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Winter 2016




E 20 S 1 U 6 L T S

Players on the move in 2017



How Tite launched the selecao revival




Winter 2016




People in the news...on and off the pitch 4 10 14 17 18 20


In pictures From the Editor Keir Radnedge China eyes 2030 Jim Holden Leipzig light up Bundesliga Ins & Outs people on the move Brian Glanville Southgate undermined

EYEWITNESS 24 28 30 32

Brazil Tite turns things round Argentina problems piling up Macedonia under-21s shine Haiti hope among the heartache




Europe South America Asia Africa CONCACAF


TACTICS 62 Back three back in fashion

SIX OF THE BEST 64 January transfer targets



66 Euro 2017 draw

TALENT SCOUT 68 Bundesliga prospects

PICTURE ESSAY 70 Refugee tournament

THE GREAT MATCHES 98 Ajax v Bayern Munich, 1995 Follow World Soccer online



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81 Finland IFK upset the odds 82 Rep Ireland Dundalk make history 84 Macau AFC Solidarity Cup success

Exclusive reports from our worldwide network of correspondents P L U S

86 Asia Champions League Final

76 Club World Cup preview 80 Global diary 88 Summer league reviews 92 Results, tables, fixtures WORLD SOCCER




The global game caught on camera



MALAYSIA...Omar Midani of Syria slides on the muddy pitch during a World Cup qualifier against Iran that was played at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Seremban for security reasons





BRAZIL...Luan of Atletico Mineiro crouches behind the wall as his team-mates prepare to defend a Palmeiras free-kick acrobatic Luciano of Leganes in action against Osasuna

ENGLAND...Ryan Shotton of Birmingham City causes problems for Huddersfield Town

HONDURAS...police use riot shields to protect Panama’s Abdiel Arroyo from objects thrown by home fans, as he leaves the pitch, at the end of a World Cup qualifier




AUSTRALIA...goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis of Melbourne City and Besart Berisha of Melbourne Victory have words during their FFA Cup semi-final


GERMANY...Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin celebrates after scoring against Legia Warsaw in his side’s 8-4 win in the Champions League

To see more of the best photos from the month, scan the QR code using any free QR reader that can be downloaded to your smartphone. You can also see the images by logging on to WORLD SOCCER


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Congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo, World Soccer’s World Player of the Year for 2016 (page 36). There were many strong contenders this year, the 34th year of our Awards, but Ronaldo’s success with club and country tipped the balance in his favour . He now has the chance to end the year with further silverware as European champions Real Madrid head to Japan for the The Club World Club World Cup (page 76). The Cup will garner tournament will garner precious little little coverage in coverage in Europe, outside of Spain, Europe, though though it is still held in high regard it is held in high in South America by a footballing regard in South public that have always viewed the competition as one of the few America opportunities for their region to compete with Europeans on a level playing field. FIFA president Gianni Infantino, in his latest attempt to out-Blatter Sepp Blatter, has suggested the Club World Cup could become a 32-team summer tournament (page 10). It’s a hazy idea rather than a fully-fledged plan and is unlikely to be welcomed by European clubs whose financial interests rarely coincide with those of their poorer relations from other continents. But the debate is surely worth having. Gavin Hamilton, Editor


Summer date...River Plate and Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Ideas... Marco Van Basten


Infantino proposes 32-team summer Club World Cup Cristiano Ronaldo voted World Player of the Year ........................................................ p38 Leicester and Ranieri win World Team and World Manager of the Year ................ p44 Brazil beat Argentina to all but guarantee their 2018 World Cup place ................. p24 Infantino proposes expanded Club World Cup ............................................................... p10 Klinsmann sacked as USA coach after defeats by Mexico and Costa Rica ............. p60 Southgate confirmed as new England manager ............................................................ p20 China set to miss out on 2018 World Cup ....................................................................... p58 IFK surprise champions in Finland ...................................................................................... p81 Nigeria bounce back in World Cup qualifying ................................................................ p59 Andre Villas-Boas takes high-paid job in China .............................................................. p18



The annual Club World Cup is set for an expansion to 32 teams and a switch to the summer under a proposal from FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The competition is currently played as a seven-team mini-tournament, which is held in Japan each December. Infantino, in comments published by Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport and Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, said the current competition “has a complicated formula held at a difficult time, attracting little enthusiasm,” adding that “football nowadays isn’t just Europe and South America”. Infantino suggested that a new, expanded


“There’s a lot of noise from those who don’t understand football or this team” Soon-to-be-sacked USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann brushes off the criticism heaped on him following back-to-back World Cup qualifying losses





Became the first player in Europa League history to score five goals in a single game. He scored all of Athletic Bilbao’s goals in their 5-3 win against Genk, including a hattrick of penalties against the Belgians.

Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe’s debut for DR Congo was delayed after the English FA sent essential paperwork to the FA at the neighbouring country of Congo.

Five...Aritz Aduriz

SEBASTIAN ABREU The Uruguayan striker set a world record by sealing the 28th transfer of his career when he joined Brazilian club Bangu. Mis-directed...Benik Afobe was denied a debut


format could be played in “the summer, from June 10 to 30, with 32 of the world’s best clubs. “Is it worth the tiring trips involving lots of air travel and time zones, or a tournament? But it all depends on the health of the players who must be able to rest afterwards. “The world has changed, so we have to find a Club World Cup which will be more interesting for the teams, as well as the fans around the world.” Infantino also revealed that former Croatia midfielder Zvonimir Boban and ex-Holland striker Marco Van Basten were working on ways to improve the event. Boban is Infantino’s special advisor on football matters, and Van Basten is FIFA’s chief technical development officer. This year’s edition kicks off on December 8 in Yokohama and features the continental champions of Africa, Asia, CONCACAF, Europe, Oceania and South America, as well as the newly crowned champions of the J.League, as hosts. OClub World Cup preview, page 76

The English third-tier side named five-year-old Joshua McCormack as a sub for a Checkatrade Trophy game against Hartlepool, even though the youngster, who has a terminal brain tumour, was not well enough to attend the game.




The 16-year-old Juventus striker became the first player born in 2000 to feature in Serie A as his side beat Pescara 3-0.

Withdrawn from Finland’s squad just hours before October’s World Cup qualifier in Iceland, the midfielder was then suspended for a month but without any further details being given. It has now come to light that he tested positive for cocaine after playing for CSKA Moscow in a Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen and is now banned for two years.

After their side were relegated to the Swedish second division, they ran onto the pitch and took out their frustrations by attacking a player, Jordan Larsson, the son of club coach Henrik Larsson.

Banned...Roman Eremenko of CSKA and Finland


Teen star...Moise Kean was born on February 28, 2000

The Las Palmas striker was sentenced to nine months in prison and banned from driving for two years after failing a breath test two days after he had scored a late equaliser in a draw with Real Madrid.





“I am not interested in football at all. I do not follow it at all. I thought Robin Van Persie was an ordinary Sunday league player” Dr Mehmet Ozen on treating Fenerbahce’s Dutch striker, who tore an eyelid against Akhisar Belediyespor

AIR FORCE CLUB Became the first club side from Iraq to win the AFC Cup when they beat Bengaluru 1-0 in the Final.

To see video footage of these goals, and many more that we have selected, scan the QR code using any free QR reader that can be downloaded to your smartphone. You can also see the videos by logging on to 2

EAST KILBRIDE The Scottish Lowland League side broke Ajax’s world record of 26 league wins in a row with a 3-1 victory over BSC Glasgow.


MESUT OZIL Arsenal v Ludogorets Beats the offside trap and flicks the ball over the onrushing keeper, before leaving two defenders on their backs and walking the ball into an empty net.


THOMAS MEUNIER Paris Saint-Germain v Basle Shows great technique to volley into the top corner from outside the penalty area following a cross by Adrien Rabiot.


MOUSSA SOW Fenerbahce v Man United Acrobatic overhead kick in the second minute of the Europa League tie that gave goalkeeper David De Gea no chance in goal.




DIEGO SOUZA Sport Recife v Gremio Receives a pass and then tees the ball up before volleying powerfully into the corner.

IAGO ASPAS Spain v England A classy step-over wrong-foots defender John Stones before he curls a left-footed shot in off the far post.



LIONEL MESSI Argentina v Colombia Left-footed free-kick from 30 yards that goes into the top corner off the underside of the crossbar. 5

Victory over San Marino was his 95th win as coach – a record for Germany and currently more than anyone else in the world.

FRANK DE BOER Was sacked by Internazionale after just 85 days in charge of the Serie A side.

EDIN DZEKO Bosnia’s striker was sent off for pulling down the shorts of Greece’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos and earning a second booking.

USA Defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica left them bottom of the CONCACAF “hexagonal” World Cup qualifying section.





Keepers on a collision course with the law Vincent Kompany’s latest misfortune, a head injury, came from a collision with his own keeper, Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo. That is how it was repeatedly described in some 40 English-language reports that I read – a collision, with a few modifications; the collision was heavy or sickening or painful or awkward. Yes, it was all of those things. But was it legal? The question was never asked. Not once, did I find any questioning of Bravo’s role. Yet Bravo was the man who, by rushing out of his goal and jumping high into a group of players, supplied the violent force that did the damage. TV commentator Davie Provan explained, calmly and confidently, that Bravo “does what you expect of your goalkeeper...he comes out, he’s prepared to take out anything that’s in front of him”. As a summary of the general attitude to this type of play, that’s pretty good. The goalkeeper is expected to smash into anyone, friend or foe, who is in his way. It is, apparently, acceptable for a keeper to cause dangerous contact in a way that would surely never be permitted to any other player. Bravo running forcefully forward jumped up, his right knee raised. He jumped high enough

so that it was his hip that smashed into Kompany’s head. Kompany was taken out. Now, I don’t see how any blame can be settled on Bravo when he is doing what is expected of him, doing what all goalkeepers would do. And he will not be criticised; if anything he will be praised for being “brave”. But something is seriously wrong here. Dangerously wrong. The idea that it’s “part of the game” when goalkeepers jump high into other players, making violent contact with their heads, even knocking them unconscious, has to be banished from the game. In September 2015, Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan (6ft 4in, 207lb) crunched into Leicester City’s Nathan Dyer (5ft 5in, 132lb) and knocked him senseless. No one found anything wrong with that. There is everything wrong with it. Football is simply not keeping up with the times; it is not paying attention to the hurrying pace of research into concussions. When Kompany hit the ground after his collision with Bravo, help was available very quickly, with the

Man City physio racing on to the field. Kompany was assessed for over two minutes and then, astonishingly, was allowed to continue playing. Yet there has been much discussion recently of the dangers of “second impact” – instances where a player receives a second head injury soon after the first. If the warnings about second impact are being taken seriously, then Kompany should never have been permitted to re-enter the game. In the event, he lasted only a further six minutes before he knew that he couldn’t continue. Were we watching something much more serious than a routine injury? Among those 40 reports that I read, only one had dared to raise that worrying thought, with the heading: “Fears for Kompany’s Man City career”. Does football need to revise its rules to ban these “part of the game” collisions? Actually, no. That is another almost incomprehensible part of the picture. Football already has rules that ban this violence: Rule 12 – it is a foul if a player, carelessly or recklessly or using excessive force, “jumps at” an opponent. As for keepers cleaning out anyone in their way, Rule 12 contains a reminder: “All players have a right to their position on the field of play; being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.” The tools for banishing these dangerous collisions exist. But, for whatever reason, they are not enforced for keepers. They must be so enforced, but more fundamentally it has to be made clear that violently “cleaning out” opponents (or team-mates) has to stop. The growing awareness of the dangers presented by concussion injuries has changed everything. If football fails to recognise this and doesn’t act, you can be sure the lawyers will. The USA’s National Football League (gridiron football) has been hit with thousands of concussion lawsuits from former players, and has agreed to a settlement estimated at $1billion. For football, issuing elaborate concussion “protocols” (of doubtful value, as the Kompany incident has shown) is no longer good enough. Serious attempts must be made to amend the way in which the sport is played.

The goalkeeper is expected to smash into anyone in his way

Collision...Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany is floored by his team-mate, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo






Tradition appeals but money talks for 2030 Uruguay has a strong case to host the centenary World Cup in 2030 but big-spending China also has hopes. Tradition is important in football, yet while that is one of the strengths of the World Cup, it is also a challenge, with tradition and romance matched against the commercialism that is essential to finance both progress and continuance. FIFA Council, meeting in Zurich in January, will almost certainly rubberstamp president Gianni Infantino’s demand for an expansion of the World Cup finals to 40, or even 48, teams in 2026. Then there will be no going back. The same package will be repeated for 2030 at least. The catch for FIFA is that very few countries possess the infrastructure to cope. Intimidatory and inevitable factors such as the threat of terrorism, cost hikes and competing social needs in an austerity economy will reduce the pool of willing hosts still further. In the immediate future this is not such a problem. The United States is keen to play host in 2026, whether on its own or in co-hosting liaison with Canada and Mexico. Most intriguing, however, is perhaps not 2026 but the 2030 World Cup. This will be the centenary tournament and Uruguay has made no secret of its intention to bring the World Cup “home”. Indeed, in a quirky way, a stroll around the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo this past summer suggested that not too much has changed since the Celeste defeated Argentina 4-2



Global ambitions... Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin (left) and Zhang Jian, vice-president of the Chinese FA

Historic...Pablo Dorado (out of picture) scores Uruguay’s opening goal in the 1930 World Cup Final

on Wednesday, July 30, 1930. There are new floodlights, some replacement benches and a lick of sky-blue paint around the place but, other than simple upkeep, little has changed. There is certainly no sign of a roof – which is de rigueur for World Cup stadia in the modern era. Uruguay also lacks the resources – meaning, basically, money – to stage a full World Cup, even though its land area of 176,215km∂ is far greater than the World Cup’s newest smallest host, Qatar (11,571km∂). Hence president Tabare Vazquez has been cosying up on the issue with his opposite number from the southern bank of the River Plate, Mauricio Macri. The two leaders had neighbourly

discussions and have issued a joint communique expressing their desire to create a working group to prepare the ground for a joint bid for 2030. Presumably, the opening match would be in Buenos Aires and the Final, as a century ago, in Montevideo. For Argentina, the hosting might also serve a cathartic purpose as the country continues to move on, finally, from the horrors behind the scenes under the military junta in 1978. Stolen babies, now adults, are even now still being united with the grandparents they never knew. Many, sadly, will discover their real identities too late. Qatar reckons, as it trims its financial sails after the slump in the price of crude oil, it can still do the World Cup


Final...the Estadio Centenario in 1930

justice with only the minimum eight stadia. Argentina and Uruguay could raise eight between them, probably six and two. But what if the World Cup expands in terms of groups? Then there might even be a case for Chile to join in. Or is that growing far too complicated? In his early days as president, Sepp Blatter told this writer of the co-hosting

Centre piece... today’s Estadio Centenario in Montevideo

“The Chinese are expecting full value for their money, to say nothing of a reward for putting cash on the table at a delicate time for FIFA’s financial affairs”

problems that arose for Japan and South Korea ahead of 2002. Firstly, neither had wanted co-hosting, least of all with a neighbour of such recently painful history. Secondly, for FIFA, Blatter recalled, “financially the cost was like staging two World Cups”. That was the reason he refused to countenance anything other than single-state hosting. As a result, Holland/Belgium and Portugal/Spain for 1998 never stood a chance. Infantino is happy with joint staging, but one-country-one-competition will always remain preferable – which brings us to China. Under a revived rotation, Asia would not be eligible to play host, with Qatar staging 2022, until 2034. But rotation, FIFA has decided, currently only applies up to 2026 – clearly, to offer priority to the US, whose FIFAGate flurry may not have been entirely unconnected with the outcome of the 2022 vote. So rotation does not apply to 2030 – when FIFA’s major sponsorship agreed last year by Wanda expires. Doubtless the Chinese are expecting full value for their money, to say nothing of a reward for putting cash on the table at a delicate time in the world federation’s financial affairs. Henry Ford famously said: “History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we made today.” Football fans may disagree; football officials and accountants, on the other hand…

Free the Chilean One Harold Mayne-Nicholls did an honest job as leader of the FIFA inspection commission for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. Yes, he made a silly mistake in inquiring whether, at his own expense, he could send two young relatives to the Aspire Academy in Qatar, but he was not seeking favours and his report was bluntly honest about the problems of a summer World Cup in Qatar. If the members of the FIFA executive committee had cast their votes on the basis of that report, Qatar would have been competing with Australia to go out in the first round of voting. However, in July 2015, MayneNicholls was banned from football for seven years. You see, in the meantime he had committed a second, even more

Honest job...Harold Mayne-Nicholls

serious offence, and talked about his case to the media. So much for transparency. So much for justice having to be seen to be done. Since then a stream of men who had their fingers in the FIFA honey pot for years have been handed far less severe sentences for more heinous offences. For example, Michel Platini, who took 2m Swiss francs while serving as president of UEFA and a FIFA vicepresident, was banned for only four years, yet was still allowed to address UEFA Congress in Greece in September as a “gesture of humanity”. It is time not only for a gesture of humanity but for a gesture of justice to be extended to Mayne-Nicholls. WORLD SOCCER






EUROPEAN SPORTS MEDIA HOW IT WORKS Every month, journalists from each member of the European Sports Media group select their first Xl based on the best individual performances from Europe’s top competitions. For details of how each ESM member voted, visit SEASON RANKINGS Cumulative votes through the season GOALKEEPERS Jan OBLAK (Atletico Madrid) Gianluigi DONNARUMMA (Milan) Gianluigi BUFFON (Juventus) Manuel NEUER (Bayern Munich) Diego ALVES (Valencia) Willy CABALLERO (Manchester City) David DE GEA (Manchester United) Timo HORN (Cologne) Brad JONES (Feyenoord) Maarten STEKELENBURG (Everton) Javi VARAS (Las Palmas)

7 7 6 5 5 5 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

MIDFIELDERS Kevin DE BRUYNE (Manchester City) Yannick FERREIRA CARRASCO (At Madrid) Joshua KIMMICH (Bayern Munich) Eden HAZARD (Chelsea) Philippe COUTINHO (Liverpool) N’Golo KANTE (Chelsea)

8 7 7 6 5 5


Ricardo Pereira

Laurent Koscielny

Eden Hazard

Edin Dzeko


Nice OOO

Arsenal OOO

Chelsea OOOOOO


10 5 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

DEFENDERS Filipe LUIS (Atletico Madrid) Sergi ROBERTO (Barcelona) Diego GODIN (Atletico Madrid) ALEX SANDRO (Juventus) Laurent KOSCIELNY (Arsenal) Gerard PIQUE (Barcelona) Stefan SAVIC (Atletico Madrid) Raphael GUERRERO (Borussia Dortmund) Dani ALVES (Juventus) Leonardo BONUCCI (Juventus) Kamil GLIK (Monaco) Ricardo PEREIRA (Nice) David ALABA (Bayern Munich) Hector BELLERIN (Arsenal) Giorgio CHIELLINI (Juventus) Mats HUMMELS (Bayern Munich) Philipp LAHM (Bayern Munich) Kostas MANOLAS (Roma) MARCELO (Real Madrid) Shkodran MUSTAFI (Arsenal) Nicolas OTAMENDI (Manchester City) Sokratis PAPASTATHOPOULOS (B D’mund) PEPE (Real Madrid) Samuel UMTITI (Barcelona) Raul ALBIOL (Napoli) Toby ALDERWEIRELD (Tottenham Hotspur) Cesar AZPILICUETA (Chelsea) Andrea BARZAGLI (Juventus) Joao CANCELO (Valencia) Nathaniel CLYNE (Liverpool) DANILO (Real Madrid) Stefan DE VRIJ (Lazio) Benedikt HOWEDES (Schalke) Branislav IVANOVIC (Chelsea) JUANFRAN (Atletico Madrid) Dejan LOVREN (Liverpool) David LUIZ (Chelsea) James MILNER (Liverpool) Cesar NAVAS (Rostov) Sergio RAMOS (Real Madrid) Winston REID (West Ham United) Marcel RISSE (Cologne) Marcel SCHMELZER (Borussia Dortmund) Djibril SIDIBE (Monaco) Kostas STAFYLIDIS (Augsburg) Jan VERTONGHEN (Tottenham Hotspur)


Gianluigi Donnarumma










Leonardo Bonucci

Alex Sandro

N’Golo Kante

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco

Anthony Modeste

Lionel Messi

Juventus OOO

Juventus OOOOO

Chelsea OOOOO

Atletico Madrid OOOOOOO


Barcelona OOOOOOO

ALESON Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) Mesut OZIL (Arsenal) THIAGO Alcantara (Bayern Munich) ARDA Turan (Barcelona) Sergio BUSQUETS (Barcelona) FERNANDINHO (Manchester City) Marek HAMSIK (Napoli) KOKE (Atletico Madrid) Toni KROOS (Real Madrid) Manuel LOCATELLI (Milan) Ivan RAKITIC (Barcelona) Arjen ROBBEN (Bayern Munich) Dele ALLI (Tottenham Hotspur) Felipe ANDERSON (Lazio) Tiemoue BAKAYOKO (Monaco) Karim EL AHMADI (Feyenoord) GABI (Atletico Madrid) Gelson MARTINS (Sporting) Luka MODRIC (Real Madrid) PIZZI (Benfica) Miralem PJANIC (Juventus)

5 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

RAFINHA (BARCELONA) Franck RIBERY (Bayern Munich) Jean SERI (Nice) Tonny VILHENA (Feyenoord) Julian WEIGL (Borussia Dortmund) FORWARDS Anthony MODESTE (Cologne) Edin DZEKO (Roma) Lionel MESSI (Barcelona) Edinson CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain) Antoine GRIEZMANN (Atletico Madrid) Arkadiusz MILIK (Napoli) Alexis SANCHEZ (Arsenal) Sergio AGUERO (Manchester City) Diego COSTA (Chelsea) Gonzalo HIGUAIN (Juventus) Mario BALOTELLI (Nice) Ousmane DEMBELE (Borussia Dortmund) Mauro ICARDI (Internazionale) Luis SUAREZ (Barcelona)

1 1 1 1 1

8 7 7 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 2 2 2

Theo WALCOTT (Arsenal)


Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG (B Dortmund) 1 Jose CALLEJON (Napoli)


Javier HERNANDEZ (Bayer Leverkusen)


Ciro IMMOBILE (Lazio)


Robert LEWANDOWSKI (Bayern Munich)


Alvaro MORATA (Real Madrid)


Raheem STERLING (Manchester City)


ESM – EUROPEAN SPORTS MEDIA The members of ESM are: A Bola (Portugal), Elf (Holland), Fanatik (Turkey), Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung (Germany), Goal News (Greece), Kicker (Germany), Marca (Spain), Nemzeti Sport (Hungary), So Foot (France), Sport (Belgium), Sport Express (Russia), De Telegraaf (Holland), TIPSbladet (Denmark), World Soccer (England). More details of votes at



Leipzig and Nagelsmann: the new face of the Bundesliga Football fairy tales come dressed in different costumes. The traditional one is Leicester City; an underdog team of unheralded players, guided by a lovable manager who defied the odds to win the Premier League. But there are other kinds of fairy tale as well, as this season’s Bundesliga is proving. Take RB Leipzig, the new club from the old East Germany, where football was pulverised by the unification of the nation, who are flying high alongside Bayern Munich in their first campaign in the top flight. Few outsiders seem to love them or their story. Having been transformed from obscure amateur club SSV Markranstaedt into dynamic Bundesliga challengers playing in a fabulous new stadium, they have been dubbed the “most hated” club in Europe after an incredible rise from the fifth tier of the German game. The hostility stems from the fact they were created by Red Bull, the energy-drink company whose cash has financed success and whose methodology is criticised for circumventing

regulations on supporter ownership. Rival fans reckon Leipzig are the antiLeicester – and never mind that the English champions have super-rich owners from Thailand. Viewed from outside Germany this seems absurd. Can’t people see what an uplifting story this is? Leipzig have good players, are fun to watch and are shaking up the certainties of a league dominated for too long by Bayern and Borussia Dortmund. Only now, perhaps, is the mood changing a little, with the country’s biggest circulation paper, Bild, suggesting everyone should stop bashing Leipzig as they are good for the Bundesliga. The team’s coach is Ralph Hasenhuttl, and he used to be at Ingolstadt, another small club on the rise who previously annoyed rival supporters because they were financed by huge local firm Audi. Their fairy tale has been accepted now, and quite right too, with no

more sneering at them as “FC Audi”. Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, there are clubs such as Wolfsburg, where VW provide the cash, and Bayer Leverkusen, who are funded by the giant chemical firm. But these two supposedly pass the political correctness test because they have “organic” sugar daddies for clubs founded as works teams – something that reeks of hypocrisy. There is currently a second fairy tale in the Bundesliga. It is one that nobody is quibbling about – and one which is equally heart-warming. This is the story of Julian Nagelsmann, the baby-faced boss of Hoffenheim, who was appointed coach at the age of 28 with the club hurtling towards relegation last season. He saved them from the drop, and this term the club from a village of just 3,300 people are competing with Bayern and unloved Leipzig at the top of the table. Nagelsmann is by far the youngest coach of a club in a major European league, and he had never been in charge at senior level before Hoffenheim took what was damned as a “public relations stunt” and “crackpot idea”. The club’s director of football, Alexander Rosen, knew his man, however, and had already seen Bayern try to poach Nagelsmann as a youth coach. Rosen has a wry comment about the situation, saying: “Julian is 29 and I am 37. We have a combined younger age than Arsene Wenger.” When the playing career of Nagelsmann was terminated by severe knee injuries at the age of just 20, he took up coaching, and cites Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola as inspirations. Yet there is also a hint of Jose Mourinho in his work, not least in some of the fiery scenes on the touchline that irritate rival bosses. The 29-year-old once said: “As a coach you are almost a psychologist. The mental side of it makes up about 70 per cent of the job. If you know everything about tactics, but are an idiot socially, then you’ll never be successful.” Just like RB Leipzig, he could be around for a long time to come.

“Leipzig are shaking up a league dominated for too long by Bayern and Borussia Dortmund”

Youthful enthusiasm...Julian Nagelsmann has steered Hoffenheim into contention at the top of the Bundesliga





“I tried everything to help him. The reality is, though, that he plays in a championship which is not especially important” Italy boss Giampiero Ventura (left) on ignoring Toronto striker Sebastian Giovinco


Appointments, sackings and loans

Inter job... Stefano Pioli

STEFANO PIOLI, who was sacked by Lazio in April, replaced Frank De Boer as coach of Serie A rivals Internazionale. WALTER SAMUEL, who won the treble with the club in 2010, joined his backroom staff. MAIK WALPURGIS replaced Markus Kauczinski as coach of Ingolstadt after they started the Bundesliga season with a run of 10 games without a win. Back...Georges Leekens starts a second spell with Algeria

BERNARD CASONI replaced Sylvain Ripoll as coach of Lorient, who were bottom of Ligue 1. JOAQUIN CAPARROS was appointed coach of La Liga strugglers Osasuna, taking over from Enrique Martin. VICTOR SANCHEZ replaced Gus Poyet at Real Betis. SAKIS TSIOLIS took over from Angelos Anastasiadis as coach of Greek Super League side Larissa.

EUROPE FREDERIC ANTONETTI was sacked as coach of Lille with the club in the Ligue 1 relegation zone.

CONCACAF BRUCE ARENA, who led the USA to the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as national coach. Houston Dynamo appointed WILMER CABRERA as coach, while Seattle Sounders handed a deal to interim boss BRIAN SCHMETZER.

AFRICA Algeria appointed GEORGES LEEKENS as coach for a second spell, with the Belgian having led the national side briefly in 2003. JALAL DAMJA took charge of Libya.

MIROSLAV KLOSE, who was out of contract at Lazio at the end of last season, announced his retirement. The 38-year-old is Germany’s record scorer with 71 goals in 137 games. Rangers terminated the contract of midfielder JOEY BARTON after just eight appearances for the Scottish Premiership side.


Gone...Per-Mathias Hogmo

Norway seek new leader Norway coach PERMATHIAS HOGMO stepped down after three years in charge with the national side fifth in their World Cup qualifying group.

MUHSIN ERTUGRAL resigned as coach of Orlando Pirates after the South African side lost 6-1 to SuperSport United, to equal their heaviest-ever defeat. African Nations Cup hosts Gabon fired coach JORGE COSTA, while PIERRE LECHANTRE was sacked by Congo.


Villas-Boas signs lucrative Chinese deal ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS replaced Sven Goran Eriksson as coach of Shanghai SIPG. Villas-Boas, who left Zenit in May and had been linked with a number of Bundesliga clubs, agreed a contract worth £11million a year. “Andre Villas-Boas is the leading



young manager in European football, with a huge amount of passion and coaching experience,” said a Shanghai SIPG statement. “We are convinced his arrival will enrich the tactical nous of the team, unearth the potential of our young talents.”

Chinese adventure... Andre Villas-Boas is presented to the media as Shanghai SIPG’s new coach

His 14 goals for Ivory Coast in the African Nations Cups of 1968 and 1970 was a tournament record until surpassed by Samuel Eto’o in 2008.

DANIEL PRODAN (1972-2016) The defender was part of the Romania side that reached the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup.

Short stay...Joey Barton


Rooney’s boozing undermined uninspiring Southgate Arguably, the real victim of Wayne Rooney’s boozing indiscipline in England’s hotel was Gareth Southgate. It seems that he had satisfied himself that Rooney would be going to bed at a reasonable hour before going there himself. Instead, as we now so well know, Rooney stayed drinking in the hotel bar with a group of wedding guests, accompanied by a clutch of sycophantic FA hangers-on. Rooney’s behaviour was self-indulgent and boorish to a degree, but what it surely did was undermine the authority of Southgate, on the verge of being named the full-time England manager. Rooney effectively defied him, shrugged him off as though he didn’t matter. It would almost, you would feel, have been better had Rooney gone out with the rest of the

Header...Gary Cahill (second right) scores against Scotland

England squad, who indeed stayed out until the small hours with two of them – one a teetotaller – bizarrely going all the way south to a strip club in Bournemouth. Southgate’s inevitable appointment as full-time England manager does not excite me or inspire me. Faute de mieux, as the French say (“for want of better”). Under his temporary aegis, England made heavy weather of Scotland and Malta, were saved from deep embarrassment by Joe Hart and his fine saves in Slovenia, and failed to beat at Wembley what was effectively Spain’s B team devoid of Diego Costa, Iniesta and several other stars, though Southgate seemed to rate it highly. I cannot see England failing to reach the World Cup finals in Russia, though it is hard to believe they will make much progress there. It surprised me that Jack Wilshere played no part in the Spain game. Since his loan from Arsenal to Bournemouth, he has come pleasingly and impressively back into his old form, so skilful on the ball, so clever with his passing. In France, it was too early for Roy Hodgson to bring him in

Undermined...England captain Wayne Rooney (left) and the country’s manager-in-waiting Gareth Southgate



so soon after his return from injury. But he would surely have drilled holes in a porous Scotland defence. Overall the Scots surely made more chances than England, but just did not have the confidence to take them. I still feel that John Stones is, for all his undoubted talent, an accident waiting to happen. Playing the ball out from the back is all well and good in theory but not, as too often happens with Stones, when it gives the ball away or puts a colleague into trouble. But who else is there? Cahill took his goal well against Spain but in defence he still doesn’t convince me. Jagielka, who came on as a substitute, is certainly not the answer. Perhaps it would be worth giving Middlesbrough’s promising young Gibson a chance.

Credit to Conte Resourceful... Antonio Conte

How ironic that arguably the best thing that could have happened to Chelsea last season was to finish so sadly low in the Premier League that they have no European commitments this season. Not to take away from the flamboyant and resourceful Antonio Conte any credit for the way he has managed to revitalise his team this season – rising powerfully from the ashes of their 3-0 drubbing by Arsenal – his tactical innovations have been highly successful, but those extra days off have surely benefitted his team.

Managers maketh mistakes

George was the Best but doubts about the Bobbies Jason Burt, a leading football columnist, recently published a list of players he sees as Britain’s greatest. Being substantially older than he, I saw a great many of the players he was too young to see. And his list greatly surprised me. Certainly, I would not contest the choice of the dazzling but doomed George Best as number one. As he once modestly remarked: “If I’d been born ugly, you’d never have heard of Pele.” But Bobby Charlton in second position? Surely not. I have known, liked and admired Bobby for not short of 60 years, but the odd truth is that even in his heyday with Manchester United, he was a curiously divisive figure. This I know because, in those very different days, I had several friends in that Manchester United team. And the peculiar truth was that it divided itself into two camps: the Celts and the English. For the Celts, the stars were Best, of course, and Denis Law. For the English, Bobby was the hero. There was a bizarre episode when Best went into a pub where a portrait of Bobby hung on a wall and threw eggs at it! Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney figure on Burt’s list but by no means high enough. Matthews was, for my generation, a talismanic figure. When he came to play for Blackpool in London, it was reckoned 10,000 would be put on the gate. That incredible swerve beat left-back after left-back. Finney complemented him on

United...George Best (left) and Bobby Charlton

Converted... Bobby Moore

the other England wing and Bill Shankly, who played with him at Preston, thought him incomparable. Jimmy Greaves arguably comes too high up the list . He failed badly and strangely in the Chilean World Cup of 1962, which I covered, telling me once that players were afraid of getting killed. I still believe he should have played in the 1966 World Cup Final, not instead of Geoff Hurst, who came into replace him after he had dropped out injured, but instead of the pedestrian Roger Hunt, who missed two palpable chances. I’m not sure that I would rate Bobby Moore quite so highly. Player of the 1966 tournament, I thought he played even better in Mexico, but he was in essence a triumph of mind over matter. Not quick physically – though very quick in mind – he was never a strong header of the ball, which was why Ron Greenwood converted him from a centre-half into what was essentially a second stopper, a role which doesn’t really exist today. Still, cometh the hour cometh the man, and to be outstanding in two World Cups is the ultimate in distinction. Forgotten is the goal he gave away to Poland in Katowice in a World Cup eliminator when for once hubris was punished by nemesis when he so untypically dwelt on the ball and tried to beat his man. But as Disraeli said: “The defects of great men are the consolation of dunces.”

Managers, ah managers! Why, you ask yourself, did West Ham’s Croatian coach Slaven Bilic, with his team drawing 2-2 at Tottenham and having largely been the better side, take off the formidable Payet and replace him with Nordtveit, who promptly gave away a penalty, whereby Harry Kane won the game for Spurs. Bilic, now in danger of dismissal, said he wanted to reinforce his defence in the final minutes. Well he failed badly. Across town, I was at Queens Park Rangers to see the return to the club, for whom he served for five years as a player and five as manager, of the rapturously greeted Ian Holloway. The stadium, recently deserted, even by season-ticket holders, was packed for the visit of Norwich, who promptly gave away a penalty in the opening 90 seconds and had the offender, Martin Olsson, sent off. Predictably, QPR dominated though their gifted Dutchman Tjaronn Chery who missed the penalty but was outstanding as QPR went 2-0 up. Funny game, football. In the second half, QPR lost their way, as did Chery, Norwich’s gallant 10 men, showing great stamina, took over the game and could well have forced a draw. Had Olsson stayed on, I doubt QPR would have won – no matter how enthusiastically their fans returned to Shepherds Bush. Back... Ian Holloway

Fair play to the FA A rare pat on the back for the FA for holding off the challenge of the Football League, which wanted the FA Cup to become a midweek tournament, allowing the FL to implement a dubious new scheme to refashion its own competition. It is bad enough the FA have already conceded that there will be no replays in the sixth round. Suddenly the FA have done a lucrative new deal which enables them to keep the Cup, bar the quarterfinals, as a weekend competition just as it always has been and always should be.

