Friday, June 24, 2005 

Fiorentina move for Frey

ACF Fiorentina have agreed a season-long loan deal for Parma FC goalkeeper Sébastien Frey, with the option to sign him on a permanent basis next summer.

Match winner
The French custodian - formerly of Hellas-Verona FC and FC Internazionale Milano - made 132 appearances in four seasons at Parma. Last weekend he helped the club preserve their Serie A status with a superb performance in the return leg of their relegation play-off against Bologna FC.

Crossing paths
While Frey joins Fiorentina, Cristiano Lupatelli could be heading in the opposite direction. The 27-year-old former AS Roma and AC Chievo Verona goalkeeper will discuss personal terms with the Gialloblù after the two clubs reached agreement over his transfer.

Pasqual purchase
Fiorentina have also announced the signing of 23-year-old left-back Manuel Pasqual from Serie B side AC Arezzo. Viola midfielder Luigi Piangerelli travels the other way as part of the deal.



Ferreyra to play for PSV

Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven have signed an Argentinian player for the first time with the arrival of Osmar Ferreyra, part of the PFC CSKA Moskva squad that won the 2004/05 UEFA Cup.

Year-long loan
The versatile 22-year-old left-sided player has arrived on a 12-month loan with an option for another season. A former Argentinian youth international, he joined CSKA last year from CA River Plate for a reported €4m, but never won a regular place in the Russian team's lineup.

Champions League campaign
Ferreyra said: "I am looking forward to the first training session." His new club begin the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League in the group stage, having reached the semi-finals last term.

Quartet loaned
Meanwhile, PSV have loaned several young players to second-division city rivals FC Eindhoven. The Eerste Divisie side have acquired the services of goalkeeper Jelle ten Rouwelaar (24), right-back Sepp de Roover (20), midfielder Sasa Stojanovic (22) and forward Otman Bakkal (20).


Thursday, June 23, 2005 

Luz calls for Kariaka

Portuguese champions SL Benfica have signed Russian international Andrei Kariaka while extending the contract of defensive midfielder Petit.

Monday arrival
Club president Luís Filipe Vieira today confirmed the acquisition of Kariaka, saying the 27-year-old midfielder would travel to Portugal on Monday after playing his final two games for Russian Premier-Liga side FC Krylya Sovetov Samara.

Russian caps
"We have an agreement with the player and he will travel to Lisbon next Monday to become a Benfica player," said Vieira. Kariaka has won 25 Russia caps following his debut in August 2001, and played all three of his country's matches at UEFA EURO 2004™.

Ukrainian days
Kariaka started out with FC Metalurh Zaporizhya in Ukraine between 1995 and 1998 before moving to FC CSKA Kyiv - now FC Arsenal Kyiv - where he played from 1998-00. The left-sided player, a free-kick specialist, then joined Krylya Sovetov in Russia.

Petit stays put
As well as announcing Kariaka's capture, Vieira also confirmed that defensive midfielder Petit, 28, had agreed to remain at the Lisbon club until 2010. "I am very happy here and always wanted to stay," said the Portuguese international. "I just want to continue the good work and hope to win more titles. My biggest dream is to win the UEFA Champions League with Benfica."



Park sign fo M. United

Manchester United FC have agreed the transfer of Korean international midfield player Ji-Sung Park from PSV Eindhoven for a fee thought to be in the region of €6m.

Key role
The English Premiership side will sign a four-year deal with the 24-year-old once he passes a medical at Old Trafford and receives a work permit. Park, who began his career in Japan with Kyoto Purple Sanga, first came to prominence at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, playing all seven of his country's games prior to a move to the Netherlands that December.

Point to prove
"I'm confident I can prove myself at one of the world's top clubs," Park said. "I will prove that Koreans can play at that level. I want to show my value to United in terms of my ability, not for some marketing strategy for Asia. I'm not going to England for business."

Successful season
Park made eleven appearances in the 2004/05 Champions League, scoring in PSV's 3-1 semi-final second-leg victory against AC Milan, although his team were ultimately eliminated on away goals. He also figured in 28 league matches as PSV claimed the Eredivisie title and helped them complete the double by winning the Dutch Cup.

Second signing
Capped 53 times, his most recent international appearance and goal came in the 4-0 victory in Kuwait on 8 June that booked the Korean Republic's place at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, keeping up their record of reaching every finals since 1986. Park becomes United's second summer recruit after the arrival of Netherlands No1 Edwin van der Sar from Fulham FC.


Thursday, June 09, 2005 

Argentina 3-1 Brazil (WCQ)

The lambskin was whipped off to reveal a hungry wolf as Argentina shrugged off predictions of a Nike ad exec’s wet dream win by a Ronaldinho Gaúcho-inspired Seleção in the very heartland of their southern rivals. Argentina gave a recital of good taste in front of a bumbling Brazil that self-destructed in under half an hour, leaving the hosts celebrating as if the World Cup itself had been won.

