Author: AFP

US football team to kick off Nations League against Cuba

Washington (AFP) – The United States will entertain political rival Cuba at Washington on October 11, US Soccer said Monday.  The Americans will face the squad from the Communist island nation at Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer’s DC United, in the opening game of Group A play in the new CONCACAF (North American) Nations League. Rankings for the final 2022 World Cup qualifying round will be decided after the event, so Nations League matches will help boost teams ahead of that competition. The United States are currently ranked 24th in the world, and second in CONCACAF, behind Mexico.  ... Read more

‘Shocked’ Nigeria FA want to help baned coach Siasia clear his name

Abuja (AFP) – The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said on Monday  that they were “shocked” by a life ban on former national coach Samson Siasia by FIFA for bribery, vowing to overturn it. On Friday, the governing body of world football banned Siasia, 52, from football, following a long-running investigation into convicted match-fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal.  After his arrest, Perumal collaborated with investigators. FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.” Siasia, a striker, played 51 times for Nigeria ... Read more

Messi and Ibrahimovic nominated for FIFA goal of the year

Lausanne (AFP) – Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the star names on the 10-player short-list announced on Monday by FIFA for its Puskas award for goal of the year. They are joined by three women and five men, with goals scored between July 16, 2018 and July 19, 2019. There are nominees from the Bundesliga, Spanish Liga and women’s World Cup and one, a jaw-dropping shot by Billie Simpson of Cliftonville Ladies, from a Northern Ireland women’s league game played on what appears to be a public pitch in front of no spectators.  Messi, who has yet to win ... Read more

Balotelli happy to be home in Brescia

Rome (AFP) – Mario Balotelli said on Monday he had “thought of nothing else” after receiving an offer from Brescia, the club in the city where he grew up. “I chose Brescia because when their offer came in, I didn’t think about anything else,” the much-travelled striker said at his presentation press conference. “Here, I have everything I need, because it’s the team from my city.” Balotelli was born in Palermo but grew up in Brescia, in northern Italy, where he owns an apartment.  The club were promoted to Serie A this year, after being relegated in 2011.  “I have ... Read more

Belgium join list of contenders to host 2023 women’s World Cup

Paris (AFP) – Belgium has become the 10th country to express an interest in hosting an expanded women’s World Cup in 2023, FIFA revealed on Monday. World football’s governing body announced late last month that, following the success of this year’s 24-team tournament in France, and in order to “foster the growth of women’s football”, the next World Cup in 2023 would be expanded to feature 32 teams. Nine countries had already declared an interest in hosting the next tournament before the decision was taken to change the format, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and South Korea, with ... Read more

O’Neill regrets Norwood’s decision to retire from international football

London (AFP) – Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said Oliver Norwood’s surprise decision to retire from international football on Monday was “a huge mistake”. The 28-year-old midfielder — most of whose 57 caps have come under O’Neill — said he wanted to focus on his club career with Sheffield United, who have made an encouraging start in their return to the Premier League. However, O’Neill said Norwood — who was part of the squad that reached the last 16 of Euro 2016 — had the ability to go on and achieve great things with his country. “I think he is making ... Read more

African players in Europe: Angolan wonder boy helps shock PSG

Paris (AFP) – Angolan 16-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, who practised judo as a child, was the African star in Europe at the weekend, helping Rennes shock star-stacked Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the French Ligue 1. Born in the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda, he is already being compared to PSG star Kylian Mbappe despite only 10 senior appearances for Rennes. He debuted in Ligue 1 toward the end of last season and coach Julien Stephan says “he is confirming all the talent we think he has at the start of this season”. ENGLAND SADIO MANE (Liverpool) The Senegalese was in sublime form ... Read more

Three things on Norwich’s Finnish hotshot Teemu Pukki

London (AFP) – Finnish international striker Teemu Pukki stole the headlines from more established strikers at the weekend by scoring a hat-trick for Premier League new boys Norwich — the first Canaries player to do so at the top level since Efan Ekoku hit four goals against Everton in September 1993. Pukki’s triple strike secured a 3-1 win over Newcastle to give the newly promoted side their first points of the new season. He had also scored in the 4-1 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day. AFP Sport picks out three things on the Finn, who after several false ... Read more