magazine May 2012 # 3
RISE OF GIROUD
FRENCH FOOTBALL WAS ON KNEES IN LAST FEW YEARS BUT NOW THERE’S NEW HOPE RISING IN MONTPELLIER
ARSENE WENGER & SIR ALEX FERGUSON - TWO LEGENDS OF PREMIER LEAGUE. THE OLDER, THE BETTER...
SOVIET GREEK LEGEND STORY OF LEGENDARY SOVIET GREEK FOOTBALLER VASILIS HATZIPANAGIS
In this edition 3... Rise of Giroud 9... Asian vision for the World Cup 13... Local grand from Tiraspol 17... Infographic - Champions League semi-finals 19... Old wine of Premier League - Wenger&Ferguson 23... For another return to Premier League 29... Era of football actors 31... Eleven out of billion 33... Vive la Quevilly! 35... Mistake of Mancini 39... Soviet-Greek football legend 43... Dark horse of Ukraine - Metallist Kharkiv 47... Project with future
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OLIVIER GIROUD 3
Rise of Giroud
French football experienced various problems in recent years. National team can't reach those heights they had before when World Cup and European championship titles were won. Now there's some new talents in French football and one of the brightest is Olivier Giroud. In football you can mostly see three types of player development. One category is talents who rise early and their future development depends only from their attitude. Second category is talents, who develope quite slow and reaches heights later. Third category is simply footballers who haven’t given so much talent from God and they simply reach everything by hard work. If someone would ask me to choose - which one from mentioned is Olivier Giroud, I would answer that second category. There’s definately a talent inside of him, but it came bit later than it mostly happens. He’s one of the brightest surprises in French football and he’s definately one of the players who could make France national team raise to the titles again. Maybe there will be new Thierry Henry?
Physically gifted and strong Frenchman from Chambery has now become one of the main hopes of French football. Maybe he will bring back France to the level it once had? Olivier Giroud was born back in 1986, in commune of Chambery. Young boy was raised in Froges and there he made first steps in football, playing for local Olympique Club de Froges. Smalltown boy didn’t looked very perspective, but still he had chance to move to Grenoble youth academy. This was professional club with solid youth system under it. Giroud slowly developed into physically strong footballer and at age of 19 he got promotion to professional football. Grenoble offered him professional contract and it was first sign, that Frenchman could have some future in professional football. Giroud mostly spent his time in
reserve team in debut season, but as season went, he also got few chances to play in Ligue 2. Just six appearances together with first team squad in debut season. Giroud had more trust and chance to play in reserve team, which played in 5th French division. There young striker scored 15 goals in 15 matches and showed to coaches, that he deserves to be first team player. After success in amateur level division Giroud gained more trust from new manager. 20 years old striker scored his first two goals in Ligue 2, but despite that he was loaned next season to 3rd tier club Istres. There he looked more confident and there again came goals and trust from manager. When Giroud returned to Grenoble, he hoped to make again into first team, but his expectations were wrong. Grenoble put him on transfer list and striker soon joined another Ligue 2 club Tours. There Giroud found good teacher and adviser in person of Daniel Sanchez, who was managing team. Sanchez by himself was striker in past, when he played in such French clubs as Nice, PSG and Saint Etienne. He saw some potential in young striker and gave him a lot of knowledge. Giroud himself later admitted, that lessons from Sanchez were very useful and important, because they both were same position players. Giroud was useful for Tours scoring 9 goals and his team finished sixth in 2008/2009 season. 2009/2010 season was huge step forward for Giroud. In the middle of season he got offer from Ligue 1 club Montpellier. Both teams reached agreement and Giroud played full season for Tours. He scored 21 goals in 38 games, becoming Ligue 2 top scorer. After many seasons fighting for his place in Ligue 2 and lowest divisions, Giroud finally had chance to prove himself on highest level of French football. His
outstanding performance in Ligue 2 was strong enough argument to management of Montpellier to give Giroud chance to play in France top division. Soon after joining his new club, Giroud made debut not only in squad of Montpellier, but also in European football. French club previously qualified for UEFA Europa League competition. Giroud soon scored his first goal against club from Hungary, but his team lost and European journey quickly came to end. Despite loss in Europa League, Giroud showed solid performance and soon made his debut in French league too. At age of 24, he finally made his dream come true. He played in Ligue 1 and was important contributor for his new team. After all up and downs, Giroud finally found team where he’s fitting in perfectly.
Career of Olivier Giroud 2005-2008 Grenoble 23 games, 2 goals
2007-2008 Istres 33 games, 14 goals
61 games, 30 goals
2010-present Montpellier 64 games, 30 goals
3 games, 1 goal
Montpellier finished 2010/2011 season at 14th place. Giroud played important role in team, scored 12 goals and proved everyone, that he’s good enough to play in Ligue 1. Slowly he made his name and attracted some interest from France national team head coach Laurent Blanc, who called up striker in November, 2011. It was childhood dream to be called up to national team and make debut at international level. As it often happens, dreams come true and on 11 November, 2011 Olivier Giroud played his first game for France national team versus USA. It was another step forward and it also gave some extra motivation to develope further. I think only some of the most optimistical Montpellier fans could expect that their fav-
vorites could be contenders to the title. Sure, there’re more talent in this team, not only Giroud can be given such honor. But still, if you compare squad of Montpellier, for example, with PSG, Lyon or Lille, there’s no doubts that these teams have much more impressive footballers. Anyway, simply a name can’t do anything, everything depends from performance of person who holds this name. Giroud and his teammates were mostly underdogs troughout their careers. This season is breaktrough for Giroud and his partners. They have surprised probably everyone by being title contenders. If team will show character in the end of season and win this title race against PSG, it will be something amazing. Team from Paris now want to go same way as Manchester City, Malaga or Anzhi Makhachkala. Team with huge financial opportunities and also huge ambitions. For Montpellier it’s fantastic chance to step up one level higher and become regular European competitor and team, who can fight for first places in Ligue 1. Winning title would mean a lot and it guarantees place in next season’s Champions League edition, which also means that team would get some solid prize money from this competition. Maybe that wouldn’t be such huge impact as for this season main European surprise - APOEL, but still that would be something spectacular and simply a period written with golden letters. Giroud plays major part in this way to success and that’s also chance for himself to develope and rise even higher. There’s already some interest from top teams about Giroud and is there any doubts that he couldn’t get offer from some of the French, English or any other Top 5 league? There’s no secret, that many talented footballers from French league continues their careers in England. Many English teams have players from France in their squads. It’s clear that team who will try to buy Giroud, will have to spend quite a lot. There was comment from owner of Montpellier, Louis Nicollin: “For 10 millions no club will get Giroud. If anyone will come with offer, we expect to get 50-60 millions for him.” Nicollin also said, that club isn’t planning to sell any of it’s leaders. From one side, if there will be title and team will play in Champions League next season, then they can expect that leaders will stay. Champions League is simply another level where to prove yourself and also a great chance to show some
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© Photo: Icon Sport leadership and maybe even earn invitation from some European grand. Giroud already has told that EPL is league, where he would like to play in future. He said few pleasing comments about Newcastle United. Giroud also was linked with Arsenal and that seems quite interesting move. Probably Arsene Wenger would like to see compatriot in his team. In last few months there were some rumours about Robin van Persie and his possible departure from Arsenal after this season. If leading striker would leave team, there would be needed some replacement. I think you will agree that Olivier Giroud would be great choice. Similar type player. Sure, there can also another options where to continue career. Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa or maybe even PSG. For Giroud now it’s important to stay focused on football. He told to media that all rumours shouldn’t affect him. Now he’s happy enough in Montpellier and there’s no reason for now to leave team. From one side, it can be just words and nothing more. Who will say something wrong about team, who gives him job and pays money? Just in rare cases there happens such. From other side, all those words
''I would like to end season as top scorer of Ligue 1. It's my current goal. I also always said, that I would like to try myself in England. Now I hope to get invitation to France national team and participate in Euro 2012.'' Olivier Gir o u d
could be true and not just another standart phrases. Montpellier was team which gave chance to Giroud and he knows the best, how important is to have trust. Giroud is doing all best he can do for now. Scoring goals and bringing important victories in this title race. Most important games are ahead and there’s chance to increase the price even more and get even bigger attention from top clubs around the Europe. After game against Germany, many already saw that Giroud has bright future ahead. Now there’s left another important fact in this history. Euro 2012. Giroud hopes to make into France squad for this tournament. For French
© Photo: Anthony Bibard/FEP/Panoramic football fans it’s another tournament where everyone hopes to climb back to level team once had. It would be also good chance for Giroud to shine on international arena. If he shines there, his price will be much higher and chances to join some top class club will be more real. If we take Franch strikers, then we probably can say without any doubts that main role on offense will be given to Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, who has quite successful season. But all other strikers doesn’t shine so bright as Benzema, so Giroud has good chances to make it to Euro 2012. France won’t be favorite of this tournament for sure. Main title contenders are Spain, Germany and probably Netherlands. But such role of underdog can bring also some positive moments for Les Bleus. There’s slowly some new names stepping into national team and Giroud is only one of them. No one knows what to expect from France. There’re many players who can surprise everyone. Same time, it’s much easier to play if there’s not such pressure for team as it will be for Spanish footballers, for example. In D group France will meet their old rivals England, also one of the tournament host
Ukraine and also Sweden. Giroud hopes one day go to England and he could have good chance to prove himself against best players of the oldest football nation. Schedule of games is very interesting and first match of tournament for France will be played against England. Result of this game could have an impact on all following games for both teams. We can only hope that everything in career of Olivier Giroud will go the right way. Main goals - Ligue 1 title and making into France Euro 2012 squad. Olivier Giroud, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, PSG - keep some of these keywords in your mind and sometimes type them in Google. I don’t want to predict and give much chances, that Giroud will leave Montpellier after end of this season, because I believe in his loyality to club, which gave him chance to shine. But who knows... Those footballers, who have enough patience to wait for their chance, deserve respect and Olivier Giroud is one of such players. CRISTIAN LIBERUM
One of the brightest Asian footballers of his generation- Hidetoshi Nakata
Asian vision for the World Cup Nowadays almost everyone knows what is football and almost in every country of the world it is played. From beginner and amateur level till highest professional level - elite. Those times, when Europe and South America were the only one continents where played many football teams and came out rising football stars are over. Now football is on quite high level been played also in Africa, North America and... Asia. In this article more about Asian football perspectives and chances in the future to win the World Cup. Newly midfielder of Manchester United, South Korean Park Ji-Sung claimed that Asian continent, more precisely – a team from Asian continent after 10 years will be able to fight for win in a World Cup tournament. „In the last years level of the Asian football has increased and we have proved that we can concure with best football teams of the world. If Asian national teams will keep this hard work and gain progress, one day some of these
teams will be able to win the World Cup. Not now, of course, but after, let’s say, 10 years,” said Ji-Sung. Reality or pure joke? To get enlightenment, we need to look a bit in history of Asian football. History First team from Asia which qualified for the World Cup group stage is South Korea. This team managed to do it in 1954. Later, in 1966, quarterfinal of the World Cup reached North Korea. It was a big success for Asian football at that time because these were the only teams which ever managed to go so far in this tournament. Since World Cup 1982, the more and more teams from Asia managed to qualify for the main stage of the World Cup, including
such well known teams like Japan, Iran and China. The most successful team is South Korea, which since 1986 managed to qualify for each of the World Cup tournaments till this moment. Also the best result in World Cup campaigns is for South Korea – in 2002, when first time of Asian football history South Korea, within Japan were hosts of this tournament, they went to semifinal, where first lost to Germany (0:1), but then in a match for third place suffered a loss from Turkey (2:3). After this surprising performance none of the teams from Asia managed to go even close for it. Now also Australia for some time goes through Asian qualification rounds on the way for playing in the World Cup. On 1 January 2006, the FFA (Football Federation Australia) moved from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), of which it was a founding member, to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The move was unanimously endorsed by the AFC Executive Committee on 23 March 2005, and assented by the OFC in 17 April. The FIFA Executive Committee approved the move on 29 June, noting that “as all of the parties involved ... had agreed to the move, the case did not need to be discussed by the FIFA Congress”, and was unanimously ratified by the AFC on 10 September. The FFA hopes that being part of the AFC will improve the standard of Australian football and give the national team a fairer chance of qualifying for World Cups, as well as providing access to the AFC Champions League for the A-League clubs. The experience in being one of the first countries to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, after completing its qualifying rounds unbeaten and conceding only 1 goal, seems to confirm the wisdom of this initiative. The two main reasons for this move were: • Improved competition: The strongest footballing nation in Oceania is now New Zealand, with the other teams involved being tiny Pacific Island nations who do not pose any threat against teams of Australian professionals. This led to Australia holding the world record for most goals in a game in its 31-0 annihilation of American Samoa in 2001. Many Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and some Middle Eastern clubs have a club competition equal or better in subjective quality than the Australian A-League, and have many other players in the top European leagues.
