FIFA unveils 2014 World Cup host cities

World governing body FIFA has revealed the 12 venues that will host matches during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“The interest in Brazil was huge, and it was a very difficult decision to choose just 12 venues from the initial list of 17,” said FIFA chairman Joseph Blatter at the meeting in Nassau, Bahamas.

Not surprisingly, the list includes all of the five cities that hosted matches at the 1950 World Cup, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. Also included is capital city Brasilia.

The 12 venues are Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio De Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo

Sun 31 May, 2009
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Nürnberg secure promotion to Bundesliga

1. FC Nürnberg are back at the highest level of German football after having spent just one year in the 2.Bundesliga. Energie Cottbus were defeated in a promotion-relegation play-off.

Nürnberg’s position was pretty secure after last Thursday’s 0-3 victory in the first leg off the play-off with Cottbus, who again stood no chance in the second leg.

Christian Eigler put the home side ahead on 29 minutes and Marek Mintal netted a second eight minutes later, for an aggregate result of 5-0.

As a result, Nürnberg join 2.Bundesliga champions Freiburg and second-placed Mainz in next year’s Bundesliga, while Cottbus are relegated along with Karlsruhe and Arminia Bielefeld.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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No double for Shakhtar as Vorskla win domestic cup

Shakhtar Donetsk may have been the better side in the UEFA Cup final, but were less successful in the final game of their domestic Cup tournament. FC Vorskla Poltava surprisingly took the trophy.

The match between Vorskla and Shakhtar ended in a 1-0 result, allowing the underdogs to lift the trophy for the first time.

Vorskla finished fifth in this year’s Ukrainian league but were particularly impressive in the cup tournament. Zirka Kirovohrad, Obolon Kyiv, Meralurh Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv all had their cup adventures ended by the Poltava-based outfit.

Dynamo Kyiv dominate the all-time Cup ranking in Ukraine, having won nine of the first 17 editions. Shakhtar Donetsk won six and the remaining two victories went to Chornomorets’ Odesa.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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Panathinaikos join Olympiakos in Champions League

Panathinaikos finished first in the Greek play-offs and join champions Olympiakos in Europe’s most prestigious tournament, the Champions League.

On the final day of the play-offs, AEK could have surpassed Panathinaikos with a win over their local rivals, but things didn’t go as planned for the hosts.

Giorgios Karagounis converted a penalty in Pana’s favor after 30 minutes, and Ante Rukavina added a second goal six minutes later.

Panathainaikos finish with 18 points, six more than AEK Athens. PAOK Saloniki beat AE Larisa 1-0 in their last game and finish third.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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FC Porto win Taca de Portugal

After winning the domestic league, FC Porto made it a double in Portugal as Pacos de Ferreira were beaten 1-0 in the Cup final.

Only six minutes were needed for Argentinian forward Lisandro Lopez to score the goal that eventually earned Porto their second trophy this year, and their 14th Cup title in history.

Porto won their first Cup in the 1955-56 season, and most recently took home the trophy in 2006. The two last editions were both won by Sporting Lisbon.

On their way to the final, Porto had already defeated Sertanense, Sporting Lisbon, Cinfaes, Leixoes Matosinhos and Estrela Amadora.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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CSKA Moscow beat Rubin Kazan in Russian Cup final

CSKA Moscow beat defending league champions Rubin Kazan 1-0 in the Russian Cup final, allowing them to win the tournament for the second time in a row.

While the two teams began to prepare for extra time, a very late goal from Evgeni Aldoninn ensured that CSKA were to take home the trophy with an additional 30 minutes no longer needed.

As a result, CSKA join local rivals Lokomotiv Moscow at the top of the all-time Russian Cup ranking, as both sides won the trophy five times.

CSKA first won it in 2002, followed by victories in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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Bulgarian league crown goes to Levski

Levski Sofia have won the 2008-09 edition of the Bulgarian league. On the last day of the season, a draw with Minyor 1919 was enough to secure the trophy.

Minyor took the lead through Kostadin Hazurov in the 51st minute but Vladimir Gadzhev equalised 23 minutes later.

CSKA Sofia needed a win at Lovech to threaten Levski’s position but instead lost 1-0. The only goal of the match came from Doka Madureira right after the interval.

The league crown is Levski’s 26th in history, still five less than CSKA who won the Bulgarian league last year.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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Forlan wins second pichichi crown

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan won the ‘pichichi’ crown for the Spanish league’s top-scorer after finishing the season with 32 goals as his side finished fourth to secure Champions League football.

