pato' de Silva might be touted as the next big name but he and the U20 squad showed their limitations in the ongoing World Cup. Vagner Love and Fred are pedestrian in comparison to the Ro's - Romario, Rivaldo, and Ronaldo.
Brazil's soccer is in danger of being overshadowed in South America itself as Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile are producing some of the most outstanding talent. The favela factor where good Brazilian talent almost always go overseas to richer leagues is creating a situation where no one really feels committed to play for the national squad or are burned out by an unrelenting season seems to be pinching Brazilian soccer when it needs them the most.
Naohiro Takahara's opening goal for Japan was neutralised by a late equaliser from Quintana for Qatar leaving the game tied at one goal each at fulltime.
This older version of Hawkeye (pictured above) from the MASH series has been rejected by premier league bigwigs as being no good at being able to help the ref to decide on close line calls. They are however ready to test a newer version.
For those who want more on the subject there is also an ancient comic book hero (circa 1964) of the same name information about whom can be found here.
And more recently here is a report on Federer having his share of problems with the system during the Wimbledon finals and the plea for the defence.
Mexico in a goal scoring frenzy thrashed 10 a man Paraguay team by 6 goals to nothing.Goals below
Oman gave the Socceroos a run for their money by holding the favourites to a 1 -1 draw and almost winning the game while they were at it.Goals below
This match was all about exploiting connections.
Paraguay's back line is anchored by Tigres defender Juan Caceres, Toluca's Paolo Da Silva, and UNAM's Dario Veron who all play in the Mexican league and they had seen plenty of Omar Bravo, Boffo Bautista, Juan Cacho, and Andres Guardado.
But I don't think the Paraguayan defense had seen anyone like Nery Castillo. His great first touch sets up goals and reminds one of Bergkamp. He did it again. Two goals for Mexico and a hand in the Torrado goal. Some question his temperament but he seems to have matured. To be fair, Paraguay's defense was caught out of position on all the goals and the Mexican attack was made to look good.
Against Chile, Hugo Sanchez rested Castillo and the difference was plain. The attack looked flat with Boffo Bautista trying to be a bit too cute with his deflections with only Castro picking up the pace with his initiative.
Robinho has been magnificent in Brazil's sudden live wire performances but this surely will be known as Castillo's Copa. All the big clubs will be pursuing this man. (Torrado's goal and Castillo's exclamation point).
Peter Kenyon now reveals that all those rumours of tensions Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich were all true. Previously he had denied them. What is a bit less believable is the contention that these tensions were behind Chelsea's stumble in form.
Sure, the rumours of Mourinho leaving Stamford Bridge unsettled the club but the damage to their chances was already done by the injuries to key players like Petr Cech, John Terry, the overcautious attack, thinness at central and right back position, and none of their high profile transfers like Sheva, Ballack, and Bouhlarouz panning out as planned.
Mourinho admits that there were some tension between him and Abramovich centered around the lack of winter transfers and specifically mentions the peak as between the end of December and the whole month of January. Chelsea's record during that stretch shows how the champions lost ground to Man Utd by drawing Reading, Fulham, and Aston Villa in succession, effectively costing them the Premiership title. But he attributed his losses to key personnel, not a chilling in his relationship with Chelsea's owner.
After a draw against Fulham, Mourinho was asked how much he needed to spend to overhaul United, and said:"Nothing. I need the best goalkeeper in the world back, I need the best central defender in the world back." Without Terry, Chelsea have conceded eight goals in four league games.
The absence of both Terry and Ricardo Carvalho for the Liverpool match, inadequate defensive work by Ferriera and Mikel, and a rasping shot by Jermaine Pennant led to a demoralizing loss.
In the end it was the loss of key players at crucial moments and high priced transfers not working out that cost Chelsea a chance at the title. Kenyon gets a bit defensive when asked about those transfers.
"We don't subscribe to the suggestion that Andrei and Michael have been failures," he said.
Its easier deflecting criticism to a souring relationship between a manager and the owner.
Maybe it was the Sydney Live Earth concert that set the theme for the Socceroos Asian Cup opener against Oman because Lucas Neill and his boys looked like they were all for practicing energy conservation on the field. Energy offsets anyone? Al Gore would have been impressed by the Socceroos embracing his message but their fans were left quite blue by their low wattage performance.
I think the problem is that the attack with luminaries like Harry Kewell, Timmy Cahill, Mark Viduka, and Mark Bresciano, have been consuming all the media space, leaving the defense largely ignored. Yesterday, the Socceroos found out that they also have to play good defense against a determined and opportunistic Omani attack, which caught veterans Emerton, Neill, and newbie Patrick Kisnorbo frequently flatfooted. It was left to Mark Schwarzer to make the goal score look respectable. The Boro man produced another outstanding set of saves to keep the ball from the net. Full points to Oman as they kept the Socceroos in their shell.
