Monday, April 30, 2007

South Africa World Cup doubts grow

World Cup 2010.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has increased the doubts surrounding South Africa's ability to host the World Cup in three years' time by admitting the world governing body has back-up countries in place, should the hosts fail to be ready in time.

England, Spain, Japan and the USA are the reserve hosts, according to Blatter in an interview with the BBC, but only "a natural catastrophe" will derail the African World Cup. England and the USA have already announced their intention to bid for the 2018 finals.

Blatter openly backed the South African bid for both 2006 and 2010, and recently referred to it as "a moral obligation", mindful of the continent's votes which got him elected, but only last year he expressed concern that the construction of the ten new or renovated stadia was behind schedule.

CEO of the organising committee Danny Jordaan and South African President Thabo Mbeki both insisted in late 2006 that all was well and that their nation was ahead of Germany at a comparable stage before the finals, but despite the constant assurances, controversy continues to dog the South African hosting.

While the stadium construction issue remains, many observers are repeating concerns about the transport and hotel infrastructure and the perennial Achilles' heel of South Africa, crime.

For now, FIFA & South Africa are steaming ahead, and with Blatter having staked his presidency on an African bid since long ago, it would be a major surprise if South Africa didn't end up hosting the finals, despite all the fears.

Amongst the new arenas under construction is the rebuilt 104,000 capacity Soccer City Stadium near Soweto, Johannesburg, venue for the final in 2010.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Friday, April 27, 2007

A Little Wayne Never Hurt Anyone

As much as I enjoy my position as the country’s leading football betting scribe, I occasionally yearn for the more glamorous world of investigative journalism.

When news broke that David Moyes had initiated legal proceedings against Wayne Rooney for alleging that his ex-boss leaked tales of his ‘cash for a rash’ habit; I sensed my opportunity.

To get to the bottom of the story, I knew I had to do everything that young Rooney did, with the exception of the old trout.

After conducting my initial enquiries, I can confirm that there are establishments that offer this kind of tawdry service, and they open on a Friday night, a Saturday morning and a Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure if these places are open in midweek, but my investigation is ongoing.

At this early stage, I wouldn’t like to put money on Moyes being successful in his action, as my overheads have left me virtually potless. I’ll try to recoup a little by backing Rooney’s United to see off the Moyes boys at 8/11.

It may sound ridiculous to claim that Watford have enjoyed their spell in the top flight, but some people welcome a spanking on a weekly basis. The Hornets will be getting tonked at Bramall Lane this week, 4/7 is lying on the table.

Manchester City haven’t scored a Premiership goal in front of their own supporters since New Years Day. Luckily for the Psycho, Aston Villa are the next visitors to Eastlands so Vassell is guaranteed a goal. The Villa are unbeaten in their last six matches; a draw looks the call at 9/4.

Jose Mourinho believes that Manchester United’s opponents are denied penalties as a result of a ‘new rule’. The Special One is completely wrong on this one; that directive was introduced several years ago. I only have one rule this weekend, get on Chelsea at 1/3 to see off Bolton.

If i had to pick Wigan’s most consistent performer, I’d probably plump for the chairman; he’s been consistently wrong in every interview this season. West Ham can drag Wigan into the relegation battle at 12/5.

Charlton have one major advantage over their backdoor threatened rivals, they have the Bent lad up front. The classy hitman can help Charlton leave Ewood Park with a point at 5/2.

I was surprised that the tabloids found it newsworthy to reveal that the royal family are Arsenal fans. I’m pretty sure that Prince Philip supported the Gunners in last season’s Champions League final; I heard he wrote a note saying ‘Get it done in Paris.’ The Queen’s favourite team will put one over her favourite shopkeeper at 4/9.

Stevie Gerrard swapped shirts with Frank Lampard after Liverpool’s first leg defeat in their Champions League semi; he’s always had a soft spot for camping. The Reds will have one eye on the second leg; Portsmouth can land the upset at 11/4.

Reading were absolutely devastated when Newcastle won from behind at St James’ earlier in the season; nobody has regretted losing a lead in such a fashion since Helen Chamberlain’s ex-boyfriend. The Royals can gain revenge at 21/20.

Middlesbrough are having to plan for next season without Mark Viduka. Gareth Southgate is said to be quite disappointed; but it’s Christmas come early for the catering department. Backing the draw between Boro and Spurs at 12/5 will make us all feel that little bit happier.

Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Reading form a 14/1 weekend accer that is so liberating, I’ve finally realised that the female of the species is not a commodity that can be bought and sold. Renting remains a viable alternative.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell & soccerphile.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Weekly Football News Roundup 24 April 2007

Football News.
04/24/2007

Croatian FA to demand 3.5 million € from UEFA over loss of Euro 2012

Croatian FA chairman Vlatko Markovic says his organization will demand 2.5 to 3.5 million Euros in damages from UEFA after the joint Croatia/Hungary bid was rejected as host to stage the 2012 European championships.

"We'll ask between 2.5 and 3.5 million because all of our projects were suspended during the campaign to organize Euro 2012," Markovic told the Jutarnji list daily.

Markovic, who spoke to UEFA's chairman Michel Platini in Nyon over the issue, believes Croatia and Hungary were deceived in the Executive Committee's final vote last Wednesday that was won by Ukraine and Poland.

"We told Platini we were in shock over UEFA's decision in Cardiff and he replied, 'Me too'." What happened in Cardiff was a huge surprise both for him and for us, but I cannot go into details," said Markovic.

The Croatian FA chairman had claimed that seven of 12 Executive Committee members eligible to vote had pledged to support Croatia and Hungary, but Ukraine and Poland came away as runaway winners in spite of the weakest infrastructure and the turmoil in corruption-ridden Polish soccer. The Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, on the other hand called for Markovic's resignation over the Croatian FA's failure to win the right to stage the big soccer event five years from now.

Lyon's double record

Thanks to Toulouse's defeat of Rennes, Olympique Lyon won the French championship for the sixth successive time. Lyon claimed that they were already in posession of the French record even though Marseille also finished top five times in a row, but the Southerners were stripped of their 1992/93 title due to having fixed the game at Valenciennes.
Now the record is clearly Lyon's by everybody's criteria. Lyon have also become the first team from one of the European top-five leagues to have collected six consecutive titles. In Spain, Real Madrid were champions five teams in a row on two occasions, while Juventus and Turin both have had a five year winning streak in the past.

The longest runs in top leagues

France (6): Lyon (2002-2007)
Spain (5): Real Madrid (1961-1965 and 1986-1990)
Italy (5): Juventus (1931-1935), Torino (1943-1949)
Germany (3): Bayern (1972-1974, 1985-1987, 1999-2001)
Borussia Mönchengladbach (1975-1977) England (3): Huddersfield (1923-1926), Arsenal (1932-1935), Liverpool (1982-1984) and Manchester United (1999-2001)

Internazionale crowned champions in Italy

Two goals from Marco Materazzi at Siena coupled with Roma's defeat at Atalanta gave Inter an unassailable lead at the top of the Serie A table and the 15th championship in their history.
This has been the first Inter league triumph achieved on the field after 18 years. Last year they had the title awarded to them by the Italian FA only because the two teams ahead of them had all their results annulled due to referee-tampering and match-fixing.
Surely, their rivals will try to minimize Inter's merits for this "scudetto" as well and claim their path to success was made easier by Juventus' relegation to Serie B and Milan's eight-point deduction for the current season. What Inter will try to do to dissuade the cynics is collecting the record number of points. They have 87 points with four games to go, four points fewer than Juventus' tally last year.

Incredible Mancini takes 8 titles in 7 years

Roberto Mancini has been working as a coach for only seven years but he has already filled his trophy room with some mean silverware. The 42-year-old ex-international player has managed Fiorentina (2000-2002), Lazio (2002-2004) and Inter (2004 to date) and won at least one trophy with each of the teams: an Italian Cup with both Fiorentina and Lazio plus two league titles, two Italian Cups and two Supercups with Inter.
Since Inter is yet to play this years's Italian Cup finals against Roma (for the third season in a row), Mancini's trophy collection may well be augmented before this spring is over.

Celtic win another League title

If the nineties were the time of Rangers, the first decade of the 21st century is painted green and white. Celtic secured their 41th League title and their fifth in the last seven seasons with four games to go by defeating Kilmarnock 2-1. The Japanese playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura gave the Celts the key three points in added time to keep his team 13 points ahead of Rangers.
Celtic can round off a magnificent season by adding the Scottish FA Cup in the finals against Hibernian or Dunfermline on May 26th.

