Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast Men’s National Soccer Team

Didier Drogba was a smash hit at the African Nations Cup which was produced by CAF (Confederation of African Football) and hosted in Egypt. The final with Ivory Coast took place on February 10 2006 and was won by the host country Egypt 4-2 on penalty shoot-out.

Didier Drogba had the most impact of any other national player of any other of the participaying teams during the course of the intra African match-ups. He is essentially a centeral force on any of the teams he has played on.. This also includes Chelsea of the English Premier League of which he is also a striker.

For team mate, Toure, Drogba presents a potentially decisive edge in the first competitive meeting between Ivory Coast and Nigeria since the 1994 Nations Cup semi-final won by the Nigerians on penalties.

«Drogba is a really great player and he is something special. We are really proud of what hehas a done for the team».

«It’s going to be a very hard game. But now we are in the semi-finals, anything can happen. We’ve got our chance,» said defender Toure.

Seconds into the second half, the whole difference was made when Drogba netted his fourth goal of the tournament and the Elephants could afford to sit back for most of the second half.

The goal stung the Nigerian bench who immediately replaced Mikel Obi with Jay Jay Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo with Julius Aghahowa, but still the Nigerians could not turn the game round. This is the first time the Ivorians, who have qualified for the World cup, will have played in the final since winning the title in 1992 in Senegal.

The Egyptians must thank goalkeeper Essam EL Hadary for saving two penalties as Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba missed a crucial first spot kick for the Elephants.

COTE D’IVOIRE (Ivory Coast) National Team Line-up

01.Tizie Jean-Jacques Hobrou

02.Akale Kanga Gauthier

03.Boka Etienne Arthur

04.Toure Kolo Abib

05.Zokora Deguy Alain Didier

06.Kouassi Koffiblaise

07.Fae Emerse

09.Kone Arouna

11.Drogba Tebily Didier Yves

21.Eboue Emmanuel

19.Toure Yaya Gnegneri

How many of these following substitutes will make their way to other Premier League teams in Europe and Asia?

10.Yapi Yapo Gilles Donald

08.Kalou Bonaventure

14.Kone Bakari

15.Dindane Aruna

16.Gnanhouan G. Amoukou Okosias

17.Domoraud Depri Cyrille Leandre

18.Tiene Siaka

22.N’dri Koffi Christian Romaric

23.Barry Boubacar

20.Demel Guy Roland

12.Meite Abdoulaye

13.Zoro Kpolo Marc Andre

The battle for African Footballer of the year

Drogba overshadowed Samuel Eto’o, his rival for the African Footballer of the Year award usually held in late February. Didier Drogba scored the decisive penalty to put Ivory Coast into the last four in a dramatic shootout victory over Cameroon in Cairo.

However it might be blindsided by a contender from Egypt. Could Mido be in the mix?

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Freestyle Soccer – Confused on Where to Start?

First of all, let's start with a simple question, what is freestyle soccer? Freestyle soccer is simply the style and ability to combine various soccer tricks in juggling and ground moves. It's a new trend in soccer along with other types like five a side futsal and beach soccer. In a soccer context, freestyle is perceived as less significance to the modern game. However, freestyle soccer does improve a footballer's ability to control the ball.

The ball control is what I perceived as the most important element in soccer before other attributes like fitness and tactics. There's a saying that if you can control the ball you can control the game. In fact, I stumbled one of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's, an Inter Milan player, quotes saying that as long as you have the ball, you'll have the advantage. Yet majority of footballers still ignore the importance of freestyle soccer. There are reasons behind it and one of them is that the soccer tricks are difficult to execute and only brings less to the modern game. True enough, but let's not forget the concept of ball control. Learning freestyle allows a player to enhance his touches especially the first touch. A great first touch buys you thousands of mili seconds to give you an edge over the opposition.

Those seconds could change the game in an instant especially in the modern game where it demands fast and furious soccer. As a result of those reasons, they don't even bother in the first place. On the other side, the ones who love freestyle soccer perceived it as something that they can express their creativity and improve on ball control and touches to a greater heights. But I'm more concern to those who are ignorant and may not have the slightest interest on freestyle soccer. The problem is, they may not know where to begin especially after watching a series of freestyle videos on streaming sites like YouTube. I'm assuming that they only watched the difficult tricks and instead forget the basics of freestyle soccer. I believe that freestyle soccer should begin with the basics like juggling and planting before moving on to the more advanced soccer tricks like the around the world, crossover, flip flap and others. It's important since juggling is the principle of all types of ball control along with dribbling. In this case, I shall focus on juggling since it's related to freestyle soccer.

Juggling the ball

Simply done by doing kick ups without letting the ball fall on to the ground and expanded to different parts of the body from foot, thigh, shoulder and head. The aim is to be able to link your juggling skills from one part to the other. For example, transfer your juggling from foot to your thigh. You can start with a simple transfer and improve to more advanced transfers like juggling from foot to thigh and then head. Once you've mastered juggling, you can start planting or stalling a soccer ball.

