Sunday, February 28, 2021

Reds deliver lesson with a difference with Joie

Reds deliver lesson with a difference with Joie

Anfield


Children from two local schools received a special surprise when they started their school day, only to find out their lessons had been taken over by Liverpool FC first team stars. Due to the ongoing pandemic, many children are currently having to learn remotely from home via lessons that are being delivered virtually by their teachers. Logging on to start their virtual history lesson, year six children from Whitefield Primary School were surprised to realise they had a new teacher - Mr A Robertson. 

The lessons were organised as part of the latest edition of Kop Kids, which is presented by club partner Joie. To help deliver the sessions, the players were supported by coaches from the club’s official charity, LFC Foundation. Supporters should also keep an eye out for video number two. Joie has also donated iPads to both schools to support with lessons inside the classroom, as well as teaming up with the club’s official mascot, Mighty Red, to deliver a bi-weekly Instagram quiz to encourage families to come together and take part. 

To help support parents teaching their children at home, Joie, the LFC Foundation and Mighty Red have provided these additional resources: 

 
Joie Managing Director, David Welsh, said: “These are tough times for kids – they have had their lives put on hold without any say in the matter. Schools are closed, extra-curricular activities are on hold and they are all missing their friends as well as having to get to grips with learning on line. 

It was our privilege to be able to give some of the kids at Whitefield Primary and St Marie’s Primary, a bit of a treat – they certainly deserve it.” As part of the club’s community response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the LFC Foundation and the Red Neighbours programme have been working together to support the local community during these unprecedented and difficult times. 

The Foundation has been delivering over 50 virtual sessions per week, providing young people, adults and families with the chance to still get active, connect with others and still be a part of the Foundation. From confidence-building sessions such as Step Up, to virtual football skills sessions.

Anfield


Thursday, February 25, 2021

No Blues for Everton

THE TOFFEES WILL GET A NEW GROUND

Proposed New Stadium
Proposed New Stadium

The blue half of Liverpool has had a good week.

Last Saturday Everton won the Merseyside derby 2-0, their first win at Anfield in 22 years. Then this Tuesday Liverpool City Council approved its plans for a new arena on the waterfront, ending years of stadium project false starts.

Bramley-Moore Dock stadium has a projected capacity of 52,888 and could be open for business in 2024 providing the housing minister Robert Jenrick, as expected, rubber stamps the application.

Goodison Park, the Blues' home since 1892, has 39,414 seats but with its notable poles and lack of cantilevers on the Bullens Road side it seems quaintly outmoded. 

Unable to expand on a classic residential site in Walton - St Luke's church famously sticks out in one of the corners, the club have been searching for a new site for a quarter of a century.

A number of plans and sites have fallen through, which left some Evertonians wondering if there was some curse on their club, watching jealously while Anfield modernized and expanded and other clubs moved to new and shining homes.

THE TOFFEES WILL GET A NEW GROUND
What the stadium could look like

The Bramley-Moore site is on the Mersey estuary and being a disused industrial site, offered space to build.

This will be the first European stadium built by American architects MEIS, who have built baseball and NFL arena before but also have the contract to build a new 52,500 home for Roma in Serie A.

There had a planning objection from English Heritage, worried about damage to the Liverpool waterfront's UNESCO World Heritage status, but the council decided the £500 million scheme and subdued design of brick, glass and steel would not ruin the built environment.

Goodison Park has earned its spurs as one of football's most historic arenas. It has hosted more top flight games than any other English stadium, six World Cup games including a semi-final, the F.A. Cup Final and several internationals including England's first defeat to a non-British nation (the Republic of Ireland in 1949) and was bombed in WWII.

Portuguese legend Eusebio called it "the best stadium in my life" after scoring six goals there en route to the Golden Boot at the 1966 World Cup.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Sunday, February 21, 2021

補充兵源迎接亞冠 傑志簽入羅拔圖及謝家強

Sean Tse Ka Keung

傑志今日宣佈,球會已經簽下兩位經驗豐富的後防球員羅拔圖 (Roberto Orlando Affonso Júnior)和謝家強(Sean Tse Ka Keung). 羅拔圖原籍巴西,於2007年來港,曾效力晨曦、東方龍獅及富力R&F,可出任中堅及防守中場,他於2016年3月取得香港特別行政區護照,正式入籍香港,至今已代表香港隊上陣22場入1球。 

Roberto Orlando Affonso Junior

謝家強出身自曼城青年軍,可司職中場及中堅,他在2012年從英國來港,在港分別效力過南華、和富大埔及富力R&F三間球會。這位28歲球員已於2020年初申請特區護照。 

 羅拔圖和謝家強上季同樣效力富力R&F,富力去年10月宣布退出港超後,羅拔圖一直留在香港,他正在接受7天家居隔離,稍後通過新冠病毒檢測後便可歸隊。而謝家強則需於抵港後按例隔離21日,完成隔離後要再作檢測,呈陰性始能歸隊.