Veterans Emerton, Neill, Viduka have made a living skating away in the cool and dim pastures of England as it were. The heat index in SE Asia is beyond that familiar climate control. This has become a frequently cited issue and a potential stumbling block on their way to the finals. Their caution in playing such conditions might be a continued problem against Iraq and Thailand, who have no doubt taken note of the ginger Socceroos. The next matches call for young guns who motor and I feel strongly that Archie Thompson and Nicky Carle should get the start. Graham Arnold should not expect Tim Cahill to pull one out of the hat all the time. Thailand and Iraq's match pulled to a draw, 1-1 leaving no one in Group A out in front. So this group is wide open.
Thailand, one of the hosts and with some of the most passionate fans, could pull off an upset with a hard running performance. Iraq's coach Jovan Vieira has mentioned his team's unimaginable difficulties preparing for the Asian Cup which leaves one with nothing but admiration for the Iraq team's grit. Anything that gives a psychological edge might be important since the Socceroos seem to have made their psyche an issue.
More Asian Cup coverage >>
The last time USA beat Brazil in soccer was in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 1989.Thomas Rongen called his side's 2-1 victory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup a "huge" moment for U.S. soccer.Altidore opened the scoring for USA.Brazil equalised through Leandro Lima and it was Altidore again who got the winner.Plenty of breathtaking saves and near misses included in the highlights below.Take a look
Brazil has won the U 20 world cup four times and have been among the final eight in every other version of the tournament ( except in 1979 - when they did not participate) This is the 16th U 20 world cup and their proud record could be at an end because they are in danger of being eliminated.The 2-1 defeat left Brazil third after the completion of group D, and and they now have to rely upon other results to sneak into the second round.
With Carlos Tevez in Man Utd as proclaimed, every other club might just as well throw in the towel. Tevez is on his way to Old Trafford on a two year loan with an option to extend it to three years. This is a complicated arrangement as MSI the third party and officially the retainer of Tevez's rights wants to negotiate the transfer.
Except that the Premier League believes that West Ham tore up that contract and rendered it null and void, in effect, giving the Hammers control over Tevez. However, MSI does not believe that is the case and that the Hammers did this to expedite Tevez's participation against Wigan in a relegation showdown. Just when MSI believes it has the bargaining rights the PL steps in and says that West Ham should get a fat fee from everything that MSI makes off the transfer. This could be up to 6million pounds which means that West Ham can break even with the fine that they have had to pay. But the Blades are now in High Court saying that the 5.5 m pounds is a slap on the wrist and that Tevez should be back in a Corinthian shirt.
So the long and the short of it, Tevez would be back with the Corinthians but those guys hate his guts for splitting to the English shores, and anyways his family was getting death threats for playing lousy last season, so he will go back to Boca. Only that Boca has Rodrigo Palacio and Riquelme and between the two of them they have won every title there is this year in South American soccer, so they don't need him. Man U, Inter, and Real would love to have him but since they have invited every soccer player with legs to audition as striker including Evo Morales, he will be 2567th on the roster. But Tevez sees himself having a role in European soccer, which would mean that being the above mentioned number is inimical to his goals, he would then decide to stay on with West Ham.
Great! But West Ham maybe relegated to the championship after the High Court decides that seeing Neil Warnock throwing a fit is a heavy price to pay, especially after he threatens to commute their lives, in many interesting ways, all to be found on YouTube under the exploding judges tag. Tevez then might be traded to the newly promoted Blades because the Hammers have spent 512m pounds on Jermaine Defoe and are now -1056m pounds in liquidation with the maintenance man screaming for his back pay. Since Neil Warnock and Blades throw up every time they see that highlight reel of Tevez scoring The Goal That Spelled Doom, they would want very little to do with him. Plus, they now have Billy Sharp to lead them out of the Premier League.
Tevez to Scunthorpe Utd for the maintenance man's wages of 12,000 quid!
The Socceroos are ready to play 'sexy' according to Brett Emerton at the Asia Cup. Emerton might be talking of a wet t-shirt contest as a typhoon threatens the opening of the cup with torrential rain and winds. This is also the height of a hot and sticky summer in SE Asia that will make those jerseys cling to skin like cheap plastic. But I think Emerton is being more prosaic and means a more attractive brand of soccer. Considering their good form in the World Cup, the Socceroos are odds on favourites to win their inaugural Asian Cup. But there is competition in Japan, the reigning Asian Cup champion.
