Friday, July 20, 2007

German Referee Causes Chile´s Loss in World Cup semifinal

Referee Causes Chile´s Loss in World Cup semifinal
Toronto police attack and arrest Chilean players after match

Nine Chilean players injured, handcuffed and locked up by the police in the dressing rooms at the Toronto National Stadium. A diplomatic incident between Canadian and Chilean authorities. Bomb threats against the Canadian and German embassies in Santiago. These are just some of the consequences of the incompetent performance by the trio of referees headed by Wolfgang Stark of Germany that was supposed to control play during the semifinal of the U20 World Cup.
Once again FIFA made a terrible mistake and on July 19 appointed three inexperienced and innocent referees to oversee a match of tremendous importance since Chile and Argentina were disputing a place in a World Cup final.
According to the FIFA webpage, Stark only speaks German and English, so why was he appointed to be the referee in a match between two teams whose players speak spanish?
Wolfgang Stark was unable to control the actions from the first minute by not punishing the flagrant acts of provocation carried out by the Argentinean players against their opponents. After only six minutes of play Nicholas Medina of Chile was running off alone towards the Argentine goal but was tripped and brought down to the ground by Mathias Cahais of Argentina with a sliding tackle. According to FIFA rules Cahais should have been sent off either for the late tackle or also for fouling a player that was alone in front of the goalkeeper with a clear goal scoring chance. However, Stark only showed the Argentine player a yellow card, causing the anger of the Chilean players and coaching staff. Also the Argentine players were constantly provoking and assaulting the Chilean players whenever Stark or his associates were not watching them. The Chilean players fell into the trap set by their rivals and lost their concentration, and in the 11th minute Demaria scored a legitimate goal for Argentina past goalkeeper Chris Toselli, that should have blocked the shot that came from an impossible angle. Even so Chile continued to put pressure on the rival area, but in a childish mistake midfielder Gary Medel reacted violently after being kicked without the ball by Gabriel Mercado. Medel did indeed feint to kick Mercado as he lay on the ground, but Wolfgang Stark was fooled by the Argentinean that acted as if Medel really had struck him in the face. Instead of showing both players a red or yellow card it was only Gary Medel that was sent off in the 14th minute. Obviously with one man less on the field the Chilean team was left in a disadvantageous situation from a very early stage, while for the remainder of the first half Stark continuously favored the Argentinean players by overlooking whenever they committed a foul or by awarding free kicks against Chile. To the credit of the Argentineans it must be recognized that their provocation tactics certainly caused the desired effect on their Chilean counterparts that had been in an overconfident and relaxed mood during the three days previous to the match. The second half continued in a similar fashion with the Chilean players completely in discontrol which was capitalized in the 63rd minute by Claudio Jacob that scored the second goal for Argentina. But the spark that set off the blaze that would follow after the match was set off by Wolfgang Stark as he sent off Dagoberto Currimilla in the 77th minute and also in the 92nd minute as he did not award a clear penalty against Arturo Vidal that was brought down in the penalty area. Also near the end of the match a Chilean fan ran onto the pitch and tried to assault the German referee. As the three referees tried to walk towards the dressing rooms, they were prevented from doing so for several minutes as angry Chilean fans threw bottles and objects at them, that finally escaped by running in to the tunnel.
Half an hour later Chilean television stations reported with news flashes that several players had been beaten up and arrested by Toronto police. Also the security guards at the stadium assaulted and prevented Chilean press reporters from filming as the players were handcuffed and retained in their dressing rooms. The version of the Chilean delegation is that as the players were walking towards the bus that would take them back to their hotel they were cheered by Chilean fans that were behind the police barriers. Some players tried to shake hands with the fans but were immediately beaten up and tazered by the police officers. This caused a fight between the officers and the Chilean players that ended up barricading themselves in their bus along with some ANFP (Chile football federation) officials. Some minutes later they were violently taken down from the bus by riot police that used tear gas and tazers to subdue the players.
Alexis Sanchez, one of the best players of the Chilean team was seen on television as he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back by Toronto police officers. Sanchez was recovering from an elbow injury and could be heard screaming as the police officers tightened their grip on him. FIFA’s version has been given through their spokesman John Schumacher that has surprised the Chilean press and fans after saying that the players were only “taken to a room so that the situation could de-escalate.”
The Mayor of Toronto David Miller has denied that he described police response to the repression against Chile´s U-20 soccer brawl as "rough," but expressed regret over incident. The Chilean authoritites have described the incident as “unjustified aggression” and have ordered the Consul n that city to demande a formal explanation from the Mayor of Toronto. Josè Sulantay,the Chilean coach has commented that his players lost control after being exposed to tremendous pressure before the match, ans also that it is very unlikely that Chile will play Austria this Sunday in the match for third place since many of the players are injured as well as psychologically and physically unfit to play.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chile Advances to Semifinal of U20 World Cup

