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Police investigate murder of South African chairman who was gunned down outside club meeting – football news

South African football has been rocked by the murder of Uthongathi FC chairman Nicholas Mkhize, who was gunned down on Monday.

The National First Division (NFD) club boss was shot dead by gunmen after leaving a technical meeting with other club members where they discussed plans for their next league game.

Uthongathi FC spokesperson Nduduzo Maphumulo was devastated by the passing away of Mkhize.

“Things are not really well in our camp and it’s very sad to lose the chairman because he was our pillar of strength,” Maphumulo told Goal.

“He was the man who always encouraged us and we will issue a statement to map out our plans and how we will progress with our week.

“The matter is with the police and we have to allow them to do their job.”

The South African Police Services are still investigating the murder of the football boss, who was also a taxi owner, but no arrests have been made as yet.

Uthongathi Statement

Club director Nkosinathi Chili detailed the events around the chairman’s murder, which saw Mkhize casually chat after the club meeting before getting into his car, where he was shot dead.

“Every Monday at 5 o’clock we do have a technical team report if either we played or we didn’t play over the weekend, to let us know what it is that they are seeing because we had friendly games since it was the FIFA week,” Chili told kickoff.

“It is about their analysis and preparedness for the KZN derby against Real Kings. You know when you play against Real Kings, to us it’s a derby. So after that meeting one of our board members decided to close it with a prayer, and it turned out to be a long, long prayer.

“Afterwards we all left the meeting. Everyone was rushing to his own place because we normally finish at 8:15pm. And when we went out, everyone goes to his car, and there are times when one just stands with someone and talks, and he [Mkhize] was standing with one of our board members.

“After that board member moved to his car, he [Mkhize] moved to his car and when he entered his car, closed the door and was about to start the car, he didn’t start it. Then there was a lot of gun shots.

“They were just monitoring us and they used the chance. Then he was shot dead and he couldn’t move. This is just a fatal death.”

The NFD side were set to play their league match against neighbours Real Kings on Saturday in KwaMashu in a match dubbed as the KwaZulu-Natal derby, but the game has been postponed due to the death of Mkhize.

The side also known as the ‘Cane Cutters’ were crowned ABC Motsepe League champions two seasons ago.

Uthongathi is yet to lose in the NFD this season after three matches. They secured a win over Ubuntu Cape Town, while recording draws with Milano FC and the University of Pretoria.

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WATCH: Miazga taunts Lainez as tensions boil over in USMNT win over Mexico – football news

The United States national team defeated Mexico 1-0 in Nashville on Tuesday night thanks to a Tyler Adams goal, but it was Matt Miazga who may have set off the night’s fireworks.

With the the contest between the North American rivals scoreless in the 65th minute, Miazga got into it with promising Mexico midfielder Diego Lainez, prompting a coming together of both teams.

It started when Miazga and Lainez were chasing a ball over the top. The Nantes defender, on-loan from Chelsea, won it and was fouled by the Club America teenager.

The two players got into each other’s faces, with Miazga then gesturing to the much shorter Lainez about the teenager’s height.

Mexico forward Angel Zaldivar immediately got between the pair, with USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen also getting into the mix.

Miazga drifted away, but continued to mock Lainez’s height from across a group of players, which prompted Mexico defender Edson Alvarez to bump his USMNT counterpart.

Tempers flared further, with the linesman and the referee having to break the fracas up, though the only yellow card was issued to Alvarez. Miazga had already picked up a caution earlier in the contest.

Tensions did not ease, however, when play resumed moments later. 

Zaldivar was quickly shown his marching orders for a tackle on midfielder Wil Trapp after coming in studs up and over the ball on the U.S. midfielder. 

Adams would score the lone goal of the contest four minutes after the red card.

After the match, Lainez tried to down play the incident, telling reporters: “It’s something that happens in soccer. A little run-in. It’s nothing. It’s something that’s totally normal.”

Miazga agreed it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but believed the situation threw the Mexican players off their game. 

“It’s normal. We talked a little smack,” Miazga told reporters. “It’s part of the game. It’s mental warfare. We got in their heads, they got a red card right after and you saw what happened. We took control and we won the game.”

It is the second time in as many games a U.S. defender has made the news with his comments to an opposition player.