Planting the ball

The ability to balance the ball on a specific part of your body like balancing the ball on your foot. You can start by placing the ball on your foot and once you've mastered, you can plant the ball during your juggling. For example, juggle with your foot which is then transferred to your thigh and then balance it with your foot ie foot plant. Focus on these two abilities will help build confidence for you to start on learning some of the basic freestyle soccer tricks. Improving your juggling and planting skills increases your coordination abilities especially when you practice your transferring or linking skills. For this one, I'd recommend the around the world trick because it's the principle of all soccer tricks. Once you've mastered this trick, you have a great chance of doing other tough soccer tricks like the MATW, TATW, crossover etc. The trick is simply to rotate your foot around the ball after either juggling or footplant and kick it as you finish the rotation to complete the process.

These are a couple of basics that you'd need to constantly bear in mind. Similar to soccer, the techniques are very important and I highly encourage you to practice these tricks with a lot of dedication and once mastered, you'll begin to appreciate the beauty of freestyle soccer.

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How Do You Keep Leather Soccer Cleats In Top Shape?

Leather cleats offer different benefits to players among them durability. A leather upper works amazing in molding to the feet and it therefore offers players that comfortable fit. Comfort is among the elements that can impact on player performance and hence getting the right soccer cleats is of importance. But the best experience does not only rely on selecting the right shoes, but also putting in measures to keep them in good condition so you have a pleasant experience every time you use the boots.

Leather cleats deserve to be accorded good care, especially considering that they can be expensive. If you want to enjoy the durability and functionality of the cleats then you must ensure that you take good care of your pair. It all starts with finding a snug, comfortable fit; remember leather forms to the feet, but does not shrink in length.

Wear and remove the shoes properly

When wearing your leather cleats, loosen the laces so you have an easy time slipping your foot in. Avoid stepping on the heel back when doing this because you will only end up damaging the heel and affect the lifespan. You should also ensure that the laces are untied when removing the shoes.

Get rid of dirt immediately after play

If you have been playing on muddy grounds, always make a point of removing the mud and any other particles as soon as possible. This is something you can simply do by clapping the shoes together and it is something that will help the material breathe and dry appropriately. This simple act will also help keep your bag clean!

Allow them to breathe

The last thing you want is to overuse your soccer cleats. It is most advisable that you change into sandals after games or practice. You should also consider getting more than one pair of boots for your play and practice so you can let them breathe in turns to keep them in good shape. Rotating between shoes reduces wear and tear, especially during soccer seasons.

Clean the leather as appropriate

Use warm soapy water and a cloth to clean your leather cleats. It is important to make sure that the detergent used is mild. Instead of submerging the shoes in the water, opt to brush off the dirt using the damp cloth. Soaking and forcing drying all the time will only cause damage to the material over a period of time. You can pat the shoes dry after the wipe to hasten drying process.

Let the boots air dry

Direct heat may seem ideal in quick drying but it is damaging to leather. Avoid using hair dryers, microwaves and ovens to dry your boots. It is also not advisable to leave the boots out in the sun to dry otherwise you may end up with warped or damaged shoes.

Use the best leather polish

Leather may not need waterproofing but you can enhance protection and keep the color by using the right leather polish. It will nourish the material and give it a soft appeal. After cleaning and polishing, you can use a boot tree to store the cleats so you maintain their original shape.

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How Sports Psychology Can Improve Your Sales

Learn from the Habits of Highly Successful Sportspeople

I am often asked «How can sports psychology help salespeople, surely they are totally different areas of expertise?» and my answer is simply this:

Every sport has different skills sets & disciplines and requires different areas of knowledge – yet most, if not all, now accept that mental strength and readiness is the single most important factor that separates the winners from the also-rans.

I’m sure you will accept that at the pinnacle of any sport the top athlete’s skill levels and abilities are extremely close?

My sport is golf. In any given week there are 20, 30 even 40 players who could win a tournament – if it was all down to their inherent ability to hit a golf ball. But it’s not! Every week it’s the player who thinks right and plays right that wins – not necessarily the most skilful player on show!

If you follow football; does the best team always win the match? No.

This demonstrates how you think matters!

And as someone who’s been involved in Sales and Sales Management for many years and is now actively involved in the training and development of sales forces throughout the country, I believe the same is true of our industry.

How salespeople think, matters!

Sales success is all in the mind. Yes you need selling skills. You need product knowledge. You need the ability to plan and prepare. As does the golfer; he needs to be able to drive the ball, play out of bunkers, play flop shots and putt. BUT! That all said; it’s how he thinks during the round that will determine his success and so it is in selling too. How you think during the day, during the call, ultimately determines your success.

So here is a brief glimpse into some of the areas that highly successful sportsmen and women excel at and how they would benefit us in the sales game too.

Practice, Practice, Practice… but in right way:

The top echelon of sportsmen and women make every second count when practicing. They work all areas of their game to the maximum, not just the points they’re good at. They dissect their sport into its smallest components and ensure they are world class in each and every one of them.

Take a long jumper. The UK Olympic qualifying distance is 8.20mts. If an athlete is coming up short of this target – let’s say 7.90mts, he doesn’t just keep practicing by running and jumping over and over hoping to get longer – he practices in the right way. He and/or his coach analyses every area of his performance and works on it in order to improve.

Technique: Take-off and landing – is his method right?

Physical: Does he have enough power in his legs for an explosive run up? If not – into the gym!

Diet: Is he eating properly, is he carrying a few pounds too many?

Mental: Does he have the belief in himself and his ability?

