Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
“There is no nightlife in Sivas,” states Sivasspor coach Bulent Uygun.
This is why his team are surprise leaders of the Turkish championship.
Located in Anatolia’s bleak central heartland, Sivas is a tortuous 12-hour drive from the temptations of Istanbul. Turkey’s glittering beach resorts aren’t much closer.
You’d have thought the 38-year-old Uygun might have a bit more sympathy for his players. But to a man nicknamed “the soldier”, and whose website displays poems he has penned to Turkish generals and the Turkish Republic, discipline is key.
“There are only a few shops where my players can buy drinks but I’m in contact with the shop owners,” Uygun told Hurriyet newspaper.
Marco Tardelli is famous for that crazy goal celebration as Italy won the 1982 World Cup.
He loves his country so much that he is ready to whisper the Italian national anthem at Bari on Wednesday despite the fact he is now assistant coach to Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
Quite how far Michael Owen’s career has nosedived was underlined at the weekend when the Newcastle United striker was again overlooked for his country despite the lack of attacking options for coach Fabio Capello.
Capello watched three of his squad strikers hobble off at Wembley on Saturday during the 4-0 friendly victory over Slovakia with Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole both ruled out of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.
Soccer leagues in the Balkans are suffering from an uncontrolled outflow of talent to wealthier and more competitive environments in Europe and it’s a trend that’s benefiting some of the region’s national teams.
At least three countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia stand a good chance of reaching next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
Tragic news from Abidjan, where officials say at least 19 people were killed in a stampede at an overcrowded stadium during a World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi.
“We have 19 dead and many seriously injured,” a military source at the stadium said. The crush occurred after part of a wall collapsed when ticketless fans stormed one of the entrances to the 45,000-capacity Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country’s main city, Abidjan.
This week’s two World Cup qualifiers between Spain and Turkey have prompted the Spanish media to look back at a dramatic moment in the history of the two nations’ soccer teams.
It came at the end of the last of three matches the pair played in early 1954 to decide which would qualify for the World Cup in Switzerland later that year.
Troubled Mexico face a potentially decisive five days in their attempt to qualify for the World Cup and the tension is already starting to tell.
After losing to the United States last month in the opening game of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament’s final stage, Mexico host Costa Rica on Saturday and visit Honduras — where they were beaten in a previous stage of the competition — on Wednesday.
It may prove difficult to switch a nation’s sporting focus from rugby to football, especially one that is basking in the glory of a first rugby grand slam in 61 years, but a wave of good fortune is boosting hopes of Ireland featuring at the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.
Guided by the mercurial talents of Italian Giovanni Trapattoni, the Irish have made a solid, undefeated start to a tricky qualifying group containing World champions Italy, Dimitar Berbatov’s Bulgaria, Cyprus – who beat them 5-2 in Euro 2008 qualifying - and a skilful Montenegro.
The phrase, if you are interested, was used for many years to describe the passion for football in the region before a scholarly book by reknowned journalist Arthur Appleton “Hotbed of Soccer – the story of football in the North East” was published in 1960 and told a mainly successful story.
Thierry Henry did not enjoy the happiest of starts to his new life in Barcelona but it’s clicked for the Frenchman this term.
He plays more as a winger than a striker under Pep Guardiola yet he’s still managed 15 league goals this season and the Premier League certainly seems a poorer place without him.