AC Milan say Ancelotti not taking over at Chelsea

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has said their coach Carlo Ancelotti will not be taking over the vacant Chelsea manager's job, the Italian first division club said on their website.

Ancelotti's name has been touted as a replacement for Avram Grant who was axed by the Stamford Bridge club although coming close to winning both the European Champions League and English Premiership title this season.

Galliani said the London club had contacted them but that they had not allowed Chelsea to meet Ancelotti.

Galliani told the club's website, www.acmilan.com: “Chelsea? No, they didn't meet with him because they asked our permission and there everything halted.

“Him and another Italian coach were on top of Chelsea's wish list and the fact our coach is sought after and well seen gives me great pleasure. But Carlo Ancelotti is and will stay Milan's coach.”

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Portugal see off Georgians

Portugal warmed up for Euro 2008 with a 2-0 home win in Viseu on Saturday over Georgia courtesy of first half goals from Joao Moutinho and Simao Sabrosa.

Moutinho broke the dedalock on 19 minutes and Simao settled matters with a penalty kick a minute before the break as the hosts swept aside their rivals with ease.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari felt able to ring the changes after the interval and did so – replacing ten players, including Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who gave way to club colleague Nani.

Portugal, runners-up on home soil four years ago, will face co-hosts Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Turkey at Euro-2008.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Fifth place will cost us 20 million euros, says Gallliani

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani claimed on Saturday that his team's failure to qualify for next season's Champions League has cost the club around 20 million euros.

Despite beginning the season as the reigning European champions and claiming the Club World Cup in December, Milan finished the season fifth after a disastrous start to their league campaign left them with too much catching up to do.

Fiorentina claimed fourth place and the final Champions League qualification spot, leaving Milan to compete in the UEFA Cup next season.

“It's difficult to establish a figure, it depends on how far you go in either the Champions League or UEFA Cup,” said Galliani.

“I think that losing (a Champions League place) can result in a loss of 20 million euros spread over two years.”

Milan have said their main priority next season is the title and they are searching for a world class striker to add to their books, but so far those that might be available are proving too expensive.

The Rossoneri have been linked with Barcelona pair Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o while they are widely expected to do a deal with Genoa to bring Marco Borriello back to the club.

“There are good strikers. Their names are always the same six or seven, all with crazy price-tags,” added Galliani.

“Ronaldinho is potentially one of those, Ronaldinho is among the six or seven.”

Milan have already bid 16 million euros for the Brazilian but that offer fell less than halfway short of the 40 million euros Barcelona want.

The Italians are also two million euros short in their offer to the Catalan giants for Italy full-back Gianluca Zambrotta.

They need to sign a full-back after letting veteran Brazilian pair Serginho and Cafu leave.

There is better news with the imminent arrival of Borriello, though, who Galliani rates more highly than Brazilian Amauri, whom Juventus have just signed for more than 22 million euros.

“Borriello scored 19 goals (last season), more than Amauri,” insisted Galliani. “We still need a great striker to win the scudetto.”

Meanwhile, Milan announced they have let young French midfielder Yohann Gourcuff joined French outfit Bordeaux on loan next season.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Eto´o overcomes assault claim to score as Cameroon win

African superstar Samuel Eto'o overcame an assault claim to score as Cameroon opened their challenge for a record sixth World Cup appearance with a 2-0 win over Cape Verde Islands Saturday.

Barcelona striker Eto'o converted a penalty 10 minutes into the second half in Yaounde to complete a comfortable triumph set up by an early goal from veteran defender Rigobert Song.

A local radio reporter accused three-time African Footballer of the Year Eto'o of head butting him Friday after tempers flared over limited media access to the 'Indomitable Lions'.

Cameroon competed at the World Cup in 1982, 1990, when they became the first African quarter-finalists, 1994, 1998 and 2002 and are poised to dominate Group 1 in the second qualifying phase for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Tanzania were surprisingly held 1-1 at home by Mauritius in the same group with Danny Mrwanda scoring a 70th-minute equaliser after Wesley Marquette had edged the Indian Ocean islanders in front before half-time.

Namibia snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over Kenya in Windhoek thanks to a Costa Khaiseb goal 60 seconds from full-time in Group 2, which includes Guinea and Zimbabwe and is likely to be among the most fiercely contested.

