Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Singapore Armed Forces FC reached the promised-land of the AFC Champions League and elevated themselves on par with Asia’s finest for the very first time as they scarcely overcame Indonesia’s PSMS Medan 2-1 to advance through to the group stages for the nation's very first time. The spectacle ignited into animation after the initial 90 minutes were complete as SAF were forced to deliver in extra-time, aided in their cause when two PSMS players were sent off.
Singapore Armed Forces seized the lead in the 36th minute when Therdsak Chaiman contributed to their international campaign once again by scoring past opposing goalkeeper Markus Harison. It took only six minutes into the second half for PSMS to peg back on level ground with Mario Costas at the centre of their gratitude but as the 90 minutes failed to distinguish a clear victor, the next thirty minutes proved to demolish their hopes and aspirations for progressing past the qualification phase. Octavianus Maniani and Edi Sukamto saw red for picking up a second yellow card each and Admad Latiff scored the goal that literally shot the club to stardom and glory in Asia’s lucrative contest.
The S-League champions will mix their identity with Japanese counterparts Kashima Antlers, former AFC winners Suwon Bluewings and Shanghai Shenhua of China. Ho Peng Kee, president of the Football Associated of Singapore, spoke of his hope that the breakthrough will encourage ‘the other clubs to raise the quality of play so that we can continue to get closer to Asian standards’.
Dempo endured a contrasting fortune as their dream of becoming the first Indian club to qualify for the tournament remained unfulfilled for another season as defeat to Al Sharjah of the UEA signalled their premature exit.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The quest for continental fame, fortune and prosperity extends itself beyond the horizons of Europe’s UEFA Champions League as the skirmish to land silverware becomes apparent throughout the globe. The captivating duel between Ferguson and Mourinho might be set for a return to our screens tonight but over the coming hours and days, the crowns of the six continents move a footstep closer to being resolved and we look towards the forthcoming fixture schedule.
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SECOND ROUND
Tuesday 24th February
Atletico Madrid – FC Porto
Olympique Lyonnais – FC Barcelona
Arsenal FC – AS Roma
Internazionale – Manchester United
Wednesday 25th February
Chelsea FC – Juventus
Villarreal CF – Panathinaikos
Sporting Lisbon – Bayern Munich
Real Madrid – Liverpool FC
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER-FINALS
Tuesday 24th February
Houston Dynamo – Atlante FC
Wednesday 25th February
CD SC Cruz Azul - Pumas UNAM
Impact de Montreal - Club Santos Laguna
Thursday 26th February
Puerto Rico Islanders - CD Marathon
CONMEBOL COPA LIBERTADORES GROUP STAGES
Tuesday 24th February
Deportivo Cuenca – Club Guarani (Group 2)
Independiente Medellin – Defensor Sporting (Group 4)
Wednesday 25th February
FC Caracas – Lanus (Group 6)
Deportivo Quito – Cruziero (Group 5)
CD Guadalajara – Everton (Group 6)
Gremio – Universidad de Chile (Group 7)
Thursday 26th February
San Luis Potosi – Libertad (Group 8)
Estudiantes La Plata – Universidad de Sucre (Group 5)
AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFYING PLAY-OFF
Wednesday 25th February
Singapore Armed Forces – PSMS Medan (East Asia Final)
Sherjah – Dempo (West Asia Final)
UEFA and CONCACAF Champions League fixtures are first-leg ties while the AFC Champions League Play-Offs are decided over a single match.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Aleksander Duric, twice the winner of the S.League Player of the Year, must undoubtedly be the favourite to retain the award for a third occasion as the Yugoslavia-born Singapore international striker scored twice before the first-half came to an end. Japanese midfielder Masahiro Fukasawa ensured the Armed Forces were left with the entire points haul after scoring on 74 minutes.
