Friday, May 29, 2009

Russian News Update: Messi To Face Hiddink & Arshavin In Moscow

A look at what made news in Russian football this week.

Russian media reported this week that the Russian Football Union and the Football Association of Argentina officially reached an agreement regarding the friendly match between the two national teams.

A strong Argentine team featuring Champions League winner Lionel Messi will take the field in Moscow on August 12.

The Argentine squad is:

Goalkeepers: Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio, Italy), Sergio Romero (AZ, Holland), Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes);Defenders: Javier Zanetti, Nicolas Burdisso, Walter Samuel (all – Inter, Italy), Martin Demichelis (Bayern, Germany), Gabriel Heinze (Real, Spain), Daniel Dias (Getafe, Spain), Emiliano Papa (Velez Sarfield), Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes);Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England), Fernando Gago (Real, Spain), Maxi Rodriguez (Atletico, Spain), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle, England), Luis Gonzalez (Porto, Portugal), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes);Strikers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Sergio Aguero (Atletico, Spain), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United, England), Ezequiel Lavezzi, German Denis (both – Napoli, Italy), Lisandro Lopez (Porto, Portugal), Angel di Maria (Benfica, Portugal), Diego Milito (Genoa, Italy)

Russia have never previously played Argentina.

Hiddink Announces Squad For World Cup Qualifier Against Finland.

Russia's two biggest stars who ply their trade in the English Premier League - Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin and Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko - are both included in Guus Hiddink’s squad to face Finland on June 10.

The website Russia Today reported that three home-based players had been recalled to the squad:

Spartak Moscow winger Vladimir Bystrov, who last played for Russia at Euro 2008; CSKA midfielder Evgeny Aldonin; and Dinamo striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who made his name in Europe by winning the UEFA Cup with Sevilla.

An excited Kerahakov told Sport-Express:

"I understood that I would receive an invitation from the coaches when Alexandr Borodyuk and Igor Korneev met with me before our match with Zenit last weekend.

"We talked to them and decided to start everything from the very beginning. I return to the team with great pleasure.

"Guus Hiddink didn’t cap me for Euro 2008 last year; however, it doesn’t matter anything for me anymore. My future is more important than the past and I will do everything to help Russia advance to the World Championship final stage.

"I told my family about my meeting with Borodyuk and Korneev and they were very happy for me, while this news came as a surprise for my friends, who didn’t know anything. I am very thankful to Andrey Kobelev and Dynamo because only thanks to their support I deserved this invitation."

"There is a wonderful atmosphere in the national team and I am glad to come back there. I will be pleased to meet my team-mates, talk to Malafeev and Zhirkov. It's pity that my friend Ivan Saenko stayed out of the roster, but I am sure he will return to the national side."

Spartak star Bystrov admitted that he was waiting expectantly for the call-up.

"I waited for this invitation, because I regained my peak form," said Bystrov to Sport-Express.

"Earlier I wasn’t ready to play on this level so I owe no grudges to coaches.

"I felt that I was not at my best form and it’s pleasant that national team coaches didn’t forget about me. Alexandr Borodyuk always phoned me and said that everything would be all right.

"Right after the Saturday match against Lokomotiv I will visit my parents in St. Petersburg, and then I will join the national side on June 3.

"I know that Finland is a good team, which could be very dangerous at home. Last year Germany was lucky to steak a point in Helsinki.

"There is also one other rookie in the squad, who is CSKA youngster Pavel Mamaev. His team-mate Alan Dzagoev, considered the biggest new Russian talent, has been left out this time but has been picked in the under-21 side.

Three regulars in Hiddink’s lineup, Lokomotiv Moscow players Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Dmitry Sychev and Dmitry Torbinsky, who scored Russia’s winner against the Netherlands at Euro 2008, won’t play against the Finns due to injuries.

The Russian team is:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA), Vladimir Gabulov (Dinamo), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit)
Defenders: Alexey Berezutskiy, Vasiliy Berezutskiy, Sergey Ignashevich, Yury Zhirkov (all CSKA), Denis Kolodin (Dinamo), Renat Yanbaev (Lokomotiv);Midfielders: Yevgeny Aldonin, Pavel Mamaev (both CSKA), Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak M), Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov, Igor Semshov (all – Zenit), Sergey Semak (Rubin)Forwards: Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal, England), Alexander Kerzhakov (Dinamo), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham, England), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit).

Russia’s main rivals, Germany, top Group 4 in the World Cup qualifiers, with 16 points. Hiddink’s men are second, with 14 points and a game in hand.Finland have played one game less than Russia, have seven points. Wales are fourth with six points and Azerbaijan and Lichtenstein have one point.

The winner of the group receives an automatic qualification to South Africa 2010, while the second team will progress into play-offs.

The Russian team and the coaching staff start pre-match preparations on June 3.

New Coach For Lokomotiv

Yuri Semin, who led Dinamo Kiev to the UEFA Cup semi-finals, will become the new coach of Lokomotiv Moscow, Sport-Express reports.

The official announcement is expected to be made after the end of the Ukrainian championship, in which Dinamo have already guaranteed themselves gold medals.

The 62-year-old will take charge of the Moscow club during the summer break in the Russian Premier League.

Loko are set to establish a training camp in Austria from June 24 to July 6.The current substitute coach, Vladimir Maminov, will stay on with the team and join Semin’s staff as assistant coach.

Lokomotiv started looking for a new coach after firing Rashid Rakhimov due to a poor start to the season in April.Semin headed Loko back in 1986-2005, bringing the team two champion’s titles and five cup victories.

Dzagoev To Play For Youth Team

Yesterday, the Russian youth team’s coaching staff named players to prepare for the Euro 2011 qualifier against Faroe Islands.The head coach Igor Kolyvanov capped 20 players for pre-match preparations:

Goalkeepers: Sergey Pesyakov (Shinnik), Evgeny Pomazan (CSKA)

Defenders: Roman Amirkhanov (Sibir), Giya Grigalava (Moskva), Andrey Ivanov (Tom), Evgeny Makeev (Spartak), Mikhail Mischenko (Terek), Georgy Schennikov (CSKA)

Midfielders: Igor Gorbatenko, Vladislav Ryzhkov (both – Spartak), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA), Alexey Ionov, Anton Sosnin (both – Zenit), Alexey Kozlov (Nizhny Novgorod), Semen Fomin (Lokomotiv)

Strikers: Artem Dzyuba (Spartak), Alexandr Kokorin (Dynamo), Alexandr Prudnikov (Terek), Dmitry Ryzhov (CSKA), Alexandr Stavpets (Moskva)

The team will start preparations on June 3, while the game will be held on June 9.

Dinamo Drop Complaint After CSKA's Maazou Clarifies Race Comment

RIA Novosti reported this week that Dinamo Moscow had withdrawn a complaint filed with the Russian football authorities over "unacceptable and insulting" comments made by CSKA Moscow's Nigerian striker, Ouwo Moussa Maazou.

The incident has its roots in a mid-May Russian Cup semi-final between Dinamo and CSKA during which Maazou, 20, was racially abused by a group of Dinamo fans. The club were subsequently fined some $3,200 over its supporters' behaviour.

After the game, which CSKA won, Maazou seemed to suggest in an interview with Sport-Express that the fact that there were no black players in the Dinamo side meant the club tacitly approved of its fans' actions.

However, after Dinamo lodged an official protest over his comments, Maazou told the CSKA website that he may have been "misunderstood" and that he had not wanted to accuse the club of condoning the fans' behaviour.Racism has long been an issue in Russian football, with black players frequently complaining of abuse.

In March, Zenit St. Petersburg goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev told the country's Futbol magazine that the far-right views of the club's supporters made it impossible for the club to sign a black player.

Russian Premier League Preview: Matchday 11

The Russians are coming! Do not fear, even though all the European leagues have all but finished, the RPL is only a third of the way through.

The big matches in the RPL this round:

Zenit have lost to CSKA and Dinamo Moscow in their last two; can they stop the slide against Kuban Krasnodar? The other enticing encounters during matchday 11 are the Moscow derby between Lokomotiv and Spartak and the game between the teams in equal second, Kryliya Sovetov and FC Moscow.

RPL Top & Bottom

Top Four
Rubin Kazan 21pts, CSKA Moscow 19pts, Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) 19pts, FC Moscow 19pts, Spartak Moscow 17pts, Dinamo Moscow 16pts.

Bottom Two
Aliens 7pts, FC Khimki 4pts

Top Goalscorers
Wellington (Spartak Moscow) 7 goals; Dominguez (Rubin Kazan) 5 goals; Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit), M Jakubko (FC Moscow), Alex (Spartak Moscow), S Semak (Rubin) 4 goals.

Fixtures Matchday 11 (all kick off times GMT)

Friday, May 29
14:00 Amkar Perm - Saturn Moscow

Saturday, May 30

8:30 Tom Tomsk - Dinamo Moscow
11:00 Rostov-Na-Donu - Terek Grozny
11:00 Zenit St Petersburg - Kuban Krasnodar
11:00 Lokomotiv Moscow - Spartak Moscow
13:30 Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - FC Moscow


Amkar Perm - Saturn Moscow
The teams placed 13th and 15th respectively take on each other in the early game. The battle is on to to stay up in this six pointer; even with 20 games to go this could be a crucial encounter between two teams who will hope to stave of relegation.

Form Guide: Last Five Games
The Aliens – LLDDD
Points: 7. Position: 15th.

Amkar Perm – LLDDL
Points: 8. Position: 13th.


