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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ronaldo: Elephants clash is key

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Cristiano Ronaldo has emphasised the importance of hitting the ground running at next summer's FIFA World Cup™ after Portugal were handed one of the toughest possible draws for the group stages.
Portugal, who reached the finals courtesy of a play-off win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, must battle against Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and Korea DPR for a place in the last 16 of the competition. Five-time winners Brazil are the favourites for the tournament while African powerhouses Côte d'Ivoire boast players of the calibre of Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue and Salomon Kalou.
And it is Portugal's clash with the Ivorians that Ronaldo believes could be crucial, with the two nations starting their Group G against each other in Port Elizabeth. "Winning the first match will be very important," said Ronaldo, who could come up against Real Madrid team-mates Kaka and Marcelo as well as former Manchester United companion Anderson in the Brazil side.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Capello: Only the fit will travel

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England coach Fabio Capello insists he will leave half-fit players out of his 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad, even if his policy affects the likes of Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand. Capello has no concerns over Ferdinand's recent errors, but the 31-year-old's injury record at the start of the current campaign would put his ticket to the tournament in South Africa under threat if replicated at the end of the season.
Ferdinand had to wait until the end of October to play three consecutive United matches, straight after an international qualification double-header, but that run ended with him missing matches against Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers and CSKA Moscow. He will miss the Barclays Premier League match against Chelsea this weekend with a calf injury that could be related to a lower back complaint.
Capello's predecessors have made the mistake of taking semi-fit players to tournaments, but the Italian said: "The players with us in South Africa will be all fit. It's impossible to wait for one player. Little things are okay, but bigger problems and they will not be there.
"If you have to recover someone, it's no good. When we go, it will not be the warm season, when it is easier to recover. It will be cold in South Africa."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big dreams for little genie

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Mustafa Mahmoud Mohamed Selim, known as 'Afroto', is the man many believe can inspire the hosts to glory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009.  

Friday, September 25, 2009

Making a mark on a piece of World Cup history

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As they start putting the final touches to Cape Town's Green Point Stadium, some proud construction workers are leaving their own mark on history.

FIFA and authorities crack down on illegal World Cup ticket sales

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FIFA's Legal Affairs Division is working closely with international authorities to monitor the internet for illegal tickets offers and take action to combat them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

High notes for club trio

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The goalscoring feats of Graham Alexander and Luis Suarez, as well as record-equalling results in Berlin and Manchester, make this latest review.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FIFA Medical Conference, 17 and 18 October 2009

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A two-day Medical Conference will take place in Zurich on 17 and 18 October, organised by the FIFA Medical Committee together with F-MARC.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paraguay keep the winning habit

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Paraguay's midfielder Nelson Valdez (R) celebrates with teammate Salvador Cabañas after scoring against Argentina

Paraguay's qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, this is the fourth time running that La Albirroja have reached the finals, an indication of the shift in the balance of power in South America, where the likes of Argentina and Uruguay once viewed qualification for the biggest football show on Earth as a divine right.

Wednesday evening's 1-0 defeat of La Albiceleste in Asuncion sparked joyous scenes throughout the country and on the pitch, with the entire squad rushing to hug each other when the final whistle blew at the Estadio Defensores del Chaco, shedding tears of joy as they did so.

One man who preferred to keep his calm amid the noise and excitement, however, was coach Gerardo Martino. "I'm very happy, of course I am," he said, struggling to make himself heard as some of his coaching staff and players celebrated beneath a huge national flag, while another smaller group paraded a flag bearing the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa logo in front of the ecstatic 40,000 crowd. "We've worked very hard for this and we thoroughly deserve it. Today we can finally say we've reached the World Cup after beating a great team in a very tough game."

"We've suffered a bit more in the second half of the qualifying tournament, which is what you'd expect," continued the Argentinian tactician. "It's not normal to go through a whole campaign playing like we did in the first part of the competition, and if anyone thinks this is easy, then they're wrong. These qualifiers are so tough. That's why the boys are celebrating."

Stats tell the story
Paraguay have made smooth progress to South Africa, equalling their Korea/Japan 2002 qualifying haul of 30 points with two games still to go, winning nine games, drawing three and losing four. Their home form, with seven wins and a solitary defeat, has been imperious. And unlike some of the Paraguay teams that have gone before them, Martino's side possess a genuine cutting edge up front to complement their traditional defensive virtues, with Roque Santa Cruz, Salvador Cabanas and Nelson Haedo Valdez forming a potent front line.

Today we can finally say we've reached the World Cup after beating a great team in a very tough game.
Gerardo Martino, Paraguay coach.

Valdez it was who scored the decisive goal against Argentina, and the Borussia Dortmund striker was understandably thrilled afterwards. "We played with a lot of soul and that's why we won. This win is for everyone and for the people of Paraguay, who needed it so much."

Defender Paulo Da Silva echoed the thoughts of the country's football writers in summing up the strengths of this latest Paraguayan vintage. "For years people spoke about our defensive power but this time we've showed that we are an all-round team with some great players up front. We are very solid but we mustn't get distracted. The World Cup is still a few months away and we need to work hard to arrive in the best possible shape. There are some things we need to improve, but nobody can take away the joy we feel tonight."

Making up for Germany
Back in 2006, Paraguay travelled to Germany with the aim of at least repeating the progress they had made at France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002. La Albirroja failed to do themselves justice, however, and fell at the first hurdle after some unconvincing performances, a fate they will be anxious to avoid in South Africa.

"Football's all about the here-and-now and we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves," warned the cautious Martino. "Our next objective is to win the group. There are two things you can aim for when you're a coach: to get results or go down in history. I'm after the latter. We'll see what road we have to take in the future, but for now we're just thinking about finishing as high up the group as we can."

That task looks easier said than done. Paraguay's remaining two matches, Venezuela away and Colombia at home, pit them against two sides still entertaining hopes of taking the play-off place. Yet the Argentinian has every faith in his squad.

"We've got some fantastic players here. Up front we even had the luxury of playing for most of the qualifying competition without Roque (Santa Cruz), who has been injured. Can you imagine Argentina playing for all that time without (Lionel) Messi or Brazil without Kaka? That makes what we've done even more special. I've got very good players and an excellent team of people; that's the key to our success."

With President Fernando Lugo declaring Thursday a national holiday, that success will be celebrated for a few days more it seems. And not without good reason. After reaching only four FIFA World Cup finals between 1930 and 1986, Los Guaraníes have now qualified four times in a row, a record that has everyone, with the exception of Brazil perhaps, sitting up and taking notice of the men in red and white.

Goal-hero Haedo Valdez intends to keep it that way. "Bring on the top dogs. Let's go," he shouted into the night sky, an indication, if it were needed, of Paraguay's continuing hunger for glory.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Olsen: Pride and glory

Posted by Volkan at 11:21 1 comments Links to this post

In football terms, Morten Olsen is Mr. Denmark. Nineteen years' service as player and nine as coach have left the 59-year-old's name synonymous with his national team, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Proud and unabashedly patriotic, Olsen, the first Dane to earn 100 caps, captained his country on their memorable FIFA World Cup™ debut in 1986 and, as coach, led them back to the game's greatest stage 16 years later.

Now, after missing out on Germany 2006 and UEFA EURO 2008, the former Cologne and Ajax coach has successfully guided Denmark to a position of strength in what is arguably Europe's toughest South Africa 2010 preliminary section. With Portugal and Sweden trailing his side by seven points and a showdown with their Nordic neighbours looming next month, Olsen spoke exclusively to FIFA.com to share his memories of past glories and hopes for future success.

FIFA.com: Morten, in such a tough group, you must be thrilled to have started with four wins and a draw.
Morten Olsen:
We are very pleased. It's been a tough opening programme for us but we have made an exceptional start, although that's all it is for now: a start. We are only halfway through and, coming up, we have a very difficult game away to our brother country (Sweden). Denmark and Sweden know each other very, very well, of course, and there is very little to separate the two teams. It should come down to who is in form on the day, or who has a bit of luck. But they are going to be very dangerous games, that's for sure.

When the draw was made, many expected that Portugal would be favourites and that it would be down to you and Sweden to challenge them for first place. As it is, you are seven points ahead of the Portuguese and Swedes, with Hungary your closest challengers. Has that surprised you?
It has surprised me, yes. I think most people would have expected Portugal to be on top at this stage, especially as they've started with more home games. They have had some problems, it's sure, and now I think they are in a position where they probably need to win all the matches they have left. But they still have a chance because all the teams in this group can take points off each other, so the picture could change very quickly. Hungary have been a big surprise to everyone, of course. They are a country with a great football tradition, but it has been a long time since they were a force in Europe, so they have exceeded expectations. We actually received a lot of criticism back home in Denmark when we drew over there in our first game but when you look at how Hungary have performed since, that's actually looking like a very good result now.