The two countries met in the World Cup group stages and the Socceroos came out on top, 3-1 despite Japan going ahead on a controversial goal scored by Shunsuke Nakamura. Tim Cahill shot the Socceroos ahead with his brace and John Aloisi iced it with his extra time goal. Japan only managed a point and manager Zico resigned after the World Cup. The Socceroos under Guus Hiddink came under the spotlight as one of the few surprises of the World Cup as well as in playing some of the most controversial matches. Graham Poll and Fabio Grosso became household names.
Graham Arnold and Ivica Osim are the two managers entrusted with the future course of the Socceroos and the Daihyo, respectively. Japan will again be looking to the leading exponent of dead ball art in the world, Shunsuke Nakamura whose wicked free kick benders evoke Beckham except its with his his left foot. Nakamura was behind Japan's cup winning exploits in 2000 and 2004 and is also adept at scoring from the open field. Celtic wiith Nakamura in scintillating form claimed their 41st Scottish title. There are reports that Nakamura is preparing for this Asian Cup by lining burly rugby players in a wall and scoring free kicks over and around them.
Under Ivica Osim, Japan is grooming for the future with a number of youth players in the Japan squad. He is taking them in a different direction from Zico. A number of the 2002 and 2006 starters with big names like Red Bulls Salzburg's Alessandro Dos Santos, Messina's Atsushi Yanagisawa, FC Basel's Koji Nakata, and Eintracht's Junichi Inamoto have not gotten the call and Bolton's Hidetoshi Nakata has retired from international soccer. Osim also seems to be emphasizing homegrown talent as there are only two overseas players in the entire squad.
Nakamura will be supported by his midfield namesake Kawasaki Frontale's less well known Kengo Nakamura. The bulk of the strike will come from Eintracht's Naohiro Takahara, Japan's leading scorer with 19 goals. But Japan will be also looking to Sanfrecce Hiroshima's Hisato Sato, an undisputed star in a midlevel club. With 36 goals in two seasons, Sato is the top ranked Japanese striker dominated by a list of Brazilians that include Ueslei, Juninho, Edmilson, and Washington.
An interesting sidenote is that Graham Arnold played for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in its 1997 season. Other Oz players that played in the J-League include Steve Corica, Matthew Bingley, and Hayden Foxe. However, the present squad reflects the success of the A-League and the attraction for the European leagues. Out of the 23 first squaddies, a whopping twenty play in the European league, eight in the English leagues. Arnold has gone in for experience with all the World Cup starters back. The average age is 27 years with Sydney FC's Mark Milligan at 24 the youngest. However, the Socceroos are not resting on their World Cup laurels and Graham Arnold expects nothing less than a finals appearance from the squad.
A concern for the Socceroos is the heat and humidity that could potentially take its toll on the older players as the tournament wears on as well as recent injury concerns to Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell. Arnold might have to substitute them early with the younger and fresher Nicky Carle, Vince Grella, and Luke Wilshire. Socceroo fans could get a very good look at their talent in this Asian Cup.
Australia take on Oman in their first match and Japan meets Qatar. For more coverage of the Asian Cup >>
On July 13th, David Beckham will finally show up at the LA Galaxy and begin his career as the MLS most expensive signing. Five giveaways which show Becks misses Real:
5) He starts his speech by saying, " I am very happy to have become a LA Galacticos."
4) His cellphone call log shows 20 calls a day to a certain Ramon Calderon.
3) His lunch takeouts include paella and tapas.
2) He remains on the bench even as Frank Yallop announces his starting squad.
1) His crosses find no one in the middle.
Nelson Mandela will get a special treat on his 89th birthday .A dazzling line-up of past and present world-class footballers -headed by none other than Pele himself - has been put together to honour Mandela in a match called "90 Minutes for Mandela" .The event is scheduled for the18th of July in Cape Town.Proceeds of the game will go to football legacy projects in South Africa and to Mandela's 46664 HIV/Aids campaign project in sub-Sahara Africa.
There is a reason why Carlos Tevez is perceived as a £20m striker. Every time the Blades reinstate and subsequently lose their appeal to get West Ham relegated, it serves as yet another reminder to every club's manager the grievous harm Tevez did to the Blades chances of staying afloat in the Premiership. A feat that was merely heroic has passed onto the realm of myth, a feat of Herculean proportions. The Blades are now taking the Tevez case to the British High Court.
These appeals hide the fact that in the last couple of games, the Blades had a great chance of staving relegation but they lost badly to Villa, 0-3. But everything was not lost when they met up with Wigan for the final match. In fact, the Blades were overwhelming favourites to retain their Premiership position. It was the Latics that were in deep trouble. All Sheffield needed was a draw as Wigan was 3 points behind. Instead they lost as David Unsworth converted a PK that doomed Sheffield Utd. In a twist of fate, the Blades transfered Unsworth to the Latics in January 2007 as the centre back did not feature in Neill Warnock's plans.
