Sunday, September 30, 2007

World Soccer News 29/09/2007

World Soccer News 29/09/2007.
Title over sex, booze and holidays

Numerous English soccer fans would be willing to renounce to sex, alcohol and holidays if that was to guarantee success of their favourite teams.
The poll conducted by Virgin Money from a sample of 2500 fans showed that sex and alcohol would be the first victims the fans would be ready to sacrifice for the sake of their teams' results. Next in line people would dispense with are time with family and summer holidays.
The most willing to renounce pleasure for success are Newcastle United followers provided that would give their team a Premiership title. Such an attitude is likely a result of a 38-year wait since the Magpies' last trophy, the Intercity Fairs' Cup won in 1969.
The Toon Army are followed by Birmingham City, Sunderland, Wigan and Manchester United fans. Arsenal fans are ninth and Liverpool followers are not in the top ten.
On the other end of the table are Bolton fans, who are the least willing to give up on anything for their team to win. Possibly because of the awareness that no sacrifice would suffice.

A year in prison over a rough foul

The regional court in the northern Argentinian province of Salti sentenced an amateur soccer player to a year in jail over a very rough foul which almost permanently blinded a rival player.
The aggressive or reckless Marcelo Cil (37) was also sentenced to pay 7000 USD in damages to the injured player whom he smashed in the head with his forearm, inflicting him with severe injuries.
The provincial soccer association concurred with the assessment of the gravity of the injury and suspended Cil for five years.
The convict claims the foul was unintentional and that he was sent off just once in 15 years and "not even over foul play but because of time wasting."

Don't shoot to hard at Casillas

Real Madrid's goalkeeper Iker Casillas has insured his arms for 7.5 million euros in exchange for endorsing the Groupama insurance company.
According to the agreement between Casillas and Groupama, the insurance policy will run until the end of the current season and covers all injuries sustained under any circumstances, including outside the soccer field.
Groupama representatives joked during the contract signing ceremony in Madrid, asking all the players of Primera División to "refrain from shooting hard towards Iker's goal," while the 27-year-old responded that even if he injured his knee, he would report an injury to his arms.

Uli Höness warns Lukas Podolski

Bayern Munich GM, Uli Höness, said his international forward Lukas Podolski had to change his way of thinking if he had the ambition of making a career in the Bavarian team.
"I read his interview in which he said he had nothing to prove to anybody. And I have to say he is much mistaken. On the contrary, he has plenty to prove because he has not achieved anything," said the former World Cup winner to "Süddeutsche Zeitung".
Podolski, one of the leading young strikers in Germany, joined Bayern from Köln after last year's World Cup in Germany where he starred alongside Miroslav Klose.
The Polish-born player regularly features for Germany (40 caps, 23 goals) but is having a hard time winning a place in Bayern's starting eleven – partly due to a nagging knee injury.
New guys Klose and Luca Toni have scored nine goals in the first six League matches, keeping Podolski far from Ottmar Hitzfeld's line-up.
"If he does not change his attitude radically, he will not succeed here. In the next six to eight months it will be clear if he has succeeded or not," added Höness, describing Podolski's left foot as "his only weapon."
The youngster responded by saying he would prove his worth if he could finally get seven or eight games in a row.

Golden Ball becomes a global affair

Milan's Kaká is reportedly fancied to win this year's France Football's Golden Ball, but as of this season this prize will also be available to his fellow countrymen who play outside Europe.
Until this year, the magnificent offensive midfielder would have been eligible as a member of an European club, but now the club affiliation is no longer a criterion.
The French magazine that has been awarding the prize since 1956 has announced that the Golden Ball will now be a recognition for the world's best player and the jury has been expanded from 53 to 96 members from all over the globe.
This is the second major change in the rules that govern the eligibility for the Golden Ball. The first was introduced in 1995 extending the right to participate to non-European footballers playing in Europe. The new rule seemed tailor made for the Liberian George Weah, who came out on top that year.
Last year's winner was Italy's Fabio Cannavaro thanks to a grand display at the World Cup.

Mário Zagallo finally retires

The most successful personality in World Cup history, the legendary Mário Zagallo, has announced his retirement at 76.
"I will not coach again at club or international level. Sincerely, I have not been watching soccer much lately," said the former great player, head coach and assistant coach of the Brazilian soccer team.
His last job was technical coordinator of Brazil's World Cup team in Germany.
"If they had asked me to continue, I probably would have kept on working," said "Lobo" (Wolf) Zagallo.
The revered veteran won two world titles as a player together with Pelé, Vavá and Garrincha (1958 and 1962), one as the coach (1970) and one as assistant coach (1994).
"It will be hard for anybody to emulate these achievements. I was lucky to have become manager soon after retiring as a player," concluded the popular Brazilian.

Laporta withdraws support for the Prime Minister

Barcelona waited for a long time for a Spanish Prime Minister who was also a Barca fan. He finally came in 2004 in the person of José Luis Zapatero.
Therefore it was no surprise that the club's chairman Joan Laporta dedicated to him among other people the Champions' League won in 2006 against Arsenal.
Now Laporta claims he is sorry for the gesture, since Zapatero has failed to fulfill his expectations regarding the rights of the Catalans.
"Then I believed he was a champion for Spain as a multi-ethnic country, whereas now I realize he has not moved far as far as Catalonia's national rights are concerned. (...) Spain needs us only for the money," said the controversial Barcelona chairman, not hiding his political preferences for the future.
"I hope Catalonia one days appears in a World Cup as an independent country."
Following this episode, many people all over Spain are accusing Laporta of abusing his presidential position in Barcelona in order to enhance his stature with a view to a possible future involvement in politics.

Last week's world soccer news

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Full Moon Spells Quarter Doom For Jeonbuk

Full moon over Jeonju World Cup Stadium

The Korean thanksgiving holiday is a time to spend with family and pay respects to ancestors that have passed away. What it is not, is a time to do any unnecessary travel. More than half the nation moves around the southern half of the peninsula to visit hometowns. The nightly television news programs all start by broadcasting the same pictures with relish. The first is of the full harvest moon, an image followed by shots of expressways that are equally bloated.

Mounting journey times between major cities are gravely but breathlessly relayed to those lucky enough to be sat in their own homes. The barometer is Seoul-Busan. It usually takes around five hours to drive from the capital to the south coast port but during ‘Chuseok’, that will only get you about halfway.

That was the point that the Asian Champions quarter-final between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Urawa Reds was at on the last day of the harvest festivities with the second leg action due to take place in Korea.

Urawa fans at Jeonju World Cup Stadium

A week previously in Saitama, the Japanese champions had given the Asian champions a footballing lesson. If the two-goal lead that the Reds enjoyed for much of the game had been carried over the East Sea and into South Korea for the second leg, Urawa coach Holger Osieck would have been delighted though perhaps a little disappointed that the J-League leaders hadn’t managed more. As it was, Jeonbuk’s veteran defender Choi Jin-cheul popped up at the last minute to give the visitors a vital away goal and a good deal of hope.

Jeonbuk Motors fans

The smart money was still on Urawa to progress but only just. Jeonbuk had shown while winning the competition a year before that what they sometimes lack in finesse, they make up with passion, power and a never-say-die spirit. Such play doesn’t always make a difference in the K-league that has an abundance of those qualities. Going into the second leg, Jeonbuk may have been in fifth place in the league but were 17 points behind second and only five above Daejeon Citizen down in 11th.

Travelling down to the city of Jeonju, where Jeonbuk are based, from Seoul is always a pleasant journey but more so on the final day of the holidays. The number of people heading south-west was dwarfed by the millions scrambling back to the capital. There were enough Japanese fans making the same journey to give credence to reports suggesting that the home supporters could be similarly outnumbered. The sight of an army of red-clad fans tumbling off buses at expressway rest areas to swamp restaurants and convenience stores, but strangely not the kiosks that blast out sixties and seventies Korean music, was reminiscent of past away days in England.

On the way to jeonju

Their destination was North Jeolla Province in the south-west region of South Korea. It is a beautiful place - full of mountains, deep valleys, lush fields and, if you believe those who hail from the south-east of the country, people who can’t be trusted as far as they can be thrown. It is a stereotype that is hard to believe as folk that hail from Jeolla are as friendly as their version of the national dish, kimchi, is salty.

Jeonju is the capital of the region and while it may be the home of the Asian champions, it is better known for food not football. The city of 600,000 is the birthplace of the famous Korean dish Bi Bim Bap, a bowl of mixed vegetables, rice and spicy pepper sauce that tastes considerably better than that description suggests.