Abedi Pelé's match fixing scandal

One of the top African players of all time, Abedi Pelé (45) has been banned from all soccer related activities due to involvement in a match fixing scandal in the Ghanaian League.
The Ghanaian Federation decided that Pelé-owned FC Nania's win over Okwawu United by 31-0 was not achieved in an entirely sportsmanlike fashion. At the same time, FC Nania's rival Great Mariners defeated Mighty Jets 28-0. Curiously, both games were 1-0 at halftime, but the forwards must have hit a golden streak after the interval.
As a consequence, all four teams have been kicked out into Division 3 and all the players involved banned from playing for the remainder of the season.
Abedi Pelé, a star of Marseille, Lyon and Torino during the nineties, claims that his team won legally, comparing the game with Manchester United's 7-1 drubbing of AS Roma.

Copa Libertadores' champions bid an early farewell

Internacional of Porto Alegre said goodbye to the defence of the Copa Libertadores after finishing behind Vélez Sarsfield and Nacional Montevideo in the first stage of the competition.
The South-American and world champions had to beat Nacional by three goals in the last round, but all they could manage was a 1-0 win, which meant their elimination due to an inferior goal difference.


The night when Messi became the soccer Messiah

Lionel Messi is the new Diego Maradona, the Spaniards are sure. In the FA Cup semifinals against Getafe, the Argentinian teenager scored a goal extremely reminiscent of Maradona's goal against England in 1986 - the one with his foot, not the other one.
On the turf of Camp Nou, Messi received the ball from Xavi in Barca's half, dribbled past four defenders, ran past keeper Luís García and right-footed the ball home from a narrow angle. Everybody was amazed, not least Maradona, who watched his "successor's" masterpiece from his hospital bed in Buenos Aires. The Argentinian press quoted Maradona as saying of Messi, "He is my heir".

Raúl goes level with Hierro

By playing in the Real vs. Valencia game on Saturday, Raúl González equalled Fernando Hierro's number of 439 appearances for Real Madrid. Only two more players have more appearances: Carlos Santillana on 461 and Manolo Sanchís on 524. If Real don't offload their skipper next summer, he will be well positioned to catch up with Santillana, but it will take him another couple of seasons to overtake Sanchís.
Raúl debuted in Real's senior team in October 1994 and went on to win 13 trophies and score 187 goals, fewer only than Alfredo Di Stéfano.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

J League Results 23/4/07

Saturday / Sunday 21 & 22 April

After seven rounds of the 2007 J-League season Gamba Osaka are back on top. Nagoya Grampus move back to second ahead of Frontale who ended Reds' amazing 25 straight home game winning streak. Yokohama FC lost again - this time 0-1 at fellow strugglers FC Tokyo.

J League Results 23/4/07.


In J2, Consadole and Vegalta and lead Avispa and Montedio.

FC Tokyo 1 Yokohama FC 0
Urawa Reds 1 Kawasaki Frontale 2
Ventforet Kofu 3 Kashiwa Reysol 2
Shimizu S-Pulse 1 Kashima Antlers 2
JEF United 1 Omiya Ardija 0
Nagoya Gampus Eight 2 Vissel Kobe 0
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0 Albirex Niigata 0


Gamba Osaka 5 Jubilo Iwata 2
Yokohama F Marinos 5 Oita Trinita 0
Leading Positions

Gamba P7 Pts 16
Grampus P7 Pts 15
Frontale P7 Pts 14
Reds P7 Pts 14
Reysol P7 Pts 13
S-Pulse P7 Pts 12


J2

Consadole P10 Pts 21
Vegalta Sendai P9 Pts 19


J.League News

Friday, April 20, 2007

Interview: Omiya Ardija Coach Robert Verbeek

Omiya Ardija Coach Robert Verbeek.
Robert Verbeek, younger brother of South Korean coach Pim, has spent eight years coaching at PSV Eindhoven. The 45 year-old is now six games into his Japanese coaching career with J-League outfit Omiya Ardija.

The Squirrels struggled at the start of the season but, in recent games, have seen results improve.

Now you have your first point of the season. You must feel better...

I feel good. For everybody it is good, we finally have a point. We now have two 0-0’s in our last two games. We are not scoring goals but on the other hand we are not conceding. Before they were scoring two or three goals against us so I think our defensive organization is getting better – it is not 100% but like everything, is getting better. I was very satisfied with the last game for the players and for the fans.

You’re a new coach and you lose the first four league games. Did you feel under pressure?

I knew before I started that it was a difficult situation. It is not easy because you are working with the same players as last season. I am satisfied with the quality of the players but it is always difficult when a new coach comes in. I want to play a little Dutch style – more attacking, more attractive for the fans but also with a strong defensive foundation.

Maybe it has something to do with last year. The second half of the season was not good so I think confidence was not high among the players. So I have to talk a lot, be positive, I am always very positive to my players, so maybe that helps.

When you’re on a losing streak, as a coach, are you always positive? Is there a time when you need to start shouting?

I am always quiet, I don’t shout at my players. It is true that the other teams score because of big mistakes. I just tell them, “you can’t play football everywhere; sometimes you must take no risks and kick the ball away from danger.”

That was important for us because we were trying to play football even inside our own penalty area. It’s not possible.

Secondly, we have conceded a lot of goals from corners. OK, we did something about that and we did something about taking no risks. The first game we played against Gamba Osaka, one of the top teams here, and we played very well but they scored in the 88th minute. If we get a result at a place like that then it gives us a lot of confidence for the next few games, we were a little unlucky but what can you do?

I always try to be positive and we played Nagoya, who are doing well in a friendly and we played well. We played Kashiwa in the Nabisco Cup and beat them when they were in third place in the league and now. So it doesn’t mean that we can’t play football because we can and have some good players.

Also, I can see our Brazilian players getting better and better. They have become used to playing football in Japan and they are getting used to me and the Japanese players and the culture and I think that everyday it is going a little bit better but I must have patience, everyone must have patience but perhaps for the fans it is difficult.

What was your target before the season started and what was the club’s target?

The target that the club told the fans was finishing in seventh (laughs). Last season we were 12th and I think that they played themselves higher in the last two or three games so I think seventh is a bit high but it is no problem for me. Perhaps it is better to play safe for the fans and perhaps for the players who could feel the pressure, the coach also.

However, I don’t feel pressure; I enjoy my job very much. I talked a lot with the players, to explain to them not to feel pressure and that they should just play football and the pressure is for me.

I think seventh is a little high but I can live with it.

What about your target?

I want to be better than last year. If we finish eleventh, that will be better but I want people to recognize the football we play. They see our organization: when we have the ball, they can see our movement and the positions we take and when we don’t have the ball, they can see our good organization.

I hope we can play attractive football for the fans, create a lot of chances and score a lot of goals. So far, that is one of our problems – scoring goals. One of best players is injured, Deigo, he scored 12 goals last season.

Why did you take the job ? Was it because your brother worked there in the past?

Pim worked before here but it was nothing to do with him. I was in Singapore and Omiya were looking for a Dutch coach or someone who could play 4-4-2 and a zone defence. I have been doing this kind of work for years now –especially in Singapore. But the reason why, you should ask the board or the president. I know there were other coaches in the running, other Dutch coaches and a German coach.

You haven’t done so great in the league but have started well in the cup, beating Gamba. That suggests that you are not so far behind. Is it possible for teams like Omiya to compete in the J-League – does it have the resources?

I think so, yes. One of the things we must address as a club is the fact that we have a lot of players who are 28 or 29, for the future we need to improve our scouting system and find good players between 20 and 24. I will see how things go. We have an interesting game against Nagoya on Saturday – they also have a Dutch coach. They are doing well and I am really looking forward to playing against them and seeing how far away we are.

How far away do you think you are?

That’s difficult to answer at the moment.

You mentioned that you played Kashiwa. They were promoted to the J-League and have done very well. What can Omiya learn from Kashiwa?

They have a good balance in the team with age. They came from J2 but they have the same coach and have been playing together in the same system for two or three years and that is always better. For me, this is a totally new start here.

In our pre-season training camp at Guam, we trained a lot with the ball, I wanted the players to learn the system and the way I wanted to play. We did a lot of passing exercises and the players were not used to that. A good pass is the start and after the pass you need to control the ball, controlling the ball is not stopping the ball but taking it with you, the ball doesn’t stop. These are the little things I am trying to improve here, every day we are doing passing exercises, positioning to make the players better and if that happens then the team improves.

Sometimes we talk and we try to give them a lot of information. We show them highlights, for example, old Barcelona games and Frank De Boer and the way they play with Guardiola in the midfield. We say “look where he is standing, look how he is asking for the ball, look at that he is always looking around him before he gets the ball.”

We watch Liverpool. Liverpool is one of the best teams playing 4-4-2 defence zone. We saw the games against Barcelona and PSV and point out what Liverpool are doing defensively, when they are pressing etc. The players like it and now they understand because we show them. I also tell them that Liverpool didn’t start playing the system yesterday, it took weeks and months and training everyday to get it right. It takes time.

When you were at PSV, you worked with players such as Romario and Ronaldo, what’s the difference between those players, the Dutch and the Japanese?

