Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grassroots launch sees Malakula kids 'Just Play'

OFC Media

Dozens of kids erupting into a spontaneous game of football, cavorting through the rain-soaked fields at Lakatoro as the heavens opened.

That was the lasting impression for an OFC delegation who departed Vanuatu’s outer island of Malakula yesterday after a successful launch of the Just Play grassroots programme.

It was a fitting end to the day with the impromptu kick-about embodying the very premise of the Just Play programme: football can be played anywhere, anytime by anyone.

Fortunately the sun was out at the start of the day as Malakula locals gathered to welcome distinguished guests including OFC President Reynald Temarii, Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) President Lambert Maltock, and Third Secretary of the Australian High Commissioner Kala Heinemann among others who had made the hour-long plane trip that morning.

With arms linked and smiles beaming, the children formed two lines stretching the length of the field to make a passageway through which visitors were ushered onto the complex. A prayer from the local minister marked the start of formalities before President Maltock gave the opening address.

“Welcome to this momentous opening of the Just Play programme here in the humble centre of Malakula,” said President Maltock, who grew up on the tiny island in Malampa Province. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank OFC and its partners for making this grassroots initiative possible.”

Just Play was developed by OFC in consultation with the Australian Government – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – as well as Football Federation Australia (FFA) to promote physical activity for primary-aged children while encouraging community involvement and healthy living.

A pilot project began in Tonga late last year but Vanuatu marks the official launch, complete with brand new equipment such as balls, cones, bibs, whistles and a manual with guidelines for 12 practical sessions to assist instructors.

With Head of Social Responsibility Franck Castillo and Just Play Technical Coordinator Colin Tuaa at the helm, the programme will be replicated across the Pacific Islands over the next three years and is expected to involve more than 200,000 children, 4000 teachers and volunteers and around 2,500 primary schools.

As representative of the Australian High Commission, Kala Heinemann emphasized Australia’s backing of the project.

“Australia is a proud supporter of sports initiatives in Vanuatu and across the Pacific Islands. The Pacific has a lot of sporting potential and we want to help countries reach that potential so it makes sense for us to support programmes like Just Play. Above all, we see that this initiative will benefit communities and that is why we are proud to be associated with it,” said Heinemann.

OFC President and FIFA Vice-President Reynald Temarii went on to outline the key themes of Just Play and thanked all stakeholders for their involvement.

“The aim of Just Play is to promote sports within schools. We will be sure to achieve a successful programme so that kids can enjoy their lives through football but also become good citizens to build your beautiful country,” said President Temarii.

“Acknowledging the hard work of the OFC staff, I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to our invaluable project partners: UEFA and the Australian Government. And finally I would like to thank President Lambert who helps to ensure that football programmes reach not only those living in Port Vila, but also people from the outer islands.”

Following the official opening of Just Play, the Lakatoro field became a hive of activity as around 300 kids rotated through drills and games with plenty of laughter along the way.

Watching the activities was Provincial Education Officer Renjo Samuel who gave a local perspective of what the programme would mean for his community.

“I am very glad that the Just Play has come to our province. I think it will help with social skills and teach the children to become disciplined in terms of their sport, their schoolwork and the way they approach life generally. We believe active children are healthy and happy children.”

Cloud cover slowly drifted over the village to give everyone a respite from the heat before guests enjoyed the traditional drinking of cava and a colourful array of local cuisine with fresh fish, coconut and sweet grapefruit in abundance.

Finally, there was an exchange of gifts, a traditional prayer and a ‘three cheers’ to conclude the memorable occasion. The delegation drove away to the sight of kids running out for one more game in the downpour – proof that grassroots football is alive and well in Vanuatu.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Charles Vatu, New VFF Technical Director

New Technical Director Mr. Charles Vatu |
VFF President, Mr. Lambert Maltock on Friday welcomed Mr. Charles Vatu as new Technical Director to the Federation.

Charles Vatu might be new to the post, but he is not new to football in Vanuatu. He is well-known in the 90's for playing for Suva and Siaraga F.C. and scoring the first ever goal in a World Cup qualifying match to record his name in FIFA score books and Vanuatu football history.

Charles Vatu said he is happy with the new appointment and assured everyone that his priority now will be to revive the Melanesian Cup tournament which has been inactive for some years now.

The post is a 3-years contract and Charles will start on full-time after he finishes from his current job at Australian High Commission on 5th May 2010.

Some background information
Island: Pentecost
Clubs played: Siaraga F.C. - LFA, Siaraga F.C. - PVFA, Suva F.C. - Fiji
International appearance: World Cup qualifying match 1992 - Vanuatu Vs New Zealand.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

VFF now controls Chapuis Stadium

President of VFF and Minister of Youth and Sports
Vanuatu Football Federation signed a 10 year lease over Chapuis stadium from the Vanuatu Government on friday 16 April 2010 in Luganville Santo.

The lease instrument was signed between the President of VFF - Mr. Lambert Maltock, Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports - Raphael Worwor and witnessed by the Chairman of the National Sports Council - Mr. Joe Bomal Carlo.

In a statement after the signing, President of VFF said this is a big achievement for Vanuatu Football and it is like a 'dream come true' for VFF.

"We have been trying to discuss the issue with many sports ministers that come and go, but the issue never took their attention. I am so happy the Government today have realised how important the issue is and to let VFF controlls the stadium which will help develop football in Luganville, Santo and surrounding islands in the northern region", said Lambert Maltock.

Chapuis Stadium, Luganville Santo
Minister Worwor said the agreement was resolved because the Government trusted VFF to manage the stadium, but if VFF can proof themselves, it is likely that other government stadiums around Vanuatu will be handed over to VFF in simialr way.

Chairman of NSC, Mr. Joe Bomal Carlo also expressed his gratitude for the agreement to lease and he assured VFF that NSC will also support VFF in managing the Stadium.

FIFA goal bureau approves 20 Million grant to develop Chapuis Stadium and the project will facilitate selection in the noerthen region for Teouma football academy too.

OFC delegation to arrive today on football business

President Reynald Temarii & OFC Tai Nicholas |
A delegation from the Oceania Football Confederation led by OFC President and FIFA Vice President, Reynald Temarii will arrive today in Port Vila on football business.

Mr. Lambert Maltock, President of VFF reported to Vanuafoot that the delegation is the biggest ever and they will be in country for numerous football business.

The delegation will meet with Honourable Prime Minister of Vanuatu and the Minister of Youth and Sports, and also meet with the President of VASANOC and its executives with possible discussions over Vanuatu supporting the bid for OFC to host the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2015.

Amongst the group are OFC General Secretary - Tai Nicholas, WIN in Oceania Project Manager - Vairani Davio, FIFA Goal Project Development Officer - Glen Turner, and 2 OFC media officers.

The OFC media officers will have a chance to meet with Vanuafoot team to discuss some media issues while most of the members of the delegation will travel to Malekula Island on tuesday to launch the Just Play and Grassroot Football Program.

Just Play and Grassroot Football Program is a new FIFA football program aim to develop football with kids at the grassroot level.

The group will also have a chance to meet with VFF stakeholders and sponsors before they depart to New Zealand on wednesday.

Shepherds United beat Yatel FC in Challengers Battle

Shepherds United |
Top club in the first division, Shepherds United won their first match in the challengers battle against Yatel F.C. with a 3-0 win at Kawenu Field yesterday 17 April.

The match draws some crowd that witnessed young black and white striker, Danny Michel opening the scoreboard 23 minutes in the game and continue to score again 36 minutes in the first half.

Danny again showed no mercy for Yatel when he blasted the 3 goal against the premiere club, Yatel F.C. in the second half of the game.

Shepherds coach, Albert Manaroto said they are really happy for the win which has earned them 3 points on the table and they will treat the other 9 matches yet to play similar to what they did to Yatel.