Urawa fans

The Urawa coach wasn't planning to treat his team to a dish of the local specialty; he expected that his players would be served up a generous helping of ‘bim’ and ‘bap’ on the field. Prior to the game he warned the starting eleven that they could expect to get kicked around the pitch at the 44,000 capacity Jeonju World Cup Stadium, an arena that is both large and intimate.

In truth, he wasn’t wrong. Some of Jeonbuk’s tackles would have been x-rated stuff even in the laxer leagues of Europe. Around 20,000 Jeonbuk fans and the 5,000 away supporters created an excellent atmosphere and the Saudi Arabian referee looked increasingly out of his depth as the game progressed.

Jeonbuk players complain at the end

He didn’t help matters by choosing to send off Chung Kyung-ho, one of the nicest players in the K-League both to watch and to meet. The winger was harshly booked for dissent early on and then shown a second yellow for a dive midway through the first half. There were other players much more deserving of a place in referee’s book than the former international.

jeonbuk fans look depressed

Still, football is not always fair but the end result probably was and Urawa return to Korea for the semi-final, this time to face champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.The moon won’t be full but, for the mouth-watering clash between the holders of leagues J and K, the stadium will be.

Urawa players celebratew with fans

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

ACL loss to Sepahan confirms Frontale's season a bust

ACL loss to Sepahan confirms Frontale's season a bust.
Kawasaki Frontale's exit from the Asian Champions League earlier this week proved what many had feared about Takashi Sekizuka's men over the last couple of weeks: they're a spent force whose season has gone the way of a Britney Spears comeback.

Only time will tell how their free fall into irrelevancy in 2007 will affect Frontale in the foreseeable future, but there's no denying that the team has suffered a major setback.

Frontale has improved in the league standings every year since finishing 7th in J2 in 2001, returning to J1 in 2005 before shocking all but the most optimistic supporters with their runner-up performance last season.

What a difference a year makes.

Currently in ninth place, Kawasaki sit 22 points and a prayer behind pacesetters Urawa Reds.

With nothing left to play for in the league, Sekizuka trained all his focus on progressing in the ACL. He rested the bulk of his first-choice players, including Brazilians Juninho and Magnum, for Frontale’s Round 26 match with Kashiwa Reysol three days before Wednesday’s ACL clash with Iranian cup winners Sepahan.

The 4-0 loss to Reysol will hurt a lot more now than it did before the demoralizing defeat to Sepahan, who eked out a 5-4 penalty-shootout win after 210 minutes of scoreless football in the two-leg tie.

Despite outplaying their opponents in both legs, Frontale were unable to put the sword to Sepahan, the result of an impotent offense that Sekizuka says has dogged the team for two months.

“We’ve found it difficult to score since August, and it was the same today (Wednesday). We’ve got to figure out what the problem is and fix it so we can get our league campaign back on track,” Sekizuka said at the post-match press conference.

Frontale may very well be at rock bottom, having won only three of their last 15 league games and having salt rubbed in their wounds by rivals Urawa, who advanced to the ACL semifinals on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea.

The disappointment of the last few months was clear for all to see on Wednesday, as a glum Sekizuka apologized for failing to take his team further in the continental championship.

“I am personally disappointed that I couldn't meet the expectations of those in the J.League and Japanese football in general. We had a good chance to progress after drawing away in the first match and I feel terrible for not living up to everyone’s expectations,” Sekizuka said.

Frontale need to shake off the hurt quickly, however, as the team is still in the thick of things in the Nabisco (league) Cup. Kawasaki play the Yokohama F. Marinos in a home-and-away semifinal for the right to meet either the Kashima Antlers or Gamba Osaka in the final on Nov. 3.
Motivating his troops will be a tall order for Sekizuka, who has seen his team go from confident and freewheeling to frustrated and vulnerable in the span of a year.

It will take a tremendous turnaround for Frontale to salvage anything from what is quickly becoming a shipwrecked season.

Copyright: C.G. Williams & Soccerphile

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Chicken or the Meg

The Chicken or the Meg
Life is full of little contradictions. When a professional gambler shops around for value, he’s lauded for his shrewdness. Yet when I apply a similar level of financial prudence outside of the betting arena, I’m considered meaner than a premenstrual Scot with a toothache.

I’m not ashamed to say that I use the same approach with my shopping budget as I do with my betting bank. Why should I pay 60p for ‘brand name’ biscuits when I can buy an almost identical packet for 15p? Admittedly, the cheapskate biscuits crumble at the merest touch, but I can let this minor flaw pass, as it’s mostly the kids who eat them.

The little ones are always on my back to improve my fitness levels. They’re pretty heavy. My frugal nature led me to scoff at wasting £200 on a gym membership; after all, I’ve got a bike at home.

My economical acumen did lead to quite an embarrassing mix-up. I was feeling a little peckish after a long stint on the exercise bike, so I decided to snack on a few of the tightwad biscuits. This adequately explains how the wife found me breathing heavily while furiously stroking the crumbs off my lap.

Lawrie Sanchez has also been on the end of a comical misunderstanding. The Fulham manager loves to sign Irish players, so when he heard of the crisis engulfing Chelsea, he made a cheeky bid to sign O’Bramovich.

The Chelsea squad are on the verge of mutiny as a result of their hard-to-please owner. Fat Frank, the Drog, Malouda: they’re all revolting.

Some of the players were in tears when Jose left, although Ashley Cole’s emotional state may be a result of Liza Minnelli’s tour drawing to a close. The 2/5 for a Chelsea win over Fulham has sent me toppling over the edge.

Michael Owen has once again been sidelined through injury. The King of the Castle has been ruled out with a double hernia: it started off as a single but he was feeling lucky. I’ll have a little punt on the draw between Manchester City and Newcastle at 23/10.

Robbie Savage has often been compared to Roy Keane. Unfortunately, the term ‘a poor man’ normally plays a significant role. The 7/4 for a Sunderland win over Blackburn can help alleviate poverty amongst the betting classes.

Unless Fernando Torres shares the wife’s rare medical condition where physical activity is only permitted once a week, he has to start against Wigan. I’ll happily back Liverpool at 4/6 if Torres starts: if he’s on the bench, I’ll lay it like it was Meg White.

Reading left it late to land a touch against Wigan last week. With two minutes to go, I was sweating like Prince Charles on Father’s Day. These Royals are pretty useful; they can leave Portsmouth with a point at 5/2.

They say that good things come in small packages, and that’s an adage to which I am forced to subscribe. Cesc Fabregas may be diminutive in stature, but he’s a true giant on the football pitch. Arsene has set the little man on fire, he’ll inspire Arsenal to a victory over West Ham at 10/11.

While Cesc is banging the goals in for fun, Andy Johnson would struggle to score at a Ronaldo house-party. I’m loving the 5/2 for a draw between Everton and Middlesbrough.

Steve Bruce is genuinely looking forward to the visit of Manchester United. It’s not a result of his Old Trafford ties, he just wants to stand next to Carlos Tevez and not be considered the ugly one.
The 4/7 for a Manchester United win over the Blues is absolutely stunning.

I’m definitely worried about this bluetongue virus. Apparently, it’s transmitted by midges, so I’m steering well clear of Sammy Lee. Bolton are worth a small bet at 7/4 against Derby.

Martin Jol appears to have lost the plot. I wouldn’t treat a dog the way Jol has treated Jermain Defoe, especially as she failed to swallow my biscuit story. Aston Villa will leave the Lane with a point at 9/4.

I’m sure the wife has shared her outrageous theory on ‘biscuitgate’ with her mother. I’ve been a nervous wreck since the incident; I just haven’t been feeling myself. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and an Everton draw form a 14/1 weekend accer that will hopefully lift my flagging spirits.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pressure tells as favourites flounder

It's not exactly been the start Juninho-led Sydney FC had anticipated with under-fire coach Branko Culina wasting little opportunity to continue his war of words with the Sydney media after the 2005/06 champions finally recorded their first win under his charge.

It took a classic backs to the wall away effort, a goal from Brazilian substitute Patrick with his first touch and an outstanding display in central defence from Socceroos defender Mark Milligan to snatch a 1-0 victory in Brisbane over the unfortunate Queensland Roar.

Before the round had begun, Sydney were propping up the eight-team table following two draws and two losses and mischievous hacks had started to circle the embattled club like vultures around road kill.

The depressing scenario was a million miles from Culina's first game in charge when in March he guided his new side to a shock 2-1 win over Shanghai Shenhua in the opening round of the AFC Champions League.

Barely six months later, Culina has this season been forced to defend himself like a boxer caught on the ropes - and over the weekend he wasn't about to spurn an opportunity for some counterpunching.

