football news

Manchester City : Sergio Aguero statue to celebrate Title

Manchester [UK]: Manchester City on Friday unveiled a permanent statue of Sergio Aguero at Etihad Stadium on the tenth anniversary of the club’s first Premier League title and the iconic ’93:20′ moment.

The statue of Sergio Aguero completes a trinity alongside Vincent Kompany and David Silva, commemorating a defining era for the club.
Situated on the east side of the Etihad Stadium, the large-scale statue of Aguero was created by award-winning sculptor Andy Scott and has been constructed using thousands of welded pieces of galvanised steel. At night, Aguero’s statue and those of Kompany and Silva will be specially illuminated with blue tinted lighting.

The permanent statue of Aguero celebrates his outstanding contribution to the club’s success, and in particular, his pivotal role in what was arguably one of the greatest moments in sporting history for which he will be eternally remembered by Manchester City fans around the world.

Player feels grateful to the Club

Aguero, who was recently inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame, won fifteen major trophies during his time at the club, including five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, and a record six League Cups.

Reflecting on his statue, Sergio Aguero said: “Truthfully, it is a very beautiful thing for me, to see myself 10 years ago is very moving.”

“In those 10 years I was able to win a lot of trophies and was able to help the Club become one of the most important in the world. I am very grateful to the Club for making this statue in recognition of my football career in Manchester. It is something very special,” he added. (ANI)

 

Champions League to expand by 4 teams to 36, confirms UEFA

Vienna [Austria]: The UEFA Executive Committee on Tuesday in Vienna approved the final format and access list for European club competitions as of the 2024/25 season further to its decision of April 19, 2021, to introduce the so-called “Swiss system”.

The key amendments relate to the reduction from 10 matches to 8 in the league phase of the UEFA Champions League and the change of criteria for the allocation of two of the four additional places in the UEFA Champions League, removing access based on club coefficient.
The eight matches of the UEFA Champions League will be played over the ten European weeks foreseen by the decision made in April 2021. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League will all enjoy one week of calendar exclusivity.

The four additional places created by the increase from 32 to 36 teams in the league phase of the UEFA Champions League will be allocated as follows:

1. One place will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in the fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking.

2. One place will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called “Champions Path”.

3. The final two places will go to the associations with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season (total number of points obtained divided by the number of participating clubs). Those two associations will earn one place for the club best ranked in the domestic league behind the UEFA Champions League positions. For example, at the end of the current season the two associations adding one club to the Champions League, based on the collective performance of their clubs would be England and the Netherlands.

4. The UEFA Executive Committee once again confirmed that all games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.

Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league phase including all participating teams. Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 8 league stage games against 8 different opponents (four home games, four away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home-and-away basis.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage) and both will also include 36 teams in the league phase. (ANI)

 

Premier League: Arsenal, Spurs trade blows for 4th place; Everton stun Chelsea

London [UK]: Centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes scored in either half as Arsenal maintained their two-point lead over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a 2-1 win at West Ham United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Arsenal went ahead on 38 minutes when Rob Holding, only in the team because of an injury to Ben White, headed home Bukayo Saka’s corner for his first Premier League goal. West Ham reacted well, though, with Declan Rice’s header expertly pushed away by Aaron Ramsdale before Jarrod Bowen equalised with a smart 45th-minute finish.
But Arsenal scored the winner nine minutes after the break when the unmarked Gabriel met Gabriel Martinelli’s delivery at the back post with a diving header beyond Lukasz Fabianski.

The Gunners move back up to fourth with 63 points after a perfect response to Spurs’ 3-1 win over Leicester City earlier in the day.

Tottenham Hotspur defeated Leicester City to stay hot on the heels of Arsenal in the race for fourth place. Son Heung-min was directly involved in all three Spurs goals to take his tally for the season to 19, three behind Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot.

Leicester’s Patson Daka hit the post early on before Harry Kane headed in from Son’s 20th-minute corner for his 19th goal in 18 appearances in all competitions against Leicester. Kasper Schmeichel denied Kane a second goal before Son doubled Spurs’ lead on the hour, slotting in from substitute Dejan Kulusevski’s pass following a brilliant tackle by Cristian Romero.

Kulusevski then teed up Son again to curl in a stunner from distance before Kelechi Iheanacho netted a consolation goal with his own long-range strike in stoppage time. Fifth-placed Spurs move on to 61 points.

At Goodison Park, Everton stunned Chelsea with a 1-0 win that moved them to within two points of Burnley and Leeds United in the fight for safety.

The winner came moments into the second half when Richarlison scored his fourth goal in five matches with a cool finish from Demarai Gray’s pass. (ANI)

 

US, Mexico qualify for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

San Jose [Costa Rica]: The US men’s national team and Mexico have qualified for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on Wednesday.

USMNT qualified for World Cup following a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica in the final match of CONCACAF qualifying Wednesday evening at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The U.S. return to the tournament for the first time since Brazil 2014 by virtue of their third-place finish in the standings, while Fourth-Place Costa Rica advance to the Intercontinental Play-Off versus New Zealand in June in Doha, Qatar.

