Friday, February 19, 2010

Obi no longer seeing red

John Mikel Obi is convinced his bad-boy reputation has gone for good after two years without a red card to his name.
Midfielder Obi's early seasons at Stamford Bridge were blighted by four red cards - including one in the Carling Cup final victory over Arsenal in 2007 - and 27 yellow cards.
But the Nigeria international has only picked up two bookings so far this season and has not seen red since January 2008 against Everton.
Obi puts the dramatic improvement in his disciplinary record down to adapting to the English game.
"English football is always something crazy and, when you come into the Premier League, you must adapt to it somehow," said Obi.
"I guess the timing of those tackles was the area I had to improve and I think I've dealt really well with it.
"I think it was the hunger I had for the games, the enthusiasm, that meant I did not know how to restrict myself from going into tackles at the wrong moment.
"It took me a bit of time to get used to things but now it has been two years with no red cards and I hope I can continue like that.
I think it was the hunger I had for the games, the enthusiasm, that meant I did not know how to restrict myself from going into tackles at the wrong moment.
Chelsea and Nigeria midfielder Jon Mikel Obi
"I always try to keep my aggression but not get booked.
"But when you play in the position I play, sometimes you have to commit because the team will be in danger if you don't."
Obi was the last of Chelsea's four Africa Cup of Nations players to return to England last month.
His Nigeria side were beaten in the semi-finals of the competition but won their third-place play-off 1-0 against Algeria.
Obi was a 78th-minute substitute in that game but he has slotted straight back into the Chelsea side since he returned, including a fine performance against Arsenal.
He was outstanding against Cardiff in Chelsea's 4-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory on Saturday and is now hoping for a hat-trick of triumphs in the competition.
Chelsea face the winners of the replay between Manchester City and Stoke in the last eight.
Obi has won the trophy in two of his three full seasons at Stamford Bridge - being singled out for impressive performances in both the 2007 and 2009 finals.
"I want to do well because I always want to win," added Obi.
"But maybe the final feels a bit more special and a good performance there shows people how much you want to win the trophy.
"The game is the really special part of the day if you get to the FA Cup final.
"That's what leads you to winning the trophy and everything else comes from that - the build-up and the celebrations just make it more special.
"I think playing the FA Cup, whatever round you are in, always feels very special."

Court of Arbitration for Sport delays Togo ban decision

 The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) has rejected Togo's appeal for a provisional reversal of their ban from the next two Africa Cup of Nations.
Its decision means Togo will not be in Saturday's draw for the 2012 qualifying matches which begin in September.
However, Cas has said if it eventually finds in Togo's favour, the draw should be restaged at a later date.
Togo were banned by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) after pulling out of the recent CAN in Angola.
They withdrew after a gun attack on their party killed two people and injured several others, on the insistence of the Togolese government.
When they announced the move, Caf said the Togolese players had wanted to stay, and therefore the decision to pull them out amounted to "government interference".
The imposition of the ban sparked a vocal campaign within Togo to have the decision reversed.
Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor joined those who voiced their opposition to the move by Caf, calling it "outrageous".
The country's coach Hubert Velud said he wanted to involve the heads of Fifa and Uefa, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini in the campaign.
The draw for qualifying for the 2012 Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon takes place on Saturday.
The interim committee running football in Togo appealed to Cas to try and get the ban overturned.
The West African regional political body Ecowas has backed Togo's bid to be included in the draw.
In a statement, Cas said its dismissal of Togo's call for a provisional lifting of the ban "would not call in question the participation of the team in the first qualifying matches for the CAN 2012 which will start in September 2010".
It added that Caf confirmed there would be "no material obstacle to the organisation of a new draw in the event that the appeal of the Football Federation of Togo is upheld".

Monday, February 1, 2010

Togolese to fight ANC ban

Adebayor attended the funerals of Abalo Amelete and Stanislas Ocloo
  Togo's government will fight the country's suspension from the next two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, after branding their ban "insulting".
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) suspended the Hawks and fined them $50,000 for withdrawing after a gun attack on the team bus in Angola.
On Sunday, Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor called the decision "outrageous".
Government spokesman Pascal Bodjona did not confirm what action Togo will take.
Two members of Togo's delegation were killed in the ambush on 8 January, two days before the tournament began.
Following the attack there followed a period of confusion, but the players were ultimately called home for three days of national mourning by their government.
But Caf deemed that move amounted to political interference, leading to Saturday's sanction.
Bodjona said the team asked to come home after the attack.
However, Adebayor said they wanted to stay for the tournament, but were ordered home.
"This [Caf's] decision is outrageous," Adebayor told French newspaper L'Equipe on Sunday.
The Manchester City striker claimed Caf's Cameroonian president Issa Hayatou had "completely betrayed" the Togo squad.
"Mr Hayatou has served Africa extensively, but now he must be released [from the post]," added Adebayor.
However, 25-year-old Adebayor retorted: "They do not care about the voice of the world.
"It was our head of state (Faure Gnassingbe) who sent us to the African Cup of Nations to defend the colours of our country.
"He said the threat surrounding our squad had not gone and told us to return to our country. We are only ambassadors. We were obliged to return, and there was nothing we could do."
Togo's French coach, Hubert Velud, has also expressed astonishment at the decision, saying he wants to know whether Fifa president Sepp Blatter and Uefa chief Michel Platini support the ban.
"I am curious to know if Blatter and Platini will endorse this decision," said Velud.
"If they let this go, it is the gateway to completely dysfunctional football. I officially launched an appeal to international bodies to see their reaction."
Story from BBC SPORT

Shehata reveals Nigeria approach

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata claims he has been approached by Nigeria to lead them at the World Cup in June.
Shehata revealed he had been offered the post on a temporary basis, after leading Egypt to their third successive Africa Cup of Nations title on Sunday.
Nigeria were criticised for their performances on the way to finishing third in Angola under Shaibu Amodu.
"They expressed interest in hiring me to take charge during the World Cup," Shehata told TV station Modern Sport.
The 60-year-old also revealed the approach to at least one other Egyptian TV station and it was widely reported in the country's media on Monday.
Shehata added that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had approached both he and the Egyptian FA, but emphasised that the ultimate decision lay with his employers.
"It will be a great honour for me to work [at] the World Cup," he said.
"But the Egyptian FA will have the final word on whether I could work with Nigeria on a temporary basis."
Egypt themselves narrowly missed out on a place at the World Cup after losing out to rivals Algeria in a play-off in Sudan in November.
Shehata is under contract with Egypt until 2012 and is well regarded across the continent.
Amodu himself refused to be drawn on whether he will still be in charge of the Super Eagles at the World Cup in South Africa, following his team's exit from the Nations Cup.
NFF president Sani Lulu Abdullahi confirmed last week that the Nigerians will be carrying out a full review of the team and its organisation - including the coach - in the coming weeks.

Story from BBC SPORT