It’s tough being Urawa Reds. The “biggest club in Asia” tag is a difficult one to live down, even if the Saitama giants haven’t come close to winning a trophy for years.
The Reds burst onto the Asian football scene by winning the J. League under the swashbuckling auspices of German coach Guido Buchwald in 2006, before his more circumspect successor Holger Osieck steered the Saitama giants to Asian Champions League glory the following year.
But no sooner had Urawa begun to dominate the J. League than their world fell apart, as the popular Saitama side spectacularly disintegrated in the 2007 title race, prompting the dismissal of coach Osieck just two games into the 2008 season. Two more Togel Singapore German coaches followed, but neither Gert Engels nor Volker Finke could steer Urawa to the silverware they so desperately craved.
Enter Zeljko Petrovic. The Montenegrin coach enjoyed a peripatetic playing career, turning out for the likes of Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla and PSV Eindhoven in a 16-year career spent largely in the Netherlands. Petrovic ended his playing days at small Dutch outfit RKC Waalwijk – the club he coached in the Dutch second division in 2007-08 – but crucially he also enjoyed a three-year spell in Japan with Urawa Reds.
Petrovic’s time in Japan coincided with Urawa’s relegation to the second tier of the J. League and the charismatic coach knows all about the Reds’ storied history. Urawa packed out every game of their compact …
EURO 2008 SF: Germany 3-2 Turkey, Basel
Boral 22′, Schweinsteiger 27′, Klose 79′, Semturk 86′, Lahm 90′
“They can play games like this, when maybe they are not the best team, and still win. That is why they are so good.”
Fatih Terim, Turkey’s coach, could have uttered these words tonight, but in fact it was Bruce Arena after Germany had edged the States 1-0 in Ulsan in the 2002 World Cup quarter-final.
Only two years ago, we were talking about how Qq Poker long, or rather short, Germany would last at home in the World Cup. Jurgen Klinsmann’s team had been the most inept German ‘elftal’ (eleven) in living memory in the run-up to the 2006 tournament, but then surprised the doubters by reaching the semi-final.
Now the Mannschaft have reached the EURO 2008 final with a 3-2 win over an arguably better team, nodding heads are attributing their triumph to simply being German, a synonym for depressingly successful.
A Protestant work ethic (Colombia’s Achilles Heel), physical force and endeavour (Portugal’s downfall), mental toughness (the Dutch weakness), self-belief (count out the Spaniards), efficient organisation (bye-bye England) and a resolve to keep fighting until the end (Au revoir Les Bleus) in an ‘all for one, one for all’ spirit of teamwork have been in the German genes for so long, their roll of honour comes as no surprise:
SEVEN World Cup finals (won three of them) and SIX European championship finals (won …
A new season kicks off this weekend and see’s the return of Walker’s Word. Another 10 months of non-stop top flight football action begins on Saturday with both the opening and closing matches ripe for picking a couple of shock results at great odds writes David Walker.
Saturday 19 August
Sheffield United vs Liverpool
Sheffield United make their Premiership return after a 12 year absence at lunch time, to kick off another 10 months of top flight action. The bookmakers are predicting a cakewalk for visiting Liverpool, but Blades boss Neil Warnock will have other ideas. During the 2002/03 Carling Cup, United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Bramall Lane, drew 0-0 at home in 1993/94 and beat the Reds 1-0 the previous year in the Premiership’s debut season. Liverpool may have one eye on their Champions League tie against Maccabi Haifa Bandarqq three days later which still hangs in the balance at 2-1 in the Reds favour.
Walker’s Word: A “shock” draw to go against the bookmakers @ 12/5 (Coral)
Portsmouth have finally won a piece of silverware thanks to the inspiration of their two Nigerians, Kanu and Utaka. A full 69 years after their first FA Cup the team coached by Harry Redknapp fulfilled the dreams of their fans by defeating Qq Online Cardiff City at Wembley 1-0. The only goal was scored by Nwankwo Kanu, who took advantage of keeper Enckelman’s blunder after John Utaka’s cross.
Pompey hardly showed their Premiership class against their Championship League rivals, but the result is what finally counts in Portsmouth and in…Croatia!
The Croatian media devoted the FA Cup finals the same amount of space as to their own cup, which saw Dinamo Zagreb smash Hajduk Split by 3-0.
The reason? Niko Kranjcar, of course. The 24-old midfielder has become the first Croat with the most prestigious national cup in the world, a distinction which is certain to increase his appeal among his compatriots.
Inter “threepeat” the scudetto in high drama
Internazionale have defended their Italian League title warding off a dangerous Roma assault in the last half hour of the competition. A 2-0 win at Parma guaranteed Inter’s win regardless of what Roma did at Catania, at the same time condemning Parma to the Second Division. Both goals came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 62nd and 78th minutes, snatching the title from Roma, who had laid their hands on the trophy when Mirko Vucinic brought them ahead after just eight minutes.
