Friday, 30 September 2011

The 15 highs and 15 lows of Arsene Wenger's 15-year reign at Arsenal

The Frenchman has reached a milestone in his tenure as the Gunners' longest-serving - and most successful - boss and we recall some of his peaks and troughs in an eventful era

Arsene Wenger
During his 15 years in north London as the manager of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has experienced a broad spectrum of reactions from English football's fans and media. Initially it was suspicion when 'Arsene Who?' - a little known and rather cerebral Frenchman - who was appointed manager of Arsenal on September 30, 1996. Then it became admiration and a hint of adulation as the visionary record-breaker and three-times winner of the Premier LeagueManager of the Year award repeatedly unearthed raw talents and polished them into gems while his team piled up silverware playing an exhilarating brand of football.

More recently it has been impatience, criticism and even derision, with Wenger perceived as a victim of the combined effects of player power, a frustratingly tight fiscal policy at the Emirates and his own apparent stubbornness.

'Le Boss' recently said he wants "another 14 years" at Arsenal; if he gets his wish he'll want them to be less painful than the last couple of seasons. Yet however the future pans out, his legacy is assured: no other Arsenal manager has served as long (Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiakos was his 856th match in charge), won so many trophies (three titles and four FA Cups) or maintained the club's position so consistently (15 successive top-four finishes; 14 consecutive appearances in the Champions League).

We reflect on his 15 years at the helm by charting 15 of Wenger's high-points and 15 of his lows - starting with the ones he'd probably rather forget...


1. Losing 1-6 to Manchester United at Old Trafford on February 25 2001 at a time when the rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson was still at its height, and having the lunacy of assuming Igors Stepanovs might be a Premier League player so ruthlessly exposed.

2. Losing 2-8 to Manchester United at Old Trafford in August 2011 and confirming to the world not only that a chasm had opened between the two clubs but also that the chickens of his transfer market prevarication had truly come home to roost.

No defence | Arsene wonders how he ever let it get this bad

3. Surrendering a two-goal lead at Bolton on April 26 2003 to hand Manchester United the advantage in the title race; the 2-2 draw was the moment Arsenal effectively lost their previously secure grip on a second successive championship - which would have made Wenger the first Arsenal manager since Herbert Chapman to retain the title (though Chapman died midway through the second season, 1933-34).

4. Seeing Arsenal's record 49-match unbeaten run ended in controversial circumstances on October 24 2004, when referee Mike Riley awarded United's eighth penalty in his eighth Old Trafford visit (a decidedly dubious decision in Wayne Rooney's favour v Sol Campbell), then refused Arsenal one against Rio Ferdinand, and took no action against Ruud van Nistelrooy's foul on Ashley Cole. At least Wenger didn't see the pizza and soup subsequently flying in the corridors afterwards.

5. Losing the wise counsel of his staunchest ally in the corridors of power, David Dein.

6. Being forced to lose Ashley Cole, the best left-back in the country, because of the player's greed and Chelsea's illegal deviousness, a transfer which arguably precipitated Arsenal's current, as yet unaddressed defensive woes.

7. Being subjected to a sordid, malicious and unsubstantiated campaign of whispers about his private life, which originated in the more tawdry tabloids as soon as he arrived in England.

8. The 2-2 draw at St Andrew's on February 23 2008 - victory would have put leaders Arsenal eight points clear in the title race, but after Eduardo suffered a compound fracture of his left leg in a red-card tackle by Martin Taylor, the wheels came off Wenger's season. Birmingham were gifted a stoppage-time equaliser thanks to another harsh penalty decision, William Gallas threw a ludicrous wobbly on the pitch and Chelsea and Manchester United spied their opportunity and went on to seize it, leaving Arsenal third at the end of the season.

Agonising | Eduardo, and Arsenal's season, are left broken at Birmingham

9. Dominating the 2001 FA Cup Final only to see the inspired Michael Owen snatch the Cup for Liverpool with two sensational goals in the closing minutes.

10. Surrendering the lead (on the night and on aggregate) in the Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea at Highbury on April 6 2004; that team that season arguably represented Arsenal's best chance to date of finally winning the European crown; to add insult to injury the 2-1 defeat was Chelsea's first win over Arsenal in any competition in 18 attempts.

11. Being reduced to 10 men early on in the 2006 Champions League final against Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona, with Jens Lehmann sent off and Robert Pires sacrificed for substitute Manuel Almunia, creating a numerical disadvantage and forcing a tactical change that eventually told in Barca's favour.

12. Seeing his team fail to justify their billing as favourites in the 2011 League Cup final against Birmingham, and compounding their inability to finish off their opponents by gifting them a late winner with some Keystone Kops defending.

13. Being forced by the two players' ambition - and Arsenal's policy on wages - to sell Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, his two most creative players, in the summer of 2011, and being unable or unwilling because of financial constraints to replace them with midfielders of similar calibre or potential.

