Saturday, November 29, 2008

Who Are Stronger - Brazil Or Argentina?

South American Debate: Who Are Stronger - Brazil Or Argentina?
South American powerhouses - Brazil and Argentina - have struggled in the region's World Cup qualifiers but their performances during mid-week friendly matches suggest that they are back to their best.

South American powers - Brazil and Argentina - count with extraordinary squads, but although both nations are expected to be candidates for the 2010 World Cup they have been extremely inconsistent during the World Cup qualifiers.

In recent months Brazil have picked up some positive results on the road, but at home their record has been awful. Dunga's side haven't managed a victory in their last three home games - after three goalless draws against Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia. Immense pressure has hit the squad, and it seemed that Dunga would be out of a job.

Meanwhile, Argentina have only won once in their last seven matches, a run of results that led to Alfio Basile's eventual resignation. With the amount of quality in their squad, Argentina should be doing a great deal better. Instead they have been neutralized by difficult opponents, who have found a way to contain them, even with inferior squads.

Despite lots of problems during the qualifiers, if the results both teams picked up during mid-week friendly matches were any indication, they should be back at their very best when the World Cup qualifiers resume in March 2009.

Brazil played arguably their best game since Dunga took charge of the national team in 2006, with a stunning 6-2 demolition of a highly-rated Portugal side in Brasilia.

The Selecao came from behind to record a massive win that will surely boost the side for future matches. What caught the attention of most viewers was the offensive power of the side, and the way they were able to penetrate the Portuguese defense at relative ease. Also some of the goals Brazil scored were nothing less than extraordinary. Are Brazil back to their all-time best? We think so.

Diego Maradona debuted as the coach of Argentina with a narrow 1-0 victory over Scotland in Hampden Park. The Argentines played some entertaining football during the encounter, and must have been relieved by the win, particularly because they have struggled to claim victories in recent qualifiers, even when playing in-front of their own fans. But is it a sign of things to come, will Maradona manage to change their mentality for the more decisive matches?

After impressive results, it seems that both Brazil and Argentina are back on track, and at this rate, both teams will surely secure qualification to the World Cup. Although it is early, when the tournament gets underway in South Africa, both teams should be firm candidates for the title.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eto'o: Messi Is Better Than Ronaldo

Eto’o Rates Messi Above Ronaldo
As the best player in the world debate rages, Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has thrown his weight behind Lionel Messi's claim to the mantle. The Cameroonian believes that Messi is 'above everybody' in terms of ability, including Cristiano Ronaldo...

As the race for the Ballon d’Or heats up, influential players as well as coaches are starting to sway worldwide journalists’ decision on who to vote for come December.

It appears to be a two-horse race at present between Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and each player have received either glowing endorsements or rave reviews over the past few months.

And Barça striker Samuel Eto’o has now thrown in his two cents’ worth by backing his Argentine goalscoring accomplice at the Camp Nou.

“Cristiano (Ronaldo) is a great player, but Messi is above everybody at the moment,” he told French television channel, TF1.

“He does things not just in training but during matches that no one has ever done before.

“He is the new Maradona. He is a player who makes other people dream of playing like him,” he added.

Eto’o then analyzed Barcelona’s current playing system under coach, Pep Guardiola, which seems to be brining enormous success.

“Our present system isn’t all that different from the one last season. It’s still a 4-3-3 formation but in reality, it looks more like the system developed by (Johan) Cryuff’s Dream Team,” the 27 year old explained.

Barcelona currently sit atop the La Liga standings on 28 points after 11 rounds, with a massive 36 goals scored, 21 of which are shared between Eto’o and Messi.

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Zidane To Florentino: You Go Back, I Go Back

Legends Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane team up for charitable purposes.
Real Madrid legends Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo were in Morocco last night where they held a charity match against poverty. The pair crossed lines with their former president, Florentino Perez...

Former Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was in Morocco yesterday where he met up with Ronaldo and Zidane, who were holding the traditional Ronaldo & Friends vs Zidane & Friends match against poverty.

Prior to the game, the famous trio took pictures for the press and held a friendly conversation. "With the way you look, you should still be playing," said Perez to Zidane.

The French legend was quick to respond. "If you return, Florentino, I'll come back too!" he joked, with that popular smile on his face.

Injury plagued Ronaldo was sentimental when recalling his days at the Bernabeu. "What good times we spent together, President, back in the day," he mused.

The talk was then moved on to more serious subjects, most notably Real Madrid's current crisis. "Schuster is not to blame for what is happening, the problem lies elsewhere," declared Ronaldo.

After being asked by journalists twice, supremo Florentino Perez refused to talk about making a return as Real Madrid's president in the near future. "I'm here to visit my family and friends, on vacation," said Perez bluntly.

Ronaldo's friends edged Zidane's in the encounter, winning by a score line of 6-5. Ronaldo was taken off early in the first half, in order to avoid aggravating his knee again.

However, Zidane scored a fantastic double, as well showing off those incredible touches that made him one of the most brilliant players in the history of the game.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Messi Caught Spitting At Rival

The Messiah
Lionel Messi could be in danger of losing his innocent, squeaky clean image after he was caught spitting at Málaga’s Duda during Barcelona’s stunning 4-1 win on Saturday...

Nicknamed ‘The Messiah’, Lionel Messi has won endless praise ever since he burst into the scenes four years ago. The gawky-looking, media-shy 21 year old has always shown exemplary behaviour on the pitch to complement his breathtaking skills with a football.

However, during Saturday’s rain-soaked game against Málaga, Messi’s true colours may have finally been exposed after television cameras caught him spitting at his opponent, Duda.

The pair had been going at each other all evening long and, when they collided and stumbled to the ground at one point, Messi got up and spat towards the Portuguese, who had his back to the Argentine ace.

It is unclear whether the Barça forward was provoked in any way prior to the incident, but the Spanish sports journals, namely Madrid-based Marca, are already having a field day with this episode.

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Ronaldo Set For Mega United Deal

How's that? Cristiano Ronaldo is on target as usual as Manchester United Thump Hull
Newspaper reports indicate that Manchester United will offer Cristiano Ronaldo a sizeable pay-rise during the summer in an attempt to keep him at the club...

According to the News of the World, United will tear up Ronaldo's current £120,000-per-week contract - which has more than three years remaining - in favour of a new £150,000-per-week deal.

That would make the Portuguese superstar the best-paid player in the history of the Premier League. It would also severely dent Real Madrid's hopes of landing their top target.

"Next summer will be a key element of his contract situation — he will have three years left then," said Sir Alex Ferguson.

The prospect of stopping Madrid president Ramon Calderon from delivering on his promise of bringing Ronaldo to the Bernabeu would doubly delight Sir Alex Ferguson, as the pair have been involved in a word-war through the press over the last week or so.

"There is no question of Ronaldo leaving," the United manager continued.

"Calderon promised everyone they would get the lad in the summer. There was a complete arrogance about it. So I was delighted Ronaldo stayed."

However, there remains a remote possibility that Ronaldo could turn down the new deal and exploit FIFA Article 17, which allows him to buy out his current contract at the end of next season.

But Ferguson added: "Nobody (at Manchester United) has ever bought himself out of his contract. I don’t think it will be an issue."

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Africans In Europe


Mohammed Tchite from Burundi continued his fine form in front of goal for the second week running. He turned on the style when netting a hat-trick for Racing Santander in a 4-2 victory at Valencia. He was on target in the 23rd, 49th and 80th minutes.