Right-back DeAndre Yedlin was seen during the USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil questioning the referee’s decision to call him for a foul on star forward Neymar.

After being whistled, Yedlin demanded of the referee “Did you watch the World Cup” in relation to Neymar’s notorious dramatic falls during the tournament in Russia.

Neymar later responded, saying he did not care because he did not know who Yedlin was.

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‘Portugal strong even without world’s number one Ronaldo’ – Santos praises squad depth after Italy win – football news

Fernando Santos believes Portugal will be a different prospect with the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, but says his side will be stronger in the long term for having more options.

Juventus star Ronaldo was absent during the international window, choosing to rest up having played the World Cup and with the domestic season set to truly kick into gear with the return of the Champions League.

In the absence of their talisman, Portugal registered a 1-1 friendly draw against Croatia before starting their Nations League campaign with a 1-0 win over Italy on Monday.

Andre Silva was the difference maker in Lisbon and head coach Santos, while eagerly anticipating the return of his leading marksman, is happy with how his team stepped up without Ronaldo.

“I think my team gets stronger with the best in the world [Ronaldo]. Obviously. We will always be strong with the world’s number one,” he said. 

“But he was not there. Therefore, I think the players who have been called up took advantage of the opportunity to play here, knowing the great confidence I had in them. 

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“They tried to do their best in training and games, they followed our ideas and that is good for Portuguese football. Well, Portuguese football is stronger with more options.

“I believe in this team, if we are in a favourable position, it is because we have more options and we can go further. I believe in this team and I always believed.”

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‘Giroud is unjustly criticised’ – Deschamps hails striker after ending drought – football news

Didier Deschamps hailed Olivier Giroud for ending his international goal drought and securing a 2-1 Nations League win for France over Netherlands.

Giroud went through the entirety of Les Bleus’ triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign without finding the net but the Chelsea striker was on hand to net a 74th-minute winner in Paris after Ryan Babel cancelled out Kylian Mbappe’s early opener on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Giroud is now France’s fourth-highest scorer in history, with 32 to his name, and Deschamps warmly praised a selfless performer.

“I am very happy for Olivier Giroud,” the head coach told M6 .

“He’s very helpful for us and he’s given us the win. He’s often unjustly criticised.

“He’s very important to the team. We need him.”

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Giroud’s volley from Benjamin Mendy’s cross meant the Stade de France could enjoy the post-match World Cup celebration party with greater gusto.

“There’s a great atmosphere and it’s going to continue,” Deschamps added.

“It was the first game at Stade de France after the World Cup. Having this communion with all the people present, we had to do it [win] and we will enjoy it.”

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Germany’s World Cup failure has helped Low’s standing – Hummels – football news

Joachim Low is now held in even greater regard after standing up and taking responsibility for Germany’s woeful World Cup campaign, according to defender Mats Hummels.

Germany went to Russia as defending champions, but they were knocked out in the group stage – their only first-round exit since 1938.

A 2-0 defeat to South Korea in Kazan proved to be the decisive result in their final group outing, sending shockwaves through world football.

Many associated with German football called for an inquest and for Low to lose his job, but the coach refused to step down and turn his back on the team.

Hummels saluted Low for accepting criticism when in reality the players were the ones responsible for their World Cup disappointment.

“A coach who admits his own mistakes wins a lot of credit and standing in a team,” Hummels told Kicker. “The national coach has not lost any of his standing in the team, he even won [respect].

“We all know that Low had to take a lot of criticism for things we players did on the pitch.

“We know what we have with this coach, how incredibly well he has led the national team, since 2006 by himself and before as an assistant coach.

“He will get back from the team the right things on the pitch.”

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Since the competition, Germany have been blighted by the controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil, who has quit the side amid accusations of racism.

They return to competitive action on Thursday when they host world champions France in the Nations League.



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A Frenchman or Modric has to win the Ballon d’Or – Giroud – football news

Olivier Giroud has dismissed the importance of The Best FIFA Men’s Player award and is adamant a Frenchman or Luka Modric has to win this year’s Ballon d’Or for their respective World Cup exploits.

FIFA revealed the three-man shortlist for their individual gong on Monday , with Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Modric the three nominated.