Three appearances, three losses as Jaime Castrillon headed the ball home to give Colombia its first win in the Copa. This is a tournament that the first squad should have played because we know they can do it at the CONCACAF but can they do at this level? Bob Bradley and US soccer wasted a valuable opportunity. Brad Guzan acquitted himself well in goal and could be a good understudy to Tim Howard.
Marco Materazzi is taking legal action against three newspapers over the way in which they reported the headbutt saga in their newspapers.The newspapers that are facing his wrath are the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Star - all of whom are supposed to have misreported what he actually said to Zidane - thus bringing dishonour to his name and forcing him to take time off from the game to write a book.
Today, Roque Santa Cruz, Salvador Cabanas, and Edgar Baretto come up against Argentina. Although both countries are through to the quarterfinals there is plenty at stake. The Group C winner avoids meeting up with Mexico, the Group B winner, and one of the hottest teams in this Copa. Argentina had a tough second round encounter in the last World Cup against El Tri, barely beating them 2-1. They probably fancy their chances against Peru a lot more, although one can say that this Copa has thrown up many unexpected results, so not much can be taken for granted.
The Albiceleste are behind the Albirrojas in goal differential, a +5 against a +7. Both teams have scored 8 goals a piece but the Argentinians have conceded more. So a win will help immensely.
Paraguay will try and prove that their solid wins against the US and Colombia was no flash in the pan against experimental squads but as an indicator of progress in South American soccer and who better than Argentina to test that theory.
Hernan Crespo will miss this match through injury and so will Diego Milito through suspension. This means that Carlos Tevez will get to start and a lot of Man Utd fans will be following this match as there is speculation that he may join Old Trafford. Rodrigo Palacio keeps him company. Riquelme and Veron have combined well in the midfield with the former having a great tournament so far with two goals and a hand in three others. In fact, the Argentina squad have been so good that they have not missed a low key Leo Messi. Pablo Aimar has also filled in admirably and he along with Fernando Gago should get the start against Paraguay.
Against the USA, the Paraguayans showed that their attack was not just Roque and Cabanas but they also have Oscar Cardozo and Edgar Barreto who have capitalized on scoring chances. This they admirably did against the error prone US and Colombian defenses. However, they will have a tougher time against the likes of Nicholas Burdisso, Javier Zanetti, and goalkeeper Abbondazieri.
Matches between both these countries have traditionally run close and the last four encounters have resulted in a win each for both countries and two draws.
Prediction: Argentina 2 Paraguay 1.
The media are abuzz that Man Utd is close to signing Carlos Tevez for 20 million pounds. Its not just the usual rags but the Guardian that is also reporting this story. If that is the case then Man Utd will have top 100 million pounds in transfer money. Its been a busy transfer season with Owen Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson, and Tomas Kuszcak joining the club.
However the man in the midst of it all is treating it as yet another club ready to splash the cash on him. This includes Inter, Real, and now Man Utd. It is flattering to receive so much attention but as Tevez himself says he would not be disappointed if he stayed back at Upton Park.
Two questions for Sir Alex. Yes, I am sure Sir Alex would love to have him but is Tevez worth that much money? He was instrumental in saving West Ham from relegation but is it enough to see a 400% appreciation in his valuation with just one season. How about waiting a couple of seasons more for a more realistic valuation?
A similar case could be made for Benni McCarthy. A 20 goal striker in his first season at Blackburn and he too should be a 20m pound range striker. In his case this would be a 1000% jump in worth. Similarly, Dimitar Berbatov and Obafemi Martins, if we were to apply the same yardstick also did as much for their clubs to warrant a 20m pound valuation.
The second question for Sir Alex. Where is Tevez to fit into the Man Utd attack? At 20m pounds, Tevez and the club don't expect him to sit on the bench and become a super sub a la Solskjaer who is due to retire in 2008. Rooney will be a lock in a 4-5-1 system if Sir Alex were to play both Carrick and Hargreaves. In a 4-4-2, Tevez will be part of a rotation last season that saw Rooney, Smith, Larsson, Saha, Eagles, and Solsjkaer. Plus, is the club going to jettison Alan Smith or Louis Saha? Saha says that he is ready for first squad duty after his knee surgery and the way he began last season it appeared he was to be RVN's heir apparent before injuries slowed him down. Giuseppe Rossi has indicated that he sees himself in the first squad after his loan at Parma. His performances have been quite noteworthy also. Nani and Anderson, the summer's expensive signings would like to see sometime off the bench and become part of the rotation. If Tevez were to be signed then it would open up even more questions for the Man U attack.
Good coaches always make adjustments. Bob Bradley has run into a mini crisis of sorts. We can argue that this is the B team and to expect any better would be a miracle. But we have Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellmen, Kasey Keller, Jimmy Conrad, Ben Olsen, Jay DeMerit, Benny Feilhaber, Jonathan Bornstein, who have found a place in the first squad at some point in time.
