Thursday, April 30, 2009
Bosnian Premier Liga
FK Laktasi 0-1 FK Borac Banja Luka
FK Modrica 2-0 FK Sarajevo
FK Sloboda Tuzla 2-0 NK Travnik
FK Velez Mostar 3-0 NK Siroki Brijeg
FK Zelijeznicar Sarajevo 3-1 FK Leotar Trebinje
NK Posusje 1-2 HNK Orasje
NK Zvijezda Gradacac 2-2 NK Celik Zenica
Slavija Istocno Sarajevo 1-0 HSK Zrinjski Mostar
FC Lahti 4-1 RoPS Rovaniemi
Haka Valkeakoski 1-2 HSK Helsinki
IFK Mariehamn 3-0 KuPS Kuopio
Inter Turku 1-0 FF Jaro Pietarsaari
MyPa Anjalankoski 4-1 Tampere United
French Ligue 1
Stade Rennes 2-3 Bordeaux
Hungarian NB I
MTK Hungaria FC 3-2 Ujpest FC
Jamaican Premier League
Boys Town 0-4 Tivoli Gardens FC
Meadhaven United 0-0 Reno
Portmore Utd 0-0 Harbour View
Rivoli United 0-2 Arnett Gardens
Village Utd 2-1 St George SC
Waterhouse 1-2 Sporting Central
Albirex Niigata 2-2 JEF United Ichihara
Gamba Osaka 4-2 FC Tokyo
Kashima Antlers 1-0 Vissel Kobe
Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 Oita Trinita
Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 Kyoto Sanga
Omiya Ardija 0-3 Montedio Yamagata
Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Shimizu S Pulse 2-2 Urawa Red Diamonds
Yokohama F Marinos 1-0 Jubilo Iwata
South African Premier Soccer League
Ajax Cape Town 1-1 Platinum Stars
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
While championship skirmishes throughout Europe may predictably appear to be heading in one foreseeable direction, for those still fortunate to be flexing their muscle in the domestic cup competitions it is an open invitation to terminate years of trophy famine and garner the profits of European football. The pressures highlighted above will soon be understood by the lucky coaches, who will no doubt feel the full-throttle exertion of them, as we look ahead to the national cup finals of many countries.
The German Cup semi-final between Hamburg and Werder Bremen had been branded as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming UEFA Cup dual, but there was no suggestion as to who would finish on top. After Per Mertesacker of Bremen and Ivan Olic in the corresponding jersey brought the fixture to a dead heat, standing at 1-1, Tim Wiese produced “one of the best nights of my career” to defy Martin Jol’s men by pulling off a set of valiant saves in the unnerving penalty shoot-out. Hamburg’s Jerome Boateng and Ivan Olic were the guilty wrongdoers as Bremen snatched bragging rights at the first hurdle. Bayer Leverkusen, who will provide the opposition in the final, were also forced into extra time but were able to strike three past Mainz to claim a 4-1 victory and secure their berth.
Inter Milan faced an instantaneous struggle in their mission of eradicating Sampdoria’s 3-0 first-leg advantage, but nevertheless sought to carry out the improbable. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s gorgeously-struck volley in the 27th minute instigated a momentary comeback but, despite tapping the bar twice and failing to capitalise on several clear-cut chances, Sampdoria were inevitably left to celebrate their final appearance against Lazio and chase down a fifth Italian Cup triumph.
Past Dutch Cup finals haven’t been benign to the spirits of SC Heerenveen, with elimination to Roda JC in 1997 and Ajax in 1993 serving up despairing reminiscences of how the long-awaited occasions fell deflated, failing to equal the enthusiasm and divine passion of the crowd, but twelve years after suffering their second plateful of sting, history can be rephrased if, at the third attempt, they can outclass FC Twente. January-arrival Viktor Elm and Danijel Pranjic sent Heerenveen past FC Volenham en-route to the final but Steve McClaren will be unyielding in his pursuit of obtaining silverware to cap an impressive first season at FC Twente – whose seat at the centrepiece event came courtesy of NAC.
