Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brazil 3 - 2 USA: Samba Kings pulls off great comeback to win the Confederations Cup

Defending Confederations Cup Champions have successfully defended their crown in the most spectacular of ways after coming back from 2 goals down at the break to beat a spirited USA 3-2 at Ellis Park on Sunday evening.

Bob Bradley's USA raced to a shock 2 goal lead at the break after the opening goal from Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey, and a great counter attacking move finished off with aplomb by Landon Donovan.

Another upset looked like being on the cards but Brazil pulled off a great comeback to deny the Americans their first FIFA senior Tournament win. Luis Fabiano started the fightback with Brazil's first goal 40 seconds after the re-start and the Sevilla striker doubled their lead after Robinho's shot hit the crossbar.
Lucio completed the fight back with the winning goal in the 84th minute with a powerful header from Elano's corner.

It's been a great Tournament, a true Festival of Champions with some amazing games over the three weeks. South Africa have shown the world that we will be ready for next year's 2010 Fifa World Cup....

Here are the big winners of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup
  • Winner's: Brazil
  • Runner's Up: USA
  • 3rd Place: Spain
  • Golden Ball (Player of the Tournament): Kaka
  • Silver Ball: Luis Fabiano
  • Bronze Ball:Clint Dempsey
  • Golden Boot (Top Goalscorer): Luis Fabiano
  • Golden Gloves: Tim Howard
It's been a great Tournament, well done to Brazil. Dunga's men have been deserved Champions and will surely be amongst the favourites for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Brazil 3 - 2 USA: Samba Kings pulls off great comeback to win the Confederatons Cup

Defending Confederations Cup Champions have successfully defended their crown in the most spectacular of ways after coming back from 2 goals down at the break to beat a spirited USA 3-2 at Ellis Park on Sunday evening.

Bob Bradley's USA raced to a shock 2 goal lead at the break after the opening goal from Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey, and a great counter attacking move finished off with aplomb by Landon Donovan.

Another upset looked like being on the cards but Brazil pulled off a great comeback to deny the Americans their first FIFA senior Tournament win. Luis Fabiano started the fightback with Brazil's first goal 40 seconds after the re-start and the Sevilla striker doubled their lead after Robinho's shot hit the crossbar.
Lucio completed the fight back with the winning goal in the 84th minute with a powerful header from Elano's corner.

It's been a great Tournament, a true Festival of Champions with some amazing games over the three weeks. South Africa have shown the world that we will be ready for next year's 2010 Fifa World Cup....

Here are the big winners of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup
  • Winner's: Brazil
  • Runner's Up: USA
  • 3rd Place: Spain
  • Golden Ball (Player of the Tournament): Kaka
  • Silver Ball: luis Fabiano
  • Bronze Ball:Clint Dempsey
  • Golden Boot (Top Goalscorer): Luis Fabiano
  • Golden Gloves: Tim Howard
It's been a great Tournament, well done to Brazil. Dunga's men have been deserved Champions and will surely be amongst the favourites for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Spain 3 - 2 South Africa: Bafana's Pride and Passion restored despite heartbreaking defeat

Spain defeated Bafana Bafana 3-2 after extra time in the Confederations Cup 3rd/4th place Play-off at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Image: Kick-Off

We may have been defeated by the Spanish but the team can certainly keep their heads held high after another spirited performance against the number 1 ranked team in the world. The most important aspect for me was that for the first time in years, the players are playing with pride and passion again, and for this Carlos Alberto Parriera and Joel Santana deserves a lot of credit. Coming into the tournament most South Africans expected the team to fail, after all we have plummeted to a lowly rank of 78th in World Football while also failing to qualify for next year's African Cup of Nations, which will be held in Angola.

This tournament has been a real success for the National Team, with the Nation uniting behind Bafana as they took on the likes of Spain and Brazil. I even had a lengthy chat with our Senior Engineer, a 'whitey'(sorry to bring race into this) on Friday after Bafana's defeat against Brazil. I found myself enthusiastically discussing Mokeona's miss and Alves' winning goal with a guy who hardly ever watches soccer!

Getting back to today's game, South Africa came up against Spain in what is commonly known as the 'Losers Final'. Vicete Del Bosque started the match with a strong line-up consisting of Torres, Villa, Alonso and Cassilas amongst others, desperate to get back to winning ways after their shock semi final defeat against USA. Santana made only one change from the side which faced Brazil, bringing back Macbeth Sibaya for Benson Mhlongo.

The first half was an evenly contested affair as Bafana held their own against the Spanish; Matthew Booth missed a guilt edged chance when he failed to hit the target with his header from Tshabalala's free-kick. Spain then had a good opportunity to open the scoring as Santi Carzola broke into the South African box, only to be denied by a brilliant sliding tackle from the impressive Masilela. Simphiwe Tshabalala tested Casillas with a stinging long range effort which the keeper blocked, but the ball fell to Booth inside the box who fired the rebound wide with the goal beckoning.

Spain should have opened the scoring in the second half when Khune blocked a powerful shot from David Villa, which fell into the path of Barcelona's young star Segio Buqsquets who blasted the ball past Khune only for the assistant referee to incorrectly rule his effort out for offside. The game was looking like it would end goalless but it was to be the day of the substitutes as Katlego Mphela silenced his critics(I’ll be having a large slice of humble pie myself!) with a brilliant opening goal in the 73rd minute. The Sundowns striker showed great composure as he controlled Tshabalala's cross with his knee before firing the ball into the roof of Casilla's net as the Stadium erupted in celebration, 1-0 to Bafana!

Bafana was heading for one of their biggest wins since their 1996 AFCON win over Tunisia, but with only two minutes left on the clock Spain pulled a goal back through substitute Daniel Guiza. A minute later it was 2-1 as Guiza scored in the most spectacular fashion with cross from the right, just outside the box which flew found the back of Khune's net via the upright!

This was a real sucker punch for Bafana as the Spanish came from behind to clinch the match. With fans already starting to leave the stadium, Katlego Mphela scored what will surely go down as the goal of the Tournament with the final kick of the game in the 93rd minute. Elrio van Heerden won a free-kick 35 yards out and with the commentator stating that it will take something "very very spectacular" to beat Casillas from that distance, Mphela fired in an unstoppable shot that flew into the net past a helpless Casillas. The goal sparked mass celebrations inside and outside of the stadium as Bafana took the game to extra time.

The first half ended goalless after Mphela missed a good chance to grab his hat-trick, while Spain were unlucky to be denied a penalty after Mhlongo handled the ball in the box. Spain were not to be denied though as Xabi Alonso scored the winning goal from a free-kick in the 107th minute, clinching 3rd place for the Spaniards while leaving South Africa to ponder on what could have been....

Well done Bafana you've made us proud, even in defeat...

Lazy Sunday Transfer Talk: Man City get Eto'o and Tevez, Arsenal eyes Benzema while Chelsea and Man United fight for Franck Ribery

Welcome to another edition of lazy Sunday Transfer Talk, apologies for the late publication but unfortunately I had to attend a wedding today. Without any further ado let’s have a look at what’s making news in the transfer market today….

Manchester City’s Billionaire owners have finally started to flex their financial muscle after the club clinched a deal for Barcelona’s Cameroonian goal machine Samuel Eto’o. The News of the World reports that City and Barcelona have agreed on a £25million transfer fee for the striker.
Barcelona President Juan Laporta revealed in an interview today that City had made a monster offer to Eto’o which will see the striker becoming the highest paid footballer in the world. Eto’o is expected to fly to Manchester on Monday to undergo a medical before being unveiled as Manchester City’s latest signing.

Mark Hughes will further bolster his attacking line-up with the signing of Argentine striker Carlos Tevez. The former Manchester United striker will become one of the Premier League’s most expensive signings ever after agreeing to a £30m fee, which is a bit of an odd case as Tevez currently doesn’t belong to any football club which means that Kia Joorbachian will be pocketing most of the money, if not all. Tevez is expected to sign a four-year deal worth around £140,000 a week on Wednesday.