Germany-based Oliver Risser put shock 2008 African Nations Cup qualifiers Namibia ahead after 17 minutes and Allan Watende levelled late in the first half for the 'Harambee Stars'.

Uganda, who came agonisingly close to reaching the Nations Cup in Ghana last January, battled to overcome minnows Niger 1-0 in a Group 3 showdown in Kampala courtesy of a goal 11 minutes into the second half from Ibrahim Sekagya.

Botswana fared even worse at home to Madagascar in Group 7, having to settle for a 0-0 draw after Pontsho Moloi thought he had scored in each half only to have both efforts disallowed for offside.

Rwanda had better luck at home to Mauritania in Group 8 with Saidi Abedi converting a penalty and Bokota Labama also on target in the closing stages to complete a 3-0 victory set up by a first-half Olivier Karekezi goal.

Malawi brutally exposed the limitations of Djibouti, the lowest ranked of the 47 second round competitors, with six second-half goals that earned the central Africans an 8-1 win in Blantyre.

Russia-based Esau Kanyenda led the goal romp with a hat-trick and Elvis Kafoteka, Joseph Kamwendo, Moses Chavula, Robert Ngambi and Noel Mkandawire also scored for the 'Flames' in the Group 12 encounter.

Daya Hassan struck midway through the first half for Djibouti, who are not strangers to humiliating losses having being overwhelmed 9-1 away to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a World Cup qualifier eight years ago.

The 2010 World Cup qualifiers double as eliminators for the Nations Cup in Angola the same year.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Beckenbauer against football´s big-money investors

Double World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer regretted in the press here on Saturday the role of investors who use football clubs purely for speculative purposes.

“There must be certain obligations for investors who are involved with football clubs,” Beckenbauer told daily newspaper Tagesspiegel.

“The speculators must remain separate from football and our sport must pay attention to this issue,” added Beckenbauer who is on FIFA's executive committee.

The Bayern Munich president, who won the World Cup in 1974 as a player and as a coach in 1990, also said he feels clubs lose their identity, because players change teams too often.

“Certain clubs do not have even have German players who play regularly, that can not continue,” he insisted.

Beckenbauer also criticised the lack of respect the majority of players show to contracts.

“A contract does not have much value anymore, they are broken far too easily,” he added.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Neuville, Ballack strike to save Germany in football friendly

Veteran striker Oliver Neuville and captain Michael Ballack saved Germany's blushes with second-half strikes on Saturday to seal a 2-1 win over Serbia in the hosts' final Euro 2008 warm-up.

Chelsea midfielder Ballack unleashed a free-kick on 82 minutes to complete Germany's come-back after Neuville grabbed an equaliser 15 minutes from time following Serbian midfielder Bosko Jankovic's first-half goal.

Borussia Moenchengladbach forward Neuville, 35, scored his first international goal for almost two years on 74 minutes to put Germany level to steer the hosts away from defeat.

With a week until his side begin their Euro 2008 campaign against Poland in Klagenfurt on June 8, this was the result Germany coach Joachim Loew wanted.

After his side surrendered a two-goal lead in their 2-2 draw with minnows Belarus on Tuesday night in Kaiserslautern, Loew had promised an improved performance and his side delivered despite their early set back.

“For our morale, our belief and our self-confidence, it is always good to win a game like this,” said a relieved Loew.

“We had to work hard and went to our limits, there is still plenty of room for improvement, but it was a step in the right direction.

“I have the impression we will be completely ready for next week.”

Although Serbia – who lost out to Portugal and Poland in Euro 2008 qualification – led the home side for most of the game Germany largely dominated in front of 54,000 spectators including Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel.

The hosts went behind on 18 minutes when a superb pass from midfielder Sasa Ilic split the defence and centre-back Christoph Metzelder was sluggish to respond as Jankovic sprinted into the penalty area.

The 24-year-old made no mistake and drilled his shot through the legs of Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann to put his side ahead.

The hosts responded by laying siege to the Serbian goal with Ballack and striker Mario Gomez both going close.

Ballack headed straight at Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic on 38 minutes while earlier Gomez had scuffed his shot with the goal at his mercy as the German attack poured forward.

Hertha Berlin defender Arne Friedrich came on at the break for Bremen's Per Mertesacker and striker Lukas Podolski took over from defender Philipp Lahm as Germany went all out for a goal.

