BANGKOK, July 20 -- Thai Vietjet will play host to the THAIPA Airline Pilot League 2019, an annual football league for Thai pilots from airlines in Thailand.
The Thai Vietjet representative and Captain Sanong Mingcharoen, Leader of the Thai Pilots Association, held a media conference at The Grand Fourwings Convention Hotel. “Vietjet is delighted and honoured to support the activity for aviation people in Thailand, which shows our lively spirit to contribute to the community,” the Thai Vietjet representative said. He said the league will be held on August 20 at Grand Soccer Pro fields on Kaset Nawamin Road from 8am to 6pm. Twenty teams from 12 airlines and aviation institutes in Thailand are taking part this year. THAIPA Airline Pilot League aims to create and strengthen relations among Thai pilots, and harmonise the pilots association with related organisations. The league kicked off in 2014, with different airlines taking turns to host the annual event.
MADRID, July 19 -- It has been a strange 48 hours for Barcelona left back Marc Curcurella which have seen the young defender pass through three different clubs.
On Tuesday, Barcelona decided to take up the four million (4.5 million US dollars) euro buy-back option they had with Eibar (after the club he spent last season on loan with had themselves taken up an option to make that loan deal permanent at the end of last season). That meant the 20-year-old was briefly back in the discipline of the club where he had begun his career. However, Curcurella's return to the Camp Nou was about as brief as they can get as late on Thursday evening Barcelona reached agreement with Getafe to send him on loan at the side from the south of Madrid for another season. Getafe also have the option to make the move permanent at the end of the 2019-20, with Barcelona to receive 40 percent of the price of any future sale of the player. "FC Barcelona and Getafe have reached an agreement for the loan of the player Marc Cucurella to the Madrid based club for the 2019-2020 season," confirmed the Barca website, which also wished the youngster luck for the future. The move to Getafe will give Cucurella the chance to play European football with Getafe in this season's Europa League after finishing fifth in the Liga Santander last season.
BANGKOK, July 18 -- Thailand were assigned in Group G alongside not just Asian powerhouses such as the UAE and regional No1 Vietnam but also Malaysia and Indonesia. The teams will play each other both home and away.
It will serve as a tough baptism for newly-appointed national coach Akira Nishino from Japan, who is due to officially sign a contract with the Football Association of Thailand in Japan on Friday. The second round of Asian qualification for the 2022 World Cup consists of eight groups, each with five nations. The eight group leaders and four best second-placed teams will move into the third round and will automatically qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China. Thailand’s opening qualifier will be against Vietnam on September 5. Thailand were placed in a tricky group with the United Arab Emirates and arch-rivals Vietnam when the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification draw was conducted in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
During an interview with local broadcaster Thairath which aired Tuesday morning, Nishino said he had watched the Thais for some time and had grown interested in coaching a team he believes has the potential to become one of Asia's best. "The strength of the Thai team, it made an impact on me. It's a team I've been interested in for a while," Nishino said. "There is some similarity to the style of Japanese players and teams. I feel there's a lot of potential for growth. Thailand had been seeking a new coach for its national team, nicknamed the War Elephants, since the resignation of interim Sirisak Yodyardthai after poor displays at the annual King's Cup tournament in Thailand, in June. According to Nishino, the team's biggest hurdle is a lack of drive. The 64-year-old said they "can definitely make an outstanding improvement" if he succeeds in motivating the side, ranked 116th by FIFA.
The Football Association of Thailand's press release said Nishino accepted the offer after talks with association chief Somyot Pumpanmuang and another executive, with Nishino requesting from the outset that he oversee both teams to build continuity and manage them in the same direction. But with expectations rising for the AFC's second round of World Cup qualification starting in September, Nishino cautioned results will take time and effort, as well as a focus on building up the country's next generation of players. "(The top team) won't become strong overnight. We have to take a steady approach...reinforce not only the top team, but also the generation in development." The association added a press conference will be held later regarding the selection of Nishino, who traveled to Thailand for negotiations. His talks with Thai soccer executives on Monday afternoon reportedly ended without a concrete outcome, but further talks in the evening led to an agreement.
Author: Pete McGee
RENNES, June 26 -- With victorious Dutch rivals passing her on the way out of the stadium, Japan’s captain seemed to find solace in speaking about the penalty long after it cost her team a place in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.