ORead Brian Glanville’s weekly online column at WORLD SOCCER
















      )*   e

eye witness Tim Vickery reports


Tite takes the plaudits In the space of a few months, the former Corinthians coach has turned around the fortunes of the national side Towards the end of Brazil’s 3-0 win over Argentina, the crowd in Belo Horizonte broke into song, and Eduardo Tironi of the sports daily Lance!, wrote of the occasion: “The exhibition against our biggest rival turned into such a massacre that the fans were chanting the name of...Tite.” By Brazilian standards this is rare indeed. Success is seen as the merit of the individual flair of the players, while the coach usually comes in for special attention only when someone is blamed for disappointments. This case is different. As Tironi continued: “It was a recognition of the importance of the man who found a group in pieces, and in a short period of time has given the team a pattern and made them competitive.” This time it really is impossible to overlook the achievement of the coach. Under predecessor Dunga, Brazil had been knocked out of the Copa Centenario

in the group phase and, a third of the way through the marathon World Cup qualification campaign, were down in sixth place and in serious danger of missing out on Russia 2018. The next third of the campaign would be squeezed into twoand-a-half months, between the start of September and mid-November. The incoming Tite would have next to no time on the training ground and there were some difficult matches ahead. And yet, six games later, Brazil have already all but qualified. In the past, 28 points were always good enough to ensure automatic qualification and, after six straight wins, and with another six games to come, Brazil have 27. They can already start planning for Russia. And with the style and swagger they displayed in those six games – 17 goals scored, only one (an own goal)

Russia calling...(left to right) Philippe Coutinho, Neymar and Gabriel Jesus

Controversial...Tite stuck his neck out for Paulinho (no15), who was in fine form against Argentina



conceded – Tite’s Brazil are entitled to head for the World Cup finals in the hope and expectation of mounting a serious challenge. It is impossible to imagine any other Brazilian boss having a similar effect. As 1970 great Tostao wrote: “The recuperation of the national team has nothing to do with domestic Brazilian football, either on or off the field.” True, Tite is part of the recent tradition of Brazilian coach as charismatic father figure, and evidence of his dexterity in

Skipper for the day... Fernandinho (right) in action against Peru

handling the group has come from his policy of rotating the captaincy after Neymar, probably wisely, gave up the job. In the last match against Peru, for example, Tite handed the armband to Fernandinho, even though the Manchester City midfielder will probably be on the bench for the next game as he was only deputising for the injured Casemiro â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who is seen by Tite as one of the most important pieces in his jigsaw. All concerned are aware of their place in the scheme, so making Fernandinho

captain for the day was a way of making sure that a key reserve feels valued. It was a nice touch, too, to make Dani Alves skipper against Argentina, the first match after the death of one of his illustrious predecessors at right-back, Carlos Alberto. Alves also wore the number four shirt, which was a trademark of the 1970 World Cup-winning captain. And Titeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s powers of man management have never been better highlighted that with the recall of Paulinho, an expensive flop at Tottenham Hotspur who is now WORLD SOCCER


eyewitness playing in China. The coach stuck his neck out because Paulinho’s recall was controversial. But he filled a somewhat introverted character with confidence and has been rewarded with a series of solid, versatile displays. Against Argentina, Paulinho was a candidate for man of the match, dropping to help out Fernandinho with the marking when Lionel Messi was threatening to tip the balance, and then driving forward to good effect when space opened up in the second half, rounding off the 3-0 win with the third goal. But Tite is more than just a motivator. He may well hitch his trousers at an old-fashioned height above his belly button, but higher still is the brain of a thoroughly modern, curious coach who has an open-minded commitment to learning which sets him apart from many of his compatriots. Born Adenor Bacchi 55 years ago – “Tite” is a nickname – his career as a midfielder ended at the age of 28 after a knee injury. He then coached a number of teams in southern Brazil before making his name with Gremio, leading them to success in the 2001 Brazilian Cup. At that point he was a 3-5-2 specialist, but that was a mere starting point. He studied the European-style 4-4-2 and its variations, and in his 2010-13 spell at Corinthians he produced the only South American side in recent years that was able to hold its own against European opposition at the Club World Cup.

Number one...Alisson has been first-choice keeper

Corinthians rode their luck a little in the 2012 Final against Chelsea, but the secret of their 1-0 win was that they were able to stay compact defensively – the hallmark of the side that won national, continental and world titles. Tite then stepped down and studied some more. He has said he has no ambition to work in Europe – with, as he occasionally adds, the possible exception of Italy – because he cannot imagine himself achieving excellence in a second language. But he has undoubtedly achieved excellence in his homeland in no small part as a consequence of time spent observing the best elements of European football.



Modern...Tite is a very openminded coach


Team effort...Tite celebrates with his players after the third goal against Argentina

In particular, he wanted to see how the top teams attained midfield superiority, and the result of his research was quickly apparent when he returned to Corinthians in 2015. The side that won that year’s Brazilian league were compact in defence and proficient in possession, with a 4-1-4-1 formation that provided plenty of options for the man on the ball. This is the model he has taken to the national team after receiving the call. Here he could carry out his ideas with better players, and it helped

together. Without forgetting the difference in quality of the players, they look like the Brazil of 1970.” This is high praise indeed, but it will not be fully put to the test for another year and a half. By then Tite will want to see his team grow and overcome obstacles. He might be especially keen to see how some of his more petulant players react to going a goal behind. So far things have almost gone too well. Every controversial choice – Alisson in goal, Paulinho in the midfield, the talented but raw Gabriel Jesus up front

“Without forgetting the difference in quality of the players, they look like the Brazil of 1970” Ex-Argentina coach Cesar Luis Menotti on Tite’s Brazil that Dunga had been timidly moving in a similar direction. The introduction of midfield organiser Renato Augusto against Peru in November 2015 was an important moment and under Tite the transformation has been carried out with more competence and conviction. It is truly heartening to see a Brazil side that places so much emphasis on passing the ball. “Dunga bet on winning the ball and attacking with the physical condition of his players,” commented legendary ex-Argentina coach Cesar Luis Menotti. “[Tite] has moved the defensive line 20 metres higher and brought the lines

– is working in his favour. The team have developed tactical variations – switches of position and function of Paulinho and Renato Augusto in midfield, a high press that alternates with moments of dropping deeper to launch the counter attack – and all have come good. Not even Tite could have expected so much progress so quickly. As a result, there are those who fear that the team might peak too soon – a lovely problem for a team which just a few months ago seemed mired in a dogfight just to make it through to Russia. WORLD SOCCER


eyewitness Joel Richards reports


Problems piling up A faltering World Cup campaign compounds domestic dilemmas “We are not considering bringing in a psychologist,” said Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza three days after the 3-0 loss to Brazil. The defeat in Belo Horizonte compounded the situation in a faltering World Cup qualification campaign which left Argentina out of the four automatic qualification spots. It also added to the cumulative frustration of three lost Finals in three years that still weigh heavy on the national team. A very public and national enquiry began over how such a talented group of players was failing to perform. For now, though, the answer will not come from a psychologist, but from within. “Qualification

Spokesman...Lionel Messi explains the national team’s media boycott

“This is the worst point for the national team in a long time” Lionel Messi is in our own hands,” says Bauza. For some observers, this is partly the concern. The 3-0 defeat by Brazil laid out the scale of the problem facing the team. “We don’t know what we are trying to do,” Lionel Messi said afterwards. “This is the worst point for the national team in a long time.” For supporters it is galling to see players so highly valued and handsomely rewarded at their European clubs fall short with the national team, even if reaching three Finals is in itself a fine achievement. Not only against Brazil but also in recent games – including October’s home defeat to Paraguay – miscued passes, lethargy and missed chances underline a lack of cohesion and focus. Brazil’s performance was everything Argentina are not right now: controlled, disciplined and clinical. The margin of defeat could have been considerably worse. However, a 3-0 win over Colombia days later suggested that Argentina will probably still qualify for Russia 2018, even if it is ultimately all down to Messi. With a stunning free-kick and two



assists against Colombia, Messi singlehandedly guided Argentina to relative safety in the qualifiers going into the break before the next match in March. For a player criticised in his home country for not being the type of leader

Superliga...River Plate (in red) and Estudiantes are set for change

that many supporters believe the team needs – namely a more vocal and aggressive captain – Messi not only leads by example on the pitch. He was the squad’s spokesman when the players announced a media boycott in response to allegations by one local journalist that striker Ezequiel Lavezzi smoked marijuana at the team’s training camp. It was also Messi who spoke out about the amateur organisation that the Argentinian Football Association provides the national team when the team’s flight from Houston to New York was grounded for hours at the Copa America last June. And just in the past month, it was Messi who paid security staff’s back wages from his own pocket. Their employers, the AFA, had not paid in months. Gerardo Martino, national coach up until just before the Olympic Games, also went several months without wages. Failing to pay its employees is one of the symptoms of the malaise at the AFA as internal wrangling continues in the post-Julio Grondona era. The AFA is currently overseen by a Normalisation Committee, with presidential elections due for June

2017 – though elections in themselves do not guarantee a definitive result. The last time the AFA held elections, from a total of 75 votes cast the result was announced as 38-38. The to-do list for the Committee is comprehensive and naming Bauza as coach was just one of the tasks. He was viewed as a defensive-minded coach who nonetheless had two Libertadores Cup victories on his CV. Afforded little time to find solutions, so far he has found neither defensive solidity nor a way to avoid the team’s Messi-dependency that he has highlighted. As well as naming a national coach after Martino quit, a new boss was also required for the under-20s, and the AFA opened up the selection process and invited proposals. They received over 44 applications, ranging from well-known and highly respected names from youth divisions to former national-team stars such as Gabriel Batistuta. After a long drawn out process, Claudio Ubeda, who curiously had not submitted one of the 44 proposals, was handed the role. Securing qualification for the 2018

Controversial... Ezequiel Lavezzi

World Cup and nurturing the younger generations are just two of the challenges for the AFA, and on the domestic scene there are myriad problems. Unravelling the bloated 30-team first division is one of those; the spectre of barra bravas, who in some cases have been detained in recent weeks travelling to matches with a veritable arsenal of weapons, is another. The priority, however – for the AFA, the clubs and the government – is rearranging the television rights deal. In 2009 the Kirchner government nationalised television rights to the top flight, adding second-tier games in 2011. Legislation also included “national interest” games, such as the national team and even Libertadores Cup games. It was called “Football For All”, coverage was highly politicised and football was free to

air. But the Mauricio Macri government, elected last year, has announced that will end and a new rights offer valued at approximately £130million per year was expected to be announced in November. The AFA and the clubs will increase their income and there are plans for the creation of a new Superliga. The format and structure contemplated is closer to the top-heavy Spanish system of increased income to the top clubs rather than the more equitable Premier League model. For spectators, subscriptions are likely to be in the region of £15 a month. But simply raising more cash from viewers is not necessarily the answer to the clubs’ financial difficulties. Football For All was the result of political interests but also due to the AFA facing a players’ strike as clubs were unable to pay wages under the previous TV rights deal – which was based on viewer subscriptions. The government is advocating clubs change their status to limited companies, moving away from the fan-owned model. For many supporters this radical shift is far more of a concern than a faltering World Cup qualification campaign. WORLD SOCCER


eyewitness Milorad Stojmanovski reports


Reasons to be cheerful Success in the Euro Under-21s has given Macedonian football hope for the future Macedonian football has endured some dark days, but there are brighter times on the horizon. In June, the under-21s will take part in the European Championship in Poland – the first time the country has qualified for the finals of a major continental championship. Then, in August, the national stadium – the Philip II Arena in Skopje – will host the UEFA Super Cup between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League. After finishing last in their qualifying group for both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, the senior national side is

“Soccer has the strength to change the mentality of the whole nation”

Future...Macedonia’s under-21 side

Under-21 midfielder David Babunski currently at rock bottom. And the bad results have continued in the 2018 World Cup campaign, with four defeats in their opening four games and a slump to an all-time low of 155th in FIFA’s rankings. But a new, young generation is offering a ray of hope for the future. The under-21s qualified for the summer’s finals in Poland by topping their qualifying group ahead of an impressive list of countries – France, Iceland, Ukraine, Scotland and Northern Ireland – after

Talented...winger Filip Pivkovski



key players such as Igor Aleksovski, Darko Velkovski, Gjoko Zajkov, Enis Bardhi, Marjan Radeski, David Babunski and Kire Markoski showed great mental stability throughout the campaign. They finished with a flourish at the national stadium on October 11, when almost 25,000 supporters turned up to back the youngsters on the national holiday known as “Uprising Day”. They needed to win, but also required Iceland not to beat Ukraine, and goals from Markovski and Bardhi saw Macedonia 2-0 up by half-time. Iceland also led at the interval, but there was good news from Reykjavik for those in Skopje as Ukraine turned things around to win 4-2. As the celebrations got under way for the first Macedonian team from any age category to reach a major UEFA finals, keeper Aleksovski – who set a clean-sheet record of 423 minutes during the campaign – declared: “God helped us at the end, but we deserved this.” The team finished top of Group 3 on 21 points, ahead of favourites France and Iceland, and conceded just seven goals. It was an unprecedented achievement

ONES TO WATCH: KEY MACEDONIA DAVID BABUNSKI Midfielder, Red Star Belgrade (Ser) The son of former under-21 coach Boban Babunski, he joined Barcelona’s La Masia academy before signing a two-year contract with Red Star. Nicknamed “The Philosopher” by supporters, he recently organised a humanitarian event to help migrants on the Greek-Macedonian border. MARJAN RADESKI Winger, Shkendija Already a member of the senior national side, he can play wide or centrally and has been linked with a move to Red Star Belgrade. GJOKO ZAJKOV Central defender, Charleroi (Blg) Ex-Rabotnicki youth player, he forms a good partnership with Velkoski and they conceded only seven goals in 10 qualifying games.

Vital...David Babunski

Fee...Darko Velkoski

Hero...Enis Bardhi

UNDER-21 PLAYERS ENIS BARDHI Attacking midfielder, Ujpest (Hun) Hero and goalscorer in the final game against Scotland, in which he played despite an injury. Spent time at Danish club Brondby before a recent move to Ujpest. KIRE MARKOSKI Forward, Rabotnicki Scorer of several key goals in the qualifiers, he was named the best young player in Macedonia last season. DARKO VELKOSKI Central defender, Vardar Old-style sweeper who can also play as a defensive midfielder if required, he is a product of Rabotnicki’s youth system and he joined champions Vardar in 2015 for €100,000 – one of the biggest ever domestic fees.

Impressive...goal celebrations during a 1-1 draw in France

in more than one way as no previous Macedonian team had gained 21 points in a qualifying cycle before. Under-21 coach Blagoja Milevski now boasts a record of nine wins, five draws and one defeat in his last 15 matches, including friendlies. To put that in perspective, his predecessors, from to 2004 to 2014, had only 10 wins between them. The players were rewarded with a bonus of €200,000 from the Football Federation of Macedonia, while the Macedonian government weighed in with an additional €70,000. And praise came from the highest level. ”I would have swapped all my trophies for such a magical moment with the national jersey,” said the skipper of the senior national side, Goran Pandev, who was a Champions League winner with Internazionale in 2010. Thoughts now turn to planned friendlies

against Poland and Ukraine as the team prepare for next summer’s finals amid considerable optimism. “If we can eliminate France, we are not afraid of Italy, Germany or England,” noted one newspaper editorial. Czech Republic, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Slovakia will also be there this summer, along with hosts Poland, and play-off winners Serbia and Spain. The team have also had a wider impact on the country as a whole, with under-21 midfielder Babunski explaining: “Soccer has the strength to change the mentality of the whole nation. “This success can be the milestone because it has released positive energy and that can spread rapidly in the collective memory of Macedonians. Let’s spread it to other parts of the society. This is the reason why I’m playing soccer.” WORLD SOCCER


eyewitness Bryan Kay reports


Hope among the heartache Hurricane Matthew was just the latest disaster for the stricken island nation There is, perhaps, no country in the Western Hemisphere more tragic than Haiti. In addition to seemingly ubiquitous political unrest and dire levels of poverty are the natural disasters which continue to batter the island nation’s already precarious state, the latest of which, Hurricane Matthew, left more than 1,000 dead in October. In 2010, a devastating earthquake claimed the lives of anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 people, including more than 30 who perished inside the Haitian Football Federation building. In such circumstances, the fortunes of the national football team hardly matter for Haitians who have much bigger issues to confront. And yet, in some ways, the struggles of a proud populace are mirrored by those of Les Grenadiers, whose own battles against the odds often act as a kind of bulwark against the battle for mere survival faced by the people. “I remember when the earthquake hit Haiti, for a two-year period we never played in Haiti,” says midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre, who played for his country in June’s Copa America Centenario. “Every game we played, we were

Life goes play football in the streets opposite a wrecked home

unfortunate that we had to play the games away from our home turf. And also, because of the shambles that the country was in for two years, we didn’t play friendlies because of a lack of resources. In the circumstances, adds Alexandre, football is certainly not the priority. Yet he sees a source of hope in the game, like there was after the earthquake. “I remember the first game we went back and played in Haiti,” he explains. “It was a very emotional time, how excited the fans were. And also too, for that period of time, we as players felt like we had a

Patriotic...Haiti fans at a World Cup qualifier in Port-au-Prince area of south-west Haiti that was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October



higher purpose. We were not only playing for ourselves, for our families, for our country, we were literally playing for the happiness of a nation. “Because during those times, during the two years of the earthquake, I remember one of the things we always said to each other was that for 90 minutes there’s peace in the country. “For 90 minutes, while the national team is playing, they’re not thinking about being hungry, they’re not thinking about not having a roof over their head. But for 90 minutes they’re following their country and cheering them on. It had a higher purpose and I think that had a positive effect on the national team.” Although Haiti suffered a couple of

heavy defeats in this summer’s Copa – their first-ever appearance at the tournament – the players celebrated their solitary goal, which came in a 7-1 defeat against Brazil, as if it were the winner. That

are two games, against Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname, that will hopefully see them through to a play-off for a place at next year’s Gold Cup in the USA. Fernando Clavijo, who coached the

“We as players felt like we had a higher purpose...we were literally playing for the happiness of a nation” Haiti midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre appearance followed an impressive CONCACAF Gold Cup showing the previous year when they lost narrowly in the quarter-finals to Jamaica. Although already out of the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, next up for Haiti

national team from October 2003 to 2004, reckons the Haitians have the potential to dominate the Caribbean – if only they could catch a break. “Personally, I was there for 11-and-ahalf months,” says the 60-year-old who

Strong...Haiti’s Paulson Pierre (in red) fends off Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica

won 61 caps for the USA. “Right at the time I took over, the coup came about. “There were players who were willing to work extremely hard. Technically I would not say everyone, but technically they were outstanding. Basically, they were on a par with anybody else. I mean, they were superb. “I thought that the mental part of their games had faults. “And, really, you can look at the social part of what’s going on in Haiti and you realise why. “Mentally they were not adequate, or they needed to work extremely hard, to become a contender in CONCACAF, or the Caribbean for that matter, because people, all their lives, they have lied to them.” WORLD SOCCER



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Awards 2016


















ristiano Ronaldo, a European champion for both club and country in 2016, is World Soccer’s World Player of the Year. A winner in 2008, 2013 and 2014, he has now matched the achievement of Lionel Messi by claiming the award for a record fourth time. The other winners in the 34th annual World Soccer Awards were first-time victors; Claudio Ranieri as 2016’s Manager of the Year following his achievements with Leicester City, who were the 2016 Team of the Year. The World Player award is recognition of the most successful year of Ronaldo’s

career. After scoring the winning penalty when Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico in a shoot-out to win the Champions League with Real Madrid, he then captained Portugal to their first international success, at Euro 2016. Despite Ronaldo’s achievements in 2016, he was not a runaway winner of the award. Last year’s winner Messi ran his rival close in this year’s poll, despite losing the Copa America Final with Argentina. Antoine Griezmann’s role in Atletico’s run to the Champions League Final and France’s strong performance at Euro 2016

was recognised with a third-place finish, ahead of Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, in fourth, and Gareth Bale, a Champions League winner with Real Madrid and Euro 2016 semi-finalist with Wales, in fifth. A sixth-place finish for Barcelona’s Neymar – also an Olympic champion with Brazil – ensured that the top six all play in Spain’s La Liga. Riyad Mahrez, in seventh, was one of three Leicester players, along with N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy, in the top 10. The only Bundesliga player in the top 10 was Robert Lewandowski of Bayern

Rnk Name

Munich, who was the German league’s top scorer last season. Ranieri was the clear winner of the World Manager award, ahead of Portugal’s Fernando Santos and Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid. Similarly, Leicester finished ahead of Portugal, with European club champions Real Madrid in third place. The awards were decided by votes from a panel of 100 journalists and pundits who chose their top 10 players of the year, with points awarded to each selection. • For full details of how the panel voted, go to Triumphant... Cristiano Ronaldo


WORLD PLAYER OF THE YEAR 1 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid & Portugal 842 2 Lionel Messi Barcelona & Argentina 712 3 Antoine Griezmann 559 Atletico Madrid & France 4 Luis Suarez Barcelona & Uruguay 498 5 Gareth Bale Real Madrid & Wales 497 6 Neymar 405 Barcelona & Brazil 7 Riyad Mahrez Leicester City & Algeria 134 8 Robert Lewandowski 117 Bayern Munich & Poland 9 N’Golo Kante Leicester City/Chelsea & France 93 10 Jamie Vardy Leicester City & England 87 11 Manuel Neuer Bayern Munich & Germany 75 12 Pepe Real Madrid & Portugal 73 13= Andres Iniesta Barcelona & Spain 69 13= Toni Kroos 69 Real Madrid & Germany 15= Kevin De Bruyne 67 Manchester City & Belgium 15= Alexis Sanchez Arsenal & Chile 67 17 Luka Modric Real Madrid & Croatia 59 18 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyeng Borussia Dortmund & Gabon 58 19= Gianluigi Buffon Juventus & Italy 56 19= Paul Pogba Juventus/Manchester United & France 56 21 Sergio Aguero Manchester City & Argentina 55 22 Leonardo Bonucci Juventus & Italy 54 23 Gonzalo Higuain Napoli/Juventus & Argentina 44 Third... Antoine Griezmann

24 Dimitri Payet West Ham United & France 41 25 Arturo Vidal Bayern Munich & Chile 36 26 Rui Patricio Sporting Clube & Portugal 32 27 Eden Hazard Chelsea & Belgium 31 28 Mesut Ozil Arsenal & Germany 29 29= Jerome Boateng Bayern Munich & Germany 26 29= Zlatan Ibrahimovic Paris Saint-Germain/Manchester United & Sweden 26 29= Thomas Muller Bayern Munich & Germany 26 32= David De Gea Manchester United & Spain 19 32= Diego Godin Atletico Madrid & Uruguay 19

Rnk Name


34 Sergio Ramos Real Madrid & Spain 35= Philippe Coutinho Liverpool & Brazil 35= Hugo Lloris Tottenham & France 37= Sergio Busquets Barcelona & Spain 37= Paulo Dybala Juventus & Argentina 39= Dani Alves Barcelona/Juventus & Brazil 39= Ivan Rakitic Barcelona & Croatia

17 12 12 10 10 9 9

Rnk Name


Internazionale & Croatia 58= Son Heung-min Tottenham & South Korea 64= Giorgio Chiellini Juventus & Italy 64= Gabi Atletico Madrid & Spain 64= Leigh Griffiths Celtic & Scotland 64= Wes Morgan Leicester City & Jamaica 64= Darijo Srna Shakhtar Donetsk & Croatia

2 2 1 1 1 1


Top team... Leicester City

41= Joao Mario Sporting/Internazionale & Portugal 41= Marcelo Real Madrid & Brazil 43 Harry Kane Tottenham & England 44= Toby Alderweireld Tottenham & Belgium 44= Mats Hummels Bayern Munich/Borussia Dortmund & Germany 44= Jan Oblak Atletico Madrid & Slovenia 44= Renato Sanches Benfica/Bayern Munich & Portugal 48= Koke Atletico Madrid & Spain 48= Alvaro Morata Juventus/Real Madrid & Spain 50= Aaron Ramsey Arsenal & Wales 50= Mohamed Salah Roma & Egypt 50= Eduardo Vargas Hoffenheim & Chile 53= Joshua Kimmich Bayern Munich & Germany 53= Gerard Pique Barcelona & Germany 53= Gylfi Sigurdsson Swansea City & Iceland 53= Francesco Totti Roma & Italy 53= Xabi Alonso Bayern Munich & Spain 58= Daniele De Rossi Roma & Italy 58= Diego Costa Chelsea & Spain 58= Kim Shin-wook Jeonbuk & South Korea 58= Paulinho Guangzhou Evergrande & Brazil 58= Ivan Perisic

8 8 7 6

6 6

6 5 5 4 4 4

WORLD MANAGER OF THE YEAR 1 Claudio Ranieri Leicester City 49 votes 2 Fernando Santos Portugal national team 20 3 Diego Simeone Atletico Madrid 12 4= Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 3 4= Luis Enrique Barcelona 3 4= Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid 3 7= Pep Guardiola Bayern Munich/Manchester City 2 7= Lars Lagerbeck Iceland national team 2 9= Chris Coleman Wales national team 1 9= Antonio Conte Italy national team/Chelsea 1 9= Eddie Howe Bournemouth 1 Winner... Claudio Ranieri

3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2

WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR 1 Leicester City 47 votes 2 Portugal 22 3 Real Madrid 13 4 Barcelona 5 5 Chile 3 6= Atletico Madrid 2 6= Wales 2 8= Bayern Munich 1 8= Jeonbuk 1






A Euro winner for club and country, but Sid Lowe asks: was it his best year?





ome time after the end of the European Championship Final, Cristiano Ronaldo stood barechested before his international teammates in the Stade de France dressing room and delivered a speech. It began with him thanking the coach and pointing around the room, at everyone in there, the people who had made history with him. “No one in Portugal believed, but we made it: all of us,” he said. “I am so very happy; happy, happy, happy, happy,” Ronaldo told them. “I could repeat it a hundred times. I am so happy.” It was a moving speech, genuine and emotional, and the fondness surrounding him is clear. It is a speech in which he called that day one of the happiest of his life, the most important moment. “I have already cried three or four times,”



Opener...celebrating his Euro semi-final goal against Wales

Proud...with the Euro trophy this summer




The Facts AGE: 31 (05.02.85) NATIONALITY: Portuguese HONOURS: European Championship 2016;

Champions League 2008, 2014, 2016; Club World Cup 2008, 2014; UEFA Super Cup 2014; La Liga 2012; Copa del Rey 2011, 2014;

Spanish Super Cup 2012; Premier League 2007, 2008, 2009; FA Cup 2004; League Cup 2006, 2009; Community Shield 2007


“Forget the individual trophies, the Champions League, this one right here is the most important moment in my life” On winning the European Championship

PREVIOUS WINNERS 1982 PAOLO ROSSI Juventus & Italy 1983 ZICO Udinese & Brazil 1984 MICHEL PLATINI Juventus & France 1985 MICHEL PLATINI Juventus & France 1986 DIEGO MARADONA Napoli & Argentina 1987 RUUD GULLIT Milan & Holland 1988 MARCO VAN BASTEN Milan & Holland 1989 RUUD GULLIT Milan & Holland 1990 LOTHAR MATTHAUS Internazionale & West Germany 1991 JEAN-PIERRE PAPIN Marseille & France 1992 MARCO VAN BASTEN Milan & Holland 1993 ROBERTO BAGGIO Juventus & Italy 1994 PAOLO MALDINI Milan & Italy 1995 GIANLUCA VIALLI Juventus & Italy 1996 RONALDO Barcelona & Brazil 1997 RONALDO Barcelona/Internazionale & Brazil 1998 ZINEDINE ZIDANE Juventus & France 1999 RIVALDO Barcelona & Brazil 2000 LUIS FIGO Barcelona/Real Madrid & Portugal 2001 MICHAEL OWEN Liverpool & England 2002 RONALDO Internazionale/Real Madrid & Brazil 2003 PAVEL NEDVED Juventus & Czech Republic 2004 RONALDINHO Barcelona & Brazil 2005 RONALDINHO Barcelona & Brazil 2006 FABIO CANNAVARO Juventus/Real Madrid & Italy 2007 KAKA Milan & Brazil 2008 CRISTIANO RONALDO Manchester United & Portugal 2009 LIONEL MESSI Barcelona & Argentina 2010 XAVI Barcelona & Spain 2011 LIONEL MESSI Barcelona & Argentina 2012 LIONEL MESSI Barcelona & Argentina 2013 CRISTIANO RONALDO Real Madrid & Portugal 2014 CRISTIANO RONALDO Real Madrid & Portugal 2015 LIONEL MESSI Barcelona & Argentina WORLD SOCCER



he admitted. “My brother had to calm me down. And I said: ‘Hugo, I can’t’.” It was hardly surprising. He had waited a long time for this – and his country had waited even longer. At the end of an emotional night, Portugal had won a major tournament for the first time. “Your faith, honestly, it touched me,” Ronaldo told his team-mates, with gratitude in his words. After 25 minutes of the Final against France, he had been withdrawn with a knee injury. Forced to watch from the touchline, he paraded up and down, desperately shouting and giving out instructions, the nerves going, an ice-pack strapped to his knee. Some said he had become the coach, playing as much of a part off the pitch as he had on it. From there he saw an extra-time goal win the European Championship. He called it “the one trophy that was missing”, the most important trophy of all those he has won. “All of us, we did it,” he said. “Forget the individual trophies, the Champions League, this one right here is the most important moment in my life.” Ronaldo had played a European Championship Final at the age of 19, but he and his Portuguese team-mates were beaten, at home in Euro 2004, by Greece. Twelve years later, he was back. A Final, a quarter-final, a semi-final, and then another Final. It was probably his last, although he does not think so, insisting a little optimistically that he still has a decade left. Or perhaps not so optimistically, the way he looks after himself. When he played in that 2004 Final, Ronaldo had just one winners’ medal in his career: the FA Cup secured two months earlier with Manchester United. By the Final of Euro 2016, he had won three Ballon d’Ors, three Premier league titles, one Spanish league title, two Copa del Rey titles and two Club World Cups. He had just won the European Cup for the third time. He’d won it all… but not this, and that clearly mattered. Ronaldo’s achievements are well known,




Tears...with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after the Euro 2004 Final

Historic...lifting Portugal’s first major silverware

Animated...on the touchline with Portugal coach Fernando Santos during the Final in Paris



but they bear repeating. Top scorer in the Champions League four years in a row; the first player to score in four European Championships; the tournament’s all-time joint-top scorer with Michel Platini. In his first season at Real Madrid he scored 33 goals. Since then, he has gone over 50 goals every season for six seasons. In seven years at the Santiago Bernabeu he has become the club’s all-time top scorer. At Real Madrid, that is, not some tin-pot team. It’s not like the men he has left behind were nobodies: Raul, Di Stefano, Butragueno, Santillana, Hugo Sanchez... There will be time for more goals, too. Ronaldo recently renewed his contract at


Real Madrid, extending it until he is 36. The club’s president Florentino Perez called him a “worthy successor of Alfredo Di Stefano and Puskas”, insisting “Di Stefano would be proud of you.” Ronaldo says: “Di Stefano always said to me: ‘Carry on like this, champ: you’re the best’.” At the end of the event, held in the directors’ box at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo beamed: “Life is’s been a good year: the Champions League, the Euros and now this.” A good year? It’s been a great year. This has been his best year. Or has it? The curious, contradictory, thing is that it may well have been his most difficult year too. Possibly even his worst



– although there’s something in the word “worst” that doesn’t come out right, that sticks in the throat, when applied to Ronaldo and when applied to a season like the one he’s just had. His “worst” blows pretty much everyone else’s best to bits, after all; show us your medals and all that. As Alvaro Morata put it: “We think he is from a different planet,


Spot on...scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League Final against Atletico

but he is human, you know.” For so long, he hasn’t looked like it: and, when you look at what he has achieved, he still doesn’t. But there was something a little odd about his year. His most difficult year individually – the year in which for the first time he has not dominated at Madrid, when doubts have emerged and some even dared wonder how much longer he could go on for – has been his best collectively. The year in which he has emerged with the greatest success of his career. Ultimately, last season was a wonderful season. The year 2016 could hardly have ended better: Ronaldo is a double WORLD SOCCER



European Champion, for club and country. The year 2016 in pictures includes Ronaldo, Portugal’s captain, possibly the best player in their history, lifting the first trophy they have ever won. It includes him scoring the winning penalty to clinch the European Cup; the moment that delivered the trophy, Madrid’s moment was his moment. Images that will never be erased. The year 2016 in figures, in statistics, in cold, hard facts, starts with those two trophies – the biggest two on offer – and takes in an outfield player who, until the very end of the season had, astonishingly, played every minute in the league and who scored 35 league goals, a player who got 16 in the Champions League – more than anyone else yet again. But here comes the debate. In La Liga, though, Luis Suarez outscored Ronaldo – the first player other than Messi or Ronaldo to be Pichichi in seven years – and he was arguably Spain’s outstanding player. Others too had probably had a greater impact, Griezmann and Messi among them. Barcelona won the double, not Madrid. When Ronaldo struggled with injury and fatigue at the end of the season, it was Gareth Bale who stepped up and took responsibility as Madrid tried to chase down the league leaders. And before that, some suggested that other Madrid players, like Karim Benzema or Luka Modric, produced better performances. Ronaldo was not dominating games as he once did, his evolution into something close to a number nine continuing. There were lots of goals, of course, but less of the rest of his game. He was not flying past players any more; he went on fewer of those 50-yard runs; fewer of his goals took the breath away. He “only” scored goals, some said. Yeah, only. Others questioned the quality, the importance, of his goals, as if getting goals was easy – which may just have been because he had made it look that way, scoring so many for so long. They pointed to the eight against Espanyol, the six against Malmo, the five against Shakhtar Donetsk. In Europe, he did not score in the four games against Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City. In




Staying...announcing his new contract with Real Madrid

the Final against Atletico, his influence was limited, a peripheral figure, exhausted and injured; in the Euro Final against France, he had to watch from the touchline. Yet, they would never have got there without him, neither club nor country. A hat-trick in the quarter-finals of the Champions League saw Madrid overturn a first-leg deficit to knock out Wolfsburg. He scored twice against Roma in the round before; away at the Olimpico, he got the kind of goal that some said he wasn’t scoring any more. In France in the summer, he scored three and produced three assists. There was that lovely flick against Hungary and he it was who rose to head in against Wales. In the league, he scored the winner at Barcelona, taking it superbly: suddenly, a title race that had ended was back on. Besides, the two successes could surely be seen as reward for everything Ronaldo has done not just in 2016 but before. Relentlessly, consistently, endlessly. If 35 league goals, 16 Champions League goals, is seen as a bad season that can only be because of how ridiculously good the others were. Fifty goals a season for six years in row, remember. Almost every record Portugal and Madrid have is his now. It would have taken a cold heart indeed not to feel for him when it seemed his moment had been taken away in Paris; the moment he had worked towards for so long. And work is the word. There must be admiration too for how he made it at all; his dedication is extraordinary, even in

Journey...Ronaldo says he wants to play for another 10 years

Ahead...rising above the Welsh defence to score



professional terms. Staff at Madrid testify to that, and not just in public. If he never, ever does a single thing again, he has done enough. He may never have a season like the last, but then who ever has a season like that? “Football has no memory, but you do president,” Ronaldo said when he renewed his contract at Madrid recently; that extension felt like a reward too. Some wondered if it was the right move for the club, and all the more so when Ronaldo said it was not his last but his penultimate. He would stay until he was 41, he said. Too long, surely. But even if you don’t reach targets like that, setting them helps. Ronaldo’s career shows that; the relentless pursuit, the single-minded desire to be the best, drives him. That Ronaldo mentioned memory revealed how he felt about some criticism; how he knew people doubted him. It showed that he was aware that some thought it was time to prepare a postRonaldo era or maybe even to begin it right now. Pushed on that remark, he wouldn’t be drawn. “Today is too lovely a day to get into that,” he protested. It’s bad enough to confront your mortality; it is worse to be made to confront it by others. For some, the renewal was cause for concern as much as it was celebration. His evolution was a reality. It was legitimate to wonder about his decline. It is legitimate. He is 32 in the new year. Injuries have





become a fact of recent seasons, some of he will do. One day he will give up and he which he has reached the line looking like, will say “that’s enough”, but if one thing well, like someone reaching the line. He is defies him it is that it’s never enough. a player for whom physical condition has No, he was not perfect last year; no, his been vitally important too; an athlete as performances were not always as brilliant well as a footballer. as in previous seasons, but it ended up At the end of last season Zinedine being the best of all. Zidane said that he would like him He scored 51 goals and provided 15 to rest more often; assists on course to Ronaldo himself later two European titles. finally admitted that He needed teammaybe he needs to mates more than learn to “ration” himself. before, but that’s fine. It came as a surprise: “We did it together,” unexpectedly, he he had told them. He now knows that was grateful to them, determination to repeatedly saying thank always be out there you, wanting to share it might be detrimental. with them. There are other On the day his clues, too. His tactical contract extension evolution – less ground was announced, one covered, his efforts newspaper noted, not more sharply focused, entirely unfairly, that the area he occupies it came at a “critical Hat-trick...on target again in November smaller but just as moment” from him. decisive – has been a reflection of reality “Ronaldo is going through his worst era,” but it is also a sign of his intelligence. it said. If only because of his age, that It may not always appear so, but he was natural. knows his limits and that may prolong his But “worst” is relative and look how career, along with the ambition and the it had ended; two European titles, the application. Over the last 18 months, it has happiest moment of his life. And he helped him through. Because he always doesn’t intend to stop yet. wants success, always demands more, and Madrid’s next game was Atletico Madrid if that is the way to get it, then that is what away. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick.


