Brazilian Elkeson To Break Record, Earns China Call-up

Guangzhou Evergrande’s Elkeson (C) watches as Beijing Guoan’s goal keeper Zou Dehai (2nd L, in grey jersey) fails to stop a goal during their Chinese Super League (CSL) football match in Beijing on August 11, 2019.

 

China named Elkeson in their squad for their opening World Cup qualifier with the Brazilian poised to be the first without Chinese ancestry to play for the country.

Coach Marcello Lippi has long complained about a dearth of attacking options and has moved to plug the gap with the 30-year-old, who will use the Chinese name Aikesen.

The move to naturalise a Brazilian is controversial and comes after China similarly gave a passport to London-born midfielder Nico Yennaris.

The former Arsenal man however is half-Chinese, whereas Guangzhou Evergrande striker Elkeson qualifies for China having played in the country since 2013.

READ ALSO: Bayern Munich Offer Coutinho Fresh Start On Loan

Along with Espanyol forward Wu Lei and Yennaris, Elkeson is part of a 35-man squad named by Italian World Cup winner Lippi for China’s game at the Maldives on September 10.

Elkeson appears likely to be the start of a growing trend for perennial under-achievers China.

Fellow Brazilians Ricardo Goulart and Fernando are both reportedly set to be naturalised, along with English defender Tyias Browning, also of Evergrande.

Although many other nations, notably 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, call up players born in other countries, China had resisted doing so until now.

But respected football commentator Zhan Jun recently hinted at public discord, writing to his 16 million followers on the Twitter-like Weibo: “Sigh, don’t know how the fans who care about Chinese football are feeling?

“I can’t get over it,” said Zhan, in a post which drew thousands of comments.

AFP

Ronaldo Back In Portugal Squad After Nine-Month Absence

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo (file photo) AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo was named in defending European champions Portugal’s squad on Friday nine months after his last international appearance at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

With Euro 2020 qualifiers against Ukraine and Serbia coming up, coach Fernando Santos has recalled Ronaldo, who has 85 goals in 154 international appearances.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Draw Napoli In Europa League Quarter-Finals

He was rested for the last six Portugal games while he settled at new club Juventus.

AFP

Keshi To Play 2014 World Cup Qualifiers With Lean Squad

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is to maintain a small squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just as he prepares to tackle the Harambee Stars of Kenya

The Nigeria Football Federation said this is due to the financial constraint plaguing the federation even though the chief coach of the Super Eagles had earlier declared his interest to add more quality players to the team that claimed the Afcon 2013 trophy.

Keshi had shown interest in players such as Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and others.

According to Punch Newspaper, an official of the federation said: “Of course we will look at the list from Keshi as in the past but the key thing may not be the type of players he needs but largely on how the Federation can also accommodate his plans. In this time of lean purse, we don’t expect to see 35 players called up for the game.

“The encouragement now is that Keshi already has his core players and so he is zeroing in on exactly those he wants for this game and a few others he wants to give another opportunity to prove their worth,” the official said.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles will host the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on March 23.

Ben Alaiya, an official of the Federation also claimed that Stephen Keshi will be releasing his list of the squad to face the Harambee Stars soonest.

 

Super Cup Final: Cech wary of new look Atletico Madrid

Czech Republic international and Chelsea shot stopper; Petr Cech has warned against dangerous Spanish side, Atletico Madrid. Chelsea FC will face the Spaniards in the Super Cup Final which will be played on Friday.

Cech believes the Blues will be faced with stiffer competition compared to the 2009-10 Champions League encounter with Los Rojiblancos.

Cech, 30 feels the level of success has really helped the Spanish club grow in terms of play and that is not leaving out the manager Diego Simeone who is putting everything on board to get results.

Cech also hailed Thibault Courtois, Chelsea keeper who has moved on-loan to Atletico Madrid.

Blues keeper Thibaut Courtois was part of Los Rojiblancos’ team that were victorious in Europe last year having extended a loan spell at the Madrid-based club after joining Chelsea, and was impressive for the team that finished 5th in La Liga.

Cech praised the 20-year-old keeper’s attributes, suggesting he is not easy to score past, indicating that the Belgian is very mature for his age.

Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid who was drawn in the same group with the Blues’ three seasons ago at their home and Atletico were only able to secure a draw in West London as Atletico Madrid finished in third place and could not advance in the competition.