The primary accusation thrown in the Sydney coach's direction has been one of arrogance as rivals have gleefully turned on the team which proclaimed itself the 'glamour club' of the league two short years ago.

With 'all night' Dwight Yorke and, briefly, Kazu among their ranks, Sydney certainly did dominate column inches, generated the largest crowds and at times played some delightful football under German Pierre Littbarski.

But that was then.

Littbarski is now a distant memory, crowds in the harbour city are down and represent only half what reigning champions Melbourne Victory regularly draw since their move to the Telstra Dome and the omnipotent front and back page presence of Yorke is long gone.

Away from football, Sydneysiders are often on the receiving end of claims of arrogance so perhaps there's nothing new in Culina's confident swagger.

But snipers, chiefly comprising the Melbourne football fraternity, have happily leapt on his comparisons between Sydney and Manchester United with boardroom unrest, a shoulder injury to Juninho and an under-funded pre-season recruitment drive also under the microscope.

Sydney were lucky to beat Queensland over the weekend, the visitors pouncing on home hesitancy in defence to somehow scrape a victory after a lacklustre first-half.

What then, one Brisbane-based reporter from tabloid The Courier Mail quizzed, was the content of Culina's half-time rally cry.

"I said let's be arrogant," the FC coach mocked theatrically. "Isn't that what you guys wanted to hear?

"After all didn't I do a half-an-hour interview with you yesterday and all you wanted to write was about how arrogant we were," he continued. "There's a bit of a difference between being confident and arrogant."

A fired up Culina maintained he could handle the heat of coaching under the spotlight but cunningly distanced himself from references to the English champions, saying they were only made to underline the constant media interest in the club based in Australia's most populous city.

"It's being sarcastic or arrogant when we say it is important that Sydney does well - or at least it is for us - because of what it represents in population," he backtracked.

"I didn't say we were Manchester United or all of that, I simply said the pressure is on Sydney. I mean which other state would have been writing about getting rid of a coach other than Sydney."

It doesn’t much help that New South Wales rivals the Central Coast Mariners lead the league by four points.

By contrast former coach-of-the-year Lawrie McKinna rarely comes a cropper in the tabloids and the club are engaged with the local community in a way no other franchise has yet managed.

The Mariners boardroom is united, corporate funding is flooding in and the side boast a strike force to rival Melbourne's after former Sydney attacker Sasho Petrovski swapped the frenetic atmosphere of the NSW capital for a laidback lifestyle on the Coast.

In truth, Petrovski has not been the only person turning his back on Sydney of late.

Copyright © Marc Fox and

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MLS Playoff Spots Going Fast With 5 Weeks To Go

ChivasUSA, the Los Angeles-based "franchise" of Mexico's oldest football club--CD Guadalajara--has become the fourth MLS team to qualify for the league playoffs which begin October 25.

Chivas qualified on the strength of a 2:1 victory Saturday over Kansas City Wizards at the Home Depot Center in LA. The Red and White join DC United, New England Revolution, and holders Houston Dynamo as those clubs qualified for the playoffs. The clumination of the playoffs is the single-match MLS Cup to be contested on Nov. 18 in Washington, DC.

With the addition of Chivas, just four playoff spots remain. Thus far, none of the clubs making midseason acquisitions of former World Cup superstars has qualified to vie for the 2007 MLS championship.

FC Dallas, featuring former Brazilian World Cup star Denilson, is the closest to attaining a playoff berth and likely would face Chivas in a Western Conference seminfinal. Dallas could qualify as early as Wednesday of this week.

Chicago Fire, new home to Mexican international Cuauhtémoc Blanco, remain in the hunt for the lowest seed playoff berth, but are closely bunched on points with Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew. With three points on the line in each of the last five matches, it will likely go down to the wire.

Finally, LA Galaxy, possessed of US international Landon Donovan, and now second home to England uber-star David Beckham, has virtually (though not mathematically) been eliminated from making this year's playoff.

USA Advance Over Feisty Brits as Women's World Cup Semis Take Familiar Shape

USA Advance Over Feisty Brits as Women's World Cup Semis Take Familiar Shape.
The USA weathered a strong first half from a feisty England side Saturday night to advance, 3:0, to the semifinals of the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.

England, looking much sharper than their competition, held a hard-won scoreless tie at the halftime and appeared to have the US squad back on their heels and playing "not to lose".

"Tonight I would have liked to see us start better than we did," said US head man, Greg Ryan, when asked why his team seemed outplayed in the first half of such an important match. "Maybe it's just that we are a young team [with] so many new players," he concluded.

As the second half opened, however, the US' captain and most experienced player, Kristine Lilly, took just 13 minutes to lead her side to a 3:0 advantage and put them back into contention for the championship.

Taking the second of two quick corners at minute 48, Lilly placed the served the ball to the far post where teammate Abby Wambach, the US' leading scorer in these finals, leapt to head it home out of the reach of England keeper, Rachel Brown, for a 1:0 lead.

Nine minutes later midfielder Shannon Boxx scored her first goal at the finals on a low blast from just inside the corner of the box for 2:0. "It popped right in front of me," Boxx said of the shot, the ball coming to her off a tackle by linemate Cat Whitehall as England tried to clear.

"My thought was just to take a quick shot," she said after the match. "I hit it low," she continued, "and it skipped in," cleanly beating the diving Brown.

Just three minutes later it fell to Lilly, literally, to put away the finisher as the somewhat rattled England keeper misjudged a defender's back-pass; the US skipper walked it in as the ball bounced over Brown's head towards the goal line.

USA now move on to play Brazil in Thursday's (Sept. 27) semifinal. Brazil defeated Australia in a Sunday evening thriller, 3:2, putting on as entertaining a display as their male counter-parts often do.

The matildas, for their part, did not succumb to the "Seleção" mystique until the 75th minute when Brazilian forward, Christiane, struck from 20 meters to make the final tally.

In the other semifinal (Wed., Sept. 26), Germany--3:0 quarterfinal winners over PRK--will play Norway, who ousted host China (1:0) in Sunday's second match.

This is the 5th time the FIFA Women's World Cup has been contested; the US (1991, 1999), Germany (2003) and Norway (1995) having won the previous four.

The final match will be held Sept. 30 in Shanghai.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Agent: Lee Chun-Soo Will Be Feyenoord Success

Agent: Lee Chun-Soo Will Be Feyenoord Success.
Dennis Murray is head of GSEN Europe, an agency that specialises in helping South Korean players move to Europe. Murray is the man who negotiated Lee Chun-soo's recent transfer to Feyenoord and he found time for a quick chat regarding the transfer.

Tell us about GSEN.

GSEN Korea is managed by Kim Dong-guk and looks after players like Lee Young-pyo, Seol Ki-hyeon and a few other players.

In the Netherlands, Lee Young- pyo's manager and I discussed about me doing business for GSEN. I started the European headquarters in order to help put Korean players in European clubs.

GSEN only deals with Korean players?

GSEN Europe only deals with Korean players, GSEN Korea is looking at foreign players.

Why do you think European clubs are interested in Korean players?

It is not specifically Korean players that they are interested in but good players. It’s not a matter of attracting a Korean player but attracting a good player that happens to be Korean.

How does the process work?

Basically we know about every European club – what positions they need etc. Prior to the beginning of the transfer window, you can see a lot of agents, including us, start faxing CVs and sending DVD’s to clubs, trying to pitch their player for that specific position. The scouts and the technical staff will then take a look at the most promising players.

Once they are interested, then they will enquire to the club or watch a few live games of the player to get a sense of what he is like in a real situation and not just on screen. When they like it, they will put him on a shortlist and for every position that they need, the club will have a few players in mind. They will start with player one and if player one is not an option then they will move down the list until they reach somebody they can get.

SO GSEN has a pool of players in Korea that it can recommend to European teams?

Exactly. We have players with our agency but sometimes a club will say to us that ‘we have a player that wants to move, we want you to represent us a club as the player moves.

That’s what happened with Lee Chun-soo?

Yes. Ulsan (Lee's K-League club) gave us the mandate. I was asked by GSEN Korea to look in the Netherlands. I had three options. Feyenoord was the first option and a direct hit.

What about the other two clubs?

I looked at a suitable club for him and only three qualified. Feyenoord, AZ and Ajax. Feyenoord was the best option since he gets to play in a good team with good players (like Giovanni van Bronkhorst, Roy Makaay) and work with a great coach (Bert van Marwijk.)

He should fit in just fine. Also his success later on in the EPL will be guaranteed since the Dutch League is the perfect stepping stone for Korean players when adjusting.

Why didn’t Lee move directly to England?

