Uruguay legend Diego Forlan retires from international football

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Uruguay legend Diego Forlan retires from international football
Uruguay: Uruguay forward Diego Forlan is retiring from international football, saying it's time for the next generation of players to make their mark for the national team.

The 35-year-old Forlan made the announcement in Osaka, where he is under contract with J-League side Cerezo Osaka. He is expected to retire when his current contract expires after this season.

"Of course, this was a very tough decision but it's time to make way for a new generation (of players)," said Forlan, who played in three World Cups.

Forlan was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the 2010 World Cup and was joint top-scorer with five goals, bringing his international total to 36 since his World Cup debut in 2002.

Despite a reported $5.8 million contract, a record for the J-League, Forlan has struggled with the Osaka team, scoring just seven goals in 26 games.

His career has included stints at Manchester United, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.


Arsenal into top four as Tottenham Hotspur lose at Liverpool

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Arsenal climbed into the top four with a laboured 2-1 win over a spirited Leicester City while Liverpool continued their push up the Premier League table with a pulsating 3-2 victory at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.

Mario Balotelli’s first league goal for Liverpool sealed a topsy turvy game at Anfield that they twice led through Lazar Markovic and a Steven Gerrard penalty before being pegged back by the in form Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele.

Arsenal, with a revitalised Mesut Ozil in a central role, led 2-0 through Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott before basement side Leicester’s record signing Andrej Kramaric got his first goal for the club as they dominated the second half.

Fourth-placed Arsenal have 45 points from 25 games, two clear of sixth placed Spurs and three ahead of Liverpool in seventh, though they could be displaced by Manchester United in fifth who host lowly Burnley on Wednesday.

“The performance wasn’t the best at times but we got the three points and we ground it out in the end,” Arsenal goalscorer Walcott told Sky Sports.

“I can’t believe they’re bottom of the league as they played some very good football. I think they’re one of the best teams who have come to the Emirates this year. If they continue playing like that they won’t be there much longer.”

Queens Park Rangers claimed their first points away from home this season with a 2-0 victory at Sunderland thanks to goals from Leroy Fer and Bobby Zamora.

Hull City climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory at home to free falling Aston Villa, courtesy of goals from Nikica Jelavic and Dame N’Doye, subjecting the Midlands side to a fifth successive league defeat in the process.


At Anfield, striker Daniel Sturridge, on his first Premier League start after a long-term injury, was one of Liverpool’s liveliest players and could have scored twice inside 13 minutes.

First the England international’s tame shot was saved by Hugo Lloris before the France goalkeeper made a stunning, instinctive save to keep out his rasping drive minutes later.
Liverpool were not to be denied in the 15th minute though when Markovic’s low shot squirmed past Lloris.

Tottenham’s Kane, fast becoming one the Premier League’s most feared forwards, restored parity for the visitors in the 26th minute with a neat turn and low finish.

Sturridge could have given Liverpool the halftime lead but his audacious backheel clipped the post after an unfortunate mix-up between two Spurs defenders.

The second period was only eight minutes old when Liverpool regained the lead through captain Gerrard who converted a penalty won by Sturridge’s mazy run.

Tottenham responded and only a fantastic Simon Mignolet save prevented Erik Lamela bringing the sides level again.

Moments later Dembele bundled home Kane’s scuffed cross and, as both sides

pushed for a late winner, it was Liverpool and the much-maligned Balotelli who pounced with a close range finish.


The visit of Leicester provided Arsenal with the perfect opportunity to rebound from their bitter 2-1 north London derby defeat at rivals Spurs on Saturday.

With Ozil orchestrating their attacking play, Arsenal opened the scoring when Koscielny converted the German’s corner in the 27th minute.

But in an encouraging first half for the visitors, Leicester belied their lowly position to cause a number of problems with quick and enterprising counter-attacks.

As their confidence grew they were dealt a blow when Walcott doubled Arsenal’s lead, reacting quickest to convert Ozil’s parried shot.

Leicester were unperturbed and started the second half brightly, pulling back a goal through 9 million pounds ($13.73 million) record signing Kramaric in the 61st minute.

The visitors dominated the rest of the match and were unlucky not to leave the Emirates with a point As they remained four points adrift at the bottom of the table.

Leicester have 17 points from 25 games behind Burnley, who have 21, with Villa and Queens Park Rangers on 22, West Browmich Albion and Hull City with 23 and Sunderland on 24.

