Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Inter make no mistakes to reach final

Posted in Asian Football, European Football by peterbein on December 15, 2010
Rafael Benítez

Rafael Benítez saw his Inter team beat Seongnam 2-0 in Abu Dhabi

At least one team called Inter has made the final of the FIFA Club World Cup this year. European champions Internazionale FC did what their South American counterparts SC Internacional were unable to do and reach the showpiece game of the tournament which takes place on Sunday.

Spanish coach Rafael Benítez was under pressure going into tonight’s game against Asian champions Seongnam Ilhewa Chunma and perhaps the pressure to win the semi-final tie was greater following the shock result which occurred twenty four hours earlier after African team TP Mazembe shocked the Brazilians of Internacional by winning 2-0. Nevertheless Benítez had to put that out of his mind and focus on the job in hand especially as it’s been muted that he could lose his job if he fails to bring the trophy home.

Once Dejan Stanković put the Nerazzurri ahead after three minutes then it proved to be plain sailing for Inter as they controlled the game although it was unfortunate to see Wesley Sneijder go off just sixty seconds after the opening goal with an injury. Inter doubled their lead thanks to Javier Zanetti finishing off a wonderful move in the 32nd minute and from there they effectively kept the South Koreans at bay even though Seongnam upped their efforts in the hope of finding the net. Diego Milito made sure of the win in the 73rd minute with Inter’s third goal and the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League winners ultimately made light work of Seongnam who, despite the disappointment of losing, were happy to have played a part in this year’s tournament.

For coach Benítez Sunday’s final is a real chance to get his hands on the trophy he feels he should’ve won in 2005 when his Liverpool FC team narrowly lost out to São Paulo FC. Now that another potential Brazilian nemesis cannot get in his way this time the chances are that the Italian side can help him make up for five years ago and help keep his job secure until the end of the season at least.

FIFA: TP Mazembe and Seongnam to meet big boys in semi-finals

TP Mazembe

TP Mazembe (in black and white stripes) upset Pachuca and hope to do the same to Internacional on Tuesday

The quarter-final stages have passed in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup with African champions TP Mazembe and Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma having made it through to the final four of the competition where they will meet South American champions Internacional and European champions Internazionale FC respectively.

TP Mazembe, champions of Africa for the past two seasons, faced up to the North & Central American champions Pachuca in their quarter-final match-up this weekend. Having defeated the Mexicans by a goal to nil, Mbenza Bedi scoring the only goal in the 21st minute, the Congolese side have already bettered their performance in last year’s tournament. Last time out Mazembe were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Pohang Steelers so this year represents further progress on the international stage although the club were disappointed not to win their domestic championship this year, losing out to AS Vita-Club by virtue of goal difference. Nonetheless for coach Lamine N’Diaye Tuesday’s encounter with this year’s Copa Libertadores champions Internacional of Porto Alegre will be an historic match for the club and they will want to upset the odds by becoming the first club from outside Europe or South America to participate in the final of this tournament.

Saša Ognenovski

Saša Ognenovski scored in Seongnam's 4-1 win over Al-Wahda

The same goes for Asian club champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma who defeated United Arab Emirates representatives Al-Wahda by a much more comfortable scoreline of four goals to one. Mauricio Molina, Saša Ognenovski, Choi Sung-Kuk and Cho Dong-Geon scored the goals for the South Korean club who will compete in the semi-finals in their maiden appearance in this tournament. Their opponents on Wednesday are UEFA Champions League winners Internazionale FC who have struggled domestically in recent weeks having taken only five points from their last six Serie A games, their only victory coming against AC Parma a fortnight ago. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma have completed their K-League season, losing in the 2nd round of  the Championship play-offs and have only played in one competitive fixture since November 24th. For Seongnam’s coach Shin Tae-Yong Wednesday’s game is a real chance to upset the odds and they will hope that the Italians will have another off-day. Inter coach Rafael Benítez, however, has unfinished business in this tournament having been a runner-up with Liverpool FC in 2005 and success in this year’s competition could be the difference between keeping or losing his job.

FIFA: Club World Cup 2010 Preview

FIFA Club World CupFor the second year running the FIFA Club World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates and it looks like being yet another thrilling competition. Last year saw 2008-09 UEFA Champions League holders FC Barcelona narrowly edge out 2009 Copa Libertadores winners Estudiantes de La Plata with the Catalans needing extra-time to defeat their illustrious Argentinian opponents. This year it is expected that this truly “international” tournament will prove to be so with 2009-10 UEFA Champions League winners FC Internazionale Milano face off against their South American counterparts Internacional of Porto Alegre. But there are five other teams who hope to have their shot of glory and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks at all seven contenders.

INTERNAZIONALE FC – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

The José Mourinho era may be over but Internazionale FC still go into this tournament as favourites despite some initial teething problems under new coach Rafael Benítez. Inter haven’t been crowned world champions since 1965 when they defeated Argentinian side Independiente in the old Intercontinental Cup and the Nerazzurri are desperate to add the new trophy to their list of achievements. Internazionale became European champions for the third time in their history having beaten German giants FC Bayern München 2-0 in Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, ironically where their former coach now works. Their current coach Benítez has been in the final of this tournament once before but saw his Liverpool FC side lose to a Brazilian side in the final. Will history repeat itself for the Spaniard? Inter first have to dispose any of Hekari United, Al-Wahda or Seongnam Ilhwa Chuma at the last four stage before they can think of the final.

INTERNACIONAL SC – COPA LIBERTADORES WINNERS 2010

The last South American team to win this trophy, Internacional are hoping to create history by becoming the first team to win the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time since the tournament was re-branded in 2004. Their first triumph in this competition came in 2006 in Tokyo where they defeated an FC Barcelona side who were expected to turn up and win the trophy but Inter had other ideas and Adriano Gabiru’s 82nd minute strike remains the club’s finest moment. Internacional would’ve qualified for this year’s tournament even had they have lost the Copa Libertadores final to Mexican side C.D. Guadalajara but a 5-3 aggregate victory for the Porto Alegre based side means that they travel to the UAE with the champion status they deserve. Internacional will face the winners of TP Mazembe and CF Pachuca in the semi-finals.

CF PACHUCA – CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

The champions of North and Central America are competing in this tournament for the third time which is a competition best along with Egyptians Al Ahly. Pachuca’s two previous appearances saw them exit at the quarter-final stage in 2007 before losing to Gamba Osaka in a 3rd/4th place play-off twelve months later. The Mexicans saw off the challenge from compatriots Cruz Azul in the two-legged CONCACAF Champions League final winning courtesy of the away goals rule. Following a 2-1 away defeat, Pachuca were only seconds away from disappointment as the second leg reached its dying moments. However Édgar Benítez’s last gasp goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Pachuca their fourth continental title and another shot of glory at the world stage. They will face off against African champions TP Mazembe in the quarter-finals.

TP MAZEMBE – CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2010

The Congolese side are back-to-back African champions and undoubtedly the strongest team on the African continental at the moment. Tout Puissant Mazembe, to give their official name, have come back to prominence in the last couple of years and have put four decades without the top African trophy firmly behind them. Following what was an unexpected CAF Champions League win in 2009 TP Mazembe proved their critics wrong by thrashing Tunisian champions Espérance Tunis 6-1 on aggregate and will hope to better their performance in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 where they failed to beat Asian champions Pohang Steelers and OFC Champions Auckland City. Coach Lamine N’Diaye has to negotiate his team’s way through the quarter-finals against CONCACAF champions CF Pachuca before they can meet Internacional SC in the last four stage.

SEONGNAM ILHWA CHUNMA – AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2010

The South Koreans may not have won a domestic trophy in four years but that didn’t prevent them from winning Asian football’s elite club competition this year. Coming from the city of Seongnam, this team qualified for the 2010 AFC Champions League as losing finalists from the 2009 K-League final which they lost to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup having defeated Iranian side Zob Ahan Isfahan in the AFC Champions League winning 3-1 in the National Stadium, Tokyo. Their reward is to play against the winners of the qualifying match between Ocenaia champions Hekari United and UAE League champions Al-Wahda in the quarter-finals. Should they be successful in their opening match a semi-final against European champions Internazionale FC awaits.

PKR HEKARI UNITED – OFC O-LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009-10

The rise of Papua New Guinea’s biggest club has been something of a fairytale in world football’s smallest confederation. Having only picked up just one point from their opening two group matches in the 2009-10 O-League, Hekari United then won all of their four remaining games against group opponents Lautoka FC, Tafea FC and Marist FC before going on to meet strong favourites Waitakere United in the final. The New Zealanders, twice O-League champions in the previous three years, came unstuck in the first leg in Port Moresby losing 3-0 before going on to gain some pride with a 2-1 second leg win. The 4-2 aggregate victory for Hekari signalled the first time that a club from outside Australia or New Zealand had won Oceania’s top tournament and rewards them with a qualifying match against UAE champions Al-Wahda which they’ll hope to win in order to meet Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

AL-WAHDA – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES PREMIER LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

In order to gain some local interest FIFA has decided to include the national champions of the host nation in the last four tournaments. The middle eastern state of the United Arab Emirates hosts this tournament for a second consecutive year and it is 2009-10 Premier League champions Al-Wahda who will hope to do their country proud. Al-Wahda qualified for the tournament after winning their national championship by seven points from nearest challengers Al Jazira and they will hope to better the performance of last year’s representatives Al-Ahli who lost 2-0 to OFC Champions League winners Auckland City in the play-off round. Should Al-Wahda defeat Hekari United in this year’s play-off they will face off against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the quarter-finals.

AFC Champions League: Seongnam are Asian champions (+video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on November 13, 2010

South Korean representatives Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma have won the 2010 AFC Champions League after a pulsating final match played in Tokyo. They defeated Iranian side Zob Ahan by three goals to one to lift the title and are the second consecutive team from the K-League to become Asian club champions following the success of Pohang Steelers in 2009.

The Korean side took the lead after 29 minutes in front of a capacity crowd at the National Stadium, Tokyo, when Sasa Ognenovski put his side in front. The scoreline remained 1-0 at the break and set up a frantic second half in which both teams set out to attack their opponents. It took seven minutes after the re-start for Seongnam to double their lead when Cho Byung-Kuk was on hand to make it 2-0. The Iranians did all they could to get back in to the match and succeeded in doing so in the 66th minute when Mohammadreza Khalatbari halved the deficit with a well taken strike and the match came to a grandstand finish. The Koreans sealed the deal with eight minutes remaining when Kim Cheol-Ho put the visitors beyond arm’s length and restored the two goal cushion which they never relinquished.

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma’s reward for winning this year’s AFC Champions League trophy is a place in the oncoming FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates next month. They will play a quarter-final tie against the winners of the qualifying match between host side Al-Wahda and Oceania champions Hekari United.

WATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

J-League and K-League champions signal the old and the new

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 7, 2009
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers have secured their third straight J-League title

Two major championships concluded in Asia this weekend, one championship congratulating a team who have turned winning into an art form on the domestic stage, the other congratulating a club who have finally landed their maiden national title.

Kashima Antlers were crowned champions of Japan this weekend securing a third straight title courtesy of a 1-0 win away at Urawa Red Diamonds. Shinko Koroki’s goal in the 66th minute proved enough as the Antlers finished two points clear of Kawasaki Frontale, whose 3-2 victory away to Kashiwa Reysol ultimately proved fruitless. Kashima cement their place as the most successful club in the J-League era as they have won the J-League championship seven times since its formation in 1993. At the bottom of the table JEF United, Oita Trinita and Kashiwa Reysol were relegated and they’ll be replaced in 2010 by Vegalta Sandai, Cerezo Osaka and Shonan Bellmare.

Things were different in South Korea where the K-League saw Jeonbuk Hyandai Motors lift their first ever league championship trophy. Jeonbuk had already clinched the regular league title finishing four points ahead of FIFA Club World Cup participants Pohang Steelers and FC Seoul. Following the regular season a play-off series was contested, Jeonbuk’s prize for finishing first in the regular table was a bye into the final. Five teams entering at various rounds were hoping to contest Jeonbuk in the final and, after three rounds, it was Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, who had finished fourth in the regular season, who were to be the lucky opponents with a shot at title glory. After the first leg of the final had finished in a goalless draw, Jeonbuk took no prisoners in the second match played at their home stadium in Jeonju. Eninho scored the first goal of the game after 21 minutes to set them on their way. After the Brazilian scored his second just before half-time, former South Korean international Lee Dong-Gook confirmed the match with a 72nd minute penalty for Jeonbuk to seal the deal, Seongnam getting a consolation goal through Kim Jin-Yong in the 84th minute.