Nigeria international midfielder Seyi Olofinjana scored his second goal in the Premier League as his club Stoke City created a huge upset by beating Arsenal 2-1.

A week after South Africa striker Benni McCarthy emerged as the hero for Blackburn Rovers with a late equaliser against Middlesbrough, he was back in the news for the wrong reasons after he was red carded for a second booking against West Bromwich Albion - though he had put Rovers in front from the penalty spot before collecting his second yellow in the 36th minute of the 2-2 draw.

Egypt striker Ahmed Hossam ‘Mido’ recovered from a muscle injury from the previous weekend to score for Middlesbrough in a 1-1 draw with West Ham.

Compatriot Amr Zaki was again on target for Wigan as they clinched full points at Portsmouth. It was his eighth goal of the season.

Gabon international Daniel Cousin was on target in Hull City’s 4-3 loss at champions Manchester United.


Chinedu Ogbuke-Obasi from Nigeria grabbed his second brace of the season to take his club Hoffenheim to the top of the Bundesliga. He followed up on the double he scored against Hamburg last week. He has thus far scored five goals and made two assists in his debut season in the German top flight.


Gabonese striker Eric Moloungui underlined his consistency with the match winner for Nice against Paris Saint-Germaine. His goal last week ensured Nice shared the points with Bordeaux.

Moroccan star Youssouf Hadji scored the match-winning goal in the 69th minute for Nancy versus Bordeaux.

Nigeria international defender Taye Taiwo powered home a header as Olympique Marseille romped to a 3-1 win at home.

Adil Rami of Moroccan descent opened the scoring as Lille beat Nantes 2-0 while Mauritanian Amoudou Alassane was also on target for Le Havre, although his team lost at home 3-2 to Monaco.


Morocco’s Mounir El-Hamdaoui cracked his 12th goal of the season in a 3-3 draw at SC Heerenveen.

Fellow countryman Youssef El Akchaoui scored from the penalty spot and Burundi star Saidi Ntibazonkiza also scored as NEC Nijimegen beat Sparta Rotterdam 2-0.

Dutch-Moroccan Ali Boussaboun netted for FC Utrecht in a 2-0 home win over Heracles Almelo.


Recently capped Nigeria international Joseph Akpala struck twice against visiting Kortrijk to bring to six the total number of his goals thus far for Club Brugge.

African goals all the way in the clash between champions Standard Liege and Charleroi. Benjamin Nicaise scored for Standard only for Charleroi to record an upset with goals from the Moroccan Mouchine Iajour and Mahamadou Habibou, who is from Central Africa.

Bertin Tomou of Cameroon found the back of the net twice as his club Westerlo held home team FCV Dender to a 2-2 draw.

Little known Nigerian Marvin Ogunjimi hit a brace as KRC Genk won 3-1 at Tubize while Togo’s Adekammi Olufade scored for KAA Gent in their 2-0 victory over Zulte-Waregem.


Guinea’s Ibrahim Yattara scored one of the four goals Trabzonspor recorded away at Istanbul


Cameroon’s Albert Meyong Ze drew his team Sporting Braga level in the 62nd minute away at Academica de Coimbra. The match finished 1-1.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Being a barcelona fan could land you in jail..

Open criticism of Moroccan King Mohamed VI is rare Morocco.An 18 year old fan - Yassine Belassal - is facing 12 months in jail because he altered the phrase "God, The Nation, The King" on his school blackboard to read "God, The Nation, Barcelona". Can you believe this ?
Belassal changed the saying as a joke, but the headmaster of his school at Ait Ourir, near Marrakesh, did not see the funny side. He reported the matter to police and Belassal was charged with insulting the king Mohammed VI — a criminal offence — and jailed last month.
Barcelona fans are asking their club to do something but what can they do ?
More on the story here...

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Maradona is the new Argentina coach..

Diego Maradona with a member of the Argentine women's team at the Beijing Olympics.
Diego Maradona named the new coach of Argentina yesterday.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

English Special - Liverpool And Chelsea's Early History

Ahead of Liverpool's visit of Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, Alan Dawson looks at a corresponding fixture from 103 years ago, and explains it's relevance to the two teams today...

Liverpool and Chelsea have accrued countless talking points thanks to their recent encounters in both domestic competition and the Champions League.

The most notable of which was the 2005 Semi Final in Europe where a Luis Garcia 'phantom goal' separated the two sides and had then-manager Jose Mourinho seething by the touchline and lambasting each and every officiator for chalking a goal on the scoreboard when no ball had seemingly crossed the line.

What the cocky press-savvy Portuguese coach failed to publicly notice though was that his goalkeeper Petr Cech had impeded Liverpool forward Milan Baros prior to Garcia's effort and should the goal not have stood then the Reds could have claimed for a penalty, and the Blues may have had to finish the tie with a goal, and a man, down.

Opposition fans like to play a game of poke the lion when they visit Stamford Bridge. Chants of: ''Sh*t fans, no history!" bellow out the mouths of the visiting support, but what constitutes history? Trophies? Don't be daft. The answer is notable events.

Sheffield FC for instance (not to be confused with Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday) are the world's oldest club to still be playing Association Football. Have they won a major trophy though? Ha! Jog on. Of course they haven't. But what they have given football has been recognised by FIFA when the club were awarded the FIFA Order of Merit in 2004; one of only two clubs to have ever received the highest honour to be dished out by the world's governing body for football. The other side being Real Madrid. Do these two facts contribute significantly to Sheffield FC's interesting history? Of course they do.

In a similar vein, despite only accumulating four major trophies in the pre-Premier League era: an old league title in 1955; a League Cup in 1965; an FA Cup in 1970; and a Uefa Cup Winners Cup in 1971, Chelsea do indeed possess history that spans back five score and three years ago.

In a west London hotel in 1904 a chap that answered to the name H R Mears had just bought Stamford Bridge Athletic Grounds with the intention of forming a formidable football club that could be housed there. With the help of John Tait Robinson the pair spent a monkey (£500) investing in the team that included goalkeeper Billy 'Fatty' Foulke; a nifty £50 signing from Sheffield United who was appropriately given the moniker due to his corpulent 306 pound weight.

Despite the rotund nature of the Blues' new captain, Foulke was described back in the day like thus: "As fine a specimen of manhood as ever stepped onto the field. In spite of his bulk he possesses all the agility of a cat, combined with the playfulness of a kitten."

That summer the Pensioners were refused entry to the Southern League, but instead were accepted into Division Two, and their first game was away to Stockport County on the 2nd of September in 1905: they lost 1-0.

The next match was the first ever held at Stamford Bridge. A scheduled friendly against north west club Liverpool who were duly trounced 4-0 two days after the Blues' Stockport trip on the 4th of the same month. Despite the loss the Reds still went on to have a successful season claiming the league title, and nearly winning the FA Cup.

Some things change, some things stay the same... if you were pressed to think for someone that could weigh 22 stone now you would presumably never assume it were the glovesman guarding goal, but the pie-loving gym-dodger in row A.

Liverpool though are again making the trip down south to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The stadium may have been completely rejuvenated over the years, but the home support will be hoping for a repeat scoreline from the corresponding fixture 103 years ago.

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Calcio Comedy: Pele & Maradona In Birthday Punch-Up

Legends face off: Brazil star Pelé and Argentina's Diego Maradona
Footballing legends Pele and Diego Maradona were involved in an explosive fist-fight last night during a special party to celebrate the Brazilian’s 68th birthday.

