Saturday, July 30, 2011

World Cup draw, new managers for Argentina and USA

Brazil.* Saturday night in Rio sees the draw for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers for all except South America (CONMEBOL).

All eyes will be on the European draw where 1998 World Cup winners France have been downgraded to the second pot, meaning they will play one of the top seeds
England, Spain, Holland, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Norway or Greece.

A host of Brazilian soccer stars are on hand to pull the balls out of the bags: Cafu and Neymar will draw the African teams, Zico the Asian teams, Bebeto CONCACAF, Mario Zagallo Oceania and Ganso and Ronaldo will do Europe.

*German legend Jurgen Klinsmann was confirmed today as the USA's new coach. 'Klinsi' has lived in America for 12 years and was offered the manager's job back in 2006 but declined because US Soccer was unwilling to accede to his demands to overhaul the whole organisation's coaching set-up.

The former Stuttgart, Inter, Monaco, Tottenham, Sampdoria and Bayern star, who won the European Championship and the World Cup for Germany, went back to setting up a soccer consultancy, most recently with Toronto FC, before the US came calling again following th
e national team's embarrassing capitulation in the Gold Cup final.
The appointment is still a big risk as Klinsmann has little experience as a manager. He took a hitherto mediocre Germany on home soil to the 2006 World Cup semi-final where they lost to eventual winners Italy, and lasted less than a season as Bayern Munich coach.

He has also had a tendency to fall out with management wherever he has played as he is possessed of strong opinions. This 'my way or the highway' approach was what scared off US Soccer five years ago, but in 2011 with no tournament until the World Cup to worry about, they are prepared to take the risk.

How much Klinsmann will prove to be a first-team coach or a youth system administrator remains to be seen.

* Alex Sabella, who had spells at Leeds and Sheffield United at the end of the 1970s, has been named Argentina manager after Sergio Batista was sacked following the team's quarter-final exit from the recent Copa America they hosted.

Sabella, 56, also had lengthy stays as a player at River Plate and Estudiantes, where he was first-team coach for the past two years.

*England and North Korea kicked off the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia with a 0-0 draw in Medellin. The host nation play France on Saturday in Bogota.


24 teams contest the tournament, which ends on the 20th of August in the capital city.

* 18 Italian clubs and 26 Italian players are due at their football association's disciplinary hearings in Rome next week in connection with match-fixing. Two Serie A clubs are implicated - Atalanta and Chievo, as well as former azzurri internationals Cristiano Doni and Beppe Signori.

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