International football

World Cup

Argentina’s Iffy World Cup Qualification Campaign Left Angel Di Maria Needing Psychological Help To Deal With Cruel Memes

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Angel Di Maria has revealed that he sought psychological help after being upset by memes mocking the Argentinian national team's struggle to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

A last-ditch victory over Ecuador on the final matchday saw the Albiceleste just about sneak themselves a spot in Russia, but that didn't stop fans from haranguing them for a largely slapdash qualification campaign.

Nike Release New England Home And Away Kits For 2018 World Cup (Official Photos)

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What you're looking at there is the new kit that England will be wearing when they go slunking out of the World Cup at the last-16 stage this summer.

As was leaked earlier in the week, the Nike strip sees a return to the traditional white shirt/navy shorts/white socks formula, though there is little of note beyond that.

If You Like Gaudy Green Flock Wallpaper, You’re Going To Love Nigeria’s New World Cup Training Kit (Leaked Photos)

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It's more than a little galling that while Nike are perfectly content to furnish England with yet another generic dullard of a shirt, they appear to have provided Nigeria with a truly stunning collection of retina-jangling World Cup fare.

Indeed, leaked images of the Nike training/travelling kit that the Super Eagles will be wearing in Russia this coming summer and put it this way: it's unlikely to be surpassed between now and the start of the tournament.

Argentina-based players in contention for the World Cup

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This week saw Jorge Sampaoli conclude a brief tour of some of Europe's biggest clubs, where he visited clubs whose squads include Argentina internationals. Also this week, Sampaoli started doing the same thing with clubs in Argentina. Wanting to leave nothing to chance, he wants to be informed about his players' daily training regimes.

World Cup Draw: England Face Belgium, Tunisia And Panama In Intriguing Group G Selection

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England will play Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stages of next summer's World Cup in Russia.

The typically star-studded draw was made in Moscow on Friday and threw up an intriguing Group G for England.

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Currently fifth in FIFA's rankings, Belgium will provide a big challenge to the Three Lions, with a squad crammed full of world-class stars, from Eden Hazard to Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to Dries Mertens.

Football Art: New Official World Cup Poster For Russia 2018 Is Really Rather прекрасная (Photo)

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With just three days to go until the final group stage draw for the 2018 World Cup is made in Moscow, FIFA have unfurled the official poster that will accompany the tournament in Russia next year.

Produced by artist Igor Gurovich, the poster features legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin front and centre, clawing a giant football out of the sky in front of a delightfully geometric, Soviet-ish background.

Videos

Whomp: Roma Icon Francesco Totti Scores Thunderous Freekick During ‘Legends Cup’ 5-A-Side Match (Video)

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For those of you out there wondering, we can confirm that Francesco Totti definitely still has 'it' despite retiring from football at the end of last season.

Representing Italy at the 2018 Legends Cup in Moscow, the former Roma stalwart was presented with an opportunity to flex his set-piece prowess.

FAIL: Giresunspor Midfielder Dodo Misses Penalty In Flamboyantly Woeful Fashion In Turkish Cup Defeat (Video)

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Giresunspor went crashing out of the Turkish Cup on Wednesday night after losing out to Fenerbahce in a dramatic finale.

The second division side hauled themselves level at 1-1 in the 73rd minute only for a stoppage-time penalty from Fernandao to send them packing with mere seconds left on the clock.

Turkish Club Konyaspor Announce Samuel Eto’o Signing With Epic ‘Game Of Thrones’ Montage (Video)

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Samuel Eto'o is back in the game after signing a one-year deal with Turkish side Konyaspor on deadline day.

The veteran Cameroonian striker, now 36, had been a free agent since leaving Antalyaspor last year.

To herald his grand return to the Super Lig, Eto'o's new employers went all out with an outstanding 'Game of Thrones' welcome video.

Moreirense Goalkeeper Knocked Out While Porto Have Late Goal Disallowed, Only Discovers His Side Drew 0-0 During Post-Match Interview (Video)

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Moreirense earned themselves a valuable point in their ongoing fight against relegation by battling to a 0-0 draw with Primeira Liga leaders Porto on Tuesday evening.

However, after surviving 95 minutes unscathed, things very nearly went pear-shaped for the hosts at the death when Abdul Waris popped up to score what looked like being the winning goal with the final touch of the match.

Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Man: Lithuanian Futsal Player Scores Stunning ‘Diving Header’ To Salvage Last-Gasp Draw For FK Spartakas (Video)

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Image: @AdomatisAuris/Twitter

Trailing 6-5 with the last few seconds of the match wicking away, it was becoming apparent that FK Spartakas were going to have to dig out something special to salvage anything from their recent Lithuanian futsal league clash with FK Sirvintos.

Spartakas needed a hero, and that's exactly what they got when Artur Semasko came striding forth to save the day by pulling an equaliser out of thin air.

Divine Intervention: Mark Clattenburg Stops Saudi Arabian Cup Match During Extra-Time So Players Can Answer Call To Prayer (Video)

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Ex-Premier League official Mark Clattenburg was faced with a predicament he surely didn't come across in referee school during the latter stages of Wednesday night's clash between Al Feiha and Al Fateh in theSaudi King's Cup.

With the score level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the engrossing encounter duly went to extra-time.

One-Touch Football: The Ugliest Passage Of Play You’re Likely To Witness This Season, Courtesy Of Utrecht And Feyenoord (Video)

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Feyenoord's trip to Utrecht on Wednesday evening was notable for two reasons: 1) The match saw Robin van Persie make his second debut for his boyhood club, 14 years on from the first and, B) it also featured the ugliest passage of play we're likely to see this season.

Fair Play: Altinordu Striker Deliberately Whacks Penalty Kick Out For Throw-In During Turkish Youth Match (Video)

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Bariscan Altunbas with a dreadful miss from 12 yards (Image: @AltinorduFK/Twitter)

A remarkable instance of sporting fair play took place during the youth match between Turkish sides Altinordu FK andBalikesirspor Baltok over the weekend.

The fun began when a Balikesir defender quite literally took the law into his own hands by picking the ball up inside his own 18-yard box after preempting an offside call, only for the referee to award a penalty for deliberate hand-ball.

Ryan Giggs’ Final Team Talk As Man Utd Manager Was As Hilariously Underwhelming As You Might Imagine (Video)

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By Jack Beresford

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Ryan Giggs' appointment as Wales manager has received a mixed reaction from fans – and it's not difficult to see why.

The Manchester United legend has spent much of the past two years complaining about the lack of Premier League managerial opportunities afforded to him, despite boasting little to no experience.

‘The Chocolate Melts In The Sun’ – Spartak Moscow Draw Ire With Racially Insensitive Tweet About Group Of Black Players

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Spartak Moscow have sent a wave of consternation across social media today after posting a racially insensitive Tweet.

The Russian club shared a video of several black players training in the sun in Abu Dhabi, along with the caption "See the chocolate melts in the sun", with a few chocolate emojis thrown in for good measure.

Irish Cup: Warrenpoint Town Manager Forced To Apologise After Subbing Himself On Then Picking Up Two Yellow Cards In Three Minutes (Photo & Video)

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Matthew Tipton goes a-marching back from whence he came (Photo: BBC Sport Northern Ireland)

Warrenpoint Town manager Matthew Tipton certainly lived up to his billing as an impact sub as his side were sent tumbling out of the Irish Cup by Cliftonville at the weekend.

A former Wales Under-21 international, Tipton included himself among the substitutes for the fifth-round tie, finally making the decision to bring himself on for the latter stages with the score precariously locked at 2-2.

Pitta Patter: Lukas Podolski Opens New Doner Kebab Restaurant In Hometown Of Cologne (Photo & Video)

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Photo: Alliance/H. Kaiser (via DW Sports)

Lukas Podolski has opened yet another business venture in his hometown of Cologne to go alongside the clothing store and the ice-cream parlour he already has in his portfolio.

Podolski's latest endeavour is a humble kebab shop, Mangal Kebab, which opened in the Chlodwigplatz district over the weekend.

Feyenoord: Teenage Striker Dylan Vente Marks Full Debut With Goal Almost Identical To One Scored By His Great-Uncle In 1937 – The First Ever At De Kuip (Video)

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The proverbial torch was passed at Feyenoord on Sunday afternoon when 18-year-old forward Dylan Vente scored on his full debut for the Eredivisie club.

Vente scored the second goal in a 7-0 walloping of local rivals Sparta Rotterdam, only his fifth ever appearance of a senior career that began in September.

Brazil: Roberto Carlos Admits His Famous ‘Banana’ Freekick Against France In 1997 Was A Wind-Assisted Fluke

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Like arriving at the stark realisation that the middle-aged man doling out Kinder Eggs and cuddles in the back of his boarded up Transit van probably wasn't the Easter Bunny after all, Roberto Carlos has delivered a thundering hammer blow to Pies' already faltering grasp of all we assume to be true.