But it was the Serbians who rattled the cross-bar with Lehmann beaten early in the second-half.

Germany finally got the break through they craved when Ballack slid a pass into defender Marcell Jansen on the edge of the Serb's penalty area and he rocketed a cross in for Neuville to smash past Stojkovic.

And Ballack rifled his free-kick through a Serbian wall of defenders to give Germany the perfect Euro 2008 send off.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Beckham takes captain´s armband for friendly

David Beckham will lead England out as captain for the first time since the 2006 World Cup in Sunday's friendly against Trinidad and Tobago, the BBC reported on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder was dropped from the squad by former coach Steve McClaren having made a tearful World Cup exit, going off injured in the quarter-final loss to Portugal.

But McClaren's successor Fabio Capello has brought back his former Real Madrid colleague and he will lead the team out in Port of Spain on Sunday night as Capello mulls over John Terry or centreback partner Rio Ferdinand as his favoured long-term choices for the skipper's armband.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Stielike signs three-year deal with Swiss club Sion

Former Ivory Coast coach Ulrich Stielike has signed a three-year deal with Swiss first division side Sion, the club announced on Saturday.

Stielike will take over from Italian Alberto Bigon, who last season lead the club to seventh spot in the league.

“The objective is to close the gap on the big teams in the championship,” said the 53-year-old, who has been out of the game since March after a short spell as interim coach of Ivory Coast.

Stielike, a former German international, has managed Ivory Coast on two occasions, taking them to the African Nations Cup in Ghana earlier this year.

But he withdrew from his duties during the tournament after the death of his son in January. Ivory Coast went on to finish in fourth place.

Stielike's playing career included spells at Borussia Monchengladbach, Real Madrid and Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax.

He was part of the German side that won Euro 1980 and were runners-up at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

Sion have twice won the Swiss championship in 1992 and 1997 and the Swiss cup on ten occasions.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Trust in Lehmann, insists Kahn

Former Germany captain Oliver Kahn insisted Saturday the public and press here must trust national goalkeeper Jens Lehmann for Euro 2008 despite the Arsenal man spending most of last season on the bench.

“One should think he is more than capable of playing at the highest level during Euro 2008 – Germany should trust him,” Kahn told Munich newspaper TZ.

Having retired from Bayern Munich last season after more than 550 Bundesliga appearances, Kahn stressed the importance of Lehmann believing both his country and team trust him to do the job for Euro 2008 which starts next Saturday.

Germany, who open their campaign against Poland in Klagenfurt on June 8, played their final warm-up game against Serbia on Saturday.

Lehmann has been the national goalkeeper since the 2006 World Cup, but having lost his place at Arsenal last season, debate has raged for months here as to whether he should remain as Germany’s number one shot-stopper.

And after Lehmann conceded two goals in Germany’s lacklustre 2-2 draw with minnows Belarus in a friendly last Tuesday, the goalkeeper’s performance has come under renewed scrutiny.

“There is simply no comparison,” insisted Kahn when talking about Lehmann’s rivals Hanover’s Robert Enke and Rene Adler from Bayer Leverkusen.

“Jens is experienced and stable, I am certain he is the right player.”

Sat 31 May, 2008
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Eto´o accused of headbutting journalist

Cameroon international striker Samuel Eto'o has been accused of headbutting a journalist during a heated Indomitable Lions press conference, according to press reports here on Saturday.

Local radio reporter Philippe Bony claimed that the 27-year-old Barcelona star headbutted him after tempers flared between journalists and Cameroon players on Friday.

Journalists refused to take part in the press conference in protest at the decision by team officials to limit their access to players during training sessions ahead of Saturday's African Nations Cup and 2010 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde.

In the melee that followed, members of the Cameroon team confiscated television cameras and mobile phones, according to the journalists present.

“He (Eto'o) grabbed me round the neck, then headbutted me above the lip. My tooth has been loosened,” Bony told AFP.

Bony also claimed that he had suffered a double hand fracture after being set upon by Eto'o's bodyguards. The journalist added that he intends to take legal action against the player.

Eto'o – who is reportedly in the middle of contract talks with London club Spurs – was not available for comment on Saturday.

Sat 31 May, 2008
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