"I am happy for my boys and really praised Danny for scoring the 3 wining goals for us", he said

The other challenger battle match saw Erakor Golden Star draws with Westan Broncos at 1 goals to 1.

Day 2 NSL: Tafea cruised past Spirit

Robert Thomas |
Vanuatu champion club, Tafea F.C. played their first NSL match yesterday 1pm against Zero 8 at PVM Stadium and ruled out the Spirits in a 2-1 win.

The young Spirit team displayed some very good ball work in the first minutes of the match which saw Joseph Tahumphrey opening the score for Spirit 15 minutes in the game to put the score at 1-0 the first half.

Tafea new boss and coach, Saby Natonga tweaked their strategy in the second half that saw Robert Thomas all the way from the back came to score the equalizer.

But just before full-time, Francois Sakama breaks all hope for Spirit when he blasted the winning goal for Tafea 70 minutes in the game and closed the scoreboard at 2 goals to 1.

The is the first win for Tafea F.C. in the NSL tournament.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

OFC MEDIA: Hekari United 3, Waitakere United 0


Hekari United FC [PNG] vs. Waitakere United [NZL]

Saturday 17 April

PMRL Stadium

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Hekari United FC: 3 (Kema JACK 30’, 75’, Alick MAEMAE 48’)

Waitakere United: 0

Halftime: (1-0)

The 2nd Leg Final will be played at Fred Taylor Park in Waitakere on Sunday 2 May. Local kick-off 2pm.

The overall winner will go on to represent Oceania at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010.

Full match report to follow on

Day 2 NSL: Academy improves

Academy team have improved in day 2 of the NSL when they held current PVFA champion to a 2-2 draw.

Jean Kaltak open the score for Academy in the first half of the match but Fenedy equalizes later and Robert Yalou added another goal few minutes later, but Jean Kaltak responded with another great goal closing the scoreboard at 2 goals to 2.

It is an unfortunate moment for Amicale who are the tournament favorites to be treated to a draw by very young boys from Academy.

Vanuafoot spoke to the Academy side over their loss in day 1 to Spirit 08 and they pointed out few reasons but believe they have improved this week.

Meanwhile, the earlier match between Tafea F.C. and Spirit 08 saw the former blue color cruised past Spirit with 2 goals to 1 by goals from Joseph Tahumphrey, Jean Nakou Naprapol, Francois Sakama.

Photo: Academy team, also known as Vanuatu U20 squad.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Moise says 'Sorry'

Tafea F.C.
Tafea F.C. captain, Moise Poida in a statement to Vanuafoot this week over the 27 March event, Moise said sorry for what had happened that painted a dark page on Vanuatu's football history.

"Tafea F.C. boys are terribly sorry for what had happened that day and we wish to apologise to the President of the Republic of Vanuatu, Cabinet Ministers of the Republic, Sponsors who are contributing to Vanuatu football, Port Vila Football Association, Clubs that are affiliated to PVFA, Vanuatu Football Federation and football fans around Vanuatu for what had happened on 27 March at Port Vila Municipal Stadium. We wish to say sorry and assured everyone that such incident will not happen again in the future", said Moise Poida.

Moise also extended the apology to little kids and 'pikinini's who came to watch football that day and asked them not to be discouraged over such incidents.

After the 27 March event a lot of comments and criticisms were posted on Vanuafoot website and letters published on Vanuatu daily post 'letter to editor' in condemn over the actions.

"We accept criticisms and comments made by fans on Vanuafoot website and Daily Post. We take it to improve our club and better develop football in Vanuatu, but some comments are far too negative and that is something I cannot accept", said Moise Poida.

Tafea F.C. is the only local club that has been representing Vanuatu in the O-league over the past years, and majority of the players have represented Vanuatu in international matches.

Moise Poida: My players were first to act protect the referee

Tafea Moise Poida receiving the BRED Cup |
Tafea F.C. captain, Moise Poida in a statement to Vanuafoot this week over the 27 March event, Moise said his players were the first to act protect the referee Michael Hester after he was pushed down on the pitch by an angry spectator and those who stormed the pitch.
"The event is so shocking and I personally sympathize with those affected, and my boys feel the same too", said Moise Poida.

"We played in many local and international matches as good ambassadors of our beautiful country, but what happened on the pitch that day was wrong and we wish to apologise to all soccer fans for what had happened. I promise such incidents will not happen again in the future", he said.
Moise played in many international matches including the OFC selection that played France 98 World Cup team in New Caledonia.

Spirit ready to meet Tafea

Former National coach and Fiji Coach who is currently coaching Spirit 08 football club, Carlos Buzzetti, gears up the Spirits to meet rivals Tafea F.C. tomorrow 17th April at PVM Stadium.

"I know Tafea players have had a lot of football experiences in and out, and this is an opportunity for us to play at championship level", said Buzzetti.

Tafea F.C. and Spirit 08 F.C. had a draw in their last game, but both are hoping to take 'win' on their side this weekend.

"I have very young players but they are well disciplined, and we will take the match seriously because we know Tafea have been champion for 15-years", said Buzzetti.

Tafea F.C. recently made changes to its administration that saw Saby Natonga becomes president of the club and also takes the coaching role.

After their match at 1pm, Amicale will play the Teouma Football Academy team.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chelsea go four points clear

Nicolas Anelka scored his tenth league goal of the season |
Chelsea moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League with four games remaining following a 1-0 victory over Bolton. Nicolas Anelka scored the only goal of the game against his former side, who felt they deserved a penalty in the second half.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Batram injured

Batram Suri flew out of the country to Honiara today 13th April for a break over his knee injury.

Manager and Sponsor for Amicale F.C., Andrew Leong reported to Vanuafoot that Batram is released to undertake knee treatment in Solomon Islands for a few days and will be back to join the team again for the NSL tournament.

The Solomon International was a key player that pushed Amicale F.C. to the top position where they are currently leading the premiere division. He missed out on Saturday when the red devils took out Tupuji Magic by 4 goals to 2.

Photo: Batram scored the only goal against Spirit 08 early this year.

PVFA strengthens security with NSL organisers

After the 27 March event, spectators last weekend witnessed a heavy security ever recorded in the history of football in Vanuatu at the PVM Stadium.

The President of PVFA and Chairman of the NSA tournament, Mr. Robert Calvo ensured precautionary measures are taken and security around PVM Stadium have step up so not to repeat the same mistakes ever again.

Referees, players and official in both PVM Stadium and Kawenu field were heavily guarded by securities before, during and after the matches.

The changes and improvement will see referees in full authority and enforcing full laws of the game, therefore players and clubs have to be very careful and its important that everyone have to acquaint themselves with the football laws.

Photo: Match officials guarded in and out of the pitch by 3 securities. Something that was never there before.

VBTC sole broadcaster for Africa World Cup 2010

FIFA through OFC has finally granted World Cup 2010 broadcasting right to Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Cooperation just a few weeks before kick-off on 11th June 2010 in South Africa.

The World Cup matches will be channel through Australian SBS and Fiji Mai TV who also have approval from FIFA and OFC to broadcast around Oceania/Pacific.

The agreement with VBTC was signed between Mr. Richard Broadbridge of Mai TV and the General Manager of VBTC, Mr. Fred Vurobaravu last December and is now made known to every broadcasters prior to the World Cup event that VBTC only have the exclusive right to broadcast the event around Vanuatu.

The right gives full power to VBTC, therefore any other TV broadcasters and Pay TV services in Vanuatu will have to negotiate with VBTC now prior the event.

General Manager of VBTC, Mr. Fred Vurobaravu said since 1992, Vanuatu have been enjoying the service through French RFO by an agreement made between Vanuatu and French Government. This time it will be different for the first time we will be broadcasting live coverage matches in English and plus, it's also free to every television set in the country.

"I wish to thank RFO for their continuous assistance in broadcasting past matches, and current live matches, EUFA championship and past World Cup matches. I also wish to thank OFC for making it possible to broadcast live in Vanuatu via Australian SBS and Fiji Mai TV", he said.

