Thursday, December 31, 2009

Nigeria name 24 players for ANGOLA 2010

Wolfsburg striker Obafemi Martins is a doubt but eight other players have been cut from the Nigeria squad for next month's African Nations Cup as coach Shuaibu Amodu named a squad of 24 players on Wednesday.

Martins is in a race to be fit on time for the continental championships after undergoing surgery earlier this month, and sources at the Glass House told that Amodu is agonising between Martins and fellow Germany-based forward Chinedu Obasi.

The coach is hoping to beat the CAF deadline of January 1 for submitting his squad list, and and made the decision to trim his squad after meetings with members of teh NFF's technical committee in Abuja.

On the chopping block are the Europe-based quartet of defenders Dele Adeleye and Adefemi Olubayo, midfielder Femi Ajilore, striker Joseph Akpala and the home-based trio of Chibuzor Okonkwo, Akpan Bassey and Ikechukwu Ibenegbu.

Also dropped is Moroka Swallows goalkeeper Greg Etafia.

Martins, who scored the goal that sealed Nigeria's World Cup place, had surgery on a shin problem earlier this month but is still racing to be fit in time for the tournament.

Martins will be one of 25 players to travel to South Africa with 25 players, but will be in direct competition for the last place to Angola with fellow Germany-based forward Chinedu Obasi of Hoffenheim.

If he fails a fitness test in Durban his place will be taken by Obasi.


Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama, Bamidele Aiyenugba, Austin Ejide

Defenders: Joseph Yobo, Danny Shittu, Obinna Nwaneri, Taye Taiwo, Elderson Echiejile, Yusuf Mohammed, Chidi Odiah, Onyekachi Apam

Midfielders: Nwankwo Kanu, Mikel Obi, Dickson Etuhu, Sani Kaita, Yusuf Ayila, Oluwaseyi Olofinjana, Kalu Uche

Strikers: Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Osaze Odemwingie, Michael Eneramo, Obinna Nsofor, Obafemi Martins, Chinedu Obasi

Monday, December 21, 2009

Eagles camp a 'no-go area'

Nigeria's Durban camp will be a 'no-go area’ for media and fans alike as the team prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Contrary to earlier reports, the team will camp at the Riverside Hotel in Durban, according to Media Coordinator Idah Peterside.

"First of all, this is to clear some reports about where the team will camp in Durban. We will stay at the Riverside Hotel, and that is authoritative," Peterside told

He went on to add that both the hotel, and training ground will have a strict no access policy.

"The camp and training ground are no-go areas, as the coach wants a closed camp with security to be provided by the KwaZulu Natal Province, who have partnered with Nigeria by adopting us as their team."

This decision is likely to further strain relations between Amodu and the local press, who usually demand unfettered access to the team, especially their training sessions.

But Peterside explained that the idea was to allow the players to focus.

"The camp needs to be closed so that the players can concentrate on the project at hand, and we need the support of all Nigerians," he said.

Mancini targets top four

New Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has set himself the target of finishing in the top four of the Premier League before winning the title next season.
The former Inter Milan boss was appointed on a three-and-a-half-year contract on Saturday as Mark Hughes was sacked only hours after a 4-3 victory over Sunderland.
Mancini is City's 17th manager in 20 years after Hughes paid the price for failing to meet goals that had been agreed with the club's mega-rich owner Sheikh Mansour.
City aim to have achieved a total of 70 points by the end of this season, but Mancini believes UEFA Champions League qualification is also possible before then turning attentions to winning the league in 2010/11.
"I believe in my position," he told a press conference shown live on Sky Sports News "I think that I can do a good job because we have good players."


He added: "My target is to arrive in the top four. That is my target, I think it is possible.
"Next year we want to win the Premier League."
Hughes was only offered 18 months in charge of City after leaving Blackburn, but Mancini expects to have a long career in Manchester.
"I think, and hope, to stay here for many years and I want to win many trophies," he said. "City has great supporters and I hope we do a good job for them."
He added: "My job is to work hard every day to improve the play, to improve the victories. This is all."

Mancini took training with the City players, who did not rebel against the sacking of Hughes, according to City chief executive Garry Cook, for the first time on Monday.
"I told them to believe in ourselves and they are great players and we can win if we work hard every day," he said.
When asked about possible January signings, he added: "I want to see this week the players and after we'll make a decision."
Mancini expressed sympathy for Hughes, but is now looking forward, saying: "I'm sorry for Mark but when we start this job, this situation is possible.
"My job is a manager. I stayed in Italy for four years and I won seven trophies.
"At the end of the season they sacked me. This is our job. I don't want to look back."