Alarm bells were ringing at FC Porto when the current Portuguese Liga leaders threw away a 1-0 gain to fall at Estrela Amadora but a comfortable first-leg cushion protected their position in the finals of the domestic cup where they will be favourites to vanquish challenging Pacos de Ferreira. Pacos narrowly prevailed over Nacional with an aggregate scoreline of 5-4, a second penalty conversion from Pedrinha winning the match in extra-time.
Istanbul acquaitances will be renewed as Besiktas face Fenerbahce in the Turkish Cup final, KRC Genk surpassed Lierse SK with considerable ease to setup a Belgium Cup final versus KV Mechelen, while Kris Boyd scored his 100th career goal for Glasgow Rangers to help create a last-hurdle tie over relegation-ridden Falkirk in Scotland.
Argentine Primera Division
Arsenal de Sarandi 1-1 CA San Martin
CA Banfield 3-1 Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata
CA San Lorenzo de Almagro 1-1 Racing Club de Avellaneda
CA Tigre 0-1 CA Huracan
SK Sturm Graz 2-0 LASK Linz
SK Austria Karnten 0-3 SC Rheindorf Altach
SV Mattersburg 3-1 SV Kapfenberg
Belgium First Division
Charleroi Sporting Club 1-0 SV Zulte Waregem
KV Kortrijk 2-2 AFC Tubize
RAEC Mons 0-2 KVC Westerlo
RSC Anderlecht 4-0 FC Verbroedering Dender
Sporting Club Lokeren 3-0 Excelsior Mouscron
Standard de Liege 4-1 KV Mechelen
Cypriot First Division
Anorthosis Famagusta 1-1 APOEL Nicosia
APEP Pitsilia 0-1 AE Paphos
Enosis Neon Paralimni 2-1 Alki Larnanca
FC Viktoria Plzen 3-1 FC Bohemians Praha
FK Pribram 1-1 AC Sparta Praha
Heracles 0-2 PSV
NEC Nijmegen 2-3 NAC
Roda JC 1-1 Volendam
SC Heerenveen 1-1 FC Twente
Ecuadorian Primera A
Emelec Guayaquil 1-1 Liga de Quito
Deportivo Espoli Cayambe 0-0 El Nacional Quito
Macara Ambato 1-2 LDU-Portoviejo
Olmedo Riobamba 1-0 Barcelona Guayaquil
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Aston Villa
Everton 1-2 Manchester City
Fulham 1-0 Stoke City
Hull City 1-3 Liverpool
Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
West Brom 3-0 Sunderland
West Ham United 0-1 Chelsea
Bayer Luverkusen 0-1 Karlsruher SC
Bayern Munchen 0-1 Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Hamburger SV
Hannover 96 2-1 FC Koln
VfB Stuttgart 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Werder Bremen 3-2 VfL Bochum
Italian Serie A
Chievo Verona 1-2 Udinese
Fiorentina 4-1 AS Roma
ROI League of Ireland
Shamrock Rovers 2-0 St Patricks Athletic
Sporting Lisbon 2-1 Estrela Amadora
Russian Premier League
Dinamo Moskva 0-1 Krylya Sovetov
Rubin Kazan 0-2 Sparta Moskva
Terek Groznyi 1-1 Saturn Mosk Oblast
Zenit St Petersburg 4-2 FK Khimki
Spanish Primera Division
Almeria 1-1 Deportivo La Coruna
Malaga 2-1 Numancia
Valencia 2-2 Barcelona
Swiss Super League
AC Bellinzola 2-0 FC Luzern
FC Sion 2-0 FC Aurau
Turkish Super Lig
Hacettepe SK 2-1 Istanbul BB
Sivasspor 3-0 Trabzonspor
Fenerbache SK 1-2 MKE Ankaragucu
Ukrainian Premier League
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 2-1 FC Arsenal Kyiv
FC Illychivets Mariupol 0-1 FC Metalurh Donetsk
FC Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 FC Chornomorets Odessa
Uruguayan Primera Division
CA Bella Vista 2-1 CA Penarol
Central Espanyol FC 1-2 CA River Plate Montevideo
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The Brazilian contingent will not be participating for City because of international duty with Brazil at FIFA's Confederations Cup, also set in South Africa this summer.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
July 22nd 2009
Thailand National Team vs. Liverpool Football Club
Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok 8.00pm Kick Off (local time)
July 26th 2009
Singapore National Team vs. Liverpool Football Club
National Stadium, Singapore 7.00pm Kick Off (local time)
Read on at The Red Cauldron's -- The Reds Are Coming.
