Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Superclasico brings River and Boca's slump into sharp focus


The latest instalment of Buenos Aires' Superclasico did little to give fans of River Plate or Boca Juniors hope of an quick upturn in fortunes for either ofArgentina’s traditional footballing superpowers.

Superclasico brings River and Boca's slump into sharp focus

The 1-1 draw was played out with the trademark tenacity and tempo the fixture demands but a point a piece does nobody any favours. At the final whistle both teams still find themselves struggling at the wrong end of the Apertura table.

With the season now over halfway through Boca find themselves six points adrift of surprise leaders Colón. River are a further eight points behind Boca as they plod along with the league’s also-rans.

River appear to be a club in terminal decline. After scooping the 2008 Clausura title the club finished bottom of the table in the next campaign.

Nestor Gorosito managed to steady the ship by guiding them to an eighth place finish in this year’s Clausura only to lose his job less than halfway through the Apertura season.

With results going against Gorosito he stepped down after defeat at San Lorenzo left River with just one win from their opening eight games.

El Millo´s single victory this term came against newly promoted Chacarita Juniors courtesy of a splendid late lob from the resurgent Ariel Ortega.

With Gorosito’s exit after 10 months in the job Leonardo Astrada stepped up for his second spell in charge at El Monumental. Astrada won the 2004 Clausura title in his first managerial stint with the club after a playing career which saw him win the Argentine league 11 times with River.

Favours are difficult to came by for anyone connected with River and Independiente showed no mercy on Astrada in his first game back in charge. Independiente went for the jugular against a team short on confidence and ran out 3-1 winners in River´s own backyard.

Astrada has been charged with rediscovering River’s identity on the pitch but it is no easy task with the squad he has available to him. Although Marcelo Gallardo, Ariel Ortega and Matias Almeyda were among El Millo´s best performers in the draw against Boca the trio have a combined age of 103-years-old and cannot be expected to go on forever.

The standout prospect at the club is Diego Buonanotte who won both a penalty and the freekick which Gallardo converted in the Superclasico. The latest club to show an interest in Buonanotte is Juventus and a much needed payday for River maybe coming soon.

The trouble is that with so many aging heads at the club further readymade replacements are thin on the ground.

The production line which has developed Radamel Falcao, Alexis Sánchez, Gonzalo Higuaín, Javier Mascherano and Lucho González in recent years is simply no longer the deep well of talent it once was.

One bright spark is 17-year-old stocky support striker Daniel Villalba. The player has two goals in six appearances for River and is currently starring for Argentina in the under-17 World Cup. It is far too early in his career however for Villalba to be burdened with the kind of pressure currently reverberating around El Monumental.

If problems on the pitch were not enough there is also an unpleasant bun fight being played out in the media between favourite sons Enzo Francescoli and Daniel Passarella as the club’s Presidential elections approach.

Francescoli has slammed Presidential candidate Passarella for walking out on Uruguay whilst managing the nation back in 2001. Passarella goes up against other hopefuls Rodolfo D’Onofrio, Hugo Santilli, Antonio Caselli as well as the unpopular current River President José María Aguilar for the post in December.

One of these men will have their work cut out if they are to return River to their former glory and start adding to the club’s 33 Argentine league titles.

The signs that this season was not going to be plain sailing for River or Boca was apparant very early on. Both club’s crashed out of the Copa Sudamericana in the first round after receiving their last ever qualification to the tournament through invitation.

Limp defeats for River and Boca by Lanús and Vélez Sársfield respectively fully supported the withdrawal of automatic entry for the two big boys to South America’s second most prestigious club tournament.

It is however the Copa Libertadores that all the teams in South America want to win and in the last decade it has been a happy hunting ground for Boca.

The self styled Manchester United of South America have appeared in five Copa Libertadores finals in the last ten years, winning on four occasions.

Before the Superclasico Boca Juniors president Jorge Amor Ameal dangled a carrot in front of his team in the shape of US$500,000 bonus for the squad on qualifying for the next edition of the Copa Libertadores.

As with Europe´s top clubs Boca Juniors budget on appearing in the top competitions and banking the revenue that a good run generates. Boca´s yearly outgoings of US$7,000,000 are based on the club reaching the last eight of the Copa Libertadores at the very least every year.

After the Superclasico however they lie seven points behind San Lorenzo who hold the last qualification place for next year´s edition of the tournament. They have eight games left in the Apertura to make up this deficit.

Right now there are some sparks of optimism around La Bombonera as Boca went into their derby with River having strung together three consecutive league wins. This upturn in form has seen Juan Román Riquelme on top of his game. The touch to setup Martin Palermo for the equaliser against River was a piece of skill that only he alone could pull off.

With Palermo chipping in with his usual share of goals there is a glimmer of hope for Los Xeneizes picking up the points needed and showing up in next year’s Copa Liberadores.

Boca head coach Alfio Basile had offered his resignation earlier in the season but it was refused by the club and he has capitalised on the faith that has been bestowed on him.

Basile knows though that failure to get the club up the league and into the Copa Libertadores will ultimately put an end to his second spell in charge at La Bombonera.

Like their rivals across the city Boca also have an overreliance on aging heads. The average age of their staring XI for the Superclasico was just over 29-years-old and the talented youngsters are just not there at the moment.

River and Boca are unashamedly selling clubs and rely on transfer income to stay afloat. Pre-season saw Rodrigo Palacio move from Boca to Genoa and Radamel Falcao from River to Porto.

A balance needs to be struck at both clubs between continuing to sell their best players while remaining competitive enough to met the demands of their fans as well as their bank managers.

© Soccerphile.com

New Football Books - October

Motty: Forty Years in the Commentary BoxNew Football Books

New football book titles out this month include We Are The Damned United, another take on Brian Clough's ill-fated stay at Leeds in the 70's, written as a response to David Peace's classic The Damned Utd and an autobiography of BBC football commentator John Motson Motty: Forty Years in the Commentary Box.

Other new books published in October are Aber's Gonnae Get Ye! an autobiography from St. Mirrin's hard man and alcoholic Billy Abercromby and Classic Football Debates Settled Once And For All by the two Dannies, Kelly and Baker - a comic look at the game.

The top 3 selling football books in the UK are Why England Lose: And Other Curious Phenomena Explained, Sky Sports Football Yearbook and Taking The Tiss.

New Football Books September

© Soccerphile.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

J-League Results October 25

J-League Sunday October 25

Kawasaki Frontale 7 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0
Nagoya Grampus 3 Jubilo Iwata 3
Shimizu S-Pulse 1 FC Tokyo 2
Urawa Reds 0 Omiya Ardija 3

Saturday October 24

Gamba Osaka 0 Yokohama F Marinos 0
Kashima Antlers 3 JEF United Chiba 0
Kashiwa Reysol 0 Montedio Yamagata 1
Kyoto Sanga 1 Oita Trinita 1
Vissel Kobe 1 Albirex Niigata 0

Kawasaki Frontale lead the J-League after 30 rounds of the J1 championship following an incredible 7-0 thrashing of Sanfrecce.
Antlers are second followed by Gamba and a faltering Shimizu S-Pulse. Urawa Reds are 8th, 9 points adrift of top spot after a 0-3 loss in the Saitama derby.

Leading Positions

Kawasaki Frontale P30 Pts 55
Kashima Antlers P30 Pts 54
Gamba Osaka P30 Pts 51
Shimizu S-Pulse P30 50
FC Tokyo P30 49
Albirex Niigata P30 Pts 46
Sanfrecce Hiroshima P30 Pts 46

Leading scorers

Jubilo Iwata's Ryoichi Maeda has 18 goals so far this season after a hat-trick against Grampus. FC Tokyo's Naohiro Ishikawa has 15.

Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo Iwata 18
Juninho, Kawasaki Frontale 16
Naohiro Ishikawa, FC Tokyo 15
Shinji Okazaki, Shimizu S-Pulse 14
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 13

J-League News & Views

Previous J-League results & news

© Soccerphile.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

K-League Offers Coaches More Than Crumbs Of Comfort

K League

In a league that is famed through Asia for its physicality and aggression, K-League clubs can be fairly gentle off the pitch when it comes to firing coaches. China and Japan have almost-European style practices in that regard while in West Asia - rare is the head coach that lasts over a season.

Not in South Korea. Perhaps it is a legacy of corporate culture where the likes of Samsung and Hyundai prefer to ease older people towards and then out the door over time rather than kick them out in one fell swoop. In 2006 for example, former Chelsea boss Ian Porterfield took Busan I’Park on a winless streak of 21 games. He still wasn’t forcibly relieved of his duties but took it upon himself to leave the south coast club.

This season has seen just two casualties. Veteran coach Kim Ho was the first. The 1994 World Cup boss was forced to leave Daejeon Citizen in June. There were vague rumors of off-the-field intransigencies from the silver-haired fox but the fact that the club was struggling at the foot of the table wouldn’t have helped.

The Citizen has been patient in the past. Even when Kim’s predecessor Choi Yoon-gyum reportedly hit his assistant with a beer glass back in 2007, it took a while before he left his job as club and fans were reluctant to say goodbye.

Jeju United’s Brazilian boss Artur Bernandes said just that last week. The well-travelled coach was coming to the end of his second season in the Land of the Morning Calm but handed in his notice. Officials at the club should not have been too surprised; Jeju was his 23rd coaching job on the past two decades. This is a man that liked to move around.

The club has been known to move too, a 2006 switch that was a great deal more shocking. The energy arm of giant conglomerate, decided to move its underachieving professional club from Bucheon, just to the west of Seoul, to Jeju, 300 kilometers to the south - results have been uninspiring.

Jeju may have a beautiful World Cup Stadium but the team is struggling. There have been hints of hope and slivers of suggestions that Bernandes was taking the team in the right direction – a comfortable 3-1 win over soon-to-be champions Suwon Bluewings in September 2008 springs to mind and – but nothing concrete and nothing consistent. 2009 has been a disappointment.

Like most other clubs in Asia’s oldest professional league, Jeju was in vague contention for a top six finish in the middle of the season. All hopes of that have vanished with a rotten run of six straight defeats has seen the islanders plummet to 13th in the standings. 20 goals have been conceded too.

The worst day came in September when Jeju, playing at home, was thrashed 8-1 by Pohang Steelers. That was embarrassing enough but it was also the heaviest ever defeat in the 26-year history of the K-League.

With three games remaining, the 54 year-old decided to call it quits and has already returned to South America. There won’t be any more changes before the end of the season but there are sure to be some new faces peering out from K-League benches next season.

It remains to be seen who is on the Jeju sidelines. The K-League has never been an easy place for foreign coaches to succeed but the likes of Seoul’s Senol Gunes and Sergio Farias at Pohang have shown that it is possible and have added a good deal to the local set-up. Another couple of managers from foreign climes will do the league no harm at all.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast

44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast

44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast
44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast
44 Stellenbosch is a multi-functional accommodation perfect for rental during the 2010 World Cup.

44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast is located in the lovely Western Cape Winelands.

Your holiday will be relaxed from the moment you open the front door of this comfortable family home. Enjoy the spacious open plan lounge and dining room with central fire place for long winter evenings or the sparkling pool on a hot summer day. The exquisite kitchen will embrace your gourmet skills.

44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast
44 Stellenbosch Bed & Breakfast
The Stellenbosch Wine Route is the country's most famous. The Stellenbosch Wine of Origin area includes over 300 estates and wineries of which more than a 100 are open to the public, each with its own unique character and style.

Enjoy a long relaxed day's wine tasting, wine talk and wine buying and you'll sip more than our great South African wines - you'll taste our South African way of life. The cellars of the Stellenbosch Wine Route are up to 300 years old, making it the oldest, most established in the country.

As an important cultural centre, Stellenbosch has many galleries and museums housing important national and international art collections. The Stellenbosch Conservatoire is also the country's oldest music school.

If you have accommodation in South Africa available during World Cup 2010 and wish to advertise it on Soccerphile please Contact Us for further advertising details.

Nagoya Grampus fly the flag for Japan

AFC Champions League
Nagoya Grampus

When the draw for the AFC Champions League group stage was made back in December 2008, few tipped unheralded Japanese side Nagoya Grampus as potential title contenders.

The general consensus was that Dragan Stojkovic's team had been lucky to sneak into third place in the J. League, and thereby qualify for the Asian Football Confederation's recently revamped continental jamboree.

It is perhaps a testament to the strength of the J. League that Nagoya have seen off challengers from Australia, South Korea, China and their native Japan to reach the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League at their first attempt.

After topping their group, Nagoya defeated South Korean giants and defending K-League champions Suwon Samsung Bluewings in a hard-fought Round of 16 encounter.

Stojkovic's side then matched up with a confident Kawasaki Frontale in the quarter-finals, and it was here that their fighting spirit came to the fore.

Down 2-1 from the first leg in Tokyo, Nagoya roared back to win 3-1 in front of their home fans and book a showdown with two-times Asian champions Al-Ittihad from Saudi Arabia.

With the first leg set to take place tonight in Jeddah, Nagoya will hope to take something back to their Mizuho Athletics Stadium home a week later as they aim to book a place in a one-off final at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Their recent run has come despite injuries to Japan internationals Seigo Narazaki and Keiji Tamada, while Serb defender Milos Bajalica has also endured an injury-plagued Champions League campaign.

Fortunately for Nagoya fans, coach Stojkovic invested wisely over the summer - drafting in Australian striker Josh Kennedy, former Japan international Alessandro Santos and exciting Montenegrin youngster Igor Burzanovic mid-season.

All three have contributed to Nagoya's run to the final four, with Burzanovic in particular looking a shrewd investment for a team that also possesses rising star Maya Yoshida, tricky winger Yoshizumi Ogawa and mercurial Brazilian playmaker Magnum.

Japanese clubs have dominated the past three editions of the Champions League, with Urawa Reds lifting the crown in 2007, before Gamba Osaka went on to win in 2008.

What price Nagoya Grampus making it three from three for the Japanese?

After a forgettable campaign on the domestic front, the combustible Stojkovic will be desperate to lift some silverware at a club that hasn't tasted success for the best part of a decade.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

J.League News

Monday, October 19, 2009

World Cup 2010 Playoffs

World Cup 2010 Playoffs

The four playoffs for the European Zone of World Cup 2010 qualification are:

Republic of Ireland v France
Portugal v Bosnia-Hercegovina
Greece v Ukraine
Russia v Slovenia

World Cup 2010 Playoffs

France, Portugal, Greece and Russia as the seeded teams are favorites with the bookies to progress to the World Cup finals in South Africa. Ukraine v Greece is close to call, but France, Russia and Portugal will progress.

© Soccerphile.com

J-League Results October 18

J-League Results October 18.
J-League Sunday October 18, 2009

JEF United Chiba 1 Kyoto Sanga 1
Oita Trinita 2 Shimizu S-Pulse 1

Saturday October 17

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

Kawasaki Frontale now lead the J-League after 29 rounds of the J1 championship.
Antlers are second followed by Gamba and Shimizu S-Pulse. Urawa Reds are 8th, 6 points adrift of top spot.

Leading Positions

Kawasaki Frontale P29 Pts 52
Kashima Antlers P29 Pts 51
Gamba Osaka P29 Pts 50
Shimizu S-Pulse P29 50
Albirex Niigata P29 Pts 46
Sanfrecce Hiroshima P29 Pts 46

Leading scorers

For once a Japanese-born player leads the J-1 scoring charts - in fact the top two strikers are both Japanese players. Jubilo Iwata's Ryoichi Maeda has 15 goals so far this season as has FC Tokyo's Naohiro Ishikawa.

Naohiro Ishikawa, FC Tokyo 15
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo Iwata 15
Juninho, Kawasaki Frontale 14
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 13
Shinji Okazaki, Shimizu S-Pulse 13

Previous J-League results & news

© Soccerphile.com

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fifa World Rankings October 2009

Fifa World Rankings October 2009.
Fifa World Rankings October 2009

Brazil stay at the top of this month's Fifa world rankings. Brazil are followed by Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. England stay in 7th place. Argentina are 6th.

France are in 9th. Cameroon are the highest African team in 14th. Russia are 12th, with the USA in 11th.

1 Brazil
2 Spain
3 Netherlands
4 Italy
5 Germany
6 Argentina
8 Croatia
9 France
10 Portugal
11 USA
12 Russia
13 Switzerland
14 Cameroon
15 Czech Republic
16 Greece
17 Chile
18 Mexico
19 Côte d'Ivoire
20 Serbia

Last month's Fifa World Rankings

© Soccerphile.com

El Diego turns victory into vengeance

El Diego turns victory into vengeance.
El Diego turns victory into vengeance

Fans of a bit of blue will be happy with the news that Argentina has now finally booked their place at South Africa 2010.

It’s not just on their famous striped shirts however that the blue will be found but also coming from the mouth of Diego Maradona if his latest press conference is anything to go by.

El Diego rounded on his critics from Argentina’s press pack after his side’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo.

Anybody not wishing to see the result should look away now.

After joyful scenes on the pitch at the final whistle Maradona cut a very different figure when he emerged for his press conference in the bowels of the Estadio Centenario.

“To those who did not believe in us,” Maradona said before apologising to the women present for what he was about to say, “they can suck my d***, and keep on sucking it.”

Maradona had not even been overly lambasted in the Argentine press for his management record in World Cup qualifiers. Before narrow wins over Peru and Uruguay this week he had only secured six points in six games.

“You lot take it up the a***,” Maradona further taunted the press, “This victory is for all Argentines, except for the journalists.”

Last week it was reported that Maradona was due to quit his post and had fallen out with several members of his backroom staff. The manager was clearly angered at these stories and did not pull any punches with the assembled journalists.

“For those who did not believe in the team and treated me like dirt,” Maradona said in launching yet another verbal broadside. “They will now have to accept this. I want to thank the players and the fans, no one but them.”

José Mourinho is often lauded for using his press conferences to divert attention away from his players but El Diego took things a good hop, step and jump away from anything the Special One has ever come out with.

“So I repeat, to all those that said anything against me, keep eating your words.” Maradona concluded. “I am very proud of my players. They made me feel like a real coach because all of what we had planned in the dressing room, they did it on the pitch.”

The comments have, perhaps unsurprisingly, not gone down too well with Argentina's daily newspapers. Top selling rag Clarin dubbed Maradona's comments “scandalous” while football daily Olé slammed the manager as being “absolutely out of place.”

The game itself was played out with a caginess at odds with Maradona's press conference. After all not was this a derby match but also a cup final for both sides.

Argentina went into the game needing only a draw to secure the fourth and last automatic qualifying spot for the World Cup and they set themselves up accordingly.

Last gasp goal hero from Saturday’s 2-1 win over Peru, Martin Palermo was left on the bench along with Carlos Tevez.

Instead Maradona paired Lionel Messi with his new favourite Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid. Juan Veron was recalled in midfield after serving a suspension against Peru and captain Javier Mascherano also added bite in the middle of the park.

The first half saw yet another ineffective performance from Messi in the number 10 shirt for Argentina and it was at the other that Diego Forlan and in particularly Luis Suarez of Ajax looked far more likely to break the deadlock.

Argentine ‘keeper Sergio Romero dealt with everything that made its way through however and he was ably assisted by his backline which included veterans Martin Demichelis and Gabriel Heinze.

El Diego turns victory into vengeance

With Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla dishing out four yellow cards early on it was clear that he was looking to crackdown on any gamesmanship between the two sides.

The eighth yellow card of the game turned out to be the second for Uruguayan defender Martin Caceres and Amarilla duly sent him packing for an early bath.

From the resulting free kick on the right-hand angle of Uruguay’s penalty area second half substitute Mario Bolatti found himself in space and stoked home from eight yards out to give Argentina a precious lead.

With news of Chile's 1-0 lead over Ecuador also reverberating around the stadium it was clear that Uruguay were still heading for fifth spot in the qualifying group and another chance to reach South Africa via a playoff.

At the close of play Argentina celebrated on the pitch in much the same way Brazil had done on in Rosario last month. The night's hosts were left to contemplate two games against Costa Rica next month.

It will be the third consecutive time Uruguay have gone into a playoff to determine whether or not they will get the chance to perform on the biggest stage.

Their passage to South Korea and Japan in 2002 was secured by a two legged victory over Australia while the same opponents prevented them from attending Germany 2006.

“We can do it,” Was Diego Forlan’s optimistic assessment of the upcoming games with Costa Rica. “Nobody likes being in this position but we've been there before and know how to approach it.”

The night's big losers were Ecuador who could not spoil the celebrations in Chile and nick a result. A win would have seen them leapfrog Uruguay but a second half strike from Chile's leading marksman Humberto Suazo saw the Ecuadorans go down to a 1-0 defeat in Santiago.

Elsewhere on the continent Brazil and Paraguay, both already scouting hotels in South Africa, fielded experimental line-ups against Venezuela and Colombia respectively.

Colombia managed to finish their campaign on a high with 2-0 win in Asuncion. Second half efforts from Gustavo Ramos and Hugo Rodallega of Wigan gave fans of the Cafeteros a taste of what might have been.

Brazil maintained their unbeaten home record in qualifying and Dunga blooded more of the impressive domestic based talent he has at his disposal. Despite the 0-0 draw the coach will have been happy with what he saw from the likes of Nilmar and Ramires operating alongside established stars such as Kaká and Luis Fabiano.

In the basement battle a single goal handed Peru victory over Bolivia. The Incas still finish bottom of the group however despite Johan Fano's strike handing them all three points. Peru's entire campaign seemed personified by Fano getting himself sent off just two minutes after his good work had given his team the lead.

© Tim Sturtridge & Soccerphile.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bolatti saves Diego's bacon

Bolatti saves Diego's bacon

The impossible shock didn't happen in the end as Argentina won 1-0 in Montevideo to bag the last South American place in South Africa and send Uruguay into a two-legged play-off with Costa Rica.

Bolatti saves Diego's bacon

Chile's 1-0 win over Ecuador meant neither of tonight's teams in the Centenario would go home empty-handed. A nervous tussle went star-studded Argentina's way seven minutes from time when Uruguay's Martin Caceres was sent off and Argentine substitute Mario Bolatti side-footed home from the resulting free-kick's melee for the game's only goal.

Diego Maradona, predictably ecstatic at the end as a tearful Carlos Bilardo hugged him, lives to fight another day. Had Argentina gone out tonight, would that have been the last the soccer world had seen of its arguably greatest player?

Argentina join Brazil, Chile and Paraguay as the CONMEBOL automatic qualifiers for 2010.

Argentina's win was also belated revenge for the first World Cup final played between the two nations at that stadium in 1930.

© Soccerphile.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

World Cup 2010 Qualifiers - October 14

World Cup 2010.
World Cup 2010 Qualifiers

In another tense evening of World Cup qualifiers across the globe, Switzerland and Slovakia qualified from the European zone for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Switzerland played out a nervous 0-0 home draw with 10-man Israel and Slovakia held on for a 1-0 win in Poland.

Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and Ukraine took the remaining play off spots.

England won 3-0 in their last qualifying match against Belarus in Group 6 with Peter Crouch scoring two.

Elsewhere in the the European qualifying zone Italy beat Cyprus 3-2, the Republic of Ireland drew 0-0 with Montenegro at Croke Park. France beat Austria 3-1, Germany drew 1-1 with Finland and Sweden beat Albania 4-1, but miss out on the finals in South Africa.

In South America, it's 0-0 in the first half in the crucial game between Uruguay and Argentina in Montevideo.

World Cup Qualifiers October 10

© Soccerphile.com

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sad End For Korea But Much To Be Positive About

Sad End For Korea But Much To Be Positive About.
Sad End For Korea

For almost all teams, international tournaments end in sadness and thoughts of what-might-have-been. That is the case with South Korea in regard to the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt but as time passes, the competition will be remembered fondly in the Land of the Morning Calm.

The run to the quarter-finals ended on Friday evening with a 3-2 defeat against Ghana at the Mubarak Stadium in Suez. It was an exciting match though the teenage Taeguk Warriors could never quite recover from a poor start.

Dominic Adiyiah gave the Black Satellites the lead after just eight minutes, scoring from close range from a low cross from the right. The second goal came 20 minutes later in a similar fashion except it was Ransford Osei who got the finishing touch.

Minutes later, Park Hee-sung headed a goal back for the Koreans who then spent much of the remaining time probing the Ghanaian defense. Another lapse in concentration cost the Asians as Adiyiah scored his second and his team’s third twelve minutes from the end.

Just two minutes after that however, substitute Kim Dong-sub found the back of the net with a header to send the red-clad fans in the stadium into a frenzy and set up an exciting finale. It never quite happened and the Africans held out.