Three...another Champions League

● Paddy AGNEW, Italy ● Juan Carlos AGUERO, Costa Rica ● Domenic AQUILINA, Malta ● Momodou BAH, Gambia ● Guillem BALAGUE, Spain ● Patrick BARCLAY, England ● Sam BECKWITH, Czech Rep ● Jim BEGLIN, Rep Ireland ● Colin BENJAMIN, Trinidad & Tobago ● Giuseppe BERGOMI, Italy ● Nick BIDWELL, Germany ● Alexander BOBROV, Russia ● Boris BOGDANOV, Russia ● Bogdan BUGA, Ukraine ● Carlos CARPIO, Spain ● Gabriel CAZENAVE, Paraguay ● Francois COLIN, Belgium ● Mike COLLETT, England ● Gianfranco COPPOLA, Italy ● Dez CORKHILL, Malaysia ● Sean CREEDON, Rep Ireland ● Peterjon CRESSWELL, Hungary ● Steve DARBY, India ● Vicente DATTOLI, Brazil ● Jan Hermen DE BRUIJN, Holland ● Jaap DE GROOT, Holland ● Martin DEL PALACIO LANGER, Mexico ● Mehmet DEMIRCAN, Turkey ● Danilo DIAZ, Chile ● Les DICKENS, Ecuador

● Klaas-Jan DROPPERT, Holland ● John DUERDEN, South Korea ● Christian EICHLER, Germany ● Claudia EKAI, Kenya ● Ryan FENIX, Philiipines ● Adel FERDOWSIPOUR, Iran ● Paul GARDNER, USA ● Brian GLANVILLE, England ● Mark GLEESON, South Africa ● Miron GOIHMAN, Moldova ● Phil GORDON, Scotland ● Rex GOWAR, Argentina ● Victor GUSEV, Russia ● Skapti HALLGROMSSON, Iceland ● Daniel HEGYI, Hungary ● Simon HILL, Australia ● Jim HOLDEN, England ● Brian HOMEWOOD, Switzerland ● Behnam JAFARZADEH, Iran ● Howard JOHNSON, France ● Brian KERR, Rep Ireland ● Ali KHALED, United Arab Emirates ● Roy KITSON, Northern Ireland ● Tom KUNDERT, Portugal ● Dariusz KUROWSKI, Poland ● Sergio LEVINSKY, Argentina ● Lasana LIBURD, Trinidad & Tobago ● Fabio LICARI, Italy ● Alejandro LOZANO, Greece ● LUO Ming, China ● Jimmy MAGEE, Rep Ireland ● Steve MENARY, England ● Glenn MOORE, England

● Rasim MOVSUMOV, Azerbaijan ● Hassanin MUBARAK, Iraq ● Manfred MUNCHRATH, Germany ● Andres MUST, Estonia ● Vladimir NOVAK, Serbia ● Gezim NUSHI, Albania ● Oluwashina OKELEJI, Nigeria ● Michael OTI ADJEI, Ghana ● Yazid OUAHIB, Algeria ● Rumen PAYTASHEV, Bulgaria ● Michal PETRAK, Czech Rep ● Maurizio PIZZOFERRATO, Italy ● Mike PLASTOW, Japan ● Keir RADNEDGE, England ● Pejman RAHBAR, Iran ● Egan RICHARDSON, Finland ● Emmanuel ROSU, Romania ● Kereem RUIZ, Mexico ● SEO Hyung-Wook, South Korea ● Manos STARAMOPOULOS, Greece ● Milorad STOJMANOVSKI, Macedonia ● Jacques SYS, Belgium ● Rok TAMSE, Slovenia ● Teo TENG KIAT, Singapore ● Troels Bager THOGERSEN, Denmark ● Martin TYLER, England ● Fernando URBANO, Portugal ● Cees VAN CUILENBORG, Holland ● Vijhay VICK, Malaysia ● Jonathan WILSON, England ● Carl WORSWICK, Colombia ● Oleg ZADERNOVSKY, Ukraine ● Wladyslaw ZMUDA, Poland WORLD SOCCER




LEICESTER CITY The game’s greatest underdogs

n May 2, 2009, Leicester City played Crewe Alexandra on the final day of the League One season in front of a crowd of 6,982 at Gresty Road. They were promoted to the Championship as champions. Seven years later, they celebrated winning a first-ever Premier League title following an extraordinary campaign where everything fell into place, to the delight of neutrals everywhere. Leicester are the first English champions to win World Soccer’s World Team of the Year award since Manchester United in 1999 and only the third to win the accolade, along with Everton in 1985. A perfect storm of factors combined to deliver the title to Leicester. Claudio Ranieri’s tactics – “Italian defence, England attack” as he called them - made perfect use of the players at his disposal. While their closest rivals struggled to combine European campaigns with consistent domestic form, Leicester had no European distractions and few injuries to derail their challenge. A squad that had been tipped for


Champions...Leicester lift the Premier League trophy

Lift...Riyad Mahrez on Jamie Vardy’s shoulders

relegation contained players with much to prove after failure and rejection at previous clubs – the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, as well as relative unknowns picked up by clever scouting, such as Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy. While the “fairy tale” aspect of their triumph has been celebrated by many, it is worth remembering that the club’s Thai owners have provided substantial financial backing since taking charge in 2010. More than £100million was spent to get City into the Premier League, and there was a net spend of £34m on players during the

title-winning season. Further funds brought in Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa during the summer, and City outshone Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City to comfortably qualify for the knockout stage of this season’s Champions League. While Ranieri’s men have taken to the European challenge with aplomb, lightning is unlikely to strike twice at home, with City dropping to 14th place in the Premier League by mid-November. Nevertheless, Gresty Road now seems an awful long way away. John Holmesdale

The Facts FOUNDED: 1884 HONOURS: Premier League 2016; League Cup 1964, 1997, 2000; Championship/ Second Division 1925, 1937, 1954, 1957, 1971, 1980, 2014; League One/Third Division 2009



5,000-1 The odds of Leicester winning the Premier League last season – a prospect rated less likely than the Loch Ness Monster being discovered or Elvis found alive



CLAUDIO RANIERI Nearly man has the last laugh with Leicester

his was the year when Claudio Ranieri, football’s nearly man, had the last laugh. After a coaching career spanning almost 30 years, he finally won a major league title. The Italian, of course, played a central role in Leicester City’s astonishing Premier League success. His mix of pragmatic tactics and laidback leadership style helped keep the Foxes on track for the title as pundit after pundit predicted they would drop out of the race. Typically, Ranieri was back in Italy, celebrating his mother’s 96th birthday, on the day that Leicester’s title victory was confirmed by a draw between Chelsea and closest challengers Tottenham Hotspur. There had been successes before for Ranieri: second-division titles at Cagliari, Fiorentina and Monaco, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup at Valencia, the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina. And there had been plenty of close runs in the league, too, managing nine previous top-four finishes, including second places with Chelsea (2004), Juventus (2009), Roma (2010) and Monaco (2014). The taunt from thenInternazionale coach Jose Mourinho that he had won “zero tituli” probably hurt more than the “Tinkerman” jibe attributed to agent Pini Zahavi during Ranieri’s spell at Chelsea, which ended in 2004 when owner Roman Abramovich hired Mourinho. Eleven years later, on his surprise arrival at Leicester, Ranieri was able to reflect on his time at Stamford Bridge with typical good humour. “I think everyone now rotates,” he said. “The Tinkerman was one, now there are a lot of Tinkermen!” Gary Lineker described Leicester’s appointment of Ranieri as an “uninspiring


Inspired...Leicester’s title winner

The Facts AGE: 65 (20.10.51) NATIONALITY: Italian CLUBS (AS MANAGER): Vigor Lamezia (1986-87), Puteolana (1987-88), Cagliari (1988-91), Napoli (1991-93), Fiorentina (1993-97), Valencia (1997-99), Atletico

Madrid (1999–2000), Chelsea (2000-04), Valencia (2004-05), Parma (2007), Juventus (2007-09), Roma (2009-11), Internazionale (2011-12), Monaco (2012-14), Greece (2014), Leicester City (2015-present)

“I think everyone now rotates. The Tinkerman was one, now there are a lot of Tinkermen!”

choice” and much of the scepticism stemmed from Leicester’s predicament; they were seen as relegation candidates who needed a survival specialist to maintain their Premier League place. Ranieri’s stock was low after lasting just four games with Greece, departing after a home defeat by the Faroe Islands. But with experience stretching back three decades and battle-hardened by tough campaigns in Serie A, he was always going to make Leicester a tough nut to crack. And so it proved as the nearly man triumphed against the odds. John Holmesdale WORLD SOCCER







GIANNI INFANTINO New FIFA president attacked for his bull-in-a-china-shop approach

urope has waited 42 years to get its hands back on the levers of power at FIFA, but it was never supposed to happen quite like this, with “only” its general-secretary setting up redirection from Nyon to Zurich. The mistake made by too many people along the way was to underestimate Gianni Infantino and misread the 46-year-old. He may have presented a picture of a man in administrative lockdown during his neardecade at UEFA, but his greatest qualities turned out to be the patience and ambition to seize the moment. Little more than a year ago Infantino was not in the presidential frame. At the time, UEFA president Michel Platini remained arrogantly confident that his mere name and playing aura would blind ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert and audit chair Domenico Scala into setting aside the little matter of a SFr2million out-of-time payment for who knows what. Of course there was a timing issue, but that was covered by pushing Infantino into the race as a stalking horse. As Platini’s loyal lieutenant, Infantino would simply step aside once His Master’s Voice was back at full volume. That moment, however, never came. Infantino was out there as the European candidate, thereby muddying the waters devastatingly for Jordan’s Prince Ali, who was caught in a pincer movement after – in Platini’s absence – Asian president Sheikh Salman also decided to run. Distrust of Salman’s dependency on the Olympic influence of Kuwait powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and unease over the human rights issue prevented the Bahraini winning over the rest-of-the-world constituency. Infantino, with European and United States support, therefore swept to


Main player... Gianni Infantino

victory. But the new president was not gifted a four-year term. Instead, the statutes lay down that he is “merely” fulfilling the remainder of the quadrennial which Blatter had secured in 2015. And it is that need to push on that may well have guided Infantino in his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to FIFA reform. In fact, not so much reform – he has, if anything, set that process back – but in terms of restructuring, and this has had the added bonus of providing rational excuses for removing most of the old guard and filling their places with European trusties. FIFA has 508 employees worldwide comprising 44 nationalities, but the keys to power lie with the Europeans – excepting the chairmanship of the finance

committee, which remains with African president Issa Hayatou but whose room for manoeuvre in Infantino’s brave new world is now so minimal as to be zero. The credibility challenge for Infantino is that FIFA has been damaged goods for so long that it will be years, maybe a decade, to wipe away the suspicion. Take the FIFAGate scandal as an example. The main trial is not due to start until November 2017 and Jack Warner may still then be devising ever more time-consuming legal ways in which to avoid extradition to New York from Trinidad & Tobago. That trial – and concern over whatever it may produce – will reawaken all the old fears and phobias. If it ends some time in 2018 that will be only a year before the next presidential election and Infantino may still thus be battling FIFA’s demons. Certainly he has the capacity and qualifications to make a good fist of the job at hand. From an Italian immigrant family, Infantino studied law at Fribourg, and he and Lebanese wife Leena have four daughters, with the eldest twins being born the day after the death of Infantino’s father in 2003. Looking back, he says: “I had the football virus injected into me when I was a kid from my parents and my father in particular.” His first football memories were of television coverage of the 1978 World Cup and his career brought him full circle. Infantino, who speaks Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Arabic, worked first as secretary-general of the International Centre for Sports Studies at the University of Neuchatel. He moved to UEFA in August 2000 and, in 2004, became director of legal affairs and club licensing. This was an ideal platform for

The Facts AGE: 46 (23.03.70) NATIONALITY: Swiss-Italian





CHIEF COMPLIANCE OFFICER: Edward Hanover (new) STRATEGIC ADVISER: Kjetil Siem (new) AUDIT & COMPLIANCE CHAIR: Tomaz Vesel (new) CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: Fabrice Jouhaud (new) AUDITING COMPANY: PricewaterhouseCooper (new)

“He has been too much Italian and too little Swiss” A German newspaper’s review of Infantino’s first six months in power



promotion to deputy general-secretary in 2007 and then the senior job in 2009. Seven more years and he had stepped up again to president of the world game. He shrugged off proposals from Scala that he should be a figurehead president and ripped away the independence of the judicial panels. Hence Scala was forced out – just one of many as it turned out. Infantino says: “I do not think that I have been chosen by FIFA Congress to be an ambassador. I have been elected by the Congress to be a leader, not to be the deputy of the general secretary. “A lot of people are relying on me to bring FIFA and football into a new era.” That new era includes, among many other items, video refereeing which has Infantino’s enthusiastic support, and whether to increase the World Cup to 40 or 48 teams. He says: “I believe in this increase in the number of teams at the World

A winning line-up...Infantino and team-mates

Cup. We will not only give eight more countries the possibility to participate but give many more the dream to participate. “This will boost the development of football as well as its popularity in many countries.” In a further statement of confidence about the road ahead Infantino has reiterated: “I know what I have to do and how I want to do it. I am a worker and I will remain so. Sepp Blatter characterised one era at FIFA. I hope that I will characterise a different era.” This, then, is the great “Political World Cup” winner of 2016. How he wields his power will decide whether perceptions of his era are so very different. Keir Radnedge




EDER Portugal’s Euro star went from zero to hero to zero again

corers of the winning goal in European Championship Finals are assured of a place in the game’s history books and, more often than not, they have gone on to enjoy considerable success at club level. Michel Platini (France, 1984) and Marco Van Basten (Holland, 1988) were both named as World Soccer’s World Player of the Year in the months following their respective international triumphs. Oliver Bierhoff (Germany, 1996) and David Trezeguet (France, 2000) went on to enjoy lengthy and successful careers with Milan and Juventus respectively. However, Euro 2016 has not yet proved to be a springboard for the career of Eder. The scorer of Portugal’s extra-time winner against France ended the year locked in a relegation battle at Lille, with memories of that famous night last summer fading fast. He would probably not have made it onto the pitch at the Stade de France were it not for the early knee injury suffered by Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s captain and talisman. Eder had played just 13 minutes previously in the tournament, appearing as a late substitute against both Iceland and Austria in the group stage. But in the Final, Portugal coach Fernando Santos threw him on as his third sub, a late replacement for the tiring Renato Sanches, and was able to proclaim: “The ugly duckling went and scored. Now he’s a beautiful swan.” Eder had arrived at the tournament with his career at a crossroads. The 28-year-old had only kept his place in Portugal’s squad thanks to a short spell at Lille while on loan from Swansea City, where he failed to score in 15 appearances following a summer


Hero...Eder with the Euro trophy

2015 transfer from Braga. When he met up with his international team-mates ahead of the tournament, Eder had already agreed a permanent switch to Lille. But having finished fifth in Ligue 1 last season, Lille endured a miserable autumn and sacked coach Frederic Antonetti in November. Eder has been largely anonymous, scoring twice – once from the penalty spot – as the team slipped into the bottom three. However, his place in the history books is already assured. John Holmesdale

The Facts AGE: 28 (22.12.87) NATIONALITY: Portuguese CLUBS: Oliveira Hospital 2006; Tourizense 2007–2008; Academica 2008–2012; Braga 2012–2015; Swansea City 2015–2016; Lille (loan) 2016; Lille 2016-present

“The ugly duckling went and scored. Now he’s a beautiful swan” Portugal coach Fernando Santos on Eder








SILVIA NEID Germany’s all-conquering women’s coach bows out at the top

n management, only the best choose their time to go. And only the brave signal their departure a year in advance. In the approach to the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Germany’s hugely successful coach Silvia Neid said she would step down after the 2016 Rio Olympics. But then Germany failed to win a medal in Canada, losing the third-place play-off to a resurgent Great Britain team. This was followed by the retirement of key players Celia Sasic, Nadine Angerer and Nadine Kessler, plus the absence, post-motherhood, of Fatmire Alushi. As Brazil beckoned, the prospects of Neid going out on a golden high seemed slim. When Germany scrambled a draw against Australia and were beaten by Canada in Rio, the odds lengthened. But Neid held her nerve. Keeping faith in youngsters Sara Dabritz, Leonie Maier and Almuth Schult, Germany edged past China, won a re-match against Canada, then, in the Final, broke down an obdurate Sweden. As the celebrations began, Neid – who is usually very composed on the touchline – partied like the youngsters. Victory completed the set of honours for the 52-year-old. As a player she won six Frauen Bundesliga titles and six German Cups, scored 48 goals in 111 internationals, and was part of a national team that won three European Championships. Moving into coaching she steered Germany’s under-19s to World Cup success and assisted as the senior team won the 2003 World Cup and three more European Championships. In 2005 she took over as head coach and retained the World Cup and European crowns. However, the 2008 Olympic Games brought no more than a third successive bronze, and Germany failed to qualify for London 2012, having been


Golden girl... Olympic joy

knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup despite hosting the competition. That led to calls for Neid to be dismissed, but the DFB stood by her. She responded with yet another European title – Germany’s sixth in succession – and, after the World Cup hiccup, Olympic gold at last. A football-obsessed youngster who used to climb out of her bedroom window to play pick-up games alongside her brother, Neid trained in meat processing before working in a flower wholesale business owned by her club coach. The

idea of making a living from football never occurred to her and she planned to open a shop when she retired. Then the DFB called. Her involvement as a player and coach with the national team totals 34 years and she has now decided to quit because “I simply wanted to do something else”. Dancing and golf beckon, but Neid will not be lost to the game or the DFB. She has taken up a scouting role which in part includes looking for future trends in the game, whether they are to be found in the men’s Bundesliga, or women’s handball. Glenn Moore

The Facts AGE: 52 (02.05.64) NATIONALITY: German HONOURS As a player: Euro Champ 1989, 1991, 1995; Bundesliga 1984, 987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994,



1996; German Cup 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993 As a coach: Olympic Games 2016; World Cup 2007; European Championship 2009, 2013; Euro Under19 Champ 2004

“The Olympic title was the perfect way to end my career”






OLIVER BURKE Scottish teen who rejected Premier League in favour of Bundesliga upstarts

aledonian wonder kid Oliver Burke, currently featuring in RB Leipzig’s astonishing emergence as a Bundesliga force, is doubly unique – both an explosive right-winger of rare ability and refreshingly nonconformist in his career path. Thanks to his dazzling performances in the English second tier with Nottingham Forest last season, the teenage Scottish international was romanced by some of the continent’s biggest clubs, a rich list containing such names as Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. But, on weighing up his options, he eventually plumped for a less conventional destination, agreeing in late August to a €15million switch to the newly promoted Leipziger. While the vast majority of British players continue to be reluctant to try their luck in mainland Europe, Burke leapt at the opportunity to broaden his horizons, convinced that the team backed by the Red Bull energy-drink company offered him the best possible next-step platform. For all the antipathy RB generate for their corporate links and lack of history – the club was only born in 2009 when Red Bull acquired the licence of anonymous fifth-tier side SSV Markranstadt – the Roten Bullen are undeniably an attractive proposition for such tyros as Burke. He was won over by a prospectus of naked ambition, excellent organisation and a young gun-friendly philosophy of only recruiting players under the age of 24. Now Scotland’s most expensive-ever footballer, Burke saw RB for what it was: a healthy sporting environment in which he could grow, develop and play at a high level, rather than sit idly by in a superstarpacked squad or be locked into a depressing sequence of loan moves. Here was a tailor-made “project” for the driven, level-headed ex-Forest academy


Talent...there are not many young players like Oliver Burke these days

graduate. One with the emphasis on self-improvement rather than a bulging pay packet (RB operate a salary cap of €3m a year). “I couldn’t turn RB down,” the youngster told top German magazine Kicker. “They showed so much interest in me and liked me as a player. I looked at some clips of

the team in action and realised that their style of play would suit me. “They were all very nice to me. They treated me like a jewel. It’s a privilege to be here. RB are the perfect club for me and the Bundesliga is a fantastic championship. My goal is to learn something new on the training ground every day, to make myself a better player.” And what an impact he already has made in Deutschland, marking his RB debut by coming off the bench to set up the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund. He then scored in a 1-1 draw with Cologne a fortnight later and created another as Darmstadt were seen off, driving to the byline before whipping in a ball for Marcel Sabitzer to convert. RB coach Ralph Hasenhuttl, mindful that the Tartan prodigy has yet to totally absorb the team’s extreme pressing game, mainly uses him as an impact sub. However, don’t expect the diet of cameos to last much longer. With his speed, dribbling dexterity and physicality, he represents a 90-minute headache for defenders and, in the long term, the Leipziger aim to convert him into a freewheeling number 10. “He’s a raw diamond in the truest sense of the phrase, one for the future,” says RB director of sport, Ralf Rangnick. “He’s big, he’s strong. A force of nature. He’s unbelievably quick too. He’s a real weapon with the ball at his feet. “His transfer was a cloak-and-dagger affair. We had to move fast to get him. The transfer window was about to close and English clubs were on his trail. Naturally we had a good idea of his strengths as an attacker. However, on getting to know him, we quickly noticed what a great kid he is. He doesn’t drink alcohol, has no tattoos and doesn’t eat fast food. There’s not many like him these days.” Nick Bidwell

The Facts AGE: 19 (07.04.97) NATIONALITY: Scottish CLUBS: Nottingham Forest 2014–2016; Bradford City (on loan) 2015; RB Leipzig 2016-present

“He’s a raw diamond in the truest sense of the phrase, one for the future” RB Leipzig’s director of sport, Ralf Rangnick








PAULINHO Tottenham reject starring for Chinese champions and a revived Brazil side

here was some surprise in the summer of 2015 when Guangzhou Evergrande paid £15million to Tottenham Hotspur for the services of Paulinho. The team that had won the previous four Chinese Super League (CSL) titles and the 2013 Asian Champions League were doing just fine without the Brazilian. And then there was the fact that he had hardly set England alight during his time in the Premier League, playing 45 times and scoring six goals. After arriving at White Hart Lane in a blaze of publicity there was little – bar the occasional flash of talent – to write home to South America about. But now relocated to southern China, the midfielder has rediscovered his mojo after what he says was a lost time in Europe. He was the first signing Luiz Felipe Scolari made and, to date, his best – in China at least. After helping the club to a fifth successive domestic championship and a second Asian crown, the 28-year-old really came into his own in 2016 as Guangzhou made it six out of six. There have been so many headlines around the world in China this year – with the hundreds of millions spent on the creative and goalscoring talents of Alex Teixeira, Jackson Martinez, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Hulk – but it was Paulinho, playing in front of the back four, who was the most consistent performer in the CSL. China is not always the easiest place to settle, with a considerable cultural shift, even in major international cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing. On the pitch, too, foreign stars can find it hard to shine, but the Brazilian has gone from strength to strength. “He reads the game so well,” says Zheng

on the pitch, coming into a position where Guangzhou had been struggling and providing leadership and a sense of organisation. The team’s shape takes its cue from the Brazilian. He has also made his way back into his national side and is playing well in a revived Brazil team. “We know that at the beginning, especially when I arrived, there was suspicion about the fact that we moved to China to play football,” Paulinho said after helping his country to a 3-0 win over


Recall...back in a Brazil shirt

Thriving...Paulinho has revived his career in China

Zhi, his midfield partner. “He makes it easy to play with him. I know that he is going to get the ball and use it well. I don’t have to worry about where he will be as he is always in the right place. Paulinho is a real asset to the team.” In addition to this season’s seven league goals and two assists, the former Corinthians star is Scolari’s main man

Argentina in November’s World Cup qualifier. “Things in China started going the way I’d imagined. With the good results of the team and the titles, I got my confidence back. “Then I thought, ‘I will return to the Selecao. When, I don’t know, but I will return’. And then I managed to get my place back.” The next challenge is to help Guangzhou make it a magnificent seven in 2017 and regain their Asian crown, all the while continuing to show that players can go to China and still shine for the top international teams. John Duerden

The Facts AGE: 28 (25.07.88) NATIONALITY: Brazilian HONOURS: Brazilian Serie A 2011; Club World Cup 2012; Libertadores Cup 2012; Confederations Cup 2013; AFC Champions League 2015; Chinese Super League 2015, 2016; Chinese Super Cup 2016



“He reads the game so well. He makes it easy to play with him” Guangzhou Evergrande team-mate Zheng Zhi






CARLOS RUIZ World-record goalscorer now taking aim at politics

hen the 37-year-old striker made his farewell appearance for Guatemala, against Saint Vincent & the Grenadines in September, he signed off with five goals in a 9-3 victory to become the all-time leading scorer in World Cup qualification with a total haul of 39. Now the veteran has his sights on running for the presidency of the troubled National Football Federation of Guatemala. For months, the federation has been an organization in crisis – a drama that began unraveling after former president Brayan Jimenez was arrested as part of the US corruption investigation into football’s world governing body FIFA. With $1million reported to have gone missing from the federation coffers in 2015, and after a Guatemalan sports confederation tried to block a FIFAappointed oversight committee from taking charge, there are fears that the future participation of the national team and the country’s clubs in international competition is in jeopardy. Ruiz plans to run in elections for the presidency when they take place late next year on a pledge to tackle the many problems afflicting the governance of football in his homeland. Some of the issues he aims to tackle are more rudimentary. He laments a poor security situation around games, claiming people stay away from matches as a result. He wants to create an atmosphere that will bring the fans back. He also wants to professionalise the domestic game, tackle a situation that sees little money from TV broadcasters go into the domestic game and address match-fixing issues. “I think it’s not just in Guatemala,” says Ruiz, who was a Guatemalan players union representative for four years. “I know as a Guatemalan the reality of my country. Half those problems where the teams don’t pay


on time to the players create a gap where people who bet on games can go to the teams and offer them money to fix a game. “We say, ‘That’s not good from the player.’ He’s going to be suspended for the rest of his life. But we do not have those punishments for the clubs. And I think the problem starts from there. “[The players] might not make any

Target...Carlos Ruiz has political goals

The Facts AGE: 37 (15.09.79) NATIONALITY: Guatemalan HONOURS: Guatemalan clausura 2000, 2002; MLS Cup 2002

“I know, as a Guatemalan, the reality of my country”

money for five or six months and maybe somebody comes and says, ‘Take $20,000 and let’s fix this game, you have to lose by four goals’.” Ruiz has recruited former Guatemalan players Gonzalo Romero, who works in the sports ministry, and Luis Swisher, a US academy coach, to back up his candidacy. Elections for the presidency are expected next summer, says Ruiz, who finished 2016 playing for Dallas in MLS, and must now wade through a potentially difficult voting process. He has some reservations over the possibility that the election could be tainted by vote-buying, but senses there might be some reform that might aid his bid. “So it’s many things we have to fix,” says Ruiz. “But I think the point is to try to make Guatemalan soccer professional.” Bryan Kay WORLD SOCCER






GARETH BALE Drove Wales towards a semi-final place at Euro 2016, on the back of an impressive Champions League campaign.

PITSO MOSIMANE Led Mamelodi Sundowns to CAF Champions League success.

MIGUEL BORJA Five goals in the Libertadores Cup and a half a dozen more in the Sudamericana Cup saw Atletico Nacional progress in the latter continental competition after winning the former tournament all in the same year.



â&#x20AC;Śand the bad guys of the year

NEYMAR Two years after injury against Colombia in the World Cup, he scored the winning penalty to give Brazil a first Olympic Gold medal in football and revenge over Germany for the 7-1 semi-final thrashing.

Heroes & Villains

Scored the goal that gave Iceland their biggest-ever scalp on the international stage, that of England, and booked a quarter-final with France at Euro 2016.

Stars of the past 12 months






SAM ALLARDYCE Didn’t last long as England manager after being caught out by a newspaper sting.

WORAWI MAKUDI The former FIFA ExCo member was banned from football as punishment for election fraud at the Thai FA.

LEST WE FORGET… Trifon Ivanov 1965-2016 Jozsef Verebes 1941-2016 Johan Cruyff 1947-2016 Stephen Keshi 1962-3016 Mel Charles 1935-2016 Dalian Atkinson 1968-2016 Joao Havelange 1916-2016 David Herd 1934-2016 Gary Sprake 1945-2016 Carlos Alberto 1944-2016

MAURIZIO ZAMPARINI The Palermo president continued his random hiring and firing, sacking seven coaches over the course of the year.





All to play for in 2017 World Cup places to be decided over the next 11 months


nly three European countries ended the year with 100 per cent records in the World Cup qualifiers: Switzerland, Germany

and Belgium. World champions Germany thrashed San Marino 8-0 in their most recent qualifier, even though coach Joachim Low rested several key players and gave starts to a number of fringe players, including 21-year-old Serge Gnabry, who scored a first-half hat-trick. The ease of Germany’s victory prompted midfielder Thomas Muller to

question the wisdom of playing lesser sides such as San Marino. “I do not understand the meaning of games such as these, more so with such a busy schedule,” he said. “I understand it for them, especially playing against the world champions, I also understand that we can only defend with hard work. “Precisely for this reason, however, I wonder if these are not games that lead to unnecessary risks.” The latest win consolidated the position of Low, who has now been in the job for a decade and was rewarded with a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the national team until 2020. Switzerland could only manage two goals against an improving Faroe Islands side but the win confirmed their top place in Group B, where European champions Portugal lie second. Fernando Santos’ side



Rare win...Faroe Islands celebrate a 2-0 victory in Latvia

Hat-trick...Germany’s Serge Gnabry

beat Latvia 4-1 in their most recent qualifier but needed a second-half revival, led by winger Ricardo Quaresma, to overcome the Latvians, who equalised through Arturs Zjuzins after Cristiano Ronaldo had missed a penalty. To avoid a play-off, Portugal will probably have to beat Switzerland at home in the final round of qualifiers in October. Under former Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who was a surprise choice to replace Marc Wilmots, Belgium boosted their goal difference with an 8-1 victory over Estonia in November, with the goals spread around six different players. Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was not among them as he was dropped by Martinez, who said: “Nobody will be given any free rides based on the name on their back. “Belgium is a very competitive national team and everyone must fight to be a part of it. Radja must be patient and prove himself to get back in.” Martinez was one of a number of coaches appointed in the aftermath of Euro 2016 and ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. Former Spain under-21 boss Julen Lopetegui succeeded Vicente Del Bosque with the promise of “evolution” rather than revolution. He has introduced a few new faces, notably Vitolo, who scored Spain’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin. Spain top the group on goal difference ahead of Italy, thanks to big wins over Liechtenstein (8-0) and Macedonia (4-0). Italy also have a new coach – veteran

former Torino boss Giampiero Ventura – and found a new goal hero in young Torino striker Andrea Belotti, who scored twice in a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein. Other countries under new management included England (Gareth Southgate), Sweden (Janne Andersson), Bulgaria (Petar Hubchev), Ukraine (Andriy Shevchenko), Romania (Christoph Daum), Serbia (Slavoljub Muslin) and Denmark (Age Hareide). One country looking for a new boss are Norway, who parted company with PerMathias Hogmo after the recent 2-1 loss to Czech Republic left them in fifth place in Group C and with little prospect of catching group leaders Germany or second-placed Northern Ireland. Other teams struggling as the year came to a close included a number of

“I do not understand the meaning of games such as these” Germany’s Thomas Muller on playing San Marino

finalists from the summer’s European Championship in France. Austria suffered a surprise loss at home to Republic of Ireland in Vienna. The setback, thanks to James McClean’s opportunist goal early in the second half, left Austria in fourth place in Group D, with four points from their opening four games. Wales, after their remarkable run to the semi-finals in France, ended the year in disappointing fashion after an injury-time equaliser from Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic denied Chris Coleman’s side three points. The draw with Serbia was the second

Comeback...France’s Paul Pogba (second right) heads home against Sweden

time Wales have been pegged back at home in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, after the 1-1 draw with Georgia in October. Romania, who turned to German coach Daum following their exit from Euro 2016, have seen little progress this autumn, with a 3-0 home defeat by Poland in their most recent qualifier. Another coach feeling the pressure is Scotland’s Gordon Strachan, who the Scottish FA confirmed would continue in his post despite 3-0 away defeats to Slovakia and England which left Scotland in fifth place in Group F, below Lithuania. The win over Scotland at Wembley maintained England’s position at the top of the group and effectively confirmed the candidacy of caretaker manager Gareth Southgate, the former under-21 boss who stepped in following Sam Allardyce’s

Equaliser...Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic

departure after one match in charge – a 1-0 win in Slovakia, which meant Allardyce was the only England manager to leave with a 100 per cent record. England look comfortable to qualify as group winners, as do France (Group A), Poland (Group E) and Croatia (Group I). The French needed goals from Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet as they came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 in November to stay three points clear of Sweden and Danny Blind’s Holland, who have continued to struggle and needed second-half goals from Memphis Depay to beat Luxembourg, who had given the Oranje a fright when they won and converted a first-half penalty. Serbia’s draw took them into second place in Group D and was a boost for much-travelled new boss Muslin, who replaced Radovan Curcic in the summer. Other teams ending 2016 on a high included Group D leaders Republic of Ireland, whose win in Vienna extended their unbeaten run. Teams worth keeping an eye out for include Israel, only a point behind Spain and Italy in Group G; Greece, who are recovering under German coach Michael Skibbe; and Azerbaijan, improving under former Croatia midfielder Robert Prosinecki. And a final word to recognise the progress of Lars Olsen’s Faroe Islands, fourth in Group B, with four points from their first four matches, and enjoying their best-ever qualifying campaign. Gavin Hamilton WORLD SOCCER



Bolivia pay price for blunder Points deduction gives rivals a boost in marathon World Cup campaign ix action-packed rounds and a third of South America’s World Cup qualification campaign, were crammed into two-and-a-half months between early September and mid-November. And by the end there was only two significant changes to the table: Brazil’s spectacular rise from sixth to first and Argentina’s slide from third to fifth. There is, however, an explanation to Argentina’s fall beyond the problems that Edgardo Bauza’s men are going through on the pitch, at least when Lionel Messi is absent through injury. Back in September, Bolivia beat Peru 2-0 and held Chile to a goalless draw. It appears, though, that they fielded an ineligible player. In the last few minutes of both games, centre-back Nelson Cabrera made an appearance. A Paraguayan, he was given Bolivian citizenship this year and played in June’s Copa Centenario. Bolivia requires three years of residence in order to naturalise a person, but FIFA rules demand a five-year period – and so they punished Bolivia by awarding both games to their opponents by a 3-0 margin. The three extra points have brought Peru back into the hunt and carried Chile above Argentina into fourth place. Bolivia have appealed and have the support of plenty of interested parties – namely all those teams competing with Chile and Peru for a place in Russia. Might those include Uruguay? As half-time approached in the game away to Chile, they were a goal ahead and a win would have taken them to 26 points – a mere victory away from all but certain qualification. Chile, though, levelled just before the break and went on to win 3-1 to bring out the more melancholy side of the Uruguayan nature. There are some difficult games ahead and the local press have been envisaging a scenario in which their side quickly drops to sixth. But something would have to go badly wrong for Uruguay to miss out on a place in Russia. Coach Oscar Tabarez has now equalled the record of West Germany’s Sepp Herberger for the number of games in charge of a national team. With a second spell that began in 2006, Tabarez knows exactly what he wants; the team is renewed with graduates from the highly




Ineligible...Nelson Cabrera after Bolivia’s 0-0 draw with Chile

successful under-20 side. Uruguay care little for aesthetic considerations and Tabarez expects his team to be tough to play against, to take advantage of errors in the opponent’s half and to profit from the presence of strikers of the calibre of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the campaign’s top marksman with eight goals. Brazil and Argentina are still to visit, but so far Uruguay have an immaculate home record. Traditionally, Uruguay struggle in qualification but so far, at least, they have found things much easier this time – which is surprising, especially because they have rarely been at full strength. This may be a reflection of a suspicion that the

Uruguay’s Oscar Tabarez has equalled Sepp Herberger’s record for games in charge of a national team

general standard of play may not have been as high as in recent campaigns. Third-placed Ecuador, for example, started like a train with four straight wins, but the next eight games brought just two victories. Perhaps, inevitably, they lack the strength in depth of some of their rivals and suffer when key players are missing or off form. They are also going through a much needed transition in defensive positions. In addition, there is a fear that the number of players based abroad has reduced the advantage of staging games at the altitude of Quito. But with their quick breaks down the flanks, Gustavo Quinteros’ team has a well developed identity. Its big test will come next year. Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi declared 2016 a successful year – as well he might after winning the Copa Centenario. But as the country’s golden generation fights to make it through to a third consecutive World Cup, the country will be anxiously


seem safe bets to climb into contention. Paraguay had played their way into contention with a win in Argentina in October. November’s two rounds, though, were a disaster, with coach Francisco Arce confessing that his team are now close to the abyss. Much depends on how Arce marshals his resources. He has an interesting young generation of attacking midfielders, but has clearly been over-optimistic at times with his team selection. He now searches for the right balance with no margin for error. Peru had not won an away qualifier since June 2004 – and then FIFA awarded them the three points for a game they had lost in Bolivia. At least it got them into the winning habit. Next time round they were a goal down away to Paraguay before staging a superb second half comeback to win 4-1. “That’s the performance we’ve been looking for all along,” said coach Ricardo Gareca. They will have to reproduce that level of display on a consistent basis next year to have any chance of making their first World Cup since 1982. But at least Gareca has overseen a generational change that should stand the country in good stead for future campaigns. And the future is all that the other two teams have to fight for. Bolivia and Venezuela have no chance of making it