Irrespective of personnel, it is the failure to convert goal scoring chances or to get that extra step to prevent a defensive lapse occurring that seems to be a recurrent theme. Football basics. Mental errors. This is the coaches prerogative. Bradley has been found wanting in this Copa. We can point to a number of such mistakes in the Gold Cup even while winning the title. On the other hand, our rivals Mexico can seriously argue that they also came in weakened with injuries and fatigue, down after the Gold Cup loss, despite all that they are riding high into the quarterfinals.
The composition of this Copa America team is debatable. Bradley's intentions have been unclear. If this is indeed about giving the second stringers international exposure then why have a relatively experienced strike corps in Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellmen with 56 caps backed up by a midfield with only Ben Olsen having substantial experience. Bradley should have started strikers Lee Nguyen, Hercules Gomez or Charlie Davis. And one can see the Copa America organizers point of view questioning the US on its lack of commitment to the tournament. As an invitee this was a golden opportunity to play your best team against some of the best teams in the world and we did not take it. At a minimum it would have established a baseline against quality opposition because we have a pretty good idea of our CONCACAF standing.
Eddie Johnson is not the answer to our attacking woes. He is too capricious a striker to pin our hopes on. He can be on fire for a game and fade entirely in the next, even when good service is provided. He is not even a Pippo Inzaghi whose transparent MO works on hedging the offside trap and slipping one in on a nanosecond delay.
With nothing left to lose against Colombia Bradley needs to go all out with giving this youth squad as much international experience. Start Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davis as the strikers, Sacha Klejstan and Eddie Gaven in midfield, and defenders Heath Pearce and Drew Moor. Brad Guzan should start in place of Kasey Keller.
Group C: USA meets Colombia
Venue: Estadio Metropolitano de Futbol de Lara, Barquisimeto, Venezuela
Date and Time: 18:35 ET / 22:35 GMT, Thursday, July 5, 2007
Claudio Pizarro's two goals took Peru into the last eight of the Copa America.The game against Bolivia ended in a 2-2 draw.Venezuela and Uruguay also advanced into the quarters after playing out a goal-less draw.Mexico and Chile are also through after playing out another goalless draw.Goals of the Peru - Bolivia game below.
Freddy Adu scored a hat trick and Danny Szetela scored two goals as the United States defeated Poland 6-1 in the FIFA U-20 World Cup .
When Rooney was only 16 he scored this brilliant goal against Arsenal.His shot beat keeper David Seaman and found the top left corner of the goal and ended a 30 match unbeaten run that Arsenal had going till then.
Since then he's let thing slip a bit.But wait..things are looking up.He's getting all that deadly accuracy back again - or so this ad from Nike would have us believe.
Sheffield Utd lost its appeal to dock points from West Ham on the Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano transfer which would help them get back to the Premiership. They also lost their appeal to de-register Carlos Tevez.
I think the way Carlos Tevez and West Ham responded to the danger of sure relegation and played magnificently down the stretch to stave off relegation played a huge part in this. This coupled with the record 5.5 million pound fine probably swayed the arbitration committee in deciding that West Ham had earned their spot in the Premiership and been punished suitably for their transfer malfeasance.
Juve's Claudio Rainieri, does not want his former player Frank Lampard, as the club is full in midfield. Lampard is dissatisfied with the Chelsea deal which reportedly gives him 131,000 pounds a week. When someone like John Terry, the heart and the soul of the defense, and Arjen Robben, one of Chelsea's super subs have been told that 100,000 pounds is an inflated salary for them and in terms of leadership and skill, are leagues above Lampard, then you know that soccer economics are seriously screwed. He will stay because I don't see him fit into the way Barca, the other club interested in him, plays.
A bad writer and an even worse player. Chelsea has carried him on their back for so long it seems that on the rare occasion that he does anything out of the ordinary it needs to be celebrated. He was a disaster in the World Cup when all he looked like he wanted to do was blast the ball into the stratosphere. Lampard loves to have a go at goal but he is one of the least savvy footballers in the world.
This man is out of his mind if he thinks that he is worth 135,000 pounds a week and Chelsea is out of their mind if they accept that valuation. The only reason he is successful is that he is in Chelsea, where the pecking order is Drogba, Essien, Cech, Terry, Carvalho, Joe Cole (when fit), Claude Makelele (when fit), and even John Obi Mikel, and then possibly Lampard. In a conservative club like Chelsea, where the attack goes through Drogba, having someone score 20 goals after 992 attempts at goal is a boon. It is not however a sign of footballing efficiency or talent, it just means that once in a while just as in the myriad groups of four Englishmen getting together to play rock music, great groups like The Who, The Clash, and Led Zep, are born.