Manager Martin Allen noted on the club's website, "I wish season wasn't ending."
By the way, Zakuani scored tonight against San Jose in the 42nd minute at tonight's match at Qwest Field.
The squad has managed just seven out of a possible 18 points in Group Five. Up first, the federation needs to find a coach after sacking Rene Vandereycken. While Louis Van Gaal is an early front runner, don't discount Belgian Jean-Francois De Sart or Romanian Laszlo Boloni who is the coach of Standard Liege.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Algerian First Division
JSM Bejaia 1-0 NA Hussein Dey
USM Alger 3-0 AS Khroub
Columbian Primera Division
Nacional de Medellin 2-1 Boyaca Chico
Esbjerg fB 3-1 Aalborg BK
FC Nordsjaelland 1-2 Brondby IF
Vejle BK 0-5 Odense BK
Egyptian Premier League
ENIPPI 2-4 Haras El Hedood
Zamalek SC 0-0 Al Ahly
Inter Turku 2-1 MyPa Anjalankoski
IFK Mariehamn 2-2 FC Honka Espoo
FC Lahti 1-0 KuPS Kuopio
Tampere United 0-2 FF Jaro Pietarsaari
HJK Helsinki 2-2 TPS Turku
Paraguayan First Division
Guarani Asuncion 0-0 Olimpia Asuncion
Salvadoran Primera Division
CD Luis Angel Firpo 7-0 CD Juventud Independiente
Club Deportivo FAS 3-0 CD Chalatenango
AD Isidro Metapan 0-1 Alianza FC
South African Premier Soccer League
SuperSport United 1-1 Orlando Pirates
Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 Mamelodi Sundowns
Ajax Cape Town 5-2 Thanda Royal Zulu
Spanish Primera Division
Mallorca 2-0 Real Valladolid
Racing Santander 5-1 Atletico Madrid
Sporting Gijon 0-3 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Recreativo Huelva
Gefle IF 0-0 GAIS Goteborg
Orgryte IS Goteborg 0-1 AIK Solna
Helsingborgs IF 1-3 Halmstads BK
Orebro SK 2-1 Kalmar FF
Hammarby IF 0-1 IFK Goteborg
Swiss Super League
Grasshopper Club Zurich 2-0 FC Vaduz
BSC Young Boys Bern 0-0 Neuchatel Xamax FC
Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1
AS Kasserine 1-0 Jendouba Sport
AS La Marsa 0-2 Esperance de Tunis
CA Bizertin 0-1 EGS Gafsa
Club Africain 3-2 Stade Tunisien
Etoile Sportive du Sahel 7-0 CS Hammam Lif
Olympique Beja 1-0 CS Sfaxien
US Monastirienne 0-0 ES Hammam Sousse
United States Major League Soccer
Toronto FC 1-0 CD Chivas USA
Perhaps such an allegation is unmerited and extremely excessive, principally as JK Maag Tammeka’s season is barely seven matches old, but even the loyalties of the most staunchly committed devotee would have been hard-pressed on several occasions and the bleakness and dejection could be a permanently unsought hassle for the remainder of the calendar.
The club situated in the second largest city in Estonia have shown immunity to experiencing the euphoric sensations which arise with a richly deserved victory. JK Maag Tammeka inevitably find themselves marooned at the foot of the Meistriliiga after conceding 31 goals and only scoring three – this after the short matter of seven matches. Surrendering more than twice as many goals as any other in the division creates an instantly pessimistic vision while, to create a diverse comparison, current leaders Levadia Tallinn conceded merely 22 in the whole duration of their title-winning season in 2008, which lasted 36 matches.
Estonia’s premier competition is notorious for a gaping partition between the thriving usual-suspects, such as the Tallinn powerhouses of Levadia and Flora, who breed accomplishment and seize the national silverware at every given opportunity, and those who grapple for survival in the nether regions of the table. The last campaign witnessed Levadia Tallinn and Flora Tallinn suffer only a sole loss each along with a phenomenal strike-rate of 105 and 113 goals respectively and positive goal differences of 83 and 85, poles apart from relegation-stricken JK Vaprus Parnu, whose defence was resignedly pulverised on 125 instances – over a hundred more than the crowned champions – and with a negative difference of -84.