For players like Romario and Ronaldo, especially for Romario, you have to look to the other players. Romario’s first few weeks in Holland were difficult. The way they train in Holland was difficult for him. When he was there, it was a very very good team, the mentality of the team was so strong players like Eric Gerets, Soren Lerby and Ronald Koeman.

Every game they played in training was a real game. Everybody hated to lose there, sometimes players like Gerets would go inside after losing a training game as they were so upset. That is the winning mentality that they had and they hated to lose in training so you can imagine how they felt about losing on the weekend. That is perhaps the Dutch mentality; well it certainly was the mentality at PSV at the time. For a coach it was fantastic to work there.

A few years ago in the Netherlands, there were a few Japanese players playing, and a few Koreans too, but now there are none. Why do think that is?

The last player was Ono. I lived close to Feyenoord and sometimes saw him play. He was unlucky with injuries. I think perhaps that he was not used to training in Holland which is always aggressive. I don’t know for sure. There are also some players like Nakamura who is playing well for Celtic in a strong competition.

How are you and Pim different as coaches?

The main difference is that my brother has much, much more experience. He was very young when he was head coach of Feyenoord. I think he learned a lot during that period. He has also been involved in two World Cups.

I have also worked with big coaches during my time at PSV –Guus Hiddink, Bobby Robson and Dick Advocaat and Huub Stevens, the present coach of hamburg. I was lucky to work in a good period for PSV when they had some great players and I learned a lot from people like Hiddink.

I think there is not a big difference between Pim and me in the way we coach and train but he has more experience.

How about as people?

We are both crazy about football. We were both very young when we started playing for the first team in Sparta and we were both a little unlucky with the injuries we got. There is not much difference. I can be very quiet, Pim is better at making connections with people, to meet people. I wait to get to know people very well and when I trust them, then I am very open. I am talking to people the same way Pim does but I don’t go to people like he does.

How often do you contact each other?

We call each other every week. We talk often. He talks about his team, I talk about my team and we talk about football in general and our family of course. I know he is enjoying himself in Korea. He is very busy in charge of the national team and the Olympic team. The Olympic team had a good result recently but the national team was not quite so good against Uruguay.

Pim coached Omiya Ardija a few years ago and now you are doing so. Does that mean we can expect to see you over in Korea in a few years’ time?

(Laughs). Who knows what will happen in the future? However, I have just started in Japan and I am really enjoying my time here. I hear good things about Korea from Pim but Japan is good for me at the moment.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

The Heir on the Dog

I try to avoid the political arena as a rule, but as a concerned parent, i’m furious with this government’s education policy. It makes my blood boil to see numeracy, literacy and religious tolerance dominate the curriculum, while tenuous football related analogies remain conspicuous by their absence.

The children could do a lot worse than watch the video of Chelsea’s FA cup semi-final win over Blackburn. If the little brats can’t be inspired by the reconciliation of Mourinho and Abramovich as a result of the beautiful game, they may as well go and sew trainers for a living as further education would prove a waste of time and money.

I was hugely excited by the news that Roman shared a hug with Jose; it’s been quite a while for me. I’m embracing the 4/7 for a Chelsea win over Newcastle.

The majority of the young lads would undoubtedly benefit from this revolutionary educational concept, and I’d even consider showing the tape to the girls if a strong grade in home economics has been achieved. Spurs versus Arsenal is be the embodiment of equality, the draw is an outstanding 23/10 shot.

It makes economic sense to look after the kids of today, as you never know when you’ll need a cheap car stereo in the future. The 10/11 for Bolton to beat Reading is another example of value for money.

Charlton v Sheffield United could well be the greatest domestic dust-up since the Scottish war of independence where the English and the Sweaties went toe to toe in an epic battle. I’m no history buff, but as Scotland remained an independent nation at the end of the skirmish; I’m assuming England won quite comfortably. Charlton can follow suit at 23/20.

Mohammed Al Fayed may have taken a huge gamble appointing a caretaker manager at the business end of the season, but Sanchez is oozing confidence. “They said I couldn’t beat Spain, couldn’t beat Sweden and couldn’t beat England; i’ve proved the impossible is possible.” He’s quite an articulate Lawrie. A driven Fulham can share the spoils with Blackburn at 23/10.

I can’t foresee a Wigan goal at Anfield; the Scousers have been tighter at the back than Lee Hughes all season. Liverpool should take all three points at 4/9.

We all have people we admire. Some dig Mandela, others like the cut of Jesus’ jib. Personally, I have a lot of time for Aidy Boothroyd. The Watford manager has remained upbeat throughout a disastrous campaign; Manchester City can land another blow at 17/10.

I have the utmost sympathy for Andy Johnson. On recent evidence, the England striker would need to be repeatedly pommeled with a baseball bat for the referee to even consider awarding a penalty; and that may not be enough at Old Trafford. West Ham can inflict a little pain on the Toffeemen at 6/4.

Aston Villa are finishing the season as they started; if it wasn’t for that little six-month sticky patch in the middle they could have been contenders. The Villans are unbeaten against Pompey in their last six meets, the O’Neill revolution will continue at 5/4.

Cristiano Ronaldo has signed a new five year deal worth a reported £25m. That kind of money could go a long way to eradicating world hunger, although it would probably be easier to just ask Mark Viduka to donate his snacks. Manchester United will devour Middlesbrough at 1/5.

Rio Ferdinand limped out of the FA cup semi-final feeling his groin; confirming my suspicions. Luckily, the injury is not as serious as it first appeared; Rio can add a clean sheet to a United win at a more appetising 4/7.

Bolton, Charlton, Manchester City and Aston Villa form a 21/1 weekend accer that is so forthright; Prince William had finally explained why he binned Kate Middleton. “She’s friendly, she’s good with figures and her vocabulary is impressive, but the bint can’t boil an egg,” mused the astute part German future monarch.


Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell & soccerphile.com


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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Arsenal's Dein steps down after 24 years

Arsenal's Dein steps down after 24 years.
David Dein, one of the top movers and shakers in European football, has resigned as vice-chairman of Arsenal, the club he first joined in 1983.

Dein cited "irreconcilable differences" with the rest of the board, but was effectively fired for attempting to lever US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, who owns 11% of the shares, into the club.

Hours before Dein's departure was announced, Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood told the Guardian: "We would be horrified to see ownership of the club go across the Atlantic," referring to Kroenke as "some stranger".

Dein was synonymous with the modern breed of entrepeneurial, commercially-aware directors of the Premier League, but interestingly was against the construction of the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium for Arsenal, preferring a rental of the new Wembley.

The former sugar trader is best known as the man who brought Arsene Wenger to Highbury in 1996, but was also important on an international level as chairman of the G-14 group of top European clubs, a position he surely should no longer maintain, and a former vice-chairman of England's Football Association.

Dein was criticized in his latter role for a conflict of interest when helping select the new England coach in both 2001 an 2006, keeping his friend and employee Arsene Wenger away from the selection process.

Both Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho questioned his dual role, Ferguson on the grounds that FA disciplinary committees seemed less harsh on Arsenal than his team, and Mourinho on account of the Gunners' allegedly smoother fixture list.

Dein's business ethics were also called into question when Belgian police found a cash injection to Beveren from Highbury may have breached FIFA guidelines and Dein opposed a ban on clubs keeping agents on the payroll. Crystal Palace's outspoken chairman Simon Jordan labelled him "one of those smiling assassins".

Dein, a Jewish activist who ensured "Think Israel" was displayed around the field at the Emirates, may yet merge his 14.5% with Kroenke's 11.2% holding and angle to reach 30% ownership, which would trigger an automatic takeover bid.

Plus, given that his son Darren is Thierry Henry's agent and was best man at his wedding, football and Arsenal are unlikely to have seen the last of David Dein.

(C) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile.

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Fifa World Rankings April 2007

Fifa World Rankings April 2007.
Italy go back on top of the FIFA World Rankings, leap-frogging Agentina, on a day which could also see Italy confirmed as hosts of Euro 2012. England drop two places to 8th after poor results in Euro 2008 qualifying.

1 Italy
2 Argentina
3 Brazil
4 France
5 Germany
6 Netherlands
7 Portugal
8 England
9 Spain
10 Czech Republic
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Soccer News 4/17/2007

Soccer News 4/17/2007.
World news roundup 04/17/2007

It's D-day for Euro 2012

UEFA's Executive Council will declare the host of the 2012 European Championship on Wednesday, April 18th, in Cardiff. The three candidates are Italy, Croatia/Hungary and Poland/Ukraine, with the Italians as hot favourites on paper – that is, if UEFA's leaders forget about a seemingly endless string of scandals and violent incidents that have hit calcio over the past 11 months.

