Brazil wary of Australia threat

Brazil’s bid to win their first FIFA Women’s World Cup begins with a tricky match against Australia on Wednesday.

The Samba Queens – five-times South American champions – have never won the showpiece tournament of women’s football.

The two nations met in the quarter-finals in the 2007 tournament – a match which Brazil won – but the Matildas defeated England in a pre-tournament friendly, raising expectations of a shock result in Group D.

“I am waiting for a big surprise,” Brazil coach Kleiton Lima said.

“The Australian team is the youngest in the tournament. They have a coach (Tom Sermanni) who knows these girls really well.”

“They are very quick, very good technically and have different patterns of play.”

Brazil have not lost an opening game at the tournament and will again be led by star striker Marta, five-times world player of the year.

Conversely, Sermanni could hand World Cup debuts to 13 players over the tournament.

“(Brazil) are an exceptionally good team. Marta is probably the best player in the world – I think everybody would probably agree on that,” Sermanni said.

“They’ve also got a really good balance between players who are match-winners like Marta and some others, and also players that compliment them by being well disciplined and (having) good work rate and things like that.”

“So they are not just about the star players. They’ve got a lot of good balance within the team.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

Villas-Boas reveals Di Matteo hiring

In his first press conference as Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas has unveiled former West Brom boss Roberto di Matteo as his assistant.

Villas-Boas was officially presented to the media at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, having taken over from Carlo Ancelotti after a successful one-year stint with Porto.

As his first act, the 33-year-old has assembled a front-room staff he believes will instil an attacking, entertaining brand of football to win the trophies craved by Blues owner Roman Abramovich.

Chief to that aim is new assistant coach Di Matteo, who was sacked as manager of English Premier League rivals West Bromwich Albion in February.

Di Matteo spent six seasons as a midfielder at Chelsea, winning two FA Cups, the Cup Winners Cup and the League Cup before injury forced him into an early retirement in 2002.

“If you see the technical staff in front of me, and my appointment of Roberto, these are people who like the quality of the game and have a philosophy,” Villas-Boas said.

“It’s not just a case of winning; it’s a case of flair.”

“Everyone likes attacking football and the Premier League has a certain amount of goals in every game and it should be an entertaining game for the fans and that is what we will look to do.”

Villas-Boas is aware he is under pressure to succeed at Stamford Bridge given Abramovich paid a hefty 13.2-million-pound release clause to Porto in order to secure his arrival.

“The expectations are for the maximum. We want to win trophies – that is the challenge we face day by day in any business,” Villas-Boas said.

“Everyone wants to be the best and win something and the challenge is to win as soon as possible and to build a platform for the future.”

“This is nothing different from any other club. The challenge in your everyday life is to be successful in what you do and that is the challenge I face here.”

Villas-Boas is a former assistant to Jose Mourinho, who dubbed himself the ‘Special One’ after joining the English side in 2004.

Aware of the clamour to nickname Chelsea’s latest manager, the Portuguese suggested he be dubbed the ‘Group One’ for his focus of collaboration and team spirit.

“Listen, I will wait for you guys to give me the title when I am successful,” he said.

“I hope to be successful and I hope you get a good title in the end.”

“This is not a one-man show. This is a question of creating empathy and motivations and ambitions and raising ambitions in everybody in every sense – not only the players, but the staff that surrounds me and all of the people of this organisation.”

“I will take it from there. Maybe I should be called the ‘Group One’. I want to group people together to be successful and that is my objective.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

Adebayor snubs PSG, Blackburn

Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor has snubbed interest from ‘mid-table’ sides Paris Saint-Germain and Blackburn.

Adebayor was found surplus to requirements at the Eastlands and shipped off to Real Madrid on a six-month loan in January.

During his stay, the La Liga club battled their way to the semi-finals of the Champions League and inflicted one of Barcelona’s few defeats to clinch the Copa del Rey.

Adebayor has since made it clear he would like his move to the Bernabeu to be made permanent, though it remains to be seen whether Real are willing to meet City’s asking price.

In the meantime, the Togolese has attracted interest from the likes of Zenit St Petersburg, PSG and English Premier League rivals Blackburn.

But Adebayor has ruled out moving to any of those clubs as he wants to compete for trophies, having developed a taste for silverware while in Spain.

“I say thank you to PSG for thinking of me but for all the respect I owe them, I will not go there,” Adebayor told Ivorian newspaper The Patriot.

“At Real, I got a taste for what it’s like winning a trophy. I can only go where we play to win a trophy or win the championship and not to play mid-table.”