傑志足球總監朱志光透露,球隊在中堅李毅凱離隊後,現有兵源並不足夠應付亞冠盃及本地比賽兩條戰線,相信兩位經驗豐富的後防球員能填補球隊空缺。

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Historic auction to take place to bid farewell to Melwood

Historic auction to take place to bid farewell to Melwood

Melwood

Liverpool FC supporters are being given the opportunity to own a piece of Reds history as the club bids a final farewell to its famous training ground in a special online memorabilia auction.

The unique event, which will be held on 2 March 2021, will see more than 360 items from the last seventy years the club spent at Melwood go under the hammer and be auctioned off to fans.

A special selection of items from the sale will be auctioned specifically to raise funds for the club's official charity, LFC Foundation.

The monies raised, together with a Club donation from all the auction proceeds, will provide much needed food and support the ongoing work around physical and mental wellbeing in the local community, particularly during the COVID-19 response.

The driving force behind this unique occasion was the development of the new AXA Training Centre, which for the first time brings the club's first team and academy players together under one roof.

This hugely significant project saw the 1950s-2020 era at Melwood come to an end, during which time the likes of former players, Steven Gerrard, Ian Rush and Sir Kenny Dalglish, passed through the doors.

Some of the most interesting items that will be up for auction include: the whiteboard used by first team boss Jurgen Klopp to demonstrate his vital team selections and formation; the Champions Wall that was visible inside the main reception area displaying the club's illustrious trophy tally; and the press conference desk and backdrop that was used for every media briefing, where exclusive news from the club was shared with its supporters around the world.

Former player, Ian Callaghan said: "What a momentous occasion this is as we say a final goodbye to the beloved Melwood and look forward to a new era and what our future holds at the new AXA Training Centre. Melwood will always hold a special place in my heart, it was our home for over seven decades and saw us through some of the biggest moments in our club's history - from the ultimate highs to the challenges and tests we have faced together over the years. This is such a unique opportunity for supporters, allowing them to bid for their own piece of Liverpool FC history that they can keep forever."

Stephen Done, Liverpool FC curator, said: "This auction is a very special event to mark the end of an important era. The last fifty years have been a huge part of Liverpool Football Club's rich history, with so many memories and incredible moments to share. And not forgetting all the incredible players that have passed through those doors at the famous training ground during this era.

Without their tremendous talent and contribution to the club, we wouldn't have such prestigious memorabilia and fantastic memories.

"The items on offer in the auction are both unique and diverse - from the world-famous Champions Wall that greeted you as you entered the main reception area to the all-important press conference desk that saw news from the club shared to supporters around the globe."

The auction will be hosted by Graham Budd Auctions, which hosted the club's last auction back in 2018 when hundreds of items from the old Main Stand went under the hammer.

Supporters wishing to take part in the online auction must register their interest now at https://www.grahambuddauctions.co.uk/create-an-account

For more information on the auction and access, please visit: www.grahambuddauctions.co.uk.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Jurgen Klopp stars in Liverpool Chinese New Year Video

Jurgen Klopp stars in Liverpool FC's Chinese New Year Video 高普主演利物浦賀年短片 向紅軍球迷拜年

Liverpool FC launched its 2021 Chinese New Year video today to send season greetings to Red fans across the Greater China region. First team boss Jurgen Klopp stars in the video, telling a moving story of a Chinese Kop and he also appears at the end to send his greetings to the fans. www.facebook.com

Klopp

The video, with voice acting from Klopp, is mainly made of animations. The protagonist of the story is a loyal LFC fan from China who has supported the club for many years, accompanying the Reds through ups and downs in his own way, until the Premier League trophy finally arrived after many years of waiting. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended everything and the Anfield Stadium is still empty, Klopp encouraged the fans to keep their faith because "at the end of the storm, there is a golden sky."

