Saturday, November 27, 2010



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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Tottenham tempest hits town

Tottenham Hotspur are riding some wave. A point off the top four in England, the Londoners have set the UEFA Champions League on fire in their inaugural season on the biggest stage, playing some dazzling attacking football. And after years of its fans craving glory the club is swiftly having to adjust to its new-found success.
A novice in the contiRedknapp.nent's top class, North London's other giant has qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League in 2011, and currently sits atop of a group containing reigning champions Internazionale, whom they swatted aside 3-1 at White Hart Lane.

Spurs also downed Werder Bremen 3-0 and Twente Enschede 4-1 at home, drew 2-2 away in Germany and netted three at San Siro, despite going down 4-3 to Inter in the end. While their domestic form is struggling to keep up, Tottenham are poised to break into the Champions League places again and their supporters are still wallowing from their most prized scalp - a 3-2 win at neighbours Arsenal. The immediate plaudits for this unexpectedly sterling season must go to mercurial manager Harry Redknapp.

The son of an East End docker, Redknapp might have a questionable record in the transfer market and speak like a cockney gaffer plucked via a time warp from the 1970s, but he has proved more than capable of drawing the best out of cultured continentals such as Luka Modric, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Rafael Van der Vaart. In addition he has proved to Fabio Capello how Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon, bit-part players in the national team, can be employed to devastating effect.

A club renowned for favouring style over substance, Spurs' expansive football has been a joy to behold his season, and more than a few beady eyes have been cast in the direction of their Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale, whose left-sided marauding cut Javier Zanetti and the rest of Inter's seasoned backline to shreds. Starting at left-back, Bale bagged a hat-trick in Italy with near-identical charges up the flank followed by finishes driven into the far corner, a firework display that had the whole Italian press cooing with admiration and relieved at Inter having scored enough to win.

A rich blend of diverse talents and an attack-minded manager has brewed up a Tottenham tipple that has forced the UEFA powers-that-be to take notice. Bale's power surges on the left are complemented by Lennon's waggle-dancing on the right flank; Defoe's sprints and clinical finishes up the middle are mixed with Crouch's air superiority and Pavlyuchenko's clever runs and deadly ground strokes. With a strong back four marshalled by French veteran William Gallas in order to shield an at-times erratic goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, the strings are pulled in the centre by the underrated Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto, the assured Jermaine Jenas, a classy distributor whom England will surely turn to again, while the ensemble is completed by the maestro in the middle, the Croatian conductor Modric.

The addition of a Dutch master at the end of the transfer window might have upset the balance, but Van der Vaart has landed with aplomb, scoring and creating in a free role, with only the high-octane pace of an attritional North London derby a game too far for him.

We should not begudge Tottenham their place in the sun as their trophy cabinet has a cobweb or two. Considered along with Everton one of the 'Big Five' in the 1980s, their last big trophy was 1984's UEFA Cup, while you have to go as far back as 1961 for the last time Spurs were champions of England. After years of suffering as the nearly men, Redknapp's remedy is working a treat.

In his apparently simple tactical plan and motivational instincts there is even something of the Brian Clough about him, although do not be fooled by the bravado: Redknapp drives from Dorset to North London every day with assistant coach Kevin Bond beside him, discussing in depth their tactical options.

Redknapp is one of the last of the truly English managers, breezily bypassing foreign additives in his recipe book: Tottenham pioneered the use of a Director of Football in England in 1998 with David Pleat but Redknapp eschews such continental sophistication, taking the word 'manager' he grew up with literally - he is the man who runs the club at the end of the day. And with the exception of the former Scotland striker Joe Jordan, the entire coaching staff is English, at a time when 15 of the 20 Premier League coaches come from outside England and seven from beyond the British Isles.

If Spurs have an Achilles heel it is surely in their inexperience. Their open and attacking style could well be found out by the stronger, wiser teams to be found in the knock-out stages, clubs battle-hardened by the yearly Champions League competition Spurs have yet to know intimately.