At the time when I received his CV the question was can you search for a good European club? I knew there were genuine offers from EPL clubs but I strongly suggested that he should consider moving to a Dutch club first.

The reason and only reason is to do away with the reports of him moving to the EPL on the back of Korean sponsorship deals. He is a very gifted and skilled player who doesn't need piggy back rides like that. That's why a move to the Dutch League instead of the EPL would come as a surprise and will show his credibility as a player. That shows his character.

There was interest from England?

It was not that he refused to go to a EPL club. The idea was if a club is first and most concrete about the permanent transfer offer that he would choose to go to that club. At first his focus was only EPL clubs.

Fulham, Chelsea, Wigan, Portsmouth and West Ham United. Fulham made a concrete loan offer but only a permanent transfer was sought after by both Ulsan and Lee.

I knew I could arrange the permanent transfer for him at the mentioned Dutch clubs so I suggested to take them in account as well. Especially since it will not be tainted with sponsorship linking.

Don't get me wrong though, the EPL is still his main and firm goal. So after three good years at Feyenoord you might see that move happen. If Feyenoord wants to sell him earlier, then it will happen sooner of course.

How easy were the negotations with Feyenoord?

It was not easy. Once I got involved, the negotations took only 15 minutes but it was not easy. Once agents know that a club is interested in a certain player they will try to bypass you and say that they are the player's representatives.

That has been Lee’s problem in the past hasn’t it? He’s been close to a move but his many agents make it complex.

Exactly. At the time, I was waiting for Feyenoord to come back to me because we had pitched Lee at the end of May, early June. We had some phone conversations and then we had to wait for Feyenoord because the club had other options.

All of a sudden, we learned that Feyenoord was dealing already.

Dealing with Ulsan?

That’s the question! It was an agent who claimed to be representing the club which was not possible because we had the mandate from the club. Feyenoord thought that it was over because Ulsan didn’t want to talk any more.

I got the call that Feyenoord was dealing but the deal (a loan deal) fell through. I called the club’s technical director and asked him what was going on. He replied that ‘we have a problem, we really want this player.’ I said OK, I gave him all the terms that I had agreed with Ulsan and the player through GSEN Korea.

It took only 15 minutes for Feyenoord to say yes and then we told Ulsan and Ulsan were also very quick to say yes. From then, it was up to Lee’s manager to go with the personal terms that I had negoitiated for the player and they also agreed,

This was like hours before the deadline and Lee still needed a medical. We arranged a medical in Seoul (because flying to Amsterdam was not possible at that time), Feyenoord really wanted him so they said OK and they appointed a doctor. It was done. It was not a textbook deal!

Sounds quick but difficult!

Yes. The difficulty always comes when other agents come forward and say they are representing the player.

Is it common to have multiple agents?

It is not just limited to Korea. It happens all over the world –in South America, in England even. You probably hear stories of players signing two or three contracts because they are represented by different agents.

Why do players do this?

The younger players are easily influenced by dubious agents. They say ‘I can get you this and this at a great club, just sign here.’ And they sign. The next day another agent comes and he has an even better offer and they sign.

Will Lee Chun-soo be a success?

I know he can be. He needs to look at the communication. He needs to be able to communicate with his coach and his team. I understand that will not be a problem. He will be helped in the Netherlands with anything he needs.

He will be the biggest Korean success in the Netherlands and after that I can help him move to the EPL.

I am happy that he is here and can play here. He is a very good player.

How about Park Chu-young?

For Park Chu-young there was and still is interest in Europe. Problem was that he was not a very physical player. But seeing him now after recovery from his injury I don't think that will be regarded as any issue anymore. He is more bulky looking at the moment so physical play should not be a problem.

Copyright: John Duerden &

World Soccer News 23/09/2007

World Soccer News 23/09/2007.
Platini seeks help from politicians

Michel Platini, UEFA's president, has launched a desperate plea to the leaders of all European countries asking them for help in the battle against ruthless soccer capitalists.
"A serious threat hangs over the development of European football. (...) Money has never been the ultimate objective of football: the main purpose has always been to win trophies. For the first time we may be entering an era in which financial profit alone will be the measure of sporting success," wrote Platini in his letter to the only people who could stop several dozen tycoons from bringing all the best world's players to several dozen West European clubs leaving the rest with nothing.
Platini knows that it is the EU politicians who have enabled the businessmen to treat soccer as just another branch of industry disregarding its particularities as a sporting competition with strong ties to local communities.
The interests of tens of millions of fans from less affluent parts of the world are being largely ignored by EU legislators and their protégés.

Quality soccer has been played for decades in hundreds of clubs over five continents but the unstoppable onslaught of magnates investing in English, Spanish, Italian and German team threatens to turn all other territories into a soccer desert.
UEFA's president believes that English soccer is the most threatened due to the increaing interest of foreign billionaires investing in the Premier League, but it is really soccer elsewhere in the world that is being endangered by the situation, since hundreds of quality players pour into the Premiership draining other sources.
But, will any legislator put the long-term interest of soccer (and the fans) ahead of the profit of the football fat cats?

Alex Del Piero gives Donadoni a semi-ultimatum

Juventus' captain Alessandro Del Piero is disappointed with his display against France (0-0) in the wide left role, but even more so by coach Robert Donadoni's decision to play him where he doesn't feel right.

"I accepted to play on the left flank, but it was the last time I have played where I don't belong. It is not blackmail but a statement of facts. As a forward, I can do certain things that I cannot do as a midfielder. Let Donadoni play me upfront or not at all," said Del Piero.

The coach has chosen the latter option by leaving the veteran out of the team for Ukraine in Kiev.
The Italian media suspect that this semi-ultimatum is Del Piero's tactic to sneak out of the national team as both Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti have done recently.

Still, the "Juventino" says: "I would like to complete this cycle and play at Euro 2008."

Mourinho leaves Chelsea with plenty of money

José Mourinho leaves Chelsea. The consensual termination of his contract will make the Portuguese coach a very wealthy man, as the severance pay may reach 35 million euros. Mourinho brought Chelsea to two League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups, but also made the team less than popular among rival and neutral fans thanks to his antics and arrogant comments in the press.

The former Porto coach said goodbye to all in a statement published on the club's web site, declaring himself proud of having worked at Chelsea and of the job he had done. The wording of the statement was uncharacteristically polite for Mourinho who proclaimed a never-ending love between himself and the fans.

Doubtlessly, this successful yet sometimes not quite likeable coach will soon secure another phenomenally paid job, but it will be much harder for Roman Abramovich to find someone quite as hard-nosed as José Mourinho. Maybe he should try with Luiz Felipe Scolari.

World Soccer News 23/09/2007.

A fortuneteller "saves" Rosario: "Ditch number 14 and you will win"

The Argentinians of Rosario Central had a weak start to the championship with four draws and four losses in eight games. Fan leaders thought they could ask a local fortuneteller for advice.
A complete ingorance of the game of soccer did not prevent the lady in question from offering a solution:
"The player with number 14 must not play".

Indeed, for the next game the regular left back Andrés Imperiale, Rosario's no. 14, was left out of the team. He was not even on the bench, and the media believe the fans and the fortuneteller had something to do with it.

Amazingly, without the no. 14 Rosario scored their first win of the season and against no less a rival than their nemesis Newell's Old Boys. Rosario won 1-0 although they had two players sent off and coach Carlos Ischia was ecstatic: "This is one of my favourite wins ever. We deserved the points and we had a little luck."

If the coach really believes the no. 14 brings him bad luck, Imperiale could be left out of action until the end of the season, because that is the only time when Argentinian clubs can change shirt numbers.

Mexico change green colour to "stand out from the grass"

Mexico, one of the best soccer nations in the world, plans to abandon the traditional green colour of their shirts. Reason? The players are not sufficiently visible against the turf.

"In the future we shall wear white shirts at home games, and red shirts away from home, because in green uniforms our players do not stand out from the pitch," said the coach Hugo Sánchez.

"We have been considering this for a long time. The people responsible in the FA have agreed with my assesment that the green colour creates a feeling that our players are outnumbered on the pitch. Since the Mexican flag contains white and red, I have persuaded them that our team should wear all white or all red uniforms," added the greatest Mexican player in history.

Some media have hinted that Sánchez pleads for the white shirts because of his unforgotten love for Real Madrid, where he played for seven seasons.
"I like this colour because it is featured on our flag and it is a coincidence that Real Madrid wears it too. Soon it will seem there are 12 or 13 of us on the pitch rather than 10."

The FA may approve the definitive change of colours in December or January.

