Author: AFP

‘He can call us’: Sweden cool on Ibrahimovic’s World Cup hopes

Stockholm (AFP) – He has an ego to match his towering physique but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pride must be smarting: he’s taking a massive paycut to play for LA Galaxy, and Sweden is showing no interest in his return to its 2018 World Cup squad. Ibrahimovic, who on Friday became the latest in a long line of ageing stars to swap the heights of European football by leaving Manchester United for LA Galaxy, said earlier this month he missed playing for Sweden. “I miss the national team,” the 36-year-old former captain said. He retired from Sweden duty after the Euro-2016. Known ... Read more

Barcelona’s Pique recalls tough love at Manchester United from Ferguson and Keane

Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has told how his career was kickstarted by a rant from Roy Keane and then given a new lease of life when Alex Ferguson let him leave Manchester United.  Pique came through Barca’s youth system but moved to United, aged 17, before struggling with homesickness during four difficult years at Old Trafford.  Now a World Cup champion and four-time Champions League winner, Pique has explained how at United his phone once went off in the changing room, prompting Keane to let loose.  “It’s dead quiet. All of a sudden, you could hear this ... Read more

Referee who kicked player has ban doubled after failed appeal

Paris (AFP) – French referee Tony Chapron’s ban for tackling a player in a Ligue 1 game was doubled on Friday as he lost his appeal, according to sources close to the disciplinary process. Chapron was banned for three months for kicking Diego Carlos, a Nantes player, during a game against Paris Saint-Germain in mid-January.  The referee, who had already announced plans to retire this summer, appealed in an attempt to return before the end of the season.  The move backfired on Friday however as the French Football Federation appeals commission doubled the punishment to six months. The verdict means ... Read more

Tunisia cast net wide to bolster World Cup squad

Tunis (AFP) – As Tunisia prepared this week for a pair of World Cup warm-up games, coach Nabil Maaloul had to juggle languages as he issued instructions on the training field, reflecting how wide the north Africa nation have cast their net. After qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 2006 and drawing two behemoths, England and Belgium, as well as Panama in their group, Tunisian management made a push to strengthen their squad. The result is that, in Russia, a quarter of Maaloul’s squad could be players raised in France. The four latest binational recruits don’t ... Read more

Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles Galaxy confirm MLS move

Los Angeles (AFP) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy confirmed the Swedish star’s move to Major League Soccer on Friday, announcing the deal in a Los Angeles Times advert. “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome,” the enigmatically worded full-page advert read, above Ibrahimovic’s signature and a Los Angeles Galaxy logo. A photo of Ibrahimovic wearing a Los Angeles Galaxy jersey appeared above a separate story on the front page of the Times’ sports section. “After being in Europe, winning 33 trophies, playing in the best teams in the world, playing with the best players in the world, I wanted ... Read more

China Cup: Suarez stars as Uruguay down Czech Republic

Nanning (China) (AFP) – Luis Suarez scored his 50th international goal as Uruguay cruised past the Czech Republic 2-0 on Friday to reach the final of the China Cup. The Barcelona forward also created the second goal for the South Americans, who will face hosts Russia in the group stages of the World Cup this summer. Uruguay had the better of the opening stages and went ahead after ten minutes, when Suarez scored from the spot after being brought down in the box by Czech keeper Jiri Pavlenka. In the 16th minute, Uruguay came close to doubling their lead when ... Read more

Azzurri shirt homage for stricken Astori

Rome (AFP) – Italy will pay homage to the late defender Davide Astori with an inscription on the national team’s shirt during Friday’s friendly against Argentina, the Italian football federation (FIGC) announced. “Davide, you’re still with us. 13,” reads the inscription to appear on Azzurri shirts for the match in Manchester against World Cup-bound Argentina. The 31-year-old Astori, who had 14 caps for Italy and was captain of Fiorentina, died in the early hours of March 4 after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest in his hotel room prior to a game at Udinese. The number 13 shirt Astori occasionally wore ... Read more

Salah can surpass my 47-goal Liverpool record – Rush

London (AFP) – Liverpool legend Ian Rush believes Mohamed Salah can pass his club-record of 47 goals in a season, and hopes the Egyptian’s incredible stats will be backed up by silverware. The Egyptian scored four against Watford last weekend to take his tally to 36 goals in 41 appearances in an incredible debut season at Anfield. “The 47 goals is difficult and I thought that might stay, but the way Salah is playing now anything can happen. I think it is realistic,” said Rush. “I watched him against Watford and it is the best I’ve seen him play.” However, ... Read more