At the end of the video, Klopp says "You'll Never Walk Alone" in Chinese to send greetings on behalf of Liverpool FC amid the ongoing pandemic across the world – also wishing all LFC fans a happy Chinese New Year and a prosperous Year of the Ox! 

Klopp
利物浦今天發布全新賀年短片,向一眾大中華地區的紅軍球迷拜年。該短片由一隊教練高普講述一個來自中國紅軍球迷的動人故事,更於片尾親身粉墨登場向球迷拜年,相信紅軍球迷定必有共鳴。 賀年短片主要以動畫形式呈現,並由高普娓娓道來。故事主角是一名來自中國的忠實利物浦球迷,多年來一直對球隊不離不棄,用自己的方式陪著紅軍走過高山低谷,年復一年終於等到英超冠軍的來臨。雖然新冠疫情的到來令一切停擺,晏菲路球場至現時仍然空空如也,但高普勉勵球迷要繼續心懷希望,因為「在風暴的盡頭,那一定是金色的天空」。 最後高普用中文勉勵紅軍球迷「永不獨行」(You'll Never Walk Alone),代表利物浦祝願大家在全球疫情持續下新年快樂,牛年大吉。

Sunday, January 31, 2021

AFC Champions League 2021 and AFC Cup 2021 – Official Draw Result

AFC Champions League 2021

AFC Champions League 2021

AFC Champions League 2021 and AFC Cup 2021 - Official Draw Result

[Hong Kong, 27 Jan 2021] The official draw ceremonies for the AFC Champions League 2021 (ACL) and AFC Cup 2021 (ACC) were held this afternoon.

After the draw, Kitchee has been drawn to Group J in the ACL and will face the teams of Shandong Luneng (CHN), Port FC (THA) and the Winner of PO 2 (Cerezo Osaka (JPN)/Melbourne City FC (AUS) /Shan United FC (MYA)). ACL Group J will be played from 21 April to 7 May. 

Eastern Long Lions (Hong Kong) and Lee Man (Hong Kong) will participate in Group J in ACC 2021. The opponent will be Tainan City FC (Chinese Taipei) and Athletic 220 FC (MNG). ACC Group J will be played from 14 to 20 May.

Match fixtures and venues for the ACL 2021 and ACC 2021 will be announced by the AFC.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Palmeiras bag the Copa

COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL 2020: PALMEIRAS 1:0 SANTOS 

It was an all-Brazilian affair, won in the end by a late, late goal from Breno Lopes.

At the end of a long hot season, Palmeiras became champions of South America for the second time and advance to the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar. Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira bagged the biggest continental prize after less than three months in the job.

COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL 2020
COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL 2020

434 days separated this Copa Libertadores final from the last thanks to the Pandemic and the winners would only have barely a week before taking the field in the Middle East and a probable clash with Bayern Munich.

Boca Juniors and River Plate fell in the semis, so there would be no Superclásico final in Rio. This instead was a Clássico de Saudade (Nostalgia Derby) of two of Sao Paulo state's great sides, 76km apart, although both have bigger beefs with city rivals Corinthians.

There were almost no fans inside anyway thanks to Covid, but the Maracana's sweeping curves glowed majestically in the afternoon sun.

How I wished I were there in sultry Rio sipping a cool Brahma instead of sat here in England drinking hot chocolate to keep the cold at bay. 

That said, it did not take long for the myth of the Beautiful Game Brazil sold the world to evaporate.

After ten minutes two Santos players, Lucas Verissimo and Marinho made flying lunges from the Bruce Lee school of tackling. Players writhed on the deck or surrounded the referee. Before long the goalkeepers were writhing on the ground for treatment, or rather a respite.

It was not lyrical football to a samba beat, rather clash and pain to discordant noise.

Oh dear is it going to be one of those unwatchable matches the Mexican league specialises in, I wondered? Thankfully no, the frustrated fouls petered out and a football duel commenced. Both sides mercifully entered the dressing rooms with only a yellow card apiece.

Despite the internet, we Europeans still do not watch as much South American football as we should. We know more about their national teams than club sides, but hopefully that will change as the FIFA Club World Championship grows. Terrestrial coverage would help too.

So when we do watch it, we revert to our comfortable stereotypes of Brazil being a synonym for flair or skill and get our eyes opened when an all-Brazilian clash is a slug-fest instead. The other thing we ignore is how different the CONMEBOL calendars are to ours and how much air travel is involved.