“It is clear that I will not (win trophies) at Zenit or Blackburn.”

Adebayor also reiterated his desire to remain under Real boss Jose Mourinho, though he said the opportunity to play regular first-team football could send him elsewhere.

“I’d like to stay with Los Merengues. But you know I am a footballer and what is important is to play football whether it’s Manchester City or elsewhere,” he said.

“For now, I take my holidays with my family and after, when I go back to my club, we’ll see.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

Why the sale of Samuel Eto’o would be catastrophic for Inter

The future of Inter striker Samuel Eto’o has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with rumours suggesting he could be on his way out of the club this summer.

Recent comments made by the Cameroon hitman that suggested he would relish a move to the English Premier League, haven’t helped to silence the reports, which the Nerazzurri continue to strongly deny.

Manchester City and Ligue 1’s PSG are two clubs that have shown an interest in the striker, with reports recently emerging that Inter were prepared to offer a swap deal to City for their want away Argentine striker and captain Carlos Tevez.

Rebuilding

With rivals AC Milan lifting the Scudetto last season however, Inter president Massimo Moratti may see this as the perfect opportunity to cash in on one of his star players, in order to rebuild for the future. The Nerazzurri are definitely an ageing squad, and simply must make some drastic changes in the coming two or three seasons if they wish to maintain their stance as one of Europe’s best clubs in the future.

Nevertheless, at this stage of their development, and with a new, relatively inexperienced coach at the helm in Gian Piero Gasperini, Moratti can ill afford to let a player who single-handedly led the club to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, second place in Serie A and a victory in the Coppa Italia final last season go.

Experience

The 30-year-old brings so much more to the table than just a solid strike and quick feet. Eto’o is one of the most experienced heads in Italy, and has done it all. If the Nerazzurri do wish to seriously challenge for domestic and European honours next term, losing a man of his stature would be a disaster.

Despite not being the oldest member of the squad, and not by a long shot, Eto’o has done it all in his career, winning Spanish and Italian league titles, three Champions League crowns, the FIFA Club World Cup, and a whole host of other team and individual accolades.

Reliant

Inter proved last season just how reliant they can be on the hitman, and should they decide to offload him, they would need to find an equally adaptable and suitable replacement, in order to avoid serious consequences. Eto’o scored a career high 37 goals in 53 appearances last term, but remarkably along with his 21 league goals, he assisted nine others, whilst he managed five assists and eight goals in 11 Champions League fixtures.

These statistics basically outline the importance of the striker to this Inter team, and without him, it is difficult to see where the improvement will come from. You just have to analyse his performance against Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League tie last season, to see just how important he really is. With last season proving a difficult one for heroes of the previous campaign in Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder, Inter need to make some key changes this summer and keep hold of their main man.

Superstar

Eto’o is not only going to play a crucial role in the redevelopment of Inter next season, however he is undoubtedly one of the world’s best players, and from a Serie A perspective, it would be very sad to see yet another superstar move on. Ever since the match-fixing scandal rocked the Italian game in 2006, the competition has seen a number of star players, including FIFA World Player of the Years in Fabio Cannavaro and Kaka; leave the peninsula, in favour of moves abroad. More recently, the Italian league has slipped down the Uefa rankings, losing a place in the Champions League to the fast-improving German Bundesliga.

Catastrophic

It would be a catastrophic decision to let Eto’o move on this summer, despite his recent comments, expressing his desire to play in the English Premier League in the future. When discussing the potential move to England recently, Eto’o confirmed to Corriere dello Sport: “I am currently considering my options. I have one month to decide as to whether I want to stay put or choose to move to the Premier League.”

He may be an ageing star, but at this rate he still has another three or four solid years at the top, which therefore means it would be ridiculous for Inter to let him go.

Should Inter offload Samuel Eto’o this summer?

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

International friendly: Peru 1 Senegal 0

Peru waited until late to beat Senegal 1-0 in an international friendly on Tuesday, completing their preparations for the 2011 Copa America.

Hamburg striker Paolo Guerrero netted the winner in the final minute of regular time at the Estadio Alejandro Villanueva in Lima, with Moustapha Kasse and Stephane Badji sent off for the visitors in the second half.

After a quiet first half, Peru came close to opening the scoring when defender Carlos Zambrano headed wide from close range.

Senegal were reduced to 10 men midway through the second half when Kasse was shown a red card for a challenge on Peru captain Walter Vilchez.