The warning signs are there: After only 20 minutes of play in their top-level European exodus, Spurs found themselves trailing Young Boys 3-0 in Berne, before pulling two back in Switzerland and thrashing them 4-0 in the return leg. Ditto in Italy, where Inter sailed into a 4-0 advantage over Spurs with only 35 minutes gone, slicing the Londoners' defence open from all angles in a footballing bloodbath, leaving Tottenham looking desperately out of their depth before Bale pulled the trigger and fired in three goals.

A quick glance at the company they will be keeping in the last sixteen should make them draw breath - Bayern, Inter, Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea have all made it through along with tricky customers like Lyon, Schalke and Valencia. In other words, we will surely find out what Spurs are made of before long.

The metamorphosis from a bridesmaid club has been so rapid and heady the fans will be wondering if it can last. And two possible obstacles are already visible on the horizon - the loss of Redknapp to the England job in 2012 and a move to a new stadium.

Redknapp has been explicit about his desire for the top job in English football, and with Capello's Three Lions mumbling rather than roaring, the Londoner is surely next up for the impossible job, if, as expected, the Italian's megabucks contract is not renewed after the European Championship in Poland & Ukraine. The Football Association have already said they will hire English next time, which presumably means a choice between Redknapp and Roy Hodgson. When Redknapp left Portsmouth and West Ham in recent seasons, both clubs ended up relegated within a couple of years, an omen for Tottenham with only a year and a half to go until the England job is up for grabs again.

The other upheaval on the cards concerns a move away from White Hart Lane - home to the club since 1899. The Lane has a double problem - its famous inaccessibility and relatively low capacity.

In a city blessed with the world's largest underground railway and a vast network of train and bus services, Spurs' stadium for some reason remains frustratingly hard to reach. The closest London Underground station is a good half hour's walk while the Toytown trains arriving intermittently at Tottenham Hale are a wholly inadequate service for a large arena.

36,000 seats also puts Spurs at a financial disadvantage compared to Manchester City (48,000), Arsenal (60,000) and Man Utd (76,000), a stunted revenue stream year after year.

Expansion to 56,000 seats on the existing site entails demolishing a slew of nearby buildings and planning permission for a multi-use shopping, hotel and sporting complex. Planning permission has been granted by the local council and the Mayor of London, leaving a refusal by the Secretary of State the last possible hurdle.

Yet Spurs have also applied to take over the Olympic Stadium across town in Stratford after the games finish in 2012, placing them in direct competition with the more local West Ham United and with British Athletics, whose demand for a running track would also conflict with Spurs' plans. What at first seemed to be an obvious leverage tactic to force Haringey Council's hand now appears a frightening possibility for die-hards, who are aghast at the prospect of Tottenham leaving their home patch. Spurs have AEG's millions on board, as well as the potential backing of billionaire Joe Lewis. In addition, London 2012's vice-chairman is a club director. In March 2011 we will know for sure, but within a month more will be clear.

Although the Haringey option appears the better of the two, Chairman Daniel Levy is believed to be genuinely excited about his club moving for free into an iconic stadium, which unlike White Hart Lane will have excellent transport links and proximity to the financial hub of Canary Wharf and London's expanding eastern corridor. The spruce surroundings of the Olympic Park are a world away from Tottenham High Road, one of the most impoverished and unappealing parts of London.

Whatever happens on and off the field, the next two years will surely be some of the most historic in the history of this 138 year-old team, and certainly the most exciting for decades.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seongnam Hungry For Domestic Success Too

K-League: Seongnam

The K-League championship play-offs have reached that stage when it becomes a little easier to explain to non-followers what is going on. And Wednesday’s clash between Jeonbuk Motors and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma at Jeonju World Cup Stadium should be one to excite even the vaguest of soccer supporters.

