Wenger Rues Loss To Bayern Munich

Arsene Wenger-1716197Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger has rued over last night’s Champions League last-16 first leg with Bayern Munich.

The gunners were beaten 5-1 at the Allianz Arena after losing defender and Captain Laurent Koscielny to injury.

“It was a strange game because I felt in the first half we played quite well and we had two good chances just before half-time.

“The real problems we faced came after the third goal because we lost our organisation and we looked mentally jaded.

“We looked vulnerable from that moment and the last 25 minutes was a nightmare for us because we had no response.

“Not only did we lose our centre-back but after the third goal it was a combination of mental and organisational because before that, we controlled them quite well.” Wenger said.

 

Czech Republic Beat Spain To Reach Fed Cup Semi-Final

Czech Republic Beat Spain To Reach Fed Cup Semi-FinalThe Czech Republic have reached their ninth straight Fed Cup semi-final, after Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova led the reigning champions to a 3-1 victory over Spain in Ostrava.

After wins for Pliskova and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the opening rubbers on Saturday, Sunday’s action started with the score level at 1-1.

Pliskova was in dominant form and the world number three dispatched Muguruza in just 60 minutes in their tie.

However, Czech triumphed 6-2 6-2 over the French Open champion to give Strycova the chance to seal the Czech Republic’s 10th consecutive Fed Cup victory.

Thierry Henry leaves New York Red Bulls

Arsenal---Thierry-Henry-to-return-to-Emirates-and-end-his-career-as-a-Gunner-699Thierry Henry confirmed on Monday that he has played his final game for the New York Red Bulls.

“On behalf of the New York Red Bulls I would like to thank Thierry Henry for the incredible impact he has made on both our organization and the American soccer community as a whole,” the Red Bulls general manager, Marc de Grandpre said. “He is truly one of the all-time great talents and will forever hold a special place within the organisation’s history. We wish Thierry all the best for his future.”

The 37-year-old’s final match was a 2-2 draw on Saturday which meant the Red Bulls were beaten 4-3 on aggregate by New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Championship play-off.

“The decision has always been that I would leave after the duration of my contract,” Frenchman Henry said.

Henry signed for the Red Bulls in July 2010 and has made a huge contribution on the field – he is their second all-time leading scorer – while helping boost their profile off it. In total, he scored 51 goals in 122 appearances for the team.

60,000 Tickets Sold in One Hour for Froch Vs Groves Fight

Carl Froch and George GrovesBoxing promoters have announced that 60,000 tickets have been sold in one hour for the mandatory re-match at Wembley Stadium between WBA and IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch and challenger George Groves.

The announcement was made on Monday at a joint news conference and photo session at the stadium, with Groves and the promoters saying they want non-British officials at the fight.

The two boxers first clashed at the Manchester Arena in November when Groves was controversially stopped by 36-year-old Froch in the ninth of 12 scheduled rounds. Groves had floored Froch in the opening round and was ahead on the judges’ cards when referee Howard Foster stepped in.

The International Boxing Federation has ordered the re-match, at which Groves and the promoters hope the British Boxing Board of Control will appoint non-British officials.

At the press briefing, Groves told the media: “Carl Froch has been mandated; he now has to fight; a fight he doesn’t want to take; a fight that he knows he can’t possibly win. It was a stonewall robbery the first time; everyone knows it. The IBF knows it, that’s why they reinstated me as mandatory with an immediate re-match that is now taking place”.

Champion Froch took a break after the previous fight and said on Monday: “You know, I’ve missed the gym, I’ve missed boxing. I’ve missed hitting the bag, I’ve missed listening to Rob (McCracken trainer) and you know, working hard on, on the road runs and that’s, that’s bad news for George Groves, because I’m now excited and looking forward to getting back in the gym and getting in the ring on May 31 and doing the business.”

The Froch vs Groves fight is scheduled for May 31.

Fulham Sack Meulensteen, appoint Magath

An English premiership club, Fulham have handed Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath an 18-month contract, replacing head coach Rene Meulensteen who has been sacked.

Meulensteen only took over from Martin Jol in November 2013 but with Fulham rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table the club have decided to make another move.

The club had lost 3-2 to Liverpool on Thursday after it went ahead two times in the game.  Liverpool secured the win at the dying minute of the game.

After learning of his sacking, Meulensteen told BBC Sport: “They have hit the panic button on emotion and fear – but hey ho, that’s football.”

Accomplished Manager

As a manager, Magath has won three Bundesliga titles – two with Bayern Munich (2005 and 2006) and one with Wolfsburg (2009).