The first goal belonged to Costa Rica, as Juan Pablo Vargas thumped in a header off a corner kick in the 51′ to give the Ticos a 1-0 lead. The pace of the match was in Costa Rica’s favor and the Ticos took advantage of confusion in the U.S. defense, with Anthony Contreras turning in a cross to make it a 2-0 affair in the 60′.

Meanwhile, Mexico will play in their eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup after downing El Salvador 2-0 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on the 14th and final matchday of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022.

Thanks to first-half goals from Uriel Antuna and Raul Jimenez, El Tricolor finished in Second Place in the eight-team table. (ANI)

 

Chelsea to meet Madrid, City face Atletico

Nyon [Switzerland]: The 2021/22 UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw has been made, with holders Chelsea set to meet 13-time winners Real Madrid.

The first legs of the Champions League quarter-finals will be held on April 5 and 6, with the return legs taking place a week later.
Premier League side Liverpool will have to get past Benfica in QFs. Elsewhere in the last eight, Manchester City will take on Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich have been handed a showdown with Villarreal.

The draw for the semi-finals have also taken place. The winners of Chelsea’s meeting with Real Madrid will face either Atletico or Man City in the last four – meaning that there could be a derby at that stage or a repeat of last season’s final.

On the other side of the draw, Liverpool or Benfica will take on Villarreal or Bayern.

The final of the UEFA Champions League will happen at Stade de France on May 28. (ANI)

 

ARSENAL IN THE DRIVING SEAT!

Arsenal continued their fine form and returned to the top four with an impressive 2-0 win over Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Thomas Partey opened the scoring in the early stages and Alexandre Lacazette netted a second-half penalty as Mikel Arteta’s side leapfrogged Manchester United into the Champions League places.

The result extends Arsenal’s winning run in the Premier League to five matches and they still have three games in hand on United.

The defeat leaves Leicester in 12th position in the league table as they set their sets on the Europa Conference League in midweek.

Arsenal vs Leicester result: Premier League score, goals, report | The Independent

“We have a very strong belief in the group and play with a lot of confidence,” Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard said.

“We just have to keep going. Everyone believes in what we are doing.”

Arsenal started well and took an early lead after 11 minutes when Partey glanced home from Gabriel Martinelli‘s corner.

It was the 12th goal that Brendan Rodgers’ side have conceded from a corner this season.

Partey almost grabbed his second seven minutes later but his effort from outside of the box crashed off the crossbar and away from danger.

The visitors started to gain a foothold in the game and Arsenal needed Ben White to produce a last-gasp tackle to deny a tap-in for James Maddison.

Leicester came close to equalising after 36 minutes but Aaron Ramsdale produced a stunning save to thwart Harvey Barnes‘ close-range header.

The hosts were awarded a penalty after 59 minutes following a long VAR check as Caglar Soyuncu handled Partey’s goalbound header off the line.

Lacazette stepped up and hammered the ball into the top corner from the spot to double Arsenal’s lead.

Emile Smith Rowe made his comeback from injury off the bench and almost grabbed a goal late on but was denied by Kasper Schmeichel.

The Gunners host second-placed Liverpool at the Emirates on Wednesday.

UEFA : That’s why we do this job, says PSG’s defender Kimpembe on facing Real Madrid

              

Paris [France](ANI): Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe is eager to face Real Madrid in the last-16 tie of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday at Parc des Princes.

There will be no gentle reintroduction to UEFA Champions League life as Paris Saint-Germain return to the competition with a round of 16 home game against the 13-time European champions Real Madrid, but that suits Presnel Kimpembe just fine.
The 26-year-old centre-back has grown accustomed to playing with the best since coming through the youth ranks at Paris.

“We never really get out of [shape]. Of course, we have a little break with the holiday period but it’s very short. We stay professional and continue to work. Even if there’s a lot of time between matches and lots of time to get ourselves back into ‘Champions League mode’, there’s time, but we work every day for that in training and we try to work on this in matches to prepare for Real Madrid,” Kimpembe told uefa.com.

“Obviously, it’s a big match coming up. We’re all really looking forward to it, we’re very excited to be able to play in matches like this. That’s why we do this job: to be able to play in matches like this one. We’ll have to be ready to play a big game, especially if we want to beat a team like Real Madrid,” he added.

PSG vs Real Madrid is perhaps the tie of the round, with two bona fide heavyweights set to duke it out for a place in the quarter-finals. Madrid had the more assertive group stage and – with 13 titles to their name and European Cup doyen Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout – have no shortage of pedigree to call upon. Paris, though, promise to be quite the challenge. (ANI)(image-instagram)

Manchester United Striker Mason Greenwood arrested after girlfriend accuses him of rape

              

Manchester [UK]: Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood has been arrested after his girlfriend accused him of rape and physical abuse.

The allegations were released on social media on Sunday and included video, photographs, and a voice note claimed to be a conversation between Greenwood and the woman.
“Greater Manchester Police was made aware earlier today (Sunday January 30) of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence,” Greater Manchester Police said in a statement as per Sky Sports.

“An investigation was launched and following enquiries we can confirm a man in his 20s has since been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault. He remains in custody for questioning. Enquiries are ongoing,” stated further.

