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Asian Football

wolfman
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Asian Football


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The Thai football mag I attempt to read each week has a round-up of Asian football stories most issues. I've been thinking about summarising the column each week on here for a while, but not got round to it. The ulterior motive is to get me working harder on my Thai.

The issue for 4-10 June seemed like a good place to finally begin as most of the column was on the  Women's Asian Championship, won by the Aussies.
 
Here goes:
 
Since joing the AFC on January 1 2006, Australia has yet to experience success in Asia, as champions at either club or international level. However the Matildas, the senior Australian Womens team, have created Australian football history by winning the Women's Asian Championship for the first time by beating defending champions North Korea 5-4 in a penalty shootout, after the final finished 1-1 after extra time.
 
Australia were coached by Tom Sermanee (spelling? I'm transliterating from Thai) of Scotland, who previously coached the team from 1994-1997 and then returned to the post in 2005, and built a team made up of veterans and younger players. In 2006, as hosts, they made it to the final of the Women's Asian Cup in their first year as members of the Asian Confederation.They lost that final to China in a penalty shootout, which caused a lot of sadness and pain for the Matildas.
 
But this year was the year of the Australians. This year's Women's Asian Cup was held in Chengdu, China, during 19-31 May. They beat Japan in the semi final, then defeated North Korea in the final on May 31st. In the final, 16 year old striker Samantha Kerr put the Australians ahead in the 19th minute, before Jo Yon-mi equalised for the Koreans after 72 minutes. After neither team was able to scored in extra-time, the match was decided by a penalty shootout. Australia won 5-4, becoming Asian Champions for the first time.
 
Not only did they become the Women's Asian Champions for the first time, but they are the first Australian team at any level to champions on the Asian stage, since joining the AFC in 2006. (Thai writing has a tendency to go in circles). The men's team qualified for this year's World Cup, and made the quarter-finals of the 2007 Asian Cup before losing to Japan on penalties.
 
Champions Australia, runners-up North Korea, and Japan (who beat hosts China 2-0 for 3rd place) all automatically qualify for the Women's World Cup, to be hosted by Germany next year. (there's a sentence here I can't translate) Previous World Cup winners include North Korea, who have won 3 of the last 4 tournaments, and China who've won the Cup 8 times. The Australian women's team is now competing with these great teams. The most interesting thing about Australia's move to Asia is that women's football in Australia has gotten stronger because the national team has been able to play harder games more often, as opposed to before, when they were the only strong team in Oceania.
 
Even though North Korea fell at the final hurdle this time, midfielder Jo Yon-mi was named Tournament MVP for her performances in leading North Korea to yet another final. Jo scored the goal in the final to draw North Korea level at 1-1, forcing the match into extra-time, and she also scored in the penalty shootout, although her team eventually lost. She may have also played every match, and provided a number of assists for her forwards (translation guess). She also scored North Korea's first goal in the 3-0 win over Thailand (This is a Thai magazine, remember).
 
The Golden Boot for top scorer went to Kazuo Ando of Japan. The 27 year old, who plays professionally for Duisburg in Germany, scored 3 goals in the tournament, including the first goal in Japan's 2-0 win against China in the 3rd/4th playoff. Her other goals came in the group stage against Thailand (4-0) and North Korea (2-1), helping Japan top Group A and earn a semi-final spot against Australia. Japanese midfielder and captain, Homare Sawa, and North Korean midfielder Jo Yon-mi also scored 3 goals each. However, Ando was awarded the Top Scorer, as she had more assists than these two players. Her other goals came in the group stage against Thailand (4-0) and North Korea (2-1), helping Japan top Group A and earn a semi-final spot against Australia.
 
Hosts China, who have missed out on qualifying for the World Cup, were award the Fairplay Award, for picking up just 1 red card, and being penalised the least of the 8 teams at the tournament. Head coach Zhang Rui Hua stood down after failing to guide the Chinese to the World Cup. A new coach will lead China at the Asian Games in Gwangzhou later this year. For China, once ranked number 1 in the world, and who vied with the USA for World Cup and Olympic titles, winning 8 World Cups in the process, this result (4th place in Asian Cup) is the worst in their history. 
 
Statistically, at the Women's Asian Cup, 16 matches provided 45 goals at an average of 2.81/game. Total attendance was 59,910 or an average of 3744 per game.
wolfman2010-07-12 18:12:14


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Last week's issue (18-24 June) was much easier. They've simply compiled a list of their "10 Best Asian Footballers NOT at the World Cup"
 
They're not ranked in any particular order. Each player has a small blurb that basically says what an inspirational player he is, but he was unable to drag his national team through qualifying to South Africa. I'll just cover basic information and honours mentioned. Usual disclaimer with names.
 
1. Jawad Nekunam.  Midfielder, 29 years old, Iran & Osasuna (Spain). Captain of Iran. Played in World Cup Germany 2006 (2 matches), and qualifiers for Japan/Korea 2002.
 
2. Ali Karimi. Iran & Steel Asin (Iran). Asian Footballer of the Year 2004. 3rd Place Asian Cup 2004 (Iran). Played at Germany 2006 whilst playing for Bayern Munich at club level. AKA "Asian Maradona" or "Wizard of Tehran".
 
3. Mohammad Noor. Saudi Arabia & Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia). Runner-up Asian Cup 2007 (Saudi Arabia).
AFC Champions' League Winner 2004 & 2005 (Al Ittihad).
 
4. Yasser Al Qatani. Forward, Saudi Arabia & Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia). Captain of Saudi Arabia. 94 caps, 59 goals. Asian Footballer of the Year 2007. Asian Cup Runner-up 2007 (Saudi Arabia).
 
5.Kalfan Ibrahim. Forward, Qatar & Al Saad (Qatar). 50 caps, 15 goals. Asian Footballer of the Year 2006.
 
6. Ismail Matar. UAE & Al Wahda (UAE). 86 Caps, 26 goals. Player of the Tournament and Quarter-finalist, U-20 World Cup 2003 (UAE). Winner, UAE league (Al Wahda)
 
7. Younis Mahmoud. Striker. Iraq & Al Karafa (Qatar) Captain of Iraq.Winner, Asian Cup 2007 (Iraq). Scored winning goal in Final vs Saudi Arabia (1-0). Winner, Qatar league (Al Karafa). Currently in the quarterfinals of the AFC Champions' League 2010 with Al Karafa.
 
8. Server Dyeparov. Midfielder. Uzbekistan and Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan). Asian Footballer of the Year 2008. Winner, Uzbek league (Bunyodkor)
 
9. Therdsak Jaiman. Midfielder, 36 years old. Thailand & Chonburi FC (Thailand). Former Captain of Thailand. Runner-up AFC Champions' League 2003 (BEC Tero Sasana, Thailand). Player of the Competition, AFC Champions' League 2003. Finalist, Asian Footballer of the Year, 2003. S-League Player of the Year (Singapore Armed Forces - year not given).
 
10. Zheng Zhi. Midfielder/Defender, 29 years old. China & Celtic (Scotland) 
wolfman2010-09-08 02:50:59


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The June 25 - July 1 issue also doesn't have much going on, due to the big leagues taking a break for the summer/rain/World Cup. This week's Asian round-up discusses a number of transfers by Japanese players.

