Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Guilty of tip-toeing around modern-day football from continent to continent in search for a last-minute fling with the beautiful game, the present-day 35 year-old reached soaring heights during his days at FC Porto, Galatasaray and Sporting Lisbon, which came in the years between 1996 to 2003. Infamously nicknamed ‘Super Mario’ during his time in Turkey, Jardel clocked up 198 league appearances for those three clubs and netted an earth-shattering 205 goals – an astonishing ratio beyond any recognition and such a feat that twice earnt him the esteemed accolade of the European Golden Shoe in 1999 and 2002. In doing so he followed in Ronaldo’s steps to become only the second Brazilian to achieve the elite prize coveted by every single forward on the continent.
For all the admiration truly earnt in his heyday, off-the-field indisciplines and untimely depression looked hellbent on strangling out the playing life of Mario Jardel, an irrefutably talented presence who could have been elevated to the stature of the greats, and became transformed into an ailing figure of a former self.
Released by Sporting Lisbon before the start of the 2003/2004 campaign, Jardel has since struggled to overcome the niggling injuries that have burnt any lingering desires to pull on the boots for one last extensive phase. Inevitable depression from divorcing his wife and the subsequent usage of cocaine, which he confessed at the beginning of the calendar year upon his premature release from Newcastle Jets, contributed to the downfall. “I started making mistakes when I had bad friendships. Then, divorce came, depression and then cocaine. I now want to restart my life. I am training. I am not a good example for children, but I am admitting my mistake."
The epicenter from his immediate fall from ‘grandeur’ can be pinpointed as early as 2002, where an article from the Guardian concluded the situation perfectly as ‘The disintegration of his marriage, which coincided with the summer's double disappointment of omission from Brazil's World Cup squad and a collapsed transfer to the Spanish League, has, he says, made him too depressed to play football.’ With Barcelona, Real Madrid and Real Betis rumoured to have made an approach – both ending disastrously as Sporting rejected promptly – Jardel’s much-craved transfer to Spain never came and thoughts gathered that his emotional exodus to his homeland was in protest at this.
Controversy was an ever-present mishap that threatened to overshadow a career that had the divine essences of success and prosperity beckoning. His stint in Istanbul with Galatasaray beared fruitful results with 22 goals but acted to go on strike when he wasn’t paid, before a potential legal battle lurked in the fore as a pre-contract with Benfica wasn’t honoured due to a lack of money on their side and thus led to Jardel signing for cross-city rivals Sporting. Cameos for Bolton, Newell’s Old Boys, Anorthosis Famagusta and most recently Newcastle Jets, where he starred as their marquee player, were short-lived and yet more contract wrangles with Deportivo Alaves have seen the former sensation fail to reignite the spark he possessed several years ago.
International ambitions remained just that and one of his disappointments will have been not to don the “Seleção” more often than just ten occasions, but returning to Brazil is an intelligent move and harbouring dreams of still playing consistently for club cannot be ripped apart yet. Transferring to one of the most renowned European teams eluded the grasps of Mario Jardel and to the day remains territory untouched, but twice being the recipient of the European Golden Shoe asserts the goalscoring figures that he was unquestionably one of the modern-day greats to have graced the European scene. Mario Jardel: The much-hyped rise and fall of the able traveller - Coming to a stadium near you.
- FIFA U-20 World Cup (1993)
- Copa Libertadores (1995)
- Portuguese Liga (1997, 1998, 1999, 2002)
- Portuguese Cup (1998, 2000)
- Portuguese Super Cup (1998)
- UEFA Super Cup (2000)
- Argentinian Torneo de Apertura (2004)
- Copa Libertadores Top Scorer (1995)
- Portuguese Liga Top Scorer (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002)
- UEFA Champions League Top Scorer (1997, 2000)
By: Juan Iglesias
Special to Soccer City FC
Ramos favours a diamond 4-4-2 formation, although he sometimes uses 4-2-3-1; both systems require a specialist defensive midfielder. The long-term absence of Mahamadou Diarra necessitates a replacement, and Ramos has already been linked with Didier Zokora of Tottenham Hotspur, a player whom he has always highly rated, and is also eligible for the Champions League.
His heavy reliance on attacking down the flanks will also require new players, as Madrid are currently lacking in that department. Speculation here has revolved around players like Bayern's Bastian Schweinsteiger, Napoli's Marek Hamšík as well as Tottenham duo Aaron Lennon and David Bentley.
After a fairly meaningless opening game against Zenit St. Petersburg, Ramos had an immensely difficult match in Barcelona, by far the best side in the league by recent form. After that, the home match against Valencia brought the year to a close and will allow for new signings in January.
Given his short six month contract, Ramos has little time to impress. His first task will be to restore some solidity to defence, which has struggled all season, particularly on crosses and dead ball situations.
Realistically, the championship is beyond Madrid this season, but Ramos will still be expected to finish second or third if he is to be offered a longer stay. His experience in Europe may come in useful in February, as Madrid attempt to get pass the second round of the Champions League for the first time since 2004.
Although he seems to have engaged the players and transmits a genuine warmth, it remains to be seen if he can overcome the problems of defensive frailty and sagging team spirit.
1. United States
2. United Kingdom
Monday, December 29, 2008
FC Tokyo 1 - 2 Kashiwa Reysol
Yokohama F Marinos 0 - 1 (extra time) Gamba Osaka
Gamba continues to find success in almost any tournament the club enters.
Soccer Pie offers up a look at the Coca Cola Championship best 11 so far. Ryan at Soccer Pie brings us a nice overview of some of the league's best performers thus far. We especially enjoyed Daniel Fox - left back at Coventry City and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake - striker at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
And finally, Mark Hughes believes that City must build steadily for success via Fox Sports. A refreshing report that shows the brain-trust at Eastlands understands that success will not occur overnight. There is no magic pill.
The cash generated from player sales would surely help owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson. Bjorgolfur wants to sell the club ASAP as the worldwide economic crisis has found its way to the owner.
Who would be solid sells for The Hammers? Let's have a look.