Messi wins Fifa World Player of the Year award

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been named Fifa World Footballer of the Year to complete a stunning 2009 for the Argentine forward.
The 22-year-old, who helped Barca win the Club World Cup on Saturday - their sixth trophy of the year - also won the Ballon d'Or award this year.
"A magnificent year for me and Barca has ended in the best way," said Messi.
He beat off competition from last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, Kaka and Andres Iniesta.
Messi becomes the first Argentine to win the award, which was inaugurated in 1991, and it completes a stunning year for the brilliant winger.
He helped Barca to an unprecedented treble of Champions League, La Liga and Spanish Cup last season, scoring the second goal in their 2-0 win over Manchester United in Rome in May.
This season the Catalan club have added the Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup to their roll of honour, beating Argentine side Estudiantes in Abu Dhabi to complete a stellar year.
No, please, I am not king of the world now
Lionel Messi
At the start of the month, Messi beat Ronaldo to the European Footballer of the Year award by a massive margin - 473 points to 233 - and has now succeeded Ronaldo to win the Fifa award too.
However, Messi has played down the attention, saying: "No, please, I am not king of the world now, nor the number one, I don't believe in those things.
"I am the same person as always and I have the good fortune to play in a great team. It was an historic year for Barca and for me but it's thanks to the work of everyone."
At a glittering gala at the Zurich Kongresshaus, England stars John Terry and Steven Gerrard were named in the FIFPro World XI, voted for by their fellow professionals.
Fellow Premier League stars Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Fernando Torres were also picked, along with former Manchester United star Ronaldo.
Real Madrid's Iker Casillas was picked in goal and Barca quartet Dani Alves, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi completed the line-up.
Cristiano Ronaldo won the inaugural Fifa Puskas Award for the best goal of the year for his stunning 40-yard strike while playing for Manchester United against FC Porto in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in April.
Brazilian Marta won the Women's World Player of the Year for a record fourth consecutive time, beating off competition from England striker Kelly Smith.
The 31-year-old Smith, who plays her club football in the United States, starred in the England side that reached the final of Euro 2009.
"This is a real honour for me," said Smith. "It was tough for me to leave my home country because I'm very proud and passionate to be English.
"I just wanted to be amongst the best players in the world and that's certainly the case and I'm now pursuing my dream."
The prizes were voted for by the captains and head coaches of the men's and women's national teams.

FIFPro team of the year: Casillas; Dani Alves, Evra, Terry, Vidic; Xavi, Iniesta, Gerrard; Ronaldo, Messi, Torres.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd await Champions League draw

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United will learn their opponents for the first knockout stage of the Champions League when the draw is made on Friday.
The three Premier League clubs won their groups but Liverpool exited the competition after their third-place finish and drop into the Europa League.
The trio, who cannot face each other or teams they met in their group, will play runners-up from the group stages.
The draw takes place at 1100 GMT and is followed by the Europa League draw.
Arsenal, Chelsea and United will definitely avoid fellow group winners Barcelona, Bordeaux, Real Madrid, Fiorentina and Sevilla.
But the likes of Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Inter Milan are all possible opponents.
  • Group winners pot: Bordeaux, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Fiorentina, Barcelona, Sevilla, Arsenal

  • Group runners-up pot: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, AC Milan, Porto, Lyon, Inter Milan, Stuttgart, Olympiakos

  • The other teams in the draw are: CSKA Moscow, who finished second in United's group; FC Porto, who were runners-up to Chelsea; Lyon who beat Liverpool to second place in group E; Olympiakos who finished second in Arsenal's group; and Stuttgart, who finished second behind Sevilla in group G.
    Group runners-up will play the first leg at home on 16-17 or 23-24 February, with the second legs on 9-10 and 16-17 March.
    AC Milan will include England star David Beckham in their squad, with the 34-year-old arriving at the club on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy when the January transfer window opens.
    And Beckham would like nothing better than to face former club Manchester United, with whom he lifted the crown in 1999, in the next round of the competition when Friday's draw is made.
    "I would love it if the draw pitted us against my former team, since I left in 2003 I've never returned to play at Old Trafford," said Beckham.
    "It's been seven years and I want it to happen. Me against Manchester United would be great, wouldn't it?
    "It would be very difficult but also very exciting, I love the big games."
    Premier League clubs have made the final of the competition in each of the previous five seasons.
    Chelsea made one of the finals, losing on penalties to Manchester United in 2008, and they could be drawn against current manager Carlo Ancelotti's former club, AC Milan.
    Ancelotti left the Italian club in the summer having guided them to two Champions League wins in 2003 and 2007.
    But unlike Beckham, Ancelotti is hoping he does not come up against his former club.
    "I admit that I would prefer to avoid a head-to-head with (Milan coach) Leonardo in February at Stamford Bridge," said Ancelotti.
    "But if it happens, it's no problem. Football puts you in this type of situation.
    "It's obvious that if we get Milan the emotional aspect would be something special."
    The Premier League also has strong representation in the Europa League which has its draw for the rounds of 32 and 16 on Friday.
    Everton and Fulham are left in the competition while Liverpool enter at the round of 32 stage having gone out of the Champions League.
    The likes of Ajax, Hamburg, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce will also be in the draw, which gets under way at 1200 GMT.

    Story from BBC SPORT:

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Amodu calls up three home base players

    Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu has called up three domestic league players for the Super Eagles pre-African Nations Cup training camp in Durban, South Africa.
    In addition to Bayelsa United's Chibuzor Okonkwo, Amodu has also listed Heartland midfielder Ikechukwu Ibenegbu and Okonkwo's Bayelsa United team mate, goalkeeper Bassey Akpan.