If their current vein of form is to persist for much longer, with waning self-esteem and vastly deteriorating confidence, relegation to the Esiliiga will become an inescapable verdict for JK Maag Tammeka, who have enjoyed their top-flight status ever since a merger between Maag Tartu and Tammeka Tartu back in 2006.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Bulgarian A Professional Football Group
Lokomotiv Sofia 1-2 Lokomotiv Plovdiv
Vihren Sandanski 1-4 CSKA Sofia
Pirin Blagoevgrad 0-0 Spartak Varna
Cherno More Varna 0-0 Lovech
Croatian First Football League
HNK Hajduk Split 5-0 NK Croatia Sesvete
NK Slavan Koprivnica 2-1 NK Varteks Varazdin
HNK Sibenik 0-1 HNK Rijeka
NK Osijek 1-1 NK Inter Zapresic
NK Zagreb 4-0 HNK Cibalia Vinkovci
NK Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 NK Zadar
Randers FC 5-1 AC Horsens
SonderjyskE 0-3 AGF Aarhus
FC Kobenhavn 2-1 FC Midtjylland
Chelsea 0-0 Everton
Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth
Romanian Liga I
Gaz Metan Medias 3-0 CS Otopeni
Pandurii Targu Jiu 1-0 FC Gloria Buzau
FC Timisoara 3-0 FC Politehnica Iasi
FC Brasov 1-1 FC Universitatea Craiova
FC Steaua Bucuresti 1-1 CFR Cluj
Swiss Super League
FC Aarau 0-3 FC Zurich
FC Basel 1-1 AC Bellinzona
FC Luzern 1-0 FC Sion
Serbian Super Liga
FK Hajduk Kula 1-0 FK Napredak Krusevac
FK Jagodina 2-1 FK Rad Beograd
FK Javor Ivanjica 1-0 FK Crvena Zvezda Beograd
OFK Beograd 1-3 FK Cukaricki
FK Vojvodina Novi Sad 4-1 FK Banat Zrenjanin
Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla
Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 Almeria
Osasuna 2-3 Malaga
Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
The AFC Champions League and Copa Libertadores will be covered over the weekend.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Ahead of their 2007 UEFA Champions League conquest, Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu spoke of his hope of European success, saying "We have all the attributes for success, a talented squad, great training facilities, a passionate and wealthy owner. I hope this is Shakhtar's year." Subsidised by the bankrolls of Rinat Akhmetov, Shakhtar had every belief they could instigate a memorable impact by advancing as far as the knockout stage. From the summer transfer window that had passed, $70 million of capital was loosened in the transfer kitty to invest and attract the deluxe batch of footballers from Europe and South America – the convincing and compelling blueprints of a striving outfit who were unwavering in their pursuit for grandeur and majestic silverware. Grouped together with AC Milan, Celtic and Benfica, the likelihood of qualification transformed from an idealistic fantasy to a pragmatic realisation.
That is all you need to know about the recent destiny of Ukrainian clubs in Europe as there is little afterthought beyond the ill-advised hype and excitement. Shakhtar wallowed in fourth, and last, position in Group D, while Dynamo Kyiv suffered a similar fate in Group F by losing all six of their encounters. Vast expenditure failed to converge with silverware, while reasons to remain buoyant were all-too short in stature and, more noteworthy, excuses could not originate from the lack of resources. The coup of signing $27 million Mexican winger Nery Castillo once again illuminated the promise but Ukraine’s most expensive transfer story was to turn so immediately unpleasant that by the following January, the desperation to leave would become so great that he would fund half of the £3m loan settlement to Manchester City out of his own pocket. Arriving as a technically-gifted and versatile pacey striker who had earned rave reviews from his days at Olympiacos, Castillo left under more than just a haze of sadness and despondency and Shakhtar were left regretting their purchase in one of history’s catastrophic moves. It would be a fitting diagnosis to sum up the state of the country’s football. Ukraine’s financial valour was undisputed, its potential remained absolute but somewhere along the way results simply had to change – and this long-awaited prophecy could finally materialise in 2009 and verify the budding threat of Eastern Europe to its Western neighbours.