1. Diego Tristán: The 32-year-old striker scored this weekend against Stoke City. Now is the best time to sell the Spaniard, preferably back to a second-tier Spanish side. He has rarely factored and as only made four league appearances.
2. Walter López: The 23-year-old Uruguayan defender/midfielder was signed under caretaker manager Kevin Keen's watch. He has not seen any Premiership action. Would a Championship or League One side be interested?
3. Josh Payne: The 18-year-old was on loan at Cheltenham Town until recently. He returned to West Ham on the 22nd of December. The midfielder should garner League One interest. He was named as 2008–09 captain of the West Ham Under-18 squad.
4. Luís Boa Morte: The 31-year-old winger is a talented veteran. He has played for three of the the four London Premiership clubs. Journeymen often are the first to go in a fire sale.
5. Joe Widdowson: The 19-year-old defender marked Becks at the 2008 MLS All-Star game. He could go out on loan again, but as noted, funds are needed.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Will Ashwell at Goal.com recently highlighted City's expected shopping list as well as his own preferred City targets.
We also posted a few players (both realistic and not) who we would love to see at the Eastlands in 2009. Check out City Reaching for the Stars.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
- Young Saints will fly away… - at Soccer Pie
- WCR Top 25 Clubs in the World - Red Devil Successes Edition - at World Club Rankings
- Top 20 Young Footballers to Watch in 2009 - at Soccerlens
- Real Sociedad Has A New President - at Real Sociedad News
- The odd Dozen... Annual Review 2008 - at BoLASEPaKO
- Wednesday v 'Pool Preview - at Vital Blackpool
- Bentley and the new Puma V1.08 - at Soccer Cleats 101
- 12 Days of Christmas - Holiday Spectacular! Day Eleven - GoTorontoFC
Paris Saint-Germain, Fulham, and Blackburn have all been linked with Onuoha; the 22-year-old defender could net City as much as £4m.
Elano recently exchanged words with boss Mark Hughes after the UEFA Cup match against Racing Santander. Rumors have surfaced stating that Elano is only happy when he is playing consistently, something he has not enjoyed since Hughes arrival.
Special to Soccer City FC via Soccer Pie
Serbian players have always attracted interest from the European clubs and a big number of them leave Serbia every year. During the 90’s, due to the political problems, Serbian players did not have a chance to compete in Europe and only the best talents had a chance to earn a transfer to the big clubs. In a last couple of year, especially after excellent results Serbian U21 team achieved at last three consecutive Euro tournaments (Serbia reached at least semifinals) interest of big clubs is much stronger. After latest transfer of Zoran Tosic to Manchester United, a lot of people abroad are starting to ask questions about other Serbian talents. I will try to put together a list of players who have already left Serbia, and are regarded as hot prospects for the future. Similar list of Serbian prospects that are still in Serbian Meridian league has been published at SoccerLens.
Number 8. Nenad Krsticic (Sampdoria, 1990)
Nenad Krsticic started his career at OFK Beograd when he was 16 and played 26 games for the club. Sampdoria bought the young midfielder this summer but due to FIFA’s regulations he will be eligible to play in January 2009. Krstičić is a left sided midfielder although he can also play in more central role. His greatest quality is the left foot, although it is too early to talk about his potential, having played just 26 senior games, but even that at the age of 17 can tell us something.
Number 7. Marko Milinkovic (Kosice, 1988)
Milinkovic currently plays for Slovakian side Kosice, where he transferred from Borac Cacak, without playing a senior game for the club from his homeland. Good performances in Slovakian league made Serbian Under 21 coach call him to the national team for the play-off match against Denmark in October 2008 and he scored his first goal for the national team in the return leg. Milinkovic plays on the right side of midfield.
Number 6. Nemanja Matic (Kosice, 1988)
Nemanja Matic has a very similar career to those of Milinković but he played some senior football in Serbia before joining Kosice. Central midfielder played 64 senior games for Jedinstvo Ub and Kolubara before joining the Slovakian side and after just two years at the new club it seems that he has done enough to deserve a contract at Middlesbrough. He is currently on trial at the Premier League outfit and the odds are that he will be bought by Gareth Southgate in January. Matić is also the member of Serbian Under 21 side and he looks set to be handed debut for the senior team.
Number 5. Slobodan Rajkovic (Chelsea, on loan at Twente, 1989)
Slobodan Rajkovic was one of the biggest prospects in the World when he was signed by Chelsea in 2005. English club paid OFK Beograd €5.2m for the 16 year-old centre-back, which was the highest paid fee for the player under 18 years at the time. He is yet to play his first match for Chelsea, having been loaned to PSV and Twente. Rajkovic was recently banned from all football for a year after the alleged spat at the referee in the Under 21 match. His ban was reduced, allowing him to play club football. Rajkovic is a very talented defender but he is yet to prove his full potential. However, he is just 19 years old and his time will come.
Number 4. Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax, 1988)
Miralem Sulejmani is one of the hottest prospects in Europe and is currently playing for Ajax. His transfer to Heerenveen caused a lot of controversy and he was even suspended by the Football Association of Serbia. However, he impressed in the first season in Dutch Eredivisie, scoring 15 goals. He received the Talent of the Year prize in Holland and was spotted by the scouts of big Ajax. The following summer he transferred to Ajax for the staggering 16 million euros, signing a five-year contract. He can play as a striker or a winger and he has already played three games for the Serbian national team. Sulejmani is a very quick and skilful player and he is already regular in Van Basten’s team.
Number 3. Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund, 1988)
Neven Subotić was born in Banja Luka, in former Yugoslavia. This is now part of Bosnia, where the majority of population is of Serbian origin and it seems that Subotić will play for the Serbian national team. He had the option to choose between Serbia, Bosnia and United States, where he spent some part of his career, but now appears set for Serbia. He started playing professional football for Mainz and after just one season transferred to Borussia Dortmund. He is now the integral part of the Bundesliga team playing in the centre of defense. Subotić managed to score five league goals this season and that is another big quality.