On the other side of Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson looks to have some battle on his hands as he tries to secure the services of Olympique Lyon’s Karim Benzema, with The News of The World claiming that Arsenal are interested in signing the French striker for £30million, which the board plans on funding with profits made from Emanuel Adebayor’s expected departure to AC Milan this summer. Arsene Wenger is known to have a preference for young players and the fact that he’s 21 and French means that Wenger could be interested in bringing Benzema to the Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea have also started to throw their weight around after a relatively low-key transfer window period last season. The big news coming from the Bridge is that Carlo Ancheloti has been handed a £100million transfer kitty and the Sunday Express believes that £50million of that will be spent on Bayern Munich’s French winger Franck Ribery! Chelsea will however have to fight off competition for Ribery’s signature from the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United while also having to convince the German giants to let go off their star player. Something Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge doesn’t seem too keen on doing. He insisted last night that Ribery was not for sale: “Ribery is irreplaceable and is not for sale.

Chelsea will also be returning with for Brazilian wonderkid Pato, with a massive £50million offer on the cards after AC Milan turned down their £45m bid last week according to News of The World. I can’t see Milan turning this offer down but the Italians will be wary of a backlash from the club’s fans after they sold fan favourite Kaka to Madrid. The paper also goes on to claim that the Blues have completed a £19million deal for CSKA Moscow’s flying winger Yuri Zhirkov, 25, who is known as the Russian Ronaldinho.

Liverpool looks set to lose out on their Spanish midfield maestro Xabi Alonso, with the News of The World reporting that Madrid will meet Liverpool’s £25million pound evaluation. This is however dependant on whether or not they manage to lure David Villa to the Bernabeu, if they succeed its very unlikely that Perez will splash out another £25m on a central midfielder, a position where they already have the likes of Lasana Darra and Fernando Gago.

On the other side of Merseyside, Everton has been linked with a move for former Arsenal attacking midfielder Jose Antonio Reyes. Reyes has had unsuccessful spells with the Gunners, Real Madrid (loan), Benfica (loan) and with his current club Atletico Madrid. The Sunday Mirror claims that David Moyes is eying a €4.7 million move for the 25 year old Spaniard who is also being tracked by Ser-A club’s Roma, Milan and Fiorentina.

Finaly, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has urged Rafa Benitez to bring one of his Spanish team mates to Anfield. Torres believes that Rafa should try and bring either one of David Silva, David Villa or Juan Mata, to Liverpool if they are to end their 19 year wait for a League title.

See you next week....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paper Talk: All the latest Premier Soccer League Transfer Rumours

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the local soccer scene so here is my first installment of ‘Paper Talk’. Paper Talk will be a bi-weekly column where I’ll discuss all the local transfer rumors as reported on by South African soccer publications. Hope you enjoy it and feel free to give feedback….

New Sundowns Coach:Hristo Stoichkov

Patrice Motsepe spotted with new coach Hristo Stoichkov
The guys from Soccer-laduma claims to have spotted Mamelodi Sundowns president Patrice Motsepe dining with the club’s new coach Hristo Stoichkov in a Sandton restaurant. No deal has been signed yet but it is understood that Stoichkov will be taking over the reigns at Sundowns after being recommended to the club by Barcelona! Stoichkov played for Barcelona as a left-winger and won the European footballer of the Year award in 1994 and according to Soccer-laduma negotiations with Sundowns are in an advanced stage.

Zito Ogbonna set to become an Urban Warrior
New Ajax Cape Town coach Muhsin Ertugal reportedly looking at bringing former Kaizer Chiefs striker Zito Ogbonna to the Urban Warriors, this is according to kick-off. Mabhudi Khenyeza has made it clear that he will under no circumstances be working under Ertugal, which means that the club will need a striker to fill the void left by last season’s top goal scorer, and Ertugal has earmarked the big Nigerian as an ideal replacement. The player’s agent has revealed that they are looking for a PSL club for Ogbonna and the player has expressed an interest in working with Ertugal again.(Kick-off)

Masibuzane Zongo impresses at White Hart Lane
Soccer Laduma is claiming that SuperSport United’s talented left winger Masibuzane Zongo, has impressed the folks over at Tottenham Hotspur after recently having trials at the London club. Zongo caught the eyes of scouts after staring for United during Daine Klate’s absence due to injury and now he reportedly left Tottenham’s scouts in awe with his runs and telling crosses. This would be a major move for young Zongo if he pulls it off!

Mbesuma training with Swallows
Former Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns has been spotted training with Moroka Swallows! The big man had a season-long spell with Sundown’s but the Brazilians failed to offer him a new contract after the season ended. The Zambian striker has now been spotted at Swallows by the Siya Crew (Soccer-Laduma) but there has been no confirmation on whether or not he has signed with the Dube Birds. Swallows has released Sandile Ndlovu and could be looking at Mbesuma as his replacement up front.

Khenyeza in high demand
Ajax’s want-away striker Mabhudi Khenyeza is apparently a man in demand after announcing that he wants to leave Ajax. Locally Sundowns are leading the chase for his signature after tabling a bid for him, but it looks like a move overseas will be more likely with teams from the Middle East having shown a strong interest in securing his services. The player himself says that he’s willing to play anywhere as long as he doesn’t have to work with Ertugal, and that his agent is handling everything. (Soccer-Laduma)

Sandilands set to sign for Chiefs
Platinum Stars goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands looks set to complete his move to Kaizer Chiefs this week, according to both Kick-off and Soccer-Laduma. The 25 year old joined Stars from Supersport United four seasons ago and is expected to become Itumeleng Khune’s back-up keeper after Emile Baron’s departure to SuperSport United. He player expressed his excitement at possibly joining Chiefs next season.

Sundowns determined to get Eduardo
It appears as if Mamelodi Sundowns are determined to secure the services of Ajax Cape Town’s Brazilian centre-back Eduardo Ferreira. Their first offer for the defender was turned down by Ajax but Sundowns will reportedly be returning with a new and improved offer for the player who has made t clear that he wants a move to a bigger club. Soccer-Laduma also reports that Eduardo has been fined by the Urban Warriors for reporting two days late for pre season training.

Finally, here are some other rumours making headlines…..
  • Bloemfontein Celtic looking at signing Pirates’ Tembile Kanno, Lindokhule Mkhananzi and Excellent Walaza (Kick-off)
  • Hans Vonk will sign a 1 year contract with Ajax from Dutch club Heerenveen. (Kick-off)
  • Ryan Botha will remain at Moroka Swallows after Julio Leal’s exit from the club. (Soccer-laduma)
  • SuperSport United’s Bonghani Khumalo looks destined for a move overseas after interest from Macabi Haifa (Soccer-Laduma)

Till next week…

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brazil 1 – 0 South Africa: Brave Bafana defeated by Samba Kings

South Africa came within two minutes of taking South American powerhouse Brazil to extra time in the second semi-finals of the Confederations Cup. It wasn’t to be though for Joel Santana’s men as Barcelona’s rampaging right-back Dani Alves scored the winning goal in the 88th minute from a free-kick on the edge of the box.
For the first time in this tournament Brazil were given a hard time as Bafana pressed and hurried them for the entire 90 minutes in what will be a confidence booster for the team ahead of Sunday’s 3rd/4th placed play-off’s.

Bafana dominated the first half but were made to rue the lack of a cutting edge up front as they failed to convert possession into clear cut chances, Aaron Mokoena having the best chance of the game with a header from Modise’s free-kick. The game was heading to extra-time until we gave away a needless free-kick in the 87th minute and the substitute Alves blasted the ball past a hapless Khune in goal, a disappointing finish to spirited performance from Bafana.

Personally I think we’ve made a lot of progress during this tournament, a year ago I would never have bet on Bafana giving football’s super powers Brazil and Spain a run for their money. There are plenty of positives to take out of this Tournament but there’s also a lot to work on during the next 11 months as we prepare for the biggest tournament of them all, the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

I expect there will be calls for Santana and Mokoena’s head to roll from some fans, but I can honestly say that I haven’t seen Bafana playing this well in ages. Bafana will now face Spain in the 3rd/4th place play-off on Sunday before the USA takes on Brazil in the final.