Atsuto Uchida, a 22 year old defender in the Japanese WC squad (although he played no matches in SA), moved from J-League champs Kashima Antlers to Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga on a 3-year contract from 13 June. The right back will be the second Asian player at Schalke, along with Chinese international midfielder Hao Junmin, who joined last season. Uchida is seen as a replacement for Brazilian defender Rafinha, who is leaving.
Uchida played previously for Shimizu Higachi High School from 2003-2005, before signing professionally for Kashima from 2006. He played his first match for them in March 2006 as a 17-year old and scored his first goal in his 4th match, 2 weeks later. In his first season, he was selected in the J-League All Star team, gaining the most votes of any player. Since then he has played 124 matches for the Antlers, scoring 3 goals.
He caught the attention of then national coach, Ovica Osim, who called him up to the national squad in 2006, although Uchida didn't play his first match in Japan colours until January 2008 in a friendly against Chile in Tokyo. When Osim stood down due to health problems, Uchida played 90 minutes in Japan's first match under current coach Takeshi Okada, a 4-1 victory over Thailand in World Cup qualifying, in February 2008. He was the youngest Japanese player to play a World Cup qualifier since Hidetoshi Nakata in 1993.    
Uchida was an  important part of Kashima's championship winning teams in 2007, 2008, and 2009. He has played 31 matches for Japan, and has scored 1 goal. His signing with Schalke 04 gives him an opportunity to gain experience in a bigger league. He will be looking to emulate another successful Japanese player in the German League, Makoto Hasebe, a Bundesliga winning midfielder with Wolfsburg. Other German-based Japanese players, Shinji Ono, Junichi Inamoto, and Yosh*to Okubo have returned to the J-League since last season.
 
 
Choji Ita, a 21 year old forward, formerly of Grenoble (France), has returned to Japan and signed with Shimizu S-Pulse in the J-League, after Ita's contract at Grenoble ended last month. He played 5 matches, without scoring a goal during his time in France. Shimizu S-Pulse are coached by Serbian Dragan Stojkovic, who has led the team for the past 3 1/2 years.
 
Japanese international midfielder Daisuke Matsui,also of Grenoble, is looking for a new club after Grenoble were relegated to Ligue 2.
 
Gogi Mizuno, a 24 year old midfielder, who has been with Glasgow Celtic for the past 3 years, has decided to move back to Japan. He will join Kashiwa Reysol in the J-2 League (Japan's second tier). The contract runs from 2 July until January 2013. Mizuno played 12 league and cup matches for Celtic in his 3 years at the club, but failed to take the field in the 2009-10 season. Prior to moving to Scotland, he played 86 matches and scored 13 goals for JEF United of the J-League from 2004-2007.
     
wolfman2010-07-12 18:14:14


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July 2-8 Issue.
 
A round up of the Asian teams' performances at the World Cup. There are large parts that I can't translate, and others that I can't be bothered translating, as it's all old news to us.
 
The World Cup  isn't over yet, but Asia's interest is over already. Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Australia have all been eliminated, with South Korea and Japan being both knocked out in the round of 16.
 
North Korea were drawn in the most difficult group, with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast. Although they played with some ability, they were unabvle to make an impact in their first appearance on the world stage in44 years.
 
Australia had some bad luck with some refereeing mistakes, but this shouldn't be considered an excuse, as all teams encountered this as well. Overall Australia, won 1, drew 1, and lost 1 but were eliminated in the first round. Their performance was ok.
 
South Korea with players like captain Park Ji-Sung leading them, progressed to the second round. The Koreans blended younger players such as Lee Chong-Young of Bolton, Ki Song-Young(Celtic), and Cha Du-Ri (Freiburg) with veterans such as Kim Nam-Il (Tomsk), Lee Yong-Pyo (Al Hilal). Under the guidance of Head Coach Hoh Jong-Moo, they progressed to the second round for the first time on foreign soil, before losing to Uruguay 1-2. However, this team are heroes at home as they played well, and no-one played badly. Their performances will help the development of the game in Korea, and on the domestic coaching front as well.
 
Takeshi Okada's Japan had a difficult group, facing Holland, Cameroon and Denmark. However, they were able to beat Cameroon and Denmark, while losing narrowly to Holland. Japan uncovered a new star in midfielder Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), who played almost as a forward, scoring two goals, including an excellent free-kick. Fellow midfielder Yasuhito Endo also scored from a well taken free-kick. There were very good performences from a number of other players throughout the team, to the extent that star veteran midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura struggled to get on the pitch. Like Korea, Japan also qualified for the second round  for the 2nd time in their history, and for the first time on foreign soil. Finally they lost to Paraguay on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
 
Watching the coverage from South Africa, one couldn't help notice the technique and tactics from the Asian teams was good, but that they lacked big match experience (and something else) Hopefully this will be better at  Brazil 2014, and Asian teams will do even better.
 
In the meantime, we have the Asian Cup in Qatar this January 2011, featuring all 4 of the World Cup sides, to look forward to.
wolfman2010-08-15 21:27:36


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July 9-15
 
"Asian Footballers.. Smelling Sweet after the World Cup"
 
The 2010 World Cup will end this weekend on 11 July, but for Asian teams it's been over since the first and second rounds. The play produced and results achieved by Asians in South Africa have caught the eye of a number of European clubs, meaning some Asian-based players may move, and those already in Europe may transfer to better or bigger clubs.
 
One example is Eiji Kawashima, the Japanese goalkeeper. The 27 year old produced outstanding performances for his country at the World Cup, helping them reaching the last 16 on foreign soil for the first time, while conceding just 2 goals in 4 matches, before Japan's exit on penalties against Paraguay. He is moving from Kawasaki Frontale in the J-League to Lierse SK in Belgium's Division 1. Thai striker, "Leesaw" (Teeratep Winothai), is currently contracted to this club, although he has been on loan at Thai Premier League champions Muangthong United since June 2009.
Kawashima signed a contract with Lierse for 3 years from July 6. He has played 13 matches for Japan, although he has been included in Japanese squads since 2008. Quote from Kawashima "In Belgium, there footballers from many different countries playing together, and competing at a very high level. I will need to improve and develop my game. I have been hoping to play on a bigger stage since before the World Cup, and when Lierse expressed interest, I decided to come here."
 
Kawashima is the second goalkeeper from Japan to move to Europe, after Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, who played for Portsmouth in England in 2001-2002 and at FC Nordjylland in Denmark during 2003-2004, experiencing little success, before returning to Japan to play with Jubilo Iwata. We will watch and see whether Eiji Kawashima can do well in Europe, as presently there is only one other Asian goalkeeper in Europe; Oman's Ali Al Habsi, currently at Bolton Wanderers in England, although he is second choice 'keeper there, and has had few opportunities.
 