Mr. Vurobaravu said the service could likely be extended to most of the outer islands.

Photo: VBTC General Manager, Fred Vurobaravu

Australian billionaire linked with Leeds takeover

Leeds are reportedly a takeover target for Australian billionaire Frank Lowy, reports the Daily Mirror.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Lowy, who is chairman of the Australian FA, is interested in buying the League One outfit.

Lowy is said to have hired a Leeds-based agent to draw up a detailed report on the feasibility of replacing Ken Bates in the hot-seat at Elland Road.

Leeds have a strong connection with Down Under and Aussies Patrick Kisnorbo and Neil Kilkenny are part of Simon Grayson's squad, while Socceroos Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka have also starred for the club.

A Leeds spokesman claimed he could not comment on the reports.

Story: Ian Ferris

Domenech gives Henry no assurances

Raymond Domenech has refused to give assurances over Thierry Henry's place in France's 23-man squad for this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.
Domenech, Thierry Henry
GettyImagesDomenech celebrates with Henry after qualification, but there is no room for sentiment
The 32-year-old Barcelona forward was in the squad for France's last game against Spain, but there are no guarantees he will make the final cut for the World Cup, despite having helped Les Bleus reach the finals in the play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland in controversial fashion.
Domenech told French television show Canal Football Club: "It is a question that would arise on May 11 (the date of the initial squad announcement).''
Henry was a member of the World Cup-winning squad in 1998 and the Euro 2000-winning team and has scored 51 times in 118 appearances for France.
But his place is in jeopardy due to his limited playing time at Barcelona coupled with the wide array of attacking options at Domenech's disposal.
"I have deep respect for great players. Thierry has been, is (a great player). He does not play, but he is at Barcelona and he plays in a big competition,'' added the coach. "But I cannot help 'Titi' in this way.''
Another potential striker for France is Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea. Anelka has been critical of Domenech's regime, but the coach insisted he accepts comments from senior squad members.
"I do not take it as an attack,'' said Domenech. "When those who speak are the players within the senior players, I'm happy, they are the ones who will save the team

OFC U-17 Women’s Championship: Hosts show class on Match Day 1

The Young Football Ferns have started the OFC U-17 Women’s Championships with a record 10-0 win over the Solomon Islands at North Harbour Stadium.
Evie Milynn and Katie Bowen celebrate a goal (Photo: Phototek)
The largest-ever New Zealand win at U-17 women’s level sees the Young Football Ferns comfortably atop the standings and in pole position to qualify for September’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.

New Zealand now takes on Papua New Guinea, who ran out 4-0 winners against Tonga in the opening game of the tournament, and can all-but confirm their place in the Caribbean with another victory on Wednesday.

New Zealand had never played a U-17 Women’s World Cup qualifier – the 2008 Young Football Ferns qualified for their U-17 World Cup as hosts – and coach Dave Edmondson was relieved to make such a positive start.

“It’s great to get the first one out of the way,” Edmondson said.

“Regardless of what is expected before the tournament it is still good to get underway.”

Early chances came and went for the home side until a 13th minute strike from Kate Loye settled the nerves.

Newly appointed captain Katie Bowen double the lead on the half hour mark with a thunderous long range effort and late first half goals from Hannah Wong and Holly Patterson stretched the gap to four goals at the break.

Wong needed two attempts and a fortuitous bounce to grab her second goal five minutes into the second spell, and Olivia Chance made it 6-0 with a crisp shot from the corner of the penalty area a minute later.

Defender Sivitha Boyce got in on the action in the 70th minute, while Patterson got on the end of a Ashleigh Ward cross seven minutes later before substitute striker Brittany Dudley-Smith helped herself to a classy brace of goals in the last 12 minutes to complete the rout.

With seven different players contributing to the score line, Edmondson was happy with his attacking options, but says defence was equally pleasing.

“At halftime, keeping the clean sheet to fulltime was the biggest aim. We wanted to maintain our structure and discipline and for the most part we did that.

“We had a number of players on the score sheet so that’s obviously pleasing but there’s still girls on the bench who could come in for us so that’s gives us plenty of variety in attack.”

New Zealand play Papua New Guinea at 3pm on Wednesday at North Harbour Stadium’s artificial pitch.

Story courtesy NZF Media

OFC U-17 Women’s Championship New Zealand 2010
12-16 April
North Harbour Stadium
Auckland New Zealand

Match Day 1 Result

Solomon Islands 0
New Zealand 10 (Kate LOYE 13, Katie BOWEN 30, Hannah WONG 45, 50; Holly PATTERSON 45+1, 77; Olivia CHANCE 56, Sivitha BOYCE 70, Brittany DUDLEY-SMITH 78, 87)
Halftime: 4-0

Solomon Islands: 1. Alice PATRICK (GK), 3. Joana ALICK, 4. Ella VAKATO, 5. Cathy AIHUNU (7. Veronica WAPUHANTA 35’), 6. Janise ONIKA, 9. Elizabeth MALAU, 13. Mary MAEFITI, 14. Merina PHILP JOE, 15. Veronica TOLIVAKA (Captain), 16. Joy TIMO (17. Rina HASI 68’), 18. Sally SAENI (19. Mizzy ONEASI 59’)
Coach: Luke EROI [SOL]

Yellow cards: Joy TIMO 64’, Rina HASI 89’

Red cards: Nil

New Zealand: 1. Chloe-May GEURTS (GK), 2. Rachel HEAD, 3. Tessa MCPHERSON , 4. Olivia CHANCE (16. Ashleigh WARD 71), 6. Evie MILLYNN, 7. Holly PATTERSON, 8. Kate LOYE (5. Brittany DUDLEY-SMITH 55), 9. Hannah CARLSEN (15. Kate CARLTON 81), 10. Hannah WONG, 14. Katie BOWEN (Captain), 17. Sivitha BOYCE

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards: Nil

Lautoka look ahead to next O-League

After finishing second in Group B of the 2010 O-League, Fiji representatives Lautoka are already looking ahead to next season.

Lautoka recently finished the group stage with four wins and two losses, falling one point short of Hekari United who became the first team from Papua New Guinea to qualify for the O-League Final.

Fiji Football Association Chief Executive Officer Bob Kumar says he backs Lautoka to go one step further next season.

“Lautoka played well in this edition of the O-League. They had some good results and a few upsets so hopefully they will be able to go a notch up next time,” Kumar said.

Kumar has confirmed that Lautoka will again represent Fiji in OFC's premier club competition, with the 2011 O-League set to commence in October 2010.

“Lautoka will once again be representing Fiji in the O-League competition since they claimed the 2009 National League title. The winner of the Fiji Sun Weet Bix National Football League this year will feature in the following 2011-2012 season,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile three Fijian players will feature in the 2010 O-League final with national reps Tuimasi Manuca, Pita Bolitoga representing Hekari and wonder boy Roy Krishna playing for Waitakare United.

The O-league home and away final will be played on Saturday 17 April and Sunday 2 May.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Challenger Battle kicked-off last weekend

Challenger battle kicked-off last weekend between the 3 bottom clubs in the PVFA premiere division and the top 3 teams in the first division table, at the Kawenu field.
Challenger battle is a substitute name for relegation playoffs which is a process that takes place at the end of every PVFA season in which teams in premiere division are relegated to the first division.

The Challenger Battle match which have been scheduled to take place last Thursday between Shepherds and Seveners was cancelled due to bad weather but Saturday's matches proceeded between Erakor F.C. and Yatel F.C. and Westan Broncos taking Ifira Blackbird.

The first match between Erakor Golden Stars and Yatel F.C., the Paama sharks still claimed their position as from premiere origin when they beat the Golden Stars by 2 goals to 1.

Unfortunately, the the premiere division competitor, Westan Broncos was defeated by a young Black Bird team by 1 goal to 0 in the 2nd match at Kawenu Field.