• Reduced travel time: Many of the top sides in the AFC are from the Middle East, which allows European based players a much shorter journey to away games in, say, Beirut or Riyadh than to those in Tahiti or Auckland. Asian chances at this moment If talk about situation in the Asian football at this moment, then we can pay more attention to three teams from this continent – Japan, South Korea and North Korea. Despite with a move to Asia Australia now has probably even more chances for reaching high places than any other Asian team, let’s cross this team out just because as a country Australia belongs only to Australian continent. However, these three teams are the most successful in the World Cup tournaments yet and has great potential to be pretendants on the medals in future.
For this moment one of the strongest teams in Asian football, winners of Asian Cup 2011. If we look more deeper into teams squad then perspectives are clearly seen. In defending line there are players, playing in such clubs like Schalke 04 and Inter Milan. Yuto Nagatomo, who plays for Inter, is one of the biggest stars in this whole team because he comes on regularly on the pitch for Inter. Beside him we can put also midfielder Shinji Kagawa who plays for Borussia Dortmund and is one of the greatest Japanese footballers of all time. In midfield line there are two more players from German Bundesliga. Finally, in attacking line Shinji Okazaki from Stuttgart i san incredible player, several times in German Bundesliga proved himself as great striker with good shooting. Some other forwards play in the English Premiership but all other players come from Japanese football league. Overall, such squad is more than just ok because Japanese league is very strong as well. Already for now Japan with some dose of luck can fight for high places.
One of the greatest teams of Asian football if look on achievements. For this time squad is not so strong on paper as it is for Japan because most of players play in the national league. But where is said this league is weak? Not at all. Anyway, some players are now in the
system of Arsenal, Celtic, Hamburger FC, Nancy, Bolton Wanderers etc. And is the fact from which club concrete player comes is the main one? In occasion with South Korea – absolutely not. This team always shows their character which is forcing them all the time fight to the end, fight for every centimeter of the pitch. With such style South Korea got 4th place in the World Cup 2002, and with such style it can continue to play very well. For this moment Japan seems to be bit stronger though but it doesn’t mean Korea can’t make surprises. And who knows what can it make after 10 or more years.
Not ordinary team at all. Squad contains practically no stars, players who in our thinking would be known very well and play in strongest European clubs. Almost all team plays at home, in North Korean league. 2010 was North Korea’s first appearance at the World Cup since 1966. The draw placed North Korea in Group G. They played their first match against five-time winners Brazil on 15 June, with Brazil winning 2 goals to 1 in a game where North Korea were well organised defensively and showed resiliance frustrating the Brazilians. Despite their best efforts, they were nevertheless outmatched and eventually broken down. Maicon’s relief was visible after his goal to finally put Brazil ahead.Their next game was against Portugal on 21 June, with a defeat of 0–7. Despite starting well (much like against the Brazilians), with a defensive, well organised approach, once Portugal scored the first, the Koreans’ defense unfolded and the rest followed with relative ease. Finally Côte d’Ivoire on 25 June, which Côte d’Ivoire won 3–0. After losing all three matches in the group stages, they were knocked out, finishing at the bottom of Group G. It was reported that the small contingency of apparent North Korean football fans were actually Chinese, to whom North Korea administration sold their share of tickets. North Korea subsequently denied the report, claiming that a small number were permitted to travel to the World Cup. North Korea’s coach, Kim Jong-Hun, informed the media that he received “regular tactical advice during matches” from Kim Jong-il “using mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye” and purportedly developed by the Supreme Leader himself. As World Cup 2010 showed, North Korea
© Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/Getty Images has team spirit, players feel patriotic for their country but... This team like it looks so will never be on the way for reaching very high levels and achievements overall because of political system in this republic. Many rumours after North Korean footballer hard defeat against Portugal went on air. Quasi players after this loss were doomed to go work hard in coal mines and also shamed in six-hour public inquiry but teams coach put into labor camp. Truth or not but this is not normal situation. With such methods and all views on life this football team, unfortunately, will never be able to achieve something impressive. If we look up on overall situation of Asian football, then we can’t surely agree to Park Ji-Sung but neither we can disagree. Probably the truth is somewhere between. Sounds quite impossible that one day some Asian football team wins gold in World Cup or get silver medal but did someone expect Greece as European champions in 2004? The same we can relate with situation of Asian football and teams. Logical mind sooner will say no than yes but what will be the wish of destiny? ROLANDS JUHNA
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Local grand from Tiraspol
There's one small country in the Eastern Europe called Moldova. This country has various problems troughout the years and especially in terms of local politics. Part of Moldova - Transnistria is trying to get independence for many years, but for now this state has just limited recognition from other countries. Despite all problems, there's one really good football club from capital of Transnistria - Tiraspol. Some of you probably already understood about which club this article will be. If you thought about Sheriff Tiraspol, you were right! Despite residing in capital of Transnistria, Sheriff is playing in Moldovan National Division. Reason is quite simple - Sheriff can get ticket to the European competitions if they get in top three in the end of season. Transnistria and Moldova have quite difficult relationship and history of these two states is even more difficult. Let’s start with some of historical notes about Moldova and Transnistria. Formally, Transnistria is still a part of Moldova and there are just few also non-recognised states, who has recognised independece of Transnistria. In beginning of 90’s when Moldova just got independence, there was even a military conflict, where various military units were involved. Now there’s no military conflicts anymore, but there’s still some presence of Russian army in Transnistria. Reasons of this fight for independence are various. One of them is that there’s just only over 30% Moldovans living in Transnistria and they don’t have much influence on all processes in this state. There’s around 30% of Russians and Ukrainians living there, so it’s state where’s no major nation seen. All ethnic groups are quite equal and as most of people don’t want to be part of Moldova, it’s hard to change anything. Transnistria has quite small area and population there’s just over 500 000 inhabitants. Economy of this state isn’t very well developed and mostly it gets help from Russia, but despite that there’s one really good football club with infrastructure of European level. Political and economical situation is one side, but our main interest is football and Sheriff is interesting club to tell you about.
Sheriff Tiraspol really can be called a local grand. This club has 10 consecutive national titles. Impressive result. History of this club doesn’t last for long time and it was founded in 1997 by one of the biggest Transnistrian companies Sheriff. So why club has such name you already know. This company has almost a monopoly in various spheres in Transnistria and there’s also some rumors, that this company isn’t very fair and it got various benefits from politicians etc. But overall, this company did great job and in 2002 there was opened more than 40 hectares big sports complex. Two stadiums - one is main stadium where Sheriff plays all home games. It can hold 14 300 spectators. There’s also second stadium with capacity of 9300 spectators and fully covered arena with 3500 places for spectators. Also we need to mention, that there’s 8 training fields and football academy for more than 400 children. I think to get more detailed view about this sports complex, simply visit website of Sheriff sports complex and you will see everything by yourself. Sheriff came into Moldovan football with ambitions and with serious plans for future. Team quickly got it’s place in first division and soon it started to contest another Moldovan football stronghold - Zimbru Chisinau. Before Sheriff broke into first division, Zimbru won 8 national titles and it was leading team of Moldova. Breaktrough of Sheriff changed everyhting and Zimbru now could only try to compete with newcomers. In 2001 Sheriff won first national title. It happened just four years after team was founded. It also started new era with full of success not only in local competitions, but also in European competitions. Sheriff became grand of Moldovan football and pride of
Footballers of Sheriff are celebrating victory over Dinamo Zagreb in 2010/2011 Champions League edition.
© Photo: fc-sheriff.com Tiraspol. As I mentioned, there was built fantastic sports complex, which gave not only some prestige to Tiraspol, but also many workplaces for usual citizens of this city. It’s not a secret, that nowadays sport is important not only for prestige, but also for economics. Many people visit games, stadium and not only locals, but also major part of tourists and football fans from another countries. After first title, there came next after next after next... Overall - 10 consecutive national titles! This streak of titles ended just last season, when Sheriff lost their title to Dacia Chisinau. This season these two teams are fighting for title again and it’s clear that there will be very interesting end of the season, because both teams are going head to head and there’s no big difference in term of points between them. For Sheriff Moldovan league level maybe overall is a bit too low, because this team has really good squad if compared with other teams and there’s experience mixed with young talents. If we talk about experience, then I need to mention the most legendary player of Sheriff Tiraspol - Vazha Tarkhnishvili. He’s a real legend of club and of Moldovan league.