Kim Nam-Il, South Korea's 33 year old midfielder, is also on the move. The veteran has transferred from Tom Tomsk in Russia to Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia for a fee of US$416,667, although the length of the contract has not been disclosed. Kim has experience in a number of foreign leagues since starring in the 2002 World Cup in Korea. In 2003, he went Excelsior in the Dutch League, but only played 8 matches in the 6 months he was there, and returned to Korea with Chunnam Dragons, where he began his career. In 2005, he transferred to Suwon Bluewings. He played for Suwon until 2007, when he moved to Japan with Vissel Kobe. He stayed there for 2 seasons, before his move to Tom Tomsk last December.
Kim has been capped 96 times for his country, scoring 2 goals, and featuring at the World Cup in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Al Shabab are hoping he will strengthen their squad as they continue their AFC Champions' League campaign. The 5-time Saudi champions are in the quarter finals of that competition, and will meet 2006 ACL winners, Chonbuk Motors of South Korea, over two legs in  September. Kim will be eligible to play as Al Shabab's Asian import under the AFC's 3+1 rule for continental competitions, enabling them to field up to 4 foreigners. At present, there is one other Korean international in the Saudi League, defender Lee Young-Pyo, who plays for Al Hilal.   
 
21 year old Ki Seong-Yong,currently playing at Glasgow Celtic in Scotland, has recently received encouraging words from Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Lennon who is hoping to wrest the SPL title back from Rangers, talked up the star Korean midfielder, who will be playing his first full season in Scotland this season. Lennon compared Seong Yong to former Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura of Japan. Nakamura enjoyed success in his first season at Celtic, winning the Scottish Premier League, and League Cup titles, as well as being named the Scottish PFA Player of the Year. Lennon said "Ki played very well at the World Cup. I am happy with him, and he is still young. We are satisfied with his performances here. I understand that has been difficult for him, coming from a very different culture and from the other side of the world. It is different to Nakamura, who played in Italy for a long time before coming here. Ki only arrived in January, and we feel he will be an outstanding player for us this coming season. He is only 21, but he is returning here after playing at a World Cup, and playing well, and we believed he will reproduce that form here."
Ki Seong-Yong will not be so lonely this season, as Celtic have signed his Korean teammate, defender Cha Du-Ri, on a 2-year deal from German outfit Freiburg.
 
Zheng Zhi, midfielder and captain of the Chinese national squad, has been released by Celtic and returning to his homeland. He will play for Gwangzhou Evergreen in Division 1, China's second-tier league. there, he will be joined by international teammate, defender Sun Xiang, who is moving from Shanghai Zhenhua in the Chinese Super League. They will be coached by former Beijing Guoan manager Lee Jangzu. These big names will hoping to lead their team into the Chinese Super League for next season.
 
The South Korean team returned to Korea to thank their sponsors and supporters. On July 6, the players and staff were received at Chong Wa Dae, or the "Blue House" (Korea's equivalent of the White House or 10 Downing Street) by President Im Yong-Park. They received his congratulations and thanks for their performances and for enhancing South Korea's reputation on the world stage. Like Japan, Korea reached the knockout stages on foreign soil for the first time, before being eliminated 1-2 by Uruguay. Captain Park Ji-Seong presented the President with a ball signed by the squad.
 
Japan also returned home and met their country's leader, Prime Minister Naoto Dan, in Tokyo. Head coach Takeshi Okada, captain Makoto Hasebe, and leader Kuniya Daini presented the Prime Minister with a team shirt signed by the Japanese squad.
 
 
    
wolfman2010-08-15 21:28:01


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July 16-22

 

�Life returns to normal�

 

Asian footballers have returned to the regular routine, post-World Cup. The best professional leagues, Japan�s J-League, and Korea�s K-League, after taking breaks to allow their national teams to prepare for and play in the World Cup,  are resuming this month.

The J-League stopped on May 16th, and was to resume on July 17th with a match between defending champions Kashima Antlers, and Kawasaki Frontale, who will be without North Korean international Jong Tae-Se, after he moved to Bochum in Germany�s Bundesliga 2. On the same day, league leaders Shimuzu S-Pulse host Jubilo Iwata, FC Tokyo meet Vissel Kobe, Omiya face Nagoya Grampus, Yamagata meet Sendai, and Nigata play Cerezo Osaka.

On the Sunday the 18th, Kyoto Sanga play Shonan Belmare, Gamba Osaka meet Urawa Reds, and Hiroshima face Yokohama F Marinos. Officials are hoping for increased attendances in the J-League after the success of the national team at the World Cup, where they qualified for the second round.

 

North Korean striker Jong Tae-Se has signed a 2 year contract with Bochum, with an option of an extension. The 26-year old will be doing his best to help his new team gain promotion back to the Bundesliga this season. We will be watching to see how successful Jong is on this foray into Europe.

 

Japanese midfield star Keisuke Honda has returned to Russia and rejoined his team CSKA Moscow. This term however, he will be better�known to the fans, who now have higher expectations of him. There are rumours of European clubs looking to buy him, including A.C. Milan, Atletico Madrid, and Olympique Marseille. At this stage, Honda has given no indication of whether he will move to a bigger club, or stay where he is.

 

Japanese defender Atsuto Uchida, has joined his new team, Schalke 04 in Germany. The 22-year old was presented at training on July 13 by coach Felix Magath, and has been allocated the no. 22 shirt. Opposition forwards may need some warning, as Ujita was disappointed that the he didn�t receive a similar farewell to those given previously to Hidetoshi Nakata when heleft Japan at the end of last week. (this last sentence is a guess in my translation)

 

Yuto Nagatomo, FC Tokyo defender and member of the Japanese team, is close to moving to Europe and joining Cesena in Italy. He is currently in the negotiation stage, after travelling to Italy on July 13. Other clubs chasing his signature included Bologna, Real Majorca, Borussia Dortmund and Birmingham City, , but he chose to play in Italy with Cesena. During the 2010 World Cup, Nagamoto played every minute of all 4 matches of Japan�s campaign.

 

Korea�s K-League resumed a week earlier, after a 2-month break. In the first week of matches, the �Lion King� Lee Dong-Guk scored 2 goals as defending champions Jeonbuk Motors defeated Daegu FC 3-0. Striker Lee was part of the Korean squad at the World Cup, but featured but made just appearance as a substitute. The victory helped Jeonbuk climb 2 places to 6th on the table, with a record of 5 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses after 11 matches.

 

Korean international defender Kim Hyong-Il scored as reigning Asian Champions� League holders Pohang Steelers drew 1-1 with Chunnam Dragons. At this match, Pohang unveiled their new signing, veteran Korean international winger/midfielder Seol Ki-Hyun. Seol was playing his first K-League match since leaving Korea to play for Antwerp in 2000. In the decade since, he has also played for Anderlecht, Reading and Fulham (I think he was also at Wolves). He returned to Korea in January to find a club with which to end his career.

 

Park Chu-Young didn�t need to travel far to rejoin his Monaco teammates; in fact, they came to him. The French club played a pre-season friendly against Incheon United on 11 July, which finished 2-2. Park came on as a second-half substitute in the 75th minute, to the cheers of the large crowd.