Well done to the Brazilians, tough luck Bafana. You’ve made us proud!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

USA 2-0 Spain: Underdogs stun World's Number 1 to advance to the Confederations Cup Final

Spain had not lost a match since November 2006. They were on a record breaking 15 match winning streak. They had not conceded a single goal during this Fifa Confederations Cup....

Those were some of the facts that were rolling off the commentators tongue prior to kick-off, but after another amazing 90 minutes of soccer the USA team turned world football on it's head when they defeated the mighty Spain 2-0 at Bloemfontein Stadium to advance to Sunday's final.
Tonight we witnessed a truly brilliant team performance from USA, the team who after two matches in Group B had 0 points and a goal difference of -5 somehow defied the odds to beat the unbeatable. Coach Bob Bradley's men made their intentions clear early in the match as they tried to show Spain that they wouldn't be content with just defending. Clint Davies had the firts chance when he attempted an overhead kick from inside the box but his effort went narrowly wide. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan both tested Casilla's with efforts from distance as the Eagles got off to a bright start despite trailing Spain in terms of possession.Torres had Spain's first attempt on goal when Fabregas squared the ball to him, but with too much pace on the cross and an awkward angle Torres could only blast the ball into the crowd for a goal-kick.

It was however in the 26th minute that the game turned on it's head. Villarreal's 19 year old striker Jozy Altidore received a pass from Landon Donovan and the powerful striker expertly shrugged off the challenge from Joan Capdevilla before firing an unstoppable shot at Casilla's, who got a strong hand to it but still failed to keep it out. 1-0 to America and you could sense an upset was on the cards.

For large parts of the rest of the match it was all about USA hanging on fr dear life as the Spanish hit them with everything in their locker, but USA defended brilliantly, Jay DeMerit staring at the back with a serious of last ditch tackles and vital blocks which kept their 1 goal lead safe going into the break.

Spain emerged from the break determined to pull a goal back and probably would have were it not for a series of fine saves from Tim Howard and more goal saving tackles from DeMerit. You could sense that Spain were starting to get frustrated as they pressed forward with attack after attack, and 20 minutes from full-time the USA punished them with a goal from nowhere on the counter. Landon Donovan the creator again , this time playing an inviting cross into the path of Clint Dempsey who was lurking at the far post. Sergio Ramos managed to get to the ball first but he failed to clear the danger and Dempsey capitalized on his slip up to make it 2-0 to the USA.

Spain were now visibly shocked and you you could see that the USA would win this one, even though they lost Michael Bradley in the dieing moments of the match after the midfielder was shown a straight red for a two footed challenge.

The Eagles held on for a memorable win that will see them taking on either Brazil or South Africa in Sunday's final.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Confed Cup: USA completes magical comeback to move into semi-finals!

The USA pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in recent history when they booked their place in the Semi-Finals after beating African Champions Egypt by three goals to nil on Sunday evening in Rustenburg.
It was clear that Group B was wide open but nobody expected the USA to go through to the semi-finals after losing their first their first two matches 3-1 and 3-0. They started the day bottom of Group B, with a goal difference of -5 compared to second placed Italy who had a goal difference of +1. Which effectively meant that USA had to overcome a 6 goal deficit to advance to the semi finals, impossible?

Brazil started the match against Italy in a determined mood and were 3-0 up at the break thanks to two great finishes from Sevilla striker Luis Fabiani and an own goal from Liverpool's Andrea Dossena on the stroke of half-time. This basically meant that Egypt would be advancing if they could avoid defeat by more than 1 goal against USA.
Roger de Sa jokingly said before kick-off that the Americans had already packed their bags but he couldn't have been more wrong! Charlie Davies handed the Eagles a 1 goal lead at the break when he found the back of the net in the 22nd minute.
Michael Bradley doubled their lead on the hour mark after playing a neat one-two with Landon Donovan to send the group wide open! As it stood Italy was now going through instead of Egypt!

Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey then completed one of the greatest comebacks in a Fifa Tournament when he made it 3-0 to the USA, heading home Jonathan Spector's excellent cross. This meant that if things stayed the same the USA would go through by virtue of having scored 1 goal more than Italy who they were level with on goal difference of -2.

After 90 minutes both games ended 3 - 0, which secured the USA the most unlikely of escapes as they advance to the semi-finals alongside Brazil. Brilliant night of action in what has proved to be a great Confederations Cup thus far. Well done the USA for showing great fighting spirit.

Semi Finals now look like this:
Brazil v South Africa
Spain v USA

After tonights results I wouldn't bet aagainst a South Africa vs USA final!

Walter Mokoena puts his foot in his mouth...again

It looks like SABC Sport Presenter Walter Mokoena has yet again gone and put his foot in his mouth after making some very unprofessional comments following Bafana's defeat against Spain last night.
Mokoena who has a history of being 'immature' and unprofessional on National Television, said that Bafana coach Joel Santana should be sacked while also stating that it is time for Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena to go. His parting words last night were:
"Good night and I think we should have a new captain, Aaron Mokoena has never done anything for us, and perhaps after the Confederations Cup a new coach, Joel Santana is not going to take us anywhere.”
While Mokoena may or may not have a point, making such unessesary comments when the whole world is watching is simply unprofessional and immature. He is one of the reasons why many South African soccer fans have stopped watching SABC Sport in favour of the more expensive SuperSport on DSTV. Mokoena can certainly learn a thing or two from SuperSport presenter Robert Marawa, and the SABC as a whole should look at upgrading their production ahead of the 2010 World Cup because to be brutally honest it's pathetic.

Mokoena is no stranger to controversy though, last year the outspoken presenter was suspended by the National broadcaster after joking about how Brazilian footballer Garrincha lost his virginity to a goat. Mokoena was forced to apologise after the public laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

I really hope that the SABC gets better presenters and improve on their production quality by the time the World Cup kicks off next year.

Lazy Sunday Transfer Talk: Arsenal sign Vermaelen, Man City get Santa Cruz, United close in on Benzema and Chelsea chase Torres

Welcome to another edition of Lazy Sunday Transfer Talk. Let's have a look at what's been happening in the world of English Premier League transfer news...

Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen became Arsene Wenger's first signing of the summer after completing a £10 million move from Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam. Vermaelen, 23, captained Ajax last season after making his debut for the Dutch giants at the age of 18. He is a left footed centre back who according to Wenger can also play at left back. Wenger certainly seems chuffed with his latest acquisition:
"Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal, and we are all delighted that he is joining us," the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said. "Thomas is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and Uefa Cup football and is also a regular with the Belgium national team.

"Thomas is primarily a left-footed centre-back, but he's multi-functional and can also play at left-back. He is strong technically with a positive winner's attitude and I have no doubt his arrival will strengthen our team. Thomas Vermaelen will be a huge asset to Arsenal."
Moving along, Manchester City have wrapped up their second summer signing after agreeing on a agreed an £18million deal to sign Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn, as Mark Hughes continues to build a squad capable of breaking into the Premier League's top four. The transfer has not been officially announced yet but it is expected to be made public on Monday according to the Daily Mail. The Mail goes on to add that Santa Cruz will be competing for a place up front alongside the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Carlos Tevez who are also reportedly close to joining Citeh.

Chelsea are also making the news today with the creative folks over at the News Of The World claiming that the Blues are mounting a £50million hunt for Fernando Torres' signature. This comes after news that their original target, David Villa, has been taken off the transfer market by Valencia.
This is could of course just be lazy journalism at it's best after claiming only last week that Manchester United were after Torres, there is however no chance in hell that Torres would leave Liverpool for another Premier League club, after the Spanish striker told reporters in South Africa this weekend that wearing the Red of Liverpool is his greatest honour.

