Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nominees for FIA Ballon d"Or

The contenders for this year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the best player of 2013 and for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2013 award were announced today on FIFA.com, francefootball.fr and YouTube.
In alphabetical order, the FIFA Ballon d’Or nominees are: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Franck Ribéry (France), while Nadine Angerer (Germany), Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA) will contest the women’s award.
The candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football and FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football awards were also announced. In alphabetical order, the contenders are:
Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United FC former coach), Jupp Heynckes (Germany/FC Bayern München former coach) and Jürgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award, and Ralf Kellermann (Germany/VfL Wolfsburg), Silvia Neid (Germany/German national team) and Pia Sundhage (Sweden/Swedish national team) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award.
All the nominees were confirmed after a voting process which was open to the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams of the 209 member associations as well as to international media representatives selected by FIFA and France Football voted for candidates.
The percentages of the collected votes are as follows (number of votes/number of associations):
Voting for men’s awards: 
Member associations (captains & coaches): 88%
Media representatives: 94%
Voting for women’s awards: 
Member associations (captains & coaches): 83%
Media representatives: 70%
The voting procedure for each of the awards is supervised and monitored by the independent observer PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Switzerland.
The shortlist of 15 forwards for the FIFA FIFPro World XI was also announced, completing the final shortlist of 55 players also featuring five goalkeepers, 20 defenders and 15 midfielders.
The forward shortlist is (home country, club):
Sergio Agüero (Argentina, Manchester City FC); Mario Balotelli (Italy, Manchester City FC/AC Milan); Edinson Cavani (Uruguay, SSC Napoli/Paris Saint-Germain FC); Diego Costa (Spain, Club Atlético de Madrid); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid CF); Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire, Shanghai Shenhua FC/Galatasaray SK); Radamel Falcao (Colombia, Club Atlético de Madrid/AS Monaco FC); Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden, Paris Saint-Germain FC); Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Borussia Dortmund); Mario Mandžukić (Croatia, FC Bayern München); Lionel Messi (Argentina, FC Barcelona); Neymar (Brazil, Santos FC/FC Barcelona); Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United FC); Luis Suárez (Uruguay, Liverpool FC); Robin van Persie (Netherlands, Manchester United FC).
See the full list on FIFA.com: http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/world11/index.html
In addition, the three nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award for the “most beautiful goal of the year” were announced. They are (in alphabetical order of the goalscorers’ names): Zlatan Ibrahimović (13 November 2012, Sweden v. England, international friendly), Nemanja Matić (13 January 2013, SL Benfica v. FC Porto, Liga ZON Sagres (Portugal)) and Neymar (15 June 2013, Brazil v. Japan, FIFA Confederations Cup).

All the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on 13 January 2014 during a televised show to be streamed live on FIFA.com and FIFA on YouTube.
In addition to the above awards, the recipient of the FIFA Presidential Award and the winner of the FIFA Fair Play award will also be revealed during the award ceremony.
For more information about the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013, including a list of previous winners, please visit www.FIFA.com and www.francefootball.fr.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Zheng Zhi has become the first Chinese player to be named AFC Player of the Year since Fan Zhiyi claimed Asian football’s highest individual accolade in 2001.
Guangzhou Evergrande skipper Zheng, who collected the prestigious award from AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa,  led by example throughout the Chinese side’s victorious AFC Champions League campaign, with the 33-year-old’s assured performances throughout the tournament as well as his telling contribution in China regaining their consistency following the departure of Jose Antonio Camacho and moving to within one point of qualification for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

The decision to award the former Celtic and Charlton Athletic midfielder the 2013 AFC Player of the Year award ahead of Iran star Javad Nekonam and Korea Republic’s Ha Dae-sung marks something of a reversal of fortune for Zhang, after he had to settle for third last year behind Iranian legend Ali Karimi and recipient Lee Keun-ho.
"I am very excited..after coming last year without award its very special this time….there is a special feeling of winning this award at the age of 33. It’s a big occasion for me to win this award," Zheng said after winning the coveted trophy.
"This season has been fantastic season not only for me but the whole teammates,...we are looking for the unique treble after winning the ACL and the league so it's been a memorable one. 
"Marchello Lippi has made the club more matured and confident and we know our strength and weakness more than ever. 
"Honestly, I thought that I would not win award again after I was confined of being only nominee last year but it’ s down to my teammates without whom it would have been impossible to win this again. 
"I am not young anymore but I still have desire to produce my best not only for the club but for my national team as well. 
"Actually there are lot of talented players in the club and national team coming through the ranks, they are the future of Chinese football. I would continue playing with my national team but at the same time hope that more youngsters break in at the national fold. 
“Next year will be quite difficult but we will keep on working hard and win more laurels to Guangzhou Evergrande."  -AFC.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 shortlist

