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Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Ultimate guide

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Your ultimate guide to the action in South Africa

. Known as a
‘fixer’, he has an established record of turning teams around and has
led four different teams to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title.

Captain: Bongani Khumalo – Was handed
the captain’s armband following the retirement of Everton’s Steven
Pienaar and was Igesund’s first choice. Fans of Tottenham may recall
that Khumalo joined the club from feeder club Supersport United in
January 2011 and the 26-year-old centre-back remains on their books,
despite his only appearances in English football coming during loan
spells at Preston North End and then Reading. He is currently out in
Greece on loan at PAOK.

British based players: Kagisho Dikgacoi
(Crystal Palace, midfielder, 48 caps and two goals); Dean Furman (Oldham
Athletic, midfielder, five caps)

Star Player: Katlego Mphela – A player
who has impressed ever since joining the Bafana Bafana fold in 2005 and
who boasts an impressive scoring record of 23 goals in 47 appearances.
Many of these have been eye-catching or crucial in the context of the
game – strikes of note include a last minute 30-yard free-kick to take
the 2009 Confederations Cup third-place play-off with Spain into extra

Squad: Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa and Tshepo
Masilela (Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba and Siyabonga Sangweni (Pirates),
Bongani Khumalo (PAOK), Anele Ngcongca (Genk), Thabo Nthethe
(Bloemfontein Celtic)

Midfielders: Reneilwe Letsholonyane and
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Chiefs), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Kagiso
Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Dean Furman (Oldham), Max Mahlangu
(Helsingborg), Oupa Manyisa (Pirates), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars),
Thulani Serero (Ajax)

Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro and Bernard Parker (Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo)


Nickname: Lions of the Atlas

FIFA Ranking: 74

Colours: Red

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1976

Manager: Rachid Taoussi – A relatively
recent appointment, having replaced Eric Gerets when Morocco
embarrassingly lost to Mozambique in the first leg of their Africa Cup
of Nations qualifier in September last year. His first successful task
was to overcome that 2-0 deficit with a 4-0 home win to seal their place
in the competition. Taoussi, 56, earned his appointment by taking
Moroccan side Maghreb Fez to a historic triple of African Federation
Cup, African Super Cup and the Throne Cup.

Captain: Nadir Lamyaghri – A new
appointment following an unedifying war of words between Taoussi and
regular captain Houssine Kharja in the build-up to the tournament.
Kharja hit out at his manager, whom he believed was ignoring him because
he had moved from Fiorentina to Qatari side Al-Arabi last June. ‘I
think Taoussi lacked courage – during the past few months he has been
very evasive with me, using excuses not to choose me such as the
distance I must travel for matches,’ he has said. Lamyaghri is a
long-serving goalkeeper, with 37 caps to his credit.

British based players: Karim El Ahmadi
(Aston Villa, midfielder, 19 caps and one goal); Oussama Assaidi
(Liverpool, striker, 11 caps and one goal)

Star Player: Abdelaziz Barrada –
Morocco’s up-and-coming hope, who has played for Getafe in La Liga since
August 2011. The 23-year-old central midfielder possesses a good first
touch, intelligent passing range and can also take a mean free-kick.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Khalid Askiri (Raja Casablanca), Nadir Lamyaghri (Wydad Casablanca), Anas Zniti (Moghreb Fes)

Defenders: Abderahim Chakir (FAR Rabat),
Abdelatif Nousseir (Moghreb Fes), Issam El Adoua (Guimaraes), Mehdi
Benatia (Udinese), Zakarya Bergdich (Lens), Ahmed Kantari (Brest),
Abdelhamid El Kaoutari (Montpellier)

Midfielders: Karim El Ahmadi (Aston
Villa), Abdelaziz Barrada (Getafe), Chahir Belghazouani (Ajaccio),
Younes Belhanda (Montpellier), Adil Hermach (Al Hilal), Kamal Chafni
(Brest), Mehdi Namli (Moghreb Tetouan)

Strikers: Nordin Amrabat (Galatasaray),
Youssef El Arabi (Granada), Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool), Abderrazak
Hamdallah (Olympique Safi), Mounir El Hamdaoui (Fiorentina), Youssef
Kadioui (FAR)

Home rule: Spurs' Khumalo will be hoping to lead his nation to glory

Home rule: Spurs' Khumalo will be hoping to lead his nation to glory


Nickname: The Sable Antelopes

FIFA Ranking: 84

Colours: Red and black

Best Cup of Nations: Quarter-finals, 2008 and 2010

Manager: Gustavo Ferrin – Ferrin, who
hails from Uruguay, replaced Lito Vidigal after Angola failed to get
beyond the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations last year. His
challenge is to guide Angola to a second World Cup finals, following
their appearance at the Germany tournament in 2006, and so this
tournament should serve as a good yardstick.

Captain: Manucho – remember him The
great hope of Angolan football, talent spotted and given his dream move
to Manchester United back in 2008. He played just ten minutes of league football at Old
Trafford before loan spells at Panathinaikos and Hull City. He’s now in
Spain at Real Valladolid and has a decent scoring record.

Star Player: Djalma Campos – he versatile frontman is on the
books of FC Porto, though he is spending the season on loan with
Kasimpasa in Turkey, the side Roy Keane was linked to late last year. He
has three goals in 29 appearances for Angola.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Lama (Petro Atletico), Landu (Recreativo Libolo), Neblu (Primeiro Agosto)

Defenders: Amaro, Bastos and Dani
Massunguna (Primeiro), Fabricio, Mingo Bille and Pirolito (InterClube),
Marco Airosa (AEL Limassol), Lunguinha (Kabuscorp), Zuela (Apoel

Midfielders: Dede and Gilberto (AEL Limassol), Manucho Dinis (Primeiro), Manuel (Aviacao), Miguel (Petro)

Strikers: Djalma (Kasimpasa), Geraldo
(Parana), Guilherme Afonso (Vaduz), Manucho Goncalves (Real Valladolid),
Mateus (Nacional), Yano (Progresso)

Cape Verde Islands

Nickname: Blue Sharks

FIFA Ranking: 69

Colours: Blue, white and red

Best Cup of Nations: First tournament

Manager: Lucio Antunes – The island
nation are led into their first major tournament by Antunes who, in his
three years in the post, has successfully scouted a group of players
from the country’s small population and got them to the finals.

Captain: Nando Maria Neves – 34-year-old
centre-back, nicknamed Nando, who plies his trade with French second
division side Chateauroux and has 28 caps for Cape Verde.

A bit of a
journeyman player, he has played for teams in Portugal, Switzerland,
Tunisia, Qatar and the Czech Republic.

Star Player: Ryan Mendes – If Cape Verde
are to achieve anything in this tournament, much will depend on the
attacking play of Mendes, who plays for French club Lille.