It looks like it will be a frustrating Sumer for the Liverpool supporters with some of Europe's biggest clubs closing in on their best players. The Mirror reports that Chelsea have joined the race to sign £20million rated Xabi Alonso, who has reportedly started discussing personal terms with Real Madrid. Then there are also rumours that Real Madrid has joined Barcelona in the battle to secure the signing of defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano. According to The Times Florentino Perez is prepared to pay £38m for the joint transfer of Mascherano and right-back Alvaro Arbeloa. With Mascherano — who is keen to move to either of Spain’s premier clubs — valued at £30m, the sum would be a record fee for a holding midfielder.

This could see Liverpool without any recognised holding midfielder's in the new campaign, leaving Benitez with only Lucas Leiva in this position. I seriously doubt that the club would sell BOTH Alonso and Mascherano but these day's you can't rule out anything, especially with Liverpool's money troubles.

Manchester United announced on Saturday that they would not be signing Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, and it looks as if Ferguson will now step up his chase for Lyon's Karim Benzema with a £25million offer for the French striker. Lyon told reporters that he is not for sale last week but according to The News of The World, Manchester United believes that a £25m offer could be enough to tempt them into letting go of their star player. Bernard Lacombe, the personal advisor to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, has revealed they are anticipating a bid from Fergie. Lacombe said:
"Benzema is with us, but nobody knows what will happen. We didn't think Michael Essien would leave at the time, but when Chelsea arrived with the cheque . . .
"If Manchester United, who as we know have plenty of cash available, want to buy Benzema, then what can you do?"

That’s it for this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday Transfer talk, till next time…

Saturday, June 20, 2009

South Africa advance to Semi-Finals of Confederations Cup

South Africa has advanced to the Semi Finals of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup despite suffering a 2-0 defeat against European Champions Spain at the Bloemfontein Stadium on Saturday evening!

Bafana needed at least a draw against the number 1 ranked team in the World to secure their passage to the semi-finals but on the night the Spanish were just a class above their host. The defeat meant that Bafana had to hope that the tournament's whipping boys, New Zealand could somehow managed to avoid defeat against Iraq in the other match in Group A.
New Zealand did indeed manage to avoid defeat, as they held the Asian champions to a goall less draw at Ellis Park which booked Bafana's place in the semi finals.

I can't tell you how overjoyed I am at the moment because South African football has been craving for a result of this magnitude since our African Cup of Nations win over Tunisia in 1996. Well done Boys, you've made me very proud tonight, but I know I can't speak for everybody else as I'm sure there’s bound to be lot's of complaining and moaning after this result. But I think we need to celebrate this achievement because we have deserved it after our performances in the Tournament. There's still lot that needs to be improved on ahead of our next match, which is likely to be against Group B leaders Brazil.

As for the actual game, Santana opted for his uber-defensive line-up again, recalling Benson Mhlongo in place of striker Terror Fanteni but in fairness to Santana, Bafana never really sat back and we definitely gave as good as we got in an evenly contested first half which ended 0-0.
The second half also got off to a good start , until Aaron Mokoena brought down Cesc Fabregas inside the area in the 50th minute and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. David Villa stepped up but birthday boy Itumeleng Khune pulled off a sublime double save to deny Villa.

The Valencia striker would not be denied though as he opened the scoring two minutes later with a brilliant finish as he beat Khune with a low shot after controlling a cross with his chest. Spain then withdrew Villa and Torres with the game pretty much wrapped up as Bafana looked deflated after conceding. We tried to get back into the match but the result was put beyond doubt when substitute Llorente scored from close range in the 72nd minute after the defence was caught napping from a Spanish free-kick.

That was pretty much game, set and match as all eyes crossed over to Johannesburg where Iraq was taking on New Zealand. Luckily for Bafana the match ended 0-0 which means that Bafana move into the semi-finals alongside Spain.

South Africa's success in this tournament comes as somewhat of a shock considering the bad press that the coach and the team had received prior to it kicking off on the 14th, but this just goes to show that with 50 000 supporters cheering you on anything is possible!

Well done Boys, you've made us proud

Friday, June 19, 2009

Confederations Cup Preview: South Africa v Spain

This is the big one folks. South africa vs European Champions Spain for a place in the semi finals of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup!

South Africa kicked off their campaign against Iraq on Sunday and were frustrated by the Iraqi's defensive approach a 0-0 draw. I feel that we were very unfortunate not to come away with three points against Iraq but we only have ourselves to blame for not taking our chances. Santana was criticized for starting the match with THREE defensive midfielders, and in the next math against New Zealand the coach used a more attacking line-up which paid off as Bafana ran riot against the hapless 'All Whites', defeating the Oceania Champions by two goals to nil. However were it not for some woeful finishing and excellent saves from the New Zealand keeper the score could easily have been four or five nil.

Spain on the other hand got their Confed Cup campaign off to a flying start when they thrashed New Zealand 5 – 0 in their opening match in Rustenburg. The score line flattered the All Whites who found themselves 4-0 down after only 24 minutes played as Spain showed the fans why they are the number 1 ranked team in World Football at the moment. In their second game against Iraq it was much of the same as the Spaniards dominated the play with crisp passing and great movement off the ball. The only difference in this match however was that the Spaniards were wasteful in front of goal, eventually beating the Iraqi's 1-0 thanks to a second half David Villa header.

The win sealed Vicente Del Bosque's side's place in the semi finals, which could mean that we will be seeing a second string starting 11 on Saturday(if such a thing exists in a team like Spain)

A draw for Bafana on Saturday will be enough to book their place in the semi-finals BUT I believe that playing for a draw against Spain will be suicidal. Joel Santana is renowned for his defensive line-ups but I strongly believe that attack will be our best form of defense in this match. Sitting back and defending against a team with Spain’s attacking abilities will be asking for trouble.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying we have to go at them with everything we have like we did against New Zealand, because with the pace of Fernando Torres and David Villa up front they will definitely hurt us on the counter attack.

Before the match against New Zealand I said we should follow Egypt's example (even though they had lost against Brazil) and after last night's performance against Italy I'm reiterating that statement: Let's follow the example of the African Champions by playing with pride and fighting together as a united for the win. Yes Egypt defended for large parts of the match, but this was only because Italy was going all out in attack, and were it not for some poor counter attacking the Pharaoh’s could have won by more than the solitary goal.

Not many believe that we can get a result from this match against the number 1 ranked team in World Football, but if WE believe in our abilities and play to our strengths then we can pull off the upset of the tournament, such is the nature of the beautiful game where anything is possible.

Let's Get behind Bafana Tomorrow!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Great Vuvuzela debate: Should Fifa Ban the Vuvuzela?

The Fifa Confederations Cup has gotten off to a great start and despite what many may have thought we have shown that we are capable of hosting one of Fifa’s biggest tournaments. There were concerns about safety and transport ahead of the tournament but so far the only real ‘problem’ has been the Vuvuzela.

International viewers have been complaining about the noise that these Vuvuzela’s make at the games and have started calling on World Football governing body, Fifa to ban them.

I think this will be a HUGE mistake from Fifa, as the Vuvuzela is part of our local soccer culture. If you have ever watched or attended a local soccer match you will have seen the infamous Vuvuzela in action. Critics are saying they are too noisy. I say so what? That is the purpose of the Vuvuzela after all. It is there to get the atmosphere buzzzzing. This is Africa and we are renowned for dancing and singing and generally creating a great vibe at our football matches.
It’s all part of the uniquely South African experience and I’m certain that if our foreign visitors attend the games and experience the electrifying atmosphere they will fall in love with the Vuvuzela.

To me asking the local supporters to leave their Vuvuzela’s at home would be like asking the Liverpool fans not to sing You'll Never Walk Alone, or asking the Brazilian fans not to create the Samba atmosphere at their matches. The World Cup will be held in South Africa so surely people will want to get the South African experience?

Fifa’s English commentators certainly seem to enjoy the festive atmosphere at the stadiums with not one of them having complained about the Vuvuzela.

Sepp Blatter told reporters yesterday that the Vuvuzela will not be banned at the 2010 World Cup, and I for one hope that the Fifa President will stick to his promise. What is your opinion on the Vuvuzela?