Thus ended two weeks of football that started badly but steadily improved. A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Cameroon suggested a short stay in North Africa but then coach Hong Myong-bo, a legend of Korean football, and his players dug in for a 1-1 draw against Germany. Then came a comprehensive 3-0 win over the United States which gave them a ticket to the knockout stage.

People at home started to get really excited when the youngsters put Paraguay to the sword with another 3-0 win. Suddenly, the team seemed to have the ingredient that is necessary in all tournaments – momentum. It was punctured by slack defending in the first 30 minutes against Ghana.

As the two defeats came against African teams there are suggestions that the less powerful Koreans struggle with opponents from that continent, adding a little extra spice to the senior team’s friendly match against Senegal in Seoul on Wednesday.

"We certainly found African opposition difficult to deal with, but the team will learn from the experience, that's for sure," said coach Hong after the match. "We're a quick team, both in possession and in terms of pace, but African teams combine that sharpness with power, which we found extremely difficult to cope with.”

The coach of Ghana put Korea’s defeat down, not to a lack of power, but to a lack of precision in the danger area.

It was a great match and it must have been nice to watch for everyone. For us though it was a very difficult match,” said Sellas Tetteh. “I have to pay tribute to South Korea; they gave us a very tough match. They pass the ball well and they have tremendous energy. If they'd have been a bit more clinical, it would have been even more difficult for us.”

Turning possession into goals has long been a problem for Koreans, and Asian, teams though the recent 2010 World Cup qualification campaign suggested that a corner may be being turned in this respect.

Coach Hong, a quiet but charismatic man, was a defender who played in four World Cups, made 125 appearances for the national team and was the captain during the 2002 tournament. The 40 year-old has done enough to hint at a bright coaching career to come.

He will do well though not to take too much notice of an excited Korean media. The signs are that he will keep his feet on the ground and he was happy to deflect the praise that came his way onto his players.

"They've been absolutely magnificent and I am very proud of them,” said Hong of his young charges.

"They gave their all. They showed that have a very strong mentality as well as a great aptitude to learn whatever has been asked of them. They're also a team in every true sense of the word. We don't have any superstars or big egos. We work together - and I hope they continue to do this for many years to come. They have a lot of potential.”

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

World Cup 2010 Qualifiers - October 10

World Cup 2010 Qualifiers - October  10.
World Cup 2010 Qualifiers

In an exciting day and evening of World Cup qualifiers across the globe, Côte d'Ivoire, Mexico, Paraguay, Serbia, Denmark, Germany and Italy qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

In Europe, England lost their 100% record in Group 6 after goalkeeper Robert Green was dismissed early in the first half and Nazarenko's deflected goal was enough for the hosts in a match marred by flares thrown from the crowd.

Elsewhere in the the European qualifying zone Italy grabbed a late 2-2 draw with the Republic of Ireland at Croke Park in Dublin to qualify. Fellow European powerhouse Germany also made it to South Africa with a 1-0 win in Moscow to condemn the Russians to the play-offs.

Switzerland, Serbia and Denmark also gained automatic qualification with Denmark's 1-0 defeat of local Scandinavian rivals Sweden opening the door for Portugal to advance to the play-offs, where they will probably join France and the Republic of Ireland.

In South America, Paraguay qualified with a 2-1 win over Venezuela while a dramatic match in the rain in Buenos Aires, saw Argentina scrape a last-gasp win thanks to an injury-time goal from Martin Palermo to leave Diego Maradona's team needing to avoid defeat in Uruguay in their last match to go through.

Another recalled veteran, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, inspired Mexico to a 4-1 win over El Salvador to progress to the finals in South America from the CONCACAF qualifying zone. The USA can join them with a win in Honduras.

In Africa, Côte d'Ivoire joined Ghana and the hosts South Africa in the finals as Chelsea striker Didier Drogba's late goal gave the Elephants a 1-1 draw in Malawi and top position in Group E.

World Cup Qualifiers September 9

© Soccerphile.com

Friday, October 9, 2009


1GOAL: Education for All

Australian Government Minister for Youth and Sport, the Hon Kate Ellis MP,
joined soccer stars Socceroo Vincenzo Grella, Matilda Sarah Walsh and a coalition of non-governmental organisations to launch the 1GOAL: Education for All campaign in Australia.

World leaders, including Australia’s Prime Minister the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will joined each other via video-link to pledge their support for the campaign.

The launch of One Goal: Education for All

1GOAL has one purpose: to ensure that people of all ages around the world and especially the 75 million children out of school – half of them in Africa and nearly two-thirds girls – get access to quality education, classrooms, teachers and the future that education provides.

1GOAL was launched in Australia by a coalition of non-governmental organisations led by ActionAid Australia, ASPBAE Australia (Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education) and Football Federation Australia.

“Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families, communities and whole countries, leading to economic growth, democracy and a more stable future, said ActionAid CEO Mr Archie Law.

The launch of One Goal: Education for All

“Today more than 900 million adults are unable to read or write, but it doesn’t need to be this way.
“Since 2000, because governments and people took action, 40 million more children are in school. We have a plan, we know how to beat this – all we need now is the will to make it happen.
“If we come together around this World Cup, we can do even more and reach our goal.”