Number 2. Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Fiorentina, 1987)
Zdravko Kuzmanović was born in Bern, Switzerland to Serbian parents and he decided to play for the Serbian national team. He started the professional career at Basel but after just two years he was bought by Fiorentina. The central midfielder has already become the integral part of Cesare Prandelli’s team and he has attracted interest from the big European clubs. Kuzmanović is regular in the national team, having already played 15 games. He is a very complete midfield player and very confident on the ball.
Number 1. Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin, 1987)
Gojko Kacar is certainly the biggest prospect of Serbian football at the moment and probably the most complete player on this list. He transferred to Hertha from Vojvodina and has already become one of the key players in the team. He can play at centre-back, centre midfield, attacking midfielder or even in attack and he is great in every aspect of the game. He is an excellent defender, very assured on the ball and has a great eye for the goal. Before he transferred to Hertha, he was the top scorer of the Serbian league, even though he had played in midfield. The latest achievement that put him under the spotlight was against Hungary in U21 play-off game when he scored 5 goals. Kacar is also great in the air and he has scored a lot of goals with his head. He is now regular in the national team and I see him as the future star of European football. It is interesting that his uncle Tadija Kacar was a silver-medalist in the light middleweight division at the 1976 Olympics.
Here are a couple more players worth mentioning: Milan Smiljanic (1988, Espanyol), Nikola Gulan (1989, Fiorentina), Ivan Radovanović (1988, Atalanta/Pisa), Aleksandar Prijović (1990, Derby County), Ivan Fatic (1988, Inter/Vicenza), Milan Milanovic (1991, Lokomotiva), Predrag Stevanovic (1991, Schalke)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Barcelona sprang another step towards the Spanish league title with victory at their nearby challengers Villarreal. The 2006 champions were forced to overturn a one-goal deficit as Cani chipped Villarreal into the lead, but Malian midfielder Seydou Keita threw the scoreline level and Thierry Henry’s volley gifted Barcelona a ten point advantage to dominate the half-way stage of Spanish proceedings. Juande Ramos guided Real Madrid to their first league win under his management as Gonzalo Higuain’s sole effort was sufficient to claim the three points against Valencia. Defeat for Real would have surely seen them drop from the title race as it would have left 15 points adrift. Second-placed Sevilla had to settle for a stalemate draw in Mallorca, while Deportivo La Coruna beat relegation-threatened Recreativo Huelva 4-1 and Atletico Madrid defeated Espanyol 3-2.
Espanyol 2–3 Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid 1–0 Valencia, Deportivo La Coruna 4–1 Recreativo Huelva, Mallorca 0–0 Sevilla, Numancia 4–3 Real Valladolid, Osasuna 5–2 Getafe, Racing Santander 1-1 Malaga, Real Betis 0-1 Athletic Bilbao, Sporting Gijon 1-0 Almeria, Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona.
Premiership (Matchday 18)
Championship hopefuls Chelsea, Liverpool and Liverpool failed to take full advantage of Manchester United’s winter break to Tokyo for the Club World Cup as they could only muster up draws. Ten-man Chelsea were held at Goodison Park and were grateful to leave Merseyside with a point after constant pressure from Everton in the second half, whilst the encounter between Arsenal and Liverpool also resulted in a solid but unspectacular draw. Having both prevailed victorious against their ‘Big Four’ rivals, Liverpool and Arsenal were seeking the entire nine points but Robbie Keane cancelled Robin Van Persie’s opener. Where the Premiership strong guard failed, Aston Villa capitalised through James Milner’s fortunate goal, which deflected off Lucas Neill to bound past a helpless Robert Green. Caretaker boss Ricky Sbragia certified his name amongst the favourites to replace Roy Keane by leading Sunderland to an impressive 4-1 demolition of Hull. Elsewhere, West Brom donned the role as Scrooge to add to Manchester City’s nightmares by beating them 2-1, but will still spend Christmas bottom of the table as Sam Allardyce prompted a Blackburn renaissance by overcoming Stoke City 3-0.
Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Stoke City, Bolton 2-1 Portsmouth, Fulham 3-0 Middlesbrough, Hull City 1-4 Sunderland, West Ham 0-1 Aston Villa, Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool, Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham, West Brom 2-1 Manchester City, Everton 1-1 Chelsea
Serie A (Matchday 17)
Lazio 1-0 Palermo, Siena 1-2 Inter Milan, Atalanta 1-3 Juventus, Cagliari 1-1 Reggina, Catania 3-2 Roma, Chievo 0-1 Genoa, Lecce 0-0 Bologna, Sampdoria 0-1 Fiorentina, Torino 1-0 Napoli, AC Milan 5-1 Udinese
Ligue 1 (Matchday 19)
Grenoble 2-1 Le Mans, Lille 3-1 Le Havre, Lorient 1-2 Stade Rennes, Nantes 1-1 Sochaux, Saint Etienne 2-0 Auxerre, Toulouse 2-2 Nice, Caen 0-1 Lyon, Marsaille 0-3 Nancy, PSG 2-2 Valenciennes, Monaco 3-4 Bordeaux
Eredivisie (Matchday 16)
AZ 2-0 FC Utrecht, Sparta 4-1 Heerenveen, NAC 2-0 Vitesse, Roda JC 2-5 Groningen, NEC 0-0 ADO Den Haag, De Graafschap 0-6 Ajax, Volendam 3-1 Heracles, Twente 2-0 Willem II, PSV 1-0 Feyenoord.
Portuguese Liga (Matchday 12)
Naval 0-0 Vitoria Guimaraes, Sporting Braga 1-0 Rio Ave, Sporting Lisbon 0-0 Academica de Coimbra, Belenenses 3-2 CD Trofense, Pacos de Ferreira 2-0 Vitoria Setubal, Leixoes 1-1 Estrela Amadora, Porto 0-0 Maritimo
Scottish Premier League (Matchday 19)
Hamilton 2-0 Motherwell, Hearts 0-0 Dundee United, Inverness CT 0-3 Aberdeen, Kilmarnock 0-1 Saint Mirren, Rangers 1-0 Hibernian, Falkirk 0-3 Celtic
Monday, December 22, 2008
When my wife mentioned that she wanted to move to New Hampshire, I was all for it.