Tom Tomsk - Dinamo Moscow
Dinamo Moscow are in reasonable form after a good win against Zenit last week. The Blue and Whites should be too good for Tom Tomsk, who languish in 12th position. However, they are capable of holding Dinamo to a draw at home, especially after keeping Spartak Moscow to a point last time they hosted a match. Newly recalled Russian national team player Aleksandr Kerzhakov will be one to watch for Dinamo.

Form Guide: Last Five Games

Tom Tomsk - LWLDD
Points: 12. Position: 12th.

Dynamo Moscow - LWLDW
Points: 16. Position: 6th.

Rostov-Na-Donu - Terek Grozny
Rostov last had a win in the RPL against CSKA Moscow five games ago, while Terek got their first win in eight games last week against FC Khimki. This should be a close match between the mid-table rivals.

Form Guide: Last Five Games
Rostov-Na-Donu - WLDDL
Points: 14. Position: 8th.

Terek Grozny - DLDLW
Points: 12. Position: 11th.

Zenit St. Petersburg - Kuban Krasnodar
Zenit have lost their last two games - both away fixtures - to CSKA and Dinamo Moscow. This week they return home with a game against Kuban. It will be no walkover for the home team as the Kubansty had a fine home win against CSKA last week.

Form Guide: Last Five Games
Zenit St. Petersburg - WLWLL
Points: 15. Position 7th.

FC Kuban Krasnodar - DDDLW
Points: 12. Position: 10th.

Lokomotiv Moscow - Spartak Moscow
There is almost a Moscow derby in the RPL every week. A win to Lokomotiv puts them closer to European positions and win for Spartak puts them closer to the leaders.

The RPL Preview says this every week but look for exciting Brazilian duo Welliton and Alex to feature prominently for Spartak. Russian attacker Vladimir Bystrov is also causing havoc as the weather in Russia starts to get warmer.

Reports in Russian media suggest Alexandr Minchenkov is likely to replace Peter Odemwingie in the Lokomotiv starting XI after the Nigerian was sent-off last week against Rubin Kazan.

Yuri Semin, who led Dinamo Kiev to UEFA Cup semi-finals, will become the new coach of Lokomotiv Moscow.

Form Guide: Last Five Games
Lokomotiv Moscow – LWDWL
Points: 13. Position: 9th.

Spartak Moscow – WLWDW
Points: 17. Position: 5th.

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - FC Moscow

Equal second Kryliya Sovetov, the team from Samara, are doing very well this season and so are FC Moscow, also equal second.

Either club could jump to become outright leader this weekend if they were to win arguably the game of the round.

Argentinean Hector Bracamonte has been in good form for FC Moscow, scoring and setting up goals, as has the tall Slovakian Martin Jakubko. For Krylia Sovetov, look for former Celtic player Jiri Jarosik to pull the strings in midfield.

Form Guide: Last Five Games
Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - WLLWW
Points: 19. Position: 3rd.

FC Moscow – WWDDW
Points: 19. Position: 4th.

Dasvidania, till next week.

Con Stamocostas,

World Cup 2018: Australia is a Football Country

Is it such a pipe dream to suggest that Australia could host the 2018/22 World Cup? The sceptics will say that Australia is not a football country.

If Australia is not a football country then what is this football writer doing typing away madly at this computer?

FIFA introduced a policy of continental rotation that enabled the bids of South Africa and then Brazil to succeed; before then the World Cup had never left Europe for consecutive tournaments.

South American countries were barred from joining either race in 2018/22 as Brazil will host the 2014 tournament and because South Africa is hosting in 2010, African nations were only eligible to bid for the 2022 World Cup but none came forward.

The bookmakers have the odds at England 6/4, Russia 7/2, Spain and Portugal 5, Australia 9/2, Holland and Belgium 25, Mexico 20 USA 20 Japan 20 Indonesia 33.

There has been talk in European media that with Europe's television markets being responsible for large chunks of revenue for FIFA (FIFA relies on the World Cup for 90 per cent of its income) it is said broadcasters in Europe would not be happy if the 2018 World Cup went to Asia or Australia where matches would be played outside of their prime time hours

Australia is part of the Asian confederation the world fastest growing football region and with expectations of FIFA to earn 2.46 billion Euros (C$4.05 billion) in television and marketing revenue from the 2010 tournament in South Africa a similar return from Brazil in 2014 and an Asian World cup in Australia in 2018 should not be out of the question; the world watches the World Cup no matter what time it is on.

FIFA has a responsibility to reach out and touch the world, using football as a symbol of hope and integration (it’s says so on FIFA’s website) and why not use Australia with its multicultural society as way of spreading FFA’s message to the world.

FIFA regulations stipulate that candidates must provide approximately 12 stadiums capable holding at least 40,000 fans for group matches, and one stadium of at least 80,000 capacity to stage the opening match and final.

So what about Australia’s stadiums? Let’s look at where the potential 12 and final stadiums could be:

NSW (5)

Sydney (2)
Stadium Australia (83 500 capacity) where the Sydney 2000 Olympics where held; could be where the final is played and Sydney Football Stadium (45,500 capacity) could be used for group games.

Newcastle Stadium (1) (40.000) is getting an upgrade to the FIFA regulations so it is favoured as one of the stadiums the FFA will include in its bids plan.

Central Coast Stadium (1) (20,119) would have to be upgraded but this option seems less likely.

Canberra (1)
The Canberra times reported just yesterday:
The ACT Government believes a possible $350million redevelopment of Canberra's sporting landscape will lure more world-class events to the capital. The grand proposal is an overhaul of the Bruce precinct, involving a redevelopment of Canberra Stadium and the construction of a new 40,000-seat stadium on the site of the existing eastern car park. The full project is only likely to go ahead if Australia is successful in its bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup, which would guarantee Commonwealth and private funding.

Melbourne (3)
The MCG is one of those troublesome oval grounds that FIFA might deem not suitable; however the stadium where the final in Germany 2006 was played had a running track around it so is the oval shape while not desired might be ok. There is Docklands Stadium (53,555), which leaves the new Rectangular Stadium (31,001 capacity) which would have to be upgraded to 40,000 to meet FIFA’s guidelines.

QLD (3)
The Brisbane Stadium (54,000) is considered Australia’s best football stadium; while the Robina Stadium (27,400) on the Gold Coast and stadium in North Queensland (27,000) up in Townsville would have to be upgraded.

Adelaide (2)
Adelaide Oval (36000) FFA CEO Ben Buckley has ruled out using the famous cricket ground and the government have said they will not build a new one so Adelaide could miss out altogether which would be a shame there is also the option of Football Park (52,000) which is an Oval ground.

Perth (2)
Perth Oval (18,156) is too small where Perth Glory plays and Subiaco (42,922) is an AFL ground. There was talk about the Perth State government building a new stadium close to the city.

Tasmania (1)

Bellerive Oval (16,000) is another oval shaped pitch with a small capacity. Unless a new stadium is built, Tasmania is unlikely to be part of the bid.

The other bidding nations for 2018/22 and their odds

England, 6/4

The favourites, the so called “home of football” has the stadiums and infrastructure, however a problem with fan disturbances and an embarrassing error in accidently inviting a member of the BNP, a right wing, whites only, political party to the bid launch; as well as a perception as being arrogant by some FIFA members could provide problems for England.

Russia, 7/2

Has the wealth from natural resources to build infrastructure like stadiums and hotels however its 11 time zones will cause logistical headaches and also a perception of political instability. Russian Football Union spokesman Andrei Malasolov has been quoted as saying Russia had no preference on hosting in 2018 or 2022 and would leave it to FIFA to decide.

Spain & Portugal, 5
Spain is expected to host the greater share of matches. The Iberian bid will expect strong support from the three South American representatives on FIFA's 24-man executive committee; a conflict within Uefa could split the confederation's eight votes.

Holland & Belgium, 25
Did host the Euro 2000 not one of the main favourites, could struggle for support in the Fifa executive committee.

Japan 20
Where the joint host in 2002 with South Korea where the tournament was defined by good organisation and infrastructure. FIFA stadium requirements mean bid hinges on Tokyo 2016 Olympics bid.

Mexico 20
Did host the 1986 and 1970 World Cups where Maradona and Brazil stole the show. The 2014 World Cup will be hosted in Brazil so perhaps that is too close for two countries to host it from the Americas.

USA 20
Could be the wildcard with Barak Obama and Hollywood to call on; also has top-class infrastructure, stadiums and transport links. South America hosting the 2014 tournament could be an issue.

Indonesia 33
One of the outsiders; a large population of 235m is positive, football is growing in south-east Asia, however the nation is beset with political and economic instability.

2022, as above and...

South Korea
Co-hosted the 2002 World Cup so has the experience.

The Asian Football Confederation's Qatari chief, Mohammed bin Hammam, is a close ally of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and has just retained his seat on the FIFA Executive Committee after defeating Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in a vote held at the 23rd AFC Congress on Friday 8 May in Kuala Lumpur.

Australia does have the capacity to host a World Cup in 2018 /22; the competition from the other bids is strong; however Australia can only compete with its self and its own potential and with its track record in hosting Olympic Games and other major international competitions, it is in with a very good chance even if the odds are against it.

Déjàvu All Over Again For Sydney FC

SYDNEY FC winning their third friendly in a row against the Sydney Tigers this week has given me a sense of dejavu.

It harps back to Sydney FC's first ever pre-season in 2005, the club formerly known as Bling FC, started life by playing a series of friendlies against local Sydney club sides; eventually winning nine competitive games in a row, 15 including friendlies, part of that run included winning the Oceania Championships that got them to the Club World Cup in Japan.

