Sunday, October 24, 2021

Reds unveil 21/22 third kit taking inspiration from club’s rich heritage and famous KOP

Liverpool Third Kit

Liverpool Third Kit

Liverpool FC has revealed its third and final kit for the 2021/22 season, drawing inspiration from one of the most iconic stands in football, an iconic night in Europe and a rich history of yellow change kits.

Available to pre-order from today, the bold yellow jersey continues the club's historic relationship with the colour that was used on a handful of occasions from the mid-50s, and proved so popular that by the end of the 1970s, it quickly became part of the club's regular alternate colour palette.

The red-and-yellow chequered trim on the collar is inspired by the passion and energy of the KOP and the chequered flags that first illuminated the Liverpool FC end of the stadium in the 1977 European Cup Final, that then set a precedent for all future big European nights.

The subtle pinstripes highlight the tight bond between the club and its community.

On the nape of the neck, the 96-emblem encased by the eternal flames sits proudly in memory of the 96 children, women and men who lost their lives at Hillsborough. From the 2022-23 season onwards, the 96 emblem will change to 97 in recognition of Andrew Devine, the 97th person unlawfully killed as a result of the Hillsborough disaster.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to change the emblems for the 2021-22 campaign.

As with previous seasons, the club is offering a 10% discount off the price of the third kit to all LFC official members. New for this season, the Reds are extending this offer out to UK key workers via Blue Light and Network, and also to students in the UK via Student Beans. More information on eligibility and how to redeem the discount can be found here.

Fans who purchase any third kit before 26 September will also receive a £10 Liverpool FC Retail voucher to spend in store or online between 1 November 2021 and 31 December 2021.

Just like this season's home and away kits, the Red's third shirts that players will wear on the pitch as well as the replica jerseys for the fans have been constructed with 100% recycled polyester fabric, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

The new third kit will be available for pre-order online from the official Liverpool FC online store and will go on general sale for purchase in-store and online from 21 September.

For more information please visit: www.liverpoolfc.com/store

soccerallover.com

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Liverpool FC launches new partnership with ThinkMarkets

Liverpool FC launches new partnership with ThinkMarkets

Liverpool FC has welcomed global online trading broker, ThinkMarkets, as its new Official Global Trading Partner.

With offices in London, Melbourne, Dubai, and Tokyo, along with hubs in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and South Africa, ThinkMarkets will work with the club to bring quick and easy access to a wide range of financial trading markets to Liverpool FC supporters across the world.

The global partnership will focus on bringing forward market access and game-changing technology, providing ThinkMarkets with a high-profile opportunity to promote its brand as well as its multi-asset trading products and innovative platforms.

The partnership will also provide ThinkMarkets with digital assets, club hospitality, and matchday sponsorship to drive acquisition and leverage engagement opportunities for its clients while reaching fans through exclusive experiences.

Liverpool FC launches new partnership with ThinkMarkets

Matt Scammell, commercial director, Liverpool FC, said: "A leader in its field that fosters innovation and delivers on quality experiences, values that resonate deeply through the club, we are very happy to add ThinkMarkets as our newest partner.

"Our worldwide following will generate global exposure for ThinkMarkets, whilst their core markets benefit from tremendous numbers of Liverpool FC supporters. Through this new partnership, we look forward to working closely together in offering our fans activities and experiences to bring them even closer to the club."

Nauman Anees, CEO and Co-Founder at ThinkMarkets, said: "ThinkMarkets is proud to be the Official Global Trading Partner of Liverpool FC and excited to bring global market access to Liverpool FC fans around the world. We look forward to exploring the synergies between trading and football strategy throughout our partnership."

Established in 2010, ThinkMarkets delivers some of the industry's most recognised trading solutions, including its best-in-class platform ThinkTrader.

soccerallover.com

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Football legends returning to their former clubs over 10 years later

Football legends returning to their former clubs

Football legends return
Football Legends

Gianluigi Buffon - 20 years later to Parma (2001-2021)

Arjen Robben - 18 years later to Groningen (2002-2020)

Sir Stanley Matthews - 14 years later to Stoke City (1947-1961)

Diego Maradona - 13 years later to Boca Juniors (1982-1995)

Cristiano Ronaldo - to Manchester United after 12 years (2009-2021)

Romário - 12 years later to Vasco da Gama (1988-2000)

Denis Law - 12 years later to Manchester City (1961-1973)

Kaká - 11 years later to São Paulo (2003-2014)

Sócrates - 11 years later to Botafogo-SP (1978-1989)

Allan Simonsen - 11 years later to Vejle BK (1972-1983)

by Rasim Movsumzadeh

Sunday, October 10, 2021

LFC holds ground-breaking ceremony for Anfield Road Stand expansion

LFC holds ground-breaking ceremony

LFC holds ground-breaking ceremony for Anfield Road Stand expansion
LFC holds ground-breaking ceremony for Anfield Road Stand expansion

Work officially began on Liverpool FC's Anfield Road Stand redevelopment project last Thursday at a commencement ceremony that saw Jürgen Klopp put the first spade in the ground.

The ground-breaking ceremony, which was also attended by Sir Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, saw the coming together of all those involved in the project since it first began in 2014.

LFC managing director Andy Hughes, Kevin Underwood - honorary vice-president from contractor Buckingham Group - first-team manager Klopp and Cllr Abdul Qadir, Liverpool City Council cabinet member for neighbourhoods, posed in the driving rain with brand-new diggers as the ceremonial first spade was put into the ground.

Hughes said: "It is my great pleasure to see work officially begin on the Anfield Road Stand redevelopment. Today marks the beginning of an important new chapter in our history, and one which will see us being able to bring more of our supporters into Anfield.

"I am delighted we can celebrate this significant milestone together with the many people who have contributed to this process and I look forward to celebrating further success with 61,000 fans when the stand is finished."

Cllr Qadir said: "This development is really welcomed and I'd like to thank everyone for their hard work in the background on this."

As he placed the first spade in the ground, Klopp said: "Everything is better with fans. I can't imagine how 61,000 supporters will feel, we love the idea. With the great history of this club, it's incredible that we are building the future too."

The expansion will see an additional 7,000 seats added to the stand, with construction taking place throughout the season while matches continue to be played.

The redeveloped Anfield Road Stand is anticipated to be ready for the 2023-24 season and will include improved concourses and sports bar lounge hospitality facilities, as well as the relocation of the Family Park to a covered position.

soccerallover.com

Anfield Road Stand Expansion Confirmed

Anfield Road Stand Expansion

The proposed expansion of the Anfield Road Stand will move forward, Liverpool FC has confirmed today.

The project, which has been undergoing enabling works throughout the off-season in anticipation, will begin in earnest with an official ground breaking ceremony planned for this week.

The redevelopment of the stand will see 7,000 more seats added to Anfield, taking its overall capacity to more than 61,000. The construction of the stand will work in the same way as the redeveloped Main Stand, with the build taking place throughout the season while matches continue to be played throughout.

Liverpool
Anfield Road Stand Expansion Confirmed

Andy Hughes, Managing Director, Liverpool FC said: "We have been clear from the beginning that in order for this expansion to go ahead we needed the co-operation of local residents and the community, to successfully navigate the complex planning landscape and to ensure the project is financially viable.

"We needed certainty for this project to progress and are now in a position to be able to move forward. We began this journey in 2014 and are grateful to everyone for the contributions they have made to bring the project to this stage."

Following two stages of public consultation and invaluable feedback on the initial plans, Anfield Road's expansion project will reroute Anfield Road itself around the footprint of the new stand.

The project was given planning permission by Liverpool City Council in June 2021 which also awarded the club permission to hold up to six concerts and major events at the stadium for a period of five seasons.

The club will work with Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (Buckingham) as the principal contractor on the project.

Buckingham will work directly with the club's Red Neighbours initiative on a range of activities with the local community and schools in line with the club's current activities across food poverty and education and opportunities for young people, as well as taking the local community on the journey of the Stand’s redevelopment.

They will also work with local employment groups and education establishments to offer work experience, apprenticeships, graduate placements, and employment to local people. Buckingham is committed to offering around 35 work placements and over 800 apprentice and training weeks across the build.