The Departed | Fabregas and Nasri left Wenger with a credibility gap

14. Dominating the 2000 Uefa Cup final v Galatasaray but failing to score, then losing the consequent penalty shoot-out amid carnage between rival fans on the streets of Copenhagen.

15. Repeatedly being confronted by his current team's propensity to throw away a lead. The more painful occasions include seeing them squander a 2-0 advantage against Spurs last season to suffer the first home defeat of his reign against their arch-rivals; watching them lose the lead twice at Ewood Park this month and being roundly ridiculed for his defenders' open-door policy as two own-goals made Blackburn's task so much easier; and - least forgivably - throwing away a 4-0 lead at Newcastle in February on the same day that title rivals (and eventual champions) Manchester United lost 2-1 to Wolves. Given that a win would have taken the Gunners to within two points of United and three ahead of Manchester City, that was possibly the ultimate example of his players' frailties.


1. Ensuring that Patrick Vieira, hitherto unknown in England, was already on board at Highbury by the time Wenger arrived from Japan to begin his 15-year tenure.

2. Having the sense (and humility) to acknowledge the calibre of the defence he inherited from George Graham (via Bruce Rioch) and keeping it in place while helping its members prolong their careers at the top by introducing them to novel dietary and exercise regimes.

3. Turning the negative of having Nicolas Anelka's money-obsessed brothers/agents engineer the striker's premature departure from Highbury into a resounding positive - not only by securing £23m from Real Madrid for him, but more importantly by using some of the cash and all of the opportunity to bring Thierry Henry in from the chilly wings at Juventus and converting him into the world's best striker.

Henry the first | Wenger converted him into Arsenal's all-time top scorer

4. Becoming the first foreign manager to win the English top-flight and embellishing that by adding the FA Cup as Arsenal secured the double in 1997-98, Wenger's first full season managing Arsenal.

5. Repeating the feat in 2001-02.

6. Proving his words were not empty rhetoric, despite having been pilloried for saying his team could go a season unbeaten, by leading them to the record-breaking 'Invincible' season of 2003-04.

Unbeatable | Wenger's team scaled unprecedented heights in 2003-04

7. Having the foresight to respond to the impressive Marc Overmars' desire to join Barcelona in 2000 by signing Robert Pires from Marseille and seeing him become another Arsenal legend, dovetailing to devastating effect with Cole and Henry on the left, scoring 84 goals for the club himself and being voted Footballer of the Year.

8. Developing the attacking, passing game that transformed Arsenal's image from perceived bores to English football's great entertainers, and lifting seven major trophies along the way.

9. Having the vision to conceive Arsenal's state-of-the-art training facility and later playing a highly influential role in the design of their new stadium once it became clear the club would have to leave Highbury.

10. Throwing the title race wide open by winning 1-0 at Old Trafford on March 14 1998 thanks to an Overmars goal. The victory took Arsenal to within six points of leaders Manchester United with three games in hand, and the Gunners went on to complete a run of 10 straight wins culminating in Tony Adams lifting the championship trophy.

First title | Skipper Tony Adams lifted the trophy in Arsene Wenger's first full season

11. Winning 1-0 at Old Trafford on May 8 2002 to clinch the title, four days after beating Chelsea 2-0 in Cardiff to lift the FA Cup. The victory over United ensured Arsenal completed the 2001-02 season unbeaten away from home, and was also their 12th in a sequence of 13 straight wins, part of a 21-match unbeaten run stretching back to December.

12. Overhauling Nottingham Forest's 42-match unbeaten League run and extending it to a new record of 49 matches between May 2003 and October 2004.

13. Masterminding two resounding victories at Anfield in the space of four days in January 2007 - beating Liverpool 3-1 in the FA Cup on January 6, then thrashing them 6-3 in the League Cup on January 9 with a supposedly weakened team.

14. Thrashing Inter 5-1 at San Siro in a Champions League group game on November 25 2003, then completing the set on March 4 2008 by beating AC Milan 2-0 at the same stadium in a first knock-out round tie.

15. Beating Barcelona 2-1 at the Emirates in February against all the odds in the most pulsating atmosphere the new stadium has so far witnessed.

Boy wonder | Wenger discovery Wilshere excelled against Messi & co.

Double training session turns into relaxed barbecue for Real Madrid & Jose Mourinho

Another surprise from the Portuguese boss, but no eye-poking incidents at Valdebebas as stars mingled for an afternoon treat

Real Madrid players were expecting a double training session on Friday when they turned up for work, instead they were given hamburgers, drinks and a selection of meats as coach Jose Mourinho threw them a barbecue.

El Correo reports the Madrid squad were treated with a number of tasty delights as they scoffed their way through the afternoon.

It was a welcome surprise for many of the stars who were expecting to be put through their paces ahead of the Liga clash against Espanyol on Sunday night.