    Amodu was initially resistant to calls to invite more players from the Nigerian Premier League, but has finally bowed to pressure and included two more.

    The squad now includes five goalkeepers, 11 defenders, nine midfielders and seven forwards.

    “I believe there will be fierce fight for shirts because I have made it clear to the players that performances at the Nations Cup will go a long way in determining those who will be called up for the World Cup finals in South Africa next year,” said Amodu.

    The players will report at the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge near Durban, South Africa on December 29.

    On December 27, the foreign –based players will arrive Nigeria for an Appreciation Dinner being organized for them by the Nigeria Football Federation.

    This will take place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel on the evening of December 28.


    Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama, Bamidele Aiyenugba, Austin Ejide, Greg Etafia, Bassey Akpan

    Defenders: Taye Taiwo, Joseph Yobo, Elderson Echiejile, Ayodele Adeleye, Danny Shittu, Obinna Nwaneri, Onyekachi Apam, Chidi Odiah, Chibuzor Okonkwo, Yusuf Mohammed, Olubayo Adefemi

    Midfielders: Dickson Etuhu, Sani Kaita, Bartholomew Ibenegbu, Oluwaseyi Olofinjana, Mikel Obi, Nwankwo Kanu, Yusuf Ayila, Kalu Uche, Olufemi Ajilore

    Strikers: Osaze Odemwingie, Obafemi Martins, Chinedu Obasi, Michael Eneramo, Joseph Akpala, Yakubu
     Aiyegbeni, Obinna Nsofor

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Chelsea's navy-blue shirt curse!


    Didier Drogba in the dreaded shirt

    Chelsea players and fans alike have suddenly developed an irrational fear of all things navy-blue after they lost for the fourth consecutive match after having donned their horizontally striped navy shirts.

    Carlo Ancelotti refused to blame Petr Cech's ineptitude in letting in Carlos Tevez's winning free-kick, nor Frank Lampard's rare penalty miss as Manchester City inflicted the Blue's fourth defeat in all competitions on Saturday evening.

    The Italian instead opted to put the blame in the hands of his midfield, but could have avoided pinning the responsibility on any of his players at all, had he spotted the common denominator in his side's defeats this season - their third choice shirts!

    Chelsea have suffered all of their defeats this season when wearing the two-tone navy numbers, following losses to Aston Villa, Wigan, Blackburn in the Carling Cup last week, and now to the sky blue of Manchester City.

    That means they have won all of their other games when wearing their regular royal blue or their all-white away shirts, besides their only draw in this campaign, away to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

    All of which begs the question: when will Ancelotti's side lose next this season?

    After a quick consultation of the fixture list, ExtraFootie can confirm, according to the navy-blue hoodoo, it will be on their Boxing Day trip to St Andrew's, unless they can get away for wearing white for that encounter!

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Joseph Yobo ruled out until the end of the year

    Joseph Yobo will be out of action for Everton and Nigeria until the end of the year because of injury.
    The 29-year-old pulled a hamstring during his club's 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.
    It means he will be out until Christmas but he is hoping to still be fit for the Nations Cup in Angola next month.
    "A scan carried out showed that it was a familiar hamstring injury [and] that I should rest until the end of the year," Yobo told BBC Sport on Thursday.
    "They (doctors) anticipate that I should be fully back at the end of December.
    "Unfortunately that will cost me a chance to help out my club at this demanding and crucial stage of the season."
    Yobo was substituted after only 15 minutes during the Premier League game on Sunday.
    "Everton means a lot to me because it is my second family but my thoughts and prayers will be with the team while I recover," he added.

    "Hopefully I will return a better and fitter player at the beginning of 2010, a special year for Nigeria football.
    "The physiotherapists have got a grip of the situation and the method of perfect recovery and that is the path we are taking at the moment."
    Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has already lost striker Ikechukwu Uche to injury for Angola.
    Obafemi Martins, Seyi Olofinjana, Danny Shittu and Yusuf Muhammed are all in a race to be fit for the Cup of Nations, which kicks off on 10 January.
    Nigeria will face defending champions Egypt, Mozambique and Benin in the group phase of the biennial tournament.

    Story from BBC SPORT

    Mikel reveals Carlo anger

    Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has revealed manager Carlo Ancelotti vented his anger following their UEFA Champions League draw with Apoel Nicosia.
    The Blues had led the Cypriot outfit late on thanks to goals from Michael Essien and Didier Drogba after Marcin Zewlakow had given the visitors a surprise lead.
    After losing at Manchester City and being upset by Blackburn in the Carling Cup, Mikel has conceded Ancelotti was furious at not getting the better of Nicosia.
    Mikel's poor backpass led to substitute Nenad Mirosavljevic snatching the late leveller and the Nigeria international accepts the personal responsibility for the mistake.

    Really, really mad

    "The manager was really, really mad with the way we played in the second half," explained Mikel.
    "We had lost the last two games and, playing at home as well, we should have won the game.
    "We played well in the first half but in the second half we didn't move the ball quickly and you could smell the danger coming.
    "It is good that we are now playing two games at home. We owe the manager because he is really mad and we have to make sure we win these next two games.