Many were surprised by the fact Lionel Messi and all of France’s World Cup-winning squad were overlooked, with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe perhaps particularly unlucky given their strong respective seasons.

Giroud was stunned, yet he does not feel FIFA’s award has any relevance in football, with the Ballon d’Or the main prize in his eyes.

“It is very surprising, but, to be honest, I do not attach importance to this trophy,” Giroud told Le Parisien . “I’m only interested in the Ballon d’Or.

“It must be a Frenchman or Modric [who wins the Ballon d’Or]. If I could vote, I know which of my partners I would choose, but I will not tell you.”

Mbappe enjoyed a fine World Cup and caught the eye with several impressive performances, particularly his two-goal display in France’s 4-3 last-16 win over Argentina.

And, for Giroud, the 19-year-old is the best teenage talent he has seen since Thierry Henry.

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When asked if he is continuously surprised by Mbappe, Giroud said: “How can you not be?

“He is breathtaking with his talent and maturity. One wonders where he will stop.

“At the same age, I have never met a boy so strong. It’s never been seen since, perhaps, Thierry Henry.”

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Deschamps disappointed by French snub for FIFA’s The Best award – football news

France coach Didier Deschamps was disappointed to see none of his World Cup-winning squad nominated for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

Deschamps’ men lifted the trophy in Russia just under two months ago despite their squad being the second youngest at the tournament.

Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe were arguably their two standout performers, yet neither got a mention when FIFA announced the nominees for the award on Monday.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Luka Modric were the three finalists and, while Deschamps stopped short of saying any of them were not deserving, he was keen to highlight Griezmann’s achievements.

“I am disappointed,” Deschamps told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

“I won’t say it’s unfair, because that would mean the three others who stay in the race would not deserve it.

“They deserve it, but what I can say is that Antoine and a few other French players would have deserved to be in the list too.

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“And, I hope I will not be accused of national chauvinism, but when you consider their achievement with their national team this summer and what they have done with their clubs too, they would deserve it.

“Antoine has won the Europa League, being decisive in final. We need to accept it, votes are coming from everywhere in the world.

“I am disappointed for him and for others, as Antoine was not the only one to deserve it.”

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Griezmann ’embarrassed’ by Courtois criticism of France – football news

Antoine Griezmann says he was “embarrassed” by Thibaut Courtois’s criticism of France’s style of play after they knocked Belgium out of the World Cup, considering it hypocritical after Courtois won a title with a similar style at Atletico Madrid.

Goalkeeper Courtois claimed he would have preferred to lose to Brazil in the quarter-finals as “at least that was a team that wanted to play football”, before describing France as “an anti-football team”.

Eden Hazard was also scathing of Didier Deschamps’ side, who had only 36 per cent of the possession at Krestovsky Stadium but still attempted 10 more shots than their opponents, with their winning goal coming from a Samuel Umtiti header from a corner.

Griezmann thinks Courtois’s comments were hypocritical given he was part of the Atletico team under Diego Simeone that won La Liga and reached the Champions League final in 2013-14 by often playing defensive football.

“What Courtois said embarrassed me because he played for Cholo, he knows how it goes, he won La Liga like that,” Griezmann told L’Equipe.

“They’re two different playing styles. There was a time for [Pep] Guardiola and his attacking 4-3-3. Now, there’s a time for this kind of 4-4-2.”

When asked if the remarks annoyed him, Griezmann replied: “No, but I still would have said the same in their situation.

“You play a game where you have possession and spend your time attacking. Opposite you, you have a boring, solid team, who concede almost no chances. When that happens, the goalkeeper makes an amazing save. And you get the goal from a set-piece, then the team goes back to defending…

“Yes, I would have said the same.”

Griezmann felt his own form in Russia peaked in the Belgium match, admitting he did not hit his stride until the knockout phase after struggling with fatigue during the group stage.

“I think that from the last 16 until the final, I was good in relation to what the match required,” he said.

“Against Argentina, I remember a ball I took off Lionel Messi on the surface and I thought, ‘that’s it, I’m okay, it’s going to be okay’. Against Uruguay, I was successful with set-pieces and then I took the game into my own hands, as I do at club level: keep the ball, win fouls…

“Against Belgium, I think that’s where I was best. I took control and found passes between the lines in difficult situations. And I was there defensively.”