During that first year Sydney FC also had a European coach, the German Pierre Littbaski. And like his new counter-part Vatezslav Lavicka, the word discipline gets bandied about a lot.

Some smart Covite came up with the term Living Lavicka Loca in reference to the Czech coach; will the Ricky Martin classic be sung in the Cove this season as homage to our new trainer?

The scrapping of the pre-season cup by the FFA has given A-League teams the chance to organise friendlies against local and international teams. So far Sydney FC have played games against, and beat, Macarthur Rams (1-0), Bankstown City (2-0), and Sydney Tigers (3-0).

Playing games against local Sydney teams is one way to connect with the local football community so Sydney must be applauded for that.

Sydney have a full programme of friendly games against Sydney teams but what happened to playing Barcelona? At least the Middlesbrough game did not eventuate - maybe Gareth Southgate has an appointment to fix his teeth over the summer's break?

The game against North Queensland Fury at Shark Park Cronulla on June 27 and hopefully featuring Robbie Fowler should be a great occasion. Considering that football will help the embattled Cronulla Sharks club make some 50k cash on that game it is even a bit weird.

Football helping Rugby League out - who would have thought...?

And by the way am I allowed to point out the irony that Matthew Johns co-hosted a show called the Sunday Roast?

Sydney FC will play the fourth match of their packed pre season program next week against Northern Tigers on Wednesday night at Mills Park in Asquith.

Good to see the four Sydney FC boys chosen in the under 20 Australian side that came third in an international comp featuring the youth sides of Liverpool and Ajax, well done Koffi Danning, Sam Munro, Mathew Jurman and Ryan Grant; just come back that's all.

I will leave you with this question: If a spray tanned bogan from the north shore of Sydney does not see a fight between a fat wog and a smaller wog; does she and the 'chk chk boom' she has became famous for really exist?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Australia World Cup 2018: Yes We Can

As the various World Cup bidders start to put forward their cases to host the 2018 or 2022 tournament, who or what can Australia use to sell itself to FIFA’s deciding committee?

The FFA (Football Federation Australia) will officially launch Australia’s bid to host the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup on Sunday, 14 June, in Parliament House, Canberra.

December 2010 is the deadline for the announcement of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

So to the favourites; the USA has Barak Obama and capitalism, England has David Beckham and is the home of football (they will tell you that, anyway) and Russia has just added Guus Hiddink to its bid campaign and has loads of Roubles.


West Ham United fan and the first black president of the United States, Barak Obama could be crucial in getting the USA’s bid across the line.

The Guardian
website had Obama talking up the US bid:

"As a child, I played soccer on a dirt road in Jakarta and the game brought the children of my neighbourhood together," he wrote. "As a father, I saw that same spirit of unity alive on the fields and sidelines of my own daughters' soccer games in Chicago.

"This bid is about much more than a game. It is about the US inviting the world to gather all across our great country in celebration of our common hopes and dreams."

Stack Kevin Rudd next to the charismatic president and you can see that Australia has work to do.

It’s time for Australia to use its own big guns.

The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) could be used to promote the bid, or maybe one of many of the beautiful world-famous actors Australia has - such as Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Abbie Cornish - could don a Socceroos shirt.

Kylie Minogue could sing 'I Should Be So Lucky' and AC/DC could do 'It's A Long Way To The Top'.

The Russians

Reuters reported that former Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink could be involved in their bid.

FA general secretary Alexei Sorokin said on Tuesday, "We would like Guus to become an honorary ambassador of our World Cup campaign. We feel that his worldwide appeal would greatly enhance our chances to compete with other nations, such as England and Spain."

The 62-year-old Dutchman who was Australia’s miracle worker in 2006, getting the Socceroos to the World Cup for the first time in 32 years, could be their nemesis in 2018.

Sorokin said the Russian FA would present their plan to Hiddink when he arrives in Moscow to prepare the squad for next month's World Cup qualifier against Finland.

Russian football's governing body says the country is ready to spend some $10 billion on the World Cup.


England is the favourite, with one bookmaker giving odds of 6/4; however, during their launch, which featured David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, The Guardian reported:

A member from the controversial political group the British National Party (BNP), which is a far-right and whites-only political organisation in the United Kingdom, was accidentally invited to the launch of the World Cup bid campaign on Monday, and it has proved hugely damaging to internal relations in the game.

Herman Ouseley, chairman of football's anti-racist movement, Kick It Out, told the newspaper, "England 2018 has to be careful it doesn't alienate people, because if individuals feel offended by its associations with undesirables they could make life difficult for the bid by making their views known to important people whose decision it will be. I know people who are up for that.

"But people really do want the bid to succeed on the right basis. We want to see how it will be more inclusive, how there will be more BME [black and minority ethnic] representation, more women and a broader base contributing to the bid."

Jack Warner, the FIFA vice-president and key power-broker, said that inviting a BNP councillor to England's 2018 World Cup launch at Wembley while having only white and male speakers addressing the audience was an "error" that needed correcting quickly.

Warner, who has been critical of England in recent times, is head of CONCACAF and controls three of the 24 votes cast by the FIFA executive committee that will decide who hosts the 2018 tournament, said, "It's unfortunate that they did not consider minorities and had the BNP there – they made an error."

Warner also warned England 2018 against any complacency: "Don't rely on anything and believe they have an automatic right to be voted [for].

"But they have to look at the 24 members who vote, and they have to make sure fully, and I mean fully, that they [understand] the whole history of the English football, what it means to England and why England should be considered the premier candidate.

"They have to impress that this is England's time. This is an evolving situation that is changing daily and monthly and they have to keep abreast of these things."

Warner has not yet decided on who he will vote for when the committee decides in December 2010: "It's much too early for me to make my mind up on that – in fact, England has not really made a case to me as yet. I may have my sympathies, yes, but I haven't made my mind up."

The English bid is looking not to be perceived as arrogant and have ditched the 'football's coming home' tagline; the organisers banned the slogan, describing it as being "like a red rag to a bull" to rest of the world.

"It probably wasn't the brightest slogan ever invented," Lord Triesman, the chairman of the FA, said at the English bid event. "There was a bit of a suggestion that this was the only real home of football, and it was somehow in the natural order of things that it would come to us."

The launch also featured the presence of four members of the of 1966 World Cup winning squad – Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Bobby Charlton, Martin Peters and George Cohen.

The Prime Minister was also there, and he said, "I'll do everything I can to ensure that Lord Triesman and his team record a famous victory. I believe it will inspire a new generation of football players and a new generation of football fans."

The Australian bid team will need to seduce the FIFA executive committee and Kevin Rudd next to Ben Buckley and Frank Lowy at the launch won’t be enough. The country must sell its best assets in some style if it is to compete with global names like Obama, Beckham and Hiddink.

Con Stamocostas

Monday, May 25, 2009

Russian Premier League: Matchday 10 Round-Up

The RPL Matchday 10 had thrashings and upsets galore with the biggest news being Kuban Krasnodar beating CSKA Moscow 1-0 at home sending the Kubantsy delirious.

Dinamo corrected their recent slide and beat Zenit 1-0 at home while Champions Rubin Kazan, in form Spartak Moscow and RPL wildcard‘s FC Moscow enjoyed the thrill of victory in their respective games.

Top Goal Scorers:
Welliton (Spartak Moscow) 7 goals, Dominguez (Rubin Kazan)5 goals, Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit) M Jakubko (FC Moscow), Alex (Spartak Moscow), S Semak (Rubin) four goals.


Saturn Moscow 0- 0 FC Tom' Tomsk

This first game of the round kicked off in Saturn at the Saturn Stadium and the Aliens held mid -table Tom Tomks to a 0-0 draw, the only tied game in the RPL this week.

It was Saturn’s second scoreless draw in a row under care-taker coach Andrey Gordeev and the 4,000 loyal Alien fans at least got to witness a better display from their team according to Saturn midfielder Petr Nemov who spoke to the Aliens website after the game.“We improved our tactical training. Now we understand our play better. It is the thing that we lacked very much," he explained.

Tom Tomsk goes down to 12th position.

Form Guide- Last Five Games:
Tom Tomsk - LWLDD
Points: 12 Position: 12th

The Aliens – LLDDD
Points: 7 Position: 15th

Spartak Moscow 5 -1 Amkar Perm'

Spartak Moscow ran riot at the Luzhniki Stadium against Amkar Perm and it was their two Brazilians Wellinton and Alex who caused most of the problemsWellinton scored first with a header in the 10th minute, Vladimir Bystrov providing the cross.

Then after half time it was the other half of the menacing Brazilian duo Alex who scored right on the 51st minute, the inform Bystrov adding another assist to his tally.

The 12, 000 home fans where enjoying themselves, and in the last ten minutes their joy was intensified, as the goals flowed.First substitute Nikita Bazhenov made it 3-0 on 80 minutes then six minutes latter Alex scored a beauty, chipping the ball over Amkar’s keeper Sergey Narubin for his second and Spartak’s fourth, 4-0.

Then it was Welliton’s turn to score again in the 88th minute; it was the Brazilian’s 7th goal of the season putting the striker on top of the RPL goal scorers list with 7 goals. The visitors could only settle for a consolation goal Ivan Starkov scoring from a rebound after a corner to make it 5-1.