FIFA and France Football have today (29 Oct) revealed the names for the men’s awards.
The candidates for the FIFA Ballon d’Or and for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football awards have been unveiled (see below). The final decisions will be made by the captains and head coaches of the men’s national teams as well as by international media representatives selected byFrance Football.
The winners of all of the awards will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or as part of a televised show at the Zurich Kongresshaus on 13 January 2014, during which the FIFA FIFPro World XI, the FIFA Puskás Award – for the most beautiful goal of the year – the FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award will also be presented.
The list of 23 male candidates has been drawn up by football experts from the FIFA Football Committee and by a group of experts from France Football. The list of ten coaches has been drawn up by the Committee for Women’s Football and FIFA Women’s World Cup and by the FIFA Football Committee, as well as by a group of experts from France Football.
In early December 2013, FIFA and France Football will announce the names of the three men and three women, as well as the three coaches for women’s football and three coaches for men’s football, who have received the most votes (without unveiling the winners). The three nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award and the FIFA FIFPro World XI shortlist for the best forwards, goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders will also be  unveiled in early December.
Men’s shortlists for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013
The following 23 men (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013:
Gareth Bale (Wales), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Franck Ribéry (France), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).
The following ten coaches (in alphabetical order, first nationality and then team) are in contention for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football 2013:
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Paris Saint-Germain FC/Real Madrid CF), Rafael Benítez (Spain/Chelsea FC/SSC Napoli), Antonio Conte (Italy/Juventus), Vicente Del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United FC former coach), Jupp Heynckes (Germany/FC Bayern München former coach), Jürgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), José Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid CF/Chelsea FC), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil/Brazil national team), Arsène Wenger (France/Arsenal FC)._FIFA.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Santions on El Salvador players

Following the worldwide extension of sanctions imposed on 16 El Salvador players earlier this month, FIFA can today confirm the extension of sanctions imposed on three additional El Salvador players relating to match-manipulation investigations.
The three players have received a six-month ban, a 12-month ban and a five-year ban from all football-related activities respectively.
The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to extend the sanctions to have worldwide effect in accordance with article 78 paragraph 1(c) and article 136ff of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. The concerned parties were notified of the decision today.
The Disciplinary Committee of the El Salvador FA decided to impose the sanctions on 9 October 2013. This followed investigations conducted by the El Salvador FA into incidents of match manipulation that occurred in international matches, including friendlies and CONCACAF Gold Cup matches, of the El Salvador national “A” team in 2010, as well as matches involving the El Salvador U-20 national team.
FIFA continues to work closely with its member associations and the confederations to tackle match manipulation. As part of a ten-year programme of collaboration with INTERPOL, regional workshops involving key stakeholders are being held all over the world while recently launched e-learning programmes are also helping to educate players, coaches and referees on the dangers of match manipulation to help them to avoid becoming victims of this threat to football integrity.
Other initiatives include the signing of an integrity declaration by officials, the monitoring of the betting market via FIFA’s subsidiary Early Warning System (EWS) and the setting up of an e-learning ethics tool, an integrity hotline and e-mail address, and a confidential reporting system.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