Goal...Peru’s Christian Cueva beats Paraguay keeper Diego Barreto

Highlight...Chile won the Copa Centenario

to Russia. As far as they are concerned the build-up to the 2022 World Cup has already begun. Bolivia have turned to a fascinating coach, Angel Guillermo Hoyos, and must now give him time and tranquillity to implant a long term project. And all should not be despair for Venezuela, now coached by former keeper Rafael Dudamel. The campaign is giving experience to a very talented group of attacking players – they gave Argentina all sorts of problems in September, for example. The task now is to groom a new, quicker group of defenders – and then come back and make the 2022 campaign even more competitive. Tim Vickery

following the progress of Bolivia’s appeal, worried that those two extra points might be chalked off. Key players are ageing, the dressing room is notoriously difficult to handle and June’s Confederations Cup will make it four years in a row without a summer break. The big disappointment are Colombia, who slipped down to sixth after a 3-0 loss to Argentina. Hopes were high that a World Cup quarter-final debut in 2014 could lead to still greater things, but performances since have been below par. It is not clear that coach Jose Pekerman knows his best team or the direction that he wants to take. At times, unusually for a Pekerman side, Colombia seem strangely dependent on the counter attack. A total of 38 players have been used so far – more than all the teams above them in the table – but the potential is huge, and with some relatively straightforward fixtures ahead, they would WORLD SOCCER




Lippi’s mission impossible China’s goalless draw with Qatar leaves both countries struggling to reach Russia n 30 months, from 2012 to 2014, Marcello Lippi had nothing but success in China, winning three Super League titles and the AFC Champions League with Guangzhou Evergrande. But life in charge of the national team will certainly prove more of a challenge for the 68-year-old Italian. With just a solitary appearance at a World Cup finals, in 2002, and failure to reach the last round of qualifiers in their last three attempts, China are just happy to still be in with a shout of reaching Russia 2018 this time round. But despite the massive investment in domestic club football, the national team is in much need of some hard work and patience. Having replaced Gao Hongbo, who resigned in October, Lippi is contracted until the end of the Asian Cup in January 2019. But while he may not be a longterm appointment, he will be expected to start making changes that will benefit China in the future. Taking over a team that had collected just one point from its first four games in the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup, Lippi was still talking – ahead of November’s qualifier at home to Qatar – about making it to Russia, But after a goalless draw in Kunming, the size of the task facing him is all too apparent. Despite 10 days of acclimatised training in a city that is almost 2,000 metres above sea, China could only draw 0-0. Qatar, who had beaten Russia in a friendly the week before, sit one place above the bottom-placed Chinese with four points from five games, having brought in former boss Jorge Fossati after the first two defeats. However, even third place in Group A and the play-off route it




Thrilling...Thailand’s Teerasil Dangda (in blue) is challenged by Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan

Struggle...China’s Huang Bowen (left) and Zheng Zhi get the better of Qatar’s Rodrigo Taba

offers could be too much for the 2022 World Cup hosts. To be successful they must first climb above Syria, who have moved into fourth place, on to five points, thanks to a goalless draw with group leaders Iran. The “home” game was played in neutral territory for obvious security reasons, but Malaysia wasn’t the best host due to a torrential downpour that delayed kick-off by 45 minutes. If the conditions weren’t bad enough, Syria did their best to ensure that little football was played whatsoever, timewasting blatantly from early on in the game. Iran were furious but could not find a way through, leaving coach Carlos Queiroz very unhappy and struggling to keep his emotions in check. South Korea coach Uli Stielike could sympathise as the same thing – minus the rain – happened to his side against Syria in September as they were held to the same scoreline. The German called it “antifootball” but he is a little happier now after the Taeguk Warriors moved into second in the group, a point behind Iran, with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan in Seoul. Late goals from Nam Tae-hee and Augsburg’s Koo Ja-cheol maintained South Korean hopes of a ninth successive finals appearance and dropped Uzbekistan into third place with nine points, one

behind Stielike’s side. While two points separate the top three in Group A, just one point divides the top four in Group B, where Saudi Arabia and Japan have 10, with Australia and the United Arab Emirates on nine. The top two met in Saitama Stadium with Japan winning a bad-tempered match 2-1. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic’s decision to drop Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda just about paid dividends but Saudi Arabia, led by Bert Van Marwijk, almost snatched a late point. The game of the round was in Bangkok as an emotional Rajamangala Stadium mourned the late King Bhumibol, who died in October after a 70-year reign, and the hosts celebrated a first point of the stage with a 2-2 draw against Australia. The game almost took place in a third country due to the passing of the muchloved monarch but it went ahead as a talented and improving Thai team, led by Chanathip “Jay Messi” Songkrasin, tormented the Socceroo defence. Only a highly debatable second-half penalty, converted by Mile Jedinak, earned a point for Australia, a third draw in a row. United Arab Emirates moved back into the mix with a win over an Iraq team that is drifting out of contention as Group B remains finely balanced heading into 2017. John Duerden



Nigeria back on track Super Eagles recover from missing the Nations Cup to focus on their World Cup qualifying campaign igeria might not be appearing in January’s African Nations Cup finals but the Super Eagles are already pencilling in a return to the World Cup, as redemption for missing out on Gabon 2017 looks quick in coming. A convincing 3-1 home win over Algeria in their second Group B game puts them ahead of the chasing pack in what was expected to be a closely contested battle for a trip to Russia. They began the group phase with a 2-1 away win over Zambia in a first match under new coach Gernot Rohr, whose appointment initially drew howls of derision from within Nigeria. “A positive attitude has helped us thus far,” said the 63-year-old German after the latest success. “The mental strength is also there, because if you have to survive in such a difficult group, you need very good mental strength and focus. “We have shown in the first two matches that we have the personnel and the good spirit to go all the way.” Two goals from Victor Moses and one from John Obi Mikel in Uyo condemned Algeria to, realistically, needing to win the rest of their games if they are to have any chance of catching up. Cameroon, with Belgian coach Hugo Broos tinkering away and introducing


Alexandria and are now four points behind their rivals in Group E and Avram Grant’s tenure is under pressure. So desperate are Ghana to find some inspiration, there is talk of a return for Kevin-Prince Boateng. Now playing at Las Palmas in Spain, he was kicked out of the squad in Brazil for alleged indiscipline and arrogance. Egypt’s win over Ghana was merited, with Mohamed Salah’s first-half penalty followed by a late goal from Abdullah El Said. “Patience and balance were the keys to our victory,” said Egypt coach Hector Cuper. “But there are four matches remaining and anything could happen.” Group A is already set to be contested by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisia, who both have 100 per cent records and meet each other in August. Tunisia won 1-0 away to Libya on neutral territory in Algeria, but the Congolese looked far more impressive in winning away to Guinea. Neeskens Kebano was the outstanding performer in their 2-1 triumph and scored the opener, with Yannick Bolasie getting the winner as they came back from a first-half deficit. In Group C, Ivory Coast drew 0-0 away in Morocco as they went up against their

Safe...Egypt keeper Essam El Hadary keeps out Ghana

former coach Herve Renard for the first time since success at the 2015 African Nations Cup. The Ivorians lead the group despite missing the likes of Eric Bailly and Gervinho for the game in Marrakech. In Group D, Burkina Faso and South Africa share the leadership after both won in round two. Burkina were 2-0 victors in the Cape Verde Islands while South Africa edged Senegal 2-1 in Polokwane – but only after a horrendous penalty decision awarded to them by Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey, who has since been suspended for biased officiating. Senegal were understandably aggrieved after looking the better of the two sides. As unconvincing as South Africa’s win was, it came as a major relief to under-fire coach Ephraim Mashaba, whose emotions got the better of him after the game and gave his association bosses a telling off for not supporting him in the build-up to the match. They suspended him one day later and he looks to be heading for the door. Elsewhere, Pierre Lechantre was fired by Congo after their November matches, with a 1-0 loss in Uganda leaving them without a point. Mark Gleeson

“We have shown in the first two matches that we have the personnel and the good spirit to go all the way” Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr new talent, started with a heartening draw in Algeria that cost coach Milovan Rajevac his job with the north Africans. But Cameroon then missed a trick at home to Zambia, drawing 1-1 in Limbe as Vincent Aboubakar had equalised after a generous penalty decision. Cameroon will now probably have to beat Nigeria home and away in their next two qualifiers, in August and September, or face missing out on extending their record as the African nation with the most World Cup finals appearances. Other heavyweights are also in jeopardy of not going to Russia. Ghana were beaten 2-0 by Egypt in

Double...Victor Moses (left), who scored twice against Algeria, takes on Nabil Bentaleb WORLD SOCCER




Exit Klinsmann. Finally... German coach departs USA after double Hexagonal defeat pening the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 thrashing in Costa Rica was too much for US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who summarily fired coach Jurgen Klinsmann. It was a difficult move for Gulati, who had invested much faith in the German, and made him one of the world’s toppaid coaches, with an income estimated at $4million. US coach for five years, Klinsmann had picked up even further responsibility in 2013 when he added the title of Technical Director, giving him


weren’t nasty enough. “Maybe we’re still a little bit too naive,” he once said. “Maybe we don’t want to hurt people, but that’s what you’ve got to do.” Klinsmann’s answer to this perceived inadequacy of American players was to bring in foreign-trained players who had some claim, however slender, on US citizenship. There were 10 such players, most of them having grown up in Germany and with Bundesliga experience, but with virtually no experience of the USA. Had they been obviously superior to Klinsmann’s US-based options, their introduction might have been justified, but that was not the case. His open contempt for American

Going down...Rafa Marquez (out of picture) scores for Mexico against USA

supervision of all the federation’s development programmes. But while his record of 55 wins, 28 losses and 15 draws, was not bad, the one thing Klinsmann never did was produce a solid, winning team. The US record was of the yo-yo pattern: a good win here, a bad loss there, bouts of good results here, periods of poor results there. And all the while, there was Klinsmann making excuses for his team’s lack of consistency, for its all too obvious failings. Usually the excuses involved criticism of his players. They weren’t fit enough, they weren’t competitive and – the most memorable, repeated several times – they



players touched the depths when he shamefully refused to include Landon Donovan on the 2014 World Cup squad. There was also contempt for Major League Soccer. Klinsmann encouraged young Americans to by-pass MLS and aim at joining a European team. His very public scorn for MLS ignited a furious response from Don Garber, the MLS Commissioner, who accused him of damaging the prestige of the league. The USA team’s performances under Klinsmann showed no improvement from those under the previous coaches Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena. In fact, they were inferior. After all, in 2002, Arena had

Gone...Jurgen Klinsmann

taken the USA to the World Cup quarterfinals, and in 2010 Bradley’s team won its group. Klinsmann seemed to imagine that his team’s 2014 World Cup performance – a second-place finish in its group which allowed it to advance on goal difference – marked a major achievement. By the end, Klinsmann’s excuses took on the whining tone of an embattled coach. Just days before he was axed, he was dismissing his critics as people “who don’t understand soccer or the team”. To replace Klinsmann, Gulati has turned once more to Arena, who had one stint in the job, from 1998 until 2006 before being fired… by Gulati. Having thoughtfully omitted to renew his contract with LA Galaxy, Arena was available. And if a quick replacement was necessary – although some would doubt that it was, given that qualifying games do not start up again until March – then he was the obvious man for the job. He certainly knows the players and has considerable experience of the game in the CONCACAF region. Repairing Klinsmann’s disastrous start to the so-called “Hexagonal group” should not be too difficult. Made up of six teams – USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago – the top three all qualify for Russia 2018, with the fourth-place team entering a play-off against an Asian country. However, there is no escaping that Arena is a step back to the past. One of Klinsmann’s long-term failures was his

“Maybe we’re still a little bit too naive. Maybe we don’t want to hurt people, but that’s what you’ve got to do” Jurgen Klinsmann’s mantra reluctance to involve the USA’s burgeoning Latino talent, and Arena’s record in this area is not much better than Klinsmann’s. The future demands something quite different and is represented by Tab Ramos, who is currently coach of the under-20s. At 50, he should have led the Olympic team, rather than Klinsmann’s Austrian buddy Andi Herzog, who screwed it up as the USA failed to qualify for Rio 2016. Ramos is the logical – and the only qualified American – to succeed Arena. Paul Gardner


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Back three back in fashion Jonathan Wilson takes a look at the reasons behind this season’s popular switch to playing three at the back

Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, Roma, Sevilla, Wales, Serbia, Italy, Spain. The list of teams who have played with a back three at some point this season is long, varied and growing. In the Premier League, playing three at the back has spread with extraordinary speed since Chelsea manager Antonio Conte reacted to his side’s defeat at Arsenal by returning to the shape he had favoured with Juventus and Italy. Conte has long been a devotee of the back three, but the shape had largely gone out of fashion with other coaches for reasons that were readily understandable. Between roughly 1930 and 1960, the vast majority of teams played with a back



three in some variation of the W-M formation (3-2-2-3). But in Hungary and Brazil it became common to push one of the holding midfielders deeper, and Brazil’s national side were discernibly playing with a back four by the 1958 World Cup. That had a startling impact, denying acceleration room to the opposition winger and, in time, forcing his retreat, which offered the possibility of an attacking threat from deep through overlapping full-backs. Within a decade, the back four had taken over, and it wasn’t until the early 1980s that it began to be challenged. There are many who claim credit for the reintroduction of the back three – Sepp Piontek with Denmark, Ciro Blazevic at Dinamo Zagreb, Carlos Bilardo with

Change...Gary Cahill is rising to the challenge of playing in a back three with Chelsea

Argentina – and they used it in very different ways. However, what they were all reacting to was a recognition that, in a world in which wingers had become wide midfielders, there was no need for the full-backs to remain deep. Instead, they could be advanced to offer attacking width, allowing two extra players in the middle. One of them, naturally, became a libero, offering cover and depth behind two marking central defenders, and the other could be utilised wherever in midfield the coach felt he was most beneficial. But as more and more teams played with one striker rather than two, there became less and less point in playing with two markers. Unless a team had a particular need to be extremely defensive,


having a marker and two spare men at the back meant one was largely redundant, which in turn meant the opposition could overload somewhere on the pitch. As a result, the back three dropped from favour. So why then has it returned? In part, the reason is the prevalence of zonal marking has made the idea of a spare man and two markers seem almost simplistic. Johan Cruyff spoke regularly of it being desirable to have one more defender than the opposition had forwards, but by the time he was playing Ronald Koeman and Pep Guardiola at the heart of his back four it was clear that their roles were not as defenders in the traditional sense. Defending has become less and less about the traditional values of winning headers or tackles and more and more about positional sense, about keeping the shape and pressing so the system does

Italy’s three...(from left) Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci

Fan...Antonio Conte had a back three at Juventus, Italy and now Chelsea

the work rather than there being a reliance on defenders to win individual battles. That’s why it’s become common to hear pundits complain – with some reason – about the dearth of high-class defenders in the modern game. But that only explains why an objection to the back three has been removed. What are its advantages? Most obviously, for a team looking to sit back and absorb pressure, it remains as useful as it always was to have an additional spare man at the back. But more interesting is why the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City have found cause to use it. Put simply, if your plan is to press high up the pitch, it’s useful to have an extra man in midfield. This, really, is the modern interpretation of the legacy of

Cruyff: if one of the centre-backs can step into midfield, it makes it easier to overman in those areas, which is advantageous both for regaining possession and for retaining it by offering an additional passing option. But there’s something else going on, a suggestion that the back three isn’t the significant issue, it’s actually a by-product. Over the past three years, it’s become apparent that teams struggle to play against sides using two creators in the three-quarter line. They exist in an awkward pocket, outside the two holding midfielders who dare not follow them for fear of exposing the centre-backs, but inside and in advance of the full-backs. This isn’t a revelation. The “Christmas Tree”, or 4-3-2-1, tried to play on the same vulnerability. Carlo Ancelotti wrote his thesis at Coverciano on the subject, and Co Adriaanse had some success with it at Den Haag in the late 1980s. The problem with it was, though, that it is very narrow and lacks attacking width – and without the threat of a wide man coming on the outside, full-backs can tuck in to deal with those creators who are operating in old-fashioned inside-forward positions. So, to get the full-backs forward and give the system width you make them wing-backs – which then means a back three, protected by two central midfielders. After losing to Basle’s 3-4-2-1 in the Champions League, Brendan Rodgers brought that system to Liverpool, and now Conte is using the system at Chelsea with Pedro and, in particular, Eden Hazard revelling in those inside-forward positions. Guardiola has gone even further, using Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva as what De Bruyne calls “false eights”, but with wide forwards rather than wing-backs outside them. The defensive base remains that same trapezium shape of three defenders plus two holding midfielders. The back three, for a range of reasons, is back.


















Hazard Costa


Willian Costa

Barca education...Johan Cruyff with Pep Guardiola

September 2016, v Arsenal (4-3-3)

October 2016, v Everton (3-4-2-1) WORLD SOCCER


January transfer targets Nick Bidwell profiles some of the most likely movers in the winter window



Once seriously pursued by Real Madrid and Milan, the classy Uruguayan midfielder looks set to quit Argentina’s Boca Juniors for Italian champions Juventus, who set up the deal when negotiating the sale to Boca last year of returning hero Carlos Tevez. Representing excellent value for money at €9.4million, the 19year-old is the complete engineroom package: impressive in his distribution and work ethic,



Primarily a stopper, though also capable of slotting in at right-back or as a ball-winner in front of the defence, the uncompromising Swede – who started in all three of his country’s games at Euro 2016 – has a long list of admirers in Milan, Internazionale, Juventus, Napoli, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. Contractually tied to Benfica until 2020, the 22-year-old insists he is content at the Estadio da Luz and is in no hurry to leave for a more prestigious championship. But with so many clubs apparently willing to trigger his €30million release clause, his future could swing either way. Heads: a new and improved deal with the Eagles; tails: the exit. He only cost Benfica €60,000 when signed from boyhood side FK Vasteras back in January 2012. 64


unflustered, elegant and extremely versatile, and comfortable either in a pure holding role, as a playmaker further forward or on the outside of a midfield diamond. Juve’s plan is to loan him back to Boca for six months, then definitively welcome him on board in the summer of 2017. Has made great progress since exiting the pitch in tears after gifting San Lorenzo a cheap winner early in his senior career.



Paul-Georges NTEP RENNES

Few players in Ligue 1 are as coveted at the moment as the speedy and powerful FrancoCameroon winger. Aware that the 24-year-old only has a few months left on his contract the likes of Marseille, Lyon, Lazio and a slew of Premier League outfits are all milling around the auction room. While Rennes are looking for

around €5million, any would-be buyer must bear in mind that he missed much of last season with various injury problems and has been criticised in some quarters for a lack of game understanding. He won two caps for France towards the end of that season and, if he can stay out of the treatment room, could yet force his way back into the international fold.



Andre SILVA PORTO In the 21-year-old, the Portuguese game has a homegrown striker who has such a potential that in his first full season he is subject to a €60million release clause. Faced with strong interest from Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Juventus, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa hopes to stonewall for at least another 18

Lukasz TEODORCZYK ANDERLECHT On loan from Dynamo Kiev, the Polish target man’s goals for Les Mauves have sparked interest from Everton, Sunderland, Stoke City, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Milan. Not that it will be easy to strike a midwinter deal for the 25-year-old ex-Lech Poznan centre-forward. Anderlecht claim they have an option to buy him at the end of the season, while Kiev are sure to react to his growing fan club with a substantial price hike, raising the bar to as high as €12million. In an Anderlecht side which has blown hot and cold of late, “Teo” has proved their one constant ray of light, an impressive mix of muscle, nimble footwork, intelligent running off the ball and devastating finishing. Belgian reporters only have one criticism of him: his marked unwillingness to talk to them.


months, although he might well have to do business much sooner. Last term the club made a record Portuguese loss of €58.4m and it’s thought Silva, along with midfielders Danilo and Hector Herrera, will be sacrificed if the price is right. He is currently leading the line for European champions Portugal and already has four goals to his name in World Cup 2018 qualifiers.

Lucas TORREIRA SAMPDORIA For half the clubs in Serie A, and reigning Europa League holders Sevilla, all roads lead to the gritty little midfield enforcer from Uruguay. On returning to Samp in the summer following a loan spell in the second division with Pescara – who he helped win promotion through the play-offs - the 20-year-old was expected to be the understudy of the newly acquired Luca Cigarini, from Atalanta. However, he was swiftly able to turn the tables, making himself indispensable to the blucerchiati with his aggressive ball-winning, solid technique, vision and tactical appreciation. Roma, Internazionale and Milan are rumoured to be especially enthusiastic about landing him and they certainly will not be oblivious to the fact that he is one of the lowest-paid players in the peninsula, thought to earn in the region of €100,000 per annum. WORLD SOCCER


Women’s football Glenn Moore

Euro draw pits familiar foes Germany will face Sweden in Holland A re-run of the Olympic Final and a host of derby matches are the highlights of a Euro 2017 draw that whet the appetite for next summer’s tournament. Germany, seeking a seventh successive Women’s European Championship title, open their campaign against Sweden, who they beat 2-1 to take gold in Rio. Meanwhile, hosts Holland were paired with Belgium, England with Scotland, Spain with Portugal, and Switzerland with two Alpine neighbours. That Germany’s tie with Sweden is as early as the second day is a fillip for the tournament, but not necessarily for the two contestants. “It’s a classic, but it’s coming way too early,” said Steffi Jones, who took over as German coach after the Olympic Final. Sweden also lost to Germany in the 2015 World Cup and in the Euro 2013 semi-finals, and coach Pia Sundhage says: “We’ve played against [Germany] a couple of times, we’ve lost a couple of times, we’ll just have to enjoy it and do our very best. We’re getting closer to winning against Germany and hopefully we’ll take that chance.” The opening match of the

Draw...(from left) the coaches of Holland, Norway, Belgium and Denmark

championship, in Utrecht on 16 July, pits Holland against Norway, who were runners-up to Germany in 2013. Denmark, beaten on penalties by Norway in the 2013 semi-finals, and Belgium make up the quartet. Ives Serneels, Belgium’s coach, said that he was happy with the draw and his team’s itinerary. Two of Belgium’s matches are just across the border, though the one against Holland is in Deventer, 100 miles away. Arjen van der Laan, Holland’s coach, said that his team’s “goal” is to reach the

Strong...Germany’s Tabea Kemme (no12) heads clear during the Olympic Final against Sweden

semi-final stage. As the group runner-up looks likely to be playing Germany in the last eight, winning this most even of the groups would seem essential if they are to achieve that aim. Group D opens with a bang, Spain playing Portugal then England meeting Scotland. The Scots have a very poor record against their neighbours losing 17 matches in succession before an

“The girls really believe we can achieve something special at this tournament” England assistant coach Marieanne Spacey

Solid...Holland keeper Sari Van Veenendaal and Mandy Van den Berg in action against the USA recently



acclaimed victory in 2011. Their Swedish coach, Anna Signeul, who was in charge that day, said: “Playing against England inspires the players. “England are a very difficult team but this game will bring out the very best in our players. They’ll show what big hearts they have and the pride that these derbies are so much about.” Adding further spice is the fact that several leading Scottish internationals play south of the border in the FA Women’s Super League, notably Arsenal’s returning


Line-up..the launch of this season’s W-League

UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 GROUP A Holland Norway Denmark Belgium GROUP B Germany Sweden Italy Russia GROUP C France Iceland Austria Switzerland GROUP D England Scotland Spain Portugal

Kim Little, and Manchester City duo Jane Ross and Jennifer Beattie. England manager Mark Sampson missed the draw as he was awaiting the birth of his first child but assistant coach Marieanne Spacey emphasised that while playing Scotland was “exciting”, England will be focussing on the bigger picture. Having reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2015 the lionesses are targeting a first trophy. “The expectation on England has grown since the World Cup and we’re embracing that,” said Spacey. “The girls really believe we can achieve something special at this tournament.” The Iberian coaches, Jorge Vilda (Spain) and Francisco Neto (Portugal), said respectively of their British opponents that they “will fight, run and look to counterattack” and be “very tough, very physical”, suggesting football stereotypes are as strong in the women’s game as the men’s. Group C features perennial underachievers France, two debutants in Switzerland and Austria, and an Iceland side keen to repeat the shocks created by their men’s team at Euro 2016. Seven venues will be used ranging from Deventer’s 10,500-capacity De Adelaarshorst to the 30,200-seat De Grolshe Veste in Enschede. The latter will host the final on 6 August.

AUSSIES KICK OFF The W-League began in Australia with Melbourne City, owned by Manchester City, favourites to repeat last season’s title-winning debut. City, who were only formed in 2015 after the English club bought Melbourne City men’s team, dominated last season going undefeated. Wales’ Jess Fishlock returns, US international Erika Tymrak hopes to fill the void left by Scot Kim Little, and goalkeeper Lydia Williams joins fellow Aussie Olympians Steph Catley, Laura Alleway and Larissa Crummer. Other overseas recruits include England’s Natasha Dowie at Melbourne Victory, Yukari Kinga, the first WLeague Japanese international, at Canberra United and Mexico’s Arianna Romero at Perth Glory. BRAZIL APPOINT FIRST FEMALE COACH In a significant move, Brazil have appointed their first female coach

Boss... Brazil’s Emily Lima

to the national team. Emily Lima replaces Vadao, who led the team to gold in the Pan-American Games, but only to the semi-finals in the Rio Olympics and the last 16 at the 2015 World Cup. Lima, Brazilian-born but a former Portuguese international, coached Brazil’s under-17s and Brazilian Cup runners-up San Jose. MANCHESTER CITY UNDEFEATED FA WSL title-winners Manchester City concluded their 16-match campaign undefeated, also lifting the Continental (league) Cup. Defending champions Chelsea were runners-up earning them the second Champions League qualifying spot. HOLIDAY HAS SURGERY Lauren Holiday, 2015 World Cup winner, has had surgery to remove a benign brain tumour. The former US international, who is married to New Orleans Pelicans NBA basketball player Jrue Holiday, gave birth to a daughter a month earlier.

Surgery...United States’ Lauren Holiday

KVINNER WIN AGAIN LSK Kvinner, of Lillestrom, won the Norwegian league on the final day of the season. A 4-0 win over Sandviken cinched their third successive title. Isabell Herlovsen, daughter of former Borussia Monchengladbach defender Kai Erik Herlovsen, scored twice to take her total to 30 goals in 22 games. WORLD SOCCER



Naby KEITA Age 21 (10.02.95), RB Leipzig & Guinea

In a sentence An instant hit on moving from Austria to newly promoted Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig this summer, the diminutive Guinea international has every chance of becoming one of best box-to-box midfielders in Europe and a true African standard-bearer.

“He’s a real prospect, an Iniesta. He’s very intelligent and makes it all look so easy” Ex-Guinea coach Luis Fernandez What they say RB Leipzig sports director Ralf Rangnick: “Despite receiving offers from leading Champions League sides, Naby chose to continue his development with us in Leipzig and we are delighted he did so. With his dynamism, outstanding technical and tactical qualities, and good character, he fits our young team perfectly.” RB Leipzig defender Bernardo: “He has amazing potential and is very level-headed. Naby can be a world-class player.” Ex-Guinea coach Luis Fernandez: “He’s a real prospect, an Iniesta. He’s very intelligent and makes it all look so easy.” The story so far Born in the Guinean capital Conakry, he shone as a forward or attacking midfielder in his formative years and made his topflight debut at 16. Like many young Africans, he duly headed to France in search of a club, and after trials with Lorient and Le Mans he was taken on, in November 2013, by Ligue 2 side Istres, who had spotted him at a talent-detection tournament in Marseille. In his first and only season with the club, he proved a midfield sensation, attracting job offers from Bordeaux, Montpellier, SaintEtienne, Standard Liege and Fiorentina before finally plumping for a €1.5million switch to Red Bull Salzburg. He won back-to-back league and cup doubles in Austria, and was voted player of the season last term before joining fellow Red Bull franchise RB Leipzig for €15m in July. He won his first cap for Guinea against Mali in 2014 and was voted his nation’s top player the following year.





O In his homeland, he is commonly known as “Titi Deco” as he was a fan of former Liverpool and Guinea striker Titi Camara when growing up, while his father likened him to former Porto, Barcelona and Portugal star Deco. O His best friend and confidante at Salzburg was future Southampton and Liverpool striker Sadio Mane. O As a youngster, Barcelona were always his first love and he still cites Andres Iniesta as his favourite player.

Aggressive...holding off Mainz midfielder Suat Serdar

The next step A word of advice for all the big clubs currently beating a path to his door: for now, he’s happy to be a big fish in a small pond, and is not in any particular hurry to take that great leap forward. He is in his element at a young and thrusting RB Leipzig, and while unlikely to remain until the end of his contract in June 2020, he looks likely to be staying put for at least the next 18 months.

Strengths Able to set the tempo with his passing, but just as comfortable pushing forward and scoring goals. Is tactically disciplined and aggressive in the tackle. Weaknesses Inevitably for one who stands under 5ft 8in, heading is not his forte. He can also be guilty of trying to play balls in non-existent passing lanes at times.



Felix PASSLACK Age 18 (29.05.98), Borussia Dortmund & Germany Described by some as the most talented Dortmund academy product since World Cup-winning goalscorer Mario Gotze, the versatile teen has done a fine job these past few months filling in at full-back on either flank for the injured Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer. Explosive and athletic, he is arguably at his best in an attacking role on the right side.

Age 23 (03.07.93), Hoffenheim & Turkey The German-born ex-Turkey under-21 attacking midfielder has turned over a new leaf since his move from Hamburg to Hoffenheim in the summer, adding work rate to his flair. Achieved notoriety in 2015 for making sexist remarks to a female referee.


Maximilian PHILIPP Age 20 (30.09.96), Borussia M’gladbach & Switzerland In his second season at Gladbach, following an €8m move from Zurich, the powerful central defender can also play in a ballwinning midfield role. Of Croat lineage, he was a member of Switzerland’s Euro 2016 squad.

Age 22 (01.03.94), Freiburg & Germany Equally comfortable as a front runner, second striker or on either flank, his movement and assured finishing has been worth their weight in gold this season for the promoted Black Forest club. Has come a long way since hometown club Hertha Berlin released him in his early teens, deeming him too small and frail. Recently won his first German under-21 cap.

Niklas STARK Benjamin HENRICHS Age 19 (23.02.97), Bayer Leverkusen & Germany Over the last six months, he has firmly established himself at right-back for Leverkusen and forced his way into the senior national squad after just 18 Bundesliga appearances.


Age 20 (15.03.96), Mainz & Germany German under-21 wide man who, after unremarkable spells at Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen, has looked far more influential since joining Mainz in the summer. A nephew of legendary German forward Uwe Seeler.

Age 21 (14.04.95), Hertha Berlin & Germany Tenacious, calm and quick-thinking centre-back or midfield holder who is thought to be in Joachim Low’s national-team waiting room. Acquired from second-tier Nuremberg early last season, he would have featured at the 2016 Olympic Games, only for Hertha to veto his selection and insist that a Europa League qualifier took priority. Was captain of the German under-19 side that won the European title in 2014.


Age 19 (05.01.97), Eintracht Frankfurt (on loan from Real Madrid, Spa) & Spain No central defender in the German top flight has looked more impressive this term than the Real Madrid loanee. Impeccable in his positional play, one-on-one duels and deft passing ability, he has swiftly assumed the mantle of Eintracht’s defensive organiser. Frankfurt will be keen to keep him for an extra season. WORLD SOCCER






Hands across the ocean Refugee teams from Syria and Iraq take part in a tournament organised by the Greek government that also features local amateur sides Beginnings...players from the Herso refugee camp (in stripes) and the Nea Kavala camp take to the pitch

Warm-up...Nea Kavalaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goalkeeper gets ready

All set...the Herso team



Picture Essay Prime spot...spectators watch Octoberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opening game in the village of Nea Kavala in northern Greecev




Grandstand...spectators sit on the terrace of a half-built house to get a decent view

Tactics...a couple of last minute instructions Markings...the touclines were only half painted

Attack...the match was played without any goal nets



Picture Essay

Watching brief...the game attracted fans of all ages

Backing...getting into the spirit of things WORLD SOCCER



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Exclusive reports from our worldwide network of correspondents




SEAN CREEDON Rep of Ireland



78 P L U S



Club World Cup...Atletico Nacional’s Alejandro Guerra


Club World Cup


Comprehensive global news


Summer leagues in Europe

CLUB FOOTBALL Asian champ...Ricardo Lopes of Jeonbuk Motors (left)


Results, tables, fixtures WORLD SOCCER


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Carl Worswick Class...Macnelly Torres (centre)

FIFA Club World Cup 2016 Atletico Nacional (Colombia) Auckland City (New Zealand) Club America (Mexico) Jeonbuk Motors (South Korea) Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) Real Madrid (Spain) Kashima Antlers or Urawa Reds (Japan, hosts)

Fixtures 8-18 Dec, Japan



THE STORY SO FAR It did not take long for the plundering to begin. Nacional won their first Libertadores Cup in 27 years with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Independiente del Valle, but the team soon broke up. Left-winger Jonathan Copete was swept off to Brazil by Santos; loans for Colombia internationals Alex Mejia and Victor Ibaro expired; and a $10million transfer was put in place for tournament sensation Marlos Moreno to join Manchester City. Within a couple of weeks, one-time Arsenal trialist Sebastian Perez and young centre-back Davinson Sanchez had followed them out of the door. But despite the departures, the success has continued on a number of fronts. Reserving his best XI for the Sudamericana Cup, coach Reinaldo Rueda has frequently utilised a second or even third-string team in domestic competitions. In November, Nacional lifted a record third Colombian Cup and as the regular league season progressed to the STAR PLAYER








Miguel BORJA Only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have scored more goals than Borja in world football this year. With his superb movement and finishing, he will lead the line in Japan and must surely be given a chance to play in Europe sometime soon.

knock-out stage, Nacional sat top of the table. Victory in the Final of the Sudamericana Cup in early December would see Nacional become the only South American club ever to have won both continental titles in the same calendar year. COACH Rueda led Colombia to the bronze medal at the 2003 Youth World Cup before being promoted to coach of the senior national side in 2004. However, he was sacked in 2006 by a federation who were irked at his support for the newly formed players’ union. He led Honduras (2010) and Ecuador (2014) to World Cup qualification, and when Juan Carlos Osorio left Nacional for Sao Paulo last year he personally recommended Rueda as his replacement. TACTICS The personnel may have changed, but Rueda’s possession-based attacking game remains the same. If Nacional reach the Final, he may consider a defensive shuffle by shifting Mateus Uribe into central midfield and pushing Alejandro Guerra out on the left in a rejigged 4-4-1-1. The classy Macnelly Torres is the brains of the attack. W W Armani W Aguilar Henriquez W W Bocanegra Diaz W (Uribe) W Guerra Arias W W W Berrio Torres Mosquera (Ibarguen) W Borja




CLUB AMERICA John Holmesdale

THE STORY SO FAR The New Zealanders are Oceania’s most successful club, having won the OFC Champions League for an eighth time in 2016 with a victory over Team Wellington in April. They are preparing for an eighth appearance at the Club World Cup having become, in 2014, the only Oceania team to reach the semi-finals. It will, however, be a challenge to replicate the achievement of two years ago, when they beat Moroccan hosts Moghreb Tetouan and Tunisia’s ES Setif, before losing to San Lorenzo in the semis but beating Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the third-place play-off. Last year, they suffered a setback, when losing to Japanese hosts Sanfrecce Hiroshima in their opening game. Founded only 12 year ago, Auckland have become the dominant force in New Zealand under Spanish coach Ramon

Tribulietx, who has built a multicultural squad that includes Enaut Zubikarai and captain Angel Berlanga of Spain, Korean defender Kim Dae-wook, Japanese full-back Takuya Iwata, English defender Darren White, Croatian midfielder Mario Bilen and Portuguese attacker Joao Moreira, as well as New Zealand internationals Reid Drake, Clayton Lewis and Ryan De Vries. COACH Spanish boss Ramon Tribulietx has been in charge since 2010 and is also the part-time national coach of Solomon Islands. The cerebral 44-year-old is seen as one of the region’s brightest young coaches and has been linked with a move abroad on a number of occasions.

Goals...Ryan De Vries (left)


Micah LEA’ALAFA The Solomon Islands international won the Golden Ball as the best player of 2016 OFC Champions League.