 

Former South Korean international player and coach Cha Bum-Keun, who was in South Africa as a commentator with Korean TV channel SBS, was fined 1000 rand (about US$200) for overstaying his visa as he flew out after the World Cup. Cha, father of current international Cha Du-Ri was stopped by immigration officials at Johannesburg Airport on July 13, and has been banned from re-entering South Africa after staying longer than allowed on his visa. He entered South Africa on June 9 for the World Cup on a Special Business visa, valid for 30 days.  He needed to stay longer for the tournament, but forgot to contact FIFA with/for the necessary documentation.

 

The Iraq Football Federation have announced that Wolfgang Sidka is the new national team coach. The 56-yearold German�s first task is preparing Iraq for the defence of their Asian Cup title next January 7-29, to be held in Qatar. This position needs a coach with experience of Asian football, because the former Werder Bremen manager has also had stints with the national teams of Bahrain and Qatar. The former Hertha Berlin player will begin his contract at the end of July.    

wolfman2010-08-15 21:28:26


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Other interesting news - the 9-15 July issue's lead story was on the largest transfer fee ever paid for a Thai league player. Last season's Belgian league runners-up KAA Ghent have paid 20,000,000 baht (500,000 euros) to reigning Thai champions Muang Thong United for 20 year-old Soumahoro Yaya (Ivory Coast). Yaya has been at MTU since 2008. He will join Ghent at the end of the month.
 
Also, according to the Bangkok Post, former England goalkeeper Ian Walker will trial with Thai Premier League team Chonburi FC.
EDIT - Just found the story in Football Siam (it takes me about a week to read it).
Walker is flying out to Thailand for a trial after failing to get to land an MLS contract (he's been based in the States. The sticking point seems to be money - apparently Walker would like in the region of 15,000 dollars a month, and Chonburi want him to drop this by 30-50%.
 
I also stumbled across another rumour that Junichi Inamoto  may be going to Buriram-Provincial Electricity Authority. PEA were TPL champions in 2008, and were bought and relocated by banned Buriram MP Newin Chidchob at the end of last season. Despite being in an unfashionable part of the country, with his cash they've managed to build a new stadium and attract some decent national team players. (Think of a cashed up Masterton side for comparision). After far as Inamoto goes, he's still at Kawasaki Frontale for now, and Newin also claimed at the beginning of the season that Gabriel Batistuta would be lining up for Buriram-PEA.
 
Best line of the article is when is describes Inamoto as a former Arsenal 'star'.
wolfman2010-09-27 15:32:52


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"Serginho Van Dijk -  Dutch-Indonesian Shooting Star" (July 23-29)
 
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa maybe over, but teams from the Asean region still have a big regional football tournament to look forward to, the ASEAN Football Championship, and now the Indonesian Football Association have attracted Serginho (Sergio) Van Dijk, a 27 year-old striker of mixed Dutch & Indonesian parentage from Adelaide United in the Australian A-League.
 
He has made himself available to be selected for this edition of the South-East Asian (ASEAN) Championships to be hosted by Indonesia and Vietnam at the end of this year. Van Dijk is currently in Indonesia to complete the necessary paperwork and send it to FIFA in order for him to be able to play in the tournament. There should be no problem, as he has never played for the Netherlands. In fact, in Van Dijk's case, the Indonesian government have approved his status as an Indonesian citizen already, as his mother comes from Indonesia. If selected for Indonesia, his height could make him a very dangerous player for them, as he is 185cm tall.
 
He currently plays for Adelaide United in the Australian league, after moving from Brisbane Roar last season. He initially signed a 6-month contract with the Reds, in order to play in their Asian Champions' League campaign, and has since signed for a further 3 years. He debuted for Adelaide in the 0-1 loss to Korean side Pohang Steelers on 24 February, and scored his first goal for them in a 2-0 win over Shandong Luneung of China on 24 March. He has played a total of 7 matches for Adelaide, scoring 2 goals.
 
Previously, Van Dijk played in the Netherlands for FC Groningen (2000-2002), Helmond Sport (2002-2005) and FC Emmen (2005-2008) before moving to Queensland/Brisbane Roar. From 2008-2010, he played 53 matches for the Roar, and scored 26 goals. Last season, he played all 27 of their league matches, scoring 13 goals, and providing 4 assists. His total of 13 goals made him the 2nd-highest scorer in the league, behind New Zealander Shane Smeltz of Gold Coast United, who scored 19 goals.
 
The Indonesian FA is hoping to see the national team return to being a South-East Asian power, and hope that, as hosts, they will be able to win the ASEAN Championships, to be held from 1-29 December in Hanoi and Jakarta, especially if they have the services of a striker like Van Dijk.  
 
The AFC has opened online ticketing services for fans who wish to purchase tickets to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. The tournament will be held from January 7-29. On July 25, tickets became available online, following the success of the system for the 2007 Asian Cup, which was hosted in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Fans will be able to used the online system to select matches, price categories and seat numbers. The first match will see hosts Qatar meet Uzbekhistan in Group A. Group A also contains Kuwait and China. As for the other groups:
Group B: Saudi Arabia, Japan, Jordan, Syria
Group C: South Korea, India, Australia, Bahrain
Group D: Iraq, North Korea, UAE, Iran
 
Baijung Buday (sp), Indian striker and captain, was injured while with the national squad in Portugal. He had to return home expects to be fit again in November. The Indian team coach, Bob Houghton of England, now needs to find a new striker, as Sunil Chetri is also unavailable due to playing commitments with the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS.
 
Afshin Ghotbi the American-Iranian coach of Iran, has received the backing of the Iranian FA, and will lead Iran in the Asian Cup in Qatar 2011. His position was under threat (yet again) after Iran lost to Vasas SC of Hungary in the second of two friendlies they played recently in Austria. In the first, they drew 1-1 with Red Star Belgrade of Serbia. Ghotbi believes that Iran can win the the Asian Cup, if the media and the Iranian Federation get behind them and support the team. Iran were in Australia for 12 days until 24 July, where they played another friendly against Italian club Lazio on the 21st.
 
The Football Federation of Bahrain have announced that Austrian Josef Hikersberger has take over as manager of the national team, and will begin preparing them for next Januiary's Asian Cup. Bahrain will play friendlies against China (in Beijing, August 11), and Qatar (Doha, September 3), and possibly a third match either against Slovenia or an African team. They will then compete in the West Asian Championships in Amman, Jordan during 24 Sept- 3 Oct, and the Gulf Cup in Yemen, from 22 November to 4 December.
 
Harry Kewell has agreed to extend his contract at Galatasaray in Turkey by another year, despite not playing the second half of last season due to a hamstring injury. After finally returning to fitness and form, he played for Australia at the World Cup. This season he will be joined at Galatasaray by compatriate Lucas Neill.
 
However, Craig Moore, also of Australia, has decided to retire, after a long professional career. The 34 year old centre back will now pursue a coaching career. Moore played for many clubs during his career, including Glasgow Rangers, Crystal Palace, Borussia Muenchengladbach, Newcastle United, Brisbane Roar and Kavala. He also played 52 matches for the Socceroos, including appearances at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. Moore said he had offers from clubs in China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia, but felt it was time to end his playing career. He will begin studying for a coaching qualification in September.
 