The 60-year-old has spent his entire career as a player and manager in Germany and has been out of work since leaving a second spell in charge of Wolfsburg in 2012 by mutual consent.

“Felix is an accomplished manager with multiple honours in the Bundesliga and a hunger to replicate his success with Fulham in the Premier League.

“I’m especially impressed with the reputation Felix has for coming into clubs at difficult times, often late in the season, and lifting them to their potential and beyond. Felix knows that is precisely the task awaiting him at Fulham, and he made it abundantly clear that he wants and is ready for the opportunity,” Fulham chairman, Shahid Khan, said.

Wenger Says February Results Important To Title Race

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has outlined February as a crucial month in the Gunners race for the Premier League title.

The league leaders will travel to Liverpool on Saturday for a crucial game before a home match against Manchester United the following week, in a period that could go a long way to deciding the foremost Premier League side.

Wenger has also refused to rule the Anfield club out of the title race, suggesting that eight points isn’t too much of a gap in a season that has produced shocking and unpredictable results.

The Frenchman is focused on getting good results in the month of February to stay in a good position for the title race.

“We’ll have to wait until the end of February to have the exact idea of who will fight for the Premier League,” the Arsenal boss told Arsenal’s website.

“It’s an important month for many teams and maybe we will need a bit of patience.

“You always think about the psychological impact of the last result on the morale of the team, as well as the confidence and happiness of everybody.

“You think the only way to deal with it is to just focus on the next one and win it, then everything will be alright.”

Yaya Beats Mikel To Win 2013 African Player Of The Year As Nigeria Sweeps CAF Awards

Ivorian Midfielder, Yaya Toure, has beaten Nigerian Super Eagles and Chelsea FC midfielder, John Mikel Obi to win for the 3rd consecutive year, the coveted ‘African Footballer of the Year’ Award, at the Glo CAF Awards 2013 held in Lagos.

Mikel Obi was highly favoured by many Nigerians who saw his exploits and team successes with club and country in 2013 as the best credentials to claim the award which has eluded Nigerian footballers since Kanu Nwankwo won it in the year 1999.

While Nigeria confirmed its status as the number 1 footballing country on the African continent during the year 2013 by winning in five categories, the loss of the ultimate crown would cast a gloom on the other successes.

The Nigerian Super Eagles won the award for the ‘National Team of the Year’, while the national Under-17 team, Golden Eaglets, also won ‘Youth National Team of the Year’ at the Glo CAF Awards 2013.

Both teams had been expected by many pundits to claim the awards, having won major tournaments at continental and global levels during the year in review.

The Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013 for the first time in 19 years, while the Golden Eaglets won the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup tournament in United Arab Emirates.

Golden Eaglets’ wonder kid, Kelechi Iheanacho, unsurprisingly won the ‘Most Promising Talent’ Award. Ihenacho was the most decorated at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, winning the tournament’s Adidas Golden Ball Award for the overall best player, alongside the Silver Boot Award for being the second highest goal scorer, as he helped Nigeria to its 4th title to become the most successful team in the history of the age grade competition.

The Nigerian Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, was also named ‘African Coach of the Year’ for his exploits with the African Champions. Keshi became the first Nigerian to win the Nations’ Cup as player and coach, and only the second African coach to do so after Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary.

Fair Play Award went to the Nigerian Supporters Club, globally popular for their constant playing of music and dancing while supporting the Nigerian national teams.

Other winners at the awards were Egyptian, Mohammed Aboutreika, who beat Nigeria’s African Nations’ Cup final hero, Sunday Mba, to win the ‘African Player of the Year based in Africa’, while the ‘Club of the Year’ went to Al Ahly FC of Egypt.

The ‘Referee of the Year’ award went to Algerian, Haimoudi Djamel, who officiated the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso, and also officiated the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup play-off for third place between Uruguay and Italy.

The African Team of the Year is made up of Vincent Enyeama (NIG), Ahmed Fathy (EGY), Mehdi (MOR), Kevin Constant (GUI), Mikel Obi (NIG), Mohammed Aboutreika (EGY), Yaya Toure (CIV), Jonathan Pitroipa (BFA), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB), Emmanuel Emenike (NIG), Asamoah Gyan (GHA) Coach Stephen Keshi (NIG)

Five Nigerian players from the successful AFCON 2013 Eagles were nominated for the now lost ‘African Player of the Year’ Award; they include Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa, Mikel Obi, Sunday Mba and Vincent Enyeama.

Only Mikel Obi made the final 3 man nominees list alongside the 3rd time winner, Ivorian, Yaya Toure and his Ivorian counterpart, Didier Drogba.

Winners were announced in Lagos on January 9, 2014.