Truth be told, I enjoy the outdoors and was looking forward to some winter sports that I never could take advantage of in Pennsylvania where it gets cold, but not New Hampshire cold.
It was all fun and games until December 11th when one of the largest ice storms in the history of New England hit the majority of New Hampshire, and parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
After "roughing it" for the last two weeks without power or heat besides our small wood stove, I now have power again.
Thanks to all those who support us here at Soccer City FC.
PS: Check out NH Ice Storm
Spaniard Benito Floro has been announced as the new coach of Ecuadorian club Barcelona and will replace the departed Reinaldo Merlo, who quit the position after an extremely substandard season which saw them finish fifth in the Liguilla final. On the final round of matches, the 13-times champions failed to qualify for the Copa Libertadores and the supporters emitted their fury at the team’s inadequacies by attempting to invade the dressing room in the 1-1 draw with El Nacional. Floro’s previous management experience stems from his homeland where he coached Real Madrid, Villareal and Mallorca alongside stints with Vissel Kobe in Japan and Monterrey in Mexico.
Barcelona can bask in their glory from the golden ages of yesteryear as Ecuador’s most successful domestic team but with the absence of a title medal since 1997, Floro has the gruelling task of breaking this draught and masterminding a route into the continent’s elite club competition.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Darcheville was an ever-present figure in Rangers’ famed tilt at the unprecedented quadruple and epitomised the season that brought the jubilation of the domestic cup double along with the anti-climatic finale to their voyage for UEFA Cup and league glory. He contributed to the cause on all four campaigns in the quest for silverware and scored a credible tally of 15 goals in all competitions, including the notable winner against Sporting Lisbon which ensured progression to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. While Darcheville might not be remembered for scoring a seemingly imposing amount of goals, he can leave with the proud statistic that his strike-rate of one goal every 105 minutes in 2007/08 equalled that of his proficient team-mate Kris Boyd.
Opportunities to impress have become rarer after Walter Smith reinforced his offensive options with the incomings of Lithuanian Andrius Velicka, Kenny Miller and Kyle Lafferty. Eager for additional minutes on the pitch in the form of first-team football, Darcheville made the difficult decision to return to his homeland and with the mission of dragging the relegation-threatened Valenciennes from the murky depths of Ligue 1.
When 2008 grinds to a halt and the fresh calendar year of 2009 awakens, Darcheville will be bound for France and set for new pastures but his heart will still lie in Glasgow.
"It will be good to go back to France because I'll be able to see my family there but I really enjoyed playing for Rangers. It was one of the highlights of my career and last year was my best season because we won two cups and I scored lots of goals. I have good friends here who I can call when I leave and I'll always be a Rangers fan." Darcheville told the official website.
Walter Smith praised Darcheville for his ‘good season for us last year’ and felt ‘he was a good character’ both on the pitch and in the dressing room, but conceded he was keen to return to his native country.
Valenciennes approach the winter perilously in 18th with Antoine Kombouare, the club’s coach, hoping “Jean-Claude can bring us 10% more in the battle against the drop."
Friday, December 12, 2008
With honours firmly even from the first tie, the outcome of the second leg was naturally unresolved and both Suwon and Seoul were relatively pleased with their performances from the 1-1 draw at the. After only a matter of 11 minutes passing on the referee’s watch, Brazilian striker Edu sent the majority of the 41,000-capacity Big Bird Stadium into an animated rapture when he opened up the scoring for the home team. Two penalties then dictated the conclusion to the match in a predictably anxious and agitating tie which is part and parcel with any final.
The celebrations from the Suwon faithful were, though, premature as football yet again demonstrated how delicate a one-goal advantage can be, especially in the erratic environment of a major final. Jung Jo-gook punished goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae for his untimely foul in the area by converting from the consequent penalty and thereby levelling the scoreline. Inevitably one club had to leave the final as the winners, but the difficulty remained that the match was so delicately balanced that few would dare to predict the result. It seemed that one goal apiece in either leg could not separate the champions from the lowly runners-up, until the unpredictable fate cracked its whip one last time.
Edu fell in the box following a challenge from FC Seoul’s Kim Chi-kon and the penalty was won. Former Feyenoord midfielder Song Chong-guk was the hero in waiting as he stepped up and can be forgiven for failing to score from the initial attempt as he fired in the rebound. The scoreline is arguably a slice of justification as Suwon did finish top of the league table, while FC Seoul pondered what could have been as they sorrowfully returned to the capital.
Suwon Bluewings' coach Cha Bum-kun said "I didn't feel as happy as this when I first won the league in 2004 because I wasn't able to do as I wanted as a new coach. I'm out of my mind with delight now and I want to praise my players who have proved themselves true champions.”
Suwon Bluewings’ goalkeeper Lee Won-jae broke history by being voted as the K-League’s Most Valuable Player, an accolade never achieved by goalkeeper in the award’s history. Suwon manager Cha Bum-kun was also received the Coach of the Year award to cap a lucrative year.
Elsewhere, Regar-TadAZ demonstrated their supremacy in Tajikstan by soaring to a marvellous seventh championship success story since 2001. The reigning champions beat Khudland 3-1 to secure the status as winners still with three matches remaining on the fixture calendar. Regar-TadAZ currently stand on 94 points after 37 matches, 15 more than Khudjand, and so can remain confident of breaking the 100 point barrier in stunning fashion with victories in the remaining ties.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Boca Juniors could have taken their first steps to clinching the league with a win at Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata but failure to score left the scoreline goalless and gave a salvation to the closing pack.
San Lorenzo demonstrated decisive form as they stomped to an overwhelming 4-1 win over Independiente with former Spartak Moscow striker Pablo Barrientos continuing his virtuous stint since he returned to Argentine terrain by netting twice. The result places San Lorenzo at the peak of the table as they reign ahead of their competitors with a superior goal difference.