The wining and only goal for the match was recorded by another young footballer to look out for, Kalsakau Lorenso from Ifira Black Bird.

Goal scorers: 1st Match - 21' Kalangis Kalsong, 33' Andrew Hungai, 77' Bill David

2nd Match - Kalsakau Lorenso

Zero-Eight leading after day 1 of NSL

The two new commers in PVFA and new to participate in NSL, Spirit 08 and Academy met last weekend at PVM Stadium in day 1 of the NSL tournament.

Spirit 08 proofed many fans who were predicting an easy win for the skilfull Academy team wrong when they crashed them 3 goals to 1.

The young Epi'ian footballer, Robert Tasso open up the score for Spirit 08 40 minutes after no attempts made in the early minutes of the game.

He later converted another goal 46 minutes in the second half from a spotted loose ball mistakenly left by Academy defense.

Zero-eight substitute, Loreen Bob closed all the spirit's conversions leaving their score board at 3 goals in the 59 minutes.

Fijian international, Esava Samudere was behind Spirit's defense but just before the match ended, his defense was breached and Academy had an opportunity to convert a penalty closing the scoreboard at 3 goals to 1.

Carlos Buzzetti said he is happy about 08's win which has also placed them in the top position at day 1 of the NSL.

Spirit 08 will play Tafea F.C. next Saturday 17th March 2010 at PVM Stadium.

Amical too good in day one of National Soccer League

National Soccer League kicked-off last weekend and PVFA leader, Amicale red devils proof themselves too good when they wiped out Tupuji Imere by 4 goals to 2.

About 3000 fans came to watch the show last weekend with heavy security inside PVM Stadium.

Solomon International, Billy Kidston open the score for the red devils 22 minutes after kick-off with a superb ball work that went past Chikau Mansale into Tupuji's net.

Captain Fenedy Mausafakalo added the red's 2nd goal 35 minutes later by a 20 metres blow at Mansale who could not stop the powerful shot from his cousin into the yellow's net.

Peter John added another goal in the 2nd half but the red devils were responded from a beautiful sweep by Imere's uprising star, Rodney.

The red devil's scored their 4th goal by a perfect ball work between the two talented Billy Kidston and Fenedy Mausafakalo and just before the end of the match, Bula from Tupuji converted a penalty to close the score at 4 goals to 2 in favour of Amicale F.C.

In a statement to Vanuafoot TV, captain Fenedy said he was happy with the boys performance on the first day of the NSL tournament and their hard work which earned them 3 points on the table.

Next week Amicale will play Academy at the PVM Stadium.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NSL: Amicale walks over Tupuji

Tupuji Imere - 2
Amicale - 4

'Interesting game' as described by many spectators who showed up again after the 27 March event this afternoon at PVM stadium and obviously there are security improvements in the stadium.

Some good attacking opportunities from both sides in the first minutes of the game between blues and Amicale red devils but no early goals from both teams.

Billy Kidston open the score for Amicale F.C. 22 minutes in the first half and 13 minutes later, Fenedy Mausafakalo added another goal in 35 minutes to take Amicale leading the first half with 2 goals to 0.

Substitute Peter John added on another goal few minutes in the 2nd half but Tupuji Imere responded with a superb goal by Tupuji's young uprising star, Rodney and a penalty awarded to the blues was not mistaken by Bula.

Fenedy Mausafakalo closed the score board with a last goal and end the match with 4 goals to 2 in favor of the red devils.

Soccer: Brazil's big names take back seat

Brazil will have a different look at this year's World Cup in South Africa: The beautiful game will be superseded by effective soccer.

After a disappointing performance in the last World Cup despite a squad filled with some of the world's top players, Brazil will try to focus on results.

Forget about trying to impress with skills and nifty moves. Getting wins and advancing in the tournament is what it will be about.

"It's not about the big names any more," Brazil coach Dunga said. "It's about players who can go out there and perform the best they can perform."

The former national team captain revamped the squad and Brazil regained the fans' respect after being eliminated by France in the quarterfinals of the 2006 tournament, when the five-time champions failed to impress despite having Kaka, Ronaldinho and Adriano.

Known for his toughness on and off the field, Dunga gave Brazil a new face, getting players to add heart and commitment to their refined technique.

Article continues below

"It's what the fans wanted," Dunga said. "They wanted players with enthusiasm, committed to the team. Now the players are trying to give what the fans wanted."

The players were heavily criticised for their lack of effort and poise in Germany four years ago, and Dunga pledged to change that.

He said he wanted a team with attitude, and it has paid off, with Brazil arriving in South Africa boosted by significant results under the coach's new style.

The team won the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup, and earned victories in high-profile friendlies against Argentina, Italy, England and Portugal.

Brazil also won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and finished first in South American World Cup qualifying.

"The fans are buying into our philosophy because the results are there," Dunga said.

The coach began revamping the Brazilian team as soon as he replaced Carlos Alberto Parreira after the 2006 World Cup.

He left most of the team's stars off the squad, and said he would only summon players who cared about the national team.

Kaka, Adriano, Robinho and several other players from the last World Cup team will certainly be back in South Africa, but Dunga likely won't recall Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho despite pressure from fans.

By Tales Azzoni

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Soccer: City lose at the last as top players rest

Manawatu 4
Auckland City 1

A year and a bit after being the last team to beat Auckland City on New Zealand soil, YoungHeart Manawatu did it again in their New Zealand Football Championship game.

Originally scheduled for December 20, it was postponed until City arrived home from their outstanding fifth place at Fifa's Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

With the NZFC minor premiership already done and dusted and with a crucial away first-leg semifinal against Canterbury United tomorrow, City coach Paul Posa understandably rested many of the players who had turned out in their 2-2 O-League draw with Waitakere United last Sunday and who would be required in Christchurch.

For 75 or so minutes, City were right in yesterday's game at Kiwitea St. Locked 1-1, the hosts had the chance to become the first team to end a regular NZFC unbeaten but the young players, while relishing their chance to play at this level, succumbed as the visitors banged in three late goals in nine minutes to win 4-1.

"I was very proud of the young guys," said Posa. "I thought for a long time we were the better team. The pressure told but they did very well.
CCID: 31622
Click Here!

"We achieved what we wanted to - maybe not in the result - but in resting the players who will play on Sunday and in giving young players an opportunity. Probably only four or five of the players involved today will travel to Christchurch."

For debutante Tim Payne, of Sacred Heart College, it was a memorable day. In snatching the 56th minute equaliser he, at 15, became the youngest goalscorer in the six NZFC seasons.

For Manawatu coach Bob Sova, the result was a godsend.

"We wanted to win for a number of reasons," said Sova. "Three points took us above Hawkes Bay into sixth place. To finish just two points out of the semifinals, as we have now done, is a lot better than being five points back.

"I can now go to the board and point out what we've done. With just an ounce of luck and a result or two going our way, we could've been in the semifinals."

One player making the most of his chances was Vanuatu international Seule Soromon.

He travelled north with a share of the golden boot lead - locked on nine goals with Hawkes Bay's Leon Birnie. By the time he left Kiwitea St, he had the title to himself.

Goals in the 77th and 86th minutes took Soromon's season tally to 11 and continued the run by non-New Zealand players in claiming the Golden Boot.

The 25-year-old follows South Africans Keryn Jordan and Grant Young (2004-05), Jordan (2005-06), Solomon Islander Benjamin Totori (2006-07), Uruguay's Gonzalo Nieres and Scottish-born Graham Little (2007-08) and Costa Rican Luis Corrales (2008-09) as the top scorers.

In tomorrow's other NZFC semifinal, Waitakere United are away to Team Wellington.

In yesterday's Lion Foundation National Youth League semifinal, Waitakere beat Team Wellington 6-2. Waitakere will play the winner of tomorrow's game between Canterbury United and Auckland Manukau in next week's final.