Dinamo Zagreb closes in on Benfica's record

The Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb could match Benfica's record for the number of consecutive league wins if they overcome Varteks in Varazdin on Sunday.
The Blue Lions have won their last 28 league games – 20 in the past season and eight in the current campaign, coming within one win of Benfica's 35 years old record.

In the meantime, Dinamo have extended their perfect domestic home record to an amazing 30 wins in a row. Since March 24th 2006 until last week's game with Slaven (4-0), the Zagreb team has won 25 league games, four in the FA Cup and one in the Supercup, scoring 80 and conceding only 15 goals.

A fire-cracker kills a boy in Ecuador

An 11-year old Barcelona Guayaquil fan, died from a fire-cracker that perforated his lungs before the big game in Ecuador between Barcelona and Emelec.

Little Carlos Cedeno passed away as the doctors attempted to resuscitate him. The police started an inquiry because pyrotechnic devices are banned from Ecuadorian stadia. All the fans from the grandstand from which the missile was probably fired were identified by club officials.
The fire-cracker was fired by an unknown fan towards an already full stand at the Monumental Stadium, in spite of hundreds of stewards trying to maintain order at the venue.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Urawa in the box seat as Gamba begin to choke

Urawa in the box seat as Gamba begin to choke.
Urawa Reds are once again four points clear of second placed Gamba Osaka, following Gamba's shock 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Yokohama F. Marinos.

A near-capacity crowd of 19,419 turned out at Expo '70 Stadium on September 16 but the majority went home stunned as a brace from Daisuke Sakata dented Gamba's title aspirations.

A day earlier, a crowd of 22,675 turned out in Hiroshima - their largest gate of the season, as Urawa easily disposed of hosts Sanfrecce 4-2, with livewire striker Tatsuya Tanaka taking his goal tally to eight goals in twelve games since returning from injury.

At the other end of the table, Ventforet Kofu put up a valiant display in the so-called Mount Fuji derby before ultimately going down 2-0 to Shimizu S-Pulse in front of 18,101 fans at Nihondaira Stadium.

With Omiya Ardija losing 2-0 to Jubilo Iwata, both clubs look doomed to spend the rest of the season in the relegation zone, given that Oita Trinita have pulled five points clear of the bottom three, following their most recent 2-2 draw with Kawasaki Frontale.

Jubilo Iwata coach Adilson resigns

Former fan favourite Adilson resigned as coach of Jubilo Iwata in the aftermath of Jubilo's 1-0 defeat to local rivals Shimizu S-Pulse in the Shizuoka derby on September 1.

The Brazilian had already been under pressure following Jubilo's first derby loss of the season in May, and his propensity to chop and change his starting eleven meant that Jubilo struggled to gain any momentum throughout the season.

Former assistant Atsushi Uchiyama has been promoted to first team coach, and he oversaw a 2-0 away win over strugglers Omiya Ardija in his first match in charge, in a match notable for the return to the starting eleven of midfielder Yoshiaki Ota and striker Robert Cullen, both of whom had fallen out of favour with Adilson.

2007 has been a difficult year for Jubilo Iwata, with midfielder Naoya Kikuchi sacked by the club midway through the season after admitting that he had sexual relations with a fifteen year old schoolgirl.

AFC Champions LeagueBoth of Japan's representatives reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League, with Urawa Reds drawn against defending Asian champions Jeonbuk Motors FC.

Urawa won the first leg of their quarter-final, with goals from Makoto Hasebe and Tatsuya Tanaka propelling them into a two goal lead, before a late strike from Choi Jin-Cheul pulled back what could be a crucial away goal for the K-League side.

Elsewhere Kawasaki Frontale will be confident of progression after they held Iranian side Sepahan to a 0-0 draw at the Foolad Shahr Stadium in Esfahan.

The return legs take place on September 26.

Japan National Team

The Japan National Team's recent tour game tour of Europe was a success, with Japan declared the winner of a four nation tournament also featuring hosts Austria, Switzerland and Chile.

Japan held Austria to a 0-0 draw in front of a capacity crowd at the Woerthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt before succumbing in a penalty shoot-out, with Yokohama F. Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa missing the crucial spot-kick.

Japan then came from two goals down to beat Switzerland 4-3, scoring four second half goals thanks to a brace of penalties from Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura, a header from Seiichiro Maki and a winning goal from substitute Kisho Yano.

Japan National Women's TeamDespite an impressive display, Nadeshiko Japan failed to progress to the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in China.

Japan opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw against England. In front of a pro-England crowd, Aya Miyama opened the scoring for Japan with a neatly struck free-kick, but Japan appeared to be heading for defeat when England's Kelly Smith scored two late goals. Miyama was the hero, however, stepping up to score a stoppage time equaliser with another brilliant free-kick.

In their next match Japan scored a stoppage time winner through Yuki Nagasato to record a narrow 1-0 victory over Argentina, before reigning world champions Germany proved too strong, knocking Japan out of the tournament with a 2-0 victory.

Japan Olympic Team

After grinding out a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia in oppressive humidity in Damman on September 8, Japan returned to the National Stadium in Tokyo four days later to edge passed Qatar with a 1-0 victory in their lastest qualifying game for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

FC Tokyo midfielder Yohei Kajiyama scored the only goal after just four minutes, as Japan overcame the sending off of Hosei University midfielder Takuya Honda to take their tally to seven points from the opening three games.

Only the group winner progresses to the Olympic tournament, and coach Yasuharu Sorimachi has declared himself satisfied with his team's performances so far. The gloss was taken off this win, however, by the news that Yohei Kajiyama had suffered a serious injury that will rule him out for the rest of the qualifying tournament.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman &

J.League News

Friday, September 21, 2007

If it's gift-wrapped, the Reds don't want it ...

Urawa Reds manager Holger Osieck remains optimistic about his side’s chances of advancing to the semifinals of the Asian Champions League despite losing hold of a stranglehold on the home-and-away quarterfinal clash against Jeonbuk Motors on Wednesday night.
The Reds outclassed the reigning ACL champions from start to finish and were up 2-0 heading into the waning moments of the match at Saitama Stadium when Jeonbuk defender Choi Jin-cheul blazed home through a maze of players to take the glean off a terrific showing by the home side.
Since away goals count as double in the event of a stalemate, Choi’s last-gasp strike throws the rematch on Sept. 26 in South Korea wide open.
The ever-pragmatic Osieck, however, said he was far from disappointed with the way things transpired on Wednesday.
“First of all it's about winning, and we did that,” the German said. “And secondly, if (Jeonbuk) want to progress they have to beat us. So therefore my impression is that we can be confident. Not arrogant, but confident.
“I don't think our players will be arrogant. They will be focused 100 percent. And from what I saw (Wednesday), I think that yes, we can manage it.”
A tireless Tatsuya Tanaka stole the show for the Reds, helping set up Makoto Hasebe’s opener four minutes in before scoring the eventual game-winner in the 59th.
He was unlucky not to have scored two or three more as the Jeonbuk defense took the night off, but some nice saves from goalkeeper Sung Kyung-il and a fair dose of good luck prevented a blowout.
“We played good football. We have some decent stuff,” Osieck said of his team, which came off a comfortable 4-2 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday to open up a four-point lead at the top of the J.League table. “Sometimes we pushed forward and sometimes we slowed the pace down and that is the type of rhythm that I like to see. And that is what my players can do.”
The Reds have a league clash this weekend against the Yokohama F. Marinos before flying to South Korea for the rematch on Wednesday.
That the road game against the defending champs in one of the most important matches in the history of the Reds organization hardly fazes Osieck, however. In fact, he appears to relish the challenge that awaits his charges.
“For me it doesn't matter if we play home or away, I want to see the same kind of football from my team. We can do it on the road and we can do it at home,” he said. “First and foremost we have to win. We have to be switched on from the start to the finish.
“I think that with our potential and our self-confidence right now that we shouldn't be worried. We’ll go there with our heads up and fully focused.”
Needing only a scoreless draw to advance, the question begged to be asked: Would he tell his players to smother the game?
Not a chance, Osieck said.
“If you go for a draw you will definitely lose. That's a fact. Why should we hide? We’ll play our game, just as we always do.
“Besides, you have to work hard for everything worth having in life. The only exception is at Christmas when you receive presents for nothing. But even then you usually don't get what you want.”

(c) C.G. Williams & Soccerphile

Sven, I’m 6 to 4

Political correctness is an admirable concept. I warmly applaud any school of thought that helps keep Jim Davidson off the telly.

But while the PC philosophy is sound in theory; in reality, it’s beginning to spiral out of control. My youngest won’t be allowed to compete in his school’s sports day this year, as the headmistress frowns upon the notion of ‘losing’. Even fun events like the three-legged race have been cancelled, for fear of offending the McCartneys.