Although there is clearly a lot of talent in your side, it seems there are no real superstars. Has this been part of the secret to your success?
I think it works well for us anyway. We certainly have a good group of players right now, and a lot of very promising younger guys, like Nicklas Bendtner, who're beginning to make a real difference for us. The only problem for us, as a little country, is when we pick up three or four injuries because we don't have the same strength in depth that other nations have. Already, we've lost a couple of important players for the Sweden games, and we'll also really miss Martin Laursen (who has retired from international football).

For me and for all the players, competing at the World Cup is the ultimate; it's the biggest honour for any player. That's what has been motivating us.
Morten Olsen

You will have been Denmark coach for ten years by the time South Africa 2010 comes about. That's a long time for any coach to stay in one job these days.
It is a very long time. But I'm happy to keep going because I still enjoy the job and still feel I have something to offer. I think that, as a group, we also have a point to make after failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments. Getting to World Cups and European championships is the name of the game for us and it was a real disappointment that we didn't manage it in 2006 and 2008.

Is it true that you will stand aside after 2010?
No, not at all, that's not been decided yet. It's not even important for the moment. The only important thing is getting us to South Africa.

You're obviously bidding to be part of a special FIFA World Cup: the first on African soil.
World Cups are always special. The fact it's the first time in Africa is fantastic because it's bringing it closer to the people there, but every World Cup has its own unique flavour and appeal. I remember seeing how excited Asia was in 2002 to have it and what a fantastic experience that was for everyone. For me and for all the players, competing at the World Cup is the ultimate; it's the biggest honour for any player. That's what has been motivating us.

You mention the 2002 edition, which obviously saw Korea Republic reach the semi-finals. Do you envisage that 'home advantage' will be as beneficial to the African nations in 2010?
Playing on your own continent is a big motivation, there's no question about that. But I think that, with South Korea in 2002, their success had more to it than just being the hosts. Don't forget that they had a long, long time together before the World Cup to prepare; they were almost like a club team. The climate was also a big issue in 2002 because the European teams especially couldn't play in their usual style. I believe it will be winter in South Africa when the World Cup is on, so it could be that the European teams don't find it so tough this time. But that's not to say that one of the African teams can't go all the way.

Has the FIFA World Cup changed since you played in the 1986 edition?
It's always been popular, but now it's more global than ever. I think wherever you are in the world in 2010, someone will be watching the World Cup. Everyone looks forward to it, even people with no real affiliation. In terms of the scale and the appeal it has, I'd say only the Olympics comes close.

You, of course, were captain of the great Danish team that so impressed everyone at Mexico 1986. What made that team so special?
I think it was simply a special generation of players. We had also been given a great football education, particularly on the technical and tactical sides of the game. That really set us up to have good careers and we were lucky that so many of our players were playing for some of the best clubs in Europe.

Do you ever look back and think you could have won that FIFA World Cup?
Oh, we could have won it, I'm sure of that. We all felt the same. It was a special group of players coming together at the perfect time and, with a bit of luck, it could have been us up there rather than Argentina. But I don't look back with any real regret. It was a great experience, not only for us but for the fans who travelled together with us everywhere we went. In those days, the Danish fans were one of the first to paint their faces and make a real party out of these kind of competitions, and I really think they helped show other fans at that time that you could be passionate about team without being violent and aggressive. Our fans set a great example and that was important for us as a nation.

Was representing your country always the ultimate honour for you?
Absolutely. I actually think football brings out the best kind of nationalism, certainly in our country. In Denmark, there is one thing that everyone unites behind and that is the national team. If we can get to 2010 and do well, we'll have the whole nation standing behind us. Personally, I played for Denmark for 19, almost 20 years, and I've now been coach for ten, so that's half of my life I've devoted to the national team. The best thing is that I still get the same feeling I did when I first started, and I see that the young players are just as proud as I am. That's fantastic. When I don't have that feeling any more, I'll know then that I need to stop.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aguirre: I need commitment

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FIFA.com spoke exclusively to El Tri's new head coach, who is charged with dragging Mexico's South Africa 2010 qualifying bid back on course.

Olsen: Pride and glory

Posted by Volkan at 15:35 0 comments Links to this post
Morten Olsen, high-flying Denmark's long-serving coach, speaks exclusively to FIFA.com to share his FIFA World Cup memories and hopes for 2010.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Surprises all over the world

Posted by Volkan at 14:59 0 comments Links to this post
Zambia's Francis Kasonde celebrates after scoring

Shockwaves were sent around planet football this week as some of the powerhouses of the world game fell to unexpected defeat. Take Argentina and Mexico, for example, who are currently licking their wounds after Wednesday's setbacks. FIFA.com picks out the eyecatching scorelines from the week's qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

Honduras shake up the established order
Carlos Pavon managed not only to shake up the established hierarchy in the North and Central America and Caribbean Zone, but at the same time blunt the hopes of the country where he plies his trade. The attacker's five-star performance gave Honduras a 3-1 win over Mexico, who now find themselves with only three points from as many games and something of a mountain to climb if they are to make it to South Africa.

Four days earlier, 35-year-old Pavon, who plays for Club Necaxa in Mexico, had earned Honduras a point in their 1-1 draw with Trinidad and Tobago, making him very much the man of the moment in the CONCACAF Zone. The Hondurans now sit third in the group with four points from three games, and the country's entire 7.5 million population are now dreaming of their first FIFA World Cup since Spain 1982.

Saudi Arabia back in the running
The biggest shockwaves from the AFC were provided by Saudi Arabia last Saturday. Finding themselves 1-0 down with 11 minutes to go away to Iran in Tehran, the Saudis, who are currently ranked 55th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, turned things around thanks to goals from Naif Hazazi and Osama Al Harbi.

The win by Jose Peseiro's men not only cost Iranian coach Ali Daei his job but also keeps alive Saudi Arabia's hopes of qualifying for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup since USA 1994. The Sons of the Desert currently lie third in Asia Group 2, level on points with second-placed Korea DPR who they face at home in Riyadh in their final match.

Northern Ireland and Bosnia upset the odds
In Europe, the two surprise packages are most definitely Northern Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina. Nigel Worthington's team are sitting pretty on top of Group 3 after a 3-2 win away to Poland and a 1-0 success at home to Slovenia. Bosnia, meanwhile, got the upper hand in both their home and away clashes with Belgium and now stand second behind Spain in Group 5, four points clear of Turkey. These two underdogs are currently bang on form and harbour legitimate hopes of making it to South Africa.

As well as Northern Ireland, Slovakia are also ahead of big guns Poland and Czech Republic in Group 3, while Denmark and Hungary are making all the running ahead of Portugal in Group 1. Those two sides, coached by Morten Olsen and Erwin Koeman respectively, are seven points clear of FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates, and although the Hungarians have played one game more, nerves must be jangling in the Portuguese camp.

Big three off to a shaky start in Africa
Francis Kasonde, Emmanuel Adebayor, Pierre Aubameyang and Roguy Meye have good reason to celebrate at the moment after scoring the goals which earned Zambia, Togo and Gabon surprising results as the final African qualifying round got underway. The Zambians managed a draw against current African champions Egypt, while Togo defeated Cameroon and Gabon overcame Morocco.

The north African teams were particularly disappointed with their false starts, but as Egypt striker Mido pointed out, "this early defeat by no means spells the end of the road for us". Gabon coach Alain Giresse, in contrast, was delighted with his team's victory over a side coached by fellow Frenchman Roger Lemerre, saying "to face an opponent as tough as Morocco and come away with the three points is incredible."

Honeymoon period over for Maradona
All of the above surprises pale in comparison to Bolivia's achievement. No-one could have dreamed that Erwin Sanchez's team would hand out a 6-1 thrashing to two-time FIFA World Cup-winners Argentina, who had previously been riding high on the back of Diego Maradona's appointment as coach. Lionel Messi had been filling the latter's legendary number 10 shirt to good effect in recent matches but it was the unheralded Joaquin Botero who proved to be the Albiceleste's downfall. The 31-year-old striker notched a hat-trick to take his tally in the qualifiers to eight goals, putting him top of the South American scoring charts.

The 1978 and 1986 FIFA World Cup winners now find themselves in a lowly fourth place, and with trips to Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay still to come, they are by no means certainties to qualify. One crumb of comfort for the Argentinians is that Paraguay also slipped up this week, losing 2-0 to Uruguay and only managing a 1-1 draw with Ecuador.

Have your say
Misery loves company, and it's always good to share your joy, so write in and let us know how you feel about the shocks of the past few days! Just click on 'add your comment' below and have your say.

Surprises all over the world

Posted by Volkan at 05:06 0 comments Links to this post

Argentina's national footballers Luis Gonzales (L) and Maximiliano Rodriguez show their disappointment

Shockwaves were sent around planet football this week as some of the powerhouses of the world game fell to unexpected defeat. Take Argentina and Mexico, for example, who are currently licking their wounds after Wednesday's setbacks. FIFA.com picks out the eyecatching scorelines from the week's qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

Honduras shake up the established order
Carlos Pavon managed not only to shake up the established hierarchy in the North and Central America and Caribbean Zone, but at the same time blunt the hopes of the country where he plies his trade. The attacker's five-star performance gave Honduras a 3-1 win over Mexico, who now find themselves with only three points from as many games and something of a mountain to climb if they are to make it to South Africa.