Tears were still flowing from Saki Kumagai’s eyes more than 30 minutes later. With Tuesday night’s game entering the 90th minute locked at 1-1, Kumagai’s outstretched left arm blocked the shot Vivianne Miedema had aimed into the right side of the net. “It hit my hand for sure,” Kumagai said. “It’s difficult to accept but it’s also sad. I know that is football.” Referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the penalty spot and Lieke Martens netted her second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory that sent the Netherlands into the quarterfinals for the first time. “We have made history,” Martens said. “I’m not usually taking the penalties but I felt really good this game. I asked Sherida Spitse if I could take it and she gave it directly to me and I felt quite relaxed about it.” The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy on Saturday after going one stage further than their Women’s World Cup debut four years ago. “We were standing in the circle after the match and we were so happy, yelling at each other,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “We were saying, ‘Let’s continue writing history.'”
It is journey’s end for Japan, which won the 2011 tournament and was the runner-up four years later. As befitting a meeting of the Asian and European champions, the game produced some of the slickest action of the World Cup. A backheel flick set up Martens to send the Dutch in front in the 17th minute and Yui Hasegawa equalized in the 43rd to complete a slick passing move. But the post, crossbar and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal thwarted Japan’s pursuit of a winning goal. “I think we lacked the clinical edge,” Japan coach Asako Takakura said. “We have to accept the result, we’re defeated, we’re very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated.” A frustrated Takakura said she hoped her team, which included 17 players at their first World Cup, would learn from the experience as they shifted their focus to winning Olympic gold on home soil at the 2020 Tokyo Games. “We weren’t strong enough to win. It’s really disappointing. I hope the players will continue to grow as we aim toward the Olympics a year from now,” Takakura said. The 51-year-old manager, who took the reins in 2016, blamed her own “lack of ability” for Japan’s tournament exit. “We certainly weren’t the worse team in every aspect. “VAR exists. Sometimes cruel decisions have been taken in other matches. Today it went against us. We need to look forward and accept the decision.” With the last Asian team eliminated, the Women’s World Cup will have a record seven European teams in the quarterfinals. Norway and England meet in Le Havre on Thursday and France takes on the United States the following night. After the Netherlands plays Italy on Saturday, Germany and Sweden will meet.
“It’s really tough to be here,” Netherlands forward Miedema said. “Sometimes it kind of feels like a Euros.” That is a title already won by this team, thanks to Miedema’s goals in the final two years ago on home soil. The fans won’t have far to travel for the World Cup quarterfinal, with Valenciennes around two hours’ drive from the Netherlands. It will be another chance for the orange-clad fans who danced and sang their way in a convoy to the stadium on Tuesday to stamp their mark on this tournament. They were certainly given a game to savor, and an audacious opening goal. Martens flicked in the opener after evading her marker to meet a corner and send the ball through the legs of Yuika Sugasawa into the net. Sugasawa had a quick chance to tie, only to hit the post. But Japan did equalize by completing an intricate move. Hina Sugita squared across the penalty area to Yuika Sugasawa, who passed back to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the penalty area. After holding off Jackie Groenen on the turn, Iwabuchi slipped the ball through to Hasegawa, who was free to delicately dink a shot over Van Veenendaal into the corner of the net. It was some way to make the most of a first shot on target for a team that failed to score in two of its three group stage games. But parity nearly didn’t last long. Miedema received the ball from Shanice van de Sanden but with only Ayaka Yamashita to beat struck straight at the Japan goalkeeper. Van Veenendaal came to the rescue of the Dutch in the second half by denying Emi Nakajima as Japan chased the winner, later preventing substitute Yuka Momiki scoring with another excellent stop in the 80th minute.
“Japan is a world class team and you saw that today,” Miedema said. “In the second half you can see they have loads of quality on the pitch.” The strength of Japan’s second-half display counted for nothing, despite Wiegman’s praise of her defeated opponents. “We were really struggling in the second half. A lot of that had to with Japan’s qualities,” Wiegman said. “I can start seeing things we did badly, but it was definitely Japan playing well too.” Momiki, part of the new generation who hoped to emulate the 2011 World Cup-winning Japan team, said much work was needed to reach the heights of their predecessors. “The rest of the world is improving quickly, and we’re not keeping up,” the 23-year-old Nippon TV Beleza midfielder said. Her thoughts were echoed by her captain Kumagai, who has been a key part of Nadeshiko’s squad since 2010 and participated in all of its glories since, including a silver-medal finish at the 2012 London Olympics and last year’s Asian Cup. “Our team is not the same as in 2011 or in 2015. Now we have a lot of young players but we need to progress more,” said Kumagai.