Earlier on Sunday, Manchester United had announced that Greenwood would not return to training or play any matches “until further notice” after he was accused.

The statement in full reads: “We are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media.”We will not make any further comment until the facts have been established.”

“Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind,” the statement added. (ANI_image -Instagram)

EFL Cup: Jota’s double over Arsenal helps Liverpool to set Chelsea clash in final

              

London [UK]: Diogo Jota scored twice to send Liverpool to the EFL Cup final as they defeated Arsenal 2-0 in the second leg of their semi-final on Thursday night.

The striker opened the scoring at Emirates Stadium after 19 minutes and then clinched the last-four tie with a well-taken finish in the latter stages of the second half.
His goals set up a meeting with Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday, February 27 in the tournament’s showpiece.

Liverpool took control of the match early after Roberto Firmino’s classy flick found its way to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who immediately fed possession to Jota out on the left-wing. The No.20 skipped beyond Takehiro Tomiyasu and rolled a finish beyond Aaron Ramsdale from the edge of the box.

Then 13 minutes from time, Jota clipped a finish over Ramsdale from Alexander-Arnold’s sensational through ball but was devastated to see the flag raised for offside. However, a VAR review showed the Portuguese forward had timed his run to perfection and the decision was overturned. (ANI/Image)

Premier League: Webster helps Brighton to earn draw against Chelsea

              

London [UK]: Chelsea were dealt a major blow to their Premier League title hopes as Adam Webster’s second-half header earned Brighton and Hove Albion a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday.

Brighton started the strongest but fell behind after 28 minutes through Hakim Ziyech’s low shot from the edge of the box.
But the hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser on the hour mark when Webster met a corner by Alexis Mac Allister, who had moments earlier been denied by a full-stretch Kepa Arrizabalaga save.

Both sides went in search of a winner but substitute Neal Maupay was unable to turn in Tariq Lamptey’s cross before Romelu Lukaku had a shot saved by Robert Sanchez.

Chelsea stay in third place on 44 points, one point behind Liverpool and 12 adrift of Manchester City having played a match more than the leaders.

Brighton extend their unbeaten run to five matches and are ninth with 29 points. (Image -instagram)

Lukaku apologises to Chelsea fans, Tuchel days after suggesting he wants to join Inter Milan

              

London [UK]: Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has apologised to the fans of the club, manager Thomas Tuchel and his teammates days after saying that he is unhappy with the club.

In an interview with Sky Sport Italia, Lukaku had said that he is unhappy with Tuchel’s way of managing Chelsea adding that he hopes to link up with his old club Inter Milan.
“To the fans, I’m sorry for the upset that I caused. You guys know the connection that I have had with this club since my teenage years, so I totally understand you guys being upset. Obviously, it’s up to me now to restore your trust and I’ll do my best to show commitment every day on the training ground and in the games to make sure we win games,” Lukaku said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of Chelsea.

“To the manager, I apologise and to my team-mates and the squad because I think it was not the right moment and I want to move forward from this make sure we start winning football games and that I perform for the team in the best manner,” he added.

Lukaku was left out of the Chelsea squad for Sunday’s Premier League clash against Liverpool.

Liverpool and Chelsea had played out a 2-2 draw on Sunday and Lukaku is now set to return to the team going forward.

Talking about Lukaku’s, Tuchel in a press conference said: “First of all, we are happy that we took the time to look calmly on it, this is what we did. He apologised and is back in the squad for training today. The most important thing was to understand and believe it was not intentional. There was never the slightest behaviour against the team. These are very important points to understand that it is not that big as people or you want it to be. It is also not small but small enough to stay calm, to accept an apology, and to move on.”

“He is aware of what happened and he created and feels the responsibility to clean the mess up but there may still be a smell of course. We are happy that he is our player and we will protect him. If someone strongly disagrees, this is about the team with everything we do,” he added.

Had wonderful chances, but never took them: Jamshedpur FC’s Owen Coyle

Panaji (Goa) [India]: Jamshedpur FC head coach Owen Coyle rued the wasted opportunities as his side dropped points against Chennaiyin FC in their Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim, on Sunday evening.

Lukasz Gikiewicz’s lone strike in the 31st minute was enough for Chennaiyin FC to bag full points, as the Red Miners failed to score the equaliser despite creating quite a few chances.
“I think it’s important that you don’t single out anybody individual, because if we win as a team, then we lose the team. So I don’t like the way that’s been phrased to try and blame one person. Well, there is a group. So, if we look, we conceded the goal as a group, I never ever believe as individuals in my team,” said Owen Coyle in a post-match press conference as per the ISL website.

“So, of course, we have players available, something we’ll look at as we go. But the most important thing is we put enough into the game yet, right? It was against the run to play. We were the better team tonight, all over the night. We had wonderful chances. We never took them. So that’s something we need to be better at, that we will be clinical in taking chances. And of course, avoiding goals and defend better,” he added.

The head coach further dismissed the rumours about Ferran Corminas joining Jamshedpur FC.

“No, those rumours are untrue. I think (Ferran) Corominas is a wonderful player and I’ve been an admirer of him for many years. But that story, whatever it was, it’s based on no foundation. We have not spoken to anybody in regarding to Coro or the boy himself. So I don’t know where the story came from. But, we are actively speaking to a couple of targets,” said the head coach.

