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Posts Tagged ‘Football’

Brazil stamps World Cup passport

September 6th, 2009

Brazil’s World Cup carnaval can start early this week, with a game against Chile in Salvador, after the country’s national team sealed a place in next year’s finals competition with a 3-1 away victory against Argentina in Rosario on Saturday night.

In a plodding match, punctuated by two excellent goals, Brazil turned in a workmanlike performance against a misfiring Argentina side, whose coach Diego Maradona wore a worried frown for most of the match.

Argentina looked the more dangerous in the first few minutes, but once Luisão was left in oceans of space to nod in a downward header on 23 minutes, Brazil hardly looked troubled.

Seven minutes later, Argentine goalkeeper Anjúdar could only parry a shot to the feet of Luis Fabiano, who made no mistake.

After the interval, the game appeared to be petering out in Brazil’s favour, until on 65 minutes, Dátatolo unleashed a left-foot exocet into the top right hand corner from nigh-on 30 yards, leaving the normally very solid Brazilian keeper Júlio César with no chance.

Argentina’s response briefly lifted the atmoshere to boiling point, but this was extinguished two minutes later when Kaká threaded the ball through the Argentine defence to Luis Fabiano, who, as he fell away to the right, chipped the ball diagonally over the rapidly advancing Anjúdar into an empty net.

The finish was reminiscent of Michael Owen’s ‘wonder goal’ for England in the 1998 World Cup second round, also against Argentina.

In a league of ten-teams from which four qualify and a fifth faces a play-off, the result leaves fourth-placed Argentina on 22 points, sweating on their qualification with Ecuador and Colombia breathing down their necks 2 points behind.

Tricky away matches follow against third-placed Paraguay (27pts) and Uruguay (18pts) in seventh spot, who could still snatch a place in South Africa next year by winning their last three games.

Brazilian media were quick to celebrate the victory against their team’s fiercist rival. “Good to win, even better to win in Argentina,” said one TV presenter. “As a player Maradona was god, as a coach he’s mortal,” cried the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.

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Amazon to stage first World Cup Finals match

May 31st, 2009

mapaula, flickr

mapaula, flickr

The first-ever FIFA World Cup Finals match will be played in the Amazon region of Brazil, after the sport’s governing body announced the cities to host the tournament in 2014.

Wild celebrations were seen across Brazil on Sunday in the twelve chosen cities.

Porto Alegre, Curitiba (South); São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (South-East); Natal, Recife, Fortaleza and Salvador (North-East); Cuiabá and Brasília (Centre-West); and Manaus were selected to host matches.

In 1950, when Brazil staged the first post World War II finals, Rio de Janiero,  Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Recife, Porto Alegre and  São Paulo played host to 13 teams and 22 matches.

Brazil’s World Cup qualifying matches have been staged outside big cities in recent years because of criticism of the performances of highly-paid players, many of whom play for European clubs.

Though there were no real surprises, the city of Manuas in Amazonia beat off competition from rival Belém.

Manuas is said to have drawn on support from Japanese electronics multinational Sony whose Brazilian base is in the city. Sony has been a regular World Cup sponsor or partner in FIFA’s parlance.

Hot and Humid

Unsurprisingly for a city of 1.7 million people in Brazil’s Amazon region, average temperatures of between 24 and 31 degrees, added to high humidity levels for teams drawn to play in Manaus will be big factors.

It’s believed FIFA had intended to name only 10 hosting cities, until the intervention of Brazilian Football Association President Ricardo Texeira.

Five cities Belém, Campo Grande, Florianópolis, Goiânia and Rio Branco missed out on the chance to host the competition in which 31 countries are expected to line up alongside Brazil, once they have negotiated tricky qualifying stages to get through to the final 64 matches.

The tournament’s opening match will be in São Paulo with the final scheduled to played at the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, scene of the final match of 1950, which saw the Jules Rimet trophy snatched from under the Brazilian team’s noses by 11 minutes from the end by Uruguay.

In this football-crazy country, that 2-1 loss first sparked a period of national mourning on the scale of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and then self-examination that was to last eight years until 1958, when Brazil clinched the first of five victories 5-2 against hosts Sweden in Stockholm.

The Brazilian government has been preparing a number of mini-economic growth packages to stage the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup, putting the emphasis on transport and other infrastructure projects. Cuiabá, Natal and Recife will get new stadia.

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Ronaldo targets World Cup recall after title victory

May 3rd, 2009

Photo: Ronaldo has put the smile back on the Corinthians club. Photo: nikefutebol, flickr

Photo: Ronaldo has put the smile back on the Corinthians club. Photo: nikefutebol, flickr

Ronaldo says he still hopes to play in next year’s World Cup Finals in South Africa and is ready to return to Brazil’s national football squad, should coach Dunga pick up the phone.

“It’s not my choice, but I’m a Brazilian soldier waiting in reserve, in case the commander-in-chief calls,” Ronaldo told TV variety show host Faustão, when asked whether his goal is to play in the 2010 World Cup, after his Corinthians team clinched the São Paulo state championship.