23-year-old scored three important goals in the AFCON 2013 qualification
tournament, having worked his way through the national team’s youth

Squad: Goalkeepers: Fock (Petro Atletico), Rilly (Mindelense), Vozinha (Progresso Sambizanga)

Defenders: Carlitos (AEL Limassol),
Fernando Varela (Vaslui), Gege (Maritimo), Guy Ramos (Waalwijk), Josimar
(Dordrecht), Nando (Chateauroux), Nivaldo (Academica Coimbra), Pecks
(Gil Vicente)

Midfielders: Babanco and David Silva
(Olhanense), Platini (Santa Clara), Roni (Fola Esch), Marco Soares
(Omonia Nicosia), Stenio (Feirense), Toni Varela (Sparta Rotterdam)

Strikers: Djaniny (Olhanense), Heldon (Maritimo), Julio Tavares (Dijon), Ryan Mendes (Lille), Rambe (Belenenses)


Saturday January 19 – Johannesburg
South Africa v Cape Verde Islands (4pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport
Angola v Morocco (7pm) – British Eurosport

Wednesday January 23 – Johannesburg
South Africa v Angola (3pm) – British Eurosport
Morocco v Cape Verde Islands (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Sunday January 27 – Durban
Morocco v South Africa (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Sunday January 27 – Port Elizabeth
Cape Verde Islands v Angola (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

As with the World Cup in 2010, this will be a showcase of both South Africa as a team and nation.

The support of the home crowd will give them a lift by another ten per cent in each game. But they bring a young, inexperienced team to the tournament and probably won’t have enough to go all the way.

I'm not sure how it’s going to go for Morocco and the other North African nations.

Morocco have Karim El Ahmadi, whom Aston Villa could do without losing given they are struggling at the moment.

First-timers: Cape Verde are making their debut at the finals

First-timers: Cape Verde are making their debut at the finals



Nickname: Black Stars

FIFA Ranking: 30

Colours: All-white

Best Cup of Nations: Winners 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982

Manager: James Kwesi Appiah – After a
run of two successive Serbian managers, the Black Stars appointed almost
from within when selecting Appiah, given that he had served as interim
boss previously. A former left-back and captain for the national side
between 1987 and 1992, he was given the top job in April last year.

Captain: Asamoah Gyan – It's been quite a
rollercoaster for Gyan since he shot to prominence at the 2010 World
Cup. There, he scored three important goals, including the extra time
winner against the United States in the second round.

He famously missed
a last minute penalty in the quarter-final with Uruguay, following Luis
Suarez’s deliberate handball on the line.

His performances earned a
move to Sunderland, where an encouraging and fairly prolific first
season was followed by niggling injuries in his second. Gyan now plays
for Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, where he is on a five-year
contract worth 6.4m.

British based player: Albert Adomah (Bristol City, Midfielder, four caps)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Fatau Dauda (Ashanti Gold), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset)

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Esperance),
Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor), Mohammed Awal (Maritzburg Utd), John
Boye (Rennes), Kissi Boateng (Berekum Chelsea), Jonathan Mensah (Evian),
John Paintsil (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Isaac Vorsah (Red Bull Salzburg)

Midfielders: Albert Adomah (Bristol
City), Anthony Annan (Osasuna), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Solomon
Asante (Berekum), Christian Atsu (Porto), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu
(Udinese), Derek Boateng (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Mohammed Rabiu
(Evian), Mubarak Wakaso (Espanyol)

Strikers: Emmanuel Clottey (Esperance), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Richmond Boakye Yiadom (Sassuolo)

Star Player: Kwadwo Asamoah – despite
being only 24, Asamoah is an accomplished player for both Ghana, for
whom he has 41 caps, and his club Juventus, where his dynamic midfield
performances have been of a maturing player reaching his full potential.

Congo DR

Nickname: The Leopards

FIFA Ranking: 99

Colours: Blue and red

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1968 and 1974

Manager: Claude Le Roy – The blonde
haired Frenchman has had an extraordinary career, having managed across
Africa and the Middle East. He was briefly at Cambridge United in 2004,
though he was essentially volunteering to assist coach Herve Renard, who
will feature in this tournament as manager of Zambia. Le Roy previously
managed DR Congo between 2004 and 2006 and returned in 2011.

Captain: Tresor Mputu – 27-year-old
striker once described by Le Roy as the next Samuel Eto’o, Mputu has an
excellent scoring record for the Leopards, with 13 in 22 starts.
Currently leading the line for TP Mazembe in his native country, he has
been linked with a possible move to Celtic during one of the transfer
windows this year.

British based players: Youssouf Mulumbu
(West Bromwich Albion, Midfielder, 12 caps); Gabriel Zakuani
(Peterborough United, defender, one cap)

Games Mulumbu will miss: January 19 –
Aston Villa (H); January 30 – Everton (A); February 3 – Tottenham
Hotspur (H); February 11 – Liverpool (A)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Robert Kidiaba (TP Mazembe), Bakala Landu (MK Etancheite), Parfait Mandanda (Charleroi)

Defenders: Jean Kasusula (Mazembe),
Larrys Mabiala (Karabukspor), Chancel Mbemba (Anderlecht), Cedric
Mongongu (Evian), Issama Mpeko (Vita Club), Landry Mulemo (Kortrijk),
Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough)

Midfielders: Dioko Kaluyituka
(Al-Kharitiyath), Deo Kanda (Mazembe), Cedric Makiadi (Freiburg), Zola
Matumona (Mons-Bergen), Tresor Mputu (Mazembe), Youssouf Mulumbu (West
Bromwich Albion)

Strikers: Patou Kabangu (Mazembe), Yves
Diba (Al-Raed), Domi Kumbela (Eintracht Brunswick), Tresor LuaLua Lomana
(Karabukspor), Manzia Budje (Shark), Dieumerci Mbokani (Anderlecht),
Luvumbu Nzinga (Rojolu)

Star Player: Dieumerci Mbokani – The
pressure to deliver goals will fall largely on Anderlecht striker
Mbokani, who is adept at playing the orthodox striking role or cutting
in from the flanks. He has an impressive record in the
Belgium, with 28 goals in 40 league games.

Best foot forward: Gyan (right) will lead the Black Stars in South Africa

Best foot forward: Gyan (right) will lead the Black Stars in South Africa


Nickname: The Eagles

FIFA Ranking: 25

Colours: Yellow, red and green

Best Cup of Nations: Runners-up 1972

Manager: Patrice Carteron – Sunderland
fans will remember Carteron as the loanee who scored in the Tyne Wear
derby of April 2001.

Captain: Seydou Keita – The most
experienced head in the Mali dressing room. He was, of course, at
Barcelona for four years up to last summer, winning three La Liga titles
and two European Cups.