Spartak has won four matches out five under their caretaker coach Valery Karpin

Form Guide Last Five Games:

Spartak Moscow – WLWDW
Points: 17 Position: 5th

Amkar Perm – LLDDL
Points: 8 Position: 13th

Terek Grozny 2 – 0 FC Khimki

Terek is the only Chechen side in the RPL and have been beset by controversial referee decisions recently; this week they had no complaints as they got the win over bottom side Khimki at the Tsentralnyi Stadium, Pyatigorsk in front of 7,000 home supporters

A goal scored either side of the half time break to Terek by 26 year old midfielder Andrey Kobenko on nine minutes and another by 29 year old midfielder Shamil Lakhiyalov on 69 minutes gave the home team the victory.

Terek Grozny - DLDLW
Points: 12 Position: 11th

FC Khimki - LDDDD
Points: 4 Position: 16th

Rubin Kazan 2 -0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Rubin Kazan enjoyed a solid 2-0 home win over an ill disciplined Lokomtiv Moscow who had two players sent off at the Tsentralnyi Stadium in Kazan.A healthy home support of 18,000 saw their captain Sergei Semak open the scoring in the 8th minute. The 33 year old smashing home a left foot volley after the ball bounced around in the area.

Gokdeniz Karadeniz the 29 year old Turkish national team player scored a lovely goal of his own in the 47th minute; hitting a nice shot from outside the box, the ball was driven low and hard and the Railway boy’s keeper Marek Chech could not reach the bottom corner, 2-0.

Red cards for two of the Railway Boys in the second half killed the game as a contest. The first card was given to Slovakian international Jan Durica in 65th minute after scoring after the whistle and then kicking the ball away and Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie in the 74th minute for a high foot lunge on Rubin keeper.

The win allowed the Kazan team climb top of the Russian Premier League, with 21 points after CSKA Moscow failed to beat Kuban Krasnodar on Sunday.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Rubin Kazan - LWWDW
Points: 21 Position: 1st

Lokomotiv Moscow – LWDWL
Points: 13 Position: 9th

Sunday May 24, 2009

FC Moscow 2 -0 Rostov-Na-Donu

After two consecutive draws FC Moscow returned to winning ways at home against FC Rostov.A goal in each half the first to 24 year old midfielder Alexander Samedov in the 33rd minute, a nice pass by Héctor (The Braca) Bracamonte put Samedov unmarked in the box and he made it 1-0.The tall Slovakian Martin Jakubko put the game to bed, the 29 year old making the score 2-0 in the 82nd minute.

FC Rostov’s Mikhail Rozhkov got a second yellow in 84th minute meaning he had to take an early shower.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

FC Moscow – WWDDW
Points: 19, Position: 4th

Rostov-Na -Donu - DWWDD
Points: 14, Position: 8th

Dinamo Moscow 1-0 Zenit St Petersburg

Dinamo got a good win at home by beating Zenit 1-0. Their young coach Andrey Kobelev has attracted rumours in the Russian press that he may become Dick Advocaat’s replacement at Zenit;.The Dutchman is about to take charge of the Belgian national side.

Dinamo concentrated on defence in this game the hosts calmly waited for a chance to counter-attack, and finally got one near the end of the game.The Saint Petersburg team controlled the ball for most of the match, but failed to create anything dangerous near Vladimir Gabulov’s goal.

Russia’s most expensive player Danny has an injury that has left the Portuguese star out of football for at least 6 months and thus the visitors lacked creativity in the absence of their key attacker.

Dinamo got the winning goal in the 84th minute through 33 year old midfielder Dmitri Khokhlov the veteran managed to outpace Anatoliy Tymoschuk and got on the end of a Kirill Kombarov’s cross to give the blue and whites a 1-0 lead at 84 minutes Zenit had 25 year old midfielder Igor Denisov sent off in the 90th minute Russia’s national team midfielder got his second yellow for an act of simulation.

The win allowed Dinamo to pass Zenit in the RPL table. The Muscovites are currently in sixth place with 16 points.

The St Petersburg outfit fall from 5th to 7th.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Dynamo Moscow –LLWLD
Points: 16 Position: 6th

Zenit St Petersburg -DWLWL
Points: 15 Position 7th

Spartak Nalchik 0- 1Kryliya Sovetov Samara

Former Celtic player, 31 year old Jiri Jarosik scored in the 44th minute to give Kryliya Sovetov a crucial away win at Spartak Stadium denting the10, 000 home crowds’ hopes for victory. Krylia now move to equal second, but third place on goal difference in the RPL table, which they share with CSKA and FC Moscow, all three teams have 19 points.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Spartak Nalchik – WLDDL
Points: 7 Position: 14th

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - WLLWW
Points: 19 Position: 3rd

Kuban Krasnodar 1-0 CSKA Moscow

Whatever name you call Kuban Krasnodar, whether it’s the Kubantsy as the home fans call them or the Canaries because of the team's colours, the name that suits them best this week is David after they beat the Goliaths of CSKA 1-0 at the Kuban Stadium in front of 24,0000 very happy Kubantsy.Andrei Topchu was the hero for the Canaries, the 29 year old getting the goal in the 59th minute

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

FC Kuban Krasnodar - DDDLW
Points: 12, Position: 10th

Points: 19 Position: 2nd

Stay tuned to action in the RPL, most of Europe shuts down for the summer break but the RPL is only a third of the way through.

Dasvidania, till next week.

Con Stamocostas,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Russian Premier League: Matchday 10 Preview

The Russian Premier League will be a third of the way through after this round of matches. The two big games to watch out for are current champions Rubin Kazan taking on the Railway Boys of Lokomotiv Moscow. Inconsistent Dynamo Moscow versus last round losers Zenit St Petersburg is also an enticing encounter.

The RPL table is still reasonably tight with the first nine teams separated by only six points. A win for any team in that group and losses for the teams around them can give a side a big boost up the RPL ladder.

The RPL Top and Bottom

Top four:
CSKA Moscow 19pts, Rubin Kazan 17pts, Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) 16pts, FC Moscow 16pts.

Bottom two:
Saturn Moscow 6pts, FC Khimki 4pts.

Top Goalscorers:
Dominguez (Rubin Kazan) and Welliton (Spartak Moscow) 5 goals, Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit) four goals.

This Weekend:
Saturday May 23, 200
911:00 Saturn Moscow - FK Tom' Tomsk
13:30 Spartak Moscow - Amkar Perm'
16:00 Terek Grozny – FC Khimki
16:00 Rubin Kazan - Lokomotiv Moscow

Sunday May 24, 2009
11:00 FC Moscow - Rostov-Na-Donu
11:00 Dinamo Moscow - Zenit St Petersburg
13:30 Spartak Nalchik - Samara Kryliya Sovetov
16:00 Kuban Krasnodar - CSKA Moscow Saturday

Saturn Moscow - FC Tom' Tomsk

This first game of the round kicks off in Saturn and the Aliens will be looking to add a W in their stat column.Tom Tomsk hasn’t won in their last two but at least a have few wins for their troubles this season.

Last week the general director of Saturn Boris Zhiganov was fired and after a couple of days the head coach, German Jurgen Rober, followed the director.

Frustrated Saturn forward Dmitry Kirichenko who was a Russian national team player through 2003-03 spoke to Sport Express about it.

“The coach was talking such nonsense......That is why they dismissed Rober."

Belarus striker Sergei Kirilenko has three goals for FC TomTomsk.

The RPL preview predicts the Aliens of Saturn will not find the Belarusian so friendly.

Form Guide- Last Five Games:

Tom Tomsk - WLWLD
Points: 11 Position: 9th

The Aliens – DLLDD
Points: 6 Position: 15th

Spartak Moscow - Amkar Perm'

Spartak Moscow should be too strong for Amkar, who have only one in win their last five.Look for quality Brazilian duo Wellinton and Alex to be heavily involved for Spartak

Form Guide- Last Five Games:

Spartak Moscow – WWLWD
Points: 14 Position: 6th

Amkar Perm – WLLDD
Points: 8 Position: 13th

Terek Grozny – FC Khimki

Not a win for either of these teams in their last five games, a betting man would go for a draw in this one.

Form Guide- Last Five Games:

Terek Grozny - LDLDL
Points: 9 Position: 12th

FC Khimki - LLDDD
Points: 4 Position: 16th

Rubin Kazan - Lokomotiv Moscow
An intriguing match as last week Rubin lost top spot after only drawing last week. You could say the current champions where lucky to equalise at the death away to Amkar Perm.The Lokomtiv squad is better than their current ninth place would suggest the Railway Boys should give Rubin a good game.

Rubin’s Argentinean play maker Alejandro Dominguez has been on fire this season, he is the joint leading scorer.Nigerian National team player Peter Osaze Odemwingie is one to watch out for Lokomotiv in this game, the 27 year old contains the two attributes fans love the most he is both skilful and quick.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Rubin Kazan - WLWWD
Points: 18 Position: 2nd

Lokomotiv Moscow – DLWDW
Points: 13 Position: 9th

Sunday May 24, 2009

FC Moscow - Rostov-Na-Donu

After racking up consecutive victories like it was nobody’s business FC Moscow have come back to pack with two draws in row. Rostov has been going about their season quietly and remains undefeated in their last five. This contest should be a close game.

Look for FC Moscow’s Argentinean striker Hector (Braca) Bracamonte and Rostov’s Serbian attacker Branimir Petrovic to be key players in this one.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

FC Moscow – WWWDD
Points: 16, Position: 4th

Rostov-Na -Donu - DWWDD
Points: 14, Position: 7th

Dynamo Moscow - Zenit St Petersburg

Dynamo have been on the slide with only one win in their last five games last season’s 3rd placed team will look to get one over Zenit, who themselves are finding consistency hard to come by.The key players in this game:For Dynamo their number 10 Alexander Kerzhakov is always a threat while look for Ukranian and Zenit’s general in midfield Anatoliy Tymoschuk to have an impact.