Martin Del Palacios Langer


THE STORY SO FAR America are in the Club World Cup for a second successive year after beating fellow Mexican side Tigres in the Final of the CONCACAF Champions League. Last year, they disappointed in Japan by losing in the quarterfinals to Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande, so the main goal this time will be at least to improve on that participation and reach the semi-finals, where they would face Real Madrid. Despite being Mexico’s most popular side, and one of the richest, America’s squad doesn’t have any big stars. The team is built on balance, with quality players in every position but no flashy signings, to the dismay of the fans who had grown used to seeing players such as Hugo Sanchez, Ivan Zamorano, Claudio Lopez, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Salvador Cabanas. STAR PLAYER

Tribulietx has overseen a switch in playing style at the club, moving from a more direct approach to a possession-based system. Young midfielder Te Atawhai HudsonWihongi will miss the tournament in Japan after suffering a trainingground injury. In attack, Ryan De Vries is an important source of goals.

W Zubikarai W W White Kim W W Berlanga Iwata W W W Drake Bilen Lewis


W Lea’alafa

Success... champions

W Moreira

W De Vries

Oribe PERALTA The fact that Oribe Peralta is currently fourth choice for Mexico’s national side says it all about this America team. He’s a consistent and clever striker who has kept in fine form despite being almost 33-years old.

Fans have grown even more restless because 2016 is America’s centenary year but the team has failed to deliver so far. Both the centenary anthem and kit turned out to be bad copies of better European versions, there wasn’t any celebration match, and the results on the pitch have left a lot to be desired. The Club World Cup would be the team’s last chance to make amends. COACH Despite a distinctive lack of silverware, Ricardo La Volpe is one of the most reputed coaches in Mexico. A tactical genius, he’s often cited by Pep Guardiola as one of his influences. Back at the club after a disastrous stint in the 90s. TACTICS La Volpe usually encourages his wing-backs to push forward as two attacking midfielders dictate the tempo of the game. In the run-up to Japan he tested different systems, even trying a back four – which is extremely unusual for him. However, when it comes to the start of the tournament he is most likely to stick with what he knows best.

5-3-2 W Ibarra

W Aguilar

W Munoz W W Goltz Alvarez W Samudio

W W W Martinez Guerrero Sambueza W W Arroyo Peralta (Romero) WORLD SOCCER




Celebration... AFC Champions League Final

THE STORY SO FAR It’s been an eventful few weeks for Jeonbuk Motors, the team from the southwest city Jeonju who have proved themselves more than just a headline-writers dream. Victory over Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in the AFC Champions League Final saw the South Koreans end the season on a high after they suffered the disappointment of losing the KLeague title on the final day of the season. Jeonbuk had been on course for a third successive title with six games to go and led Seoul by 14 points after being hit by a nine-point deduction after a club scout was found guilty of bribing referees in 2013 – which the club denies all knowledge of. The Asian Football Confederation could yet take action against their club champions, with a ban from next year’s competition a possibility. In the meantime, Motors travel to STAR PLAYER

LEE Jae-sung A standout player in Korea and Asia, few can understand why the midfielder is not a regular in the national team. One of the best passers around, he also is adept at breaking up play and then creating. Has played wide for Korea at times and is one of those with the ability to play anywhere.



Japan to face Mamelodi Sundowns in a game in which they will fancy their chances. In a decade under Choi Kang-hee, Jeonbuk have become a powerhouse of the Korean game. But the Club World Cup could be his last games in charge as he has been linked him with a move to Beijing Guoan. If he goes, he will leave behind a substantial legacy.

Mark Gleeson THE STORY SO FAR After Sundowns beat Zamalek of Egypt to win African club football’s top prize thanks to a huge slice of luck, coach Pitso Mosimane joked “we were the Denmark of the Champions League”. Sundowns had been eliminated in the qualifying round, but when the team they had lost to, DR Congo outfit AS Vita Club, were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, Sundowns took full advantage of their reprieve. The Pretoria side are arguably the richest club in Africa and for the last 13 years they have been owned by billionaire mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, who has ploughed millions into the club. After a number of foreign coaching appointments proved unsuccessful, Motsepe turned to Mosimane, who was given a generous budget to buy the best talent in South Africa. Within a

season he had delivered a first title in seven years and Sundowns have now won two of the last three South African championships. Now, after their continental triumph, a meeting with Jeonbuk Motors awaits in Japan. COACH The 51-yearold Pitso Mosimane played in the Greek top flight and won four caps for South Africa in 1993. He took over from Bruce Grobbelaar in 2003 at SuperSport United, served as Carlos Alberto Parreira’s assistant from 2007 for the 2010 World Cup and was then his successor as national coach. After being fired in 2013, he joined Sundowns and has taken them to two titles in the last three seasons.

COACH The unsmiling Choi Kang-hee has been in charge since 2005 – apart from an 18month spell leading Korea through qualification for the 2014 World Cup – and has turned Jeonbuk from a middling K-League side to a genuine Asian powerhouse with four domestic and two continental crowns. TACTICS Choi has plenty of options to deploy in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Long-term investment has ensured that he has two players for almost every position. Kim Bo-kyung, and foreigners Leonardo and Ricardo Lopes are instrumental in the key attacking moves, feeding tall striker Kim Shin-wook, who is first choice ahead of Lee Dong-Gook. W W Kwon Sun-tae W Cho Sung-hwan Kim Hyung-il W W Kim Chang-soo Park Won-hae W W Choi Chul-soon Lee Jae-sung W W W Leonardo Ricardo Lopes Kim Bo-kyung W Kim Shin-wook


Final...action from the second leg against Zamalek


Khama BILLIAT Zimbabwe international Khama Billiat was voted the top player in South Africa at the end of last season after helping Sundowns to the league title. He is deceptively quick and full of trickery, but can be wasteful in front of goal. Were it not for his slight frame, he would be at a European club by now.

TACTICS Sundowns play a simple 4-4-2, relying on skill, guile and pace to break down opponents. “I don’t like too much tactical innovation and I don’t like rotating either,” says coach Pitso Mosimane despite a big squad that reflects the dominance the Pretoria club have in the African transfer market because of the wealth of their owner. W W Onyango W Nascimento Arendse W W Morena Langerman W W Mabunda Kekanba W W Tau Dolly W W Vilakazi Billiat



REAL MADRID John Holmesdale


Skipper...Sergio Ramos lifts the European Cup Committed... Reds’ Yuki Abe

THE STORY SO FAR Real Madrid travel to Japan having won a record 11th European Cup in May, beating city rivals Atletico Madrid in Milan. They are no strangers to the Club World Cup, having beaten Argentina’s San Lorenzo 2-0 two years ago. Going further back, there have been victories in the competition’s previous incarnation, the World Club Cup, in 1960, 1998 and 2002. On paper, they are in fine form: six points clear of Barcelona ahead of December’s Classico, and unbeaten in their Champions League group. But injuries to Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos have disrupted their preparations. Coach Zinedine Zidane has proved to be an adept appointment by Madrid president Florentino Perez, despite having little experience, other than a season as assistant to Carlo Ancelotti in 2013–14, when appointed in January 2016. STAR PLAYER

Cristiano RONALDO Who else? World Soccer’s World Player of the Year for 2016 remains Madrid’s most important player even if he is not as essential to the team as he once was. In the absence of the injured Gareth Bale, he will be more important than ever in Japan.

Zidane has collected 86 points in his first 33 league games in charge (27 wins, five draws and one defeat). That is a better record than Pep Guardiola’s opening period at Barcelona, where he collected 82 points over his first 33 games in 2008-09. He has also surpassed Jose Mourinho’s 80 point haul at Madrid in 2010-11. COACH Former Madrid galactico Zinedine Zidane has impressed as coach since his appointment in January following a stint in charge of Madrid’s Castilla side. A World Club Cup winner when Madrid beat Olimpia in Tokyo in 2002, six months after his magical volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

The winners of the J.League Final play-off between Kashima Antlers and Urawa Red Diamonds will represent the host nation in the 2016 Club World Cup. The two-legged decider was scheduled

to be played on November 29 and December 3. Kashima Antlers were winners of the 2016 J.League’s first stage, while Urawa Red Diamonds finished top of the second stage.

TACTICS Injuries to Bale and Kroos have forced Zidane to adapt his preferred 4-3-3 formation. Karim Benzema or Ronaldo is likely to lead the line behind a midfield three where the recently overlooked James Rodriguez or Isco could feature, with Mateo Kovacevic the likely replacement for Kroos in central midfield.


W Navas W W Varane Ramos

W W Carvajal Marcelo W W Kovacic Modric W W W Rodriguez Ronaldo Vazquez W Benzema

Team-work...Kashima Antlers’ Ryota Nagaki (left) and Mitsuo Ogasawara WORLD SOCCER


OCTOBER 27 - NOVEMBER 27, 2016

Global diary A comprehensive record of recent events around the world Thursday October 27 ALGERIA: Two days after losing his job with Belgian side Lokeren, Georges Leekens becomes Algeria’s third national coach this year. ENGLAND: Following violence at their League Cup tie with Chelsea the previous evening, an MP calls for West Ham United to play behind closed doors if there are any further incidents at the London Stadium. GABON: Players in Gabon – where the African Nations Cup finals will be staged in January – threaten to strike ahead of the new league season in a row over non-payment of wages.

Friday October 28 ARGENTINA: Racing Club announce that Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino has become a member.

Saturday October 29 ALGERIA: MO Bejaia draw 1-1 with DR Congo’s TP Mazembe in their

home leg of the CAF Confederation Cup Final. CHILE: Audax Italiano striker Sebastian Pol is arrested after he kicks a rival fan in the face at the end of his side’s 4-1 loss to Universidad Catolica in the Chilean top-flight. LATVIA: Spartaks Jurmala claim the league for the first time with a 2-0 victory over RFS.

Sunday October 30 CAMEROON: APEJES beat Bamboutous 2-0 in the Final of the Cameroon Cup with two goals from Franck Thierry Boya. ITALY: Crotone claim a first Serie A win in their history as they beat Chievo 2-0. JAPAN: A 5-3 victory on penalties against Saudi Arabia at the Bahrain National Stadium sees Japan win the AFC Under-19 Championship for the first time. LITHUANIA: Zalgiris complete a

fourth consecutive double by sealing the league title with a 2-0 win at home to Atlantas. MALAYSIA: Kedah beat Selangor on penalties to win the Malaysia Cup for a fifth time. SOMALIA: Jeenyo win the Somalia Cup for a fourth time, beating Banadir on penalties in the Final after a 2-2 draw. SPAIN: Gareth Bale extends his contract with Real Madrid to 2022.

Monday October 31 AUSTRALIA: Melbourne Victory’s Besart Berisha scores two penalties in the space of 17 seconds in a 6-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix. BOLIVIA: A 2-0 victory over Peru on September 1 and a 0-0 draw with Chile five days later are expunged from the records, and their opponents awarded 3-0 wins instead, after Bolivia fielded an ineligible player, defender Nelson Cabrera, in the World Cup qualifiers.

Goalless...Leicester (in blue) deny Copenhagen

GERMANY: National coach Joachim Low extends his contract by two years until 2020. ITALY: Silvio Gazzaniga, the sculptor who created the current World Cup trophy, passes away in his home city of Milan at the age of 95. SAUDI ARABIA: The Saudi Interior Ministry says it has foiled a terrorist plot to bomb Saudi Arabia’s game against United Arab Emirates in Jeddah on October 11.

Tuesday November 1 ALGERIA: USM Alger win the Algerian Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over MC Alger. COLOMBIA: Despite having Miguel Borja sent-off, Atletico Nacional grab a 1-1 draw in Paraguay against Cerro Porteno in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana semi-final, thanks to an own goal from Alvaro Pereira. ENGLAND: Trailing 2-0 within 15 minutes, Arsenal come back to beat Ludogorets 3-2 in Bulgaria to claim a place in the Champions League round of 16. Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain also go through. ITALY: Internazionale sack Frank De Boer after just 85 days as coach. SPAIN: Although Barcelona lose 3-1 at Manchester City, Lionel Messi’s goal is his 54th goal in the group stage of the Champions League, which takes him past the record set by Raul for Real Madrid and Schalke.

Wednesday November 2

Good start...TP Mazembe (in stripes) held MO Bejaia of Algeria to a draw in their away leg of the CAF Champions League Final



BRAZIL: Chapecoense earn a 1-1 draw in Argentina against San Lorenzo in the away leg of their Sudamericana Cup semi-final.


Finland EGAN RICHARDSON Champions... IFK celebrate

ENGLAND: Leicester City become the first team to keep clean sheets in their first four Champions League games as they draw 0-0 away to Copenhagen in Denmark. Watford chairman Raffaele Riva stands down after the Football League announces it will look into claims of a forged document relating to Gino Pozzo’s purchase of the club in 2014. NORWAY: Ole Selnaes is handed an 11-month international ban after he insulted a match official following Norway’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying loss away to Azerbaijan in October. POLAND: Legia Warsaw come from 2-0 down to briefly lead 3-2 before being held 3-3 at home by Real Madrid in the Champions League. SCOTLAND: Having retired from international football in the summer, Scott Brown returns to the Scotland squad. Joey Barton is free to resume training with Rangers following a club-imposed ban. SOUTH AFRICA: Orlando Pirates accept the resignation of coach

Resigned...Pirates boss Muhsin Ertugral

IFK upset the odds Club from a town of 11,500 inhabitants win their first title ipped for relegation in pre-season, low-budget IFK Mariehamn pulled off a shock to win the championship and become “Finland’s Leicester”. In winning the title, they became the 29th champion of Finland and the club from the smallest town to secure that honour. Mariehamn has just 11,500 inhabitants, but 4,535 of them turned up at the Wiklof Holding Arena to see IFK clinch the championship with a 2-1 win over Ilves. Having won the cup in 2015, and qualified for Europe in the past through their league position, the team didn’t totally come out of nowhere like Leicester. But ever since they won promotion to the top flight in 2005, IFK have been pushing the limits of what is possible for a club based in a small community in the autonomous, Swedish-speaking Aland islands. Their budget is less than a third of the country’s biggest club, HJK from Helsinki, and journeys to most away games last at least 36 hours thanks to the ferry timetables and the club’s decision not to spend big money on charter planes. But with HJK imploding – they lost 4-1 at home to Lahti when poised to take command of the title race – and last season’s champions SJK taking half the season to get going, the Alanders seized their chance. Based around a solid defence under captain Jani Lyyski and a quicksilver strike force led by Jamaican striker Dever Orgill, they went six games unbeaten at the end of the season to hold off a late surge from SJK. The club is helped by the kind of togetherness forged by the Aland community, which is semidetached from the mainland and bound together by an affinity for their football club. Finland has a complicated relationship with Aland, informed partly by language


and culture – Aland is Swedish-speaking, as are around 5 per cent of Finns – and partly by history. The province has been demilitarised since the 1920s, with Alanders exempt from compulsory conscription. The week before the title decider, Finland’s Defence Minister Jussi Niinisto suggested that status should possibly be looked at again, suggesting that Aland might be a “military vacuum” ready to be filled by foreign powers – like in Crimea. At least one journalist travelled to Aland to ask the locals about the situation, but he said in his report that he found them much more interested in chatting about IFK and the Veikkausliiga title. This is noteworthy in Finland, where football is not the biggest sport and clubs are often funded by a small group of businessmen rather than a big fanbase. In Aland, the club’s appeal is based on deep roots in the community, with more than 10 per cent of Mariehamn’s population regularly attending home games and local businesses also digging deep to help fund the club. Most of the reaction in Finland has been positive, with enthusiasm for a fairytale winner trumping amazement at such a small club taking the title. There is a small but significant minority, however, looking to place IFK’s victory within the narrative that this year marks a nadir for Finnish football. And with the national team winless in 2016, and the country’s best player Roman Eremenko banned for testing positive for cocaine, there is enough to be miserable about. So it has been far healthier to revel in the Gronvitt (“green white”) surge and try to learn how to emulate their success. Feelgood stories are rare enough in Finnish football, it would be foolish to mourn one like this. WORLD SOCCER


6-1 loss to SuperSport United equals their heaviest-ever defeat.

Thursday November 3 ENGLAND: Wayne Rooney scores in Manchester United’s 2-1 loss at Fenerbahce in the Europa League to equal the club record, set by Ruud Van Nistelrooy, of 38 goals in European competition. HOLLAND: Ajax win 3-2 at home to Celta Vigo of Spain and secure a place in the knockout stage of the Europa League, along with Schalke, Shakhtar Donetsk and Zenit. MEXICO: Querataro end a 66-year wait for a first major trophy as they beat Guadalajara on penalties in the Final of the apertura Copa MX. SPAIN: Aritz Aduriz becomes the first player to score five goals in a Europa League game as Athletic Bilbao beat Belgium’s Genk 5-3.

Friday November 4 GABON: African Nations Cup hosts Gabon sack coach Jorge Costa little more than two months before the start of the 2017 tournament and replace the 45-year-old former Portugal defender on an interim basis with compatriot Jose Garrido. NORTH KOREA: Jang Paek-ho, North Korea’s under-16 goalkeeper, and his side’s coach, Yung Jong-su, are both banned for a year after he let a goal in against Uzbekistan in the AFC Under-16 Championship in September in order to receive an easier draw in the competition’s knockout phase.

Saturday November 5 ENGLAND: Sunderland win 2-1 at Bournemouth for a first league victory of the season. ESTONIA: Andrei Kalimullin plays his 500th game in the Estonian top flight and wins a seventh league title as Infonet beat Nomme Kalju 2-1 to claim the championship. GERMANY: Dropped from Borussia Dortmund’s midweek Champions League game for going to Milan with friends without permission, PierreEmerick Aubameyang scores four times on his return to action in a 5-2 win at Hamburg. IRAQ: Air Force Club become the first Iraqi club to win the AFC Cup, beating Bengaluru 1-0 in the Final. URUGUAY: All the weekend’s games are called off after the death of a 21-year-old Penarol fan who was shot by supporters of rivals Nacional a month ago.

Republic of Ireland SEAN CREEDON

Setting the standard Kenny leads Dundalk to historic new heights t’s almost 60 years since Shamrock Rovers became the first League of Ireland club to play in Europe. Along the way, there have been some good nights and some bad nights – but nothing quite compares to the achievements of Dundalk, who made history this season by becoming the first Irish club to win a game in the Europa League group stage. The first club from outside Dublin to win the national title, in 1933, Dundalk were also the first League of Ireland club to win an away game in Europe when they beat Zurich in 1963. But after a 1-1 draw away to Dutch side AZ in September, they raised the standard for other Irish clubs by beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at Tallaght Stadium in South Dublin. With their Oriel Park ground not up to scratch, Dundalk have had to decamp to Shamrock’s Tallaght Stadium for continental games. But with an expected €3million windfall from Europe this year, the club hope they can sort out the lease situation on their rented home and carry out some much needed refurbishment


Sunday November 6 DR CONGO: TP Mazembe beat Algeria’s MO Bejaia 4-1 to win



Champion...Stephen Kenny is building a dynasty at Dundalk

Shock...Dundalk celebrate taking the lead against Zenit in the Europa League

to bring it up to a UEFA Category 3 stadium. As with so many rags-to-riches tales, Dundalk’s story is linked to a successful manager. Stephen Kenny was just 27 when he took his first managerial job, taking charge of First Division Longford Town in 1998 and leading them into the Premier Division and to an FAI Cup Final. That gave him a taste for European football, and he went on to manage both Bohemians and Derry City in Europe. He then spent 13 months with Dunfermline, who he guided to the Scottish Cup Final in 2007. After being sacked by Shamrock in September 2012, Kenny was offered a lifeline by Dundalk, who had just got through a play-off to avoid relegation. The club was clearly in a poor state when the Dubliner took over at Oriel Park in November 2012 and midfielder Chris Shields, who is one of two players still at the club, recalls: “We were ‘Ragball Rovers’ when Stephen came in. He inherited players that were going nowhere in their careers, myself included. “But he has worked wonders, getting us all to work together and build a dynasty.” Dundalk finished second to St Patrick’s in 2013, won the league in 2014, the league and FAI Cup in 2015, and made it three league titles in a row this year, before losing to Cork City in the Cup Final. However, it has been their exploits overseas this year that has really


the CAF Confederation Cup 5-2 on aggregate. ENGLAND: Liverpool beat Watford 6-1 and top the Premier League for the first time under Jurgen Klopp. FRANCE: Nice lose in the league for the first time this season, going down 1-0 at struggling Caen. ITALY: Gianluigi Buffon becomes only the fourth player to make 600 appearances in Serie A as Juventus beat Chievo 2-1. KENYA: Cup winners Tusker complete the double by beating Leopards 1-0 to secure the league with a game to spare. NIGERIA: Ifeanyi Ubah win the Nigerian Cup for the first time, beating Nasarawa United on spotkicks after a 0-0 draw in the Final. PORTUGAL: Lisandro Lopez’s injurytime equaliser earns Benfica a 1-1 draw at Porto in the 235th Classico. SCOTLAND: Clint Hill’s goal in Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Ross County makes him the oldest player to score in the Scottish top flight, at 38 years and 183 days, since Lee Bullen of Falkirk in 2009.

Monday November 7

grabbed the attention of Irish football fans. After putting up a great performance against Legia Warsaw in the Champions League play-off, Dundalk dropped down to the Europa League, where they have performed heroics. “What Dundalk has done has not been an overnight thing,” admits Kenny. “I have been thinking about this for a while and I always thought it was possible. “After the switch to summer football, the standards improved in the League of Ireland, but then I think the business models by some clubs were not sustainable. Also in Ireland we don’t have any television revenue, which is a huge disadvantage when competing in

Europe. The teams we played in the Europa League were packed with internationals, but we had none. “My job was to convince my players that they could compete with the opposition.’’ Among those taking a keen interest in Dundalk’s European adventure was Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, who called up winger Daryl Horgan and captain Andy Boyle for the country’s World Cup

“He has worked wonders, getting us all to work together and build a dynasty” Dundalk midfielder Chris Shields on boss Stephen Kenny

Home...Oriel Park has not hosted Dundalk’s Europa League games

qualifier against Austria in November. While reluctant to talk about going for a fourth successive championship next year, the 45-year-old Kenny admits he would like to equal the record set by the great Shamrock team of the 1980s. “Last year we lost only one player, Richie Towell to Brighton, and my main priority is to hold on to most of the squad I have,” he says. “But of course, you always need to freshen things up with a few new signings. “It would be a great achievement to equal the record set by Shamrock Rovers 29 years ago.”

GERMANY: Reinhard Grindel will serve a four-year term after being re-elected as German Football Association president. LAOS: Four players currently competing for Laos in the AFC Solidarity Cup are provisionally suspended by the Asian Football Confederation as it investigates suspected manipulation of “multiple matches” going back years. SPAIN: Alfredo Sanchez is named interim coach after Osasuna sack Enrique Martin. Cristiano Ronaldo signs a new deal to keep him at Real Madrid until June 2021.

Tuesday November 8 EGYPT: Zamalek chairman Mortada Mansour rejects the resignation of coach Moamen Soliman and his technical staff. ENGLAND: Chelsea Under-21s and Oxford United set a new English record of 34 spot-kicks as hosts Chelsea win 13-12 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the EFL Trophy. ITALY: Stefano Pioli becomes Internazionale’s ninth coach since Jose Mourinho left the club after the 2010 Champions League win. SOUTH SUDAN: Gunmen open fire on the bus carrying Young Star Club home to their Torit base after they had lost to Alsalam Wau in the South Sudan Cup Final, The driver is killed and six others suffer various degrees of injury. TURKEY: A court acquits former WORLD SOCCER


Germany under-20 Deniz Naki, who plays for third-tier Amed SK, of spreading terrorist propaganda for the banned Kurdish PKK group.

Wednesday November 9 ALBANIA: Saturday’s World Cup qualifier between Albania and Israel is moved from Shkoder to Elbasan after a reported terrorist threat to the visiting team. FRENCH GUIANA: Sloan Privat gets a hat-trick as French Guiana beat Haiti 5-2 and qualify for their firstever CONCACAF Gold Cup finals. GREECE: The Hellenic Football Federation suspends all national league and cup competitions indefinitely after an arson attack at the home of Giorgos Bikas, the head of its refereeing committee.

Thursday November 10 BRAZIL: At the scene of the 7-1 World Cup thrashing by Germany in 2014, Neymar scores his 50th international goal as Brazil beat Argentina 3-0 at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. CHILE: Claudio Bravo sets a new World Cup qualifying appearance record for his country, playing in his 42nd game as Chile draw

0-0 away to Colombia. KOSOVO: Albania striker Besart Berisha of Melbourne Victory and Mergim Vojvoda of Belgian club Mouscron, who has been capped by Albania at under-21 level, are cleared by FIFA to represent Kosovo. NIGERIA: Four days after leading Ifeanyi Ubah to their first silverware and becoming the youngest coach to win the Nigerian Cup, 27-year-old Rafael Everton walks away after rejecting a lesser role with the club. SCOTLAND: Suspended after a row with a team-mate, subject to an SFA investigation into alleged breaches of gambling rules and then signed off with stress, Rangers terminate the contract of midfielder Joey Barton.

Friday November 11 CZECH REPUBLIC: It takes Michael Krmencik just 11 minutes to score on his international debut as Czech Republic beat Norway 2-1. ENGLAND: A 3-0 win over Scotland sees England extend their unbeaten record in qualifying games to 33, stretching back over seven years. GERMANY: Serge Gnabry scores a hat-trick on his debut as Germany beat San Marino 8-0. MEXICO: Playing his 134th game for

Muller in joint-fourth place on the list of Europe’s all-time top scorers with 68 international goals. SOUTH AFRICA: National coach Ephraim Mashaba is suspended for criticising SAFA president Danny Jordaan after Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Senegal. Assistant boss Owen Da Gama will take charge of Tuesday’s friendly in Mozambique. USA: New York Cosmos retain the NASL Soccer Bowl, beating Indy Eleven on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes at Belson Stadium. Dream start...Michael Krmencik

El Tri, 37-year-old Rafa Marquez scores the winner two minutes from time as Mexico beat USA 2-1.

Saturday November 12 ITALY: A 4-0 win over Liechtenstein equals Italy’s record away win in a qualifying game. SPAIN: At 35 years and 275 days, Aritz Aduriz becomes Spain’s oldest scorer with a goal in the 4-0 victory against Macedonia.

Sunday November 13 PORTUGAL: Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice as Portugal beat Latvia 4-1 to join Robbie Keane and Gerd


Solidarity success National team reaches November’s Final acau’s shock run to the Final of the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia was no surprise to the club owners who are trying to transform football in the former Portuguese colony. “We want to bring the standard of Macau football up and the Solidarity Cup shows we have done that,” says Duarte Alves, the commercial manager at reigning domestic champions Benfica, who had seven players at the tournament. A brace from Benfica’s Niki Torrao saw off Mongolia 2-1 in the opener and the South African-born striker doubled his tally in a 4-1 thrashing of Laos, which took Macau into the semi-finals. Torrao missed the last group game with an injured hand but featured in a semi-final victory on penalties over Brunei and in the Final, which Nepal dominated and deservedly won 1-0. Despite that loss, the tournament was a major fillip for one of Asia’s least active national sides. Founded in 1939, the Macau Football Association only joined FIFA in 1978 – 21 years before China




reclaimed the territory – and did not enter the World Cup qualifying tournament until 1994. Club football has been equally hermetic, with few forays overseas, but in August 2016 Benfica became the first Macanese side to win an AFC tie, beating Guam’s Rovers 4-2 in an AFC Cup qualifier. “When we came to the club, our objective was to win the league, then to take part in the AFC Cup then to win a tie,” continues Alves, whose father, Leonel, took control of the club in 2008. Benfica de Macau date back to 1951, but only after the Alves family took over was a formal affiliation with the Portuguese giants secured. Although Sporting de Macau also have links with their Portuguese namesakes and invested in foreign talent – up to eight overseas players can be recruited – Benfica have won every title since 2014. “Before we came, our club only trained two or three times a week,” says Alves. “Since we started, players train every day so the other clubs have to do the same to bring the standard up.” The other traditionally strong sides, such as CPK, Ka

Monday November 14 UGANDA: Several ex-internationals are among a group of more than 50 people who attack the headquarters of the Ugandan FA in protest that the current administration is not rightfully in office.

Tuesday November 15 BRAZIL: Dani Alves wins his 100th cap as Brazil beat Peru 2-0 to make it six World Cup qualifying victories in a row for the first time in 47 years. ITALY: Gianluigi Buffon equals the European record, set by Spain’s Iker Casillas, with his 167th cap as Italy draw 0-0 with Germany. MALTA: Michael Mifsud sets a new


national record with his 123rd cap for Malta in a 2-0 loss to Iceland. NEPAL: A first-half goal from Sujal Shreshtha seals a 1-0 victory for Nepal over Macau in the Final of the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia. NEW ZEALAND: Saturday’s ALeague fixture between Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory is postponed following devastating earthquakes in New Zealand which claim at least two lives. RUSSIA: The first-ever international staged by Russia in Chechnya ends with a 1-0 victory over Romania in a friendly at Grozny’s Akhmat-Arena. SPAIN: Late goals from debutant Iago Aspas and Isco earn Spain a 2-2 draw with England at Wembley in Gareth Southgate’s fourth and final game as the hosts’ interim boss.

sponsorship deal with Japanese firm Rakuten that, at £50m a year for four years, is only bettered by that of Manchester United.

Thursday November 17 USA: Robbie Keane confirms that he will leave LA Galaxy but wishes to continue playing elsewhere.

Friday November 18 COLOMBIA: Atletico Nacional pick up the Colombian Cup, beating Junior 1-0 away to win 3-1 on

aggregate in the Final. GERMANY: RB Leipzig come from behind to win 3-2 away to Bayer Leverkusen and top the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.

Saturday November 19 ENGLAND: Yaya Toure scores both goals in his first Premier League appearance of the season as Manchester City win 2-1 at Crystal Palace. Manchester United are held 1-1 at home by Arsenal. GERMANY: Borussia Dortmund beat

Wednesday November 16 ENGLAND: Plans to revamp the Football League, and increase the overall number of member clubs from 92 to 100 with a new division, are scrapped after talks break down. NORWAY: National coach PerMathias Hogmo resigns with Norway currently at an all-time low of 81st in the FIFA world rankings. SPAIN: Barcelona sign a shirt-

Bayern Munich for the first time in eight attempts, with a goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inflicting Bayern’s first Bundesliga defeat since March. SOUTH KOREA: Two goals from Leonardo see Jeonbuk Motors come back from a goal down to beat UAE’s Al Ain 2-1 in their home leg of the AFC Champions League Final. SPAIN: Cristiano Ronaldo gets his 39th hat-trick for Real Madrid, as they win 3-0 away to city rivals Atletico, and becomes the derby’s all-time top scorer with 18. Sergio Busquets plays his 400th game for Barcelona as they draw 0-0 at home against nine-man Malaga. THAILAND: With the group stage being held in Myanmar and the Philippines, Thailand begin the defence of their AFF Championship title with a 4-2 win over Indonesia.

Sunday November 20

Klassiker...Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) wheels away after scoring against Bayern

Winners...Nepal (in red)


ENGLAND: Diego Costa’s 10th goal of the season hands Chelsea a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough as they go top of the Premier League with a sixth straight victory. FRANCE: Nice return to the top of Ligue 1 as Valentin Eysseric’s goal against his former club Saint-

I and Monte Carlo, have responded by sourcing players from Portugal, Brazil or Cape Verde. Bruno Brito played for Sporting in Macau’s Liga de Elite from 2013 to 2015 and says of these developments: “Macau is growing up really quickly and they are getting better and better because the clubs are bringing in players from overseas.” Overseas players can be full-time, but most locals are part-time. Torrao works in marketing at the Venetian Casino, while his international team-mates include firemen, police officers, teachers and university students. National coach Joseph Tam Lao, meanwhile, is senior editor of Chinese sports at Macau’s TV station. Macau’s only full-time player is Leong Ka Hang, who crossed the Pearl River Delta to join Hong Kong side Pegasus in 2016 and was voted Most Valuable Player in the Solidarity Cup. Last season’s player of the year, Chan Man, moved to Portuguese side Olhanense in the summer, but missed the registration deadline. Unable to play in Portugal, he is back in Macau with Benfica and available to Tam Lao for the East Asian Football Federation qualifiers. Tam Lao, who won the 2008 Liga de Elite title with Monte Carlo before managing at youth-international level and then landing the senior job in 2014, says: “We have to play more international or competitive matches in order to improve the team.” Macau managed just three internationals in each of 2014 and 2015, but this year has brought triple that number due to the AFC Solidarity Cup and the EAFF qualifiers in Guam. Macau have never made it past the EAFF preliminaries and that is the next target for Tam Lao, who says: “Step by step, one day, I believe Macau football can jump to another stage in an international tournament.” WORLD SOCCER



Jeonbuk end on a high South Koreans win Champions League eonbuk Motors lifted the 2016 Asian Champions League title, defeating Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 3-2 on aggregate, to give South Korea an 11th continental championship in total. Motors, who won in 2006, just about shaded it in Double...Leonardo terms of the scoreline and the performance. The best team in Korea took the home leg 2-1, although Al Ain – the winners of the inaugural Champions League in 2003 – opened the scoring through Colombian winger Danilo Asprilla after 64 minutes. Within 10 minutes, however, two goals – the first a curler into the top corner from outside the area – from Leonardo put Jeonbuk in the driving seat. The Brazilian’s second goal, from the penalty spot, was his 10th in this year’s tournament. Both teams left Jeonju World Cup Stadium a little frustrated – Al Ain at losing the lead and Jeonbuk at not scoring more – but also hopeful that where was Challenge...Lee a route to the trophy. Dong-gook (left) In the second leg, on the UAE border with Oman, it competes with was a different game, with Al Ain making the running. Al Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman But it was Jeonbuk who took the lead on the half hour as Han Kyo-won, an early substitute for the injured Ricardo “Winning the Champions League Lopes, fired home from a corner. is an unforgettable dream” in the Final. “When we lost in 2011, I saw It left Al Ain, known as “The Jeonbuk Motors coach, Choi Kang-hee the fans were so dispirited, so winning the Boss”, with much to do just to Champions League is an unforgettable dream.” take the game into extra time, but An up-and-down season for Jeonbuk has ended on a there was hope four minutes later definite high. On course for a third successive K-League when their Korean midfielder Lee title, with a lead of 14 points over Seoul with six games to Myung-joo made it 1-1 on the go, they lost to their rivals on the final day of the season night. Before half-time it got even to slip into second place. The new champions were better for the Emiratis as Kim helped by a nine-point deduction handed to Jeonbuk in Hyung-il brought Asprilla down in September after a club scout was found guilty of bribing the box. However, Brazilian striker referees in 2013 – an incident of which the club denies Douglas skied his spot-kick over all knowledge. the bar. The Asian Football Confederation is still looking into Jeonbuk rallied and kept out the the situation and there is a chance that the Hyundaihosts for the rest of the game to owned club will not be allowed to enter next year’s the delight of those in the small Champions League. It would be embarrassing for Asia to green corner of the stadium. “It’s have its champion barred from defending its title and the our first title since 2006, I’m so pressure on the AFC to do nothing will only increase. really happy,” said the usually Overall though, it was a fine tournament with Jeonbuk glum-looking Choi Kang-hee, who the best side. Although not full of stars, they have a was coach 10 years ago when the squad of good K-League players with difference-making club won its first title, and also in Champions...Jeonbuk Motors celebrate and are now off to Japan foreigners such as Leonardo and Ricardo Lopes. The 2011 when they lost on penalties





Etienne seals a 1-0 win. ITALY: Ivan Perisic’s injury-time goal earns Stefano Pioli a 2-2 draw against Milan in his first game as Internazionale coach. SWEDEN: Helsingborg striker Jordan Larsson, who is the son of club coach and former Celtic star Henrik Larsson, is assaulted on the pitch by his own side’s fans as the five-time Swedish champions are relegated from the top flight following a 3-2 loss to Halmstad on aggregate.

Monday November 21 USA: Jurgen Klinsmann is sacked as US coach following losses in the first two World Cup qualifiers.

Tuesday November 22

Greens hit the headlines by knocking out SvenGoran Eriksson and Hulk’s Shanghai SIPG with a 5-0 thrashing in the second leg – a result that played a big part in the Swede being fired by the club to be replaced by Andre Villas-Boas in November. China had two representatives in the last eight for the first time, with Shandong Luneng also losing to Korean opposition in Seoul. Winners in 2015, Guangzhou Evergrande suffered a surprise first-round exit, as did Chinese Super League runners-up Jiangsu Suning, who spent big on Alex Teixeira and Ramires. Japanese teams underachieved once again while over in West Asia – the two regions are split until the final for mainly practical reasons of travel – two from the UAE made it to the last eight, with Al Ain going through and defeating El Jaish of Qatar in the semi-final. But for the second year running, a UAE team lost in the Final, which means that since Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia beat Al Ain in the 2005 Final, only in 2011 – when Al Sadd of Qatar defeated Jeonbuk – has the trophy gone west.