Goalkeeper Toselli sets world record in 4-0 win over Nigeria

On July 15 Chile´s U20 squad continued showing its impressive form at the World Cup being held in Canada. The rival this time was Nigeria (current African sub-champions in this category) that also became the first team to put up serious resistance to the South Americans. From the kick off at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, the Nigerians surprised the crowd of 35,000 as it pinned Chile in its own half, but the poor aim of its players prevented the Africans from scoring on three clear chances during the first fifteen minutes. Chile's players could not find a formula to break open the Nigerian defense and it was only in the 18th minute that they had their first goalscoring opportunity. Nicholas Medina was left alone in the area but goalkeeper Ezenwa deflected the striker's shot over the crossbar. Meanwhile Chile´s star player Alexis Sanchez had been neutralized by the Nigerians with a string of fouls and hard tackles. In the 43rd minute Nigeria could also have scored but Ezequiel Bala´s header hit the crossbar of the goal defended by Christopher Toselli.
In the second half Chilean coach Jose Sulantay made some risky replacements as he put on Carlos Carmona and Jaime Grondona for Alexis Sanchez , but the move worked since from then on until the end of the match Chile began taking control of the match. For the first time in the tournament the Chilean squad had been unable to score during normal time and was forced to continue with a further thirty minutes of extra play.
In the 95th minute Chile was awarded a free kick from forty meters that as usual was taken by Mauricio Isla, one of the best players of the afternoon. Isla's high ball caused a mix-up among the Nigerian defenders that ended up with Jaime Grondona tapping the ball into the net from close range with his head. With the crucial goal having been scored, Nigeria went into disarray as it advanced desperately towards the Chilean half in search of the equalizer. This left far too many spaces in Nigeria's defense that was easily capitalized by Chile with fast counterattacks. In the 112th minute Isla and Mathias Vidangossy ran off alone towards the Nigerian goal and as the latter player entered the penalty area he was fouled by Sodiq that was immediately sent off by the referee Howard Webb. Isla wrapped up the match for Chile through a penalty but along with Vidangossy would add yet another two goals in the 119th and 121st minute respectively. Apart from the brilliant achievement of having qualified to the semifinal that will be played on July 19, the Chilean squad has also set a world record in U20 championships. Goalkeeper Chris Toselli has not conceded a single goal after 480 minutes of play, breaking the previous record set by Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Alvarez in the 1979 U20 World Cup played in Japan, that played for 442 minutes without conceding a goal.
Now Chilean fans expect Toselli to continue with his record and help the team continue towards the final, a feat that does not seem impossible for these players that have put on a brilliant performance.


Brazil Crushes Argentina in final of Copa America
Dunga´s team humiliates traditional rivals BY 3-0

On July 15, thanks to its impressive form in the previous matches, Argentina was the clear favorite to win the final of the 2007 Copa America. Its rival was Brazil that had been much criticized by the local press after losing the first match against Mexico and only managing to draw with Ecuador in the second. The match was played at the Pachencho Romero Stadium in Maracaibo, and apart from bringing together the two most powerful squads in the continent was also the chance to see who would win the personal duel between Lionel Messi and Robinho. Messi plays for Barcelona in the Spanish first division, while Robinho plays for its arch-rival Real Madrid, that recently became champions of the 2006-2007 season. Robinho arrived at the match as the leading goalscorer of Copa America with six goals, but it had been Messi that had become a crowd favorite with his skilful play, including a fantastic goal against Mexico in the semifinal.
However Brazil struck the first blow after only three minutes of play as Julio Baptista scored a spectacular long range goal from nearly thirty meters. Only four minutes later Juan Roman Riquelme nearly equalized after a great combination of passes but his hard shot hit the crossbar of Doni´s goal. It seemed that after this missed opportunity the Argentinean players sensed that it would not be their afternoon, and they would be further demoralized in the 40th minute as captain Roberto Ayala scored an own goal while trying to intercept a cross by a Daniel Alves of Brazil.
Brazil continued playing its effective football during the rest of the first half and Argentina's attempts to score were constantly blocked.
It would be Alves gain that would give the knockout punch for Brazil in the 68th minute as he finished off a well-created counterattack with a precise low shot. From then on Argentina became completely demoralized and gave up trying to equalize.
After this victory, Brazil has won the Copa America on eight occasions, while Mexico obtained the third place after defeating Uruguay by 3-1 on July 14. The general opinion is that this year's edition of Copa America has been a success due to the impressive new stadiums built specially for the occasion by the Venezuelan government and the many goals scored during the competition (86).

Starting Libneups
Brasil: Doni; Maicon, Alex, Juan , Gilberto; Mineiro, Josué, Elano , Julio Baptista; Wagner Love ,Robinho .
Coach: Dunga.
Argentina: R.Abbondanzieri; J.Zanetti, R.Ayala, G. Milito , G.Heinze; J.Mascherano, Cambiasso ,J.Verón.J.R. Riquelme; Messi y Tevez.
Coach: Alfio Basile.
Referee: Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Chile Is Favorite to Win FIFA U20 World Cup

National team to play Nigeria in quarterfinal

Chilean football fans have nothing to complain about since the players of the U20 squad have kept their promise and shown a great performance in the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup being held in Canada. Chile qualified in first place of Group A after victories over Canada (3-0), Congo Republic (3-0) and a 0-0 draw with Austria. On July 12 the U20 squad faced Portugal at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and continued its unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win. The match was played in front of 25,000 spectators and under very hot conditions, according to the TV broadcast at a temperature of 32 ° Celsius. The Chilean team took control of the action from the kick off and was only prevented from scoring thanks to great saves by Rui Patricio, the Portuguese goalkeeper. Alexis Sanchez yet again became the most dangerous player for Chile and could have scored twice in the first 15 minutes had it not been for Patricio. The Portuguese players could only try to stop Sanchez with some rough tackles that nearly left the Chilean striker off the field in the 19th minute due to an elbow injury. Sanchez was bandaged by the paramedics and continued to play, causing havoc in Portugal's area.
still Chile had 63% of ball possession, while Sanchez had to be replaced in the 76th minute by Gerardo Cortes.
Finally Chile was able to obtain its well-deserved goal in the 45th minute as midfielder Arturo Vidal deflected the ball into the net from close range after a high free kick taken by Mauricio Isla.
In the second half Portugal attempted to attack more but according to the television broadcast its toll on the South Americans, leaving more space for Portugal to go forward. However, the Portuguese players lost their calm and in the 88th minute two of its players were sent off. Mano came from behind and pushed a Chilean player to the ground and as referee Mohd Salleh of Malaysia showed him the red card, it was rudely snatched from his hand by Zequinha, that also had to be escorted off the pitch by security guards due to his violent reaction. Everything did not end well for Chile since in the 94th minute, Arturo Vidal was also sent off for apparently wasting time before taking a free kick. This is a major loss for Chile since Vidal is one of the leaders of the team due to his optimism and decisive play. After the match Vidal stated that he "could not understand why he was sent off, or what the referee was saying. Anyhow, we are now three matches away from being World Champions." Vidal has been voted among the best players in this year's event, and has scored two goals. Chile will play Nigeria on July 19 in Montreal and in case of a victory will have to play the winner of the match between Austria and U.S.A. This last country has also become a favorite to win the Cup since three of its players (Freddy Adu, Danny Szetela and Josmer Altidore) are among the top goalscorers of the event with three goals each. The other South American team that continues in competition is Argentina that defeated Poland 3-1 and must play Mexico in its next match. Argentina's Sergio Aguero is the leading goalscorer of the tournament with five strikes and has also become a candidate for the "best player" award. U.S.A (2-1) and Spain (4-2) knocked out Uruguay and Brazil respectively, and the Spaniards will play the Czech Republic on July 18.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Historic Result For Venezuela in Copa America

On July 3, the Venezuelan national team qualified first in Group A after a goalless draw against Uruguay at the Merida Stadium. This is an historic achievement as it is the first time that Venezuela goes on to the second round of Copa America. Always known as the "pushover" team in South American football, Venezuelan football is definitely improving, both at national team level and at club level. This situation was proven at the recent of the Libertadores Cup, where Caracas F.C. made it to the quarterfinals with victories over Nacional of Uruguay (both at home and away). At Merida, Venezuela went immediately on the attack against Uruguay from the first minute, trying to get an early goal. At the end of the first half, the televised transmission showed that ball possession had favored Venezuela by 55% to Uruguay's 45%. However neither of the teams managed to capitalize their goal scoring chances, and there still is a rumor among fans and press that there may have been a tacit agreement between both sides to be satisfied with the 0-0 draw, that sent both to the second round.
On July 4 at the impressive "Olimpico" Stadium in the city of Puerto la Cruz, Chile and Mexico played the last match of Group B. Mexico was had already qualified after an impressive 2-0 victory over Brazil and a 2-1 win over Ecuador, so it fielded a reserve team against Chile, that only needed to draw to qualify. Both teams played with a defensive style, broken only by the occasional counterattack. The only clear goalscoring chance of the match went to Chile, as in the second half striker Juan Lorca was apparently brought down in the area, but the referee did not award the expected penalty. Anyhow, the match ended in another 0-0 draw and the result has raised suspicions among the press that another "tacit" agreement may have been reached before the match between the Mexican and the Chilean players, since several play in Mexican clubs. The second match of the evening was played between Brazil and Ecuador, with a 1-0 victory for the five time World champions, thanks to a penalty scored by Robinho. According to the tournament rules, Venezuela must play Uruguay again this Saturday, July 7, in what has been the only curious arrangement in the tournament. In the same manner, Brazil must also face Chile again, but this time both teams have promised a "do or die" match in this knockout stage, and maybe Chile can get revenge on the 3-0 defeat against Brazil that occurred on July 1.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Brazil Recovers Form in Copa America

Robinho hat-trick destroys Chile

On July 1, at the brand new Maturin Stadium, Chilean national team coach Nelson Acosta added yet another humiliating defeat to his record of matches against Brazil.

Acosta just cannot find a formula to defeat the five-time World champions. In six encounters, he has lost on five occasions. Acosta beat Brazil once by 3-0 during a World Cup qualifying match in Santiago in 2001.

Earlier, Chile had a great start after beating Ecuador 3-2 in the first match, while Brazil lost 2-0 to Mexico and was forced to get a victory in order to continue at Copa America.

Once again, Acosta gambled on a defensive strategy and gave Brazil the initiative and control of the field.

Since the Brazilians were constantly attacking, they were constantly in the Chilean danger zone. During a clash between a defender and striker Wagner Love, the referee thought that Love had been pushed in the penalty area.

Robinho, the Real Madrid star, scored the penalty in the 33rd minute, signaling the failure of Acosta's defensive strategy that hoped to get a goalless draw. Also, an unexpected injury forced Acosta to replace central defender Rodrigo Melendez with Manuel Iturra, further disrupting the coach's plans.

During the second half, Chile took control of the action but its strikers missed several goal-scoring chances that could have changed the final result.

Twenty minutes from the end, Chile was hit by another injury and Jaime Vargas came on for Miguel Riffo. Vargas had not warmed up properly and it showed as he left plenty of open spaces for Robinho, who finished off Chile with two goals in the 83rd and 86th minutes.

The final 3-0 result was an exaggerated score for what happened during the match, but even so, Chile still has a chance to qualify, as Mexico defeated Ecuador by 2-1. Because Mexico qualified, it will field its reserve team during the last match of the first round. Since Brazil is forced to defeat Ecuador, a draw with Mexico next Wednesday will send Chile to the second round of Copa America.

Maturin Stadium, 55,000 spectators.

Starting Lineups

Brazil (3): Doni (gk), Maicon, Alex, Juan, Gilberto, Mineiro, Elano, Gilberto Silva, Robinho, Anderson and Wagner Love. Coach: Dunga.

Chile (0): C. Bravo (gk), A. Ormeno, M. Riffo, I. Fuentes, G. Jara, P. Contreras, M. Gonzalez, A. Sanhueza, R. Melendez, J. Valdivia and H. Suazo. Coach: Nelson Acosta.

Great Start for Chile in U20 World Cup

On the same day as the adult team was crushed 3-0 by Brazil at Copa America, Chile's U20 players raised the spirits of the fans as it demolished Canada in the Toronto National Stadium.

It was the first match of Group A and the South Americans showed no respect for the host nation as it controlled the run of play from the first minute to the last. Chile attacked constantly pinning Canada in its own half. Canada's players could only resist with hard tackling and many fouls that were strangely overlooked by the referee.

Mathias Vidangossy became the playmaker for Chile and his dangerous dribbling caused havoc in the Canadian area. Chile's ground level passing and constant pressure paid off as Nicholas Medina capitalized on a mistake by a Canadian defender and scored the first goal in the 25th minute.

The match continued as usual for most of the first half and it was only thanks to the many saves of the Canadian goalkeeper that Chile did not increase its lead.

In the second half, the Canadian coach made several replacements and did improve its play, at least finally managing to get near the Chilean area.

Canada's resistance ended in the 53rd minute as captain Carlos Carmona headed in Chile's second goal. The final result was sealed in the 81st minute with another header by Jaime Grondona, who had replaced Nicholas Medina only two minutes before.

After the match, midfielder Arturo Vidal, recently hired by Bayer Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga, declared, "If we keep playing like this no one can beat us." Most Chilean fans hope the U20 players can continue showing this form and keep their promise of winning the 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup.

The other South American teams did not do so well, since Brazil lost on June 30 to Poland by 1-0, Argentina drew with the Czech Republic by 0-0 and Uruguay drew with Spain 2-2.

Chile's next match is on Thursday against Congo Republic, current African U20 champions