The priority now remains to seal their standing in the AFC Champions League by dispelling the threat posed by Indonesia's PSMS Medan. Such an act would signal the start of Singapore's presence in the competition and break barriers that have to date remained unsurpassed as no club from the country has ever advanced beyond the qualification phase.
Hajduk Split celebrated their 98th birthday in flawless fashion as they defeated Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in the Croatian First League to march ahead of their local rivals to the top of the division. Eager to retain the championship that has eluded their grasps for the three long seasons which have been conquered by Dinamo, Hajduk stepped into the first match after the winter break in an all-too familiar position of second place but attaining the derby honours soon swayed that.
Riot police, fanatic ultras, scattered fires and luminous flares - just another chapter in the long-standing feud between both factions and should the action within the pitch fail to serve up an appetising duel then footage of the stands won’t fall short of passion at the very least. Croatia’s two most successful clubs were the subject of this encounter with the victor assured of the much-coveted top position.
Nikola Kalinic opened the scoring in the 45th minute from the penalty spot before Hajduk’s lead was doubled thanks to Senijad Ibricic shortly into the second half. Hajduk coach Ante Mise commented "We will do everything necessary to become champion”, stating his side earnt the win “because we were better and we scored the goals at the right moments. Dinamo had no chance.”
With 84 Hajduk fans and 37 Dinamo supporters arrested throughout the course of the match, this rivalry promises never to lose its spark.
Croatia First League (Matchday 19)
- NK Zadar 2 - 1 HNK Cibalia Vinkovci
- NK Varteks Varazdin 2 - 1 NK Croatia Sesvete
- NK Zagreb 0 - 1 NK Inter Zapresic
- NK Slaven Koprivnica 3 - 1 HNK Sibenik
- NK Osijek 2 - 2 HNK Rijeka
- HNK Hajduk Split 2 - 0 NK Dinamo Zagreb
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The incident occurred in the southern oil-producing region of the country.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Defending champions Bohemians will travel to Dundalk in the opening round of fixtures of the League of Ireland. The FAI Cup victors have suffered a problematic off-season, much in the same fashion as other clubs in the country as they fell victim to the economic crisis and paid the consequences for lavishly over-spending from previous years. Elsewhere, St Patrick’s Athletic encounter Galway United for the first match of 2009 and Sligo Rovers welcome the challenge posed by Cork City.
Kildare County will compete in the League of Ireland First Division for the upcoming season after Cobh Ramblers were denied the necessary licence. Cobh Ramblers were relegated from the Premier Division last season but failure to obtain the relevant license will see them relegated a further tier to the ‘A’ Championship. The future of 2007 champions Drogheda United has additionally been secured in the top-flight after they emerged from examinership two weeks ago and have met the requirements in time.
Premier Division Opening Fixtures (Friday 6th March 2009)
- Bray Wanderers v Shamrock Rovers
- Derry City v Drogheda United
- Dundalk v Bohemians
- Galway United v St Patrick’s Athletic
- Sligo Rovers v Cork City (Saturday 7th March 2009)
Check back on here in a couple of week's for a preview to the 2009 League of Ireland season as Bohemians attempt to achieve two successive domestic titles and fend off their reinforced rivals.
51 top-flight titles under the glorious name of Rangers and an additional 42 awarded to Celtic supplies us with all of the knowledge we require. Recollections of earlier seasons where one of the other twelve champions emerged victorious are rapidly descending into the past, but there was once upon a time when Aberdeen sat at the pinnacle of the domestic perch.
The years between 1978 and 1986 can be hailed as the club’s golden era when, under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, Aberdeen won three league championships, four Scottish Cups, a League Cup, the European Cup Winner’s Cup and the European Super Cup. With the accolade of being the most recent club outside the Old Firm to win the title – in 1984/85 - Aberdeen can also pride themselves by remaining the only Scottish club to have won two European club competitions. Beating Bayern Munich en route to the European Cup Winner’s Cup final in 1983 was comfortably surpassed by overcoming Real Madrid in the continent’s finest showpiece. Afterwards they acquired the Super Cup at the expense of SV Hamburg.
