Archive for July, 2011

African sides sweat on draw

July 30, 2011 Leave a comment

African teams are waiting in anticipation to find out their fate as the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification process is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday from 18h00 GMT.

The latest FIFA World Rankings released this week has determined the various pots that the African sides will be placed in for the draw.

The only African side not to be placed in the draw is Mauritania, who have withdrawn from the competition.

Here is how the African qualifiers work:

Round One
The 24 lowest ranked teams in Africa go into the draw for the first round. A total of 12 matches will be played over two legs in November and the winners advance to the group stage.

The sides competing in the first round will placed into top separate pots to determine the draw. The top 12 teams are in pot 5 and the bottom 12 in Pot 6.

The draw starts with a ball from Pot 6. This team plays at home in the first leg against a team from Pot 5. The draw then continues accordingly by alternating between Pot 6 and Pot 5.

Pot 5: Burundi, Congo, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo

Pot 6: Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, , Mauritius, Sao Tome e Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Swaziland

Round Two
The 12 first round winners join the remaining 28 teams in the second round. The 40 teams are drawn into 10 round-robin, home and away groups of four teams each and will play from June next year to September 2013.

Only the group winners then advance to the third and final round.

For the groups, the teams will be allocated into four different pots for the draw. When the draw is made FIFA will start with Pot 4 and place one team in each group, then onto Pot 3, Pot 2 and finally Pot 1 where Bafana Bafana are placed. The groups are filled starting with Group A and ending with Group J.

The allocations are:

Pot 1: Algeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia

Pot 2: Botswana, Cape Verde Islands, Gabon, Guinea, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Uganda, Zambia

Pot 3: Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Gambia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Winner 1, Winner 2

Pot 4: Winners of matches 3 to 12 from the first round

Round Three
The 10 group winners from Round Two contest the final round.

The 10 teams will be paired into five home-and-away series for matches to be played in October and November 2013. The five winners go onto the World Cup finals in Brazil.

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Malaga move in for Cazorla

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Malaga have agreed a deal with Villarreal to sign midfielder Santi Cazorla, subject to a medical.

No fee has been announced for the 26-year-old Spain midfielder, but reports in the country suggest it is around €20million – a record for the club and by far the biggest deal of the 10 signings they have made in a summer of significant rebuilding.

“This afternoon, the two clubs have finalised the transfer of international midfielder Santi Cazorla to Malaga, assuming the player comes through the required medical check-up,” the clubs said in a joint statement.

This afternoon, the two clubs have finalised the transfer of international midfielder Santi Cazorla to Malaga.

A joint statement from Malaga and Villarreal


Cazorla is due to have a medical early tomorrow, before following the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joaquin and Jeremy Toulalan in joining Manuel Pellegrini’s squad as Malaga look to compete at the top end of the Primera Division table next season.

Cazorla, who has 34 caps for Spain, was part of the squad that won UEFA EURO 2008, although he missed out on FIFA World Cup™ glory in South Africa in 2010 after a season spent battling injury.

He joined Villarreal from Real Oviedo as a youngster in 2002, but initially struggled to make an impact, and was sold to Recreativo Huelva in 2006 for €600,000, albeit with a clause in his deal that allowed Villarreal to buy him back the following summer for €1.2 million.

Some impressive performances persuaded them to do exactly that, and his second spell with the so-called Yellow Submarine was far more successful as he established himself as a key player.

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Marcelo granted Spanish nationality

July 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Real Madrid`s Brazilian defender Marcelo has been granted Spanish nationality, the club announced on their website.

The 23-year-old Brazil international, who moved to the Bernabeu during the 2006/07 season from Fluminense, will now no longer occupy one of the three non-European Union spots in the Madrid squad.

“It is a very special day for me. This is a big step. I`ve always wanted to be here and I`m very happy,” Marcelo said on

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Bad patch for African leaders

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

The teams at the top in both Angola and Nigeria continued to slump in a sudden loss of form, but with their challengers also stumbling, they remain at the summit. Derby days in both Kenya and Zimbabwe had the crowds enthralled, while the season in Cameroon came to a close.

Nigeria Premier League: Stagnant at the summit
It had threatened to be a two-team race for the title just weeks ago, but both Dolphin FC and Sunshine Stars have suffered a sudden slowdown. Dolphin drew at home at the weekend while Stars did not play, meaning the side from Port Harcourt went one point clear with both sides now having six games remaining. Kano Pillars had a chance to go from third to first but they lost at Gombe United.