EPL: Wenger Expects Tough Cardiff Test For Arsenal

Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger has admitted that his side will not find it easy to strengthen their grip at the top of the Premier League when they travel to Cardiff on Saturday, November 30.

The London club have enjoyed a strong start to the season, and can extend the gap at the top to 7 points for 24 hours at least, with their main rivals not in action until Sunday.

But Wenger knows that a visit to South Wales won’t be particularly easy, as Cardiff have already beaten Manchester City at home this season, and last weekend produced a late rally to snatch a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.

“They look to have a good solidarity, good togetherness, fantastic support as well, and they are all on the same wavelength in the team, very efficient at home on set pieces especially,” he told reporters at Arsenal’s training ground on Friday.

“Even on Sunday when they were 2-1 down against Man Utd, many teams could have thought ‘Ok, it’s Man Utd, we won’t come back’. You have the feeling that they don’t give up. You could feel that they could come back, so they have that special attitude and belief in the side that makes them dangerous.”

Having been criticised for his transfer dealings in the summer, Wenger believes his team are benefitting from a settled squad. In the previous two summers Wenger lost his two players – Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, and Robin van Persie to Manchester United, but there were no big departures this time around, with the added bonus that Arsenal brought in Mesut Ozil.

“We lost a few great players, one was an exceptional striker and one was an exceptional midfielder,” said Wenger.

“It hurt us twice and hit us twice in a very hard way because we struggled every time, especially at the start of the season, it took us time to come back. This was the first season where we didn’t lose a great player and that is why we have an advantage of a better start. And on top of that we bought a great player. That helped even more.”

5 Nigerians Nominated For African Player Of The Year Award

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has released the nominees for the yearly awards.

25 players made the cut for the flagship African Player of the Year category, and 21 for the African Player of the Year based in Africa.

Five Nigerian players were nominated for the player of the year award; they include Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa, Mikel Obi, Sunday Mba and Vincent Enyeama.

The winners will be announced at the GLO-CAF Awards gala scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2014 in Lagos.

Ivorian, Yaya Toure is the reigning African Player of the Year and Mohamed Aboutrika of Egypt is the African Player of the Year (Based in Africa).

 

Nigeria Moves Three Places Up In May FIFA Rankings

The Super Eagles of Nigeria has moved up three places in the latest FIFA rankings released Thursday by the World football governing body.

Uganda has also moved up one place to 91st in the latest Coca-Cola FIFA World Rankings despite a lack of International games for the Cranes.

Tanzania and Kenya remain rooted in 116th and 122th respectively while Rwanda have dropped 1 place to 135th on the standings.

Ivory Coast remains the top ranked African team in 12th place while Ghana, Mali, 2013 AFCON champions Nigeria and Algeria round off the top five sides on the continent.

Heavyweights South Africa are the biggest gainers, jumping 6 places to 56th and now sit in 9th place on the continent; their first top 10 placing since January.

With little changes, the top three in the World rankings remained the same from last month’s as champions, Spain hold onto the number one spot ahead of Germany and Argentina.

The May edition of the world ranking recorded very few changes compared to the previous month.

According to FIFA, more movement is to be expected in the table in June, when the World Cup qualifiers resume in Africa and teams that qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup play their first warm-up matches.

Africa has eight teams in the top 50 – (UEFA: 26; CONMEBOL: 9; CAF: 8; AFC: 3; OFC: 0).

Ghana’s Black Princesses beats Falconets in U-20 friendly

Ghana’s under 20 women’s team the Black Princesses on Tuesday beat Nigeria’s Falconets in the first match of the two-leg international, friendly match at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Florence Dadson scored twice in the 7th and 45th minutes of the first half while the Falconets returned a much better opposition with Esther Sunday pulling a goal back after she capitalized on a defensive mix-up to score.
Elizabeth Addo scored the third goal 72 minutes later for the Ghanaian side.
At the end of the match the Black Princesses scored 3 goals against the Nigerian team.
The Black Princesses are now gunning for double after winning 3-2 in the opening fixture.
The two teams will conclude the two-match series on Thursday as a preparation of the forthcoming
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan next month.
Fringe players to match against Falconets on return leg
The Coach of the Ghanaian side, Robert Sackey on Tuesday said he will assess players on the periphery in the second game against the Falconets.
“I think we played well but we need to work on some few shortfalls before the World Cup,” Sackey said.
“I will use the players who did not get the chance to play in this game. It is important we assess every player and give everyone an equal opportunity,”
“This friendly will serve as a good preparatory ground for us.”
The two teams will represent Africa at the forthcoming FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan next month.