Instead they mingled in the company of their coach who ensured a relaxed and enjoyable environment as music got players in the mood.

It is said the event was held by Mourinho so his players could grow closer and more united.

Gol Keeper Manchester United De Gea Makan Donut beharga £1.19 Tapi Tak Bayar

David De Gea penjaga gol utama Manchater United dilaporkan bergaji £70,000 seminggu maknanya hampir RM 1.4 juta sebulan tapi kantoi makan donut yang hanya beharga tak sampai RM6 tanpa membayar donut tersebut.

Penjaga gol berusia 20 tahun itu ditangkap sekuriti guard di sebuah Tesco di Altrincham, Greater Manchester.Selepas membaca majalah secara percuma dan merasa donut tersebut De Gea dilaporkan cuba untuk beredar tanpa membayar.

Selepas ditangkap De Gea dibawa ke bilik "stop and search" lebih kurang bilik soal siasat dan kemudiannya diberikan amaran dan bernasib baik tidak dikenakan denda ataupun dibawa ke balai polis.

Perbuatan De Gea ini diperhatikan pegawai sekuriti melalui CCTV yang kemudiannya terus menangkap De Gea selepas beliau cuba untuk beredar. Selepas diberikan amaran dari kejadian yang memalukan ini De Gea dilaporkan kelihatan malu dan terus beredar dari tempat kejadian

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Safee Sali Merajuk ???

“BUKAN saya tidak sudi untuk kembali semula (menjalani latihan) bersama Cardiff City tetapi jadual saya begitu ketat ketika ini.

“Justeru, dakwaan kononnya saya (berpatah arang berkerat rotan) dengan kelab itu sememangnya tidak berasas.

Demikian kata penyerang sensasi Harimau Malaya, Mohd. Safee Sali yang menafikan dakwaan kononnya dia ‘merajuk’ untuk kembali menjalani latihan bersama kelab England, Cardiff City selepas ini.

Desas-desus negatif itu timbul dalam kalangan peminat bola sepak tempatan ekoran kenyataan Safee yang dikatakan ingin mencuba nasib untuk beraksi bersama kelab Australia pula selepas ini sebaik selamat menjejakkan kaki di tanah air kelmarin.

Spekulasi tersebut diperkuatkan dengan peluang Safee yang dikata- kan pudar untuk menyarung jersi The Bluebirds lantaran masalah permit kerja walaupun mendapat khabar gembira daripada Timbalan Presiden Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM), Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah yang memberi jaminan untuk membantu ‘David Bec- kham Malaysia’ itu mengatasi masalah berkenaan jika Cardiff mahu melamarnya.

Meskipun dikhabarkan akan dipanggil untuk dinilai semula selama dua minggu lagi oleh pengendali The Bluebirds, Malky Mackay yang dilaporkan berminat dengan kesungguhan, disiplin dan skil Safee sebelum ini, pemain kelahiran Kajang, Selangor itu juga tidak pasti sama ada ia boleh dilaksanakan pada waktu terdekat.

“Jadual saya begitu ketat. Selain mewakili (bekas pasukan) Selangor bagi aksi Piala Sultan Selangor (esok), saya juga akan ke Australia (mewakili skuad kebangsaan) bagi perlawanan persahabatan.

“Kalau ikutkan hati memang saya mahu kembali semula ke Cardiff. Bukan senang untuk menjalani lati- han bersama pemain-pemain yang hebat di sana dan jika tidak terpilih pun, saya langsung tidak menyesal.

“Tetapi saya sendiri tidak pasti bila saya boleh menyertai semula latihan di sana,” katanya kepada Kosmo! semalam.

Safee sebelum ini selesai menja- lani sesi pemilihan selama dua minggu bersama skuad kendalian Malky Mackay itu sejak pertengahan September lalu sebaik mendapat ‘lampu hijau’ daripada maji- kannya, Pelita Jaya.

Menurut Safee, dia belum membuat sebarang perbincangan lanjut dengan pemilik Cardiff, Datuk Chan Tien Ghee berhubung perkara itu, selain tidak menolak kemungkinan akan merujuk perkara tersebut kepada Pelita Jaya terlebih dahulu sebelum boleh mengulas lanjut.

“Saya juga tidak pasti bila akan kembali ke Indonesia kerana Pelita Jaya pastinya memerlukan khidmat saya sebelum Liga Indonesia bermula (10 Oktober ini), jadi kita tengok dahulu macam mana,” kata- nya yang mengakui masih keletihan selepas menempuhi penerbangan yang panjang dari London kelmarin.

Ketika ditanya mengenai keingi- nannya beraksi di Australia, jelas Safee: “Sebagai pemain, saya mempunyai sasaran sendiri untuk beraksi di pentas yang lebih baik, ter- utamanya di Australia dan Eropah bagi mengembangkan karier saya.

“Tetapi ia bukan bermakna saya tidak lagi mahu menyarung jersi Cardiff, justeru saya harap semuanya faham,” katanya memohon tidak disalahertikan.

