Socceroo Colosimo joins Melbourne Heart

Socceroo and former Sydney FC star Simon Colosimo has signed a deal with new A-League club Melbourne Heart, officials said Wednesday.

The 31-year-old, who signed a ‘multi-year’ deal, had been tipped to return to his home city after a short stint ahead of the World Cup with FC Seoul in South Korea fell through.

“Simon has a wonderful technical ability and will also provide fantastic composure in defence,” head coach John van’t Schip said.

“He is capable of playing the ball out of defence and also provides excellent tackling and organisational ability.”

Colosimo would be given every opportunity to force his way into the Socceroos squad for the World Cup, including spending time abroad if need be, van’t Schip said.

The Heart, which makes its A-League debut next season, starting in August, earlier this week announced it had signed former Australian international striker John Aloisi.

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Cacau set for Stuttgart exit

(GSM) – VfB Stuttgart’s Cacau is to leave the Bundesliga club at the end of the season as a free agent after rejecting the club’s latest contract offer.

The 29-year-old striker, who has netted eight times in 20 appearances, has featured regularly for Stuttgart this season.

With the Brazilian born Germany international’s impressive form, the club chose to offer the striker a one-year extension on improved terms, but Cacau has turned it down.

“I have thought for a long time about this step, and finally decided that after seven good years I will look for a new challenge,” Cacau said on the club’s official website.

“I have had a great time at VfB and have many friends and have enjoyed great success. We have not found an agreement now, but I’ll never forget my time here and will keep working in the remaining games to ensure we have a successful season.”

Cacau is Stuttgart’s longest serving player, having joined the club in 2003. He has scored 57 goals in 172 league games, helping the club to the Bundesliga title in 2007.

He is not likely to be short of offers in the summer, with VfL Wolfsburg, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim and Sevilla all said to be interested.

However, Stuttgart must look elsewhere.

“We have made Cacau a reasonable offer that was improved twice during the course of negotiations,” general manager Horst Heldt said.

“Unfortunately, he has decided against staying here, but we wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Cacau quits Stuttgart

Jeronimo Cacau, Stuttgart’s German striker of Brazilian origin, said Wednesday he will leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old, who obtained German nationality in January and who has played for Stuttgart for seven seasons, said he had been unable to agree terms to extend his stay.

“When a player performs well he has the right to earn what he deserves,” said Cacau.

Stuttgart sporting director Horst Heldt said the club had put a good offer to the player and then improved it twice but “we cannot afford to live beyond our means.”

Cacau did not say if he had other irons in the fire.

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Korean clubs dominate AFC Champions League

South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings and Seongnam Ilhwa powered into the last 16 of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday as Japan’s Gamba Osaka took a giant step towards joining them.

Suwon made the grade by beating China’s Henan Jianye 2-0, with a first-half strike by Brazilian Jose Mota and a second in the dying minutes from Kim Dae-Eui enough to secure their passage from Group G.

Seongnam maintained their unbeaten record in Group E with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Beijing Guoan in the Chinese capital, with Colombian Mauricio Molina getting the decisive goal with 16 minutes remaining.

It gives Korea three teams in the knockout rounds after Jeonbuk Motors qualified on Tuesday alongside Japan’s Kashima Antlers.

The fourth Korean club, defending champions Pohang Steelers, are well placed to make it four-out-of-four.

J-League stalwarts Gamba, the 2008 Asian champions, inched closer to progressing after a convincing 3-0 win over Singapore Armed Forces, whose campaign ended with just one point from four games.

It was a one-sided match with Gamba firing 20 shots on target in the first half alone.

They opened their account in the 28th minute when Takahiro Futagawa sent a short corner to defender Michihiro Yasuda, who dribbled into the area and fired home an angled shot.

Shoki Hirai, who scored a hat-trick in the first leg a week ago, made it 2-0 with a sweet strike in the 55th minute and Brazilian substitute Ze Carlos wrapped it up in injury time.

Melbourne Victory kept their slim hopes alive with their first win of the tournament, beating Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 in the other Group E game.

Skipper Kevin Muscat, who missed his spot-kick in the Victory’s A-League grand final penalty shootout loss to Sydney FC earlier this month, made amends by converting a 60th-minute penalty on Wednesday.

The match turned on the decision by the Iranian referee to award a soft-looking penalty to Melbourne after striker Robbie Kruse was brought down.

It leaves Kawasaki with three points, three adrift of Beijing in the fight for the second qualifying berth.

In Group A, Esteghlal travel to Doha to take on Al Gharafa in a top-of-the-table clash that will see the Qatari side eager to avenge their 3-0 defeat in Tehran last week.

Victory for Al Gharafa or a draw would throw the group open once again, with Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia hoping for a repeat of last week’s 5-1 win over Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi.

Sepahan, beaten finalists in the 2007 AFC Champions League, host Uzbekistan Cup winners Pakhtakor in the Iranian city of Esfahan knowing they need a win to boost their hopes of taking one of the top two positions in Group C.