REIMS, June 12 -- Striker Alex Morgan scored five times as holders the United States began their World Cup campaign with a record 13-0 win over Thailand on Tuesday.
The Group F result was the largest margin of victory in either the men’s or women’s World Cup. When the Americans headed for the interval 3-0 up, there was little indication of what was to come in the second half. After netting four times in six minutes shortly after the restart, they then added six more goals in the last 16 minutes. Morgan opened the goal spree for the title favorites, who are in pursuit of a fourth world crown, with a header in the 12th minute and from then on there was no stopping the champions. Eight minutes later Rose Lavelle found the net with a left-footed shot while midfielder Lindsey Horan gave them a 3-0 halftime lead. Samantha Mewis opened the floodgates five minutes after the break as the U.S. made life miserable for the Thais by regularly finding the back of the net.
In total seven Americans scored during the match - Morgan (5), Lavelle (2), Mewis (2), Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd all finding their way on to the scoresheet in a performance that is bound to strike fear into all of those teams hoping to end the United States’ reign as world champions.
“We really wanted to showcase ourselves and what we’ve been preparing for and working on and I think we did that,” said Morgan. “Every goal matters in this tournament and so that’s what we were working on in this game. We got a lot of attacks and I think we were really clinical in the number of attacks that we did get. “I am speechless. The ball just bounced my way today and I am looking forward to the next game. “To see Rose Lavalle have the confidence to go at players, Sam Mewis taking on players and scoring from outside the box... I am really proud of them.”
The result surpassed Germany’s 11-0 win over Argentina in 2007 and almost doubled the U.S. own previous record - a 7-0 success over Taiwan in 1991. “We did not do enough. They were excellent all around. We don’t have any excuse and accept they are better,” said Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian. “We have to improve in every aspect.” The last time the two teams met, the United States won 9-0. U.S. coach Jillian Ellis said the result was great confidence booster but did not want to get carried away with the emphatic nature of the win. “This only game one. It will be an incredibly hard World Cup,” she said. The U.S. will next face Chile on Sunday, while Thailand will be up against Sweden.
ANKARA, June 10 -- Turkey criticized Iceland on Monday over "disrespectful" treatment of its national football team at the capital Reykjavik airport.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a diplomatic note to Iceland via the Norwegian embassy to protest the "disrespectful" and "violent" behaviors against Turkish footballers during the passport control and demanded extra security measures for the players. Turkey's national football team arrived in Iceland late Sunday for UEFA EURO 2020 qualifications. The team was kept waiting for around three hours at passport control on Sunday night and their bags were repeatedly searched, reported state-run Anadolu Agency. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in his Twitter the treatment at the Iceland airport was "unacceptable" on diplomatic and humanitarian levels. Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin condemned the incident. Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, also said the treatment was "not in line with diplomatic courtesy or sportsmanlike conduct." Turkey will play Iceland for UEFA EURO 2020 qualifications Group H match on Tuesday.
MADRID, June 8 -- Eden Hazard completed his long-awaited move from Chelsea to Real Madrid on Friday (June 7) and could become the Spanish club's most expensive signing in their history.
Real said Hazard, 28, had signed a five-year contract. His contract at the Premier League club was due to expire next year but the Blues drove a hard bargain for the forward, who will reportedly cost Madrid an initial €100 million (S$154 million), with another 45 million in potential add-ons. The full amount would trump the €101 million Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale and the €91 million they spent to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. An unveiling at the Santiago Bernabeu is expected next week, once Hazard returns from international duty with Belgium, who play Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan on Saturday and Scotland on Tuesday. It means Madrid's spending spree is picking up pace following the arrivals of defender Eder Militao and striker Luka Jovic from Porto and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively. But Hazard is the gem Zinedine Zidane can build his new team around and brings the kind of stardust Madrid fans have craved ever since the sale of Ronaldo to Juventus last summer. Ronaldo's departure created a void up front that Madrid failed to fill last season, the team struggling for goals en route to finishing 19 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and crashing out to Ajax in the last 16 of the Champions League. Hazard, who scored 110 goals in seven seasons at Chelsea, will be expected to help plug the gap has long-been admired by Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez. "We have wanted to sign Hazard for several years and I hope he will come this year," Perez told Spanish radio station Onda Cero last month. Less clear is where Hazard will fit into Zidane's starting line-up. Assuming he plays in his favoured position on the left of a front three, it would mean displacing the 18-year-old Brazilian, Vinicius Junior, who enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough year last season. Chelsea said the club had tried to persuade Hazard to stay. "Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden - and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay - we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid," Chelsea club director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.
