International News - Issue 236

City Suffer Blow As Aguero Ruled Out Until Next Year
Sergio Aguero faces a lengthy layoff due to the knee ligament damage suffered during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Everton, though Manchester City are hopeful he will be out for no longer than a month in what still represents a sizeable blow to the champions. The club is relieved Aguero has not suffered more serious damage after leaving the Etihad Stadium field in tears. The Argentinian has suffered distension of the lateral ligament of his left knee, according to reports in his homeland, with it being claimed the 19-goal striker could be ruled out for up to seven weeks. With City travelling to Roma for Wednesday’s crucial Champions League game, Manuel Pellegrini has urged his team to win without Aguero but the Chilean now faces a striking crisis with Stevan Jovetic, who would normally start instead of Aguero, a doubt because of a hamstring problem while Edin Dzeko is not 100% fit following a calf injury. Pellegrini is also uncertain of the fitness of Vincent Kompany, who will have a test in training after a hamstring strain, and David Silva following a knee problem. He is due to have a scan on Tuesday depending on when the swelling eases but City will be without their in-form striker for the final Group E match against Rudi Garcia’s side. 

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is unconcerned following his side’s first loss of the season, insisting his team is “better than anybody else”. The Blues’ unbeaten run came to an end last Saturday afternoon following a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle, yet Mourinho was left unperturbed. "We are top of the league," the Portuguese tactician said. "Nobody has done better than us. Everyone would like to be in our position. So we are more than fine. We are better than anybody else." Mourinho said he backs his charges to bounce back after their first loss as they accept the dropped points as part of the game. "I will back them [the players] to bounce back,” he said. “For people like me who have been in football for so long, you have to accept this anomaly. To come here and be better than our opponents and lose, that is football.” And the Chelsea boss insists his side are still the team to beat in England. "I don't say my team is the best, I say my team is top of the league and, at this moment, nobody has the same points we have,” he said. “Because of that, at the moment we're the best team in the Premier League." Chelsea face struggling Hull City in their forthcoming Premier League fixture on Saturday.

Real Madrid supporters who took part in abusive chants about Lionel Messi and Barcelona will be reported to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), says La Liga president Javier Tebas. Fans targeted arch-rivals Barca, and singled out their star player Messi, in Saturday's home win over Celta Vigo. "There were insults and unacceptable chants at the Bernabeu, so I gave the order to report them," said Tebas. Spanish media say Real have identified and banned 17 fans who sang abuse. Referee Alberto Mallenco did not mention the offensive chants in his match report on Madrid's 3-0 victory, but Tebas has pledged to refer the incident to the RFEF's competition committee. Violent and abusive supporters are being targeted by clubs, footballing authorities and the Spanish government in response to the death of a Deportivo La Coruna supporter after violent clashes between rival fans before the match at Atletico Madrid last month. “Our new commitment is that if the referee does not hear it, we will draw attention to it," added Tebas. "We have taken this decision and we will continue down the same path."

USA legend Landon Donovan ended his career in style as his club Los Angeles Galaxy won a record fifth MLS Cup with a 2-1 victory over New England Revolution. Former Tottenham striker Robbie Keane netted an extra-time winner after Chris Tierney cancelled out Gyasi Zardes's 52nd minute opener for Galaxy. Donovan, who played at three World Cups, is his country's all-time leading scorer with 57 goals in 157 games. The 32-year-old is also the MLS's record marksman with 144 strikes, while he won the championship six times. Donovan represented Bayern Munich, Bayern Leverkusen and Everton earlier in his near 14-year career.

Real Madrid’s New Galacticos equaled the Spanish record of 18 wins in a row, beating Celta Vigo 3-0 with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a record-breaking 23rd La Liga hat-trick. The record had been set by Barcelona under Frank Rijkaard, during 2005-06.

Al Ahly have been crowned CAF Confederation Cup champions after beating Sewe Sport on the away-goals rule following a 1-0 home win in Cairo. The Egyptians got a vital away goal in the first leg in Abidjan, meaning Emad Meteb's 95th-minute goal at the Cairo International Stadium was enough despite a 2-2 aggregate draw.

France coach Didier Deschamps is considering handing a final call-up to Thierry Henry in honour of the 37-year-old's stellar career. Calls have been growing to award Henry - who ended his four-year stay with New York Red Bulls this week - a farewell appearance for Les Bleus in a friendly against Brazil in March. The World Cup winner and Arsenal legend is his country's record scorer with 51 goals, having earned the last of his 123 caps in 2010 after making his international debut in 1997. "It has become such a big media subject," Deschamps told RMC. "Thierry Henry is a great player. He has marked the history of the France team, as have some others. It is worth thinking about. I'll take the time to discuss it with the federation president. After people have ideas, they end up in the press. I won't close the door but I don't want to put pressure on this issue. We will take the time to discuss it. This is not for tomorrow. It will keep going. Thierry Henry is Thierry Henry."

A football player was beaten to death by an opponent and rival fans in Argentina's third tier on Saturday. In a match between Tiro Federal and Chacarita, two teams from Argentina's northwest, a brawl broke out on the pitch in the 80th minute. Federal skipper Franco Nieto, 33, was attacked by a group "including a player from the opposing team, an assistant coach and a hooligan," regional police chief Fabian Bordon told TN television. "People came to insult him. They kicked him and punched him. He tried to defend himself but he was struck violently in the head. He was operated on Tuesday, and died today," Pablo Nieto, a nephew of the victim, told the news station. According to non-governmental group Salvemos al Futbol, there have been 15 soccer-related deaths in Argentina this year.

Ghana and Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah will be sidelined for at least three months after having surgery on his left knee. The 25-year-old, who has been ruled out of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, damaged the articular cartilage in his joint in Juve's 3-2 win over Olympiacos on November 4. Asamoah has been a regular for the Serie A champions since joining them in 2012 from Udinese.