Pele has had a long and bitter feud with Argentine hero Maradona, who has always accused the Brazilian of being part of the ‘devil’ family of FIFA.

The dispute hit a real low in 2000 when FIFA conducted an internet fan poll to elect the ‘Player of the Century’. Maradona won the poll but then FIFA altered the way in which the winner was chosen, and opted to give the prize to Pele. Maradona protested and eventually both players were presented with an award, with El Pibe d’Oro claiming that his rival’s trophy was worthless.

Last night the most explosive scene in this volatile soap-opera was played out as the pair actively engaged in a fully blown fist-fight during Pele’s 68th birthday celebrations.

O Rei, who is currently in Europe on a Viagra promotional tour, threw a lavish party in his mansion in Zurich, Switzerland. The 300 listed guests read out like a who’s who of the footballing, political and celebrity world. Outgoing American President George Bush and UK PM Gordon Brown were both present, as were movie director Steven Spielberg, singer Elton John, and of course FIFA top-dogs Sepp Blatter, Joao Havelange and Jack Warner.

Some major football figures were also chosen to represent some of the most prestigious countries. Dino Zoff (Italy), Michel Platini (France) and Hong Myung-Bo (South Korea) were just some of these.

The party all seemed to be going well, with Elton John and Celine Dion providing the music, Spielberg and Tom Cruise playing out a scene from their upcoming film, and Blatter performing some Swiss stand-up comedy on stage.

Then, like any dramatic Spielberg Hollywood disaster-thriller, the evening started to descend into something of a horror show. First of all English Representative Paul Gascoigne consumed a little too much alcohol and began smashing up Pele’s Grand Piano. He was eventually ejected by security, but not before he had thrown a cocktail of vodka, whisky and Grappa over ex-German midfielder Lotthar Matthaus, who he blamed for his infamous Italia ’90 semi final yellow card.

Matthaus responded by declaring that “all Englishmen were drunks”, which caused a stir between some of the German and English guests.

At 2200 local time, Blatter then called for everyone’s attention in order to issue a birthday toast to Pele, stating: “Ladies and gentleman, let us all raise our glasses to the greatest player in the history…

While Blatter was at mid-sentence, suddenly a most unexpected guest burst into the ballroom. It was none other than Pele’s arch-nemesis Diego Maradona, who had gate-crashed the fun, having been humiliatingly snubbed when the invites were sent out.

Maradona stubbed out his Cuban cigar into Pele's expensive Persian rug and immediately launched himself into a tirade: “Greatest player in the history? Haha…Greatest player in the history of what?

“Pele, you are the biggest myth there has ever been. You are not even close to being the greatest ever player in your own country. Were you better than Zico, Garrincha, Rivelino, Ronaldo? Only FIFA and all the dirty people behind you proclaim you as the best ever.

“The real people know that I am the greatest and this is all that matters. I am the real deal, you are a fraud and a sell-out.”

Pele then responded in kind. “Diego, please tell me, what drugs have you been taking tonight?

“You are a cheat and a bad role model. You are a bad example to young children. Now get out of my house and stop embarrassing me in front of these distinguished people.”

Maradona squared up to Pele, before American boxing promoter Don King stepped in and proposed that the pair have a three-round fight, with the winner officially being declared as 'The Greatest'. The South Americans reluctantly accepted, and former Ecuadorian official Byron Moreno was called to referee the bout.

Maradona dominated the first two rounds, and shook Pele with a couple of stinging left hooks, dancing around the Brazilian, who was unable to match the Argentine’s workrate.

At the beginning of round three Maradona dropped Pele with a beautiful uppercut that brought back memories of the 1986 ‘Hand of God’. However, in an astonishing decision, referee Moreno deemed the punch as illegal, and disqualified Maradona who, like Gascoigne before him, was ejected by security and put on a plane back to Georgia, where he will be playing in an exhibition match. The party then continued without him.

A video of this amazing fight, including the knockdown, appeared on Youtube late last night, although it was removed soon after. However, a new, heavily edited video was this morning posted on the official FIFA website, which mysteriously shows Pele actually flooring Maradona before having his arms raised by Blatter and Moreno.

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Beckham Speaks!

After a week of dodging journalists' questions, England's David Beckham has finally confirmed that he is in loan talks with AC Milan but pledged himself to Los Angeles, saying he will be back for the next MLS season. He wrote to his own personal website...

After ducking journalists’ questions all week, Los Angeles Galaxy superstar David Beckham finally talked. In a way. On his personal website,, he posted a “Q&A” that confirmed his prospective loan to Italian side AC Milan and explained his motivations. He also pledged himself to continuing his career with the Galaxy.

“One of the reasons I want to train and play in Milan for a few months is the fact that MLS season doesn't run as long as the European season and my body is programmed to actually not have that amount of time off,” he said. “During the off season, I'm hoping to go to Milan to train and play with them.”

It is known that Beckham is desperate to be a part of the England squad at the 2010 World Cup. England manager Fabio Capello has told him that he must be in shape and in form during the winter, when there are big qualifiers, if he is to be on the team. Capello reportedly urged Beckham to join Milan, where Capello previously coached.

“AC Milan is one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he said. “I've a great chance to go there, keep fit and play with some of the best players in the world. They've got Kaka, Ronaldinho, Seedorf and also a player with one of the best records in football, in Maldini.”

Many observers, however, have conjectured that this move might become permanent, and that Beckham was using the loan as a first step to a complete transfer back to Europe. But the former Real Madrid and Manchester United midfielder rejected this.

“[Playing for Milan] also gives me a chance to keep my fitness up and also carry that on for when I come back to the Galaxy and for the MLS season,” he said. “I'm still very committed to being a Galaxy player. I came to the Galaxy to win trophies and I want to do that.”

He has a ways to go to get to that point. The Galaxy missed the playoffs this season for the third straight season, and the second straight since Beckham’s arrival in 2007.

“It's been slightly disappointing on the Galaxy side because we haven't made the playoffs again,” he said. “We haven't had much stability in the team. We now have Bruce Arena as manager, he knows the league, he knows the players. We have to push forward here now we are a big club, one of the biggest clubs in the MLS. Now it's important that we move on from here, forget the disappointment of the last two to three seasons and step up to the challenge.”

The interview made no mention about the length of the loan. According to new FIFA rules, Beckham supposedly cannot go on a short-term loan, but would have to move only during registration periods. This would mean he would miss the first two-to-three months of the MLS season.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Messi Bests Eto’o And Henry

Messi Bests Eto’o And Henry
It has been revealed that FC Barcelona’s Ballon d’Or hopeful Lionel Messi has become the club’s best paid player, edging out his seniors Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o.

Henry and Eto’o had long been regarded as the club’s top earner strictly in terms of wages alone. Now, it appears that Lionel Messi has surpassed both of them, thus becoming the highest paid player.

The Argentine actually signed a new, improved contract all the way back in July this year, but the details had not been disclosed until several days ago, when Catalunya Ràdio made the announcement public and it was subsequently confirmed by the club.

The 21 year old, six years Eto’o’s junior and ten years younger than Henry, is only in his fourth year as a professional footballer with Barcelona, but is already one of the world’s top-earning sportsmen.

Although the exact figures of his contract were not released, it is speculated that his terms will run until 2014 and he will earn anywhere between €10-14 million gross per annum, with a buy-out clause of €150 million.

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Walcott Has Edge On Messi

Wenger: Walcott Has Edge On Messi

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is convinced that Theo Walcott can go on to become a better player than Barcelona's Argentine prodigy Lionel Messi.

While Messi, 21, is widely regarded as one of the very best players on the planet, Walcott, 19, is just coming into his own, and has shot to superstardom courtesy of his hat-trick against Croatia last month.

“He’s different [to Messi at that age] and I think he’s more,” Wenger said at a press conference on Friday.

“If you have to look for a weakness in Messi you would say it is his ability to run without the ball, behind the defender.

“When he takes the ball to his feet he’s like a Ferrari. But Theo is more a guy who has the timing to run off the ball and that is something that is difficult to find.

“We had Marc Overmars who was especially good at that and I’m a great, great lover of movement off the ball.”

Wenger went on to credit Walcott's rapid development to a weight training regime they put him on since he first arrived as a very scrawny 16-year-old.

"He is a man now in the fight," he said. "You feel he has much more power than a year ago, or six months ago.

"We do a bit of strengthening of the upper body but not weights, because I believe in football it's more about coordination.

"Weights make you more rigid and coordination makes you more flexbile and Walcott is a guy who has natural power. He will naturally become a strong upper body player."

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People Should Keep Their Virginity Until Marriage - Kaka

Kaka, Milan
Milan and Brazil playmaker Kaka believes his decision to stay a virgin until he gets married should be an example to every youngster around the world...

Although the Rossoneri star is active on the training pitch, the same cannot be said in the bedroom department following his latest revelations.

Kaka, who is a very devoted Evangelist, believes it's right not to have sex before marriage and he has a message for all those who have their doubts.

"I am a great example. The majority of people say that after marriage, they don't like jumping into bed with their partner because there is no desires. However, this is not true, my wife is the person I love and it was worth waiting," Kaka told Fohla de Sao Paulo.

"A lot of people were surprised and shocked with me but I think it's the best decision. I am an evangelist and I believe in those values. I think people need to prevent themselves from making love before marriage.

"Of course, everyone has their own opinions but I think it was worth the wait."

The Milan star has been away on international duty with Brazil but he will be back in action for his club on Sunday when Sampdoria make the trip to San Siro.

The Rossoneri are three points off the pace in Serie A.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Emile Heskey - The Makélélé Of Forwards

Emile Heskey
England's striker crisis may well be at an end courtesy of the most unlikeliest of heroes, and's Sulmaan Ahmad argues just why he should keep his place on merit...

For the majority of his career, Emile Heskey has only ever been famous for an apparent resemblance to former heavyweight boxer Frank Bruno. On the pitch, the Leicester-born frontman has been branded something of a donkey - leading to the unfortunate nickname of 'Emule' - and far out of his depth in the England set-up.

He made his name in the late 1990s as part of a Leicester City side on the rise, before sealing a high-profile transfer to Liverpool in 2000 for a club record fee of £11 million. He was by and large thought at best to be a foil for strike partner Michael Owen and little more, eventually leaving the Reds for Birmingham City - a significant backwards step - and failing to build on his promising start at St Andrews before switching to Wigan Athletic, where he has rediscovered his confidence and forced his way back into the England set-up.

Latics boss Steve Bruce is convinced that Emile is the best striker of his type that the country has to offer - a claim met with much derision from the majority of England fans - but old Bruno is going some way towards defying his critics, in his own way, with every passing game for both club and country.

England's striker dilemma has haunted them ever since Michael Owen's career became blighted by injury. Though it did not take long for Wayne Rooney to emerge as the new prodical son, the Manchester United ace is far from a striker in the mould of Owen or Alan Shearer before him. England needed something, or someone, new.

Every name under the sun has been banded about in preference to the very thought of Heskey leading the line for the Three Lions, but they have all fallen short. With Wayne Rooney rightfully a fixture in the forward line, it is simply an issue of finding the perfect partner.

The consistent rejection of Michael Owen has been the most contentious selection issue during Fabio Capello's reign so far, but the Newcastle United front-man still hasn't hit top fitness, and the thought of him being stretchered off in an England shirt - again - is probably one Don Fabio is keen to avoid. Furthermore, Owen is one that has always functioned at his best playing alongside a more imposing strike partner (such as Heskey) - something Rooney is not. Dean Ashton remains every idealist's choice, but remains in far too poor a physical state to put himself in contention. Jermain Defoe, much like Owen, has always been at his most effective playing alongside a targetman. The same can be said of the in-form Gabriel Agbonlahor. Darren Bent has shown all the qualities necessary to be the perfect man for the job, but has thus far failed to perform consistently enough to get the nod.

What rapidly became obvious is that many of the best available strikers would not fit into the team setup. While Capello is at least for now persisting with the highly criticised midfield pairing of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, up front, he has learnt his lessons and gone for a far less remarkable player, in Heskey, who has already begun bringing out the best in everyone around him. Peter Crouch was the final option, and of a similar mould to Bruno, but lacking in his strength, positional sense and selflessness.

Against Belarus yesterday evening, Heskey notched up his 50th England cap, and with a measly five goals to his name, it's not hard to see why he has been written off by the vast majority of casual observers. However, one of his greatest achievements as an England international was bringing out the best in Michael Owen, whose goal-scoring record for England alongside Heskey is greater than a goal every other game. Old Bruno made up for his own inability to score by ensuring his strike partner scored twice as many as would usually be expected.

He is now bringing out a similar instinct in Wayne Rooney and proving a formidable outlet up front for Capello's men, even if not the most remarkable or impressive player in possession or in front of goal. In that respect, he is very much comparable with former Real Madrid, Chelsea and France stalwart, Claude Makélélé. While Makélélé sits in front of his own defence, Heskey perches alongside the opposition's, and facilitates the rest of the team's play with a quintessentially English physical approach to forward play.

"I had hardly played for four years so it has been nice to be back," said Heskey after winning his 50th cap, insisting he never gave up hope of reaching the milestone, despite what was almost a complete absence from the national fold for four years. "It's been pleasing the way it has gone and England are going in the right direction now and it has been good to work up a partnership with Wayne [Rooney]."

Though it may only be cosmetic in comparison to the successes of the team, Heskey has admitted he is itching to improve his goal-scoring record for the national team. "I don't think I've changed my approach - although I am a bit more relaxed - and I am keen to improve my goal tally with England," he continued. "I know I played on the left a few times, particularly during Sven [Goran Eriksson]'s spell in charge and I've also moved around a bit when playing club football. But strikers are judged on their goals so I would like to make the record a lot better. I have never been a prolific scorer but I always want to improve on that." True, even when he rose to prominence in the 90s he did not score at a particularly impressive rate, nor is he now at club level with Wigan, though he is - as he does with such ease - bringing the best out of the newly recruited Egyptian goal machine, Amr Zaki.

Though the obvious limitations of such players means they will disappear out of games, targetmen like Heskey, poachers like Filippo Inzaghi or even lightweight wingers Diego Capel will always offer a team a whole new dimension single-handedly, and that cannot be underestimated in the increasingly competitive and pressurised environment of modern football.

Don Fabio has always insisted it is not an individual's talent which concerns him, but their commitment to and synergy with the team. In that respect, Heskey was not such a surprise selection as it may have been under more media-conscious coaches of past England eras. It was nevertheless a brave and justified choice that looks well worth persisting with, certainly up until the World Cup.

"Emile Heskey is very important for us," said Capello following the win in Minsk. "He has good movement, he is strong, he is quick - and Heskey and Wayne Rooney do very well together." The 'Bespectacled One' was keen to add that Heskey had earned his place by improving his performances at the start of this season, following a poor finish to the last, in which he was held back by injuries.