By Terry Maddaford | Email Terry

Photo: Manawatu's Seule Soromon's two goals against Auckland City gave him the Golden Boot title. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Incidents like that don’t help OFC

The Oceania Football Confederation says it is worried about the consequences of an incident at an O League match in Vanuatu capital, Port Vila before last week. A number of spectators ran on to the playing pitch shortly before the end of the game, forcing local officials to end the match prematurely. A referee and a number of players were reportedly assaulted. The OFC General Secretary, Tai Nicholas, says an incident of this kind gets back to the world governing body, FIFA. “They would have seen this incident in the wires back in Zurich. And we’re just embarking on a visitation to Vanuatu, and PNG and New Caledonia and Solomon Islands because Oceania is bidding to host the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in these islands. And incidents like that don’t help OFC. So we have to be doubly sure that things like this don’t happen again.”

Tai Nicholas says they are investigating the incident in Port Vila, and it will likely result in sanctions against the local club.


NSL to kick-off this weekend

PVFA president, Robert Calvo confirmed to Vanuafoot yesterday that National Soccer League will kick-off this week at PVM Stadium.

NSL Day 1 is scheduled for Saturday 10th April which will see Tupuji will take Amicale at 1pm and Spirit with Academy at 3pm.

Another tournament to kick-off this week is Challenger Battle which will begin today at 5.30pm with Seveners taking Shepherds United at PVM Stadium.

Baron set to miss World Cup

South Africa goalkeeper Emile Baron looks set to miss the World Cup after undergoing surgery on his shoulder.

Baron sustained the injury in mid-March while he was away with Bafana Bafana at a national training camp in Brazil.

The SuperSport United player was initially told the injury may heal in time, but his club have now confirmed it is unlikely he will be fit before the June 11 kick-off after he went under the knife last Wednesday.

"I don't know how to explain this man; I'm disappointed because it looks like I will sit out for four months in order to make a full recovery," Baron said. "I underwent surgery on Wednesday and it was successful but there is nothing I can do at this stage, just to rest and wait to make a full recovery and any thing can happen."

Baron, who has also played for Norwegian club Lillestrom and Kaizer Chiefs, has six caps for South Africa, but was only expected to be a back-up to first-choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune at the finals.

Barcelona boss Guardiola: Don’t analyse Messi, just enjoy

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says it's impossible to describe the phenomenon of Lionel Messi.

After seeing his Argentine star score all four goals in last night's victory over Arsenal, Guardiola says it was better just to enjoy the midfielder rather than analyse him.

"He cannot be explained, he is to be enjoyed. I am very pleased for him, that love for the game and for that little desire to appear in the media," said Guardiola. "He's not anonymous, but lives his life in peace.

"He's only interested in the game and is a good example for kids, by the way to behave."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger described Messi as a "PlayStation" and Guardiola agreed: "That's a good description.

"The good thing is that tomorrow morning he will rise and will continue to seek the love of his family and his teammates. And that is why he so beloved in the locker room."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lautoka Prasad not happy with Vanuatu Football

Shop and Save Lautoka Blues were upset with the free for all brawl that erupted during their O League game against Tafea FC over the weekend in Vanuatu. Upon their arrival Tuesday night in Fiji, Lautoka soccer boss, Shalendra Prasad said his team would not play again in Vanuatu unless and until there full assured of their safety. Prasad said the brawl has painted a bad image of the Tafea FC and Vanuatu soccer.

"I don't think we will go and play there again,' said Prasad. " Unless and until we are given full assurance on the security measures then only I think Lautoka FC will go and play." Prasad said he was upset with the Vanuatu O League LOC. He said some of his players were punched by the security at the ground when the players tried to run for assistance. " The crowd can dominate anything up there and the security at the ground instead of protecting our players they punched our boys," The game was not completed, the referee was bashed, stones and bottles were thrown, we were chased from the ground to the changing room and securities started punching some of our boys".

OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas says they are investigating the incident in Port Vila and its in the hands of the OFC disciplinary committee.

Messi crushes Arsenal with master-class in finishing

Barcelona eased into the semi-finals of the Champions League with a comprehensive 4-1 drubbing of Arsenal at the Nou Camp, all four goals courtesy of Lionel Messi.

Incredibly, Arsenal actual took the lead after 19 minutes when Theo Walcott’s pace set up Niklas Bendtner for the opener.

But this was as good as it got for the Gunners as Messi then took centre stage and Arsenal had no answer to his stunning solo display which saw the Argentinean collect a 21 minute first half hat-trick.

Within a couple of minutes Messi levelled after some sloppy visitor’s defending.

Pedro teed the Argentine up for his second on 37 minutes and a cool lob completed his first-half hat-trick just before the break.

The second half was damage limitation for Arsene Wenger’s team but Messi still managed to add a fourth with a couple of minutes remaining to finish the tie 6-3 on aggregate to the defending champions and a semi-final meeting with Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roberto Carlos: Juventus striker Trezeguet wants Corinthians move

Roberto Carlos has sensationally revealed Juventus striker David Trezeguet fancies a move to Corinthians.

The Brazilian giants already boast Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo and it's been revealed Trezeguet is also keen.

Former Inter Milan star Roberto Carlos said: “Last week I received a call from my friend from France, who is a close friend of Trezeguet.

“He told me that David would be available to play for Corinthians.

“He isn't talking about other clubs but just Corinthians. He wants to play here in Brazil.”

France international Trezeguet is actually Argentine-born.

New president for Tafea F.C.

Tafea F.C. committee members this week have elected Sabi Natonga as the new President of Tafea F.C.

The club decided to bring in changes for a number of reasons, and one being the sudden fall of Tafea F.C. in the O-League and also to gear up for the National Soccer League coming up.

The members have also elected George Iapson as the new secretary and Robert Calvo as treasurer.

Mr. Jean Pierre Nirua who has been holding the position is now voted to Honorary President of Tafea football club.

North Queensland Fury urge FFA over Fowler

North Queensland Fury have called on Football Federation Australia to allow Robbie Fowler to re-sign for the club.
Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler may not return to North Queensland Fury
Fowler, 34, has proved a success since moving to the A-League in 2009 but he is currently thought to be in England earning his European coaching A licence as doubts remain over his future at Fury.
The club is currently under the control of the FFA following cash problems and the body is in talks with the players as they look to reduce wage costs substantially for next season.
It is thought that coach Ian Ferguson, who has been asked to reapply for his job, will leave but the FFA has apparently ruled out the possibility that Fury could appoint a player-coach such as Fowler.
Fury owner Don Matheson, who brought Fowler to the club on a three-year deal, is set to hold talks with Fowler on Tuesday but urged the FFA to do all it can to secure a new agreement with the former Liverpool striker.
"It can't be understated what value he's been to the club," Matheson said in The Age. "The FFA will want to be careful they don't let bean-counters run the game because they don't bring culture to a club."
Fury goalkeeper Justin Pasfield added his weight to the campaign to bring Fowler back to the club.
"He's a big part of our team and a big part off the field as well," he told the Townsville Bulletin. "A player of his calibre, playing with him every day and being with him every day, you learn a lot of things."

