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– FIFA on GBP Sports

Fabio Cannavaro is not prone to giving out undue recognition. But he passed on strong praise to a member of Korea Republic’s coaching staff when the Taeguk Warriors came to China PR last July to watch Tianjin Quanjian’s Kwon Kyungwon. 

“He is a good player,” the then Tianjin coach told the South Korean visitor about Kwon. “He is capable of playing in European leagues. It would be the national team’s loss should he not be called up.” 

It was little known how much of his advice was taken into account. But sure enough, Kwon earned his first national team cap a couple of months later, debuting in a friendly against Russia during which he was on target. 

Just last week the Tianjin centre-back was named in Shin Taeyong’s 23-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, an interesting inclusion for a relatively new face who has just four international appearances to his name.

*Progress under Cannavaro  
*
Kwon’s remarkable progress under Cannavaro during the past season cannot be understated. It is a fact which the player is ready to acknowledge.

“He (Cannavaro) passed on his valuable experiences and knowledge to me,” the 26-year-old told FIFA.com. “Before he was one of the world’s best players and now he is a very good coach. He taught me in detail how to play and how to train, and I am so lucky in that regard.”

Indeed, for any player, it is a dream to receive guidance from a legend like Cannavaro, one of the world’s best defenders of all time and the only defender to win the The Best FIFA Men’s Player after captaining Italy to the FIFA World Cup at Germany 2006. For Kwon, the defensive skills and experiences taught by Cannavaro has made a big impact on his development.

“As a defender, what used to confuse me was how much space you should keep between yourself and the attacking players,” he once revealed to local Chinese media. “Then Cannavaro gave me the answer – to keep an arm’s distance so that you are easy to make contact to the players you mark. But you need to re-adjust the technique a bit by allowing more space when dealing with a physically stronger and bigger player. That is so useful and practical for me.”

Italian influence in China  
Joining Tianjin at the start of 2017, Kwon spent the first months with the Chinese Super League club warming the bench. Having trained hard and learnt fast under the Italian mentor, he gradually made his presence felt by securing a starting place starting from the middle of the past season. He has emerged an integral part as his side finished among the top three and earned a place in the AFC Champions League play-offs.

Now with his name in Korea Republic’s Russia 2018 squad, Kwon is likely to achieve a personal dream by representing his country in a FIFA World Cup. Having already made his name at club level, it is natural for him to translate his eye-catching form to the international stage. And this time he has set fresh goals of following the footsteps of Kim Namil, one of Korea Republic’s heroes at Korea/Japan 2002.

“He is my idol,” Kwon said of the member of Taeguk Warrior’s managerial staff, who earned the nickname ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ in his playing days due to his strong defensive performances. “He taught me a lot both on and off the pitch when we played together (with Jeonbuk Motors). I admire him both as a great player and as a person.”

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is drawing ever nearer – with just 24 days to go! Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.

24 – Match 24 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ genuinely caused a sensation. In a group containing former world champions Italy, England and Uruguay, it was apparent outsiders Costa Rica, who ultimately won the group with time to spare.

Los Ticos booked their place in the Round of 16 after just two games with a surprise 1-0 win over Gli Azzurri. Exactly 24 years after their last and so far only passage to the last 16, captain Bryan Ruiz scored the decisive goal shortly before half-time – thanks in part to goalline technology. The skipper’s header struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced behind the line in the 44th minute.

“It was a great win,” the matchwinner and man of the match said after the final whistle. “I think it’s only now, a little after the game, that it’s sinking in how much this achievement will mean to the people of Costa Rica.”

While Costa Rica ultimately progressed to the quarter-finals, where they lost to the Netherlands on penalties, Italy and England were forced to head home after the group stage.

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Best Footballer Pranks ► C.Ronaldo, Mbappe, Ribery

Football highlights by Dan1s

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BEST FOOTBALL VINES – NEW 2018 – GOALS, SKILLS, FAILS #12

by Joga Bonito

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has revealed the provisional list of 23 players in his squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

An as yet unnamed additional seven players will join the 23 for their pre-tournament preparations in the coming days.