Since the official unveiling of the Scottish Premier League in 1998-98, the fortunes of the Glasgow pair have gone from strength to strength on the domestic front and the concentration of their stranglehold has only intensified. Aberdeen have been unable to match the feats of the 1980s and with the recurring appearances of Celtic and Rangers in the Champions League, along with the financial bliss gained from pulling in the league’s two largest attendances, it is unlikely to radically change soon. Leaping past the UEFA Cup Group Stage last season and entertaining Bayern Munich again in a Last 32 glamour tie restored the pride of a bygone time and finishing in 3rd place this campaign would represent a noble effort and a hugely satisfactory outcome.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Player of the Year: Leo Bertos
Members' Player of the Year: Ben Sigmund
Players' Player of the Year: Shane Smeltz
Media Player of the Year: Shane Smeltz
Golden Boot: Shane Smeltz (12 goals)
Monday, February 16, 2009
Short-lived cameos have been the source of frustration for Marcus Bent and two goals in the Championship season prior to the weekend encounter with Forest demonstrates the disappointment on an individual basis for the striker. An industrious display, however, saw Bent execute his strengths to almost perfection, triumphing in every single mid-air contest and possessing a hard-working ethic that will have won him support at a time when Gary McSheffrey and Garry O'Connor are welcomed back from injury, eager to prove a point or three. With injuries plaguing squads nationwide at such a pivotal phase of the season, the strength of a squad is fundamental in the drive for promotion and the encouraging performances of Bent, Murphy and Fahey will allow McLeish to retain the confidence that he has the personnel to finish in the top-two hierarchy.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Read on at Mail Online... Pompey close in on deal for Sven Goran-Eriksson after his Mexico dream collapses
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The former French international, joined PSG via Chelsea this past summer and his work in the midfield has been credited as one of the factors behind the club's return to the French elite this season. Currently, Paris St. Germain sits third in the Ligue 1 table.
After the season, he is going to re-evaluate his options and he noted that one of those options is retirement.
The 35-year-old recently noted to French magazine, L'Equipe, "If my children say to me, 'Dad, quit!', I will quit. But my decision will also depend on my desire and circumstances."
Friday, February 13, 2009
City's Shaun Wright-Phillips will miss due to a three-match ban. Elano will likely take SWP's place in the midfield after his impressive showing mid-week in Brazil's 2-0 victory over Italy.
It is vital that City continues to push up the table and with away points rare this season, the match at Pompey is the perfect setting for Mark Hughes' men to take three points back to Eastlands.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
That said, the self-proclaimed "Special One" firmly believes that his players can knock off the current champions in the two-legged tie scheduled to begin on February 24. Can he be serious? I believe he is, and here’s why.
- Home-field advantage: Inter Milan hosts Manchester United in the first leg of the tie. If the Nerazzurri can win at their home ground, the San Siro, Inter will put the pressure on United to win big when the clubs travel to Old Trafford two weeks later.
- Patrick Vieira: The 32-year-old French international legend is the perfect central midfielder to combat United’s offensive attack. He has the poise and the soccer smarts to keep the likes of Ronaldo, Berbatov, and Rooney at bay.
- Zlatan Ibrahimović: The Swedish superstar can score goals, in bunches. His strong frame will allow the striker to maneuver through United’s rugged defense.
- The Special One: He thrives in the big matches. In his element, Mourinho will prevail.
Inter Milan wins the first match 1-0 at the San Siro and draws away at Old Trafford 2-2 to advance to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.