Roger Milla: Indomitable Lionheart

When Roger Milla took the 1990 World Cup by storm, scoring four goals despite not starting a single game, Cameroon's virtuoso veteran not only wrote his own name into finals folklore, but helped drag African football out of the shadows and into the global consciousness.
Roger Milla
GettyImagesRoger Milla: Etched his name into Cameroon's history books.
Longevity is a quality often commended in football, and though we are unlikely to see another Stanley Matthews, still plying their trade at the ripe old age of 53, Milla's international achievements left many in awe. And the super-sub moniker applies to no-one better than Cameroon's greatest ever footballing icon.
By the time a 30-year-old Milla played in his first finals, in 1982, he had already built up an impressive continental reputation - picking up his first African Footballer of the Year award in 1976 during a prolific spell with hometown club Tonerre Yaounde, where he plundered 69 goals in 87 games. His scoring exploits alerted the attention of European scouts and in 1979 he began a fruitful ten-year club career in France, taking in Monaco, Bastia, St Etienne and Montpellier.
Milla, with three years experience in Europe under his belt, was charged with spearheading Cameroon's attack for the 1982 World Cup in Spain but, in truth, he hardly carried out his duties with aplomb. While the Indomitable Lions enjoyed a respectable debut World Cup campaign, exiting at the group stage despite finishing unbeaten with three draws, their strikers flattered to deceive. Stalemates against Peru and Poland were followed by an excellent 1-1 draw with eventual winners Italy, but Milla had played 269 minutes of football - every minute but one after being substituted late on against Peru - without scoring.
After Cameroon missed out on qualification for the 1986 World Cup, Milla might have believed he would never have another opportunity to play or score on the greatest stage of all. At 34, many might have considered hanging up their international boots. Not Milla. Four years later, and the striker was rewarded for his self-belief as in just 238 minutes of football and five cameo appearances at Italia '90, Milla etched his name into World Cup folklore.
Cameroon's 1990 World Cup campaign began in remarkable fashion as they shocked reigning champions Argentina 1-0 courtesy of Francois Omam-Biyik's second-half strike. Milla played the last nine minutes of the match as a substitute, but it would be six days later that his World Cup career finally exploded into life.
Roger Milla
GettyImagesRoger Milla's corner-flag celebration has become synonymous with the 1990 World Cup.
With the scores tied at 0-0 against Romania, Cameroon coach Valeri Nepomnyashchi threw on his 38-year-old wildcard just before the hour mark. With 76 minutes on the clock, Milla gambled on a long ball out of defence that had been left to bounce by the Romanian back-line. He leapt for the second ball, outmuscling centre-back Iaone Andone before slotting a left-foot effort past helpless goalkeeper Silviu Lung - a demonstration of anticipation, strength and finishing prowess encapsulated in a single goal.
Ten minutes later he fired the Indomitable Lions into a two-goal lead, lashing home a fierce right-footed strike that sealed victory - though Gavril Balint bundled home a Romanian consolation - and guaranteed Cameroon's passage into the second round. Already safely through, Nepomnyashchi's side were thrashed 4-0 by the coach's Soviet motherland in the final group game, with Milla unable to reduce the deficit after coming on for Emmanuel Kunde in the 34th minute.
In reaching the last-16, they were paired against a Colombia side captained by wild-haired playmaker Carlos Valderrama and 'aided' in defence by the irrepressible antics of goalkeeper and showman Rene Higuita. But it was to be Cameroon's enigmatic veteran, not Colombia's colourful characters, who would steal the show.
After 54 goalless minutes, Milla rose from his customary position on the substitute's bench and came on to rapturous applause from the Cameroon fans, praying for another Milla miracle. They weren't to be disappointed. The saving grace was not immediately forthcoming as the game remained 0-0 after 90 minutes and headed into extra-time, but after 106 minutes, the 38-year-old produced a silky turn and burst of pace - more befitting of a player 15 years his junior - to break through the Colombian rearguard, before sliding a left-foot shot past Higuita.
Milla immediately ran to the corner flag, spontaneously shimmying and shaking in celebration at the biggest goal in Cameroon's history. Not content with just one to his name, three minutes later Milla netted a second thanks to one of the worst goalkeeping errors in World Cup memory. Higuita, playing the ever-entertaining sweeper, exchanged passes with his defender before turning away to be met, not by space ahead of him, but the imposing frame of Milla. The striker pick-pocketed the goalkeeper, stroked the ball home and ran to the opposite corner to repeat the flag-dancing celebration that would become synonymous with Italia '90.
Milla later said of that goal: "More than a year before the World Cup he [former Montpellier team-mate Valderrama] gave me a video tape of Colombia games, which had TV footage of Higuita and his tricks. I told Valderrama then, 'If Cameroon play Colombia in the World Cup, he can't do that. We have fast players, intelligent players'. When we were drawn against them I noticed Higuita was up to his tricks. I saw a chance to dispossess him and took it. It was good tactics, good planning.'
Roger Milla and 
Oleg Salenko
GettyImagesRecord breakers: Roger Milla and Oleg Salenko celebrate their respective World Cup records at USA 94
Bernado Redin made it an interesting final five minutes with a consolation effort but Cameroon, inspired again by Milla, held on to become the first African nation to reach the quarter-finals - an achievement only equalled by Senegal 12 years later. England provided the last-eight opponents and it was Bobby Robson's side who opened the scoring through David Platt's first-half effort. But when Cameroon's talisman was introduced at the interval, the stage seemed set for another Milla masterpiece to be created.
Sure enough, Milla, displaying all the energy of a precocious teenager, was felled by Paul Gascoigne in the area 15 minutes after the restart and Emmanuel Kunde netted from the spot to restore parity. Four minutes later and the game was turned on its head as Milla escaped the advances of Gascoigne, Platt and Mark Wright to slide a sublime through ball to Eugene Ekeke, who dinked the ball home. But there was to be no fairytale story for Milla this time, as two Gary Lineker penalties secured England's place in the semis against West Germany.
Even so, Milla was unquestionably the star of the tournament and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team ahead of Lineker and alongside top scorers Salvatore Schillaci and Tomas Skuhravy, as well as receiving the African Footballer of the Year crown later in 1990, 14 years after he first received the honour.
Incredibly, Milla's World Cup story didn't end there - though it never hit the same dizzy heights. Four years later, at the age of 42 years and 39 days, he became the oldest person to both play in and score in a World Cup match, when he netted Cameroon's only goal in an embarrassing 6-1 humbling at the hands of Russia at USA '94.
It was a truly record-breaking occasion as Oleg Salenko became the first and thus far only player to net five goals in a single finals match. And just days before, against Brazil, the 24 years and 42 days age gap between Milla and 17-year-old future captain Rigobert Song became (and remains) the largest between two team-mates in World Cup history.
When FIFA named him African Footballer of the Century, ahead of the likes of George Weah and Abedi Pele, it was testament more to his character than his talent, and Milla helped the continent believe it deserves a place at world football's top-table. The effervescent veteran, whose dance-moves lit up our screens in 1990, is unquestionably a true World Cup Legend

