Obafemi Martins switches to Wolfsburg

German champions VfL Wolfsburg have announced the arrival of Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins from Newcastle United.

“This is exactly the type of player that we had been looking for, in addition to Grafite and Edin Dzeko,” said Wolfsburg manager Armin Veh. “He isn’t just fast, he also proved to be dangerous in front of the goal.”

“Since he can play on the wing, we will now have the possibility to field two or three strikers. Despite his young age, he gained a lot of experience in Italy and England and also knows the Champions League.

The 24-year-old came to Europe as a youth player, joining Reggiana in 2000. Martins made his breakthrough while playing for Internazionale from 2001 to 2006, after which he joined Newcastle.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Kenny Cooper joins 1860 Munich

Major League Soccer side FC Dallas have announced the departure of CONCACAF Gold Cup star Kenny Cooper to German club 1860 Munich.

The 24-year-old scored crucial goals for the United States national team at this month’s Gold Cup, with the interest of the 2.Bundesliga side as result.

“Kenny has been an outstanding player for us over the last four seasons as well as a tremendous ambassador for FC Dalles in his time with the club, and we with him the best in Munich,” Dallas General Manager Michael Hitchcock said.

Cooper, whose father and namesake played for the Blackburn Rovers reserves in the late 60’s, began his career at Academica Coimbra on loan from Manchester United in 2004, and joined Oldham Athletic on another loan deal a year later. Since 2006, the forward played for Dallas with 40 goals in 93 games.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Champions Standard de Liege held by newcomers

Belgian champions Standard de Liege could have wished for a better season opening, being held to a 2-2 draw by newly promoted Sint-Truiden.

Cephas Chimedza had the honor of scoring the very first goal of the season in the 24th minute, and handed the away side a rather unexpected lead on 24 minutes.

Igor De Camargo then controlled a long ball before beating keeper Mignolet in ithe 37th minute and put his side ahead from a corner in the 56th.

But the guests never gave up and Vincent Euvrard made it 2-2 in the 73rd minute.

Standard had the perfect opportunity to secure the win late on but Axel Witsel wasn’t successful from the penalty spot. The young midfielder first missed but the referee called for a re-take. This second attempt was then saved by Mignolet.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Al-Hilal beat Zesco in CAF Champions League

Sudanese club Al-Hilal Omdurman moved into first place of their CAF Champions League group thanks to a 1-0 win over Zesco United of Zambia.

Al-Hilal had drawn their opening game 0-0 with local rivals Al-Merreikh, but one goal at Khartoum Stadium was enough to earn their first victory and move top in Group A.

The goal that led the hosts to victory was scored by defender Usama Altawon, whose powerful shot from a corner left the opposing goalkeeper beaten.

Kano Pillars of Nigeria and Al-Merreikh face on Sunday, with possibly the top spot at stake.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Ten-man Villa reach Peace Cup final

English Premier League side Aston Villa reached the final of the Peace Cup on Friday with a 2-1 victory over Portuguese club Porto despite finishing with 10 men.

In Sunday’s final, Martin O’Neill’s English outfit will meet either Spanish giants Real Madrid or Italy’s Juventus, who meet in the other semi late on Friday.

England striker Emile Heskey opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a close-range shot from a cross by Marc Albrighton.

Former Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell doubled the tally in the 37th minute after he picked up the ball from a corner.

Porto brought on Brazilian Givanildo Vieira de Souza, nicknamed ‘The Hulk’, for the second half.

But he struggled to get past Villa’s American keeper Brad Guzan, until the last minute, when he scored from a penalty.

Heskey was sent off in the 69th minute after he reacted in a melee after Ashley Young was fouled.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Nilmar feted at Villareal

Spanish Primera Liga side Villareal on Friday presented their new Brazilian player Nilmar da Silva, the most expensive signing in their history.

The club signed Nilmar last week to a five-year contract from Brazilian club Internacional de Purto Alegre for a reported fee of over 10 million euros.

“I know that my signing was one of the biggest efforts in the club’s history,” the 25-year-old striker told a news conference.

“I am filled with pride and responsibility… I know that I here to score and help the team and my hope is win a title.”

He described the negotiations that brought him to Villareal as “difficult.”

“But I was always very excited about playing in Spain because it is similar to Brazilian football,” he said.

He said he already knew Villareal’s Brazilian-born player Marcos Senna, “and I know that a title is needed and they will fight for it. That was an incentive to come here.”

He also spoke about his time at French side Lyon in the 2004-05 season.