Juan Ferrando and I are still friends: FC Goa assistant coach Clifford Miranda

                

Panaji (Goa) [India]: FC Goa assistant coach Clifford Miranda said that he remains friends with ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando despite the Spaniard’s move away from the club.

The two were in opposite dugouts on Wednesday as Ferrando’s ATK Mohun Bagan beat FC Goa 2-1 in the Indian Super League (ISL) match at the PJN stadium.
“If you talk individually they are a better team, they have better players. But I felt as a team we did well against established players, against a good system. As a team, I think we did very well. We need to work on our finishing, on our play in the final third and our coordination while pressing. When the ball is shifted from one side to the other, coordination is important,” said Clifford Miranda in a post-match press conference as per the ISL website.

Miranda further said that it was hard to see Juan Ferrando in the opposite dugout but they are still professionals during the game.

“It’s difficult. We worked together for one and a half years very closely. We had a very good progressive relationship and a very good personal relationship. But for me and I’m sure for him as well, we are friends. We care for each other before and after the game but during the game we are professionals. I’m sure it is the same for him. We work for our team, we fight for our team,” said Miranda.

Premier League: Cavani earns a point for Manchester United at Newcastle

               

Newcastle [UK]: Edinson Cavani came off the bench to mark his first Premier League appearance since October with the equaliser as Manchester United drew 1-1 at Newcastle United on Monday.

Newcastle went ahead with a stunning strike from Allan Saint-Maximin on seven minutes. Sean Longstaff’s threaded pass picked out the Frenchman, who cut inside two defenders before expertly placing the ball into the far corner.
Saint-Maximin was denied at close range by David De Gea seconds after the break before his opposite number Martin Dubravka made a flying save from Marcus Rashford’s swerving long-range effort as Man Utd responded.

Cavani struck the equaliser with 20 minutes left, firing home at the second attempt, and the Uruguayan nearly added a second five minutes later only for Dubravka to avert the danger.

In a pulsating finish, Jacob Murphy hit the post and De Gea superbly tipped Miguel Almiron’s follow-up shot over the bar as Newcastle had to settle for a point. Manchester United remain in seventh spot with 28 points.

ISL: Resolute Bengaluru hold Bagan in spectacular six-goal draw

              

Panaji (Goa) [India]: Another high-scoring Indian Super League 2021-22 fixture with six different goal scorers saw Bengaluru FC and ATK Mohun Bagan play a 3-3 draw at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Thursday.

The result stretches BFC’s winless run to six matches and further extends ATKMB’s run to four games without a win.
Subhasish Bose (13′) broke the deadlock early on with a well-placed header before Cleiton Silva (18′) scored from a penalty to level the score. Danish Farooq (26′) scored his first-ever goal in the competition to send the Blues into the lead but Hugo Boumos (38′) turned up to draw level for the Mariners. Roy Krishna (58′) also got on the scoresheet as he converted a second-half penalty but Prince Ibara (72′) equalised with his second goal of the season.

Sunil Chhetri started from the bench while Ashique Kuruniyan was slotted in a more offensive role. ATK Mohun Bagan started on the front foot and had a goal disallowed for offside in the first seven minutes. Following sustained pressure, Subhasish Bose gave his team the lead after connecting with a corner and heading the ball past Gurpreet Sandhu.

Within a few minutes after conceding the goal, BFC was awarded a third penalty of the campaign when Liston Colaco brought down Cleiton Silva inside the box. The Brazilian stepped up and calmly converted from the spot to bring the game to level terms.

Just before the half-hour mark, the scorer then turned provider as Danish Farooq found the back of the net with a header from Silva’s corner for his first-ever goal in the ISL. Post the drinks break, ATKMB scored against the run of play with Roy Krishna feeding Hugo Boumos with a perfectly weighted through pass and the attacker effortlessly scored with his left foot by slotting the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.

A yellow card each was shown to Ajith Kumar and Hugo Boumos before the teams went into the break. The second half got off to a more cautious start from each side. Referee Crystal John saw an infringement in the box by Prince Ibara and awarded a penalty to ATKMB which was easily scored by Roy Krishna just before the hour mark. The villain then turned hero as Ibara scored with a powerful header from a corner taken by Roshan Naorem.

A flurry of attacking opportunities, mainly from set-piece situations from both teams were created but the tie was settled at three goals each. Four minutes were added after the regulation period but neither team deserved to lose and shared the points after a great contest.

Bengaluru FC will now face an in-form Jamshedpur FC on Monday at the Athletic Stadium while ATK Mohun Bagan plays struggling NorthEast United FC on Tuesday at the PJN Stadium. (ANI)

Ranbir Kapoor to pay tribute to Diego Maradona via football match

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Ranbir Kapoor, Shoojit Sircar, Ahan Shetty and Vivian Dsena, among several others, are coming together to play a special football match in honour of the Argentina football legend Diego Maradona.