When completed the expanded Anfield Road stand is expected to create around 400 matchday roles, in addition to the 2200 people currently employed in various operations at each home game, of which 95% are known to live in the Liverpool City Region.

The redeveloped Anfield Road Stand is anticipated to be ready for the 2023-24 season and its design will see the lower tier retained and refurbished with a new upper tier built above it. As well as an increased capacity the redeveloped stand will be similar to the Main Stand with improved concourses and sports bar lounge hospitality facilities. This stand will also see the relocation of the Family Park to a covered position.

Throughout the design process, careful consideration has once again been given to Anfield’s world class atmosphere through the development of an acoustic and lighting strategy to match that of the one developed with the Main Stand.

Part of the safe, secure and inclusive design plans will also provide additional pedestrian routes at the back of the expanded stand into Stanley Park, retain the four-stand stadium configuration and character, and include historical design references.

soccerallover.com

Monday, October 4, 2021

Munoz Wins the Sack Race

Watford's Manager is the First Firing of 2021/22

Xisco Munoz has parted ways with Watford after only seven games of the season, the first managerial casualty of the 2021/22 Premier League.

Xisco Munoz
Xisco Munoz

Sitting 14th out of 20 after two wins, a draw and four defeats, Watford is not quite mired in a relegation battle, but the Hornets have been serial sackers for a while. The Pozzo family who run the Hertfordshire club have overseen a dozen managers at Vicarage Road since 2012.

The firing comes on the back of a dismal display at Elland Road, where Leeds beat them 1-0. The board's official announcement spoke of "a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving."

That is more than the usual platitudes a club spouts when sacking their manager but it still seems a little harsh when there are six clubs below Watford in the table and Munoz won them automatic promotion to the Premier League after taking over mid-season in the last campaign.

"It concluded in a way I neither expected nor wished for," Munoz replied on Twitter, reminding readers his reign had only been a year, less than ten months in fact. Seven games into the season seems too soon, although had the axe been wielded at Christmas it would not have come as a big shock had Watford still been in the bottom third of the table.

Claudio Ranieri seems poised to take the reins at Vicarage Road.

Watford's managerial merry-go-round mirrors that of Nottingham Forest, who are on their 30th manager in 20 years. The twice European Cup winners fired Chris Hughton a couple of weeks ago after six defeats in seven games.

But whereas Forest have been unable to mount a serious promotion challenge and seem marooned in the bottom half of the Championship, Watford have at least yo-yoed between the top two flights and reached the F.A. Cup final.

The Pozzos' business model entails a consistent recruitment structure but regularly replacing the head coach, whose lifespan in the job they estimate at no more than a couple of seasons, according to Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury.

Forest have had a similarly dizzying turnover of players and managers but persist, expecting a different outcome, the classic definition of madness.

A comparison of the two clubs seems to confirm that when it comes to running football clubs, one size does not fit all.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

soccerallover.com

Sunday, October 3, 2021

鄭展龍外借冠忠南區 藉更多上陣機會加快成長

傑志宣佈,外借球員鄭展龍至另一支港超聯球會冠忠南區。新球季即將展開,為求衛冕港超聯及在亞冠盃舞台挑戰更佳成績,傑志在陣容上必需作充份準備,陣中球員爭取正選競爭激烈。傑志相信,鄭展龍在外借期間能透過更多上陣時間,進一步磨練自己,提升水平。 

鄭展龍外借冠忠南區 藉更多上陣機會加快成長


 為達至目標,鄭展龍借用費將與他在冠忠南區的上陣時間掛勾,上陣時間愈多,借用費愈低,傑志希望藉此增加鄭展龍比賽時間,透過實戰加快成長。 鄭展龍是傑志青訓的成功例子之一。
 
鄭展龍外借冠忠南區 藉更多上陣機會加快成長

2008年當時年僅9歲的鄭展龍加入香港巴塞足球學校(傑志足球學院前身),之後跟隨傑志青年軍征戰,15歲時提升至預備組,2015-16球季17歲時獲首份職業球員合約,2017年首次入選香港隊,直至2018年鄭展龍在主場出戰對日職球會柏雷素爾的亞冠盃比賽,射入致勝入球,助傑志獲得亞冠盃首勝,該絕殺球更被選為當屆亞冠盃最佳入球。 傑志體育會會長伍健先生期望,鄭展龍在外借期間能證明自己:「鄭展龍加入傑志大家庭已13年,他的成長故事,承載著傑志青訓的成功歷程。我們深信鄭展龍潛質優厚,有能力再突破自己,期望他在一至兩個轉會窗後回歸傑志時,會是更全面,更成熟的鄭展龍。」 

 暫代主教練金東進相信外借安排有助鄭展龍的發展:「年輕球員需要比賽來提升技術及心理質素,外借對處於成長階段的鄭展龍來說,是值得把握的機會。」 鄭展龍今天(8月16日)已向冠忠南區報到並投入操練,傑志祝願他有出色表現,為冠忠南區爭取佳績。

soccerallover.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Loss of a Red Legend

LIVERPOOL'S TOP LEAGUE SCORER ROGER HUNT DIES 

Roger Hunt - record goal scorer for Liverpool.
Roger Hunt - record goalscorer for Liverpool

Roger Hunt, Liverpool F.C.'s greatest league marksman with 244 goals for the Reds, has died aged 83. 

In the Anfield roll of goalscoring honour, Hunt's total of 286 is second only to Ian Rush's. For that reason, the Kop knew him as "Sir Roger".

He cemented his place in Liverpool folklore as his goals helped whisk the Reds from the second tier to the top of English football under Bill Shankly's charismatic management in the swinging sixties. 

The Lancashire-born forward won two league championships and an F.A. Cup with the club and then the World Cup with his country, playing in all of England's games in 1966.

Alongside Geoff Hurst, Hunt was famously preferred by manager Alf Ramsey to the more purely talented Jimmy Greaves, who died last week. He scored 18 goals in 34 matches for the Three Lions, netting three at the '66 finals.

Hunt was a hard-working centre forward with a good right foot, who not only scored plenty himself but also created so much space and chances for colleagues with his tireless running that England skipper Bobby Moore rightly called him "a player's player".

His career tally of 272 goals in 486 matches with only two bookings is testament to the positive way in which he played the game.

Hunt's greatest domestic season was 1963-'64 when Liverpool became champions of England and Hunt scored 31 league goals in a stellar partnership with Ian St John. 

That was the Reds' first title in 17 years and the start of their golden era of dominating English and later European football.

His death leaves England with three survivors from their only World Cup-winning team - Bobby Charlton, George Cohen and Hurst. 

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

soccerallover.com

Sunday, September 26, 2021

傑志與Nike共同發佈2021-2022球衣 展現90週年乘勢而上精神

傑志與Nike共同發佈2021-2022球衣 展現90週年乘勢而上精神

傑志與Nike共同發佈2021-2022球衣 展現90週年乘勢而上精神

傑志2021-2022全新主場球衣隆重登場,由官方運動用品及裝備贊助商Nike設計及生產。新球季球衣以球會傳統藍色作主調,加上粉紅色搭配,以色彩展現傑志引以為傲的光輝時代。 適逢球會成立90週年,傑志復刻了創會初期的斜間作主場球衣設計,顏色上融合了3種不同藍色,展現出藍鳥過往不同時期輝煌歷史,向前輩致敬之餘,亦以富現代感的配搭突顯勇往直前,乘勢而上精神;衣領、袖口、球衣和短褲側面以及長袜則以粉紅色作呼應。

傑志2021-2022全新主場球衣隆重登場,由官方運動用品及裝備贊助商Nike設計及生產


「心懷傑志」字句一如以往出現在球衣衣領內,體現堅守傑志核心價值。 90b.jpeg 傑志與Nike由2009年起攜手合作,傑志在賽場上爭勝,Nike則在裝備上作最強後盾,繼續以創造香港足球更好未來作共同目標。

今季傑志新球衣,首次應用了Nike最新的「4D FIT」測量技術;透過邀請超過300位職業球員到實驗室,利用電腦掃描球員不同身體部位的體型動態數據,再結合Nike的電腦運算技術,精準地設計球衣剪裁,製造出最舒適合身的球衣,讓每名傑志球員以最佳狀態投入比賽。 傑志後防靈魂人物艾里奧試穿新球衣後,立即回想起剛完成的亞冠盃之旅:「在泰國進行的6場比賽,一時下雨,一時炎熱,Nike的Dri-FIT球衣一向以透氣見稱,快速地將汗水吸收及揮發,讓我們盡情發揮。而穿上了今季的新球衣,感覺是比之前更進一步,絕對有助我們在賽場上乘勢而上,創出更佳成績。」

soccerallover.com

Friday, September 24, 2021

James to Al-Rayyan - a Sign of the Times

James to Al-Rayyan
James to Al-Rayyan

THE COLOMBIAN'S SHOCK MOVE FROM MERSEYSIDE IS A COUP FOR QATAR

James Rodriguez
's swift move from Everton to Al-Rayyan has raised a few eyebrows with many claiming it is a bad move for the World Cup 2014 Golden Boot Winner.

Aged 30, the Colombian should normally be at the peak of his powers, starring for a big club in the UEFA Champions League and challenging for titles.

Instead, Rodriguez found himself frozen out at Everton under new manager Rafael Benitez so was offloaded unceremoniously to the Qatar Stars League, where he will be the only South American or European in his team's squad, coached by French World Cup winner Laurent Blanc.

The Lions' 36-man roster is all Qatari except for Iranian Shojae Khalilzadeh, Cameroonian Franck Kom and the Ivory Coast's Yohan Boli. 

At Everton by contrast he played with 12 different nationalities including five current or former England internationals, two Brazilian internationals, one French and one fellow Colombian, Yerry Mina.

Compared to Rodriguez's previous homes the Premier League, La Liga, Ligue Un or the Bundesliga, the QSL is not exactly overflowing with star names, but James will at least recognise former Bayern teammate Javi Martinez at Qatar SC, Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld at Al-Duhail and Barcelona legend Xavi in charge of Al-Sadd. There is one other Colombian in Qatar, Jeison Medina of Al-Shamal.

"It's not easy to find good offers when you want," Rafael Benitez explained at today's Everton press conference, "and that was the time. That was the right one for him and he is happy with that and we have to do it because we have to maximise our resources."

James was Everton's highest-played player at around £200,000 a week and with six goals and 26 appearances last season, could have been seen as somewhat of a luxury. Benitez also lamented James' regular injuries, saying, "when you have a player...available for 50% of the games in the Premier League, it is not something we can manage easily." He also cited the UEFA rules on spending as a factor in the Colombian's exit.

Financial Fair Play Rules were probably a factor in his departure, as was the Covid hit all clubs took last season without paying spectators. It cannot be a coincidence that the continent's two brightest stars, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, were both sold in the most recent transfer window. But one wonders if it was not merely a case of a coach not rating a player's abilities or attitude.

Benitez did not want him and James wanted to play, so that was that. With the European transfer window shut, the only options for selling James, therefore, were in the USA and Asia, but the clubs with the dollars to afford him were in China and the Middle East. 

There had been interest in Europe from Milan, Porto and Istanbul Basaksehir but no agreement could be reached before the window shut, presumably because James or his super-agent, the famous Jorge Mendes, held out for a big salary. James did admit playing in Italy sounded attractive but never showed interest in a move to Turkey, while Porto could not agree on a swap involving compatriot Luis Diaz.

In the end they settled for £6 million per annum with Al-Rayyan, 57% of what he was getting on Merseyside. The transfer interestingly includes a clause that he can break his contract at a loss if a team in the UEFA Champions League comes calling and given Qatar's connections with Paris Saint-Germain, there remains a possibility of a return to France, where James previously played with Monaco.

Although he has just headed in the opposite direction, a player of James's calibre surely still belongs in Europe, or at least at a top South American club.

For Al-Rayyan and the Qatari league, signing James is therefore a big coup, which reflects well on the country's football in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, which will make use of the club's 47,000 capacity stadium.

Qatar World Cup stadium

That competition and the need for first-team football must also have been in his mind as the offer arrived. 

In May, James issued an extraordinary press release expressing his "great disappointment" and "huge pain" at being dropped for Colombia's September World Cup qualifiers. He remains the team's talisman as far as the fans are concerned and his absence grates on a nation who all gather round to watch 'La Seleccion.'

While he and the federation disputed his fitness levels this summer, the real reason for his exclusion must have been his persistent calf muscle problems at Everton last season which restricted his appearances, as well as his complete rejection by incoming manager Benitez. 

Given James arrived on a free transfer from Real Madrid and the Toffees made £7 million on his sale, it could be argued he was not a big financial drain on the club. Had Carlo Ancelotti still been on Merseyside, the Colombian would surely have remained a first-team regular having signed him and coached him at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Benitez of course had coached James at Real too, albeit briefly and has also changed the Everton style by eschewing his playmakers in favour of the newly-acquired Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, tramline wingers tasked with firing in fast crosses to strikers Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Four opening wins seemed to justify his changes, although the past two defeats have led many to question why James was not at least on the bench. His assists and passing last season for Everton proved he had lost none of his famous technique.

James himself recently lamented the decline of No.10s, the creative hubs between defence and attack. He is 'un atipico', a player who is hard to define, loosely described as an attacking midfielder. He plays high up and drifts in the hole, threading clever balls beyond back fours with a palpable footballing brain. 

In addition he scores goals and his six at Brazil 2014, including that wonder strike against Uruguay,which won the FIFA Puskas Award, remain the high point of his career. Afterwards, Diego Maradona said he should have won player of the tournament ahead of Messi.

As for Everton, their sudden rise in popularity in South America has come to an abrupt halt. 

James' signing saw Colombia's tallest building, the Colpatria tower, bathed in blue. Supporters' clubs were set up in Latin America, the club played Bogota club Millionarios in a Florida friendly and the club website was given a Spanish translation. 

The sudden departure of the country's star player has left the Latino Toffees followers dismayed and season-ticket holders are also sad they never had the chance to see the Colombian play in person.

"A pity not to have played in Goodison Park with you. It would have been very nice," Rodriguez wrote laconically on Instagram.

Last year James admitted how much it hurt not playing in the Champions League, so one wonders how he will adapt to what is in footballing terms, a bit of a backwater. He has penned a three-year contract with Al-Rayyan but one has to wonder if he will fulfil it. The Middle East, as they say, is not for everyone.

He will have to adapt quickly to a new culture but Qatar will be the eighth country in which he has plied his trade, so he is unlikely to suffer from homesickness.

Al-Rayyan, the western suburb of Doha, is a world away from Merseyside. 

It contains the Doha Zoo, National Stadium and the Villaggio Mall, a typically bling block of high-end Western stores, where, given his Instagram posts of relaxing on private jets and yachts, James should feel right at home.

Even the intense sun of Doha should not be too much for a man who grew up in the all-round heat of Cucuta, in northern Colombia.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

soccerallover.com

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Farewell to the Goal Machine

JIMMY GREAVES, LEGENDARY GOAL GETTER, 1940-2021

Today's sad announcement that Jimmy Greaves had died aged 81 was not wholly unexpected.

The record Tottenham goalscorer (266 goals) and fourth-highest England marksman (44 goals) had been ill for some time. 

Jimmy Greaves

A stroke in 2015 had left him speechless and wheelchair-bound and he had spent time in hospital last year.

The East Londoner had all the gifts for being a goal poacher -  two good and quick feet, a hawk's eye and a bloodhound's nose for the target. For those reasons, he scored a whopping 357 top-flight goals in England between 1957 and 1971 for Chelsea, Spurs, and West Ham. 

Across Europe's top leagues, only Cristiano Ronaldo has netted more in his career.

After 125 goals for Chelsea, a brief sojourn for Milan in Serie A brought an impressive nine strikes in 12 games but Greaves failed hopelessly to adapt to a different culture and hurried back home to sign for Spurs, where he became their record goalscorer and won two F.A. Cups and one European Cup Winners' Cup.

He played at two World Cups, famously catching an encroaching dog at Chile 1962 and playing in England's three first-round matches in '66.

Subsequently dropped by Alf Ramsey, Greaves' miserable face at the final whistle as England won the Jules Rimet trophy, was unforgettable. He did not attend the after party and his perceived failure lived with him. 43 years later, in 2009, he was at last awarded a winners' medal.

He had famously battled alcoholism and bankruptcy in the 1970s as his career petered out but conquered both to reinvent himself in the '80s as a pally, vaudevillian pundit alongside the laughing Ian St John, who passed away earlier this year, on ITV's Saint & Greavsie show, cementing a different Jimmy Greaves into the minds of a younger generation who had never seen him play.

In later years he would periodically appear in the tabloids with reactionary political opinions or would admit he had fallen so out of love with football that he preferred watching cricket and rugby instead.

In his final year he at last achieved national recognition with an MBE. He remains in football history as a pure goal machine, probably the best England has ever made. 

A schoolteacher of mine told us, "If the ball ever fell to him in the box, Greaves would always get it in."

How fitting that today his two main former clubs, Spurs and Chelsea, play each other in London.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

利物浦足球會宣布與 Sonos 建立音響合作夥伴關係

利物浦足球會宣布與全球領先的聲音體驗公司Sonos 簽署多年協議,正式歡迎 Sonos 成為紅軍的官方音響合作夥伴。 這個全球協議象徵着Sonos 首個與運動品牌的合作,並將會更加深入地關注球迷與運動聲音之間的緊密聯繫,為球迷和球員創造出「身臨其境的音響體驗」。 

Liverpool


從 Kop看台的音響至全新主看台的擴大聲學設計,可看得出紅軍及我們的城市均與聲音有着明確無誤的聯繫。 利物浦商業總監Matt Scammell表示:「利物浦足球會與 Sonos之間的關係和諧共融,我們均對原聲配樂的體驗充滿熱誠。


聲音成功讓晏菲路球場打做為如此特別的地方 - 當我們的支持者於團隊奮戰的背後,『第 12 人』發出改變比賽節奏的聲音,這正正是我們本賽季迫不及待想再次聽到的聲音。 我們非常期待與 Sonos 合作,將我們世界各地的支持者與Anfield的聲音聯繫起來。」 Sonos 營銷副總裁 Pete Pedersen 亦指出: 「聲音一直是體育運動重要組成的一部分 - 它為每場比賽注入能量,無論是球員在作賽時播放的音樂、看台上球迷反覆高歌的振聲,或是在家裡建立球場體驗。

我們正尋求與我們一樣對聲音充滿熱誠的團隊和粉絲群。我特別感謝於晏菲路球場上所展現、讓人激動人心的氛圍及這座城市深厚的音樂傳統,正與利物浦足球會完美結合。」

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Messi & Ronaldo's Indian Summer

A COMBINED AGE OF 99 IS NO OBSTACLE TO FOOTBALLING GLORY

Last time I was in Colombia, two years ago, my wife's little nephew Felipe told me a joke:

"Why didn't Messi want to baptize his son? - Because he didn't want him to be a Cristiano" (it works better in Spanish).

The thing was, Felipe had no interest in football, but the fame of the two titans of the modern game had found its way into the eight year old's jokes cabinet.

Lionel Messi

The Argentine and the Portuguese have bestrode the sport for the past decade as outstanding individuals at excellent clubs, although have struggled to translate their greatness to their national teams.

Lionel Messi seemed embossed into the crest of FC Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo looked similarly chiselled into the keystone of Real Madrid. But CR7 upped sticks for Juventus three seasons ago and last month rejoined Manchester United, while Messi has stunned the world by swapping the Camp Nou for the Parc des Princes.

This week, both legends played in the Champions League. Neither won, but Ronaldo scored and Messi played his 150th game in the competition and his first for Paris Saint-Germain.

After their aeons of Spanish booty had become a defining narrative, you have to pinch yourself to realise neither is playing in La Liga anymore, after scoring 785 goals between them. Who are the biggest stars in Spain now? Gareth Bale, Antoine Griezmann or maybe the 36 year-old Luka Modric?

Using the Arsene Wenger forensic approach to transfers, when you sell your prize assets as soon as their value starts to diminish, offloading Messi & Ronaldo made perfect financial sense for the two giant clubs because the men in question are no spring chickens at 34 and 36 respectively.

But CR7 made a mockery of age on Saturday by netting two goals on his Man Utd return debut, outsprinting and outthinking much younger opponents. Three goals in his first two games for the Red Devils hint at many more to come.

The Madeiran veteran was also top scorer in Serie A last season and at Euro 2020, aged closer to 40 than 30. Messi, too, has plenty of gas left in the tank and a mind as fast as any footballer's. Last night he caused panic in the Brugge defence with his familiar dribbles and hit the bar for the Parisians with a typically powerful snapshot.

So why sell them now? For money of course, or the lack of it as reality has finally seemed to catch up with the two Spanish behemoths, whose serial indebtedness epitomised the ‘too big to fail' motto of irresponsible corporatism. Last season alone, Barcelona incurred a debt of half a billion Euros, more than enough to sink any normal business. Their total debt is more than double that.

La Liga is getting tougher with this reckless management and tightening salary requirements, which Barça boss Joan Laporta said meant Messi's wage packet alone would have constituted 110% of his club's total salary pot. Even a 50% salary reduction, the maximum legally allowed, would have left the blaugrana breaching the league rules.

Covid must also have been a factor, as a season without ticket revenue has hit football clubs as it has other businesses in the wallet. It was no coincidence that the desperate and ultimately doomed attempt at a breakaway league occurred during the pandemic.

The egregious Real owner Florentino Perez's plea of poverty was met with suitable derision but had a grain of truth, if he was planning on another summer spending spree despite having taken no money through the turnstiles.

Ronaldo’s €60 million salary of was also a drain on Juventus, who are roughly €400 million in the red, but unlike Messi who seemed glued to Catalonia and left only in tears, the Portuguese was apparently happy to depart Turin having finished fourth in Serie A and been knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter finals.

The Madeiran felt the need for yet more trophies in his twilight so he could end his career on a high and he felt there was more chance of that happening in England.

It is the end of a golden era for Spanish football,  but Messi moving to France and Ronaldo back to England have enlivened those particular leagues unexpectedly.

From the perspectives of Paris and Manchester, there is plenty here to celebrate, as there is for the neutrals, who can enjoy two genuine greats in their enduring sunsets.

Leo Messi is playing alongside Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Sergio Ramos and finally won the Copa America this summer.

Messi and Ronaldo themselves have long been assured of seats in footballing Valhalla. Let us see how end their storied careers at new clubs and for the last time, at a World Cup finals next year in Qatar.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

soccerallover.com

Fifa World Rankings September 2021

Fifa World Rankings September 2021

Fifa World Rankings

Fifa's World Rankings for September 2021 were published on September 16 at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

Belgium who exited Euro 2020 in the quarterfinals are still top followed by Brazil and England. England are presently in their highest position since September 2012.

France who lost in the round of 16 at Eiro 2020 to Switzerland fall to fourth. Euro 2020 winners Italy, Copa America winners Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, and Denmark round out the top 10.

Senegal are the top African team in 20th place. Wales remain in 19th with the USA now in 13th spot. Australia are in 32nd place; Japan drop to 26th position down two from August. Near neighbors South Korea are 36th in the list. Scotland are 45th. The Republic of Ireland are in 50th place, Northern Ireland are up to 47th.

1 Belgium
2 Brazil
3 England
4 France
5 Italy 
6 Argentina 
7 Spain
8 Portugal
9 Mexico
10 Denmark
11 The Netherlands
12 Uruguay
13 USA
14 Germany
15 Switzerland
16 Colombia
17 Croatia
18 Sweden
19 Wales
20 Senegal

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

© Soccerphile.com

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Premier League launches Boot Out Piracy campaign in Hong Kong for second year

Premier League launches Boot Out Piracy campaign in Hong Kong for a second year

Premier League launches Boot Out Piracy campaign in Hong Kong for a second year.

The Premier League today launches the second season of its 'Boot Out Piracy' campaign in Hong Kong to raise awareness of the dangers of viewing pirate content, as well as the compromised viewing experience offered by illegal streams.

The campaign highlights the risks that fans face by watching Premier League matches via unauthorised websites or streaming devices, including potential exposure to malicious malware or ransomware, which increases their risk of data theft and fraud.

Their viewing experience is also likely to be disrupted by broken links, pop-up ads and delays.

The campaign will run across digital platforms, with content featuring some of the Premier League's top players including Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-Min.

This is the second time the campaign will run in Hong Kong, having first launched at the start of the 2020/2021 season. Outside of Hong Kong, 'Boot Out Piracy' will also run in Malaysia, Indonesia and, for the first time, Singapore.

Premier League General Counsel Kevin Plumb said: "We are launching the 'Boot Out Piracy' campaign in Hong Kong for the second year in a row to continue building awareness of the risks involved in watching Premier League matches via illegal streams. We know these sites often contain malicious content and it is important passionate Hong Kong football fans realise that watching Premier League matches through these operators brings security risks and an unreliable viewing experience.

"We are working together with our broadcast partners and local authorities in Hong Kong and throughout Asia to protect fans from accessing pirate sites so they can watch our matches in the best and safest way. Educating fans on the dangers of viewing pirated content is a core part of our anti-piracy programme as well as the significant legal actions we undertake such as blocking sites and the prosecution of sellers of illegal streaming devices."

External research has shown a clear link between watching pirated content - including pirated Premier League content - and cybersecurity issues. According to research findings from intellectual property and data analytics company, White Bullet Solutions, 60 per cent of the most popular pirate websites in Hong Kong for illegally watching Premier League content carried advertisements considered risky, containing either fraud, malware, adult or gambling content.

White Bullet Solutions founder and chief executive officer Peter Szyszko said: "It is important for people to understand that visiting pirate websites or using pirate apps will greatly increase the risk of falling victim to cybercrime. The type of malware and ransomware we find on pirate websites and apps can be very serious - visiting them can put at risk all sorts of personal or financial information. Our clear message to consumers would be to think twice before taking a big risk and searching for an illegal stream."

Raising awareness among fans of the risks posed by illegal streams is just one part of the Premier League's comprehensive anti-piracy work in the region. Since the establishment of its Asia-Pacific office more than two years ago, the Premier League has initiated blocking action against illegal websites in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, and has worked closely with local authorities to bring criminal action against website operators and suppliers of illicit streaming devices across the region, including in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The League is also a member of the Coalition Against Piracy which represents the creative industries across Asia-Pacific.

The 'Boot Out Piracy' campaign was developed with creative agency DDB Worldwide.

In Hong Kong, the campaign is a collaboration between the Premier League and local broadcast partner, Now TV, the Pay TV Platform under PCCW Media Limited.

Derek Choi, Head of Pay TV, PCCW Media Limited said: "We are very supportive of the Premier League's anti-piracy work in Hong Kong and the wider region. As the official broadcaster of the Premier League in Hong Kong, we are committed to providing Hong Kong's community of passionate football fans with a high-quality viewing experience of all 380 Premier League matches on both Now TV and Now E OTT Platform, with selected matches available live in 4K too."

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Second Coming of CR7

CRISTIANO RONALDO IS REVVED UP AGAIN AT OLD TRAFFORD

CR7 returns
Cristiano Ronaldo back in red

The faithful always want a second coming, but usually die without it ever happening.

But later today, the impossible becomes reality. The god who left for the stars has answered the prayers and returned.

Of the eight Premier League games kicking off tomorrow, there is no question that most eyes and ears will be trained to Manchester United v Newcastle United at three o'clock.

Cristiano Ronaldo has double the 18 years he had when he first stepped out on the turf for Alex Ferguson in 2003. His subsequent achievements, too many to mention, but he has won everything he has aimed for except the World Cup, place him in the pantheon of the greatest.

Perhaps the highest accolades of all were bagging last year's capocannoniere (league top scorer) trophy in Serie A with a phenomenal 29 goals for Juventus, and becoming the top scorer at Euro 2020, aged 36.

As a model professional obsessed with fitness and performance more than any other player, Ronaldo does not have a standard footballer's body or mind, which belies his advanced years.

He is the epitome of the self-made star, whose iron discipline and rigorous regimes saw him mature from a young wing wizard into a consummate centre forward with power and prowess in the air and rapier speed in the box, where he devours chances, as well as a specialist at free kicks, where he perfected a lethal technique.

Ronaldo can appear overly serious for our liking, at worse a robotic narcissist, in stark contrast with the boyishly charming Lionel Messi, the other outstanding player of his generation.

But his human side, evident in his love for his family and work for charity, was also to the fore when he admitted his fondness for his former club and its legendary manager Fergie were behind his return.

He may not be a complete sporting personality like Muhammad Ali was, but he remains, as the title of a recent BBC documentary on him said, impossible to ignore. As Ronaldo himself explained, "the numbers say everything."

Indeed they do and has there ever been such excitement at signing a man who will be 37 in a few months?

This event is an embrace of youth's unforgettable first-time feelings and a validation of dreams. Joining Manchester City would not have had anything so romantic about it. Some say you should never go back in life - nah, whatever.

Ronaldo's unexpected return to Old Trafford has created a real buzz across English football, and is a boost for the league after Messi chose France for his next chapter.

Most of us never expected the perma-tanned Madeiran to swap southern Europe for the rainy north-west of England after so many years in the sun, but we underestimated his love for Manchester and his youth as well as his need for fresh challenges and new silverware.

At both Real Madrid and in Turin he came, saw and conquered all right but got increasingly frustrated with colleagues around him while his employers worried about the drag of his salary on the club finances.

Amid the fervour in the red half of Manchester, it is important to remember Ronaldo has not come back 'home' to go gently into that good night. The Portuguese is a ruthless winner and has returned to bag more trophies, sensing the Red Devils are catching fire again under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

While the new dynamic with his former teammate will be fascinating, so too will his presence in the dressing room with senior players like Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba. One senses his name is just too big for him not to be looked up to by all the others or not given free rein in the starting eleven.

When he began in Manchester back in 2003 he was an aspiring teenager, deferring to the established players. Now his presence will tower over all the others.

Ruud Gullitt made a disastrous return to Milan in 1994 when his leader's attitude met with a hostile new dressing room. Ronaldo will surely not make the same error as his desire for glory in his twilight years is too fierce.

Pity Newcastle this afternoon. The poor magpies seem to have landed in a no-win situation through no fault of their own.

Today will be the day of the homecoming king. CR7 has turned the clock back twelve years.

Now it begins, again.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

soccerallover.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Europe's Back in Action

A TRIO OF UEFA QUALIFIERS IN THE RACE FOR QATAR 2022

Qatar 2022
Qatar 2022

The first European international action since Euro 2020 has been a welcome return to normal service after the empty stadia of the summer and the fire and fury of the final day in London.

After the belated Euros, they halfway point in the World Cup qualifiers reminds us that Qatar 2022 is only 14 months away, a wake-up call that places are up for grabs.

With only the first in each qualifying group guaranteed a place in the finals, as it stands the UEFA representatives at the World Cup finals next year will be:

PORTUGAL, SPAIN, ITALY, FRANCE, BELGIUM, DENMARK, ITALY, NETHERLANDS, CROATIA, ENGLAND and GERMANY.

That is pretty much the usual suspects, but there will also be three other European qualifiers, drawn from a repechage featuring the ten second-place sides and two Nations League group winners.

The Azzurri surprisingly drew twice, still hungover from their glorious summer perhaps, but woke up by thumping Lithuania 5-0 in their third joust. Top of their group, Italy could still be pipped at the post by Switzerland for automatic qualification for Qatar.

Losing Euro finalists England have scored ten in three games with one in reply, picking up more smoothly from their ultimately unsuccessful summer campaign.

The Three Lions' 4-0 win in Budapest was an impressive scoreline but what on earth were Hungary doing sitting back from the start instead of tapping into the raucous crowd in the Ferenk Puskas Arena which had helped them so much in the Euros?

European Qualifiers
The Road to Qatar

Parking the bus and hoping for a lucky break makes sense if you are the calibre of Andorra, Gibraltar, Lichtenstein et al but not if you took points off France and Germany only a few weeks ago.

Gareth Southgate's star waned a little when England conceded an injury-time equaliser against Poland this evening, having oddly passed on making any substitutions to use up the dying seconds.

Of the other Euro stars, semi-finalists Denmark are the only side with maximum points from the first six games. Seven points clear of Scotland, the Roligans can reasonably start planning a winter getaway in the Middle East next year.

Spain, Euro 2020 semi-finalists, looked set to be leapfrogged on top of Group B by Sweden, who beat La Roja 2-1 in Stockholm, inflicting La Roja's first World Cup qualifying loss since 1993, but the Scandinavians surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to Greece on Wednesday to leave the gap at four points with two games in hand.

The most unlikely second-placed team in the UEFA qualifiers is probably Armenia in Group J, four points behind Germany after home wins over Iceland and Romania, but a disappointing home draw against Liechtenstein.

With only the group winners guaranteed a place in Qatar, Group G is finely poised with the Dutch and Norwegians level on points, as is the case in Group H with Croatia and Russia tied at the top.

Portugal, with the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo aiming for a final World Cup next year, lead Serbia by two points in Group A.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Sunday, August 22, 2021

傑志首推半職業化女子足球 助香港女足發展

傑志在過去7屆5奪香港超級足球聯賽冠軍,作為香港最具規模球會之一,傑志亦致力推動女子足球發展。在新球季(2021-22)傑志將會啟動「女子足球半職業化計劃」,融匯傑志足球理念,貫徹For the Good of Hong Kong使命。同時,傑志亦已委任資深教練張寶春為傑志女子隊主教練,爭取佳績。

在新的半職業化計劃下,傑志女子隊會按球員能力及表現提供每月津貼,以吸引具潛力的女球員駐足發展。

Hong Kong.

配合傑志足球學院(U10及U12)和青年隊(U15及U18),結合成完善的傑志女子足球青訓階梯,加上專屬訓練場地「賽馬會傑志中心」,為各級別女子隊提供常規專業訓練。

傑志會長伍健相信,新推出的「女子足球半職業化計劃」能加速本地女足普及化:「現時愈來愈多女將參與足球,年紀亦愈趨年輕,期望她們透過傑志提供的專業優質訓練平台,提升技術水平,從而帶動香港女子足球發展。」

而新獲委任的主教練張寶春來季將率領傑志女子隊出戰「賽馬會甲組女子足球聯賽」,張寶春亦會兼顧女子青年隊及足球學院女子班的教練工作。

張寶春是本地資深足球教練,球員年代擔任守門員,曾入選香港奧運足球代表隊,到近年轉職教練,擁有亞洲足協A級教練資格,曾先後以主教練身份帶領南華、流浪及大埔出戰聯賽,去季則效力天水圍飛馬出任體能教練。

傑志女子隊在去屆的甲組聯賽位列第四,U18及U15青年聯賽均排名第五。隨著球會引入半職業化系統,相信來季傑志女子足球表現將有所提升。

Friday, August 20, 2021

Fifa World Rankings August 2021

Fifa World Rankings August 2021


Fifa World Rankings

Fifa's World Rankings for August 2021 were published on August 12 at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

There is quite a lot of change in the top 20 positions from May following Euro 2020 and Copa America. Belgium who exited Euro 2020 in the quarterfinals are still top followed by Brazil and France who lost in the round of 16 to Switzerland. England, Euro 2020 winners Italy, Copa America winners Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, USA.

Senegal are the top African team in 21st place. England remains in 4th. Wales are 19th with the USA in 10th spot. Australia are in 35th place; Japan are in 24th position. Near neighbors South Korea are 36th in the list. Scotland are 49th. The Republic of Ireland are in 47th place, Northern Ireland are 51st.

1 Belgium
2 Brazil
3 France
4 England
5 Italy 
6 Argentina 
7 Spain
8 Portugal
9 Mexico
10 USA
11 Denmark
12 The Netherlands 
13 Uruguay 
14 Switzerland
15 Colombia
16 Germany
17 Sweden
18 Croatia
19 Wales
20 Chile

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

© Soccerphile.com

Friday, August 13, 2021

LFC Foundation and Right To Play Launch Bangkok COVID-19 Emergency Appeal

LFC Foundation and Right To Play Launch Bangkok COVID-19 Emergency Appeal

LFC Foundation and global children’s charity Right To Play are urgently seeking funding for their Side by Side communities in Thailand, as the country experiences a devastating fourth wave of Coronavirus. The Reds official charity, LFC Foundation, and Right To Play work in partnership to deliver the Side by Side programme, which uses the power of sport and play to help vulnerable children in Liverpool and Bangkok. 

The need for support is more important than ever in these challenging times as the devastating impact of the pandemic continues to make children and their families lives harder every single day. Thailand is currently experiencing a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Daily cases are now exceeding 17,000 and total infections sit at over 500,000 cases with less than 10 percent of the 66 million population vaccinated. Among the hardest hit regions is Bangkok, including the communities of Suanploo, Haroon, Rongmoo and Rim Thang Rotfai Sai Tha Rua, where Right To Play and LFC Foundation are working with vulnerable children and communities. In these communities, many people live a hand-to-mouth existence, and for many a positive COVID-19 case in their family means they cannot earn a living if they isolate themselves according to COVID-19 measures. 

Not only are there significant health risks in the cramped communities, but worryingly, children and parents have reported to Right To Play that they do not have enough food. Right To Play and LFC Foundation are asking fans to stand Side by Side with them to help raise £50,000 so they can continue to support vulnerable children and families in Thailand. 

LFC Foundation and Right To Play Launch Bangkok COVID-19 Emergency Appeal


To raise vital funds, the Bangkok COVID-19 Emergency Appeal has been launched and donations can be made here - https://taejai.com/en/d/sidebyside_liverpoolthai/

The appeal, which is live now, is open until 31 August 2021. Right To Play and LFC Foundation will use the funds and support the Side by Side communities by providing: Dry food packages to families including rice, noodles, canned fish, beans and washing powder COVID-19 prevention supplies to households, such as disinfectant sprays, masks and test kits Online activities for children so they can continue to learn remotely Play at home kits for children so they can take part in fun activities at home and alleviate psychological stress.

LFC Foundation and Right To Play Launch Bangkok COVID-19 Emergency Appeal

Sunday, August 8, 2021

傑志90週年 「傑志對理文」挑戰賽回饋社會

為慶賀傑志體育會成立90週年,傑志已向足總提出申請,於香港超級聯賽開鑼前與理文合演挑戰賽,既匯集球迷力量回饋社會,亦為新球季備戰。 「傑志90週年挑戰賽:傑志對理文」將於2021年9月11日(星期六)下午5時30分在旺角大球場舉行,門票定價為港幣$120及$50(特惠票),亦設按次收費直播。今次挑戰賽收入扣除成本後將全數撥捐傑志慈善#,用作舉辦公益活動,為社會各階層傳播關懷及正能量。當中包括正進行的「我包飯,你出餸」傑志慈善飯盒支援計劃。自6月至今,計劃已透過受資助餐廳派發超過3000個免費飯盒予深水埗、大角咀等地區露宿者、長者及其他有需要人士。 

 傑志體育會會長伍健先生衷心感謝理文足球會支持,期望兩隊球員踢出功架:「理文在今屆亞洲足協盃表現出色,成功打入淘汰賽階段;而傑志在亞冠盃成績亦廣受亞洲球壇好評。兩支代表香港出戰亞洲賽的球隊對陣,相信能為球迷帶來一場精彩賽事,亦能籌集善款為社會出力!」 傑志體育會成立於1931年,是香港歷史最悠久的體育會之一。多年來,傑志體育會屬下的足球隊,在本地聯賽屢獲佳績,包括於1947-48、1949-50及1963-64年3奪香港甲組聯賽冠軍。 

傑志90週年 「傑志對理文」挑戰賽回饋社會

 踏入2003年,傑志管理層迎來新氣象,在重返港甲聯賽後奪得多個盃賽冠軍。到2010年後開創盛世,11年內8奪頂級聯賽冠軍,球會自2012年起更連續 10年代表香港出戰亞洲賽,今年6月傑志再戰亞冠盃,分組賽6場獲得11分位列小組次席,創下香港球會在亞冠盃最佳成績。 應邀參與挑戰賽的理文足球會成立於2017年,翌季便勇奪菁英盃冠軍。今年首度代表香港出戰亞協盃,便在分組賽錄全勝的姿態以首名晉級淘汰賽。

憑藉理文及傑志在今屆亞洲賽出色表現,香港在亞洲足協的技術排名由第25位升至第16位,香港的東亞區排名更攀升至第7位,僅次於日本、韓國等勁旅。 今次挑戰賽將以90分鐘法定時間作賽,每隊分別可派遣4名外援落場,如雙方賽和即以12碼分勝負。為增加賽事可觀性,勝出隊伍將可獲港幣$100,000獎金。

Saturday, August 7, 2021

KITCHEE RESHUFFLES KEY COACHING POSITIONS TEMPORARILY AFTER ACL 2021 SUCCESS

KITCHEE RESHUFFLES KEY COACHING POSITIONS

After successfully defended the Hong Kong Premier League title in May, Kitchee played recently in the AFC Champions League 2021 (“ACL 2021”) in Thailand and finished with 3 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss, with 11 points against teams from Japan, Thailand and China. History was made for Hong Kong as this is the best-ever results by any local club in this prestigious Asian club competition. It successfully demonstrated the improving level of Hong Kong football in Asia. 

KITCHEE RESHUFFLES KEY COACHING POSITIONS
Interim Head Coach

Armed with this experience, Kitchee aims to make it through to the knockout stage in future ACL competitions which will require all-round improving performance from their young players. The Club expanded the coaching team immediately after ACL 2021, with each member taking on more refined responsibilities focusing in improving young players. 

To this end, Alex Chu Chi-kwong, Head Coach of Kitchee First Team, will temporarily step down from the First Team and return to his original position as Director of Football until the start of ACL 2022 with a strict focus on developing individual training programmes for the Club’s young players so that they may be better equipped for the upcoming ACL competitions. 

Meanwhile, Kim Dong-jin, Assistant Coach of First Team, has been named the Interim Head Coach for Kitchee in the Hong Kong Premier League for the coming season. Kitchee has won many local titles in recent years, including 8 league titles in the last 11 years. Alex was in charge of Kitchee’s first team on 5 of those 8 winning seasons, and he was awarded the “Best Coach of the Year” three times since the Hong Kong Premier League was formed in 2014. 

Alex is also a prominent figure in Kitchee Academy, which develops and nurtures talents like Matthew Orr, Law Tsz-chun, Cheng Chin-lung, Ho Chun-ting, Clement Benhaddouche, and Ngan Cheuk-pan. These players all joined the Club for more than a decade and have been promoted to the First Team. Alex will take on this important task of implementing individual training programmes for our upcoming young players so that more young players will be ready for future ACL competitions. 

Kim Dong-jin, Kitchee’s Interim Head Coach from Korea, played as a central defender and left-back in his professional career. In 2006-2009, Kim joined Zenit Saint Petersberg for three seasons and won several titles, including the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 2008. 

Apart from Zenit Saint Petersberg, Kim also played for FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai in K-league. With over 60 international caps for Korea, Kim participated in two World Cups and two Olympics. In the season 2017-2018, Kim joined Kitchee and subsequently helped the Club to win the treble in two consecutive seasons. On 24 July 2019, Kim ended his 18-year professional career and made his final appearance as a footballer at the game against Manchester City for Kitchee, at which time he started his coaching career. 

With Kim’s extensive experience, the Club is confident that the First Team will remain dominant in the domestic league and be ready to achieve greatness by shaping the players for the AFC Champions League 2022 and beyond. Kitchee will start the pre-season training on 11 August at the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre with players returning from their respective summer break and quarantine in the coming week. The team will have several pre-season friendlies to warm up in before the season begins on 18 September.

soccerallover.com

Saturday, July 24, 2021

LFC showcases away kit for 2021/22 season

Liverpool Away Kit

Liverpool FC has today unveiled its brand-new Nike away and training pieces for the 2021/22 season, which is available to pre-order from today. Crafted in stone, the jersey epitomises the rich history of Liverpool

A city born through graft and hard work, that is celebrated through its unique style and love of high-end fashion. A city with an unmistakable skyline, comprised of three iconic buildings called the three graces. It’s symbolic of the local prestige, cultural importance and togetherness that comes with being a part of Liverpool FC. 

In a nod back to the cult classic kit of the 96-97 season with its off-white stone and teal colourway, this away jersey remains consistent with the home and wider collection with the striping detail in the collar and sock. On the nape of the neck, the 96-emblem encased by the eternal flames sits proudly in memory of the 96 children, women and men who lost their lives at Hillsborough. 

Liverpool FC brand-new Nike away and training pieces
Liverpool FC brand-new Nike away and training pieces

As with previous seasons, the club is offering a 10% discount off the price of the away shirt to all LFC official members. New for this season, the Reds are extending this offer out to UK key workers via Blue Light and Network, and also to students in the UK via Student Beans. 

Liverpool FC brand-new Nike away and training pieces
Liverpool FC Nike away and training pieces


More information on eligibility and how to redeem the discount can be found here. Fans who purchase any away shirt before 18 July 2021 will also receive a £10 Liverpool FC apparel voucher to spend in store or online between 1 August to 30 September 2021. First team player, Curtis Jones, said: “I think the fans will love this one. It’s a perfect reflection of the city and you can see the inspiration throughout the design with a throwback to the 90s.” 

Just like this season’s home kit, the Red’s away shirts that players will wear on the pitch as well as the replica jerseys for the fans have been constructed with 100% recycled polyester fabric, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. 

Plastic bottles are collected, cleaned and melted down to produce a high-quality yarn for manufacturing and is part of Nike’s wider Move to Zero initiative, with football apparel leading the way in sustainability. The new away and training kit will be available for pre-order online from the official Liverpool FC online store and will go on general sale for purchase in-store and online from Thursday 15 July. 

For more information please visit: www.liverpoolfc.com/store

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Euro 2020 Final: They think it's all over

Euro 2020 Final: They think it's all over

"They think it's all over". But the inquest is likely to go on for some considerable time and unlike The Russia Report this one might see daylight, I note that the Government used their Intelligence and Security Committee for that report I would suspect that UEFA have yet to set theirs up.

Wembley Way
Wembley Way

What started out as a 'zany idea' in 2012, proved to be completely stupid by the time we got round to holding it in 2021. Current UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said "I would not support it anymore", and that was just to do with the logistics of holding matches in different countries, nothing to do with COVID and how different Governments attempted to control - or spread it.

Italy celebrate
Italy celebrate

But for me my 7th Euros are over. I managed to attend eight games, all in the U.K. I had accepted from the beginning of the tournament that I was not going to be able to travel anywhere outside of the U.K. even if my team were playing.

Of course my Euros could have been over before they began as I had to take a COVID test. Imagine if the result came back positive. How would you feel? What would you do?

Thankfully the result was negative and for future games I was able to rely on the fact that I had my two jabs more than 14 days ago, so I knew I was not going to voluntarily take a test again.

Italy celebrate
Forza Italia!

The next dilemma was sorting out tickets, in February this year it was announced that all tickets would be mobile tickets, I downloaded the app and found that it was straightforward to transfer the tickets I had to my friends that I was going with. This seemed quite revolutionary after years of coveting a ticket for the game. But in light of the current situation seemed a good way of doing things.

My first game, Match 5, June 13th, meant travelling for the first time since March 2020 (15 months). I began by walking into town and as I made my way to the bus station realised I was no longer familiar with the city I lived in.

The Broad Marsh centre being the best example of this. Before the pandemic work had started on knocking it down, but now new buildings had taken the place of the old bus station. It hadn't seemed like a gradual process. The new buildings just appeared I hadn't been to this part of town during the pandemic.

Wembley
Wembley

I was pleased that there were only a handful of people on the bus, but not so happy that because of this we would be stopping at Leicester, Northampton and Milton Keynes.