Tigre’s prospect of glory looked to have diminished as they fell behind to Rosario Central and were staring down the barrels of defeat until a remarkable double from Carlos Luna and a winner courtesy of Leandro Lazzaro reignited their hopes. Lanus, currently lying in fourth and two points behind the leading trio, will need the occurrence of a miracle if they are to hurdle themselves to the front.
San Lorenzo’s luxurious standing at the top will become insignificant if they fail to grab three points on their trip to Argentinos Juniors, while Boca Juniors, who face Colon, will be relying on a slip-up as will a Tigre side desperate for victory and a massive stroke of fortune as they entertain Banfield.
Rock-bottom River Plate sustained their horrendous season with a shattering loss to Godoy Cruz and can only hope of avoiding the humiliation of finishing at the foot of the table, but it is a far cry from their Clausura triumph earlier in 2008. The turmoil has left Jose Maria Aguilar, the president of River Plate, to express his frustration through the hardship. Aguilar told radio La Red “I'm angry, because the players aren't angry. They play for the most important team in Argentina, and this season they have received huge support.”
Last Round of Fixtures In Argentine Apertura
Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba V Rosario Central
Newells Old Boys V Racing Club de Avellaneda
Argentinos Juniors V San Lorenzo de Almagro
Estudiantes De La Plata V River Plate
Lanus V San Martin de Tucuman
Boca Juniors V Colon de Santa Fe
Huracan V Velez Sarsfield
Tigre V Banfield
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy V Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata
Independiente V Arsenal de Sarandi
The latest Argentine Apertura table is now online on Soccer City FC's Worldwide Coverage, along with information and data on the other competitive leagues from around the globe. A full update will be carried out tomorrow to bring you the most recent standings and results.
I'm a life long supporter of Newcastle and a while back it seemed like it was all going good, in the Champions League, with Sir Bobby at the helm and a chairman happy to help his manager with money.
Then out of the blue, after 4 games into the new season, Sir Bobby is sacked for having a poor start. Madness, pure madness, and from there on Newcastle seemed doomed. Souness came in, spending a club record £16 million on Michael Owen but was never popular. The key to success at Newcastle is bonding with the fans, and Souness never did, his style of football, rough and tumble did not appeal to a very expectant Newcastle fan base and he left on February 2nd, 2006.
Then came Glenn Roeder, although not the most popular manager or hardily one of the more charasmatic, he quietly went about his business, with backing from the board, finishing 7th in 05-06 and seemingly on the right path to getting The Toon back to where they used to roam. However his good start faltered rapidly, and he left the club by mutual consent on 6th May 07 as Newcastle finished 13th. Sam Allardyce was named as the successor.
Shorlty after Allardyce joined, chairman Freddy Sheppard left the club, on June 7th selling his last shares to new owner Mike Ashely, who appointed Chris Mort as chairman. Allardyce started well, bringing in some good signings and at the start of the season Newcastle fans were optimistic of something actually happening. However Allardyce, after a good start proved to be a false dawn as the club slipped down the table. After just 8 months he left on Jan 6th 08, and Newcastle fans found themselves in a all to familar postion and things looked bleak. When Ashley arrived, he promised cash, a good future and it had all gone down the pan.
Then something amazing happened. On January 16th the "Messiah", the one and only Kevin Keegan returned to Newcastle, 11 years and 8 days since he left the club and had to be one of the most popular choices since Sir Bobby. Newcastle were in a precarious position, not yet safe from relegation to the Championship. In more staff changes, Dennis Wise came in as Director of Football, along with Tony Jimenez and Jeff Vetere. The idea to create a "crack" team to work together to bring in the best players for the job. Keegan started poorly, struggling to get a win in the first few weeks, but things clicked and the club finished 11th in the table, pretty good all things considered.
In the summer Newcastle struggled to bring in players but the arrivals of Jonas Gutierrez and Colloccini were both seen as very good signings sure to bring a touch of Argentine flair to the side, especially in the case of Jonas. Newcastle started ok, but it turned out the behind the scene, not all was well. Keegan felt that he was not being given full control, and that Wise was too much involved; that as manager Keegan should have the last say. 3 days of talking ended with Keegan leaving on September 4th. Fans were gutted. This lead to extreme protests, especially on September 13th at home to Hull, in the 2-1 reverse. Nor Ashley or Wise appeared, and shortly after Ashley announced his intent to sell the club. However, in the current financial climate a sale is not going to happen shortly, but every Newcastle fan has there fingers tightly crossed.
In came Joe Kinnear, a controversial choice after his first media conference, but fans began to back him, and although not getting stunning results, he is beginning to get decent results and recently announced that his contract has been extended until the end of the season, and it seems that all Newcastle fans can hope for this season is to stay in this league, relegation to the Championship would be a complete disaster.
But with Newcastle, who knows?
Jack F is the owner of FMStyle, a forum for the worlds best football management game, Football Manager 2009 by SI.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Roy Hodgson pulled off an unlikely coup in salvaging Fulham’s top-flight status with six victories out of the eighteen he was in charge of in 2007/2008. One of those wins was, yes you guessed correctly, Manchester City – remember, that 3-2 surrender in spite of the two-goal advantage? It would be fitting for the result to be permanently erased from our memories but for sakes I’ll have to settle for the famous quote made by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche - "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." It would be safe to claim that Hodgson has built an unforeseen consistency in the wake of City’s vast expenditure, which still looks to be miles away from the final destination.
Bookmakers across the country pinned Fulham down as one of the favourites to suffer relegation while the odds stacked City as favourites to dislodge the top four. Fortunately for them if you were ‘dim-witted’ enough to back either of these odds, no matter how tempting they looked for a welcome payout come the concluding round of fixtures in May, then the likes of Paddy Power will be enjoying the metaphoric last laugh. Given the pure erratic nature of the season so far for all teams concerned though, the outcome of two or three matches could indefinitely alter the attitude of a club from a relegation-mentality to one of optimism, buoyancy and desire. Look no further than Arsenal’s infuriatingly disjointed campaign as the perfect example to the topsy-turvy form guide – victories over Manchester United and Chelsea were met confoundedly with losses to Bolton, Fulham and Stoke.
