Racing Santander refuse to play in Copa clash with Real Sociedad

Santander1175166-23708194-640-360The players went on strike over the fact that they have not been paid their wages in several months.

Racing’s players lined up around the centre-circle as the match was due to begin, refusing to move – and giving the referee no choice but to abandon the game.

The players then did a tour of the ground applauding fans who had turned out to support them.

Real Sociedad, who won the first leg 3-1, were awarded the match 3-0 by default, and will meet Barcelona in the semi-finals.

1 NET – 7 GOALS

Home-Eagles-11111-300x224At halftime, I was asking myself; “there has to be a reason why this game (Nigeria VS Morocco) was included in my halftimeng.com This Weekend “must-see” games. That must-see game is what brought about the title for my write-up, 1 net, 7 goals as all the seven well taken goals all went into the back of the same net. Heard of that popular saying “One-blow-seven-die”? Keshi threw the punch, the Atlas lions were at the receiving end unfortunately.

It all didn’t start well for the Super Eagles with the Moroccans asking virtually all the questions in the early exchanges and all of a sudden, three goals had gone in 7 minutes.

images33′ GOAL 1 – Nigeria gave away possession cruelly and some quick touch passing between the Moroccan found Moutaouali who chips the ‘keeper to make it 1-0.

images37′ GOAL 2 – The Moroccans won a free-kick just outside the box and the man that was brought down stepped up to take the free kick and it was a splendid strike! Well curled in with Agbim having no chance!

images40′ GOAL 3 – Mohsine Moutaouali got his second goal  in seven minutes as he slices in a low drive which strikes the inside of the upright and roles into the back of the net.

The Nigerian defence was in shambles, at halftime it was Morocco 3, Nigeria 0; that was enough to make anyone switch off the tv set, enough to make the supporters leave the stadium, enough to make any football folk spank me for labelling this game as a “must-see”…

But if you had the inner belief like me or you follow the game so passionately like I do, you would definitely want to see the outcome.

Second half got underway with the Moroccans playing with much confidence and the Nigerians looked desperate to give their coach a befitting birthday present (Keshi turned 52 last Thursday) *winks*but this “excited” goal post wanted to “dance  Four minutes into the second half, the comeback begun..

images49′ GOAL 4 – The Super Eagles pulled one back with a toe-poke by Uzochukwu who initially controlled the cross with his chest, 3-1 and it’s game on!

images55′ GOAL 5 – Rabiu Alli smashes home a volley on the edge of the 18-yard area to make it 3-2! Are you kidding me? Are we going to see a repeat of the Uefa Champions League final in 2005 (AC Milan VS Liverpool)?

And the simple answer was YES!!!

images90’ – GOAL 6 – After about 34 minutes of anxious wait and a lot of spurned chances by the Super Eagles, Ejike Uzoenyi – the man that scored Nigeria’s winning goal against South Africa strikes. His shot rattles the underside of the bar to go into extra time and the Super Eagles had come from three goals down to draw level.

After 90 minutes of play, it finished Morocco 3-3 Nigeria. Extra time to follow. What happened to the Moroccans? – One-blow-Seven-Die”

images111′ GOAL 7 – Nigeria turn the game completely on it’s head. Lamyaghri fails to hold onto his ball and Ibrahim pounces on it and snatches onto it.

imagesAnd from there, no story!!! Nigeria are through to the semi-finals of the CAF African Nation Championships after coming back from three goals down to win 4-3 in extra-time! Keshi had orchestrated another brilliant comeback, his second in 4 years when his then Mali side came back from four goals down to draw 4-4 with 2010 AFCON hosts, Angola.

If you didn’t see this classic, you definitely missed it and you might as well have partaken in the “One-blow-seven-die” hit…..

Bale sidelined due to groin injury

baleGareth Bale is a doubt for Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg at home to Espanyol on Tuesday after being kicked in the groin against Granada on Saturday.

Bale had an afternoon to forget during the routine 3-0 win over the Andalucians at the Bernabeu, suffering the painful collision after just eight minutes before being withdrawn at half-time by coach Carlo Ancelotti.

