Oct 152018
US women headed back to World Cup

LOS ANGELES, California: The United States will defend their Women’s World Cup title next year, securing their berth with a 6-0 rout of Jamaica in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF regional qualifier on Sunday.Canada also punched their ticket to France in emphatic style, thumping Panama 7-0 in Frisco, Texas, to set up a blockbuster clash with the USA in the final of the CONCACAF women’s championship on Wednesday.The United States, three-time World Cup winners who were stung by a quarter-final exit at the Rio Olympics, put Jamaica away early. Tobin Heath opened the scoring and added her second in the 29th — part of a five-goal first half that also included goals from Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan.The US cruised through the second half, adding an exclamation point with Morgan’s penalty in the 84th minute.While both finalists secured World Cup berths, all was not lost for Panama and Jamaica. The winner of the third-place match on Wednesday will also gain direct entry to the World Cup, while the fourth-placed team will play off for a berth against Argentina.That means Panama’s women can still duplicate the Panamanian men’s achievement of reaching the World Cup for the first time at Russia 2018.And Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz are still in with a chance of becoming the first Caribbean side to qualify for the Women’s World Cup.In the first match of the day’s double-header, Christine Sinclair and Adriana Leon scored two goals apiece and Jessie Fleming, Janine Beckie and Rebecca Quinn added one [Read More…]

Oct 052018
US girls rout Mexico in World Cup qualifier

LOS ANGELES: The United States put themselves firmly on the path to the 2019 Women’s World Cup Thursday with a crushing 6-0 victory over Mexico to open the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan both scored twice. Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath added a goal apiece for the US side who roared into the final round of qualifiers on the back of a 21-game unbeaten streak.The United States, who beat Japan to win the 2015 World Cup title, were stunned in the Olympic quarter-finals in Rio two years ago.The power of their revamped side was on full display in Cary, North Carolina, against a Mexico team ranked 24th in the world by FIFA.The Americans opened the scoring in the third minute when Rapinoe slotted home a ball put through by Lindsey Horan, the 1-0 lead standing until halftime.Three minutes after the break, Ertz made it 2-0 and 10 minutes later Morgan headed in a corner kick by Rapinoe.Heath made it 4-0 in the 61st minute and Rapinoe bagged her second in the 71st into an open net off a loose ball in the penalty area. Morgan slotted home in the 80th to cap the scoring.In the opening game of the day’s double header, Panama out-played Trinidad & Tobago on the way to a 3-0 victory. Marta Cox, Kenia Rangel and Erika Hernandez scored for Panama, ranked 66th in the world and playing in the regional championship for just the third time.Panama will take on the United States on Sunday [Read More…]

Sep 202018
Ireland to join UK in exploring 2030 World Cup bid

DUBLIN: The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has announced it will join England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in exploring a potential bid to host the 2030 World Cup.Last month, the English Football Association announced plans to conduct a feasibility study along with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.The FAI confirmed it will be joining the study after “recent positive discussions amongst all parties”.England, which hosted and won the 1966 World Cup, failed in bids to host the event in 2006 and 2018.The 2026 World Cup will be hosted jointly by the United States, Mexico and Canada, while a South American tri-nation bid involving Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay has already been announced for 2030.

Jan 092018
US opts for youth with no World Cup in sight

LOS ANGELES: Acting US national team coach Dave Sarachan opted for young prospects in calling upon 30 players on Monday for the Americans annual January training camp. The session is set to open Wednesday at Los Angeles with the culmination of workouts to be a January 28 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the training camp in Carson, home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy. “It’s all about the future and opportunity. We clearly feel that we want to have a look at these players that have the chance to be a part of the National Team for a number of years to come,” Sarachan said. The US team failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Russia and has eight candidates fighting for the presidency of the US Soccer Federation, with Sunil Gulati to be replaced in voting next month. So the Americans have no chance at a World Cup until 2022 in Qatar even as they bid with Mexico and Canada to co-host the 2026 event. And the camp comes on the same day that reports emerged that one of their top teen prospects, Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, has opted to play for Mexico rather than the US senior-level squad after years on American junior teams. The most capped player in camp with 37 is Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes followed by New England forward Juan Agudelo with 27 and seattle forward Jordan Morris with 24. “It’s a long journey forward, but this is the [Read More…]