A 1-1 draw with rivals Santos was enough to complete Ronaldo’s fairy-tale comeback to Brazilian football, as Corinthians lifted the oversized trophy in front of their own fans at Pacaembu stadium, São Paulo on Sunday.

Santos took the lead from a Kleber penalty on 28 minutes, narrowing the deficit from the first leg of the the tie, which Corinthians won 3-1.

Five minutes later, André Santos steadied Corinthians’ fans nerves, shooting past Santos keeper Fábio Costa, after an exchange of passes with Dentinho.

As the trophy slipped away, Santos’ fate was sealed in 83rd minute with the expulsion of Domingos for a second yellow card offence, the final whistle sparking a cacophony of fireworks and car horns all around the city of São Paulo.

The result marks not only a happy return for World Cup winner Ronaldo, 32, after a year out from the game with another career-threatening injury, but also for Corinthians, a team that suffered relegation from the separate First Division championship at the end of 2007.

Corinthians bounced back to the top division at the end of last year and then took a chance on the ageing former superstar - a move that paid dividends, once Ronaldo returned from injury to notch eight goals in eleven appearances.

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Ronaldo close to crowning comeback after double strike

April 26th, 2009

Ronaldo, once the forgotten man of Brazilian football, was the star of the first leg of a fiercely contested São Paulo state championship final on Sunday, scoring twice against rivals Santos.

Photo: nikefutebol, flickr

Photo: nikefutebol, flickr

His second goal, an exquisite left-foot chip over Santos goalkeeper Fabio Costa in the 76th minute gave his Corinthians team a 3-1 advantage and moved his dream of winning silverware in his comeback season a step closer.

Earlier, in the caldron of Santos’ Vila Belmiro stadium, Ronaldo killed a through ball dropping over his right shoulder, before running on to fire home a low left-foot shot in the 26th minute.

Chicão had put Corinthians ahead in the 11th minute from a free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
Triguinho pulled a goal back in the 61st minute for Santos.

Now in the twilight of an illustrious career that will be remembered for two goals in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph over Germany, Ronaldo has notched eight goals in ten appearances for Corinthians, including a late equalising header against bitter rivals Palmeiras.

“The most important thing was the result,” said a beaming Ronaldo at the final whistle.

After a year out of the game, a clearly heavier Ronaldo, not for the first time has overcome potentially career-threatening injury and his team now go into the home leg of the final at São Paulo’s Pacembu stadium next Sunday as overwhelming favourites.

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Expectation weighs heavily on Ronaldo

February 3rd, 2009

Ronaldo, remember him? No, not the sultry Portuguese superstar with the slinky skills and diamond earring so coveted by Real Madrid who struts around Old Trafford for Manchester United like some kind of permanently bronzed peacock.

Photo:chicolang2009

Photo:nikefutebol

We are of course talking about the  former three-time FIFA World Player of the Year whose name was omitted from the team-sheet in the 1998 World Cup Final only to be pencilled in again a few minutes before kick-off, an incident and defeat many Brazilians blame on shirt sponsor Nike.

After another career-threatening injury, at the end of a two-year spell at AC Milan, these days Ronaldo, complete with black curly hair, is plying his trade at São Paulo club Corinthians.

Well, plying his trade is one way to put it.

Since his unveiling to Corinthians fans in December, Ronaldo, now 32, has yet to kick a ball in anger, after rupturing a knee for the third time in his career before leaving Milan.

He did though recently do a bit of TV match commentary as part of a sponsorship deal, if that counts.

But ask a São Paulo taxi driver or indeed most anybody and they will tell you that Corinthians, which took its name from the English amateur club founded in the 19th century, have pulled off something of a marketing masterstroke.

Just as it was suggested when England’s David Beckham joined Real Madrid that he was there to sell replica team shirts, so too is the man and [woman] in the street saying that about Ronaldo.

After a calamitous first-ever relegation to Brazil’s Serie ‘B’ at the end of 2007, Corinthians bounced back as champions before Christmas.

After shunning Flamengo, the Rio de Janeiro-based club he supported as a boy, Ronaldo’s switch to Corinthians has put the spotlight well and truly on the São Paulo-based club - just as the club’s directors had hoped, even though much of the talk has been about the player’s weight.

During his time on the sidelines, a clearly happy, but oversized Ronaldo was pictured in celebrity magazines cavorting aboard a motor cruiser.

On the pitch, little is now expected of Brazil’s once most-feared player who could be ready to play again by the end of February, after a year out of the game.

After such a long layoff and debilitating injury, the big question that hangs over Ronaldo is whether he still has the desire, something he is said to have lacked in recent years.

When he finally does cross the white line, until May Ronaldo will have to content himself with playing in the São Paulo state championship, – a form of competition alien to watchers of European football.

Nevertheless, if somehow Ronaldo can shed some extra pounds and show glimpses of the player he once was, you can maybe forget the World Cup winner’s medal in 2002 and his status as the tournament’s highest scorer, it may well rank among his biggest achievements.

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