Ronaldo: O Fenomeno

Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima (otherwise known as Ronaldo) has picked up more personal awards than many could ever dream of. A World Cup winner, twice, the Brazilian striker elevated himself to the very top of world football almost immediately and picked up two FIFA World Player of the Year awards before he was 20 years of age.
GettyImagesRonaldo kisses his second World Cup trophy.
Ronaldo will always live in the shadow of Brazil's greatest player, Pele, but many have argued that his achievements in breaking into the European game, coupled with his many successes at international level, provide evidence for his claim to be the best. Only his shocking injury record and off-pitch distractions serve as reminders of his mental and physical fragility.
Beginning his career in street football, as many in Brazil do, Ronaldo was spotted by World Cup winner Jairzinho and brought through the ranks of Cruzeiro in 1993. He exploded onto the scene as a 17-year-old, boasting incredible pace and a fluid attacking style and was immediately thrust into the limelight with a call-up to Carlos Alberto Parreira's 1994 World Cup squad.
While he did not play, it was a valuable learning curve for the young striker and, alongside the likes of Bebeto and Romario, Ronaldo cemented his place in the future plans of the national team. After moving to PSV in the summer, where he bagged 66 goals in 71 appearances, he did enough to warrant inclusion for the Olympic Games in 1996 under new boss Mario Zagallo and it would turn out to be a pivotal year in his career.
The striker went to the tournament known as 'Ronaldinho' (little Ronaldo) because of the presence of centre-back Ronaldo Guiaro, but soon graduated to the nickname 'big Ronaldo' when he helped his side to a bronze medal. Upon his return he joined Sir Bobby Robson's Barcelona and bagged 34 goals in 37 league matches in his single season at the Nou Camp, catapulting him into stardom.
The move to one of Europe's elite powered him to the top of world football and, at the age of 20, he became the youngest player to pick up the FIFA World Player of the Year award. His rise was not yet complete though, as he was transferred for a then world record fee of around £18 million to Inter Milan in 1997 and immediately set the benchmark with the best goal-per-game average in the history of Serie A - form which landed him another World Player of the Year gong the following year and saw him crowned as the first player to ever win back-to-back awards.
Travelling to France '98, Ronaldo was seen as one of the most potent strikers in the world. His first playing World Cup cemented that reputation as he scored four goals and provided three assists, but it also raised questions over his mental state after an incident before the final against hosts France that continues to remain a mystery to this day.
The striker was reported to have had a 'convulsive fit' at the team hotel the night before the game and was removed from the Brazil lineup, but then reinstated after he personally requested a chance to play. A shadow of his former self, Ronaldo made little impact on the game and Brazil were beaten 3-0 in Paris by a Zindine Zidane-inspired French side, as the off-pitch distractions hindered their ability to perform.
The true events of that night may never be revealed, but what is certain is that it affected the rest of Ronaldo's career. In 1999, the striker suffered the first in a series of serious knee injuries and went under the surgeon's knife. It was nearly two years before he played again with regularity, but when he did return he revealed why the Italian press had labelled him O Fenomeno as he led his side to glory at the 2002 World Cup.
After completing a gruelling recuperation process, Korea/Japan proved to be a stunning revival for the brilliant Brazilian as he finished as the tournament's top scorer on eight goals. The misery of 1998 was laid to rest as he smashed both goals in typical style in a 2-0 win over Germany in the final and confounded the critics who had been quick to hint at his possible early retirement.
With another World Cup winners medal in the bag, Ronaldo's place back at the top of world football was confirmed and he moved to Real Madrid for €39 million. Brought in as one of Florentino Perez's galacticos, Ronaldo helped Madrid win the league in his first season with 23 goals but, a glorious hat-trick against Manchester United in the 2003-04 Champions League aside, his time in Spain was blighted by injury and, for the first time, concerns over his weight.
GettyImagesO Fenômeno was at his peak in 1998.
Germany 2006 afforded him yet another opportunity to bounce back from criticism and, once again, he delivered on the biggest stage of all. Travelling to his fourth World Cup, Ronaldo was only two goals away from equalling Gerd Muller's record of 14 goals at the start of the tournament and drew level with the German legend with a brace in the group stages against Japan; creating a new record for himself (15) against Ghana in the Second Round before their exit at the hands of France in the quarter-finals.
It would be his last appearance (to date) in the famous shirt and a move back to Italy after the tournament to the other half of Milan, AC, was fraught with the same injury and weight concerns that had blighted the latter part of his career. A sex-scandal involving three cross dressing prostitutes was embarrassing to say the least, with the striker admitting he was suffering from ''psychological problems'' linked to his long-running knee injury.
Eventually returning to Brazil with Corinthians in 2009, Ronaldo chose to see out his career in his homeland and in full view of an adoring and faithful public. Initially he saw glimpses of his former self, finishing his first season with the club with 20 goals in 29 appearances and his iconic status was confirmed as he helped his new side to league and cup trophies, but that may not be end of his amazing story.
Confirming his retirement plans for the end of 2011, few would bet against the king of the comebacks making an appearance for his country again in South Africa. Having overcome countless problems during his glittering career, Ronaldo's place near the top of football's elite is set in stone - his 62 goals in 97 appearances for Brazil could yet be improved.

Zinedine Zidane: A flawed genius

Few players have the ability to change the face of football with their talent. Zinedine Zidane's touch, grace and skill on the ball have ensured that, despite one of the most public breakdowns in the game's history at the 2006 World Cup final, he remains in the public consciousness as the best player of his generation and an icon to all who have seen him play.
Zinedine Zidane
GettyImagesZinedine Zidane got his hands on the trophy in 1998.
Zidane's exit from the footballing world may live long in the memory, but his impact on the game was immense. A world record transfer fee of 78 million euros from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001, a perfectly executed volley to seal Champions League success the following year and countless examples of elegance personified have cemented his place in history and his redefining of the attacking midfield role even saw one director create a 90-minute film named 'Zidane: a 20th Century Portrait' which focuses entirely on his play during a match.
Zidane, of Algerian descent, was a symbol for the reconciliation of the racial divisions of France, yet if you speak the words 'Zidane' and 'World Cup' in the same sentence, then images of 'the headbutt seen around the world' are automatically evoked. He cannot escape them. Having scored a penalty with Antonin Panenka-like nerve (albeit needing the aid of the crossbar) to put France ahead against Italy, Zidane could only watch as Marco Materazzi levelled the scores to send the 2006 final into extra-time.
The Frenchman had risen from the ashes to lead his side to Berlin and was riding the crest of wave as his performances earned him critical acclaim from every corner of the globe. But the wave would come crashing down around him as, with just ten minutes of the game left, he headbutted Materazzi in the chest after the Italian had made a remark about his sister.
Rightly given the red-card, Zidane then provided one of the most iconic images in World Cup history as he walked past the Jules Rimet trophy and down the tunnel. He would not get his hands on the prize either, as David Trezeguet's missed penalty in the shoot-out ensured that Italy would be crowned World Champions and Zidane would end his career in disgrace.
Regrettably, the incident signalled the final moment of his legacy and served to highlight the proximity between Zidane's genius and madness. It did not completely destroy what he had worked so hard to build up - he was too good a player for that to happen - but it left a sour taste on what should have been a night of celebration.

France's team page

For more about Les Bleus and its chances in South Africa this summer, click here.
Zidane's World Cup career first began to blossom on home soil in 1998. Having taken over the playmaker role from the inimitable Eric Cantona in 1994, France's failure to qualify for the showpiece event in the United States ensured that Zidane was forced to wait for his chance to shine on the world's biggest stage. He didn't disappoint.
He took his opportunity with both hands and the midfielder led his country effortlessly through the group stages with his array of spontaneous attacking verve and pinpoint passing. It wasn't until the final that Zidane made a mark on the scoresheet himself, but great players are often defined by their ability to make an impact in big games and, in the biggest of them all, Zidane rose twice to head France into a 2-0 lead over Brazil, before Emmanuel Petit's goal killed off the tie in the final few seconds.
Lifting the trophy in Paris, he would go on to pick up the first of three FIFA World Player of the Year awards and, amid confusion over the mental state of Brazilian striker Ronaldo, Zidane emerged as the star attraction.
Four years later, Zidane was at the peak of his powers. Having led France to success at Euro 2000, his world record transfer to Real Madrid saw him pick up the Champions League trophy in a World Cup year and the stage was set for yet more success.
However, his impact on the French side was there for all to see in Korea/Japan when a thigh injury kept him out of the first two group games. Defeat to Senegal in the opener and a disappointing 0-0 draw with Uruguay left too much to do in the final game against table-toppers Denmark and a half-fit Zidane could only struggle against the tide in a 2-0 defeat.
France returned home with the ignominy of failing to score a single goal hanging over them, but Zidane's form for Real Madrid the following season - in clinching the league and cup double - only served to highlight how much his national side relied on him and ultimately saw him named FIFA Player of the Year again.
With a shock exit at the hands of eventual winners Greece at Euro 2004, Zidane followed the lead of the likes of Bixente Lizarazu and Marcel Desailly and chose to retire from the international scene. But, once again, the French side struggled without him and was persuaded to make a glorious return to save their flagging World Cup qualifying campaign in 2006 after a meeting with coach Raymond Domenech. Sitting fourth behind Ireland, Switzerland and Israel, France eventually topped their group and claimed their place at Germany 2006.
Zinedine Zidane
GettyImagesThe midfielder walks past the trophy on his way down the tunnel.
Zidane struggled to assert himself early on in the draws with Switzerland and South Korea and two bookings ensured that he picked up a suspension for the crucial 2-0 win over Togo that sealed their progress.
Questions over his temperament that had followed him his whole career were raised again, but in leading his side to wins over Spain, Brazil and Portugal on route to the final, Zidane showed his true class. A monumental display of attacking football throughout the tournament rightly saw him given the award for 'Best Player' and perhaps that says it all.
Even after the events of the final had tarnished his reputation somewhat, Zidane still walked away with plaudits and remains one of the finest players ever to have graced the World Cup.