Dec 272017
Milan in ?World Cup final? against Inter

MILAN: Struggling AC Milan face city rivals Inter in the Italian Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday with coach Gennaro Gattuso likening the high-voltage clash to “a World Cup final”. Milan go into the game in 11th place in Serie A, a massive 21 points behind league leaders Napoli, meaning the Italian Cup and the Europa League, where they have made the last 32, are their only avenues to silverware this season. “This (Wednesday’s games) is like a World Cup final for us,” football-italia.net quoted Gattuso as telling Milan TV. “Nobody expected this many difficulties, but this derby can change our season on both a psychological level and in terms of results.” Inter are third in Serie A, five points off the lead after suffering back-to-back defeats against Udinese and Sassuolo. On Tuesday, Lazio made the semi-finals with a 1-0 win over Fiorentina thanks to a goal after just five minutes by Bosnian midfielder Senad Lulic. Lazio will face either Milan or Inter in a two-legged semi-final in January. The remaining quarter-finals between Napoli and Atalanta and Juventus at home to city rivals Torino will be played at the start of next month.

Dec 072017
Messi demands Argentina improvement ahead of World Cup

Argentina captain Lionel Messi believes they need to improve if they are to stand a chance of winning next year’s World Cup in Russia. Argentina, who reached the final in 2014, struggled during qualification for Russia, going through three coaches before securing their place at the tournament thanks to a Messi hat-trick in a 3-1 win away to Ecuador in the final qualifier. Messi’s side will kick off their World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16, before facing Croatia and Nigeria in their other group stage fixtures. Next year’s tournament may be the last chance for the 30-year-old Messi to win a major trophy with Argentina and the Barcelona forward says they need to make changes in order to overcome more fancied countries. “We had a difficult time (in qualifying), but we had our moments,” Messi told TyC Sports. “But it’s true that we need to improve if we want to be world champions. Right now we’re not far off, but there are better sides than us such as Brazil, Germany, France and Spain.” As well as losing to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, Argentina were also defeated by Chile in successive Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016. Messi, however, believes they should have celebrated at least two victories. “I never went back over the finals (we lost). We deserved to win them, despite not playing that well we still had the best chances, both in the World Cup and Copa America,” he said. “I’d have [Read More…]

Nov 282017
FIFA will not tolerate racism at 2018 World Cup

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said racism will not be tolerated at next year’s World Cup in Russia, adding that referees will have the power to stop or even abandon matches if discriminatory incidents take place. Several players, including Brazil and former Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk, have voiced concerns that racism could mar the tournament, saying such incidents are a regular feature of domestic league games in the country. Infantino said in a video statement that anti-discrimination was a “high priority” for FIFA, and that the organisation would deal with offences firmly. “We’ll make sure that no incidents will happen and… we have for the first time in a World Cup the so-called, three-step procedure where a referee can stop a game or even abandon a game if there are discriminatory or racist incidences,” he added. “We will be very, very firm on that so we can expect fair play in Russia.” Infantino, who was elected FIFA president in February of last year, also said technology would play a big role at the tournament, although a final decision on using video assistant referees (VARs) would only be taken next year. VAR, which involves officials watching the action remotely and drawing the match referee’s attention to officiating mistakes or missed serious incidents, is already in use in the top-flight leagues of Germany and Italy. “I think it is absolutely normal that in 2018 we can explore and see how we can help the referee and the team to take the [Read More…]

Nov 222017
Rakitic would give World Cup spot to Buffon

TURIN, Italy: Barcelona’s Croatian international Ivan Rakitic said Tuesday he would love to tell Italian goalkeeping great Gianlugi Buffon to take his place in the 2018 World Cup.Rakitic will meet Buffon in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Juventus in Turin, just a week after Buffon tearfully retired from international duty as Italy crashed out of the World Cup.“I feel like telling Buffon to go in my place, as what he’s done for football is incredible, simply unique,” said midfielder Rakitic when asked why Italy failed to advance from their World Cup play-off against Sweden while Croatia eliminated Greece.“When a child writes out his ideal team, he always puts Buffon in goal. It’s really a shame he isn’t able to finish his career by competing in a sixth World Cup and I’d honestly love to give him that chance.“I saw the pictures of him after the match against Sweden. It makes you empathise with him whatever your team. It’s a real shame that a player like that doesn’t have the chance to play his final World Cup.”Buffon, 39, later replied on Twitter.“Dear Ivan, as a goalkeeper I might still play but playing for Croatia as a midfielder in your place might not be a great idea: Joking apart, your words have been a great gift.”