Nickname: Blucerchiati (blue-ringed)
Ground/Stadium: Stadio Luigi Ferraris Genoa, Italy (Capacity: 36,536)
League: Serie A
Rival: Genoa C.F.C (Genoa Cricket and Football Club)
Serie A: 1
• Champions: 1990-91
Coppa Italia: 4
• Winners: 1984-85, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1993-94
• Runners-up: 1985-86, 1990-91
Supercoppa Italiana: 1
• Winners: 1991
• Runners-up: 1988, 1989, 1994
UEFA Champions League:
• Runners-up: 1991-92
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1
• Winners: 1989-90
• Runners-up: 1988-89
The club was formed in 1946 out of a merger between Sampierdarenese and Andrea Doria. Sampdoria’s club name (Samp plus Doria) and colors (blue-white and red-black) are taken from the original clubs. The team colors form blue with white, red and black stripes thus the Italian nickname, blucerchiati or blue-ringed.
Sampdoria currently competes in the Italy’s top league, Serie A. The club plays at Stadio Luigi Ferraris and the venue holds over 36,000 spectators. Sampdoria, which plays in Genoa, has a massive rivalry with the city’s other club, Genoa Cricket and Football Club. The two often play each other and their matches are known as Derby della Lanterna or the Derby of the Lantern. The name is in reference to Genoa’s famed lighthouse.
The club has seen a long list of world-class players come through the ranks. Current Italian national team manager Marcello Lippi played over 270 matches for the club. Barcelona and Inter Milan legend Luis Suárez ended his career with Sampdoria. In 1996, Argentine great, Juan Sebastián Verón, joined the club for two seasons.
Sampdoria captured the Serie A title in 1991. It is the club’s only title. The club also counts four Italian Cups in the trophy case. Sampdoria won the Coppa Italia in 1985, 1988, 1989, and 1994. In European competitions, Sampdoria has also been very successful. A victory in UEFA’s 1990 Cup Winners’ Cup and a second-place finish in the 1992 UEFA Champions League Final are the club’s top European achievements.
Find the club on the Web at -- u.c. Sampdoria.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Nicaragua’s elevation to 132nd – a move which saw them rise 50 positions – can largely be pinpointed down to the nation’s recent success in the UNCAF Nations Cup. The nation qualified for the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time in their history as they upset the odds to beat Guatemala 2-0 and steal fifth place. Panama prevailed as champions of the tournament and their first international title was rewarded by climbing 33 rankings into the top 50.
Elsewhere, Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland have jumped eight places into 29th as they return to the top 30 for the first time in almost three years while Romania have leaped into 17th place. Egypt suffered a contrasting fortune as they plummeted fifteen rankings to 30th.
Expect the March edition to feature more high-flyers and let-downs as internationals feature more prominently in 2009 with the decisive qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup approaching rapidly.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Distinct from the majority of other international competitions, the structure of the South American U-20 Championship consists entirely of a group format as opposed to a knockout format. The six progressing nations from the initial two groups were Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The zealously hostile duel between Brazil and Argentina, both whom are typically favourites for any football competition whether it be at youth or senior level, had presented itself once again and many expected these two to contest the title. It was an important occasion for Argentina to demonstrate they have the talent and capabilities to thrive, especially considering that they have only triumphed three times compared to Brazil’s dominant nine and even Uruguay’s seven – despite the last of those coming in 1981. Six titles on the world stage (U-20 World Cup) means Argentina can bask in the limelight as the most successful team in their own right, but living in the shadow of their adversary should have spurred them onto greater and brighter prospects.
As the final standings illustrate, Argentina failed to win any of their five matches in the concluding group phase and their frail performances have been punished by the realisation that they will not even be given the chance to defend their FIFA U-20 World Cup crown. It will be the first time that their illustrious name has been absent from the World Cup in 16 years and is certain to dent the pride of the nation.
The malfunction of one heavyweight virtually handed the trophy to another as Brazil glittered the event with their newest collection of surreal idols-to-be. Such was the scale of supremacy that Brazil had sealed qualification to the World Cup as early as the third round of matches and were simply competing for pride in the final match as they were unassailable leaders.