The policy-makers fail to realise the importance of competition. If i play ‘I Spy’ with little Goliath, and I can’t get the answer, I ground him for two weeks. There’s an important lesson here, if there are no winners in life, we may as well all pack up and move to Scotland.

The insanity of PC has also reached the catering industry. Some bright spark decided to change the name of a popular pudding to ‘Spotted Richard’ in order to ‘protect’ the bashful. There’s nothing amusing about ‘Spotted Dick’, but then again, it was my own fault for meeting up with Ulrika.

Sven Goran Eriksson has been there and done that, and I expect the smooth Swede to put up another fine performance away from home. Most bookmakers have Fulham as warm favourites for the visit of Manchester City, but I make this an each-of-two match. This one could really go either way; I’ll play the draw at 9/4.

The PC brigade have also demanded that ‘gingerbread men’ are renamed ‘gingerbread people’, to avoid upsetting the sensitive biscuit. Steve Coppell has the gingerest team ever put together outside of Ireland; I’ll be seeing red if Reading fail to do the business against Wigan at 6/5.

I’m going to have to try to adapt to this new PC environment. After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, Stan Collymore will lose all interest.

Mark Viduka is not fat, he’s merely got tremendous upper body strength. Newcastle look a touch big at 11/10 to see off the Hammers.

While Arsene Wenger was waxing lyrical over his in-form team, he used the phrase ‘very playerish’. As far as I’m aware, that doesn’t actually exist, like ‘bouncebackability’ or ‘a G-spot’. I can definitely find 1/6 for an Arsenal win over Derby.

I’m certainly not a philatelist, but i believe that Roy Keane has an impressive stamp collection. The 11/10 for a Middlesbrough win over Sunderland sticks out like Alf-Inge Haaland’s knee.

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but I refuse to rule out the McCanns at this stage. I’m seriously looking in to the 13/10 for an Aston Villa win over Everton.

I fancy Blackburn at 10/11 to win at home to Portsmouth. With Bentley, Dunn and Savage in the side, the Rovers definitely have the tools to get the result.

I hope that Pascal Chimbonda wins his race to be fit to face Bolton; he was reportedly a little bunged up. A Tottenham win is in the bag at 8/5.

Sir Alex has reported Liverpool to the Premier League for allegedly making an illegal approach to Gabriel Heinze. How surprising, someone’s getting tapped-up and a Sweaty and a bunch of Scousers are on the scene. I’m going to be all over the 1/4 for a Liverpool win over Birmingham.

A run of three matches without a win was enough for Roman Abramovich to sack Jose Mourinho. It would be fair to say that Jose’s eggs have been well and truly poached; probably by Liverpool. Manchester United are now unmissable at 5/4 against a shell-shocked Chelsea.

Peter Crouch is reportedly seething as a result of becoming a bit-part player at Anfield. One might say it’s a case of PC gone mad; if one was a pretentious nause.

My level of confidence in the 13/1 accer of Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Tottenham and Manchester United is so high; I’m going to recommend that we all bet like men. On reflection, perhaps we ought to bet like non-specific gender-neutrals.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &

Mourinho calls it a day at Chelsea

Around an hour after midnight in England on Thursday, the news was broken that Jose Mourinho had left Chelsea after three years at the helm.

Jose Mourinho

The Portuguese coach, who won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and League Cup at Stamford Bridge, but failed to get beyond the Champions League semi-final, quit the club "by mutual consent" following the Blues' disappointing 1-1 home draw with Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night.

Relations between Mourinho and billionaire club owner Roman Abramovich had been tense for some time, and following the $60million signing of Andriy Shevchenko last season, allegedly arranged by Abramovich above Mourinho's head, rumors were fuelled that the former Porto and Benfica coach was on his way.

Mourinho in England was as opinionated and forthright as he had been in Portugal, but always stopped short of slamming his employer, despite everyone knowing he considered Abramovich his nemesis.

Their final parting, following a meeting to discuss Chelsea's lame tie with the Norwegian minnows, therefore comes as no surprise, but is still a shock given that arguably the best coach in England has bagged the annual sack race for 2007/08.

Mourinho will surface again at a big or ambitious club before long, as talent of his calibre is too good to sink without trace. But the big issue emanating from today's news, in a week when another anonymous Russian billionaire muscled his way into English football, is how the new breed of English club directors are seeking to impose their impossible dreams on the clubs they have splurged their wealth onto.

Managers and directors/owners have rarely seen eye to eye, but in this day and age the distance has widened intensely. When a coach as good as Mourinho is dispensed with, the fingers point inexorably towards a boardroom bust-up between one man oozing with football experience and another loaded with currency but with his head in the clouds when it come to the nitty-gritty of the sport.

A leader who wins five trophies in three years, including two domestic titles, half a century after the club's previous league triumph, and receives the acclaim of the football world for his achievements, is surely someone worth keeping.

But that is not taking into account a flush Russian with a passion for global fame and success but with questionable sense about the sport he has bought into, a game in which sustained perfection is as good as impossible for any team to achieve.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Mourinho Quits Chelsea

Jose Mourinho has quit his job as manager of Premier League Chelsea by mutual consent.

Jose Mourinho

The decision follows three consecutive poor results for Chelsea, the latest a 1-1 home draw for the Blues with minnows Rosenborg in the Champions League.

Mourinho's relationship with Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich had deteriorated to such an extent that it seemed the Portuguese manager would leave at the end of last season. In the end he headed for the door with the new season barely a month underway.

Abramovich's money and Mourinho's undoubted talent as a coach saw Chelsea claim two English Premiership titles under Mourinho as well as various domestic cups and the unique record of the side never having lost a home league game under the self-styled "Special One."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fifa World Rankings Sept 2007

Fifa World Rankings Sept 2007.
Italy are top of the FIFA World Rankings followed by Argentina and Brazil. England are up to 9th place after two wins in Euro 2008 qualifying matches. Croatia, likely to top England's group, are 10th. Scotland rise to 14th after beating France (6th) in Paris.

1 Italy
2 Argentina
3 Brazil
4 Germany
5 Netherlands
6 France
7 Spain
8 Portugal
9 England
10 Croatia
11 Czech Republic
12 Romania
13 Mexico
14 Scotland
15 Greece
16 Poland
17 Ukraine
18 USA
19 Uruguay
20 Sweden

World Soccer News 19/09/2007

World Soccer News 19/09/2007.
Did Nastase take the money?

Dinamo Bucharest's Valentin Nastase has been accused by a Romanian daily, Fanatic, of having been paid by Lazio Rome to cause a penalty in favour of the Italians in their recent Champions' League preliminary tie.
The penalty early in the second half enabled Lazio to draw level and start a turnaround on the way to a 3-1 away win.
While the Italians qualified with a 4-2 aggregate score, Nastase has to defend himself.
"I am being massacred from all sides. I have sent a note of denial to all Romanian newspapers, but they don't want to print it. I have sued the paper that published the lie. I'm not interested in money, only in truth and an apology," said the former Genoa, Palermo, Bologna and Ascoli player.
Curiously, last season while playing in Ascoli, Nastase also gave away a penalty in Lazio's favour!

Coco from Inter to Hollywood!

The former Italian international Francesco Coco has quit football aged only 30 in order to pursue an acting career!
One of the most handsome Italian players rescinded his contract with Internazionale, which was due to run until July 2009, convinced he could achieve significant success on the acting stage.
"I have received important offers from US film companies. I would like to make my second dream come true, because my soccer dream has already become reality," Coco told the ANSA agency.
It looks as though Coco has played his last games last season in Torino on loan from Inter.
"I have been contemplating this for a long time. This decision is a well thought-out one. I left the doors to soccer open this summer, but in the meantime I realized it was the moment to take a different direction."
The former wing-back for Milan, Torino, Livorno and Barcelona has lately been appearing in the news more due to his amorous conquests of beauties Manuela Arcuri and Francesca Lodo.

Benfica aim at 200,000 members

The most popular Portuguese club, Benfica, are the world record holders in the number of registered members with 170,000 card holders. Still, the Eagles aim to soar to even greater hights.
"Our next goal is 200,000 members. We plan to reach this mark by the end of the season, and we believe it will be done if we win the League title," said marketing director Miguel Bento.
Benfica have members in 48 countries, and over the last three years it has increased club membership by 75,000.
"By the end of 2005/06 we had 150,000, and last spring 160,000, when we entered the Guinness Book of Records," added Bento.
Benfica have won 31 League titles, 24 FA Cups and two Champions' Cups.