By that point, the former Tottenham winger had completed just 12 passes while giving away possession 13 times.

Ancelotti played down the issue during his post-game news conference while being deliberately vague about the area affected after the high tackle, which saw Jeison Murillo escape with a yellow card.

“[Bale] was replaced because he had a problem,” Ancelotti said. “He was not comfortable after getting kicked, he had a problem with his left leg. It’s not an injury, more of a nuisance and he will have no problems playing the next match.”

Nevertheless the issue has raised further concerns in the Spanish capital about the £85.3million signing’s durability, with Spanish sports daily AS noting that Bale has completed 90 minutes in just nine of the 30 competitive games since his arrival.

There is also concern that the latest fitness issue could lead to another prolonged absence, as happened when a supposedly trivial knock suffered in training led to three weeks on the sidelines on December.

There were groans and even whistles from fans inside the Bernabeu as promising moves regularly broke down when Bale became involved.

Many supporters and pundits have been calling for Ancelotti to play home-grown youngster Jese Rodriguez on the right wing, as he is more suited to the position and links better with teammates in open play.

However most appreciate that this is unlikely given the profile of the club’s latest galactico and his status within the squad.

In spite of his difficulties since arriving in Spain, Bale’s supporters can point to his 10 goals and eight assists during just 957 minutes of competitive action as evidence that when fit and ‘comfortable’ the Wales captain usually delivers.

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Balotelli needs affection-Prandelli

balo2Coach Cesare Prandelli said on Monday that the striker Mario Balotelli needs love and will eventually learn from his mistakes, Italy

“Balotelli will learn,” Prandelli told reporters. “He will need a lot of love, he is a guy who we give a lot to and is important for Milan.”

The AC Milan forward added to his long list of misdemeanours on Sunday when he was booked for making what Italian media described as a vulgar gesture with his hand to Cagliari supporters after scoring in his side’s 2-1 win.

He was booked for the incident and then got into an altercation with Cagliari defenders.

Prandelli, who has dropped Balotelli in the past for misbehaving with his club, said he was encouraged by comments from Milan’s new coach Clarence Seedorf.

“Seedorf has used the right words with Balotelli,” said Prandelli. “I’m sure that with his help we can get the best out of Mario.”

Supersport.com

I never thought signing Mata would be possible-Moyes

mataDavid Moyes admits he did not believe Manchester United would manage to sign Juan Mata, but vowed that the club record signing would be the first of several big-name arrivals.

Mata moved from Chelsea for £37.1 million and manager Moyes, who broke the club’s transfer record to sign him, revealed United had been working on the transfer for weeks.

“I am thrilled,” said Moyes. “I got wind a month or two ago it could be a possibility. I never believed we would pull it off.

Moyes added he had been cautious about United’s prospects in the winter transfer window but believes executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who was criticised after the club’s failed attempts to strengthen last summer, deserves credit for securing Mata’s signature.

“I have been saying that I didn’t think we would get a chance to do much business in January, I didn’t think the players we would be interested in would be available but when we got a sniff that Juan would be available we went after it right away and congratulations to the club and Ed Woodward for getting the deal done,” said Moyes.

Moyes only made one major signing in the summer, when he brought in Marouane Fellaini for £27.5 million from his former club Everton, but vowed United will be big spenders from now on.

He added: “There will be more players like Juan in the future. I have no doubt about that.”
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Cardiff set to sign ManUnited's Zaha, Fabio and stoke's jones

stokeCardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the arrival of Wilfried Zaha from Manchester United will be his final move in the January transfer window.

United duo Zaha and Fabio joined Stoke’s Kenwyne Jones at St George’s Park on Sunday to undergo medicals, and all three are expected to complete moves to south Wales in the next 24 hours.

Fabio and Jones will train with the Cardiff squad on Monday but Zaha’s loan move, for the remainder of the season, is taking longer to complete.