Some bad news for Zenit fans as Danny their quality Portuguese attacker is out for the season with a fracture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the right knee it is expected that the injury will require at least six months for the rehabilitation process.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
Dynamo Moscow –LLWLD
Points: 13 Position: 8th

Zenit St Petersburg -DWLWL
Points: 15 Position 5th

Spartak Nalchik - Kryliya Sovetov Samara

Spartak Nalchick have no real form to speak of and the visit of RPL surprise packets Kryliya Sovetov who are third will test Nalchick.One of the key players in this one is Kryliya Sovetov bean pole striker Czech Jan Koller he has three goals so far.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Spartak Nalchik – LWLDD Points: 7 Position: 14th

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - DWLLW Points: 16 Position: 3rd

Kuban Krasnodar - CSKA Moscow

The last game of the round has the Kubantsy hosting league leaders CSKA Moscow. Brazilian national team player Vagner Love has been playing well since returning from injury and along with young Niger striker Moussa Maazou should give the Canaries of Kuban Krasnador a real scare.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

FC Kuban Krasnodar - WDDDL

Points: 9, Position: 11th

CSKA Moscow –WLWWW Points: 19

Position: 1st

The RPL bids you Dasvidania (goodbye)Con Stamocostas,

Russian News Wrap: Hiddink In Demand

The Russian football authorities want national team manager Guus Hiddink to help them in their 2018 World Cup bid.

"We hope that Guus Hiddink will become an ambassador for our bid to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia," Russian Football Union general director Aleksey Sorokin told RIA Novosti.

He also said the Russian football governing body plans “to hold talks with Hiddink as soon as he flies into Moscow for preparations for a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Finland".

The game is scheduled for June 10.Sorokin added that the Russian Football Union would also approach a number of other figures, including other foreigners, to promote Russia's bid.Guus Hiddink has hero status in South Korea and Australia after guiding those countries to successful world cup campaign.

The Dutchman has managed Russia since 2006, leading the team to the semifinals of Euro 2008. In February 2009, he also took over at Chelsea until the end of the season, and is due to return to coaching Russia full-time after the London club's FA Cup final clash with Everton on May 30.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko to prepare the country's 2018 World Cup. The head of Russian football's governing body, says the country is ready to spend some $10 billion on the World Cup.

Zenit’s Danny is out for season

Sport Express reported that Zenit midfielder Danny is out of football until the end of the season because of injury problems. Results of a medical examination showed that the Portuguese attacking midfielder has a fracture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the right knee.Having consulted with medical staff of Zenit and Portuguese national team, doctors have decided to conduct medical surgery next week in Portugal.

The exact terms of the player’s full rehabilitation will be clear only after medical surgery. Players with such injuries usually require at least six months for rehabilitation process.

What they said in the RPL This Week

They say you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper and perhaps CSKA keeper 23-year-old Igor Akineev makes the rule and reinvents it.

During the week the national team keeper who broke into the Army Boys team at age 17 spoke to Sport Express.

Why he is so good: "I am an Aries, and that is why if something does not work out I won’t budge till I move ahead forcing my way through. "I easily forget my mistakes and don’t really need sympathy from the strangers. In everyday life support of my relatives is most important for me, in football – of the head coach.

The Great Escape: “Once I was going home and near the porch boys were playing football."

And suddenly I felt or saw out of the corner of my eye that something was flying from above. Some of the inhabitants did not like that boys were shouted in front of his/her windows."

"And he/she threw a brick from the window on the exact place where I was standing; miraculously I managed to dodge – if I [had been] a moment late the brick would strike right in the head."

Random: "Maybe those acquaintances woke these features in me who borrowed money from me and then miraculously forgot to give it back to me."

On Fame and Being Sulky: "I know that people reproach me of being to sulky, smiling too little and being not eager to give out autographs. Many supporters write to my blog and ask about it."

"But how should I behave after a game when about a hundred girls come up to me wanting to talk and take a photo with me? Do you expect me to stay with them and smile as a wally?"

"Unfortunately they don’t understand that there is a tired man in front of them and he is in no mood for smiling."

Outgoing Aliens
Last week the general director of Saturn, Boris Zhiganov was fired and after a couple of days later the head coach Jurgen Rober followed the director In the past month the Aliens have lost to away games at Rubin 5-0, and Spartak 4-0.

Frustrated Saturn Moscow forward Dmitry Kirichenko spoke to Russian website Sport Express about it.

On the sacking: "I was not at all surprised about these dismissals," he said "Both of them were easily predicted taking into account our performance and what was going on in the club.

“The coach was talking such nonsense that any normal man would understand everything. That is why they dismissed Rober. "With Gadzhiev (the former coach) we had bright games and rarely afforded failures. And when Rober reigned I cannot remember a single smart game.

When there were victories they were strained and laboured."

Too Much Theory for Alien

"I am a forward. That means I must score and assist. But according to Rober I was doing all wrong. I was supposed to get back and the oftener the better. It was more shocking because Saturn played with only one forward. "

At theoretical classes we were sitting and watching football. And he never even touched the field model.

“Any Russian specialist from the Premier League is by head and shoulders above Rober.”

I am no Rooney says Alien
"I never understood why he denounced the players. His last interview hurt the guys a lot. He gave mouth about many players and about me he said that I was no Rooney. "

That is obvious that I am no Rooney. It is foolish to demand such a game from me. But a coach should play on strong sides of his footballers and not seek for Rooneys and Cristiano Ronaldos. Alien hopes to stay up "

We have still 21 matches to play and in the standings the teams stay so thick that if a club wins two consecutive games it can advance six-seven places."

Arsen Kanokov President of the Kabardino-Balkaria republic in Russia and Spartak Nalchik’s unofficial owner Arsen Kanokov spoke about life in the RPL and again it’s courtesy of Sports Express

Bigger than wrestling

"Before our Spartak advanced to the Premier League the number one sport in our Republic was wrestling," said Kanokov. "

At first I was not interested in football at all. And even did not watch it on TV. And now when I turn on the Sport Channel I like watching such matches as Barcelona vs. Chelsea. I am starting to understand and analyse.”

Final minute heartbreak
"When we managed to concede on about 93rd minute (last matchday against FC Rostov) I was very angry and could have thrown the TV out of the window, I always tried to find out why the referee did this or that.

But now I am calmer and don’t react so violently.I

It’s about the fans
“I see how supporters worry and understand that I cannot let them live without football; who knows probably all the emotions that storm at the stadium would be left in the streets if it had not been for football?”

Con Stamocostas,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Aussie Analysis: The Duality Of International Football looks at the issue of duality of Australian players and catches up with Richard Porta's brother.

Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek has a message to all Australian footballers: If you want to put on the green and gold, just call me. The old management adage of 'don’t call us, we’ll call you' has been turned on its head.

What has prompted Pim the pragmatist to move in this direction?

Last week, during a teleconference with football journalists, Verbeek was asked whether he had considered Australian born Richard Porta for the 'super June' Socceroos squad. Australia have three upcoming World Cup qualifiers left and only need a point to qualify for South Africa 2010.

"No," Verbeek said.

"He never said that he wanted to play for us. He never let us know that he wanted to play for Australia. I think if Rhys Williams could find us, I think [Porta] could call the FFA. That's the story. So, not interested at the moment."

Porta was a record signing when he moved to Siena, and still only 23, the Australian born with Uruguayan parentage was top scorer in the Uruguayan league in 2007.He can play for both countries as he hasn’t actually played senior football for Australia or Uruguay yet.

The situation with players that have dual nationalities has been present in Australian football over the years, with famous cases such as Hertha Berlin and Croatia captain Josip Siminic being brought up through the Australian Institute of Sport and then changing his allegiance to play for the Croatian national team.

In Richards case it is somewhat of a role reversal; he was born in Australia but went to live in Uruguay when he was one. His brothers Gonzalo and Robert stayed to live in Australia and so did his Grandfather.

So Richard was brought up through the Uruguayan system. He was involved in two home-based squads with the Uruguay national team, but never played so he wasn’t capped. He was also involved in one training camp with the Australia Under-17 team when it passed through Montevideo in 1999.

The situation is becoming a bit of a soap opera that has bemused all those associated with the spoke to his brother yesterday, and Gonzalo had some interesting messages to pass on to Verbeek, on behalf of his brother:

“I have told him [Richard] they [the media] are saying things about him, he is not going to call, that is not what players do, they don’t have to call the federation to say they want to play for a country. That depends on the coach. If Pim thinks that the player can play for the team, or can add something else that they don’t have at the moment, they should get in touch with the player.

“This is exactly what Richard told me; even if I want to play for Real Madrid, I don’t call Real Madrid and tell them 'Hey, I want to play for Real Madrid.' If I have a good season they call me.”

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) Richard himself re-iterated that sentiment."The proper way of doing things is for the FA to approach me to play for Australia," he said. "It is not for me to say 'I want to play for Australia'. I don't go around saying 'I want to play for Uruguay,' or 'I want Real Madrid to sign me.'“I am a professional, and if Australia wants me I would look into it very, very seriously. I cannot make that any clearer. I would die to play in the next World Cup. To be honest, there is probably no realistic chance of being convened by Uruguay. They have [Diego] Forlan and [Carlos] Bueno, and other extraordinary players in my position.”