Should Fifa ban them or are they part of the uniquely African experience?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

South Africa 2 - 0 New Zealand: A Peformance to be proud of from Bafana

Tonight Bafana Bafana made me proud to be a South African Soccer supporter. After all the 'grief' we(SA Soccer fans) have to put up with it was great to see such a positive performance from the National Team.
Tonight the team played like South Africa. The flair, the skill the passion and pace that was lacking in the previous game against Iraq was there in ubandance tonight. The final score may have been 2-0 in favour of Bafana but it could easily have been 4-0 or 5-0 if Masegho had his scoring boots on tonight and were it not for a string of great saves from the New Zealand keeper Moss.

I'm not going to bore you with my usual lengthy match report because I'm sure majority of you will have watched tonight's game. Santana came into this match under a lot of pressure but he will have silenced his critics after this performance. Bafana were buzzing in attack tonight, 20 shots at goal verifies this. But it wasn't just the shots on target which impressed me. It was the way the team played with total belief in their abilities, little flicks and tricks were the order of the night as the likes of Pienaar and Modise ran riot. Tshepo Masilele was an absolute joy to watch down the left flank and he will surely have attracted attention from scouts at the tournament with a man of the match display.

Bernard Parker was the star of the night though against the All Whites. Our new number 17 scored both goals with clinical finsihes either side of half time, taking us one step closer to reaching the Semi Finals of the Confederations Cup. Katlego Mashego missed a couple of sitters but his positional play was amazing and I think he should be given a start against the Spaniards. Another player who impressed me last night was Siphiwe Tshabalala, even though he was only on the pitch for 10 minutes he showed why he is being heavily inked with a move overseas.

Overall it was a great team performance from Bafana, Santana and the supporters at The Royal Bofakeng Stadium. A draw against Spain on Saturday will be enough to book our place in the Semi-Finals.

Bring on the Spaniards!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Confed Cup: Bafana Starting 11 vs New Zealand

Big game for Bafana Tonight against New Zealand. This is a MUST win match in my opinion because our chances of beating Spain in our final match are slim to none!
Santana has to go with a more attacking line up evening against the ‘All Whites’ who were thrashed 5-0 by Spain in their first match. The New Zealand side is practically a bunch of part time footballers with only a hand full of them playing overseas

In the centre of the park we can use either one of Kagiso Dikgacoi or Macbeth Sibaya, alongside the creative force of Teko Modise. On the right wing(assuming Sanatana still knows where this is) Elrio Van Heerden or Bryce Moon has to start the match to give us some width. On the left we can go with the skill and guile of Steven ‘Schillo’ Pienaar.While up front I believe that we should stick with Terror Fanteni and Bernard Parker, with Katlego Mashego coming on in the second half, preferably no later than the 70th minute. So here is the team I would like to see tonight:

Starting Line-up


RW-Van Heerden


Go out there and make us proud Bafana!

Fifa Confederations Cup Round 1 Statistics Review

The Confederations Cup 2009 got underway this week and what a week it has been! Round 1 has concluded with all teams having played their first matches.
In total, 16 goals have been scored in the opening round, an average of four per game, have ensured a spectacular start to the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009. This free-scoring opening to the tournament mirrors exactly the start to the 2005 edition, which bodes well given that Germany witnessed the highest-scoring 'Festival of Champions' in history, with an overall average of 3.5 goals per game.
Read the rest of this great post over at The Flat Back Four

Pre-Season Football: The Amsterdam Tournament 2009

The end is in sight for those of you who are sick of watching International football (soccer) with some great pre-season tournaments around the corner.
The Amsterdam Tournament 2009
The Amsterdam Tournament has always been one of my favourite pre-season tournaments and it kicks off next month with the likes of Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Sunderland taking on the hosts Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena.

The Tournament was started in 1975 to celebrate 700 years of the city of Amsterdam's history and it involves four teams, one of which is always the host Ajax Amsterdam. Teams such as Inter Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and River plate has competed at the tournament in recent years and this year the guests include Portuguese side Benfica, English Premier League’s Sunderland and la Liga’s Atletico de Madrid.

The tournament takes place over a three day period, with the second day being a resting day for the teams. What I really like about the tournament is the point scoring system. Besides the usual three points for a win, one for a draw system, each team is also awarded a point for every goal scored; this is to encourage teams to play attacking football.

The draw for the Tournament was conducted today and this is how the four teams will line-up against each other:

Day 1 - Friday 24th July
7pm: Sunderland vs Benfica.
9.15pm: Ajax vs Atletico Madrid.

Day 2 - Sunday 26th July
7pm: Sunderland vs Atletico Madrid.
9.15pm: Ajax vs Benfica.
*UK Time

There you have it, just over a month away from seeing club footy again…

Italy 3 - 1 USA: Rossi sparks Italian comeback against Americans

World Champions Italy came back from a goal down do beat a spirited 10 man USA side by three goals to one another great game of football at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on Monday night.
The crowed was once again amazing with a very cosmopolitan turn out of black, white, Indian, American and even Asian fans all joining together in celebration of the beautiful game.
The game itself turned out to be a great spectacle with both teams making their intentions clear from the kick-off. Italian centre back Nicola Legrottaglie had the first real chance of match when he found himself with a free header inside the box from a set-piece but the defender failed to hit the target as his effort went wide of the goal.

The USA then had a great chance to open the scoring through Michael Bradley who created some space for himself but with only Gianluigi Buffon to beat the midfielder fired in a tame shot which Buffon comfortably saved. Moments later Jozy Altidore failed to score from a similar position to the one Bradley found him in, but the big striker scuffed his shot which allowed Buffon to make another easy save. This was clearly not going to be a goalless game.

The match was then turned on its head when the referee gave Ricardo Clark a red card for a foolish lunge on Genarro Gattuso. It was a very harsh decision from the referee and a yellow card would have been more appropriate as there was no intent from the midfielder. This meant that USA had to play against the World Champions with 10 men for the better part of an hour!

Italy then a had a goal disallowed when left-back Jonathan Bornstein stabbed the ball into his own net from outside the area but the assistant’s flag was up for offside even though the Italian player never actually touched the ball.
Lucky escape for USA but the Americans didn’t allow their heads to drop and were rewarded for their positive style of play when Altidore earned them a penalty in the 40th minute after the striker cut inside Chillieni, forcing the Juventus centre back to foul him. Landon Donovan stepped up and coolly sent Buffon the wrong way to hand the USA a 1-0 lead at the break.

Italy came back strong in the second half after the introduction of Riccardo Montolivo and Rossi for Marco Camoranesi and Gattuso as Marcelo Lippi added more firepower to his attack. Within minutes of coming on, American-born Guissepi Rossi pulled Italy level after he stole the ball on the halfway line before running at the USA defence to unleash an unstoppable left footed drive from 35 yards out! That strike from the former Manchester United striker will definitely be a contender for goal of the tournament.

The Azzurri then doubled their lead with an even better strike from Roma’s Danielle De Rossi. The midfielder collecting the ball from about 40 yards out to fire in a dipping shot which Howard failed to keep out. The USA may consider themselves unlucky to have conceded two cracking goals like that after all their hard work, but they were still in it up until the 90th minute when Rossi grabbed his second goal of the math with another beautiful goal. This time AC Milan playmaker Andrea Pirlo was the creator, skillfully beating the right back before chipping the ball to Rossi who fired home an unstoppable volley from 10 yard out.

The game finished 3-1 but the score line was slightly misleading after a spirited performance from the Americans.

This really is the festival of Champions...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brazil 4 - 3 Egypt: Samba kings edge out Egypt in seven goal thriller

Brazil emerged victorious from a seven goal thriller against African Champions Egypt, in what turned out to be a VERY entertaining match in Bloemfontein.
The South Americans opened the scoring inside the first five minutes through a sublime finish from Real Madrid's new signing Kaka.
The Brazilian attacker showed the South African crowed why Real were prepared to pay 56 Million pounds for his services as he danced through the Egyptian defence with a two brilliant flicks before calmly slotting the ball past Essam El-Hadry in the Egyptian goal.
Egypt were soon back on level terms though as Mohammed Zidan finished off a good attacking move by heading past Julio Cesar from a pinpoint cross 4 minutes later. However Brazil fought back and unbelievably re-took the lead in the 12th minute after Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano headed in from Elano's free-kick, in looked like being another high scoring match in the Confederations Cup.