Three representatives in the UEFA Cup Knockout stages and ten victories in the Champions League [including qualifiers] between Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk, with the latter duo creating the first all-Ukrainian semi-final in the UEFA Cup, has thrust confidence skywards with one legion of fans set to march on Istanbul in the hope of landing on cloud nine. The nation’s two powerhouses may have both been eliminated from the Champions League but their UEFA Cup trapdoor threw them a blessing in disguise and neither will settle for mediocrity at such an imperative phase. This zealous rivalry usually lays duel to the domestic title, apart from this sole occasion, a glimpse of history that may just eclipse the glossiest feat either can boast in the 21st century. Shakhtar Donetsk cannot afford to dispense with anymore accolades, particularly to their capital-rivals, as only the timely intervention of a miracle can impede Dynamo’s charge at the Premier League.
Shakhtar Donestsk’s European escapades have secured the future of Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu for an additional two years and the chance to stamp his name amongst the legends of the club and its illustrious folklore is open by accomplishing a double, but Bilo-Syni will have be vanquished more than once if Dynamo Kiev aren’t to fulful an astonishing treble. Form over the season strongly implies that Dynamo Kiev will be given the luxury of the ‘toxic’ favourites tag as they lay twelve points ahead of their loathed foe. One word to summarise Dynamo’s offensive line would be formidable having generated a fearsome tally of 60 goals, 23 more than what Shakhtar can profess and double their escalating goal-difference.
Pride, dignity and esteem are returning to the former Soviet state, albeit the transformation back to one of the game’s heavyweights still remains a slow and arduous process, and as Zenit St Petersburg’s national holding midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk told UkrainianSoccer.net, “I think that football in Ukraine is truly on the rise. Probably, because we were getting ready for so many years and moving towards earning the European trophy.”
Admiration is finally being drawn from outside Ukraine and the days as cannon-fodder for the elite could be a nightmare from the past as the chapter of a new beginning unravels. For the rest in the country it is a classic scenario of continuing the status quo with economical hardship still battering the decks of lower-tier outfits and watching the latest scandal expand to an even greater crisis.
The best performance by a Ukrainian club in Europe was a decade ago in 1999, when Dynamo Kyiv made it through to the semi-final stage of the Champions League. They lost to Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate and were unable to complement their 1975 and 1986 European Cup Winners' Cup medallions, which they won as a Soviet state.
Ukraine have so far pulled off the most impressive haul of average coefficient points in the season of 2008/09 - meaning Ukrainian teams have, on average, performed more competently than their rivals from abroad. The figures work by the total points tally divided by the number of participating clubs in European competition from that specific nation. Ukraine stand first with 14.875, England lies second with 14.222 and Spain in third with 12.687.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Never before has such a feast of goalscoring riches, superior points mark and comfortable haul of victories been witnessed in the division as Rhyl FC won the title for only their second occasion in their history with an everlasting 3-1 success over former champions The New Saints. The championship was bound Northwards of Wales as early as Friday evening where closest-challengers and reigning victors Llanelli could only draw 1-1 against Aberystwyth.
The New Saints opened the lead through Alex Darlington on 13 minutes but Rhyl, catalysed by their season-long confidence and new-found status, verified that their achievement was not simply the act of a stroke of luck by staging a memorable comeback against an opposition who were domestic idols themselves not so long ago. Within the short matter of 34 minutes of match play, Rhyl were presented with all three points after Marc Connelly took complete advantage of a defensive lapse, with Neil Roberts grabbing the equaliser shortly beforehand.
Rhyl managing director Dave Milner told UEFA.com 'We have invested in better players and this is the result. Allan [Bickerstaff, the club manager] has changed our training methods and as a result fitness levels have improved and we have suffered few injuries. It's the culmination of a great year's effort by everyone at the club and it is great we have done it in such style and by such a convincing margin."
Unbeaten since 12th December, overwhelmed only twice in 33 league encounters and fuelled with the impressive firepower which has seen them net almost three goals per game, Rhyl have truly deserved their sensational success and their doorway into Europe’s elite for only their second stint in the UEFA Champions League.