Spending this season at Belenenses in the Portuguese Liga has been frustrating for Richard. Initially he was Siena's record signing, but the coach told him would not be first choice, and he went on loan to get first-team football. Unfortunately, Belenenses have been in a relegation dog fight and after a bright start to the season - and with coaches sacked left, right and centre - he has mostly been a fringe player.

He is back to full fitness and may play some minutes in the last game of the season for Belenenses.After that game he will go back to Siena and talk to the coach to see where his future lies. He has three years left on his contact there; Siena stand 14th in Serie A.

So the question is, why doesn’t Pim want him?

His brother is not so sure either:

“I can’t tell you maybe you should ask that question for Pim. Definitely something is behind his decision not to contact Richard.”

Porta doesn’t speak much English but in the global world of football that should not be a major road block. Richard was born in Australia, so the loyalty factor will not be a problem for fans.Australia have been lacklustre in attack, struggling to score goals and open defences during the final World Cup qualifying phase.

Surely having another striking option is not such a luxury Australia can afford to dismiss so easily; it’s just a phone call away.

Con Stamocostas,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Russian Premier League: Matchday 9 Round-Up

Da-bro pa-zha- la-vat (Welcome) to the Russian Premier League

The eyes of Europe and the world descended on Moscow at the weekend, and it wasn’t just for Norway’s win at the Eurovision contest or Russia’s entry Anastasia Prihodko.

Sunday evening saw the biggest game of the RPL season to date, featuring the historical cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and it was the Army boys of CSKA that triumphed 2-1 over Zenit.

The win gives the Zico coached side outright top position in the RPL ladder.There was more drawing in this RPL round than the Watchmen comic book as the other Russian teams chasing RPL glory fell away; Rubin Kazan, Spartak Moscow, FC Moscow and Dynamo Moscow only managing ties.

Out of the chasing pack, only Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) managed to win as they beat Kuban Krasnodar 1-0 to move up to third place, three points off the lead.

The RPL top and Bottom

The top four

CSKA Moscow 19pts, Rubin Kazan 17pts, Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) 16pts, FC Moscow 16pts.

Bottom two:
Saturn Moscow 6pts, FC Khimki 4pts.

Top Goal Scorers:
Dominguez (Rubin Kazan) and Welliton (Spartak Moscow) 5 goals, Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit) four goals.


Amkar Perm 2'- 2 Rubin Kazan

An exciting game at the Zvezda Stadium as 14,000 fans witnessed a 2-2 draw between Amkar Perm and current champions Rubin Kazan.

Despite missing a number of their stars it was Rubin who scored first right on 20 minutes; in form Argentinean and the RPL’s joint top scorer Alejandro Domingues found Roman Adamov outside the box.

The striker shot the ball first time, and the ball went low and into the corner of the goal, 1-0 to the holders.Amkar Perm who sit in 13th place came back and it was Brazilian Jean Carlos who equalised for the home team seven minutes later.

The former Feyenoord player raced into Rubin’s box, dribbled through former Perm defender Aleksey Popov and left Rubin goal keeper Sergei Ryzhikov no chance.Amkrar then went in front just before half-time, Bulgarian Martin Kushev scoring from the penalty spot after 42 minutes.

But there was to be heartbreak for the home team. During the fifth minute of injury time, Rubin captain, 33-year-old Sergei Semak, escaped the Amakar defence and levelled the scores at 2-2.

The website Russia Today reported on a bemused Amkar coach Dimitar Dimitrov. “It’s hard to say anything now," he said after the game. "I don’t know how it happened. I think the match already ended before Rubin scored. A lack of concentration from Kalashnikov in just one episode and we’ve lost two points.”

It’s the second week in a row Amkar Perm has suffered right at the death of a match as they were unlucky to lose away to Terek last week again coping a goal in the last minute.

Rubin Kazan lose top spot and got to second.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
Amkar Perm – WLLDD
Points: 8 Position: 13th

Rubin Kazan - WLWWD
Points: 18 Position: 2nd

Lokomotiv Moscow 4 - 0 Terek Grozny

The Railways Boys’ spanked Chechen side Terek 4-0 in front of almost 10,000 fans at the Railway Yard (Lokomtive Stadium).

Nigerian international Peter Osaze Odemwingie got a double, scoring in the 13th and 52nd minute.The Grozny team gave up after Danel Panku was sent off for his second yellow at 64 minutes.

Russian midfielder Dennis Glushakov then got the third two minutes later and Georgian international midfielder David Mujiri completed the misery for the away side rounding out the score at 4-0 in the 90th minute, although some reports say that Terek’s Cameroon midfielder Jean Bouli put the ball into his own net.

Lokomotiv care-taker coach Vladimir Maminov remains undefeated in his past three matches and the Railway Men are still to concede a goal in that time.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Lokomotiv Moscow – DLWDW
Points: 13 Position: 9th

Terek Grozny - LDLDL
Points: 9 Position: 12th

FC Rostov 1 -1 Spartak Nalchik

It seems that all the goals were arriving fashionably late during Matchday 9Before this game both teams have had trouble scoring in recent weeks.Spartak Nalchik scored first through their Brazilian defender Leandro on 24 minutes and then the 12,500 at the SKA SKVO Stadium in Rostov went mad after Serbian midfielder Branimir Petrovic equalised right on the 90 minute mark.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
Rostov-Na -Donu - DWWDD
Points: 14, Position: 7th

Spartak Nalchik – LWLDD
Points: 7 Position: 14th

FC Khimki 1- 1 FC Moscow

Sometimes when you’re constantly losing in football, apart from the masochist who can’t help but turn up, it’s hard to keep your fans. Only 3,000 fans turned up at the Rodina Stadium to see bottom placed Khimki draw with in-form fourth placed FC Moscow.

Just before half-time an upset was looming as Yuri Kirilov put the hosts in front after 43minutes.

FC Moscow came back in the second half when Slovakian international Martin Jakubko equalised on 58 minutes.

Khimki could have won it had it not been for 31-year-old Russian midfielder Eidar Nizamutdinov's 70th minute penalty miss.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
FC Khimki - LLDDD
Points: 4 Position: 16th

FC Moscow – WWWDD
Points: 16, Position: 4th


Tom' Tomsk 1-1

Spartak MoscowSpartak have been playing well of late, with new coach Valery Karpin having instilled some belief in the side after a poor start. Brazilian duo Welliton and Alex have been running riot in attack and the former is the joint top scorer in the RPL with five goals.

Tom Tomsk’s Trud Stadium and their 11,000 fans roared first when the hosts opened the scoring. Aleksander Kharitonov scored a master piece on 26 minutes. The midfielder dribbled through two Spartak defenders and calmly shot past keeper Soslan Dzhanaev to make the score 1-0.

Soon after the opening goal, it was Spartaks’ 1.91 metre striker Artem Dzjuba who equalised; in-form Alex crossed from the right and the ball found the unmarked 20-year-old. The bean pole attacker was left with a simple header.

The weather in Siberia made for trying conditions as the teams had to fight each other and the weather; heavy rain and strong winds met the teams as they came out for the second half.

Eventually the weather died down in the second half but no team could find the winner.

Form Guide- Last Five Games:
Tom Tomsk - WLWLD
Points: 11 Position: 9th

Spartak Moscow – WWLWD
Points: 14 Position: 6th

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) 1-0 Kuban Krasnodar

A healthy crowd of 20,000 at the Metallurg Stadium in Samara saw Oleg Ivanov's deflected 52nd minute goal decide the game against the Canaries of Kuban.

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) could have doubled the lead but Kuban’s goalkeeper Aleksey Botviniev saved from Samara midfielder Anton Bober’s.

After a short spell leading the RPL, Kryliya Sovetov suffered two consecutive losses in their previous games and the win against Kuban moved the team situated on the banks of the Volga River up to third position.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - DWLLW
Points: 16 Position: 3rd

FC Kuban Krasnodar - WDDDL
Points: 9, Position: 11th

Saturn Moscow 0-0 Dynamo Moscow

After two consecutive losses and conceding nine goals in the process, the Aliens of Saturn Moscow managed to get at least one foot out of their black hole.

Saturn’s new coach Andrey Gordeev looked on as the home team did well to keep their much-fancied opponents to a scoreless draw in front of 6,000 Saturnites at Saturn Stadium.

Dynamo fall from fifth to eighth and will leave Saturn knowing they should have run rings around the Aliens.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

The Aliens – DLLDD
Points: 6 Position: 15th

Dynamo Moscow –LLWLD
Points: 13 Position: 8th

CSKA Moscow 2–1 Zenit St. Petersburg

The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the majority of the 30,000 CSKA fans were singing as they beat their arch rivals Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 in the last game of the weekend.

Nigerian attacker Moussa Maazou opened the scoring for the Army Men in the 37th minute. Russian international and the RPL 2008’s Player of the Year Yuri Zhirkov created the opening goal for the home team as he beat Anatoly Timoschuk and Aleksandr Anukov on the flank with great skill, then drove into Zenit’s penalty area before sliding the ball to Maazou, who just needed to tap it into the goal.

Before half-time the blue and black dreadlocks of CSKA's Brazilian striker Vagner Love rattled the crossbar from only two meters out after Daniel Carvalho crossed in from the wing.

Then in the second half controversy ensued after Igor Semshov equalised in the 54th minute for Zenit. The 31-year-old Russian international flicked in Aleksei Ionov's initial header; the home appeals for offside fell to deaf ears.

CSKA got in front with an 86th minute penalty from Vagner Love, putting the Army Men on top of the RPL.