Brazil then extended their lead in the 38th minute when Juan scored with a powerful header from Elano's corner-kick, which left the Egyptians with a mountain to climb in the second half.

Egypt wasted little time in mounting their fight back though and the Pharaoh's pulled a goal back 10 minutes after the re-start when Mohamed Shawky beat Cesar with a well placed shot from outside the box, and a minute later Zidan turned the match on it's head when he grabbed his second goal of the match to level matters for Egypt! The striker blasting the ball past a helpless Cesar after running onto a through ball to complete a memorable comeback.

It wasn't to be though for the African Champions as Brazil snatched a winner two minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty by referee Howard Webb after Ahmed Al Muhamadi deliberately handled Lucio's goal-bound shot. Kaka stepped up to take the spot kick and showed great composure to squeeze the ball into the corner past the diving keeper in the 90th minute as the thrilling match ended 4-3.

It was great to see the stadium full of fans today and while Egypt may have one down they made the continent proud with a spirited performance against the Samba Kings.

Ke Nako!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spain 5 - 0 New Zealand: Ruthless Torres destroys the Kiwis

In the space of 3 hours the Fifa Confederations Cup was transformed from a bore fest into a goal fest thanks to a ruthless display of attacking football from Spain at the Rustenberg Stadium on Sunday evening.
The game was practically over after only 17 minutes on the clock as Liverpool striker Fernando Torres completed his hat-trick with a powerful header. Torres opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a brilliant curling shot from just outside the penalty area which left the keeper with no chance, a world class finish.

Torres doubled Spain’s lead 10 minutes later when a completed a flowing move as Riera played in David Villa with a through ball and the Valencia striker squared the ball to Torres who kept his composure to calmly side foot the ball into the New Zealand net. Three minutes later Torres showed why he is rated as the best striker in the world when he grabbed his third goal with a powerful header from Capdevilla's cross. This wasn’t going to be pretty for New Zealand with Spain showing no signs of letting up.

Cesc Fabregas scored their fourth in 24 Minutes with a simple tap in from Capdevilla’s pull back as Vincente Del Bosque’s side went into the break with a 4 goal lead.
It looked like there would be more of the same in the second half when Villa made it 5-0 three minutes after the re-start after Andy Boyens silly mistake at the back gifted the Valencia striker with a goal. After that goal Spain took their foot of the gas somewhat with the game over as a contest. They score could easily have been 8 nil were it not for simple misses from Fabregas, Villa and Capdevilla.

Last night Spain showed South Africa how to play the beautiful game, with attaching football that would put the likes of Barcelona and Arsenal to shame.

Viva Espanyol...

South Africa 0 – 0 Iraq: Frustrating result, but decent performance from Bafana

Bafana Bafana can consider themselves unlucky not to have picked up three points against Iraq in the opening game of the Fifa Confederations Cup at Ellis Park Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In what was a big day for the country, things went relatively smoothly with a uniquely African opening ceremony two hours before kick off. There were complaints from some of the fans that there was chaos at the parking park with thousands of fans waiting for busses to take them to the Stadium. However overall it was a well organized opening with Fifa President and the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma getting things underway by officially declaring the Confederations Cup open.

Joel Santana opted to go with a similar starting 11 that defeated Poland 1-0 last weekend, with left back Tsepho Masilele coming in for Innocent Mdledle and Teko Modise for Pienaar being the only changes.
The game got off the lively start as striker Tembinkhosi Fanteni picked up a yellow card in the first minute after a crunching tackle on Karrar Jasim. It soon settled down though, with Bafana struggling to string together passes as the Iraqi’s quickly closed down the space. Jasim had the first chance of the game with a speculative shot from distance which Khune comfortably saved. Bernard Parker had South Africa’s first effort on goal with a weak shot from outside the box. Holding midfielder Macbeth Sibaya had our best chance of the opening 45 minutes when he unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards out which the Iraqi keeper did well to tip over for a corner in the 13th minute. That was the only real highlights of a dull an uneventful first half which ended 0-0 at the break.

Bafana started the second half much better, looking determined to open the scoring as they started to get bodies into the Iraq box, which lead to our best chances of the game. Fanteni was the first player to go close with a powerful glancing header from a Modise corner going narrowly over the crossbar.Santana refused to make substitutions despite calls from the home crowd, but the coach made a tactical change by deciding to play with three at the back. It looked as if the Iraqi’s were starting to get affected by the altitude as they allowed Bafana to control the match.

The coach finally made a change in the 78nd minute when he brought on Orlando Pirates striker Katlego Mashego for Fanteni, and within minutes of coming on Mashego should have opened the scoring for South Africa. Khune’s Reina-like goal kick found the striker in space and after fighting off the attention of a Iraqi defender the striker found himself one on one with the keeper but fired his shot straight at him! FA frustrating miss that had me jumping off my seat, however this was not half as frustrating as our next missed opportunity.
With 7 minutes left on the clock a goal seemed destined for Bafana as Kagiso Digkacoi connected with Gaxa’s cross to fire in a header which had goal written all over it. You could see the crowed getting ready to celebrate our opening goal as the ball headed into an empty net with the keeper beaten hands down, however the ball SOMEHOW managed to hit Bernard Parker on the back of his leg just in front of the goal line. Desperately unlucky for Bafana Bafana who deserved to come away from this game with at least a win.

Santana is bound to come in for some criticism for starting the match with three defensive midfielders but there were reports that Pienaar suffered a stomach bug two days before the match which could explain his decision to leave the Everton star on the bench. I was very concerned with our lack of width in this formation. The fullback’s Masilele and Gaxa were practically playing as wingers for most of the match.

Santana was questioned on this after the match but I could barely make out a word of what the Brazilian was saying, heaven knows how the player’s are supposed to understand his instructions during a match. He kept saying that the team played well and that we ‘controlled’ the match, a phrase which Liverpool supporters will be more than familiar with under Rafa Benitez who is infamous for focusing more on not losing than actually winning.

To summarise, it wasn’t a pretty match, far from it but we were VERY unlucky not to win it and I think the boys put in a good(decent) performance overall. I expected more from Teko Modise but the Orlando Pirates player had a below par game in Pienaar's absence.
I hope Santana will go with a more attack minded line up against New Zealand in the second group match because a win will be vital.

Looking forward to the next match….

Lazy Sunday Transfer Talk: Man United Target Torres, Benzema and Valdes

Welcome to the second Edition of Lazy Sunday Transfer Talk. I’m still trying to recover from last night’s activities but let’s have a look at what’ happening in the transfer market today….
The story that immediately got my attention was the one linking Manchester United with an audacious bid for Liverpool’s Spanish striker Fernando Torres. The Sunday Express claim that Fergie will use most of the 80 million Pounds they made from the Ronaldo sale to bring Torres to old Trafford.

The story has no real substance though, there’s not even a sign of the usual “source close to the club revealed this” nonsense that the papers usually use when making up stories. This is clearly a bullshit story because there is no way in hell Liverpool would sell any of their best player’s to their arch rivals. Hell they wouldn’t even sell Djimi Traore to the Red Devils. Got to love lazy journo’s…

Speaking of the Mancs, they have apparently been told that highly rated French striker Karim Benzema would not be for sale. The £35m-rated Benzema has been one of Ferguson’s targets for a couple of season’s now but according to The Mirror, Lyon won’t be selling their start striker after the club failed to win the League 1 title for the first time in seven years. "Our idea is to keep Karim for another season," said Bernard Lacombe, Lyon's transfer’s adviser.