Four days earlier, 35-year-old Pavon, who plays for Club Necaxa in Mexico, had earned Honduras a point in their 1-1 draw with Trinidad and Tobago, making him very much the man of the moment in the CONCACAF Zone. The Hondurans now sit third in the group with four points from three games, and the country's entire 7.5 million population are now dreaming of their first FIFA World Cup since Spain 1982.

Saudi Arabia back in the running
The biggest shockwaves from the AFC were provided by Saudi Arabia last Saturday. Finding themselves 1-0 down with 11 minutes to go away to Iran in Tehran, the Saudis, who are currently ranked 55th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, turned things around thanks to goals from Naif Hazazi and Osama Al Harbi.

The win by Jose Peseiro's men not only cost Iranian coach Ali Daei his job but also keeps alive Saudi Arabia's hopes of qualifying for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup since USA 1994. The Sons of the Desert currently lie third in Asia Group 2, level on points with second-placed Korea DPR who they face at home in Riyadh in their final match.

Northern Ireland and Bosnia upset the odds
In Europe, the two surprise packages are most definitely Northern Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina. Nigel Worthington's team are sitting pretty on top of Group 3 after a 3-2 win away to Poland and a 1-0 success at home to Slovenia. Bosnia, meanwhile, got the upper hand in both their home and away clashes with Belgium and now stand second behind Spain in Group 5, four points clear of Turkey. These two underdogs are currently bang on form and harbour legitimate hopes of making it to South Africa.

As well as Northern Ireland, Slovakia are also ahead of big guns Poland and Czech Republic in Group 3, while Denmark and Hungary are making all the running ahead of Portugal in Group 1. Those two sides, coached by Morten Olsen and Erwin Koeman respectively, are seven points clear of FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates, and although the Hungarians have played one game more, nerves must be jangling in the Portuguese camp.

Big three off to a shaky start in Africa
Francis Kasonde, Emmanuel Adebayor, Pierre Aubameyang and Roguy Meye have good reason to celebrate at the moment after scoring the goals which earned Zambia, Togo and Gabon surprising results as the final African qualifying round got underway. The Zambians managed a draw against current African champions Egypt, while Togo defeated Cameroon and Gabon overcame Morocco.

The north African teams were particularly disappointed with their false starts, but as Egypt striker Mido pointed out, "this early defeat by no means spells the end of the road for us". Gabon coach Alain Giresse, in contrast, was delighted with his team's victory over a side coached by fellow Frenchman Roger Lemerre, saying "to face an opponent as tough as Morocco and come away with the three points is incredible."

Honeymoon period over for Maradona
All of the above surprises pale in comparison to Bolivia's achievement. No-one could have dreamed that Erwin Sanchez's team would hand out a 6-1 thrashing to two-time FIFA World Cup-winners Argentina, who had previously been riding high on the back of Diego Maradona's appointment as coach. Lionel Messi had been filling the latter's legendary number 10 shirt to good effect in recent matches but it was the unheralded Joaquin Botero who proved to be the Albiceleste's downfall. The 31-year-old striker notched a hat-trick to take his tally in the qualifiers to eight goals, putting him top of the South American scoring charts.

The 1978 and 1986 FIFA World Cup winners now find themselves in a lowly fourth place, and with trips to Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay still to come, they are by no means certainties to qualify. One crumb of comfort for the Argentinians is that Paraguay also slipped up this week, losing 2-0 to Uruguay and only managing a 1-1 draw with Ecuador.

Have your say
Misery loves company, and it's always good to share your joy, so write in and let us know how you feel about the shocks of the past few days! Just click on 'add your comment' below and have your say.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Brazil back to winning ways

Posted by Volkan at 05:27 0 comments Links to this post
Luis Fabiano scored twice as Brazil strolled to a 3-0 win over a demoralised Peru in a hopelessly one-sided 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Wednesday.
Brazil, who have 21 points from 12 games, moved up to second in the South American group and cut the gap between themselves and leaders Paraguay to three points. Peru, with seven points, went five adrift at the bottom of the ten-team table and have no realistic hope of ending their 24-year wait for a FIFA World Cup finals appearance.
Their dismal form comes as coach Jose del Solar has controversially refused to pick German-based strikers Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan because of alleged indiscipline nearly 18 months ago. Brazil had drawn their previous three home qualifiers 0-0 - against Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia - but this time got the early breakthrough they needed.

Kaka, who missed Sunday's 1-1 draw in Ecuador through injury, was fouled by Carlos Zambrano and Luis Fabiano placed his penalty just beyond Leao Butron's outstretched arm to open the scoring in the 18th minute. After that, it was a question of how many Brazil would score.

The second came nine minutes later when Elano chipped the ball over the Peru defence and Luis Fabiano chested it down and scored despite not hitting the ball cleanly. Butron prevented Brazil from adding a third before half-time when he denied Robinho with his feet after the hosts sliced through the Peru defence, then saved a powerful drive by Daniel Alves.

Luis Fabiano was denied a hat-trick when Butron tipped over his header on the hour. But midfielder Felipe Melo added the third four minutes later when he won two challenges in midfield, burst into the area and placed his shot between Butron and the near post.

Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who almost single-handedly earned Brazil their draw on Sunday, prevented Peru from scoring when he tipped Alexander Sanchez's drive onto the crossbar.

Altidore lifts USA to victory

Posted by Volkan at 05:25 0 comments Links to this post
Jozy Altidore's hat-trick accounted for all the scoring as USA scored a 3-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier in the North and Central America and Caribbean region.The 19-year-old Altidore scored in the 13th, 71st and 89th minutes, but veteran captain Landon Donovan also played a key role in creating each goal.With the victory, Bob Bradley's team solidified their position atop the table in the final phase of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with seven points. The US have already notched a win over Mexico and a draw against El Salvador. Trinidad and Tobago, guided by Colombian Francisco Maturana, have two points from three matches after draws against El Salvador and Honduras.
The top three teams from the six-nation final phase of qualifying advance directly to South Africa 2010, while the fourth-placed team play off against the fifth-placed team from South America.

Dzeko double downs Belgium

Posted by Volkan at 05:24 0 comments Links to this post
Edin Dzeko struck twice early in the first half for Bosnia, who secured a 2-1 victory over Belgium today to raise their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Dzeko also scored in the stunning 4-2 win over the same opponents in Genk on Saturday, and this latest success kept Bosnia in second place in Group 5, six points behind leaders Spain.The Wolfsburg forward scored the first goal in the 12th minute following a corner, and struck again three minutes later after a pass from Senijad Ibricic.

Belgium were reduced to ten men just after the hour when Alex Witsel was sent off for violent conduct, but grabbed a consolation goal two minutes from time through Gill Swerts.

"We demostrated a heroic and tactical defence," said Bosnia coach Miroslav Blazevic.

Bosnians celebrated in the streets of the capital Sarajevo and other big towns, honking car horns and setting off fireworks.

Bosnia are bidding to reach their first major tournament as an independent nation.

Big guns fire as Poland cut loose

Posted by Volkan at 05:23 0 comments Links to this post

The Netherlands' Rafael van der Vaart celebrates after scoring against Macedonia during their 2010 W

It was a fruitful evening's work for most of Europe's traditional heavyweights on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, with the exception of title holders Italy - held at home by the Republic of Ireland. Spain, England and the Netherlands all won to move yet closer to sealing their place in South Africa. FIFA.com brings you all you need to know about the sixth Matchday of European Zone qualifying, which provided no fewer than 63 strikes in 23 matches - an average of 2.73 per game.

The big match
Turkey 1-2 Spain
Goals: Semih Senturk 26 (Turkey); Xabi Alonso 63 pen, Albert Riera 90+2 (Spain).

The European champions' finishing and fitness levels eventually helped them pick up all three points away against Turkey in their toughest match of the group so far. The home side, who controlled the midfield in the first half, opened the scoring via Semih Senturk and could well have added to their tally before the interval. After the break, however, Spain moved up a few gears and equalised through Xabi Alonso's penalty just after the hour mark. And just two minutes after Tuncay Sanli missed the chance to seal a memorable Turkish success, up popped Albert Riera to clinch victory for La Roja, who equalled their own 31-match unbeaten record.

The surprises
Czech Republic 1-2 Slovakia
Goals: Martin Skrtel 30 o.g. (Czech Republic); Stanislav Sestak 23, Erik Jendrisek 83 (Slovakia).

Unconvincing and incapable of imposing themselves on the game, a Czech Republic side missing several experienced players crashed to a 2-1 defeat at home to Slovakia, for whom Erik Jendrisek scored a late winner. The Slovaks are now second in Group 3 with the Czechs back in fourth.

Italy 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Goals: Vincenzo Iaquinta 10 (Italy), Robbie Keane 89 (Ireland).