After playing fifty plus games already this season, it would have been no wonder if both sides wilted in the heat today. 

Those factors plus the Latin football traditions meant a slower rhythm than in our equivalent - the UEFA Champions League final, and more space in midfield thanks to a welcome lack of gegenpressing.

Chances were slim in the first half with neither side on top.

Palmeiras' Raphael Vega scuffed a shot a yard wide from a tight angle in the 36th, the first and only attempt of the 45 and not a great one at that. On the other flank Rony made a high-speed raid and thumped the ball across the box against the goalkeeper.

Santos pushed forward more but Palmeiras remained solid, biding their time perhaps. Marinho looked the most likely gamechanger from Santos, with wing back Felipe Jonatan a willing lieutenant.

Just after the hour mark Raphael Vega dipped a free kick onto the roof of the Santos net to hint of Palmeiras remembering their lines.

With 15 minutes to go the field was very open and the tempo slow so the window for goals was open but a lack of quality touches from the forwards was limiting chances. 

Palmeiras seemed to want to play on the counter but could have supported their isolated striker Luiz Adriano better. 

Santos sparked into life in the 77th minute as Diego Pituca let rip from outside the box, Weverton could only parry and Jonatan rifled the rebound just wide.

In the 96th minute, hell briefly broke loose. Cuca, the Santos manager wearing a Virgin & Child t-shirt, was shown a red card for trying to pick up the ball as it crossed the touchline, possibly to waste time, and was bundled over by Palmerias' Marcos Rocha.

After a multi-player argument, the sending-off stood and the game exploded.

Cuca barely had time to join the Santos fans in the stands as from the restart Rony launched a diagonal long ball to the edge of the box and substitute Breno Lopes rose to power a header into the opposite corner of the Santos net.

1-0. A goal in the blink of an eye deep into injury time. A red card and drama at the death. Tears of joy and grief flowed.

Obrigado.

It was a real Brazilian football match in the end.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Qatar on the right track

2022 HOSTS REBUILD RELATIONS AND SHOW STADIUM PROGRESS

Things are looking up for Qatar 2022.

FIFA's most controversial World Cup hosts have not had it easy. But with two years to go, they seem to be on course.

The cards are beginning to fall into place. The fourth of eight World Cup stadia has just been finished and the Gulf state's neighbours have just ended a three-year blockade which had shut Qatar's land border with the United Arab Emirates and stopped flights and shipping between the two countries.

With the country set to host FIFA's Club World Cup again next month, PR for the 2022 tournament will get another boost. While the idea of a winter World Cup still appals many traditionalists, most fans would die for a top-quality football tournament to enjoy right now to take their minds off this bleak virus-plagued winter.

The venues of Ahmed Bin-Ali (40,000), Al-Bayt (60,000), Al-Janoub (40,000) and Education City (40,000) are now complete and ready for football, with work progressing well on the remaining stadia. 

Bin-Ali & Education City are the venues for next month's Club World Cup, featuring Bayern Munich (Germany), Ulsan Hyundai (Korea), UANL Tigres (Mexico), Al Ahly (Egypt) and Al Dusail from Qatar, as well as the winners of South America's Copa Libertadores  - either Palmeiras or Santos (both Brazil).

The Club World Cup kicks off on the 1st of February with the final on the 11th.

World Cup 2022
World Cup 2022

The showpiece venue for the World Cup in two years' time is the 80,000 seat Lusail stadium, designed by Foster & Partners, which is yet to be finished.

With regional relations now being gradually restored there is hope that travel to the finals will be hassle-free for the million or so fans expected.

FIFA is cautiously optimistic its most controversial hosting decision will not be made any worse. 

Its showpiece event being hosted by an international pariah would not be a good look. That said, outside opprobrium did not stop them going to Fascist Italy in 1934 or the military junta of Argentina in 1978, the last time an authoritarian regime was in charge. 

Qatar is no democracy either but its immense wealth and high standard of living paper over the cracks. 

It is not a volatile nation like Iraq or Yemen are right now yet its location in the Middle East is inevitably a cause of worry in the West, concerns confirmed by the three-year blockade which is thankfully now easing.

The UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia had imposed an embargo on the World Cup hosts in June 2017 because of Qatar's alleged links to terrorism. Time and again, the finger was pointed at the little state for harbouring individuals funding radical causes in the region.