The Czech international insisted that they he is seeing a much-improved Atletico Madrid as they have tasted success.

Cech said they are a much disciplined side displaying a very solid defence especially, and are difficult to handle on the counter attack.

The Premier League outfit qualified for the Super Cup final by winning last season’s Champions League, defeating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final, while Atletico beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the Europa League final to earn their place in the European Cup competition curtain raiser.

 

 

W.Cup Qualifying: Argentina tops group B as Messi shines

South American World Cup qualifying games were played yesterday in different parts of South America and Argentina became a force to reckon with as the Linel Messi-led squad crushed fellow South American country; Ecuador 4-0  as Argentina has became the leader of group B with the score-line,  thanks to Barcelona star, the Merciless Messi.

Argentina’s decision to play their four world class forwards was fully justified as Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria were on call within 11 minutes of the first half as three goals were recorded in quick succession.

Barcelona Star Lionel Messi once showed what he was known for, with his deft moves on field and magical display of skills as he has been doing while on call for his country; Argentina and Barcelona as he finally won over the crowd at the Monumental in Buenos Aires.

With the structured pattern displayed by Argentina, the squad was obviously centred on the Barcelona strike from attack to defence as he led the formation from back to front till the end of the match.

According to Coach Alejandro Sabella “We have to be a solid team, structured in defence and accompany Lionel so he can express himself to the full”.

Argentina lead the South American group with 10 points from five matches, one more point than Chile, who beat Bolivia 2-0 in La Paz, and two ahead of Uruguay and Venezuela who drew 1-1 in Montevideo.

The next challenge the South American side will be rooting to overcome is the friendly game with arch-rivals and World Cup hosts; Brazil which will be played in the United States next weekend.

Meanwhile in other games played in South America, Copa America holders Uruguay failed to end their Venezuela jinx, going a fifth World Cup qualifier in succession without beating their opponent.

Diego Forlan put Uruguay ahead at the Centenario when he extended his national scoring record to 33 in the 39th minute.

But, with little more than five minutes left, a header by Venezuela striker Jose Salomon Rondon had defender Diego Godin head the ball into his own net.

After the game, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez told reporters while speaking for the players and his staff that they are all not pleased with the outcome of the game as they need to work harder to achieve good results which they desire.

Chile served notice they are still a force despite initial problems that included Coach Claudio Borghi suspending a quintet of players for breaking a curfew before a qualifier against Uruguay last November.

Borghi’s side notched up a third win as Chile made it three successive qualifying victories in the thin air of La Paz, absorbing pressure and hitting Bolivia on the break.

Forward Charles Aranguiz put Chile ahead in first-half added time and Bolivia’s hopes took a further dive when defender Luis Gutierrez was sent off early in the second half for a foul on Alexis Sanchez.

Bolivia’s coach Gustavo Quinteros, a member of the country’s last team to go to the finals in 1994 was also sent to the stands for protesting.

Midfielder Arturo Vidal, the only one of the five players disciplined in November to be pardoned and have his suspension reduced, made sure of the points with a second goal seven minutes from time netting a ball that came back off the post.

Bolivia, bottom of the group with one point from five matches, paid for their poor finishing when they dominated early on in both halves.

Peru, one from bottom with three points and looking to end a 32-year wait for a place in the finals, host Colombia in Lima today.

EURO 2012: Schweinsteiger passes fitness test,to play against Portugal

Han-Wilhelm Muller-Wolfahrt, the team doctor for Germany has given German and Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger a clean bill of health after a fitness test to feature in Germany’s first game in EURO 2012 tournament.

The Team Doctor recommended that the German can now be listed among the first team squad billed to face Portugal which also is the first game of the tournament for Germany.

The influential Bayern Munich midfielder recently suffered a succession of nagging injuries, and there were initial doubts over whether he would be able to participate in first game of his country.

The 27-year-old expressed so much joy when the team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt confirmed that he will be at Joachim Low’s disposal for the clash with Portugal.

According to the team doctor “Bastian has no problems, no more pain, he will be available but cannot begin training until Monday because has a bit to do to get fully fit of course, but I’m assuming that he will be ready to face Portugal.”

The game between Germany and Portugal will be kicking off on June 9th in Lviv.