    Mikel: Accepts responsibility
    "It was a very big mistake from me, but the mistake is done now. I take responsibility for it but I think overall we didn't play well enough in the second half."

    Barca dominate African shortlist

    Samuel Eto'o and his ex-Barcelona team-mates Yaya Toure and Seydou Keita have been named on the shortlist for Caf's African Footballer of the Year award.
    All three contributed to Barcelona's unique treble of domestic league and cup, plus the European Champions League title last season.
    Eto'o will be the favourite to win the title again, having won the crown three times before.
    Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Michael Essien complete the list.
    Eto'o, Toure, Drogba and Essien all helped their countries - Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana - to reach the 2010 World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations.
    Togo's Emmanuel Adebayor was last year's winner.
    Four of the five candidates for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) award are also on the shortlist for the BBC African Footballer of the Year title.

    The Caf crown is decided by international coaches from across the continent whilst the BBC title is voted for by football fans from around the world.
    The Caf awards ceremony will take place in the Senegalese capital Dakar on 25 February.

    Story from BBC SPORT:

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    Amodu pleased with 'good' draw

    Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu described as 'good', the Super Eagles draw for the preliminary stage of next year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but admits that things will be tough.

    The Eagles will play South American powerhouses Argentina, Korea and Greece in Group B.

    A very relaxed Amodu told immediately after the draw that it was up to him and his team to be prepared to make progress beyond the preliminary stages.

    "It is quite a good draw," Amodu said. "As you know, every group is tough, but we must all be prepared for it."

    Nigeria have lost to Argentina on the two occasions both sides have met in the World Cup in 1994 and 2002, and beat Greece in 1994 but Amodu says there are no guarantees.

    "Obviously, the biggest team on paper is Argentina, but we don’t have to worry. Anybody who is coming to the World Cup must be prepared to face any team and they will all be difficult.

    "If you do well and progress to the next round, you may meet them there so it doesnt matter when we play Argentina, we just have to look to our own preparations."

    And the Nigeria coach remains confident that the Super Eagles will make it through to the second round.

    "Nigeria is one team everybody is looking at to do well, and I believe that we should be able to represent ourselves well and in that group and come out to the second round."

    Amodu however, refused to be drawn on how far Nigeria will go.

    "Definitely, our ambition is to fight and fight and come out of that group. But the first thing is to think about the group stage and focus on it. If we do that as I think we should, we can then think about how far we can go."

    Nigeria Fixtures
    Sat Jun 12 (Ellis Park, JHB) : Argentina v Nigeria 1600 (1500 Nigerian time)
    Thu Jun 17 (Mangaung): Greece v Nigeria 1600 (1500 Nigerian time)
    Tue Jun 22 (Durban): Nigeria v Korea Republic 2030 (1930 Nigerian time)

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    World Cup 2010 group draw and fixtures

    Group A Group B Group C Group D
    South Africa Argentina ENGLAND Germany
    Mexico Nigeria United States Australia
    Uruguay South Korea Algeria Serbia
    France Greece Slovenia Ghana
    Group E Group F Group G Group H
    Netherlands Italy Brazil Spain
    Denmark Paraguay North Korea Switzerland
    Japan New Zealand Ivory Coast Honduras
    Cameroon Slovakia Portugal Chile
    Friday, 11 June 2010
    South Africa v Mexico, Gp A, 15:00
    Uruguay v France, Gp A, 19:30

    Wednesday, 16 June 2010
    South Africa v Uruguay, Gp A, 19:30

    Thursday, 17 June 2010
    France v Mexico, Gp A, 12:30

    Tuesday, 22 June 2010
    France v South Africa, Gp A, 15:00
    Mexico v Uruguay, Gp A, 15:00
    Saturday, 12 June 2010
    Argentina v Nigeria, Gp B, 12:30
    South Korea v Greece, Gp B, 15:00

    Thursday, 17 June 2010
    Argentina v South Korea, Gp B, 19:30
    Greece v Nigeria, Gp B, 15:00

    Tuesday, 22 June 2010
    Greece v Argentina, Gp B, 19:30
    Nigeria v South Korea, Gp B, 19:30
    Saturday, 12 June 2010
    England v USA, Gp C, 19:30

    Sunday, 13 June 2010
    Algeria v Slovenia, Gp C, 12:30

    Friday, 18 June 2010
    England v Algeria, Gp C, 19:30
    Slovenia v USA, Gp C, 15:00

    Wednesday, 23 June 2010
    Slovenia v England, Gp C, 15:00
    USA v Algeria, Gp C, 15:00
    Sunday, 13 June 2010
    Germany v Australia, Gp D, 15:00
    Serbia v Ghana, Gp D, 19:30

    Friday, 18 June 2010
    Germany v Serbia, Gp D, 12:30

    Saturday, 19 June 2010
    Ghana v Australia, Gp D, 12:30

    Wednesday, 23 June 2010
    Australia v Serbia, Gp D, 19:30
    Ghana v Germany, Gp D, 19:30
    Monday, 14 June 2010
    Japan v Cameroon, Gp E, 15:00
    Netherlands v Denmark, Gp E, 12:30