Fabio’s move is permanent, for an undisclosed fee, and Jones will join Cardiff as part of a swap deal that will see Nigeria international Peter Odemwingie move to the Britannia.

Solskjaer told Sky Sports News: “Fabio and Kenwyne will join training today so that’s more or less done.

“Zaha is not completed so we cannot confirm that but we hope to get that done in the next 24 hours so we can be ready for the weekend, but you never know with all the ins and outs, but I think that’s me completed.”

skysports.com

Mata eager to partner with Rooney

rooManchester United new boy Juan Mata is looking forward to playing alongside with Wayne Rooney after completing his £37.1million move from Chelsea at the weekend.

Mata was unveiled by the club on Monday at a media conference, where he was asked how he felt he would complement Rooney.

The Spain international insists he is excited by the prospect and paid tribute to his new team-mate.

“I cannot wait to play alongside him. For me he is one of the best players in the history of this country,” Mata said of Rooney.

“He is unbelievable. He is a striker who can score, assist, who can come to the midfielder to take the ball and try to move, so I think I will enjoy a lot (playing) alongside him.

“For me he is an unbelievable player and I will try to connect with him as much as I can.

“I will try to find the gaps between the rival defences because that is what I used to do.

“I did this last season and I think that is my best kind of playing (position). I will try to be in the position I have to be to try and assist the strikers.”

Meanwhile, Moyes was coy when asked about the future of Rooney.

His contract expires in 2015 but he has been linked with an extension that could earn him £300,000 a week.

“It is one I have left with (executive vice-chairman) Ed Woodward and Wayne and his advisors,” said Moyes.

“We will give you an update on it at the right time. Right now I would prefer to talk about his performances.”

Wenger stays-Arsenal CEO Gazidis

wengwManager Arsene Wenger is set to sign a a new contract extention to his 18-year stay with the English Premier League leaders, the club’s chief executive said on Monday.

Wenger will have more money to spend on players this summer after the club signed a new kit supply deal with German company Puma that begins on July 1.

Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis gave the clearest indication yet that Frenchman Wenger would remain at Arsenal, indicating that finalising a new contract was just a matter of time.

“We’ve always supported Arsene, the board has always been completely behind him as has (owner) Stan Kroenke,” Gazidis told a news conference when asked about the future of the manager whose contract runs out at the end of the season.

“We are comfortable in the position, relaxed about it. As I’ve said before, Arsene will be extending with us and at the right time we’ll make that announcement,” he added.

Wenger has been Arsenal manager since 1996 and has led the club to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

However, the trophies have dried up since 2005 although Arsenal have continued to qualify for the Champions League.

The Puma deal, worth around 30 million pounds a season, will help Arsenal to compete with the top clubs in Europe in the transfer market.

“One of our long-term goals has to been to increase our commercial revenues and there is a football reason for that, it’s to be able to invest that in our squad,” Gazidis said.

“So this is a very important step in terms of our progression on the pitch and as we look from this summer onwards, that money will be available to the manager,” he added.

Puma has ousted Nike as the kit supplier to Arsenal in a deal that starts on July 1.

Helped by an enhanced sponsorship deal with airline Emirates, the north London club spent a club record 42.5 million pounds on German Mesut Ozil at the start of this season.

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Anelka to remain at west brom despite charge

annyWest Bromwich Albion’s Nicolas Anelka is determined to remain in England despite facing an FA charge over his controversial “quenelle” gesture, the former France striker said on Monday.

Anelka made the alleged anti-Semitic salute after scoring against West Ham United last month and faces a minimum ban of five matches if found guilty.

There have been suggestions he might leave West Brom in the January transfer window but he explained on his Twitter account that he wanted to stay in England.

“Thanks to Lazio and all the other clubs who wanted to sign me these last days. See you this summer if I decide to continue (playing),” added Anelka.

“But the question is why should I leave my club and England? I’m happy here and I did nothing wrong. So now it’s time to stay focused on my football with my club and I will try my best on the pitch like I always do.”