British based players: Samba Diakite
(Queen Park Rangers, midfielder, five caps); Modibo Maiga (West Ham
United, striker, 36 caps and seven goals)

Games Diakite will miss: January 19 –
West Ham (A); January 26 – Milton Keynes Dons (H, FA Cup fourth round);
January 29 – Manchester City (H); February 2 – Norwich City (H);
February 9 – Swansea City (A)

Games Maiga will miss: January 16 –
Manchester United (A, FA Cup third round replay); January 19 – Queens
Park Rangers (H); January 23 – Arsenal (A); January 26 – Possible Fulham
(H, FA Cup fourth round); February 2 – Swansea City (H); February 10 –
Aston Villa (A)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), Mamadou Samassa (Guingamp), Aly Yirango (Djoliba)

Defenders: Adama Coulibaly (Auxerre),
Idrissa Coulibaly (Lekihwiya), Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest), Salif
Coulibaly (Djoliba), Fousseyni Diawara (Ajaccio), Mahamadou Ndiaye
(Vitoria Guimaraes), Adama Tamboura (Randers), Molla Wague (Caen)

Midfielders: Samba Diakite (QPR), Cheick
Fantamady Diarra (Rennes), Sigamary Diarra (Ajaccio), Seydou Keita
(Aerbin Dalian), Mohamed Lamine Sissoko (Paris Saint Germain), Samba Sow
(Lens), Kalilou Traore (Sochaux), Mahamane Traore (Nice), Sambou
Yatabare (Bastia)

Strikers: Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Bordeaux), Modibo Maiga (West Ham), Mamadou Samassa (Chievo)

Star Player: Modibo Maiga – Maiga can be a bit
hit and miss, as Hammers fans have found at times and he has five goals
for his country.


Nickname: Gazelles

FIFA Ranking: 105

Colours: White

Best Cup of Nations: Round one, 2012

Manager: Gernot Rohr – Rohr created the
vacancy for himself when, managing Gabon at last year’s Africa Cup of
Nations, they beat Niger 2-0 in the group stages and signalled the
beginning of the end for Niger’s French boss Rolland Courbis.

So, the
59-year-old German was brought in and he successfully booked his place
in another AFCON with a win over Guinea.

Captain: Moussa Maazou – National
captain at just 24, striker Maazou has seven goals for his country so
far and will be expected to increase that at the Cup of Nations.

He was
tipped for a career in Europe when he arrived at Lokeren in 2008 and
then CSKA Moscow the following year.

However, he failed to settle and,
following a succession of loan spells, decided to return to Africa with
Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel last year.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Moussa Alzouma (Garde Nationale), Daouda Kassaly (Chippa Utd), Saminou Rabo (Sahel)

Defenders: Ismael Alassane, Kader Amadou
and Mohamed Soumaila (Olympic), Mohamed Bachar and Luky James (AS
Douane), Mohammed Chikoto (Marsa), Koffi Dankowa (Zarzis), Kourouma
Fatogoma (Chabab)

Midfielders: Issoufou Boubacar
(clubless), Karim Konate (clubless), Issiakou Koudize (Garde Nationale),
Idrissa Laouali (Mangasport), Amadou Mountari (Le Mans), Williams
N’Gonou (LB 07), Souleymane Sakou (Olympic), Babacar Talatou (AmaZulu)

Strikers: Kamilou Daouda (Saoura), Issoufou Dante (Wydad Fes), Moussa Maazou (Etoile Sahel), Modibo Sidib (clubless)

Star Player: Daouda Kamilou –
Algerian-based striker likely to carry Niger’s strongest attacking

The 25-year-old has three goals for his country and currently
plays for Algerian top division side JS Saoura.


Sunday January 20 – Port Elizabeth
Ghana v DR Congo (3pm) – British Eurosport
Mali v Niger (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Thursday January 24 – Port Elizabeth
Ghana v Mali (3pm) – British Eurosport
Niger v DR Congo (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Monday January 28 – Port Elizabeth
Ghana v Niger (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Monday January 28 – Durban
DR Congo v Mali (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

It’s hard to
look beyond Ghana for this group.

They performed brilliantly in the 2010
World Cup but like some of the other teams in the tournament with just
star man, they will be looking to Asamoah Gyan to deliver.

If he does,
then it is possible they could challenge for the trophy.

He didn’t have
the best of times in the Premier League, but seems to be getting some
form back now.

Play it Coul: The Auxerre defedner (right) will eb in action for Mali

Play it Coul: The Auxerre defedner (right) will eb in action for Mali



Nickname: Super Eagles

FIFA Ranking: 52

Colours: All-Green

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1980 and 1994

Manager: Stephen Keshi – A Nigerian
veteran of 64 caps, former defender Keshi picked up the Super Eagles at
their lowest ebb – when they failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations a
year ago, for the first time in 26 years. There were no such problems
this time, with Nigeria easily beating Liberia 8-3 on aggregate. Keshi
has previously managed two other teams in this tournament – Mali and

Captain: Joseph Yobo – The centre back,
formerly of Everton, has seen it all during an international career
spanning 12 years and 89 caps. He assumed the captaincy before the 2010
World Cup finals, which were his second tournament following the 2002
finals in Japan and South Korea. Now 32, Yobo plays for Fenerbahce in

British based players: Mikel John Obi
(Chelsea, midfielder, 38 caps and three goals); Victor Moses (Chelsea,
striker, six caps and two goals)

Games Moses and Mikel will miss: January
16 – Southampton (H); January 20 – Arsenal (H); January 23 – Swansea
City (A, League Cup semi-final, second leg); January 27 – Brentford (A,
FA Cup fourth round); January 30 – Reading (A); February 2 – Newcastle
United (A); February 9 – Wigan Athletic (H)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheba), Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

Defenders: Efe Ambrose (Celtic),
Elderson Echiejile (Braga), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth
Omeruo (ADO Den Haag), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars), Juwon Oshaniwa
(Ashdod), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce)

Midfielders: Reuben Gabriel (Kano
Pillars), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Obiora
Nwankwo (Calcio Padova), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio)

Strikers: Sunday Mba and Ejike Uzoenyi
(Enugu), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv),
Victor Moses (Chelsea), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Ikechukwu Uche

Star Player: John Obi Mikel – The
25-year-old has achieved pretty much
everything in the club game and now is his opportunity to add
international honours too.

Has three goals in his
38 appearances – one more than he has in 263 games for Chelsea!


Nickname: The Copper Bullets

FIFA Ranking: 34

Colours: Orange and green

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 2012

Manager: Herve Renard – A national hero
after leading the team to Africa Cup of Nations victory last time out,
beating fancied Senegal, Ghana and the ivory Coast along the way. He
worked with the DR Congo coach Claude Le Roy – his mentor in the game –
to save Cambridge United from the drop in a short spell back in 2004.

Frenchman Renard also managed the Zambian team between 2008 and 2010.

Captain: Christopher Katongo – An
inspiration in the playmaker role during their triumph last year,
Katongo is regarded as a powerful workhorse of a player. He was voted
BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2012 in appreciation of his role
in Zambia’s historic win.

He plays out in China for Henan Construction
and has 68 caps to his credit.