1GOAL is the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first world cup to be held in Africa, and calls on football fans and the public to sign-up at www.join1goal.org and tell world leaders that education beats poverty.

The leaders are calling on football fans and education campaigners to make education the legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2010 and have agreed to meet on the eve of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in Africa for a summit on education.

The launch of One Goal: Education for All

Bernie Lovegrove, Executive Director of ASPBAE Australia called on the government to ensure its overseas aid to education contributes to achieving all six international Education For All goals. “We are pleased that the Rudd government has scaled up education aid, but at the same time we urge the government to ensure that funding covers education from early childhood through to adult and lifelong learning, rather than trading one education goal off against another.”

He further called on the Australian Government to pay its fair share of the education financing gap: “The financing gap for primary and lower-secondary education is estimated at US$16 billion per year and Australia still has quite a way to go to pay its fair share. In this time of financial crisis governments must not retreat from their commitments to aid for education.”

The launch of One Goal: Education for All

Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said he was delighted to support the 1GOAL initiative and encourages everyone to show their support.

"Education is an important policy objective in any society to ensure that people have the best possible opportunity to reach their potential and to realise better economic, health and social outcomes,” Mr Buckley said.

Sports star Socceroo Vincenzo Grella said the Qantas Socceroos were honored to support this worldwide movement to promote education for all and that he urges all football fans to visit the 1GOAL website to show their support.
Sarah Walsh of the Matildas called on all Australians to support the initiative. “The Westfield Matildas are proud to be part of the 1GOAL initiative and ask all world leaders and all Australians to support education for girls and boys.”
To pledge support to 1GOAL: Education for All, log onto join1goal.org

The launch of One Goal: Education for All

About ActionAid Australia
ActionAid Australia is part of an international anti-poverty network working in over 40 countries, taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together. Education is one of ActionAid’s priority areas of work. Further information about ActionAid can be found at actionaid.org.au/

ASPBAE Australia is part of a broader regional network, the Asia South Pacific Association of Basic and Adult Education, of over 240 member organisations in 30 countries around the Asia Pacific region. ASPBAE Australia works with education coalitions in many countries in the region to achieve the six EFA goals. aspbae.org

About 1GOAL: Education for All
1GOAL is a new campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to ensure that every child worldwide has the opportunity of an education. Global football stars, the football world and FIFA are behind 1GOAL – this World Cup, we’re asking fans to sign up to give 75 million children a chance in life. Together, name by name, we can make a difference and call on world leaders to ensure education for all.
1GOAL is a part of the Class of 2015 initiative, led by the Global Campaign for Education and includes support from key charities, teaching unions, faith groups, private sector and committed governments.

© Soccerphile.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Relief for Portsmouth as second takeover is completed


Portsmouth's off pitch worries look to be rescinding after Saudi business tycoon Ali Al Faraj completed his takeover of the club.


This is the second time in six weeks that Portsmouth have been the subject of a takeover by foreign investors. After the last bid was plagued by problems from start to finish, fans will be hoping that their new owner does a considerably better job than former incumbent Sulaiman Al Fahim.

The club was previously taken over at the end of August but due to a series of cash flow problems, Al Fahim has decided to sell a 90% stake in the club to Al Faraj.

Al Fahim retains a 10% stake and will become the non-executive chairman until at least the end of the 2010/11 season.

During the former owner's troubled reign there was persistent talk of administration and last week it was revealed that the players had not been paid. However, this latest takeover appears to have resolved those issues.

“The takeover will ensure Portsmouth's future is safe and will bring financial stability,” read a club statement.

“Contracts have been signed between the parties to enable funds to be released to pay the players and executive board on Tuesday.”

Recent events had almost led to chief executive Peter Storrie resigning but he will now continue in his post, alongside Al Faraj and associate Mark Jacob.

In an interview with BBC Radio Four, Storrie said: “He is very similar to [former owner] Alexandre Gaydamak in many ways in that he owns the club but he wants to sit in the background and let the officials of the club run it.

“He is not going to be one of those that's going to be out front.”

At the weekend Portsmouth picked up their first points of their Premier League season with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Wolves. Boss Paul Hart expressed relief at the result and he will now be hoping that with more stability off the pitch, the players can start performing to their potential on it and gradually improve their odds of Premier League survival.

© Soccerphile.com

Three Tussling At The Top

Three Tussling At The Top.
K-League News 2009

With the Chuseok holidays in South Korea over, it is traditionally time for local fans to put down their overheated chopsticks and check out the race for the play-offs.

Past battles have been thrilling and this season is no different. As always, we teams that have long forgotten thoughts of merely finishing in the top six to book a place in the championship play-off series and have eyes on top spot.

FC Seoul currently occupy that position with 47 points, Jeonbuk has 45 and Pohang, which has five games remaining, one more than the others, has 41.

There are benefits in straddling the top of the standings. The teams that finished third to sixth in the table go to the play-offs but must battle it out with each other. The one that emerges from that four way tussle will take on second-place. The winners progress to the championship final decider against the team that finished first.