Technical: Is he using the whole run-up area – jumping too soon before the board?

You get the point? They don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over hoping it will get better.

The first thing to do in order to get better at selling is to think about the way you practice and rehearse your selling, your pitch, your selling style (if you even do it!) and create a solid routine.

First Impressions: Approach to the customer, Appearance? Do you adapt to what you see?

Presentation: Do you establish customer objectives? Translate selling points into benefits? Do you tell rather than ask?

Profitability: Do you always look to up-sell? Provide add-ons?

Closing: Do you make saying «yes» easy? Ask for referrals?

I’ve worked with many golfers and salespeople of all abilities and the thing that correlates most to improved performance is the way you practice. To keep motivated, create a Personal Progress Log – break your sales role into all of its different facets and mark whether your own performance in each area is Not Good Enough, Good Enough or Excellent and then work away on each area no more than a few at a time – to get them all up to Excellent.

Study, learn and rehearse – in sales this is your practice – the equivalent of going to the driving range for golfers. And like I tell all golfers, if you want to improve don’t make practice routine, make practice hard and challenge yourself. What can your team do to become dedicated to continual improvement?

Stay Focussed and in the Moment:

Staying in the present means that you give whatever you are doing your complete and undivided attention. In sport, this means you’re not thinking about your score, why you think you just mishit that shot or 3 putted the last hole. All your energy is on the task at hand. This is also true when selling. No point reflecting on missing out on that last sale, being caught out by an objection or forgetting to up-sell your add-ons and accessories – while you drive to your next appointment or await your next customer coming into the store. The last sale is over!

Yes you will and should have time to reflect later on, when the selling day is done but DON’T do it on the way to the next call or while you wait. Don’t bring yourself down. Focus on the positives in your abilities and think how the next sale will happen successfully.

It’s counter-productive not to be in the present!

If you play golf for example, just think back to the last time you started playing well and subsequently thought about shooting your best score, «if only I can keep it going for the last few holes» – only for your game to unravel!

Staying in the present is easier said than done, I appreciate that; and like everything else it takes practice but it can and should be done.

Create a highly repeatable routine – follow your Sales Process:

In golf, the top players in the world all go through the exact same routine before every shot, even down to the number of practice swings. Watch them and you’ll notice that the number of seconds it takes to go through their pre-shot routine is the same every time. This helps them stay focussed on the process of shot-making and not get too caught up on outcome thoughts such as; «This putt for the Open» or in football when they think «This penalty to get through to the World Cup Final» (Many football supporters will be all too familiar with what happens when a player focus on the outcome of the penalty!)

What’s your routine when selling? Pre-sale or during a sale? Post sale? Don’t have one? Do you factor in your Sales Process and plan and prepare accordingly?

Well unless you are perfect – take leaf from the Pro’s and get a routine that makes you feel comfortable and confident so you perform at your best when selling.

Know how to calm yourself down when the pressure is on.

How do you cope with the pressure of hitting demanding targets? Or dealing with a tough customer who’s giving you a hard time? In sales, nerves can and do kick in when the pressure is on and once again we have an area where selling can learn directly from the sports arena.

I’ve worked with enough golfers to know that the good ones know powerful techniques to calm themselves down to prevent nerves turning into panic and negatively affecting their performance. They use nerves to their advantage. Because if you are nervous it’s really a good sign – it shows that what you are doing matters! You care!

There are many ways to control nerves such as breathing techniques or using your peripheral vision or having special thoughts/places to go in your head. I recently read that Jesper Parnevik would try to solve math problems in his head when it all got too much when playing. So there are countless ways to do it! You just need to find a technique that helps you.

Remember, nerves cannot be eliminated totally IF what you are doing matters to you. If it’s not important or way below your level of ability and skill – you probably won’t be nervous. But when it matters – then you need the awareness to appreciate that feeling nervous is «normal» in fact it’s desirable – and then have a way that suits you in dealing with it and let the nerves help your performance, rather than hinder it.

The power of acceptance and moving on:

No one is successful 100% of the time. Mistakes happen. Sales are lost. But beating yourself up about it won’t improve your next performance!

By all means, at the appropriate time analyse what went wrong and take steps to ensure it won’t be repeated again if it’s within your power to do so but being able to accept a setback and not let it cripple you mentally is imperative to peak performance.

In golf, being able to accept the outcome of every shot is a trait that all the top players possess. Although almost impossible to achieve, the optimal state for golf would be if you could become emotionally indifferent to good and bad shots and remain on the same level throughout – but show me any sportsperson who’s not emotionally charged and pumped up for winning and I’ll show you a loser!

It’s a balancing act. Remaining in emotional control when it matters most can be done but once again it takes practice, discipline and the finding of techniques that work for you. Then you need the ability to let it all go – when it goes wrong!

Padraig Harrington tells himself as part of his pre-shot routine that although he has a positive intention for the shot, if it doesn’t go where he wants it to, it’s better to accept it and move on, than get upset. He wants his mind to be clear, ready for the next shot – wherever it may be from – not harking back to the previous swing that put him in trouble.

Try giving yourself that same pep talk before your next sales call. Don’t let setbacks drag you down!

Conclusion

Ensure your sales people make every second of selling time count! That’s when they are performing their trade, their skill, their chosen career.