A total of 13 people were on the bus after these stops. The last time I went on the bus to Wembley for the England v Scotland game in 2016, they took two buses from Nottingham and we parked right next to the stadium.

This time we were dropped off at the back of Costco, and although I could see The Arch I did not know my way to the ground as numerous flats had sprung up and the place was no longer recognisable. I still remember my first visits there where you would look down from the stadium concourse and see one massive car park.

Euro 2020
The end of Euro 2020

I had arranged a meeting with a friend at Costa, in the Designer Outlet Shopping Centre which was now very much part of the Wembley scene and just two minutes from the ground. To get here we had to cut across a sparse Wembley Way and up Wembley Park Boulevard which now had a number of places to eat as well as an Amazon Fresh.

Getting into the stadium was easy. First they checked your Covid status with a cursory glance at whatever you chose to show them and then you had to show your ticket which was then activated, to allow entry to the stadium. Once through these initial checks you were free to wander round the whole concourse before entering at your designated turnstile, by scanning your activated ticket.

Inside the stadium the spectators were spread out as the crowd turned out to be less than 20,000. Of course you were meant to sit in your own seat, but when you are in the top tier and Row 33, would you sit there or move down to Row 1 (and take a few photos for you)?

Italy win Euro 2020
Italy win Euro 2020

The next day it was off to Hampden, the Euro 2020 app said that travel from other parts of the UK was not currently permitted without an essential reason to do so.

What could be more essential than watching your team play in the Euros? I noted that these restrictions would be subject to review before the tournament and that I should check back shortly. As I read this during the tournament I presume they had just not updated their website.

Italy win Euro 2020
Italy win Euro 2020

The crowd at Hampden was just as sparse with seats marked with a green tick, then three with a red cross indicating which seats could be occupied. I had managed to get three seats together…but these took up 9 seats!

After the group stages I hoped to get tickets to more games and I was constantly monitoring the UEFA website in the hope that I would be on there at the right time to secure a ticket for games at Wembley. As luck would have it as we were driving to Scotland for the last group game we happened to stop off at the services.

Of course I tried the website and to my surprise tickets for Italy v Austria were available. The news was that there would be 40,000 at the knockout games at Wembley so I knew I was in with a chance. I managed to purchase two tickets.

This time we tried driving down having secured a parking spot just ten minutes from the stadium. It was Wagamama at the Shopping Centre before the game. Once again I was still trying to get tickets for future games but no luck yet.

We were surprised at how calm things were outside Wembley, but once inside we realised that the crowd was the same as the Group Games, around 20,000. This left me with just one ticket left for the competition, the first semi final and to be honest the game I was looking forward to the most.

Italy light up Wembley
Italy light up Wembley

I did think of going to Hampden for the Round of 16 game, which turned out to be Sweden v Ukraine but the lack of travelling fans meant I knew it would be devoid of atmosphere.

Also, I wondered what the crowd would be, as I noted UEFA actually reduced the price of tickets. Category One normally cost €125, but were reduced to €50. I didn't see this mentioned anywhere, it was only due to my persistent checking of the ticket website that I knew.

Much to my surprise, the attendance was given as 9,221. This was only 600 or so less than the Scotland games and on TV the stadium looked sparsely populated. The irony to this is that UEFA actually cancelled people's tickets to this match when they reduced the stadium capacities, now that Scotland were out people were no longer interested.

Looking at my options to get hold of a ticket, I could see numerous resale sites were selling tickets for games at vastly inflated prices, but they did seem to have plenty of tickets.

I also watched Twitter with interest. It struck me that there was a surprising amount of young women suddenly unable to attend matches and asking how they could sell them. There then seemed a spate of people coming down with COVID that could not attend, also then there was the phrase that "my mate is selling". Would you trust any of these people?

The advantage of the mobile ticket is that between trusted persons, there was no relying on the delay of posting, and the ticket could be delivered in seconds. But what comes first the money or the ticket - and can you trust the other person?

Italy light up Wembley
The closing ceremony

The next game that I could attend was the England v Germany Quarter Final, but I still had to get a ticket. To be honest, I wasn't that interested, I was still preoccupied with getting tickets for the Semi and the Final and I can still remember the last England v Germany game I went to in Charleroi.

I spent every spare minute of my Sunday on the UEFA website, refreshing in the hope tickets would become available, and they did. I secured the tickets I was looking for, this time I managed to get Category 3 tickets, and three for each game. These were the tickets that UEFA took off me in the Random Ballot in May. But now for the same money I had originally spent I had there tickets instead of one, for the same price, for each game.

Having secured tickets for the last week of the tournament I was less interested in the forthcoming England v Germany game, I did keep an eye on ticket availability but did not have any luck. I noticed an increase in the people around me asking for tickets, and knew that some were even heading to Wembley, whilst still checking for tickets as it was not uncommon for tickets to released just a few hours before kick off.

Drove down for the first semi and parked at our spot in someone's drive ten minutes from the ground. This time it was Pizza Express, showing our support for the Italians with pre-match pizza. We  had Category three tickets which meant we were behind the goal. I noted now that it looked like all the seats in this area were full. The gaps were in the hospitality tier. The one that you see empty at half time and for the first fifteen minutes of the second half of games. Enjoyed the game and was delighted that the Italians got through.

The next day I returned…..by National Express. The bus was late in arriving at Nottingham, due to the driver waiting ten minutes for three people that didn't show up at Derby.

I trust they will do the same for me if ever I am late! The journey took an age and we eventually pulled up at around 6.15 pm. I tried to make it to Costa, but the scenes at the bottom of Wembley Park Boulevard were chaotic with supporters blocking the way, singing and throwing beer like it was 2019.

I decided to go straight into the ground. Much as I hate to say it, the atmosphere was good and the stadium was bouncing, literally for the first time I could feel Wembley rocking.

Once England got their equaliser there was only going to be one winner, unless it got to penalties. When England were awarded a penalty in extra time, I pointed out to all around me that there was a second ball on the pitch and that therefore the penalty should not be given, as play must be stopped if there is another ball on the pitch. No one listened to me. The journey home was a long one and I eventually got home at 4.15 am in time for a few hours sleep before work.

For the final, it was a drive down and parking up at the usual spot. This time it was Wagamama. Things were just slightly busier than last Tuesday for the first semi. An enjoyable meal was had before we decided to take in the atmosphere, walking back down Wembley Park Boulevard wasn't easy due to the static crowds.

The atmosphere was not quite the same as Wednesday, it seemed tenser. My companions considered a walk down Wembley Way, but as we looked at the situation we decided that it would be better just to go in the ground. We were due to go in by Entrance 1, which is directly in front of Wembley Way. But it did not look like anyone was moving. I ushered my friends back the way we had come and went to a smaller entrance (No 2) where things were much quieter, but police stood on the steps. We quickly negotiated the, by now, familiar checks. My colleagues breathed a huge sigh of relief at making it into the stadium. For the first time I actually entered the stadium within my allotted time slot, we entered at 17:50.

Inside the stadium, once again the empty seats were to be seen in the second tier. But on the terraces…yes everyone was stood up. There appeared to be overcrowding. It was evident that there were more people than seats in our end. As the National Anthems were sung a random stranger tried to put his arm round me, it wouldn't matter whether there was COVID around or not, he would have got the same response, but to be as irresponsible as that, well we can only wait for the Wembley variant to be announced. Now, of course, the games at Wembley were all a test event and everything was controlled and monitored.

As you all know England scored early and threatened to run away with things. But I didn't give up. Italy stayed in the game and once they equalised looked like the stronger team. The penalty shoot-out had dramatic twists and turns and Italy triumphed.

During the time England were on top in the game I tried to look at the positives. Would it be good for the country? Would it provide a boost to the economy? Would people start to forget about the divisive Brexit? Well, these, I thought were all good points, but I might not be finding out for another 55 years or so.

On the 18th July one week after the Final, I received an email from Euro 2020, asking me to share my experience by taking their survey. I clicked on the survey ready to give my findings but was immediately met with a page saying "We thank you for your time spent taking this survey. Your response has been recorded."

Wembley Way
Wembley Way

Ross Clegg footballtravelswithross.wordpress.com