AEK after just three months and four appearances with the Athens club. ISRAEL: Hapoel Beer-Sheva overturn a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 at home to Internazionale and condemn the Italian side to bottom spot in their Europa League group. SPAIN: Gareth Bale is expected to be out for at least three months as Real Madrid confirm he will undergo surgery on his right ankle after sustaining an injury in Tuesday’s 2-1 win against Sporting in Lisbon. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: National coach Stephen Hart parts company with Trinidad & Tobago.

Friday November 25 GERMANY: Uli Hoeness, who had to step down in 2014 when he served jail time for tax evasion, is re-elected as club president at Bayern Munich’s annual general meeting.

GERMANY: Borussia Dortmund’s 8-4 victory over Legia Warsaw is the highest-scoring game in Champions League history. Monaco, Bayer Saturday November 26 Leverkusen, Real Madrid, Leicester BRAZIL: Vasco da Gama return to City and Juventus join them in the the top flight of Brazilian football knockout stage of the competition. with a 2-1 victory USA: Bruce Arena over Ceara. leaves LA Galaxy ENGLAND: Losing to become US 4-3 at the end national coach of 90 minutes, for a second time. Swansea City beat The game between Crystal Palace 5-4 Montreal Impact with two injuryand Toronto is time goals from delayed after Fernando referee Juan Llorente. Guzman notices SOUTH KOREA: the two penalty Jeonbuk Motors areas are 4ft too draw 1-1 away narrow and the to Al Ain in the pitch has to be Finalists...Western Conference play-off winners Seattle UAE to win the repainted. Impact AFC Champions League Final 3-2 win the first leg of the Eastern on aggregate. Conference Final 3-2. TURKEY: Istanbul BB draw 1-1 at Wednesday November 23 second-place Besiktas to stay two BRAZIL: Gremio win 3-1 away to points clear at the top of the table. Atletico Mineiro in the first leg of Sunday November 27 the Brazilian Cup Final. BRAZIL: Palmeiras clinch the Serie SPAIN: Atletico Madrid beat PSV of A title with a game to spare as they Holland 2-0 to remain the only side beat Chapecoense 1-0. with a 100 per cent record in the ENGLAND: The FA sets up a review group stage of this season’s to look into allegations of sexual Champions League. abuse in football. TURKEY: Losing 3-0 with just over ITALY: Daniele De Rossi makes half an hour to play, Besiktas come his 400th Serie A appearance for back to draw 3-3 at home to Benfica. Roma, who beat Pescara 3-2 and Thursday November 24 close the gap at the top of Serie A to four points after Juventus lose 3-1 BRAZIL: Rogerio Ceni, who is the at Genoa earlier in the day. world’s top-scoring keeper of all SCOTLAND: Celtic win their 100th time with 131 goals, replaces Ricardo major trophy – and first of Brendan Gomes as coach of Sao Paulo. Rodgers reign as manager – with ENGLAND: Former Liverpool and a 3-0 victory over Aberdeen in England captain Steven Gerrard, who the Scottish League Cup Final. played for MLS side LA Galaxy this USA: Seattle Sounders reach a first year, announces his retirement. MLS Cup Final with a 3-1 aggregate GREECE: Former England defender win against Colorado Rapids. Joleon Lescott parts company with WORLD SOCCER













BATE were champions for an 11th year running. “This championship isn’t consolation for our European fiasco,” said midfielder Maksim Valadko (right) of their Champions League defeat by Dundalk and failure to reach the Europa League group stage.

Unlike the Belarusian Premier League, the Cup runs from autumn to spring. Torpedo-BelAZ won the 2015-16 tournament, beating BATE on penalties in May’s Final after a goalless draw. Both of this year’s finalists are in the last eight of the 2016-17 edition, which resumes in the new year.

The only Belarusian side to have reached the group stage of the Champions League, BATE will start the 2017-18 competition in the second qualifying round. Runners-up Shakhtyor Soligorsk and third-place Dinamo Minsk go into the Europa League first qualifying round, while the Cup winners enter a round later.

With the top four teams meeting on the last day of the season, Infonet won their first league title after coming from a goal down to beat Nomme Kalju 2-1 and finish two points ahead of runners-up Levadia Tallinn, who beat 2015 champions Flora Tallinn by the same scoreline.

This season’s competition is not due to finish until next year, with the Final scheduled for May, at the A Le Coq Arena. The winner will enter the first qualifying round of the 2017–18 UEFA Europa League.

Infonet will start in the Champions League first qualifying round, while Levadia Tallinn and Nomme Kalju will go into the Europa League first qualifying round, along with 2017’s cup winners.

Born in 2008 from the merger of GI Gota and Leirvik IF, Vikingur were champions for the first time in their history, securing the title on the last day of the season with a 3-1 win at already relegated AB to finish one point ahead of KI. They lost just four times in the league – including all three games against KI.

KI denied Vikingur a fifth Faroese Cup on the trot, winning the Final on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Vikingur will compete in the Champions League first qualifying round. Cup winners KI are joined in the Europa League first qualifying round by NSI Runavik and B36 Torshavn (right), who finished third and fourth in the league respectively.

With three teams still in with a shout of winning the title ahead of the last round of fixtures, IFK Mariehamn held their nerve to win 2-1 at home to Ilves and clinch their first league title. Finland’s richest club, HJK, were second, while last year’s champions SJK finished third.

SJK (in black) won the Finnish Cup for the first time, beating HJK on penalties in the Final. They also reached the Final of the League Cup in May but were beaten by Lahti, who won 4-3 on spot-kicks.

IFK Mariehamn will play in the Champions League for the first time and start in the second qualifying round. HJK, SJK and fourth-place VPS all enter the Europa League in the first qualifying round.

This season there was a transitional tournament to reduce the 16-team league to 10 next year and then run from spring to autumn. Split into two groups of seven, the two winners – Chikhura Sachkhere and Samtredia – will meet in a two-leg play-off to decide the title.

Torpedo Kutaisi (below) beat second-tier Merani Martvili 2-1 in the Final.

The winners of the title play-off will enter the Champions League second qualifying round, while the loser will go into the Europa League first qualifying round, along with the Europa League play-off winners and Torpedo Kutaisi, who won the Georgian Cup.

Defending champions FH from the south-western port town of Hafnarfjordur were the best team in the country once again, winning their eighth title in 13 years, but without matching their relatively high standards of previous years.

Not consistent enough to crack the league top four, Rejkjavik outfit, Valur compensated by retaining the Icelandic Cup with a 2-0 victory over IBV in the Final.

FH go into the Champions League second qualifying round, while runners-up Stjarnan (below) and third-place KR join cup winners Valur in the Europa League.


R E L E G AT E D / P R O M O T E D




Gomel, who finished top of the second tier due to a better headto-head record, return to the top flight after just one season, while runners-up Dnepr Mogilev are back after two seasons away. They replace the bottom two in the Premier League, Belshina and Granit.

The creativity of Mikhail Gordeichuk (right) was the platform for yet another domestic league title for BATE.

Local boy made good Sergei Yasinsky transformed Vitebsk from relegation candidates last term into a top-six outfit in 2016.

In his first season in Europe, 19year-old Ghanaian striker Joel Fameyeh led the line superbly for not one but two Belarus clubs, starting the season at Belshina, then moving to Dinamo Brest.

Making their debut in the top-flight, Rakvere Tarvas failed to win a single game and return to the Esiliiga. They are replaced by second-tier champions Tulevik, while Parnu preserved their top-flight status, beating Maardu 9-4 on aggregate in a relegation/promotion play-off.

Mid-table Paide earned about half of their points thanks to the goals of 34-year-old former international Vjatseslav Zahovaiko. He hung up his boots in November and took over as the club’s first-team coach.

A league title that few saw coming was the culmination of five-and-ahalf-year’s hard work for Infonet boss Aleksandr Pushtov.

Having joined Levadia on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow, 21-year-old Anton Miranchuk (below) proved himself to be a great leader on the pitch, scoring 14 goals and contributing nine assists.

B68 Toftir, who failed to win a single league game after being promoted last season, were relegated, along with AB. EB/Streymur, who spent just a season in the second tier, and 07 Vestur are promoted.

The son of a Faroese MP and the soloist in a brass band, 26-year-old Pall Klettskard (right) hit all the right notes as a prolific finisher for KI.

In his first season with Vikingur, Samal Erik Hentze (right) came within a penalty kick of pulling off a league and cup double.

Eighteen-year-old NSI midfielder Petur Knudsen made his mark with his quick feet, imagination and dangerous free-kicks. He is the son of iconic bobble-hat wearing Faroe Islands goalkeeper Jens Martin Knudsen.

PK-35 Vantaa drop into the second tier and will be replaced by Ykkonen champions JJK. Inter Turku – who are coached by former Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace striker Shefki Kuqi – finished 11th in the Veikkausliiga but retained their place in the top flight after beating local rivals TPS 2–0 on aggregate in a relegation/ promotion play-off.

Dynamic attacking midfielder Emile Paul Tendeng helped Ilves to fifth place – their best finish since they won the league title in 1983.

With Pekka Lyyski announcing his retirement at the end of last season after 13 years in charge of the club, many expected IFK Mariehamn to struggle. However, his assistant Peter Lundberg, 35, was partnered with 58-year-old Kari Virtanen and the coaching team brought the title to the capital of the Aland Islands.

Mikael Soisalo (right) was an assured presence at the back for Ilves, with a maturity way beyond his 19 years.

The fifth and sixth-placed teams in each group will take part in relegation play-offs, with the losers joining the two bottom-placed teams in the Pirveli Liga next year.

A rising star of the Georgian game, Samtredia centre-forward Budu Zivzivadze offers muscular presence and goal-threat in equal measure.

Soso Pruidze (below) has been in charge of Chikhura Sachkhere since 2008 and has taken them from the bowels of the second division to top-flight summit.

Former Dynamo Kiev youth-team keeper Anatoli Tymofeev has performed excellently since arriving at Dinamo Batumi from Ukraine side Naftovyk.

Reykjavik sides Fylkir and Throttur are relegated from the top flight and will be replaced by second-tier champions KA and runners-up Grindavik, with the latter back among the elite for the first time in four years.

In both league and cup, Valur’s attacking midfielder Kristinn Freyr Sigurdsson was in irresistible goalscoring form and was rewarded with a move to Sundsvall in Sweden’s Allsvenskan.

In charge of FH since 2008, former Icelandic international Heimir Gudjonsson kept a typically firm grip on the tiller, masterminding the fifth league title of his reign.

After failing to make it at Ajax, 19-year-old striker Ottar Magnus Karlsson (right) showed a great deal of promise on returning to Vikingur. WORLD SOCCER








Astana (right) won a third successive title, finishing two points clear of a Kairat side featuring Andrey Arshavin and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Despite beating Astana twice, Kairat lacked stability and finish runners-up for a second successive season.

A goal from Congolese striker Junior Kabananga saw Astana beat Kairat 1-0 in the Cup Final to claim a first domestic double.

Astana will begin next year’s Champions League campaign in the second qualifying round. Cup winners in 2015, Kairat go into the Europa League first qualifying round with third-place Irtysh Pavlodar and Ordabasy, who finished fourth.

A youthful side, with an average age of 23, Spartaks Jurmala claimed their first Latvian title with a game to spare, finishing four points clear of Jelgava and a further point ahead of third-place Ventspils.

All of this season’s top flight are through to the last eight of a tournament that will conclude next year.

Spartaks enter the Champions League in the second qualifying round next year. Jelgava and Ventspils (right, in yellow) are in the Europa League first qualifying round, along with the Cup winners.

After losing three of their opening 10 games, Zalgiris won nine on the spin from June to August to win their fourth consecutive league title, and 23rd in total. Valdas Dambrauskas, coach of the Vilnius-based club, said: “I think it’s one of the best seasons in the club’s history.”

The league title also gave Zalgiris a fourth consecutive double as they had already beaten Suduva 2-0 in the Cup Final. Since they qualified for European competition due to their league position, the spot awarded to the cup winners was passed down to the league’s fourth-place team.

Zalgiris enter the Champions League in the second qualifying round. Trakai, Suduva (right) and Atlantas go into the Europa League first qualifying round.

Rosenborg (in white) won the title for a record-extending 24th time and finished 15 points clear of Brann. The champions lost only three league games all season, including two to thirdplace Odd.

At a packed Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, Rosenborg completed the double, beating second-tier Kongsvinger 4-0 in the Final with a hat-trick from Pal Helland and a goal from Tore Reginiussen.

Rosenborg go into the Champions League campaign second qualifying round. Brann start in the Europa League second qualifying round; Odd (left) and Haugesund the first.


Lithuania A LYGA


Rep of Ireland

For the third successive season, Dundalk were crowned league champions with Cork City in second place. Derry City were third this time round, with Shamrock Rovers fourth.


Malmo (below) finished six points ahead of AIK and Norrkoping to win their third title in four years.




Cork City (left) denied Dundalk a repeat double with a 1-0 win in extra-time thanks to a lastminute goal from Sean Maguire against his former club.

BK Hacken won their first piece of major silverware in May when they beat Malmo on penalties in the 2015-16 Swedish Cup Final. They began their defence of the trophy with an 11-1 thrashing of Vaxjo to qualify for the group phase of the 2016-17 competition, which is due to finish in May next year.

Dundalk will be in the Champions League second qualifying round, while Cork City, Derry City and Shamrock Rovers go into the Europa League first qualifying round.

Finalists in the 1978-79 European Cup, Malmo enter next season’s Champions League in the second qualifying round. AIK and Norrkoping will start in the Europa League first qualifying round, with the eventual winners of the Swedish Cup going into the second qualifying round.


R E L E G AT E D / P R O M O T E D




Bottom of the table Zhetysu will be replaced by First Division champions Kaisar, who return after one season. Taraz also lost their top-flight status after going down 3-0 to Altay in a promotion/relegation play-off.

With 22 goals, Kairat’s Ivorian striker Gerard Gohou (right) was the league’s top scorer. The 27year-old has been heavily linked with a move to French side Toulouse.

Irtysh were the most improved team in the country and they owe much of that status to their Bulgarian leader, Dimitar Dimitrov (right).

On loan at Aktobe from Rubin Kazan, 21-year-old Russian centre-back Yegor Sorokin was a consistently solid performer.

BFC Daugavpils finished bottom of the league and will swap places with First League winners Babite. METTA/ LU retained their top-flight place after beating second-tier runnersup Olaine 2-1 on aggregate in a promotion-relegation play-off.

Ventspils’ 35-year-old striker Girts Karlsons (below) was irresistible in the first half of the season and deservedly finished up as the championship’s leading scorer with 17 goals.

Back for a second stint at Spartaks, Belarussian boss Oleg Kubarev did what no one thought possible and turned the fifth-placed team of the previous campaign into the dominant force in the land.

Yevgeni Kozlov, a 21-year-old Russian, enjoyed a memorable inaugural season in Latvian football after arriving from Dynamo Saint Petersburg, with his goals and assists fuelling Spartaks’ triumph.

Kauno Zalgiris lost their top-flight place to Silas. Utenis Utena (left) retained their place on away goals after a 3-3 draw with Palanga in the promotion/ relegation play-off.

Lithuanian international and goalscoring midfielder Nerijus Valskis (right) was by far Trakai’s most influential player.

Zalgiris boss Valdas Dambrauskas secured his second league title with the club, having earned his corn by refusing to panic after winning only three of the first 10 fixtures.

Atllantas’ decision to recruit the Guinea striker Abdoul Sylla (right) from lower-league French side Sedan was a wise one as the former Montpellier academy graduate supplied power and goals.

Lars Arne Nilsen took Brann to second place in their first season after gaining promotion. He has amalgamated the players into a solid unit that shows tremendous work rate and team discipline.

Odd’s 18-year-old striker Rafik Zekhnini had a fine campaign, breaking into Norway’s under-21 team and coming onto the radar of Premier League side Everton.

Shamrock Rovers won’t like to be reminded that they dispensed with the services of the quietly spoken Stephen Kenny after just eight months in 2012, but the Dundalk boss was head and shoulders above everyone else once again.

The PFAI Young Player of the Year award went to prolific 22-yearold striker Sean Maguire (right), who had an impressive debut campaign with Cork City, having joined the club in December 2015 from Dundalk.

Former Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and England under-21 full-back Graham Potter worked wonders to keep Ostersund out of trouble in their first season in the Allsvenkan.

With AIK since the age of six, Alexander Isak made his first-team debut in February and became the club’s youngest-ever scorer at 16 years five months and seven days. By October, he had progressed from Sweden’s under-17 side to the under-21s.

Bodo/Glimt and Start were relegated, swapping places with Kristiansund and Sandefjord. Stabaek face a playoff against Jerv to preserve their topflight status.

Longford Town are replaced by First Division champions Limerick, while Wexford Youths also go down and swap places with Drogheda United after losing 3-2 on aggregate in the relegation/promotion play-off game.

Gefle and Falkenberg were relegated after finishing in the bottom two, and replaced by Superettan champions Sirius and runners-up AFC United. Helsingborg, whose coach Henrik Larsson later resigned, experienced their first demotion in 23 years after being beaten by Halmstad in a relegation/promotion play-off.

Danish midfielder Mike Jensen (left) was instrumental for Rosenborg, setting up others to score while finding the net eight times himself in the league.

Dundalk winger Daryl Horgan (right) was the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Year and celebrated with a call-up to the national squad for the first time.

Once on Manchester United’s books, 26-year-old schemer Magnus Wolff Eikrem (left) represented the creative heartbeat of champions Malmo.

Contributions from Nick Bidwell, Sean Creedon, Andres Must, Sigurd Odegaard and Egan Richardson




Internationals 2018 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

AFRICA section

O 5 finals places available

3rd round Group A Nov11 - Algiers, Algeria Libya 0 Tunisia 1 (Khazri pen 50) HT: 0-0. Ref: Omweno (Ken) Libya: Nashnoush - Sabbou, S Al Warfali, Salama, Al Gamal, Fetori, Al Musrati, Mounir (Khumaj 74), Benali (Al Tubal 60), Elhouni, Saltou (Zubya 62). Sent off: Salama 49. Tunisia: A Mathlouthi - Nagguez, Mohsni, Dhaouadi, Abdennour, Maaloul, Ben Amor, Sassi, Ben-Hatira (Sliti 46), Khazri (Bguir 84), Khenissi (Harbaoui 90+2). Nov13 - Conakry Guinea 1 (S Soumah pen 23) DR Congo 2 (Kebano 54, Bolasie 56) HT: 1-0. Ref: Alioum (Cam) Guinea: N Yattara - Alseny Bangoura, F Camara, I Conde, Issiaga Sylla (Kante 65), N Keita, S Diallo, Mara (Sankoh 78), S Soumah (Alhassane Bangoura 65), Idrissa Sylla, Doumbouya. DR Congo: Matampi - Mpeko, Zakuani, Tisserand, Lomalisa, Mbemba, Kebano (Bokadi 65), Bompunga (Mulumba 69), Mubele, Mbokani, Bolasie (Botaka 78). WC QUALS – AFRICA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP A P W D L F A Pts DR Congo 2 2 0 0 6 1 6 2 2 0 0 3 0 6 Tunisia Guinea 2 0 0 2 1 4 0 Libya 2 0 0 2 0 5 0

Group B Nov12 - Limbe Cameroon 1 (Aboubakar pen 45+4) Zambia 1 (Mbesuma 34) HT: 1-1. Ref: Diedhiou (Sen) Cameroon: Ondoa - Nyom, N’Koulou, Chedjou, Oyongo, Siani, Ngadeu, Salli (Abang 46), N’Jie (Bassogog 82), Moukandjo, Aboubakar. Zambia: Mweene - Chongo, Kapumbu, Sunzu, Z Tembo, Chaila, Mtonga, Kangwa (Silwimba 45), Lungu (Chansa 90+3), Kalaba, Mbesuma (Kola 57). Nov12 - Uyo Nigeria 3 (Moses 25, 90+3, Mikel 42) Algeria 1 (Bentaleb 67) HT: 2-0. Ref: Gassama (Gam) Nigeria: Akpeyi - Balogun, Omeruo (Shehu 66), Troost-Ekong, Echiejile, Onazi, Mikel (Ndidi 83), Etebo, Moses, Iheanacho, Iwobi (Musa 75). Algeria: M’Bolhi - Ziti (Feghouli 80), Mandi, Belkaroui, Ghoulam, Taider (Bounedjah 86), Medjani (Abeid 71), Bentaleb, Mahrez, Slimani, Brahimi. WC QUALS – AFRICA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP B P W D L F A Pts Nigeria 2 2 0 0 5 2 6 Cameroon 2 0 2 0 2 2 2 Zambia 2 0 1 1 2 3 1 Algeria 2 0 1 1 2 4 1

Group C Nov12 - Bamako Mali 0 Gabon 0 Ref: Sikazwe (Zam) Mali: D Diarra - O Coulibaly, S Coulibaly, Wague, H Traore, S Yatabare (M Yatabare 69), L Coulibaly, Adama Traore, Marega, Maiga (Bissouma 59), M Doumbia (Sow 87). Gabon: Ovono - Biyogo Poko, Appindangoye, Ecuele Manga, Obiang, Tandjigora, Lemina, Madinda (Engonga 75), Aubameyang, Evouna (Ze Ondo 90+3), Angoue (Meye 57).

Nov12 - Marrakech Morocco 0 Ivory Coast 0 Ref: Camille (Sey) Morocco: El Kajoui - Amrabat, Benatia, Da Costa, Mendyl, Boussoufa, Saiss, Tannane (Alioui 70), Belhanda (Carcela 62), Boufal (El Haddad 86), En-Nesyri. Ivory Coast: Sangare - Aurier, Kone, Kanon, Traore, Kessie, Serey Die, N’Guessan (Doukoure 60), Kodjia (Bony 73), Sio, Kalou (Gradel 89). WC QUALS – AFRICA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP C P W D L F A Pts Ivory Coast 2 1 1 0 3 1 4 2 0 2 0 0 0 2 Gabon Morocco 2 0 2 0 0 0 2 Mali 2 0 1 1 1 3 1

Group D Nov12 - Praia Cape Verde Islands 0 Burkina Faso 2 (Diawara 2, Nakoulma 29) HT: 0-2. Ref: Lemghaifry (Mra) Cape Verde: Vozinha - Carlitos (Julio Tavares 36), Fernando Varela, Ricardo (Semedo 73), Gege, Nuno Rocha, Marco Soares, Heldon, Garry Rodrigues, Djaniny (Ricardo Gomes 75), Babanco. Burkina Faso: Koffi - Guira, C Kabore, Diawara, Dayo, Paro, Alain Traore, Yago, Pitroipa (B Kone 80), Malo (Coulibaly 46), Nakoulma (Zongo 66). Nov12 - Polokwane South Africa 2 (Hlatshwayo pen 43, Serero 45+1) Senegal 1 (C N’Doye 75) HT: 2-0. Ref: Lamptey (Gha) South Africa: Khune - Hlatshwayo, Mathoho, Coetzee, Matlaba, Jali, Mabunda, Makola, Serero (Klate 81), Rodgers (Grobler 58), Dolly (Kekana 72). Senegal: Diallo - Ciss, Koulibaly, Mbodj, Gassama (Toure 83), Kouyate, Gueye, Keita, Diame (C N’Doye 46), Konate (M B Diouf 60), S Mane. WC QUALS – AFRICA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP D P W D L F A Pts 1 1 0 3 1 4 Burkina Faso 2 South Africa 2 1 1 0 3 2 4 Senegal 2 1 0 1 3 2 3 Cape Verde Is 2 0 0 2 0 4 0

Group E Nov12 - Kampala Uganda 1 (Miya 18) Congo 0 HT: 1-0. Ref: Abid Charef (Alg) Uganda: Odongkara - Wadada, Ochaya, Isinde, Jjuuko (Luwagga 11), Wasswa, Aucho, Mawejje (Azira 60), Oloya (Walusimbi 82), Massa, Miya. Congo: Mongondza - Itoua, Baudry, Moubhio, Bakoua, Dore (Ganvoula 45+2), Bouka Moutou (Ankobo 84), Massengo, Tsiba (Ankira 46), Delarge, Ndockyt. Nov13 - Borg El Arab Egypt 2 (M Salah pen 43, El Said 86) Ghana 0 HT: 1-0. Ref: Otogo-Castane (Gab) Egypt: El Hadary - A Fathy, Gabr, Hegazy, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed, El Nenny, Trezeguet (Warda 90+2), El Said (Zakaria 90+2), M Salah, B Morsy (Sobhy 46). Ghana: Brimah - Afful, J Mensah, Amartey, Rahman, Agyemang-Badu, M Wakaso (Waris 89), Atsu, Partey (Schlupp 71), J Ayew, A Ayew. WC QUALS – AFRICA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP E P W D L F A Pts Egypt 2 2 0 0 4 1 6 Uganda 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 Ghana 2 0 1 1 0 2 1 2 0 0 2 1 3 0 Congo

Each team will play 6 games (3x2); games to be completed by Nov 2017 O The 5 group winners will qualify for the finals



ASIA section

O 4.5 finals places available

3rd round Group A Nov15 - Kunming China 0 Qatar 0 Att: 32,763. Ref: Sarray (Irq) China: Yan Junling - Feng Xiaoting, Zhang Linpeng, Mei Fang, Wu Xi, Huang Bowen (Gao Lin 83), Jiang Zhipeng, Zhang Xizhe, Zheng Zhi, Zhang Yuning (Yu Dabao 73), Wu Lei (Cao Yunding 64). Qatar: Al Sheeb - Majid, Khoukhi, Musa (Ismail 88), Pedro Miguel, Kasola, Boudiaf, Assadalla (Tabata 57), Luiz Martin, Al Haidos (El Sayed 75), Soria. Nov15 - Seoul South Korea 2 (Nam Tae-hee 67, Koo Ja-cheol 85) Uzbekistan 1 (Bikmaev 25) HT: 0-1. Att: 30,526. Ref: Al Mirdasi (Sau) South Korea: Kim Seung-gyu - Jang Hyun-soo, Kim Kee-hee, Park Joo-ho (Hong Chul 82), Kim Chang-soo, Koo Ja-cheol, Nam Tae-hee, Son Heung-min, Ki Sung-yueng, Ji Dong-won (Lee Jae-sung 63), Lee Jeong-hyeop (Kim Shin-wook 67). Uzbekistan: Lobanov - Ismailov, Khashimov, Krimets, Shukurov, Denisov, O Akhmedov, Bikmaev (Geynrikh 61), Afonin (Rashidov 88), Shomurodov (Sokhibov 81), Sergeev Nov15 - Paroi, Malaysia Syria 0 Iran 0 Att: 4,560. Ref: Al Qaysi (Irq) Syria: Alma - Al Shbli, Al Salih (Z Midani 21), Ajan, O Midani, Al Mawas, Mobayed, Haj Mohamad, Jenyat, Malki (Al Douni 67), Khribin (Hadi Al Masri 90+3). Iran: Makani - Rezaeian, Mohammadi, Ebrahimi, Hosseini, Pouraliganji, Dejagah (Amiri 66), Ezatolahi (Pourghaz 78), Ansarifard, Jahanbakhsh, Taremi (Ghoochannejhad 60). WC QUALS – ASIA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP A P W D L F A Pts Iran 5 3 2 0 4 0 11 South Korea 5 3 1 1 8 6 10 Uzbekistan 5 3 0 2 5 3 9 5 1 2 2 1 2 5 Syria 5 1 1 3 3 6 4 Qatar China 5 0 2 3 2 6 2

Group B Nov15 - Saitama Japan 2 (Kiyotake pen 45, Haraguchi 80) Saudi Arabia 1 (Omar Hawsawi 90) HT: 1-0. Att: 58,420. Ref: Bin Jahari (Sin) Japan: Nishikawa - Nagatomo, Morishige, Yoshida, H Sakai, Yamaguchi, Kubo (Honda 46), Kiyotake (Kagawa 65), Hasebe, Haraguchi, Osako (Okazaki 90+4). Saudi Arabia: Al Owais - Fallatah, Omar Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Al Shahrani, Al Khaibri (Al Ruwaili 70), Al Jassim (Al Shamrani 79), Al Faraj, Al Shehri (Al Muwallad 57), Al Abed, Al Sahlawi. Sent off: Osama Hawsawi 90+3. Nov15 - Bangkok Thailand 2 (Teerasil 20, pen 57) Australia 2 (Jedinak pen 9, pen 65) HT: 1-1. Att: 36,534. Ref: Al Marri (Qat) Thailand: Kawin - Siroch (Rungrath 90+2), Tristan, Theerathon, Sarach, Tanaboon, Pratum, Chanathip, Adison (Nattapon 82), Pokklaw, Teerasil. Australia: Ryan - Sainsbury, Smith, Degenek, Spiranovic (Irvine 79), Mooy, Rogic, Jedinak, Leckie (Burns 59), Kruse, Maclaren (Milligan 59). Nov15 - Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates 2 (Khalil 26, Matar 90+4) Iraq 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 14,583. Ref: Tantashev (Uzb) UAE: Khasif - Salem, I Ahmed, Abbas, O Abdulrahman, M Abdulrahman (Al Hammadi 61), Sanqour, T Ahmed, Esmaeel (Ibrahim 86), Mabkhout, Khalil (Matar 75). Iraq: Hameed - Ibrahim, Salem, Ismail, Nadhim, Abdul-Amir, Abdul-Zahra (A Hussein 64), Yasin (Resan 46), Attwan (Nouri 79), Abdul-Raheem, Meram.

WC QUALS – ASIA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP B P W D L F A Pts Saudi Arabia 5 3 1 1 9 5 10 Japan 5 3 1 1 8 5 10 Australia 5 2 3 0 8 5 9 UAE 5 3 0 2 7 6 9 Iraq 5 1 0 4 6 8 3 Thailand 5 0 1 4 3 12 1

Each team will play10 games (5x2); games to be completed by Sep 2017 ● The top 2 in both groups will qualify for the finals; the 2 3rd-placed countries will meet in the Asia section play-off, the winner of which will meet the 4th-placed CONCACAF country in a play-off for a place in the finals

CONCACAF section O 3.5 finals places available

5th round Nov11 - San Pedro Sula Honduras 0 Panama 1 (Escobar 22) HT: 0-1. Att: 37,253. Ref: Martinez (Cub) Honduras: Escober - Beckeles, M Figueroa, H Figueroa, Oseguera, Claros, A Mejia (Discua 46), Reyes (Hernandez 59), Quioto (O Garcia 59), M Martinez, Elis. Panama: Penedo - Machado, Escobar, Baloy, Ovalle (Miller 36), Cooper (G Torres 89), Quintero, G Gomez, Godoy (A Henriquez 54), Barcenas, B Perez. Nov11 - Port of Spain Trinidad & Tobago 0 Costa Rica 2 (Bolanos 65, Matarrita 90+2) HT: 0-0. Ref: Moncada (Hnd) Trinidad & Tobago: Jan-Michael Williams David, Bateau, C Mitchell, Hyland, J Jones, Cyrus, K George, K Jones (Plaza 79), Cato (L Garcia 75), Jomal Williams (Boucaud 67). Costa Rica: Navas - Gamboa, Acosta, Waston, Calvo (Umana 42), Matarrita, Borges, Azofeifa, Bolanos, B Ruiz (Venegas 78), Urena (Campbell 57). Nov11 - Columbus United States 1 (Wood 49) Mexico 2 (Layun 20, Marquez 89) HT: 0-1. Att: 24,650. Ref: Lopez (Gtm) United States: Howard (Guzan 40) - Chandler (Yedlin 74), Gonzalez, Brooks, Besler (Orozco 81), F Johnson, Bradley, Jones, Pulisic, Altidore, Wood. Mexico: Talavera - Marquez, Moreno, H Herrera, Reyes (Ayala 46), Layun, Guardado (Salcedo 28), G Dos Santos, Vela (Lozano 73), J M Corona, J Hernandez. Sent off: Salcedo 90+3. Nov15 - San Jose Costa Rica 4 (Venegas 44, Bolanos 69, Campbell 74, 78) United States 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 35,400. Ref: Ramos (Mex) Costa Rica: Navas - Salvatierra, Waston, Acosta, Umana, Matarrita, Bolanos, Azofeifa (Tejeda 70), Borges, B Ruiz (Wallace 84), Venegas (Campbell 67). United States: Guzan - Chandler, Gonzalez, Brooks, Besler, F Johnson (Zusi 77), Bradley, Jones (Kljestan 74), Pulisic (Gooch 70), Altidore, Wood. Nov15 - San Pedro Sula Honduras 3 (Quioto 17, Izaguirre 20, Hernandez 81) Trinidad & Tobago 1 (C Mitchell 52) HT: 2-0. Att: 34,576. Ref: Marrufo (USA) Honduras: Escober - Beckeles, H Figueroa, M Figueroa, Izaguirre, Espinoza, Claros, M Martinez (Discua 69), O Garcia (A Mejia 90+3), Quioto (Hernandez 69), Elis. Trinidad & Tobago: Jan-Michael Williams (Phillip 10) - Cyrus, C Mitchell, Bateau, David, K George, Hyland, Cato, J Jones (L Garcia 71), K Jones, Caesar (Plaza 75). Nov15 - Panama City Panama 0 Mexico 0 Ref: Montero (CR) Panama: Penedo - Machado, Escobar, R Torres, Ovalle, G Gomez (Godoy 82), Barcenas (Taylor 77), A Henriquez, Quintero, B Perez, G Torres (Tejada 80). Mexico: Ochoa - Araujo, Moreno, Layun, Reyes (Duenas 46), J Dos Santos, Marquez (H Herrera 73), Fabian, G Dos Santos (Lozano 60), R Jimenez, J Hernandez.


WC QUALS – CONCACAF – 5TH ROUND P W D L F A Pts Costa Rica 2 2 0 0 6 0 6 Mexico 2 1 1 0 2 1 4 Panama 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 Honduras 2 1 0 1 3 2 3 Trinidad & Tob 2 0 0 2 1 5 0 United States 2 0 0 2 1 6 0

Each team will play10 games (5x2); games to be completed by October 2017 ● The top 3 will qualify for the finals; the 4th-placed country will meet the winner of the Asia section play-off in a play-off for a place in the finals

EUROPE section

O 13 finals places available (excluding the place for hosts Russia, who qualify automatically) Group A Nov11 - Paris France 2 (Pogba 58, Payet 65) Sweden 1 (Forsberg 55) HT: 0-0. Att: 80,000. Ref: Mazic (Ser) France: Lloris - Sidibe, Varane, Koscielny, Evra, Sissoko, Pogba, Matuidi, Payet, Griezmann (Kante 88), Giroud. Sweden: Olsen - Krafth, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson, Durmaz (P Jansson 87), J Johansson, Ekdal (Hiljemark 66), Forsberg, Guidetti (Kiese Thelin 73), Toivonen. Nov13 - Sofia Bulgaria 1 (I Popov 10) Belarus 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 1,994. Ref: Klossner (Swi) Bulgaria: V Stoyanov - S Popov, A Aleksandrov, Bozhikov, Zanev, G Milanov (Chochev 53), Dyakov, Slavchev, Tonev (Kirilov 66), I Popov (Yordanov 75), Delev. Belarus: Gorbunov - Politevich, Martynovich (Shitov 36), Filipenko, Polyakov, Kendysh, Gordeichuk, Hleb, Maevski (Kornilenko 74), Nekhaychik (Savitski 61), Laptev. Sent off: Hleb 90+1. Nov13 - Luxembourg Luxembourg 1 (Chanot pen 44) Holland 3 (Robben 36, Depay 58, 84) HT: 1-1. Att: 8,000. Ref: Taylor (Eng) Luxembourg: Schon - Jans (Janisch 26), Malget, Chanot, Mahmutovic, Da Mota (Kerger 75), Bohnert, Bensi (V Thill 82), Philipps, Mutsch, Turpel. Holland: Stekelenburg - Brenet, Bruma, Van Dijk, Blind, Klaassen, Wijnaldum, Ramselaar (De Roon 88), Robben (Berghuis 46), Dost, Sneijder (Depay 46). WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP A P W D L France 4 3 1 0 Holland 4 2 1 1 Sweden 4 2 1 1 Bulgaria 4 2 0 2 Belarus 4 0 2 2 Luxembourg 4 0 1 3

F 7 8 6 6 2 5

A 2 4 3 10 6 9

Pts 10 7 7 6 2 1

Group B Nov13 - Budapest Hungary 4 (Gera 34, Lang 43, Gyurcso 73, Szalai 88) Andorra 0 HT: 2-0. Att: 20,479. Ref: Nicolaides (Cyp) Hungary: Gulacsi - Bese, Lang, Guzmics, Korhut, Nagy, Gera (Bode 84), Gyurcso (Nemeth 81), Kleinheisler (Stieber 74), Dzsudzsak, Szalai. Andorra: Gomes - C Rubio, E Garcia, Vales, Llovera, San Nicolas, Rodriguez (Moreira 83), M Vieira, C Martinez (A Martinez 67), Pujol (Sanchez 87), Alaez. Nov13 - Faro-Loule Portugal 4 (Cristiano Ronaldo pen 28, 85, William Carvalho 70, Bruno Alves 90+2) Latvia 1 (Zjuzins 67) HT: 1-0. Att: 20,744. Ref: Madden (Sco) Portugal: Rui Patricio - Joao Cancelo, Jose Fonte, Bruno Alves, Raphael Guerreiro, William Carvalho, Nani (Quaresma 65), Joao Mario (Gelson Martins 71), Andre Gomes (Renato Sanches 87), Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva. Latvia: Vanins - Freimanis, Jagodinskis, Gorkss, Maksimenko, Gabovs, Tarasovs, O Laizans, Kluskins (A Visnakovs 79), Rudnevs (Gutkovskis 87), D Ikaunieks (Zjuzins 59).