The reigning world champions played 87 minutes with just ten men after the early dismissal of forward Giampaolo Pazzini, yet still managed to open the scoring when Vincenzo Iaquinta met a cross from Fabio Grosso. Ireland cranked up the pressure, however, and got their reward in the shape of a last-gasp equaliser from man of the match Robbie Keane. Suitably spurred on, the boys in green subsequently went close to snatching a winner in injury time.

The groups
In Group 1, joint leaders Denmark and Hungary both won and now enjoy a seven-point cushion over struggling Portugal, although the Hungarians have played a game more.

Israel, held at home by Greece on Saturday, completed a disappointing few days by going down 2-1 away to the same opponents and dropped down to fourth spot in Group 2. Switzerland, who beat Moldova 2-0, are level on points at the top with Greece while Latvia are three points further back after a 2-0 success over Luxembourg.

Northern Ireland carved out a slender 1-0 victory over Slovenia in Group 3 courtesy of Warren Feeney's solitary strike. That kept Nigel Worthington's men a point clear of Slovakia, although they have played two games more than their closest rivals. Poland enjoyed the most convincing result of the evening, meanwhile, putting ten goals past San Marino without reply to post their biggest ever winning margin.

The situation changed little in Group 4, with Russia notching a 1-0 success in Liechtenstein to remain four points shy of Germany, having contested one match less. For their part, Joachim Low's pacesetters triumphed 2-0 in Wales.

With Spain refusing to drop points in Group 5, Bosnia-Herzegovina did their best to apply pressure by collecting an excellent 2-1 win away against Belgium, with Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko registering both their goals. The victors now enjoy a four-point lead over Turkey in the race for second spot.

Despite conceding Andriy Shevchenko's 23rd goal in qualifiers for the global showcase, England overcame Ukraine 2-1 at Wembley to strengthen their grip on Group 6. The section leaders are enjoying their best ever start to a FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign after five wins from five, with Croatia five points further back following their 2-0 success in Andorra.

In Group 7, France made their superiority count to edge a hard-fought match against Lithuania 1-0 at the Stade de France, Franck Ribéry once again making the difference for Les Bleus. The win lifted Raymond Domenech's charges within two points of leaders Serbia, with Romania still suffering further down the standings after they lost 2-1 in Austria.

Bulgaria overcame Cyprus 2-0 in Group 8 but lie an imposing seven points back from Italy and five behind second-placed Ireland. Lastly in Group 9, the Netherlands are virtually assured of their place in South Africa after racking up their fifth consecutive triumph, this time seeing off Macedonia 4-0.

The stat
10 - The number of unanswered goals scored by Poland against San Marino to give them their largest ever margin of victory, superseding the 9-0 win they recorded against Norway in 1963. The biggest ever win during a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Europe remains the work of West Germany, however, who saw off Cyprus 12-0 in 1969.

The goal
Wales 0-2 Germany
Goal: Michael Ballack 11 (0-1)

Handed possession 35 metres out from goal off a throw-in, Ballack took one touch before unleashing a thunderous effort with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey helpless and unable to stop the ball nestling in the top corner of the net.

What they said
"We didn't deserve to lose twice to Spain. I've seen lots of Spain's matches and I promise you that very few teams created as many chances against them as we did," Fatih Terim, Turkey coach.

Have Your Say
Which will be the first team to qualify for South Africa from the European Zone?

Argentina hit for six in Bolivia

Posted by Volkan at 05:20 0 comments Links to this post
Bolivia's Marcelo Martins (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Argentina

Bolivia ended Argentina's 100 per cent record under Diego Maradona in emphatic fashion with a 6-1 victory in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying.

Striker Joaquin Botero led the charge with a hat-trick that included a penalty, while Marcelo Martins, Didi Torrico and Brazilian-born Alex da Rosa shared the others. Luis Gonzalez replied for the visitors, who suffered their worst defeat since an infamous 5-0 home loss to Colombia in 1993.

Argentina's misery was completed when substitute Angel di Maria was sent off after only seven minutes on the pitch. Maradona's team have 19 points from 12 games in the 10-team South American Zone while Bolivia have 12 points.

Argentina's attempts to keep possession were thwarted as the ball bobbled on the difficult pitch, while Maradona looked on helplessly. Bolivia employed their usual tactic of peppering the visitors goal with long-range shots, hoping the unusual flight of the ball would catch out goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.

Carrizo had already turned away one Martins shot before Bolivia went ahead in the 12th minute when the Ukraine-based forward scrambled the ball in after a mix-up in the defence. Torrico then hit the crossbar with a 30-metre effort.

Lionel Messi nearly pulled one back in the 20th minute when he ran from the halfway line, played a one-two with Carlos Tevez and scooped the ball over Carlos Arias who just managed to tip it away. Five minutes later, Luis Gonzalez levelled with a speculative 40-metre shot which bounced awkwardly six metres in front of goal and flew over Arias into the net.

Bolivia regained the lead eight minutes later when Javier Zanetti was judged to have fouled Da Rosa and Botero converted the penalty. In the 45th minute, Arias sent a long goal kick up field to Botero who got behind the Argentina defence and pulled the ball back for Da Rosa to head the third.

Botero, who plays in the Mexican second division for Correcaminos, headed Bolivia's fourth in the 54th minute. He completed his hat-trick 11 minutes later when he latched on to a chipped ball forward and slipped a neat finish past Carrizo for his eighth goal of the qualifiers.

Di Maria, who came on for Maxi Rodriguez in the 57th minute, was sent off for a wild lunge at Ronald Garcia seven minutes later.


Germany stroll to victory

Posted by Volkan at 05:19 0 comments Links to this post
Germany's midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger (R) vies for the ball against Wales' midfielder Aaron Ramsey

Germany took another ominous step towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ but at least Wales' youngsters were not humiliated at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Wales boss John Toshack can at least be thankful for that small mercy after the soul-searching which followed Saturday's embarrassing home defeat to Finland, but the points in World Cup Group 4 were always heading to a Germany side which was never stretched.

Toshack made five changes from the side which lost so miserably to Finland. He lost skipper Craig Bellamy earlier today with a recurrence of his knee problem, while Jason Koumas was out with a hip problem. Elsewhere he axed Chris Gunter, Carl Fletcher and David Edwards, bringing in Sam Ricketts following suspension, Ashley Williams, Robert Earnshaw, Sam Vokes and Aaron Ramsey, for his full debut.

Germany made just one change from the side which beat Liechtenstein, Simon Rolfes taking over from Marcell Jansen. Wales were captained by Simon Davies in Bellamy's absence with a totally reconstructed side around the Fulham man.

Germany took the lead after just 11 minutes when Ballack unleashed a swerving drive from 30 yards that crashed into the top corner past Wayne Hennessey.

To their credit Wales side were running and fighting for every ball as the Germans' passing game threatened to overrun them.

And they were getting forward. Ramsey, 18, up against Ballack in midfield, was looking for space and trying to keep possession of the ball and had two efforts on goal charged down on the edge of the box. Wales had a decent chance to equalise after 21 minutes. Ricketts crossed from the right, Vokes headed down and Earnshaw saw his close-range effort blocked by Robert Enke.

Joe Ledley then surged into the box to be brought down by Serdar Tasci, the defender looking to handle the ball as he fell. Germany's menace increased and Hennessey plunged to his left to keep out a 20-yarder from Thomas Hitzlsperger after a tapped free-kick. Then Mario Gomez drove just wide from outside the box.

Hennessey saved superbly from a fierce shot from Lukas Podolski, the Germans looking dangerous every time they came forward, but Wales were showing spirit and when Gareth Bale lifted a free-kick into the box, James Collins rose to head narrowly wide.

After an encouraging first half Wales did not need a stroke of bad luck just three minutes into the second period. Collins had held up Gomez on the right and looked to have run the ball out but the Stuttgart striker kept the ball in. His low cross to the near post was then stabbed past Hennessey by Williams' out-stretched boot for Germany's second.

England leave it late

Posted by Volkan at 05:18 0 comments Links to this post

John Terry came to England's rescue with an 86th-minute header to keep Fabio Capello's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ road train steaming towards South Africa.

When Chelsea misfit Andriy Shevchenko flashed home an equaliser for Ukraine, who were trailing to Peter Crouch's opener, that familiar Wembley gloom started to descend. It took Terry to raise the roof, smartly steering home Steven Gerrard's knock-down from a trademark David Beckham free-kick to make it five Group Six wins on the trot for Capello and his boys. Capello's double-fisted victory celebration emphasised the importance of Terry's goal.

As tonight's opponents must meet Croatia on 6 June, the same day as England take on Kazakhstan, the Three Lions will return to base to face Andorra four days later knowing their place at the biggest stage of all could be virtually secure four months ahead of schedule. This was not a fluent England performance. There was too much hesitancy and too many unforced errors for that.

Full-backs Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole were among the culprits, so too was Steven Gerrard, who needlessly gave the ball away close to his own area; not that the Ukraine side could take advantage. Most obvious though was David James' misread of Anatoliy Tymoshchuk's long-range shot which bounced off his shoulder.