J League: Cerezo Osaka Match Begins With Monkey In Football Kit Politely Handing Ball Over To Referee (Video)

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Photo: J League

You can always trust the J League to deliver when it comes to unfettered weirdness on a football pitch, and Sunday's crunch tie between Cerezo Osaka and Vissel Kobe was no exception.

The match itself was nothing out of the ordinary, with Osaka registering a straightforward 3-1 victory over Lukas Podolski's lot.

Georgian Premier League: Title Decider Between Torpedo Kutaisi And Dimano Tbilisi Ends Amid Scenes Of Complete And Utter Pandemonium (Video)

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Photo: Dinamo Tbilisi/Facebook

The Georgian Premier League (the Erovnuli Liga) came to a dramatic conclusion over the weekend, with the title-decider between Torpedo Kutaisi and Dinamo Tbilisi proving every bit as chaotic as you might imagine.

Going into the match, Torpedo needed to win to usurp Dinamo and clinch the championship, while the latter simply required a draw to seal the deal.

AFP

Morocco’s El Kaabi wants to crown goal rush with CHAN title

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Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) – Ayoub el Kaabi hopes to complete a meteoric rise from lower league to international football by helping hosts Morocco defeat Nigeria Sunday in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) final.

Few outside the north African kingdom had heard of the 24-year-old striker before the mid January kick-off of the biennial tournament restricted to footballers playing in their country of birth.

Morocco’s El Kaabi wants to crown goal rush with CHAN title

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Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) – Ayoub el Kaabi hopes to complete a meteoric rise from lower league to international football by helping hosts Morocco defeat Nigeria Sunday in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) final.

Few outside the north African kingdom had heard of the 24-year-old striker before the mid January kick-off of the biennial tournament restricted to footballers playing in their country of birth.

Teen star Gonzalez selects Mexico over USA – reports

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Jonathan Gonzalez, a teen midfielder for Mexican side Monterrey, has opted to play international football for Mexico over the United States, according to reports Monday.

Univision and ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Gonzalez will represent El Tri after playing for the United States at youth level.

Teen star Gonzalez selects Mexico over USA – reports

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Jonathan Gonzalez, a teen midfielder for Mexican side Monterrey, has opted to play international football for Mexico over the United States, according to reports Monday.

Univision and ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Gonzalez will represent El Tri after playing for the United States at youth level.

Transfers & Rumours

Lithuania: FK Panevezys Sign ‘Former QPR Striker’ On Basis On Mostly Fabricated Wikipedia Page (Photo)

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Photo: FK Panevezys

Here's hoping Lithuanian side FK Panevezys don't end up with a case of buyer's remorse after buying a player on the strength of what appears to be a largely fabricated Wikipedia page.

The second-tier club proudly announced the arrival of Angolan striker Barkley Miguel-Panzo after agreeing a contract with the 'former QPR striker'.

Turkish Amateurs Harusnustaspor Become First Ever Football Club To Pay Transfer Fee Using Bitcoin

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Photo: @ntvspor/Twitter

A team from the Turkish amateur league have become the first ever football club to pay a player's transfer fee using Bitcoin.

Harunustaspor, who play in the Sakarya First Division Group B, shelled out a massive (?) 0.0524 bitcoin to sign Omer Faruk Kiroglu that's roughly €440 at the current conversion rate, though that has probably spiralled to over €10,000 or plummeted to -€600 by the time you're reading this.

The King Rolls On: J-League Veteran Kazuyoshi Miura Signs New Contract To Play Beyond 51st Birthday

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Good news for fans of near-antiquated footballers: the oldest active professional player in the world, Kazuyoshi Miura, has signed a new contract that will see him play on beyond his 51st birthday.

The man they call 'The King' has agreed a new deal with Yokohama FC that will see him begin the 33rd season of his extended career at the J2 League side.

The Ongoing Adventures Of Freddy Adu: Nomadic American Forward Closing In On Move To Swedish Third Division Side

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By Jack Beresford

Freddy Adu during his Philadelphia Union days (Photo: MLS)

Big things were expected of Freddy Adu after he made his Major League Soccer debut as a precocious 14-year-old way, way back in 2003.