So where do Manchester City stand in this bewilderness? The lasting impression has been that of a team stood deep in the depths of ‘Work In Progress’ having scuffled between the obscure individual calamities to the collective glories of a team capable of free-glowing elegance. A draw at Craven Cottage therefore hardly sends the adrenaline pumping into overdrive, but neither will it cause an angry mob to be unleashed in the direction of Mark Hughes – the mood really is dependent on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. Points have been a scarce sighting for any visitors to Fulham this season so a rational mind would conclude that it is a solid, stable but unspectacular point away from home.
Offensive play was almost non-existent in the absence of Robinho and opting to start with the services of two defensive midfielders pretty much summed up the lack of attacking personality. Roy Hodgson will have been less happy than his opposing counterpart with the sole point as Fulham demonstrated a more frequent threat. Sure enough the opening stint unfolded exactly to plan and some even dared to believe in a victory, which would have been the second away triumph under Hughes. Pablo Zabaleta was an awe of inspiration throughout the morning and acted as the catalyst of creativity on more than one occasion. It was the accuracy of his pin-point cross which enabled Benjani, edging out Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland, to head gracefully past Mark Schwarzer in the sixth minute. The foremost period of the match came courtesy of chances from Manchester City but the see-saw then restored its balance as Fulham gained the upper hand.
Jimmy Bullard thumped home the equaliser when Zamora played him in and the former Wigan midfielder could have left Manchester City facing up to the prospect of leaving London with zero points. A fine 30 yard free-kick was impulsively saved by Joe Hart to thwart any possibility of Fulham clinching a winner. Zabaleta was also denied twice but clinical opportunities were far and few between and we can all harmonise with the wise words of Dietmar Hamann in a post-match summary. “We didn't keep the ball well enough or create enough chances to win. It's a good point but with a bit more patience we could have won. It was one of those days when we gave the ball away too easily and too often, without pressure.”
Failing to shrug off an injury forced Robinho to watch only from the sidelines but as ever the points of discussion centred on the Brazilian marvel – this time the focus on Mark Hughes’ team selection in his absence. One criticism has been that Robinho has failed to ‘light up the pitch’ in away ties so, in the face injuries to numerous first-team players, those brought in were given the green light to up the ante for competition of places. Generally Manchester City’s performance resembled that of a familiar mid-table team content with stints of mediocrity – echoing Robinho’s concerns of the present second-rate team mentality. Michael Ball made his first league start in almost three months in the wake of Javier Garrido’s injury and was pushed to the boundaries by Fulham and they made several inlands to the goal via the left-hand side. By and large it was a decent showing but the visitors lacked the same support down the left-flank which Garrido so often provides and the insistence of Ball and Dunne launching long balls to the frontline failed in every attempt. The long-ball merchant style is unsightly at the best of times and such decisions wasted the more imaginative options in midfield.
The 4-2-3-1 formation saw both Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland in unfamiliar positions to those they have performed most productively in, with the largely ineffective Darius Vassell accommodated on the right. With Robinho and Elano stuck in the treatment room through respective injuries, Hughes could not have implemented much of a different starting eleven as he was restricted by the personnel available. Further injuries to Garrido, Sturridge, Johnson, Bojinov, Petrov, Richards, Fernandes and Johnson meant the problems had accumulated for Mark Hughes and the squad is far from a healthy state. The Craven Cottage stalemate could have been overcome without the European hangover and the January window should act as a tonic for City’s ailing squad and faltering domestic campaign. Optimism might be riding sky-high on their European voyage but better fortunes are expected for the second-half of the Premiership campaign.
All-in-all the point was very welcome as memories of the away failings at Bolton, Wigan and Middlesbrough were still afresh. The result at ‘stronghold’ Craven Cottage will barely wet the appetite of ambitious owners hellbent on worldwide domination but as Hughes stated after the draw, "We had 12 or so senior players out and played in midweek but I think that's the first point after a European date so we are reasonably happy.” Next month witnesses the return of agent propaganda, big-money hype and the fateful false dawns – with an unlimited treasure chest at his disposal, now is the time Mark Hughes must act and seal his name in the City hierarchy.
Monday, December 8, 2008
4. Anthony Vanden Borre: The 21-year-old Belgian is versatile; he plays right back plus right and central midfield. Not known globally, but the Genoa player still has the right amount of youth and potential to be perfect for Mark Hughes' bench.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimović: The Swedish superstar has the talent to stand firm against the rigorous conditions of the English game. He also would be able to deal with the weather having hailed from the Allsvenskan.
2. Cristian Villagra: The 22-year-old River Plate left back would join fellow countryman Pablo Zabaleta in City's back four.
1. Franck Ribéry: Last season's Bundesliga Player of the Year would be a fan favorite at City. The 25-year-old embodies all that is good about the global game.
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Special to Soccer City FC
I can't recall when was the last time the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship, or known as the "AFF Suzuki Cup", was free from any controversy.
In 1998, both Indonesia and Thailand knew that the winners of their game would face hosts Vietnam, who would be backed by the partisan Hanoi crowds, in the semi-finals, while the losing team would face a then weaker Singapore team.
To avoid the fuss of moving training camps from Ho Chi Minh City (located in the south) to Hanoi (in the north) for the semi-final, both the Indonesians and Thais staged a "dramatic" match that saw Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi deliberately kick the ball into his own goal, despite the Thai's attempts to stop him doing so, thus handing Thailand a 3-2 victory.
Subsequently, Mursyid was banned for life from the game with both the Indonesians and Thais being fined by the organizers (the AFF - Asean Football Federation) for such "unsporting" conduct.
Rather "quiet" 2000 and 2002 editions of this premier South East Asian football tournament concluded with Thailand beating Indonesia twice on the occasions to clinch the title (coincident eh?).
However, it wasn't long before ugly head of the controversies made their return to the tournament, which used to be known as "Tiger Cup" in its early years, in 2004.