FIFA, Interpol unveil e-learning tools to fight match manipulation

FIFA and INTERPOL have launched a series of e-learning programmes aimed at educating players, coaches and referees on the dangers of match manipulation to help them avoid becoming victims of this threat to football integrity.
The online programmes, each focusing on a different group often targeted by match-fixers, offer an interactive guide on how to recognise, resist and report attempts at match-fixing and related issues. The programmes are available in five languages (Arabic, English, French, Spanish and German) on both the FIFA and INTERPOL websites.
FIFA Security Director Ralf Mutschke says that the programmes represent a key deliverable of the FIFA/INTERPOL initiative, which aims to improve awareness and understanding of corruption in football, and the methods to detect and counteract it.
“FIFA and INTERPOL are placing huge importance on combatting match manipulation as it continues to threaten the integrity of football,” said Mutschke.
“One of the keys to success is raising awareness within the football community and providing educational tools for the people most at risk of being influenced by match-fixers. For the first time, football has a widely accessible resource that presents match manipulation-related issues in a practical, targeted and visually stimulating way.”
The e-learning modules are highly interactive, using quizzes, games and audio-visual elements helping to emphasise the key messages. Real-life scenarios are also incorporated to help users more easily identify the tactics that match-fixers might use to pressure them into manipulating a match.
“With the launch of our comprehensive e-learning modules, the football community now has a tool to help protect the sport against threats posed by organised criminal networks which seek to make an illegal profit through match manipulation,” said Michaela Ragg, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport unit. 
“By educating the players, coaches and referees who are at high risk of being coerced into fixing a match, we hope the e-learning programmes will equip them with the knowledge and ability to resist these approaches and protect the integrity of the sport,” she concluded.
The programmes are designed to be used by FIFA’s member associations as part of their existing integrity training, or as standalone training programmes. They form part of a wider effort to preserve football from the growing threat of match-fixing.
FIFA and INTERPOL agreed a ten-year joint initiative in May 2011 to enhance global efforts to tackle match manipulation and corruption in the sport.
As part of the initiative, INTERPOL has organised more than 11 Integrity in Sport workshops in all regions of the world, with support from FIFA. Information sessions are held in advance of all FIFA tournaments, and an anonymous hotline has been created for people to report tips or suspicious activity.
In addition, INTERPOL has also coordinated major conferences bringing together football associations, betting companies, gambling regulatory authorities and law enforcement to tackle the issues related to corruption in football and its links to organised crime. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cheaper tickets

More great news for football fans in the on-going 41st Merdeka Tournament in Kuantan!
The Football Association of Malaysia is offering a further reduction in ticket prices for matches at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan and Temerloh Stadium for the Merdeka Tournament - Asia’s most prestigious tournament.
Tickets for the match between Malaysia and Thailand at the Darul Makmur Stadium on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 (kick-off 8.45pm), are priced at RM20 (free seating) and RM50 (grand stand).

However, tickets for the Myanmar versus Singapore match (kick-off 8.45pm) on Wednesday, September, 11, 2013, at the Temerloh Stadium are available at RM20 (free seating) and RM25 (grand stand).
The prices of tickets for the final on Saturday, September 14, 2013, at the Darul Makmur Stadium will remain at RM20 (free seating) and RM50 for grand stand.

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) general-secretary Dato’ Hamidin Haji Mohd Amin, said the decision to further reduce ticket prices is to allow fans, particularly those residing in Kuantan and neighbouring towns to support the national team.

“Malaysia have already qualified for the final and having discussed with our commercial partners, we have agreed to reduce ticket pricings to give an opportunity to fans to come and support  Malaysia tomorrow in the last group match at the Darul  Makmur stadium and also in the final,” said Dato’ Hamidin in Kuantan., Tuesday (10 Sept).

Malaysia 0 Jordan 1

A well-taken freekick from Shahnaz Yaseen Mahmoud Jebreen gave Jordan a 1-0 win over Malaysia as they took the lead in Group A of the AFF Aya Bank Women’s Championship here at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon, Monday (9 Sept).
In an evenly contested affair, the Jordanian girls scored the only goal of the game off Shahnaz Yaseen eight minutes to the end.
Both teams showed quality to play good attacking football with Malaysia the better side in the first half as they hit the post twice off Angela Kais and Dadree Rofinus.
Jordan replied with a freekick from Yasmeen Salim Khair two minutes after the restart which forced a scrambling save from Malaysia’s Asma Junaidi.
A minute later Nosuraini Mazli should have given Malaysia the lead but despite being unchallenged, she blasted the ball straight to Jordan keeper Zina Al Sadi.
The change for Shahnaz in place of Abeer Mahmoud Alnahar in the 80th minute gave Jordan more pace and just two minutes later, she put them in front with a superb freekick to beat Asma for the full points.
Thailand 0 Vietnam 0
Jordan 1 Malaysia 0
Group A Current Standings


Monday, September 9, 2013

Wrestling back to Olympics

In the latest step in the process of evaluating and refining the Olympic Programme, the sport of wrestling was elected today as an additional sport for the Summer Olympic Games of 2020 and 2024.