Pakhtakor lead the group with six points, with Sepahan bottom of the table, but the Iranian club are only four points behind the two-time semi-finalists. Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab and Al Ain, winners of the inaugural AFC Champions League, are sandwiched in between, both level on four points.

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Everton´s Gosling out for nine months

Promising Everton midfielder Dan Gosling will be out for up to nine months after sustaining a serious knee injury.

The 20-year-old was hurt in a collision with Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann late in Saturday’s goalless Barclays Premier League draw at Molineux.

Physio Mick Rathbone told the club’s website: “Our worst fears have been confirmed. Dan has ruptured his cruciate ligament and will unfortunately be out for up to nine months.”

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Aquilani to miss Liverpool´s Europa League clash

Liverpool suffered a blow ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first-leg clash with Benfica when midfielder Alberto Aquilani was ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Italy international sustained the injury in training on Wednesday morning and will not fly out with the squad to Lisbon.

“He will not be available for this game,” said manager Rafael Benitez.

“He had a problem with his ankle and we have to fix it.

“It doesn’t seem too serious but it’s the same ankle as before and so we’ll have to analyse the situation carefully.”

Aquilani arrived in the summer after a 17-million-pound move from Roma with an ankle injury which had ruled him out of the latter stages of the 2008-09 Serie A season.

It took a while for him to regain match fitness and, as a result, he has made just eight starts and 11 substitute appearances this season.

Benitez also confirmed defender Martin Kelly will undergo a knee operation which will rule him out of action for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old defender tore the meniscus in training on Saturday.

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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One-year doping ban recommended for Mutu

The Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping prosecutor on Wednesday recommended a one-year ban be given to Fiorentina forward Adrian Mutu.

The Romania captain had twice tested positive for the banned stimulant sibutramine in January following matches against Bari and Lazio.

The 31-year-old was provisionally suspended after the positive results were returned.

Should he be found guilty it would be his second such conviction for doping having been banned for seven months in 2004 after taking cocaine whilst at Chelsea.

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Aquilani set to miss Benfica tie

(GSM) – Alberto Aquilani will not travel to Lisbon in Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final first leg clash with Benfica after sustaining an ankle injury.

The Italy international, who picked up the injury while training on Wednesday morning, was expected to play some part in Rafa Benitez’s plans during their crucial away fixture.

However, the news is the latest blow to the Italian’s injury hit campaign.

Aquliani, who arrived at Liverpool from Roma last summer with an ankle problem, has made just eight starts and 11 substitute appearances this season.

“He will not be available for this game,” said Benitez.

“He had a problem with his ankle this morning and we have to fix it.

“It doesn’t seem too serious but it’s the same ankle as before and so we’ll have to analyse the situation carefully.”

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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Dzeko denies Italian temptation

(GSM) – VfL Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko has denied that he is keen on a summer move to Italy.

The Bosnia international, who has been strongly linked with Milan since the end of last season following a failed bid, is expected to be the subject of much transfer speculation this season after scoring 16 goals in the Bundesliga.

The 24-year-old was the top scorer last year after netting 30 times in 40 appearances.

Speaking to Sport Bild, Dzeko said: “I never said that I absolutely want Italy.

“If the right offer comes in then I will say yes.”

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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England and Man Utd await Rooney injury scan

England and Manchester United were waiting anxiously Wednesday for news of a scan on key striker Wayne Rooney’s ankle injury, just 10 weeks before the World Cup in South Africa kicks off.

In a sight that England fans were dreading, Rooney limped off in the closing minutes of United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday and left the Allianz Arena with his right ankle encased in a plastic boot.

Rooney was to have an MRI scan on the ankle on Wednesday and will be hoping that it does not reveal serious damage and leave the 24-year-old facing the same desperate race for fitness he endured before the 2006 World Cup.

United manager Alex Ferguson sought to downplay the injury, saying: “I don’t think it’s terribly serious, but we’ll wait and see.”

England’s most important striker underlined his goalscoring form in the second minute of the match in Munich when he volleyed home from close range to give United the lead.

But Rooney was left slumped on the grass after a collision with Bayern forward Mario Gomez moments before Ivica Olic scored Bayern’s winning goal in injury-time.

As Rooney tackled Gomez from behind, the German stood on Rooney’s left foot, causing the United striker to jump in pain. He then appeared to land awkwardly on his right foot, twisting his ankle in the process.

Rooney’s 34th goal of the season also underlined how much United would miss him as they approach a crucial few days.

The reigning champions face a crunch top-of-the-table clash with Chelsea on Saturday before taking on Bayern in the return leg of the Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The back page of The Sun tabloid summed up England fans’ sentiments on Wednesday with the headline “Pray”.

Rooney’s fight to recover from a broken metatarsal bone in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup became a national media obsession.

Although he did recover to play in the finals in Germany, he was clearly struggling for match fitness and England were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Wed 31 Mar, 2010
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