Franco Carraro, the same man who presided over the Italian FA when the damning discoveries were published as to how various top-clubs "worked" with the referees' organization in order to have the "most suitable" refs appointed for their games, is still a member of the Executive Council.

Carraro has no right to vote on this occasion, just like his Ukrainian colleague Grigoriy Surkis, but they have no doubt abundantly used their right to lobby with their fellow members.

The joint Croatian/Hungarian bid may be the only one free of scandals and controversies, but their market is far smaller than the Italian, and joint Polish and Ukrainian bids, with modest political weight to match.

The Croatian FA chairman, Vlatko Markovic, said that "giving Euro to Italy would be a sign of UEFA's moral collapse," but should the economic arguments prevail, it should be another win for the Azzurri ahead of Poland/Ukraine.

Levski Sofia tops Manchester United regarding goal difference

While the Croats of Dinamo Zagreb still have the highest percentage of points won in all European leagues, with a supreme 91%, the top team regarding goal difference is Levski Sofia. The Bulgarians, who did not do so well in this season's Champions' League, have scored 68 and conceded just five goals in 22 national championship games.

Manchester United is in second position with +52 goals, which carries far more merit in view of the equality prevailing in the Premier League. The least equality is apparently present in the Dutch League, whose three representatives – AZ Alkmaar, PSV and Ajax – are in the top five in the best goal difference chart.

1. Levski Sofia 68 - 5 (+63)
2. Manchester Utd. 75 -23 (+52)
3. AZ Alkmaar 78 -27 (+51)
4. PSV Eindhoven 69 -23 (+46)
5. Ajax Amsterdam 77 -33 (+44)
6. Dinamo Zagreb 62 -21 (+41)
6. Salzburg 58 -17 (+41)
8. Inter Milan 65 -25 (+40)
9. Porto 54 -15 (+39)
10. Shakthar D. 48 -10 (+38)
10. Žilina 50 -12 (+38)

Amazing luck for Barcelona

Things could not have gone better for Spanish champs and leaders Barcelona. All three matches involving the top teams went their way, when all of them could have finished with opposite results.

* Barca themselves beat Mallorca 1-0 with Navarro's own goal in the 89th minute. Previously Mallorca missed a penalty through Jonas.
* Sevilla lost away to Valencia 2-0, but at 0-0 they had a penalty missed by Enzo Maresca.
* Real Madrid lost to Racing 2-1 thanks to two dubious penalties for the home side. Also, two Real's players were sent off.

Barcelona now leads Sevilla by four and Madrid by five points with eight games to go.

Times, they are a-changing for Real

The times have certainly changed for Real Madrid. The once fancied team have collected the most yellow cards this season, 103, which is eight more than second-placed Levante. Real also received nine red cards, which places them third on this particular ranking. The most recent Real players to have been sent off were Mejías and Helguera, during the infamous Santander game in which Rácing won 2-1 with two strange penalties.

The referee Javier Turienzo Alvarez has become the target of Madrid's fans' wrath. Some of them apparently phoned his wife and threatened to kill Turienzo, who denounced the unknown individuals to the police.

Trapattoni's German amuses again

Ten years ago Giovanni Trapattoni, as Bayern Munich's coach, held a legendary press conference in which he slammed several of his players for a lack on commitment. Trap's funny German was the most entertaining feature of a lengthy tirade against Thomas Strunz and a couple of teammates.

Last week the Italian coach performed a similar show in Salzburg before the Austrian reporters. Asked why his team displays poor fitness, Trap replied in his hilarious version of German, which we shall try to render into English.

"People no understand nothing of training. They write, criticize coaching systems. Instead of blabbing, bla-bla-bla behind backs, why not come and say thing in the face? You just go qua-qua-qua. We top the table with this system!"

By the way, Trapattoni's Salzburg are runaway leaders and virtual champions of Austria.

It's Manchester United and Chelsea on three fronts

This may just prove to be the most exhilarating season so far in English soccer, as two gigantic teams brace themselves for a showdown in two domestic competitions and the Champions' League.

Chelsea will host Manchester United on May 9th at Stamford Bridge in what may turn out to be the decisive championship-clinching game, but the two teams will also meet at Wembley in the FA Cup final and may even clash in the Champions' League finals in Athens, all in space of under three weeks.

Of course, for that to happen Chelsea must eliminate Liverpool and Manchester Utd. must knock out Milan in two ties that can go either way.

In the FA Cup semifinals, at least, the big two did fulfil their part of the bargain. Man United crushed Watford 4-1 while Chelsea had a more difficult job of overcoming Blackburn 2-1 in extra-time.

Schuster fancies Mourinho to take over Real

Bernd Schuster sounded disgusted when a German sports agency announced that he had signed a pre-contract with Real Madrid for next season.

The current Getafe coach denied the claim and slammed the media.

"I don't see how a German agency could think they know better than the Spanish media as to what is happening in Madrid. I have no pre-contract with Real and it is José Mourinho who has the most chances of taking over there. I believe he will win the race for Real's bench," said the former Barca and Real star.

Jose Mourinho.


Renato quits over playing Romário

Renato Gaúcho has presented his resignation as Vasco da Gama coach due to poor results in the Rio de Janeiro Federal state championship and the favouritism with which he allegedly treated Romário. The 41-year-old striker is struggling to score his 1000th career goal and Renato gave him too many opportunities for the team's own good.

The new coach, Caio Roth, has already stated he also plans to help Romário fulfil his dream, but the veteran could be on his way to Mexico. Necaxa of Mexico City are contemplating hiring the player in the Libertadores Cup round of 16. If that comes to fruition, the old man's 1000th goal could come in the most prestigious South American competition.

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Euro 2012 Hosting

Euro 2012 Hosting.
Poland and Ukraine will host the 2012 European Championships.

Poland and Ukraine's joint bid beat out favorites Italy and the joint Croatia and Hungary bid.

Despite a recent match-fixing scandal in Poland, 3rd favorites Poland and Ukraine's joint bid got the nod from UEFA in a major shock.

The 2012 tournament will be played in four Ukrainian cities (Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kiev and Lviv) and among four of six possible Polish venues (Gdansk, Krakow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Chorzow).

Kiev's Olympic Stadium with a capacity of 80,000 will be the venue for the final.

Monday, April 16, 2007

J League Results 16/4/07

Saturday / Sunday 14 & 15 April

After six rounds of the 2007 J-League season last year's champions Urawa Reds are back in top spot. Reds beat previously undefeated Reysol 2-0 in front of 35,000 fans at Tokyo's National Stadium. Gamba Osaka lost to Albirex 2-1 and are in third place. Nagoya Grampus continue to slide after their bright start to the season losing 1-0 to Ardija. Yokohama FC lost again - this time 0-1 at home to Antlers and are now bottom of the J-League.

J League Results 16/4/07.


In J2, Vegalta and Consadole lead Sanga and Avispa as Ruy Ramos' Verdy begin to slide.

Omiya Ardija 1 Nagoya Gampus Eight 0
Vissel Kobe 2 JEF United 1
Yokohama FC 0 Kashima Antlers 1
Albirex Niigata 2 Gamba Osaka 1
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2 Ventforet Kofu 2
Jubilo Iwata 1 Yokohama F Marinos 0

Oita Trinita 0 FC Tokyo 0
Kashiwa Reysol 0 Urawa Reds 2
Kawasaki Frontale 2 Shimizu S-Pulse 1
Leading Positions

Reds P6 Pts 14
Reysol P6 Pts 13
Gamba P6 Pts 13
Grampus P6 Pts 12
S-Pulse P6 Pts 12
Jubilo P6 Pts 12


J2

Vegalta Sendai P9 Pts 19
Consadole P9 Pts 18
Kyoto Sanga P9 Pts 16

Friday, April 13, 2007

Aussies out on their feet

Aussies out on their feet.
It's fair to say the first few matches of the 2007 Asian Champions League has been a steep learning curve for all involved down under - and not just the clubs although they've certainly had their eyes widened over the past month or so. The general public, football fans and even the media are all the wiser having been indoctrinated in the ACL experience.

Two months ago, the sweeping perception in Australia was that all Asian sides were nippy and elusive and playing there meant invariably battling extreme heat and humidity. Some of these preconceptions have proved correct, of course. But the Australian footballing fraternity now knows for certain that it's going to take a greater degree of seriousness to prevail in the AFC's elite competition.

The Socceroos might be ranked No.1 in the region, but A-League representatives Sydney FC and Adelaide United won't be anywhere near the ACL knockout phase when it begins in September.

Both sides have equal records at the midway point of the group stage - four points from a win, a draw and a loss - with both languishing in third place in their groups. Sydney are three points off the pace in Group E after wilting in the heat of Central Java and losing 2-1 to Persik Kediri on Thursday. Adelaide are five points off unbeaten leaders Shandong Luneng in Group G after they only drew 2-2 with Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

This week's disappointments fairly well tell the tale of Australia's fate in its maiden Asian adventure. If championship-winning coach Ernie Merrick is taking notes ahead of Melbourne Victory's foray into the ACL in 2008, top of his list might well be fitness and preparation.

