Leading goal scorer for Columbus Crew Dominic Oduro
MLS side Columbus Crew have re-signed Ghanaian-born speedy forward Dominic Oduro.
The Crew announced on Monday that they have re-signed the MLS veteran after he posted a team-high 13 goals last year, his first with the team. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“Dominic is the most explosive player in the league, and he will play an important role in our plans moving forward,” Crew sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement.
“There was lot of competition for Dominic’s signature, but he wanted to stay in Columbus, and when a coach hears that it’s a great feeling. We’re very happy to get this deal done and we look forward to seeing him back with the club in preseason training.”
Oduro’s 13-goal scoring clip tied Andres Mendoza (2011) for the Crew’s highest goal-scoring output in the past five seasons, marking the third-highest rate for a player in his first year in a Crew jersey, trailing only Brian McBride with 17 goals in 1996 and Stern John, who scored 26 times in 1998.
Oduro, 28, also matched his career high with four assists for the Crew, who acquired him from the Chicago Fire last February in a deal for midfielder Dilly Duka.
Eto'o at halftime during Chelsea's league match against Stoke City
Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o had a cunning plan to keep himself toasty on the bench during Chelsea’s trip to Stoke – by warming up his feet with TWO hot water bottles!
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was left to lament a late goal as the visitors slipped to a 3-2 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
And Eto’o could not help the Blues find the net after coming on as a second half substitute, despite managing to keep his toes warm in the North-West.
Eto’o came out before kick-off clutching two hot water bottles and placed one on each foot as he sat on the bench with fellow sub Kevin De Bruyne.
The Cameroon international looked happy with his nifty plan, although he should be used to cold temperatures having spent two seasons in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala.
Eto’o also donned a Chelsea winter coat before being called off the bench after 70 minutes, but he failed to fire up Mourinho’s side in front of goal.
The Egyptian league will kick off soon
The Egyptian Premier league will begin this month, the Minister of Sports has announced after reachinh a preliminary agreement with the Interior ministry.
After having the last two seasons cancelled for security reasons, it looks as though Egypt’s domestic football league will finally kick off this month.
Speaking with Ahram Sports on Monday, Sports Minister Taher Abou-Zweid confirmed that he had met with the Interior Ministry and received a preliminary go-ahead regarding the start of the season.
The Egyptian football association (EFA) set 26 December as the future start date, but the matter still depends on final security approval.
The new season will be played using a two group format
The competition’s draw will be held on Tuesday.
Serge Gnabry is a U-18 star for Germany
Ivory Coast are reportedly planning to offer Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry a spot in their World Cup squad in a bid to convince him to commit his international future to them.
The 18-year-old is a Germany youth international and coach Joachim Loew is said to be considering giving him a full call-up.
But that is unlikely to happen ahead of next summer’s tournament given the depth of talent at Low’s disposal, and Ivory Coast hope to capitalise on that with a chance to go to the World Cup.
Gnabry, who was born in Stuttgart, is eligible to play for the African country where his father originates from.
The youngster, who recently signed a new five-year deal at Arsenal after breaking into the first-team, will now have to decide in the coming weeks whether he wants to go to Brazil or bide his time and hope that a Germany call-up comes in the next year or two.
Late President of South Africa Nelson Mandela
Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata has paid a glowing tribute to the late president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, after the Madiba passed away last Thursday.
Mata was a member of the Spain side that won the world cup coincidentally in South Africa and the attacking midfielder still remembers that the late Mandela was present at the stadium when they lifted their first World Cup.
Writing on his blog, the Blues ace said he was very touched by news of the death of the statesman who he described as one of the most influential men in the last decades.
“A true fighter who shall be proud to see us keeping and strengthening his legacy. He was a hero; someone who lived and fought for the world to be fair. He will always be remembered”, the Spain international said in his tribute.
The Chelsea player of the year last season also stated that: “He was someone who understood how powerful sports can be to unite people, to unite countries, no matter the race or the culture”.
Spain will take on the Holland in their first group match of next year’s world cup and Mata is already relishing the opportunity to begin their quest to defend the World Cup against a Dutch side that they beat in the 2010 World Cup finals.
With the World Champions also billed to take on Australia and Chile, another side they met on their way to winning the World Cup.
“I always remember our match against the Netherlands. And what a coincidence: our first match in Brazil will be against them. Also we repeat against Chile: we have good memories from that match in South Africa although it was though to beat them”, he added.
Super Eagles defender Efe Ambrose
Celtic defender Efe Ambrose has talked up Nigeria’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
The Super Eagles centre back told the Scottish club’s official website that as African champions, Nigeria are going into the World Cup with full confidence and hopes of being the first African country to win the World Cup.
“In football everything is possible, and it’s time for Africa to step up. Nobody knows, maybe it’s time for Africa to win the World Cup,” Ambrose told Celtic’s official website.
Commenting on Group F where Nigeria were grouped along with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. He admitted that the draw is a favourable one, but noted that due respect will be given to every team.
“Our group is fair, we’ll respect every country that we play in the World Cup,” he said.
“Everybody could qualify from that group. It’s football so you can’t write anybody off.”
The former FC Ashdod player also added that proper preparation will be a major key to having a successful outing in Brazil.
“Now we’ll just make sure that we’re prepared for the tournament so that we know our game-plan and are focused for when it begins.