Heskey's inclusion has done such wonders for the fluidity and freedom of the team, not to mention their newfound ability to grind out results by any means necessary. Now, it just remains a matter of time until Capello is forced to make a similarly brave call in midfield...

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Prem Parody: England The Best In The World - McClaren

UEFA 2008 Qualifying: Steve McClaren , England
Former England coach Steve McClaren has launched a scathing attack on the English Football Association for what he believed was a premature dismissal and believes the fine form being enjoyed by the side is due in no small part due to his spell in charge...

McClaren, now in charge of Dutch side FC Twente, was sacked following his failure to qualify England for Euro 2008. The Three Lions were turned over by Russia, and despite being handed a lifeline that meant they simply needed to avoid defeat at home on the final day of qualification, they lost 3-2 to Slaven Bilic's already-qualified Croatia side.

His dismissal was thought by many to be long overdue - his appointment as a token English boss itself received heavy opposition in itself - but despite watching on helplessly under an umbrella in that infamous Wembley downpour as his side capitulated in front of his very eyes, he refused to resign.

The decision came, then, that the FA would dismiss the former Middlesbrough boss and appoint in his place the most prolific coach in recent times, Fabio Capello. In ratio to the number of clubs of which he has taken charge, seasons he has coached and trophies won, few in the history of the game can compete with Don Fabio on paper. McClaren, though, has other ideas. "I respect the achievements of Mr. Capello, but it must first and foremost be established that his achievements were in club football in Italy and Spain," explained McClaren.

"The Premier League is the best league in the world - everybody knows that. Maybe I didn't win league titles like Fabio, but I took Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup final before my appointment as England boss. People forget that. My lot beat teams from all over the continent.

"I was never afraid to innovate. I would bring on four strikers if I had to, but they would never do that in Italy. They are too defensive. Will Capello have the tactical nous and nerve to put all his eggs in the attacking basket if the chips are ever down? I'm not so sure.

"He will find out the hard way that things are not the same when you're in charge of the greatest footballing nation in the world."

When asked to consider Capello's two reigns in charge of Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world, McClaren replied, "It's not the same. That's club football, and it's not even England. England is different; it's special. You know, Real Madrid only wear white because they want to be like England - not many people know that."

McClaren, speaking after England's win in Minsk that gave them a perfect start of four straight wins in their World Cup qualifying campaign, continued, "I'm very proud of the boys and I think they can go all the way." To the tournament? "No, no. I believe England can win the World Cup. We're talking about the best players in the world here. On our day we're a match for anyone.

"The team is in great form and I'm proud of the contribution I was able to make in that regard. I laid all the groundwork, and though I am immensely disappointed to have been ejected as I was, I now feel, like a mother hen, it was the right time to let my chicklets fly away to more prosperous lands," continued a poetic and emotional McClaren.

"I mean, for example, I gave David Nugent his chance. One cap and one goal - his goal-scoring record is better than Romario's, Gabriel Batistuta's and Marco van Basten's. Think about that. He has the potential to be better than all of them, but no one's giving him the chance.

"I made the headway for Stewart Downing, who is now enjoying a thrilling international career under the new regime. He's a world class player. I also made the brave choice of John Terry as skipper, which Mr. Capello copied. People forget these things - I was made the scapegoat - but that's life I suppose.

"Also, I initially omitted David Beckham, just like Fabio. We're a lot alike, except I've managed in the tougher environment of the Premier League. You never know: if I had been in charge of AC Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid everyone might be calling me Don Stevio," he smiled.

As the evening wound down, conversation meandered onto different matters. The infamous scenes that saw McClaren watch on under his umbrella in the Wembley downpour as his side capitulated against Croatia earned him the unfortunate nickname, the Wally with the Brolly. "It's my hair," he explained. "If it even gets so much as damp it becomes wild and unmanageable."

Lastly, the coach revealed how well he is settling into life in the Netherlands. "Yes, it's been very good," he affirmed. "I've been practising my Dutch and the locals tell me I'm getting very good.

"I err... how do you shay, apply myshelf? Yesh. I work, hard. Of courshe, the main importance of thingsh ish that we don't get complashenshy and approach gamesh with caushion. How do you shay... shtep by shtep? Yesh. That ish the key conshept in opinion of mine.

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Should Italy Scrap The Target Man & Copy Spain?

Italian Joy
Last night Italy defeated Monetengro 2-1 in their 2010 World Cup qualifying clash in Lecce. Carlo Garganese is not convinced by the Azzurri attack, and questions whether the target man system should be scrapped…

Results-wise Italy have made a solid start to their World Cup qualifying campaign as, with 10 points from their first four matches, they are currently top of Group 8, three points clear of the Republic Ireland, who have played a game less.

However, there is clearly something lacking from this Italy team at the moment, and without doubt it is in the attacking third. In the double-header against Bulgaria and Montenegro the three man trident of Antonio Di Natale, Alberto Gilardino and Simone Pepe did not shine, while none of these players particularly impressed on an individual level either.

Pepe did have an excellent first half-hour last night when he created Aquilani’s first goal, but he then disappeared off the radar. Time will tell if the Udinese man has the quality required at this level. The simple question to ask though is: Is this a World Cup-winning attack? I have no hesitation in saying that the answer is no.

I am a big fan of Di Natale’s style of play but, despite being an Italy regular for over a year now, I still can’t work out whether I like him or not. In some matches he has been a real livewire, while in others, such as the last three World Cup qualifiers, he has offered little. Di Natale turns 33 in 2010, and has still never played for a big club that regularly competes in the Champions League. Quite clearly there are question marks as we have never really seen him play at the highest level of European competition. He did compete with Udinese in the Champions League a few years back, but that was a brief romance.

My views on Gilardino are well known, so I won’t trawl through these again. What I would like to ask readers though is whether or not the employment of a target man striker is the best way forward for the Azzurri. Gilardino is not up to the job, Luca Toni, it seems, no longer is either, while the likes of Marco Borriello and Vincenzo Iaquinta are not of world class international calibre. The Brazilian-born Amauri is certainly an option, albeit a controversial one, but we will have to wait and see what happens with his passport situation, and there are also rumours today that Dunga will call him up for the Selecao anyway.

What Italy do have in abundance though are exciting support strikers and pocket dynamos, who may not physically hold up the ball and score many headers, but can frighten defenders with their creativity, skilful running and link-up play. Of course I am talking about the likes of Antonio Cassano, Giuseppe Rossi (who was called to the recent squad), Sebastian Giovinco, Mario Balotelli, and even Fabrizio Miccoli, who has possibly been the best Italian forward in Serie A so far this season. These are players who, despite still having much to prove in one way or another, certainly could be worth looking at.

There seems to be an obsession in modern football with playing a big target man-type centre forward. Chelsea have Drogba, Arsenal have Adebayor, Man Utd have Berbatov, Juventus have Amauri, Inter have Ibrahimovic. At international level, Italy have gone down this route with Toni in recent years, while even Fabio Capello’s England are relying on Emile Heskey to carry out this job.

Some even argue that two skilful centre forwards cannot play together any longer in the modern game, something I find absolutely horrifying, as it would mean the death of pure football. Thankfully, Spain proved at Euro 2008 with Torres and Villa that there is still room for two similar attackers working in tandem and, perhaps, as Giorgio Chiellini said earlier this week, this is the model Italy should follow.

The best football Italy have played in the last decade was at Euro 2000 when an injury to Christian Vieri forced Dino Zoff to scrap the big centre forward approach, and go for two smaller, but more intelligent, frontmen in Francesco Totti and Pippo Inzaghi. The Azzurri served up some delightful pass-and-move stuff and had the tournament in the bag until Sylvain Wiltord’s tragically fortuitous 94th minute equaliser for France in the final in Rotterdam.

Football may have changed a lot in the past eight years, but the current target man system that Lippi is employing just does not convince me at all at the moment. You can’t play a system if you don’t have the players for it, and at the moment Italy do not have a top class target man who is eligible.

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Vieira: Gerrard Is Best Midfielder

 Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard wheels away in celebration, thinking he had netted the opening goal early on against Stoke City. It was contentiously chalked off and the game surprisingly ended goalless.
Patrick Vieira believes Steven Gerrard is currently the best midfielder in the world - and that Cesc Fabregas will become the best in the future.

Ahead of the 2001 FA Cup final between Liverpool and Arsenal, Steven Gerrard described it as an honour to be on the same pitch as the Gunners’ powerful midfielder Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman was the gold standard for other midfielders to aspire, reckoned Gerrard.

So there is a neat symmetry about Vieira now telling that he regards Gerrard as the best midfielder in the world today.

Ironically, Gerrard has recently been criticised for failing to reproduce his outstanding club form in an England shirt, and the Scouse idol could even be demoted to the substitutes' bench tomorrow night when England take on Belarus in their World Cup qualifier in Minsk.

But as far as Vieira, now at Internazionale in Milan, is concerned, 28-year-old Gerrard is one of the world’s greatest.

"The best midfielder I would say is Steven Gerrard. I really rate him as a player and as a man. I think he is still one of the best," Vieira said at an event run by Ford's Feel Football debate website

And asked who would one day rival Gerrard as one of the best midfielders, Vieira cited his former Arsenal team-mate, Cesc Fabregas.

"Fabregas [has the potential to be the best]. I think he is learning every year.

"Now he is a top quality player. He is one of the best. In the years to come he can be at the top."

And although Fabregas continues to be linked with a return to his boyhood club Barcelona, Vieira is convinced the 21-year-old Catalan can achieve all his ambitions with the Gunners.

"I think if the club matches the same desire as the player, then why not?" said Vieira.

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Milan Push And Shake For Agger

Daniel Agger - Liverpool
Milan are ready to launch an assault for under-fire Liverpool stopper Daniel Agger, according to Il Corriere Dello Sport.

The Danish central defender doesn't seem a part of the project 'Pool coach Rafa Benitez has planned and he is unlikely to renew his current deal, which expires in 2010.

Agger is a loggerheads with his coach as he has been used as a bit-part player at Anfield. He is now being looked at by the Rossoneri as a possible replacement for the injury prone Alessandro Nesta.

Il Corriere Dello Sport claims Milan are ready to make a move and they will insert French midfielder Yoann Gourcuff, currently on-loan at Bordeaux, as part of the deal.

The 24-year-old has been advised to the San Siro club by former Rossonero Tomas Helveg and the club is ready to move and shake by tempting the Premier League side with a bid during the January transfer window.

Milan's real objective is Spanish international Sergio Ramos but if that fails, Agger will be the alternative as Ancelotti goes for youth over experience as he pushes the pineapple and shakes the tree.

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Tevez A Real Madrid Target?

CL: Carlos Tevez , Olympique Lyon v Manchester United
With a degree of uncertainty still surrounding the future of Argentine forward Carlos Tevez, the Spanish media are saying that if Manchester United don't pay €37 million to MSI before 30th January, Real Madrid will make a move for the player.

Carlos Tevez is said to be a target for Real Madrid. The latest big 'story' to be splashed across the pages of Spanish football newspaper Marca is that the 24-year-old has been targeted by technical staff at the Bernabeu, including coach Bernd Schuster - who according to Marca "has made it clear that the signing of a world class striker must be a priority for next season - and Mijatovic agrees with him."

Of course, at this stage it is pure speculation and paper talk. But Tevez's situation is an intriguing one.

The Argentine 'belongs' to Kia Joorabchian's management company MSI, who have effectively loaned the star to Manchester United until the end of January 2009.

At that point United can take up their preferential option to make Tevez a permanent member of their playing staff by paying MSI €37 million.

It seems almost certain that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will exercise that option to keep the hard-working Tevez at Old Trafford. True, Tevez has said this week that Ferguson's changes to the United forward line this season, including the introduction of Dimitar Berbatov, have blunted the goalscoring dimension of his game, but he has vowed to get back to his best for the Red Devils.

In the unlikely event that United chose not to sign Tevez in January, Real Madrid could conceivably make a move to sign him. But it seems a very long shot at the moment.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

England roll on, France fight back

Emile Heskey of England passes the ball during the match against Kazakhstan during the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying group 6 football match at Wembley Stadium in London on October 11, 2008.
shocks were thin on the ground on Matchday 3 of the European qualifying competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, as the favourites flexed their muscles. England, Spain and Greece are the only three sides to have won three out of three.

Game of the day
Germany 2-1 Russia
Goals: Lukas Podolski 9, Michael Ballack 28 (Germany); Andrei Arshavin 51 (Russia)

This Group 4 encounter between the UEFA EURO 2008 runners-up and one of the semi-finalists promised much. The Germans made their customary fast start, with Lukas Podolski opening the scoring early on and Michael Ballack doubling their advantage before the half-hour mark. The Russians never stopped running, however, and worked their way back into the game after the restart. It was Andrei Arshavin, somewhat inevitably, who reduced the arrears before Guus Hiddink's side laid siege to the German goal. But Rene Adler, the major success story for the hosts, was in inspired form in goal and made sure the Mannschaft clung on to the points.

Surprise of the day
Faroe Islands 1-1 Austria
Goals: Bogi Lokin 47 (Faroe Islands); Martin Stranzl 49 (Austria)

After overcoming France 3-1 in their first match in Group 7, the Austrians failed to overcome the side who famously beat them when they met back in 1990. The islanders were entertaining hopes of repeating that win when Bogi Lokin put them ahead at the start of the second half. The visitors hit back quickly, however, but could not prevent the Faroes from picking up their first point in the group.

The other games
Denmark lead the way in Group 1 after Portugal and Sweden drew a blank in Solna.

Greece put three goals past Moldova without reply, two of them coming from Angelos Charisteas. With nine points out of nine, the Greeks lead Group 2 ahead of Israel and Switzerland.

Poland and Slovenia are out front in Group 3. Missing three key midfielders, Czech Republic went down 2-1 away to the Poles and now find themselves six points behind the leading duo.

Andrei Arshavin scored once and almost grabbed an equaliser for Russia away to Germany, but it is Joachim Low's men who sit atop Group 4 after their 2-1 win. Finland beat Azerbaijan to stay in touch with the leaders.

Spain continued their serene progress in Group 5 with a routine 3-0 triumph in Estonia. The European champions have now gone 38 matches without defeat in FIFA World Cup qualifying matches and have yet to concede in this latest campaign, while scoring eight. Turkey and Belgium both won, however, to keep up the pressure on the leaders.

In Group 6, England thrashed Kazakhstan 5-1 to open up a five-point lead over Croatia, who played out a goalless draw with Ukraine. Fabio Capello's men have a 100 per cent record so far and scored their 200th FIFA World Cup qualifying goal when Alexandr Kuchma put through his own goal.