Pelé: The king of Brazil

Edson Arantes di Nascimento remains the most famous footballer on earth - more than 30 years after his retirement - and it is his World Cup achievements which have chiefly garnered that accolade. Diego Maradona may dispute that statement, and a feud with his fellow South American has long raged over who can regard himself as the best, yet Pelé would argue that he got there first.
At a time when the world was being introduced to television coverage of a tournament that was still to get into its stride, Pelé and Brazil helped shape the World Cup into the greatest show on earth. Indeed, any great team must measure against those from his twin victories of 1958 and 1970.
An achievement of scoring over 1,000 career goals is amazing, but the Pelé of Sweden and Mexico remain the images the world will remember him for long after he has ascended to football heaven. The first saw him arrive as an unknown teenager and depart as the most glittering star in a galaxy of samba talent. The latter saw him cement his place in history as the conductor of the most devastating attacking force that has yet played at a World Cup.
After less than two years as a professional, and at just 17, he became the youngest player to play in the finals. Santos, the club side with whom he stayed right up until his first retirement in 1972, became envied around the world as their tyro, standing at just 5' 8", revealed his array of talents. Pace was matched with power, a fierce shot married to an instinct for opportunity, while a delicacy of touch coupled with a supreme athleticism and the physique of a welterweight boxer.
On arriving in Scandinavia, he was made to wait until Brazil's third group game with the Soviet Union before being given his head, with Garrincha also being selected. He did not score, but strike partner Vavá grabbed the brace that took the team through to the last eight.
It was against Wales, making their so-far only finals appearance, that Pelé scored the goal he would call the most important of his career before France were swept away by a thrilling hat-trick in the semis. The final saw Brazil haul back an early lead for hosts Sweden with a four-goal salvo shared by Pelé and Vavá. One of the teenager's pair saw him control the ball, hook it over his shoulder in one movement and smash in an unerring volley. Six goals in three games had already sealed his place in the tournament's history.
Chile in 1962 was expected to be further confirmation of supremacy, yet Pelé injured his hamstring in the second match and missed out on his country's second successive World Cup win as Amarildo, known in less enlightened times as the "White Pelé," took his chance and scored in the final.
Four years later, he was again struck by injury, after becoming the victim of some disgraceful tackling from Bulgaria and Hungary as Brazil shockingly crashed out in the first round. An ageing team could not cope with the strong-arm tactics they faced, but the image of a stricken Pelé wrapped in a blanket by the side of the Goodison Park pitch as the decisive match turned in Portugal's favour was a harrowing sight to his legion of admirers.
Mexico 1970 is the tournament that fully cemented Pelé's position at the head of World Cup legends. His experiences in England had caused him to proclaim he would never again play in a World Cup. He refused a 1969 call-up for the Selecao only to be persuaded to reconsider and declare that Mexico would be his last tournament.
There, while Carlos Alberto was granted the armband, Pelé was the Brazil team's true leader. When, in the semi-final, Brazil had conceded early to Uruguay, so long their bête noire in the World Cup, it was Pelé who could be seen imploring his team on to better efforts and a place in the final.
By then he had provided some of the tournament's finest moments. And they didn't even result in goals. The salmon-like header to provide Gordon Banks with save of the century, an amazing shot from the halfway line against Czechoslovakia which just missed its target and a delicious combination of feint, dribble and shot just wide of the post against Uruguay are among the World Cup football's enduring images.
Gordon Banks 
makes the save of the century from Pelé's downward header
His opener in the final against Italy, an object lesson in the bullet header, made him only the second player to score in two World Cup finals. Old oppo Vavá had achieved the same in 1962. The pattern of play that forever sealed Brazil '70 as team of the century owed its coupe de grace to the vision of the man who was easily first among near-equals like Gérson, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostão.
With the game in its dying embers, Clodoaldo weaved past tired Italian legs before the ball eventually found its way to the feet of Pelé.
He retained possession and the attention of Italy's defenders before sliding the ball to his right where Carlos Alberto was cruising into a shooting position. The delicacy of Pelé's pass gave the defender the perfect angle to defeat Albertosi from the edge of the box with a rocket of a shot.
Pelé was soon to be carried high from the Aztec Stadium's pitch, able to take his leave of the World Cup for the final and most glorious occasion.

Photo: GettyImage

Premier League: Chelsea dent United, Gunners late show

Chelsea surged to the summit of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Manchester United that severely dented the capability of the defending champions to win their fourth successive title.

Chelsea celebrate a key win at Old Trafford that takes them two points clear at the top
Joe Cole's neat flick gave Chelsea an early lead that was doubled after substitute Didier Drogba scored a breakaway goal from a clear offside position in the 79th minute. When another sub in Kiko Macheda scored two minutes later with a possible handball, a grandstand finish was expected from United but never materialised.

To say United missed Wayne Rooney would seem obvious but this was an underpar performance from Sir Alex Ferguson's side and Chelsea continued the professionalism they have shown since their Champions League exit to Inter Milan.

Arsenal meanwhile, were made to wait for three points to keep them in the title race when Nicklas Bendtner scored a header in the 95th minute from a Bacary Sagna cross to claim a 1-0 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves will bemoan a Karl Henry sending-off that looked harsh but Arsenal had dominated possession despite being shorn of Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Andrey Arshavin and kept pushing to the very last whistle.

Tottenham Hotspur's challenge for the much-coveted fourth place and qualification for the Champions League may have been dashed on the rocks of a troubling 3-1 defeat to Sunderland. Darren Bent scored the expected goal against his old club and then doubled Sunderland's advantage from the penalty spot.

However, he was twice granted the chance to again score from the spot but Heurelho Gomes twice saved his attempts. Bent was to have another goal chalked off in a further denial of his chances of getting a hat-trick. Peter Crouch scored with 18 minutes to play but a Bolo Zenden 86th strike took the game beyond Tottenham's reach.

Aston Villa belied the midweek rumour-mongering about the future of Martin O'Neill with a 1-0 win at Bolton Wanderers. Ashley Young scored a rare goal for the Villans as they were able to take advantage of Spurs' slip. A bad-tempered affair but a win for O'Neill's men will have gone some way to soothe the pain of last week's 7-1 loss at Chelsea.

In the end, Manchester City were the team able to seize the initiative with a 6-1 thumping of sorry Burnley. City were four goals up after twenty minutes after strikes from Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tevez and Patrick Vieira. Adebayor made it a 5-0 lead at half-time - a Premier League record.

Though many Clarets fans had departed the scene, a sizeable majority sang throughout and, after a Vincent Kompany header made it 6-0 the consolation strike from Steven Fletcher received a rapturous response. Burnley remain as deep in relegation trouble as the puddles of water that at one point seemed likely to lead to abandonment of the pitch.

Hull City will need all Iain Dowie's famed "bouncebackability" after a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City that handed West Ham a lifeline in the battle to stay in the division. The Hammers play Everton on Sunday but will be lifted by goals from Ricardo Fuller and Liam Lawrence that kept Hull in the relegation zone.

That result at the Brittania Stadium means that Portsmouth are staying up - for now. Their 0-0 draw with Blackburn Rovers was achieved despite the sending off of Anthony Vanden Borre for two bookable offences.

Photo: GettyImages


Share |