Finally, AFC President Mohammed Bin Hamman visited North Korea for 2 days on 19-20 July.  He met Yang Hyong-seop, Vice-President of the Praesidium, who would not reveal why the AFC President was in North Korea. However,there's some speculation I don't understand. There is also a photo of MBH cutting the ribbon to open a football training centre in Pyongyang. 
wolfman2010-08-15 21:28:56


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Last week's round-up was quite an effort, so I might just summarise, rather than translate in future.
 
July 30- August 5 "Lee Cheong-Yong - I'm staying at Bolton"
 
Britain-based Koreans, Lee Cheong-Yong (Bolton), Park Ji-Sung (Man Utd), Cha Du-Ri (Celtic) and Ki Seong-Yong (Celtic), all returned to their clubs post-World Cup last week. Lee flew out on 26 July with Park and Patrice Evra (Man Utd), after the three of them had been at the opening of Park's Youth Football Centre in Suwon.
 
Lee laughed off reports that he is leaving Bolton, saying he is still under contract, but he wasn't sure what would happen when his contract expires. After his displays at the World Cup, where he scored 2 goals in Korea's 4 matches, he has been linked with big clubs such as Liverpool and Spurs. Lee dismissed this speculation, saying it was part of being a professional footballer.
 
After opening his new Football Centre, Park is looking forward to the new season with Man U, and he also has the Asian Cup to think about with Korea. This tournament is becoming increasingly important for the Koreans, as they look to back up their reputation as an Asian powerhouse with some silverware. Incredibly, after winning the first two Asian Cups in 1956 and 1960, the South Koreans haven't won it since.
 
Chinese football is back in the international spotlight, after fans of Qingdao chased and punched a referee, when 2 Qingdao players received red cards in their 0-2 loss to Shanghai Shenhua. As the referee, Wang Zheu, left the stadium his car was attacked by about 100 angry fans, including one man who appeared to be wearing a coaching staff uniform. Fortunately, the referee escaped without injury. The incident is a blow for new Chinese FA president, Wei Di, as he tries to lead China forward after the scandals of recent seasons.
 
The Iraq FA are being warned about political interference by FIFA, and could face suspension from the Asian Cup.
 
In the K-League, FC Seoul has signed 2008 Asian Player of the Year, Server Dyeparov of Uzbekistan. Seoul have agreed to a 6-month loan with Budyonkor for the services of Dyeparov. The 27 year-old is rated as one of the best midfielders in Asia, and brings a lot of experience to Seoul, while fulfilling his dream of playing in the K-League. He has played 58 AFC Champions' League matches (8 goals), with Baktakor (2002-2007) and Budyonkor(2008-2010), both of Uzbekistan. He was part of the Budyonkor side that lost to Adelaide United in the semi-finals in the 2008 ACL Champions' League.
Seoul have also signed former Korean international Choi Tae-Uk from defending K-League champions Jeonbuk Motors on a 3 1/2 year contract. The 29 year-old winger was part of Korea's history-making 2002 World Cup squad, and has played for a number of clubs including Anyang Cheetahs (now FC Seoul), Incheon United, Pohang Steelers (all Korea), and Shimuzu S-Pulse (Japan).
 
South Korean defender Lee Jong-Soo has left Kashima Antlers (Japan) to join Qatari outfit Al-Saad.
 
Ivan Kolev (Bulgaria) has taken of the post of manager at Indonesian club side Siriwijaya, replacing Rahmat Darmawan after the Indonesian Cup. This will be the 4th Indonesian side Kolev has coached, after spells at Persipura (2007), Persiya (1999), and Mitra Kukar (2006). He also coached the Indonesian national team twice (2002-2004 and 2007), including leading them at the last Asian Cup. 
 
And in Thai news, Thai international defender Peter Lang has moved from SC Schaffhausen in the Swiss 2nd division. The former Swiss U-21 international has transferred to Bangkok Glass.
wolfman2010-08-15 21:29:18


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"Lee Woon-Jae Hangs Up His Gloves"
6-12 August
 
South Korea goalkeeper Lee Woon-Jae announced his decision to retire from international football this week, after a lengthy career dating back to 1994.
Career Summary:
Lee Woon-Jae
Born 26 April, 1975 (aged 37) in Cheongju, South Korea.
 
Played for:
Kyonghee University 1994-1995
Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1994-1999, 2002-Present
Sangmu FC (now Gwangju Sangmu Phoenix) 2000-2001 (Military Service)
Total 264 K-League appearances (All with Suwon)
 
Honours (All with Suwon): 4 K-League titles,  2 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 2 Korea Super Cups, 1 AFC Champions' League title, 1 Asian Super Cup, 1 A3 Champions Cup, 1 Pan Asia-Pacific Championship
 
Internationals: Korea U-23 1992-1996, 2002 (Overage player at Busan Asian Games)
Korea Senior Team: 1994-2010, 131 matches 
World Cup Squads: 1994, 2002, 2006, 2010. 1st choice goalkeeper in the 2002 squad that made the semi-finals and came 4th in Korea.
 
His final appearance for Korea will be on 11 August in a friendly against Nigeria in Seoul, although he will continue to play for Suwon in the K-League.
 
Indonesian club Persiba Balikpapan are currently trialling Kim Tae-Hyoung (21 yrs old) and Yoo Yeong-Oo (25) from Korean National League (2nd Division) side Yesan FC. The Indonesian side already have one Korean in their squad, 30- year old midfielder Kim Yong-Hee. Indonesian Super League rules state that clubs can have 5 foreign players, made up of 3 non-Asians and 2 Asians, so one of these 3 Koreans will be unlucky and not get a contract. The feeling is it will be Kim Yong-Hee, as he is the oldest. The next Indonesian League season will begin in October.
 
The Japanese FA are looking for a new national team coach to replace Takeshi Okada. Currently the 3 leading candidates are former Dutch national coach Marco Van Basten, and Spaniards Viktor Fernandez and Ernesto Valverde. JFA head Junichi Ogura said that a decision will be made by 15 August. The new coach's first assignment will be to take the reigns in friendlies against Paraguay (4 September) and Guatemala (7 September), as part of Japan's build-up to the Asian Cup.
 
The Australian FFA have announced that Han Berger will take temporary charge of the Socceroos. The Dutchman has just picked his first side, to play a friendly against Slovenia in Lubjana, Slovenia on 11 August. He has chosen Asian-based players Mark Milligan (JEF United Chiba), John McKain (Al Nassr) and Jade North (Wellington Phoenix although listed as a Tromso player). A-League players have not been chosen, as the 2010-11 season begins this month. Australia are also preparing for the Asian Cup, where they have been drawn in a group with South Korea, Bahrain, and India. Aurelio Vidmar, who led Adelaide to the final of the 2008 ACL Champions' League, will be Berger's assistant.  
wolfman2010-08-15 21:29:48


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13-19 August
 
Lee Xiaopeng has been named as the coach of the Chinese Women's team.
 