Nov13 - Lucerne Switzerland 2 (Derdiyok 27, Lichtsteiner 83) Faroe Islands 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 14,800. Ref: Delferiere (Blg) Switzerland: Sommer - Lichtsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodriguez, Behrami, Dzemaili (Steffen 80), Xhaka, Mehmedi, Stocker (E Fernandes 69), Derdiyok (Seferovic 87). Faroe Islands: Nielsen - Naes, Nattestad, Gregersen, B Hansen, B Olsen, Benjaminsen (Faero 89), Hansson, Vatnhamar (A L Olsen 81), Edmundsson, Sorensen (R Joensen 78). WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP B P W D L Switzerland 4 4 0 0 Portugal 4 3 0 1 Hungary 4 2 1 1 Faroe Islands 4 1 1 2 4 1 0 3 Latvia Andorra 4 0 0 4

F A Pts 9 3 12 16 3 9 8 3 7 2 8 4 2 8 3 1 13 0

Nov12 - Cardiff Wales 1 (Bale 30) Serbia 1 (A Mitrovic 86) HT: 1-0. Att: 32,879. Ref: Undiano Mallenco (Spa) Wales: Hennessey - Gunter, Chester, A Williams, Taylor, Allen, Ledley (D Edwards 84), Bale, Ramsey, Vokes, Robson-Kanu (Lawrence 68). Serbia: Stojkovic - Rukavina, Ivanovic, Maksimovic, Nastasic, Obradovic, Kostic (Katai 70), Matic, Milivojevic, Tadic, A Mitrovic (Gudelj 88). WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP D P W D L Rep Ireland 4 3 1 0 Serbia 4 2 2 0 4 1 3 0 Wales Austria 4 1 1 2 Georgia 4 0 2 2 4 0 1 3 Moldova

F 7 9 8 6 3 2

A Pts 3 10 5 8 4 6 7 4 5 2 11 1

Group C Nov11 - Prague Czech Republic 2 (Krmencik 11, Zmrhal 47) Norway 1 (King 87) HT: 1-0. Att: 16,411. Ref: Nijhuis (Hol) Czech Republic: Vaclik - Kaderabek, Sivok, Brabec, Novak, Dockal, Droppa (Pavelka 81), Horava, Krejci (Skalak 86), Krmencik (Schick 81), Zmrhal. Norway: Jarstein - Elabdellaoui, Hovland, Forren, Aleesami, Tettey, Skjelbred (Daehli 51), Johansen, Berget (T Elyounoussi 71), Henriksen (Diomande 61), King.

Group E Nov11 - Yerevan Armenia 3 (A Grigoryan 50, Haroyan 74, Ghazaryan 90+4) Montenegro 2 (Kojasevic 36, Jovetic 38) HT: 0-2. Att: 3,500. Ref: Kralovec (CzR) Armenia: Beglaryan - T Voskanyan, Haroyan, Mkoyan, Hayrapetyan, Ghazaryan, A Grigoryan, Pizzelli (K Hovhannisyan 81), G Malakyan, Mkhitaryan, Koryan (Sarkisov 59). Montenegro: M Bozovic - Marusic, Savic, Basa, Stojkovic, Vesovic (Mugosa 86), Scekic, N Vukcevic (Zverotic 63), Kojasevic (Jovovic 74), Beciraj, Jovetic.

Nov11 - Belfast Northern Ireland 4 (K Lafferty 27, McAuley 40, C McLaughlin 66, Brunt 83) Azerbaijan 0 HT: 2-0. Att: 18,404. Ref: Turpin (Fra) Northern Ireland: McGovern - C McLaughlin, McAuley, J Evans, Brunt, C Evans (McNair 81), Norwood, Davis, Ferguson (McGinn 73), K Lafferty (Grigg 62), Magennis. Azerbaijan: K Agayev - Mirzabekov, Medvedev, B Huseynov, Dashdemirov, Makhmudov (Nazarov 70), Garayev, Amirguliyev, Ismayilov, Sheydaev (Yilmaz 46), R Kurbanov (Ramazanov 75).

Nov11 - Copenhagen Denmark 4 (Cornelius 15, Eriksen pen 36, 90+2, P Ankersen 78) Kazakhstan 1 (Suyumbayev 17) HT: 2-1. Att: 18,901. Ref: Yefet (Isr) Denmark: Ronnow - P Ankersen, Kjaer, Bjelland, Durmisi, Kvist, Eriksen, Delaney, Y Poulsen, Cornelius (Dolberg 82), N Jorgensen. Kazakhstan: Pokatilov - Suyumbayev, Y Akhmetov, Logvinenko, Shomko, Maliy, Baizhanov, Mukhutdinov, Muzhikov (Tungyshbayev 81), Khizhnichenko (Moldakaraev 60), Islamkhan (Murtazayev 70).

Nov11 - Serravalle San Marino 0 Germany 8 (Khedira 7, Gnabry 9, 58, 76, Hector 32, 65, Stefanelli og 82, Volland 85) HT: 0-3. Att: 3,851. Ref: Kuchin (Kaz) San Marino: A Simoncini - Palazzi, Cesarini, D Simoncini, F Vitaioli, M Berardi, Zafferani (Brolli 83), A Gasperoni, Tosi (Domeniconi 58), M Vitaioli (Hirsch 90+1), Stefanelli. Germany: Ter Stegen - Henrichs, Kimmich, Hummels, Hector, Khedira (Goretzka 77), Gundogan, Muller, Gotze (Meyer 71), Gnabry, Gomez (Volland 71).

Nov11 - Bucharest Romania 0 Poland 3 (Grosicki 11, Lewandowski 83, pen 90+1) HT: 0-1. Att: 48,531. Ref: Skomina (Sln) Romania: Tatarusanu - Benzar, Chiriches, D Grigore, Tosca, Hoban (Prepelita 46), Marin, Popa (Andone 46), Stanciu (Keseru 82), Chipciu, Stancu. Poland: Fabianski - Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk, Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Grosicki (Peszko 89), Zielinski (Teodorczyk 81), Linetty (Maczynski 70), Lewandowski.

WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP C P W D L 4 4 0 0 Germany N Ireland 4 2 1 1 Azerbaijan 4 2 1 1 4 1 2 1 Czech Rep Norway 4 1 0 3 San Marino 4 0 0 4

F A Pts 16 0 12 8 2 7 2 4 7 2 4 5 5 7 3 1 17 0

Group D Nov12 - Vienna Austria 0 Republic of Ireland 1 (McClean 48) HT: 0-0. Att: 48,500. Ref: Karasev (Rus) Austria: Ozcan - Klein, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Wimmer (Ilsanker 78), Baumgartlinger, Alaba, Sabitzer (Harnik 73), Schopf (Schaub 57), Arnautovic, Janko. Republic of Ireland: Randolph - Coleman, Duffy, Clark, Brady, Whelan (Meyler 24), Arter, Hendrick, Hoolahan (McGoldrick 78), McClean (McGeady 85), Walters. Nov12 - Tbilisi Georgia 1 (Kazaishvili 16) Moldova 1 (Gatcan 78) HT: 1-0. Att: 40,642. Ref: Kabakov (Bul) Georgia: Loria - Kakabadze, Kverkvelia, Kashia, Navalovski, Chanturia, Gvilia (Dvalishvili 71), Kazaishvili (Skhirtladze 80), Daushvili, Okriashvili, Kvilitaia (Kankava 64). Moldova: Cebanu - Racu (Golovatenco 41), Posmac, Epureanu, Bolohan, Jardan, Bordian, Mihaliov (Andronic 77), Gatcan, Sidorenco (Antoniuc 70), Bugaiov.

WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP E P W D L 4 3 1 0 Poland Montenegro 4 2 1 1 Denmark 4 2 0 2 4 1 2 1 Romania Armenia 4 1 0 3 Kazakhstan 4 0 2 2

F A Pts 10 5 10 9 4 7 7 5 6 6 4 5 4 10 3 3 11 2

Group F Nov11 - London England 3 (Sturridge 24, Lallana 50, Cahill 61) Scotland 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 87,258. Ref: Cakir (Tur) England: Hart - Walker, Cahill, Stones, Rose, Henderson, Dier, Sterling, Rooney, Lallana, Sturridge (Vardy 75). Scotland: Gordon - Anya (Paterson 79), Hanley, Berra, Wallace, Brown, D Fletcher, Morrison (McArthur 66), Snodgrass (Ritchie 82), Forrest, Griffiths. Nov11 - Valletta Malta 0 Slovenia 1 (Verbic 47) HT: 0-0. Att: 4,207. Ref: Raczkowski (Pol) Malta: Hogg - Z Muscat, Magri, Agius, Camilleri (S Borg 68), Zerafa, R Muscat, Sciberras, Gambin, Schembri, M Mifsud (Farrugia 77). Slovenia: Oblak - Skubic, Samardzic, Cesar, Trajkovski (Jovic 63), Kurtic, Krhin, Verbic, Birsa (Omladic 71), Ilicic, Novakovic (Sporar 83).

Nov11 - Trnava Slovakia 4 (Nemec 12, Kucka 15, Skrtel 36, Hamsik 86) Lithuania 0 HT: 3-0. Att: 9,653. Ref: Sidiropoulos (Gre) Slovakia: Kozacik - Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Hubocan, Weiss (Bero 89), Kucka, Skriniar, Hamsik, Mak (Svento 84), Nemec (Duris 77). Lithuania: Setkus - Vaitkunas, Girdvainis, Freidgeimas, Andriuskevicius, Novikovas, Zulpa (Chvedukas 33), Kuklys, Cernych, Slivka, Valskis (Ruzgis 87). WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP F P W D L England 4 3 1 0 Slovenia 4 2 2 0 Slovakia 4 2 0 2 Lithuania 4 1 2 1 4 1 1 2 Scotland Malta 4 0 0 4

F 6 4 7 5 6 1

A 0 2 2 7 8 10

Pts 10 8 6 5 4 0

Group G Nov12 - Elbasan Albania 0 Israel 3 (Zahavi pen 18, Einbinder 66, Atar 84) HT: 0-1. Att: 7,600. Ref: Aytekin (Ger) Albania: Berisha - Hysaj (Cani 79), Gjimshiti, Mavraj, Agolli, Xhaka (Manaj 82), Kukeli, Memushaj, Roshi, Balaj, Llullaku (Hoxha 57). Sent off: Gjimshiti17, Berisha 55. Israel: Goresh - Dasa, Tzedek, Tibi, Gershon, Einbinder (Hemed 70), Natcho, A Cohen, Sahar (Buzaglo 64), Zahavi, Tal Ben Haim/F (Atar 75). Nov12 - Vaduz Liechtenstein 0 Italy 4 (Belotti 11, 44, Immobile 12, Candreva 32) HT: 0-4. Att: 5,864. Ref: Bebek (Cro) Liechtenstein: Jehle - Rechsteiner, Polverino, Kaufmann, Oehri, A Christen, Martin Buchel, Wieser, Marcel Buchel, Burgmeier, Salanovic. Italy: Buffon - Zappacosta, Bonucci, Romagnoli, De Sciglio, De Rossi, Verratti, Candreva (Eder 74), Belotti, Immobile (Zaza 81), Bonaventura (Insigne 67). Nov12 - Granada Spain 4 (D Velkoski og 34, Vitolo 63, Monreal 84, Aduriz 85) Macedonia 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 16,622. Ref: Schorgenhofer (Aut) Spain: De Gea - Carvajal, Bartra, Nacho, Monreal, Busquets, Vitolo (Callejon 87), Koke (Isco 71), Thiago, Silva, Morata (Aduriz 60). Macedonia: Dimitrievski - D Velkoski, Mojsov, Ristevski, Ristovski, Hasani (Gjorgjev 87), Bardhi, Spirovski (Zhuta 60), Alioski, Pandev, Nestorovski (B Ibraimi 82). WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP G P W D L F A Spain 4 3 1 0 15 1 Italy 4 3 1 0 11 4 4 3 0 1 8 5 Israel Albania 4 2 0 2 4 6 Macedonia 4 0 0 4 4 11 Liechtenstein 4 0 0 4 1 16

Pts 10 10 9 6 0 0

Group H Nov13 - Brussels Belgium 8 (Meunier 8, Mertens 16, 68, E Hazard 25, Carrasco 62, Klavan og 64, R Lukaku 83, 88) Estonia 1 (Henri Anier 29) HT: 3-1. Att: 37,128. Ref: Tudor (Rom) Belgium: Courtois - Dendoncker, Ciman, Vertonghen, Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel (Simons 88), Carrasco, Mertens (Tielemans 79), R Lukaku, E Hazard (Mirallas 73). Estonia: Aksalu - Teniste, Baranov, Klavan, Kallaste, Mosnikov (Kams 63), Aleksandr Dmitrijev, Mets, Luts (Marin 84), Vassiljev, Henri Anier (Ojamaa 85). Nov13 - Nicosia Cyprus 3 (Laifis 29, Sotiriou 65, Sielis 87) Gibraltar 1 (L Casciaro 51) HT: 1-0. Att: 3,151. Ref: Aghayev (Aze) Cyprus: Panayi - Demetriou, Sielis, Laifis, Charalambous, Kyriakou (Nikolaou 90+1), Kastanos, Artymatas, Christofi, Sotiriou (Mytidis 86), Efrem (Charalambides 73). Gibraltar: Ibrahim - Garcia, Barnett, R Casciaro, Mascarenhas-Olivero, K Casciaro (Garro 74), Walker, L Casciaro, Bardon (Hernandez 68), J Chipolina, Cabrera (Priestley 85). Sent off: Mascarenhas-Olivero 80. WORLD SOCCER



Nov13 - Piraeus Greece 1 (Tzavellas 90+5) Bosnia-Herzegovina 1 (Karnezis og 33) HT: 0-1. Att: 20,075. Ref: Eriksson (Swe) Greece: Karnezis - Torosidis, K Papadopoulos, Papastathopoulos, Tzavellas, Mantalos (Karelis 87), Maniatis (Gianniotas 61), Fortounis, Samaris, Stafylidis, Mitroglou. Sent off: K Papadopoulos 80. Bosnia-Herzegovina: Begovic - O Vranjes, Spahic (Sunjic 70), Zukanovic, Kolasinac, I Hajrovic (Bicakcic 87), Jajalo, Lulic, Pjanic, Ibisevic (Djuric 84), Dzeko. Sent off: Dzeko 80. WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP H P W D L F A Pts Belgium 4 4 0 0 21 1 12 Greece 4 3 1 0 9 2 10 2 1 1 8 5 7 Bosnia-Herz 4 Cyprus 4 1 0 3 3 8 3 Estonia 4 1 0 3 5 15 3 Gibraltar 4 0 0 4 2 17 0

Group I Nov12 - Zagreb Croatia 2 (Brozovic 15, 90+1) Iceland 0 HT: 1-0. Played behind closed doors. Ref: Rocchi (Ita) Croatia: Subasic - Vrsaljko, Corluka, Vida, Pivaric, Kovacic (Modric 46), Badelj, Brozovic, Rakitic (Kramaric 85), Perisic, Mandzukic (Cop 90+2). Sent off: Perisic 90+4. Iceland: Halldorsson - B Saevarsson, R Sigurdsson, Arnason, Magnusson, J Gudmundsson, G Sigurdsson, A Gunnarsson, E Bjarnason (Traustason 75), B Bjarnason, Bodvarsson (Kjartansson 75). Nov12 - Antalya Turkey 2 (Burak 51, Volkan Sen 55) Kosovo 0 HT: 0-0. Att: 26,555. Ref: Bognar (Hun) Turkey: Volkan Babacan - Gokhan Gonul, Ahmet Calik, Mehmet Topal, Kaldirim, Selcuk Inan, Volkan Sen (Cengiz 76), Ozyakup (Malli 46), Calhanoglu, Arda, Burak (Tosun 87). Kosovo: Ujkani - Perdedaj, Rrahmani, Pnishi, Kololli, Alushi, Rashica, Shala, V Berisha, Zeneli, Muriqi. Nov12 - Odessa Ukraine 1 (Kravets 25) Finland 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 26,482. Ref: Neves (Por) Ukraine: Pyatov - Butko, Kucher, Rakitskyi, Sobol, Stepanenko, Yarmolenko, Zinchenko (Rotan 67), Kovalenko (Shakhov 89), Konoplyanka (Tsyhankov 83), Kravets. Finland: Hradecky - Arkivuo, Sauli Vaisanen (Saksela 83), Arajuuri, Toivio, Raitala, Ring (Markkanen 46), Mattila, Halsti (Lam 63), Lod, Pukki. WC QUALS – EUROPE – GROUP I P W D L 4 3 1 0 Croatia Ukraine 4 2 2 0 Iceland 4 2 1 1 4 1 2 1 Turkey Finland 4 0 1 3 Kosovo 4 0 1 3

F A 10 1 7 3 6 5 5 5 3 6 1 12

Pts 10 8 7 5 1 1

Each team will play10 games (5x2); games to be completed by Oct 2017 ● The 9 group winners will qualify for the finals; the 8 runners-up with the best record (against the countries finishing1st, 3rd, 4th & 5th in the respective groups) will be paired in 4 play-offs, the winners of which will also qualify for the finals

OCEANIA section

O 0.5 finals places available

3rd round Group A Nov12 - Auckland New Zealand 2 (Rojas 42, 72) New Caledonia 0 HT: 1-0. Ref: Hauata (Tah) New Zealand: Marinovic - Graham, Durante, Wynne, Tzimopoulos, Tuiloma, Thomas (Hudson-Wihongi 79), Lewis (Dyer 61), Rojas, Barbarouses (Patterson 61), Wood. New Caledonia: Schmidt - Wadriako (Athale 77), Mercier, E Bearune, Mene, Sansot, J Wakanumune (Dahite 89), Zeoula (Sele 83), Kayara, Kai, Gope-Fenepej.



Nov15 - Kone New Caledonia 0 New Zealand 0 Ref: Time (Sol) New Caledonia: Schmidt - L Wakanumune, Mercier, E Bearune, Mene, Sansot, J Wakanumune, Zeoula, Kayara (Dahite 10), Kai, Gope-Fenepej (Sele 89). Sent off: Kai 85. New Zealand: Marinovic - Graham (Wynne 66), Durante, Boxall, Colvey, Dyer, Hudson-Wihongi (Tuiloma 58), Rojas, Thomas, Patterson (Barbarouses 58), Wood. WC QUALS – OCEANIA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP A P W D L F A Pts New Zealand 2 1 1 0 2 0 4 New Caledonia 2 0 1 1 0 2 1 Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Group B Nov 7 - Papeete Tahiti 1 (Keck 53) Solomon Islands 0 HT: 0-0. Ref: Lacour (NC) Tahiti: Roche - Tiatia (Aitamai 88), Warren, Faehau (Tevaerai 72), Bourebare, A Tehau, Keck (Chong-Hue 69), J Tehau, Graglia, Paama, T Tehau. Solomon Islands: Mango (Kabini 77) - Kini, Aengari, Boso, Poila, M Kilifa, Fa’arodo, Nawo, Naka, Donga (Waroi 74), Kaua (Daudau 88). Nov13 - Honiara Solomon Islands 1 (Poila 90+2) Tahiti 0 HT: 0-0. Ref: Conger (NZ) Solomon Islands: Bird - Aengari, Waroi, Sira (Kini 55), Kaua (Molea 33), M Kilifa, Fa’arodo, Daudau, Nawo (Poila 7), Naka, Donga. Tahiti: Roche - Aitamai, Warren, Faehau (Hauata 81), Bourebare, Tevaerai, Graglia, Tissot (Tehina 65), Keck (Chong-Hue 56), Paama, T Tehau. WC QUALS – OCEANIA – 3RD ROUND: GROUP B P W D L F A Pts Solomon Is 2 1 0 1 1 1 3 2 1 0 1 1 1 3 Tahiti Papua NG 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Each team will play 4 games (2x2); games to be completed by June 2017 ● The 2 group winners will meet in a play-off (the Oceania play-off round), the winner of which will meet the 5th-placed South American country in a play-off for a place in the finals

SOUTH AMERICA section O 4.5 finals places available

Nov10 - Belo Horizonte Brazil 3 (Philippe Coutinho 24, Neymar 45, Paulinho 59) Argentina 0 HT: 2-0. Ref: Bascunan (Chl) Brazil: Alisson - Daniel Alves, Marquinhos, Miranda (Thiago Silva 87), Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Renato Augusto, Philippe Coutinho (Douglas Costa 84), Neymar, Gabriel Jesus (Roberto Firmino 81). Argentina: Romero - Zabaleta, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Mas, Mascherano, Perez (Aguero 46), Biglia, Di Maria (Correa 71), Messi, Higuain. Nov10 - Barranquilla Colombia 0 Chile 0 Ref: Sampaio (Bra) Colombia: Ospina - Arias, Mina (M Torres 82), O Murillo, Diaz, C Sanchez, Aguilar, Cardona, Rodriguez, Berrio (Muriel 63), Borja (Falcao 46). Chile: Bravo (Herrera 64) - Isla, Roco, G Jara, Mena, Aranguiz (Gutierrez 73), Vidal (Hernandez 90+1), M Diaz, Fuenzalida, Vargas, Beausejour. Nov10 - Asuncion Paraguay 1 (C Riveros 9) Peru 4 (Ramos 48, Flores 71, Cueva 78, E Benitez og 85) HT: 1-0. Ref: Loustau (Arg) Paraguay: D Barreto - Moreira, Gomez, Da Silva, Alonso (Santa Cruz 75), C Riveros, Rojas (Almiron 68), Gonzalez, O Romero, A Romero, Santander (E Benitez 38). Peru: Gallese - Corzo, Ramos, Rodriguez, Trauco (Loyola 56), Carrillo (Polo 75), Tapia, Yotun, Flores, Cueva, Guerrero (Ruidiaz 87).

WC QUALS – SOUTH AMERICA P W D L Brazil 12 8 3 1 Uruguay 12 7 2 3 Ecuador 12 6 2 4 12 6 2 4 Chile1 Argentina 12 5 4 3 Colombia 12 5 3 4 Paraguay 12 4 3 5 12 4 2 6 Peru1 1 12 2 1 9 Bolivia Venezuela 12 1 2 9

Nov10 - Montevideo Uruguay 2 (Coates 12, Rolan 45) Ecuador 1 (F Caicedo 44) HT: 2-1. Ref: Carrillo (Per) Uruguay: Muslera - Coates, M Pereira, Godin, G Silva, Sanchez (Corujo 88), Arevalo, Vecino, Rolan (Ramirez 62), Stuani, Suarez. Ecuador: Dreer - Paredes, Achilier, Erazo, W Ayovi, Noboa, Orejuela (J Ayovi 83), Ibarra, Martinez (M Caicedo 62), M Bolanos (Cazares 72), F Caicedo. Nov10 - Maturin Venezuela 5 (Kouffati 3, Martinez 11, 67, 70, Otero 75) Bolivia 0 HT: 2-0. Ref: Cunha (Uru) Venezuela: D Hernandez - A Gonzalez, Vizcarrondo, Villanueva, R Feltscher, Rincon, Zambrano, Murillo, Otero (L Gonzalez 77), Kouffati (Figuera 65), Martinez (Santos 72). Bolivia: Lampe - Rodriguez, Zenteno, Raldes, M Bejarano, Wayar, Veizaga (Zoch 46), Azogue, Ramallo (Campos 78), Duk (Castro 46), Martins Moreno.


Nov15 - San Juan Argentina 3 (Messi 10, Pratto 23, Di Maria 84) Colombia 0 HT: 2-0. Ref: Zambrano (Ecu) Argentina: Romero - Mercado, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Mas, Biglia, Mascherano, Messi, Banega (Perez 62), Di Maria (Acuna 85), Pratto (Higuain 79). Colombia: Ospina - Arias, D Sanchez, J Murillo, Alvarez Balanta, D Torres (Copete 67), C Sanchez, Barrios (M Torres 46), Cuadrado, Rodriguez, Falcao (Bacca 76).

Played in Kuching, Malaysia

Nov15 - La Paz Bolivia 1 (Gomez og 78) Paraguay 0 HT: 0-0. Ref: Ferreyra (Uru) Bolivia: Vaca - Saavedra (Ballivian 70), Raldes, Valverde, M Bejarano, W Flores, Castro, Campos (Duk 66), Chumacero (Veizaga 36), Arce, Martins Moreno. Sent off: Valverde 60. Paraguay: A Silva - Patino, Gomez, Da Silva, Alonso, M Riveros, Perez (Dominguez 75), N Ortigoza (O Romero 81), C Ortiz, Iturbe, Haedo Valdez (A Romero 70). Nov15 - Santiago Chile 3 (Vargas 45+2, Sanchez 60, 76) Uruguay 1 (Cavani 17) HT: 1-1. Ref: Caceres (Par) Chile: Bravo - Isla, G Medel, G Jara, Beausejour, Vidal (Valencia 58), M Diaz, Hernandez, Fuenzalida (Roco 74), Vargas, Sanchez (Castillo 84). Uruguay: Muslera - M Pereira, Coates, Godin, G Silva, Sanchez (Ramirez 65), Arevalo, Vecino, Gonzalez (Lodeiro 77), Cavani, Suarez. Nov15 - Quito Ecuador 3 (A Mina 51, M Bolanos 83, E Valencia 86) Venezuela 0 HT: 0-0. Ref: Tobar (Chl) Ecuador: Dreer - Paredes, L Caicedo, A Mina, W Ayovi, Ibarra, Noboa, M Bolanos, Orejuela, E Valencia, F Caicedo (M Caicedo 83). Venezuela: D Hernandez - A Gonzalez, Vizcarrondo, Villanueva, Quijada, Zambrano, Rincon, Murillo (Soteldo 75), Penaranda (Santos 69), Kouffati (L Gonzalez 36), Martinez. Nov15 - Lima Peru 0 Brazil 2 (Gabriel Jesus 57, Renato Augusto 78) HT: 0-0. Ref: Roldan (Col) Peru: Gallese - Corzo (Advincula 78), Ramos, Rodriguez, Loyola, Polo (Sanchez 74), Aquino, Yotun, Carrillo (Ruidiaz 61), Cueva, Guerrero. Brazil: Alisson - Daniel Alves, Marquinhos, Miranda, Filipe Luis, Paulinho, Renato Augusto, Philippe Coutinho (Douglas Costa 85), Fernandinho, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus (Willian 82).

F 28 24 22 21 14 15 11 18 10 14

A 9 11 16 17 12 15 17 20 31 29

Pts 27 23 20 20 19 18 15 14 7 5

Bolivia fielded an ineligible player in 2 previous qualifiers, a 2-0 win over Peru and a 0-0 draw with Chile. The ties have now been awarded as 3-0 wins to Peru and Chile Each team will play18 games (9x2); games to be completed by Oct 2017 ● The top 4 will qualify for the finals; the 5th-placed country will meet the Oceania play-off round winner in a play-off for a place in the finals


Group A Nov 2 Brunei 4 (Azwan 62, 68, Shahrazen pen 70, Adi 80) East Timor 0 HT: 0-0 Sent off: Rufino Gama (East Timor) 73 Nov 5 East Timor 0 Nepal 0 Nov 8 Nepal 3 (N Shrestha 43, Khawas 72, Magar pen 80) Brunei 0 HT: 1-0 AFC SOLIDARITY CUP – GROUP A P W D L Nepal (Q) 2 1 1 0 Brunei (Q) 2 1 0 1 East Timor 2 0 1 1

F 3 4 0

A Pts 0 4 3 3 4 1

Group B Nov 3 Sri Lanka 1 (Rahuman 90+3) Laos 2 (M Souksavath 57, Sonthanalay 83) HT: 0-0 Nov 3 Macau 2 (Torrao 14, 75) Mongolia 1 (Tuguldur 29) HT: 1-1 Nov 6 Laos 1 (Sonthanalay 3) Macau 4 (Lao Pak Kin 21, Leong Ka Hang 67, Torrao 79, 87) HT: 1-1 Nov 6 Mongolia 2 (Nyam-Osor pen 50, pen 66) Sri Lanka 0 HT: 0-0 Nov 9 Mongolia 0 Laos 3 (Khanthavong pen 7, Sivongthong 21, Champathong 83) HT: 0-2 Nov 9 Sri Lanka 1 (Ishan 5) Macau 1 (Choi Weng Hou 85) HT: 1-0 AFC SOLIDARITY CUP – GROUP B P W D L Macau (Q) 3 2 1 0 Laos (Q) 3 2 0 1 Mongolia 3 1 0 2 Sri Lanka 3 0 1 2

F 7 6 3 2

A Pts 3 7 5 6 5 3 5 1

● The top 2 in both groups qualified for the semi-finals


Semi-finals Nov12 Nepal 2 (Magar 47, Tamang 104) Laos 2 (Champathong 18, 117) Aet. HT: 0-1. 90mins: 1-1 Nepal 3-0 on pens Nov12 Macau 1 (Leong Ka Hang 59) Brunei 1 (Shahrazen 27) Aet. HT: 0-1. 90mins: 1-1 Sent off: Wardun (Brunei) 55 Macau 4-3 on pens

3rd-place match Nov14 Laos 3 (Liththideth 6, Khanthavong 53, Champathong 82) Brunei 2 (Shahrazen 24, 55) HT: 1-1


2nd round Played in Hong Kong Nov 6 North Korea 2 (Jong Il-gwan 16, Sim Hyon-jin 87) Taiwan 0 HT: 1-0 Nov 6 Hong Kong 3 (Akande 19, pen 67, Sandro 22) Guam 2 (Cunliffe 74, Malcolm 81) HT: 2-0 Nov 9 Guam 0 North Korea 2 (So Hyon-uk 67, Pak Kwang-ryong 86) HT: 0-0

Final Nov15 Nepal 1 (S Shrestha 29) Macau 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 157. Ref: Heidari (Irn) Nepal: Limbu - R Shrestha, Maharjan, A Tamang, Aditya Chaudhary, Magar, B Lama, A Bista (S Lama 89), S Shrestha (A Gurung 90+2), N Shrestha, Khawas. Macau: Ho Man Fai - Lei Ka Him, Lao Pak Kin (Kam Chi Hou 85), Chan Man, Cheang Cheng Ieong, Lam Ka Seng, Cheong Hoi San (Lee Keng Pan 46), Kong Cheng Hou, Pang Chi Hang (Lei Kam Hong 54), Leong Ka Hang, Torrao.


Nov 9 Hong Kong 4 (Akande 21, 48, 70, 71) Taiwan 2 (Chen Po-liang 62, Chen Chao-an 88) HT: 1-0 Nov12 Taiwan 2 (Wu Chun-ching 26, Lin Chieh-hsun 80) Guam 0 HT: 1-0 Sent off: J Lee (Guam)18 Nov12 Hong Kong 0 North Korea 1 (Jong Il-gwan 22) HT: 0-1

3rd round (Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago received byes to this round) Group 1 Nov13 - Kingston Jamaica 1 (Burke 16) Surinam 0 HT: 1-0 Sent off: Lowe (Jamaica) 33 CARIBBEAN CUP – 3RD ROUND: GP 1 – FINAL P W D L F A Pts Jamaica (Q) 2 2 0 0 5 2 6 Surinam 2 1 0 1 3 3 3 Guyana 2 0 0 2 4 7 0

Group 2 Nov 9 - Port-au-Prince Haiti 2 (Jerome pen 4, Nazon 27) French Guiana 5 (Privat 38, 58, pen 64, Evens 67, Ludovic Baal 90+1) HT: 2-1 Nov13 - Basseterre St Kitts & Nevis 0 Haiti 2 (Guerrier 102, Nazon 119) Aet1. HT: 0-0. 90mins: 0-0 CARIBBEAN CUP – 3RD ROUND: GP 2 – FINAL P W D L F A Pts Fr Guiana (Q) 2 2 0 0 6 2 6 2 1 0 1 4 5 3 Haiti St Kitts & Nevis 2 0 0 2 0 3 0

EAST ASIAN CUP QUALS – 2ND ROUND – FINAL P W D L F A Pts Nth Korea (Q) 3 3 0 0 5 0 9 Hong Kong 3 2 0 1 7 5 6 Taiwan 3 1 0 2 4 6 3 Guam 3 0 0 3 2 7 0

● As group winners, North Korea have qualified for the East Asian Cup finals (to be played in December 2017), joining direct entrants China, Japan & South Korea

FRIENDLIES Wednesday, November 2 Nov 2 - San Pedro Sula Honduras 5 (Reyes 5, 83, Hernandez 37, 47, Canales 88) Belize 0 HT: 2-0. Ref: Castro (Hnd) Honduras: Escober - Crisanto, Vargas, H Figueroa (Pereira 46), Oseguera (B Garcia 46), A Mejia, Padilla (Canales 46), O Garcia, Hernandez, Reyes, Quioto (Norales 46). Belize: Gamboa - Velasquez, Smith, Pandy, Casey (Banner 46), Polanco, Kuylen (Davis 46), King (Thomas 46), Jimenez (James 46), Gaynair, August (Makin 46). Friday, November 4 Nov 4 - Yangon Myanmar 0 Indonesia 0

Group 3 CARIBBEAN CUP – 3RD ROUND: GP 3 – FINAL P W D L F A Pts Curacao (Q) 2 2 0 0 7 2 6 Antigua & B 2 1 0 1 2 3 3 Puerto Rico 2 0 0 2 2 6 0

Group 4 CARIBBEAN CUP – 3RD ROUND: GP 4 – FINAL P W D L F A Pts Martinique (Q) 2 2 0 0 4 1 6 Trinidad & Tob 2 1 0 1 4 2 3 Dominican Rep 2 0 0 2 1 6 0 1

Draws not permitted in this competition

O The 4 group winners have qualified for the Caribbean Cup semi-finals and the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup; the 3 runners-up with the best record (Haiti, Surinam and Trinidad & Tobago) now enter a round-robin play-off, the winner of which will meet the Central America zone’s 5th-placed country in a play-off for a place in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Saturday, November 5 Nov 5 - Harare Zimbabwe 1 (Hadebe 55) Zambia 0 HT: 0-0 Sunday, November 6 Nov 6 - Amman Jordan 0 Iraq 0 Tuesday, November 8 Nov 8 - Kampala Uganda 0 Zambia 1 (Lungu 24) HT: 0-1 Nov 8 - Hanoi Vietnam 3 (Le Cong Vinh 45, Nguyen Cong Phuong 71, Nguyen Van Toan 83) Indonesia 2 (Boas 32, Irfan pen 52) HT: 1-1