Asian Cup: China, Uzbekistan target quarters

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Sydney: Alain Perrin`s China will look to edge closer to a first Asian Cup quarter-final appearance in more than a decade with a win over 2011 semi-finalists Uzbekistan on Wednesday.

China upset Saudi Arabia 1-0 in their Group B opening match on Saturday, while the Uzbeks also collected three points, defeating North Korea by the same scoreline.

It was 2004 when China, as hosts, were last in the knock-out stages, and they are fully aware of the threat of Uzbekistan, having never beaten them in three previous Asian Cup meetings.

"We haven`t qualified for the knock-out stage for 10 years but now we have a very good chance after winning our first match," said defender Zhang Linpeng.

China and Uzbekistan kick off in Brisbane at 07:00 pm (0900 GMT).

Three-time winners Saudi Arabia know they must at least avoid defeat against North Korea after their upset loss against the Chinese to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the last eight.

The Saudis were dealt a blow just before the start of the tournament when controversial striker Nassir Al Shamrani was ruled out of the tournament with an abdominal injury.

His absence was painfully obvious as the Saudis lacked firepower against China and coach Cosmin Olaroiu said he would be making changes to his starting line-up for the crunch 06:00 pm (0700 GMT) clash in Melbourne.

"We know what we need to do exactly, we have only one way and it is very important to win the game," he said. "With the changes we are going to make, we are going to make sure we try to get more power and score more goals."

North Korea coach Jo Tong-Sop is hoping his Swiss-based pair Pak Kwang-Ryong and Cha Jong-Hyok can help his team overcome the odds and reach the last eight.

"I rely a lot on them and expect them to step up in the next games," he told reporters on Tuesday.

ISL glitz props Indian football, national team slips in 2014

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File photo
The ‘sleeping giant’ woke up to a new dawn with the ISL putting Indian football on the global map, but the national team continued to paint a grim picture, plummeting to its worst-ever rankings in an eventful year for the sport.

The national team’s prolonged decline got buried under the intense hype over what turned out to be a fairly successful inaugural Indian Super League, which was graced by former stars such as Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Marco Materrazi, Luis Garcia and Nicolas Anelka, among others.

Seen for over two months on the dugout was Zico, a football legend in his own right not just in Brazil but the world over.

Goa FC did reach the semifinals of ISL but what was more important for the side’s players was that they were under the tutelage of Zico for over two months, something that would surely benefit them in near future.

Besides the franchise-based tournament, a model based on cricket’s popular Indian Premier League, bagging the 2017 Under-17 World Cup was another silver lining this year for the success-starved nation that is struggling at 171 in FIFA rankings.

In January, India were ranked 156th and by the end of year, they dropped 15 places, the never-ending spate of reverses leaving coach Wim Koevermans so frustrated that the Dutchman decided not to continue in the hot seat.

Another one from the Netherlands, Robb Bann, has also quit from the post of technical director.

A replacement is awaited with Stephen Constantine emerging as the front-runner for his second spell as India coach. ISL franchise NorthEast United’s coach Rickie Herbert’s name is also doing the rounds.

If the lack of enough international friendlies is one of the reasons for the national team’s decline, the Indians failed to perform the few times they played, most prominent among them being the defeat to Pakistan.

The women’s and the junior teams though fared better compared to the senior men’s team.

The on-field disappointments of the men’s national team aside, the year panned out to be quite a promising one for Indian football.

Not too long ago not many people would have imagined that footballers who were once big names, would be criss-crossing the country, dishing out the best they could offer in this stage of their lives in different cities.

The ISL made it possible, and how!

The presence of big attractions lured the fans and they trooped in to the stadiums in droves, cheering for their cities and some of the favourite stars who they saw only on TV in the past.

The likes of Del Piero, Materrazi and Trezeguet gave the fans just the kind of connect with club football that the I-League had struggled to provide over so many years.

Added attraction was the Bollywood and cricket connection that most of the clubs had with legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly joining popular actors such as Ranbir Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan as owners various franchises.

With legends on display both on the pitch and in the stands, fans turned up in droves to catch the action and the players too rose to the expectations providing engaging contests, making the ISL a success in its inaugural season itself.

According to figures released by ISL organisers in November, the eight-team tournament was the fourth highest attended league in the world with an average attendance of 24,357, only behind German Bundesliga, English Premier League and Spanish La Liga.

This was is stark contrast to the country’s premier domestic competition -- the I-League, which struggles struggles to attract even a few thousands to the stands, with the exception of maybe a few derby matches in Kolkata or Goa.
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