After dominating the international game in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Chinese have struggled in recent times, especially since the emergence of North Korea as a force in women's football. They reached their nadir in May this year, finishing 4th at the Asian Cup, and therefore failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1991. Former coach Zhang Rui Hua resigned after the tournament, and now former international midfielder Lee Xiaopeng has been charged with the task of resurrecting China's fortunes at the Asian Games in Gwangzhou, China this November. There's a quick overview of his playing achievements, but little on his coaching history, although he was coach of the China U-17 team before this appointment.
He played for Shandong from 1994-2005 and for the national team from 1992-2002, (39 matches & 3 goals), and was part of the 2002 World Cup squad. He was in the Chinese U-17 team that were Asian champions in 1992. He also won the Chinese League with Shandong in 1999 & 2004, and the Chinese FA Cup in 1999 and 2004. 
 
A brief report on Iran 4 months out from the Asian Cup. Led by Afshin Ghotbi, the 3-time champions will be looking to end a 34 year drought in Qatar. Their 3rd Asian Cup was won back in 1976, when they defeated Kuwait 1-0. At the last Asian Cup in 2007, they made the quarter-finals, before losing a penalty shootout to South Korea. After also failing to qualify for this year's World Cup, Iranian fans are hoping for a better showing this January. It will be tough for the Iranians, as they have been drawn in a 1st round group with defending champions Iraq, North Korea (who finished ahead of Iran in WC qualifying), and UAE.
 
The South Korean U-20 team came 3rd in the U-20 Women's World Cup, held in Germany last month. This was the highest finish ever by any South Korean team at a FIFA tournament. Forward Ji Soo-yeon scored 8 goals, winning the Silver Shoe (2nd highest scorer). The team were invited to meet Korean President Lee Myeong-bak at Cheong Wa Dae on August 10.
 
Wolfgang Sidka has formally signed his contract as Head Coach of the Iraq national team. The 56 year old travelled to Arbil in the north of Iraq to sign on August 9th. He had to go to Arbil as it is in the safest area in the Kurdish area of Iraq. The Iraq FA have set up their current headquarters there. Iraq are still being watched by FIFA for signs of political interference. The former Werder Bremen coach is believed to be on a salary of 500,000 dollars per year. He will be the second German to lead Iraq after Bernd Stange.
 
The JFA still expect to name their new national team coach on August 15. The new man will then have to prepare a team for Japan's friendly with Paraguay on September 4.
 
The J-League has decided not to name an All-Star team this year, due to a lack of sponsorship for an All-Star match. This is the first time this has happened since the professional J-League began in 1993. 
wolfman2010-08-15 21:31:48


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Oh, and in Thai football, A-League fans might be interested to know that former Victory striker Ney Fabiano has moved from Bangkok Glass to Chonburi FC, with 10 matches remaining in the current TPL season. wolfman2010-08-15 21:34:24


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A bit late this week, but here is Aug 20-26.
 
The main part of the article is about Ali Karimi's sacking by Steel Azin FC (Iran) for not fasting during Ramadan. 
2004 Asian Footballer of the Year Karimi was released by the club, and the news was made official on the club's website on August 15. Karimi said he couldn't believe the decision. He cited fitness and health, including the need to maintain blood sugar and hydration levels in order to perform as a professional footballer, as the reasons why he wasn't fasting. He claimed it wasn't an issue of faith, and stated that he was still a Muslim, and strongly believed in the faith.
The rest of the article covers the 31-year old's career, and his history of problems with authorities. Karimi is the second most-capped player for Iran, behind Ali Daei, and played for Bayern Munich for 2 years between 2005 and 2007. This is the 3rd ban he has received from a club or national side in his career. In 2008, he was banned from the national side after criticising the Iranian FA. Iranian President Mahamood Ahmadinejad, and Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayotallah Ruhollah Khomeini, Head of the Iranian Islamic Council, intervened on Karimi's behalf. In October 2008, Karimi announced his retirement. However, in February 2009, Karimi said he was available for selection after Afshin Ghotbi replaced Ali Daei as head coach. He made his international return in June 2009, scoring in a 1-0 win over the UAE in World Cup qualifying. 
His next brush with authority came just weeks later, after Iran's away draw with Sth Korea, which put Iran out of WC reckoning. Karimi and several other Iran players wore green wristbands in this match, which was seen as a show of support for Hossein Musavi, leader of Iran's opposition party, who was claiming that month's government elections were fixed. Depending on the source, Karimi and the other players concerned were  banned for life, or retired. However, Karimi again appeared for Iran against Thailand in an Asian Cup qualifier in January 2010.
 
Viktor Fernandez of Spain has been offered the position of Japan national team coach, replacing Takeshi Okada. 
 
Lee Chun-Soo has begun his career at new club Omiya Ardiya in the J-League. Last week, he played in the 0-0 draw against Jubilo Iwata. The match was notable for the presence of new Korean coach Cho Kwang-Rae and his assistant Park Tae-Hwa in the stands. There were a number of Koreans featured in this match. Jubilo Iwata had midfielder/wingback Park Ju-Ho and defender Lee Kang-Jin in their side. Lee Chun-Soo, who played a major part in Korea's 2002 & 2006 World Cup campaigns, hasn't played much since having problems with his previous club, Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia. Aged only 29, he is aiming to get back into the national side with regular matchplay in Japan. He will soon be joined by compatriate Lee Ho, also a midfielder, who will be moving from Al Ain in the UAE. 
 
Mauricio Molina demonstrated that he is ready for the resumption of Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma's AFC Champions' League in a couple of weeks, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory over Incheon United in a recent K-League match. Seongnam take on Suwon in the quarterfinals on 15 and 22 September.
 
A 36-year old former Korean football international, identified only by his surname, Choi, was arrested in Seoul, in possesion of 10 grams (not enough 0s?? I'm not up on my drug dealing) of methamphetamines. It is believed he was returning from China with the drugs, valued at 2M won (US$1682). A quick check of recent Korean international players reveals that the  only Choi who would be 36 now appears to be Choi Yeong-Soo, a former striker, who is now assistant coach at FC Seoul.
wolfman2010-09-27 15:36:08


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Whoa, banned for not fasting during Ramadan is pretty nuts.
wolfman
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Yeah, it got a bit of coverage on ESPN here. They asked Mesut Ozil at his first press conference at Real Madrid what he did. He replied that he fasted "when I can" and that as an athlete, it wasn't practical to follow the rules strictly. 


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To make up for last week's tardiness, here this week's column.
 
August 27 - Sept 2
 
Heo Jeong-Mu, who coached the Korean national team at the 2010 World Cup, has been unveiled as the new manager at Incheon United. The 55-year old's first match in charge will be against Busan I-Park on September 4th. Incheon will be Heo's 3rd K-League side, after stinits at Pohang Steelers (1993) and Chunnam Dragons (1995-98). Incheon currently lie 9th in the 15-team K-League, and Heo's first task will be to get them up to at least 6th, in order to contest the post-season playoffs. Incheon club owner and Mayor of Incheon, Song Yeong-Gil introduced Heo as manager and expressed pleasure at securing the services of such a capable and proven coach, a sentiment he believed would be echoed by Incheon fans.
Heo is one of the most successful coaches in Korea. He was coach of the Korean national side in 1994. In 2000, he coached the Olympic team, and led the senior side to 3rd in the Asian Cup. He was an assistant coach to Pim Verbeek in 2004.
Incheon's record so far this season is 6 wins, 1 draw and 9 losses. Heo replaces temporary manager Kim Bong-Gil, who took over the side in June after the departure of Serbian Iliya Petkovic. Kim will remain as Heo's assistant.
 