In the league standings, Rhyl’s latest win secured the trophy on 87 points while Llanelli are further behind lying in second with 77 points and The New Saints complete the podium-roster with 68. Caersws were convicted to relegation after falling to defeat to Newi Cefn Druids, guaranteeing Porthmadog’s survival in the top-tier for another season.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
United, Arsenal and Chelsea fans apart, of course, I wonder what most neutrals think of three English teams making the semi-finals - AGAIN?
Usually when watching an English team in Europe I would prefer them to win for sheer national pride. But the top heavy nature of the Champions League recently towards English clubs can’t be good for the game. The English sides are threatening to over-run the competition and I think it would be to the detriment of the European game if we saw another all-English final, no matter how significant it would be for the Premier League.
But what can be done?
Well, reducing the number of places for English teams would be a start. I find it ridiculous that Arsenal can be nowhere near the league title this season yet they will still have a shot at the ‘Champions’ league next season. It makes a mockery of it. If we halved the amount of places available it is my football prediction that this would remove that Champions League comfort zone and, perhaps more crucially, distribute the wealth more fairly.
As long as the money goes to the same few clubs the ‘competition’ in its truest sense will disappear. The infamous G14 group of rich clubs may have disbanded but the elite sides still carry too much influence with the powers that be and will not want the Champions League purse loosened too tightly.
I am sure some people will accuse me of being negative; after all it wasn’t too long ago that English sides got nowhere near the latter stages of European competition, especially in the years immediately after their European ban. English success should be celebrated they say (I say English, though most of the players and staff involved aren’t English!)
But English European dominance doesn’t extend down to the UEFA Cup, where only one team has reached the final in the last seven seasons. This backs up my argument that the dominance of the Champions League is artificially inflated by the money constantly pumped into the same few clubs.
You can have too much of a good thing, if this complete dominance of Europe by the ‘big four’ continues, the pressure to cut the money filled Champions League umbilical cord will increase.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
“We are not too far away. We just need a couple of strong signings to address conspicuous issues in the team. Maybe the acquisition of different types of players to the ones we have already got will leave us in better shape.”
The Eastlands hotseat could, as of right now, be considered one of the pressure cauldron’s of modern-day football as eternal fortunes attempt to awake the sleeping giant. The man assigned this duty, or necessity, was described as “an honest man, he’s a leader, he’s tough and he is everything you would want in a head coach. We trust him, he’s one of the gems we saw in this club once we came here.”
As the end to his first-full season is nigh, Mark Hughes has numerously been forced into a defensive stance, protecting his underperforming crew for their consistent naggling of mediocrity and infuriatingly unpredictable nature, while his quotes from above may be considered as a fresh batch of excuses. After all, in the months leading up to January he was quoted as publicly stating that once the new arrivals were embedded into the squad, there would be an immediate upheaval in results, but we are still left waiting and wondering. Have there been too many negatives and coverups, such as the embarrassing domestic cup exits to Brighton and Nottingham Forest, to justify retaining his position, or would it only stoke the fire caused by the critic’s and cause more ill-timed chaos? Where does the blame lie, the manager, the inflated-egos of the dressing room, both?
Given the vast amounts which have already been parted with and undoubtedly the endless stream of riches to follow, should Mark Hughes be feeling the uncomfortable weight of expectation so early in his managerial career at the club and has it only acted to stifle on-field performances? How does the 2008-2009 season compare to others? Does it stink of malfunction and disarray, or one of transition and glimpses of anticipation? Decide for yourself from the table below.
Six matches remain for Mark Hughes, with the most important tie arguably lying outside of the domestic season as Hamburg travel to England with a clear two-goal advantage for Thursday’s decisive clash, as he welcomes the owner’s in the hope he still has their backing.
We will focus more on Manchester City’s season and the future of Mark Hughes when the outcome of their remaining matches is known, stay tuned.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Ben Olsen, Bryan Namoff, Santino Quaranta, Chris Pontius and Rodney Wallace helped create a video showcasing the history of D.C. United rookie pranks. Click on the link to enjoy the video...
Remember to help out D.C. United raise money for Nothing But Nets as Major League Soccer looks toward World Malaria Day on April 25.