Roy Keane said he is willing to bury the hatchet with Sir Alex Ferguson if the Scot apologises for bad-mouthing him following his acrimonious exit from Old Trafford in 2005. Keane, who captained United under Ferguson, also said he is not bothered that some fans feel he has tarnished his legacy by feuding with the club legend. When asked if he would ever go for a drink with Ferguson, Keane told FourFourTwo magazine: "Well, it would be a cup of tea. If Sir Alex apologises, then yes, I would. "If Ferguson apologises I would be happy to move on. For Ferguson to bad-mouth me after I left, I think he does owe me an apology." He added: "It was never going to end as a pal's act. I was never going to leave with champagne and flowers. I saw how Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce left the club, both decent United captains, and I didn't like the way they left." Regarding how he will be remembered at Old Trafford, he said: "If United fans say I had a decent career, then brilliant. If they want to say, 'What's gone on with Ferguson stuff?' then f*** them."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has faith he can guide the club to Premier League honours inside three years. The Frenchman - who last achieved the feat in 2004 - penned a new three-year contract in May shortly after winning the FA Cup. "Of course. We have not started very well, but we never had the squad together since the start of the season. It was a post-World Cup start typically," Wenger said when asked if his side can win the championship between now and 2017. "We have what is requested to do it. We have to fight like mad now to come back as much as possible to show that we can compete in every single game." He added: "We have fought many times for the title. People always remember who won it, but the fight has been very tight for long periods in the last eight or nine years. "We have a big competition in England, we have to accept that. The Premier League level goes always up and this season Chelsea have started very well. They will be difficult to catch, but everybody will fight to come back on them. After 13 or 14 games, you cannot say that the title race is over. You cannot say that is not catchable."

It has been a good few weeks for two former Bafana Bafana coaches, neither of whom are remembered fondly by South African fans. Brazilian Joel Santana was a disaster at the helm of the national side ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but he has found much more success in club football in his homeland. He has recently won more acclaim after leading troubled Vasco da Gama back into the Brazilian Serie A, yet another title in a career that has seen him take charge of more than 20 clubs. Santana is also the only coach to have led all four major Rio de Janeiro clubs to the local state Carioca title, tasting success with Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco. Much-maligned in South Africa, he is arguably the most popular coach in Brazil not just for his exploits on the field, but his tongue-in-cheek adverts for a range of products that play on his poor grasp of English but have endeared him to millions. Meanwhile, Frenchman Philippe Troussier, far more of a prickly character, who led South Africa at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France has just signed for Chinese club Hangzhou Greentown. Troussier won none of his six matches in charge of Bafana and left directly after the World Cup having failed to guide the team out of the first round. He has since gone on to have success at international level with Japan.

FA Cup Draw: Last season's FA Cup finalists Arsenal and Hull will square off again in the third round of this year's tournament. Arsenal came from behind to beat Hull 3-2 in the Wembley showpiece in May and the sides will lock horns again at the Emirates after they were the first two teams out in the third round. There are plenty of other ties of interest and League Two AFC Wimbledon will play host to Liverpool in a match which will evoke memories of the 1988 final, which Wimbledon famously won 1-0. And there is plenty at stake when League Two Accrington and League One Yeovil meet in a second round replay because the winners will play host to Manchester United in the third round.

FA Cup third round draw:
Arsenal v Hull
Southampton v Ipswich
Stoke v Wrexham
Charlton v Blackburn
Dover Athletic v Crystal Palace
AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool
Manchester City v Sheffield Wednesday
Aldershot/Rochdale v Nottingham Forest
West Bromwich Albion v Gateshead
Blythe Spartans v Birmingham
Aston Villa v Blackpool
Rotherham v Bournemouth
Huddersfield v Reading
Oxford/Tranmere v Swansea
Cardiff v Colchester
Bolton v Wigan
Sunderland v Leeds
Burnley v Tottenham
Millwall v Bradford
Derby v Southport
Brentford v Brighton
Fulham v Wolves
Leicester v Newcastle
Scunthorpe/Worcester v Chesterfield
Everton v West Ham
Cambridge/Mansfield v Bury/Luton
Chelsea v Watford
Barnsley/Chester v Middlesbrough
QPR v Sheffield United
Accrington/Yeovil v Manchester United
Preston v Norwich
Doncaster v Bristol City
Ties to be played weekend beginning 3rd January 2015

Brazilian striker Hulk has accused a Russian referee of hurling racist comments towards him during a League match played over the weekend. The Zenit St. Petersburg frontman alleged that he suffered the abuse in his side’s 1-0 loss to FC Mordovia Saransk last Saturday. Hulk explains that he had touched referee Alexei Matyunin on the shoulder to grab his attention, who then told the Brazilian not to touch him and ordered him to calm down before making a derogatory comment about the colour of his skin. “I don't like you, along with any other black people," Hulk reported. "You can always expect some kind of racist chants from the fans. This is unacceptable, of course, but it is clear that fans use this tactic to infuriate the opposition's players. But a referee cannot be involved in these types of scandals." Referee Matyunin has however rejected the claims, saying he was being unfairly targeted. "I don't want to comment on anyone's lie or nonsense," he said. "It seems to me that this incident is the result of planned manipulation. The accusations of racist abuse are very serious because it's a criminal offence. There should be strong evidence in support of such a charge. But slander is also a kind of a crime and it's not really difficult to prove it in the court. We're currently seeking the source of the slanderous fabrications. After that we'll take legal action." Hulk, who joined Zenit in 2012, is the highest-paid footballer in the Russian League, and has scored 11 goals in 26 matches for his club this far this season. Zenit currently top the Russian League standings by five points after 15 games.