It looked as if Peru would be unable to take advantage of their extra man, until Guerrero collected a reverse pass from Michael Guevara and slammed home the winner in the 89th minute.

Proceedings got worse for the visitors in stoppage time as they ended the game with nine men following Badji’s late tackle on Guerrero.

Peru have been drawn in Group C of the Copa America in Argentina, along with Chile, Mexico and Uruguay.

They open their campaign against Uruguay in San Juan on Monday.

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

James agrees Bristol City stay

Former England goalkeeper David James has signed a new one-year deal at Championship club Bristol City.

The 40-year-old raised eyebrows when he moved to City after his contract at Portsmouth ended at the conclusion of the 2009/10 English Premier League season.

He played 46 times for the Robins as they finished 15th on the table, having qualified for a new deal after reaching an appearance clause in his initial contract.

The club announced on Wednesday that the shot-stopper had penned a new deal, pleasing manager Keith Millen.

“David proved his fitness last year being available for every game and he clearly sees us going in the right direction, pushing for promotion in the forthcoming season,” Millen said.

“That’s why he’s decided to sign the contract extension.”

A 53-cap international for England, James praised the way City overcame their ‘adversities’ last season.

Midfielders Neil Kilkenny and Yannick Bolasie have joined City from Leeds United and Plymouth respectively, while promising striker Ryan Taylor has signed from Rotherham United.

The signings have given James the confidence City is ready for a promotion push towards the English Premier League.

“The manager is getting a decent squad together with some hungry younger players coming on board, all hoping to challenge for first-team places straight away,” he said.

“The goal when I first joined was promotion and we had a tough battle, but we should be better for that experience.”

“I’m confident we can do good things this season, as I’ve been assuring City fans whenever I bump into them around the world.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

Neill mutiny claims retracted by author

Football broadcaster Les Murray has apologised for falsely accusing Australia captain Lucas Neill of leading a mutiny against Pim Verbeek.

Murray wrote in his book The World Game that Neill had led a mutiny against then-manager Pim Verbeek just moments before the Socceroos’ opening match of the 2010 World Cup against Germany in Durban, South Africa.

He accused Neill of rubbing Verbeek’s tactics off the whiteboard and describing the Dutchman’s defensive gameplan as ‘bulls**t’.

Australia went on to lose the match against Germany 4-0, and missed a spot in the Round of 16 after finishing third in Group D.

But in a dramatic about face, Murray issued a statement on Wednesday apologising for including the information in the book.

“In the light of new information that has come to hand I accept that I was misled by my sources and that Lucas Neill did not call for the team to ignore the then national coach’s instructions,” he said.

“In my view Lucas Neill has been an outstanding captain of the Australian national football team and the third party report of the Australian game against Germany was never meant to be disparaging of Mr Neill’s character and sense of duty to the team.”

Neill accepted the apology from Murray, who is a member of FIFA ethics committee, and said he would not issue any legal action

“I am obviously still disappointed that my name has been wrongly attached to these allegations, but I accept the apology that has been issued by Les Murray,” he said.

“After discussing the matter with Les, I have decided not to proceed with legal action. It was important for me to ensure that my reputation remain intact and make the public aware that I have never, nor would ever, behave in this manner towards a manager.”

“Furthermore I’m happy that any further prints of the book will exclude this extract. I sincerely hope that anybody who reads the book in its current form understands that the allegations that were reported about me are completely false.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

Take away the fear of playing for England and bring in the youngsters

The old guard

I was fascinated to hear what Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher has had to say about playing for England. Speaking during a documentary on BBC radio last night Carragher was the first English player I have heard admit that there might be a problem.

Fear

He talked about the fact that players have a fear of failure when they pull on the famous old white shirt of the three lions.

“One mistake and you could be absolutely slaughtered. At your club, you know you will not be criticised as much and perhaps three days later there will be another game. With England, it could be months before you have another fixture. There is a fear at times when playing for England.”

Media

The Liverpool defender went on to say that the intense media scrutiny that the players face has a serious effect on them.

“The intensity of the press does get to the players. Sometimes I think players would prefer the press guy to think they had played well, rather than the manager.”

Criticism

It also seemed that Carragher had some criticism of the regime employed and enforced by Fabio Capello at last year’s World Cup. The thirty-three year old Carragher was brought back into the squad by Capello and featured in a couple of the group games at the tournament before being left on the bench later on.

“You stay in a hotel all day but you are at a World Cup for a long time and should be able to experience different things. I wouldn’t want players holed up. Take away the boredom, embrace the country we are in more. You never see anything.”