    Saturday, 19 June 2010
    Cameroon v Denmark, Gp E, 19:30
    Netherlands v Japan, Gp E, 15:00

    Thursday, 24 June 2010
    Cameroon v Netherlands, Gp E, 19:30
    Denmark v Japan, Gp E, 19:30
    Monday, 14 June 2010
    Italy v Paraguay, Gp F, 19:30

    Tuesday, 15 June 2010
    New Zealand v Slovakia, Gp F, 12:30

    Sunday, 20 June 2010
    Italy v New Zealand, Gp F, 15:00
    Paraguay v Slovakia, Gp F, 12:30

    Thursday, 24 June 2010
    Paraguay v New Zealand, Gp F, 15:00
    Slovakia v Italy, Gp F, 15:00
    Tuesday, 15 June 2010
    Brazil v Korea DPR, Gp G, 19:30
    Ivory Coast v Portugal, Gp G, 15:00

    Sunday, 20 June 2010
    Brazil v Ivory Coast, Gp G, 19:30

    Monday, 21 June 2010
    Portugal v Korea DPR, Gp G, 12:30

    Friday, 25 June 2010
    Korea DPR v Ivory Coast, Gp G, 15:00
    Portugal v Brazil, Gp G, 15:00
    Wednesday, 16 June 2010
    Honduras v Chile, Gp H, 12:30
    Spain v Switzerland, Gp H, 15:00

    Monday, 21 June 2010
    Chile v Switzerland, Gp H, 15:00
    Spain v Honduras, Gp H, 19:30

    Friday, 25 June 2010
    Chile v Spain, Gp H, 19:30
    Switzerland v Honduras, Gp H, 19:30

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Super expectations for Nigeria

    By Oluwashina Okeleji
    BBC Sport, Lagos

    Nigeria only just achieved qualification for the 2010 World Cup - but fans are confident the team can be in the reckoning in South Africa.
    Even though the Super Eagles were unbeaten in their qualifying matches, it was an unconvincing campaign.
    But with a repeat of the 2006 World Cup absence averted, gloom has been replaced by expectations.
    "We have been through a lot to get here," Rafiu Ladipo of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club, told the BBC.
    "Now we hope for a favourable draw to enable us to sail into the next round."
    Nigeria have made three previous appearances at the World Cup - in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
    But current form suggests they are the not regarded as one of the contenders.
    Individually, Nigeria's playing representatives in Europe continue to shine.
    And the players believe they can still challenge for both the Nations Cup in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa.
    "Regular changes and other problems affected us as a team in the past but the players have all learned their lessons now." Everton defender and Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo said.
    "We have already been pushed to the wall, so it is now up to us to fight for the country and prove we deserve a place in history and not in the hall of disgrace.
    "Angola provides us with the platform to win over the fans, media and everyone around the world who believed in us."

    $30 million for World Cup Winner

    Football's world governing body Fifa has announced prize money of $30 million for the winners of next year's World Cup in South Africa.
    Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke made the announcement on Thursday in Cape Town.
    The runners up will receive $24 million while every participating team will receive $1 million to cover preparation costs.
    Clubs whose players are taking part in the tournament will share $40 million.
    The total prize money available at South Africa 2010 is a 61 percent increase from the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
    "Every club who has a player at the World Cup will receive $1600 per day, per player," Valcke said.
    "The money will be paid 15 days before the start of the tournament and to one day after the players' participation in the World Cup ends."
    Clubs will receive the money through their national associations and as part of that package, clubs have agreed not to pursue any claims or any possible compensation through civil courts but only go through Fifa or Cas, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
    Fifa has also announced that it will keep the existing rules concerning the Olympics for the 2012 London Olympics.
    This means that qualifying teams can use players under 23 years old with the exception of three over age players.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Henry may face finals ban

    Thierry Henry could miss the start of the next summer's World Cup finals after Fifa said his infamous handball will be referred to its disciplinary committee.
    The announcement came as Fifa's executive committee met for an emergency meeting in Cape Town.
    The French striker came under fire in the aftermath of the controversial win over the Republic of Ireland in last month's play-off match, which saw the FAI call for a replay.
    The 32-year-old could face a ban if he is found guilty of any wrongdoing.
    The incident also reignited the debate over the use of technology and Fifa came under pressure to introduce goalline technology and a five-referee system
    Fifa rejected both calls but announced it will launch an inquiry to consider the use of both technology and extra officials in future matches.
    "The disciplinary will open a case on the behaviour of the player Thierry Henry," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
    "I have not said that Thierry Henry will be punished, I have said that Thierry Henry will be examined by the disciplinary committee of Fifa.
    "This is a matter of the disciplinary committee and it's not a question of this player or another - it was a blatant unfair playing and was shown all around the world, but I don't know what the outcome will be."
    The FAI also asked Fifa to consider letting Ireland enter the finals as a 33rd team, but that idea was also rejected.
    Football's governing body has come under great scrutiny in light of its message to the football world regarding the importance of fair play, and Blatter said players should realise that the eyes of the world will be on them next summer.
    "I appeal to all the players and coaches to observe this fair play," he added. "In 2010 we want to prove that football is more than just kicking a ball but has social and cultural value.
    "So we ask the players 'please observe fair play' so they will be an example to the rest of the world."
    The referral of Henry will come as little consolation to the FAI, which has argued vociferously for Giovanni Trapattoni's side to be given a place at the competition.