Despite being almost 41 years old, he’s still captaining his team. Georgian footballer started his career in his hometown Gori and for local team Dila he played more than 200 games. In 1999, he joined Sheriff and there’s 9 national titles and 5 national cup titles in his trophy room. His value hasn’t changed and Tarkhnishvili always has been one of the leaders of this team. There’s not much players, who has played more than 500 matches for one team in various tournaments. And there’s even less footballers, who can play at high enough level after age of 40. Maybe he never got chance to play in any of European strongest leagues, but still his longlivety and loyality to club deserves some respect. Tarkhnishvili helped his team reach also some impressive heights in European competitions. Two seasons in a row, club from Tiraspol qualified to the group stage of UEFA Europa League. For small football nation such achievement is something special. In 2009/2010 season Sheriff qualified for Europa League group tournament for the first time. Draw took them into H group together with such teams, as Fenerbahce, Twente and Romanian club Steaua Bucaresti. After six games,
Sheriff Tiraspol Founded in 1997 1 0 M o l d o va n c h a m p i o n 5 M o l d o va n Cu p ' s w i n n e r 2 appearences in Europa League group stage Sheriff was placed third in this group, finishing ahead of Steaua. Probably the best game in this Europa League edition came against Twente. At home, Sheriff surprised everyone and got won 2-0. Maybe some thought, that this will be just one season wonder, but these were wrong thoughts, because Sheriff once again surprised everyone and qualified for Europa League group stage following season. This time opponents were bit more familiar, because in E group Sheriff faced Dynamo Kiev, BATE Borisov and once again team from Netherlands - AZ Alkmaar. This was dream to come true for captain of Sheriff, who was excited about chance to play against Dynamo Kiev and it’s captain Andriy Shevchenko. It wasn’t easy task to play against such teams and it was even harder to get points against them. Sheriff was unable to qualify to the next round, but there were still few games to remember and both against Dynamo Kiev. Ukrainian grand lost only one game in this group and this loss came in Tiraspol. Sheriff showed brilliant performance against Ukrainian grand and scored two goals, which helped sercure 2-0 win at home. There were some doubts, that awat game in Kiev could be real nightmare for Sheriff, because Dynamo was looking for revenge. But it didn’t happened and Sheriff once again took points away from Dynamo. Game in Kiev ended with draw 0-0. Tiraspol was eliminated from Europa League, but once again they showed, that even grands of football aren’t scary and it’s possible to play well against them. After two consecutive seasons of some
success in European arena, Sheriff fans were hoping for new surprises in upcoming season. But everything once comes to the end. Same happened here. In 1st qualifiying round of UEFA Europa League tournament, Sheriff faced Bosnian club Željezničar. At home 0-0 draw was secured, but away game brought loss 0-1 and this time there was no surprises, even some dissapointment about such performance. In quite short history of Sheriff Tiraspol there were already many positive moments and titles. It just shows potential of this club. Sure, it’s not easy to make progress in league where most of teams can’t do anything much against you. There’s much easier to make progress playing against stronger opponents. But I think that Sheriff is taking most of the opportunities they have and it deserves some respect. If we come back to politics and situation in Transistria, then I can only say that it doesn’t have any wrong influence for football there. And it’s good, because politics is politics and football is only wonderful sport with millions of fans around the world. It’s fantastic that people in Tiraspol has team they can be proud. No matter, where that club budget comes and no matter what some sceptics say, this club brings only some good attention from football fans around the Europe. It’s always exciting to see almost unknown clubs in past playing against grands and even getting some wins against them. It’s interesting to see and that always brings some great emotions for everyone. Future of Sheriff is quite perspective, because club is on right track to again achieve some good results in European competitions. That’s also good place for young and perspective footballers where to get some playing experience and later move to some stronger league and club. I think it’s small, but stable bridge to the strongest European football competitions. Club can surprise everyone in Champions League or Europa League and there’s tonns of scouts, who’re looking for some fresh blood. Previous season showed that there’s also few other teams, who can become solid title contenders. Positive news for Moldovan football fans, because that will only improve quality of this national league. CRISTIAN LIBERUM
One of the former leaders of Sheriff Tiraspol - Aleksandr Erokhin. After few successful seasons in Moldovan league, Erokhin went on much higher level joining Russian Premier League club FC Krasnodar. Since joining Krasnodar, Erokhin has played 17 matches in Premier League and scored 1 goal. Together with Sheriff, he twice played in UEFA Europa League group stage.
ÂŠ Photo: kanalbola.com
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo did great job and prepared his team well for matches against Barcelona. It was clear, that team will play defensive football, but despite that they also managed to score. Goal was scored by veteran Didier Drogba.
3 stars of semi-finals
These 3 players don’t need much comments. Cech was brilliant in both games, but veteran Didier Drogba and Ramires scored very important goals for their team. Everyone did good job, but these three were brilliant.
“The second half wasn’t so much about tactics as passion, pride and desire to get to the final. We knew we were just 45 minutes away.” Roberto Di Matteo CHelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo made debut in Champions League just in March, but despite this fact, his team is unbeaten for last 5 games, “We have done very well in the tournament over the past four years but some you win, some you lose; that’s the beauty of sport.” Josep Guardiola
In 2nd leg there was heroic performance by Chelsea! 90 minutes of very exciting football. Main weapon of Chelsea was psycology and confidence. At result 0-2 they didn’t started to panic. Barcelona lost concentration and at the end of first half. They made cruical mis take letting Chelsea score a goal. It was probarly the most important moment in this match.
You think best managers in the world never make mistakes? You’re wrong! Jose Mourinho and his team made huge mistake at the end of 1st leg game. In the last minutes, Bayern got the win because of mistakes in Real defense. This one goal decided everything... “We showed passion, lust and were hungry for success, which is exactly what you need in the Champions League semi-finals.” Jupp Heynckes
3 stars of semi-finals
Each of these players had strong impact on performance of their teams. Leaders of Bayern have bit bigger value, because they helped their team to make into the finals and that’s strong argument for them.
“We have the second leg to come and it’s not like we have to make a historic comeback; what we have to do is very achievable.” Jose Mourinho
3-1 on penalties
Second leg showed that Bayern deserves place in the finals. Same we can say about Real Madrid. When it comes to penalties, it’s impossible to predict something. There’s also no use to criticize someone for not converting penalty into goal. It’s all about psycology and this time, German team had stronger nerves and more maybe a bit more luck.
''They say he's an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I've got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!'' Sir Alex Ferugson
ÂŠ Photo: pkfoot.com
A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful. Arsene Wenger
ÂŠ Photo: Reuters
Old wine of Premier League Wenger&Ferguson
There are two legendary coaches now in Barclays Premier League - Sir Alex Ferguson and Frenchman Arsene Wenger. They're like a wine. The older, the better... English football premierleague has always been mentioned as one of the most prestigious football leagues in the whole world. Commercial and marketing events for millions, television rights deal worth for billions, more than fanatic fans, quality stadiums, fight on the pitch very tough and sometimes even cruel. Such is English Premierleague, alongside few other European TOP leagues, without doubt the strongest one in the world. Here are playing many very well known football clubs not only for real fans but also for average people, who are just following for sport events. Many of English teams has very deep and bright past. Not only teams from highest division. For example, Championship team Nottingham Forest which was founded in 1865, has many trophies, including win in the highest division and FA Cup trophies. And such clubs could be found also in lowest divizions. However, this is not a story about football club history and their achievements but about two persons, important and great persons, who have experienced turn of the century, were and still are with their clubs – Manchester United and Arsenal. Yes, they are the old wine of Premierleague – Ser Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. Since 1992, when the Premierleague was founded, they never dropped out with their managed clubs from the highest division. Not to surprise those, who doesn’t know much about Premierleague history and thinks it is much older than just 20 years – yes, you are actually right. The competition formed as the FA Premier League on 20 February 1992 following the decision of clubs in the Football League First Division to break away from The Football League, which was originally founded in 1888, and take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal. It is ranked first in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) coefficients of leagues based on performances
in European competitions over the last five years, ahead of the Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga. But now back to these coaches. Ferguson and Wenger are unique in many ways. First of all about how long they are the head coaches of their managed teams. Ferguson was appointed as a head coach of Manchester United in 6 November, 1986, Wenger – 10 years later, in 1 October. They are the only one coaches from English Premierleague, who came for managing their teams before the change of century – year 2000. Their closest „competitor” in this area is David Moyes, current manager of Everton. He was accepted at his post in year 2002. Then comes Tony Pulis, taken as a Stoke City head coach in 2006 and after him comes all other team coaches appointed since 2008. The biggest part of coaches – five – are appointed for team managing just in 2011. It proves the fact number one – to stay long for some club in England is a very hard task for every coach, unless he regularly does successful with his team. Secondly, these coaches are the two most successful ones in the Premierleague by the amount of league titles won since 1992. For Ferguson those are 12, which is quite insane number in positive meaning for such short period, for Wenger – three trophies. Yes, also for Chelsea are three trophies in this period of time but let’s be honest. It was Roman Abramovich’s money and investments, which made Chelsea as superclub once again. And the fact that so many coaches were changed in very short time period (Gianlucca Vialli 1998-2000, Claudio Ranieri 2000-2004, Jose Mourinho 2004-2007, Avram Grant 2007-2008, Luiz Felipe Scolari 2008-2009, Carlo Ancelotti 2009-2011, Andre Villas-Boas 2011-2012 and present coach Roberto Di Matteo) is not serious at all for such big club. If count also fact that for a very short time as a Chelsea coach appeared Guus Hid-
dink, beside other coaches named before with big names – it is even more light. This might be the reason why Chelsea had periodically many problems. For any club and especially, if it is big club, not normal is situation when during the 10 years of its existence team is changing more than 5 coaches. In Chelsea occasion, average managing time for each coach from 2000 to 2010 was even less than 2 years. How is it possible in such short managing time acquaint team’s strongest and weakest sides and lead it to success and titles? That’s why three trophies for Arsenal and Wenger are more respectable. Many people also claim that for both Premierleague coaches long-livers there are no worries to be fired from their posts because clubs give them very high credit of trustiness. Here comes the third point which goes for these coaches and disputes these talks from people. Trustiness is important thing but no matter its level bad job can’t be forgiven without limits of time. If both Ferguson and Wenger would do bad job – often finishing seasons with the teams in 10-15th places of even worse, fall out from Premierleague, which means also no possibility to play in Eurocups, they still stay in their posts? Of course not. Team management also wants trophies, titles and their name appearing in television, commercials and magazines. They are not, let’s say idiots. In this case situation when they forgive to these team managers some shorter or longer black lines is the right one because coaches are smart, experienced and miseries comes for everyone. If Manchester United and Arsenal would follow Chelsea in a job with coaches, quite likely that Manchester United, for example, would not win so many Premierleague titles but Arsenal since season 1996-1997 get into TOP 4 all the time in Premierleague. These teams are with great history and they know what means proved values in a face of their symbols Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. Fourth argument for these managers is their talent to cohabit with others for long period of time. Just imagine through how many players and talents went Ferguson, managing one team for over 20 years? When that generation ended careers, came new one and he still was able to find common language with it and get titles. And Wenger? How many talents has he brought up? How much critics came on his side when Arsenal had bad times and couldn’t get any trophy? But he