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Griezmann ended speculation of a move to Barcelona on the eve of the finals, releasing a video entitled ‘The Decision’ in which he confirmed he would be staying with Atletico.

The forward received some criticism for the timing and manner of his announcement, but he insists he had not made a decision until that time.

“It was the moment I knew my decision was made and I would not change any more,” he said. “Maybe it didn’t please everyone, but I wanted to show the moments we can go through in these situations and I received messages from sportspeople who loved it.”

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‘Xhaka does not represent Switzerland – he cannot be captain!’ – Henchoz hits out at Arsenal star – football news

Switzerland legend Stephane Henchoz has said that Arsenal star Granit Xhaka cannot be selected as captain of the country due to what he sees as unacceptable behaviour.

Xhaka hit the headlines in the summer during the World Cup, when he celebrated a goal against Serbia with the ‘double-headed eagle’ gesture, designed as a show of support towards Kosovan Serbs.

The celebration came to the fore again at the weekend, when Arsenal team-mate Shkodran Mustafi replicated it during a Premier League encounter against Cardiff.

Henchoz, however, has taken a dim view of the action and believes it should rule the player out of captaining the team.

“I think the captain has to represent the Swiss team and Switzerland, Xhaka does not do that,” former Liverpool defender Henchoz argued to Blick.

“This would be a real problem. Players like [Yann] Sommer, [Stephan] Lichtsteiner or [Fabian] Schar, who represent traditional Switzerland, could feel excluded, just like fans who might not be able to identify with the team.

“The Swiss players without a migration background and Swiss fans, they would feel marginalised.”

He then went on to explain that the player’s failure to sing the national anthem suggests he is not fully committed to the cause.

“Some players say how great their desire is to play for Switzerland. I’d ask them: ‘What is this pleasure? So they can show themselves on a big stage? Because after the World Cup maybe they can get a better contract at their clubs or get a transfer?’” he said.

Granit Xhaka Switzerland Panama Friendlies 03272018

“You don’t have to scream the anthem like the South Americans or Italians, but with those teams I see that they really feel like playing for their country.”

It is an accusation that was also levelled at Gunners team-mate Mesut Ozil, who quit the Germany team after the World Cup citing racism. 

Henchoz, meanwhile, believes that players such as Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri must learn to put their ancestry behind them for 90 minutes when they take to the field for Switzerland.

Both were caught up in the controversy in the aftermath of the Serbia match and the ex-centre-back believes they should have been coached about the issues that were heading their way before the game.

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“I would have gathered the players the day before the match and told them: ‘Something special’s heading your way.,’” he said. “It was especially important to those who spent their childhood in the former Yugoslavia. I would have told them clearly not to be carried away by rash reactions.

“You have to train these young players to not only be footballers, but also to represent Switzerland, even if they have other roots.

“The double-headed eagle has no business in this game! The double-headed eagle has no business with the national team.”

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Sane needs to be told what to do – Kroos – football news

Leroy Sane has the potential to reach the top of world football, but the Manchester City star “needs people who tell him what to do”, according to Germany team-mate Toni Kroos. 

Pep Guardiola left Sane out of the matchday 18 for their clash with Newcastle United, amid concerns over his attitude.

The winger was also left out of Joachim Low’s World Cup squad, which came as a surprise to many after a fine Premier League campaign with the champions, but returned to the international reckoning after being called up for this month’s fixtures with France and Peru.

Real Madrid midfielder Kroos lauded Sane’s ability and potential, but suggested his temperament may need some work.

“He can be a world-class player, but he needs people who tell him what to do from time to time and to work on himself,” said Kroos, who will hope to feature in his country’s UEFA Nations League showdown with France on Thursday.

“That’s what Pep is doing at the moment with not selecting him. He wants to provoke him a bit.

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“It is clear that you have to find a way to bring him to his top performance. If he is at his top performance, he is for us – with his qualities, which are relatively seldom if you are looking at our squad – a player who enriches us.

“He gives us definitely more options for our game, but obviously only if he is able to show that on the field.”

With Sane assuming the role of spectator, Germany toiled in defence of their World Cup title in Russia, exiting in the group stage following defeats to Mexico and South Korea.

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