Lithuania came back down to earth, losing 3-0 in Serbia, but still lead the way in a wide-open Group 7, where five sides are in contention for first place. France were on the brink against Romania but fought back for a 2-2 draw.

Italy were content to come away from Bulgaria with a draw and stay in pole position in Group 8 on seven points, three clear of Republic of Ireland.

And in Group 9 Scotland shared the spoils with Norway in a disappointing 0-0 draw, a result that allowed the Netherlands, easy 2-0 victors against Iceland, to move two points in front with a game in hand.

The stat
7 -
The number of years Israel have now gone unbeaten away from home in FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The last time the Israelis lost on their travels was back in March 2001, when they went down 2-1 to Austria.

Goal of the day
Romania 2-2 France
Yoann Gourcuff, 69

The Bordeaux playmaker made the most of his latest international outing, putting France back on level terms with a 25-yard drive that caught out an otherwise-inspired Bogdan Lobont in the Romania goal.

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Kaka's return lifts Brazil

Brazil' striker Kaka (R) receives instructions from the team's coach Dunga, 15 November 2007, during a practice in Teresopolis, 200 Km from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil will face Peru on November 18th for the FIFA WC South Africa 2010 qualifiers.
Eleven months is a long time for a team to be without its talisman. It is long enough, too, for the sceptics to raise their concerns, even if those in question are the record five-time FIFA World Cup™ winners and the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year.

But this doubt pales in comparison to the pyrrhonism that once clouded Kaka's future in football. The Brazilian was 18 and on the books at Sao Paulo when, in 2000, he slipped on a water-toboggan slide and thumped his head on the bottom of a swimming pool, suffering a fracture of the vertebra; an injury which often leads to paralysis. He was told he may never play the sport again.

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite nevertheless refused to languish in self-pity. Instead, he composed a list of ten goals he wished to realise in football. They included returning to action; signing a professional contract at Sao Paulo; earning a Brazil cap at senior level; joining a major club in Italy or Spain; and appearing at the FIFA World Cup.

It appeared preposterously ambitious. It proved comfortably attainable. Central to Kaka's accomplishment was his ability to cruise past opponents with the balance and elegance of a champion racehorse, the passing that made his virtual second sight lethal, and the capacity to consistently score from distance with shots as precise as they were powerful.

"He's got everything. When he plays like that he's unstoppable," said then Ecuador coach Luis Suarez after his side had succumbed 5-0 to a Kaka-inspired Brazil in a South Africa 2010 qualifier one year ago.

Missed in absence
Dunga can certainly corroborate the attacking midfielder's irrepressibility. Under his reign, Brazil have lost just once in 16 matches with Kaka on the field, during which period he has scored eight goals, while they have failed to win seven times in 15 attempts without him. Moreover, the Seleção have won - and scored in - just one of their last five matches in the 26-year-old's absence.

A series of niggling injuries have kept the canary-yellow jersey off Kaka's back since a 2-1 win over Uruguay on 21 November 2007, but his return to the squad for Brazil's forthcoming qualifiers against Venezuela and Colombia has evoked palpable relief. This feeling is reciprocated.
I missed being part of the squad so much and I'm happy to be back. Now I want to transfer my happiness on to the pitch
Kaka is aiming to make up for lost time.

Brazil sit second in the ten-team South American qualification group, four points behind Paraguay and above Argentina and Chile on goal difference. They could, however, mathematically find themselves third-bottom come Wednesday night.

I will do everything within my capability to help. I'm 100 per cent fit and ready to serve the Seleção
Kaka is eager to help Brazil post victories over Venezuela and Colombia.

La Vinotinto beat Brazil 2-0 in a friendly in the USA in June, and will have home advantage to their benefit on Sunday. "Venezuela are no punching bags. It will be a tough game but Brazil live by results," said Kaka. "I'm not the saviour of my homeland. It's not only my responsibility but I will do everything within my capability to help. I'm 100 per cent fit and ready to serve the Seleção."

The long-suffering Brazil supporters are equally ready to chant the name of Kaka, which derives from the inability of his brother, Standard Liege defender Digao, to pronounce Ricardo during his infancy. Its inscription on the FIFA World Player of the Year trophy results from the inability of defenders the world over to nullify him throughout 2007.

This year has not gone according to plan for Kaka. His crack at making up for lost time with Brazil begins against Venezuela. Will the relationship between player and team be as consummate as it was before?

Absence, as the say, makes the heart grow fonder, and Kaka will be determined to mark the reunion by taking another step towards the crowded pantheon of Brazilian greats.

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Buffon And Kaka Now On City’s Wish List

Buffon And Kaka In City's Sights
Gianluigi Buffon and Kaka are the latest names to be linked with Manchester City as transfer speculation surrounding the Sky Blues continues apace.

The club have become the richest in the Premier League following their takeover in September which has led to a whole host of top names being linked with a move to Eastlands.

According to the News of the World, Juventus stopper Buffon and Milan’s Brazilian playmaker Kaka are the latest players thought to be tempting manager Mark Hughes.

The Sky Blues’ manager will also reportedly be handed £100 million to spend in the January transfer window as he looks to strengthen his squad.

The paper claims that a bid of £25 million would secure Buffon from Juventus where, they claim, the goalkeeper is unsettled and searching for a new challenge.

Kaka, meanwhile, would reportedly cost twice as much to prise away from AC Milan. The World Player of the Year was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea over the summer, although opted to remain at the San Siro.

Whilst luring both players to Eastlands, mid-way through the season. may represent something of a challenge. The fact that Robinho was signed from Real Madrid for a British record fee shows the club’s intent.

Buffon and Kaka now join a long list of players linked with City following their takeover and including such names as Thierry Henry, Antonio Cassano, Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and Ronaldo.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Futsal World Cup Update..

Brazil are trying to win the five-a-side football competition for the first time in 12 years, while Spain is looking to clinch its third straight title.
Brazil and Spain have won all five titles since the competition began being organized by FIFA in 1989. Brazil won the first three tournaments before Spain took over in the next two.The competition, with venues in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, is played in two 20-minute periods on a surface about the size of a basketball court. The teams are divided into four groups of five, with the top two advancing to the next stage.The Solomon Islands got a 21-0 lesson in the game from Brazil.USA have lost both their games so far....
Latest news here ... and a video of Ronaldinho doing futsal stuff here...

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Video: Joe Kinnear goes ballistic

Here is the link to the full transcript >>

Kinnear goes into a rant. Be warned. Very strong language. Tighten up your seat belts, this is going to be one roller coaster ride if you are a NUFC fan.

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Mark Hughes for Spurs job: Deja vu all over again

In the frame: Mark Hughes Exit door: Juande Ramos

Remember last season when Spurs boss Daniel Levy went behind Martin Jol's back and claimed that he had not offered Juande Ramos the job even as the Sevilla manager contradicted his statement that the club had made a "dizzying" offer. Jol left with a bad taste in his mouth.

Looks like the Spurs have the shiv out for Juande Ramos.

It is happening again. All of this does nothing except reflect poorly on the club. Ramos was Comolli's choice. If Ramos goes then Comolli should be thrown out on his ear too. His acquisition of Darren Bent for a mind boggling £16.5 million now appears to be a criminal waste. Levy has said that he will hold Comolli responsible if Ramos did not work out. It is time for Levy to put up or shut up.

Spurs seems to be going Newcastle's way of never being satisfied with their managers.