still was on the way to fight and never give up. It says only one – these persons have strong character, great nature and of course, pedagogic skills. And these gossips around that they are nothing and clubs can’t find anything else... It is just miserable. Guaranteed that noone other coach on earth could hold such pressure, which comes on them from year to year, adapt to many changes, find solutions for many problems and never make sad fans for long time in a period of MANY years, decades. How it is usual for nowadays society – talking is the strongest side for each of us, with mouth there would be no problems around and all would live long and happy. But how it comes for action... Anyway, Ferguson and Wenger can be named as football legends. The main time of their careers they have spent with English Premierleague grands and managed these clubs very well. Even this season shows that Manchester United, despite all problems with injuries, psychology and very early elimination from Champions League, goes for another league title, which is respectable indicator. Arsenal, in the same time, goes for TOP 3 (4) and Wenger once again can shock team’s fans that no matter many young players play in starting 11, injuries still love Gunners and poor start of the season, finishin in 3rd or 4th place and deserving a chance to play in UEFA Champions League next season. And still after that someone dares to call them „bad coaches”? Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are like old wine in football terms. Within age they don’t get spoiled but stay as good as they were before or even more – improve and get better. For moment hard to name a coach who could be put in the same shelf as these two. Jose Mourinho? Memorable achievements but not in long term. If he will success much with one team in a more than few seasons, then he will be equal. It doesn’t mean he is bad coach, not at all, just different. Guus Hiddink? Also not anything achieved with one team to stay as a legend for it. Maybe one day such coach will come but for now – noone would be strong enough to manage a Manchester United or Arsenal level team for many years and get titles and show stability. But Ferguson and Wenger still are doing their job. And doing wonderful. ROLANDS JUHNA
ÂŠ Photo: dailymail.co.uk
For another return to Premier League
Latvian footballer and national team captain has made long way to achieve his dream - play in Barclays Premier League. Now it looks, like almost done. Reading has qualified for Premier League, but will Gorkss make his debut there? Destiny is a very relative term. For some it is an excuse of being weaker in something or somewhere and not succeed in life, for some clearly opposite – they believe that everything is written in the stars and our future and whole life is managed by God, who sets our direction in life and make destiny to move us from one situation to other. Also in professional sport it is not strange thing. Some sportsmen are underdogs almost whole professional career – they get injuries, miseries which in most occasions makes them think and also decide to quit. For others in the same time all comes and goes like from the hand of the God. They are successful, get good contracts and show great performance, fans adore them. And then comes third group – hard workers, who generally are not above average on their playing level and has not genetical talents and presents from nature but with hard work and never-giving-up mood they finally achieve something what they truly want. In this third group belongs football defender from Latvia, player of national team of Latvia Kaspars Gorkss. First steps in football career and Blackpool
Newcastle United. and Gorkss joined Blackpool on 1 January 2007, On 20 August 2007, Gorkss was named in the Press Association’s The Championship “Team of the Week”. Eight days later, Gorkšs scored his first goals for Blackpool in a League Cup second-round tie at Derby County. The Latvian’s two goals were both equalisers — one in normal time and one in extra time — in a game that went to a penaltyshootout, won by Blackpool 7–6. On 1 October Gorkss was again named in the Press Association’s The Championship “Team of the Week”. Gorkss scored his first league goal for Blackpool in their 1–0 victory over Scunthorpe United at Bloomfield Road on 10 November 2007. On 29 December 2007 he was named as runner-up in the annual Latvian Player of the Year Awards by the Latvian Football Federation behind the winner, Vitālijs Astafjevs of Skonto. He was named in The Championship “Team of the Week” for a third time on 25 February 2008, alongside teammate Stephen McPhee and again on 10 March He was named as the Yorkshire Seasiders Player of the Year on 6 May and the following day Blackpool activated an option to extend his contract with the club by one year.
Born in Riga, Gorkss began his career at FK Auda, scoring 9 goals in 77 appearances. After a week long trial he joined Swedish club, Östers IF in December 2002, playing in the Allsvenskan, the Swedish top flight. He moved to Assyriska Föreningen in 2005, who were then in the Allsvenskan. He moved back to Latvia in 2006 signing for FK Ventspils and he scored 5 goals for Ventspils in the clubs Championship winning 2006 Virslīga season. He also played for Ventspils in the second qualifying round of the 2006–07 UEFA Cup, against English Premier League club New-
Queens Park Rangers On 12 June, Queens Park Rangers (QPR) confirmed that they had made an official bid to sign Gorkss. However, on 17 June, Blackpool issued a brief statement stating that they had reported QPR to the Football Association and the Football League for what they claimed was an illegal approach for Gorkss. Blackpool manager Simon Grayson stated, “we’ve got to protect the interests of our club and we’re led to believe there’s been an illegal approach.” On 18 June the Football League, who would be adjudicating on the matter,
© Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe confirmed that they could block the move if QPR were found to have “tapped up the player”, and that the matter could be referred to a disciplinary commission. On 4 July it was incorrectly reported in the Latvian media that Gorkss had signed a contract with QPR. QPR announced on their official website that they had been given permission to speak with the player and that he had agreed personal terms. However, this was strongly denied by Blackpool, whose club chairman, Karl Oyston stated, “We definitely have not given them permission to speak to him. I’m disappointed once again with the way they’ve gone about their business.” The statement on the QPR official website was later removed. On 28 July, Gorkss completed his move to Loftus Road for a fee of ₤250,000, with Daniel Nardiello (permanent) and Zesh Rehman (loan) going the other way as part of the deal. Gorkss scored his first goal for QPR in their 2–1 away win at Sheffield Wednesday on 7 November 2009. In September 2010, Gorkss signed a two year extension with Queens Park Rangers. On that time QPR already got their new coach Neil Warnock, who was accepted on post on March 2, 2010. Things started to go fine for the team and Gorkss. He went on the pitch in the starting eleven almost every time. Team won many games and came very close to the reaching Premierleague during the season.
Ending of the season was very great for QPR and team got first place – 88 points in 46 games. Which meant that Rangers get promoted to the Premierleague automatically. It was something amazing as for team and each of its players, as for Latvian football fans. They were delighted and really believed that now finally since time when Marians Pahars and Igors Stepanovs played in Premierleague Latvia gets another player competing in England elite league. There was reason for such hopes – Gorkss showed great performance, coach let him play very often and in some games Gorkss made things going for QPR to win games, playing hard in defence and also scoring few goals. One day, there came rumours that dream for fans and for Gorkss to play in Premierleague will stay just as dream. And they were true no matter fans at first couldn’t believe in it. Head coach of QPR Neil Warnock later said team doesn’t see Gorkss as potential future player in it and doesn’t relate any future plans with him. Team never gave him a chance to play at least one game in Premierleague. After buying new defenders it was clear that way to Premierleague is blocked for Gorkss forever. At least with QPR. As the result of all this situation, Gorkss finally was traded and put down back to Championship – to team Reading.
After spending his career in Latvia and Sweden, Kaspars Gorkss finally found country where he fits in very well. It's hard to imagine Gorkss in any other country, than England. Now just left to make debut in elite league of this country.
© Photo: readingchronicle.co.uk Injuries happen but Gorkss never gives up. Brave and consistent game is leading Gorkss to EPL.
Reading and way to Premierleague That was it – QPR, saying rough, throwed out Gorkss not giving a chance to him. Now it was time to play for Reading. First time was hard for both fans and Gorkss. Fans lost any hopes and their euphoria disappeared as now Gorkss was put far away from Premierleague. For Gorkss something similar – in commentary he called his situation sad but in the same time, as being professional sportsman, said he will now concentrate on play for Reading and do all best he can. He started once again. Came on the pitch on starting eleven. First part of the season was very hard for the team – several loses, very low place on the Championship overall table. Many fans started to dream already about next season – maybe then Gorkss will go to Premierleague once again. And what else anyone could expect? Team was in such position which doesn’t give any chances to even presume fact about promotion in Premierleague. But then Reading started to wake up. Performance with every match got better and better, finally started to came wins. One, another, then again another... And Reading was close to TOP 6! Only first six teams get chance for playing in Premierleague in next season. And that was not all. Reading went up even more higher and it was clear that Reading will
get promoted to the Premierleague. It was something unbelieveable what could ever happen – team, who started very poor season and was almost at the last place, got all energy and work abilities and finally made it – got into Premierleague! Destiny made it once again. Gorkss has identical situation like it was one year ago when playing for QPR team. Then situation was very hopeful at the beginning for his playing in Premierleague. How it ended – we all know. Now the same situation has come with Reading. If compare these two teams, then now hopes get more place and sense to be. First of all, QPR had much higher ambitions than Reading and also budget and transfer money. Team had high goals in Premierleague but obviously life there was not so sweet as they thought before. Reading is bit different team – team, which plays like a team with less talented players but with more team game. It is plus for Gorkss. Another, not less important factor – Gorkss has improved his game a bit after all. Within age he has more experience and has better view of the pitch. Yes, of course, his problem – speed – still stays but it is not that much important for central defender. And speed is also a thing which can be developed a bit. Otherwise Gorkss could play quite well in Premierleague as well. So how it will be now? Will Reading give a chance to Gorkss to prove him on Premierleague level finally? Or will they be as coldhearted as QPR were? Fans are hoping now on it even more. When imagine fan reaction if destiny gets mean for Gorkss second time... Better not. Better let’s think he will play in Premierleague and also stay there. He has deserved it. ROLANDS JUHNA
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Era of football actors
We live in really strange era. Everything has totally changed in just last 10-20 years. There were generation of tough footballers. They weren't afraid to see blood on their shirt and it was shame for them to fall down to the grass after the smallest contact with opponent. Is football really becoming some kind of acting school? England has produced some of the toughest footballers in history of football. It’s country where football was born and it’s logical that this country always has been well respected, especially national team. Now situation slowly turns bit more different. If once there were such guys as Terry Butcher (famous bloody guy), now we see totally different generation. There’s not much role models left in football and that’s very sad situation. Recently, Manchester United winger Ashley Young did some really unpleasant diving against his former team Aston Villa. Referee directed to penalty spot and United soon got lead and later win in this game. As I see, one of Young’s role models and idols is former footballer Ian Wright. Same Ian Wrigth who’s now columnist for The Sun. Maybe some of you have red Wright’s column about this story with Young against Aston Villa. Young’s idol and role model wasn’t very pleased with such acting on pitch. I quote: “SOME call it gamesmanship, others say it’s simply part of the game. To me, it is, and always will be, cheating.” I think Wright understand well what he’s writing. He also was striker who scored a lot’s of goals in Premier League. But there was some difference between those times and nowadays. Defenders were less skilled technically and they were more brutal. Rules also weren’t so strict as it’s now. I think for strikers it was nightmare to play against those old school defenders. They never showed mercy and getting someone to the ground was simply their job. Remember Vinnie Jones and his band of killers... Back then Young would risk with some real damage to his health. Probably guys, like Jones would try to break his legs for such acting. There would be quite simple options for future. Stop acting or your career will be over because of injuries.