    Tiger - I've let my family down

    American golfer apologises for "personal sins"

    Tiger Woods has admitted letting down his family and regrets "those transgressions with all of my heart."
    Woods, the world's number one golfer, released a statement on his official website on Wednesday conceding he "had not been true to my values and the behaviour my family deserves."
    The 33-year-old was involved in a one-car accident outside his Florida home in the early hours of November 27 and required hospital treatment for facial lacerations, cuts and bruises.
    The Florida Highway Patrol investigated, and although Woods was issued with a citation for careless driving, he will not face any criminal charges.
    The aftermath of the accident, however, has seen frenzied speculation about Woods' private life.


    "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart," read the 14-time major winner's statement on
    "I have not been true to my values and the behaviour my family deserves.
    "I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behaviour and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.
    "Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realise the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives.
    "The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin (his wife) has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.
    "But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy.
    "I realise there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.
    "Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.
    "I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."
    The injuries sustained in the car crash prompted Woods to withdraw from this week's Chevron World Challenge, a tournament at Thousand Oaks in California which he was due to host for the 10th year in a row.

    No extra refs at World Cup.....FIFA

    Fifa has rejected the use of extra match officials at next year’s World Cup despite the uproar over Thierry Henry’s handball that helped France qualify at the expense of Ireland.
    Fifa president Sepp Blatter said Wednesday that “there is no change for referees” at the World Cup, which begins June 11, but added there are plans to introduce more officials or technology at a later stage.

    Henry handled the ball before setting up an equalizer in last month’s 1-1 draw with Ireland in a World Cup Play-off that put France through 2-1 on aggregate and eliminated the Irish.

    The decision means matches at the tournament will proceed as normal with a referee, two assistants and a fourth official.

    Fifa decide seeded teams

    Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina and England will join Bafana Bafana as seeded teams for the World Cup Final draw on Friday.
    The Fifa Organising Committee also approved the composition of the other pots, as well as the procedure for the final draw:

    Pot 2 will be composed of teams from Asia (Australia, Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic), North, Central America and the Caribbean (Honduras, Mexico, USA) and Oceania (New Zealand)

    Pot 3 will include teams from Africa (Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria) and South America (Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay)

    Pot 4 will have the remaining European teams (Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland)

    Hosts South Africa will be automatically positioned as A1; the other seeded teams will be drawn into the other groups B-H, but will always be in position “1” of their group

    Groups will be drawn from A to H and the positions in the group will be drawn for Pots 2 to 4

    Geographical criteria will also be respected, meaning that no two teams from the same confederation will be drawn in the same group (except European teams, where a maximum of two will be in a group).

    For example, South Africa cannot play the African teams from Pot 3 and Argentina and Brazil cannot be drawn against the three remaining South American teams.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Barcelona forward Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or award

    Messi top-scored for Barcelona last season with 38 goals
    Messi named top European player
    Barcelona's Lionel Messi has won the acclaimed Ballon d'Or award for the European Footballer of the Year.
    French magazine France Football said the 22-year-old Argentine beat 2008 winner Cristiano Ronaldo into second by a massive margin - 473 points to 233.
    "I'm happy to have won, and on top of it all by a wide majority," said Messi. "It is beautiful to win it this way."
    Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard were eighth and 10th respectively.
    The award is decided by a poll of world football journalists from a shortlist of 30 players.
    Third and fourth place in the voting were Messi's Barcelona team-mates, midfielders Xavi (170 points) and Andres Iniesta (149).

    Argentina star Messi is in the running for Fifa World Player of the Year

     Striker Samuel Eto'o, who left Barcelona for Inter Milan during the close-season, was fifth.
    Messi played a key role as Barca won the treble of Champions League, domestic league and cup last season.
    The 22-year-old said he was "really happy" to be the first Argentine winner of the award, but added: "I have to say that if the existing rules were in place years ago, Maradona would have won it."
    The prize was only open to European footballers until 1995, when the rules were changed to include players from the rest of the world.
    Argentina-born Alfredo Di Stefano won in 1957 and 1959 while at Real Madrid but he had acquired Spanish citizenship, Argentine-born Omar Sivori took the prize in 1961 after acquiring Italian citizenship.
    Messi paid a warm tribute to Pep Guardiola, who led Barca to the treble in his first season as coach.
    "I've always said that he's been a very important person, not only for me but for the whole group. There's a special relationship that is more than just a player-coach one," he said.
    "The titles we won with him have been the key to winning the Ballon d'Or."
    Guardiola said what separated Messi from his rivals was his "competitive spirit".
    "He has all the resources at his disposal: he's tough, quick, a goal-scorer, intelligent and reads the game well," he said.
    "It is a prize for him and the team. He's a deserved winner and a player on a different level."
    The highest-placed English player was Rooney, while Chelsea forward Didier Drogba came ninth.
    France Football said Messi was only seven points short of the maximum available from the 96 jurors.
    The magazine quoted Messi as saying: "Honestly, I knew that I was among the favourites because Barcelona had a fruitful year in 2009.
    "But I didn't expect to win with such a margin.
    "I dedicate it to my family. They were always present when I needed them and sometimes felt even stronger emotions than me."
    Messi becomes the sixth Barcelona player to take the award but the first since Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho in 2005.
    He recently signed a two-year contract extension with the European champions until 2016 - an improved deal which includes a buy-out clause set at 250m euros (£228m).
    Messi top-scored in last season's Champions League with nine goals - one of them coming in his side's 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the final in Rome.
    That United team contained Ronaldo, the 2008 Ballon d'Or winner, but the Portugal forward, who now plays for Real Madrid, was eclipsed by Messi on the night.
    Barca coach Pep Guardiola, having completed an unprecedented treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles, said after the final: "I think he is the best player and we didn't need to win today to know he is the best."
    Messi, who joined the Catalan giants from Newell's Old Boys at the age of 13 in 2000, usually plays on the right flank even though he is left-footed.
    His scampering runs off the wing and surges across the area to shoot or play-in a team mate have become a trademark of Barcelona's eye-catching attacking style.
  •  1987: Born in Rosario, Santa Fe on 24 June

  •  2000: Joins Barcelona as a 13-year-old from Newell's Old Boys youth team

  •  2003: Makes senior debut at 16 in a friendly against Porto

  •  2005: Leads Argentina to World Youth Championship title, collecting best player and top scorer trophies

  •  2005: Makes Argentina debut in friendly against Hungary in August. Sent off for elbowing.

  •  2005: Becomes a Spanish citizen in September

  •  2005: Makes competitive debut for Barcelona in October

  •  2005-06: Scores six goals in 17 appearances as Barca win Spanish league

  •  2008: Wins gold medal with Argentina at Olympics

  •  2008: Finishes second in the Fifa World Player of the Year vote

  •  2009: Scores second goal in Champions League final victory over Manchester United in May as Barca win their third European Cup

  •  2009: Signs a two-year contract extension in September to keep him at Barca until 2016

  • The arrival of right-back Daniel Alves from Seville in 2008 freed Messi from his wing duties, allowing him to move deeper into midfield, lose his markers, link up better with Barca playmakers Xavi and Iniesta, and burst through on goal from central positions.
    He finished as the club's top scorer with 38 goals in all competitions last season.
    Messi, whose style is usually likened to that of Argentine football legend Maradona, came through the Barca youth system and made his senior debut under Frank Rijkaard aged 16.
    He is still only 22 but has amassed three La Liga titles, two European Cups and a Spanish cup. He helped Argentina win the Under-20 World Cup in 2005, finishing as top scorer, and won gold with his country at the 2008 Olympics.
    Four years ago, Maradona, who has since become Argentina manager, said Messi would be the player to take over his mantle as national hero.
    In addition to the Ballon d'Or, Messi is favourite to be crowned 2009 Fifa World Player of the Year on 21 December.
    Final Ballon d'Or standings:1. Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona) 473 points
    2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Man United & Real Madrid) 233
    3. Xavi (Spain, Barcelona) 170
    4. Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona) 149
    5. Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Barcelona & Inter Milan) 75
    6. Kaka (Brazil, AC Milan & Real Madrid) 58
    7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter Milan & Barcelona) 50
    8. Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United) 35
    9. Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea) 33
    10. Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool) 32
    11. Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool) 22
    12. Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal) 13
    13. Edin Dzeko (Bosnia, VfL Wolfsburg) 12
    14. Ryan Giggs (Wales, Manchester United) 11
    15. Thierry Henry (France, Barcelona) 9
    16 Luis Fabiano (Brazil, Sevilla) 8
    16 Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United) 8
    16 Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid) 8
    19. Diego Forlan (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid) 7
    20 Yoann Gourcuff (France, Bordeaux) 6
    21 Andrei Arshavin (Russia, Arsenal) 5
    21 Julio Cesar (Brazil, Inter Milan) 5
    21 Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea) 5
    24 Maicon (Brazil, Inter) 4
    25 Diego (Brazil, Werder Bremen & Juventus) 3
    26 David Villa (Spain, Valencia) 2
    26 John Terry (England, Chelsea) 2
    28 Franck Ribery (France, Bayern Munich) 1
    28 Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Barcelona) 1
    30 Karim Benzema (France, Lyon & Real Madrid) 0