Encourage them to put the above ideas into practice and you will see continuous improvement in their sales ability and performance.

The sports industry has spent millions of dollars and decades of research fine tuning these techniques. Use them. They work!

Should you wish to discuss how Sports Psychology can help you and/or your Team improve Sales Performance please feel free to drop me an email or give me a call.

Here’s to successful Selling!

The Inner Coach

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2010 World Cup – Full List of Preliminary National Team Squads

The 32 qualified teams participating in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa have provided a preliminary list of up to 30 players. The teams have till June 1st to provide a final list of 23 players. Provisions are made where players with serious injuries can be replaced up to 24 hours before their team’s first game.

The highlight in any footballer’s career is without a doubt, playing for his country in the World Cup. This week was «a dream come true» for many players and a massive disappointment for others. Thousands of fans in the 32 countries will contest their coach’s controversial decisions to include certain players while omitting others.

World Cup Group A (France, Mexico, Uruguay, South Africa)

Raymond Domenech, the French coach announced a preliminary list of 30 players for the 2010 World Cup. The big surprises are the absences of Benzema (Real Madrid), Nasri (Arsenal) and Patrick Vieira (Manchester City). France and the host country South Africa will face in the opening match of the tournament on 11 June.

In this same group Mexico have chosen a very young squad and will play without the talented Miguel Sabah due to injury. Bafana Bafana’s Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, also sprang some surprises for South Africa, like Israel-based defender Bevan Fransman and prodigal son Benni McCarthy.

As for Uruguay, Oscar Tabarez announced a list of 26 without any major surprises except for the non inclusion of Cristian Rodríguez, possibly for the fact that he would have missed the first two games of the World Cup due to a red card suspension.

World Cup Group B (Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea)

Diego Maradona’s selection provided some surprises for the Argentines, by picking the unknown trio of Ariel Garce, Sebastian Blanco and Juan Insaurralde, contrasting with notable absences like Javier Zanetti, Cambiasso, Gago, or Lucho Gonzalez. Argentina is drawn in Group A along with Greece, Nigeria and South Korea.

The Greek coach, Otto Rehhagel, named 30 players without any surprises, bringing in Seitaridis and Patsatzoglou after an injury filled season.

Lars Lagerback, the Nigerian coach, made no notable surprises in the 30 man list, maintaining veteran striker Kanu in the squad.

South Korea’ coach Huh Jung-Moo also made no surprises in the 30 choices, maintaining 2002 FIFA World Cup hero Ahn Jung-hwan who will play for a third consecutive appearance on World Cup.

World Cup Group C (England, USA, Slovenia, Algeria)

England were surprised by call-up of uncapped Michael Dawson, and the talented Adam Johnson. Jamie Carragher and Ledley King return to the squad. The two big names that Fabio Capello will not go to South Africa’s World Cup are David Beckham because of injury and Pal Scholes, retired from the England Squad.

The other teams in this group include the USA, Slovenia and Algeria. Coach Bob Bradley did not include Freddy Adu in the US team even though he went for the Confederations Cup. Another absence due to a serious car accident is Charlie Davies.

There were no big surprises from Algeria coach Rabah Sadaane whose team is dominated by a strong Europe based contingent. No surprises from coach Matjaz Kek after chosing 30 for Slovenia bringing in young striker Tim Matavz. This is Slovenia’s second participation in a World Cup.

World Cup Group D (Germany, Serbia, Ghana, Australia)

Joachim Löw of Germany picked his 30-man provisional squad with a few surprises. Two uncapped players, Holder Badstuber and Dennis Aogo, were chosen, while the most notable omission was that of midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, as well as Simon Rolfes, Aaron Hunt and goalkeeper René Adler.

Radomir Antic named seven players, based in England to a very strong looking Serbia squad, with no notable surprises.

For Ghana, Coach Milovan Rajevac picked Chelsea’s Michael Essien who is still recovering from knee surgery. In a similar situation as Essian is John Mensah.

Australia coach Pim Verbeek named 31 players including star forward Harry Kewell still recovering from his latest injury before July’s FIFA World Cup. One surprise call-up was 18-year-old Tommy Oar, who only made his international debut in March this year.

World Cup Group E (Denmark, Netherlands, Cameroon, Japan)

Denmark’s goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen was included by Danish coach Morten Olsen, despite suffering a dislocated elbow two weeks ago. Patrick Mtiliga was the surprise inclusion even though he had not played for his country since November 2008.

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk, left out 33 year old Ruud van Nistelrooy who admitted he was «greatly disappointed» in his rejection. On the other hand its worth taking note of 23 year old Eljero Elia who many believe is Hollands hidden gem.

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen included Sebastien Bassong, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Alexandre Song who play in the Premier League. Surprise is the call-up of teenager Joel Matip and the exclusion of Ngom Kome. Only three players from the Cameroon League are included.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada’s only surprise was including Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, the Portsmouth goalkeeper who has not played in the national team for 18 months after recovering from a broken leg.

World Cup Group F (Italy, Slovakia, Paraguay, New Zealand)

Marcello Lippi reserved some surprises for the «azzurri» squad when he left out Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano, Nicola Legottaglie, Luca Toni, Simone Perrotta, and most notably Francesco Totti, while American born Giuseppe Rossi was called up for Italy, the World Cup holders.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino called Argentine striker Lucas Barrios who recently became a naturalized Paraguayan. No surprise was the inclusion of strikers Nelson Haedo Valdez and Oscar Cardozo who are in great form, while Salvador Cabanas didn’t make it due to injury.

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss is hoping that Martin Skrtel, Filip Holosko and Robert Vittek recover from their injuries in time for the World in South Africa. Curious is the fact that this is Slovakia’s first World Cup appearance, as well as the inclusion the coach’s son Vladimir Weiss into the squad.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert did not pull off any surprises, except for the inclusion of midfielder Aaron Clapham. This is the Kiwis second World Cup appearance, the last one being in Spain back in 1982

World Cup Group G (Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea)

Brazil coach Dunga probably had the biggest pool of talented players to chose from. This inevitably led to some surprises like the omission of Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ganso, Pato and Neymar into the Selecção (squad) Surprise inclusions were Michel Bastos, and Grafite.

Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz also upset many Portuguese fans by not including goalkeepers Quim and Rui Patrício as well as midfielders João Moutinho and Carlos Martins. Queiroz also picked Pepe even though he is still recovering from knee surgery. Surprise call-ups were Beto, Daniel Fernandes and Zé Castro.

Sven-Goran Eriksson of the Ivory Coast had no surprises in the 29 players to represent their country. Didier Drogba will lead the powerful attacking «Elephants».

North Korea coach Kim Jong-Hun will count with some J-League players like Jong Tae-Se, Ahn Yong-Hak and Ryang Yong-Gi. This will be North Korea’s second participation in a World Cup.

World Cup Group F (Spain, Chile, Switzerland, Hunduras)

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque had no surprises in his provisional 30-man squad and included injured stars Andreas Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres for South Africa 2010. Also included in the list is naturalized Brazilian Marcos Senna.

Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa surprised many, when he picked Luis Marin, Jaime Valdes and Charles Aranguiz. Notable names missing are Claudio Maldonado, Hans Martinez and Osvaldo Gonzalez.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Switzerland coach announced 30 names without any surprises. One curiosity is Johan Vonlanthen, 24, who was born in Colombia but has lived in Switzerland since he was 5 years old.

Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda had no surprises but was forced to replace the injured Carlos Costly by Georgie Welcome. The experienced Wilson Palacios, Hendry Thomas, Maynor Figueroa, David are part of the list.

Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh Should Play in the World Cup 2015

There are only about 100 days left for the World Cup. Many TV channels, ex cricketeers are all debating the 30 or 15 probables for the world cup. Strangely the whole world seems to have forgotten the stars of the recent past Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harhbhajan and Yuvraj. These stars who won and played many matches for India are suddenly being ignored. The likes of Shikar Dhawan, Rahane etc are being discussed as replacements. The likes of Akshar Patel as the next international sensation are being hotly debated. Akshar Patel made a debut for the Indian ODI side after playing less than 10 first class games. On the contrary players such as Rayudu have been given an international debut after 10 years of making an appearance in the Indian first class scene.

The likes of Shikar Dhawan, Rahane and the spinning option to Ravichandran Ashwin can only be a back up to Sehwag, Gambhir, Harbhajan and Yuvraj. Imagine the first match of the 2011 World cup where Sehwag scored a magnificent 175 against Bangladesh. Will Rahane or Shikar Dhawan bat so freely like Sehwag? The answer is «NO.» Similarly consdier Gambhirs 97 and how it helped India win the WC 2011. Think about the many magnificent innings that Yuvraj Singh played for India in T20s and ODIs. Also the many fantasitc bowling spells bowled by Harbhajan in Tests and ODIs. Is it fair on our parts to ignore these stalwarts when they are still in their playing years and when they have not retired. Shikar Dhawan and Rahane can ably assist Sehwag and Gambhir and cannot be their replacements. Also Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh should be paired together, they would form a big force in the spin department along with the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Akshar Patel as allrounders. Harbhjan Singh should not be ignored in the manner the selectors have ignored him during the past few seasons.

I hate to observe that the selectors in India instead of realizing the valuable contributions of these players readily shun then and abandon them when they have a poor season. Even the great Sourav Ganguly was unfortunately dropped during his peak time as a cricketer. Sourav Ganguly himself was instrumental in securing many wins for India as its finest captain. But the selectors did not realize his value or his contribution and simply dropped him from the team.

I urge the readers and the Indian team selectors to realize how important the contribution of Sehwag, Gambhir, Harbhajan and Yuvraj has been to Indian Cricket in the past. These stars must be picked for the world cup 2015 and should not be made a subject of ridicule by making statements that «they have not performed» etc. Me being an avid cricket fan and having watched cricket in India for the last 35 years have drawn up this list for the WC 2015.

  1. Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadega, MS Dhoni, Ravi Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Ishanth Sharma, B.Kumar, Shami, Karn Sharma, Ambati Rayudu.

Viru, Gambhir, Harbhajan and Yuvraj you can be rest assured that our prayers are with you to on the plane to Australia for the world cup 2015. I do hope that the selectors realize how valuable your contribution has been to Indian Cricket and reward you with what you deserve – A place in the WC 2015 squad.