British based players: Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton, striker, 40 caps and ten goals)

Games Mayuka will miss: January 16 –
Chelsea (A); January 21 – Everton (H); January 30 – Manchester United
(H); February 2 – Wigan Athletic (A); February 9 – Manchester City (H)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Daniel Munyau (Red Arrows), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos)
Defenders: Hichani Himoonde, Francis
Kasonde and Stoppila Sunzu (TP Mazembe), Emmanuel Mbola (Porto), Joseph
Musonda (Golden Arrows), Davies Nkausu (SuperSport Utd)

Midfielders: Isaac Chansa and
Christopher Katongo (Henan Jianje), Rainford Kalaba and Nathan Sinkala
(Mazembe), Noah Chivuta (Free State Stars), Felix Katongo (Petro
Atletico), Chisamba Lungu (Ural Oblast), Mukuka Mulenga (Power Dynamos),
William Njobvu (Hapoel Beer Sheba)

Strikers: James Chamanga (Liaojing
Whowin), Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton), Collins Mbesuma (Orlando
Pirates), Jacob Mulenga (Utrecht), Jonas Sakuwaha (Al Merreikh)

Star Player: Emmanuel Mayuka – The
winner of the Cup of Nations Golden Boot last year after scoring three
goals, including the winner against Ghana in the semi-finals.

performances were part of Southampton’s thinking when they acquired him
from Young Boys in August, but he has only started one game for the
Saints so far. Despite being only 22, he has accumulated 38 caps for
Zambia, scoring ten goals.

Out of Africa: Moses is swapping duties at Stamford Bridge potentially for three weeks

Out of Africa: Moses is swapping duties at Stamford Bridge potentially for three weeks


Nickname: Walya Antelopes or Black Lions

FIFA Ranking: 110

Colours: Yellow and green stripes

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1962

Manager: Sewnet Bishaw – In charge of
the national team for a second spell, Bishaw has already exceeded
expectations by qualifying for the finals for the first time since they
won the competition in 1962.

They beat Sudan on away goals following a
5-5 aggregate scoreline.

Captain: Degu Debebe – The majority of
the Ethiopian players play in their own domestic league and 28-year-old
centre-back Debebe is one, representing Saint-George.

He is believed to
have in the region of 40 international caps, putting him well on course
to be the country’s most capped player.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Sisay Bancha (Dedebit), Zerihun Tadele (St George), Jemal Tassew (Coffee)

Defenders: Abebaw Butako, Degu Debebe,
Biadgelegn Elias and Alula Girma (St George), Berhanu Bogale, Aynalem
Hailu and Seyoum Tesfaye (Dedebit)

Midfielders: Behailu Assefa, Addis
Hintsa and Minyahil Teshome (Dedebit), Shimeles Bekele and Yared Zinabu
(St George), Dawit Estifanos (Coffee), Asrat Megersa (EEPCO), Yusuf
Saleh (Syrianska)

Strikers: Adane Girma and Oumed Ukuri
(St George), Fuad Ibrahim (Minnesota Stars), Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit),
Saladin Said (Wadi Degla)

Star Player: Adana Girma – A teammate of
Debebe at Saint-George, forward Girma will have to bring his scoring
boots to guide Ethiopia out of the group.

He scored in both legs of the
qualification play-off with Sudan and has seven for his country overall.

Burkina Faso

Nickname: The Stallions

FIFA Ranking: 89

Colours: All-green

Best Cup of Nations: Fourth place, 1998

Manager: Paul Put – The Belgian replaced
Paulo Duarte in March last year after a grim performance at the last
Cup of Nations which saw Burkina Faso lose all three of their group
games. Put was in charge of Gambia at the time and made the switch to
guide Burkina Faso narrowly past the Central African Republic in the

Captain: Moumouni Dagano – Leading from
the front is Dagano, who scored 12 goals in the World CUp 2010 qualifiers, making him the joint-highest worldwide scorer.
He recently signed for Qatari club Al-Sailiya.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Daouda Diakite (Lierse), Germain Sanou (St Etienne), Abdoulaye Soulama (Asante Kotoko)

Defenders: Mohamed Koffi (Petrojet),
Bakary Kone (Lyon), Paul Koulibaly (Dynamo Bucharest), Mady
Panandetiguiri (Antwerp), Henri Traore (Ashanti Gold)

Midfielders: Charles Kabore (Marseille),
Djakaridja Kone (Evian), Prejuce Nacoulma (Gornik Zabrze), Issouf
Ouattara (Chernomorets Burgas), Jonathan Pitroipa (Rennes), Aly Rabo (Al
Shorta), Florent Rouamba (Sheriff Tiraspol), Wilfried Sanou (Kyoto
Sanga), Abdou Razack Traore (Lechia Gdansk), Alain Traore (Lorient)

Strikers: Wilfried Dah and Pierre
Koulibaly (Al Dhaid Sharjah), Wilfried Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol),
Aristide Bance (Augsburg), Moumouni Dagano (Al Siliya)

Star Player: Alain Traore – The older
brother of Chelsea academy product Bertrand, the Lorient striker will be
trying to trouble a few defenders in the tournament. He is based in
France and was previously with Auxerre before switching to his current
club when they were relegated in 2012.


Monday January 21 – Nelspruit
Zambia v Ethiopia (3pm) – British Eurosport
Nigeria v Burkina Faso (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Friday January 25 – Nelspruit
Zambia v Nigeria (3pm) – British Eurosport
Burkina Faso v Ethiopia (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Tuesday January 29 – Nelspruit
Zambia v Burkina Faso (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Tuesday January 29 – Rustenburg
Ethiopia v Nigeria (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

the weight of fixtures at the moment, Rafa Benitez at Chelsea would not
have been too happy to see Mikel and Moses go off to the competition.

There’s no Essien this time but Nigeria will be very strong in this

Though the two Chelsea players will be missed, their desire to
play in the Cup of Nations and try to reward the home fans who
practically hero worship them is a distinct contrast to some of the
attitudes of international players in England and Europe.

Attention to detail: Workers at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg make the final checks

Attention to detail: Workers at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg make the final checks


Ivory Coast

Nickname: The Elephants

FIFA Ranking: 14 Colours: All-orange

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1992

Manager: Sabri Lamouchi – A young manager at 41, Lamouchi was a surprise appointment given he only retired from playing three years earlier. His career took his to Auxerre, Monaco, Parma, Inter Milan and Marseille among more exotic destinations. He also represented the French national team on 12 occasions. The decision to appoint him was controversial, with many fans wanting a more experienced replacement for Francois Zahoui. But he is starting to win them over by guiding the Ivory Coast through a volatile play-off with Senegal, which descended into a riot.

Captain: Didier Drogba – Arguably the most recognisable player in the entire tournament, Drogba has achieved pretty much everything in the domestic game but this may be his last chance to win the Cup of Nations. Having quit Chelsea on a high after winning the Champions League, Drogba joined Shanghai Shenhua in China, but will be grateful for some action since their league ended a few months ago. His scoring record for Ivory Coast excellent – 59 in 90.