Maybe that all would be too tough and it’s also not the example for young footballers. But is such acting, diving and I agree with Wright - simply cheating acceptable in football? I understand situation that team is fighting for title and United can’t allow to lose points but shouldn’t there be some strict borders? Some unwritten rules know only to footballers. Overly agression against opponent should be fined, there’s no doubts about that but now we’re talking about simple and quite cheap acting. Not from some amateur guy or non famous footballer but from example to many football fans. Young is a player of Manchester United and such things won’t increase reputation of this club. It’s overall decreasing fame and reputation of football. You need to take some responsibility in front of society. You can fire up your own house or do other stupid things outside the pitch but for God sake! At least be a man on pitch! Show your football talent! Every of those pro players have done a huge job in trainings to achieve such level but there should be some example and not embarrassment. 20 years ago there were leg breaking guys full of agression and lack of manners, now we have good looking and much more earning actors with diamonds in their ears. We came from one excess to another one. Where’s the balance?
Professional footballers earn millions in their careers. They have some risk to damage their health but that's part of their job. Nowadays they earn much more but also they care much more about themselves too...
I can tell you bit about my experience in but probably oldest participant in this tournafootball. For me, football wasn’t the first choice ment, almost scored a goal for our team. when I was smaller. Sure, as many kids I played Probably you’re wondering why I’m tellfootball till late night with my neighbor friends. ing you this amateur football experience. AnWe always had a lot of excitement when we swer is quite simple. We played in amateur play against each other and it was fantastic tournament and all thoughts about possible feeling when you scored goals and imagined cheating just to get result didn’t even came to yourself as Rolando, Zidane or any other star of mind. I even sometimes wonder - maybe ama90’s. But overall my main sport was table tenteur footballers love this sport even more than nis and later I didn’t played football so often. those superstars of football? Really! Amateurs But in 2010 me and my colleague decided to play mostly for some fun and it’s good way how participate in biggest amateur football tournato feel various emotions. They don’t get any ment in Latvia. There were even some players money or fame. Maybe just some trophies in with Latvian 3rd division experience. So quite local tournaments. And as far, as I have seen, well trained footballers. Our team lost all three they play tough football and no one shows games in group stage but we still had fantasmercy to the opponent. tic emotions. We enjoyed such experience. And Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger rethere were moments when I and my colleague cently criticized foreign players in EPL. Frenchgot tackled. man belAnd it’s fact If football will lose all sportsmanship, will ieves that that amais fault it still be sport we all love? It's clear that ofit foreign teurs can hurt you nowadays there's much less respect players and much more, they have for those values footballers had in brought than profthis essionals. past. They gave soul to this sport... pro b le m Reason is of d iv ing simple - lack of skills and it leads to careless into English football. Southern footballers are tackles and other ways how to take away that more technically skilled and they bring much ball. I’m not the tallest or biggest guy (around more fouls into game. It’s true but is it their 1.78 cm and 70 kg). So I’m quite average and fault that English footballers act in such way? my physical fitness is also average or just a bit When you have some example in front of you over that. Despite all that I felt fantastic excite- good or bad, you always have choice. You alment. We lost those games and we had just ways have choice and in case of Ashley Young, one solid shance to score a goal. Everything it’s clear that he went for that foul and he tried was so good from emotional side and we later to make contact with opponent. In moment understood that we didn’t even felt any pain. when Young found contact, he felt down and We didn’t had any fear to take those rare chancpenalty was given. It should be era of Fair Play es with a ball and try to make effort in these and there’s even that flag waving on the mast games. My mate is much bigger and physically in each game... very strong. His efforts gave result and one of Founders of each of the most popular opponents got red card for tackle. Even my 60 sports and franchises tried to leave some soul years old grandfather took his chance to join inside of their creation. But sometimes that attack. Before tournament he wasn’t very exlooks like it’s already sold to fame and huge cited about fact that we included him into our ammounts of money. Maybe I care too much squad. When there came time to play, his exabout those things that are hard to describe. citement was high enough and he felt himself Something on emotional level. But in same much younger than he is. Old man got ball and time, I want to see something beyong simple showed that skills can’t be lost even at such actions on pitch. Without emotions we wouldn’t age. You can’t ask speed and agility from 60 be human beings. Same is about football. years old man. But despite lack of speed, he CRISTIAN LIBERUM got past opponent and made long range shot which went just over the bar. Believe me or not
Eleven out of a billion
In a country with a population of about a billion people, it amuses me that we cannot find eleven people to play what was once upon a time the national sport. India is currently ranked 165th in the latest FIFA rankings, as of 25th April. Football is increasing its fan base every day in India, and there are loads of young kids aspiring to be the next ''Ronaldo'' or the next ''Messi''. So what's going wrong? India is a fast developing country with the second largest population in the world with over a billion people. Sports are popular all around the country. Hockey is the national sport of the country, but cricket is equivalent to a religion. In every nook and corner of the country you will find small children making stumps out of bricks and bats out of sticks and dreaming about being the next big cricket star and playing the next world cup. Football too is catching on, and goals are being scored between two rocks in an area which is as small and as narrow as a 22 yard cricket pitch. Football is being followed majorly, and most games come on television as well. So if there is a fan base, and there are people playing the sport, what exactly is the problem?
India played in the 2011 Asian Cup which was the first time India has played in the Asian Cup for 24 years. India was knocked out in the group stage which contained South Korea, Australia, and Bahrain. Cricket is more than just a sport in India, it is a cult following, a religion. Every child in India dreams of being the next cricket star, every kid dreams of donning the national colors and holding the World Cup aloft at Lord’s in England, popularly known as the “Home of Cricket”. How do I know? Well as a kid, I dreamt of this too. Since cricket is so popular, it overshadows most other sports including the national sport, hockey. In fact we could compare cricket in India to football in England. There is the equivalent of the EPL in India, which is known as the IPL
India has second largest population in the world. There's over billion people living in India. Main passion in sports for people of India is cricket. Football is slowly getting more popular and those are positive news to hear. India has a decent history in the sport. More recently, in August 2007, the Indian national team won the Nehru Cup for the first time in its history beating Syria 1-0. In August the following year, India defeated Tajikistan 4-1 to lift the AFC Challenge Cup and in turn qualified for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. In August 2009, India again won the Nehru Cup beating Syria in penalty (6-5). In January 2011
Legend of Indian football - Bhaichung Bhutia. © Photo: thehindu.com
© Photo: footballkerala.com which is a combination of the two most popular things in India, Bollywood and Cricket. There is a lot of money floating around for the younger players, some of who which never might get to play cricket for the country, so this is a big initiative. Football is not promoted very well in the country. Sure, a couple of times a year we might get a big player or a big team to come down and play an exhibition match in the country. For instance in 2012 we have already had Lionel Messi with his Argentina team come to Kolkata for an exhibition match, as did Bayern Munich who came down for an exhibition match against the national team, which doubled up as a farewell match for the most famous football player in the country, Baichung Bhutia. However, there isn’t much promotion of the sport other than these couple of events. Have you ever heard of Baichung Bhutia or Sunil Chhetri? Exactly, and they are the most famous Indian football players. The problem is that Indian football and the players aren’t promoted well. The Indian Football Team does not have a permanent stadium as of 2011 due to so many football stadiums not meeting FIFA guidelines. In India 75.6% of people are below the poverty line. It is very tough for people to buy proper equipment. Also, most places India don’t even have place for a proper stadium. The only stadiums that are FIFA and AFC approved in the entire country are the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium also in New Delhi, Nehru Stadium in Chennai, Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, and most
recently approved after a renovation the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. In fact people couldn’t even afford shoes earlier. In 1950, India were invited by FIFA and the Brazilian Football Federation participate in the fourth World Cup in Brazil after a number of countries pulled out of the tournament that year, but the team couldn’t take part as most of its players played the game barefooted, and, as per the stipulation of the world body, wearing shoes was mandatory. Of course things have improved now, but they still aren’t anywhere close to the infrastructure a world cup playing country would have. India’s love for football seems to increase every day. There are dedicated places to watch football games like the Manchester United café which is all over the country. I remember when Micheal Chopra played for Sunderland the Indian news media used to report the result every time he played, even though he wasn’t in born in India, he’s just of Indian Origin. Every kid knows who Ronaldo and Messi are. So as I said earlier, there really isn’t any issue with the desire to play the sport, or the love for the sport, it’s just not as much as the love for cricket and it’s plagued with too many problems. Hopefully things will improve within the next decade; I can’t wait to see an Indian born player in the premier league!
Vive la Quevilly!
In March edition of Futbols24 magazine we already told you about exciting ''cinderella story'' in Copa del Rey. You think only Spain can bring surprises? France does too! This time we gonna tell you about fantastic performance of one previously almost unknown French club U.S. Quevilly. They have made it to the final of Coupe de France. Coupe de France brought some wonderful emotions for all football fans! It’s always exciting to follow underdog teams and to their performance. Quevilly gave that excitement to me! I’m writing this article only few hours after final of Coupe de France ended. Olympique Lyon won this cup edition and probably that’s quite fair result, because this team is grand of French football and it would make no sense if they would lose in the final. You can look at this cup run of Quevilly from different sides, but it doesn’t change situation at all. This was clearly an underdog story with quite happy end. Losing in final can’t be taken as dissapointment or huge defeat. This was game between David and Goliath, but this time that story ended more fair as it was in Bible. Bigger and stronger team took it’s advantages and won. Does it makes situation less positive for Quevilly? Sure, not! Club, founded in 1902, didn’t had a lot of success in it’s history. It’s interesting to see that team, which recently played in 4th division has annual budget around €2 millions. Maybe for France and Western European teams such budget isn’t anything special, but for country where I was born (Latvia) it would be solid budget for our top division. Most of the Latvian teams can just dream about such budget. Quevilly has amateur status and they are quite proud of it. That’s because of history this club had. Most of players in Quevilly has contracts and usually they earn around 1000-3000 euros per month. In comparsion with clubs in Ligue 2 and Ligue 1, those aren’t big sums, but still it’s enough to live normal life and think only about football. So if you hear in future again about some “amateur” team in France, who has advanced to the semi-finals or even finals of Coupe de
France, be sure that those footballers aren’t any amateurs, who just come and play for their fun after work. In lowest divisions mostly you can find players with some professional club experience. Some players in Quevilly also has played in Ligue 2, but you probably can imagine how many young footballers dream about professional career, but many of them fail to join top teams. It means that they aren’t good enough for top level flights, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad footballers. Look Quevilly, those “too weak for professional football” players got past Olympique Marseille and Stade Rennais in the way to the final.
U.S. Quevilly has annual budget around €2 millions. Nothing special for country, like France, but it's a dream budget for many clubs from countries, like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and others. In this year Coupe de France edition there were more than 7000 clubs competing in the first round! Quevilly wasn’t one of them and as a team from third division, it started it’s way to the final in the 5th round. Despite that, it took very long way to the final. There were wins against Ligue 1 teams, but it doesn’t means that Quevilly had easy games against teams their level. There was a lots of drama and decisive moments for Quevilly, but despite all odds they had, final was coming closer and closer. When they got into the final, there soon started various discussions about this surprising team from Normandy.
© Photo: AFP / Franck Fife Imagine team from 3rd French division in UEFA Europa League... That would be apogee of this cinderella story! Not all were so positive about success of Quevilly. Many already were afraid that this team can make some problems if it would advance into European competitions. Each country is being nervous about it’s coefficent in UEFA standings. Extra place in European competitions is one of the most important aspects for every football federation in Europe. But everyone were calmed down quite quickly, because of few reasons. First - it wouldn’t be a surprise if French Football Federation wouldn’t allow Quevilly to play in European competitions. Second - president of Quevilly killed all intrigue about this theme before the final. “We aren’t planning to participate in European competitions, if we will get such chance. We don’t want to make everything worse for France in UEFA standings. Participation in European competitions would need huge changes in our club,” he said. Final day, Stade de France and more than 76 000 spectators were exticed, as they saw battle between David and Goliath. Some of them were sceptic about such final, some of them had sense of realism, but some were hoping on another wonder from Quevilly. I’m
quite sure that even the most sceptical football fans were hoping on that miracle from little club from Normandy. Sometimes miracles happen, sometimes not. This time there was quite logical end. In same time, we can give credit for Quevilly. They didn’t looked afraid of Lyon and their stars. In some episodes of this final you could see difference in the class of both teams, but overall Quevilly played very solid game. With no fear, with some moments of individual master class and even with some episodes, which were close to taking a goal. Crowd was behind them and often there was sight of those little, yellow flags waving around the stadium. I think for every player of Quevilly, such game will be one of the brightest memories in their lifes. Cinderella story came to end, winners took their deserved trophy, but Quevilly are heading back to home. With some positive emotions and valuable experience. They will continue their way much more quiet and calm. But they definately will try to make another successful cup journey happen. Vive la Quevilly! CRISTIAN LIBERUM
Mistake of Mancini
ÂŠ Photo: talksport.co.uk
Everyone of us make mistakes in whole life. As smart people before ages have said - every mistake and failure makes you stronger and harder later. Also common is to say that person learns from mistakes. What generally is mistake? Is it something very bad? Of course not, unless mistake is made by purpose. Otherwise if you have no experience, then you will make one, then other mistake, in such way you gain the experience and after some time you start to fluff more rarely. But what to do, if person can’t learn from his mistakes? Then they remind him again and again how wrong was his action or thought. Very typical example in this case is the head coach of English Premierleague side Manchester City Roberto Mancini. Some can disagree to this article, however facts don’t lie. Mancini made mistake when not finding the compromise in a relation with team’s striker Carlos Tevez. Unfortunately, this conflict made many winning games into losing points games. This conflict began in September 2011, in a Champions League game where City met Bayern Munich. Mancini wanted to bring on substitute Tevez with 35 minutes left in an attempt to claw back a 2-0 deficit. But after the 27-year-old refused to play, Mancini said: “If I have my way he will be out. He’s finished with me. If we want to improve as a team Carlos can’t play with us. With me, he is finished,” straight was Mancini. The incident in the Champions League Group A match appeared to be sparked by the substitution of striker Edin Dzeko for midfielder Nigel de Jong 10 minutes into the second half. Dzeko showed his anger at the change, shaking his head at Mancini. “He [Dzeko] was disappointed but he played a bad game,” said Mancini. “It is the last time any player at this club does that.” Tevez, who was left on the bench throughout his side’s Premier League win over Everton at Premierleague game before this match, appeared unhappy he was not called on. And minutes later, when Mancini indicated to the Argentine to warm up, Tevez refused, sparking heated discussions on the bench.
“He [Tevez] refuses to go in,” Mancini said. “He refused to come on the pitch. What I said to Carlos is between me, him and the team [but] I am really disappointed because it is Carlos. I decide the changes. It’s a bad situation - it’s important for a player to help the team. [The situation] is impossible. I wanted to calm everything and put Carlos Tevez on the pitch. I wanted to keep the score down and not concede a third goal.” Mancini said a player at a top club could not “refuse to go in to help his team-mates”. “Can you imagine a Bayern Munich, Milan or Man United player doing this?” he asked. He refused to warm up and again refused to go on the pitch. If a player has a lot of money to play for Manchester City ... he can’t [refuse to play], never. It was quite hard conflict. At first case Mancini’s attitude to this situation and following texts would sound the only right ones. How otherwise – player, elite player refuses to come on the pitch! He is out of his mind! But not so fast... Tevez spent pre-season searching in vain for a new club and earlier this month was permanently replaced as skipper by defender Vincent Kompany. The Argentine striker released a statement in July making clear his desire to leave the club for family reasons. A few weeks later, City thought they had agreed a deal with Corinthians for his sale only for the Sao Paulobased outfit to pull out because they could not finalise the transfer before the close of their international transfer window. Inter Milan were also consistently linked with the player, but instead opted for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan to replace Samuel Eto’o. A combination of the fee wanted by City for Tevez and the player’s salary demands warded off potential suitors. Late in August, Tevez admitted he had given up on moving before that window closed. In a brief interview with Sky Sports, Tevez, speaking through a translator, did not address his decision not to
Carlos Tevez of Manchester City celebrates scoring his third goal against Norwich City. play. “I think it’s Mancini’s decision. I’ve been a professional throughout. I put my opinion through that I wanted to leave for family reasons and I still played my best.” Overall this situation is not equipollent. At that time Tevez had many problems, first of all – with his family. He is a family guy and it means to him everything. Also all those rumours about changing club and moving to other country gave impact to his mental mood and mind. Already before some time Tevez has proved he is great scorer, somehow similar to compatriot Diego Maradona. At that situation in UEFA Champions League game and also later Mancini reacted too rough and in rash. He had to understand Tevez’s situation and go on compromise. Clear compromise. Talk to him very much and very deep. If that doesn’t help, involve his family members or other closely connected people to this situation and solve all misunderstandings. But no. Mancini was stubborn and... didn’t let Tevez to come on the pitch. At first, when team was still on great shape, things went just great. Many victories, lead in the Premiership and so on. But later, at Christmas time and after that, Manchester City
© Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images Europe started to lose points in league games more often. Tevez still didn’t come on the pitch as it was clearly visible attacking line in the team is out of shape. Loses started to come much more and leadership loss was only a question of time. Mancini still didn’t want to change anything. But one day that moment came... and Tevez was put on substitution. It was Premiership game against Chelsea. On the 66th minute on the pitch came Tevez, when City was losing 0:1. Finally, the game ended with 2:1 victory for Manchester club and Tevez made assist for a goal in 88th minute. Obviously all misunderstandings were solved and compromise finally was taken. And not in vain. Tevez went back into great shape and less than month later Manchester City had a game in guests against Norwich. Tevez was put in the starting lineup. And... win for City 6:1, hattrick for Tevez. After that match everyone was happy and delighted was Mancini as well, saying they all went through difficult times and this win is so great for celebrating it. When asked if Tevez would feature for City next campaign, Mancini said: “I don’t know. I don’t know this. It depend on many things. Now I think it is important that we think
think about the ending of the season. After that, at the end of the season, we will see what can happen with all the players.” Mancini insisted that he and his players now have no issue with Tevez playing for the club despite his antics in Munich last September, where he reportedly refused to come off the bench. “There is no problem,” Mancini said. “It is in the past.” Good everything what ends in good way. For team and Tevez it is very important to go past through this conflict. However, mistake of Mancini anyway can’t be forgotten so fast. Overall, season for Manchester City was great of course but it could be better anyway. Poor start in the Champions League might be turned into more positive way, if not that conflict. The same thing is about Premierleague. In many games points were lost for nothing and it is crucial for the race of Champions trophy. Mancini and Tevez epopee is a whole story. However, now seems something similar happens with Mancini and Mario Balotelli. The Italian international was sent off after two bookable offenses in the game against Arsenal and got a three-match ban. After that, Mancini was furious.