Report: Mother Of Cristiano Ronaldo's Son Wants Baby Back

Report: Mother Of Cristiano Ronaldo's Son Wants Baby Back

occer player Cristiano Ronaldo is dealing with the mother who gave birth to his son,Cristiano Jr., six months ago. The Sunday Mirror reports that the unidentified woman is a 20-year-old British student who now wants her child back after exchanging him for a £10million payment.

After becoming pregnant from a one-night stand with the athlete, Ronaldo cut a deal with her so he would have exclusive guardianship. The woman signed a contract with his lawyers agreeing to not tell anyone, including her family, that she is the mother.

Apparently, she disappeared during her pregnancy, had the baby, and then told everyone she received an unexpected windfall.

Friends say that when she asks to see her son, Ronaldo taunts her by telling her he may consider her requests, if she repays some of the money.

A source close to the woman said, “She’s often calling him late at night. She cried down the phone to him and pleads with him. He shouldn’t even be in contact with her, but they have got into a twisted sort of routine.

“She even calls him after matches to congratulate him on how he played, hoping that one day she can appeal to his better nature, but he simply leads her on and teases her about Cristiano Jr.

“She feels like she has sold her soul. She has this millionaire lifestyle, but can never tell her friends and family the truth about what has happened – and that makes her incredibly lonely.”

A friend of Ronaldo said, “As far as he is concerned, it was her choice, her decision. He says, ‘She has zero rights to my son. She’s not seeing him ever again’.

But he keeps taking her calls as, deep down, he’s worried that she’s going to try to fight him to see the child and he wants to know what she is thinking. Apparently the contract she signed is completely water-tight. But she has the strength of a mother trying to get a child back – so anything could happen.”

Meanwhile, his girlfriend Irina Shayk has stood by him the whole time. In fact, they recently had a vacation in The Maldives.

The great white hope - Kaka was back near his best against Ajax on Tuesday and that's great news for Real Madrid

The Brazilian started alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil in a tasty trident behind Karim Benzema - and was back on form with a great goal and an assist in the 3-0 victory

Kaka - Real Madrid (Getty Images)
Xabi Alonso pulled the strings, Cristiano Ronaldo netted the goal of the night and Karim Benzema scored again as Real Madrid brushed aside a brave Ajax side at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. But there was another name on the lips of Madrid fans as they filtered out of the famous old stadium on Tuesday night. And that name was Kaka.
This was about as close as they had come to seeing the real Kaka; the player who had dazzled the world with AC Milan and rocked up at the Bernabeu as Florentino Perez's first signing on his return to the capital club in 2009. This was not the Brazilian at his breathtaking best, but it was about as encouraging a performance as has been witnessed from the 29-year-old in his two injury-plagued years in the Spanish capital. And it was a display which demonstrated what many had thought impossible, that Kaka may have a future in this side after all - perhaps even as a regular starter.

Back for good | Kaka looks fitter than he has done since joining Madrid

The Brazilian has had good games for Madrid before, of course. Last season's 6-3 win at Valencia springs to mind, when the playmaker formed a fearsome forward-line with Gonzalo Higuain and Benzema in a devastating display at Mestalla. After that, however, he failed to make a significant impact in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona. And doubts over his long-term fitness remained.

Coach Jose Mourinho seemed to have lost patience with the Brazilian in the summer, with Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria all ahead of the Brasilia-born star in the pecking order. Indeed, at one point, the Portuguese came right out and stated that strikers Benzema and Higuain would not be sold, but there was no such endorsement for Kaka.

AC Milan looked at the possibility of bringing back their former playmaker, while Inter tried to persuade Madrid to agree to a swap deal, with right-back Maicon moving in the opposite direction, and there was talk of Chelsea, Manchester City, a loan to Arsenal, and even Tottenham.

In the end, however, Kaka stayed. Mourinho praised the Brazilian, but reminded him of his role. "Kaka is a great option and I am happy to have him by my side, but Ozil will be the starter and that's nothing new," the 'Special One' said at the end of August.

“I am enjoying playing football again. Physically I feel good, with no pain, and I am getting back to my best, little by little. I want to triumph in this team.

- Kaka

On Wednesday night, though, both Ozil and Kaka started for Madrid - and it worked wonderfully. The German was forced to track back more than usual in a more disciplined role, but performed it with aplomb as Kaka built up an understanding with Ronaldo which will have Madrid fans eager to see more of the same in the coming weeks and months.

All three were involved in the sensational counter-attack which saw Madrid take the lead, with Kaka and Ronaldo combining in midfield before the Portuguese found Ozil. The German then freed Benzema and the Frenchman crossed for the former Manchester United man to sweep home and finish a memorable move.