Zenit fall to fifth after being third last week

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
Points: 19 Position: 1st

Zenit St Petersburg -DWLWL
Points: 15 Position 5th

Spasiba (thank you) for reading the update; as the other European leagues wind up, stay tuned to the exciting action that is the Russian Premier League.

Dasvidania (goodbye) till next time.

Exclusive: Canberra's A-League Bid

Expansion is the buzz word for all the sporting codes in Australia at the moment. Football Federation Australia (FFA) is ignoring all the doom and gloom of the global financial crisis and is pursuing it, spreading football’s wings to the Gold Coast and Townsville for the upcoming season.

FFA is also hoping to add another two teams for the 2010-11 A-league season. A Melbourne consortium/franchise/club - whatever football teams are called these days - already has been chosen for the 11th spot.One spot remains and the competition is tight as the areas of Canberra, Tasmania, Western Sydney and Wollongong battle it out to become the A-league’s 12th team.

So what about Canberra’s bid?

The people of Canberra want a team in the A-league so badly that the bid’s supporters group - Capital Punishment - got together and traveled to Sydney.Once there they took over a section of the away support during an A-league game between Sydney FC and Perth Glory and flew the colours of Canberra.

The nation’s capital did have representation in a national competition previously when Canberra Cosmos played in the old National Soccer League.

One of the selling points of the Canberra bid is the region's proud history of producing elite players like former Socceroo Ned Zelic and current international Carl Valeri.

However with Canberra Deakin and Belconnen United not participating in the NSW Premier League, the pathway to the elite level for a Canberra player could be tough. caught up Eamonn Flannagan, a football journalist, radio host and a key member of the Canberra for A-League bid team, to speak about the how bid is progressing and to find out more about football in the nation’s capital.

Goal: You are very passionate about football in Canberra; how has the advent of the A-League and the Socceroos qualifying for their first world cup in 32 years affected the game in the nation’s capital?

EF: The Socceroos awoke the whole city to the world game at the professional level. Canberra and the surrounding region has a huge football junior base (25,000 registered players) in fact there are more people playing football than Aussie Rules, [Rugby] Union and Rugby League put together.Ivan Slavich, a prominent local businessman is working hard to get the 12th spot in the A-League for Canberra. The recent Socceroos Asian Cup Qualifier saw a record crowd of over 20,000 attend the game.

Goal: With Melbourne handed the 11th spot to enter the A-league in 2010/11 the other bids that you are competing for the potential 12th spot is a couple of Western Sydney bids, a Tasmanian bid and a Wollongong bid.Where do you see yourselves amongst that group?

EF: Well we presented our bid in March, the day after the Socceroos game in Canberra.We’ve got 1,700 paid up Foundation Members, over 13,000 pledges of support, the best football infrastructure in Australia in the Australian Institute of Sport and Canberra Stadium.

We have $12 million Sports hub about to get the go ahead with the football team as its major tenant. Meeting rooms, administration rooms, meal, physios, sports management centre etc, world class stadium and training facilities and few clubs in any code in Australia can match that.Of course we need the start-up capital and with ACT Government putting in $3 million we’re working hard to get as much more as possible to ensure the club starts from the strongest base, and of course to further influence FFA decision-making.Our bid is very strong, very advanced.We aim to provide a major pathway for all the players in Canberra and Southern New South Wales.

The game is growing and the city, one of the last capital cities in the world without a team, will one day get a team.The Socceroos crowd in Canberra turned a few heads. It showed once and for all that we can get a decent crowd for football. If the product is right, the marketing is targeted and long-term the whole of Southern New South Wales, 700,000 people, will support their local football club.

Goal: What is the talent like in Canberra and tell us a little bit about football at the local level in Canberra, should we watch out for any team or player coming through?

EF: Well Ned Zelic, Joe Simunic, Carl Valeri, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Mathew Kemp, Shaun Ontong, Kaz Patafta, Kofi Danning are a few Canberrans who need no introduction to football fans.And interestingly the booming junior numbers locally are starting to make waves.Stephen Lustica and Andrew Baresic have just signed for the Gold Coast, Cody Larkin is with Adelaide United and Sam Munro with Sydney FC.

Four players from Canberra also made the current AIS squad.We in Canberra believe we could triple our number in the professional ranks long-term, if we had real opportunities for our players beyond the local league.

New South Wales Football Federation Premier League showed unbelievable narrowness and short-sightedness by kicking the Canberra clubs out of their league a few years ago; one can only assume because the teams Canberra Deakin and Belconnen United kept winning the title!And Canberra FC was the last winners of the National Soccer League Youth League.

So now the highest level of football, unless you get into the AIS squad, is the local Premier League.Football Federation Australia is missing out on a huge number of athletes who basically lose momentum when they hit 17 or 18. Their only option is the local league and instantly they fall behind their peers at the AIS, and NSW and Victorian Premier Leagues.Why Football NSW does not want to strengthen their Premier League, with further football and infrastructure quality is beyond me.

We’ve got the talent pool, but if the NSW Federation won’t assist, the FFA must step in.
Our boys deserve a pathway. Australia doesn’t have a sufficient hold in other markets to ignore the development of a region of 700,000.I’m hoping the new Technical Director (Hann Berger) will open a few doors for Canberra players.

Goal: Has having a team from Canberra in the recent W-League competition helped your bid’s cause?

EF: It’s been fantastic seeing Canberra United in the W-League. Interestingly they’ve been given huge coverage in the local media and crowds have been excellent.The increase in female players in Canberra this year has been horrific for local club organisers. But I think the numbers could double in the next two years if the (Canberra) United team continue to do well and promote the game and their team.

It is an amazing growth side of the game and girls/women’s football needs further funds and quick.Let’s be realistic a men’s A-League team takes $7 million a year and initially it’s all about the dollars. Canberra United could double their crowds but I don’t think it has much impact on the decision-makers of the FFA.For the bid, or course it helps, it brings the football community together in a professional way and that has to be good for Canberra football and of course for Canberra United.

Goal: Thank You for your time Eamonn greatly appreciated and good luck with the bid.

Eamonn: Thank you,it was my pleasure.

Con Stamocostas,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life is hell outside the EPL top Four

"Purgatory's kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren't really shit, but you weren't all that great either. Like Tottenham."

This quote is from the very funny 2008 film In Bruges.

After watching Aston Villa lose to Fulham away 3-1 at the weekend the above quote came in to my head.

Let’s be honest; if you don’t support a team in the top four of the English Premier League then like the above quote; your team isn’t really shit or that great either.

Your team is like Aston Villa who has given up the comfortable lifestyle of mid-table mediocrity for challenging for European spots.

Yet this season after qualifying for the Uefa cup, Villa fielded a weakened side when they played CSKA Moscow, the Villa manger left eight first team regulars at home for this match. The small size of the Villa squad then saw the Birmingham’s side get unceremoniously dumped out of the cup during the last 32 tie.

Perhaps from that all encompassing view of hindsight, that was the wrong decision to make.
Buying Emile Heskey from Wigan is surely not going to go down as one of the buys of the season when with 12 games to go Villa where six points ahead of Arsenal and very close to Chelsea who were leading at the time.

Is coming fifth in the EPL better than winning the Europa league? It appears it’s too hard to do both.

The top four have a mortgage on the Premier league title. Mortgage literally means death contract.

Morbidly you can say that your chances of watching your team win the title before you die is slim.

So with no chance of your team winning the title, what about other glory like cup competitions for instance?

The Uefa cup is soon to be replaced by the Europa cup is a competition that can feature mid-table teams and fluky cup winners or runner up of cup competitions.

In a guardian interview Villa manger Martin O’Neil still was not convinced:

“There are too many games," said O'Neill.

If Villa is to win the Europa league then that is 17 fixtures they have to play.

Even with European glory on the line Premier League managers have one eye to the EPL, in the past this would not happened.

Aston Villa is not on their lonesome, when it comes to teams that aren’t shit but not that great either.They are in fine company with Everton who without Tim Cahill playing, the toffees can make football look very difficult to play at times.

Tottenham also are in the purgatory group as well, however they do treat their fans to a yearly league cup runners up trophy.

Maybe it’s better to support a team with no title or European ambitions. Perhaps living the mantra of no expectations no disappointments, is the way to go?

If you supported Stoke and their basketball lookalike of a team this season, your thought about how your team went would have been one of supreme triumph. Stoke after all did avoid the drop and did produce a secret weapon.

Every one who can throw long is now being touted as the new Rory Delap.

Surviving the drop can be as exhilarating as winning the league or the FA cup. Watching Newcastle play Middlesbrough at the weekend was enthralling, however if that fixture was played earlier in the year it wouldn’t have carried as much infatuation.

So it seems that if you follow a club outside the top four the only last day glory your club will achieve is surviving the drop. During the year you might get the odd win against the top four, go all the way till the knockout stages of a cup competition and maybe lose a cup final.

And if that is all the glory you get then that is ok because your club share’s a special place, in being not really shit, but not being all that great either.

Like {enter club here}.

Russian Premier League Preview: Matchday 9

Pryvet (Hello) and Da-bro pa-zha- la-vat (Welcome) to the Russian Premier League Preview.

The clash between CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg features as the headline act during Matchday 9 of the RPL.

The top four:
Rubin Kazan 17pts, CSKA Moscow 16pts, Zenit and FC Moscow 15pts, Spartak Moscow 13pts.

Bottom two:
Saturn Moscow 5pts, Khimki 2pts.

Top Goal Scorers:
Dominguez (Rubin Kazan) and Wellington (Spartak Moscow) five goals, Pavel Pogrebniak (Zenit) four goals.

