October 5, 2006
As Australia prepares for its doubleheader of matches, a friendly against Paraguay and an Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain, Craig Moore has become a controversial figure.
Moore missed a flight on Wednesday after making the mistake of combining sleeping pills with a few beers, and as a result, he missed training yesterday and failed to make several arranged public appearances. The Football Federation of Australia decided to act against the Newcastle United defender by suspending him for the Paraguay match, and Moore took it upon himself to exclude himself from the match against Bahrain.
Players not showing up to training with the national team is nothing new for Australia, but the new regime is looking to stamp its authority over players who used to play the odd match that mattered. Needless to say, but it has not gone down well with some members of the squad.
Zeliko Kalac thought the punishment was a bit excessive, FFA head John O’Neill disagrees and Moore is left wondering if he will ever play for Australian again.
Banned Moore Wants to Play On [The Australian]
October 2, 2006
The official bung inquiry announced its preliminary findings which amounted to Lord Stevens saying he needed more time. [Eurosport]
Those androgynous Euro 2008 mascots face a legal challenge to their very existence. [Reuters]
Ivica Osim continues to not call up European-based players to his Japan squad. [Goal.com]
Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer’s preparation for international action includes criticizing former managers and backup keepers. [The Australian]
Italy are now relegated to calling up players from Serie B’s bottom club. [FOXSports.com]
September 11, 2006
Jose Mourinho says he will not quit in the unlikely event that Chelsea win the Champions League. [Sky Sports]
The Football Federation of Australia has offered Mark Viduka enough pies to keep him active for the national side. [International Herald Tribune]
Despite spending over 90 percent of his life in England, Victor Anichebe has elected to represent Nigeria. [Reuters]
English-born World Cup winner Simone Perotta has signed a new contract with Roma. [Eurosport]
Leinart Johansson pulled himself away from the dinner table to say Sven-Goran Eriksson was not a failure. [BBC]
September 7, 2006
Forgotten in the midst of Euro 2008 qualifiers were qualifiers for next year’s Asian Cup, which will be hosted by four seperate countries.
Now the title of this post refers to an Australian team at almost full strength being dominated by the 96th ranked team in the world, Kuwait. The 2-0 win for the Gulf nation was a modest scoreline, but it puts them on the verge of qualification.
The Gulf seemed to be home to all sorts of humbling last night. Iraq’s 2-2 draw kept them top of Group E, but it was against Palestine. China could have overtaken them, but they could not breakthrough against Singapore.
Qatar qualified for the finals with a 3-0 over Bangladesh, while Hong Kong and Uzbekistan will continue to battle for second in Group F after a 0-0 draw.
The United Arab Emirates are qualified after their scoreless draw with Jordan, and Oman’s 5-0 destruction of Pakistan put them on the verge of qualification in Group C.
Group B, not so competitive. South Korea laid the hammer down on Chinese Taipei 8-0 with a hat-trick from Jung Jo-Gook, while Seol Hi-Kyeon and Choe Jae-Jin contributed two goals a piece. Iran, meanwhile, beat Syria 2-0.
In Group A, India made the mistake of taking the early lead in Saudi Arabia and fell to a 7-1 defeat which put the Saudis through. Japan were nearly held by Yemen, but they advanced thanks to a stoppage time goal from Okinawan Kazuki Ganaha.
September 5, 2006
European Pub Teams?
The talk after the weekend of Euro 2008 qualifiers is including a qualifying round for the weaker teams in the confederation. Talk of Andorra, 5-0 losers to England, and the Faroe Islands, 6-0 losers to Scotland, struggling against pub teams is probably overstated.
The argument ranges from giving the poor little countries a chance to win some matches. The counterargument being that it gives them a chance to improve even if they might never qualify for a major tournament.
Estonia is a good argument for the latter. In their first 20 competitive matches, the managed a single point with a -58 goal difference in 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 qualification. Ten years later, Estonia finished off a World Cup qualifying effort with 17 points and a -1 goal difference in 12 matches. Of course they may be the exception to the rule.
The Rest of the Qualifiers
In a week in which 20% of the matches had any interest in the eyes of Arsene Wenger, the results went the way of the favorites for the most part. There were a couple of surprises, though.
A Jari Litmanen brace and a third from Mika Vayrynen gave Finland a shock 3-1 win in Poland. Iceland cruised to a 3-0 win in Northern Ireland. Most shocking of all was Italy’s 1-1 draw against Lithuania.
The World Champions continue to suffer from a World Cup hangover, and it doesn’t get easier with France as the next opponents.
Asian Cup Qualifying
With Australia having been qualified for over a month, Asian Cup qualifiers continued for the 11 other spots up for grabs. Saudi Arabia went top in Group A after beating Japan 1-0 on a Saleh Bashir goal. In South Korea, Vahid Hashemian grabbed a late equalizer to keep Iran in contact with the Koreans at the top of the group.
South American League Action
Boca Juniors continued their 100 percent start to the Apertura with a 2-0 win over eight-man Estudiantes . And just to show that things are returning to normal in Argentina, River Plate now sit third.
In Brazil, a Martos Mattos goal moved Corinthians out of the relegation zone in Serie A. While Rogerio Ceni scored yet another goal to move Sao Paulo even further clear at the top in a 3-1 win over Santa Cruz.
And in Paraguay, Nacional successfully defended the Unofficial World Club Championship to the tune of 4-0 over Sportivo Luqueño. Their next defense will be against Tacuary on Sunday.