Category: Latest

The FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Semi-Finals

So. Hello, then, a Mexico/Nigeria Under-17 World Cup final. This engaging tournament is back almost where it started after three weeks of football largely and refreshingly free of cynicism and, at least in my case, predictability. Mexico and Nigeria, who met on the tournament’s third day, were worthy and ultimately convincing winners of two entertaining semi-finals which followed similar patterns – lively first halves, scrappy third quarters and fractionally flattering victory margins. Three-nil was harsh on both Argentina and Sweden, although it was far easier to feel sympathy for the latter. Argentina had only ten men for an hour after Joaquin Ibanez surfed Mexico’s Omar Govea’s left leg – described by fifa.com as a “two-studded tackle,” which was as wide of the mark as a Cote D’Ivoire shot. And while they were sufficiently tactically astute to make the second half a contest, despite being two-nil down at the break, they should have been down to nine men even by the time Ibanez slid into view. The holders of ticket number 20 won the worldwide “in what minute will Lucio Compagnucci get booked” sweepstake (you could have thrown ticket number 46 back in the drum). But the combative Argentine midfielder ought to have seen red for what replays revealed to be a forearm smash into Ulises Jaimes’ face. And he ought to have seen red again when he used Mexican...

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FA Cup First Round Week: “Might We Run Into Rupert The Bear In Shortwood?”

Some phrases, it seems, stick with you for life. In the August 1990 edition of When Saturday Comes, Newport County supporter Phil Tanner posed the above question in relation to the death of his football club and its rebirth in the Hellenic League, travelling around the southern and western outposts of the non-league game, playing clubs of which he and the vast majority of his fellow supporters had never heard. Phil probably didn’t run into Rupert during his club’s spell playing football at that level – quite asides from any other considerations, the aforementioned fictional ursine one lived in Nutwood rather than Shortwood – but almost a quarter of a century on from that mischievous question being posed  one of the club’s that Newport played that season will make national headlines. The Wood, as Shortwood United is nicknamed, will emerge from the forest that is the nether regions of the non-league pyramid to make its debut in the First Round of the FA Cup, live on the television, against Port Vale. Shortwood United ply their trade in Division One South & West of the Southern Football League, a level of football as far removed from the Football League as a club playing in the Conference South is from the Premier League. Founded in 1900, the club joined the Gloucestershire County League in 1975, getting promoted into the Hellenic League...

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FA Cup First Round Week: Coventry City & Wimbledon – A Tale Of Two Cup Winners

In the second of our series ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup First Round matches, we take a look at two of the bigger names in the draw, who are playing each other on Friday night. Please, if you wish to reproduce this article elsewhere, link to it rather than copying and pasting it. Thanks.  In the FA Cup First Round on Friday night, two clubs with something of a pedigree in this competition will meet when Wimbledon play Coventry City at Kingsmeadow. In the late 1980s, these two clubs provided a little light relief from what would go on to become a little over a quarter of a century’s tedium for the supporters of all but a gilded few. In the years between 1981 and 2007, only a thoroughly predictable six clubs – Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea – would otherwise be fortunate enough to see their teams lift the trophy at Wembley or Cardiff, and these are two clubs which now also have something else in common which has become increasingly common in recent years, the loss of a ground and an exile away from home forced upon them by their owners. During the 1986/87 FA Cup, Coventry City crept to the FA Cup Final as if by stealth. The stand out result of their run to Wembley, when viewed from the twenty-first...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Twenty-Two – The FA Cup Quarter-Finals

It’s time for another break from league action, as we’re down to the last eight clubs in the 1980/81 FA Cup with seven clubs from the First Division and one from the Third Division plaing for a place in the semi-finals of the competition. First up, a quick mention of the match that is missing from the selection that we have. Nottingham Forest drew three-all at The City Ground against Ipswich Town and, although the replay was probably just about the last thing that an Ipswich team that was still competing on three fronts – in the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and for the First Division Championship – needed, Bobby Robson’s team won the replay by a single goal at Portman Road the following week. Our first FA Cup final, then, is the match between Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Ayresome Park. Wolves had earned a bit of a reputation as a cup team under manager John Barnwell, whilst Middlesbrough at that point had still never played in a major cup final. Second up is the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Exeter City, the Third Division club who had already knocked out Leicester City and Newcastle United in their most surprising of cup runs. Last up are the two matches played between Everton and Manchester City, which went to a replay at Maine Road after the two teams...

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The 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Quarter-Finals

So. Farewell, then, a Brazil/Nigeria Under-17 World Cup final. As I predicted here, Mexico had next-to-no chance of beating Brazil. So they did. Just to spite me. And Eurosport’s Wayne Boyce was left almost tearfully lamenting the loss of “the dream final.” Boyce’s commentary colleague Tim Caple had breathlessly recommended to viewers of Sweden’s surprisingly entertaining 2-1 quarter-final win over Honduras that they stick around to watch “this Brazilian team” in action. And whilst there was always a nagging doubt that Caple was tempting fate, few outside Mexico’s fanbase gave their side an earthly. Bizarrely, given that it finished 11-10 after 24 spot-kicks, Mexico thoroughly deserved to win the penalty shoot-out – almost to the point of outclassing the Brazilians. The Selecao scuffed at least three of their successful efforts and found a previously undiscovered hole in Mexican keeper Raul Gudino’s gloves with two others. Mexico’s successful kicks, meanwhile, were either well placed shots or, in the case of Ulises Rivas when the shoot-out was 5-4 and he HAD to score, let Boyce unveil his surely pre-prepared “pop up with a Pannenka” line as Rivas chipped his spot-kick straight down the middle while Brazil keeper Marcos flew to his right. This in turn let Boyce’s co-commentator Stewart Robson bring out his “why don’t the keepers just stand still?” line. But when both keepers appeared too drained to do anything else...

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