Complaints

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp also spoke of the complaints of some of the players who were at the World Cup.

“I spoke to a few players who said they were sat in their rooms waiting for the day to pass. Some said they were bored out of their brains.”

Thought

The Spurs boss also said what many of us have thought for some time, but I hadn’t heard anyone from football circles say it before.

“The rewards, the money that is involved in club football and the desire to play in the Champions League, it seems the international game is almost taking second stage. Players are loved by their clubs but not always when they play for their country.”

Older

Following the World Cup, where Capello put a reliance on older players like Terry and Lampard, the manager kept his job. That may have been due to the astronomical cost of not keeping him rather than for any positive reasons, but he has shown some signs of following the lead of the Germans, who destroyed England at last season’s tournament, by introducing some younger players to the team.

Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll and Adam Johnson are all beginning to forge a career at full international level.

Trust

Former German international and coach Franz Beckenbauer believes Capello should place much more trust in his younger players.

“I like Fabio but maybe he still holds on to older players. Maybe he should be brave and bring on more youngsters. England always has a lot of youngsters.”

That is what I truly hope the future holds. If England are going to fail in tournaments, which they have done for over forty years, wouldn’t it be better to do so with young players who might learn from the experience? You never know, they might even do better than the older ones.

Thank you

Thank you all for reading and I hope to write again for you at times in the future. Stay loyal to Soccernews and I’ll see you soon.

Graham

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

No Victory yet for Kewell, says agent

Harry Kewell’s manager has denied the Socceroos star has signed on with A-League club Melbourne Victory.

Media speculation in recent weeks has suggested that Kewell, who is currently without a club after not being offered a new deal by Turkish club Galatasaray, is set to join the two-time A-League champions.

It heightened further on Tuesday with claims that he will be unveiled by the Victory when they host Scottish giants Celtic in a friendly at AAMI Park on July 13.

But speaking on Melbourne radio station SEN on Wednesday morning, Kewell’s agent Bernie Mandic poured cold water on talk that former Leeds and Liverpool midfielder has already committed to Victory and claimed no Australian club had put forward an offer.

“We all have our Christmas wish list and I think a few people have got Harry on that,” Mandic said.

“You’ve always got an ideal scenario that you work for as a club, but we, as his management company, have an ideal scenario that we work for the player and at the moment we haven’t signed anything with anybody.”

Having played in some of Europe for more than a decade, including in the English Premier League with Leeds and Liverpool, Kewell has put forward a proposal in which he would not be paid a base wage but rather receive a percentage of any new revenue generated by his arrival.

“Some clubs have called us, others haven’t bothered,” Mandic added.

“The clubs that have called have been impressed with the integrity that Harry has shown in all of this.”

“I don’t think anybody expected it and people were almost sheepish in their approach saying ‘is it true?’.”

“Well yes, it’s true, he’s prepared to come back on the basis that there is no financial guarantees.”

“If the club doesn’t do any better than it’s doing now then Harry gets nothing.”

“There is no base payment. Nothing at all. There is no set figure. It’s an infinite piece of string.”

But the Victory are not the only club who could snare Kewell, with Mandic quick to put forward reigning premier the Brisbane Roar as potential suitors.

“If the best stadium deal is in Brisbane, then why wouldn’t he go to Brisbane?” he said.

“Stadium deals make or break this deal. What would be wrong with Suncorp (Stadium)?”

“They’ve got a sensational team, a team that plays probably the best brand of football in the country, they’ve got a great coach (Ange Postecoglou) who’s earned his stripes in Europe.”

“They’ve got a stadium which is waiting to be filled.”

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed

Yobo set for Fenerbahce move

Everton’s Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo is expected to sign with Turkish Super Lig side Fenerbahce shortly.

Yobo has struggled for first-team football in recent years at Goodison Park and recently signalled his desire to leave Merseyside.

“I do not want to return to Everton because I have seen the difference in playing in a competitive team on a regular basis and that has helped me to improve,” Yobo said.

His proposed move to Turkey made a step in the right direction when Everton chairman Bill Kenwright revealed the 30-year-old was close to joining Fenerbahce.

“I think a result can be achieved in a few days,” Kenwright said. “I have had no other bids.”

Yobo enjoyed a spell on loan at the Turkish giants last season, making 30 appearances and scoring an important goal on the last day of the season that helped secure the title for Fenerbahce.

He has made over 200 appearances for Everton, having been at the club since 2002, and is expected to fetch a transfer fee of approximately four million pounds.

Wed 29 June, 2011
RSS Feed