Individually, Manchester City is the most successful team for Carlos Tevez. Last two seasons he has leading striker not only for his team, but also he became of of the most feared strikers in Premier League. At this point future of Manchester City is more unclear than people everyday mood. Squad is great, many players are world class and do very good and hard job but seems for Mancini is hard to find common language with all of them. Problem with one player might be just accident but if similar situation comes with another... Of course, Balotelli often acts like a child and his behaviour is very bad. But in that case there must be made hard decision – either some players leave the team and Mancini stays, or opposite. If no radical changes will come, then bad season can come once again
© Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Europe
again for Manchester City. And this team has a potential to be much better also in Eurocups. Also the same about Carlos Tevez. There are no talks about his playing abilities because we all know he is great player with good physical abilities. Problem is in different way. No matter now he and Mancini has like peace between each other, this conflict made some stamp into future between them anyway. There is no guarantee Tevez will get sad about his family once again and Mancini in his conservative way won’t promise him some neglects and go for compromises. And then again half of season might be lost. For this moment the best way to continue career for Tevez seems move somewhere closer to his country, at least Spanish or Italian variant would be good. Future for him in Manchester City seems like staying under darksome clouds. Such move would be good for both Tevez and Mancini – one gets more happiness in life and maybe finds full motivation which leads to team scoring leader status, other can continue job with the team, find some other players and in free time evaluate his precedent action. And think about it hard because as we all know – noone gets born perfect and never stays such, only learning from own and other mistakes every person gets better... ROLANDS JUHNA
Soviet-Greek football legend
In Soviet Union lived many nations. There were also some political immigrants from few European countries. Because of political views, some of them got chance to escape to USSR and start new life there. One of such people was Vasilis Hatzipanagis - footballer, who was born and raised in Soviet Union, but later came back to his home country. Famous Soviet and Russian football team Torpedo Moscow had some famous footballers with Spanish ethnicity. Famous Uzbek team Pakhtakor had one very talented footballer, who had Greek parents. Political views of his parents led them to Soviet Union and to Uzbekistan. Vasilis Hatzipanagis was born in Tashkent, capital of Uzbek SSR. Back then, there was quite a lot Greeks living in Tashkent. One of those Greeks became best footballer of his country in 20th century. Career of Hatzipanagis was outstanding and he had huge love of fans, but in same time he had some regrets about his career. Parents of Vasilis Hatzipanagis came to USSR in 1949, because of civil war in Greece. His father was Cypriot, but mother Greek. Both had faith in communism. Five years later, Vasilis was born in Tashkent. Football was popular in Uzbekistan and overall in Soviet Union. Hatzipanagis played for Dynamo Tashkent football school and at age of 17 he was promoted to senior football. At such young age he made debut in Pakhtakor Tashkent and in 19 games he managed to score 4 goals. Everyone, including coach and teammates were surprised how well Hatzipanagis controlled ball and created scoring opportunities. He also was dangerous free kick taker. Such abilities slowly helped him earn place in starting eleven and next season he was one of the leaders in Pakhtakor. This team didn’t reached titles in Soviet Top League, but they had many talented players. Even top teams of USSR respected Pakhtakor, because Uzbeks never gave away easy wins and sometimes they even managed to beat Soviet football grands. It took just two years after debut, when Hatzipanagis scored 9 goals in season, becoming second best scorer in Pakhtakor
team after Mikhail An. He also became one of the “33 best footballers of season”. After this season he was awarded with Master of Sports badge, which was prestigous award for every Soviet sportsman. Time with Uzbek team was interesting and they had huge popularity, especially when they played against neighbor Kazakh team Kairat. It was very principal game and even politicians were attending this game. Hatzipanagis admits that average attendance in Tashkent was 35 000 spectators per game and that’s very solid number. Pakhtakor even managed to crush Soviet grands Dynamo Kyiv. 5-0! Uzbeks were only team, who could beat Dynamo twice in that season. 1975... Leonid Brezhnev signed document important for Greeks living in Soviet Union. It allowed them return to their homeland Greece. Most of Greeks used such chance and same did Hatzipanagis. His parents weren’t excited about such idea, because communism was ideology they believed and trusted. For Vasilis it was dream come true. He dreamed about his homeland and he felt himself a Greek. Despite interest from various Moscow clubs, such as Spartak, Dynamo and Torpedo, Hatzpanagis didn’t changed his mind and did everything to make his dream come true. Such step was successful and unsuccessful in same time. Hatzipanagis later admitted, that move to Greece wasn’t the best decision in his career. But he understood that only later when it was already too late. Hatzipanagis left Pakhtakor after playing 96 games and scoring 22 goals in nearly four seasons. In 1979, there was huge tragedy. In mid-air collision Pakhtakor lost 15 footballers. If Hatzipanagis would stay, he probably would be one on that plane...
Vasilis Hatzipanagis is rumored to be a first Soviet sportsman to leave Soviet Union and return to his ethnic motherland. Return wasn’t so easy for him. Olympiacos was first team which showed interest about Hatzipanagis. They even contacted Moscow and tried to aqcuire him. It was rumoured, that they were offering huge money. His family lived in Saloniki and that was reason why he joined local club Iraklis. Club with traditions but without any major titles. Their only title came with arrival of Hatzipanagis. He helped Iraklis to win Greek Cup in 1976. Young and ambitios footballer quickly became local favorite and attendance on home games increased quickly. He was very enthusiastic, well skilled and some later compared him with Pele and Maradona. For Iraklis, he was something even more special... Successful debut season and huge love from fans was just one side. There was another. As many young persons, Hatzipanagis was quite warm-blooded and he made decisions quickly wihtout any thoughts. One Armenian emigrants society leader arranged his move to Iraklis. “He arranged my contract with Iraklis. I just arrived from USSR and they gave me contract in Greek language - to sign it. Huh, there was good people who said before to me that such can happen. I should go to Greece with my mother, relax there for a month and look at situation there. But I didn’t wanted to wait and I couldn’t leave Iraklis anymore,” said Hatzipanagis. In those times there were strict rules in Greece. Hatzinapagis signed contract for 2 year period, but rules were made such way that club had rights for next 10 years to extend contract without any problems. Hatzipanagis couldn’t do anything against it. He tried to lawsuit his club but that didn’t gave any success. Such rules were main reason why Hatzipanagis didn’t joined European football grands. Later he said that it was mistake to give away Soviet Union citizenship and take Greek one. If he would hold Soviet Union citizenship at that time, there would at be some chances that they could try to help him in this lawsuit against club. Iraklis had only one goal to keep Hatzipanagis in team. Otherwise there would be huge problems for club president. Fans in Greece love football a lot and
they can be called “crazy” sometimes. Iraklis fans once threatened that they will cut off head of club president and destroy everything related with club in case, if Hatzipanagis will leave club. For them he was main reason to support team and pay money for tickets at home games. Before Hatzipanagis there was average of 2-3 thousands spectators at Iraklis home games. When he joined club, average attendance grew to 15 000! Owners of club understood importance of Hatzipanagis to Iraklis and they did everything to make him stay at Saloniki. He didn’t earned so much money as
In 1982/1983 season Hatzipanagis scored 6 goals from direct corner kick. It was record breaking performance from Greek footballer. He mastered such ability since playing in youth team in Tashkent. he probably would earn in European top club or in USA where he also got invited few times. But in comparsion with USSR it was still better life. Club gave flat and car when he joined club. With every next season there was at least some increase in salary too. It was at least something if compared with USSR. It was world of freedom and capitalism. Despite everything related to contracts and finances, Hatzipanagis continued to play for Iraklis. His dazzling tricks and ability to get past many defenders made croud go crazy! Goals, a lots of assists, free kicks and even goals from corner kicks! You can look on hightlights of Vasilis Hatzipanagis on Youtube and I think you won’t be dissapointed. He really could be compared with greatest footballers of all time, like Maradona or Messi. I can understand worries of fans. It’s clear that letting go such player would be huge mistake for Iraklis. Everything stood on Hatzipanagis. Results, financial situation and fame of Iraklis. At that time there were three grands of Greek football - Panathinaikos, Olympiacos and AEK. It was impossible to win title with Iraklis, but thanks to Hatzipanagis they somehow managed to finish third in 1983. That was fantastic result for Iraklis! Club managed to recover from scandal previously led to relegation to second division.
Iraklis instantly returned to First division after an unforgettable 1980–81 season - even though star player of team Vassilis Hatzipanagis refused to play out of protest for the decision to relegate the historic club over controversial and unproven charges- with remarkable appearances. Many famous teams tried to get Hatzipanagis. Arsenal, Porto, Lazio, Stuttgart and even New York Cosmos. Americans offered $1 million dollars. Huge money for that era. Many clubs around the world were informed about Hatzipanagis, but they didn’t have any chance to get him. Not having chance to get signed by European grand wasn’t only problem. It was quite curious situation in 2003, when Hatzipanagis was chosen as Golden Player of Greek football. It was especially surprise for younger generation, because not many had heard about him. What’s even more unique - he was selected as Golden Player of Greek football despite having only 2 caps with Greece national team. He was forbidden to play for Greece. That’s why he managed only to play debut match and farewell match for his homeland. Hatzipanagis made debut in Greece national team quickly after joining Iraklis, in 1976. He was called up to game against Poland. Previously Hatzipanagis played few games for USSR Olympic team and some of socialistic Poland footballers somehow
recognized him. There was little scandal and soon also a ban for international matches. 23 (!!!) years later he was called up to national team again to play his farewell game. 45 years old Hatzipanagis captained team and played first 20 minutes of friendly game against Ghana. He wasn’t playing football on serious level for 8 years, but he still managed to record an assist. That’s good example of solid level that Soviet football school had. Without any doubts, Hatzipanagis deserves such honor of Golden Player. Everyone loves him around Greece, not only in Saloniki. He never shined on international arena, but there was one memorable match in 1984, when Hatzipanagis was included into World XI team together with such stars, as Franz Beckenbauer, Mario Kempes, Kevin Keegan and others. He felt very proud when commentator said: “Vasilis Hatzipanagis, born in Soviet Union and formerly player of Pakhtakor Tashkent.” When 37 years old Hatzipanagis retired from football in 1991, Iraklis started to struggle and have various problems. Legend retired from football, but everyone around Greece still adores him and he’s well respected owner of youth football academy. CRISTIAN LIBERUM
Dark horse of Ukraine Metallist Kharkiv
History of the football club Metallist Kharkiv started in the late 1925. Football club was founded because of the help from railroad company collective. At those years Metallist brought up such famous football players like Alexander Babkin, goalkeeper of the national team of USSR, players from Ukrainian national team Andrey Ponomarenko and brothers Petr and Pavel Semenov's. In this team also played famous footballers in era of Soviet Union football - Nikolay Krotov and Ivan Natarov. 43
In 1935 team first becomes the champion of Kharkiv but already in the next season makes debut in the USSR Cup. After successful performance in the competitions of republic team with the name „Derzinec” in 1947 first plays in USSR championship between the class B teams for three seasons. In 1956 Metallist has new name – there is no more „Derzinec” but „Avangard”. Then team makes debut second time in highest division of Soviet Union championship and participates also in Soviet Cup. Four seasons team „Avangard” once again played in class B. But in 1960, when came reorganization for whole Soviet football, „Avangard” got place in the main tournament. Year after this team from Kharkiv was able to finish the season in sixth place – it is highest achievement for team in the campaign of USSR. Then after many years came break-up for Soviet Union and since 1992 team Metallist from Kharkiv plays in Ukrainian championship. In 1963 „Avangard” got silver medals between junior campaign. Little bronze medals team got in 1965 participating in the second group of tournament in class A.