Sixteen months ago against Croatia, Scott Carson made the same kind of blunder and the ball squirmed in. This time it bounced kindly for John Terry, who blasted it out of the England penalty area. Capello has proved to be better than McClaren in a number of areas. Crucially, it seems he also enjoys better luck.

England were already in front by that stage, thanks to one of the flashes of inspiration which were the opening period's staple diet. Wayne Rooney provided it with a deft flicked header that bounced wide off a defender to earn England a corner which Frank Lampard dropped on to the head of Chelsea team-mate John Terry.

The England skipper could not get enough power into his effort to cause any damage himself. What he did manage to do was guide it into the path of Crouch, who turned smartly and let fly with a six-yard volley which cannoned into Andrii Piatov before zooming into the net.

Yet if the Portsmouth star's 15th international goal was the tangible evidence of England's bright new world, the performance of Rooney was a pretty spectacular supporting act. Although there were occasional glimpses of frustration when England's approach work did not match his expectation, they were outweighed by moments of pure genius.

The overhead kick that brushed the roof of Piatov's net after just seven minutes was awesome in its simplicity and he looked well set to burst clear inside the Ukraine penalty area when he was mercilessly chopped down on England's next attack.

Steven Gerrard curled the free-kick narrowly wide after Rooney had been upended. The Liverpool star also got on the end of Rooney's low cross at the end of the half, only for Piatov to make a solid save to repel the side-footed shot.

The belated introduction of Shevchenko ten minutes into the second-half offered the visiting fans something to cheer, even, as if to ensure the Ukrainians were drowned out, Capello responded by bringing on David Beckham for his 110th cap.

By that point, Rooney had embarked on another startling run which began just inside the visitors' half and left four defenders trailing in his wake before his shot fizzed wide, Piatov uncertain whether he needed to try and keep it out or not.

Rooney continued to sprinkle the game with his unique talent. Unfortunately, after two years at Chelsea doing little to justify his £30million price tag and vast salary, Shevchenko finally did something worthy of his reputation. His instinctive finish looked like wrecking England's 100 per cent record. After 24 ill-fated months at Stamford Bridge, he should have known Terry a bit better than that.


Spain triumph in Turkey

Posted by Volkan at 05:18 0 comments Links to this post

Liverpool duo Albert Riera and Xabi Alonso were on target as Spain came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory over Turkey at the Ali Sami Yen stadium and retain their 100 per cent record in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying.

Star striker David Villa had been ruled out because of knee problems and, in the Valencia striker's absence, Vicente Del Bosque fielded Fernando Torres as a lone striker in front of a five-man midfield. Riera, Carlos Marchena and David Silva also came into the side from Saturday's 1-0 Group 5 win over the Turks in Madrid.

However, it was Turkey, unchanged from the match in Madrid, who went in front in the 26th minute. A long pass from Arda Turan into Spanish territory reached Tuncay Sanli, who in turn fed Semih Senturk to finish with applomb.

Spain's equaliser came in the shape of a Xabi Alonso penalty in the 62nd minute after Ibrahim Uzulmez had handled the ball in the area following a Torres header at the far post. The winner then arrived in the second minute of injury time when substitute Daniel Guiza went down the right flank and crossed for Riera to put the ball through the keeper's legs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Latvia too strong for Luxembourg

Posted by Volkan at 20:00 0 comments Links to this post
Jonathan Joubert GK (R) of Luxembourg vies with Aleksandrs Cauna (L) of Latvia

Maris Verpakovskis scored one goal and set up the other in Latvia's 2-0 win over Luxembourg in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ European Zone Group 2 qualifier.

Jurijs Zigajevs opened the scoring a minute before half-time from a pass by Verpakovskis.

Verpakovskis himself then put the result beyond doubt 15 minutes from time

Luxembourg struggled against the Latvian defence and did not pose any serious threat to home keeper Andis Vanins.


Bahrain victory makes Aussies wait

Posted by Volkan at 18:50 0 comments Links to this post
Bahrain's Sayed Adnan controls the ball Bahrain's Abdullah Al-Marzouqi fights for the ball with Qatar's Sebastian Soria (18) Bahrain's Mohammed Hubail (R) fights for the ball with Qatar's Khalfan Ibrahim

Bahrain defeated Qatar 1-0 today, forcing Australia to wait a little longer to secure their ticket to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

The Socceroos had earlier beaten Uzbekistan 2-0 in Sydney to go back to the top of Asian Zone, Group A, and would have become the first nation to qualify for the finals had this match between the two Gulf neighbours ended in a draw. Bahrain's victory was assured by striker Fouzi Aaish, who scored the all-important goal in the 52nd minute from a free-kick.

Bahrain are now third in the table with seven points. Australia top the pool with 13 points, while Japan, who did not play today, are second with 11. Uzbekistan and Qatar are on four points apiece.

The top two teams will qualify for South Africa 2010, with the third-placed side facing a play-off against their Group B counterparts for the right to compete against New Zealand for a berth at the FIFA World Cup.

Aaish's goal came from a low, curling shot struck from just outside the Qatar penalty area, which beat the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Ahmed Mohammed on the way into the far corner of the net.

Bahrain came close to doubling the lead later in the second half. Jaycee John first made a good solo move from the left, but his shot from close range struck the side netting. A few minutes later Aa'la Hubail's attempt was well saved by a diving Qatar goalkeeper Mohammed.

Both teams had their share of shots on goal in the first-half, but neither managed to hit the target. Khalfan Al Khalfan provided the first scare for the hosts early on when he burst free from the left, but his shot struck the post.

Qatar continued to pile on the pressure and midway through the first half, the Uruguay-born striker Sebastian Soria came close to scoring from a free-kick taken from just outside the penalty area. His shot breached the Bahrain wall, but goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer averted danger with a reflex save.

Bahrain made sporadic moves and like Qatar hit the post once. But their best chance came towards the end of first half, when the tall Sayed Mohammed Adnan did well to connect a Mohammed Salmeen free-kick from the left before his header brushed past the upright.

Korea Republic snatch derby win

Posted by Volkan at 15:17 0 comments Links to this post
South Korea's Kim Chi-woo celebrates South Korea's Cho Won-Hee (L) and North Korea's Pak Nam-Chol (R) fight for the ball South Korea's Kim Chi-Woo celebrates after scoring against North Korea

A late goal from substitute Kim Chi-Woo gave Korea Republic a vital win over Group 2 rivals Korea DPR in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier in Seoul.

With the game between the top two heading for a draw, Kim's strike snatched the victory which puts the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists clear at the top of the standings and in reach of a seventh successive finals appearance. Korea DPR, meanwhile, slip to second after their first defeat of the campaign.

In comparison to the four draws played out by the rivals in 2008, it was an entertaining affair especially after the break, when both sides had chances. The visitors almost took the lead straight from the first whistle as Hong Yong-Jo pounced upon a loose ball outside the area and fired a vicious shot that a flying Lee Woon-Jae just managed to turn away for a corner.

After the explosive start, the action steadied for the rest of the opening period as both sides sized each other up. Korea Republic's first real effort on goal came midway through the first half as defender Hwang Jae-Won headed a Ki Sung-Yung free-kick over the bar.

The home side started to gain the upper hand and after 27 minutes Park Chu-Young's downward header found Park Ji-Sung on the edge of the six-yard box, but under heavy pressure from white shirts, the Manchester United man shot straight at Ri Myung-Guk.

Korea DPR started the second half as they started the first and Jong Tae-se almost got the visitors on the scoresheet. The Kawasaki Frontale forward met Hong's cross but his powerful header looked goalbound until it was clawed away on the line by Lee.

The hosts should have broken the deadlock in the 65th minute when a Park Chu-Young shot found its way to an unmarked Lee Keun-Ho in the penalty area but the striker fired straight at the goalkeeper. That was as close as both teams came to scoring until three minutes from time when Kim's floated free-kick from the right side caused confusion in the visiting defence and ended up going straight into the back of the net.

Victory leaves Aussies on cusp

Posted by Volkan at 14:39 0 comments Links to this post
The Socceroos celebrate Joshua Kennedy's goal against Uzbekistan Mark Bresciano (L) traps the ball against Timur Kapadze (R) of Uzbekistan Australia's Kennedy greets the crowd

Australia are on the verge of reaching for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after a 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan. The Socceroos, on top of the Asian Zone's Group 1 with 13 points, will become the first team to qualify if Bahrain and Qatar, both on four points, draw their match in Manama later today.

Australia's goals were a long time coming after a flat first half in which the Uzbeks looked the more dangerous team on the counter-attack, and through the dangerous free-kicks of captain Server Djeparov. But a goal from substitute forward Josh Kennedy and a Harry Kewell penalty inside the final 25 minutes kept the hosts unbeaten after five games, without conceding a goal.

Australia have three qualifiers remaining in June. They will face Qatar in Doha, and entertain both Bahrain and Japan.