Venezuela spurred themselves on as the hosts to qualify for their first World Cup as yet more evidence gathers of their rising presence on the international stage. Hopes can be raised in future years that the senior team can follow suit now that several youngsters have clearly and confidently emerged.
Paraguay and Uruguay joined Brazil and Venezuela to conclude the quartet who advance to the finest platform of them all at this age group. Ecuador’s ill-fated campaign can be considered extremely unlucky as they finished on six points in the first round, equal with Venezuela, Argentina and Columbia and missed out only by the luck of a coin toss. Chile, Peru and Bolivia, however, cannot be consoled as their tenure in the competition faced an abrupt exit by an early round elimination.
With the glaring non-appearance of the reigning champions next summer in Egypt, Brazil can reap the benefits and chase down championship number five on the African continent.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
The sight of Steven Gerrard limping off the Goodison turf on Wednesday night was the last thing Reds fans wanted to see. Despite having a squad littered with international stars the skipper remains their inspiration, and like it or not, they are not the same side without him.
With the sale of Robbie Keane the previous Monday, Gerrard’s injury could not have come at a worse time for the Premier League’s second placed team, who now have serious problems up front. This comes after a nightmare month of January which saw them slip behind a seemingly relentless Manchester United and manager, Rafa Benitez, come under intense media pressure following his already infamous “rant” at Sir Alex Ferguson. Add to this the boardroom tensions between the two American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, plus a £350 million bank loan that needs to repaid at the end of the season, it all adds up to an uncertain future for the Anfield club.
But Liverpool haven’t been the only member of the so called “big four” to have had their problems this season.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is admirable in his loyalty to the club's young players. But as the last few members of his 2004 “untouchables” side moved on the summer they were not replaced. Wenger choosing instead to rely on cheaper, younger signings. The result? Well, the young players have all the talent in the world but the lack of old heads mean the Gunners now have a soft under belly. They have slipped to disappointing defeats to the likes of Fulham and Hull already this season and find themselves five points adrift of fourth place. Wenger refuses to risk the clubs future by overspending and is understandably proud to say that the club makes a profit year on year. But what the price of failing to qualify for the Champions league? New Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis insists the club can cope without the extra prize money. But as the club has struggled to compete financially even with a Champions League place, what will happen if it is taken away?
Meanwhile across London Chelsea’s season has started to stutter. They began the campaign in spectacular style, playing free-flowing attacking football, especially away from home.
But off the pitch rumours were spreading about owner Roman Abramovich’s commitment to the club. The Russian billionaire angrily dismissed claims he was considering selling the club and denied reports he had lost much of his fortune during the credit crunch. But despite the denials it still created an air of uncertainty around Stamford Bridge, which was exacerbated when results started to go against them. They lost their 86 game unbeaten home run to Liverpool in October and have since lost to Arsenal and Manchester United. They now find themselves five points off the top, and just five points away from fifth. If the rumours about Abramovich do turn out to be true, the dream could turn into a nightmare for Scolari’s men.
So from previously looking untouchable at the top of the Premier League, three of the top four are starting to wobble, leaving the door to Champions League riches ajar.
But is there anyone out there to grasp the opportunity?
Well the football odds suggest Aston Villa are best placed to make the leap. They have performed magnificently this season after some astute purchases from boss Martin O’Neill and look to have the squad to maintain their good form. Everton were the last team to break the top four monopoly in 2005 and find themselves handily placed to do so again. But with limited money and a small squad it remains to be seen whether they can last the pace.
The global economic crisis has brought money and finance into sharp focus. It appears football is no longer immune to the cyclical nature of the world economy. If one of the big four are to fall this season, the economic consequences could be catastrophic.
Written by Tom Mallows, an online sports writer for Betfair. Check them out for the latest Cheltenham odds.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Blues are now unbeaten in 19 games this season including 17 league victories. They sit six points clear of the second-place club in the table.
The winner of tonight's match will have a home quarterfinal against either Everton or Norwich City.