Please donate here.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Life in the Swedish Allsvenskan began for 2009 as Kalmar FF embarked on the focal objective of defending their title crown, despite an initial drawback as they stranded a one-goal advantage to draw with Gefle IF.
After accomplishing their first championship in 2008, Kalmer travelled northwards to the city of Gävle in pursuit of their title protection and Rasmus Elm, whose brother Victor and last season’s top goalscorer Patrik Ingelsten both departed for SC Heerenveen over the winter months, ensured the season started to almost perfection by successfully converting a penalty on 29 minutes. Old-hand Hasse Berggren drew the scoreline parallel on the 69th minute for Gefle IF, an outcome which has left both on one point joint-sixth.
2004 victors and all-time leading champions Malmo FF beat BK Hacken when Serbian defender Mijan Mutavdzic clinched the winner five minutes from the end, while early-installed favourites Elfsborg clawed back to draw 1-1 with Hammarby thanks to Stefan Ishizaki’s equaliser. At the Olympia, Helsingborgs IF narrowly overcame 13-time Allsvenskan conquerers IFK Göteborg, who bask in the glory of their UEFA Cup jubilations in 1982 and 1987, but cross-city competitor’s GAIS Göteborg stole an early march in the table by annihilating a subdued Örgryte IS 5-1.
One of the many allures and charms of Sweden’s top-flight domestic competition is the densely-packed, heavily-concentrated race for the title, which can be tussled and fought out between plenty of clubs. The Allsvenskan can be considered as one of the continent’s most erratic and unpredictable leagues as the past five seasons have each produced different winners, a world apart from the majority of other European top-tiers which are prone to falling under the supremacy of the same select few teams.
Swedish Allsvenskan - Matchday 1 Results
- BK Häcken Göteborg 0 - 1 Malmö FF
- IF Elfsborg Boras 1 - 1 Hammarby IF
- Örgryte IS Göteborg 1 - 5 GAIS Goteborg
- AIK Solna 1 - 0 Halmstads BK
- Trelleborgs FF 0 - 0 IF Brommapojkarna
- Gefle IF 1 - 1 Kalmar
- Djurgårdens IF 1 - 0 Orebro SK
- Helsingborgs IF 1 - 0 IFK Goteborg
Under the guidance of Sven Goran Eriksson, England progressed to the quarter-final stage in three successive tournaments, stretching from the 2002 World Cup held in South Korea and Japan through to the Berlin showpiece four years later. This model of consistency, albeit lacking the imposing gloss of a glorious semi-final, attracted the eyes of an “El Tri” tiresome of suffering second-round elimination from the previous four World Cup Finals.
For Mexico, stepping onto a South Africa-bound plane is ultimately the bare-minimum requirement of the World Cup campaign. Boasting the fifth most successful qualification record in the entire world – thirteen World Cup Finals, a figure eclipsed merely by Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina - has congealed the Mexican name within the World Cup’s heritage but comparisons to those four nations are abruptly ended due to the glaring omission of a Gold, Silver or even a Bronze medal.
Delve into the chronicles of CONCACAF and Mexico’s repute as the outstanding driving force of the North and Central America continent is abundantly apparent, but following on from the third series of international fixtures in the ‘Hexagonal’, Mexico are waking to the realisation that their hopes of instigating a memorable impact at South Africa are dwindling as the region’s forgotten nations close the gap. Falling at the hands of Honduras, 3-1, signalled the curtain falling on Eriksson’s short-lived tenure as they slumped to fourth in the six-strong table. With a squad tainted by retiring veterans, unfulfilled prodigies and on-field disarray and squirming four points beneath the group leaders, the pathway to the opening match at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium is certain to be beleaguered with more obstacles.
Problems had arisen far before the referee blew his first whistle. If the opportunity arose to demonstrate tranquillity and harmony within a squad then before a decisive clash would appear to be the most suitable occasion, but Nery Castillo’s mind contained differing ideas. His tirade and outburst at the national media, which involved an accusation that “In Mexico, they criticize about everything but football," as opposed to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, expectedly, stole the pre-match headlines and served up the as the perfect preview for the aftermath that was beckoning. Carlos Pavon, who scored a hat-trick at Mexico’s expense seven years ago, supplemented his cumulative tally by netting after Carlos Costly struck twice, convicting Mexico to a devastating crush.