Ramos forgiven a yellow card over Puerta

The Competition Committee of the Spanish FA rescinded the yellow card Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos received against Villarreal for the offence of taking his shirt off.
The pardon was given because under the team shirt Ramos wore another with the inscription, "Puerta, brother, rest in peace, we shall not forget you."
"It was a sincere hommage to the late Antonio Puerta, which gave us the right to cancel this yellow card," explained the Committee.
Ramos was admonished in the 50th minute while celebrating Van Nistelrooy's goal in Real's 5-0 win.

Afonso refuses to be "a slave"

The Brazilian Afonso Alves, who last season scored 34 goals for Heerenveen, as many as Eduardo da Silva at Dinamo Zagreb, claims he is a "slave" in Holland and an object of "racist harrassment".
"Much is been said about slavery in Brazil. These accusations are, alas, true. But, even in some parts of the liberal Netherlands there flourish slave-owning organizations while the 21st century is well underway," wrote the international on his web site.
This could be read as an allusion to his team, Heerenveen, which do not want to release Afonso to a bigger club, in spite of alluring offers, like one from Premier League Middlesbrough.
"The board members are shortsighted amateurs, who turned down the offers," claims Afonso.
The player did not apear at the Dutch League best player award-giving ceremony because of racist insults he had suffered.
"Some Heerenveen fans, blinded by Nazi illusions, have been calling me an ape," added the Brazilian.

Argentinian police arrest 127 fans

The police in Buenos Aires has detained 127 River Plate fans, including the leader of the ultra group "Borrachos del tablón" (Drunkards from the terrace), while they were on the premises of their club. The arrests were made in order to prevent a fight between the Drunkards and rival fan groups. The motive of the agreed fight among various River fan groups was over control of gathering spaces and bars in the vicinty of River's Monumental stadium.

Ronaldo target of antidoping agency

The therapy Ronaldo received in Brazil for his left thigh injury has concerned the Italian Antidoping Commission.
The therapy in question is the "growth factor technique" consisting of extracting protein from the patient's blood and injecting the purified blood in to the injured spot.
Unfortunately. the World Antidoping Agency (WADA) has not pronounced yet regarding the therapy so the Italians have not approved it either.
The chairman of the Antidoping Commission, Ettore Torri, has asked the doctors of the Italian Olympic Committee for an opinion, and they replied that the growth factor technique was in fact a form of doping.
"We consider doping to be whatever can help an athlete to improve his or her performance," said Luigi Frati of the Italian Olympic Committee.
The injured Brazilian is not expected to return to fitness before mid October.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Egil Olsen to Coach Iraq

Egil Olsen to Coach Iraq.
Egil Olsen will be the new coach of Iraq. The eccentric, welly-wearing, 65-year-old Norwegian, who was previously in charge of the Norwegian national team and Wimbledon, succeeds Brazilian Jorvan Vieira as coach of the new Asian champions.

Olsen's 3-year contract stipulates he will live outside Iraq and employ a Norwegian assistant.

World Soccer News

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

David Shin: Young Korean Woking And Winging His Way To Success

Woking Winger David Shin
Alan Shearer spent over a decade at the top of the English Premier League goalscoring charts famously fuelled by a diet of chicken and baked beans. David Shin is just starting out much further down the league ladder but the 18 year-old shares something in common with the ex-England captain and the average UK citizen, who, according to the BBC eat more than 15 pounds of beans each year. “I like beans so much,” laughed Shin down the 'phone.

If the tinned food helps the Seoul-born Shin have half the success that Shearer had, he, and his family, based in London’s ‘Koreatown’ of New Malden will be delighted.

Inevitably known as ‘Shinny’ by his Woking FC team-mates, the player is starting to show his homeland that English football isn’t just about Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. The lower leagues in England contain dozens of historic football clubs and the teenager is currently playing for Woking FC in what is commonly known as ‘The Conference’ –England’s ‘fifth division’.

August 27 saw the winger, who arrived in England five years ago and spent two years as a trainee with Fulham before joining Woking’s youth academy, make his first-team debut. Coming on as a second-half substitute with his team 2-0 down at Salisbury, Shin couldn’t help his team save the game but at least contributed to a more respectable 2-1 scoreline.

“I was so pleased that I came on second half which was my debut,” Shin said. “I helped the team to win in the second half but we lost 2-1 overall. I actually believed that i could change the game and I think I helped to do so but of course, I could have played better.”

Woking may be down in the nether regions of the English league pyramid but over 2,000 spectators witnessed the club’s new star make his debut in the historic cathedral city.

“The atmosphere was great,” said Shin. “Salisbury’s fans were great and there were a few of our fans there who cheered when I came on. At half time, the coach said to me: ‘You are playing on the left side, do your best’, that was it really."

As one of the finest full-backs in English football in the seventies, Woking coach Frank Gray knows a thing or two about what makes a good winger and the former Leeds United star, who played in the 1975 European Cup final, likes the look of his Korean prospect.

“He has good ability, likes to take people on and likes to get forward,” Gray told me in a telephone interview and added, “Technically he is very good. He has excellent energy and fitness levels. We are very happy with him and he has a good future if he keeps working hard.”

“We are not looking for promotion at the moment, this is a transitional period for the club and we have lots of young players like David coming through so we need to be patient. We are looking to build something for the future but it will take a little time.”

Time is something that Shin has and just as importantly, he possesses a willingness to learn and a desire to improve. All are necessary if he is to climb the ladder to the Premier League pinnacle that is his stated target.

“I am looking to continue progressing and work harder and the chance to play at higher levels. My aim is to play in the Premiership and I have to work harder," the teenager acknowledged.

Playing at the conference level is no picnic; there are thousands of talented young players who never reach that standard. But Shin wants to go further still and having already met his hero off the pitch, there is a chance that he could meet Lee Young-pyo on it.

“I met Lee Young-pyo twice and he talked to me and gave me advice,” said Shin of the Tottenham star. Despite the presence of Lee in London, Shin, like masses of his compatriots, supports a certain team from the north of England –Manchester United. Park Ji-sung often plays on the wings for the English champions but Shin believes he has more in common with one of Argentina’s finest players.

“People say I am similar to Lionel Messi,” he said. “I have quick feet and am fast. I use both feet.”

Keep both eyes open for David Shin.

Copyright: John Duerden &

Monday, September 17, 2007

J. League Results 16/09/07

J. League Results 16/09/07.
Saturday 15 September / Sunday 16 Sept

Urawa Reds increased their lead at the top of the J-League again to four points over their main rivals Gamba Osaka. Gamba lost 0-2 at home to a resurgent Yokohama F Marinos while Urawa beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima in front of a season high 22,675 spectators at Hiroshima's Big Arch Stadium.

Shimizu S-Pulse are third after a 2-0 home win over struggling Ventforet Kofu.

Ardija, still struggling after the sacking of Dutch coach Robert Verbeek at the mid-season break went down 0-2 to Jubilo in front of only 8,432 fans.

In other games Grampus beat Antlers 3-0 in Nagoya and JEF United won 4-2 at home to Vissel Kobe. Kawasaki Frontale and Oita Trinita drew 2-2. Yokohama FC look doomed to immediate relegation as they are now 10 points adrift of Ventforet and Ardija after losing at home to FC Tokyo 0-2. 40,574 loyal fans saw Albirex Niigata capitulate in the second half to Reysol losing 1-2.

In J2, Kyoto Sanga continue to close the gap on slumping front-runners Sapporo Consadole, while Rui Ramos' Verdy are making good progress in 4th after a poor start to the season.


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

Leading Positions

Reds P25 Pts 55
Gamba P25 Pts 51
S-Pulse P25 Pts 47
Antlers P25 Pts 45
Reysol P25 Pts 43
Marinos P25 Pts 42
Albirex P25 Pts 41


Consadole P37 Pts 72
Kyoto Sanga P37 Pts 69
Vegalta P37 Pts 65
Verdy P37 Pts 62

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ahn In Hot Water For Losing Cool

Ahn In Hot Water For Losing Cool.
Ahn Jung-hwan was labelled “Asia’s Beckham” after the 2002 World Cup, a handsome star who made global headlines for dumping Italy out of the competition. Five years later, he almost became the Asian version of one of Beckham’s former Manchester United team-mates, Eric Cantona.

Cantona famously jump-kicked a fan in the chest in 1995 before raining punches on the shocked leather-jacketed spectator. The Frenchman always had a feisty side and lost his cool in the heat of a vital Premier League game. Few suspected that the normally placid Ahn Jung-hwan would follow, partly, in his footsteps.