Big game: Dolphin failed to score at home for the first time this season as Ocean Boys held them to a goalless draw at the Liberation Stadium. It means Dolphin have now won just twice in their last eight games and are seemingly off balance after a speedy start to the season.
Headline-grabbers: JUTH FC from Jos were bottom before the start of the weekend matches, but a 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Zamfara United gives them a glimmer of hope in their battle to stay up. Although they remain in last place, their seventh win of the season moves them to 29 points and puts them within two wins of the rest of the bottom four, all of whom will go down at the end of the season.


Angola Girabola: Leaders lose again
Leaders Kabuscorp lost again at the weekend for their third defeat in four matches but still have a three-point lead with 12 rounds to go. Progresso Sambizanga lifted themselves away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win over Kabuscorp, but second-placed Petro Luanda’s goalless draw with AS Aviacao saw them gain only one point on the leaders.


Big game: The traditional military rivalry between Primeiro Agosto from Luanda and Primeiro Maio, based in Angola’s second city Benguela, is one of the ‘classicos’ of the Girabola season. Some 12,000 supporters watched at Benguela’s old Municipal Stadium as the home side took the lead through Bugos but were then left disappointed as Bena equalised just after the interval and Malawi international defender James Sangala scored the winner on the hour mark.
With Petro having drawn 24 hours earlier, Kabuscorp could have opened up a healthy six-point lead had they beaten Progresso. Instead a lone goal from Manu, finishing off a cross from Isaac, settled the game in the 61st minute. Isaac was the creator of several other chances as Dutch coach Jan Brouwer celebrated his biggest success since taking over at the club.


Zimbabwe Premier League: Dynamos win derby day
Dynamos won the Harare derby against CAPS United but it is still new-boys FC Platinum who are in the driving seat in the title race. They won their 11th game of the season to reach 36 points but were overshadowed by the excitement around the derby at the Rufaro Stadium.


Big game: Roderick Mutuma played hero with two second-half goals as Dynamos came from behind against CAPS to stay seven points adrift of Platinum in third place. They also completed a season double over their arch-rivals after beating CAPS 1-0 near the start of the season. Mutuma clinched the winner just two minutes from time in a dramatic finish as the game lived up to the considerable pre-match hype.
A late penalty from Menard Mupera ensured FC Platinum kept up their lead as they edged past a stubborn Kiglon. The win continued a fairytale first season in the top flight for the side coached by Rahman Gumbo, the former Zimbabwe international who returned home after winning the championship in neighbouring Botswana.


Kenya Premier League: Catch-up puts Gor in gear
A single match was scheduled at the weekend but it was a game of significance as two of the giants of the Kenyan game met in a contest previously postponed, and Gor Mahia’s success over AFC Leopards puts them within three points of leaders Tusker with a game still to catch up.


Big game: Leopards and Gor Mahia have been rivals for almost five decades, and although they no longer dominate, they still bring in the crowds. There was a capacity audience at the Nyayo National Stadium and the crowd saw Leopards hit the woodwork in the first minute and score six minutes from time. In between, Gor Mahia scored three goals to secure the win and move up to 30 points.
Headline-grabbers: Congolese-born striker Demonde Selenga just left Leopards to join Gor Mahia and wasted no time in inflicting punishment on his former club. He came on in the 60th minute and, with only his second touch, scored to put Gor two goals up. He then set up a decisive third to finish off the game as he played the ball back for Dan Makori to side-foot home.


AS Lausanne Yaounde’s hopes of winning their first match in Cameroon’s Elite One on the final day of the season were dashed by already-crowned champions Coton Sport. A 2-0 loss meant Lausanne ended the season with four draws and 22 losses in 26 games.


Red Arrows drew 0-0 at Green Eagles to maintain their lead in Zambia after their two closest rivals could not take full advantage.


Mauritius have put their championship on hold while their national team heads to the Indian Ocean Island Games in the nearby Seychelles.

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World Cup – FIFA ban Bin Hammam for life

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has been banned for life on Saturday after being found guilty of trying to buy votes ahead of last month’s FIFA presidential election.

The 62-year-old Qatari was found guilty by FIFA’s ethics committee of bribery during a meeting with Caribbean officials in Port ofSpain, Trinidad in May, the committee’s deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb told reporters.

Caribbean Football Union officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester were each given one-year bans and Damaseb recommended a further investigation be opened “into the conduct of others who attended the meeting”.

Lawyers for Bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation president since 2002, said he rejected the verdict and would appeal.

“He maintains his innocence,” Eugene Gulland said.

“He will continue to fight his case through the legal routes that are open to him.

“He has gone on record and maintains FIFA was going to find against him whatever the validity of the case he presented to them.