There are some hindrances which Merrick will just have to contend with - as Sydney and Adelaide have this time around. That includes the timing of a tournament which, while A-League officials insist on synchronising with the European domestic league and away from the local football codes, will always profit Asian sides. Australian sides will only benefit from starting the ACL group phase in the domestic break if they can somehow find their way into the knockout stages (which start around the beginning of the A-League season).

This gripe in some way explains the failings of both sides in terms of match fitness. Any coach will tell you playing top-level competitive games once every two or three weeks is never enough. But that shouldn’t hide the substandard stamina levels shown by the Aussie teams in their outings.

Sydney, who we mustn't forget defeated Shanghai Shenhua in the opening round in freezing conditions, allowed Urawa Reds to peg them back from two-goal advantage on matchday two and even scored first against Persik before losing. Adelaide also let a two-goal cushion slip this week against Seongnam

Another potent statistic on the declining influence of the Australians as matches progressed is that in three away games neither Sydney nor Adelaide scored in the last 60 minutes of play. This flaw is inextricably linked to the playing conditions both sides have found it impossible to overcome on away legs.

Sydney were virtually dead on their feet before half-time this week against Persik, or approaching midday local time in the Indonesian sauna. The game was reduced to walking pace as the sun baked the visitors, and towards the final throws it was not a matter of whether the Indonesian champions would win, it was a question of by how many. And this despite claims by Sydney coach Branko Culina in the build-up that his side could handle the heat. Adelaide similarly struggled in Vietnam last month.

This presents a real problem for the Australians. In theory similar conditions could be simulated in the local government-funded institute of sports. But then again Australia's a big country. Even a training camp in the nation's north would have provided some semblance of adjustment for the teams from the southern states of New South Wales and South Australia where the locals are currently enjoying mild autumnal weather.

However, the lack of fitness has been more brutally exposed by the laughably light squads nominated for the ACL group stage by both clubs. February's deadline for closing playing rosters came and went without the Australians - who were restricted to 20-man A-League squads - adding the necessary reinforcements. Even though the 2007-08 domestic season will allow 23-man squads, both Sydney and Adelaide went in with just 20 players, many carrying knocks from the recent domestic campaign.

Add to that the usual procession of post-season comings and goings at each club and rushing unfit players back from injuries and the recipe for non-qualification was completed. There are a multitude of lessons to be learned before the Aussie clubs try again in 12 months time. They've returned with their tails between their legs in 2007, but don’t expect them to make the same mistakes again.

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

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Japanese Soccer News Kashiwa Reysol

Japanese Soccer News Kashiwa Reysol
J-League: Kashiwa Reysol the unexpected table-toppers

After five rounds of the J-League, newly promoted side Kashiwa Reysol are the unexpected table-toppers.

Kashiwa beat Yokohama F. Marinos 2-0 in a heated encounter at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama on April 7, courtesy of goals from Tatsuya Suzuki and Yukihiko Sato.

The match was notable for referee Hiroshi Tanabe's decision to disallow a Koji Yamase strike just before half-time. Tanabe claimed that Yamase had committed a foul in the lead up to the goal, but video replays suggest that Yamase's goal was legitimate.

Elsewhere in J1 Gamba Osaka came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Kawasaki Frontale, in front of 18,587 fans at a rain-soaked Expo '70 Stadium in Osaka.

Hiroyuki Taniguchi opened the scoring for Kawasaki, only for Tomokazu Myojin to hit back for the home team. Brazilian midfielder Magnum - who has been in excellent form in 2007, restored Kawasaki's lead, but an eighty-third minute strike from defender Satoshi Yamaguchi restored parity for Gamba Osaka, who are currently lying in second on the J-League table.

A crowd of 45,025 braved the rain at Saitama Stadium, to witness home team Urawa Reds come from behind to beat Jubilo Iwata 2-1. Robert Cullen opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals either side of half-time from Washington and Robson Ponte secured all three points for the Reds.

In Sunday's action, Shimizu S-Pulse ground out a hard fought 2-0 win over Oita Trinita, thanks to goals from defender Daisuke Ichikawa and South Korean international Cho Jae-Jin.

JEF United recorded their first league win of the season, with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Yokohama FC. Goals from Koki Mizuno, Seiichiro Maki, Naotake Hanyu and Satoru Yamagishi moved United out of the drop zone and up to thirteenth place on the J-League table.

In J2 news, northern outfit Vegalta Sendai are on top of the table, despite only managing a 2-2 draw away at Tokushima Vortis in the latest round of matches.

Kyoto Sanga FC, who were relegated from J1 last season, beat fallen giants Tokyo Verdy 3-1 in Tokyo, to move up to second in the standings. They are equal on points with Consadole Sapporo, who drew 0-0 at home against Avispa Fukuoka - another club relegated from J1 last season.

Tokyo Verdy and Fukuoka round out the top five, while Cerezo Osaka are in seventh on the J2 ladder.

Nabisco League Cup

The opening group stage of the League Cup has passed the midway point and after four games, the groups are beginning to take shape.

In Group A, JEF United lost 1-0 at home to Gamba Osaka in the latest round of matches, however they still top the group with nine points. Gamba are second with seven points. After beating Vissel Kobe 1-0 in Kobe in their last match, Sanfrecce Hiroshima have six points, but Kobe have virtually been eliminated from the tournament having picked up just one point so far.

Group B is tighter, with Omiya Ardija currently on top with eight points. Yokohama F. Marinos and Kashiwa Reysol each have five points, but Shimizu S-Pulse look likely to be knocked out at the group stage for the second season in a row, as they have only managed two draws in the competition thus far.

Oita Trinita top Group C with nine points, with FC Tokyo on seven points and Yokohama FC on six. Jubilo Iwata are propping up the group having picked up just one point. With Shimizu S-Pulse unlikely to progress from Group B, the 2007 League Cup has been an unhappy hunting ground for teams from Shizuoka Prefecture - the footballing heartland of Japan.

Ventforet Kofu lost their first match in the League Cup to Albirex Niigata, but they are still topping Ground D with nine points. Niigata are in second with seven, Kashima Antlers have six points, but Nagoya Grampus Eight have been all but eliminated from the competition, having picked up just a solitary point so far.

Six clubs will progress from the group stage to the quarter-finals, where they will join Kawasaki Frontale and Urawa Reds, who have been given a bye into the last eight of the competition.

Asian Champions League

In the Asian Champions League, Urawa Reds beat Shanghai Shenhua United in front of 28,828 fans at Saitama Stadium. Yuki Abe scored the only goal of the game, outjumping the Shanghai defence to head home from Robson Ponte's accurate free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Urawa top Group E with seven points, while Indonesian club Persik Kediri are in second on six points. 2005 A-League champions Sydney FC are third on four points, while Shanghai are yet to get off the mark in the competition.

Kawasaki Frontale are on top of Group F, after they beat South Korean outfit Chunnam Dragons 3-1 at Gwangyang Football Stadium. Carlos Juninho opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the visitors, before fellow Brazilian Magnum scored just before the hour mark. Juninho made the result safe with a second, although Kang Min-soo scored a last minute consolation for Chunnam.

Kawasaki have seven points after three games, while Chunnam have four. Bangkok University have picked up three points courtesy of three straight draws, while Indonesian club Arema Malang have one.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Expired Pizza to Enter Jordan

There is nothing more annoying than a parent who talks endlessly about how ‘clever’ or ‘sporty’ their child is, before whipping out a picture of some spotty two foot hooligan tucking in to the contents of his nostril.

My Goliath though, is genuinely bright for his age. The wee lad can speak about 10 words now; that’s three more than Paul Merson.

The little fellow will definitely be a footballer when he grows up. The last time we had a kick around in the garden he nutmegged me twice; nobody’s regretted opening their legs on two separate occasions since Mrs Neville. You won’t regret a bet on Manchester United at 3/10 to waltz past Watford in a one-sided FA Cup semi.

If the media are to be believed, and you’ll never find a more honest bunch of lads, Jose Mourinho is considering managing England when his tenure expires at Stamford Bridge.

This would be the greatest result for the average Englishman since Gareth Gates wore down Jordan with a pizza and some of the longest chat-up lines in history.

Chelsea have already beaten Blackburn on three occasions this season, a fourth win at 4/7 will set up the most eagerly awaited showdown since Peter Andre narrowly defeated Gareth Gates in a bare-knuckled 15 round extravaganza.

A few people are beginning to question Arsene Wenger, but Aristotle was once mocked when he suggested the Earth was round. Rumours of Arsenal’s demise have been leaked prematurely, they can return to winning ways against Bolton at a huge 8/11.