Uruguayan international Forlan, 30, finishes two goals above long-time leader, Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o, to lift his second pichichi title having won it in Villarreal’s colours in 2005.

“I’m very happy because we qualified for the Champions League for the second consecutive year and because I won the pichichi in a very strong Spanish league,” said Forlan.

Forlan, a 21-million-euro signing from Villarreal in 2007, hit a real purple patch scoring in eight consecutive games to top the charts and become the first player to score 30 goals in a season since Brazilian great Ronaldo netted 34 goals with Barcelona in 1997.

The goalscoring exploits of the former Manchester United man have reportedly attracted interest from several clubs but Forlan has insisted he is happy at Atletico where he is contracted until 2011.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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Injury forces Henry out of France friendlies

Barcelona striker Thierry Henry has been ruled out of France’s forthcoming friendly matches against Nigeria and Turkey due to a knee injury, France coach Raymond Domenech revealed on Sunday.

France have not yet decided to call up any replacements for the home games against Nigeria on June 2 and Turkey three days later.

Henry, 31, played in Barcelona’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League final in Rome on Wednesday, having overcome a knee ligament injury sustained in the Spanish champions’ 6-2 thrashing of Real Madrid on May 2.

“I expected it a little bit,” Domenech said on the French Football Federation website on Sunday.

“It makes sense, Thierry didn’t play for three weeks. He had to force himself to play in the Champions League final. I understand that, I would have done the same, anyone would have done the same, he didn’t play at 100 percent.

“The most important thing is that he recovers. It would achieve nothing for him (to play against Nigeria and Turkey).

“I anticipated it. If we have 25 players in the squad, it’s to manage the situation. It was completely expected.”

Speaking after Wednesday’s game in Rome, Henry conceded that he had been forced to play through the pain barrier.

“Personally, I didn’t think I’d play, but on Tuesday evening I started to believe that it would be OK,” the former Arsenal, Juventus and Monaco forward said.

“With (Andres) Iniesta (who had also been an injury doubt), we gritted our teeth.”

Sun 31 May, 2009
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Sad exit for Jose as Ahly stunned in Angola

Manuel Jose ended his title-strewn career as Al-Ahly coach disastrously when the Egyptian giants were dumped out of the African Confederation Cup by Santos in Angola on Sunday.

Ahly, winners of the African Champions League a record six times, took a 3-0 lead into the return match and even the absence of star midfielder Mohamed Aboutraika was not expected to prevent them reaching the group phase.

But a Santos team competing in Africa for the first time this year had other ideas and triumphed 3-0 in Luanda to level the aggregate score before winning the fourth-round tie 6-5 on penalties.

Among those who failed from the spot for Ahly was Angola-born striker Flavio Amado, whose agent claims he is quitting the Cairo ‘Red Devils’ for a three-year contract with Saudi Arabian outfit Shabab.

Bebucho put the Angolans ahead mid-way through the first half, Milex set up a thrilling finish with a second goal as the game entered the closing stages and Saul struck the crucial third two minutes from full-time.

All the goals were brilliantly executed by a team who scored four goals each in previous home encounters against USM of Gabon and Union Douala of Cameroon having received a first round bye.

Bebucho strode forward before unleashing an unstoppable 30-metre shot past goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh, Milex volleyed a loose ball into the net from close range and Saul clinically sidefooted home a cross.

Success for Santos completed a wonderful weekend for the oil-rich southern Africa nation in the second-tier African club competition, as Primeiro Agosto eliminated holders CS Sfaxien in Tunisia on Saturday, also after a shootout.

Ahly have campaigned in Africa regularly since 1975 and this was only the fourth time they had suffered a three-goal loss, with Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, Hearts of Oak of Ghana and Al-Hilal of Sudan inflicting the other defeats.

The heavy reverses against Mouloudia and Hearts came three decades ago while Hilal triumphed two years ago in Omdurman against a club that claims 40 million supporters in Egypt and the Middle East.

It was a sad exit for Jose, who stays in Luanda to take over a struggling Angolan national team from June 1 with the task of building a team capable of using home advantage to win the 2010 African Nations Cup.

The 63-year-old Portuguese led Ahly to four of their six African Champions League titles and many African media observers consider him the greatest foreign coach to have worked at club level on the continent.

Primeiro lost 2-0 to Sfaxien only to convert all their post-match penalties and win the shootout 5-4, while Stade Malien of Mali outplayed Al-Ittihad Khemisset of Morocco 3-1 in Bamako to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Another five ties in the final qualifying round will be decided later on Sunday before the mini-league phase kicks off in mid-July.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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