In a list which contains few shocks, Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata is perhaps the biggest name to miss out, with the forward’s indifferent domestic form costing him a place on La Roja’s plane to Russia.

The 2010 World Cup winners’ coach outlined the qualities of the forwards who were named instead of Morata.

“We feel that each one will bring his style and personality to the team and this is important for each game and each situation.

“We’ve taken the players we feel are the best and feel that we have the ingredients to challenge for the title and are just anxious for things to start now.”

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao), Pepe Reina (Napoli).

Defenders: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nacho (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona).

Forwards: Isco (Real Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Lucas Vasquez (Real Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid).

All squads are provisional until the final list of 23 players is announced by FIFA, following their submission by participating teams, on 4 June.

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

Roberto Martinez has named a star-studded provisional Belgium squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, but there is no place for Roma’s Radja Nainggolan in his 28-man pool.

Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Edin Hazard and Vincent Kompany are among the big names upon whom the Belgians will be pinning their hopes, while the likes of Christian Benteke and Nasser Chadli have been selected despite difficult seasons at club level. Lukaku and Hazard could also be joined in Russia by their brothers, with Thorgan Hazard and Jordan Lukaku among the 28 selected at this stage.

The omission of Nainggolan inevitably dominated the squad’s unveiling though, with Martinez insisting that the controversial decision was motivated purely by tactical considerations.

“First and foremost, we all know Radja is a top player, there is no question about that,” Martinez told a news conference. “It is a tactical reason. In the last two years, the team has worked in an offensive way, in a very specific manner.

“In the case of Radja, we all know he has a very important role at club level and I don’t think we can give him that in the national team. I travelled to see him yesterday in Rome and we had a very good conversation. 

“The decision is not an easy one, I understand how popular the player is, but we have to create the team to try to become a winning team. It is purely a tactical decision.”

All squads are provisional until the final list of 23 players is announced by FIFA, following their submission by participating teams, on 4 June.

Provisional Belgium squad 

Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg/Germany), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/England), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool/England), Mats Sels (Newcastle United/England)

Defenders:  Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic/Scotland), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles FC/USA), Christian Kabasele (Watford/England), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City/England), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio/Italy), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain/England), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona/Spain), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur/England)

Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion/England), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/England), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht/Belgium), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United/England), Youri Tielemans (Monaco/France), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian/China PR)

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea/England), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace/England), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang/China PR), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/England), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach/Germany), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad/Spain), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United/England), Dries Mertens (Napoli/Italy)

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

So often, when caught up in the fervour of a FIFA World Cup™, you don’t get a chance to take a step back and consider what you’re seeing. Some players we will have spent hours of our lives with, watching them at work, entertaining fans around the world.

However, all good things must come to an end. Ahead of the 2018 edition, FIFA.com looks at four players who have left an indelible mark on the World Cup and will be taking their final bow on the global stage in Russia.

Rafael Marquez, 39

Mexico

“I don’t think there are enough words to describe what he represents to all Mexican players. If I have to give him my spot, I’d let him have it.”
Carlos Vela, Mexico team-mate

Having retired from club football in April, bowing out at Atlas where he begun his professional career 22 years ago, Russia 2018 will truly be the final chance to enjoy the man known as El Kaiser. Marquez will equal the all-time record of appearing at five World Cups should he play, matching compatriot Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus.

In truth, he could have been setting a new record, having already made his debut in 1997, only to miss out on France 1998 as a 19-year-old. However, when he did belatedly make his arrival he was sporting the captain’s armband at Korea/Japan 2002, leading him to become the first player to skipper his team at four consecutive World Cups.

World Cup debut: Mexico 1-0 Croatia, 3 June 2002
Tournaments: 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Appearances so far: 16
Memorable World Cup moment: Scoring the equaliser in the opening game of South Africa 2010.

Andres Iniesta, 34

Spain

“He’s the most talented Spanish player of all time.”
Xavi, ex-Barcelona and Spain team-mate

10:37pm local time, Soccer City, Johannesburg. This was when Iniesta’s prominent place in World Cup history was secured forever. While future generations may well remember him most for his extra-time volley against the Netherlands, he is rightly regarded as a player who could turn the game into an interpretive art performance.