Liverpool are finishing the season with aplomb; Bellamy I think his name is. The Pool have won their last three against Manchester City by a single goal; another Liverpool victory is advised at 10/11.

Charlton’s recovery in recent weeks has been nothing short of sensational. The Addicks are on a real high, they can snatch an invaluable point from Goodison Park at 5/2.

Aston Villa return to the Riverside for the first time since a 4-0 cakewalk led to a visionary Middlesbrough fan hurling his season ticket at Steve McClaren. A punt on the Villa at 12/5 will lead to a healthy prophet.

It’s the Blades versus the Hammers at Bramall Lane; that’s more tools than you’d find in a Peter Andre fan club. It’s a must-win game for both teams; I’m siding with the rejuvenated West Ham at 2/1.

When I suggested that Wigan were a good bet for relegation in my pre-season write-up, I received more stick than a Manchester United fan in Rome. Another Tottenham win at 7/5 will place the cat well and truly amongst the pigeons.

I’m not too sure about Fulham’s decision to sack Chris Coleman a mere three days before a massive match away to Reading. I guess Mohammed Al Fayed wants to guarantee at least one decent result against the Royals. The arrival of Lawrie ‘Dirty’ Sanchez can inspire the Cottagers to a hard-fought point at 12/5.

David James is the Pauline Fowler of the football world; you wouldn’t want to get involved in a conversation with him, but he’s the man to see if you need a clean sheet. The fashion icon needs one more shutout to break the all-time Premiership record; a home fixture against Newcastle can land a Portsmouth win at 11/10 and a new record for Calamity at 6/4.

Arsenal, Portsmouth, Man Utd, Tottenham and Chelsea form a 16/1 weekend accer that is so candid, Peter Andre has decided to share his life story via the medium of a new single. ‘What was I thinking’ is released in all good record shops on Monday morning.


Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell & soccerphile.com

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Fulham hit the panic button and sack Coleman

Fulham hit the panic button and sack Coleman.
Fulham waited until shortly before midnight GMT on Tuesday before pulling a real surprise by announcing they had sacked manager Chris Coleman with five games of the season remaining.

Northern Ireland coach Lawrie Sanchez will step in in his place, which suggests the club had already sounded him out as a replacement before Easter Monday's 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City.

Sanchez has worked wonders in sending the Ulstermen to the top of their Euro 2008 qualification group, following wins over Spain and Sweden.

The Cottagers sit 15th in the Premier League, four points above the relegation places, but have not won in their last eight games and were beaten 4-1 and 3-1 over Easter.

For a club three places above the drop zone to fire their manager at this late stage in the season seems drastic, but undoubtedly the prospect of missing out on next season's TV payday, which will net Premier League clubs a minimum £30 million each, was decisive. The resurgence of Charlton and West Ham in recent weeks will have added to their anxiety.

The announcement caps a miserable week for Coleman, who had to endure tabloid revelations that his wife had bugged his car earlier in the week. The former Welsh international has been at Craven Cottage for a decade, firstly as player, then captain, and finally coach at the age of 32, guiding the West Londoners to ninth in the top flight in his first season in charge.

Last season Fulham finished 12th but in the close season lost two of their most creative players in Luis Boa Morte and Steed Malbranque, who left acrimoniously wanting bigger clubs.

Coleman left the field on Monday following the 3-1 defeat by Manchester City to a handful of boos, but many more claps of support. At the post-match press conference he was clearly stressed and after today's news must have realised his job was in jeopardy, but still spoke of his plans for next Saturday's visit to Reading. The news of his dismissal might not have surprised all the Fulham fans but certainly took most people, including the entire press pack by surprise.

After Fulham had taken a risk on Coleman as a very young manager following a car crash that ended his playing days, he established himself and maintained good relations with the dressing room as well as with chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed up to the point of his dismissal, a fact he repeated only the week before.

The Harrods owner is more of a hands-off owner than most, and the decision to fire Coleman was likely to have come from the board of directors.

Coleman always talked earnestly and came across as a serious and hard worker, his Welsh baritone voice painting an dramatic picture of every game in charge. The day before he was fired he spoke of his players having to "fight like dogs" and that "you don't bring a knife to a gun fight."

After ten years at Craven Cottage, he has lost his last battle and now walks the plank.

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Monday, April 9, 2007

Interview: Adelaide United Coach Aurelio Vidmar

Interview: Adelaide United Coach Aurelio Vidmar.
Aurelio Vidmar is the caretaker coach of Adelaide United. He took over the A-League team in February after a 6-0 defeat in the Grand Final against Melbourne Victory.

The 40 year-old, who played over 50 times for the Socceroos, wants the job on a permanent basis and hopes that the Asian Champions League will give him the chance to show what he can do.

Adelaide have won one (against Dong Tam Long An of Vietnam) and lost one (against Chinese champs Shandong Luneng) in their first two games in the continental competition so far and face their toughest test yet on Wednesday night when they meet Korean champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

You took over the team just after a 6-0 defeat in the Grand Final and the resignation of the coach, it must have been a difficult situation to come into…

It was extremely difficult. We had planned a week off after the final but during that time, John Kosmina resigned and Ross Aloisi was stripped of the captaincy so there was a bit of turmoil going around the club.
When that happened all of a sudden they threw me into the position so it has been difficult.

Firstly, trying to get the players motivated again after a difficult time but after a couple of training sessions, everything went slowly back to normal. I have been very happy with the attitude of the players up to now.

What, if anything, have you changed since taking the job?

It is hard to change too much. We changed a little of how we play our game. Everyone would like to think that it is a physical game and a big part of Australian football is like that but we try to play football when we can. That’s a difficult part too, not having much time to work on that.

Now you are an interim coach, would you like the job on a permanent basis?

Yes, I would. We are going through the process now. The club closed the applications window last Saturday and in the next 3-4 weeks they will be doing all the interviews and all that. I would love to take the job permanently.

Does it depend on results in the Asian Champions League?
I am not really sure to tell you the truth. I am not in the business of losing, I can tell you that. It is possible that being the coach during the Asian Champions League could be detrimental if performances are less than what we expect.

However, we have already come back from the 6-0 hiding to turn it around in a short space of time but there is still an awful lot of work to do.

Does it make your job as coach more difficult when you know you may only have a few weeks?

I’ve taken the attitude that I have got the position for next year. That is my mindset. We’ve already included two players for next season, players who can do a job at this club and I was part of that process.

I am here on an interim basis but it would be irresponsible of me not to take a long-term look at the future of the club.

How important is the Asian Champions League to Adelaide?

It’s very important as I am sure it is very important to all teams taking part in the competition. I am a football person and understand the prestige of a massive competition like this in Asia.

People in Australia are still getting to grips at just how important the competition is. In a way this is a testing ground, not just for us as a football club but also for the supporters. After a long season, our fans don’t know so much about the Asian Champions League and when they see teams like Shandong and the Koreans coming here they will realize just what kind of competition this is.

We are in the competition next year in 2008 so this is a good grounding for us.

You have only played two games but has the competition been what you expected?

Yes, Shandong are a good team as are Seongnam. The trip to Vietnam taught us a few things about what to expect in Asia especially with dietary requirements and those kinds of things. The ground in Vietnam was something that most of us had not experienced before. All these little things take a toll on you when you are unprepared and that was the lesson in Vietnam against one of the weaker teams in the group.

The big tests comes in the next couple of weeks against Seongnam. First, at home and they don’t get any bigger than when you go away.

How much do you know about Seongnam?

Quite a bit. We saw the game they played against Shandong and they are a very good footballing side. They have good players in every position and I thought they were unlucky not to have won the game.

Who do you see as the Seongnam’s dangermen?

Obviously the foreigners. They are the first people to be concerned about because they have ability to turn the game –Mota, Naega and Itamar. Their captain (Kim Sang-shik) is very central to the way they want to play in the middle of the park. The full-backs are quite speedy and they are a very good all-round side.

I know that some of their Korean players are national team players. It is going to be a massive test for us.

How about Korean football in general?
I haven’t seen Korean clubs play football for many, many years. They are very typical of what I would expect in Asia. They are all very, very fit, they work tirelessly for 90 minutes and technically they are very good. They try to play football.

I think that Asian football in general has moved on so much in recent times. I was last in Korea about ten years ago with the Posco Atoms and those kinds of teams. They were difficult opponents back then and they have taken more than one step forward in their development since.

How will you approach the Seongnam game?

We try to get across to the players that every game we play at home, we want to win. We are going to have to be very smart, very aggressive in order to take the points. You have to remember that a lot of our players have not had the international experience that Seongnam have. The players must believe they can win, regardless of who they play. There are 11 players on the opposite side and although they are very good players, they shouldn’t have any fear.

Would failure to win the home game then it will spell the end of Adelaide’s chances?