Optimistically dubbed the ‘New Pele', Adu was supposedly the prodigal son supposed to take US Men's National Team to the next level.

snow

Snapshot: Ball And Players Rendered Invisible As AFC Under-23 Championship Final Enveloped By Snow…

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Snow-covered pitch? Check.
Fluorescent match ball? Check.
One team wearing an all-white kit? Check.

Yep, theAFC Under-23 Championship final between Vietnam and Uzbekistan in Jiangsu really did look like a lot of fun, especially for those watching the live feed.

Bosnia: FK Zeljeznicar Try Desperately To Prevent Snow-Bound Sarajevo Derby Being Postponed By Spray Painting Their White Footballs Red (Photos)

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Photo: SCSport

Bosnian club FK Zeljeznicar were forced to undertake emergency measures to meetPremijer Liga standards after seeing their derby against FK Sarajevo on Sunday scuppered by adverse weather.

Despite the best efforts of the Zeljeznicar club staff, heavy snowfall led the match to be postponed shortly before kick-off after referee Irfan Pejtom deemed the surface at the Grbavica Stadium to be unplayable.

Wales

UEFA Nations League: England To Face Spain And Croatia In Group A After Inaugural Draw Completed In Lausanne

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Image: UEFA.com

Right. After what seems like hours, the draw for inaugural UEFA Nations League has finally been completed in Lausanne.

If you're not familiar with the Nations League, it's basically UEFA's labyrinthian attempt to breath new life into international football by scrapping pointless friendlies (though not entirely) in favour of a new competitive league structure, complete with promotion and relegation.

Reports: Man Utd Legend Ryan Giggs Set To Be Named New Wales Boss

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Ryan Giggs is expected to be named the new Wales boss after the Welsh FA called a news conference for Monday afternoon in Cardiff.

The Manchester United legend was one of four people interviewed for the job, along with Craig Bellamym Osian Roberts and Mark Bowen.

The Rest

Official: Ronald Koeman Appointed New Manager Of Netherlands National Side

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Ronald Koeman has been appointed as the new head coach of the Netherlands, replacing Dick Advocaat who stepped down in November having failed to secure World Cup qualification.

Koeman has signed a contract that will put him in charge of Dutch fortunes up to and including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the focus very much on getting there in the first place.

Asamoah Gyan Becomes Latest Ghanaian Hero To Be Given Strange, Lumpy Statue In Kumasi (Photo)

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Asamoah Gyan has become the latest Ghana international to receive a questionable sculptural homage, just days after Michael Essien was immortalised in weird, angular form by a local artist.

Essien's harrowing statue was unveiled in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi last Wednesday, with the entire internet recoiling in horror in unison at first sight.

George Weah Has Been Elected As The New President Of Liberia

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George Weah has become the first former Ballon d'Or winner to be elected as a world leader, having emerged victorious in his quest to become the new president of Liberia.

Weah topped the first round of voting back in October but didn't garner the 50% needed to win overall.

Modern Football Is Rubbish: Weird Scenes As A-League Buddy Up With Disney To Turn Gameweek 10 Into ‘Star Wars Round’

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For reasons solely commercial, the A-League transformed their tenth gameweek of the season into the 'Star Wars round', which led to thoroughly odd scenes at the start of the derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC.

Indeed, Kylo Ren emerged on the pitch and appeared to attempt to influence the match officials, which will no doubt result in a disciplinary hearing at some point down the line.

Greek Travesty: Lamia Goalkeeper Nikos Papadopoulos Given Five-Match Suspension For Excitedly Hugging Referee

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Photo: Altsantiri.gr

PAS Lamia goalkeeper Nikos Papadopoulos has been slapped with a hefty five-match suspension for the heinous crime of 'accidentally' hugging a match official at the end of a recent Greek Super League match.

Papadopoulos was so overcome with elation after Lamia scored a 97th-minute equaliser in their 2-2 draw against Panaitolikos on Sunday that he kissed, embraced and shook refereeIoannis Neophatiadis.

Norway: Lillestrom Defender Apologises After Celebrating Cup Final Victory By ‘Placing Genitals’ Inside Trophy (Photo)

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Photo: Press Association (via Telegraph)

Aleksander Melgalvis Andreassen has issued an apology after his celebration of Lillestrom's win over Sarpsborg in the Norwegian Football Cup final proved to be a little too 'zealous' for some people's liking.

After playing his part in the 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon, Melgalvis appeared on stage at Lillestrom's trophy presentation the following day in a state of complete and total undress.