Having earned his Spain debut just a fortnight before Germany 2006 kicked off, he has been a central figure ever since. Now, after playing his final game for Barcelona to end a two-decade long association, he is set to pull on the national team shirt for the last time, It will cap an emotional couple of months for El Ilusionista (The Illusionist).

World Cup debut: Saudi Arabia 0-1 Spain, 23 June 2006
Tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2014
Appearances so far: 10
Memorable World Cup moment: Scoring the goal that won the Final at South Africa 2010.

Tim Cahill, 38

Australia

“Timmy was Timmy, that’s why he’s the greatest ever.”
Ange Postecoglou, former coach after Cahill sent the Socceroos to their Russia 2018 intercontinental play-off

The only consistent figure across Australia’s modern World Cup era, Cahill wasted little time in making himself a hero, earning them their first ever win at the global finals with a late brace against Japan in their first game of Germany 2006. The Socceroos have never won without him on the scoresheet.

He has five goals to his name so far, with his strike against Chile in Brazil 2014 making him the first Australian to score in three World Cups. He could also add to his accolade as the nation’s top scorer by becoming their record caps-holder in Russia.

World Cup debut: Australia 3-1 Japan, 12 June 2006
Tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2014
Appearances so far: 8
Memorable World Cup moment: His thunderous volley against the Netherlands at Brazil 2014.

Javier Mascherano, 33

Argentina

“Javier is one of the most intelligent players I’ve ever seen in my career.”
Pep Guardiola, former coach at Barcelona

While some people may overlook the value of Mascherano, the fact that he has played every minute of Argentina’s last three World Cups proves that, inside La Albiceleste’s camp, he has never been taken for granted. Prior to coaching them in South Africa, Diego Maradona described Argentina as “Mascherano and ten more”, later making the defensive midfielder his captain.

Coming so close to taking the title four years ago, before being beaten in extra-time by Mario Gotze’s winner for Germany, will no doubt always feel like a missed opportunity. However, he has one last chance to live out his dream with Argentina in Russia.

World Cup debut: Argentina 2-1 Cote d’Ivoire, 10 June 2006
Tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2014
Appearances so far: 16
Memorable World Cup moment: His 90th-minute tackle to deny Arjen Robben a winning goal in the Brazil 2014 semi-final.

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Seven-year hegemony ended as new Pacific kings crowned – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Team Wellington win maiden OFC Champions League
  • Auckland City’s continental reign had stretched back to 2011
  • Team Wellington will make their debut in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup

One has to go all the way back to before the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ for the last time a club other than Auckland City were OFC Champions League winners. In the interim, Auckland City’s run of seven successive victories eclipsed the mark set by Real Madrid’s storied team of the 1950s, and set a continental record that is likely to stand the test of time. 

Auckland City’s incredible seven-year reign came to a halt at the hands of compatriots Team Wellington, a side they had defeated in each of the past three finals.

Team Wellington edged the Aucklanders 2-2 on away goals following a gripping two-legged semi-final. They then dispensed with Fiji’s Lautoka 10-3 on aggregate, after a record final 6-0 scoreline in the first leg at home. 

The team from the New Zealand capital, which was formed only in 2004, are on a clear upward trajectory after winning the past two domestic championships. They will end 2018 with a maiden appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup, a competition which fellow amateurs Auckland City graced with distinction. Most notably, the Navy Blues’ pushed South American champions San Lorenzo to extra time in the 2014 semi-final, before finishing third.

The Honours

Champions: Team Wellington (NZL)
Runners-up: Lautoka (FIJ)
Best player: Roy Kayara (Team Wellington)
Top goalscorer: Emiliano Tade (Auckland City), Angus Kilkolly (Team Wellington)
Best goalkeeper: Enaut Zubikarai (Auckland City)

While Team Wellington grabbed the silverware, there were numerous other headline achievements during the campaign. 