Only the first team qualifies so it would make it extremely difficult but I have a very strong belief that we can win. I am not too worried about how Seongnam approach the game, I am more concerned that our attitude is right and if it is then we can beat anyone.

Some of Seongnam’s players will earn in a year a similar amount to what Adelaide spends on its squad. Is the salary cap in the A-League a disadvantage, especially when competing against richer Asian teams?

Without a doubt, it is a disadvantage. The cap has just gone up to around $1.7-1.8 million for a year and that is for a squad of 23 players. We can’t compete with other teams in Asia. I am sure that the three foreign players earn more than our entire squad.

It makes it extremely difficult but that is the way the rules are and unfortunately, there is not much we can do about it. We just have to be as competitive as we can be on the field.

Would you like to see the cap removed or the amount increased substantially?

I can understand the Football Federation Australia’s position. The competition is in its infancy and it is going into its third season in the next few months. They need to be quite wary of what has happened in the past with football in his country with the administrators letting a lot of things go and clubs fell flat on their faces and went bankrupt. They want a slow start, a modest start and to gradually build on that.

We have already taken steps forward in terms of having a television deal which is very good although it is only small; it is a step in the right direction.

Last week, Terry Butcher told a Scottish newspaper that the standard of A-League football was worse than League One in England. How would you respond to that?

There is a different mentality altogether in England and there is a different one here too. It is very hard to judge. What we don’t have here is a squad of 25 players with 15 or 16 of them being hard-nosed professionals. I think that is the difference with league One in England. What we have here is seven or eight players that have some international experience.

I would say that if we had to play someone from League One in a play-off, then we could get a result but if we played them ten times, then the results would be less successful

You have a varied playing career and spent time in many countries. Which one left the biggest impression on you in a football sense?

Probably Spain and Holland. Two very nice countries and the way football is played in those countries is very good. Spain, for me, being, besides the PL in England which is very fast but I think the foreigners have made it more appealing.

Are Australia the strongest national team in Asia?

They’d be pretty close. The Koreans, Japanese and China are there, although we had a great result against China in China last week, that has given us a lot of confidence especially going into the Asian Cup.

Would you like to the get involved in the national team set-up at some point in the future?

I would love to. I would love to be involved in the national team. I am still very young in the coaching side of things and we’ll have to see where it takes me.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

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J League Results 9/4/07

J League Results 9/4/07
Saturday / Sunday 7 & 8 April

After five rounds of the 2007 J-League season Reysol and Gamba Osaka are the only teams with unbeaten records. Grampus lost their 100% record with a 3-2 defeat at home to Sanfrecce and drop to third. Gamba were held at home to Reysol. Yokohama FC lost heavily again - this time 4-0 away to JEF and have now conceded 14 goals, the most in the J-League.

In J2, Vegalta and Consadole lead Verdy and Sanga and the race for promotion looks to be forming into a battle between these four teams.

Gamba Osaka 2 Kawasaki Frontale 2
Nagoya Gampus Eight 2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3
Ventforet Kofu 4 Vissel Kobe 3
FC Tokyo 1 Albirex Niigata 3
Kashima Antlers 0 Omiya Ardija 0
Urawa Reds 2 Jubilo Iwata 1
Yokohama F Marinos 0 Kashiwa Reysol 2

JEF United 4 Yokohama FC 0
Shimizu S-Pulse 2 Oita Trinita 2


Leading Positions

Reysol P5 Pts 13
Gamba P5 Pts 13
Grampus P5 Pts 12
S-Pulse P5 Pts 12
Reds P5 Pts 11
Jubilo P5 Pts 9


J2

Vegalta Sendai P7 Pts 15
Consadole P7 Pts 14
Verdy P6 Pts 13
Kyoto Sanga P7 Pts 12

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Soccer News 4/7/2007

4/07/07

Weekly World News

English fans targeted in Italy and Spain

When English fans travel abroad, there is a likelihood of trouble, only they are not always to blame. At Stadio Olimpico in Rome truncheon-wielding police carried out a fierce intervention against Manchester United followers during the Roma-Manchester United Champions' League clash. The following day the police in Seville turned on Tottenham supporters with similar aggression on the occasion of the Sevilla-Spurs UEFA Cup duel.

Both English clubs claim their fans were unjustly targeted, and the supporters themselves say they are shocked at the police brutality.
"The Italian police attacked a group of Manchester fans. I tried to help a girl who fell when a policeman hit me with a baton," said one United fan.
A Tottenham official in the meantime said the Spanish police brutalized a disabled Spurs fan.
"We are aware that a disabled fan was hit with a stick with such force that he was thrown out of his wheelchair," Tottenham secretary John Alexander told the BBC.

Although the days of English thugs rioting on the continent are long gone, modern mostly well-behaved fans still seem to be a fair game for those who are supposed to take care of public order.

Roberto Carlos "wrecked by personal problems"

Real Madrid's longest-standing foreigner, Roberto Carlos, has confirmed he will leave Madrid for an unknown destination at the end of the season, but has also spoken about his personal turmoils in a rare interview about his private life.

"Nothing could keep me here anymore, but it is not Real that is kicking me out, since I am leaving by my own decision," said the Brazilian to As daily.

Over the past eleven years spent at Santiago Bernabeu, Carlos has endured a number of ups and downs.

"I came and I triumphed, I won three Champions' Leagues, my manager cheated on me, and my wife left me. Over the past few years my private problems wrecked me, because I was left alone. I have had a lot of difficult moments, but I didn't want to speak about them, because what a fan wants is for me to play well."

Well, now he will not be alone anymore because one of his seven kids will be joining him.
"My daughter Roberta has come to live together with me. But I also have six more children," said the Brazilian left-sided defender who has defined an era at the world's most famous club.

Mexican gay footballers denied FA support

The Mexican national team for homosexuals have complained of alleged discrimination by the Mexican FA on grounds they have been denied financial support for playing at the next World Cup for homosexuals to be held in Argentina in September.

The FA told gay team leaders that the World Gay Cup is not a FIFA event and that there are no funds for it in the budget. Still, the Mexican gay team have agreed sponsorship deals with a tourist agency and a sports equipment manufacturer.

Sunderland pay taxi fares for fans

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn approved a payment of 11,600 euros to eighteen taxi drivers for the transportation of a group of supporters from Cardiff to Sunderland.
The fans were supposed to travel home by plane, but the airline refused to allow them on board claiming the would-be passengers were noisy and rude, the claim the club denies. The former towering Ireland forward saw to it that all the supporters were safely in their taxis, before hiring another cab for himself to undertake the 482 km trip to northern England.

Palmeiras celebrating their world title...56 years later!

Palmeiras of Sao Paulo have been declared world club champions by FIFA for their win in a tournament in 1951! After a thorough analysis, soccer's governing body decided that 1951 Taça Rio had all the characteristics of a world club championship and even though it was not organized by them, FIFA awarded Palmeiras the title equivalent to the one won by Internacional of Porto Alegre last December in Tokyo.

It was the Greens themselves who applied in 2004 to FIFA for the recognition of the title and the organization responded in "just" three years. A short time compared to the time elapsed since the Taça Rio was held with participation of clubs like Juventus Turin, Olympique Nice, Red Star Belgrade, Austria Wien and Nacional Montevideo – champions of their respective countries.

The King of football, Pelé, refuses to accept FIFA's ruling on grounds that tournaments like that particular Taça Rio were nothing special.
"I remember that tournament from 56 years ago. My Santos won plenty of such trophies in Argentina, Chile and Mexico. By the same logic, FIFA should award us with five or six world club championships," said Pelé, who won two Intercontinental Cups with Santos in 1961 and 1962.

Pelé also attacked Romário's quest for his 1000th career goal.
"Pity he didn't score it last Sunday, on April Fools' Day, because it is all one big joke."

Inter, the most convincing leader in Europe

With a 20 points advantage over second placed Roma, Inter Milan is the biggest leader in all European leagues. The nerazurri, skilfully coached by Roberto Mancini, need just two more wins in the remaining nine games to clinch the title – this time on the pitch, rather than in FA offices.

The second biggest advantage is Slovenia's Domzale with 17 points more than Maribor, while the third place goes to Austria's Salzburg with a 14 point lead over Mattersburg.

Top 8 Leads
Leaders 2nd placed Points
1. Inter (Milan) Roma (Italy) 79-59 (+20)
2. Domzale Maribor (Slovenia) 54-37 (+17)
3. Salsburg Mattersburg (Austria) 55-41 (+14)
4. Celtic Rangers (Scotland) 75-62 (+13)
5. Dinamo (Buc) Cluj (Romania) 59-49 (+10)
6.-7. Fenerbahce Galatasaray (Turkey) 54-45 (+9)
Crvena Zvezda - Partizan (Serbia) 51-42 (+9)
8. Dinamo (Zag) - Hajduk (Croatia) 65-57 (+8)

Espanyol gather the most points in Euro-cups

This season's UEFA Cup quarter finalist, Espanyol of Barcelona, have collected the most points valid for its national FA's ranking. By staying unbeaten for eleven games, winning nine and drawing two, the Catalans brought Spain a cool 21 points. The English and the Spanish teams dominate the table, with only Werder and Roma sneaking into the top ten.