British based players: Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic, striker, 37 caps and nine goals); Kolo Toure (Manchester City, defender, 102 caps and six goals); Chieck Tiote (Newcastle United, midfielder, 33 caps); Gervinho (Arsenal, striker, 42 caps and nine goals); Abdul Razak (Manchester City, midfielder, two caps); Yaya Toure (Manchester City, midfielder, 71 caps and ten goals)

Star attraction: Former Chelsea striker Didier is heading to South Africa

Games Kone will miss: January 19 – Sunderland (H); January 26 – Macclesfield Town (A, FA Cup fourth round); January 29 – Stoke City (A); February 2 – Southampton (H); February 9 – Chelsea (A)

Games the Toure brothers and Razak will miss: January 19 – Fulham (H); January 26 – Stoke City (A, FA Cup fourth round); January 29 – Queens Park Rangers (A); February 3 – Liverpool (H); February 9 – Southampton (A)

Games Tiote will miss: January 19 – Reading (H); January 29 – Aston Villa (A); February 2 – Chelsea (H); February 9 – Tottenham Hotspur (A)

Games Gervinho will miss: January 16 – Swansea City (H, FA Cup third round replay); January 20 – Chelsea (A); January 23 – West Ham United (H); January 30 – Liverpool (H); February 2 – Stoke City (H); February 9 – Sunderland (A)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Daniel Yeboah (Dijon), Ali Badra Sangare (Ivoire Academie)

Defenders: Souleymane Bamba (Trazbonspor), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray), Igor Lolo (Kuban Krasnodar), Siaka Tiene (PSG), Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Ismael Traore (Brest/FRA)

Midfielders: Max Gradel (Saint-Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hanover), Abdul Razak (Manchester City), Romaric Ndri Koffi (Real Zaragoza), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Zokora (Trazbonspor)

Strikers: Wilfried Bony (Vitesse Arnhem), Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua), Gervinho (Arsenal), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Arouna Kone (Wigan), Lacina Traore (Anzhi Makhachkala)

Star Player: Yaya Toure – In a squad full of household names, Yaya Toure stands out as the bedrock of a very talented and well-fancied side. Strong, bustling and tireless, Yaya – a veteran of 72 caps – will have an instrumental role to play if the country’s 'Golden Generation' are to fulfill their potential.

Warm welcome: The Ivory Coast stars were mobbed when they touched down

Warm welcome: The Ivory Coast stars were mobbed when they touched down


Nickname: The Eagles of Carthage

FIFA Ranking: 45

Colours: All-white

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 2004

Manager: Sami Trabelsi – Another young boss at 44, but one who has vast experience of the Tunisian set-up having won 52 caps for them between 1994 and 2001. This is a country that gets through managers like loose change, so Trabelsi, at the helm for a whole two years, probably needs to deliver a respectable run in this tournament to keep his employment.

Captain: Aymen Mathlouthi – 28-year-old goalkeeper for Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel who is regarded as one of the best on the continent. Has 38 caps for his country.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Moez Ben Cherifia (Esperance), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel), Farouk Ben Mustapha (CA Bizertin)

Defenders: Khalil Chammam and Walid Hichri (Esperance), Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse), Anis Boussaidi (Tavria Simferopol), Chamseddine Dhaouadi (Etoile), Fateh Gharbi (CS Sfaxien), Bilel Ifa (Club Africain)

Midfielders: Youssef Msakni, Khaled Mouelhi and Mejdi Traoui (Esperance), Haten Baratli (Club Africain), Oussama Darragi (Sion), Chadi Hammami (Kuwait SC), Wissem Yahia (Mersin Idman Yurdu)

Strikers: Zouheir Dhaouadi (clubless), Hamdi Harbaoui (Lokeren), Issam Jomaa (Kuwait SC), Wahbi Khazri (Bastia), Saber Khlifa (Evian), Fakreddine Ben Youssef (Sfaxien)

Star Player: Issam Jemaa – Striker who has been involved with the national side since 2005 and will feature in his third Africa Cup of Nations this time round. Didn’t have the best time at Auxerre towards the end of his time in French football but has rediscovered his form in Kuwait and will be hoping to add to his 34 international goals in 70 games.


Nickname(s): Fennec Foxes, Desert Warriors

FIFA Ranking: 19

Colours: All-white

Best Cup of Nations: Winners, 1990

Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic – Veteran
Bosnian manager who has seen and done it all in his managerial career
and beat off some strong contenders when appointed Algerian coach in
June 2011.

He enjoyed success previously with the Ivory Coast, taking
them to the World Cup in South Africa but suffering the ignominy of the
sack four months before the tournament.

Captain: Medhi Lacen – The scourge of
England during that humiliating goalless draw at the 2010 World Cup,
Lacen has become a staple of the Algerian midfield. He plays in Spain
for Getafe, having previously turned out for Racing Santander and

British based players: Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest, midfielder, 18 caps and one goal)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Azzeddine Doukha (Harrach), Rais Mbolhi (Krylia Sovetov), Cedric Si Mohammed (Bejaia)

Defenders: Essad Belkalem and Ali Rial
(JS Kabylie), Carl Medjani and Mehdi Mostefa (Ajaccio), Liassine
Cadamuro (Real Sociedad), Faouzi Ghoulam (Saint-Etienne), Rafik Halliche
(Academica), Djamel Mesbah (AC Milan)

Midfielders: Hameur Bouazza (Racing
Santander), Ryad Boudebouz (Sochaux), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia),
Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest), Foued Kadir (Marseille), Medhi
Lacen (Getafe), Khaled Lemmouchia (Club Africain), Saad Tedjar (USMA)

Strikers: Mohamed Aoudia (Entente Setif), Yacine Bezzaz (CS Constantine), Islam Slimani (Belouizdad), Hilal Soudani (Guimares)

Star Player: Sofiane Feghouli –
23-year-old attacking midfielder who plays for Valencia in Spain and who
will be vital in supplying ammunition to the strikers.

represented France at youth level but switched allegiance and has since
won nine caps, scoring twice.


Nickname: The Sparrow Hawks

FIFA Ranking: 71

Colours: All-yellow

Best Cup of Nations: First round, 1972, 1984, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006

Manager: Didier Six – Remembered as the
left-sided player from the all-conquering French side of the early
eighties, Six won the European Championships in 1984 and played in the
1978 and 1982 World Cups. Has had two managerial posts – 25 years apart:
Strasbourg briefly in 1986 and then Togo from 2011 to present.

Captain: Emmanuel Adebayor – There
shouldn’t be much I need to add about this man, only that, following
retirement and on-off negotiations, the whole of Togo will be delighted
to welcome their talisman back to an international tournament. With 26
goals in his 54 Togo appearances, much will depend on the Spurs

British based players: Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur, striker, 54 caps and 26 goals)

Games Adebayor will miss: January 20 –
Manchester United (H); January 27 – Leeds United (A, FA Cup fourth
round); January 30 – Norwich City (A); February 3 – West Bromwich Albion
(A); February 9 – Newcastle United (H)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Mawugbe Atsou (Maranatha), Baba Tchagouni (Dijon)

Defenders: Serge Akakpo (Zilina), Sadat
Ouro-Akoriko (Free State Stars), Vincent Bossou (Navibank), Djene
Dakonam (Coton Sport), Donou Kokou (Maranatha), Abdoul-Gafar Mamah
(Dacia), Senah Mango (Marseille), Dare Nibombe (Boussou Dur Borinage)

Midfielders: Kodjo Ametepe (Maranatha),
Komlan Amewou (Nimes), Sapol Mani (Batna), Moustapha Salifou (clubless),
Prince Segbefia (Auxerre), Dove Wome (Free State Stars)

Strikers: Kalen Damessi (Lille), Thomas
Dossevi (Chonburi), Serge Gakpe (Nantes), Fessou Placa (Agaza), Emmanuel
Adebayor (Tottenham)

Star Player: Has to be Adebayor as well…


Tuesday January 22 – Rustenburg
Ivory Coast v Togo (3pm) – British Eurosport
Tunisia v Algeria (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Saturday January 26 – Rustenburg
Ivory Coast v Tunisia (3pm) – British Eurosport
Algeria v Togo (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Wednesday January 30 – Rustenburg
Ivory Coast v Algeria (5pm) – ITV4 (tbc) and British Eurosport

Wednesday January 30 – Nelspruit
Togo v Tunisia (5pm) – British Eurosport 2

Danny Mills' verdict

The Ivory Coast
are undoubtedly the best team in the tournament and are the obvious

They have a squad littered with big names and talented
players, while many of them, including Drogba, have phenomenal

They should play at a level above all others but they have
sometimes struggled against North African teams, so they won’t like to
see not one, but two in their group.