The FIFA World Cup is the Most Prestigious Soccer Tournament in the World

FIFA stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association and the first FIFA world cup came into being in 1930 in Uruguay. The commencement of the first FIFA world cup was history in the making. The soccer world cup came into being only after the game met with success in numerous other tournaments across the world.

Soccer Championships – Where it all started

The first soccer match ever recorded in history was between England and Scotland in Glasgow in 1872. This was followed by the British Home Championship that was started in 1888 and at this point in time, the popularity of the sport remained within the United Kingdom only. In the early 19th century, soccer started becoming popular outside the UK and was being played largely as a demonstration sport. This simply meant that there were no medals or awards for the taking. In fact, soccer was introduced in the 1900 as well as 1904 Summer Olympics in France and Canada respectively. Only 3 club teams participated in the tournament during both the Summer Olympics. Soccer was also played in the 1906 Summer Olympics also known as the Intercalated Games in Athens and there was participation from 4 teams including 3 clubs.

Following the 1904 Olympics, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was formed. The Federation made an attempt to organize an international soccer tournament between countries that were outside of the Olympic framework. This tournament is considered as the first ever step towards modern soccer championships and this was held in Switzerland in 1906. The sad news is that FIFA declared this competition as a complete failure.

Soccer went on to become an official sport in the 1908 Olympics in England and it was only in 1914 that FIFA started recognizing the Olympic soccer tournament as a «world football championship for amateurs.» Following their acceptance, FIFA agreed upon taking the responsibility of the management of the event. This opened the doors for the first international soccer competition in the form of 1920 Olympics. The champions were Belgium followed by Uruguay in the next two Olympics in 1924 and 1928.

The FIFA world cup

The success of soccer in Olympic tournaments made FIFA reconsider their dream of organizing an international championship. With President Jules Rimet heading from the front, the FIFA congress in a meeting at Amsterdam in 1928 decided to organize a world championship. The host country for the first FIFA world cup was named as Uruguay since they were two time Olympic Champions. So in 1930, the first FIFA world cup came into existence. The first soccer world cup saw participation from 13 countries including 7 from South America, 4 from Europe, and 2 from North America.

The first FIFA world cup matches were held simultaneously on 18 July 1930 and the winners were France and USA. Uruguay went on to become the champions by defeating Argentina 4-2 in front of a 93,000 strong home crowd in Montevideo. The FIFA world cup is played once every 4 years with 32 teams participating for the trophy.

The last FIFA world cup (2006) was held in Germany and Italy was crowned as the champions. The next FIFA world cup (2010) is going to be held in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010.

An Uneasy Relationship – England Vs The Rest of The World

As a nation that once laid claim to the world's largest Empire, the United Kingdom has often traded blows with countries across the globe.

Politically, many British people often look upon Europe and its increasing influence in their lives as a source of annoyance. With specific reference to England, the English are known for their own patriotic beliefs and mannerisms. Whether it be staunchly in favor of keeping the pound or sometimes even something as trivial as our predisposition for tea drinking as a tool of social cohesion, our European cousins ​​and those further afield often deride us as 'Little Englanders'.

When it comes to football then, it is no surprise that such squabbles manifest themselves. In late February, there was the furore surrounding claims in the tabloid press that England's training complex for the impending World Cup in South Africa was so far half-built and ramshackle, some even going so far as to describe it as 'a dump'.

The £ 20 million Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg, the venue for England's first game against USA, has ignited English passions and prompted hasty rebuttals from those abroad. Although the accommodation is of a high standard, the training and medical facilities are still far from complete.

After this, following his recent visit, England manager Fabio Capello stated that he was happy with the progress being made.

South Africans, including World Cup ambassador and ballerina Andile Ndlovu have rallied round their country as it bids to host the final tournament yet. The spokesman for the Bafokeng sports complex, Martin Bekker, said that "the foreign media, especially the English, have lacked the courtesy to find out from us how preparations are going."

This is not the first incident involving England, its football fans and its national press engaging in verbal warfare and it certainly will not be the last.

One only has to look at certain authority figures in the world football and the chagrin they draw from the English to examine the roots of animosity between 'us and them'. The President of FIFA, the world's governing body, Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini have all voiced their views on the state of English football.

Likewise Jack Warner, the FIFA Vice-President and head of its CONCACAF region is another who petitions condemnation. In his case, it seems he's a complicated individual who has a 'Jekyll and Hyde' approach to England. Once he was quoted as saying 'nobody in Europe likes England' yet he is supposedly one of the supporters for our 2018 World Cup bid.

Meanwhile Blatter is considered by some as anti-English, a man who never has a good word to say about the country or its football. During the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga, Blatter was open in saying that the player should move to Real Madrid and that keeping him at Manchester United adjusted to "modern slavery."

Clearly he is hopelessly ignorant of the treatment suffered by the real slaves of the past and how it bears little relevance to highly-paid footballers. His 6 + 5 rule, designed to cur the number of foreign players in teams and enhance their domestic number is somewhat noble in its intent although it has been interpreted as a direct attack on the English clubs, which is boosted by a large overseas contingent, have recently dominated the competition.

Michel Platini has also displayed sour grapes over England's success in Europe. One of his quotes, relating football finances, states that he wants to "create a situation where every team has a chance of winning and there is a more level playing field. and financial fair play, but sometimes you do not have that in England. "

Although England and its press often feel aggrieved at attacks from abroad, Platini in particular does have a point when he claims to be concerned about foreign ownership and increasing debt mountains.