Anelka said the gesture, which has been described as an inverted Nazi salute, was a tribute to his French comedian friend Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala who invented it.

The striker, who is available for selection until the FA makes its decision, has received a 34-page document explaining the allegations against him and has requested a personal hearing

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THIS WEEKEND (25/01/2014)

Another exciting weekend is upon us and this time; we won’t just be restricting our weekend “must-see”games to the continent of Europe, read on and find out the most important game that is going to be played on another continent. It’s another cup weekend in England, FA CUP to be precise, although upsets are being expected in cup competitions but it looks like with the form of the big teams, they should safely make it through to the next round; this weekend our destinations are the Seria A, the French Ligue 1 and the African Nations Championship.

SS+Lazio+v+Juventus+FC+Serie+A+UOJhRVDndkClOur first port of call is the Serie A where two power houses go head to head as Lazio will be attempting to halt Juventus’ 12-match winning run. The biancocelesti have certainly improved under Edy Reja, they’re unbeaten in all competitions since the manager’s return and boasted an impressive fight back against Udinese last week, with Hernanes scoring a late winner. But with Juventus having won their last 12 in a row, you have to think some of the shine is about to come off Reja. Juventus will want to wipe the memory of their cup defeat to Roma by extending their 12-match winning streak. The visitors will want to state their control of the league, but that doesn’t mean they will throw themselves into attack and concede easy chances to Lazio. Antonio Conte will encourage early pressure on their opponents, but will combine that with periods of patience.
For Lazio, Edy Reja will be without a number of players due to injury and suspensions. The coach is expected to stick with a three-man defence to match Juventus’ formation and also to cope with his lack of left-backs while for Juventus, Giorgio Chiellini is suspended and will be replaced by either Martin Caceres or Angelo Ogbonna.

Halftimeng Predictions: Looks like a game that will be won in the midfield, Candreva, Hernanes Biglia have to up their game against Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. An exciting game in prospect, both teams should share the spoils.

mars-monWith the sad news coming out of Monaco earlier in the week concerning Radamel Falcao’s injury, the club will be hoping to continue their good run at home when they welcome Marseille while the footballing world is hoping that they will bring another world-class striker into their fold. Marseille can do arch-rivals Paris Saint-Germain a favour with a win against the title challengers on Sunday.
Monaco are five points adrift of leaders and defending champions PSG heading into this game and they will be favourites to take all three points against Marseille, who succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat in the reverse fixture at the Stade Velodrome in September, but the hosts will need to wary of a team that is unbeaten in their last three league games. Monaco are undefeated in 19 of their last 21 matches in Ligue 1 while Marseille are undefeated in their last 5 away matches against Monaco in all competitions.

Halftimeng Predictions: Monaco 2-1 Marseille

At the ongoing CHAN tournament in South Africa, there will be four exciting quarter final clashes this weekend with 2011 winners, DR Congo having a big one against Ghana, Gabon who produced a late drama in their final group game will tackle Libya, Zimbabwe’s national football team, The Warriors, step into Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night as underdogs when they face a much fancied Mali team and the must-see game will see the best attacking team in the competition (Nigeria) up against the meanest defence in the tournament (Morocco).

Nigeria face a Moroccan side that is yet to lose a game from the qualifying series of the tournament and also went unbeaten with one win and two draws from their three fixtures in Group B of the CHAN. In 18 appearances between these two sides, Morocco boast of eight wins against Nigeria’s six with the draw on four occasions. Bright Esieme is to fill in for suspended Solomon Kwambe at right back for Nigeria against Morocco.
Eagles starting XI will parade; Chigozie Agbim – Bright Esieme, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kunle Odunlami, Erhun Obanor – Ugonna Uzochukwu, Rabiu Ali, Shehu Abdullahi, Ejike Uzoenyi – Gbolahan Salami, Ifeanyi Ede.
Both teams are debutants in this tourney and it will be a game of attack by the Nigerians versus an organised Morrocan defence.

Halftimeng Predictions: Will be a feisty game but Nigeria will edge it and make it through to the last four.