It is a big game in its own right but there are a number of side plots that add to the drama. The basic background is that both teams came through their first play-off tests with flying colours. Jeonbuk, who finished third at the end of the regular season, defeated sixth-place Gyeongnam FC 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

The win was a fairly comfortably one for the men in green. Cho Sung-hwan headed home the first, a rare goal from the defender. The second goal came from a more familiar source but Eninho’s was a fine strike. The Brazilian had been tweeting all week that he was raring to go and his run and low shot from the edge of the penalty area in the second half showed that he is a man of action as well as words.

He is the team’s playmaker and if he hasn’t been quite as impressive as last season then the same can be said of Jeonbuk, though the two are not unrelated. The Motors lifted the K-League trophy in 2009 for the first time. The team it defeated in the final of that championship season was Seongnam. The Yellows have a score to settle against the Greens after losing 3-1 at the same stadium in the final game of last season.

There is more. Whichever team wins on Wednesday will not only continue in the play-offs to face Jeju United on Sunday -the winner of which progresses to the final championship decider against FC Seoul- it will also receive a place in the 2011 Asian Champions League. Seongnam won the 2010 version on November 13.

Jeonbuk won the same competition back in 2006. Back then, the champions were granted automatic entry to the following year’s edition but this is no longer the case. If Seongnam loses on Wednesday it will not be able to defend its title next year. Unsurprisingly, the club enjoyed its taste of continental glory and is hungry for more.

“We want to play in the Asian Champions League again next season,” said Seongnam coach Shin Tae-yong. “Jeonbuk coach Choi Kang-hee is an excellent coach so we will have to prepare well for the game. We lost in the final to Jeonbuk last year and this is a game we really want to win.”

Choi is looking to lead his team to a second successive K-League title; the last team to win back-to-back trophies was Seongnam back in 2003. The coach saw his team dispatch Gyeongnam on Saturday and then turned his thoughts to Wednesday’s big game.

"It was a harder game than we expected but in front of our own fans, we showed a strong will to win. It wasn't a great performance but we got the right result. There is no time to relax as the next game takes place on Wednesday and we have to prepare for that,” said Choi.

They will have to prepare for Seongnam’s three foreign players who all scored against Ulsan. Sasa Ognenovski got the first from the penalty spot, Dzenan Radoncic fired home a rocket of a second and Mauricio Molina sealed the win.

Radoncic missed the Asian final through suspension and is hungry to make amends domestically.

“It was tough not to play in Tokyo,” said the Montenegrin striker. “So I made coach Shin a promise that I would show what I could do against Ulsan. We defeated jeonbuk this season at home and we are confident we can do so again and qualify for Asia.”

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Monday, November 22, 2010

J League Results November 20

J League Results November 20.
Saturday 20 November

Nagoya Grampus are the new J-League champions.

Cerezo Osaka 1 Yokohama F Marinos 0
FC Tokyo 1 Kawasaki Frontale 2
Urawa Reds 0 Gamba Osaka 2
Kyoto Sanga 0 Omiya Ardija 2
Shonan Bellmare 0 Nagoya Grampus 1
Vissel Kobe 0 Kashima Antlers 0
Jubilo Iwata 0 Montedio Yamagata 0
Vegalta Sendai 1 Shimizu S-Pulse 3
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4 Albirex Niigata 0

The highest attendance was 40,071 at Saitama Stadium for the Reds v Gamba match.

J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 31 Pts 66
Kashima Antlers P 31 Pts 56
Gamba Osaka P 31 Pts 56
Cerezo Osaka P 31 Pts 52
Kawasaki Frontale P 31 Pts 52
Shimizu S-Pulse P 31 Pts 51
Yokohama F Marinos P 31 Pts 48
Sanfrecce Hiroshima P 31 Pts 48

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 16
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 15
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 14
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo 14

Previous Results

J.League News

Thursday, November 18, 2010

French lessons for the crème anglaise

France 2, England 0.England 1:2 France - International Friendly, Wembley, Att 85,495.

Another false dawn for England. Another French dressing-down. The euphoria following the Three Lions' impressive Euro 2012 qualifying wins over Bulgaria and Switzerland has been replaced by a familiar torpor.

A dismal 0-0 qualifying draw at home to Montenegro followed by last night's 1-2 friendly reverse to France have sharpened the Fleet Street knives once more for Fabio Capello. The opposition was pertinent. The French team collapsed in mutiny in South Africa, were eliminated by a weak host nation and flew home before the cartes postales. England had it bad but France a lot worse and are still lacking aces Franck Ribéry and Patrice Evra, in exile alongside bête noire Nicolas Anelka, who has probably played his last game for his country.
Yet Laurent Blanc's men played yesterday with verve and élan, like they had turned over a brand new leaf, and showed hints of a real renaissance for a soccer nation that was on top of the world a decade ago. The hosts on the other hand were still warbling from an old hymn book of tired tunes.
To be fair to Capello, it was a friendly and not an eliminator, but the warning signs were loud and clear once more, a mournful drone of English shortcomings echoing around the vast arena. Ball control, positional awareness, tactical acumen, imagination - why are these skills still so hard for English footballers to learn? We should not blame the players - they have not been taught properly. The youthful replacements drafted in fell short with the exception of Newcastle's Andy Carroll, who had a mature and promising debut as a lone target man, bagging air superiority from the off and troubling the French defence at low level on at least one occasion.

The 4-2-3-1 showed Capello had learnt the lesson of Bloemfontein and
ditched his static 4-4-2, but too many of its practitioners failed to function. Theo Walcott again showed he has pace and control but little else, Kieron Gibbs and Jordan Henderson proved they had been fast-tracked into the national team too quickly while Gareth Barry, not long ago the subject of a great transfer tussle, was as lethargic and ineffective as he had been in South Africa.

The insertion of Ashley Young and Adam Johnson on the wings after the break, along with Peter Crouch's goalscoring cameo, helped turn the blue tide but equally showed the talent pool is rather shallow at the Football Association. The fact is England need ten Jack Wilsheres pushing for selection.

A (French?) revolution is what is required, with a huge increase in the number of coaches and a wholesale shift in mentality to emphasize skills acquisition and tactical intelligence above winning at youth level. Dennis Bergkamp, exquisitely gifted in a way most Englishmen are not, believes the ages of 8 to 12 are the key ones for developing talent, years when most English kids are not being properly schooled in the game. At Wembley, the blue shirts did the basics bett
er than the whites - controlling and distributing accurately at speed while being aware of the movement of their teammates. English football is still obsessed by the individual instead of the collective, as a cursory glance at any tabloid's back pages will confirm.

"Skill-wise at the moment, the English players are really, really, not at the level", David Ginola said to the BBC post-match. Quite so, England had no-one with the sublime dribbling skills of Samir Nasri, the elegant playmaking of Yoann Gourcuff or the penetrative power of Florent Malouda on display at Wembley.

The morning after the debacle brought a modicum of hope with the belated announcement that the National Football Centre had at last
been given the green light after years of stasis. France's Clairefontaine site has acquired mythic status, with Italy's Coverciano not far behind. St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent will be a huge advance from previous bases at Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall, with the ambitious goal of its coaches training a quarter of a million people to teach football by 2018.

The only hope remains in the future. For the next couple of tournaments we can reasonably expect the motherland of the game to show flashes of hope but then hit that invisible forcefield known as the quarter-finals, while fans and media alike blame particular players or coaches for another England disaster with its roots in youth coaching.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fifa World Rankings 17 November 2010

Fifa World Rankings 17 November, 2010.
Fifa World Rankings November 2010

Fifa's World Rankings came out today from Fifa HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. World Cup winners Spain remain in top spot followed by The Netherlands, Brazil and Germany as in last month's ranking.

England are still in 6th place, one adrift of Argentina who remain in 5th.

Egypt is the highest African team in 10th. The USA are 24th. Italy are up to 14th.

1 Spain
2 Netherlands
3 Brazil
4 Germany
5 Argentina
7 Uruguay
8 Portugal
9 Croatia
10 Egypt
11 Greece
12 Norway
13 Russia
14 Italy
15 Slovenia
16 Chile
17 Ghana
18 Slovakia
19 Côte d'Ivoire
20 Australia

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings


Monday, November 15, 2010

J League Results November 14

J League Results November 14, 2010.
Sunday 14 November

Yokohama F Marinos 1 FC Tokyo 2
Urawa Reds 2 Kyoto Sanga 0
Kawasaki Frontale 1 Kashima Antlers 2
Nagoya Grampus 2 Omiya Ardija 1
Shimizu S-Pulse 5 Shonan Bellmare 0
Montedio Yamagata 3 Cerezo Osaka 3
Vegalta Sendai 3 Jubilo Iwata 0
Albirex Niigata 1 Vissel Kobe 1
Gamba Osaka 2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0

The highest attendance was 32,398 at Saitama Stadium for the Reds v Sanga match.

J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 30 Pts 63
Kashima Antlers P 30 Pts 55
Gamba Osaka P 30 Pts 53
Cerezo Osaka P 30 Pts 49
Kawasaki Frontale P 30 Pts 49
Shimizu S-Pulse P 30 Pts 48
Yokohama F Marinos P 30 Pts 48
Sanfrecce Hiroshima P 30 Pts 45

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 16
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 15
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 14
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo 14

Previous Results

J.League News

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Robert Pires in Thailand?

Robert Pires in Thailand?

Robert Pires is in line for a shock return to football with Thai Premier League champions Muangthong United. The 37-year-old midfielder is currently training with his old team Arsenal after being released by Villarreal.

Robert Pires in Thailand?

It appears Pires is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of Sol Campbell, who was given a short term contract by Wenger last season after training with the team on a similar basis. However the former French international is desperate to prolong his playing career and could be tempted by the prospect of joining one of the top teams in South Asia.

Robert Procureur, the General Manager of Muangthong United, is hoping to sign Pires in time for the next season which starts in March,

“I have been searching for new players from Europe to join our squad next season. I knew Robert Pires from when I visited Arsene Wenger a few years ago and I have already discussed with some people from Arsenal the possibility of bringing Pires to the Thai Premier League. At the moment we are interested in and will try hard to convince him to join Muangthong United,” he said.

Muangthong United recently won the Thai Premier League for the second successive season and are also in the final of the Thai FA Cup. They reached the semi finals of the AFC Cup, the Asian equivalent of the Europa League, and are looking to add at least one high profile player to the squad.

The club have also been strongly linked with Dwight Yorke and Jesper Blomqvist but Procureur feels that Pires would be the perfect signing,

“He is 37 years old but I feel he still has the ability to play as last season he was in the Spanish league with Villarreal. He is a world class player and if he can join us next season it will be a great boost to our team,” he said.

Wenger claimed at a at a press conference last month that Pires, who won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times during his six year spell at Arsenal, would still be capable of playing Premiership football,

“Robert Pires can still play in the Premier League. Robert is a fantastic player still today and he loves to play, so anybody who signs him will make a good deal. If we were short, I would sign Pires but we are not short on the offensive side, so we do not need anyone in that department,” he said

With offers from Premiership teams not forthcoming the player, who says he will retire if he has not found a club by the end of January, might well be tempted to finish his playing career in the east.

English football and in particular the English Premier League is hugely popular in Thailand. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra famously purchased Manchester City in 2007 in what was widely regarded as a populist and politically motivated move. It is testament to the esteem in which elite English clubs are held in his homeland that Shinawatra felt associating himself with a mid table team could help to bolster his ailing reputation.

A Thai led consortium called Asian Football Investments recently purchased Championship side Leicester City and recruited former Manchester City and England manager Sven Goran Eriksson in a bid to take the team back to the Premiership.

Thai companies are increasingly trying to get in on the act and Chang Beer is the official shirt sponsor of Everton while Singha Beer has signed a sponsorship agreement with both Manchester United and Chelsea.

In previous years there was a feeling that the domestic league in Thailand was being largely overlooked due to fan’s fixation with English football. There are signs that this is changing with attendances at Thai Premier League games on the increase and a handful of wealthy Thai individuals looking to invest in local teams.

Muangthong United are at the forefront of this revolution thanks to a recruitment policy which has seen them combine some of the finest footballers in Thailand with a handful of outstanding African players.

The success which former Muangthong United favourite Yaya Soumahoro has enjoyed in Belgium is evidence of the diminishing gap between Thai and European football. The Ivory Coast midfielder, who was the most outstanding player in the Thai Premier League, signed for Gent in the summer and has made an instant impact in the top tier of Belgian football.

His former team mate Kawin Thamsatchanan could be set to follow in his footsteps. He has been invited for a trial at Manchester United at the instigation of Thailand manager Bryan Robson.

The Thai football season is coming to an end and Muangthong United are braced for the exit of several first team players with a number of European clubs hovering. The club are hoping that at least one high profile footballer will move in the opposite direction and Pires is currently top of the list.

© James Goyder & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nagoya can't choke now... can they?

J.League news.
Kashima Stadium is one of the more remote venues in Japanese football.

Sandwiched between Lake Kitaura on one side and Kashima Sea on the other, most fans make the long-haul trip to Kashima Stadium by train, as it trundles through the urban sprawl of Greater Tokyo and out into the open fields of Ibaraki.

The stadium is rarely full - only travelling hordes of Urawa Reds fans push attendances towards capacity - yet it remains a hostile place to come and play, not least because the J. League's most successful club Kashima Antlers possess a relentlessly imposing home record.

So it was that Nagoya Grampus made the slow journey out to Kashima Stadium on November 7, hoping that a 10-point gap over second placed Kashima Antlers would be enough to see them cruise to the title.

Instead it was Kashima who left the champions-elect bloodied and bowed, as a goal from Brazilian veteran Marquinhos on the hour mark hauled the Antlers back into an improbable title race.

Kashima are now eight points behind long-term league leaders Nagoya with five games to play, but if any team has experience of reeling in a front runner, it's Kashima.

In 2007, they lifted the most dramatic of league titles by snatching the trophy from a shell-shocked Urawa on the final day of the season, as Kashima thrashed Shimizu S-Pulse and saw the Reds slump to defeat against relegated Yokohama FC.

Kashima coach Oswaldo de Oliveira knows results must once again go his team's way if they are to have any chance of lifting the title, but it would take a hardy soul to bet against the three-times defending champions - even if Nagoya are still in the box seat.

Nagoya's run home is relatively simple. They face easy-beats Omiya Ardija, Shonan Bellmare and FC Tokyo, before finishing the season with an away trip to Tokai rivals Jubilo Iwata and a home clash against Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Toyota Stadium.

Kashima start their run home with a tough test on the road at Kawasaki Frontale, before easier matches against Vissel Kobe, Jubilo Iwata, Kyoto Sanga and Montedio Yamagata follow.

With third-placed Gamba Osaka breathing down Kashima's necks, the title race still has some spark left in it yet. One more victory should be enough for Nagoya Grampus to wrap up their maiden J. League title: surely they can't choke now, can they?

Never say never, in the weird and wild world of the J. League.

Nagoya fans.

Kashiwa Reysol lead the way in J2Chiba side Kashiwa Reysol look home and hosed in J2, and they should be joined in the top tier next season by fellow promotion certainties Ventforet Kofu, with Shonan Bellmare and Kyoto Sanga dropping down to replace them.

Reysol and Ventforet will almost certainly be joined by another former top-flight club in the form of Avispa Fukuoka, as the southern side have opened up a six-point gap on fourth-placed Tokyo Verdy with only five games remaining.

Jubilo Iwata win a dramatic League Cup finalThe 2010 Yamazaki Nabisco League Cup final was as dramatic as they come, and it was Jubilo Iwata who walked away with the spoils, winning 5-3 in extra-time at a sun-drenched National Stadium in Tokyo.

Opponents Sanfrecce Hiroshima came within a minute of lifting the title, but a late equaliser from Jubilo's prolific striker Ryoichi Maeda sent the match into the added period.

Midfielders Minoru Suganuma and Ryohei Yamazaki then gave Jubilo a two-goal cushion, only for Sanfrecce star Tomoaki Makino to cut the deficit with a superb free-kick.

Maeda put the game beyond doubt with his second goal of the afternoon, and Sanfrecce's misery was compounded when Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi saved Makino's penalty with virtually the last kick of the game.

The win saw Jubilo collect their first major piece of silverware since 2003, as one of the fallen giants of the Japanese game finally returned to the winner's circle.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman &

World Cup Posters

J League Results November 7 2010

J.League results.
Sunday 7 November

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2 Urawa Reds 1
Kashima Antlers 1 Nagoya Grampus 0

Saturday 6 November

Shonan Bellmare 1 Yokohama F Marinos 4
Omiya Ardija 2 Montedio Yamagata 1
Kyoto Sanga 3 Kawasaki Frontale 4
Cerezo Osaka 1 Shimizu S-Pulse 0
Vissel Kobe 2 Vegalta Sendai 0
Jubilo Iwata 1 Albirex Niigata 1
FC Tokyo 1 Gamba Osaka 1

The highest attendance was 27,969 at Kashima Stadium for the Kashima Antlers v Nagoya Grampus match.

J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 29 Pts 60
Kashima Antlers P 29 Pts 52
Gamba Osaka P 29 Pts 50
Kawasaki Frontale P 29 Pts 49
Cerezo Osaka P 29 Pts 48
Yokohama F Marinos P 29 Pts 48
Shimizu S-Pulse P 29 Pts 45
Sanfrecce Hiroshima P 29 Pts 45

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 16
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 14
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo 14
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 14

Previous Results

J.League News

Thursday, November 4, 2010

English press puts Russia in pole position

Blatter.England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup looks shakier by the day as its media turns up the heat on football corruption.

Today the BBC revealed that the Football Association's bidding team feel they have suffered a serious setback after the Sunday Times forced FIFA to act on allegations that two Executive Committee members were selling their votes.

President Sepp Blatter has already signalled his organisation's panic against the British media probes, with England's 2018 bidding team nervously praying FIFA will not take out their anger on them instead. According to the BBC, the FA believe that the recent publicity around FIFA members selling votes (hardly a surprise) has "significantly harmed" England's hopes of hosting the tournament in eight years' time, and that further revelations would deal their bid a fatal blow.

"One can ask whether such an action is appropriate, trying to set traps for people," said Blatter."We are asking ourselves why did it happen and why did it happen specifically by English journalists? We are looking at that."

With FIFA's Ethics Committee due to discuss the allegations leveled at Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Tamarii in a couple of weeks, the proximity of the World Cup vote on the 2nd of December will ensure the other 22 Executive Committee members stay on their guard against further revelations, with BBC's Panorama preparing another special edition.

While any spring-cleaning of FIFA's house is welcome to ensure transparency prevails, the losers could well be the FA should the 24 Executive Committee members choose to punish them by association. This would be unfair as the FA were the victims themselves when the Mail on Sunday exposed their chairman Lord Triesman's extra-curricular dalliance with a secretary, forcing him to resign ignominiously in May this year.

The UK media has long taken a lead in investigative journalism surrounding the sport's governing body for a while - David Yallop kicked it off with 'How They Stole the Game' in 1999, exposing Joao Havelange's crooked hi-jacking of the FIFA Presidency and his subsequently tainted business practices, following the civilised reign of Sir Stanley Rous.