Hernan Crespo got things off to an early start, aided and abetted by a creaky fellow Rossoneri Cafú that left the Argentinean number 9 onside to receive Riquelme’s neatly-threaded pass and leave Dida groping as the locals went wild with the fourth minute goal. Cafú added to Parreira’s worries by picking up a yellow card after a late challenge on Lucho. As the terraces begin a series of ‘Olé’s’ nerves chafed and Kily picked a fight with choirboy Kaká.

The slippery pitch in the Monumental de Nuñez stadium sent a few players skidding wide of what could have been good chances; most of them local players. Riquelme continued surfing the wave that’s taking him back to Bianchi at Atlético Madrid, dribbling the appalling Roque Junior and blasting past a slow-mo Dida to ripple the top-left corner of the Brazilian net (18 min.) 2-0. Robinho tries to strike back but the inefficiency of the Canarinho attacks is the diametric opposite of the Albiceleste effectiveness.

Brazil tried to get back at the half hour mark, although their attacking moves lacked that final precision pass or crucial dribble that would have been able to split the tight Argentinean formation open. After several parried attacks alternating between both sides Milan’s Crespo got his seventh goal of the WCQ with a precise 39th minute header after a Saviola cross was left unmolested by the horrific Roque Junior. The embarrassment raises tempers as Ronaldinho risks red, but gets yellow after slapping a time-wasting Sorín in a fit of pique.

The second half saw Brazil evening things up; partly through a tardy realisation that they’d really buggered things up and were looking like world-class idiots, partly as the Argentineans put the brake on in an attempt to chill the game out until the final whistle gave them their win. Nevertheless it was Saviola who came close, Dida pulling off a redeeming save at close range. Roberto Carlos’ wounded pride stung him into action, his 71st minute rocket going past the local keeper after Mascherano upended Robinho’s substitute Renato. 3-1to a romping Albiceleste.

Adriano had the comeback within his grasp in the 39th minute, but he whacks wide a long cross to the Argentine far post with a virtual open goal in front. Roque Junior made up for some of his gaffes by saving a Riquelme free kick over the goal line, and a largely inoperative Ronaldinho Gaúcho forced the local goalie to make a decisive save at the base of his right post. The hosts played out the remaining injury time to seal a revenge 3-1 (Brazil having beaten the Albiceleste by the same score in the first WCQ clash in Brazil).

Carlos Alberto Parreira left the field accompanied by all the Brazilian players except Roberto Carlos, the coach with the facial expression of one whose finger has gone through the toilet paper. If recent claims were true and his tactics were based on ageing English theories then it was ‘Revenge of the Belgrano’ time as Argentina sunk a Brazil that deserved no less a drubbing. The ever-communicative number 6 came out with the usual platitudes about having to do better, but at least took it on the chin instead of skulking out.

This result leaves Argentina qualified for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, a fact attested to by the medal-winning local celebrations of a Pogoing Albiceleste that gave Brazil a refreshing lesson in humility, the will to win and decent passing. Brazil will have to wait at least until the next fixture – a September date that pits them at home to Chile – to start getting flustered about Visas and passports for the finals. Ronaldo must be feeling the bitter-sweet longing of fans that waxed lyrical about his previous goals against Argentina in the face of tonight’s gummily inoffensive attack. Brazil hopes some R&R will recharge their stars to put them out of unnecessary misery and get everybody raring to go in 2006 – perhaps a re-match in Germany?

ARGENTINA: Roberto Abbondanzieri; Fabricio Coloccini, Fabián Ayala, Gabriel Heinze; Luis González (Javier Zanetti, 70') , Javier Mascherano, Juan Pablo Sorín, Cristian González; Juan Román Riquelme; Javier Saviola (Carlos Tevez, 78'), Hernán Crespo.

BRAZIL: Dida; Cafú, Juan, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos; Emerson, Ze Roberto, Kaká; Ronaldinho; Robinho (Renato, 61'), Adriano.

GOALS: 1-0, Crespo (4'); 2-0, Riquelme, (18'); 3-0, Crespo (39'); 3-1, Roberto Carlos (26')


Wednesday, June 08, 2005 

Koeman bound for Benfica

Former Dutch international Ronald Koeman will lead Portuguese champions SL Benfica into the UEFA Champions League after replacing Giovanni Trapattoni as coach.

Official unveiling
The 42-year-old, who was dismissed as coach of AFC Ajax midway through the season, will be unveiled at a press conference at the Estádio da Luz tonight at 20.30 local time. He has agreed a two-year contract and will hope to emulate the triumphs of his Italian predecessor, who steered Benfica to their first SuperLiga title in eleven years as well as the Portuguese Cup final.

Likely candidate
Koeman had long been touted as the most likely successor to Trapattoni, who chose not to guide Benfica into the Champions League, preferring to be close to his home and family in Italy. However, in recent days, the Dutchman had been only one name on a list of potential candidates which included former Olympique Lyonnais coach Paul Le Guen, Javier Irureta and Alberto Zaccheroni.

Painful memory
Benfica fans may prefer to forget that Koeman was a member of the PSV Eindhoven side that overcame the Lisbon Eagles in the 1988 European Champion Clubs' Cup final. The libero converted the opening kick in PSV's 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory after 120 goalless minutes in Stuttgart.