The Uzbeks faded in the second half as they felt the effects of their long flight and short preparation following a 4-0 home win over Qatar, which revived their qualification hopes. They almost had a dream start when striker Farhod Tadjivev, who scored a hat-trick in their win on Saturday, sprinted on to a through ball in the ninth minute, but his shot went across Mark Schwarzer and just wide of the far post.

But Australia had an even better scoring chance six minutes later, when Mark Bresciano was put on goal by Scott McDonald only to shoot straight at goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

The Australians had little else to show for their slow buildups and lone striker McDonald was often isolated by the Uzbek defence. They continued to be frustrated in the second half, with Jason Culina having a stinging long-range volley tipped over the bar by Djeparov on the hour.

Coach Pim Verbeek reacted by bringing on Kennedy for McDonald, who again failed to break his international goal drought. The breakthrough came for Australia six minutes after his introduction, with the towering Karlsruhe striker heading home a Bresciano cross from the right. It was Kennedy's sixth goal in 12 appearances for his country.

The match swung decisively towards the home side when Hull City's Richard Garica was brought down in the box by defender Hayrulla Karimov. Galatasaray's Harry Kewell made it 2-0 from the penalty spot on 73 minutes, and was substituted soon after by Brett Holman to a roar from the 57,292 crowd. It was Kewell's 13th goal in 39 internationals.

Uzbekistan had a great chance deep in injury time to score, but substitute Anvarjon Soliev's goal was disallowed for offside after Schwarzer had made a great reflex save from Djeparov's shot.

Venezuela's win keeps dream alive

Posted by Volkan at 05:23 0 comments Links to this post

Venezuela's teammates of Juan Arango (2L) celebrate the second goal against Colombia Venezuela's Nicolas Fedor celebrates his goal against Colombia

Venezuela scored twice in the last 15 minutes, including a stunning Juan Arango free-kick, to beat a ten-man Colombia 2-0 on Tuesday and keep alive their chances of qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup™.

Nicolas Fedor, who plays for Salamanca in the Spanish second division, broke the deadlock when he turned in a low cross from Anyelo Pena in the 77th minute, only two minutes after coming on as a substitute. Four minutes later Arango curled a free-kick in off the underside of the crossbar as the hosts made Colombia pay for their ultra-defensive tactics.

Colombia, who have now scored only six goals in their 12 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, had midfielder Abel Aguilar dismissed in the 27th minute for a violent lunge at Alejandro Moreno. However, it made little difference as the visitors seemed incapable of putting any sort of attacking moves together before or after his dismissal.

Venezuela's chances nearly all came from Arango's left foot. The captain was close three times in the first half, all from outside the penalty area, and missed a sitter midway through the second when he side-footed across the face of goal from a free position.

The win left Venezuela with 13 points from 12 games in the ten-team group, one behind Colombia, three behind fifth-placed Uruguay and five behind fourth-placed Brazil. The top four teams qualify directly for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and the fifth play off against the fourth CONCACAF team.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Posted by Volkan at 19:34 0 comments Links to this post

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Located in KwaZulu Natal in the beautiful City of Durban, Moses Mabhida Stadium is named after a hero of the working class. The Moses Mabhida Stadium is located adjacent the ABSA Stadium in the Kings Park Sporting Precinct - a site located in Stamford Hill, is yet to be another world class multi-purpose stadium set to make possible successful history in the making of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

To make way for this prestigious contribution Kings Park Stadium was demolished in late 2006 to develop a new stadium complex set to comprise of an adjoining indoor arena, sporting museum, sport institute and a new transmodal transportation station in preparations ahead of the world showpiece. Scheduled to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup five group matches, one second round match, one quarter final and a semi-final match; the catering capacity is set to comprise of 70 000 spectator seats. There are plans and allocations to increase the capacity of the stadium to 84 000 seats in the future to further accommodate major events such as Olympics.

If you've not yet applied for World Cup tickets, you better hurry up!

Posted by Volkan at 19:32 0 comments Links to this post

The World Cup might still be over a year away, but your first chance to apply for tickets will soon be gone, unless you want to pay silly money to ticket touts or websites with promises of getting tickets and maybe not getting them.

You have until March 31st to apply on the FIFA website here.

There are going to be another four phases to get tickets but if you are desperate to go, your best chance is if you are involved in all of them and as long as you apply before March 31st, you'll know two weeks later if you've got them.

The other phases will be taking place as follows:

Phase Two: May 4th 2009 to November 16th 2009

Applications submitted during this stage will be processed, subject to availability, on a first come first served basis. Basically, if you don't get on phase one, you need to be up early on May 4th.

Phase Three: December 5th 2009 to January 22nd 2010

This phase is very much like the first one that we are in currently. From the FIFA ticketing website: all correctly submitted applications received during this stage will be considered for allocation. If the number of applications for Match or Team Specific tickets exceeds the number of tickets available, tickets will be allocated by a random selection draw taking place on 1 February 2010. Please note: it makes no difference whether you apply early, on 5 December 2009, or late, on 22 January 2010. Each correctly submitted application will have the same opportunity of being successful in the draw.

Phase Four: February 9th 2010 to April 7th 2010

Like phase two, first come first served, so get up early on February 9th 2010.

Last Phase: April 15th 2010 to July 11th 2010

Tickets will be sold at point of sale and again on a first come first served basis.

Please remember, the only place you can order these tickets is from the FIFA Ticketing website - do not be duped into thinking you can get these tickets anywhere else.

Gabon bask in the glory

Posted by Volkan at 14:53 0 comments Links to this post

Alain Giresse was a subtle footballer in his glory days as part of one of France's greatest midfields and he is also proving to be a master of understatement as a coach. Rather than basking in the glory of his team's unexpected triumph at the start of the final phase of Africa's qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa finals, the Gabon coach has been a measure of calm and quiet in the wake of surprise 2-1 win over Morocco in Casablanca.

The Group A victory is arguably the biggest-ever for the central African country, who were regarded as little more than also-rans in the qualifying race. But even with Cameroon, Morocco and Togo in their group, Gabon top the standings after the first weekend of matches and will go into their next game in June brimming with confidence.

"For us it was a perfect performance," Giresse told radio reporters after the win in Casablanca. "To take on a team at the level of Morocco and beat them was great. On paper, we might not have been given a chance, but our side has improved and on the pitch we proved that even without experience, this young side is a very good team.

"It was an encouraging test. Three points away from home in a group where each point is going to be vital is enormous for us. It has given us great encouragement to continue this campaign with some vigour."


On paper, we might not have been given a chance, but our side has improved and on the pitch we proved that even without experience, this young side is a very good team.

Alain Giresse was delighted after Gabon's win.

Gabon were one of only two teams to record away wins in the ten African qualifiers played at the weekend. The other was Tunisia, whose Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho was also full of praise for his charges after a 2-1 triumph in Nairobi in their Group B game against Kenya.

"We adapted well to our opponent's game, we used the ball and played intelligently. I want to say ‘bravo' to my players because what they achieved was not easy."

Points gained away from home are going to be vital in the competition and there were also away successes of sorts for Algeria, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia. The quartet all managed away draws although both Algeria and Nigeria had arguably hoped for more in their respective matches.

Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has blamed poor marksmanship in front of goal and a slow start to the game for the Super Eagles failure to win in Maputo. Before the match, the Mambas would surely have settled for a draw with their illustrious opponents, but after two disallowed goals and a myriad of chances, the Mozambique coach Mart Nooij was also disappointed.

"We dominated from beginning to end. We didn't earn a draw, we lost two points. But the game showed again we have the quality to play with the best teams in Africa. We should have better luck in our next matches," said the Dutchman.


A stumble at the start does not mean it's the end of the road for us.

Mido offers some words of wisdom.

Zambia coach Herve Renard says his team's draw at current CAF champions Egypt in Cairo has opened up the chances to all participants in Group C for FIFA World Cup qualification.

"Egypt are the best team in Africa and we had nothing to lose. My players were determined to win but they managed a draw which is good," said the inexperienced Frenchman.

For the weekend losers, there was reflection and immediate desire to pick up their form for the next round of qualifiers in June.

"It was disappointing because we didn't deserve to lose," said Cameroon's veteran fullback Geremi after a 1-0 loss to Togo in Group A. "We have five games left and we have to do everything to win those five."

Egypt striker Ahmed ‘Mido' Hossam added: "A stumble at the start does not mean it's the end of the road for us, we still have five games to play and we should learn from our mistakes against Zambia."

2010 hosts snatch late win over Norway

Posted by Volkan at 10:39 0 comments Links to this post
By:
Brad Morgan

Rustenburg - It took a stoppage time goal, but Bafana Bafana sneaked a 2-1 win over Norway in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Rustenburg on Saturday to pick up their first victory over European opposition since they beat Slovenia 1-0 in the 2002 Fifa World Cup.

For South Africa, the 2010 Fifa World Cup hosts, it was just their sixth win in 27 matches against European opposition.

The fixture, besides serving as the Nelson Mandela Challenge for 2009, also served as the official re-opening of the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, one of the Fifa World Cup finals venues, after the completion of renovations to it.