Euro-cups ranking points for 2006/07

1. Espanyol 21 points - 11 games
2. Sevilla 19/11
3. Chelsea 18/9
4. Liverpool 18/9
5. Werder 18/11
6. Newcastle 17/9
7. Manchester Utd. 17/9
8. Tottenham 17/9
9. Valencia 17/9
10. Roma 17/9

Ronaldinho dreams of "staying many more years" in Barcelona

Linked with both Milan and Inter, Ronaldinho Gaúcho has encouraged Barcelona's fans by saying he wishes to stay put for a long time.
"I am happy at Barcelona and I dream of staying here for many more years," said the Brazilian virtuoso at a ceremony in Lloret de Mar, organized by the town council, which sponsors Ronaldinho's official web page.

If that is Ronaldinho's dream, then someone should tell him it is very easy to fulfill: he should just honour the contract linking him to the Catalan club until 2010, rather than listening to his brother and agent Roberto's suggestions to ask for even more money either at Barca or elsewhere.

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Interview: Incheon Striker Dejan Damjanovic

Interview: Incheon Striker Dejan Damjanovic.
Dejan Damjanovic has just started his K-League career and after four goals in the first five game, Incheon United are more than happy with their Serbian star.

You were born in Mostar but now you’re Serbian…

Right. I am from Mostar, the Bosnian capital. My father was Montenegrin. When everything was happening in my country, we went to Serbia. It was wartime and I had to take some nationality. I took Serbian because I lived there for around 15 years.

Did you continue to play football during the war?

When I was a kid, everything seemed normal. It was a normal life. In the beginning all the countries were together, a republic. At the time, I was playing football in Mostar. After everything happened, I was then playing football in Belgrade.

This was 1992-93?

I think so.

What was it like playing football in Belgrade?

In the beginning, it was hard but I played football because I loved playing football. It made me happy and my friends happy –it was familiar and comfortable.

I was a child. If I had been 24 or something then maybe I would have had to join the army. But, as a child, everything became normal and football helped it do that. Children want to talk, to play and that’s what we did.

Before you came to Korea, you played for Bezanija in Serbia.

Yes, we played well. We were fifth at the half-season point –we didn’t lose any games and we beat teams like Partizan and Red Star.
After that, I had some offers. My president was a hard man, he wanted so much money for me. I was lucky to come here and play well.

What other offers did you have?

I don’t want to mention teams but I could have gone to other European leagues but here is very nice. The people are good, the players are good and they accept me. I want to stay here.

Your contract is for one year?

Yes, I signed a contract for this year. If I play well then I think the club will want to extend my contract then no problem. I said to my manager that ‘if they want me to stay and we can agree conditions then I want to stay.

What did you know about Incheon before you came?

I knew about the team only through betting on football! My friend knows the wife of Dragan Mladenovic (former Serbian international and ex-Rangers player - now with Incheon). I knew nothing else when I came so now I am learning.

So you were sitting in Belgrade and learned of Incheon’s offer. What was your first reaction?

I thought ‘South Korea? It’s so far away.’ It’s a different country, everything is different. It is eleven hours away by plane. But I wanted to try because I had played in Saudi Arabia.

Which team?

Al-Ahly. We lost in the final of the cup. We had a good team. The coach was very good. However, for a player, Saudi Arabia is a hard life, everything is closed.

So I felt I must try to go to Korea. I decided to go to Incheon – six months, or a year. If I play well, I will stay. If I don’t play well, I will go somewhere else.

What did you think of Korean football before you came?

I knew that is was good. They played well at the World Cup. I knew that some players play for very good teams in Europe. I didn’t know anything about the K-League.

I knew that is a lot of running. It is so different that Europe. They are better runners, always fighting. In Europe, perhaps tactics are better but here, after three or four games, you start to adapt.

Now you are running and fighting?

Yes, it is no problem (laughs)

Incheon has two other Serbian players. Did you talk to them before you came?

Not really. I had an offer to go to another K-League team – Jeju United. I didn’t want to contact the players at Incheon and then not go. That would be stupid.

As I said, Mladenovic’s wife talked with my friend in Serbia. She said: “Everything is good – the people, the players and president.”

So I thought I will try. If Mladenoic, who is a national team player and has played for big clubs like Rangers, can come here and stay here, then I can come here. I didn’t make a mistake.

How did you feel when you first arrived?

Well, at first I went to Guam for pre-season training so my first impressions were very good! In Guam, I got to know the players. If I came here first, perhaps it would have been more difficult. I don’t Korean, they don’t know English.

Incheon is very nice but Seoul… it’s so big but people are very friendly.

Maybe now you have many fans in Incheon…

Radoncic speaks a little Korean. He says that they like me. Now I play well and score goals. It is better they like me than don’t like me.

How have you found training?

It’s not the same as Europe but it’s enough. We have warm-ups, shooting, tactics – it’s OK. Before training, the small things were difficult at first. You know, I have to bring my stuff and wash my kit. It’s all different in Europe, I just bring my boots if I want to. It took two weeks to adapt but now it is no problem.

What did the coach set as the target at the start of the season?

They told me that they want to reach the play-offs. We want to finish in the top six and after that we will see what happens. Who knows? Maybe we can do something. Also, we want to do well in the cup.

How do you communicate with the players and the coaching staff?

The coach speaks English and the physical training coach is Brazilian and he speaks English. Radoncic speaks a little Korean. I have learned some words for communication on the field –‘give me the ball, left, right, shoot, pass etc.’ They understand me, I understand them a little.

How about away from the pitch. Do you socialize with the other players?

In the beginning we had two or three dinners but not any more. Now we have a game every three days with cup and league games. We are always together! I see them more often than I see my girlfriend.

Sometimes, Radoncic, Mladenovic and I go to have a beer or watch a movie.

How about the food?

In the beginning it was no good. I didn’t eat anything but now they show me the good stuff –rice, soup and kim. It is no problem.

Your first game in the K-League was against Pohang. Were you surprised at all?

I had two or three pre-season games so I wasn’t so surprised. Pohang are a very good team but in that game they were lucky. We missed four chances in the first half. We killed them. They are doing well and have international players but I was disappointed that we didn’t score.

You have scored four goals in 4.5 games. Many people have problems scoring in the K-League but you seem to have no problem…


The defenders are very good. They are not tall but they are quick. They can run and jump very well. It is hard to score and get chances.

You have less space than you are used to?

Yes, I have to do a lot of running to get the ball. I must move to find the space and get possession.

Before the season started, people at Incheon were saying that you were their secret weapon. Despite the goals, you still haven’t received too much attention…

That’s normal. Everyone knows Radoncic, he has made a good impression. Defenders watch out for him which is good for me. But now things have changed. In the past two games, defenders have been getting more serious. They now double up on me. If they pay me more attention that is good for Radoncic who will get more space.

If you keep scoring it will get more difficult…

100%. Next we have an away game and the defenders will kill me because I have been scoring goals.

We are a good team and if we could improve our tactics then I think we could be in the top four.

How can you improve?

It’s not for me to say but work more in training and move more. Nowadays we are doing that every day. Against Jeonbuk, we played very well tactically and gave them only two chances and they are a very good team. I hope we can improve our tactics and then we will have no problem.

In the K-League, Incheon have won one and lost two – not a great start.

That is only because of the referee. They don’t like Incheon. We have had three penalties given against us already- all at home! It is unbelievable.


Until now, the referees have been very bad. They favour some clubs and want to give them everything. In the newspapers, it is always Seoul, Suwon, maybe Busan, I don’t know. About us, we have only this much (makes a small gap between thumb and forefinger).

Do the referees talk to you during the game?

No, they don’t know English. Thank God! One time, a referee said he was going to show me a yellow card as my shirt wasn’t tucked inside my shorts. I showed him that everytime I lift my arms, it comes out – there’s nothing I can do. In Europe, you can put your shirt outside but not here.



We lost two games because we are unlucky. But Gyeongnam won 2-1 and the second half they killed us. We played well first half and were winning but the referee gave them a penalty, a very tricky penalty. Then we were stuck.

Against Jeonbuk, we were better and tactically we had no problems

What do you think of the fans?

Very good but this is a very big stadium for us. If we played in a 20,000 stadium it would be good because they are so loud and they love Incheon but this is a 50,000 stadium. If 5,000 or 6,000 come then it looks strange. They told me maybe we will move to a smaller stadium. We have the best supporters – against Jeonbuk we took maybe 50-100 fans but you couldn’t hear the Jeonbuk fans.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile



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