Orlando City unveil Kaka

Kaka was unveiled as the inaugural signing of future MLS club Orlando City on Monday, ending months of speculation about his future.

Just hours after Milan confirmed on their website that they had terminated Kaka’s second stint with them, Orlando City’s official Twitter feed published a photo of the Brazilian attacking midfielder arriving in the United States to sign a new contract.

Orlando City initially tweeted a silhouette of Kaka with the hash tag “KomingSoon”, and continued using the hash tag on Monday alongside a picture of an arrivals screen at Orlando Airport and a photo of fans ready to greet the former Brazil international.

Finally, Orlando City tweeted a picture of owner and president Phil Rawlins with Kaka on a plane before the 32-year-old landed and was greeted by fans.

Orlando City will join the MLS for the 2015 season and Kaka is set to play the second half of 2014 on loan with Sao Paulo to fill the gap before joining the Florida-based club for real.

Kaka came up through the youth ranks at Sao Paulo and played 125 games for the Brazil Serie A club from 2001 to 2003 before joining Milan for the first time.

Kaka made 307 appearances in all competitions for Milan over two stints, split by a four-year period with Real Madrid in Spain, where he played 120 games.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Yobo calls time on Nigeria career

Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo has announced his retirement following their FIFA World Cup exit at the hands of France.

Yobo suffered an unfortunate conclusion to his 101st and ultimately final cap as he conceded an own goal in the closing stages of Monday’s 2-0 round-of-16 loss.

“It was a bittersweet moment for me but I think it is time to focus on my family,” Yobo told reporters.

“It has been a long road.”

The 33-year-old believes the future is bright for a largely youthful Nigeria squad that impressed on the country’s first run to the knockout stages of the World Cup since 1998.

This, along with last year’s African Nations Cup triumph, gives Yobo plenty of cause for optimism.

“This team is growing – from the African Nations Cup and this World Cup was a big test for us,” he said.

“I thought we did very well. It’s a good experience, especially as it’s a young team.

“Hopefully this experience will go a long way.”

Yobo added: “I thought we played well, we fought really hard. We didn’t get a goal, they scored first and the game changed.”

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Mikel slams ref over Giroud incident

Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel said France forward Olivier Giroud should have seen red for elbowing him during Monday’s FIFA World Cup match.

The Chelsea midfielder claimed referee Mark Geiger saw Giroud strike him in a 29th-minute tangle but opted against showing the Arsenal man a card before France battled to a 2-0 win and a place in the quarter-finals.

Mikel told Mirror Sport: “Yes I got an elbow and the referee saw it and he only gave him a warning, not even a yellow card, nothing. It was bad.

“We know the game – if you see it, act on it. The ref saw it. He did catch me, I don’t know if it was too hard but the intention was definitely there.

“I don’t think Giroud is a dirty player, I have played against him several times before and everyone wants to win for his country. He hasn’t done those sort of things before so maybe it was just one of those things in the heat of the moment.”

It was an even more painful match for Mikel’s midfield colleague Ogenyi Onazi, who left on a stretcher during the second half following a challenge with Blaise Matuidi.

Mikel reported a suspected broken ankle for Onazi and, although he refused to criticise Matuidi, the 27-year-old did not pass up the opportunity to question Geiger once more.

“I thought the referee didn’t help us at all. There were some heavy challenges and I think Ogenyi Onazi has broken his ankle. Challenges like this are bad but it was a 50-50, he just miscalculated,” Mikel said.

France will play Germany in Rio on Friday thanks to Paul Pogba’s 79th-minute header and a stoppage-time own goal from Joseph Yobo.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Melbourne City looms large for Lampard

Frank Lampard could be set to follow David Villa’s Melbourne-New York path, with reports linking the former Chelsea man to the A-League.

Spain forward Villa is confirmed to play 10 matches for the Manchester City-owned Melbourne City before arriving at MLS outfit New York City, another brother club of the Premier League champions.

And Lampard, who announced in June he would be leaving Stamford Bridge after a 13-year stay, looks poised to follow Villa’s path, having already agreed a deal to join the MLS in May.