The USA have opened a noteworthy four-point lead at the top of the table ahead of their embittered rivals while Mexico’s disturbing away record continues to thorn the supporters’ aspirations. The structure of the final qualification group can act as a source of uplift as the first three countries gain an automatic entry seat, while the occupants of fourth-place must battle a South American equivalent in a fierce play-off. Failure to win any of their three away ties in the previous group, however, placed mounting pressure to claim maximum points at the Azteca, a situation which looks certain to persist and one that could cause suffocating pressure for all concerned. "This morning we said we had to take some measures because we could not take risks with qualification for the World Cup, and we could not rely solely on results at the Estadio Azteca,” explained Federation president Justino Compean.
"It has to be someone who knows Mexican football, who knows the Mexican players, the lives of the Mexican players”, Jared Borgetti’s forecast prior to Eriksson’s appointment materialised into a harrowing truth as, fast-forwarding to present day, Mexico threw their destiny into the hands of a predecessor, Javier Aguirre. The former Atletico Madrid manager has been recruited in the anticipation he will understand the pressures summoned with an underperforming nation, an image reminiscent of 2001 – the start of his first stint where he steered Mexico to stability by attaining qualification for the 2002 World Cup, overcoming Honduras in the apprehensive final fixture.
Eriksson's selection of four naturalised players, considered proficient improvements to their Mexican-born comparatives, fed more fuel to the fire caused by the critics, but was such a policy a frustrating gesture at the limited talent pool to operate within or pure ignorance and disrespect shown by the manager? Argentina-born Santos Laguna striker Matias Vuoso has in no way disrespected his ‘adopted’ country, twice firing in to aid Mexico’s pursuit of qualification and more headaches have originated from the work-ethic, teamwork and discipline of other suspects.
How Aguirre will conduct the nation’s best in a desperate bid to reverse the on-field trend before the fresh batch of taxing qualifiers remains in question, but he of all candidates has shown the wisdom and insight to lure a troubled country out of sunken depths. The countdown has begun in Mexico’s quest to appease the masses and to rescue international pride.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
But tomorrow is where the hard work starts. Shearer has just eight games to save the club, with a very imposing fixture list. They need wins, and quickly.
But where are the points going to come from? Here is my look at how Newcastle can stay up:
Must win games
Portsmouth (H) - 27 April
Middlesbrough (H) - 9 May
Fulham (H) - 16 May
Home form is critical to Premier League survival - even more so when you’re playing your relegation rivals. Newcastle simply cannot afford to lose to Pompey and Boro and with Fulham’s poor away form, they will hope to grab a win there too. Those nine points would take them a long way towards salvation.
Must not lose
Stoke (A) - 11 April
Tottenham (A) - 19 April
Two more tough trips to relegation contenders - a win would be seen as a bonus. But being the away side, avoiding defeat would be the priority. If they can come away from these fixtures with two points, Newcastle will be pleased with their efforts.
Chelsea (H) - 4 April
Liverpool (A) - 2 May
Aston Villa (A) - 24 May
Three tough games against sides at the top of the table. Any points gained from these will be seen as a bonus for Shearer but don't waste your football bet by backing the Magpies. The best chance probably comes this Saturday against Chelsea- with the euphoria of Shearer's appointment still rippling through Tyneside.
The crowd will be up for it, the players will be up for it, and we know the boss will be up for it. I reckon we could see a surprise at St James’ Park on Saturday.
It will be tough, very tough. But I think Shearer’s appointment is inspired as the club were almost certainly going down before his arrival. I think they will get enough points at home to stay up – just.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
"I am reliably informed by the soccer nuts in my office that this puts us within a hair's breadth of qualifying for the next World Cup," the PM said.
The Australians need only one point from the final three matches.
Soccer is beginning to catch on down under... If we learned anything over the last ten years, it is that the country has the cash, facilities, and player pool to potentially churn out dominant teams for years to come. The Sydney Olympic Games showcased the athletic prowess of the nation.
Is Australia on the road to becoming a FIFA world power? Dare I say a consistent top ten nation?