This was complicated because although Qatar has admitted wealthy backers of banned groups are living within its borders it has also pledged international cooperation to fight extremism a number of times and now agreed to a Kuwaiti/USA brokered deal to normalise relations with its neighbours.

World Cup 2022

Other reasons for the blockade are probably political - Qatar shares a gas field with Iran, which annoyed Saudi Arabia, and has a military tie-up with Turkey, which angered the UAE because those nations backed opposing sides in the Libyan conflict.

Perhaps the small and wealthy nation has never really wanted to immerse itself in the fiery politics of the Middle East for good reason, but that policy has been exploited by some rich men with bad intentions.

Relations with its big neighbour Saudi Arabia appear to be healing now, with both nations' leaders embracing and Doha's international news network Al-Jazeera striking a notably softer tone in its reporting of the kingdom.

Fingers crossed, the World Cup will be hassle and trouble-free. With Covid-19 still the major challenge worldwide for football, FIFA could do without any additional headaches down the line.

Given the scale of recovery from pandemic required, the extra five and a half months FIFA & Qatar will have the year after next to organise the World Cup suddenly looks like a blessing in disguise.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Liverpool FC x Nike Chinese New Year 21 Top

Liverpool FC x Nike Chinese New Year Make Your Own Fortune

Liverpool FC x Nike Chinese New Year

To celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, Liverpool FC & Nike present the limited-edition top "Make Your Own Fortune", with design elements taking inspiration from traditional Chinese Knots that are used as symbols of good luck during the New Year celebrations.

The top also features Dri-FIT technology to help keep you dry and comfortable.

The top is available to pre-order online from Monday 18 January.

Liverpool FC x Nike Chinese New Year.

Liverpool FC x Nike Chinese New Year

Friday, January 22, 2021

Euros Still in Doubt

EURO 2020 MAY NOT HAPPEN IN 2021

The delayed UEFA European Championship could be hosted by a single country or may not happen at all this summer as Covid-19 continues to grip the world.

Euro 2020

UEFA's plan for a multinational tournament and 24 teams has already been delayed by a year but the rejigged tournament looks increasingly threatened as European nations wilt under the third and worst wave of the pandemic.

Northern Ireland has just extended its national lockdown until the 5th of March, coincidentally UEFA's deadline for deciding on the fate of their showpiece tournament. 

As it stands it is slated to begin on the 11th of June in Rome and end a month later in London, but should other nations follow Ulster's suit and extend their lockdowns into the Spring, the prospect of Euro 2020  happening this summer grows smaller.

And yet, domestic leagues plow on and the Champions League and Europa League were concluded last year, behind closed doors of course. 

The multi-country hosting was the "romantic" brainchild of former UEFA President Michel Platini in 2012, expanding the number of finalists to 24 to boot, but the French legend was banned from football three years later for corruption. Nine years since the hosting decision, UEFA is still having to live with the disgraced Platini's vision, or monster.

Michel Platini

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has told German newspapers that UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin is currently mulling over whether to award the whole tournament to a single host nation instead of the 12 planned.

Ceferin said UEFA were assessing the options of playing in nine or ten countries as well as just one as well as in stadia a third or a half-full.

England, as the major host with seven matches including both semis and the final at Wembley, may be in pole position to host the whole show but other nearby venues would be required too as the finals comprise 51 games in total. Ten were used in France for the 24-team Euro 2016

Glasgow's Hampden Park is due to host three group matches, while Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which narrowly missed the cut, could be brought back into the fold too.

That said, Great Britain is statistically the least safe place in Europe right now to hold the finals as it boasts the continent's highest death and infection rates.

If the worst happens and the Euros cannot go ahead in June they could be played in summer 2022, two years late, but with winter 2022 taken up by the Qatar World Cup, footballers would have a packed calendar. The fact the World Cup is not being played in summer however does leave that window uniquely open.

This week, the Tokyo Olympics, like the Euros delayed since last year, has had to deny press rumours their tournament is on the brink of cancellation or postponement. 

The Olympics are slated to start two weeks after the Euros finish but a Japanese minister admitted it was touch and go and the head of World Athletics Sebastian Coe has said the games might go ahead but behind closed doors. 

In his New Year's message, Ceferin was ever the politician: "I am 99.9% sure we will have the European Championship in all twelve cities as planned," he said.

Today those words seem extremely doubtful.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile