Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger misses Challenge event

World number one misses own event after car crash
Tiger Woods has announced that he will not play in his Chevron World Challenge golf event in California this week after being injured in a car crash at his Florida home.
Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle in the early hours of Friday and suffered facial injuries as a result of the incident, which is still surrounded in some mystery.
The world number one said that the injuries he suffered are severe enough for him not to travel across the country from Florida to Thousand Oaks in California for the World Challenge.
Woods has hosted the tournament for the last nine years but will not be in attendance on Thursday when this year's event takes place.
"I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week," Woods said in a statement on his official website.
"I am certain it will be an outstanding event and I'm very sorry that I can't be there."
Earlier in the day, Florida Highway Patrol had distanced themselves from reports that they are seeking search warrants for medical records relating to Woods' facial injuries.
Speculation continued as to the events that led to golf's world number one crashing his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant outside his Windermere, Florida, house and then a neighbour's tree, an accident in the early hours of Friday that led to Woods being treated in hospital for facial lacerations.

Skysports News


Record fine for Serena Williams

Serena Williams has been fined $175,000 and handed a three-year suspended ban from the US Open for her foul-mouthed tirade at Flushing Meadows in September, the International Tennis Federation has announced.
The ITF said any further offence at a grand slam event in the next two years would see the world number one suspended from the US Open in 2010, 2011, or 2012. The fine will be reduced to $82,500 if she commits no further major offence until 2011.
Williams abused a lineswoman after a foot-fault call at the end of her semi-final defeat to eventual winner Kim Clijsters.
Replays indicated the foot fault call had been a harsh one and it incensed the second seed, who quickly moved towards the lineswoman, waving her racquet angrily at the woman, who was then beckoned by the chair umpire to explain what had been said.


Williams earlier picked up a first code violation for smashing her racquet at the end of the first set and this time tournament referee Brian Earley was called to the chair.
After discussing the situation with the player, lineswoman and chair umpire, Williams was handed a second code violation, the resultant point penalty handing victory to Clijsters, 6-4 7-5.
The International Tennis Federation's Grand Slam Committee met last week to agree on a punishment and found the American guilty of "the Grand Slam major offence of aggravated behaviour".
The previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offence was $63,000, coupled with a ban from two Grand Slam tournaments, handed to American Jeff Tarango at Wimbledon in 1995.
Australian Open 2010 Women's Outright: Williams, S 11/4

BBC African Footballer of the Year 2009

The five candidates for the 2009 BBC African Footballer of the Year award have been revealed on the BBC's African sports programme Fast Track.

The nominees are: Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Samuel Eto'o, Tresor Mputu Mabi and Yaya Toure.

You can vote for your choice right up until 4 January and the winner will be announced four days later.

The prestigious award is the only one of its kind to be decided ultimately by the fans.

Vote for your favourite here ... 2009.shtml and see full profiles of all the nominees

The BBC canvassed football experts across Africa to compile the shortlist.

BBC Fast Track presenter Farayi Mungazi said: "This award is all about performance over the last twelve months so only two of last year's contenders have made it onto the list, with no place for Adebayor or Aboutrika.

"Once again it's great to see a player based in Africa on the shortlist with TP Mazembe's Tresor Mputu Mabi in with a chance".

Last year's winner was Mohamed Aboutrika of Al Ahly and Egypt after he helped his country to retain the Africa Cup of Nations and then won the African Champions League with his club.

Previous winners of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award:

2008 - Mohamed Aboutrika

2007 - Emmanuel Adebayor

2006 - Michael Essien

2005 - Mohamed Barakat

2004 - Jay-Jay Okocha

2003 - Jay-Jay Okocha

2002 - El Hadji Diouf

2001 - Sammy Kuffour

2000 - Patrick Mboma

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Didier Drogba Brace Destroys Arsenal

Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea

Chelsea proved exactly why they are considered the favourites for the title this season as they maintained their impressive recent record against Arsenal to claim a 2-0 win in the Premier League this evening.
Carlo Ancelotti's Blues poured on the misery for an Arsenal side that have only managed two wins from the last 15 encounters between the two London rivals as a Didier Drogba strike and an own goal from Thomas Vermaelen settled the match at the Emirates Stadium.
In a meeting between the Premier League's strongest attack and meanest defence, Arsenal had been on the front foot during the opening exchanges and had been taking the game to their west London counterparts.
It was Chelsea, however, who were presented with the first chance of the match after 18 minutes as Frank Lampard, passed fit to play despite concerns over a thigh injury, put Nicolas Anelka into the clear but Bacary Sagna tracked back to get in the vital challenge just as his international compatriot was about to pick his spot.