Barca seems to have taken their losing the Liga title the wrong way if rebuilding means getting someone like Lampard. He is nowhere in the caliber of Deco and Xavi, who are unlike each other in their style. I disagree that these two players are redundant.
Edgar Baretto, Oscar Cardozo, and finally Salvador Cabanas finish off the USA. Ricardo Clark pulls back one for team USA. But the defense looked like it was one step slower most of the match. (Goals here and here and here ).
The first thing you notice is Da Silva's talent for being at the right place at the right time. Impeccable goalscoring instincts. He is not a tall guy but he seems to score a number of goals through headers timing his jumps beautifully. His penalty kicks are executed coolly and calmly which shows that he plays well beyond his age. I am very excited about the potential for him and Cesc to link up.
He needs to get some new shades though. The ones he is wearing are an eyesore.
Eduardo Da Silva aka Dudu is on his way to Arsenal as Wenger makes his move to replace the loss of Thierry Henry. Soccerblog has been following the Brazilian born Croatian striker who has been in sensational from for the Croatian squad and his club, Dinamo Zagreb which won their title on the strength of his record breaking 34 goals. We also think, unlike The Times list, that he is in the top 50 players likely to make a difference in the next season. Dinamo is claiming that the transfer fee is in the region of 24 million euros (16.25 m pounds) but the BBC understands it is more in the region of 11.25m euros (7.5 million pounds).
In Dudu Arsenal gets a pure goalscorer. He is best known to English fans as the player who adroitly lobbed the ball over Paul Robinson scoring Croatia's first goal in the 2-0 win over England. Dudu's stated club of choice was Sevilla but Wenger probably needed to add to the depleted striking corps very quickly and offset the sense of despondency that was settling in after Thierry Henry's departure.
Da Silva's reaction to playing for Arsenal:
Eduardo said: "I am excited, happy and very proud that I am going to play for such a big club. Every footballer wants to play for [FC] Barcelona, Real [Madrid CF], Manchester United [FC] or Arsenal one day and I am the same. I want to progress in my career, though it is hard to leave Dinamo after eight years. I will miss the club, the dressing room. Hopefully I will be back one day, but right now I want a new challenge." Dinamo president Mirko Barišić added: "I think the transfer is worth €24m from the money Arsenal got for selling Henry to Barcelona."
Da Silva's stats at Soccerbase >>
The US has a very good record against Paraguay having 2 wins, 2 draws, and no losses. They have blanked Paraguay three times in these 4 encounters. However, this is not a toothless Paraguay that they are meeting. Roque Santa Cruz and Salvador Cabanas combined for all five goals as they ran rampant against a wide open Colombian defense, turning them inside out in a sprint to the races.
The US defense has more mettle than Colombia and so it will be left to Jimmy Conrad, Jay De Merit, Jonathan Bornstein, and probable starter Danny Califf to shackle Roque, Oscar Cardozo and Cabanas. Marvel Wynne was ineffective with Ben having to clean up against Argentina as the defense broke down in the latter part of the second half. The US will have to close the passing lanes very quickly which medio Edgar Baretto and Julio Dos Santos will try and create.
On the other hand, the US will have to rely more than the long ball to Eddie Johnson to create chances. As many commentators pointed out against Argentina, the US suffered mightily from shoddy and disjointed wing play resulting in inaccurate crosses and passes that went no where. The attack will again go through Benny Feilhaber, fast developing into one of the USA's most promising talents and Ricardo Clark on the left. Ben Olsen as the holding midfielder should push up the speedier Bornstein and DeMerit down the flanks opening up the field to try and get some quality wing play. The US against the Argentines could not mount any credible threat due to a lack of set pieces like corners and free kicks. They should be able to get more against the Albirrojas.
I think corners and free kicks is where the taller US players will get an edge over the Paraguayans as well as the selective long ball to Eddie Johnson. The question is whether the US will be able to come up with effective service up front.
The Paraguayans have a superior goal difference which will give them an advantage if the US should tie them in points. So the US need at least a tie and then take their chances against the Colombians to keep their chances alive.
Prediction: Paraguay 2 USA 2.
Arsenal fans will be following the progress of Salamanca starlet Carlos Vela set for a return mid 2008. He will open Mexico's attack with Barca's star in waiting, Giovanni Dos Santos in the U20 World Cup. The duo set the U17 World Cup on fire with their telepathic understanding and marksmanship in a Mexican attack which totted up 16 goals in 6 matches.
A interview with Gio (Giovanni Dos Santos) show that the Barca junior team striker is brimming confidence about the Mexico squad prospects. He comes off as a very likable and telegenic personality, a bit of a contrast to the more serious Carlos Vela. Gio is the son of Zizinho, the Brazil born naturalized midfielder who played for America and Monterrey in the 1970's. Gio's brother Jonathan is also part of the Barca youth squad.