There were plenty of Fifa and South African government officials in attendance, along with a vocal and happy crowd, which was hoping for a repeat of Bafana's last Mandela Challenge match in November, 2008 when they beat Africa’s highest ranked team, Cameroon, 3-2.

Norway entered the contest on the back of a 1-0 win away to Germany, following the return of coach Egil Olsen to the national job; he had been in charge during Norway’s best years in their history in the 1990s, helping the team rise to as high as number two in the Fifa world rankings, and guiding them to the World Cup finals in 1994 and 1998.

South Africa began the contest with confidence, taking the attack to the European side. Within the first minute, the home team had taken its first shot on goal.

They kept pressing and their reward for the early pressure arrived early, in the seventh minute. Red Star Belgrade striker Bernard Parker profited from a goal mouth scramble, after a low cross from Siboniso Gaxa, toe-poking the ball past Norwegian goalkeeper Jon Knudsen to send the crowd wild with yells of delight.

Bafana were on top and Everton's Steven Pienaar fired a rasping shot just over the Norwegian crossbar. However, in the 27th minute, Norway drew level.

Matthew Booth conceded a free kick and Morten Gamst Pedersen, a team-mate of South African captain Aaron Mokoena at Blackburn Rovers, pulled his side level from a free kick, which deflected off Pienaar and left Itumeleng wrong-footed and beaten.

In response, midfield ace Teko Modise let fly with a trademark fierce strike from a South African free kick, but Knudsen stood firm in the visitors' goal.

Pederson was just wide of the target when his shot was deflected after Pienaar had conceded possession on the edge of the South African area.

Just before the break, Modise came close with another free kick, his effort passing narrowly wide of the mark.

As they had done in the first half, South Africa began the second half brightly. Once again it was Modise asking the questions, but Knudsen had no problems keeping his side on level terms.

Norway appealed for a penalty when Bafana skipper Mokoena knocked Mohammed Abdellaoue off the ball, but the referee ignored their appeals.

On the hour-mark, Mabhuti Khenyeza had a golden opportunity to put Bafana ahead. Siboniso Gaxa picked out the striker with an accurate cross, but Khenyeza's header hit the crossbar and bounced out of play.

Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana began making changes in the 68th minute when he sent on Msilo Modubi for Macbeth Sibaya. A minute later, Siphiwe Tshabalala replaced Khenyeza. After 78 minutes, Ketlego Mphela took over from Steven Pienaar, and five minutes later Surprise Moriri replaced Parker.

Despite the fresh legs and signs that the Norwegians were wilting in the African heat, there was still no way through for the home team.

Jon Arne Riise let fly with a typically vicious left-footed shot, but Khune denied the AS Roma man.

The match reached the end of regulation time with the sides tied at one-all and it appeared that the teams would share the spoils, but there was one final twist to come.

With the final whistle due at any moment, substitute Tshabalala blasted a shot from outside the box into the top corner of the Norwegian goal to snatch victory for Bafana Bafana as the side's fans erupted into joyous celebrations.

South Africa will be in action on Tuesday again when they face a tough test against Portugal, ranked tenth in the Fifa world rankings. The teams meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Ellis Park Stadium

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Ellis Park Ellis Park

Ellis Park was first built in 1928 as a rugby union stadium. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1982, again exclusively for rugby. It was named after JD Ellis, a Johannesburg city councillor who approved the use of the land for a stadium, setting aside 13 acres.

The stadium was used for the finals of the 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup. Ellis Park has also been the stage for many unforgettable football matches. Bafana Bafana held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in 1995, and then drew 0-0 with then FIFA World Cup holders France in 2000 in international friendlies.

Currently, it is the home ground of Orlando Pirates FC, a club in the Premier Soccer League. In 1995, they were the first South African team to win the CAF African Club Championship.

The Nelson Mandela African XI played the World All Stars XI in a farewell match for the outgoing president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Kalusha Bwalya, Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe and Tijani Babangida joined 'World All Stars' such as Rigoberto Song, Dunga, Luis Hernandez and Claudio Suarez in saluting a great state leader.

Ellis Park is to undergo a minor upgrade and will be ready in time for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Turan: I'm not a star

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The Turkey national squad left Madrid's Bernabeu stadium on Saturday in a dejected mood following their side's 1-0 defeat against Spain in the biggest game of the night in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ European qualifying Group 5.

That result meant the Crescent Stars slid to third in the table behind the seemingly invincible Spaniards and second-placed Bosnia-Herzegovina, leaving them in dire need of a result against the group leaders and current European champions in Istanbul on Wednesday. One man the Turks are pinning their hopes on to get their qualification campaign back on track is 22-year-old midfielder Arda Turan. The Galatasaray youth team product is hailed as Turkey's brightest young talent and is being touted from all corners as a star of the future.

A winner of the Turkish title and Super Cup last season, Turan has been a mainstay in coach Fatih Terim's international squad for around two-and-a-half years and starred at last summer's UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. FIFA.com spoke exclusively with the player about his desire to move abroad, South Africa 2010 and what is so unique about Turkish football.

FIFA.com: Mr Turan, are you Turkish football's latest superstar?
Arda Turan: I'm not a star, just a good footballer and, most importantly, I'm a team player. I always give 100 per cent and I'm constantly trying to improve my game.

Do you want to stay in Turkey or would you like to play abroad one day?
I'm definitely planning on playing in one of Europe's top leagues at some point. It would be a great chance for me to represent my country and further my career.

Are there any teams in particular who you would like to play for?
Liverpool or Juventus would be great.

What is so special about the Turkish league and what is it like playing for an historic club like Galatasaray?
It's a fascinating league, but sometimes the pitches we have to play on aren't great and that doesn't make things easy. At Galatasaray, winning the title is always a must, and being part of a team like that means that you are constantly under pressure to succeed and have to possess a will to win.


The people in Turkey are extremely passionate and would never give up on the team they love.

Turan on the Turkish fans

The Turkish fans always create a fantastic atmosphere in the stadiums. Why is that?
The people in Turkey are extremely passionate and would never give up on the team they love.

Turkey currently lie in third place behind Spain and Bosnia-Herzegovina. You've played in all five qualifying matches so far and scored against the latter. What does it mean to you to play for your country?
I'm a very patriotic person and have plenty to thank my country for, so pulling on the national strip means a lot to me. It's a great honour.

What would it mean to you to play in your first ever FIFA World Cup?
All the greatest footballers in history made their names at the World Cup, so I think it would be a big opportunity for me.

Turkey did not qualify for Germany 2006 but then made it to the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2008. If they do manage to qualify for South Africa 2010, what do you think they can realistically hope to achieve?
Our minimum goal has to be to survive the group stage. After that, provided we take each game as it comes, we have every chance of improving on our semi-final finish in 2002.

At EURO 2008, Turkey bowed out at the last-four stage to Germany after Philipp Lahm scored a late winner in a tight encounter. Was that the worst moment of your career so far?
The worst moment of my career was when I got shown a yellow card in the quarter-final, leaving me to watch the Germany game from the stands.

Turkey are currently 11th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. What is holding the team back from moving further up the list?
The more experience we gain, the more we will improve.

Do you have a role model and who would you like to swap shirts with?
Maradona is my favourite player because he was just so talented and I also admire Zinedine Zidane for his skills on the pitch. From today's players, it would be nice to swap shirts with Lionel Messi.

Who is the best midfielder in the world at the moment?
Kaka.

Do you have any plans for life after football?
I would stay involved in football in some capacity, probably in the coaching side of things.

What are your goals for the rest of 2009?
To retain the league title with Galatasaray and win as many games as I can with the national team.

Maradona unleashes the 'shorties'

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Argentina's trio of "shorties" have a bright future, coach Diego Maradona said after his three-pronged attack of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi led the 4-0 victory over Venezuela. All three players, average height 1.70 metres, scored in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on 28 March which marked Maradona's home and competitive debut since his surprise appointment last year.

"It was the perfect game, we kept the ball, we broke down the flanks and we had lots of scoring chances created by the shorties," said Maradona. "I want to hear the response of those who want us to play with big strikers and pump high balls at them.

"The boys knew when to wait for their moment and we scored the goals at exactly the right time," added Maradona, a shorty himself at 1.65 metres. "Venezuela have improved and it wasn't easy to score four goals. These players like to perforate defences," he said. "This is my ideal team."

Messi had one of his best games for Argentina scoring the first goal, setting up the second and nearly adding another with a brilliant run through the Venezuela defence late in the game. "If Messi plays like that every time, it will be excellent," said Maradona. "If that last chance had gone in, we would all have had to leave the stadium, pay for another ticket and come back in again."

Maradona opted for a 3-4-3 formation, giving Messi the prestigious number ten shirt, after enigmatic playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme announced his international retirement earlier this month. Furious that Maradona had made comments on his playing style in a television interview, Riquelme said the two could not work together and the coach had broken a code of ethics.