Their main enemy, however, is their
own complacency because the quality is clearly there.

Let the action begin! South Africa is ready to host the showpiece event

Let the action begin! South Africa is ready to host the showpiece event



1. Saturday February 2 – Port Elizabeth
Group B winners v Group A runners-up (3pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

2. Saturday February 2 – Durban
Group A winners v Group B runners-up (6.30pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

3. Sunday February 3 – Rustenburg
Group D winners v Group C runners-up (3pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

4. Sunday February 3 – Nelspruit
Group C winners v Group D runners-up (6.30pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport


1. Wednesday February 6 – Durban
Winner QF2 v Winner QF3 (3pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

2. Wednesday February 6 – Nelspruit
Winner QF4 v Winner QF1 (6.30pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport

Third Place Play-off

Saturday February 9 – Port Elizabeth
Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport


Sunday February 10 – Johannesburg
Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (6pm) – ITV4 and British Eurosport


1957 (Sudan) Egypt 4 Ethiopia 0
1959 (Egypt) Egypt 2 Sudan 1
1962 (Ethiopia) Ethiopia 4 Egypt 2
1963 (Ghana) Ghana 3 Sudan 0
1965 (Tunisia) Ghana 3 Tunisia 2
1968 (Ethiopia) DR Congo 1 Ghana 0
1970 (Sudan) Sudan 1 Ghana 0
1972 (Cameroon) Congo 1 Mali 0
1974 (Egypt) Zaire 2 Zambia 0
1976 (Ethiopia) Morocco (Group stage format)
1978 (Ghana) Ghana 2 Uganda 0
1980 (Nigeria) Nigeria 3 Algeria 0
1982 (Libya) Ghana 1 Libya 1 (Ghana won 7-6 on penalties)
1984 (Ivory Coast) Cameroon 3 Nigeria 1
1986 (Egypt) Egypt 0 Cameroon 0 (Egypt won 5-4 on penalties)
1988 (Morocco) Cameroon 1 Nigeria 0
1990 (Algeria) Algeria 1 Nigeria 0
1992 (Senegal) Ivory Coast 0 Ghana 0 (Ivory Coast won 11-10 on penalties)
1994 (Tunisia) Nigeria 2 Zambia 1
1996 (South Africa) South Africa 2 Tunisia 0
1998 (Burkina Faso) Egypt 2 South Africa 0
2000 (Ghana and Nigeria) Cameroon 2 Nigeria 2 (Cameroon won 4-3 on penalties)
2002 (Mali) Cameroon 0 Senegal 0 (Cameroon won 3-2 on penalties)
2004 (Tunisia) Tunisia 2 Morocco 1
2006 (Egypt) Egypt 0 Ivory Coast 0 (Egypt won 3-2 on penalties)
2008 (Ghana) Egypt 1 Cameroon 0
2010 (Angola) Egypt 1 Ghana 0
2012 (Gabon and Equatorial Guinea) Zambia 0 Ivory Coast 0 (Zambia won 8-7 on penalties)


Johannesburg National Stadium (94,700) Kaizer Chiefs and South Africa. Hosted the 2010 World Cup final between Holland and Spain

Durban Moses Mabhida Stadium (54,000) AmaZulu

Port Elizabeth Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (48,000)

Nelspruit Mbombela Stadium (41,000)

Rustenburg Bafokeng Stadium (42,000) Platinum Stars and Leopards

QPR"s Ryan Nelsen set to replace Paul Mariner as Toronto FC manager

Nelsen ready to quit QPR and take over as manager of Toronto

Simon Jones


22:57 GMT, 7 January 2013



22:57 GMT, 7 January 2013

QPR defender Ryan Nelsen is to take up a post as head coach with Toronto FC and replace Paul Mariner.

Toronto will make the announcement on Tuesday with former Arsenal and Ipswich striker Mariner, who doubled as director of soccer operations, likely to return to England.

On his way: Ryan Nelsen looks set to join Toronto as manager

On his way: Ryan Nelsen looks set to join Toronto as manager

MLS side DC United had attempted to lure
the 35-year-old New Zealander to the MLS but Nelsen has been swayed by
Toronto president and general manager Kevin Payne who was an executive
at DC United when he played there previously between 2001 and 2005.

Speaking over the weekend, boss Harry Redknapp revealed his regret at the fact he was set to lose his star man.

He said: ‘There is some truth in the rumour I’m afraid. Nelsen is very important to us, a fantastic leader, a top player.

‘But he has been offered a job in America and I think there is every chance he might want to go. He wants to be a manager and it is a chance for him to manage a club.

‘He has been fantastic. I took him to Tottenham last year from Blackburn. He’s one of the best pros I’ve ever met in my life, a fantastic player, a great trainer, a leader.

‘He is a massive part of your team. To lose him would be a massive blow for us.’

Carlo Cudicini close to LA Galaxy move from Tottenham

Cudicini set for new challenge as veteran Spurs keeper edges closer to LA Galaxy switch



18:50 GMT, 31 December 2012

Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini looks set for a fresh start in America after Tottenham announced they have reached an agreement to sell the goalkeeper to Major League Soccer outfit the LA Galaxy.

Cudicini moved to White Hart Lane in 2009 but has found his opportunities limited due to the presence of Heurelho Gomes and the arrivals of Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris.

Indeed, the Italian is perhaps now fourth choice in manager Andre Villas-Boas' plans so it is perhaps no surprise the north London club were looking to offload.

On his way: Carlo Cudicini looks set to join LA Galaxy

On his way: Carlo Cudicini looks set to join LA Galaxy

'We have reached agreement for the transfer of Carlo Cudicini to Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy,' said a short statement on Tottenham's official website.

'Carlo joined us from Chelsea in January 2009 and went on to make a total of 37 appearances. We wish Carlo all the best for the future.'

Cudicini began his professional career with AC Milan in 1992 and had a brief spell at Lazio before being plucked from obscurity in 2000 by Chelsea, who signed him from Italian minnows Castel di Sangro.

It was at Stamford Bridge where he excelled after ousting Mark Bosnich and Ed de Goey as Chelsea's regular goalkeeper.