Wednesday, November 9 Nov 9 - Piraeus Greece 0 Belarus 1 (Politevich 14) HT: 0-1. Att: 3,108. Ref: Pawson (Eng) Greece: Glykos - Maniatis (Tachtsidis 46), K Papadopoulos (Torosidis 87), Oikonomou, Stafylidis (Tzavellas 75), Mantalos (Diamantakos 46), Tziolis, Karelis, Gianniotas (Fortounis 68), Samaris (Papastathopoulos 46), Vellios. Belarus: Chernik - Shitov, Filipenko, Polyakov (Volodko 46), Politevich (Martynovich 46), Kendysh (Korzun 62), Maevski, Savitski (Rios 72), Hleb (Gordeichuk 56), Nekhaychik, Laptev (Kornilenko 62). Nov 9 - Amsterdam Holland 1 (Klaassen 38) Belgium 1 (Carrasco 82) HT: 1-0. Att: 37,500. Ref: Marciniak (Pol) Holland: Stekelenburg - Veltman, Bruma, Van Dijk, Blind, Wijnaldum (Ramselaar 89), Schaars (Clasie 15), Sneijder (Vilhena 75), Klaassen (Brenet 46), Lens (Depay 67), Janssen (Dost 27). Belgium: Mignolet - Kabasele, Ciman, Vertonghen, Meunier (Foket 46), Defour (Tielemans 82), Witsel, Carrasco, De Bruyne (T Hazard 64), Mertens (R Lukaku 64), E Hazard. Nov 9 - Manila Philippines 1 (Bahadoran 65) Kyrgyzstan 0 HT: 0-0 Nov 9 - Paroi, Malaysia Singapore 0 Syria 2 (Jenyat 65, Mobayed 70) HT: 0-0 Nov 9 - Dushanbe Tajikistan 3 (M Dzhalilov 35, 39, 60) Turkmenistan 0 HT: 2-0 Nov 9 - Al Ain United Arab Emirates 2 (Matar 30, Abbas 58) Bahrain 0 HT: 1-0 Thursday, November 10 Nov10 - Beirut Lebanon 1 (Shamsin 36) Palestine 1 (Bahdari pen 90+8) HT: 1-0 Nov10 - Doha Qatar 2 (Khoukhi pen 35, Boudiaf 72) Russia 1 (Samedov pen 5) HT: 1-1. Att: 4,503. Ref: Balaj (Rom) Qatar: Al Sheeb - Musa, Pedro Miguel, Khoukhi (A Hassan 68), Majid (Almahdi Ali 55), Akram Afif, Assadalla (Al Haidos 61), Kasola (Boudiaf 46), Ali Afif (Ismail 68), Luiz Martin, Alaaeldin (Tabata 46). Russia: Akinfeev (Kritsyuk 58) - Vasin, Kutepov, Kudryashov, Kombarov (Panchenko 81), Samedov (Mogilevets 85), Glushakov, Zobnin, Erokhin (Gazinsky 53), Kokorin, Poloz (Shishkin 46). Nov10 - Tashkent Uzbekistan 1 (Sergeev 45) Jordan 0 HT: 1-0 Friday, November 11 Nov11 - Kashima Japan 4 (Osako 32, 42, Kiyotake pen 64, Yuki Kobayashi 90+4) Oman 0 HT: 2-0. Att: 33,709. Ref: Liu (HK) Japan: Nishikawa - Yoshida (Morishige 78), Maruyama, H Sakai, G Sakai, Nagaki (Yuki Kobayashi 68), Kiyotake (Kubo 71), Yamaguchi, Honda (Asano 61), Saito (Haraguchi 74), Osako (Okazaki 61). Oman: Al Rushaidi - M Al Rawahi, Bait Mabrouk, Al Balushi, Abdul Al Mukhaini, Al Nahar (Q Said 83), Saleh, S Al Farsi (Nasib 69), Al Sheyadi, Al Saadi, Al Ruzaiqi (Al Abdulsalam 63). Nov11 - Shah Alam, Malaysia Papua New Guinea 1 (Dabinyaba 47) Iran 8 (Dejagah 14, Taremi 38, Montazeri 54, Ansarifard 57, 69, Ghoochannejhad 58, 59, Rezaeian 80) HT: 0-2

Papua New Guinea: Warisan - Joe, A Komolong, F Komolong, Upaiga, Foster, Muta, Simon, Semmy, Gunemba, Dabinyaba. Iran: Makani (Mazaheri) - Ansari, Rezaeian, Montazeri, Pourghaz, Shojaei (Ebrahimi), Kamyabinia (Ezatolahi), Dejagah, A Karimi (H Mahini), Ansarifard (Amiri), Taremi (Ghoochannejhad). Nov11 - Cheonan South Korea 2 (Kim Bo-kyung 10, Lee Jeong-hyeop 25) Canada 0 HT: 2-0. Att: 18,920. Ref: Ma (Chn) South Korea: Kwoun Sun-tae - Kim Chang-soo (Choi Chul-soon 73), Jang Hyun-soo, Kim Kee-hee (Hong Jeong-ho 46), Park Joo-ho (Yun Suk-young 46), Jung Woo-young, Han Kook-young, Nam Tae-hee (Hwang Hee-chan 65), Kim Bo-kyung, Ji Dong-won (Koo Ja-cheol 46), Lee Jeong-hyeop (Kim Shin-wook 80). Canada: Thomas (Leutwiler 46) - Ouimette (Haworth 62), James (Vitoria 46), Edgar (Jakovic 46), De Jong, Piette (Trafford 72), Straith, Bustos, Aird, Tissot (Dixon 84), M Haber. Nov11 - Tunis, Tunisia Togo 2 (F Ayite 38, Agbegniadan 90+2) Comoros 2 (Ben Nabouhane 42, 75) HT: 1-1 Saturday, November 12 Nov12 - Nairobi Kenya 1 (Johanna 15) Mozambique 0 HT: 1-0 Sunday, November 13 Nov13 - Singapore Singapore 1 (Yasir 70) Cambodia 0 HT: 0-0 Nov13 - Dushanbe Tajikistan 1 (M Dzhalilov 74) Afghanistan 0 HT: 0-0 Nov13 - Harare Zimbabwe 3 (Musona 9, Rusike 54, Mushekwi 57) Tanzania 0 HT: 1-0 Monday, November 14 Nov14 - Shah Alam Malaysia 2 (Hazwan 20, Amri pen 47) Papua New Guinea 1 (Dabinyaba 6) HT: 1-1 Nov14 - Yangon Myanmar 0 Oman 3 (Al Nahar 11, Q Said 54, Al Khaldi 66) HT: 0-1 Nov14 - Wroclaw Poland 1 (Teodorczyk 79) Slovenia 1 (Mevlja 24) HT: 0-1. Att: 40,119. Ref: Kuipers (Hol) Poland: Boruc (Szczesny 46) - Bereszynski, Cionek, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk, Wszolek (Blaszczykowski 66), Krychowiak (Wilczek 46), Goralski (Zielinski 61), Maczynski (Dabrowski 83), Kapustka (Grosicki 71), Teodorczyk. Slovenia: Belec (Koprivec 84) - Jovic, Samardzic (Delamea Mlinar 46), Mevlja, Sikosek, Omladic, Krhin, Kurtic, Zajc (Kronaveter 46), Verbic (Pihler 66), Ilicic (Sporar 53). Tuesday, November 15 Nov15 - Vienna Austria 0 Slovakia 0 Att: 14,200. Ref: Blom (Hol) Austria: Lukse - Lazaro, Dragovic, Madl, Suttner (Stangl 69), Baumgartlinger (Alaba 46), Ilsanker (Hinteregger 46), Onisiwo (Wimmer 84), Hinterseer (Janko 69), Arnautovic, Harnik (Klein 46). Slovakia: Novota (Dubravka 46) - Sabo, Salata (Skriniar 46), Hubocan, Holubek (Rusnak 46), Hrosovsky (Kiss 46), Gregus (Lobotka 46), Weiss (Nemec 85), Bero, Svento, Duris. Nov15 - Riffa Bahrain 0 Kyrgyzstan 0




Nov15 - Mlada Boleslav Czech Republic 1 (Barak 8) Denmark 1 (N Jorgensen 39) HT: 1-1. Att: 1,763. Ref: Schuttengruber (Aut) Czech Republic: Koubek (Pavlenka 46) - Gebre Selassie (Kaderabek 66), Kalas, Suchy, Pudil, Kopic, Dockal, Sykora (Mares 46), Barak (Droppa 80), Zmrhal (Soucek 66), Skoda (Krmencik 46). Denmark: Ronnow - Kjaer (P Ankersen 78), M Jorgensen, Bjelland (Vestergaard 46), Larsen, Jensen, Wass (Andersen 66), Schone, Durmisi, Fischer, N Jorgensen (Gytkjaer 46). Nov15 - London England 2 (Lallana pen 9, Vardy 48) Spain 2 (Iago Aspas 89, Isco 90+6) HT: 1-0. Att: 83,716. Ref: Hategan (Rom) England: Hart (Heaton 46) - Clyne, Cahill (Jagielka 46), Stones, Rose (Cresswell 79), Henderson, Dier, Sterling (Townsend 65), Lallana (Walcott 26), Lingard, Vardy (Rashford 67). Spain: Reina - Azpilicueta, Inigo Martinez, Nacho, Carvajal, Busquets (Nolito 78), Thiago (Ander Herrera 56), Vitolo (Koke 46), Mata (Iago Aspas 46), Silva (Isco 64), Aduriz (Morata 64). Nov15 - Lens France 0 Ivory Coast 0 Att: 38,000. Ref: Petrescu (Rom) France: Costil - Sidibe (Corchia 69), Varane (Koscielny 46), Rami, Digne, Pogba (Sissoko 46), Kante, Rabiot (Lemar 78), Dembele (Fekir 46), Gameiro (Giroud 63), Payet. Ivory Coast: Gbohouo - Aurier, Kone, Kanon, A Traore, Kessie, Serey Die (Angban 86), Doukoure (Diomande 68), Gradel (Pepe 86), Kodjia (Sio 68), Kalou. Nov15 - Tunis, Tunisia Gabon 1 (Lemina 65) Comoros 1 (Bakar 23) HT: 0-1 Nov15 - Budapest Hungary 0 Sweden 2 (Sam Larsson 30, Kiese Thelin 67) HT: 0-1. Att: 16,000. Ref: Valeri (Ita) Hungary: Kiraly (Megyeri 29) - Fiola (Botka 69), Juhasz (Hangya 45), Pinter, Kadar, Vida (Berecz 46), Elek, Lovrencsics (Nagy 78), Nemeth, Stieber, Priskin (Bode 58). Sweden: Nordfeldt - Krafth (Wahlqvist 73), P Jansson, Granqvist (Lindelof 46), Wendt, Rohden, J Johansson (Fransson 81), Hiljemark, Sam Larsson (Claesson 65), Kiese Thelin (Guidetti 74), Nyman. Nov15 - Milan Italy 0 Germany 0 Att: 48,700. Ref: Dias (Por) Italy: Buffon (Donnarumma 46) - Rugani, Bonucci, Romagnoli (Astori 46), Zappacosta, De Rossi, Parolo, Darmian, Eder (Bernardeschi 68), Belotti (Sansone 88), Immobile (Zaza 89). Germany: Leno - Howedes, Mustafi, Hummels (Tah 46), Kimmich, Rudy, Weigl (Gotze 70), Gerhardt, Goretzka (Gnabry 60), Gundogan, Muller (Volland 60). Nov15 - Amman Jordan 0 Lebanon 0 Nov15 - Nairobi Kenya 1 (Were 51) Liberia 0 HT: 0-0 Nov15 - Valletta Malta 0 Iceland 2 (Traustason 47, Ingason 75) HT: 0-0. Att: 986. Ref: Hunter (NI) Malta: Hogg - Zerafa (Scicluna 76), Magri, Agius, S Borg, Failla (Camenzuli 56), Gambin (Pisani 85), R Muscat, Sciberras (Kristensen 78), Schembri (Farrugia 64), Effiong (M Mifsud 54). Iceland: Jonsson - B Saevarsson (E Bjarnason 80), Eyjolfsson (R Sigurdsson 80), Ingason, A Skulason, Traustason, O Skulason (A Gunnarsson 69), R Sigurjonsson (B Bjarnason 58), Smarason (J Gudmundsson 58), Kjartansson (Bodvarsson 69), Omarsson.

Nov15 - Marrakech Morocco 2 (Boutaib 16, 58) Togo 1 (F Ayite 9) HT: 1-1 Morocco: El Kharroubi - Chafik, Attouchi, Feddal, Rherras (Mendyl 46), Ait Bennasser, Fajr, El Kaddouri (Saiss 90), Carcela (Amrabat 81), Boutaib (Alioui 77), El Haddad (En-Nesyri 77). Togo: Agassa - Romao (Eninful 72), Mamah, Bossou (Ouro-Sama 83), Kouloum, Boukari (Gakpe 46), Segbefia (Atchou 85), Atakora, Djene, Bebou (Agbegniadan 86), F Ayite (Adebayor 72). Nov15 - Maputo Mozambique 1 (Clesio 27) South Africa 1 (Grobler 56) HT: 1-0. Att: 15,000. Ref: Fakudze (Swa) Mozambique: Guirrugo - Bheu, Zainadine Junior, Jeitoso, Edmilson, Geraldo, Domingues (Elias 84), Lolo, Clesio, Telinho (Raul 70), Sonito (Dayo 58). South Africa: Williams - Mphahlele, Mathoho, Daniels, Hlatshwayo (Mbekile 46), Mabunda, Kekana (Serero 76), Mahlangu (Dolly 46), Klate (Patosi 67), Phala (Makola 53), Veldwijk (Grobler 46).

Club football Nov 5 - Doha, Qatar Al Quwa Al Jawiya (Irq) 1 (H Ahmed 71) Bengaluru (Ind) 0 HT: 0-0. Att: 5,806. Ref: Kim Jong-hyeok (SKo)

BRUNEI 2016 – FINAL W 7 6 6 3 3 3 2 3 1 1

D 2 2 2 2 2 1 4 1 2 2

L F A Pts 0 21 1 23 1 21 11 20 1 17 10 20 4 16 14 11 4 14 14 11 5 18 23 10 3 10 15 10 5 9 14 10 6 14 19 5 6 14 33 5

W 19 17 14 12 11 11 11 9 10 9 9 10 10 9 8 7

D 7 6 10 12 10 7 7 10 7 9 9 5 5 7 8 9

L 4 7 6 6 9 12 12 11 13 12 12 15 15 14 14 14

F 62 53 56 46 34 47 34 43 39 38 38 30 26 38 28 28

A 19 33 32 31 26 50 38 50 41 50 47 44 44 45 37 53

Pts 64 57 52 48 43 40 40 37 37 36 36 35 35 34 32 30

W 14 13 12 6 4 3 2

D 3 4 3 4 2 1 1

L 1 1 3 8 12 14 15

F 59 52 37 28 30 15 20

A 10 18 20 23 59 39 72

Pts 45 43 39 22 14 10 7

2016 – FINAL P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18

MALDIVES 2016 – FINAL Maziya (C) TC Sports Eagles United Victory New Radiant Valencia Victory SC1 BG Sports (R)

P 21 21 21 21 21 21 21 21

W 14 13 10 5 6 5 5 3

D 5 3 8 8 5 5 4 8

L 2 5 3 8 10 11 12 10

F 48 48 23 18 17 23 22 15

A 25 25 11 25 25 29 44 30

Pts 47 42 38 23 23 20 19 17


Stay in top division after winning rel/prom play-off

PHILIPPINES 2016 – FINAL Global (C) Ceres Loyola JP Voltes Kaya Stallion Green Archers Forza Nomads1 Laos Agila1 Pasargad1


L 6 5 7 9 7 10 10 13 19

F 50 50 47 50 35 33 39 23 23

A 24 28 37 42 29 39 39 42 70

Pts 50 49 41 37 37 32 28 19 9


2016 – CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP – FINAL P W D L F A 38 21 7 10 67 46 Seoul (C) 1 38 20 16 2 71 40 Jeonbuk Jeju 38 17 8 13 71 57 38 14 12 12 41 47 Ulsan Jeonnam 38 12 11 15 44 53 38 12 7 19 54 65 Sangju

Pts 70 67 59 54 47 43

9pts deducted for bribing referees in 2013

P 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30


Alay (C) Dordoi Alga Abdish-Ata Kara-Balta Ala-Too Aldier

D 2 4 5 4 7 5 7 7 3


2016 – FINAL

Nov15 - Gabes Tunisia 0 Mauritania 0 Ref: Guezzaz (Mor) Tunisia: Jeridi - H Mathlouthi, Ben Youssef, Dhaouadi, Abdennour, Maaloul, Ben Amor, Azouni (Oueslati 78), Khazri, Harbaoui (Touzghar 68), Sliti (Bguir 71). Sent off: Khazri 58. Mauritania: Salahdine - Diaw, Sarr (Diarra 69), Abdoul Ba, H Sy (Abeid 28), Camara, Dellahi, Guidileye, El Id, Diakite, Bagili. Sent off: Diaw 58.

W 16 15 12 11 10 9 7 4 2

Division split after 33-round regular season; teams carried forward full regular-season record


Gua’zhou E (C) Jiangsu S’hai SIPG S’hai Shenhua Beijing Guoan Gua’zhou R&F Hebei Chongqing Yanbian Tianjin Teda Liaoning Changchun Henan Shandong Hangzhou (R) Shijiazh’g (R)

P 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 24

No relegation from this league

P MS ABDB (C) 9 Indera 9 Wijaya 9 Tabuan U-21 9 Najip 9 Kota Ranger 9 9 Kasuka MS PDB 9 Lun Bawang (R) 9 Jerudong (R) 9

P 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 11 19 11 11

W 15 13 13 13 12 8 6 4 3 2 1 0

D 2 2 2 2 1 7 3 2 0 1 1 1

L 2 4 4 4 6 4 10 13 8 16 9 10

F 80 109 83 51 78 43 29 20 20 22 6 4

A 15 18 23 16 25 28 48 82 65 111 56 58

Pts 47 41 41 41 37 31 21 14 9 7 4 1

1 Withdrew from tournament at halfway stage; results from games played still included


Albirex (C) Tampines Rvrs Brunei DPMM Home United Geylang Intl Hougang Utd Warriors Balestier K’sa Young Lions


Nov15 - Grozny Russia 1 (Ozdoev 90+3) Romania 0 HT: 0-0. Att: 38,800. Ref: Kulbakov (Bls) Russia: Akinfeev - Semenov, Kutepov, Kudryashov (Novoseltsev 84), Samedov, Mogilevets (Erokhin 69), Zobnin, Glushakov, Zhirkov (Ozdoev 46), Miranchuk (Poloz 61), Kokorin. Romania: Pantilimon - Enache, Sapunaru, D Grigore (Tiru 90+1), Latovlevici (Filip 66), Prepelita, Marin, Rotariu, Stancu (Nedelcu 90+2), Grozav (Popa 83), Andone.

Saturday, November 19 Nov19 - Basseterre St Kitts & Nevis 1 (Elliott 10) Estonia 1 (Sappinen 42) HT: 1-1. Ref: Clarke (StL) St Kitts & Nevis: Jeffers - Hendrickson, Sargeant, T Leader, Springer, Williams, Rogers (Nelson 85), O’Loughlin, Hazel (Tahir Hanley 58), Elliott, Isles (Robbins 64). Estonia: Vaikla - Kams (Mool 84), Baranov, Mets, Jurgenson, Artjom Dmitrijev, Lepistu, Sappinen (Purje 61), Mosnikov (Domov 61), Marin (Toomet 77), Henri Anier.

2016 – FINAL


Nov15 - Belfast Northern Ireland 0 Croatia 3 (Mandzukic 9, Cop 35, Kramaric 68) HT: 0-2. Att: 16,893. Ref: Clattenburg (Eng) Northern Ireland: Mannus - Hodson, McAuley (McGivern 46), J Evans, Brunt (C McLaughlin 46), Lund (Davis 46), McNair, Norwood, McGinn (Paton 61), Boyce (Grigg 68), Magennis (K Lafferty 56). Croatia: L Kalinic (Vargic 82) - Jedvaj, Mitrovic, Vida (Vrsaljko 59), Leovac, Badelj (Brozovic 51), Bradaric, Rog (Pivaric 87), Kramaric, Cop, Mandzukic (Coric 72).

Nov15 - Kharkiv Ukraine 2 (Shakhov 38, Yarmolenko pen 87) Serbia 0 HT: 1-0. Att: 30,000. Ref: Strombergsson (Swe) Ukraine: Boyko - Butko, Ordets, Kryvtsov, Fedetskyi, Sydorchuk (Petryak 46), Malyshev, Shakhov (Zinchenko 77), Tsyhankov (Yarmolenko 65), Karavaev (Rotan 46), Zozulya (Besedin 63). Serbia: Rajkovic (Jovanovic 46) - Pejcinovic, S Mitrovic, D Tosic (Maksimovic 83), Ignjovski (Ivanovic 77), Gudelj, Radoja, Mladenovic, Z Tosic (Markovic 46), Katai (A Mitrovic 69), Pavlovic (Pesic 46).



2016 – RELEGATION GROUP – FINAL P W D L F Suwon B’wings 38 10 18 10 56 Gwangju 38 11 14 13 41 38 12 10 16 43 Pohang Incheon 38 11 12 15 43 2 Seongnam (R) 38 11 10 17 47 Suwon FC (R) 38 10 9 19 40

A 59 45 46 51 51 58

Pts 48 47 46 45 43 39


Relegated after losing rel/prom play-off

TAJIKISTAN 2016 – FINAL P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18

W 14 11 10 9 8 8 8 5 2 1

D 3 4 2 2 5 3 1 3 3 2

L 1 3 6 7 5 7 9 10 13 15

F 67 40 36 32 29 23 22 21 17 14

A 20 16 23 25 25 16 37 39 50 50

Pts 45 37 32 29 29 27 25 18 9 5

P Muangthong (C) 31 Bangkok Utd 31 Bangkok Glass 31 Buriram Utd 30 Chonburi 31 Ratchaburi 30 Sukhothai 31 Chiangrai Utd 31 BEC Tero S 30 Suphanburi 31 Nakhon R’sima 31 Pattaya Utd 31 Sisaket 31 Navy 31 Osotspa 31 Army Utd (R) 31 Chainat (R) 31 Big Bang C (R) 30

W 26 23 18 15 14 14 13 13 12 10 10 9 8 7 8 8 8 3

D 2 6 3 10 9 7 6 6 5 8 5 7 9 10 7 6 6 4

L 3 2 10 5 8 9 12 12 13 13 16 15 14 14 16 17 17 23

F 73 71 62 55 52 52 50 42 42 33 30 46 41 24 45 34 46 32

A 24 36 41 38 33 35 44 43 52 35 44 66 52 40 71 46 61 69

Pts 80 75 57 55 51 49 45 45 41 38 35 34 33 31 31 30 30 13

Istiklol (C) Khosilot Regar-TadAZ Barki Tajik Khayr CSKA Pomir Khujand Vakhsh Ravshan Parvoz


Remaining games of planned 34-round season cancelled following the death of King Bhumibol; relegation of Army United and Chainat subject to appeal

CONCACAF CURACAO 2016 Championship Final Nov 6: Scherpenheuvel 1 Centro Dominguito 2.



2016 – FINAL


F’viario B (C) Songo Chibuto LD Maputo F’viario Nam’a Ferroviario M Maxaquene F’viario Nac’a Dvo Nacala Costa do Sol ENH Vil’kulo Chingale 1 de Maio Estrela V (R) D Maputo (R) Dvo Niassa (R)

Final 1st leg Oct 29 MO Bejaia (Alg) 1 (Yaya 66) TP Mazembe (DRC) 1 (Bolingi pen 43) HT: 0-1. Ref: Camille (Sey) MO Bejaia: Rahmani - Khadir, Baouali, Benmelouka, Salhi, Ferhat (Belkacemi 60), Sidibe, Rahal, Betorangal (Yesli 85), Athmani (Touati 77), Yaya. TP Mazembe: Gbohouo - Mpeko, Luyindama, Coulibaly, Chongo, Bokadi, Sinkala (Koffi 27), Assale (Kanda 85), Kalaba (Meschak 90), Traore, Bolingi. 2nd leg Nov 6 TP Mazembe 4 (Bokadi 7, Kalaba 43, 62, Bolingi 77) MO Bejaia 1 (Khadir 75) HT: 2-0. Ref: Diedhiou (Sen) TP Mazembe 5-2 on agg TP Mazembe: Gbohouo - Mpeko, Coulibaly, Luyindama, Kasusula, Nii Adjei (Koffi 76), Bokadi, Asante (Traore 69), Kalaba (Kanda 84), Assale, Bolingi. MO Bejaia: Rahmani - Benettayeb (Belkacemi 67), Khadir, Baouali, Salhi, Ferhat (Yesli 61), Sidibe, Rahal, Betorangal, Athmani, Yaya (Mouhli 87).

D 6 7 9 7 7 5 8 15 10 6 10 7 3 13 8 3

L 4 4 4 10 10 12 11 7 11 14 12 14 17 11 15 22

F 60 37 49 25 30 29 28 23 23 29 27 26 28 21 24 14

A 22 14 26 20 24 24 32 23 23 39 26 38 43 27 44 48

Pts 66 64 60 46 46 44 41 39 37 36 34 34 33 31 29 18

W 30 24 21 22 19 18 17 13 14 13 12 11 11 12 11 11 11 11 3 2

D 6 5 10 7 9 11 4 13 8 10 13 15 13 9 11 11 10 10 6 7

L 2 9 7 9 10 9 17 12 16 15 13 12 14 17 16 16 17 17 29 29

F 80 61 69 66 55 44 55 34 38 33 34 52 32 34 30 39 33 39 18 29

A 21 31 29 40 31 26 48 29 43 37 43 54 45 38 40 54 46 60 74 86

Pts 96 77 73 73 66 65 55 52 50 49 49 48 46 45 44 44 43 43 15 13

Tusker (C) Gor Mahia1 Ulinzi Stars Posta Rangers Chemelil Sugar Western Stima Mathare Utd K Homeboyz SoNy Sugar Muhoroni Yth Bandari Thika United Leopards1 Sofapaka Ushuru (R) City Stars (R) 1

L 3 3 6 5 9 6 8 8 11 12 11 12 13 18 14 17

3pts deducted for crowd trouble

F 40 35 35 22 24 32 33 27 23 26 28 24 32 34 24 17

A 25 14 25 15 24 24 29 25 21 32 31 32 38 40 42 39

Pts 61 54 46 45 45 44 44 42 39 38 37 34 30 26 26 19

A 21 14 19 21 21 18 26 24 34 33 28 41 36 36 34 50

Pts 61 55 50 50 50 49 43 42 40 38 37 33 32 30 19 16

Rosenborg (C) Brann Odd Haugesund Molde Sarpsborg Stromsgodset Viking Aalesund Valerenga Sogndal Lillestrom Tromso Stabaek1 Bodo/Glimt (R) Start (R)

W 16 14 13 12 10 7 8 9 6 6 6 5 4 4

D 7 4 5 7 7 13 10 7 10 7 4 4 5 4

L 1 5 6 5 7 4 6 8 8 11 13 15 15 16

F 50 35 37 42 33 33 24 32 23 15 20 15 18 16

A 9 21 15 18 26 22 18 31 27 24 37 45 39 61

Pts 55 46 44 43 37 34 34 34 28 25 22 19 17 16

P 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30

W 21 16 15 12 13 12 12 12 12 10 8 8 9 8 8 2

D 6 6 6 10 6 9 8 7 6 8 12 10 7 7 6 10

L 3 8 9 8 11 9 10 11 12 12 10 12 14 15 16 18

F 65 42 44 47 48 35 44 33 46 41 33 45 36 35 36 23

A 25 27 35 43 42 37 40 35 51 39 37 50 46 42 45 59

Pts 69 54 51 46 45 45 44 43 42 38 36 34 34 31 30 16

L 6 5 5 10 10 13 14 16 15 17 22 23

F 73 65 48 46 42 39 45 30 44 23 31 25

A 28 23 29 34 35 40 41 37 54 49 70 71

Pts 77 70 62 55 49 46 45 41 38 32 23 14

2016 – FINAL Dundalk (C) Cork Derry Shamrock Sligo Bray St Patrick’s Bohemians Galway Finn Harps Wexford (R)1 Longford (R)

P 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33

W 25 21 17 16 13 13 13 12 10 8 6 2

D 2 7 11 7 10 7 6 5 8 8 5 8


Relegated after losing rel/prom play-off

Remaining games of planned 26-round season cancelled 1 Relegated after losing rel/prom play-off

2016 – FINAL P Malmo (C) 30 AIK 30 Norrkoping 30 Gothenburg 30 Elfsborg 30 Kalmar 30 30 Djurgarden 30 Ostersund Orebro 30 Hacken 30 Hammarby 30 Jonkoping 30 Sundsvall 30 Helsingb’g (R)1 30 Gefle (R) 30 Falkenberg (R) 30

ESTONIA 2016 – FINAL Infonet (C) Levadia Kalju Flora Sillamae Paide Tammeka Trans Parnu1 Tarvas (R)

P 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36

W 24 24 22 21 14 14 12 11 5 0

D 8 6 9 10 9 6 5 8 2 3

L 4 6 5 5 13 16 19 17 29 33

F 74 77 70 96 65 58 43 60 24 15

A 33 30 28 31 55 61 65 68 98 113

Pts 80 78 75 73 51 48 41 41 17 3


W 21 17 18 14 13 12 14 12 11 11 10 8 7 8 6 2

D L 3 6 9 4 6 6 8 8 9 8 8 10 1 15 6 12 8 11 7 12 9 11 11 11 9 14 5 17 9 15 4 24

F 60 52 59 56 58 45 48 44 48 58 46 32 38 34 34 25

A 26 26 37 47 38 40 47 46 51 45 49 39 54 52 56 84

Pts 66 60 60 50 48 44 43 42 41 40 39 35 30 29 27 10

Stay in top division after winning rel/prom play-off




Division split after 22-round regular season; teams carried forward full regular-season record 2016 – CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP – FINAL P W D L F A Astana (C) 32 23 4 5 47 21 Kairat 32 22 5 5 75 30 Irtysh 32 14 7 11 52 36 Ordabasy 32 13 9 10 41 44 Okzhetpes 32 13 6 13 42 44 Aktobe 32 9 9 14 37 52 2016 – RELEGATION GROUP – FINAL P W D L F Tobol 32 12 5 15 40 Atyrau 32 10 9 13 35 Shakhter 32 10 6 16 25 32 11 2 19 27 Akzhayik 1 32 10 5 17 33 Taraz (R) Zhetysu (R) 32 8 7 17 37

A 40 39 40 50 42 53

Relegated after losing rel/prom play-off

Pts 41 39 36 35 35 31

SUDAMERICANA CUP 1st legs - Oct18-20; 2nd legs - Oct 25-27 Coritiba (Bra) v Atletico Nacional (Col) 1-1, 1-3 (agg 2-4) Independiente Medellin (Col) v Cerro Porteno (Par) 0-0, 0-2 (agg 0-2) Junior (Col) v Chapecoense (Bra) 1-0, 0-3 (agg 1-3) San Lorenzo (Arg) v Palestino (Chl) 2-0, 0-1 (agg 2-1)


P Spartaks (C) 28 Jelgava 28 Ventspils 28 FK Liepaja 28 Riga FC 28 RFS 28 28 Metta/LU1 BFC Daug’s (R) 28 1

W 17 16 15 12 8 9 8 2

D L F A Pts 4 7 46 22 55 3 9 37 24 51 6 7 47 28 51 6 10 38 31 42 12 8 28 24 36 8 11 22 31 35 6 14 32 47 30 5 21 13 56 11

Stay in top division after winning rel/prom play-off

Thanks this issue to Dean Chillmaid, Debbie Millett, Peter Neish EDITORIAL Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park, Farnborough, Hants GU14 7BF Tel: +44 (0) 1252 555255

PRODUCTION MANAGER Becky Singleton MANAGING DIRECTOR Simon Owen GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR Oswin Grady International licensing enquiries +44 (0) 20 314 85490 E-mail:

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2016 – FINAL

Relegated after losing rel/prom play-off

2016 – FINAL

PICTURES Pictures copyright: Press Association Images, Getty Images, Action Images and Reuters





or visit

Quarter-finals Pts 73 71 49 48 45 36

Winter 2016 Vol 57 No 4

ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP Matthew Johnston Tel: +44 (0) 1252 555367 E-mail:



2016 – FINAL D 10 12 13 15 9 14 11 12 9 8 10 10 9 5 11 10

F 40 32 35 37 37 27 28 22 39 34 22 19 30 28 15 11


KENYA W 17 15 11 10 12 10 11 10 10 10 9 8 8 7 5 3

L 5 7 6 10 6 7 9 8 10 12 11 15 12 12 15 20

Enter rel/prom play-off

P 24 FAN (C) Sahel 23 Douanes 24 GNN 24 Akokana 24 US GN 24 Sonidep 24 Nigelec 24 Urana 24 24 Police Olympic 23 1 24 Espoir (R) Dan K’awa (R) 24 Tagour (R) 24

2016 – FINAL

P 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30

D 7 7 11 5 11 10 10 12 10 8 10 6 11 12 13 7

2016 – FINAL

CONGO P Leopards (C) 38 Diables Noirs 38 Etoile Congo 38 JS Talangai 38 CARA 38 JS Poto-Poto 38 Inter Club 38 La Mancha 38 Patronage 38 Nico-Nicoye 38 Cheminots 38 Kondzo 38 Jeunes Fauves 38 Tongo Jambon 38 Kimbonguila 38 St-Michel O 38 V Mokanda (R) 38 Ponten’ne (R) 38 Pigeon Vert (R) 38 Munisport (R) 38

W 18 16 13 15 13 13 11 10 10 10 9 9 7 6 2 3


2016 – FINAL W 20 19 17 13 13 13 11 8 9 10 8 9 10 6 7 5

2016 – FINAL P 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30


ANGOLA P 1 de Agosto (C) 30 Petro Atletico 30 Recreativo L 30 Progresso LS 30 Kabuscorp 30 Benfica Luanda 30 Interclube 30 Progresso S’ga 30 S Esperanca 30 Desp’vo Huila 30 Recreativo C 30 30 Academica AS Aviacao 30 4 de Abril (R) 30 1 de Maio (R) 30 Porcelana (R) 30


Ba (C) Rewa Lautoka Labasa Suva Nadi Dreketi Nadroga (R)

P 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14

W 10 9 7 5 5 4 3 3

D 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 0

KEY TO TABLES (C) = champions (R) = relegated (Q) = qualified for next stage

L 2 3 4 6 6 7 7 11

F 30 24 33 19 21 14 14 13

A 11 16 16 14 32 22 32 25

Pts 32 29 24 18 18 15 13 9

O A Bola (Portugal) O De Telegraaf (Holland) O ElfVoetbal (Holland) O Fanatik (Turkey) O Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) O Goal News (Greece) O Kicker (Germany) O Marca (Spain) O Nemzeti Sport (Hungary) O So Foot (France) O Sport-Express (Russia) O Sport/Foot (Belgium) O TIPS Bladet (Denmark) O World Soccer (UK) O Titan Sport (China) O KickOff (S Africa) O Netease (China) O SportalKorea (S Korea)


Ajax 5 Bayern Munich 2 GREAT MATCHES

A new generation of talented Dutch youngsters prove themselves on the European stage against German powerhouse KEY MOMENTS

Opener...Jari Litmanen (right) heads home

Unstoppable...Marc Overmars takes on the Bayern defence


n an exhilarating night in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium, Louis Van Gaal’s young Ajax team swept aside Bayern Munich to reach their first European Cup Final since 1973. Inspired by their Nigerian teenager Nwankwo Kanu and the more experienced Finn, Jari Litmanen, a team containing many graduates of the club’s famed academy system played some breathtaking football. Their performance, however wasn’t appreciated by everyone. As the June 1995 report in World Soccer pointed out: “There are bad losers in every sport. But it seems incredible what just one person was saying after Ajax had knocked Bayern Munich out of the Champions Cup in great style. “Uli Hoeness, the Bayern manager, came out with these ridiculous comments: ‘I didn’t rate Ajax at all. Had Bayern been able to field our best team we would have won in Amsterdam. Certainly Ajax have no chance against Milan. Their defence is terribly weak.’ Yes, so weak that they managed to beat Bayern 5-2.” Although Kanu didn’t score himself, he created goals for Ronald De Boer and Litmanen and hit the woodwork twice. “Most of the brilliant Ajax youngsters have no idea when the club last appeared

in a Champions Cup Final,” continued the report. “In 1973, in Belgrade, when a header by Johnny Rep beat Juventus 1-0, some were not born and others were having regular nappy changes.” The 1973 team included Johan Cruyff, Ruud Krol and Johann Neeskens, and were considered the greatest Ajax produced. But as World Soccer concluded: “Within a few years people in the game will be talking about the current crop of talent in a similar manner” – after which, Van Gaal’s youngsters went on to win the Cup, beating Milan 1-0 in the Final.

Challenge...Ajax’s Finidi George (left) beats Dieter Frey

BAYERN MUNICH Coach: Giovanni Trapattoni

AJAX Coach: Louis Van Gaal

Frey George (Davids 88)


Van Der Sar

Litmanen Rijkaard

Kuffour Schupp

Seedorf Blind

11min Following a melee in the Bayern goalmouth, Ronald De Boer heads back across goal and Jari Litmanen nods in from five yards. 1-0 36min A right-wing cross from Mehmet Scholl is headed low into the corner by Marcel Witeczek. 1-1 41min Marc Overmars passes from the left, Litmanen dummies and Finidi George hammers the ball into the Second...Finidi George top corner. 2-1 45min An Overmars corner is flicked on by Nwankwo Kanu and De Boer steals in at the far post to put Ajax further ahead. 3-1 46min Kanu feeds Litmanen who beats his man and fires a shot high into the far corner. 4-1 74min Danny Blind handles on the goal line and Scholl’s penalty, driven straight down the middle, is too powerful for Edwin Van der Sar. 4-2 80min Scholl is clean through for Bayern, but an astute Van der Sar charges from his line to block. 88 min Litmanen and substitute Patrick Kluivert link up and play in Overmars, who drills in a right-foot shot from just inside the area. 5-2

Zickler (Sutter 72)

Kanu (Kluivert 67)



R De Boer

Helmer Scheuer (Kreutzer 42)

Nerlinger Babbel

Reiziger Overmars Ziege

Referee: Puhl (Hun)

Fourth...Litmanen celebrates his second goal



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