Fixtures Matchday 9 (all kick off times GMT)

Saturday, May 16

9:00 Amkar Perm'- Rubin Kazan

11:15 Lokomotiv Moscow- Terek Grozny

13:30 Rostov-Na-Donu - Spartak Nalchik

16:00 FC Khimki- FC Moscow

Sunday, May 17

9:30 Tom' Tomsk - Spartak Moscow

12:00 Kryliya Sovetov(Samara) - Kuban Krasnodar

14:30 Saturn Moscow - Dynamo Moscow

17:00 CSKA Moscow - Zenit St Petersburg


Amkar Perm' - Rubin Kazan

Amkar Perm where unlucky to lose right at the death away to Terek last week. Meanwhile, current RPL champions Rubin had some time to practise their shooting as they easily beat Tom Tomsk 4-0 last week.

Rubin Kazan will face CSKA Moscow in the final of the Russian cup. Former Tottenham flop and current Kazan player, Serhiy Rebrov, spoke about the ensuing final and Rubin’s looming Champions League matches

"The Champions League is the competition that doesn’t need to be advertised and our club doesn’t have to attract people to the stadium because interest of our fans is already guaranteed," he said to Sport Express.

“Supporters will come to Kazan from the all closest regions. When I played in Kyiv, Dynamo’s matches in the Champions League attracted people from Russia and from other Ukrainian cities.

"Kazan is much smaller than Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kyiv, but just look how many high-class teams we have! I think that supporters will like our football.

"Rubin will also compete for the Russian Cup with CSKA and of course I am eager to win the trophy. In general it would be strange if Rubin doesn’t claim for any serious title because we are the current champions and we are sure of our power."

All things being equal, top of the table Rubin should get the victory fixture over13th placed Amkar.

However, Russian football is known for its difficult away trips. Rubin have to travel to the Ural Mountains to face Amkar in Perm.

Perm was formally known as Molotov - as in the 'cocktail' - until 1957.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Amkar Perm – DWLLD
Points: 7 Position: 13th

Rubin Kazan - WWLWW
Points: 17 Position: 1st

Lokomotiv Moscow - Terek Grozny

The Railwaymen have had their wheels come off somewhat this season, with only one win in their past five games.Last week Lokomtiv drew with FC Moscow 0-0, ending Moscow's winning streak in the RPL at four games.

Terek got a good result, managing to salvage a point late against Amkar Perm.Twice RPL champions Lokomotiv should be favourites for this game as they have home advantage and Terek, who are the only Chechen team in the RPL, will hope the referee is not the main talking point.“We don’t pay attention to referees’ strange attitude to Terek anymore, but we are not going to give up," the Terek coach quipped to Sports Express.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Lokomotiv Moscow – LDLWD
Points: 10 Position: 10th

Terek Grozny - LLDLD
Points: 9 Position: 11th

FC Rostov - Spartak Nalchik

Spartak Nalchick travel to the wide leafy streets and scattered parks of Rostov on Don this weekend.The giant killers of Rostov came crashing back to earth last week after beating CSKA and Zenit in their two previous gamesLast time out the Dons only played out a dour 0-0 draw with Kuban Krasnador.

Spartak Nalchick also served up a 0-0 draw in their last match, which was away to Khimki. For the sake of the fans, one of these teams has to score a goal.Otherwise both fans will be staring at the Don River thinking of Mikhail Sholokhov's novel, Civil War: "And quiet flows the Don and the Don flows home to the sea."

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Rostov-Na -Donu - LDWWD
Points: 13, Position: 7th

Spartak Nalchik – DLWLD
Points: 6 Position: 14th

FC Khimki - FC Moscow

FC Khimki are staring up at the others unmoved from bottom spot.In the league, FC Moscow were on a four game winning streak before they drew 0-0 with city rivals Lokomtiv.The trip to Khimki in the Moscow Oblast region should see the away team victorious.Khimki, which is famous for aerospace development centres, will hope to blast off the bottom some time soon.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

FC Khimki - LLLDD
Points: 3 Position: 16th

FC Moscow – WWWWD
Points: 15, Position: 4th


Tom' Tomsk - Spartak Moscow

There was some speculation this week that benched Spartak goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa could move to another club in the summer.

His manger, Marko Naletilic, stated,

“He has found himself on the bench in recent matches... his position as the first-choice goalkeeper has been out of question during several seasons. It’s clear that his switch to the reserves has been caused by the limits on foreigners in the Russian championship, but it doesn’t console us.”

The RPL has a limit that only six foreign players can be on the field for any one team at any time.

Spartak travel to Siberia to play in the university town of Tomsk. Last week’s 4-0 thrashing of the Aliens of Saturn Moscow will still be fresh in their minds.

Tom Tomsk suffered the same scoreline against Rubin, only the Siberian climate will save Tom Tomsk in this one.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Tom Tomsk - DWLWL
Points: 10 Position: 9th

Spartak Moscow – LWWLW
Points: 13 Position: 5th

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - Kuban Krasnodar

There was good news this week for Krylya Sovetov. Having finished sixth in the RPL last year, they will play in the Europa League next season thanks to FC Moscow’s loss to Rubin in the Russian Cup semi-final. Sport Express reported on the reaction of excited Krylya Sovetov general director Yuri Makeev:

“A place in the Euro cups is not only a reason for happiness, but also a serious responsibility,” he said. “First of all we are planning to strengthen our attack and defence. Our headhunters have three candidates for each position.”

The 'Kubantsy', as the Kuban fans are known, will travel to Samara to face Kryliya Sovetov on the banks of the lazy Volga River. In summertime, this area is frequented by bathing beauties, in-line skaters and beer drinkers.

After a short spell leading the RPL, Kryliya Sovetov have suffered two consecutive losses.The canaries of Kuban Krasnodar have not won in their last two outings either.The home team will be looking for a win to get their season back on track while the Kubansty will be looking to get clear of the bottom two relegation places.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - WDWLL
Points: 13 Position: 6th

FC Kuban Krasnodar - DLWDD
Points: 9, Position: 12th

Saturn Moscow - Dynamo Moscow

A Moscow derby of sorts takes place as the Aliens of Saturn take on Dynamo. There were some interesting developments from both teams this week as the two clubs look to make changes for the future. Yesterday, Saturn appointed a new general director of the club, Igor Efremov, who previously headed the Moscow region football federation. Efremov takes over after previous director Boris Zhiganov announced his retirement.

The Aliens plan to make some coaching changes, with the future of the head coach Jurgen Rober to be probed. Sport Express reported on two candidates who could replace Rober; they are the youth team head coach Andrey Gordeev and sporting director Dmitry Galyamin.

Meanwhile, Dynamo go into this game fresh from being dumped out of the Russian cup by CSKA and are looking to prepare for next season's Champions League Dynamo general director Dmitry Ivanov spoke to Sport Express after the loss:

"Of course it’s a pity to suffer a loss in the shootout series, since it’s a lottery," he lamented"At the same time it’s pleasant that our players didn’t give up after failing in the first half and showed worthy play after the interval."

The Champions League qualifying round begins in less than two-and-a-half-months and Ivanov has about 15 players he is looking at. He was also concerned about getting enough players before the July 23 deadline.

"We understand that Dynamo's line-up requires strengthening by acquiring new players and we are searching for suitable variants now," he explained.

“According to the UEFA regulations, we can do it until July 23 and we are allowed to add only those players who are included to our roster in the Russian championship. However, the opening day when we can add new players to the team in Premier League is August 3!" he claimed.

“A couple of months ago we applied to the Russian Football Union asking to clear this situation, but we haven’t received the answer yet. "We have already outlined the list of possible candidates, which includes 15 players.”The future can wait as the Aliens will do well to get something out of a game Dynamo will hope to win.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
The Aliens – DLDLL
Points: 5 Position: 15th

Dynamo Moscow –WLLWL
Points: 12 Position: 5th

CSKA Moscow - Zenit St. Petersburg
Coached by Brazilian legend Zico, CSKA Moscow have had some excellent results of late. They are in the final of the Russian Cup after beating Dynamo in midweek and they are also sitting high in the RPL ladder, only one point behind leaders Rubin Kazan.

CSKA president Evgeny Giner spoke to Sport Express after the Army Men beat Dynamo for the second time in a week - the 2-1 league win over their old city rivals proceeding their victory in their cup semi-final, which they won 6-5 on penalties after a dramatic 2-2 draw.

"We knew that the second match with Dynamo in four days would turn out to be tense because at this stage of the tournament it can’t be otherwise. Dynamo is a good and well-organised team. Our challengers fought their best but it was CSKA who paved their way to the final match," the director said

The president also spoke about strengthening his squad for the next Champion’s League campaign:

"Today I assess our readiness for the coming Champions League campaign as not more than 65-70 per cent. First of all we are just starting the season. The situation will be quite different in the autumn. I can’t say who could leave us in summer transfer window.

"I keep in contact with the managers of Europe’s top clubs. It just happened that Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Chelsea executive director Peter Kenyon and Bayern [Munich] general manager Uli Hoeness praised our players, and sometimes somebody asked us whether we are ready to let them go,” Giner said.

Last but not least, the final game of Matchday 9 features second-placed CKSA Moscow taking on third-placed Zenit.Who will win the bragging rights as the historical cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg fight it out for Russian football supremacy?

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
Points: 16 Position: 2nd

Zenit St. Petersburg - DDWLW
Points: 15 Position: 3rd

Spasiba (thank-you) for reading the RPL preview, enjoy the weekend’s football and dasvidania (goodbye).