Riquelme generally controlled the midfield when he played and Messi appeared to enjoy more freedom without him. The Monumental crowd, which gave Maradona a rousing reception, aimed a few jibes at the mercurial Boca Juniors playmaker with chants of "Riquelme's watching on the telly."

Maradona said that the only sour note were some jeers for midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron when he replaced Tevez midway through the second half. Many blamed Veron, making only his second appearance since the 2007 Copa America, for Argentina's shock first-round exit at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ and some have not forgiven him.

Cape Town

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Cape Town -  Table Mountain

One would be hard pressed to find a reason not to fall in love with the port city of Cape Town. It has one of the most idyllic settings - nestled between and around the ocean and mountains. The iconic Table Mountain rises 1,086 above the city and has served as a mariner's landmark. On a clear day, the flat-topped mountain is visible 200km out to sea.

The so-called "Mother city" has an abundance of contrasting activities from lounging on the Atlantic seaboard's popular beaches to exploring the vividly painted area of the Bo-Kaap. Hout Bay is a hub for fishing, especially tuna and crayfish, and the historical naval base at Simon's Town has a fascinating past.

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a great location for shopping, and is also host to the Two Oceans Aquarium, depicting sea life from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Long Street has long been a place of bustling nightlife and there is a wealth of museums in the city to discover. The Western Cape area is renowned as a wine-producing area, and there are tours available along the 'wine route'.

Cape Town has distinct Malay influences, reminiscent of days when the spice route travelled via its shores. There are also many foreign people who have made Cape Town their home, and the result is a hybrid of cultures in a cosmopolitan city.

History
Cape Town had its first inhabitants as early as 100,000 BC, when hunter-gatherers roamed the Cape Peninsula. After the arrival of European sailors in 1652, it became a haven for sailors who travelled along the African coast on the spice route to India.

The city has also played an important role in contemporary South African history. Robben Island was used as a prison for political prisoners as early as 1898, but became famous as the place of incarceration for the Rivonia Trial accused, which included Nelson Mandela.

Cape Town has been the legislative capital of South Africa since 1910. The Houses of Parliament, still in use today, were built in 1885.

Football
Cape Town has produced many of South Africa's top recent internationals such as Shaun Bartlett, Benni McCarthy and past heroes such as Albert Johannensen and David Julius, who played top football in Europe.

Cape Town has also produced three of South African football's most exalted figures. Quinton Fortune signed to Manchester United in 1999. He was soon followed by his former Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz, who is now the assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. In 2006, Fortune made the move to Bolton Wanderers.

Benni Macarthy has enjoyed international success, winning the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto under the leadership of Jose Mourinho. He also won a Portuguese top flight Golden Boot. He currently plays for Blackburn Rovers, where he finished as the Premiership's second leading marksman in his first season in England.

Sean Bartlett played for FC Zurich in 1998 and then made the move to Charlton Athletic in 2000. During his tenure at Charlton, he helped the club consolidate their position in the English top flight. He is the most capped Bafana Bafana striker, and has scored the most goals for his country.

Hellenic were the first Cape Town side to win a championship in 1971, soon followed by Cape Town City. In 1995, Cape Town Spurs swept the board and did the double, claiming the league and knockout cup crowns. All three clubs have since folded.

Ajax Cape Town and Santos, champions in 2002, continue the keep professional football alive in the city. Ajax Cape Town is an affiliate of Ajax Amsterdam and has scouted many talents who made the move to Amsterdam, including Steven Pienaar, Gabriel Mofokeng and Stanton Lewis.

Vasco Da Gama is a small football club started in 1980. Despite its size, the club has produced a wealth of Bafana Bafana national team players. Goalkeeper Andre Arendse, midfielder Thabo Mngomeni and forward Shaun Bartlett played for the club, as did David Nyathi, who was selected for the FIFA World XI and turned out in Switzerland, Turkey and Spain.

Abbiati out for up to six months

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AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida reactsAC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati will be out of action for five to six months following surgery on his cruciate knee ligament, his club has revealed.

Abbiati injured his knee two weeks ago in Milan's 5-1 victory at Siena, after which he was replaced by Brazilian Dida.

Milan said on their official website that the operation had been a complete success, but not only is Abbiati's season over, he will also miss the beginning of the next campaign.

In Dida, though, Milan have a player who was their first-choice goalkeeper for over five seasons.

He had not played in Serie A this season until Abbiati's injury, but had kept goal in all Milan's UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia matches.

2010 FIFA World Cup™ - Top Photos

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Nakamura: Japan must improve

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Japan may have moved to within one win away from the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura says they must improve further to stay on course. After a scoreless first half on 28 March, Japan got off to a flying start in the second half with Nakamura opening the scoring in the 47th minute to beat Bahrain 1-0 in an Asian qualifier. Japan now have three wins and two draws for 11 points to lead in the five-team Group 1 competition, overtaking Australia's ten points. Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Qatar have all four points.

"I don't feel like we qualified yet. We have too many things to improve further," said Nakamura. "We have to play more scrupulously in every play. We should exchange passes without looking round."

Coach Takeshi Okada agreed, saying: "We haven't gained anything yet. We have to improve the quality of our play to get stronger." Japan had a couple more apparent chances when defender Atsuto Uchida was free in front of the Bahrain goalmouth, but failed to hit a shot in the 54th minute. Ten minutes later, Uchida's shot hit the bar.

"I don't say because I scored the goal, but I say the goal was very important," said Nakamura. "It was really tough to take three points from a win. We confirmed it again. It would have been easier if Uchida had scored a goal. He could have hit it to a different angle."

While Japan's next game will be on 6 June against Uzbekistan away, Bahrain will play Qatar, while Australia will play Uzbekistan both at home on 1 April. "Under the wing of [former Brazilian coach] Zico, we played friendly games against Argentina and Germany. I hope we can have games against such powerhouses," Nakamura said.

Stars In South Africa

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It is one of the many tragedies of the apartheid era in South Africa that footballers from the country were denied a chance to perform on the international stage.

Generations of stars never got the opportunity to test their mettle in competitions like the FIFA World Cup ™ and the CAF Africa Cup of Nations because of the policy of separation practiced by the white minority regime.

South Africa did not compete in a FIFA World Cup or a Cup of Nations qualifying campaign until 1992, which means that for some 60 years their footballers stood on the sidelines and watched while the rest of the world got on with the business of competition.

Yet there were South Africans who did manage to taste international football, but had to represent other countries to compete at that level.

Hodgson the hero
The first real superstar of South African football was Gordon Hodgson, who played in the country's first-ever international against Northern Ireland in Belfast in 1924.

He later went on to play for Liverpool and England and his record of 17 hat-tricks for Liverpool is yet to be broken.

After World War Two, a flurry of South African footballers left to play in England, almost all of them white, who were members of the racially-segregated national side.

Bill Perry played for England and scored the winning goal in the famous 'Matthews' FA Cup final of 1953 when Blackpool came from behind to beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3.

John Hewie was the first South African to play in a FIFA World Cup. Thanks to his ancestry, he was picked to play for Scotland in Sweden in 1958.

The first black footballers to leave South Africa were Darius Dhlomo and Steve Mokone, who made a major impression at Heracles Almelo in the Netherlands. They were major heroes for the black population, who because of apartheid had few role models in their society.

Later David Julius left South Africa because of apartheid and played at Sporting Lisbon. As 'David Juliao', he was capped by Portugal.

South African Albert Johanneson was the first black player to play in a FA Cup final for Leeds United in 1965.

Colin Viljoen and Brian Stein, whose father was an anti-apartheid activist and had to flee the regime, both played later for England at a time when there was no South African national side to represent.

Roy Wegerle, who competed for the likes of Chelsea, QPR and Luton Town in England's top flight, became an American citizen through his wife and competed at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals. His decision to take up the opportunity to play for the USA came just before South Africa's re-admission into international football.

The forgotten footballers
Names like Pule 'Ace' Ntsoelengoe, Kaizer Motaung and Jomo Sono are legendary in South Africa, but their impact on the international scene is negligible.

Had they, however, been exposed to international audiences and competition, who knows how different their futures and profiles might have been.

Ntsoelengoe, who died last year at the age of 50, is generally regarded as the best ever South African footballer. His career alternated between the colours of Kaizer Chiefs and clubs in the North American Soccer League. Two years ago he was inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame.

In the late 1960s and throughout the 70s, the NASL in the USA and Canada was only the outlet for top South African talent and Ntsoelengoe was one of many who crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play in the league.

Sono was an understudy to Pele for New York Cosmos and later helped Toronto Blizzard to win the NASL title.

Motaung was the first South African to go the USA and was named Rookie of the Year in 1968. He later came home and started a new club called Kaizer Chiefs, today the country's best supported team.

Since the end of apartheid, South African footballers have had the same opportunities as the rest of the world and players like Lucas Radebe, Benni McCarthy and Steven Pienaar have been able to compete at the highest level.

Indeed, McCarthy is the only South African international to have won a UEFA Champions League medal, with FC Porto in 2004.