The match will be held on November 3 at Jamnabai Grounds, Mumbai.
Also, celebrities will be seen playing the match just days after the launch of Amazon Original Series ‘Maradona: Blessed Dream’, a biopic spanning 10 episodes that follows the triumphs and challenges of the legendary football player Diego Armando Maradona, from his humble beginnings in Argentina to his game-changing career through Barcelona and Napoli, and his role in taking his national team to win the World Cup in Mexico in ’86.

Diego Maradona passed away last year on November 25. He was 60 when he breathed his last.

Nice to start U-23 Asian Cup with a win, but we shouldn’t get carried away : goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh

After defeating Oman in the opening fixture of AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2022, Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh has admitted that it was a ‘nice feeling’ to start the tournament with a win but cautioned the team to not get carried away with that.

Fujairah [UAE] : India U-23 team defeated Oman 2-1 in their opening fixture of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers at the Fujairah Stadium in Dubai, UAE on Sunday. “Our back four were in solid form. They were strong, winning tackles, winning aerial balls. They made my job easier. But we conceded in the last five minutes, and we need to bring in the extra concentration as the game progresses. It’s a big lesson we learned from the last game,” said Dheeraj in an official AIFF release.
“It’s a nice feeling to start our campaign with a win. But we shouldn’t get carried away. We will make sure we stay humble and control our emotions as we prepare for the next one. And we know it’s going to be a very tough one against UAE,” he added.
Talking about the team’s bonding, Dheeraj said, “We are getting together after four years. 70-80 per cent of the players in this batch are from the U17 World Cup squad. We grew up together living in the same dormitory, and hotel. So we have a good understanding, and know each other personally.”
Following the win, India joins the Kyrgyz Republic at the top of Group E with equal points and an identical goal difference. India is scheduled to face hosts UAE at the same venue on Wednesday in their next fixture.

FIFA Rankings: India rise one spot to 106th, Belgium hold onto top position

October 2021 was a busy month in international football, with qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, friendlies, and the final rounds of the UEFA Nations League all on the agenda. A total of 160 fixtures were played, the impact of which can be seen on the FIFA Rankings.

Zurich [Switzerland] : Though their lead is now under threat, Belgium remain on top despite UEFA Nations League defeats to France (3rd, +1) and Italy (4th, +1). Among the top five, only Les Bleus and Gli Azzurri have improved their positions. India has also moved one spot ahead to the 106th position after the Sunil Chhetri-led side won the SAFF Championship. The Blue Tigers had defeated Nepal in the summit clash.
Brazil remain second but are breathing down the neck of Belgium, just 12 points behind. England, meanwhile, dropped two places to fifth.
“A little further down, Spain’s (7th, +1) progress at the expense of Portugal (8th, -1) is also noteworthy, as is that of Germany (12th, +2), who leapfrog USA (13th). Uruguay lost most ground among the top 20 by dropping three places to 15th,” read an official FIFA statement.
It is after that, however, where we find some of the most significant movers on this edition. Morocco (29th, +4), Russia (33rd, +4), Egypt (44th, +4), Saudi Arabia (49th, +7) and South Africa (66th, +7) all made strides on the back of two wins from two this month in Qatar 2022 qualifying.
Two nations in the second half of the table fared even better, with New Zealand (111, +10) and Indonesia (165, +10) the joint-biggest movers this month, ahead of Central African Republic (115, +9) and Cambodia (170, +8)

Skipper Sunil Chhetri shines as India outclass Nepal 3-0 to win record 8th SAFF Championship title

India convincingly defeated Nepal 3-0 at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives, on Saturday to clinch the SAFF Championship trophy for a record eighth time.

Male [Maldives] : Skipper Sunil Chhetri (48′) opened the scoring before youngster Suresh Singh (50′) doubled the lead within a minute to a two-goal lead for the Blue Tigers in the second half. Super-sub Abdul Sahal (90′) whizzed past the Nepalese defence to nail the final one in the coffin on the last minute of regulation time.
Incidentally, this was Chhetri’s fifth goal in as many outings during this campaign to finish at the top of the scoring chart.
India rang in a couple of changes to the starting line-up as Anirudh Thapa and Chinglensana Singh came in for the suspended Subhasish Bose and the injured Brandon Fernandes.
The first chance to the Blue Tigers came in the fourth minute when Yasir played in a delicious ball from the right for Thapa but Nepalese goalkeeper Kiran Limbu came out of his line to grab the ball.
Indian forward line tried every bit to breach the deadlock but the Nepalese defenders kept them at bay in the opening exchanges.
Pritam Kotal curled in a couple of free-kicks at the Nepal 18-yard-box only to see the opposition defenders gain possession of the ball. On the dying embers of the first half, Chhetri came close to scoring his 80th international goal but his volley flew over the crossbar.
As the referee brought an end to the first half, both India seemed to have had the upper hand with more chances created, but could not break the deadlock.
Within four minutes after the resumption, Chhetri made amends for the earlier miss as he headed in a through ball from Kotal to open the scorebook. Chhetri produced a textbook header that was powered into the ground before it bounced in over the line.
Within a minute, Suresh Singh, the former FIFA U-17 World Cupper scored his maiden goal for the Blue Tigers, volleying home a cross by Yasir Mohammad from the right flank.
Thapa and Kotal combined scintillatingly to script another goal in the process but the chance was foiled by Kiran Limbu once again.
With 10 minutes of regulation time left on the clock, Manvir rolled it to second-half substitute Udanta (who replaced Yasir). The winger dispatched it for Chhetri, but defender Rohit Chand made a spectacular interception to avert the danger.
As the Blue Tigers dugout was waiting for the final whistle, Sahal joined the party, as he produced a mazy run around a flurry of defenders, and placed the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.
Following their record-time eighth SAFF Championship victory, the Blue Tigers will now gear up for the AFC Asian Cup 2021 qualifying third round that is scheduled to kick off next year.