There were suspicions that Sagna had hauled Anelka to the ground in the process of making the crucial tackle although none of the Chelsea players appeared to appeal for the penalty as Lampard fired wide from the follow-up.

It would take 24 minutes before Arsenal created their first real opening as Samir Nasri drove forward before hitting a low shot from just outside the box. It was a decent effort from the 22-year-old but a lack of real power ensured Petr Cech made a comfortable save.

Despite a distinct lack of genuine efforts on goal, Chelsea grabbed the initiative when Drogba scored the opening goal of the game to continue his imperious record against Arsene Wenger’s side. A smart finish into the net via crossbar and post made it nine in his last nine outings against the Gunners following good work down the left from Ashley Cole.

Just two minutes later and the Blues had opened up a two goal lead as the unfortunate Vermaelen put through his own net. Ex-Gunner Cole was again the provider as his accurate cross was delivered into a really dangerous area and the Belgian international, undoubtedly worried by Drogba’s presence in the box, diverted the ball past Manuel Alumnia for 2-0 Chelsea.
Wenger made the decision to bring on Theo Walcott at half-time in an attempt to inject a bit of pace into his side and Arsenal were a little unlucky not to have reduced the arrears almost immediately after the break when Andrei Arshavin had a goal chalked off after an alleged foul by Eduardo on Cech.

The Czech Republic goalkeeper had initially saved well at the feet of Eduardo although as Cesc Fabregas played the ball back into the area, the Croatian forward was adjudged by referee Andre Marriner to have kicked the ball from Cech’s grasp before Arshavin slammed the ball into the net past a ruckus of Chelsea players on the line.
Chelsea nearly increased their lead with what would have proved a somewhat fortuitous goal on 64 minutes. Drogba got the ball onto his right foot before shooting from just outside the box although the former Marseille star’s effort was deflected first off William Gallas and then off Lampard’s chest to force Almunia into a smart save low down to his right.
Arsenal continued to press and probe for a way back into the match although Chelsea effectively put the game to bed with a terrific free-kick from Drogba.
The 31-year-old claimed his second of the match on 86 minutes as he dispatched a stunning strike into the corner of the net from around 25-yards out to increase Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premier League to five points ahead of Manchester United in second place.

All set for Fifa World Cup Draw

The glare of the global football world will be on the Cape Town International Convention Centre at 19h00 next Friday, December 4, when the 32 teams who made it through to Africa’s first Fifa World Cup and their legions of fans find out exactly where they will be playing - and who they will be playing against.
And when the Final Draw is beamed to millions of homes in more than 200 countries next week, a magnificent Draw Hall and stage fit for the magnitude of the occasion stands ready to play host to the dramatic proceedings.

It’s taken 3600 hours of manpower to set up the sprawling Draw Hall and 950 square metres of timber to construct the stunning African-inspired Draw stage – which already stands ready to host the eagerly anticipated event.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa’s Cape Town Venue Manager, Teral Cullen, has been the operational head of the mammoth operation that is the Final Draw – and as the excitement mounts and the event draws nearer, she’s confident things are well in hand.

"Over the last 10 days everyone involved has put in an enormous effort. They’ve really put their noses to the ground and worked flat out, with many late nights and early mornings. The Draw Hall and stage is complete and rehearsals have already started. And with a week to go we’re very confident with our preparations, we’re ahead of schedule and ready for this event," said Cullen.

She added that while the Final Draw is being delivered by a large team of 3 254 people in total, including security personnel, volunteers, event staff, contractors and entertainers, the co-operation between all parties has been outstanding.

"There has been tremendous teamwork and communication between the city and provincial authorities and Fifa and the Organising Committee. There’s been excellent communication in particular between ourselves and Fifa in terms of assessing the requirements for this event and delivering on it. All parties involved sense we’re building something special and we’re set for and working hard to deliver a spectacular event," said Cullen.

To date, 27 of the 32 coaches have confirmed their attendance, including well-known coaches such as Brazil’s Dunga, Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz, England’s Fabio Capello, Italy’s Marcello Lippi, Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque, Nigeria's Shuaibu Amodu and of course South Africa’s Carlos Alberto Parreira have confirmed their attendance for the Final Draw.

The Final Draw in Numbers:

* 3254 people involved in the operation of the Final Draw
* 1587 safety and security people including authorities and private security staff
* 400 Host City staff
* 80 entertainers
* 500 staff of contractors
* 380 Volunteers
* 110 Organising Committee staff
* 207 FIFA staff
* Nearly a year of preparations
* The set design and complete project folder for the draw project is 5Gb big
* Stage artwork alone amounts to 1.5Gb
* Printed material for the set is approx 1100 Sq meters
* Black reflective Vinyl flooring on the set is approx 500 Sq Meters.
* The set structure consumed around 6.5 tons of steel
* The four columns consist of around 1200 meters of 50mm round tubing
* The ceiling rings used around 1400 of 25 square tubing and 200sq meters of fabric
* Around 240 sheets of wood for custom stage levels
* Onset light boxes currently contains 500 fluorescent tubes
* Covering the stage light boxes is 800Kgs of tempered glass sheets
* Covering the front light boxes are 40 sheets of opal Perspex
* Most of the set was built, printed and finished in Cape Town, by Cape Town companies. Only the steel columns and parts of the headers were manufactured in Johannesburg by a specialist welder
* 5000 hours of production of the video material to be used during the show
* 18 live broadcast units to be used
* Live broadcast of the show to more than 200 countries and territories
* 3600 hours manpower to set-up the draw hall
* 950 sq meters timber
* 56 x 5 litre tins of paint used
* 1,2km steel handrails

Source: Colin Udoh

Frank Lampard set to lose £20,000 in bet if Chelsea fall to Arsenal defeat

Frank Lampard risks being £20,000 out of pocket if Chelsea lose to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium today.
The England midfielder fell in with 12-year-old Jake Peach at a recent awards ceremony and Peach, a leukemia survivor, former patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital and, more importantly, an Arsenal fan, was canny enough to suggest a unique wager to Lampard: the Chelsea player will donate a day's wages to the hospital, Arsenal's designated charity, if Arsenal win, while Peach has to wear a Chelsea shirt for the day if Lampard is the victor.
Hard to tell who got the worst end of the deal.


 HUGHES: Crucial week ahead 

MARK HUGHES is on borrowed time after chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak witnessed yet another dismal Manchester City display.

City's 1-1 draw with Hull - their seventh in a row - has left Hughes on the brink with Guus Hiddink, Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho all in the frame to replace him.
Hughes's position has been under threat since the 3-3 draw with Burnley earlier this month.
Al Mubarek flew in from Abu Dhabi yesterday morning and will report back to owner Sheikh Mansour.
Mansour will now make a decision on his manager's future, possibly at the end of a week in which they face Arsenal in the Carling Cup and Chelsea next Saturday.
They may only have lost once in the league this season - to Manchester United at Old Trafford - but City's recent run of results have left Hughes in jeopardy.
Draws against the likes of Fulham, Birmingham, Burnley and now Hull look to have sealed the manager's fate.
Russia's unexpected World Cup play-off exit has put former Chelsea boss, Hiddink, on the market and his presence casts a huge shadow over Hughes.
But chairman Khladoon is also friends with Italian Mancini and sources claim his track record at Inter Milan where he won Serie A three years in a row has left him as a serious contender for the City job.
Former Stamford Bridge boss Mourinho is also keen on a return to the Prem.
Hughes admitted he was under pressure to get results having spent £200million in the transfer market but claimed the club's Arab owners were willing to be patient.
That patience, however, is close to expiring and poor results against Arsenal in midweek and Chelsea next Saturday seem certain to seal his fate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Davydenko down Federer to reach Final

Nikolay Davydenko has reached the final of the ATP World Tour Finals after edging out world number one Roger Federer.
The diminuitive Russian finally tasted success against his Swiss opponent as he came through an epic three-set clash with a 6-2 4-6 7-5 victory at the O2 Arena in London.
Davydenko, who produced some scintillating groundstrokes in the decider, broke Federer's serve in the 11th game of a tight final set before serving it out to earn his first win over the all-time leading Grand Slam champion at the 13th time of trying.
The sixth seed has now booked his place in Sunday's final - for the second successive year - where he will meet the victor of Robin Soderling and Juan Martin Del Potro's clash which will be played later on Saturday.
"I think I have waited a long time to beat once Federer," Davydenko said after his stunning victory. "After 12 times of losing and now here in London winning my first time against him it's amazing for me."


Federer, who won the title four times in five attempts between 2003 and 2007, came into the last four in bullish mood considering his faultless record over Davydenko which also saw the Swiss win 22 of the last 23 sets against his opponent.
And the Russian's task was made even harder by the scheduling, which saw him take to the court less than 16 hours after beating Robin Soderling in his final round-robin match which was played into the late hours of Friday night.
But, after Federer won the first six points, it was Davydenko - beaten by Novak Djokovic in last year's final - who gained the ascendancy.
The world number one could not take advantage of two break points in the second game and then played a terrible game, serving two double faults and throwing in two more unforced errors to hand his opponent the first break.
Federer had lost the first set in all his group matches and found himself staring down the barrel again when another double fault and a netted forehand gave Davydenko a shock 4-1 lead.
The Swiss star recovered one of the breaks immediately, his forehand suddenly firing again, but the respite was only temporary and Davydenko made it three breaks in a row before sealing the first set.
It seemed inevitable Federer would improve - he could hardly get any worse - and he was certainly making fewer errors at the start of the second set.
He gradually began to look more like his old self, playing his best game to date to move 4-3 ahead with a series of winners.
And, after escaping a potentially sticky situation at 4-4, he claimed the crucial break to win the set, taking it on his second chance following one of the best rallies of the match.
Federer had the advantage of serving first in the decider and at 4-5 the match came alive.
A lucky net cord gave him the opening point and an outrageous shot off a Davydenko smash put Federer in sight of the final.
But he could not take his chance as Davydenko held his nerve to level at 5-5 before the Russian capitalised on break point in the next game, which he took with a stunning backhand return.
Two big serves took the world number seven to 30-0 but Federer was not finished, a brilliant rally resulting in a break point.
This time Davydenko excelled, though, blasting a forehand winner, and one big serve later he was at match point, which he took when Federer netted a forehand.

Davydenko overjoyed at finally beating Federer

Aguero not leaving Atletico Madrid

Van Persie out for 4months.........set for surgery

Nigeria Plan friendly Against South Africa & Namibia

Nigeria have begun their preparations for the Nations Cup in earnest...

Nigeria have penciled in warm-up games against South Africa and Namibia as part of their build-up for next year's Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, officials have informed
Nigeria coach, Shuaibu Amodu, and top Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) official, Taiwo Ogunjobi, will leave Lagos later Friday for Namibia, where they will inspect the facilities at the training camp in Windhock ahead of the Nations Cup.
Officials also disclosed that Amodu and Ogunjobi would also use this opportunity to propose a friendly against Namibia.
Top NFF officials led by president Sani Lulu plan to also propose to South Africa another friendly during the World Cup draw in Cape Town on December 4. The match is expected to be played before the Nations Cup kicks off on January 10 in Angola.
Source: Samm Audu,


Sergio Aguero Agrees To Chelsea Transfer

The Blues are reportedly closing in on the Argentine's signature after the player privately agreed to the move...

 Chelsea's move for Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero appears to be inching closer to its conclusion after it was revealed that all parties are more inclined to agree to a move in January than in the summer.

The English side's transfer ban has been suspended pending a FIFA hearing, but while they are keen to wrap up a deal as soon as possible, los Rojiblancos are also eager to conclude the transfer.

"There is still more talking to do, but let's see. There is now a possibility, although with so many complications involved you would have to say it's still 50-50 whether it will finally go though," a source revealed to ESPN Soccernet.

In addition, the same website claims that Aguero has privately indicated that he is ready to accept Chelsea's staggering wage packet, amounting to nearly £250,000-a-week.

The sticking point continues to be the fee that los Colchoneros are demanding for 'Kun'. The struggling Spanish side were demanding £60 million during the summer, but have lowered their demands to around £55m.

It is reported that Carlo Ancelotti's side are hopeful of thrashing out a deal, having put together a bid of £40m plus £10m in performance-related bonuses.

Aguero scored both goals as Atletico Madrid held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw in their Champions League encounter on November 3, and is beginning to rediscover his form in the league.

However, Quique Sanchez Flores' side are struggling in the Primera Division and are currently in the relegation zone. They welcome Espanyol to the Vicente Calderon on Sunday night.


Lawro's premier league predictions

By Mark Lawrenson
BBC Sport football expert


Aston Villa V Tottenham
This is the battle of the pretenders.
Villa dropped points at Burnley last week, while Tottenham had an unbelievable 9-1 win over Wigan.
It's going to be close, but being as Villa are at home I'll go for Martin O'Neill's side.
Verdict: 2-1

Blackburn v Stoke
This is probably a game where the ball will get stretchered off.
The aerial route will no doubt be examined and if I were a low-flying object, I'd probably stay away from Blackburn.
Both teams get into the penalty area, get the crosses in and fight for it but it's something they both have to do.
Verdict: 1-1

Fulham v Bolton
I think Bolton will be another team from the north west who will leave Craven Cottage with their tails between their legs.
Fulham are extremely good at home, they dismantled Blackburn 3-0 in midweek and they're hitting form.
It's a sticky period for Bolton boss Gary Megson and I think they'll need to stick with him for a while.
Verdict: 2-0

Manchester City v Hull
Hull have done well in their previous three games, taking seven points, albeit they were all at the KC Stadium.
City could, and probably should, have won at Anfield last week and Robinho looks like he's fit, so I'll have to go for them to take the points.
I don't expect a repeat of last year's famous Phil Brown half-time team talk.
Verdict: 2-0

Portsmouth v Manchester United
Portsmouth sacked their manager this week so that usually means some sort of improvement in results.
I do feel a bit sorry for Paul Hart because once you knew Avram Grant was going to be involved in the football club we all sort of knew, if Hart lost a couple of games, who the next manager was going to be.
United are more than capable of going to these sorts of grounds and dealing with the pressure.
Verdict: 0-2

West Ham v Burnley
This is a massive game for West Ham.
They need to climb out of the bottom echelons of the league. I hate to say it's a must-win game for West Ham, but it is.
Burnley struggle to pick up points on the road and it's a game West Ham should win.
Verdict: 2-0

Wigan v Sunderland
Steve Bruce is going back to his old club and I see that him and Wigan owner Dave Whelan have been having a light-hearted joke with each other.
I'll probably go for Wigan because of the 9-1 thrashing they suffered at Spurs on Sunday.
Wigan will want to bounce back - plus the majority of players at the club will want to prove a point to Steve Bruce.
Verdict: 2-1

Arsenal v Chelsea
I tend to go for a draw in these games because they normally are.
Both teams had successful outings in the Champions League, but Arsenal have just started to encounter a few injuries which has stopped them in their tracks a little bit.
This will be the second of four really tough away games for Chelsea.
Verdict: 1-1

Everton v Liverpool
I don't think Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is under great pressure from within the club.
However, Liverpool can't afford to get turned over by Everton, who are struggling to find form as well.
I'm not sure whether Fernando Torres is going to be fit, or risked, and Alberto Aquilani is a mystery. They tell me he's fit, but he has not started a game. I can only presume he's not 100% fit, otherwise it's baffling.
Verdict: 1-1

Wolves v Birmingham
Wolves were taken apart in the first 15 minutes of their 4-0 defeat by Chelsea last week.
Since Birmingham's new owners took over, the club has gone on a really good run.
But such is the fluctuations down at the bottom, I'm going to go for a Wolves win, which will pull Birmingham back into the relegation fight.
Verdict: 2-1

Mark Lawrenson was talking to BBC Sport's Aimee Lewis
Story from BBC SPORT:

Obafemi Martins injured

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tiger Woods injured in car crash

Golfer Tiger Woods was taken to a Florida hospital after suffering serious injuries in a car crash early Friday, officials said.

The one-car accident occurred about 2:25 a.m. near his home in Windermere, a suburb of Orlando, according to an incident report from the Florida Highway Patrol.

Woods, 33, had just pulled out of his driveway and begun to drive down a street when his Cadillac SUV struck a fire hydrant, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The front of his vehicle then struck a tree.

Woods was taken to Health Central Hospital, though a woman who answered a phone there Friday afternoon said he was not there.

WESH: Tiger Woods Injured In Crash Outside Home

The crash is under investigation, and charges are pending, though it was not clear who could face charges. The accident did not appear to have been alcohol-related, the statement said.

Woods lives in Orange County with his wife, supermodel Elin Nordegren, and two children.

Woods has won 93 tournaments, 71 of those on the PGA Tour, including the 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005 Masters Tournaments; 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007 PGA Championships; 2000, 2002, and 2008 U.S. Open Championships; and 2000, 2005 and 2006 Open Championships, according to his official Web site.

TB Joshua Debunks World Cup Rumours

The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) has dismissed rumours that prior to the final match of the 2009 FIFA U-17 tournament in Nigeria, its founder, T.B. Joshua had prophesized that host nation, Nigeria, would beat Switzerland to win the tournament.

It was alleged that the Man of God again revealed during the last round of the African World Cup matches that The Super Eagles of Nigeria would beat Kenya 3-2 in Nairobi whilst Mozambique would defeat Tunisia 2-1 in Maputo to pave way for Nigeria’s qualification to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

In an interview on GBC FM in Sunyani with sports host Cubagee Uriel, Director of Communications for SCOAN, Rev. Sam Canaan described the rumors which was carried by both the print and electronic media in and outside Ghana as false, unfounded and a mere fabrication.

He cited the current President of Ghana, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, as a living testimony of the prophet’s prophecies.

Rev Sam recounted several revelations prophesized by the man of God, Prophet Joshua, that had all come to pass and said viewers of EmmanuelTV worldwide would attest to that fact.

“The culture of journalists twisting facts and adding figures to people’s words must be stopped if they are to sustain the trust and confidence reposed in them by the general public,” he advised.

Concerning the Super Eagles 2010 World Cup qualifier against Kenya in Nairobi, the media capo indicated that Prophet Joshua indeed made a revelation that Nigeria would qualify for the World Cup tournament to be hosted in South Africa in 2010 but never predicted the score of that encounter.

On the alleged prophecy that Nigeria U/17 team were to win the 2009 U/17 FIFA tournament, Rev Sam described it as ‘a journalistic error’.

According to him, prior to the final match, players of My People Football Club visited the church during service to seek divine grace for their colleague, Emmanuel Sani, who is a member of Nigeria U17 squad.

He said it was on that occasion that the Man of God revealed that their colleague would be rewarded but not Nigeria winning the tournament. After the final match which Nigeria lost 0-1 to Switzerland, Emmanuel Sani received the MVP award as well as the silver shoe.

The Director of Communications said prophecies of Prophet Joshua made during service are recorded and that the church has records of prophecies he spoke on.

Source: Dailyguide

Lampard fit for London DERBY

Carlo Ancelotti Confirms Frank Lampard's Availability For Chelsea-Arsenal Clash

Italian warns Arsenal Lampard will be in attendance.

As Arsenal's injury problems worsen heading into the weekend, Chelsea's continue to diminish, as Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti confirms that versatile midfielder Frank Lampard will be returning to his line-up.

"Frank is fit yes, he trained yesterday and today very well," the Italian coach told a press conference ahead of the Sunday showdown that pits the two London heavyweights against each other.

"He is in good condition and is ready to play," he added.

"Our physio and doctor worked very well with him, he is a fantastic professional player.

"He has [always] looked to improve his physical condition at Cobham [Chelsea's training ground]."

The Gunners will be forced into fielding a makeshift rear-guard, as Gael Clichy and understudy left-back Kieran Gibbs have both been ruled out. Armand Traore is expected to play in their absence.

With William Gallas' swollen eye still proving problematic, Mikael Silvestre may be asked to partner Thomas Vermaelen in central defence.

John Terry Brand awareness

John Terry has scored a massive PR own goal by attempting to cash in on his status as England captain ahead of the World Cup.

Masterminded by a small marketing company in Enfield, Terry has been presented as someone desperate to maximise his earning potential with a series of embarrassing, if mostly correct, boasts.

Terry, who already commands a salary in the region of £170,000 a week at Chelsea, could even incur the wrath of FIFA for being associated with the use of their World Cup logo in the email that was circulated yesterday around the sports business community.

Leading international brands are normally charged millions by football's world governing body to endorse their products with the FIFA World Cup logo.

'The FIFA 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa is fast approaching!' says the email circulated by Riviera Entertainment. 'With this in mind Riviera Entertainment is identifying suitable commercial endorsement opportunities for its client John Terry for the period building up to the finals and beyond.

'John Terry is available to create effective brand awareness and endorse products and services globally.'

Read more:

Del Potro and Federer reach semis Final

Del Potro win eliminates Murray

Juan Martin del Potro beat top seed Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals and knock out Andy Murray.

Federer knew that a win of any kind would put him through with Murray, while Del Potro needed a straight-sets win to qualify with the Scot.

But in the event, Del Potro won 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 to take both men through and leave Murray helpless as it came down to the percentage of games won by all three men.

Such was the utter confusion over the qualification system that Del Potro was left waiting in the O2 Arena with thousands of fans to find out if he had made it, and he even indulged in a knock-up with Argentina football star Carlos Tevez.

Del Potro later revealed that he had not found out until 25 minutes after the match had finished that he was through, and admitted it had taken the shine off beating the world number one.

"It was very strange but I don't want to talk about that because the people who made the numbers to qualify, they know what they did," he said. "Now it's the past. I'm in the semi-finals, I'm happy for that, but it was strange."

Federer quickly headed to his changing room and was unaware that Del Potro had been left stranded on court.

"Obviously the focus is completely on my own qualification," said Federer. "The only thing that was important to me was the set I needed to win, trying to win the match.

"The rest you block out and you concentrate on the match because you don't want to lose against fellow rivals.

"It's not something I enjoy, to be quite honest. A lot of money, a lot of points on the line, so it would have been nice to go through with a clean sheet to the semis. I missed that, but it was against a good player today."

Murray had earlier missed his opportunity to guarantee qualification with a straight-sets win over Fernando Verdasco, the Briton needing three sets before eventually battling past the Spaniard.

Amid the various qualification possibilities, it was easy to forget that Federer was facing Del Potro for the first time since the Argentine's stunning US Open final win in September.

The 21-year-old had brought an end to Federer's five-year unbeaten run at Flushing Meadows with a display of spectacular power, having lost all six previous matches against the Swiss.

And the signs were not good for Federer from the opening moments as he made a shocking error after a net cord, netting an attempted drop shot with Del Potro stranded and the empty court gaping.

BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

Federer was fortunate to save two break points as his opponent made unforced errors but the Swiss helped him out with a wayward forehand of his own on the third.

Matters then got significantly worse for the world number one when he fell a double-break down in game five with a double-fault.

Del Potro served out the set confidently enough and could sense the straight-sets win he needed to knock Federer out at the start of the second.

Federer was hugely fortunate when facing another break point to see a snatched forehand volley thump into the tape and dribble over the net.

It was the only significant opportunity for either player before they arrived at a tie-break, and Del Potro gave an early reminder of that US Open final with two forehand winners.

Federer recovered an early mini-break but netted a makeable volley and Del Potro had two serves for the match.

However, he missed them both with errors and Federer pounced with four successive points to level the match, pumping his fist in celebration, perhaps knowing that - statistically - he had all but qualified.

Federer had the edge as the decider progressed but could not convert any of three break points in game seven, and Del Potro made him pay in the following game before serving out the victory with an ace after two hours and six minutes.

And Federer later revealed that the pair had still been confused as they shook hands after the match.

"I asked Juan Martin myself at the net, 'Did you make it or not?' He said, 'I don't think so.' So that's the story I got.

"Of course you've got to feel sorry for the guy who didn't make it. At the same time, Del Potro beat the number one player in the world in the group, and I guess he also deserves to go through.

"There's only two places and that's the way it is. It happens very, very rarely."

Del Potro and Federer move on to Saturday's semi-finals, where Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko or Novak Djokovic will be waiting after group B concludes on Friday.

Earlier, fifth seeds Frantisek Cermak and Michael Martinek defeated eighth seeds Mariuisz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-4 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the doubles.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Nigeria to name foreign coach

The Nigerian government plans to soon name a new foreign coach for the country's team ahead of next year's World Cup despite the recent endorsement of coach Shuaibu Amodu by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to lead the Super Eagles at South Africa 2010. According to the daily Nigerian sports newspaper, Soccer Star, top officials of the sports ministry have insisted on going ahead to engage a foreign coach in place of Amodu.

"We are more concerned about Nigeria having a decent outing in South Africa next year. As such we cannot afford to leave the destiny of the Super Eagles in the hands of Shuaibu Amodu, “a top official was quoted by the newspaper.

The newspaper further claimed that the new foreign coach will be appointed in time for the African Cup of Nations in Angola, which kicks off in January 10, so that he could start monitoring the team.

Several foreign coaches including Guus Hiddink, Giovanni Trapattoni and Ruud Gullit have already been linked with the top Nigerian job.

On Wednesday, the NFF threw their full weight behind Amodu, announcing that the former BCC Lions handler will lead Nigeria to both the Nations Cup and the World Cup.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Afribank Line Up Brazil, Spain Friendlies For Eagle

The Super Eagles will not be lacking in top-grade international friendly games in the build-up to the World Cup next year if the sponsorship proposal of Afribank Plc is approved as the bank is prepared to bring countries like Brazil, Argentina and a host of other top football-playing nations to Nigeria.

Revealing this was the Nigerian Football Federation’s H.O.D Marketing, Idris Adama who was upbeat that for once, Nigerians who have for long been clamouring for quality friendlies for the Eagles would finally get their wish.

“The bank (Afribank) is preparing a proposal to sponsor friendly games for the Eagles as their own support for Nigerian Football. They plan to bring Brazil, Argentina and other top teams and the good thing is that the games would be played in Nigeria so the fans could see their stars in action. The only proviso is that any of these teams that fall in Nigeria’s group after the draw, naturally, will not be involved,” Adama said.

If the proposal is eventually approved, it will be the first time in recent memory that the Super Eagles will prepare for a major competition with top quality friendly games.

Samuel Eto'o Files €3 Million Lawsuit Against Barcelona

The Cameroon striker feels that he is entitled to a payoff from the Blaugrana after his summer move...

Inter striker Samuel Eto'o is pressing ahead with his compensation claim after his summer transfer from Barcelona, and it is now reported that he could receive up to €3 million from the Spanish champions.

Spanish news agency EFE report that he has filed a lawsuit claiming €3m in compensation, as he believes that he is entitled to 15 per cent of his own transfer fee.

His valuation was set at €20m during the summer, as he formed a makeweight in the transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the Spanish Footballers Association (AFE) state that players are entitled to 15 per cent of any fee.

However, this only applies to transfers between Spanish clubs - a fact that Barcelona have been keen to point out. The Blaugrana have also stated that any cut of the transfer fee should be paid by Inter.

A similar case took place in February 2008, when Albert Luque demanded compensation after his move from Deportivo La Coruna to Newcastle United. The striker demanded 15 per cent of his transfer fee (€14m) and was duly awarded €2.1m.

No agreement has yet been reached between the parties involved, and a trial has therefore been set for April 8 next year.