He was part of the squads that claimed several domestic honours under Jose Mourinho although he found himself increasingly marginalised when the Blues signed Petr Cech in 2004.

Competition: Hugo Lloris (pictured) and Brad Friedel are ahead of Cudicini in the pecking order

Competition: Hugo Lloris (pictured) and Brad Friedel are ahead of Cudicini in the pecking order

In the footsteps: David Beckham left Real Madrid for LA Galaxy

In the footsteps: David Beckham left Real Madrid for LA Galaxy

After making 142 appearances for Chelsea in nine years, he made the switch to Tottenham but he once more struggled to claim a regular starting berth.

The 39-year-old could now link up with former Tottenham team-mate Robbie Keane in Los Angeles, who triumphed in the MLS Cup earlier this month with a 3-1 win over Houston Dynamo in the final in David Beckham's last match for the Galaxy.

Exodus: Robbie Keane is currently leading the line for the MLS side

Exodus: Robbie Keane is currently leading the line for the MLS side

David Beckham in talks over MLS ownership

Beckham in talks over MLS ownership



22:50 GMT, 15 December 2012

David Beckham is in talks to become
the owner of a Major League Soccer club in the United States and is
expected to buy a controlling interest in a team based in New York,
Miami or Los Angeles.

But contrary to reports from the US
that Beckham will be part of deal involving Manchester City buying an
MLS franchise in New York, sources close to the former England captain
told Inside Sport: 'That's not really a partnership he'd envisage.'

Talks: David Beckham

Talks: David Beckham

Beckham, 37, is a lifelong Manchester United fan who played for the Old Trafford club for 10 years before moving to Real Madrid and then LA Galaxy. In his final match for Galaxy earlier this month, he helped them to win the MLS Cup. He is considering his next move and may play for one last club for a short period before turning his attention to club ownership in the US.

Sources say Beckham is likely to buy a controlling stake in an MLS team in partnership with Simon Fuller, the entertainment entrepreneur whose company, XIX Entertainment, represents Beckham.

City have denied reports that owner Sheik Mansour is close to sealing a $100million deal to buy a New York-based MLS 'partner club' for City in Queens, east of Manhattan.'Manchester City are not buying an MLS club,' said a statement.

The idea that City might explore buying overseas clubs or working in partnership with them is far from fanciful. Two years ago, the club's then chief executive, Garry Cook, held 'very preliminary discussions' with MLS commissioner Don Garber over a possible tie-up that could fit into City's 'international expansion'.

Cook's replacement, Ferran Soriano, formerly with Barcelona, previously held talks with the MLS about a Barcelona-owned MLS club, and has written supportively about big clubs having 'franchise' partners in other leagues.

Ticket touts were prevented from making a killing on the summer's Olympics after a major police clampdown but they are having a last hurrah for 2012 by reselling seats for tonight's BBC Sports Personality of the Year show at up to 10 times face value.

The BBC sold around 13,000 tickets to members of the public at 50 each for the glitzy bash at ExCel in east London, where Bradley Wiggins is hot favourite to pick up the main award.

A BBC spokeswoman said that ticket terms and conditions prohibited reselling. But it is not illegal to resell tickets for such events.

Ticket brokers on Seatwave, Viagogo and eBay were among those advertising tickets at massively inflated prices.

At Seatwave, a pair of tickets worth 100 at face value were being offered for a total 1,197.65, including a 179.64 booking fee, 4.94 handling charge and 15.06 insurance.

Viagogo had tickets for 240 each plus 72 booking fee per pair plus 4.95 shipping, while eBay had a variety of seats from 180 each.

The future of the New York Marathon – the world's largest – is uncertain after entry registration for the 2013 event, due to open on Wednesday, was indefinitely suspended. This came as race organisers continue talks with insurers over the circumstances in which the 2012 event was called off in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The race was cancelled not because it was impossible to stage but because it was deemed inappropriate. This may affect any insurance payout and, with entrants claiming refunds, the organisers' ability to plan for next year has been severely hit.

Funeral of Dutch linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen

Funeral of Dutch linesman beaten to death by three teens during amateur football match takes place



15:01 GMT, 10 December 2012

Members of Dutch soccer club SC Buitenboys, dressed in the club’s blue and white strip, paid their respects to linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen, who was allegedly beaten to death by players of SV Nieuw Sloten earlier this month.

The club lay roses on the hearse as it arrived at the crematory in Almere, Holland.

Three teenaged males have been charged with manslaughter, assault and public violence after the atrocious attack that shocked the country.

Last respects: Players of SC Buitenboys, dressed in the club's colors blue and white, pay their respects to Nieuwenhuizen

Last respects: Players of SC Buitenboys, dressed in the club's colors blue and white, pay their respects to Nieuwenhuizen

Mr Nieuwenhuizen's team, Buitenboys, have not announced the exact cause of his death, but Dutch TV station RTL said he had brain damage.

The linesman left after Sunday’s match and was not aware anything was wrong. He returned to his club later that night and collapsed.

After the incident, the Dutch Football Association, the KNVB, cancelled all amateur games after the incident, while professional matches were preceded by a minute's silence with all players and referees wearing black armbands.

Shock: Nieuwenhuizen died after being attacked by three young males

Shock: Nieuwenhuizen died after being attacked by three young males

Shock: Nieuwenhuizen died after being attacked by three young males

At the time KNVB director of professional football Bert van Oostveen said: 'It is inconceivable that anything like this occurs on a football field.

'These are the volunteers that we build our sport on, that we cannot do without. Without respect, no football.

'That is why we in professional football want to show our support in this terrible situation.

'Our thoughts go out to the family of Richard Nieuwenhuizen.'

Respects: All amatuer game swere cancelled in Holland after the tragedy

Respects: All amatuer game swere cancelled in Holland after the tragedy

Tim Cahill wanted on loan by Sunderland, QPR, Tottenham and Newcastle

Premier League clubs queue up to sign Red Bulls star Cahill on-loan in January



12:42 GMT, 10 December 2012

A number of Barclays Premier League clubs are in the hunt to sign former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill on loan from New York Red Bulls in January.

Last month the 33-year-old said he was keen to come back to England on a short-term deal when the Major League Soccer season had ended.

A return to Goodison Park seemed his most likely destination but Sunderland, Newcastle, Tottenham and QPR are also interested in signing the Australia international.

Star in New York: Tim Cahill moved to the Red Bulls in the summer

Star in New York: Tim Cahill moved to the Red Bulls in the summer

Cahill had huge success at Everton after signing from Millwall in 2004, scoring 56 goals in 226 games, before leaving this summer to join the Red Bulls.

He played 14 matches, scoring once, as the MLS club finished third in the Eastern Conference to reach the play-offs, where they were knocked out by DC United.

Wanted man: Cahill was a key player for Everton during his years at Goodison Park

Wanted man: Cahill was a key player for Everton during his years at Goodison Park

If he returns to the Premier League Cahill will be following the likes of Los Angeles Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, who have spent time on loan at Everton (twice) and Aston Villa respectively, and Red Bulls team-mate Thierry Henry who went back to Arsenal last year.