Blue Tigers all geared up for SAFF C’ship final

Two gestures post-match after the facile 3-1 victory against the Maldives in the SAFF Championship best describe the camaraderie in the Blue Tigers camp at the moment.

Male [Maldives], October 14 : Moments after Sunil Chhetri was named the Man of the Match in India’s 3-1 victory over the Maldives in their last group league match in the SAFF Championship, he walked up to Lalengmawia and handed him over his Man of the Match Award – a snazzy watch. And even before that happened, the entire contingent posed with a jersey of Farukh Choudhary saying in chorus “We love you, Farukh.” The Blue Tigers had also placed Farukh’s jersey no. 12 on the bench all throughout the match. And, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu even wore Farukh’s jersey at the post-match flash interview.
“This is for Farukh,” Gurpreet stated, pointing to Farukh’s jersey. “Unfortunately, he sustained a bad injury and he did have very valuable assistance in the match against Nepal. It was extremely harsh that he had to go out. We want to dedicate it to Farukh and make it worth it.”
Striker Farukh had suffered an ACL injury in the match against Nepal, and that has ruled him out for the rest of the Championship.
“He has been such an inspiration in Indian Football and it’s amazing how he continues to be at the top of his game so consistently. The manner in which he conducts himself on and off the pitch is so motivational for all of us,” Lalengmawia stated.
“Whenever we get into a crucial game, he raises the bar and scores, and makes it easier for all of us. “It’s a blessing we have him in the team – a real honour to be playing with him, training with him,” he added.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu added: “79 goals in 123 matches at the International level doesn’t come with luck. He deserves what he has achieved as he works extremely hard for all of that. He says he is going to do it, and does it on the field. What one can learn from him are his passion and determination. He has been doing his job, and in the end, that’s what it all matters.”
Sunil’s striking partner upfront, Manvir Singh, who scored the opener against the Maldives mentioned: “I am very happy to have done my job. We are extremely motivated. We look forward to the final and need to recover in time for the final.” The contingent had their recovery session at the hotel premises, and will travel to Male tomorrow (October 15) for their final training session ahead of the final.

Germany is the first team to qualify for 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Skopje [North Macedonia]: Germany has become the first team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar following the side’s thumping win over North Macedonia in UEFA Group J.

Germany thrashed North Macedonia 4-0 on Monday to book the World Cup spot in style. Timo Werner’s twin strikes along with goals from Kal Havertz and Jamal Musiala set up Germany’s win.
The visitors were well on top throughout but the closest they came in the first half was when Werner hit the post.

After the break, Germany broke through thanks to Havertz before Werner’s two well-taken goals and a first international strike for Musiala saw them cruise to victory.

According to UEFA, Armenia’s loss in Romania confirmed their place as Group J winners.

The FIFA men’s World Cup will see 32 nations compete against each other for the prize. The tournament will take place from November 21 to December 18 next year. (ANI)

Cristiano became Premier League’s player of the month

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named Premier League’s Player of the Month for September 2021 after making an instant impact on his return to Manchester United.

London [UK], October 8: The Portuguese scored three goals in as many Premier League matches after re-joining Man Utd from Juventus. It is Ronaldo’s fifth Player of the Month award, having won three successive league titles in his first spell at Old Trafford before leaving for Real Madrid in July 2009, and it is his first since March 2008.
That gap of more than 13 years between Player of the Month prizes is the longest in Premier League history.
Ronaldo enjoyed a dream first appearance on his return to the club, scoring two goals in the 4-1 home victory over Newcastle United.
He also netted the opening goal as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team came from behind to win 2-1 at West Ham United.
The Man Utd forward topped a six-man shortlist that also included Joao Cancelo, Antonio Rudiger, Allan Saint-Maximin, Mohamed Salah and Ismaila Sarr.

Ronaldo breaks record for most appearances in Champions League

Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo has created the record for making the most appearances in the history of the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester [UK], September 30 : After being named in the starting XI against Villarreal, Ronaldo made his 178th appearance in the competition, going past former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, reported Goal.com. Ronaldo had drawn level with Casillas when he started in United’s group stage defeat against Young Boys.
The Portuguese star is also the Champions League’s highest goal-scorer with 135 goals.
Ronaldo’s goal in the dying minutes of the game helped Manchester United defeat Villarreal in Group F encounter of the UEFA Champions League here at Old Trafford. United defeated Villarreal 2-1 and now the side is at the third spot in Group F with three points from two games.
The first half of the game did not see any goals and at halftime, the scoreline remained 0-0. In the second half, Villarreal took the lead as Paco Alcacer registered the goal in the 53rd minute. However, seven minutes later, United managed to equalise through Alex Telles.
It was looking like that the match will end as a draw, but Ronaldo’s brilliance in the dying minutes ensured that the Red Devils walked away with a thrilling 2-1 victory.