Carlos Tevez will follow Ronaldo out of old Trafford after the Argentine striker reportedly agreed terms with Manchester City. The Mirror reports that Tevez is close to signing a whopping £140,000-a-week deal with Mark Hughes’ Manchester City as soon as his loan deal with United expires at the end of June. Looks’ like United will be without two of their best attacker’s next season.
One player who was not quite so keen on joining the Billionaires at the City of Manchester Stadium is Barcelona’s hitman Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroonian striker reportedly turned down a £160,000 offer from City, in favour of playing Champions League football, leaving Chelsea, Liverpool and Inter Milan to fight it out for his services according to The People.
In other stories, Real Madrid are set to add French winger Franck Ribery to their growing list of Galactico’s(stars) after reportedly promising Ribery that they will sign him next season. A similar promise was made to Ronaldo so it should not be taken lightly. News of The World reports that Real can’t afford to break the £50m barrier again this pre-season after the £80m deal for Cristiano Ronaldo, but they have made assurances to Frenchman that if he hangs on he will be their big signing next summer.

Real are also reportedly still interested in adding Inter Milan’s Swedsh striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their list of stars at the Bernabeu but according to The Times the Madrid giants have been shocked by Inter’s price tag rumoured to be in the region of £80m. This was enough to end Barca’s interest in the striker but Perez usually get’s what he wants and is reportedly tabling a player plus cash bid for Zlatan, with Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain moving to Inter.

Liverpool may be in danger on losing out on their Argentine defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano after the player threatened to leave the Merseyside giants. The News of the World reports “exclusively” that Mascherano is considering ditching Liverpool for Spanish Champions Barcelona due to the fact that his pregnant wife has failed to settle in England. She returned to South America with the couple's daughter Lola before the end of last season and it is believed that she would be more comfortable in the Spanish capital. I find this quite laughable to be honest but there are rumours on the net that Barca are preparing a £30million bid for the tough tackling Argentine captain.

Finally, Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly lining up a bid for Bayern Munich’s Italian striker Luca Toni while Manchester United are looking at bringing Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes to Old Trafford as a long term replacement for the ageing Edwin Van Der Sar.

Silly season indeed….

I got Featured on!

I really can't believe my luck. One of my recent articles has just been featured on! The biggest football(soccer) website in the world!
When I started this blogspot blog I did so with the aim of writing for big football websites such as and , but never did I imagined that this would happen 1 week after starting! It's truelly a great honour to be writing for such huge websites and it also motivates me to work harder and create even better articles in future.

Thanks to The Editor for publishing the article, you can view it HERE.

Till next time...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ronaldo spends night with Paris Hilton after ditching United

Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo would have the balls to do this? Two day's after ditching the Red Devils for Real Madrid in a massive 80 Million Pound move, World Footballer of The Year Cristiano Ronaldo was partying it up with none other than Actress/Reality Show Star/Singer/Hotel Heir/Pornstar, Paris Hilton.
Ronaldo and Paris were partying in a Hollywood night club and according to sources in the club they were making out, erm, quite ‘profusely’. A clubber who witnessed their frolicking said: "They were sucking each other's faces off like their plane was going down. At one point Ronaldo had a bottle between his legs and Paris was stroking it. It was very racy."

Ronnie being the smooth operator that he is, left the club with Paris and spent the rest of the night with the Hilton sister's at Nicky's LA home. Read the full story HERE(with lot's of juicy quotes and pics for those of you who are into that gossip stuff)
I don't know of any other football players that goes to the paparazzi infested Los Angeles for a holiday, but then again he is a Galactico now.

Ronnie can only go downhill from here....

Manchester United can't replace Ronaldo, and Ferguson knows it

It's about time I added my 2 cents to this whole Cristiano Ronaldo departure debate. Since news of Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid broke on Thursday every newspaper, website and blogger has been speculating about who Fergie would bring in to replace the Luis Vuitton bag carrying Portuguese winger.
My answer is simple, Manchester United can't replace Cristiano Ronaldo, and Fergie knows it! The Ronaldo of the past two, three season was something special. The Portuguese winger had it all in his locker, breathtaking speed, ability to score with either foot from all distances and angles, a free-kick expert, strong in the air, and a bag of tricks that would put most Brazilian Futsal players to shame. A player with his talents had not been seen at Old Trafford since the day's of George Best, in fact one of Manchester United's biggest legends Sir Bobby Charlton believed that Ronaldo had everything Best had, only with greater speed and more strength. Any United player will be hard pressed to find a better compliment than that!

Players of such high caliber aren't replaced overnight. Ask any Liverpool fan if they've been able to find a player to fill the void left by Kenny Dalglish all those years ago, or if they've ever managed to bring in a winger that could live up to the standards set by John Barnes, and the answer will be no. The same goes for Arsenal. Put your hands up if you think they've been able to replace the legendary Patrick Viera or Thierry Henry. Nope didn't think so. Hell United themselves are still trying to find a replacement for Roy Keane after spending over 40 Million Pounds on central midfielders.
Ronado's faults were there for all to see, but his talent was what convinced Ferguson to put up with his crap. Fergie knew that replacing Ronaldo wouldn't be easy, after all there's a short supply of 20+ goals a season attacking midfielder's in World football at the moment. Why else would a manager who is so renowned for kicking out players who step over the line beg Ronaldo to stay at Manchester United? Who can forget how quickly the likes of Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were sent packing after stepping over the line? Well with Ronaldo it was different.

Fergie was desperate to hold onto his Portuguese winger despite the player openly flirting with Real Madrid for the better part of two seasons. Famously stating that he felt like a ‘slave’ at Manchester United, while he also professed his man-love to Madrid with the clichéd "It has always been my dream to play for Real Madrid" quotes in the summer of 2008.
Despite all this Fergie did everything in his power to hold onto Ronaldo and eventually convinced the winger to stay on for another season even after the player made it clear that his heart was in Madrid.

Have you ever seen Ferguson do this for any other player? Ask yourself why. The answer is simple; Ferguson knew that replacing Ronaldo would be as difficult as replacing Keane, which could take years, regardless of how much money they made out of the deal.

So my advice to Manchester United fans is simple, don't expect any player to come in next year and fill the massive gap left by Ronaldo, it could be a very long time before there's another World and European footballer of the year plying his trade at Old Trafford.

Till next time...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One year to go until the 2010 World Cup Kick's Off!

It feels surreal but there is EXACTLY a year to go until we host the World's biggest Sporting event right here in South Africa, the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
It seems like it was only yesterday that Fifa President Sepp Blatter opened that envelope and announced that "Sud Africa" would be hosting the first Fifa World Cup to be hold on the African Continent.
It's been an amazing journey thus far, with lot's of difficulties faced along the road. The Integrated Rapid Transit(IRT) system has emerged as one of the single biggest threats to us hosting a successful World Cup, but there are still concerns regarding the level of crime, while difficulties with handling the influx of fans into the country are also expected.
Then there has also been the occasional strikes from the Stadium Workers and one or two(okay a good couple!) complains regarding the ticket buying process.

Despite all these difficulties, the 2010 Local Organizing Committee has gone about doing their job to ensure that we will be ready come until 2010.
The Stadiums are ready, all 10 venues being ahead of schedule, with 5 of them already completed. One of them, the Nelson Mandela multi-purpose stadium in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province, was unveiled this week ahead of the Confederations Cup.

I'm 100% confident that we will be ready come 2010 and I've already got my grubby paws on a couple(5) of World Cup Tickets, but I'm still hoping to score one to the final of the World Cup. Let's hope lady luck smiles at me during the Third Phase of the 2010 World Cup Ticket Sales.

Bring on the 2010 World Cup. WE ARE READY!

Durban and Cape Town launch 2010 World Cup Websites

With only a year left before the 2010 World Cup kick's off, Durban and Cape Town have launched their 2010 Websites and I think they both look amazing!
I haven't had much time to review either of these websites but just browsing through them briefly I must say that I'm impressed by the design, layout and information that's at hand. It should be very helpful to overseas(and local) fans who intend on visiting one of these 2010 World Cup Host Cities.