Hazard's arrival also adds more uncertainty around the future of Gareth Bale, who has played both on the left and right of the attacking trio in recent months but is clearly not part of Zidane's plans. Madrid want to sell Bale to raise money for more signings, with French left-back Ferland Mendy the next player expected to arrive, from Lyon. But the Wales international will not be forced out and has so far shown no interest in the handful of clubs that have shown interest. Neither Bale nor his agent Jonathan Barnett have spoken to the club since the end of the season. Hazard though would do well to match Bale's record in Madrid as he looks to add to the trophies he won at Chelsea, which included two Premier League and two Europa League titles, as well as one FA Cup and one League Cup. At the end of the 2014-15 season, in which Chelsea won the league, Hazard was awarded both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season. He was named in the PFA Premier League team of the year four times, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If Madrid pay the full amount, Chelsea stand to make a profit of more than €100 million, having signed Hazard for close to €40 million from Lille in 2012. Chelsea had just won the Champions League when Hazard chose them over several other clubs but they have failed to replicate the success in the competition. After reaching the semi-finals in 2014, Chelsea have not gone past the last 16 in the last five seasons.
ISTANBUL, June 8 -- German footballer Mesut Ozil has tied the knot, with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.
The Turkish-German midfielder married his fiance, actress and model Amine Gulse, on Friday at a ceremony along the Bosporus in Istanbul that was attended by many statesmen and celebrities. Photos of the wedding showed a smiling Erdogan and his wife Emine standing next to the couple as their marriage was formalised. Ozil and Gulse, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2014, also made a hefty donation to the Turkish Red Crescent to provide a meal to some 15,000 Syrian refugees.
Ozil announced in March this year that he had asked Erdogan to be his best man. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation. Helge Braun of Germany's leading party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told Bild newspaper at the time that it "makes one sad" that Ozil would make such a move despite having been sharply criticised by the German public over his first meeting with Erdogan. The footballer whipped up a political storm when he was pictured alongside Erdogan in May 2018. Criticism intensified after Germany crashed out of the first round of the World Cup in Russia.
After the summer defeat, Ozil posted a lengthy statement announcing his resignationfrom the national team and accusing German football officials of racism. Ozil, who now plays for Arsenal, had made 92 appearances for Germany and played a key role in their 2014 World Cup victory. He said he was being blamed for Germany's disappointing World Cup performance. Ozil also said the German Football Association head, Reinhard Grindel, failed to support him when he received hate mail, threatening phone calls, and racist comments on social media after Germany left the World Cup. "I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Ozil said, adding that despite his successful history with the team, the way he was treated made him "no longer want to wear the German national team shirt". Without Ozil, Germany started their UEFA Nations League journey with three consecutive bad results. They drew with France 0-0 at home, were defeated by the Netherlands 3-0 and by France 1-2 in an away match. Germany also lost six of their last 10 matches and were relegated to League B in the UEFA Nations League. Erdogan often attends marriages of Turkish celebrities, whom he particularly seeks out during election campaigns. His presence at Ozil's marriage comes ahead of a mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23, required after the original voting in March was annulled following a narrow victory for the main opposition Republican People's Party.
LAGOS, June 2 -- Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt insists he wants his future sorted before the start of pre-season but dismissed claims Ronald Koeman’s potential move to Barcelona would influence his decision.
The 19-year-old is expected to leave the Amsterdam giants this summer after a scintillating campaign in which Ajax reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Barcelona had been expected to sign de Ligt but his stunning form towards the end of the season has attracted the likes of Manchester United to the teenager. The Catalans were knocked out by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League and lost the Copa del Rey final to Valencia a fortnight later. Those defeats are expected to cost Ernesto Valverde his job and Koeman has been linked with taking over at the Camp Nou. Koeman currently manages de Ligt as Netherlands boss and made the move himself as a player from Holland to Spain.
However, de Ligt says Koeman’s move would have no bearing on his decision. ‘At the end of the day, you look at yourself only. He [Ronald Koeman] does know me well but the fact that he is Dutch won’t matter a lot [if Koeman joins Barcelona],’ said de Ligt. ‘Why does it take so long for me to make a decision on my future? For months there have been reports about me and the transfer period itself hasn’t even started yet, so, fine question from you. It’s not that I write it. The media does that. ‘I just want to finish this season first and focus on that [making decision on future]. I do prefer to play the pre-season with my new club, or with Ajax. I don’t know when it will happen but I hope will be as soon as possible.’