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Eat For Goals - the footballers guide to healthy eating.

"Eat for Goals "is a book created by UEFA and the World Heart Federation.It is about good food, cooking and football. It has been created to encourage young people to be more conscious of living active lifestyles and eating well. 20% of children in the EU are overweight and the rate of increase of childhood obesity is ten times higher than in the 1970s. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are also part of the target audience.
Some of the suggested foods :Scotland and Rangers captain Barry Ferguson goes for fresh fruit salad,Thierry Henry has something in Pasta,chicken and fish.Steven Gerrard has given the recipe for his favourite - aromatic sea bream.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Barcelona 6-1 Atletico Madrid Match Goals

he Barcelona players received nothing but praise for their display as they destroyed Atlético Madrid
Barca came flying out the traps against Atletico, scoring an incredible three goals in the first eight minutes. Marquez headed home Xavi’s corner after four minutes, Eto’o added a second from the spot after Messi was fouled in the box, and Messi took a brilliant quick free-kick to complete the astonishing opening with the third. But Atletico hit back immediately, Maxi Rodriguez flashed a stunning 20 yard shot past Valdes to make it 3-1 after just 13 minutes. And it didn’t stop there, Eto’o ran clean through after 17 minutes and slotted home the fourth for Barca. And the madness continued, Iniesta’s shot hit the post and Gudjohnsen was on hand to register the fifth. The second half was a far tighter affair, but Henry came off the bench to fire home a beautiful sixth after slick build-up play.

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Inter 2-1 Bologna Match highlights

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adriano - Inter
Inter Milan took the lead thanks to a wonder strike from Zlatan, Adriano broke down the left hand side, crossed into Ibrahimovic at the near post and the Swede acrobatically squeezed the ball into the near post. Inter appeared to put the game to bed early in the second half when Adriano swept home a penalty to double the lead, but a shocking defensive error from veteran Zanetti gifted Moras with the opportunity to pull a goal back, which he gladly accepted.

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Wigan 0-1 Middlesbrough

Late joy: Jeremie Aliadiere (c) celebrates after scoring for Boro at the death
Jeremie Aliadiere pounced in the 89th minute to steal the points for Boro after Wigan had largely dominated with Amr Zaki seeing a powerful effort tipped around the post by Ross Turnbull, who also saved well from Wilson Palacios, Jason Koumas and Emile Heskey.

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Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal Match Goals

Saviour: Cesc Fabregas scores late in injury time at the Stadium of Light
The first real chance of the game at the Stadium of Light fell to Djibril Cisse following a poor back pass from Walcott, but Almunia saved well. Before the break, Theo Walcott saw a fine effort saved by Gordon. Arsenal started the second half brightly, ten minutes after the break, van Persie thought he had scored, but the linesman ruled that the ball had crossed the line before Walcott crossed the ball - a decision likely to increase calls for video evidence. Late on, moments after coming on as a sub, Grant Leadbitter put Sunderland ahead with a cracking 25-yard effort which crashed in off the bar and looked to have given Sunderland the win. But, deep into injury-time Cesc Fabregas popped up with an equaliser from a van Persie corner.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

AC Milan 0-1 Inter Milan - Highlights

Ronaldinho - Milan-Inter - Serie A (Grazia Neri)
The Milan derby was lit up woth some Brazilian magic just before the break when Ronaldinho put AC Milan in front with a super header from a delicious Kaka cross.

1-0 Ronaldinho


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Wigan 2-1 Man City Highlights

City slayer: Amr Zaki produced a man-of-the-match display to hand Wigan victory over Manchester City
Wigan got off to a terrific start, Antonio Valencia hitting a rasping drive from outside the box which arrowed in the top-right hand corner of Joe Hart’s net. But Steve Bruce’s charges let themselves down conceding a poor equaliser, Elano’s free-kick was poorly dealt with by Palacios at the near post allowing Vincent Kompany to steer the ball over the line. The Latics controversially hit back, Wilson Palacios impersonated a high jumper following a challenge from Garrido, ref Bennett pointed to the spot and Amr Zaki continued his superb record since arriving in England. The second half was a far duller spectacle, City failing to find an equaliser and ending in the second consecutive defeat for Mark Hughes’ men.

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Espanyol 1-2 Barcelona Match Highlights

Espanyol 1-2 Barcelona Match Highlights
In the Catalonia derby, Messi set up Henry and Xavi hit the crossbar as Barca looked for the opener. But it was Espanyol who struck after some dreadful Barca defending, Corominas slotting home after a cross was poorly dealt with. Henry then had an effort cleared off the line, before Espanyol were reduced to 10 men as Nene was dismissed for a second yellow. (First half highlights here.) After the break Barca continued to press, Messi flashed a shot wide and Henry’s acrobatic bicycle-kick was saved. The game was then halted for ten minutes after violence broke out in the stands as the home fans threw flares into the away supporters, before turning on their own stewards, breaking down a fence. When the game finally resumed Thierry Henry got reward for his hard work, netting the equaliser after a lucky break presented him with an open goal. The game ended is hugely controversial circumstances, Samuel Eto’o fell in the box after a clean, legal tackle, the ref pointed to the spot and Messi rolled home the winner with the final kick of the game.

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Sampdoria 0-0 Juventus Match Highlights

Del Piero started brightly for Juventus at Sampdoria, coming close with a free-kick and then dragging a shot onto the post.

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Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid Match Highlights - Goals

Real Madrid moved ahead at Real Betis when Gabriel Heinze headed home van der Vaart’s free-kick. Betis almost equalised on the stroke of halftime, but Emana’s effort stayed out thanks to a combintion of post and Iker Casillas. Betis equalised after the break, the ref award a penalty against Marcelo (who was sent off in the process), and although initially saved by Casillas, Sergio Garcia scored on the rebound. Garcia was then later sent off for picking up his second card, and with new impetious Real claimed a last-gasp winner thanks to Ruud van Nistelrooy.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Middlesbrough 0-1 West Brom Albion Match Goals

Slip-up: Ross Turnbull fails to hold Jonas Olsson's shot at The Riverside
Jonas Olsson earned West Brom their first away win of the season by being in the right place at the right time to score following Greening’s left wing corner.

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Newcastle 1-2 Blackburn Match Highlights

Another fine mess: dejected Newcastle United captain Michael Owen reflects on defeat

Goals from Christopher Samba (a flying header) and Roque Santa Cruz (another header) put Blackburn in control before half time, while Michael Owen’s penalty continued his trend of scoring goals which fail to impact on the results of games.

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Arsenal 1-2 Hull City Match Highlights - Goals

Leaping up: Hull City's Daniel Cousin scores his sides second goal
Cesc Fabregas dragged a shot wide against Hull after 14 minutes. Despite holding much of the ball Arsenal failed to score in the first half, Eboue pulled a shot wide late in the half after good skills prized open the opportunity. Hull almost punished the Gunners early after the break but George Boateng’s shot was blocked by Cesc Fabregas. And as is so often the case, minutes later Walcott burst down the right, crossed into Adebayor, and Paul McShane turned the ball over his own line. The Tigers looked shell-shocked and Adebayor should have doubled the lead, but on the hour mark they equalised from nowhere, Geovanni hit a 25-yard screamer to stun the home crowd. Hull then stormed into the lead as Daniel Cousin headed home a corner. In the final stages Arsenal pressed hard for an equaliser, Gallas seeing his header rebound off the bar. Recording the result of the season, Hull move up to sixth, having as many points as Derby got all of last season.

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