I was at the Singapore's National Stadium on that wet Sunday night when Singapore took on Myanmar in the returning leg of the semi-final.
The stakes were high as the Lions (Singapore's moniker) were holding on a wafer-thin solitary goal advantage, and on a muddy wet surface it wasn't surprise to see both teams struggled on the field.
Everything seems to be over for the hosts when the visitors took a two-goal lead to overturn the deficit and as clock was ticking away, Noh Alam Shah rose high to head home to pull one back for Singapore and sent the match to extra time.
The next thing I knew troubles begun to sprout up not only on the field, where one Myanmarese player turned aggressive and hurled a water bottle at one of the Singapore defenders S Subramani, but on the stands as well.
As rival fans started to exchange angry words, physical contacts occurred as some pockets of the supporters were involved in some pushing and shoving (an umbrella belonging to a friend of my was used as a weapon!), and one supporter even jumped down from the stands as he tried to invade the pitch.
Following the fiasco, both Singapore and Myanmar were chastised by the organizing committee over this incident.
The soon-to-be-demolished National Stadium was the venue for another controversial incident when Singapore hosted Thailand in the first-leg of the 2007 final, amid the political tensions between the two countries then.
This time round, it was the Thais that staged a "walk-out" after they felt the referee had wrongly awarded the penalty against them after an infringement was committed in the box. The stand-off lasted for more than 10 minutes before the game restarted with Fahrudin Mustafic duly converted from the spot to give Singapore their first victory over Thailand on home soils in 30 years.
As what a commentator joked on the previous night's live telecast of the match between Singapore and Myanmar in the Suzuki Cup Group A fixture, "Singapore seems to be always in this "walk-out" controversy" when the Myanmarese staged a "walk-out" after Singapore scored their third goal in a bizarre fashion.
Vietnamese referee Phung Dinh Dung was the man of that moment when he allowed Singapore to restart the game with a free-kick quickly taken that caught the Myanmar players unaware (whom they thought the referee would only restart the game after the injured Singapore player had given treatment to his injury) and allowed Nigerian-born striker Agu Casmir to score his second of the night,
Tempers flared and saw Myanmarese 'keeper Aung Aung Oo deservedly sent off for push the referee in the commotion following Agu's goal.
All eyes are on the organizing committee on what tough punishment is going to be handed out to Myanmar, although based on the past records, many football watchers in the region wouldn't be surprise a "stern" warning will be given as a deterrent.
Last but not least, Malaysia complained about the decision by the AFF to switch the venue of their next match from Phuket to Bangkok, which Malaysian coach B. Sathianathan was quoted in a Malaysian daily, "AFF must think of players and not just sponsors or broadcasters as they are the performers, and coaches put their act together."
"Players need rest to recuperate and they can't do that by staying at the airport and waiting for the plane," he said.
The decision for the switch is because Phuket does not have another suitable venue besides the Sarakul Stadium, which will stage the match between Vietnam and Laos, hence therefore the switch is inevitable.
The ironic is that Bangkok was actually slated for the Group B group matches but due to the political uncertainly then, AFF hastily move the tournament south to Phuket.
I guess it's still a long way to go for the organizers to get their acts together, probably they should engage someone from the "flaw-less" Beijing Olympics committee as an advisor?
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Is Hughes the best man to lead Man City forward, or can we expect yet another change in the managerial hotseat when the latest crisis erupts at Eastlands? Are visions of Kaka pulling on the sky blue shirt next month realistic, or will January continue its reputation as a manager's nightmare and witness a bitterly disappointing dorment transfer window?
Starting off tommorow with a complete roundup of the Fulham match.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Africa’s illustrious and most prosperous club Al Ahly of Egypt will be satisfied with their opening round draw in the CAF Champions League for 2009. Al Ahly, the reigning champions and most successful team in the competition having collected the honourable first prize on six occasions, will meet the victor of the first round match between Tanzanian champions Young Africans and Etoile d'or de Mirontsy of Comores. Despite the first opposition remaining unknown for the time being for Al Ahly, Manuel Jose’s men will have the utmost confidence of advancing to the third round.
The 2008 runners-up Coton Sport will be challenged by DC Motema Pembe of DR Congo or Gambia’s Mangasport in the second round, while three-times champions Canon Yaounde welcome the threat of Inter Star of Burundi with the victor progressing to the stage of 32. Al Hilal, Sudan’s most recognised outfit in the sport having won their domestic championship 23 times, will hope to emulate last season’s heroics of advancing to the semi-finals. One of Academie Ny Antsika of Madagascar and USS Tamponnaise from the Reunion Islands await Al Hilal.
The group stage will be formed from those who win the third round ties, where two groups of four shall contest the semi-final positions available.
The representatives of Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe are still yet to be decided. The first round ties will take place on the weekend of January 30-31 and February 1, with the next round scheduled for March 13-15 and the deciding tie on April 3-5.
Its easy to forget it was only 6 years ago Real Sociedad finished 2nd in La Liga and the following year in the 2003/04 season finished 2nd in the Champions League Group Stage after excellent victories over Olympiakos and Galatasaray before going out in the first knockout round to Lyon.
The club are currently on a 5 match unbeaten run with 3 draws and 2 victories and a home tie against second from bottom Alicante gives the team a fantastic opportunity to climb the table further and narrow the gap on the top 3. One thing that has been apparent in recent weeks is the lack of firepower and with Necat Ates the only main striker available, there has never been a better time in his career to find his goalscoring touch.
The club signed him on a one season loan deal from Turkish club Galatasaray in the summer and fans had high hopes for him this season however he is yet to find the net yet after an injury hit start. Necati himself recognises the responsibility thats on his shoulders and recently declared its more important the team gets promoted than he scores goals, however skeptics would argue both go hand in hand and without his goals promotion is unlikely. Coach Lillo has also came out recently and praised Necati saying he offers the team much more than just goals and was happy with his overall contribution so far.