One only has to look at the forlorn situation at Portsmouth to understand where he is coming from. If England's biggest clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool did not rely on huge income streams to keep them tapping over, the problem would become cataclysmic, not just for English football but for the entire game.

No matter, England's uneasy relationship with the rest of the world is likely to continue for some time yet as we typically resist interference from beyond our shores.

The 1932 NFL Championship Game

The Portsmouth Times called it «a sham battle on a Tom Thumb gridiron.» But, while the field may have been Lilliputian, the impact of the game on the National Football League was Brobdingnagian. It was the oddest game in NFL history, a fitting climax to one of the league’s oddest finishes.

Late in the 1932 season, it looked as if the Green Bay Packers were headed for their fourth straight NFL championship. They had an 10-1-1 record while their closest pursuers, the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans, had only nine victories between them. But the Bears and Spartans had just one loss apiece, to go with a whole bunch of ties.

On December 4, the Packers played their sixth straight game on the road, at Portsmouth. The Spartans had a 5-1-4 record going into the game. In Chicago, the Bears (4-1-6) were hosting the Giants, who had handed the Packers their only loss in New York three weeks earlier.

Under today’s method of figuring the standings, the Packers would have had the championship wrapped up. A tie now counts as a half-loss, half-win. But in 1932 a tie simply didn’t count; it was as if the game had never been played.

After Portsmouth beat Green Bay, 19-0, and the Bears beat the Giants, 6-0, the Packers were suddenly out of the running. Portsmouth’s season was over, but the Packers had one game left, against the Bears in Chicago. If the Packers won that game, the Spartans would be the new champions. If the Bears won, they’d be tied with Portsmouth for first place.

And that’s what happened. The Bears took a 9-0 victory on a snowy field with the temperature around zero. So the standings looked like this, with ties eliminated:

 	               W	L	Pct.

Chicago 6 1 .857
Portsmouth 6 1 .857
Green Bay 10 3 .769

Under today’s method, it would have looked like this:

 	               W	L	T	Pct.

Green Bay 10 3 1 .750
Portsmouth 6 1 4 .727
Chicago 6 1 6 .692

The NFL had no policy for dealing with a tie for first place at the end of the season. The league didn’t even handle scheduling–that was up to the teams themselves, so it was also up to the Bears and Spartans to figure out a way of breaking the tie. They agreed on a game at Chicago on December 11. It was not, formally, a post-season championship game, but a regular-season game tacked on at the end of the schedule.

Chicago was the obvious site for the game. With attendance down because of the Depression, both teams needed the money that a big crowd at Wrigley Field would bring in. But, because of the weather, the game between the Bears and the Packers had drawn only 5,000 fans, even with the possibility of a championship on the line, and the cold and snow continued as the championship game approached.

On Thursday, December 8, Chicago co-owner George Halas met with Potsy Clark, the Portsmouth coach, and Joe Carr. the president of the NFL, to propose moving the game indoors to Chicago Stadium. He had a precedent: The Bears and Cardinals had played an exhibition game there in 1930. He also had the weather as an argument. Chicago Stadium could hold about 16,000 spectators, and might well be filled for the game, which would probably draw only 5,000 or fewer outdoors. Clark and Carr agreed to the move, and players on both teams unanimously approved.

There was one final hurdle. The Bears had a contract that required them to play their home games at Wrigley Field. But Bill Veeck Sr., the owner of the ballpark, agreed to release them from the contract for this one game.

Chicago Stadium was primarily the home rink for the Chicago Blackhawks, but it was also used for boxing matches and other events. During the week before the football game, it had hosted a circus, so the concrete floor was covered with several inches of dirt. Truckloads of dirt, wood shavings, and bark were piled on top of that base to provide more cushioning. It didn’t however, provide much traction.

Many years later, Jim Foster got the idea for Arena Football by sketching the diagram of half a football field over the outline of a hockey rink. That was much the way the field was laid out in 1932. The arena floor was only about 80 by 50 yards at its widest dimensions. The football field compressed into that area was 60 yards from goal line to goal line and 45 yards from sideline to sideline. The end lines were rounded, and the 12-foot-high hockey dasher boards formed a fence that surrounded the whole area. The fence was about 15 feet from the sidelines at midfield (the 30-yard line), allowing room for the benches, but it almost touched the field at the goal lines and actually curved through the area where the end zones should have been. Goalposts were erected at only end of the field, and they were on the goal line rather than the end line.

Some special rules were adopted, based on the rules that had been used for a 1930 exhibition game in the stadium. Kickoffs were made from the 10-yard line and, after a kickoff return, the ball was moved back 20 yards. Field goals were prohibited. On a touchback, the ball was brought out to the 10-yard line instead of the 20.

If the ball went out of bounds, it was brought in just one yard from the sidelines under the rules in effect in 1932. Because of the proximity of the fence at Chicago Stadium, the teams agreed that the ball would be brought in 10 yards and the team in possession would have to forfeit a down. (Some accounts say 15 yards.)