Anchoring the midfield is the excellent Carlos Villaluz, another holdout from the U17 squad, playing now for Cruz Azul. Mexico also expects stellar performances from defenders Arturo Ledesma (Chivas) and Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul) and Gualdajara's midfielder Omar Esparza.
Canada fizzled out against Chile in their opener being outplayed thoroughly, 3-0.
Nery Castillo scores again from a sweet pass by Rafa Marquez. Omar Bravo heads off a perfectly placed cross as Ecuador commits its players forward. Mendez pulls one back but Mexico are the first team into the Copa quarterfinals. In doing so it proves me absolutely wrong and I would think many others. Mexico is proving to be the surprise package in this tournament minus many in its starting line up. (Omar Bravo's goal here and Mendez's here)
A new wrinkle in the Fernando Torres deal. Just when Rafa Benitez had all but wrapped up the deal that would see Torres land up at Anfield on a £27m transfer there are now reports that Torres wants a 6 year contract worth £31.2 m pounds which would see him earn more than £100,000 a week. It seems Inter is ready to match that offer. His agent is now holding out for more money and using the Inter offer as bait. If I were a Liverpool fan, I would show him the door. Torres is simply not worth it and he has shown that money and not playing for the club, is his primary motivation.
I don't think Tom Hicks, as co-owner of the Texas Rangers who has already had the dubious distinction of pouring almost $250m (£125 m) into Alex Rodriguez's salary, in what is widely known as the most expensive bust in sporting history, wants to willingly go down that route again. Hicks might have a reputation of acquiring over priced players who never pan out but his partner George Gillette has built his teams through careful investments in players like he did with the Montreal Canadiens. Then again, Atletico Madrid benefits from getting Diego Forlan on a £14 m transfer from Villareal and Luis Garcia on £4 m and they still have £9m pounds left from the Torres deal. Atletico fans unhappy with the Torres deal will probably realize that their club has come out quite well in all of this.
Torres will land up in Anfield after the wage holdout has been resolved in his favour but his transfer circumstances leave a sour taste in the mouth.
Robinho scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win for Brazil over Chile in the Copa America.Match report..
Yesterday, Poland beat Brazil, 1-0 in the U20. It was the first time in over 30 years a Polish team had beaten a Brazilian team at any level. The last time was in the 1974 World Cup when Gregorsz Lato scored against Brazil. Lato and Zbiegnew Boniek, the red haired wonder striker who also played for Juventus saw Poland's finest period of soccer from the 70's to the mid 80's. Poland achieved two third place finishes, in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups.
I think after the disappointing showing of the national squad in the 2006 World Cup, Poland has rebounded back with a strong performance in the Euro 2008 qualifiers and this win against Brazil in the U20 shows that they have a very promising future ahead.
Ice hockey mad Canada take on Chile in the U20 and all hopes are pinned on captain David Edgar, a veteran of two U20 Cups already, and now shaping to be one of the best central defenders in the Premiership. Edgar will try an prove with the U20, that the Canucks can celebrate something more than their myriad successes in ice hockey. Edgar is a tower of strength literally at 6'4" but he also has speed with great tackling abilities.
Edgar also showed that he can score to add yet another dimension to his game. In his first home match his booming shot against Man Utd equalized the game for the Magpies against the Red Devils and gained him national prominence as it became one of the more celebrated goals in last season's Premiership. He describes the exhilaration.
"As soon as it left my foot I knew it was going in and I just went mad. It was the greatest feeling in the world. I couldn't stop smiling and the boss and the players had to calm me down because there were still 15 minutes to go. I can tell you, though, I was smiling for a few days after the game too!"
He is a native of Kitchener, Ontario but has thick roots in Geordie soil as his father Eddie Edgar was the Newcastle goalie in the 1970s and grew up following the club's fortunes. Edgar turned down an opportunity to join Man Utd's academy at age nine and opted to stay on in Canada. Over the years he also spurned the Celtics and various other clubs and then joined Newcastle's youth academy on a scholarship at age 13.
"I've supported Newcastle ever since I was a little kid in Ontario," he explained. "My family are all Geordies… so when I got a chance to get into the academy when I was 13, I was just thrilled. It's more than just a sport up there - the club is woven into the fabric of everyone in the city."
Edgar and Ispwich Town striker, Jamie Peters are hoping that their many connections on the field should stand them in good stead against Chile, their main rival. Chile would have been far more dangerous but Udinese striker Alexis Sanchez who many see as the next Marcelo Salas is serving a suspension. The Canucks will also be looking to SC Herenveen striker Will Johnson and Toronto FC's defender Stephen Lumley to steer them to the next round. Both were in the squad that beat Brazil, 2-1 in a friendly U-20 last year with Lumley scoring the winner. (Highlights on YouTube)
David Edgar stats at Soccerbase >>
The Independent covers the match against Man Utd.