“It was my first experience in Europe and it was difficult to adapt because I was very young, but I still got goals … This experience helped me a lot to know what it means to play outside Brazil.”

After the news conference, some 4,000 fans greeted him at El Madrigal stadium.

Villareal finished fifth in the Primera Liga last season, missing out on a Champions League spot but gaining a place in the Europa league.

Nilmar’s presentation had originally been set for Thursday but was postponed by one day after he missed a connecting flight from Brazil.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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´Devastated´ Gazza praises ´second dad´ Robson

Former England star Paul Gascoigne said Friday he was devastated by the death of Sir Bobby Robson, who he described as being “like a second dad”.

Gascoigne played under Robson when England reached the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy. The midfielder ended the tournament in tears when he was booked in the penalty shootout defeat to Germany.

Gascoigne told ITV News: “I’m speechless. I’m devastated. Bobby was like my second dad. I was like a son to him.

“I can’t describe how much he meant to me. I’ve just been crying for three hours, and I’ve come to see my mum and my dad. It’s just unbelievable.

“He gave me a chance to play in the World Cup. I can’t really talk that much because I just want to cry, that’s all.

“I love him. And his wife Elsie – I’ll always be there for her. I’m sort of numb.”

Robson, who once described Gascoigne as “daft as a brush”, made a last public appearance at Sunday’s charity match between an England XI and a German representative side staged to raise money for the 76-year-old’s cancer charity.

Gascoigne was among the former Italia 90 stars on show at the game.

“He kept himself alive for the game and I thought after the game he might pass away. I’m going to miss him so badly.”

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Former England football manager Bobby Robson dies

Former England and Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson died on Friday at the age of 76 after a long battle with cancer.

Robson, who had been fighting cancer for a number of years, led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990 before leaving to manage a host of top European clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona and finally his boyhood team Newcastle.

A statement issued on behalf of his family said: “It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Sir Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer.

“He died very peacefully this morning at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him.

“Sir Bobby’s funeral will be private and for family members only.

“A thanksgiving service in celebration of Sir Bobby’s life will be held at a later date for his many friends and colleagues.

“Lady Robson and the family would very much appreciate it if their privacy could be respected at this difficult time.”

As a player, Robson was a key member of the Fulham and West Brom team during the 1950s and 1960s and also won 20 caps for England.

His first managerial role came at Fulham, but he made his name during a successful reign at Ipswich from 1969 to 1982.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Zenit sign midfielder Rosina

Russia’s 2007 champions Zenit St Petersburg have signed midfielder Alessandro Rosina from Italian side Torino, on a four-year deal, the club reported Friday.

No financial details of the deal for 25-year-old Rosina were disclosed.

Zenit’s Dutch manager Dick Advocaat, who has announced his decision to quit at the end of the Russian Premier League season in November, expressed disapproval of the deal.

“Rosina is not the player that Zenit really need,” Advocaat said. “I did everything I could to prevent his signing but all in vain.”

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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Former West Ham owner Gudmundsson declared bankrupt

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the former owner and chairman of English Premier League side West Ham United, has been declared bankrupt, an Icelandic court ruled on Friday.

Judges in Reykjavik agreed with Gudmundsson’s argument that he had no reasonable expectation of any future income and did not have sufficient assets to service his debts.

“Reykjavik District court has today accepted Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson?s request that his estate will be entered into insolvency proceedings,” his spokesman and former West Ham vice-chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson said in a statement.

The 68-year-old, estimated last year to be worth 1.1 billion dollars by the 2008 Forbes Rich List, snapped up London side West Ham in 2006 for around 85 million pounds (99 million euros, 141 million dollars).

But court documents showed that the debt of his estate totalled just over 96 billion Icelandic kronur (529 million euros, 748 million dollars).

Gudmundsson lost much of his fortune during the recent global economic turmoil owing to his investments in two of Iceland’s major banks: Landsbanki and Straumur Burdaras Investment Bank.

Both were nationalised by the Icelandic government after they borrowed beyond their means, effectively wiping out the stakes of shareholders.

“I now face almost complete lack of income as I am no longer in the employment of the aforementioned companies and earn now just the minimum wage,” Gudmundsson wrote in a letter to judges.

Once the second-richest man in Iceland, his plight forced him to put West Ham up for sale and the club was acquired by asset management group CB Holding for a reported 100 million pounds in June.

Once that sale was completed, Gudmundsson and vice-chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson both left the club.

Fri 31 Jul, 2009
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