Friday, June 03, 2005 

PSV sign Väyrynen

Dutch double-winners PSV Eindhoven have signed Finnish international midfield player Mika Väyrynen from SC Heerenveen.

Undisclosed fee
The 23-year-old has joined Guus Hiddink's side for an undisclosed fee, signing a four-year contract with PSV, who reached the semi-finals of this season's UEFA Champions League only to lose out to AC Milan. Väyrynen arrives as PSV look to fill the gaps left by departed midfield stalwarts Mark van Bommel and Johann Vogel.

Moving up
"A wish has come true," said Väyrynen, whose contract at Eredivisie side Heerenveen was due to expire in 2006. "I have had a fantastic time with Heerenveen, but always had the intention to move up to a higher level and play for a recognised top side, who play in the Champions League."

Finnish beginnings
Väyrynen's journey to Europe's top competition began in the Finnish Veikkausliiga where he played for FC Lahti before moving on to Heerenveen in 2001. He scored 21 goals in 131 games for the Dutch side and also played in this season's UEFA Cup. He has received 16 caps for Finland so far.



Beto heralds new Benfica era

Brazilian defensive midfield player Beto has joined Portuguese Superliga champions SL Benfica on a three-year contract from relegated SC Beira-Mar.

First signing
The 28-year-old is Benfica’s first signing as they prepare for the UEFA Champions League group stage next season having won their first title in eleven years, and heralds a new era for the club after manager Giovanni Trapattoni stepped down on Tuesday.

Powerful shot
Beto arrived in Portugal from Brazilian club Recife FC in 2000 to join FC Paços de Ferreira where he spent four seasons before moving on to Beira-Mar. He possesses a powerful shot and provides a significant threat from dead ball situations, having scored six goals for Beira-Mar in the last campaign.

'Happiest day'
Beto said: "This is the happiest day of my life. I have always admired Benfica’s worldwide reputation and arriving here is a sensational achievement in my career. I know my qualities and I trust in my work. Now we have to wait to see what happens."


Thursday, June 02, 2005 

FK Austria Wien won Austrian Cup

SK Rapid Wien missed the opportunity to complete a domestic double as FK Austria Wien came from a goal down to run out 3-1 winners in the Austrian Cup final.

Rapid aim
Having claimed the Austrian Bundesliga title for the first time in nine seasons, Rapid went into tonight's game knowing that victory would give them the league and cup double for the first time since 1986/87. Joseph Hickersberger's team began promisingly and took the lead after only five minutes, defender Thomas Burgstaller opening the scoring.

Austria fightback
Austria rallied quickly, however, and were level 15 minutes later as Polish midfield player Sebastian Mila brought the UEFA Cup quarter-finalists back on terms. The match, and the cup, were effectively settled by a ten-minute spell early in the second half, 35-year-old striker Ivica Vastic putting Austria 2-1 up in the 55th minute, before Czech midfield player Libor Sionko sealed the win just past the hour.

UEFA Cup return
Austria therefore claimed the cup for the 24th time, and will return to the UEFA Cup next season. Rapid, meanwhile, will enter the UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005 

Daum plots Fenerbahçe future

Fenerbahçe SK's German coach Christoph Daum has set his sights on winning the UEFA Champions League by 2007 after signing a two-year contract extension with the Turkish title-winners.

Successive titles
When Daum took charge of Fenerbahçe in June 2003 they had just endured a torrid season, finishing 34 points behind champions Besiktas JK having had three different coaches that term. It is a measure of the 51-year-old's influence that they have since won successive championships, although longevity in Europe remains the club's prime ambition.

Club president Aziz Yildirim has expressed his desire for the team to be crowned kings of Europe within the next two seasons, and thus will help fund the signings which will enable Fenerbahçe "to compete head on with other leading clubs in the Champions League".



Trapattoni Leaves Benfica

The Italian coach has received no offers from other clubs.
What was in the air in the past few days has become reality today as Giovanni Trapattoni held a press conference to officially announce he is leaving Benfica. However the Trap denied that there are other clubs invovled who prompted him to take this decision, even though he admitted he still wants to keep on coaching.

Trapattoni thanked the Sports Director Josè Veiga and President Luis Filipe Vieira following a successful season which saw Benfica clinch its first league title in eleven years.

Roma, Lazio and Fiorentina have been linked to the former Italian national team coach and more news will be unveiled in the coming days.



Hamann's The Man For Hamburg

Hamburger SV have declared an interest in signing Liverpool's German international midfielder Dietmar Hamann.

Having formally anounced the signing of Rafael van der Vaart on Tuesday, HSV sports director Didi Beiersdorfer told the club's Web site: "We haven’t yet finished our activities in the transfer market. I think that two players, at least, will still come into our squad. Our squad was relatively small last season. I have spoken with Didi Hamann, that is correct. I could well imagine him playing with HSV, but several English clubs have offered him a three-year deal and we would not be able to offer so long a contract. We will have to wait and see how things develop over the next few days."

The former Bayern Munich player has been linked with moves to Everton and Bolton Wanderers in recent weeks and pulled out of the German squad for the Confederations' Cup on Tuesday with a stress fracture of the foot.



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