Seoul coach Senol Gunes, who led Turkey to third place at the 2002 World Cup, is in his third and probably last season in Korea. More than the K-League, the prize he really wants in the Asian Champions League – one that naturally receives more international acclaim and provides a place at FIFA’s Club World Cup held every December.

It didn’t happen as Seoul fell at the quarterfinal stage last week at the hands of Umm Salal of Qatar. Seoul lost 4-3 over two legs but couldn’t get the last and vital goal. The elimination caused Gunes to utter the line uttered by coaches around the world since cup competitions, both domestic and international, came into existence: “We can now concentrate on the league.”

The team did just that on Sunday and bounced back from the Asian heartbreak to win 2-0 at Jeju United to move two points clear at the top of the table above Jeonbuk.

Jeonbuk is the only team in the top three that has never been crowned champion of the K-League though the team from Jeonju did win the Asian title in 2006 The Motors are really shifting up through the gears, winning six of the last eight games, the only two defeats coming at the hands of rivals Seoul and Pohang.

Pohang Steelers are currently in third place but Pohang’s bid for the top spot could be derailed by their heroics in this season’s Asian Champions League. Last Wednesday was a night that will live long in the memories of all Steelers’ fans. After the first leg of the quarterfinal in Uzbekistan 3-1 the previous week, the Gyeongsang Province team had a mountain to climb in the Steelyard.

Roared on by thousands of fans, Pohang destroyed Bunyodkor, the richest club in Asia and coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari. The man who took Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title was helpless in the face of such intense football. It blew the Central Asians away.

That 4-1 second leg win gave Pohang a 5-4 aggregate victory and a place in the semi-final. There the Steelers waited to see if they would be joined by FC Seoul but was disappointed as the capital club couldn’t join their Gyeongsang cousins.

Pohang drew 2-2 with Incheon United on Sunday and are now six points off the pace set by Seoul, although they do have that game in hand. Still, with time running out and with a long trip to Qatar to come later this month, it may be tough. Pohang has a chance when they hosts Seoul on Wednesday. Failure to win that may mean the Steelers having to settle for third.

Pohang have been there before however and won the 2007 K-League despite ending the season in fifth place. That experience could prove useful.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

Monday, October 5, 2009

Shimizu S-Pulse take control of J. League

Shimizu S-Pulse take control of J. League.
J.League: Shimizu S-Pulse

There's a new league leader atop the J. League table with Shimizu S-Pulse overtaking Kashima Antlers on goal difference following another dramatic round of action.

A 1-1 home draw with fellow high-fliers Sanfrecce Hiroshima was enough for Shimizu S-Pulse to take over atop the standings, as Japan international Shinji Okazaki cancelled out an earlier strike from Hiroshima star Hisato Sato.

Okazaki had almost given Shimizu an early lead when he charged down Hiroshima goalkeeper Hirotsugu Nakabayashi's attempted clearance, while a fit-again Kazuyuki Morisaki flashed a long drive wide for the visitors.

It was Hiroshima who took the lead in scrappy circumstances, as Sato beat Kaito Yamamoto from close-range with a typically predatory finish following an excellent through ball from Croatian winger Mihael Mikic.

Shimizu equalised through a textbook Okazaki header just before the break, and with no goals in the second half, the hosts were forced to wait 24 hours to confirm their leadership at the top of the standings.

They did so thanks to another home defeat for Kashima Antlers, who went down 1-0 to Albirex Niigata to throw open the title race.

Kashima have now lost four games in succession, with Oswaldo de Oliveira's side taking just eight points from a possible 30 in their last ten league games.

They must now play the final sixteen minutes of their rescheduled Round 25 clash against Kawasaki Frontale on October 7 - with Kawasaki holding on to a 3-1 lead.

With six games remaining, Shimizu are chasing a first-ever J. League title.

The closest the Shizuoka side have come to lifting the crown came in 1999 when they lost the Championship playoff on penalties to local rivals Jubilo Iwata.

Full Round 28 results
Saturday, October 3

Shimizu S-Pulse 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1
Montedio Yamagata 0 Oita Trinita 0
Kashiwa Reysol 1 Jubilo Iwata 2
Urawa Reds 3 JEF United 1
Vissel Kobe 1 Kyoto Sanga 1

Sunday, October 4

Kawasaki Frontale 2 Yokohama F. Marinos 0
Gamba Osaka 4 Omiya Ardija 1
Kashima Antlers 0 Albirex Niigata 1
Nagoya Grampus 1 FC Tokyo 2


The J2 title race also looks set to go down to the wire, with fallen giants Cerezo Osaka and Vegalta Sendai looked in a tense battle for the championship crown.

Cerezo currently lead the way - two points clear of Vegalta - and the former top flight clubs are joined by fellow ex-J1 outfits Ventforet Kofu and Shonan Bellmare as the four teams battling it out for promotion.

With eight games to play, Shonan are just a point behind a tenacious Ventforet side, with the team from Kofu desperate to win promotion.

The club from rural Yamanashi Prefecture have one of the smallest operating budgets of any Japanese side, and they are desperate to return to the top flight following their relegation in 2007.

© Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

J.League News