However, the A-League leg of his journey is understood to have become a very real proposition, and former Chelsea team-mate and ex-Australia international Mark Schwarzer revealed Lampard inquired about Melbourne.

“All I can say is that he did ask me about Melbourne Heart. He did ask me what Melbourne was like and what Melbourne Heart was like,” Schwarzer said, as reported by the Mirror.

“I said Sydney was the best place to live. But I spoke very highly of Melbourne. I actually love Melbourne. It’s a great city. I told him how passionate in particular the Victorians are with their sport.

“There is huge potential in the game in Australia and it would be unbelievable if he went to Australia. I said to him that he would love living there. It’s a great place to live.

“He walked away with that and I know what he’s like. So we will see.”

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Vermaelen out, Kompany doubtful for Belgium

Belgium will be without Thomas Vermaelen against the United States due to injury, while captain Vincent Kompany remains doubtful.

Vermaelen will miss the FIFA World Cup round-of-16 clash on Tuesday after Belgium coach Marc Wilmots confirmed the Arsenal defender had not recovered from a hamstring strain sustained against Russia in Group H, while Kompany has yet to train fully with an abdominal injury.

Wilmots admitted Kompany has a 50-50 chance of lining up in Salvador, after the Manchester City defender also missed Belgium’s final group match against South Korea on Thursday due to abdominal and groin pain.

“Kompany will train half an hour anyhow and then we will give him the morning off to see if there is a reaction. One chance in two that he makes it,” Wilmots said on Monday.

“I know this abdominal injury because I played a year with such a problem.”

With Anthony Vanden Borre (broken leg) also unavailable, the doubts about Kompany and Vermaelen’s injury mean Wilmots could be missing three defenders against the USA.

Kompany and Vermaelen are also two of Belgium’s four most-experienced defenders but Wilmots is hopeful the latter will be fit, if his team advance to the last eight.

“For Thomas the game against the USA is just too early,” the coach said.

“When we reach the quarter-finals, the chances are very good that he gets fit by then. Within two to three days, he can resume group training sessions in principle.”

Midfielder Steven Defour will also be unavailable through suspension but, in good news for Wilmots, Marouane Fellaini has shaken off a calf injury sustained during training on Monday.

Wilmots added that his starting line-up would not be predictable, after he picked a different XI in all three group games.

“What could we expect in my starting line-up? Surprises. With me there are always surprises,” the 45-year-old said.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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FIFA World Cup: Germany 2 Algeria 1 (aet)

Germany were given a major scare before beating Algeria 2-1 on Monday to book a FIFA World Cup quarter-final meeting with France.

After a pulsating 90 minutes in Porto Alegre had ended goalless, Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle – on as a half-time substitute for Mario Gotze – cleverly flicked in Thomas Muller’s low cross two minutes into extra-time to give Germany the lead.

Mesut Ozil added a second late on to wrap up victory for Joachim Low’s side, before Algeria, who performed admirably throughout, gained a consolation through Abdelmoumene Djabou.

The result meant Algeria were unable to exact revenge for the “Disgrace of Gijon”, when West Germany and Austria played out a mutually beneficial 1-0 scoreline that saw both sides through from the group at the expense of Algeria in the 1982 finals in Spain.

With many pointing to that infamous match as motivation for Vahid Halilhodzic’s men in the build-up, Algeria flew out of the blocks in the opening 20 minutes, cutting through the German backline on a number of occasions and seeing an Islam Slimani goal disallowed for offside.

The African nation – making their first appearance in the second round – continued to impress, but Germany, who will now face France at the Maracana on Friday, finished the stronger and remain on course to reach the semi-finals of a fourth successive World Cup.

Algeria made a flying start and Manuel Neuer had to make a sliding tackle to deny Slimani an effort on goal from wide on the left in the ninth minute, after the goalkeeper had initially misjudged a charge from his line.

Sofiane Feghouli wasted a good position six minutes later, blazing the ball wildly across goal from the byline with two team-mates better placed.

