Thursday, February 20, 2020

AFC 2019 Awards

Rasim Movsumov, Ballon D'Or Juror: "The AFC 2019 Awards were a Celebration of Asian football"

Billions of people have an opinion on who the best male and female footballers in the world are though only a select handful can make the decision. One of those people is Ballon D’Or juror, Rasim Movsumov, who hails from Azerbaijan.

Rasim Movsumov
Rasim Movsumov
Movsumov is a journalist and also a Juror for the Ballon d’Or Award and also a Juror for the UEFA and European Sports Media for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award; so when people debate about Messi and Ronaldo then he is one of the people at the heart of the conversation.

Movsumov was in Hong Kong as a guest for the AFC awards and wrote a piece upon his return to his homeland which he happily translated below for offside.hk. They are his reflections of his time in Hong Kong and the awards ceremony itself.

AFC 2019 Awards


"The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) selects and awards the best from the Asian continent at the end of each year. This time, the award ceremony was held in Hong Kong. As a Jury member of the prestigious Ballon d'Or Award, I also attended in the 2019 AFC Annual Awards event."

"Hong Kong can be considered the cradle of Asian football; the Hong Kong Football Association was established in 1914 and was admitted to FIFA. The HKFA was one of the founders of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954 and also hosted the first AFC Asian Cup in 1956. The Hong Kong team, which played its first game in 1947 regularly plays in FIFA World Cup qualifying and has since the 1974 World Cup."

"In Hong Kong, I also met with Fulham FC former midfielder Andrejs Ć tolcers, who played in Baku FK in the first half of the 2005/06. He is currently working as a technical director at the Eastern SC. Ć tolcers fondly remembered his days spent in Azerbaijan."

AFC 2019 Awards


"The 2019 AFC Annual Awards was held at the Hong Kong Convention and the Exhibition Center located on the shores of Victoria Harbour, featuring exhibitions, conferences and other major events. Inside the event, there were interesting forms of entertainment at the reception area. An artist wrote guest names with Chinese hieroglyphs as a patterned picture and another artist drew on paper, a caricature portrait of everyone who sat in front of him.”

"At the event, which was hosted by Jason Dasey and Lisa Wong, the start of the event also saw a dragon dance that is an integral part of Chinese culture."

"The AFC event was attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John, as well as several other FIFA and other football organizations officials such as Timothy Fok from Hong Kong, Kozo Tashima from Japan, Faisal Saleh Hayat from Pakistan, Pengiran Matusin Matasan from Brunei, Valentino San Gil from Guam, Uzbek Ravshan Irmatov and Scotland’s Andy Roxburgh and many more. The attendance of Spanish football legend, Xavi, who now head coach of Qatar's Al Sadd, also added extra color to the event."

"Akram Afif, who plays for Al Sadd but is currently contractually owned by Spain's Villarreal, became the 2019 Asian Footballer of the Year, and Tottenham's 27-year-old Korean striker Son Heung-Min was selected as best Asian International player. In fact, the results were not surprising as the Qatari national team with Akram Afif won the AFC Asian Cup in early 2019 for the first time in their history.”

"The Asian Women "Footballer of the Year" was Lyon's Japanese midfielder, Saki Kumagai. At a press conference before the ceremony, she said that she would try to win the title as she was playing well for both the national team and the club."

"His Excellency King Abdullah of Malaysia was awarded the "Diamond of Asia" special award. As an athlete, he won a gold medal with the Malaysian polo team in the 1983 Southeast Asian Games. He later headed the Football Association of Malaysia, was vice-president and member of the executive committee of the AFC and a member of the FIFA Council."

Timothy Fok Tsun-ting
Timothy Fok Tsun-ting
"As for the other candidates, there was also Barcelona B team 20-year-old Japanese winger, Hiroki Abe, who won for the Young Player Award."

"One of the nominees for the Women Coach of the Year was Katayoun Khosrowyar, who is currently running Iran's U20 women's team. When she found out I was from Azerbaijan, she spoke to me in Azerbaijani, "How are you? Are you good?" During the conversation, she said that her father's parents were born in Baku and on the maternal side she is 'Tatar'."

"The 32-year-old coach was born in the US, Oklahoma, but moved to Iran at the age of 17. She is also fighting for women's rights to watch men's football inside the stadiums in Iran. In the competition for the award, she was defeated by Asako Takakura from Japan, who was selected as the best female coach in Asia for the seventh time."

"Taking the opportunity I want to thank Brian Ching, a Hong Kong photographer, who shot my photos at the event and Nedal Omar Bahran, an AFC media consultant who has been helping me in everything I did while in Hong Kong. It was a fun and entertaining event which will remain in my memory also I met with many pleasant acquaintances. Good luck to Asian football, signing a wonderful event in Hong Kong led by Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa!"

By Rasim Movsumzadeh Ballon D'Or Award Juror

© Soccerphile.com

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The New York Cosmos Bring Back Danny Szetela

The New York Cosmos Bring Back Danny Szetela

The New York Cosmos Monday announced the signing of captain and midfielder Danny Szetela for the 2020 National Independent Soccer Association season.

New York Cosmos
The New York Cosmos in Hong Kong in 2010
Per team policy, no further contract details were released.

Szetela, 32, became the first Cosmos player to sign for the new season.

"Even though I thought about retiring, I am not ready to retire," Szetela said. "I am excited and ready to go. The season doesn't start until August, but in the meantime, I know there's a lot of preparation we've got to do and that I'm mentally ready when the team comes in, that I am ready to fight. We've got to go all out in the fall season to win the championship."

NISA accepted the Cosmos for its fall season, which is expected to kick off in August. The league began play last year with provisional third division sanctioning from the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). The Cosmos’ application for sanctioning by USSF is expected to be reviewed in February.

Szetela, who joined the Cosmos for the 2013 North American Soccer League, will begin his eighth season with the club. He played a vital role in three NASL championships (2013, 2015 and 2016).

He said he was "very hungry" to bring another one home to the club and its fans.

"We're starting in the fall," he said. "It reminds me of the NASL days, and the same thing can occur. It's like history happening again."

In 2013, the Cosmos joined the NASL for the fall season and won the league championship.

Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes said it was important to bring back an influential player such as Szetela.

"In building a professional roster for NISA, we need to focus on the spine of team with veteran experience and leadership," he said. "Danny has been with the Cosmos for many years and is our captain. He’s the perfect player for us to build around."

Cosmos Acting Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover said that while several veterans will be brought back to the club, there will be a number of new faces on the team as well.

"We are going to put a lot of emphasis on signing talented young players with high potential and ambition, similar to Haji Wright and Eric Calvillo," Stover said about two players who performed with the club as teenagers before moving on. "Danny became a pro at just 16-years-old, so we see him as a great mentor for the young kids that we’ll be bringing in."

Carlos Mendes

The New York Cosmos also announced that Carlos Mendes has re-signed as Head Coach of the club and will take on the extra responsibilities of sporting director. Mendes has compiled a record of 36-3-3 in two seasons in the NPSL.

"Carlos’s commitment to the organization is tremendous," said Cosmos Acting Chief Operating Officer, Erik Stover. "Moving back into a fully professional league this Fall Season will require us to rebuild the roster. No one understands this club and this market better than Carlos."

The Cosmos will begin play in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) in Fall of 2020. NISA began play last year with provisional third division sanctioning from the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). The New York Cosmos’s application for sanctioning by USSF is expected to be reviewed in February.

"We have a big challenge ahead of us and I’m excited to get back at it,” added Mendes. “NISA is a new league and a step up from the past two years. I’m thankful to Rocco Commisso for giving me the opportunity to rebuild the roster and to compete for more championships."

Mendes became the first player to be signed by the reboot Cosmos in December 2012, and was an anchor on the back line while captaining the club for five straight seasons. In 122 appearances for the Cosmos, Mendes recorded four goals and two assists, while becoming the first member of the modern era club to reach 100 games played (2016). He was named in the North American Soccer League’s best XI three times.

© Soccerphile.com

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Hong Kong Versus China FIFA World Cup 2018

Hong Kong Versus China FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Match - November 2015

Photographic highlights from the Hong Kong against China FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying match held at Mong Kok Stadium on November 17th 2015.

Hong Kong Versus China FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Match

Hong Kong Versus China

Hong Kong team

Meet the press

Fans

Scoreboard

Huddle

Hong Kong Versus China FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Match

FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Match

Mong Kok Stadium

Hong Kong Versus China FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Match



Jaimes McKee
Jaimes McKee

Photos by Christopher KL Lau

© Soccerphile.com

Paris Saint Germain in Hong Kong

Paris Saint Germain in Hong Kong

By Christopher KL Lau


Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
At the height of his powers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic visited Hong Kong in 2015 with Paris Saint Germain. The French side were to take on local favourites, Kitchee. Paris Saint Germain eventually defeated Kitchee 6-2 at Hong Kong Stadium. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at his prime and lived up to his superstar billing with a hat-trick in front of a delighted crowd at Hong Kong Stadium.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in training

PSG v Kitchee

Laurent Blanc
Laurent Blanc

Laurent Blanc
Laurent Blanc

PSG v Kitchee

PSG v Kitchee

Edison Cavani
Edison Cavani with Lucas Moura

PSG v Kitchee


Photos by Christopher KL Lau