Team got its real name Metallist - name, which we recognize nowadays - in 1967 because of walkway to whole Soviet sports base and factory ''Zenit''. One of the versions is that their coach of that time Viktor Kanevsky gave such name to the team but other sounds that it was headship of „Zenit” decision. Since that team Metallist Kharkiv didn’t change its name. In 1978 club Metallist got golden medals in championship of republic and got ticket to the first league of USSR. In the period of 10 years since 1982 Metallist showed various performance in the USSR championship highest league, however, in USSR Cup in 1983 and 1988 went to finals and even won the Cup trophy in 1988. Then it gave a chance for the club to play in international cup against other European clubs. Championship of Ukraine In the Ukrainian highest league Metallist made debut in the season 1992/1993 and ended it quite well. Fifth place and semifinal in Ukrainian Cup are not poor results. One year
earlier, playing in the Ukrainian B league, Metallist went even till final of the Cup but there lost to Chernomorets from Odessa. But later came not so easy life for the club. It was eliminated to the second strongest Ukrainian, then went back to elite division but after long period playing there (from 1998 to 2003), again went back to the second division or how it is called in Ukraine – first league. However, it didn’t take long to stay there. In season 2003/2004 Metallist finished second in the league number one and got promoted to the elite once again and since that team plays only in the highest Ukrainian level league. Third team forever? If we go back to nowadays and check last 6 years of the performance from Metallist in Ukrainian elite division – Ukrainian Premierleague, then comes some strange feeling and you don’t know what to do – laugh or cry? In the all last 6 seasons Metallist Kharkiv finished in third place and not one place higher or lower. Always. As many can expect, then all the time final battle for championship goes between Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk. No matter how hard is struggling Metallist and how great they start their season, they are unable to fight against these two Ukrainian grands. No help also came from foreign players. With every year more and more Metallist bought foreign, mostly brazilian players, in such way hoping to finally get at least second place. At this moment 13 foreign players are playing for Metallist and most part of them regularly comes on the starting lineup. For many people it is like pain in some place. Before Metallist was clearly Ukrainian team but now comes more south americans to it. They are not satisfied with situation, saying it is not normal that team comes from one country and in the starting lineup gets just 1-2 own players, in this case Ukrainians. And then, when seeing it doesn’t give quite results in the Ukrainian Premierleague and Ukrainian Cup, they get furious even more, saying that no sense of such, better then bring up some native players and anyway fight for third place... Well, patriotism is good thing and if talk about Ukrainian league, then halfly such people are right. Only one difference came at this season in... Eurocups. Loud performance in Europa League
Metallist has bright view on future. Team is keen to break dominance of two main grands of Ukrainian football - Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk. ''Always Third'' title isn't the worst thing to make complains about, but Metallist has all needed resources to take their opportunity to break this dominance and fight not only for place in European competitions, but also for national title. This season in UEFA Europa League showed that Metallist is good enough to reach heights in such competition too. Ukrainian team was just 1 step away from advancing into semi-finals. In Europa League tournament (former UEFA Cup) Metallist participates from season 2007/2008 and we know why – always finishing third in Ukraine, they get these rights from year to year. And eurocups is the best indicator for all those who are not satisfied with current situation with players in the club. In season 2007/2008 when Metallist had much less foreign players they were eliminated from UEFA Cup already in first round. Next season was much better and team went to 1/8 final but later again nothing very impressive – fourth qualifying round and year later – 1/16 final. No matter that this south american invasion has helped a lot if we look at current time. In season 2011/2012 Metallist overwrote their history, going to ¼ final in Europa League, where in hard fights (1:1 at home and 1:2 in guests) lost to Sporting from Lisbon. This result finally let Metallist to be somehow proud about theirselves and prove that they are very close for highest European football club level. Because till the ¼ final they beated such clubs like Sochaux, Salzburg Red Bull and Olympiakos and also fought good against other well known teams. After this success those bad talks about limit of foreign players went into more silent way. And perhaps it is the right step for club. Not all clubs can get most of their squad containing from own players. The same Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk has legionnaires, who play very important roles for these teams. And since they can win Ukrainian Premierleague, noone blames them. Why couldn’t Metallist go by such way? This is quite common problem for football overall and not only, about foreign players. People get dividend into 2 groups – ones, who
support that foreign players must come the more the better, and others who deny them and want to get all teams more national. Where is the truth? Truth is not far away. Lets ask to those who don’t like that many not native players play for their club. Would you like better to watch on patriotic team, which consists of all own players and then fighting for last places everywhere and never participating in tournaments? Or maybe better to have more south americans, africans and americans in your team and also achieve something? No need to be naive and hope that also native players will be able to set team to the highest destinations. Unless they are not so naturally talented like in Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Many teams nowadays goes for more and more foreign players because they want to see high level and achieve something. In Metallist case the best decision would be to continue this foreing player invasion and make better selection because it is the only way to fight against both Ukrainian monsters Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk and maybe one day even get on some higher place than they. If Metallist will reduce amount of foreing players, then forget about ¼ final in Europa League or great performance in Ukrainian Premierleague. And in such way Metallist slowly will turn from dark horse to bright deer. So, what the fans actually want better, honestly?
© Photo: Антон Сергиенко
Project with future
Five years earlier noone could imagine that in Russia will appear one very ambitious, perspective and strong team. Yes, many fans not only in Russia but also around the world knew something about Zenit from Saint Petersburg, Spartak and CSKA from Moscow but only very few had heard about club Anzhi from Makhachkala. Now with every day more and more people are talking and rumouring about this club and no surprise will be if one day Anzhi stays very popular and expressive sports team. The club was founded in 1991 by the head of Dagnefteprodukt — Magomed-Sultan Magomedov and ex-football player of Dinamo Makhachkala decided to form a football club in 1991. In a short period of time they were able to settle all the required formalities. The newly found club took part in the Dagestan league the same year. Out of the 20 games played, the team won 16 of them and did not lose even once — Anzhi became the republic Champion. Next season after dissolution of Soviet Union club started to play in the Russian league. In 1992 the team entered the Second Division and finished in 5th place. Next season they won the league, but due to reorganization of Russian football championship, Makhackala had to stay there for three more seasons and played there until promotion to the First Division in 1996, when Eduard Malofeev coached them. In 1999 Anzhi won the First Division. In 2000 the team debuted in the Premier League and just missed the bronze medals. A penalty was awarded against Anzhi on the 95th minute of the last league match, and Torpedo converted it to clinch the third position. Anzhi finished fourth, recording the best result in the club’s history. In 2001 they reached the final of the Russian Cup, but lost to Lokomotiv on penalties. Anzhi were relegated from the Premier League in 2002 and played in the First Division until they won the Championship in 2009, being promoted again to the Premier League after 7 years of absence.
On January 18, 2011, the club was purchased by billionaire Suleyman Kerimov, but later it was revealed that the President of Dagestan Magomedsalam Magomedov met Kerimov and gave him 100 per cent stake in the club, including 50 percent of the shares of the former owner of the club Igor Yakovlev, in exchange for financial support. Kerimov is planning to invest over $200 million in infrastructure, of which a substantial amount will go in building a new stadium with a capacity of more than 40,000 spectators, which will meet all UEFA requirements. Winter transfers of year 2011 were historic for the club and its fans. On February 16, the club announced the signing of 2002 World Cup winner Roberto Carlos, whom previoulsy reached two World Cup Finals. On February 27, Anzhi signed a contract with Jucilei da Silva. In the last minute of the transfer window, on March 10, the club signed Moroccan Mbark Boussoufa from Anderlecht. In summer 2011, the club signed Balázs Dzsudzsák, who signed a four-year deal to transfer for a reported €14 million. The club also acquired Russian midfielder Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea. On 23 August 2011, Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o was signed to play at FC Anzhi Makhachkala for a sum of around €28 million, earning him €20.5 million a year. The crucial point which rapidly increased the popularity of the club is Samuel Eto’o signing. No matter before him club brought Roberto
Samuel Eto’o has became one of the brightest stars of football ever played in Russia. He’s one of the stereotype brakers and good example for all footballers that Russia is place where people love football and it’s worth to give a try and play in this championship. Photo: daylife.com
Carlos, who is not less legendary and popular player, and after him also some other good average level players, Samuel Eto’o transfer was like atomic bomb for football world. First of all, because right before this move he played for Inter Milan and before it – in Barcelona, where he showed tremendous performance, becoming a scoring leader. Secondly – all money and other extras around him. If transfer money 28 millions euro is not that special nowadays, then wage 20,5 million euro a year is way too impressive. For example, Real Madrid and Barcelona stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi earns less, the same with NBA star Kobe Bryant or Major League Baseball’s highest-paid player Alex Rodriguez. Such situation can’t stay invisible in modern century and be kept away from society. And with all ultra extras for Eto’o, like personal bodyguard, who follows him everywhere and different presents made this bubble of popularity to explode. In February 2012 Anzhi appointed Guus Hiddink as a new manager. He came to this position after Yuri Krasnozhan left the club after two months. Anzhi’s first signing under Hiddink’s management was Blackburn Rovers’s former captain Christopher Samba for £12 million. Would be stupid to say that such transfers are disinterested for people. The biggest wave of attention I would like to put for Hiddink. It is not secret he is a very professional coach with
great achievements and own unique view on this game. And here comes that very interesting and decisive moment which is connected with Hiddink. If he stays for long in Anzhi (at least 2 years yet), then Anzhi really can become the club which fights for Russian league title and show great performance in eurocups. Because for the moment, let’s be honest – not all elite players want to go to Russia. It is because of different standards of living, different culture and also history from most of other European countries. And for some even big money is not needed to change England or Spain to Russia. In this case Guus Hiddink is first step to attract more better players. Everyone of us, when going for a job somewhere, except wage possibly could be earned wants to know who will be his employer and his human qualities. For football players their employer officially is club direction but practically – head coach, with who he goes in touch every day. No doubt that Hiddink is well respected coach for many players as same as also Jose Mourinho nowadays. But also big money and head coach for some players is not enough. Seems, then it is almost impossible to talk over player to move to the club. Money comes and goes, head coaches also but status and real situation can’t be changed in general. Or maybe in a hundred years. Stereotypes also but it is hard and deep theme...
Going back to present, more and more rumours has appeared about Dani Alves and Anzhi, like he might be playing in Russian club in the next season. It would be very good signing but these are only rumours at their first stage. No matter Alves had some conflict with Guardiola, no fact he will want to leave Barcelona or Spain. That’s why dream about getting Alves can stay in dream level. But no doubt – if he comes to Makhachkala, then team gets much more stronger with potential in future to achieve the same what achieved CSKA Moscow or Zenit. If not, then not big problem also. Anzhi for sure will go for high class player signing and with Hiddink in the head coach post this mechanism can work like machine from hell in positive meaning. Russia needs new stars in football as whole Europe needs it. People like changes and they will appreaciate if Anzhi goes up step by step. Main thing – everyone has to do his job and not be jealous on others, stealing ideas and messing for job. In such fine business and money which rotates around Anzhi for now – problem parry is the main thing... ROLANDS JUHNA
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