Lee Cheong-Yong played for Bolton in their 3-1 win over West Ham in the EPL. He played 81 minutes and provided the final pass for Johan Elmander to score Bolton's 2nd goal. This was his first assist of the season in his second start. Lee has a good record against West Ham, with 1 goal and 3 assists in 4 mtaches against the Hammers.
 
Park Ji-Sung started his first match of the season, playing 65 minutes for Manchester United (v Fulham?) before being replaced by Nani.
 
Ki Seong-Yong scored the final goal in Celtic's 4-0 win over St. Mirren, with a skilful half-volley. The other goals came from Joe Ledley, Sean Maloney, and James Forrest. Celtic's 2nd consecutive win keeps them level with Rangers in the SPL. Cha Du-Ri was however not used in either mtach
 
Jong Tae-Se scored 2 goals for Bochum in the 2. Bundesliga. Bochum defeated 1860 Munich 3-2. Bochum coach Friedhelm Fungkoel was cautious in his praise for the North Korean, saying that he is waiting for Jong to reach full fitness, as he is currently lasting about 65-70 minutes.
Japanese-born Jong is the first North Korean to play professionally in Germany. He became well-known around the world after his emotional reaction while during the national anthems before Nth Korea's match against Brazil at the World Cup. 
 
News has emerged from South Korean and western media that the North Korean government has punished World Cup coach Kim Jeong-Hun by forcing him to do hard labour after leading the national side to 3 losses in South Africa. The North Koreans have denied this, and claimed the story was South Korean propoganda. It is difficult to know who is telling the truth here. However, we might have a better idea in a couple of weeks, when North Korea play India in a friendly in Delhi on 14 September. Then there is the Asian Cup in January. It will be interesting to see whether Kim is still coach.
 
India, coached by Englishman Bob Houghton, are preparing for the Asian Cup as well. They play Thailand home and away on 4 & 9 September, North Korea in New Delhi on 14 Spetember, Namibia on 18 September, and have two matches against Turkmenistan on September 22nd & 25th. At present, the team is training in Portugal.
 
English Championship side Leicester City, recently bought by a group of Thai businessmen, have signed Japanese midfielder Yuki Abe from Urawa Red Diamonds. The Foxes signed the 28-year old after his impressive performances for Japan in the World Cup. Abe played half a game for the Reds on 21 August in Urawa's 4-1 victory over Chonan Belmare, before coach Folger Finke substituted him to protect him from injury. Abe began his professional career with Jef United Chiba, where he played for 7 seasons before moving to Urawa in 2007. With the Reds, he won the J-League and AFC Champions' League and played at the World Club Championships. Abe has been capped 49 times for Japan, scoring 3 goals. He is following in the footsteps of two other Japanese midfielders who have played in England. Hidetoshi Nakata played for Bolton, and Junichi Inamoto played for Arsenal, Fulham, Cardiff City, and West Bromwich Albion.
wolfman2010-09-27 15:37:41


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3-9 September
FC Seoul - Korean League Cup Champions
 
FC Seoul's long wait for silverware has ended, with a 3-0 victory over Jeonbuk Motors in Korea's League Cup Final. This was the first success for Seoul since 2006. Seoul, led by coaches Nelo Vincada of Portugal, and Choi Kang-Hee, were without Choi Hyo-Jin and Kim Han-Yeon (both suspended), but had former national team striker Choi Tae-Ook, who transferred from Jeonbuk during the mid-season/World Cup break. The match, which was played at Jeonbuk's home in Jeonju, was scoreless at halftime. In the 47th minute, Uzbek international Server Dyeparov provided a cross which Montenegran striker Dejan Demyanovic put away to give Seoul the lead. 8 minutes later, Dyeparov was involved again, as his pass was diverted by Jeonbuk defender Shim Oo-Weon into his own net. The 3rd goal came near the end of the game from Lee Seung-Ryeol. The victory means Seoul pick up the first trophy of the season, and give them their second-ever League Cup. Seoul also won the League Cup in 2006, when they defeated Suwon in the final. Seoul now turn their attention to the K-League, where they are currently in 2nd place, while Jeonbuk will focus on their AFC quarterfinal matches later this month.
 
Alberto Zaccheroni has been named as Head Coach of Japan's national team. The Italian, who led AC Milan to the Serie A title in 1999, signed a 2 year contract on 31 August. Reaction has been positive in Japan, as Zaccheroni's teams have a reputation for playing attacking, attractive football. However, this is tempered by him having only a little experience at international level, and almost no knowledge of Asian football. His initial priorities will be leading Japan at the Asian Cup in Qatar this January, and guiding Japan through World Cup qualifying for Brazil 2014. His first game in charge will be a home friendly against Argentina in October.
 
Yuki Abe flew to England for his medical with new club Leicester City. He then returned to Japan while he waits for for his work permit. He will return to Leicester after the current FIFA international window.
 
Daisuke Matsui, also of Japan, is transferring from Grenoble in Ligue 2 (France) to Tom Tomsk in Russia. The 29 year-old midfielder flew to Russia last week for a medical with the Siberian club. He then flew on to Japan where he will feature in Japan's friendlies with Paraguay and Guatemala this week. Matsui, who played a major role in Japan's successful World Cup campaign, is a very experienced player in Europe. He moved from Kyoto Purple Sanga to Le Mans (Ligue 1, France) in 2004, and played there for 4 seasons. He moved to St. Etienne in 2008, before playing for Grenoble last season. He will be the second Asian at Tom Tomsk, who also have Korean midfielder Kim Nam-Il on their books.
 
Budyonkor, one of Uzbekistan's leading clubs, is going through something of a crisis at the moment, with many of their star players leaving. Macedonian striker Stevica Ristic (Stevo) has moved to Amkar Perm  in Russia. In addition, the club's Brazilian contingent has left. Rivaldo has gone to Brazilian club Mogi Mirim, Victor and Edson Ramos have joined Majorca in Spain, while Denilson has yet to find another club.
 
Iran will play friendlies against China on 3 September in Zhengzhou and South Korea in Seoul on 7 September. Iranian coach Afshin Ghotbi has ties with Korea, after spells as an assistant to Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and Pim Verbeek during their tenures as Head Coach of the national side.
 