Ronaldo and Kaka speak the same language - Portuguese - and they clearly understand each other on the pitch as well. Cristiano controlled an excellent long pass from Alonso and squared for his team-mate on the edge of the area later in the first half, and Kaka stroked a lovely low finish into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 2-0, before letting out plenty of pent-up frustration with a passionate celebration in front of the home fans, thumping his chest as if to say: 'this is me, I'm back - and you ain't seen nothing yet...'

The third goal was another great move and ended with the Brazilian beating a man and squaring for Benzema to make it three with a simple finish from close range.

“Kaka was great; he was a protagonist. We said before the match that he could be important and he produced a great performance. It will give him a big boost.

- Emilio Butragueno

It was exhibition stuff and Kaka should have made it 4-0 when he scuffed a shot wide with plenty of goal to aim at later on. That looked a poor miss, although the ball bobbled just as he shaped to shoot and it hardly mattered anyway. Madrid fans had seen enough - more than enough. And the Brazilian was afforded an outstanding ovation as he left the pitch with 75 minutes gone, to be replaced by Di Maria, whose place must be under threat on this evidence.

There were smiles all round at the final whistle as Kaka declared his intention to triumph at Madrid in a television interview, Real fans applauded and team-mates embraced. And up in the stands, Florentino will have been happy, too. For the first time in an official match, his three big summer signings from 2009 had all scored. And if Kaka can remain free of injury and return to his brilliant best, the Perez project could yet hit the heights. Right now, though, it's just great to see him back to somewhere near his best.

Long may it continue.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

HAHAHAHA...Jose Mourinho's eye-poking of Tito Vilanova in Barcelona v Real Madrid Supercopa clash recreated in popular smartphone application

In the game, which has reached the top five in the list of iPhone downloads, the player racks up points by pointing a finger in the eye of Barca's assistant coach

More than a month after poking Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye duringReal Madrid's 3-2 defeat in the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa at Camp Nou, Jose Mourinho is still pointing the finger.
The Portuguese was caught on camera poking Vilanova during the ugly brawl which marred the season's second Clasico, after Marcelo's bad tackle on Cesc Fabregas had provoked an unseemly confrontation between players and coaches from the two rival clubs.

Mourinho's moment of madness has now been recreated in a popular smartphone application, The Finger, which has reached the top five in total free downloads and number one in the sports section, and can be downloaded from the app store on your iPhone.

You, the player, are Mourinho, whose face, body and outstretched arm appear on the left-hand side of the screen. From the opposite end, the head of Vilanova veers towards you on multiple occasions and you must poke the Barca number two in the eye by touching on his face. Every time you do so, Mourinho mutters: '¿por quĂ©?' - the famous 'why' from his press conference rant at Barca after last season's Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pointing the finger | Mourinho takes aim in a screenshot from the popular game

Every time you poke Tito, you receive a point, but the Vilanova visage comes faster towards you as the game goes on, while every now and again, the player is faced with the head of the so-called 'observer' - Barca employee Francesc Satorra - the man with the moustache famously photographed just behind the incident.

Poke Satorra and you lose one of your five lives, while failure to nab a Tito before he passes across the screen also results in the loss of a life. But should the game become excessively difficult, you can call on Pepe, whose face appears twice on the bottom right of the screen. Poke Pepe and the screen will clear as the defender, seen very much as a villain by Barca fans for his aggressive fouls, lets out a huge roar.

At the end of the game, the top five scores are listed on the screen and the player can share their achievements with friends on Facebook, Twitter or via e-mail.

Meanwhile, Mourinho can be heard in the background muttering his memorable musing from after the incident itself: "I don't know who that 'Pito' Vilanova is - who is 'Pito' Vilanova?"

Talk about poking fun.

iFinger 1

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Khairul Fahmi Penyelamat Amukan Samurai Biru

SKUAD bola sepak negara berjaya mengelak daripada kekalahan besar apabila hanya tewas 0-2 kepada Jepun pada aksi pembukaan pusingan ketiga Kumpulan C Kelayakan Sukan Olimpik 2012 di Stadium Tosu, Fukuoka, semalam.

Terima kasih kepada penjaga gol negara, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat yang berjaya menyelamatkan sekurang-kurangnya sembilan percubaan bahaya pasukan tuan rumah di babak pertama dan empat di babak kedua.

Jika tidak kerana kecemerlangan Fahmi, Malaysia hampir pasti menjadi ‘lauk’ kepada pasukan Samurai Biru yang seperti dijangka menguasai sebahagian besar permainan.

Hanya dua gol gagal dihalang Fahmi iaitu menerusi Keigo Higashi pada minit ke-11 dan Ryohei Yamazaki pada minit ke-77. Itu pun selepas Jepun mengasak bertali arus.

Ternyata skuad negara bukan lawan setanding untuk Jepun yang jelas memiliki kelebihan dalam segala segi baik kawalan bola, kawalan dan gaya permainan, ketenangan, skil, teknik serta taktik.