AIFF disqualifies Hyderya FC from I-League for producing fake bank guarantee

New Delhi [India], September 28 : The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has informed all the stakeholders of I-League Qualifiers 2021 that upon receiving several complaints regarding the genuineness of a bank guarantee submitted by Hyderya Sports Kashmir FC, the federation initiated an enquiry into the matter.
“The inquiry revealed that the bank guarantee so received was not genuine and that the bank guarantee was never officially issued by the bank named therein,” AIFF said in an official statement. The bank guarantee was one of the mandatory requirements to be eligible to participate in the League, which was to be submitted within a specified timeline.
The said timeline now stands elapsed and the mandatory requirement has not been fulfilled by the said club. In light of the same Hyderya’s participation in the League stands withdrawn with immediate effect.
Furthermore, the AIFF reserves its right to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the club.

Former Chelsea goalkeeper coach Leslie Cleevely joins SC East Bengal

Former Chelsea goalkeeper coach Leslie Cleevely will help SC East Bengal shot-stoppers get better under the bar this season, it was announced on Sunday.

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], Septemebr 26 : Cleevely joins head coach Manuel ‘Manolo’ Diaz’s coaching team after a successful stint with the Bangladesh senior national team. “I have experience of working in this part of the world. Being part of the Bangladesh national team setup where fans are also very passionate about their football, I understand the sentiment well. SC East Bengal is a massive football club and I am proud to be part of that,” said Cleevely. “I have done my homework on the goalkeepers we have and I will do what needs to be done to bring the best out of them. All three goalkeepers are experienced and I am sure they will come out with flying colours,” he said in a SC East Bengal release.
Arindam Bhattacharya, Sankar Roy and Suvam Sen are the three goalkeepers for SC East Bengal this season.
Cleevely, a UEFA ‘A’ Licence holder, has over 20 years of coaching experience, having started his career at Milwall FC in 1997. Cleevely worked closely with Edwin van der Sar and Maik Taylor at Fulham FC between 1999-2002 before moving to Crystal Palace where he became the first team goalkeeper coach and lead academy goalkeeper coach under Steve Kember.
The 56-year old was also at Tottenham Hotspur as academy goalkeeper coach before jumping ship to Chelsea in 2007 where he spent four years, working in the academy as well as helping the senior team as and when required. At the English Premier League side, Cleevely helped Petr Cech, Carlo Cudicini and Hilario get better between the sticks. Cleevely was part of the Carshalton Academy as well before shifting base to Bangladesh in 2020 where he was the senior team goalkeeper coach.
As a player, Cleevely was an understudy to the great Peter Shilton at Southampton for more than a year, also turning out for Crystal Palace and Notts County. He has played over 1000 games at senior level in Non-League football in England, making 110 appearances for Farnborough Town. Cleevely won several trophies including player of the year on four occasions with Carshalton Athletic, a team he led in over 100 games. He was also at Sutton United, playing over 150 games and also captaining the side.
Incidentally, Cleevely replaced Bobby Mimms at the Bangladesh national team, as Mimms joined SC East Bengal last season as part of Robbie Fowler’s backroom staff. Cleevely now takes over from Mimms as the red and golds prepare for their second season in the top league of the country.
SC East Bengal will face Jamshedpur FC in their opening game of the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season, on November 21 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.

Blue Tigers coach Stimac names list of 23 for upcoming SAFF Championship

India men’s football coach Igor Stimac on Sunday named a list of 23 players for the forthcoming SAFF Championship which kicks off in the Maldives from October 1 onwards. The final of the championship is slated for October 16.

New Delhi [India], September 26 : The players and the support staff will assemble in Bengaluru tomorrow (Monday, September 27), and will fly out to the Maldives the next day. Stimac and other members of the technical staff will join the squad directly in the Maldives on the same day. Besides India – Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and hosts the Maldives are the other teams in the Championship. Each team plays each other once with the top two teams qualifying for the final.
Stimac in an official AIFF release stated, “We are all looking forward to the SAFF Championship as the leading football country in this part of Asia. These 4-5 games are extremely crucial for us as we won’t have any other chance of getting together before the start of 3rd round AFC Asian Cup qualifiers next season. So these matches should help us to improve a few points in our game.”
The Blue Tigers have won the SAFF Championship (formerly SAARC Cup) 7 times – 1993 in Lahore, 1997 in Kathmandu, 1999 in Margao, 2005 in Karachi, 2009 (U23 squad) in Dhaka, 2011 in New Delhi), 2015-16 in Thiruvananthapuram.
India begin their campaign against Bangladesh on October 4.
The list of 23 probables is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh, Amrinder Singh, Vishal Kaith.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Seriton Fernandes, Chinglensana Singh, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary.

Not going to talk about my future at Barcelona, says coach Koeman

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said that he is not going to talk about his future with the club after they were held to a 1-1 draw against Granada.