EDIT: Results from the friendlies mentioned above:
Japan 0-0 Paraguay
Japan 2-1 Guatemala
China 0-2 Iran
Sth Korea 0-1 Iran
 
wolfman2010-09-08 02:45:27


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Sept 10-16
 
"Ivanovic - China will be a big team in Asia"
 
Amid all the stories of coruption, arrests of players, etc coming out of Chinese football, there are some good things as well in the Chinese game, according to Dr. Branko Ivanovic, the Croation coach of Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneung (of Shane Smeltz fame). He believes that China will be amongst the top 5 Asian sides in the not-too-distant future. While some might question his comments, Ivanovic believes that the league is getting better and stronger, and this will have a flow-on effect for the national side. Ivanovic, who led Iran to a gold medal at the Asian Games in 2002, and was assistant coach with the Croatian team that came 3rd at the 1998 World Cup, thinks that the current group of players in the Chinese team have been together for a while, and this is leading to better performances.
The Chinese played a friendly on 3 September against Iran, losing 0-2, but bounced back to draw 1-1  with Paraguay on the 7th. This illustrates the team's spirit and teamwork, especially given the number of young players in the side. Coach G** Hong Bo has been building this side since their win in the East Asian Championships earlier this year. Ivanovic is sure that China's loss to Iran will benefit them as they prepare for the Asian Cup 2011. He feels that their progress cannot be measured at present in terms of wins and losses, and those who are writing off the Chinese at the Asian Cup will be surprised, He thinks that China will be in the top 5 teams in Asian, and at the Asian Cup will be amongst the best teams, along with Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It will be interesting to see if his predictions for a the future of Chinese football come true, as at present China does not have systems in place of the quality of Japan and South Korea.
 
Japan, watched by new coach Alberto Zaccheroni, played 2 friendlies last week, beating Paraguay 1-0 and Guatemala 2-1. A number of new faces took the opportunity to try and impress the new coach, including Catania striker Takayuki Morimoto, who scored both goals against Guatemala. Zaccheroni will now take the reigns and faces more friendlies against Argentina and South Korea in October. He has stated that he is aiming for a top 4 finish at the Asian Cup, before setting his sights on World Cup qualification.
 
Iran also had a successful week. After beating China 2-0, they handed South Korea their first home loss in over 2 years. In addition, it was Iran's first victory on Korean soil since 1971.  Massoud Shojaei of Osasuna scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. Iran's Asian Games (U-23) squad also enjoyed a victory, defeating Poland U-23 2-0 on the 4th, and were due to play a return match in Tehran on the 9th.
 
Despite the loss to Iran, new South Korean boss Cho Kwang-Rae was not embarrassed, as he used the match to try out new tactics, to encourage the Koreans to be more attacking and play total football. He also had some players lining up alongside experienced campaigners like Park Ji-Sung and Lee Young-Pyo.
 
Al Arabi have won the Sheikh Jassim Cup in Qatar after defeating Lekwiya 1-0 in the final in Doha.
 
The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) has announced that Indonesia will play friendlies against Ivory Coast and Uruguay in October, as part of their preparation for the Asean Championships (AIFF Suzuki Cup), which Indonesia will co-host with Vietnam in December. Indonesia, coached by Austrian Albert Riedl, will also face 5 times World Champions Brazil in Jakarta this November. They will be busy in November, with friendlies with China and Timor L'Este also scheduled. It is hoped that this build-up programme will help Indonesia become ASEAN Champions for the first time. Riedl has previous coached Laos and Vietnam in the region. In 2009, he coached Laos U-23 to the semi-finals of the Southeast Asia Games (SEA games) in Vientiane. In 2007, he made history by leading Vietnam to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup for the first time.
 
wolfman2010-09-14 17:16:10


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Sept 17-23
'China choose the French path'
 
Following China's problems in recent years with corruption and matcuiing-fixing and bribery scandals, the Chinese government and and Chinese FA have taken steps to restore Chinese football to its place as an Asian power.
The CFA have decided to implement a programme with the French Football Federation, in which young Chinese players train in France. The first stage of this has taken place at 2nd division club FC Metz  since last year. Youth players from Chengdu Blades in the CSL spent time training with the team at Metz, to get an idea of how French teams train.
19-year old midfielder Ee Tieng was the first player from this project to benefit, spend part of last season with the French club, spending some time in the reserve team last season, before moving into the first team for 2010-2011, playing games in defence and midfield. He is following in the footsteps of Lee Jin-Ee, who was the first Chinese player to play professionally in France. The striker played for Nancy during 1998-99 season. One of the new generation of Chinese footballers, Ee Tieng has signed a 1 year contract with Metz.It is not surpirising that Metz have signed him , as they have had a partnership with the CFA since 2004.
The CFA has plans to form similar partnerships with German club Bayer Leverkusen and Barcelona in Spain, but they will first wait and watch the progress of the French project before deciding whether to pursue these or not.
 
South Korean striker Ji Cho-Yeon is in the process of negotiating a move to Boston Breakers in the US Women's League.It is believed she has been offered a 4-year deal to be the first South Korean womanN to play abroad professionally The 19-year old starred in August's U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany, helping Sth Korea to 3rd place, the best finish for any Korean side at a FIFA tournament. Her 8 goals at the World Cup also earned her the Silver Shoe, as the tournament's 2nd highest scorer behind Germany's Alexandra Popp. She is also likely to feature at this year's Asian Games in Gwangzhou, China.
 
56-year old Serbian Milovan Rajewac has left his post as coach of Ghana's national team, after failing to reach an agreement with the Ghanain FA over a new contract. Instead, he has taking the reigns of Saudi Arabian club Al Ahli. His initial term is for 18 months. According to a statement from the Ghanain FA, Rajewac was released to seek new challenges last month after negotiations failed to reach a conclusion.They wish him every success in the future, and thanked him for his efforts with Ghana over the last 2 years, which included taking the Black Stars to the World Cup quarterfinals in South Africa, before being eliminated on penalties by Uruguay.
 
27-year old Brazilian Mattheus Alonso Onorio has transferred to Iranian side Steel Azin, on a 2-year contract. Either the transfer fee or the contract is worth US$200 000. The midfielder was previously at Turkish club Ankaragucu and Nassaji Mazandaran in Iran. It is expected that he will replace Ali Karimi in the line-up, after the Iranian international was sacked last month for not fasting during Ramadan.
 
Japanese defender Yuko Nagatomo is doing well at Italian club Cessena, flying the flag for Asian footballers during his team's shock 2-0 win over AC Milan in Serie A.
 
Dr. Branko Ivanovic has hit back at complaints in the media that his Shandong Luneung side are defensive. He pointed out that the CSL leaders have scored 41 goals in 21 matches this season. The Croatian coach also reviewed his coaching history to prove his point, saying that while he was in charge of Iran, the team won 84% percent of their matches, and they played attractive football at the same time. Shandong currently lead the CSL with 44 points, 6 points clear of 2nd placed Shanghai Shenhua, and have scored 10 more goals than their rivals.
Ivanovic boasts a proud record as a coach.
Iran: Gold Medal, 2002 Asian Games; 3rd place, 2004 Asian Cup; Qualified for 2006 World Cup.
Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia): League and Cup double 2007, including an unbeaten run of 28 matches;
He took over from Lubiza Dumbagovic at Shandong, at the beginning of their ACL campaign, which ended in the group stages. Domestically, he has led them into a strong position, and barring disaster between now and the end of the season, should be in charge in next year's ACL.
wolfman2010-09-26 22:47:35


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