    Previous Ballon d'Or winners: 1956 - Stanley Matthews (England), 1957 - Alfredo di Stefano (Spain), 1958 - Raymond Kopa (France), 1959 - Di Stefano,1960 - Luis Suarez (Spain), 1961 - Omar Sivori (Italy), 1962 - Josef Masopust (Czechoslovakia), 1963 - Lev Yashin (USSR), 1964 - Denis Law (Scotland),1965 - Eusebio (Portugal), 1966 - Bobby Charlton (England), 1967 - Florian Albert (Hungary), 1968 - George Best (Northern Ireland), 1969 - Gianni Rivera (Italy), 1970 - Gerd Mueller (West Germany), 1971 - Johan Cruyff (Netherlands), 1972 - Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany), 1973 - Cruyff,1974 - Cruyff, 1975 - Oleg Blokhin (USSR), 1976 - Beckenbauer, 1977 - Allan Simonsen (Denmark), 1978 - Kevin Keegan (England), 1979 - Keegan, 1980 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany), 1981 - Rummenigge, 1982 - Paolo Rossi (Italy), 1983 - Michel Platini (France), 1984 - Platini, 1985 - Platini, 1986- Igor Belanov (USSR), 1987 - Ruud Gullit (Netherlands), 1988 - Marco van Basten (Netherlands), 1989 - Van Basten, 1990 - Lothar Matthaeus (Germany), 1991 - Jean-Pierre Papin (France), 1992 - Van Basten, 1993 - Roberto Baggio (Italy), 1994 - Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), 1995 - George Weah (Liberia), 1996 - Matthias, Sammer (Germany), 1997 - Ronaldo (Brazil),1998 - Zinedine Zidane (France), 1999 - Rivaldo (Brazil), 2000 - Luis Figo (Portugal), 2001 - Michael Owen (England), 2002 - Ronaldo, 2003 - Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic), 2004 - Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), 2005 - Ronaldinho (Brazil), 2006 - Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), 2007 - Kaka (Brazil),2008 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

    Tiger Woods Mysterious Wife

    Just who is Elin Nordegren Woods, anyway?
    As Tiger Wreck Watch 2009 lurches into its fourth day with little new information, fans and media are combing over every element of this case like symbologists in a Dan Brown thriller. There's brick wall after brick wall in this story, but one of the largest and most well-fortified is this: just who is Elin Nordegren Woods, anyway?If you were to design the perfect wife for a privacy-hungry superstar like Tiger Woods, she'd look a whole lot like Elin -- low-key, accustomed to celebrity, and, from all appearances on the golf course, totally devoted to her husband's career.
    Which is what makes the current questions about her recent behavior -- why did she smash a window in Tiger's Escalade? Is she responsible for his injuries? Why did she change her story to police? -- so challenging. We'd like to think the best of her, but we simply don't know much about her.
    As the Daily Beast notes today in a story entitled "The Mysterious Mrs. Woods," there's only been one major story written about Elin Nordegren Woods -- a 2004 Sports Illustrated profile -- and even that story centered on how little anyone outside of her inner circle knows about her.
    The facts: She grew up in Stockholm, and while she did some modeling in her teens, the idea that she was a "Swedish supermodel" is one of those urban legends that grows in the retelling. "She wasn't a high-profile model," as the Beast quotes a source from a New York modeling agency, and, to be fair, she didn't seem to be particularly interested in modeling as a career.
    But she was around the world of golf long before she met Woods, serving as the nanny to golfer Jesper Parnevik. She met Tiger at the 2001 British Open, and it wasn't exactly a romantic introduction for the ages.
    According to SI, Tiger was so nervous about asking her out that he had a friend do it for him. Initially, she declined. But Woods persisted, she relented, and they married in a lavish $1.5 million ceremony in Barbados. That wedding was the stuff of tabloid heaven, with Hootie and the Blowfish as the house band and Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley in attendance.
    Being married to the world's richest athlete apparently has done little to change Elin's public persona. We don't see her doing reality shows, we don't see her on the covers of magazines every month, and aside from releasing some photos, she doesn't parade around her children – two-year-old Sam and nine-month-old Charlie – seeking publicity. It's refreshing, really, to see someone in the limelight who's so apparently unconcerned with the fame-hungry world of modern celebrity.
    And this brings up the question of obligation. Is Elin Woods obligated to share anything about herself with the world just because of the man she married? Of course not.  Their private life is just that: private. Anything that goes on behind closed doors is their business, and theirs alone ... as long as no crimes have been committed. Without speculating on the Woods case, any time there is a reasonable suspicion of domestic violence, it does indeed become a public matter.
    What's definitive is that some of the events of recent days haven't been behind closed doors, they've taken place on public streets. And because Tiger Woods is a worldwide celebrity, anything he does in public, from hitting a golf ball to hitting a fire hydrant, draws worldwide notice. Combine the events of Friday morning with the allegations published last Wednesday that Woods had been pursuing an affair with another woman, and you've got a case that police simply cannot ignore.
    In the world of celebrity culture, curiosity fills in the gaps in a vacuum of information. Was it the wisest idea for Elin Woods to share absolutely nothing about herself for all these years? Perhaps, perhaps not; that's a decision everyone watching this case has to make for themselves. 
    What's certain is that the Woods camp would love a mulligan on many elements of this case, and the image that's been created -- or, more accurately, not created -- of Elin up until Nov. 27 may very well be at the top of that list.