The decision was made at the 125th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after the full membership of the IOC agreed on the 25 sports that will form the core for the 2020 Games, awarded yesterday to the city of Tokyo.

The Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) made a presentation to the Session, along with the International Federations of baseball/softball (WBSC) and squash (WSF), all shortlisted by the IOC Executive Board in May following an extensive evaluation by the Olympic Programme Commission. The IOC members voted for wrestling with a simple majority of votes cast in the first round.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “Wrestling has shown great passion and resilience in the last few months. They have taken a number of steps to modernise and improve their sport, including the addition of more women and athletes in decision-making positions; rule changes to make the sport more exciting and easy to understand; and an increase in the number of women’s competitions. We are pleased with their reaction and happy to have wrestling on the Olympic programme in 2020 and 2024.”

In order to control the size, cost and complexity of the Games, the Olympic Programme was capped in 2002 at 28 sports, approximately 300 events and a target of 10,500 athletes. It was also decided that a systematic review of the Olympic Programme would be conducted after every edition of the Games to provide regular rejuvenation of the Games while maintaining continuity and consistency. The concept of a core group of 25 sports with a maximum of three additional sports was adopted in 2007, and two years later golf and rugby sevens were added to the programme of the Rio 2016 and the 2020 Olympic Games.

Results of vote:Wrestling: 49Baseball/ softball: 24Squash: 22

Friday, September 6, 2013

Park charts Myanmar's fortunes

Former South Korean striker-turned-coach Park Sung Hwa will chart Myanmar’s fortunes in the 41st edition of the Merdeka Tournament which begins from September 7-14 in Kuantan, Pahang.

The 25-member Myanmar squad, captain by Kyaw Zayer Min, arrived in Kuantan together with the Singapore and Thailand team on Thursday for one of Asia’s most prestigious football tournaments held at the Darul Makmur Stadium.

Myanmar won the Merdeka Tournament three times, emerged runners-up on four occasions and shared the trophy once since the inception of the tournament in 1957, the last being in 2006 following a 2-1 victory over Indonesia in the final.

Appointed by Myanmar FA in 2011, Park has been tasked with coaching both the senior and junior national teams to turn the country’s football fortunes around and has succeeded to a certain extent. Myanmar won the bronze medal in the 2011 Sea Games and reached the semi-finals of the Under-19 and Under-16 AFF Championships.

The 58-year-old Park, however, is no stranger to the Merdeka Tournament, having first featured for the senior team alongside South Korea’s other famous footballers - Cha Bum-Kun and Kim Jae Han - in the 1975 final against Malaysia which the Koreans won 1-0 at Merdeka Stadium.

Earlier in the preliminary round of the 1975 Merdeka tournament, Park also scored a goal in South Korea’s 3-1 win over the host’s star-studded squad which included Mokhtar Dahari, goalkeeper R. Arumugam, defenders Soh Chin Aun and Santokh Singh. He also featured in the finals of the 1977 and 1978 Merdeka Tournament against Iraq, winning the trophy on both occasions.

Meanwhile Thailand and Singapore are strong contenders too for the Merdeka Tournament, naming formidable squads when registration closed on August 31.

Thailand Football Association General-Secretary, Worawi Makudi, disclosed that the 20 players who will feature in the 2013 Merdeka Tournament were selected from the recent National Championships and will carry Thailand’s hopes in the Merdeka Tournament.

“We appreciate and thank the Football Association of Malaysia for inviting us to this historical tournament after a lapse of five years. The Merdeka Tournament and Thailand’s King’s Cup are Asia’s longest surviving tournaments,” said Worawi.
“We are serious contenders to win the Merdeka Tournament,” he added.

Singapore coach V. Sundramoorthy has also named a squad of 22 players that will be in Kuantan - build around the experience of 16 members from the successful Lions XII that stormed to the Malaysian Super League title this season.

With Izwan Mahbud's safe pair of hands, and the attacking threats from the likes of Faris Ramli, Fazli Ayob and Nazrul Ahmad Nazari; along with the silky skills of forward Shahfiq Ghani, much is expected of Sundramoorthy's side.