Slimani converted Faouzi Ghoulam’s wonderful cross from the left with a diving header in the 17th minute, but the referee’s assistant correctly ruled that the Sporting Lisbon man had strayed offside, before Ghoulam flashed another effort narrowly off target as Algeria continued to dominate.

Germany gradually grew into the game towards the end of the first half, Muller heading wide and Ozil testing Rais M’Bolhi with a dipping effort.

Yet Algeria hit back in the 39th minute, Mehdi Mostefa thumping in a shot from 25 yards which deflected off Jerome Boateng and past the left-hand post with Neuer completely wrong-footed.

M’Bolhi made a superb double stop two minutes later, parrying Toni Kroos’ drive away and then springing to his feet to keep out Gotze’s rebound.

Germany enjoyed a more assured opening to the second period, Schurrle seeing an effort deflected just wide before Skhodran Mustafi, who replaced Mats Hummels (flu) in defence with Boateng switching to centre-back, headed straight at M’Bolhi from Kroos’ delivery.

Philipp Lahm went close in the 55th minute, his curling effort diverted wide by an acrobatic save from M’Bolhi.

As the game wore on the play became stretched and Slimani sent a rasping effort from distance straight into the arms of Neuer 15 minutes from time.

Germany responded strongly and Muller ought to have scored his fifth goal of the tournament shortly afterwards, but his powerful header was beaten away by M’Bolhi.

Muller had another clear chance moments later, stabbing the ball wide after a glorious touch to bring the ball under control, while Bastian Schweinsteiger was unable to seriously trouble M’Bolhi with a weak header from Lahm’s chipped pass.

Low’s side then struck early in the first extra period, Schurrle adjusting brilliantly to backheel Muller’s cross from the left into the net.

Algeria could have levelled through Mostefa, who snatched an effort wide from 10 yards after Germany failed to deal with a corner.

Ozil then made the game safe in the closing stages, lashing high into the net after Schurrle had been denied just in front of the goalline by Essaid Belkalem, although there was one final twist as Djabou converted a right-wing cross at the back post to net a deserved consolation for Algeria.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Hull City sign Robert Snodgrass from Norwich; Perisic attracting Serie A interest

Hull City A.F.C. have completed the signing of Robert Snodgrass from Norwich City for an undisclosed fee.

Hull City A.F.C. have completed the signing of Robert Snodgrass from Norwich City for an undisclosed fee.

The Scotland international, 26, has agreed a three-year deal at the KC Stadium and will officially join the club on 1 July.

Snodgrass is the club’s second signing of the summer, following the permanent capture of Jake Livermore from Tottenham Hotspur for a club record fee potentially rising to £8 million.

“Having spoken to the owners and the manager here, and having seen the plans they have for this club, I was very keen to be a part of it all,” said Snodgrass.

“Once the fee was agreed between the two clubs, it all happened very quickly and everything the club has done to get the deal completed has been unbelievable. This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and for my family and I just can’t wait to get started now.”

Snodgrass, who joined Norwich from Leeds United for £3 million in 2012, tallied six goals and two assists in 30 English Premier League appearances for the Canaries, who were relegated to the Sky Bet Championship after finishing in 18th-place in the league table, last term.

Hull will open their 2014/15 Premier League account at newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, 16 August.

Perisic attracting Serie A interest

The agent of VfL Wolfsburg midfielder Ivan Perisic, Tonci Martic, has hinted his client could be moving to Italy’s top-flight amid reported interest from AC Milan, Internazionale, Napoli and Roma.

Perisic, who impressed with Croatia at this summer’s World Cup finals, left Dortmund for Wolfburg in January 2013 but increasing speculation is suggesting he could make another switch this summer.

The Croatia international, 25, netted 10 goals in 33 Bundesliga appearances for Die Wölfe last season, helping the club secure a place in the UEFA Europa League following a fifth-place finish.

“I can confirm that I have met with [Riccardo] Bigon from Napoli. But to be clear, I have not met with him only,” Martic told ilsussidario.net.