Andrew Jennings then took up the baton four years ago with his equally explosive book 'Foul!', which shone a harsh light on Blatter's realm and his unscrupulous lieutenants, particularly the uber-knave Jack Warner of Trinidad, whom Jennings has pursued ever since.

Britain's football press has not been patriotic for years. Since the 1980s, Fleet Street's soccer hacks have never missed an opportunity to derail an England star or manager with prurient exposés of their private lives and would surely leap at the chance to show their World Cup bid was corrupt, which it does not appear to be.

Reporters will defend their investigations as in the public interest, but their primary aim is the thrill of the story. As long as they get their scoop, they will not care about denying their own country a chance to host the greatest show on earth.

The irony of this Sword of Damocles is that it will fall on England and allow Russia, the epitome of a bent country in Europe, to sneak in and steal the hosting rights to the biggest prize of all.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Out Of It Octet Already Thinking Of 2011

K.League news.
While much of the attention is understandably at the top end of the K-league as the end of the season approaches, those a little lower down the standings have issues of their own.

Seven of the 15 still have much to play for but the bottom eight are already thinking about next season. One has more to think about than most. Gwangju Sangmu FC is the league’s military club and gives the nation’s players a place to swap the khaki uniform for the orange soccer shirt during their two years of military service. The team usually struggles - it hasn’t won in the last 15 games - as would most teams if they couldn’t sign any new players and saw their entire personnel change every two years.

Sangmu’s contract with the southwestern city is coming to an end and as Gwangju will have its own team from 2011, a real soccer team, the army men are marching in search for a new base. It is proving difficult as cities that had previously been interested in welcoming the team such as Anyang, Ansan and Paju have had a change of heart.

Happier times look to be ahead for Incheon United. The west coast club is now under the control of Huh Jung-moo, the man who took South Korea to the second round of the 2010 World Cup. Since arriving in July, Huh has been frustrated and encouraged in equal measure. His new team have an infuriating habit of losing leads. A 3-0 lead against lowly Daejeon Citizen ended 3-3 and caused Huh to blast his players for “idiotic football”. With two minutes to go the week before last, United were 2-0 ahead over title-chasing Gyeongnam FC but ending up drawing 2-2.

Huh has been delighted with the form however of Yoo Byung-soo. The coach may have ignored the young striker for the World Cup but Yoo can’t stop scoring and will top the K-league’s chart by some distance. Keeping hold of the powerful attacker may be Huh’s greatest challenge over the next few months.

Of the teams in the lower reaches of the standings, the one looking around at unfamiliar company and wondering ‘where the hell are we?’ is Pohang Steelers. The Gyeongsang giants ended 2009 as Asian champions, for a record third time, and playing (and impressing) at FIFA’s Club World Cup. Soon after, Brazilian coach Sergio Farias was tempted away by the riches of Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli.

He didn’t last long there but neither did his replacement in Korea, Waldermar Lemos. Pohang’s domestic form has been poor all season and while the team made it to the last eight of the continental competition, a chance of a fourth title was ended by Zob Ahan of Iran. The club has a temporary coach while it seeks a new guy ahead of next season. He will be Korean - and Busan I’Park coach Hwang Sun-hong is rumoured to be the favoured candidate.

Busan’s season has been reasonable for a club without much money. The former giant of Korean and Asian football flirted with the play-offs for a time but never really seemed serious about getting among the big boys.

The other names down the depths are familiar ones. Daegu FC and Daejeon Citizen are not able to sign the top players and struggle more often than not while Gangwon FC is in only its second season. The Gangneung/Chuncheon based club has enjoyed some good results but has been unable to gain any momentum.

Down in South Jeolla Province, Chunnam Dragons will be disappointed with 2010 after enjoying 2009. The Dragons has spent much of the season down the bottom and despite a team boasting the talents of Brazilians Adrian Chuva and Indio are already in off-season mode.

This time next week it will all be over for the also-rans as the top six commence the play-offs but then there is always next season.

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