Robbie Keane wanted by Aston Villa, Norwich and QPR

Aston Villa, Norwich and QPR Keane on bringing Robbie back to Premier League



06:42 GMT, 10 December 2012

Robbie Keane is being chased by Premier League trio Aston Villa, QPR and Norwich who all want the LA Galaxy forward on loan this winter.

Keane was instrumental in Galaxy's MLS Cup victory two weeks ago and could be available until the start of the American soccer season in March.

Yanks for coming: Keane has won the MLS Cup in consecutive years

Yanks for coming: Keane has won the MLS Cup in consecutive years

However, the former Tottenham striker has has no plans to move back to the Premier League at the moment, but that will not stop the interested parties from trying to tempt him back.

Keane wants to use the time between seasons to recover from the injuries he has sustained inn recent months, according to reports in the Mirror.

The 32-year-old scored three goals in seven games for Aston Villa in a similar arrangement at the beginning of this year.

Keane, whom Harry Redknapp managed at Spurs shone in his first full season with LA Galaxy, scoring 22 goals in 34 games and winning his second MLS Cup in David Beckham's final game in the USA on November 20.

Villa thriller: Keane scored three goals in seven games while on loan

Villa thriller: Keane scored three goals in seven games while on loan

Xavi talks about his love of Bruce Springsteen and Diego Maradona

It's top secret: Barcelona superstar Xavi talks dinner with De Niro and Diego



22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Barcelona's midfield maestro Xavi tells Sportsmail's Alex Kay about his sporting heroes, his unwavering loyalty to his club and his love of Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen and Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Who is your sporting hero

I have said I think Paul Scholes is the best midfield player of the last 20 years. He is a great role model as well.

Of course, though, like most Barcelona central midfielders, my idol was Pep (Guardiola).

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

Like so many of the players I started at La Masia at the age of 11. I can't ever imagine not playing for Barcelona, let alone not playing soccer for a career. I don't ever want to play anywhere else.

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Career highlight

In terms of what the game means, how can you ever beat playing a World Cup final that you win You can't is the answer.

The best game I ever played in was when we beat Real Madrid 5-0. The feeling of total superiority was incredible. We just stood in the dressing room afterwards clapping ourselves. It was a surreal experience.

… and the worst moment

It was when we found out, as a team, about team-mate Eric Abidal's liver cancer. It put everything else into perspective. I remember thinking how strong he was and he was encouraging us as much as we were encouraging him.

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

Just the things that can't be replaced. There is no money in the world that can replace the jersey you were wearing when you lifted the World Cup.

What's your favourite song

Losing My Religion by REM. I love all of their stuff.

What's the programme you can't miss on TV

I don't actually watch many shows. I will either watch movies or football. I enjoy to watch games in the Premier League and will also watch movies a lot as well.

That is how I relax.

Last film you saw

The Lincoln Lawyer. It was really good.

If you could have dinner with three famous people, who would it be and why

People I admire in the things that I like. I would choose Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, and Diego Maradona.

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Can you cook

I am competent enough but I won't try anything tough. Probably just pasta, grilled chicken, and a little olive oil.

Your favourite holiday destination

Ibiza is a popular vacation place for a lot of the players in Spain. If you go in the summer there are some of the world's most famous movie and music stars so nobody cares about soccer players.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

I am not known for being a tall player so you would have to take that into account. Probably somebody like Matt Damon.

Tell us a secret…

We were playing at the Bernabeu when I was about 18 and things got a little heated between the players. Raul came up and gave me a cuff round the ear and said calm down. He is one of my great friends now – but what he was saying is: 'Know your place, kid, there is hierarchy.'

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

QPR want Robbie Keane on loan from LA Galaxy

Harry targets old pal Keane in loan deal to help boost QPR's goal-shy strikeforce



22:45 GMT, 7 December 2012

QPR manager Harry Redknapp wants to bring in Robbie Keane on loan in January to bolster his attack.

Rangers have scored just 11 goals in 15 Premier League games this season and remain bottom of the table without a win.

Long-term injuries to Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson have left Redknapp desperately short of strikers, with only Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie available, and Keane could be available until the start of the American soccer season in March.

American boy: Robbie Keane celebrates MLS Cup glory with David Beckham

American boy: Robbie Keane celebrates MLS Cup glory with David Beckham

The 32-year-old scored three goals in seven games for Aston Villa in a similar arrangement at the beginning of this year.

Keane, whom Redknapp managed at Tottenham, shone in his first full season with LA Galaxy, scoring 22 goals in 34 games and winning his second MLS Cup in David Beckham’s final game in the USA last week.

Redknapp said: ‘I think the MLS is a market we’ve got to look at. Robbie’s a good shout.

‘I haven’t spoken to him yet but he would be an interesting player. He’s a good pro and he would be the ideal type to have around for sure because he would give us something. Goal-scoring’s a knack and Robbie had a good season, scored goals and did well.’

Redknapp, whose side travel to Wigan on Saturday hoping for their first away win in the league for 13 months, will meet QPR chairman Tony Fernandes in person next week for the first time since taking over from Mark Hughes.

The Rangers boss said: ‘I think they are genuinely caring people and they deserve some success. They’ve had a go haven’t they They’ve spent money in the summer and they’ve ended up struggling.

‘If we can find one or two players that can make the difference in January then it could really kick start us and get us going.

‘But we need a couple of results before then. We can’t keep getting cut too far adrift.’

David Beckham pledges to continue MLS link after bowing out with LA Galaxy in style

Beckham pledges to continue MLS link after bowing out with LA Galaxy in style



01:46 GMT, 2 December 2012

David Beckham insists his personal involvement with Major League Soccer is not over after ending his five-year stay in the United States in style.

The former England captain bowed out after five years with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup final, with his side seeing off the Houston Dynamo 3-1 to take the trophy for the second year in a row.

Fond farewell: David Beckham's American odyssey ended with silverware

Fond farewell: David Beckham's American odyssey ended with silverware

It was a triumphant finale to 37-year-old Beckham's American odyssey, though when he made the move from Real Madrid in 2007 he had claimed he was partly motivated by the chance to promote his sport in the USA.

He has yet to reveal where he will play next, though he has no shortage of lucrative offers awaiting his attention. But regardless of his destination, he claims the MLS will remain important to him.

'This is very special for us. To win at our own home is fantastic,' he said.

Glory boys: Beckham and Robbie Keane lift the MLS Cup

Glory boys: Beckham and Robbie Keane lift the MLS Cup

'I always said I was going to stick by it. When I'm committed to something I'm committed to the end.

'It's sad that it is the end; this has been a special place for me and continues to be special to me.

'I'm happy to have been part of this for nearly six years and to have been successful with this club for four years.

'I'm going to continue my commitment to this league, this country and this sport. My commitment stays the same to growing this league and growing the sport in this country.'

Party time: Beckham and his tam-mates begin the celebrations

Party time: Beckham and his tam-mates begin the celebrations

Asked where he would be playing next, Beckham responded by playing to the fans in California's Home Deport Center.

'I have no idea, what's more important is that I'm happy I'm wearing this (Galaxy) uniform today.'