Sportswriters generally expected the shortened field to produce a high-scoring game. The Bears were definitely favored, mainly because the Spartans were without their best player, Dutch Clark. A charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Clark was the quarterback on the All-Pro team six times in his eight-year NFL career. A dangerous runner, excellent kicker, and reliable passer, he led the league in scoring in 1932. But he had returned to his alma mater, Colorado College, as basketball coach immediately after Portsmouth’s victory over Green Bay and the school wouldn’t release him from his duties to play against the Bears.

Nevertheless, the Spartans pretty much controlled the first half, thanks to the running of Glenn Presnell. They were in scoring range twice and probably would have had a 6-0 halftime lead if field goals had been allowed. Near the end of the second quarter, Portsmouth faced fourth down at the Bears’ 6-yard line and Presnell carried the ball on the cutback play out of the single wing. As he tried to make his cut into the hole, he lost his footing on the loose dirt and went down without being touched. Presnell was certain that he would have scored if he hadn’t slipped.

But the game was still scoreless with about ten minutes left in the game, when Dick Nesbitt intercepted a pass thrown by Clark’s replacement, Ace Gutowsky, and returned it to Portsmouth’s 7-yard line, where he was pushed out of bounds. The ball was brought in 10 (or 15) yards from the sideline and the Bears were charged with a down, under the special rule. On second down, fullback Bronko Nagurski smashed down to the 1-yard line, but he lost a yard on the next play, bringing up fourth-and-goal at the 2. Once again, Nagurski took a handoff and headed toward the line. But he stopped before he got there, took a step or two backward, and threw a touchdown pass to Red Grange.

A furious Potsy Clark charged onto the field, protesting that Nagurski hadn’t been 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball, as required at the time. But referee Bobby Cahn ruled that it was a legal forward pass and he allowed the touchdown, Tiny Engebretsen kicked the extra point to give the Bears a 7-0 lead. A little later, a bad snap went over the head of Portsmouth punter Mule Wilson and rolled through the end zone for a safety, making the final score 9-0.

Reports of attendance range from 11,000 to more than 15,000. The most reliable figure, though, seems to be 9,623 paid admissions, plus «several hundred Annie Oakleys,» meaning complimentary tickets. That number appeared in the Portsmouth Times and probably came directly from team management, based on the Spartans’ share of the gate receipts. Whatever the exact number, it was undoubtedly a lot more than would have turned out for a game in the snow and cold at Wrigley Field.

Each Chicago player was paid $240 and each Portsmouth player received $175 for the game, from receipts of about $15,000. The Bears had the full 22-man roster, but Portsmouth had only 16 players, so the players’ share was just over $8,000. Other expenses are unknown, but renting the stadium and getting it ready for a football game must have eaten up quite a lot of the other $7,000 or so.

Regardless of the financial outcome, though, the game was considered a success. At their meeting in Pittsburgh in February, 1933, NFL owners adopted three rules changes inspired by the championship game:

1. The ball was to be moved 10 yards in from the sideline after going out of bounds, without costing the offensive team a down, and hashmarks were added to the field.

2. The goalposts were moved from the end line to the goal line.

3. A forward pass was allowed from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. (A still-disgruntled Potsy Clark reportedly said, «Nagurski will pass from anywhere, so we might as well make it legal,» when he voted for the change.)

Those changes helped to increase scoring and noticeably reduced ties. In 1932, only three of the NFL’s eight teams scored more than 100 points, led by the Bears with 160. The following season, five teams scored more than 100 points; the New York Giants led the way with a whopping 244 and the Packers were next with 170. The number of ties was cut in half, from 10 in 1932 to five in 1933.

At the urging of George Preston Marshall of the Boston Braves (now the Washington Redskins), owners decided at their July meeting to reorganize the NFL into Eastern and Western Divisions, with a post-season championship game between the division winners. Marshall reasoned that, since the impromptu championship game of 1932 had won unprecedented coverage for the league, an annual championship game would be a terrific showcase for professional football, like baseball’s World Series. Of course, that game has evolved into a nonpareil media event called the Super Bowl.

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A Short Biography of Famous Soccer Players – Diego Milito

His complete name is Diego Alberto Milito. He was born in Bernal, Argentina on 12 June 1979. Diego Milito is a professional soccer player and now become a part of national team of Argentina. In club level, he presently plays for F.C. Internazionale Milano. In the field of arena, he is always played as a center-forward.

For international career as professional player, Milito made two goals on his first appearance in opposition to Uruguay in 2003. He participated for Argentina national team in the 2007 Copa América competition.

Milito is so powerful with a keen eye for goal. And he is considered as one of the finest headers of the ball in the modern game. In addition, he is also considered as a productive and consistent striker. His nickname is Il Principe (Italian for «The Prince»).

During his career as a professional soccer player, he ever played for some senior clubs. Some of them are Racing Club (1999-2004), Genoa (2004-2005), Zaragoza (2005-2008), Genoa (2008-2009), and Internazionale (2009- ). He got some honors with his clubs. And some of his honors are Primera División Argentina (Apertura 2001 with Racing Club), and Serie A: 2009, Coppa Italia: 2010, UEFA Champions League: 2010 (with Internazionale).

At Real Zaragoza, Diego Milito was a captain for the club, taking over this position from Gabriel who leaved for Barcelona in 2007. In the La Liga 2006-2007 season, he was one of players who got the top scorers. His goals assisted the club to a sixth position finish in the league.

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