With a record of 72 goals in 104 appearances for Galatasaray and 5 goals in 19 games for Turkey there is no doubt Necati is a quality striker who knows where the goal is but how Real Sociedad need him to get his scoring touch back - and soon, hopefully starting tomorrow against Alicante. I for one won't be surprised if he does.
Kova is the owner of Real Sociedad News. A fantastic resourse for all Real Sociedad fans. Keep up to date with all the latest team news and results.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
FC Seoul started off the match on a brighter note than their closely-matched competitors by opening the scoring on the 21st minute through Dos Santos. Ki managed to successfully pick out the skilled Brazilian and Santos didn’t disappoint in his finish as the advantage was thrown in the direction of the hosts. Rather than slump and relinquish into obscurity, Suwon conceding acted as a catalyst for the comeback and Kwak Hee-ju was left with a simple tap-in after Mato Neretlzak’s header.
Suwon will approach the second leg with much confidence and optimism after they finished the match as the stronger team in terms of dominance, chances and possession and if they can strike early in the vital home tie then the championship will look to be within their grasps.
Mato Neretlzak rationally concluded that the outcome was just, saying “We should have won this match. But it’s not a bad result as we have the away match. We did not play well in the first half, but we were the better team in the second half.”
FC Seoul made it to the final by prevailing victorious in an extra-time enforced 4-2 win over Ulsan Tigers in the single semi-final, while Suwon were given a bye into the final as they finished top of the 26-match strong league campaign. Encounters between the two K-League clubs are regarded as one of the biggest on the calendar as both teams profess extremely loyal fan bases and attract the largest crowds in the entire division. The duo are the only clubs who attract an average crowd of over 20,000 in South Korea so their meetings are deemed as a domestic spectacle, and even more attention will be present in the environment of the second leg of an illustrious final.
Expect the usual flurry of Brazilian magic across both starting elevens in a mix of continental flair and home-grown solidarity. Montenegrin international striker Dejan Damjanović is the key to unlocking FC Seoul's potency upfront and we back the Number 11 to build on from his semi-final goal - a winning goal would cap a wonderful season off in emphatic style for both individual and club honours.
Previous Meetings: In matchday 6 during the league campaign, FC Seoul lost to Suwon 2-0 in a home tie while the reverse fixture saw Seoul claim all three points during matchday 24.
Last Season: The final was challenged between Pohang Steelers and the nation’s most successful club Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, who have to date won the championship on seven occasions. Pohang Steelers ran out 4-1 winners in the aggregate scoreline, whilst Suwon were eliminated in the semi-finals and FC Seoul failed to make the crucial top six segment.
Interesting Fact: FC Seoul are currently managed by the former Turkish national team manager Senol Gunes, who led his country to a remarkable third-place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
On the club’s official website, a statement read “Valencia wishes Hildebrand the best of luck in his future professional career.”
Hildebrand joined the six-times La Liga champions in 2007 from reigning native champions Stuttgart, where his presence and performances between the posts initially attracted the interest from Valencia. He held a Bundesliga record in the 2003/2004 season for clean sheets as 884 minutes passed without the goalkeeper picking the ball out of his own net. Upon his arrival under the guidance of Ronald Koeman, Hildebrand vowed to take the number one jersey off Canizares, citing "It will be difficult but I came here to fight it out and this is the sort of challenge I was looking for.” This challenge he might relish and thrive on, but not the continually fragmented nature of Valencia both on and off the pitch and the departure of Koeman signalled the end of Hildebrand’s phase at the club as Emery stepped in to take over the helm.
The infamous Copa del Rey triumph last season failed to dispel Koemen’s critics and the Dutchman fell foul to Valencia’s hideous league form and paid the penalty for a tangling with relegation. So despite Spain’s principal cup competition on show on Hildebrand’s mantelpiece as a remainder as to what he could achieve and bring to the team, he is looking for a new club.
The January transfer window is typically known as a difficult, almost impossible, environment to work within. Strengthening a depleted team is viewed as a necessity by fans and while managers mainly fail in attracting the highest calibre of superstars on their shopping list, here is a vastly experienced goalkeeper eager for first-team football and known around Europe for having the knack of bundling up clean sheets – perhaps not as ambitious as a Buffon or a Casillas, but a free signing that would be an extraordinary stocking-filler for any football club this Christmas.
Valencia travel to the Nou Camp this weekend in an attempt to continue their strong away form and a positive result would temporarily hide rumours of financial hardship. How damaging the club’s accounts are remains to be seen, but one David Villa could be an early contender for the most sought after player in the January market if Valencia need to raise revenue from the sale of their star names.
With the win, the City youngsters have run up their unbeaten streak this season to 15 matches and remain the only unbeaten U-18 side in the Academy system.
The squad has scored an astonishing 52 goals in those 15 matches.
Academy boss Jim Cassell noted to the Manchester media, “That was just the start we were looking for."
Slovakian teenager Robbie Mak started off the scoring for City. Liberian striker Alex Nimely-Tchuimeni added the second, shortly after the start of the second half, and the third goals of the match. The last goal was scored Nimely-Tchuimeni in the final minute of play.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Newry City FC 2 - 2 Loughgall FC
Portadown FC 2 - 0 Linfield FC
Glenavon FC 1 - 1 Lisburn Distillery FC
For a fine review of the Glenavon and Lisburn Distillery match, view the recap via the Belfast Telegraph. Lisburn heads home to play the second leg on December 16th with an important away goal in tow.
Amazingly, he only competed in a total of 16 international matches scoring seven total goals.
Schillaci starred at Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan before ending his club career in Japan with Júbilo Iwata. He was the first Italian to play in Japan.
View his historic run at -- Salvatore Schillaci - 1990 World Cup.
Best New Football Blog at Soccerlens 2008 Awards.
If you have enjoyed your visits to our small corner of the Internet where we have attempted to cover as many leagues as possible ranging from Iceland to Paraguay and in between, then head over to Soccerlens and vote for Soccer City FC at Best New Football Blog of 2008
And please, only one vote per person. No double voting. Integrity is important even in the blogosphere.
And a sincere thank you to everyone who has made our first year an absolute success!