Barcelona [Spain], September 21 : Barcelona trailed for 88 minutes in the game, and it was down to Ronald Araujo to help the side get an equaliser in the match. “I’m not going to talk about my future anymore. Today’s Barca is not the Barca of eight years ago. We played Barca’s way, but we don’t have the speed on the break because Philippe Coutinho goes inside, Yusuf Demir doesn’t go too deep and that’s the way it is. With Ansu Fati or Ousmane Dembele, it’s different, you have more speed, but you have to look for alternatives,” Goal.com quoted Koeman as saying.
“Before the game, you think about winning, especially at home, but our bad start made the game difficult for us. We didn’t come in strong, it was our fault. We improved during the game. We changed and we played with crosses from the wings. We put energy into scoring. We wanted more, but one point is better than nothing. We deserved the draw,” he added.
Barcelona is currently in seventh place in La Liga standings with eight points from four games.
The side will next square off against Cadiz in La Liga on Thursday.

Have potential to win AFC Cup, ISL: says ATK Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Amrinder

ATK Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Amrinder Singh feels his team is eyeing a strong show in the tournament and has potential to win 2021 AFC Cup and 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL).

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], September 19 : The Mariners are playing FC Nasaf in Uzbekistan in their AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final on September 22 and their ISL campaign starts against Kerala Blasters FC on November 19 at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda. The custodian, who won the ISL trophy with Mumbai City FC last season, is eyeing a strong show in both competitions. “I want to give my best in every game and keep clean sheets. If we keep clean sheets, then we won’t lose games and that will help us win the ISL and AFC Cup. We have a great squad that is capable of winning the AFC Cup and I would do my best,” Amrinder was quoted as saying by official website of ISL ahead of the FC Nasaf tie.
Amrinder is not unduly worried over facing FC Nasaf, one of the strongest teams in the prestigious continental club competition in Asia. “No matter who the opponent is, we always train hard and give our best. In the game against Nasaf, we will do the same. Every game is equally important for me,” he said.
The 28-year-old is quite pleased with the Mariners’ ongoing training in Dubai. “The facilities which we have in Dubai are really good. It’s going to be a tough game in Uzbekistan but these training sessions are quite useful for us,” he said.
“I’ve already played in the AFC Cup final for Bengaluru but unfortunately, we couldn’t win in 2016. it. This time with ATK Mohun Bagan, I am determined to go all the way and win the cup. This is one of my goals for the season,” he said.
When asked to draw comparisons between the defences of ATK Mohun Bagan and current Hero ISL champions Mumbai City FC, Amrinder, who had 10 clean sheets to his name last season, said: “Both the clubs are top clubs in Indian football.
In Mumbai, we had players like Mourtada Fall and Hernan Santana [now with NorthEast United FC]. And now, in ATKMB, we have Tiri, Carl McHugh and many Indian players. I feel confident with these players as they have already proved themselves in [Hero] ISL. We are trying to establish good coordination among us so that we can keep more clean sheets.”

Manchester City to introduce ‘edible coffee cup’ this season

               

Manchester [UK]: The Premier League champions Manchester City on Wednesday announced that they will introduce an ‘edible coffee cup’ at Etihad Stadium ahead of their first home game against Norwich City.

To welcome fans back, the Club is also offering half-price food and drink inside the stadium at the concourse and concessions between BST 1pm and 2pm for the opening fixture on Saturday.
“Alongside new food and beverage offerings, City are also introducing 100% recyclable and zero plastic beer cups and will trial an ‘edible coffee cup’ this season,” PL club’s website read.

“For the first time on Campus, an ‘edible coffee cup’ will also be introduced. This fantastic and innovative solution provides an amazing solution to waste, just eat your cup! These will be trailed alongside our full barista service of hot drinks outside the stadium in City Square an opposite west entrance. Fans will have the option to put these cups into our composting waste stream, if preferred,” the statement added.

As part of the City’s commitment to eliminate all single-use plastics from catering operations and improve carbon impact even further, the Club also introduced an exciting, innovative, and market-leading paper beer cup. The aqueous paper cups, will be 100% plastic-free and manufactured from sustainable sourced paper & card, all of which will be fully recyclable.

The cups will be collected throughout the stadium in the same manner as their predecessor via collection points and waste stackers and will exit via our dry mixed recycling waste stream to be 100% recycled. (ANI)

I think our game can be more collective than before, says Barcelona coach Koeman

Barcelona [Spain]: Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said he would have preferred to have Argentine striker Lionel Messi in his team, but now there is no point thinking about this particular matter.

Koeman’s remarks came as Barcelona defeated Real Sociedad 4-2 on Sunday. Messi has already left Barcelona and joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), making it the most high-profile transfer of the summer.
“I think our game can be more collective than before, but I’d prefer to have Messi in my team. But if we don’t have the player, it has to be the collective,” Goal.com quoted Koeman as saying.

Koeman also picked out Memphis Depay, as someone who could be the standout performer for the club this season.

“He played a great game and he gave a great assist. He’s always doing things. He’s an example of a professional. He always works for the team and has improved his game. He has speed and is difficult to stop. I’m delighted to have a player like him,” said Koeman.

“Pique was the leader last year but this season he is better physically. His attitude has been exemplary, like that of the other veterans,” he added.

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