Seawal minit kedua lagi Fahmi sudah diuji apabila berjaya menghalang bola satu-dua pemain Jepun di depan gawang sebagai tanda amaran betapa deretan percubaan bahaya bakal terus menyusul selepas itu.

Ia ternyata benar apabila satu demi satu penyerang Jepun membolosi kubu negara menerusi gerakan-gerakan kemas dan menarik dari setiap penjuru.

Kegagalan pemain negara mengawal permainan dengan kemas dan memegang bola dengan yakin menjadi faktor kenapa tiada langsung percubaan bahaya berjaya diilhamkan anak-anak buah Ong Kim Swee sepanjang permainan.

Hanya di babak kedua, satu-satunya percubaan yang berjaya dicipta menerusi Thamil Arasu pada minit ke-63 tetapi belum sempat dapat meledakkan sepakan dari dalam kotak penalti, ia mudah dipatahkan pertahanan Jepun.

Dalam pada itu pujian juga perlu diberikan kepada benteng pertahanan skuad negara kerana ampuh bertahan ketika berkampung di kubu sendiri.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Five young stars to watch out for in the League Cup

With the schedules of the Premier League's biggest clubs growing ever more hectic, the League Cup has become more than just another chance at silverware – it has evolved into a tournament in which experience is blended with youth, as managers look to blood their potential superstars in their respective first teams.

Some say that disrespect is being shown by those who shamelessly use the competition as an extension of their youth teams, but – ominously for those around them – even the youngsters of the 'Big Six' have dominated in recent years, at least in the early rounds, to prove themselves ready to step up to the starting XI proper.

Now, with the third round signalling the introduction of the League Cup's most decorated participants, Talkbola has taken a look to see which young starlets could make their name in the tournament, to give not only their opponents a fright, but also the players currently ahead of them in their club's respective pecking order a thing or two to worry about.

SEBASTIAN COATES | Liverpool, Defender, 20

Contract expires
Price tag£7m
He's a bit like
Sami Hyypia

More money may have been spent elsewhere at Anfield this summer, with the likes of Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson arriving on Merseyside, but there's a case to be made that in the long term, no signing will prove to be as shrewd as that of Sebastian Coates.

Arriving as the Copa America's young player of the tournament, Coates, an uncompromising defender standing at 6ft 6in, has already proven his ability to perform on the big stage with Uruguay and won't be fazed by the expectations of Kenny Dalglish or the Kop.

Quick over the ground (legs as long as Coates' tend to help), powerful in the air but also willing to play the ball out from the back, the former Nacional man is as cultured as he is crunching. A trip to Brighton, new stadium or not, wouldn't be the most ideal place for a young South American to make their first start in English football, but for the adaptable Coates it shouldn't prove a problem.

YAGO FALQUE | Tottenham (on loan from Juventus), Midfielder, 21
Contract expires
Season-long loan
Price tag£6m
He's a bit like
Rafael van der Vaart

With caps at all youth levels in Spain, there can be little doubt that Yago Falque has quite remarkable potential. An attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, the former Barcelona youngster unsurprisingly has vision not befitting his tender years.

A La Masia graduate, Falque moved to Juventus before being loaned to Bari in 2009, but with appearances at the south Italians not forthcoming, it was a loan spell with Villarreal B last season in which he showed off his mesmerising ability, scoring 11 goals in 36 games from midfield.

Now at Spurs, Falque will be given the opportunity to increase his durability when under pressure and learn how to take a challenge from powerful and wily defenders. That is, of course, if they can get close to him.

RYO MIYAICHI | Arsenal, Winger, 18
Contract expires
Price tag£8m
He's a bit like
Marc Overmars

Seven out of 10 readers believe Ryo Miyaichi to be the Arsenal's most exciting young star and despite being only 18, it's not difficult to see why.

“He has pace, attitude, efficiency in what he is doing and complete commitment... he is a fantastic player," said Wenger of the young Japanese star. The efficiency of which the Frenchman talks about is what makes Miyaichi such an exciting talent. Not only does he beat a man, but he has the ability to finish or supply a ball with unerring consistency.

A loan spell at Feyenoord last season is said to have bolstered the Aichi-born winger's potential and although comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo may be a little premature, Miyaichi will be looking to show that the similarities aren't completely off the mark against Shrewsbury Town at the Emirates.


Contract expires
Price tag£15m
He's a bit like
Robert Pires

As Arsenal's most expensive summer signing, Gunners will be desperate to get a proper glimpse of the latest graduate of Southampton's increasingly famed youth academy. With Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott having already dazzled in north London after moving from Hampshire, Oxlade-Chamberlain will be hoping to make a mark.

Although currently a winger, the 18-year-old has a subtlety to his game that Wenger admits may see him move in field as his career progresses. Unlike Walcott, the player to whom Oxlade-Chamblerlain is most often compared, there's no way the £15m summer signing can be described as being over-reliant on his pace, of which he has in abundance.

Wenger has used the League Cup to blood youngsters for the best part of a decade now but with silverware of any sorts the most pressing issue for the Frenchman, it would be no surprise to see only the finest youth stars getting the nod in the competition. Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly one of them.

PAUL POGBA | Manchester United, Midfielder, 18

Contract expires
Price tag
He's a bit like
Paul Scholes

Of all the reasons for Manchester United fans to be excited about the future, it's fair to say that Paul Pogba has been left a little bit in the shadows behind the likes of Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and even controversial youth team-mate Ravel Morrison. That's not to say, however, that he's an inferior player – he may just be the best of the bunch.

In a move shrouded in controversy, Pogba joined the Red Devils from Le Havre aged 16 in 2009, and has since been dazzling in both the club's youth and reserves sides, with goals against West Brom and Derby County in particular leaving United fans salivating over his potential.

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Pogba will face Leeds United on Tuesday and of all the places for the Frenchman to make his United bow, few could be as challenging as a fulminating Elland Road. However, it's difficult to imagine him struggling, for he is no ordinary 18-year-old.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ikrar Skuad Olimpik Malaysia Menjelang Pertemuan Dengan Jepun

MEREKA beraksi di posisi berbeza - seorang bertanggungjawab menjaga gawang, manakala seorang lagi mempunyai misi merobek gawang lawan.

Menyedari tanggungjawab yang dipikul cukup besar, kedua-dua tonggak skuad Olimpik, Mohd. Khairul Fahmi Che Mat dan A. Thamil Arasu menjanjikan persembahan terbaik menjelang pertemuan menentang Jepun pada aksi pembukaan Kumpulan C, pusingan akhir Kelayakan Olimpik 2012 Zon Asia di Stadium Tosu, Fukuoka, Rabu ini.

Bagi Khairul Fahmi yang mesra dengan panggilan Apek, dia berikrar untuk menjaga gawangnya daripada dibolosi dengan mudah, tambahan pula Jepun sememangnya berada di kelas yang berbeza serta memiliki ramai pemain muda yang berkaliber.

Menurutnya, dia juga tidak kisah sekiranya tidak menggalas cabaran selaku kapten semasa pertemuan itu, asalkan berjaya membantu negara untuk mencatatkan keputusan memberangsangkan di Tosu.

"Jika jurulatih (Ong Kim Swee) tidak menjadikan saya sebagai kapten tidak mengapa kerana misi utama saya adalah untuk menghalang jentera serangan Jepun bermaharajalela di gelanggang sendiri.

"Dalam permainan bola sepak macam-macam boleh berlaku, justeru kami berikrar untuk memberikan mesej yang cukup jelas kepada Jepun betapa Malaysia kini bukan lagi pasukan yang mudah dikalahkan," katanya kepada Kosmo! baru-baru ini.

Skuad Olimpik negara yang berlepas ke negara Matahari Terbit Jumaat lalu kini dikhabarkan sedang berehat serta mencari ilham terbaik di bandar pelabuhan Kokura, kepulauan Kyushu selama tiga hari sebelum bertandang ke Tosu esok.

Selain bintang muda Arsenal, Ryo Miyaichi, skuad Samurai Biru juga dikhabarkan masih mengharapkan sentuhan pemain-pemain lama seperti Kensuke Nagai, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Kazuya Yamamura, Daisuke Suzuki, Yusuke Higa, Takuya Masuda dan Shunsuke Ando yang cemerlang membantu Jepun mendapatkan pingat emas Sukan Asia pada tahun lalu.

KIM SWEE (kanan) dalam persiapan terakhir memperkemas skuad Olimpik sebelum pertemuan menentang Jepun di Stadium Tosu, Fukuoka Rabu ini.

Selain Jepun, turut diundi bersama skuad Olimpik negara dalam Kumpulan C ialah jaguh Asia Tengah, Bahrain dan Syria.

Dalam pada itu, Thamil turut berjanji akan berusaha sedaya upaya mengatasi benteng pertahanan Samurai Biru dalam aksi pembuka tirai kumpulan itu nanti.

"Saya berazam untuk menjaringkan gol awal bagi menyerap tekanan Jepun yang pastinya begitu garang ketika beraksi di depan ribuan penyokong sendiri.

"Apa yang pasti, kesemua pemain kini begitu bersemangat setelah mempelajari sesuatu ketika tewas 1-0 kepada Oman dalam aksi persahabatan sebelum ini," katanya yang dijangka digandingkan bersama Izzaq Faris Ramlan oleh Kim Swee di bahagian serangan.

Man United Di Tangga Teratas EPL

Manchester United mempamerkan kelas tersendiri apabila menumpaskan pesaing terdekatnya, Chelsea 3-1 pada perlawanan Liga Perdana Inggeris, di Old Trafford, awal pagi tadi.

Gol pembukaan United diperoleh seawal minit ke-7 menerusi Chris Smalling diikuti Nani pada minit ke-37.
Penyerang England, Wyane Rooney menambah koleksi jaringan pada minit ke-40 untuk memastikan United mendahului 3-0 selepas tamat separuh masa pertama.
Chelsea memperoleh gol tunggal menerusi penyerang termahal liga, Fernando Torres pada minit ke-46.

Dengan kemenangan itu, Manchester United kekal di tangga teratas liga dengan 13 mata, dua mata di depan Manchester City manakala Chelsea di tempat ketiga dengan 12 mata.

'Fans jeer me because I'm good-looking, rich & a great player' - Cristiano Ronaldo's 10 best quotes

The Portuguese forward claimed on Wednesday that fans are just jealous of him as he courted controversy once again.Here, TALKBOLA looks at some of his memorable musings.

Love him or hate him, it's impossible to ignore him. Cristiano Ronaldo is never far away from the news, be it for his actions on the pitch or off it. And the Portuguese is often one to court controversy, saying exactly what he thinks about rivals and fans.

After his side's 1-0 Champions League win at Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday, the Real Madrid forward attacked the Croatian fans, who had jeered him all night, claiming they had whistled him because he was 'good-looking, rich and a great footballer'. In light of that quote,TALKBOLA looks at Ronaldo's 10 most memorable lines on a variety of topics.


In a rare interview talking about his baby son, Ronaldo revealed he gets involved with all of the domestic tasks that fatherhood brings. "Of course I change the nappies," he said. "It's not the thing I like best in the world, but I do it."

The Portuguese also revealed the calming influence he has over his young boy. "My son goes to sleep early but my mother told me that, the other day, while we were playing, he was crying without stopping and didn't want to sleep until I scored a goal. I scored and five minutes later he was asleep."

Cristiano reacted angrily to newspaper claims he had been drinking while playing in England, even winning a libel case. Later, he revealed he shuns parties. "I don't smoke or drink, and I'm not a big spender," he explained. "I live in a rural part of Cheshire and my nearest neighbours are squirrels, birds and cows. Much of my time is spent at home with friends and family. I enjoy being peaceful and often sit by the candelight to relax. Tranquility is important to me."

You would think that Ronaldo, as one of the world's finest players, would be aware of the talents emerging elsewhere in Europe. But, apparently, the Portuguese has never heard of Borussia Dortmund's brilliant young playmaker. "Who's Gotze? In what position does he play? Is he good? I have little opportunity to see Bundesliga games," he told Bild. One wonders if he had ever heard of Sami Khedira or Nuri Sahin before they joined Real.

It wasn't only Madrid fans who were unhappy as they relinquished more than 70 per cent of the possession at home to their biggest rivals in last season's Champions League semi-final first leg. Ronaldo was unhappy, too. "I don't like it," he said after the game. "But I have to adapt because that's the way it is." Under Mourinho, however, Cristiano racked up a career-best total of 53 goals. And there's not much negative about that.

On signing for Real Madrid from Manchester United, the Portuguese set his sights on emulating Barcelona, who had just won an historic treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles. Even after losing 4-0 to then-Second Division B side Alcorcon in the first leg of the side's cup tie, Ronaldo was adamant: "I am convinced we are going to win the league, the cup and the Champions League." But they ended up with nothing for a second successive season.

Ronaldo was suitably unimpressed by the Argentine's match-winning performances as he struck both goals, including a brilliant second, as Madrid lost 2-0 to Barca in the sides' Champions League semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. Messi had bagged his brace following the dismissal of Pepe, and Ronaldo said: "I wish I had the chance, as Messi did, to play against 10 players, because then everything is much easier."

Even though Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were the three players short-listed for last year's Golden Ball, Ronaldo says he wouldn't want any of Barcelona's players to join him at Madrid.

"Right now, Iniesta, Xavi and Messi are all playing really well," Cristiano said. "But even if I could sign any player from Barcelona, with all of the good players they have, I wouldn't sign anyone."

Ronaldo became the world's most expensive player when he moved from Manchester United to Real for a massive €94 million in 2009, an outlay which received huge criticism as it came right in the middle of a global financial crisis. The winger, however, doesn't see the problem. "Of course the club can pay €94m for me. Or more. I think I'm worth more," he said.
Ronaldo became a despised figure for many rival fans in England and encountered a similar reaction on moving to Spain. However, the Portuguese has said that he thrives in such situations. In an interview with So Foot, he said: "I love it when people jeer me. I love to see the hate in their eyes, to hear the insults. It doesn't bother me." And he added: "I feel bad only when I play badly. Fortunately, that happens rarely."
Two years on from those previous quotes, Ronaldo believes he has discovered the reason he is so disliked by many. He was jeered throughout Real Madrid's 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday night and said afterwards: "People whistle me because I am good-looking, rich and a great footballer. They are jealous of me."