 “In these days I have talked with representatives of Inter, Milan, Roma and other clubs. But we didn’t talk only about Perisic, we talked about other players too.

 “I manage many good players that could be transferred in the summer.”

Premier League side Everton are also reportedly keen on Perisic, with reports claiming the Merseysiders are willing to splash out £8 million to lure the player to Goodison Park.

Perisic is under contract at the Volkswagen Arena until 2017.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Lotito: Parolo set for Lazio switch

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has announced Italy international Marco Parolo is on the verge of signing for the club from Parma.

Parolo made 36 appearances for Parma last season as they finished sixth in Serie A, and his form earned him a place in Cesare Prandelli’s squad for the FIFA World Cup.

The two clubs agreed a deal for the central midfielder over recent weeks, following a significant period of reflection, it now appears he is set for the Italian capital.

Lotito explained he met with the 29-year-old on Monday and hoped to agree a five-year deal in the coming days.

“A short while ago, the contract was agreed with Parolo and it will be formally announced after the medical,” Lotito is quoted as saying to Corriere dello Sport.

“After signing (Antonio) Candreva, (Dusan) Basta and Filip Djordjevic, another piece of the puzzle is complete here. I keep my promises.

“We intend to strengthen the team, the next stage will involve the defence. I hope that pundits and fans take note of this with satisfaction and will leave behind old attitudes and prejudices.

“Lazio needs the support and affection of its fans.”

In Brazil, Parolo featured for 55 minutes over two matches as Italy surprisingly exited the competition at the group stages.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Klinsmann asking USA to go extra mile against Belgium

United States’ players must continue to push themselves to extend their stay at the FIFA World Cup, says head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

After escaping Group G on goal difference from Portugal Klinsmann’s men now face a tough second round tie with Belgium, but the German is confident they have prepared for what is about to come.

Two of the five completed matches in the round of 16 have gone to extra-time, and then penalties, something the 49-year-old insists his players are looking forward to if it happens in Salvador.

Klinsmann believes the squad are hungry to go further in the competition than ever before, and hopes to cause an upset on Tuesday.

“Going into the knockout stage you need to have a team ready to go the extra mile,” he told a news conference on Monday. “Every single player needs to be ready to go 120 minutes and possibly a penalty shooutout, so it is very very demanding.

“It’s the most extreme version you can have as a player going into those games, but that’s what we’re looking forward to, that’s why we worked very hard to build a foundation for this moment.

“A lot of the games are decided in the last minutes, some are in penalty shootouts, hopefully we have everything in our legs to go 120 minutes if necessary.

“I’m very positive we have a good foundation for getting everything out of Belgium.

“The better team should win and go forward, but we’re doing well, we feel fresh, we feel recovered quickly, we have a great spirit and it feels like we just started this adventure.

“We are hungry, hungry for more, and we want to prove that to the best of our capabilities tomorrow night.”

USA’s best World Cup showing was a quarter-final run in 2002, a feat they wre prevented from emulating by Ghana in the round of 16 four-years ago.

Mon 30 June, 2014
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Ramos: Keep believing and keep dreaming

Adrian Ramos has implored Colombia to continue in exactly the same vein as they prepare for a FIFA World Cup quarter-final with Brazil.

Jose Pekerman’s side have been among the most impressive at the tournament thus far, winning all four games with the likes of James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado particularly outstanding.

A 2-0 win over Uruguay on Saturday propelled them into the last eight for the first time in their history, setting up a tie with the hosts in Fortaleza on Friday.

Ramos, who has made two appearances at the finals so far, wants the squad to prepare in exactly the same way as they have done previously.

“We must continue our work,” he said in a press conference on Monday.

“It is doing a good job and we have to continue that idea as it has given us results.

“We are not afraid, but we respect the Brazilian national team. We have to keep dreaming and keep believing.

“We know that what we are doing now excites the Colombian people, and we hope to continue our job.

“We have the opportunity to make history and we will continue to give everything.”

Mon 30 June, 2014
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