Most of the players are already well-drilled in the style and a system that has seen them become the first Singaporean team to lift a Malaysian domestic trophy since a Fandi Ahmad-led Singapore team won the League and Malaysia Cup double in 1994. 

And now they are out to make heads turn in the Merdeka Tournament.

Delia Fischer appointed new FIFA Head of Media

FIFA’s Head of Media Pekka Odriozola, after 8 years with FIFA, has decided to engage on a new professional challenge. He will leave FIFA on 6 September 2013.
“On behalf of FIFA, I would like to thank Pekka for the huge contribution he has provided during his time with football’s world governing body. His expertise, professionalism and commitment have been outstanding. We wish him the very best for the future”, commented FIFA’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs Walter De Gregorio.

Pekka Odriozola’s Deputy, Delia Fischer, who joined FIFA in 2002, has been promoted and appointed as the new FIFA’s Head of Media.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

HSBC Asian Seven Series

The Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)  announced Monday (26/8/13) the dates for the 2013 HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series (HSBC A7S), Asia’s premier regional sevens competition.

The official tournament draw for the Malaysia Sevens, the opening event on this year’s Series, was also held in Kuala Lumpur and officiated by Mr Ross Mitchell, Honorary Secretary General of the Asian Rugby Football Union, Dato Wira Amiruddin Embi, President of the Malaysian Rugby Union and Abdul Sani, Head of Marketing Malaysia, of HSBC.

This year’s HSBC A7S continues the worldwide growth trend in sevens ahead of the sport’s debut in the Olympics in 2016. Most notably, the HSBC A7S has grown from the three ranking events of 2012 to four ranking events for 2013. The number of core teams, (those nations competing across every event on the series), has also increased from last year’s ten to 12, heralding a further improvement in the already-high competitive standard.

The core teams on the 2013 Series are defending champions Hong Kong, runners-up Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

The Series opens this weekend with the Malaysia Sevens, hosted by the Malaysia Rugby Union, and held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur after several successful tournaments in Borneo.

After Kuala Lumpur, Asian sevens action moves to the land of smiles for the Thailand Sevens in mid-September. The Thailand Sevens marks the largest ever HSBC A7S event with 28 teams participating, including 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. The four men’s teams playing alongside the 12 core teams in Thailand are Cambodia, India, Laos and Uzbekistan, with Cambodia and Uzbekistan making their HSBC A7S debuts. The 12 women’s teams in Thailand are participating as part of the two-leg Asian Women’s Sevens Series with the other tournament being held once again in Pune, India.

After Thailand, the Series returns to Mumbai in October for the India Sevens at the legendary Bombay Gymkhana club. Fourteen teams will take part including the 12 core sides, hosts India and Iran.
The Series once again concludes in Singapore with November’s Singapore Sevens - this time granted full ranking status on the Series.

In Singapore, the 12-core teams will be concluding what should be another tight-wire series, (last year’s champions Hong Kong were better by runners-up Japan by only ½ of a point), as they chase more than just Asian bragging rights.

The top finisher on the Series will take comfort that they are leading the stakes for Asia’s sole men’s qualification spot for the 2016 Olympic Games, while the top finishers on this year’s HSBC A7S will again book coveted spots in the world-famous Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March 2014.
All of the action kicks off in Kuala Lumpur this weekend with the Malaysia Sevens (August 31-1 September). The official tournament draw was held at today’s press conference.

The top four finishers from last year’s Series, Hong Kong, Japan, Chinese Taipei and China respectively, were seeded into the first row of the four pools with the remaining eight teams banded into two draw groups of four and drawn across the remaining spots.

Hong Kong tops Pool A with runners-up Japan in Pool D, China and Chinese Taipei are ranked as the top seeds in Pool B and Pool C accordingly.

Making matters more interesting in the opening tournament of the 2013 HSBC A7S is that the Malaysia Sevens falls in the same week as the 12th National Games in China, where rugby sevens is making its debut thanks to the sport’s new Olympic status.

As a result, two of the top four seeds, China and Hong Kong, will have the challenge of running two elite sevens squads in a simultaneous period.

The date clash has put extra pressure on Hong Kong’s small player base. Last season, Hong Kong used a core group of players led by Rowan Varty as they won their first-ever HSBC Asian Sevens crown.

“Last year we only used 14 players during the series, but now we will have to split our resources between the National Games and the opening tournament in Malaysia and both are equally important to us,” said Dai Rees, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union’s head of performance and coaching.

All teams know that a good start in Kuala Lumpur will give them much-needed momentum in the four-leg Series.
With the series being expanded to four legs this year, it will give teams a little more breathing space to come back from one bad result but Hong Kong will be hoping that they can still finish in the top-two in Malaysia even though several of their senior players are likely to be on duty at the China National Games.

“Winning a gold medal at the National Games will be important as it is the first time that rugby sevens is being played there – since it is now an Olympic sport – which means the result will carry a lot of weight among the Hong Kong Olympic Committee,” Rees said.
While Japan and Hong Kong are again expected to contest for the top spot, fierce opposition can be expected from South Korea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, while the Malaysia Sevens can never be counted out on their home grounds at Petaling Jaya.

South Korea will be aiming to make a mark before the Asian Games, which they host in Incheon next year. In recent years the Koreans have failed to fire at sevens and have been a shadow of the sides that used to stun top teams with regularity at the Hong Kong Sevens in the late 90s.

“This series is really important to us as we look ahead to the Incheon Asian Games and good results will boost our preparation for that,” said Korean coach Park Ki Haeng.

The Philippines will hope the hard lessons learned at June’s World Cup Sevens in Moscow will pay dividends. The biggest hurdle facing them, however, is the availability of their leading players who ply their trade in Australia and Japan.

“It’s all about having a quality team for all four tournaments and that is what we are trying to do,” said Philippines coach Matt Cullen. “We are confident that if we put out our best side we can compete for a top-three finish in the series and this is our goal.”

Sri Lanka finished last season on a high on the 15-a-side front when they won the Division One tournament in the HSBC Asian Five Nations and was promoted to the Top Five in 2014.

But their sevens programme was put out of kilter by the sudden departure of their foreign coaches earlier this month leaving the squad rudderless. If they can get their act together, and if Ben Gollings is back again, the islanders can be a threat to any side.

Among the other sides capable of pulling an upset win on their day are Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Chinese-Taipei, the latter finishing a surprise third place in the series last year, earning them an invite to the Hong Kong Sevens for the first time since 2010.

About HSBC and Rugby

HSBC is a long-term investor in Rugby in Asia and around the world. As well as being the title sponsor of the Sevens World Series, Asian 5 Nations and Asian Sevens Series, the bank is co-title sponsor of the Hong Kong Sevens from 2012. HSBC is the Principal Partner of all the Hong Kong rugby teams, and the British & Irish Lions, who played in Hong Kong in 2013 en route to Australia. The bank is also the title sponsor of the Waratahs Super 15 team in Australia, the Penguin International Coaching Academy and the Cobra 10s tournament in Malaysia.

Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)

ARFU was founded in 1968 with eight member unions. In the past decade its membership has trebled to 28 full and associate member unions ranging from Kazakhstan in the north to Indonesia in the south and Lebanon in the west to Guam in the east. ARFU covers a territory of over 44 sq million kilometres and more than 3 billion people. ARFU is the sanctioning body for the HSBC Asian 5 Nations, which every four years acts as the qualifying event for the Rugby World Cup, and the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, which was held for the first time in 2011. ARFU also offers organized international competition for women and youth across Asia.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ethics Committee

Manama -  In its bid to root out corruption and wrongdoing on and off the pitch in the continent, the AFC Executive Committee endorsed the formation of an Ethics Committee on the lines of FIFA on Monday.
In its maiden meeting under the chairmanship of Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the members approved the two-chamber ethics committee – one investigative and one judiciary – and also adopted a stronger ethics code at par with the FIFA Ethics Code.

Shaikh Salman said the new committee will be functional by January next year and hoped that it will help AFC fight corruption at all levels.

The members also decided to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the confederation next year at a grand scale. A working committee has been formed to chalk out the celebration plan.

Shaikh Salman also praised FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s efforts in resolving the issues faced by Palestine footballers.

“FIFA has formed a task force, comprising FIFA President, UEFA and AFC Presidents and Presidents of Israel and Palestine Football Associations, to resolve the matter. The task force will meet on September 3,” he informed. -AFC.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Trends and Tactics at Turkey 2013

With the group stage now over, two members of the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) have outlined their initial reflections on the action at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013. Analysing the games up close, the expert duo have been able to cast light on the emerging trends and dominant tactics.

For Muhsin Ertugral, the quality of the football has been particularly pleasing, and the Ajax Cape Town manager has also enjoyed watching the divergent styles of play on show. "Youth football improves from year to year – in physical, technical and tactical terms – but what's really pleased me is that cultural influence has been playing a huge role," explained the former Kaizer Chiefs and Congo DR coach. "The South Americans continue to produce excellent No10s, and African sides also have a special type of player in midfield, whose function is tied up with a concept that's almost naive, and which I'd call: 'Express yourself.'"

As for Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen, the former striker with the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Aberdeen and Dundee United has been keeping a close eye on the pre-eminent strategic approaches. "The formation that's been used the most is 4-2-3-1," he said. "That's undoubtedly because it's a flexible system that allows teams to protect their defence with two holding midfielders while also spreading the play wide by using wingers. Lots of sides have also changed their system during games in response to the scoreline, with most switching to 4-4-2. Uruguay, for example, have done that to great effect. But it's important to point out that the key isn't the system but the movement of the players around the system."
Youth football improves from year to year – in physical, technical and tactical terms – but what's really pleased me is that cultural influence has been playing a huge role.
Muhsin Ertugral
In addition, the two experts have noted a split between teams defending zonally and those opting for man marking, plus a general trend of building attacks from the back. They have nonetheless been struck by the observation that the transition to attacking play is less effective in U-20 sides than in their senior counterparts. "That's linked to the fact that the teams, particularly in the group stage, are concerned above all with not losing the ball in midfield," said Paatelainen. "Quick transitions can be risky on that score, but that could all change in the knockout phase."

Originally from Turkey, Ertugral has been paying special attention to the hosts, and he feels that they have plenty of room for improvement. "We need to train our players younger and for a longer period of time," he explained. "Having this tournament here has been crucial in terms of realising the standard of other teams at this age level elsewhere in the world. When you look at Spain, whose players are already playing like their elders, the similarity is impressive. And that's the road Turkeyhave yet to take."

More than anything, though, Ertugral and Paatelainen – who will continue their work until the end of the tournament – have both been savouring the overall quality so far, with a raft of statistics lending credence to their point of view. In particular, no fewer than 101 goals have been scored at an average of 2.81 per game, while two sides – Uruguay and Colombia – have conceded just once and Portugal have hit the back of the net ten times.

The only stats still lagging behind are the attendance figures at games, and Ertugral took the opportunity to pass on a message to supporters: "We've seen lots of talented players and thrilling matches, and I hope we'll see more people in the stadiums to watch the entertainment in the knockout stage." - FIFA.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sekalung Penghargaan

Saya, Lt Jen Dato’ Azzuddin Ahmad (Bersara), Setiausaha Agung Persatuan Bolasepak Malaysia (FAM), ingin memaklumkan bahawa saya telah menerima surat perlantikkan sebagai Setiausaha Agung Persatuan Bolasepak ASEAN (AFF) dari KDYMM Sultan Ahmad Shah, Presiden AFF, pada hari Ahad 23 Jun 2013, untuk mengisi jawatan Setiausaha Agung AFF mulai 1 Julai 2013.

Di kesempatan ini, saya ingin merakamkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan dan ucapan ribuan terima kasih kepada semua Editor, Penerbit dan wartawan sukan media cetak dan elektronik, yang telah memberi kerjasama dan bantuan dari segi terutamanya liputan sukan bolasepak Negara sejak saya menjawat jawatan Setiausaha Agung FAM pada 17 September 2007 sehingga sekarang.

 Saya mengambil iktibar dari semua kritikan yang membina dan menerima semua kritikan negatif dengan hakikat di dalam apa jua isu wujudnya pendapat dan fahaman yang berlainan.

Seterusnya, saya memohon ribuan maaf sekiranya di dalam jawatan Setiausaha Agung FAM, saya terkasar bahasa dan tersalah laku terhadap mana-mana pihak.

Akhir kata, adalah diharapkan saya akan dapat kerjasama dan bantuan dari semua pihak di dalam jawatan baru saya.

Sekian, terima kasih.