Germany's success at the last World Cup was not only measured by its unexpected entry into the semi-finals but the way the Mannschaft played the game. Attacking soccer touched by flashes of creativity. The Germans out samba-ed the Samba Boys. In doing so, the perception of German soccer as a mechanistic, soul less entity, ultimately relying on Teutonic strength and efficiency was revisited.
Jupp Derwall the manager of the German national team from 1978 to 1984 continued the tradition put into place by his predecessor, Helmut Schon under whose tutelage he saw first, duty as a long time assistant, and finally after Schon’s retirement, the control of the German team. Derwall’s considerable achievements were overshadowed perhaps unfairly as Brian Glanville points out by the part he played in the events in the 1982 World Cup which saw both W. Germany and Austria qualify at the cost of Algeria. The Algerians had in a stunner upset W. Germany, 2-1, the 1980 Euro Cup champions. The final group encounter pitted the Germans against the Austrians, a win for Germany would ensure that both countries would go to the next round.
The Germans scored after 10 minutes through Horst Hrubesch and then proceeded in one of the most cynical displays of sporting conduct at a world level, to pass the ball around for the next 80 minutes or so. Incensed fans catcalled and a German fan thoroughly disgusted by the cynicism, burned the national flag. A group of Algerian fans, envisioning their team’s elimination, tried to rush the field, but they were confronted by police officers with dogs. Algeria’s protests to FIFA fell on deaf ears. Derwall justified this shameless exposition as “we wanted to progress, not play football.”
I remember seeing that match in India (the first time the WC was telecast in India) with friends in the wee hours of the morning and growing increasingly disgusted as the match progressed and it became evident what the Germans and the Austrians were up to. It was after the 1982 World Cup that FIFA instituted the last round of matches in the group to be played simultaneously. W.Germany’s cynical start to the World Cup continued as in the semi-finals, they beat France on penalty kicks in a nail biter. The match was marred by one of the most vicious fouls in soccer history as Harald Schumacher, the German goalie felled French defender Patrick Battiston, foot forward, breaking his teeth and rendering him unconscious. The referee astonishingly awarded only a free kick as Battiston lay motionless and was attended to by medical staff before being carted off. Battiston's World Cup was over.
Again, I remember praying that the Germans would lose as I am sure millions everywhere in the world were doing so. The Germans finally lost to Italy, 3-1 in the finals but the damage done to Derwall and German soccer was immense. He was vilified on his return. It is a shame that these events cast such a pall because as Glanville points out, that German team was one of the finest with stellar players like Rummenigge, Schuster, Allofs, Littbarski, Muller, and Schumacher. The Germans failed in defending their Euro title in 1984 and that was the beginning of the end of Derwall.
German soccer again saw an upswing and its image rehabilitated by Franz Beckenbauer, the manager replacing Derwall, culminating in the 1990 World Cup title. After stints by Berti Vogts and Rudi Voller that saw mixed results, German soccer under Jurgen Klinsmann and now, Joachim Low the trajectory taken by the present German team is refreshingly different. I think Germans everywhere feel good not only at the team’s success but by the way they are playing soccer.
On a footnote, in W.Germany, Derwall was a diminished figure but revived his career as manager for Galtasaray, the Turkish club becoming immensely popular with fans as he led the club to success. He modernized training in Turkey preferring to play on grass fields rather than the traditional hard earthen pitches.
Josef "Jupp" Derwall, footballer and manager, born March 10 1927; died June 26 2007
The US staved off a tough S.Korean U20 side that was clearly a notch faster than the defense expected it to be. The first half saw the US take the lead after Freddy Adu at the near post flicked a long ball from Sal Zizzo onto an onrushing Danny Szetela. The S.Koreans equalized 20 minutes later through Young Rok Shin on a one on one situation with Chris Seitz.
Chris Seitz came up with some huge saves which might have otherwise made the score line completely one sided.
Match report >>
It does not get easier for the US because they have to play Poland which beat Brazil, 1-0 and of course Brazil too. So a win against the other teams would help their going onto the next stage considerably.
Venezuela got their first Copa win for three decades when they beat Peru 2 - 0 amid refereeing controversies about penalties that should have been given etc.
Vicente Sanchez's goal for Uruguay gave them a precious 1-0 win over Bolivia and a slender lifeline .
Brazil still reeling from the shock 2- 0 defeat to Mexico in the Copa America had some more reeling to do after their under 20 team went down by a goal to Poland.Video of the goal by Grzegorz Krychowiak's [try pronouncing that first] below.What's more Poland were down to 10 men for most of the game.