In the end, after Zlatan’s goals …
Back in England a week on from the end of Euro 2008, the tournament still looks as impressive as it did in the Alps. I am not relishing another stolid European club season, dominated by the tawdry money of the big teams, so for the last time, I am looking back on what was a refreshing festival of football, the sort of which comes around only every few years:
How was the play?
Very good, on the whole, refreshingly adventurous and attacking. Only France v Romania seemed to have come from planet boredom. The French Judi Poker Uang Asli appeared to have a cloud over them all tournament, while Romania strangely failed to turn the screw when they needed to in their final group game, so deserved to leave early, too.
Croatia v Turkey was not easy to sit through for two hours, but that was rather down to one team buttoning down the hatches and trying to frustrate another which was playing with winning ambition.
The Dutch were irresistible for two games, while Spain danced their way to the trophy delightfully throughout.
Portugal were also great to watch and Croatia were not bad, while even minnows like Austria and Switzerland showed enough fighting spirit to commend their efforts. Turkey’s late-late comebacks were thrilling, making up for a lack of the beautiful game with exciting attacking.
That leaves Poland and the Czechs as fairly forgettable, although they did at least play to …
All the colour of the Japanese Yamazaki Nabisco League Cup final will descend upon the National Stadium in Tokyo on November 3, with this year’s showpiece event set to be an all-local affair.
FC Tokyo have reached their first League Cup final since 2004, with Hiroshi Jofuku’s team winning through on the back of some impressive displays.
The capital club topped their group from 2008 finalists Shimizu S-Pulse, before confidently dispatching Nagoya Grampus in the quarter-finals.
Their final four tie saw them pitted against cup Judi Online24Jam Deposit Pulsa Cup specialists Shimizu, where a 3-2 aggregate win over the two legs propelled them into a final played in their home city.
If FC Tokyo figured they would command the lion’s share of support at a jam-packed Kokuritsu Kyogijo, their hopes were dashed when neighbours Kawasaki Frontale also won through to the final.
The Kanagawa outfit took a different route to the Culture Day showdown, parachuting into the League Cup at the quarter-final stage due to their participation in the 2009 AFC Champions League.
Takashi Sekizuka’s side signalled their intent with an aggregate 3-1 quarter-final win over Kashima Antlers, before beating local rivals Yokohama F. Marinos by the same scoreline in the semi-finals.
With the city of Kawasaki located just twenty kilometres from downtown Tokyo, thousands of Frontale fans will make the short trip to the capital, as they look to put the memories of their 2007 final defeat to Gamba Osaka …
Al Sadd start with a bang!
Al Sadd are desperate for silverware after two years without a single title at the domestic and international levels. The team signed three players who competed in the recently-concluded World Cup in South Africa — Ivorian Abdul Kader Keita, Algerian Nadir Belhadj and South Korean Lee Jung-Soo.
The club’s campaign got off to a roaring start when they defeated last season’s Emir’s Cup winners and arch-rivals Al Rayyan 1-0 in front of packed audiences and FIFA’s inspectors for the Qatar 2022 Bid.
The game lived up to expectations as Qatar’s derby-event. Both teams employed an open-ended and heavily attacking style of football. Keita, always dangerous, did not disappoint his new employers. Although he missed some opportunities early on, he made no mistakes in heading in the ball just before the end of first half. Although it looked like an off-side, and Al Rayyan players protested, the referee let it stand.
Al Rayyan players too offered glimpses of their Togel Online attacking depth. They are a formidable side and along with holder Al Gharafa and Umm Salal will make the Qatar Stars League much more exciting than in previous seasons.
Qatar Stars League newcomers Lakhwiya left fans stunned with a clinical 4-0 dismantling of minnows Al Sailiya. The club has invested heavily in local and overseas players. Striker Mohammed Razzaq scored all four goals (56th, 59th, 62nd and 89th). Al Saililiya looked tough nuts to crack in …
A twenty minute ride from downtown Cologne Dominoqq and I was at the Rhein-Energie stadium (looks like the corporate naming disease has infected Germany too). It is a classic English-style arena but perfectly symmetrical and set amidst rolling green fields.
Inside the ground I got my first sight of next year’s World Cup official refreshments. Oh dear it is true. Crudweiser is the official and only beer on sale. The world’s best selling and worst tasting beer that no self-respecting European would be seen dead preferring to a local brew. As if to shamefully appeal to Germans’ sense of ancestral pride however, the famous Budweiser name is relegated to small letters below the larger name of its German founders Anheuser-Busch. A crushing blow for money against sense. Also, €3 for a small bottle of water guys?
Tunisian fans had turned out in large numbers as expected given their expat strength (most were speaking German) but the ground remained half-empty. The only chant I heard of ‘Argentina’ was raised after their second goal but petered out again quickly.
In the press box I was sat beside 2 journalists from France’s marvellous sports daily l’Equipe, who opined to me that Roger Lemerre, the current Tunisia and former France coach was “just mad”. On my other flank was an Indonesian man who took no notes during the game and post match just posed for photos with the Argentine players, a fan masquerading as a reporter methinks!