It all happened on a quiet Monday afternoon in the practice ground next to Seoul World Cup Stadium. The game wasn’t even a K-League match, just a reserve game between FC Seoul and Suwon Samsung Bluewings. The two clubs may be rivals but reserve games are usually gentle affairs, designed to give young players experience, recovering players match time and out-of-form stars, like Ahn, a chance to rediscover their sharpness away from the spotlight.

A hero of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups for his country, it is well-known that the 31 year-old’s club career has failed to hit the same heights. Short stints with mediocre European teams in 2005 and 2006 ended when relegated German team MSV Duisberg declined the chance to extend Ahn’s contract and the player was without a club for four months. Returning reluctantly to Korea at the start of 2007, he joined Suwon Samsung Bluewings but despite a promising start and a hat-trick in the Hauzen Cup, the striker has struggled and has been reduced to occasional substitute cameos.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for one of Asia’s best-known stars and that is what some of the shouts alluded to in Seoul last week. Perhaps a single shrilly-shouted comment cuts to the bone more effectively that the dull roar of thousands of voices. After 33 minutes of the game, Ahn could take no more jibes about how far he had fallen and when he was going to use his famous wedding-ring kissing celebration and abruptly left the pitch and entered the seating area.

“Why are you saying these things,” he bellowed at the supposed source of the jibes before being frogmarched away by security and shown a red card by the referee.

“It is people like you that stop the K-League developing,” he managed to shout before he disappeared.”

Quite why shouting at Ahn Jung-hwan damages the K-League we will never know but it is easy to sympathize with the player. Video footage of the incident didn’t make for pleasant viewing for those who remember 2002 but leaving the pitch in such a way is a big no-no. The Korean media suggested that the best way to deal with such idiots is to be like Ronaldinho-smile and score. Ahn had already scored but there were few smiles on display.

“Even in Europe where racism can be serious, I have never experienced that,” said Ahn the next day. Two days later he was hauled before the K-League disciplinary committee and fined 10,000,000 Korean Won (around $10,000) but no ban, apart from the one he will serve for receiving a red card, was issued.

At the hearing Ahn was more contrite but still obviously upset at what happened: “‘I would like to say sorry to the fans for my actions during the game,” he said and added. “Before they became players, players were just normal people. It would be good if Korea’s fan culture could change.”

He may get his wish, Seoul fans apologized for the actions of the few and resolved to stick to ‘clean supporting’, cheering on their own team rather than attacking opponents, though this is hardly rife in the K-League.

One part of Korean culture hasn’t changed and the cyber-hunt for the women responsible for most of the remarks was quickly underway. Before long, her cyworld (similar to myspace) page and cellphone number were found though doubts remain as to whether the mob have their mousehairs trained on the right person.

In the style of Korean players in trouble, as perfected by 2002 and 2006 World Cup team-mate Lee Chun-soo, Ahn has promised a period of deep reflection regarding his behavior. He should also take the time to think about what to do to rescue a career that is in danger of ending with a wasted whimper.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

World Soccer News

Owen brace blows Russia away

Owen brace blows Russia away.
Back to back 3-0 victories have lifted the pressure off England boss Steve McClaren, who not long ago looked as lame a duck as had ever been handed the poisoned chalice of coach of the three lions.

A second Michael Owen brace in five days dispatched the much-vaunted Russia at Wembley in front of 86,000 fans and propelled England into second in Group E of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, three points behind Croatia, who terrorized Andorra 6-0 in their capital Andorra La Vella at the same time.

England's comfortable win is a severe blow to the reputation of Russia coach Guus Hiddink as a miracle worker and a fillip to the Football Association, who passed the much-travelled Dutchman over in the search for the England manager to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson, a job which eventually went to Hiddink’s conqueror on Wednesday, McClaren.

The Emile Heskey-Owen combination worked wonders on the night, rolling back the years to 2001 and the 5-1 mauling of Germany in Munich's Olympia Stadion in a World Cup qualifier. Rumours that Owen persuaded his coach to recall Heskey from the wilderness appear to be true but the Newcastle striker has been vindicated after these two convincing performances.

On the night, Russia looked the more elegant and technical side but succumbed to the more aggressive style of the hosts, who snatched the lead in the 7th minute, added to it in the 31st and made the game safe six minutes from time. Hiddink’s side enjoyed long spells of possession but lacked bite up front. Diniyar Bilayetdinov’s first half drive which drew a diving one-handed save from Paul Robinson was their one and only close chance of the evening.

England were flattered. The striking partnership consisted of a 29 year-old international exile and a star of World Cup 1998 popularly supposed to be past his best a decade on. Joe Cole ran into further cul de sacs, Shaun Wright-Phillips fluffed more final balls and England failed to find any fluency, but a win is a win is a win.
The two nations square up again in Moscow on the 17th of October on artificial Field Turf at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Apart from Russia, the other big losers on Wednesday in Europe were World Cup finalists France, who fell 1-0 to Scotland in Paris and now trail both the Scots and Italy in Group B, the Republic of Ireland, whose hopes of qualification were all but ended by a 1-0 loss to the Czech Republic in Prague, and near neighbours Northern Ireland, whose express train start has now been well and truly derailed after successive defeats to Group F strugglers Latvia and Iceland.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Appreciate my legacy Arnie pleads

With Dutchman Dick Advocaat seemingly rubberstamped as the next boss of the Australian national team, caretaker coach Graham Arnold has departed by biting back at critics who accuse him of steering the Socceroos ship off course since the highs of last year's World Cup.

It's been a tumultuous journey for Arnold, Guus Hiddink's former assistant, since accepting the national team senior position when Hiddink elected not to renew his short-term contract 15 months ago.

It doesn't take much reading between the lines to recognise Arnold feels somewhat unappreciated in his efforts in transitioning an aging Socceroos line-up into one which can consistently compete with the rigours of Asian tournament football.

The amiable former Socceroos striker and long-term assistant didn't used to back his own cause quite so much, but under intense speculation about his position and following barbs about his handling of Australia's disastrous Asian Cup showing, he has been forced on the offensive of late.

The timing of the departure of the man most will remember for guiding the team to defeat against Iraq and a draw with Oman in the Asian Cup at least allowed a final wry smile after Arnold watched his patched-up Australian side compete manfully against Argentina in front of a 70,000-strong MCG crowd this week.

Humbled in Asia after blinkered arrogance made Australia underestimate the full-scale challenge of playing in the AFC, at least Arnold could leave Melbourne with his head held high after another reinvented Socceroos side at times troubled the Argentines.

After the match, Arnold revelled in the display and the result - a slim one-goal loss which came about as much from poor defending from a set piece as Argentina's individual brilliance.

But it quickly became apparent that the departing coach, who will likely continue as Advocaat's assistant and continues to lead the Australian under-23s towards the Beijing Olympics next year, was also happy with his legacy of blooding new talent.

"I'm very proud of the fact that in handing my side over that Nik Mrdja was my 53rd player in 13 months which is unbelievable," he said.

"I've had a lot of difficulties in my time as coach with unavailabilities and older players retiring. I'm very proud of the fact that I've introduced young blood in to the team."

"I've introduced A-League players into the team because the emphasis on the A-League is going to be big going forward. I can proudly say I can now hand over 30 names to the new manager who I know can play at this level."

Thirty seems a stretch, but in fairness over half the squad picked to face Argentina weren't in Hiddink's 23-man group for Germany just over a year ago regardless of the unavailability of perennial absentees Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell as well as Tim Cahill and Brett Emerton this week.

Arnold can certainly lay claim to handing former A-League stars David Carney and Nick Carle a decent chance while tenacious midfielder Carl Valeri looks to be another with a bright international future.

He has also crucially blooded fresh goalkeeping backups to Mark Schwarzer in Middlesbrough club-mate Brad Jones and Reading's Adam Federici.

But perhaps Arnold's greatest achievement is developing an exciting pool of under-23 players, many of whom will play important roles in the lead-up to the South African World Cup in three years time.

Indeed that group of up-and-comers - with the outstanding Nathan Burns leading a pack which also includes Brondby striker David Williams, Fulham defender Adrian Leijer and FC Nuremberg pair Matt Spiranovic and Dario Vidosic - might well enthuse Advocaat more than the current senior squad with doubts still hovering over the long-term commitment of Viduka and Kewell.

"Tactically, what we set out to do worked perfectly. The boys carried the game plan out very well," Arnold concluded of the loss to the world's number two ranked nation.

"It was such an honour to see the boys compete against such a world class side like that and push them the whole way and have the possibility to have occasions to score."

"By no means were we outplayed."

Copyright © Marc Fox and