You can check them out here and let me know what you think, I will be doing a review of both these sites which I'll publish on Saturday, once I've had a chance to put them through some rigorous browsing.

It's Galacticos II as Ronaldo joins Kaka at Real Madrid

Somebody clearly failed to inform Real Madrid President Florentino Perez that we are in a recession. Two days after breaking the World Transfer Fee Record by signing AC Milan’s Brazilian attacker Kaka for 56 million pounds, the old geezer has gone and smashed that Record with a 80 MILLION POUND deal for Cristiano Ronaldo.
We discussed the possibility of the deal happening within the next couple of days in this morning’s edition of Thursday Transfer Talk, and only a couple of hours later the deal was announced to the world via a statement on Manchester United’s website:
"Manchester United have received a world-record, unconditional offer of 80 million pounds for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid," said a statement on its website, under the headline "Reds accept 80m pound Ronaldo bid." read the statement
I’m sure there will plenty of coffee-soaked keyboards in offices today because to put it bluntly, that is a fucking lot of money for one football player! Let’s put it into perspective by looking at how much Real will be paying for Ronaldo by looking at the amount in four of the major currencies:
  • 80 Million Pounds
  • 130 Million Dollars
  • 94 Million Euro’s
  • 1, 05 Billion Rand
It’s been two hours since news of the deal broke and I’m still trying to digest this. Perez has walked the walk and talked the talk in his bid to rebuild the Galacticos and he looks set to returning Madrid to their former glory. I doubt we will ever see two bigger transfers than the ones Perez just pulled off, unless they manage the impossible by prising Lionel Messi away from Barca in a similar fashion to how they signed Luis Figo all those years ago.

Rumours are that Perez still has some money to burn, with Valencia’s David Villa or Inter Milans Zlatan Ibrahamovich likely to be the next Galactico.

Watch this space….

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thursday Transfer Talk: Part 1

Since Sunday's edition of Lazy Sunday Transfer was quite popular with our visitors we have decided to add another transfer talk feature, Transfer Talk Thursday. So let's have a look at what's making news this Thursday morning...
Real Madrid broke the World Record transfer fee on Tuesday when they signed Kaka for 56 million pounds but it seems that this was only the start for the Madrid giants, who are reportedly close to completing the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo for a whopping ₤82m! This is according to Spanish paper Marca, who splashed a picture of the United winger on their Thursday edition's frontpage along with the headline “CR7 Will Play In Madrid”.
La Razon reported on details of the contract and the agreement on their website. They believe that Ronaldo will pen a six-year contract with an annual salary of €9.5 million. Interesting times ahead at the Bernabue...

Moving along Chelsea are believed to be on red alert after AC Milan's midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo hinted that he may be interested in joining Carlo Ancelotti at Stamford Bridge. Speaking on Kaka's exit and questions regarding a possible move to Chelsea Pirlo said:
'Me at Chelsea? Let's see, Maybe not now but we will see. 'We took Kaka's move badly. Kaka is a really great player and a really great man. To cover his absence will take time. The Milan board wanted to bring in the money. Kaka was right to say this hasn't been his decision.'
Liverpool Manager Rafa Benitez has put to bed any possibilities of a Javier Mascherano sale by stating that the defensive midfielder 'has no price'. "Mascherano has no price. Barcelona could not afford to match his value. They can offer £40m or even £50m. We don't want to sell." said Benitez.
This comes after reports that Mascherano had besome unsettled at Anfield and would consider a move to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Doesn't look like a move will happen though.

Finally, it appears as if Manchester City's Brazilian star Robinho could be looking for an exit from The City of Manchester Stadium after professing his man-love to Barcelona in an interview. The striker denied that the Spanish and European Champions had made a bid for him but admitted that it would be a dream to play for Barca.

'So far, there have only been speculations,' he told Sport. 'There is nothing concrete and I haven’t received any offers.The only thing I can say is that Barcelona are a great team and everybody would love to play for them.'

Robinho did however concede that he remains comfortable with his decision to swap Madrid for Manchester.'I left because I was not happy. I do not regret the decision and I’m comfortable at Manchester City.'

That's it for the first editition Thursday Transfer Talk, join me tomorrow for Paper talk, our South African Soccer transfer column.

Till then...

Everything you need to know about the Confederations Cup

There's only 4 day left until the Confederations Cup kicks off and I received this interesting Newsletter from the shine2010 editor which I thought I'd share with you guys.

Brilliant stuff from the guys at FNB and Just about everything you would want to know about the Confederations Cup.


I just got Featured on!

Apologies for blowing my own horn but i just have to say how stoked I am after one of my articles was featured on soccerlens today. I must say that I'm surprised I managed to pull this off so quickly after starting this blogspot blog. Basically I contacted soccerlens and used the posts on here as my CV.
So late last night I nervously submitted my first article, not being sure whether or not it would be rejected but I'm happy to say that it made it onto the site! You can view the article HERE.

In case you're wondering why I'm so excited, Soccerlens is one of the biggest football(soccer) blog's on the internet, the blog receives 20 000 visitors a day and 1 400 000 page views a month! So it's a real honour to have been given this opportunity by such a big website. Baby steps, baby steps...

Click here to visit

Monday, June 8, 2009

Perez goes Kaka in his bid to rebuild the Galacticos

Florentino Perez, the man who created the Galactico's Era at Real Madrid all those years ago, is hell bent on returning Madrid to the top as he goes about his mission of bringing the biggest names in World Football to the Bernabeu.

During the first Galactico Era, transfer records were smashed left, right and centre as the the Real Madrid President signed Zinedine Zidane(£44m from Juventus), Luis Figo(£38.7m from FC Barcelona), Ronaldo(£26m from Inter Milan), and David Beckham(£25m from Manchester United)in the space of three years.
Perez has now been re-instated as Real Madrid President and has wasted little time in making his intentions clear. Smashing the World Record Transfer fee he paid for Zidane with a £56m deal for AC Milan's Brazilian attacker Kaka.
But he hasn't stopped there, Perez not only told Sky Itialia reporters that Kaka is likely to be unveiled as a Real Madrid player tonight but added that Manchester United winger Christiano Ronaldo is next on his hit-list.
"If he decides to leave AC Milan, then Real Madrid is the only club for him. It is possible that in the night he will be announced a [Real] Madrid player."

"We want to take Ronaldo to Real Madrid also, but first we must speak to Manchester United. The most important thing is that we maintain a good relationship with Manchester United."
Madrid has been linked with Ronaldo for nearly two years now and a couple of months ago there were reports that the clubs had already signed a pre-contract agreement regarding the sale of the World Player of the Year. Claims which have now been substantiated by Perez's latest comments.
If Perez get's his way we may very well get to see the second coming of the Real Madrid Galacticos which could see the Spanish Giants reclaiming their title as the biggest football club in Europe. Madrid enjoyed great success at the beginning of the Galacticos Era as they won two League Titles, and a Champions League title thanks to a goal from Zidane which will be remembered for years to come.

Ronaldo was in the form of his life, banging in goals from every conceivable angle, Zidane was quite simply the best footballer in the world, making the impossible seem so easy while Figo was unstoppable on the right flank, giving oposition fullback’s sleepless nights with his mesmerizing dribbling skills. Life was good...until the ego's in the dressing room became too much for Vicente Del Bosque to control.

Claude Mekelele was unsettled due to the fact that defensive players were not being paid as handsomely as the more attack minded Galactico's and his departure to Chelsea went hand in hand with the decline of Real Madrid. Zidane once famously said that Beckham was the gold plating on a car, but what good a car is if it’s engine is sold (referring to Makelele's departure)

Let's hope that Perez has learned from his failures and treats all his players with the same respect this time round. Madrid have two brilliant defensive midfielders in Fernando Gago and Lassana Diara who should be well looked after by the new President if he has any dreams of seeing Ronaldo and Kaka tearing defenses apart with their undeniable skill next season.

All in all, this promises to be a very interesting season.Till tomorrow...