Almost predictably, Auckland City created their share. A competition record 16-match winning streak ended in the opening leg of the semi-final. And the return encounter saw the goal of Spanish shotstopper Enaut Zubikarai finally breached after 1079 minutes.

Lautoka’s charge to the final saw them became the first non New Zealand club to feature in the decider for four years, and the first Fijian side to do so since 2007.

Though the competition remained at 16 teams, this season included a newly-created quarter-final stage. Notable among the last-eight were debutants Nalkutan, who hail from the remote Vanuatu island of Tanna.

Wellington’s time to shine  
Lautoka had claimed tough away wins in Tahiti and Solomon Islands during the knockout stage, but the away leg in Wellington proved their undoing. After holding Team Wellington to a 1-0 half-time lead, the Fijians fell apart during the second half by conceding five goals and a red card.

That result effectively left the final over as a contest, but Lautoka came from two goals down to be level in the return. However, Angus Kilkolly netted a late winner to grab a share of the golden boot award in the process.

“I said in the semi-final that this team has got so much character, and even in the most difficult situations they can grind a result out and that’s the sign of a champion team,” said Team Wellington’s English coach Jose Figueira.

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Brondby retain their title – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • *Brondby win the FIFA eClub World Cup *
  • The Danish side won the inaugural edition last year
  • Four players qualify for the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs

Brondby are celebrating again after retaining their crown in the second edition of the FIFA eClub World Cup in Paris. The tournament offered up four qualifying spots for the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs, which will be held between 28 and 30 May and then from 1 to 3 June in Amsterdam – where 32 places will be up for grabs at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.

After a thrilling and spectacular opening day in the French capital, Sunday’s action kicked off with the last two rounds of games in groups A and B, which brought the group stage to a close. It was then time for the knockout phase, and Brondby ultimately came out on top despite a shaky start.

The champions

Having finished third in Group B, TEAM ENVY began to find form in the quarter-finals. ‘Aero’ (Xbox) from France and Germany’s ‘Eisvogel’ (PS4) impressed by carving out a path to the final, where they finished runners-up to Brondby.

The decider was an exciting affair, however, with ‘Eisvogel’ handing his team-mate a superb opportunity by clinching a 4-1 win against ‘Fredberg’. ‘Aero’ was unable to capitalise on that advantage, succumbing 6-0 to ‘Fifaustun’ as the Danish team prevailed 7-4 on aggregate.

“My team-mate’s goal gave me hope,” said ‘Fifaustun’ after the final. “I played very aggressively with the goal of scoring as much as possible, and everything ended up in the net.”


Through to Amsterdam

With half the players in the semi-finals already qualified for the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs, the four tickets to Amsterdam were automatically handed to the four other players in the last four:

  • Khalid ‚The royal‘ Aloufi, Saudi Arabia, Falcons eSport (Xbox)
  • Marvyn ‚Aero‘ Robert, France, TEAM ENVY (Xbox)
  • Frederik ‚Fredberg‘ Fredberg, Denmark, Brøndby IF, (PS4)
  • Daniele ‚IcePrinsipe‘ Paolucci, Italy, Mkers, (PS4)

The other contenders

After a difficult first day, UNILAD and PSG eSports *were unable to recover and qualify for the quarter-finals. The English side, represented by reigning world champion ‘Gorilla’ (Xbox) and by ‘SHELLZZ’ (PS4), had no room for error but were eliminated after falling short against *FC Schalke 04 Esports.

As for the French team, they faced heartbreak after another tough day. ‘Daxe’ (Xbox) and ‘Maniika’ (PS4) failed to pull off a comeback and exited following a draw and a defeat.

There was frustration too for Hashtag Academy, who topped Group A but fell to Mkers in the last eight. With ‘TheStrxngeR’ in scintillating form, FC Basel 1893 also had hopes of reaching the semi-finals, only to be knocked out by TEAM ENVY.

Lastly, Falcons eSport‘s Saudi Arabian duo looked to be genuine candidates for the title thanks to their blistering attacking quality, but ‘The Royal’ and ‘Msdossary7’ had no answer to *TEAM ENVY *in the last four.

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Last Match ● Legends Farewell ● HD

Football skills by Footoz

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