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi
Nigeria Head coach, Stephen Keshi has been given a free hand to determine where his charges will make their home at next year’s event.
A statement from the NFF’s Ademola Olajire also confirmed that the team will pitch camp in Sao Paulo.
“(Stephen) Keshi is presently inspecting a number of possible camps in the South American nation, and specifically around Sao Paulo,” Olajire said.
Stephen Keshi, who captained Nigeria in their first appearance at the showpiece in USA in 1994, said he cherished the opportunity afforded to him by the Aminu Maigari administration and would always strive for the best for the Super Eagles.
“I am happy to have been given the free hand to select the team base camp,” Keshi said. “You may think it is a small gesture but not every head coach has that privilege. I am certainly going to use the opportunity to select the best for our team.”
Keshi’s African champions will contend with two-time world champions Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran in Group F.
Most of the 32 participating member associations are also looking around Sao Paulo for their team base camp. A total of 83 locations were offered by the hosts.
A team base camp includes a hotel and training site. All participating member associations must confirm where they will want to be based before the end of next month.
All teams must report to their team base camp at least five days before their first match of the tournament. In the case of Nigeria, that means no later than 11th June, five days before the Super Eagles clash with Iran at the 41,000-seater Arena da Baixada in Curitiba – a city of 1.7million people in the south of Brazil.
The Eagles will then tackle Bosnia-Herzegovina at the 42,000- seater Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, a city of approximately 550,000 people in the centre west, on 21 June, before flying to the south again to play Argentina in what is Group F’s most anticipated game.
That match comes up at the 48,000-seater Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, a city of over 1.4million people, on 25 June.
Chelsea duo Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists he is considering making any signings in the January transfer window despite the indifferent form of his strikers.
Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o, Senegal forward Demba Ba and fernando Torres have come in for criticism this season, having only netted only four Premier League goals between them.
And while Mourinho naturally wants his forwards to challenge for golden boot honours, he appears committed to his current crop of players.
“If you tell me [Sergio] Aguero has scored already 10 or 12, [Alvaro] Negredo 10 or 12, [Edin] Dzeko four or five, [Wayne] Rooney eight or 10, [Olivier] Giroud eight or 10, [Daniel] Sturridge eight or 10, [Luis] Suarez 10 or 12. If you ask me would I like my strikers to score eight, 10, 12 goals: Yes,” Mourinho, whose charges trail leaders Arsenal by five points after 15 games, told reporters.
“If we had eight, 10, 12 [more] goals we would be top of the league. That’s a reality but my strikers give everything and the team works hard.”
The Portuguese continued: “What can you do more? We work, we keep working. That’s the only way I know is to keep working.
“Of course we want the best possible results but I am not waiting for players, I am not asking for players.
“This is a period for the club and this is a period of my team where we have to try and improve the players we have and try to build a future.
“It is my squad. For good and for bad, it is my squad. Of course, it is not the perfect squad but it is my squad and I work with them until the last day.
“To criticise does not help me. What do I win by criticising my players? I win nothing.”
Ghana international Sulley Muntari
AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari has declared that Ajax Amsterdam should be worried when they make the trip to the San Siro on Wednesday for the ultimate UEFA Champions League match.
The Rossoneri need just a draw on home soil to make sure they progress into the knockout stages of the competition, while the Dutch outfit need to come away with a win to leap frog the hosts to second.
Muntari, who is expected to make his return from injury ahead of the crucial match, has sparked the long lying rivalry between the two teams ahead of kick-off.
“I feel good and I’m training with the team. I’m ready for Ajax. I’ve been training all of last week and I did the whole session today with no problems,” Muntari said after watching the 2-2 draw to Livorno.
“We want to win every game we play and it didn’t happen yesterday. We only got a point but bit-by-bit we’re on the right road and we have to stick with what we’re doing.
“All the games we play, we prepare in the same way so there’s no difference between the league matches and the Champions League. We’re doing well in Europe and not so well in the league but we shouldn’t focus on the negatives and just continue with the work we’re doing.
“The [Milan] fans shouldn’t worry, it’s Ajax who should be worried as we want to get through to the next round in front of our fans and not disappoint them. It’s an important match and we’ll do everything to get through to the next round.”
Milan have faced Ajax twice on home soil, winning half and losing the remaining two.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face Argentina in the group stages of the World Cup
Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has admitted that facing Nigeria won’t be easy task in next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“Bosnia and Nigeria won’t be easy, but we played Bosnia and beat them 2-0 recently in the USA. They have some good individual players so we will see.
“We have to be happy with the draw. There are groups that are tougher but it’s easy to say that on paper – you never know until you actually play the games. I may be marking Edin so I will make it as difficult as possible for him!
His club teammate and compatriot Sergio Aguero also concurred stating that there are no easy matches at the World Cup.
“There’s no easy match in the World Cup, but effort and hard work always gives rewards! Come on Argentina!”
The Super Eagles have lost their last three encounters senior FIFA World Cup meetings against Argentina and have also lost to the Albiceleste at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2008 men’s Olympic football event finals in Beijing.
Keshi’s African champions will contend with two-time world champions Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran in Group F. The Super Eagles will clash with Iran at the 41,000 –capacity Arena da Baixada in Curitiba before squaring up against Bosnia-Herzegovina at the 42,000 –capacity Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba before flying to the south to play Argentina in what is Group F’s most anticipated game at the 48,000 –capacity Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre.