Wednesday, May 31, 2006

PLAYER PROFILE - 10 Andriy Shevchenko

Date of birth: 29 September 1976; born in Yagotyn, Ukraine
183 cm
73 kg
Ukraine Jersey number -10

Clubs: Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea (to move next season)

Int'l Goals:
Int'l Caps:
First Int'l Cap:
Croatia v. Ukraine (25-Mar-1995)

The man known as Sheva is going to be a man to watch during this World Cup. Andriy Shevchenko's quick manoeuver ability along with great finishing of chances created, makes him one of the most deadly strikers in the football world.

The European footballer of the year 2004 started his football goal in Ukraine with Dynamo Kyiv. He had a prolific stint with the club and was immediately noticed by the Italian giants AC Milan. His transfer and subsequent seasons with the club were really fruitful and slowly made him argueably the most-feared forward in the league.

Coming to his national side Ukraine, which lost out in the previous two play-offs for the World Cup. They finally managed to qualify to this edition of World Cup by winning 7 of their 11 games. Though they may not be the contenders, the sheer brilliance of Sheva might see a spring in their performances.

Sheva is known to play a major part in his team's silverware. AC milan has achieved a lot of them with his efforts for the Club. He top-scored for a couple of seasons in the Serie A. This top-scoring in the Italian league (the league known for their defensive style of play) in the 2003-04 season with 24 league goals in 32 matches has won him many accolades across the globe.

Sheva also top-scored in the 2003-04 European league. He scored the winning penalty that helped AC Milan win the European Cup that season. Further his subsequent stints with the club were as successful; however AC Milan’s loss to Liverpool in the 2004-05 Champions League finals cut-short from being a perfect year for Sheva. In the finals with both team tied at 3-3 after extra-time, Shevchenko missed his spot-kick in the penalties to give the English side the title.

However the man has now reached the stage of reckoning, his performance in the World Cup will be closely watched from all quarters- his country, clubs and his many fans across the world. Presently Sheva is down with an injury but he shall be ready for the opener with Spain on June 14.

These days he’s also making the transfer headlines, with Chelsea holding talks with AC Milan. With Shevchenko confirming that he would be leaving the Italian Club and moving to England, English fans can expect fireworks on the field during the English Football season.

Monday, May 29, 2006

TEAM SPOTLIGHT - Won't cry for you Argentina this time

Argentina ranked No.8 in the World and tipped to be the last team standing. Their poor showing in the previous edition of the World Cup doesn’t change them from being direct challengers to Brazil and the other contenders.

The two-time world champion Argentina has been long under the limelight of the legendary Diego Maradona, whose astonishing feat in the 1986 World Cup has made him a legend.

In subsequent edition of the World Cup, World Cup '90 they came close to winning it a third time where they eventually lost to West Germany in the finals. In 1994 edition of the World Cup which was led by Diego Maradona they were again tipped to win it. However their fortunes tumbled when Maradona was out of the World Cup after a failed drug test.

Inspite of the Team being overshadowed by Maradona they have always produced amazing players. They had inspirational Gabriel Batistuta to take the side to glory in the 2002 World Cup but Argentina had a sad stint in the Group of Death.

They sure are ready to make amends for their 2002 World Cup debacle. This time they have a more balanced side and a better talent pool, players who could make it to any side in the World. The star studded lineup includes Riquelme, Saviola, Aimer, Sorin, Mascherano, Crespo and the young Messi. Messi being instrumental in Argentina winning the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2005.

In this World Cup, Argentina is placed in group C along with the Netherlands, Cote d’Ivoire and Serbia & Montenegro.

World Cup History

World Cups played -18 (1930, 1934, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002)
World Cup laurels – winners 2 (1978, 1986); runners-up (1930, 1990)
The Squad

1) Roberto Abbondanzieri, 12) Leonardo Franco, 23) Oscar Ustari

2) Roberto Ayala, 3) Juan Sorin, 4) Fabricio Coloccini, 6) Gabriel Heinze, 13) Lionel Scaloni, 15) Gabriel Milito, 17) Leandro Cufre, 19) Nicolas Burdisso

5) Esteban Cambiasso, 8) Javier Mascherano, 10) Juan Riquelme, 16) Pablo Aimer, 18)Maxi Rodriguez, 22) Luis Gonzalez

7) Javier Saviola, 9) Hernan Crespo, 11) Carlos Tevez, 14) Rodrigo Palacio, 19) Lionel Messi, 20) Julio Cruz

Friday, May 26, 2006

TEAM SPOTLIGHT - Will Spain's success flame the flamenco

The team that’s ranked No.5 in the World today can be called the World’s number one underachievers in World Cup fottball tournaments. Inspite of their phenomenal success in Sports over the years and boasting of having arguably the World’s premier Football league, they have never reached expectations during the World Cup.

If the players, the coach and their many fans are to be believed this is going to be Spain’s year in sports and they are going to the many trophies with the World Cup Trophy. Its already been Spain’s year with Fenando Alonso leading 7-time F1 World Champion, with a young Spaniard finally having beaten the invincible Valentino Rossi, Roger Federer unable to defeat Rafael Nadal in clay and Nadal inturn breaking records. Also in Club Football they have had to taste Champagne, with Sevilla winning the UEFA Cup and Barcelona winning the Champions League.

Spain’s best ever performance was in the 1950 World Cup, they beat England on way to their semi-finals before losing to Brazil. They had also reached the quarterfinals in the inaugural edition of the World Cup.

World Cups played- 11 (1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002)

Recent Football History

Lost the quarter finals during the World Cup 2002 in a penalty shoot-out to hosts South Korea, this game marred by controversial decisions by the referees.

Failed to get through to the second round of the Euro 2004 tournament. Eventual champions Greece and runners-up Portugal having qualified from the group.

Spain boasts of world-class players in the form of Raul Gonzales, Fenando Torres, Luis Garcia, Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso among many others. With another class act Fenando Morientes failing to make it to the final squad, shows to provide Spain always had the Squad for a great team.

The Squad

1) Iker Casillas, 23) Jose Manuel Reina, 19) Santiago Canizares,

2) Michel Salgado, 3) Asier Del Horno, 4) Carlos Marchena, 5) Carlos Puyol, 15)Sergion Ramos, 12)Lopez Antonio, 20) Juanito, 22) Pablo

6) David Albelda, 8) Xavi, 10) Jose Antonio Reyes, 13) Iniesta, 15) Xabi Alonso, 17) Joaquin, 18) Cesc Fabregas

7) Gonzales Raul, 9) Fernando Torres, 11) Luis Garcia, 21) David Villa


PLAYER PROFILE - 9 Wayne Rooney

Date of birth: 24 October 1985; born in Liverpool

Height: 178 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Position: Forward

England Jersey number - 9

Previous Club: Everton (English Premier League)
Current Club: Manchester United (English Premier League)
Int'l Goals: 11
Int'l Caps:
First Int'l Cap: England v. Australia (12-Feb-2003)

Rooney is a gem when it comes to his power play. He moves through the filed with aggression and his potent shots leaves many goalkeepers without a clue. His roughness coming from the fact he was brought up in a rough urban area called Croxteth in Liverpool.

Earlier some did allege him being overrated but he came on his own after Euro 2004 where he powered in 4 goals for England. He has also been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons and was also withdrawn from being a mentor to school kids because teachers felt he was bad influence on children after seeing him swear at the referee.

However all this did not deter the man from being among great footballers of today. England would sorely miss him during the group stages after his unfortunate injury. Rooney suffered the injury during a Club game versus Chelsea on August 29, 2006 and reports now confirm him to being out of action atleast until the quarterfinals of the World Cup.