“FIFA’s ethics committee has apparently based its decision on so-called circumstantial evidence which our case has clearly demonstrated was bogus and founded on lies told by senior FIFA officials,” added Gulland.

Bin Hammam, who has also been on FIFA’s executive committee since 1996, withdrew his presidential candidacy on May 29 and Swiss Sepp Blatter was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term three days later.

Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, provisionally banned with Bin Hammam for his involvement in the Port of Spain meeting, resigned in June and a case against him was dropped.

Bin Hammam could now take his case to FIFA’s own appeals committee and, if that fails, can then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He must first wait for a detailed report of the ethics committee process – expected to take several weeks – before he can launch his appeal.


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Villas-Boas: Torres is a £50m striker

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Villas-Boas: Torres is a £50m striker

 Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has vowed not to become obsessed by the form of Fernando Torres this season. The Spain striker managed just one goal in 18 appearances for the Blues following his £50m move from Liverpool in January.

Villas-Boas will be relying on Torres to provide a far greater scoring output if he is to enjoy a successful first campaign in charge and, after the No9 struggled in the 1-0 win over a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, he found himself under the microscope once again.

Responding to questions over the 27-year-old after the game, the former Porto coach warned he would not become bogged down by the form of individuals as he looks to make an impact at Stamford Bridge.

Villas-Boas said: “I don’t want to turn Torres into an obsession like you people are trying to do. I am not going to waste time over this. I disagree that he is lacking in confidence.

“Every time a player doesn’t score, I am asked questions about him. I agree that Torres is a £50m striker but my focus is purely on the performance of the team, not the individual.

I don’t want to turn Torres into an obsession like you people are trying to do. I am not going to waste time over this.

Andre Villas-Boas


“It doesn’t matter who scores. These are pre-season games and they don’t have the importance that some people think. The point of these games is to get a feel for your team, and achieve your objectives in terms of fitness and training.

“To gain the confidence to find the back of the net, Torres needs training, tolerance and patience. It doesn’t look like he is getting this at the moment, but we are ready to give our forwards this patience.”

Fitness satisfaction
Torres was substituted for Didier Drogba at half time as Chelsea laboured to a 1-0 win in sweltering conditions in front of 84,980 fans. The Ivorian fired in the free-kick that resulted in the home goalkeeper bundling the ball over his own goal-line, although replays suggested the ball may have crossed the line.

It meant the Blues have won both of their pre-season friendlies under Villas-Boas 1-0 thanks to own-goals, and the Portuguese admitted he had hoped for more from his team.

“It was a difficult game with the heat and the amount of training we have been doing,” he told Chelsea TV. “The players felt it a little bit and I think the most important thing is for us to get fitness conclusions at the moment.

“We had a couple of chances, we cannot deny that. It’s a pity that the result went short a little bit on our expectations. But some good combinations and some good levels of fitness were shown.”

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Argentina turn page after Copa flop

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

After being knocked out by Uruguay in the quarter-finals, fans of Argentina have drawn a line under the Copa America final.

The hosts had hoped to bag a record 15th title but instead it is neighbour Uruguay who will themselves go for a 15th crown in Sunday’s final against Paraguay.

While Buenos Aires restaurants and cafes begin to fill with fans of the finalists, the city wore a general air of indifference Thursday among disillusioned home fans.

“Anybody but Uruguay. Just anyone but them,” groaned office caretaker Juan as he contemplated a triumph for the Charruas from across the River Plate – which for locals would hurt almost as much as seeing Brazil carry off the crown on Argentinian turf.

With the Uruguayans in the trophy match and overwhelming favourites, it is scant consolation to home fans that the Brazilians also went out in the quarter-finals and also little consolation that the auriverde’s exit means they cannot inflict a third straight final defeat on this year’s hosts.

“Paraguay got lucky” in beating Venezuela after a semi-final shootout, said sleepy local Osvaldo Garcia after seeing the highlights following a dinner with acquaintances on Argentina’s “Friends Day” which coincided with Wednesday’s second semi-final.

But the chitchat in the city which continued on into the small hours primarily concerned the upcoming second round of Buenos Aires’ mayoral election, now a much bigger topic of conversation for “Portenos” – local residents – than a Copa they have now mentally laid to rest.

Football fans and media commentators have turned the Copa page and looking forward to the looming new league season just days away, with many in Buenos Aires keen to see if just-relegated River Plate can bounce back into the top flight.

And fans of the national side just hope Sergio Batista’s squad can find the form that went missing over the past three weeks when 2014 World Cup qualifiers start in October.

©2011 AFP

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