Yaya Toure Kept from Representing Country

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

tourx_yayaEnglish Premier League football club Manchester City has been granted special dispensation to delay Yaya Toure’s departure for the Africa Cup of Nations. The Ivory Coast international had looked set to miss out on the Football Association Cup third round match against Manchester United and the first leg of the League Cup (Carling Cup) semifinal matchup with Liverpool, but he will now be able to feature in both matches.

Although glad he can take part in two important matches, Toure admits to feeling indifferent about the situation, with his loyalties split between club and country. The star midfielder told reporters, “Our country needs people like myself and Didier Drogba because there is a war and it’s important we do what we can for our people, but this is also a crucial time of the season. There are two crucial months coming up and now I am going to miss one of them. The team, the club and the manager need me, but I will have to go away and play in a different competition. It’s difficult as I am very focused for City and we need all the players. I have to go because my country is going through some difficult things, but I am a little bit guilty and confused about it. My loyalties are divided and I do feel a little bit sad. But City will cope.”

The tournament, hosted in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, begins on January 21st, with Ivory Coast’s first match taking place in Malabo against Sudan on January 22nd. Meanwhile, Manchester City sit atop the English Premier League with 38 points, two points ahead of cross-town rival Manchester United.

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Miralem Sulejmani Returns to the Pitch

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-10-18T194013Z_1742180748_GM1E7AJ0AG401_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-CHAMPIONS

Miralem Sulejmani (L) of Ajax Amsterdam challenges Luis Ibanez of Dinamo Zagreb during their Champions League soccer match at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb October 18, 2011. 

REUTERS/Nikola Solic

Serbian forward Miralem Sulejmani will be available to feature for Dutch giants Ajax this week in their crucial Champions League clash with Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. Sulejmani missed the Dutch team’s last two matches with a groin injury but the club’s official website has revealed that Sulejmani returned to training earlier this week.

Sulejmani, who is of Gorani Muslim origin, joined AFC Ajax on July 4th of 2008 from fellow Eredivisie squad AFC Ajax Heerenveen for a reported transfer fee of €16.25 million, breaking the Dutch transfer record. He signed a five-year contract with Ajax, keeping him there until June of 2013. Sulejmani even claimed in an interview that he himself didn’t even know that Ajax paid over €16 million for his services. He made his debut for Ajax against English Premier League club Sunderland on August 3rd of 2008.

Sulejmani made an impact almost immediately at Ajax. But first team opportunities subsequently became scarce. He almost was loaned out to English squad West Ham United in August of 2010, but his work permit application fell through. But after an off-season coaching change, he exhibited more confidence under new coach Frank de Boer and subsequently got more chances in the first-team.

Central defender Gregory van der Wiel is also available for selection having missed his side’s 4-0 win over Roda on Saturday due to abdominal pains. Ajax coach Frank de Boer could slot both players back into the starting XI to face Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday night. Ajax hosts the Croatian outfit having defeated it 2-0 in Zagreb two weeks ago. Ajax were last year’s champions of the Dutch Eredivisie league. They currently at second position in Group D of the Champions League with four points.

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Nicolas Anelka Says He Is Happy at Chelsea

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Compiled by Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

ANELKA_N_20020824_NF_LReports surfaced again this week that French Muslim footballer Nicolas Anelka was close to signing with a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in the United States this past summer and is still interested in joining the league. His current club, Chelsea Football Club of the English Premier League, published quotes from the Anelka on its website stating his desire to remain with the Premier League team.
“I am linked everywhere but – when you are linked – it doesn’t mean you want to leave,” Anelka told the website. “I like Chelsea and first of all wanted to stay that’s why I am still here.”

The 32-year-old striker’s contract runs out next summer and current manager Andre Villas-Boas has hinted that this may indeed be Anelka’s last year with the club. “I am happy here, I like the club, everyone here, and, after, I will see what happens. It is not only down to me,” Anelka told the club’s website regarding a possible transfer in either the winter or summer transfer windows. “I have been here almost four years now, and I am pleased with the way it has been. It could have been even better but I am still happy.”

Anelka was reportedly close to signing with an MLS franchise located on the West Coast, according to one of his agents. Although a deal never materialized, Anelka’s camp confirmed to the website Goal.com that their client is still interested in moving to the North American league. “I can confirm that Nicolas is still possibly interested in pursuing an MLS career,” said Michael Wiesenfeld, who is part of European Football Group, an organization which will represent Anelka’s marketing rights should he join MLS. “He got very close to landing a nice contract with a team on the West Coast in August. He also has opportunities elsewhere in the world.”

Anelka originally joined  Chelsea from Bolton inn January of 2008 for 15 million pounds. He has made 344 appearances in the Premier League and scored 123 goals to date for Arsenal, Liverpool, Bolton and Chelsea. But Chelsea’s abundance of scoring forwards, and Anelka’s advancing age, make him more expendable than ever. And with his career with the French national team likely over, a period with MLS would likely be Anelka’s swan song.

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Edin Dzeko Named English Footballer of the Month

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

9685373_95ior3Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko has been rewarded for his sparkling start to the new football season by being named Barclays English Premier League Player of the Month for August. The 25-year-old Muslim from Bosnia and Herzegovina has scored six goals in City’s opening three matches, including goals against Tottenham in a 5-1 win on the road last weekend.

Dzeko started slowly with Manchester City after his £27million move from Wolfsburg in January. He arrived at Man City with a reputation as a prolific goalscorer, with 85 goals in 138 appearances for former German champions Wolfsburg. But it took him three months to score his first Premier League goal, and he finished the season with only six goals in 21 appearances, a goal total that he has already equaled in the new season in only three appearances.

In an interview with The Mirror this past summer, Dzeko admitted that he arrived at City in a troubled state of mind, his head scrambled by the protracted nature of his move. He also admitted to struggling initially to adapt to the pace and physical nature of the Premier League. “I was sick of all the talk about the transfer,” said Dzeko. “It had got to my head a little bit [by the time he arrived at City]. But still I think I had some good games and scored some important goals. I was new in the team and it was a hard season. It’s always difficult to come to a new club midway through a hard season like that. But I know what I have done in the last six months. Now it’s my second season and I want to do better. Manchester City didn’t pay money for me because they saw me once on YouTube or something like that. They saw me scoring good goals. I haven’t forgotten how to score goals and I will show that next season. Every player needs time to settle in and get used to things; from the league to other players – everything. But I’ve had a full pre-season with the team now, which I think is the most important thing for any player, and I’m working hard. We’ll see what happens. But I know this season will be much better.”

“The Premier League is different,” said Dzeko. “The players are much stronger and much faster. After a few games when I first came, I realised the referees don’t whistle for many things. It’s not like that in Germany – with every small contact there’s a foul. In England it’s different and you’ve got to get used to all those things. It’s now behind me.”

Now Dzeko looks to have constant competition for playing time on a high-profile team such as Manchester City, with this summer’s arrival of Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero, and the recent addition of fellow Muslim Samir Nasri. But Dzeko seems undaunted by the competition.

“There’s always competition in football,” said Dzeko.”I don’t think about that, though. I know what I can do. I do my best in training and I think I train very well…The manager is telling me all the time ‘I believe in you’ and ‘just work hard’, which is what I’m doing.”

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Chelsea Reportedly Seeking Franck Ribery

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

franck-ribery9English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea Football Club has been trying to pry midfielder Luka Modric from rivals Tottenham all summer. But it looks as if they are close to giving up on their efforts as the transfer window approaches its close. The London club has now reportedly turned its attention towards French Muslim midfielder Franck Ribery. Ribery currently displays his play-making abilities for German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

Chelsea has already offered a reported 30 million pounds for Ribery, but Bayern Munich will reportedly not even consider any offers of less than 36 million pounds. The Blues are reportedly ready to pay Ribery a yearly wage of 10 million pounds per year.

Previousl Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelloti reportedly tried to sign Ribery, two years ago but was quoted a price of 88 million pounds by Bayern president Uli Hoeness. Ribery, despite his on and off the pitch struggles over the past two years, is still considered one of the most dynamic midfielders in the world. And Bayern paid a pretty penny, a record 22 million pounds, to sign him from Marseille in 2007. Ribery remains the highest paid player in the Bundesliga, at 180,000 pounds per week. He still has four years remaining on his current contract with Bayern Munich.

But the British transfer window is close to slamming shut. So Chelsea will have to make up their minds as to whether to go all out in their pursuit of the 28 year-old Frenchman.

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Samir Nasri Goes to Manchester City

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

258589-samir-nasri-est-selectionne-par-fullscreen-1
 

The Sheikh of Abu Dhabi has been trying to secure this deal all summer, and he finally got his man. Manchester City football club of the English Premier League have finally secured the services of French Muslim footballer Samir Nasri from his former club, fellow English League rivals Arsenal.

The Abu Dhabi-owned football club reportedly obtained Nasri for a transfer fee of £24million. The 24-year-old midfielder subsequently signed a four year contract with Manchester City. This would be the fourth major signing this summer for City, but it would only be the second most expensive, after the club record £38million purchase of Sergio Aguero. Nasri will likely make his Man City debut this Sunday against Tottenham.

Nasri had just one year remaining on his contract at Arsenal, whom he joined in 2008, and the London club have agreed to sell now rather than risk losing him on a free transfer next summer. English Premier League rivals Manchester United had also shown interested in the Frenchman. And in recent weeks, there was growing tension at Arsenal with the common knowledge that Nasri wanted out. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger even included Nasri in the starting lineup this past weekend against Liverpool even after it was apparent that the club was close to a sale. He was, however, left off of the roster for Arsenal’s midweek Champions League qualifying match against Udinese.

This was a rough week for Arsenal, who were forced to sell captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona the week before, followed by a home loss to Liverpool. Now they have been strong-armed into parting with another of their young talents.

Nasri came up in the Marseille youth system and made his debut for the French club at the age of 17. He came to Arsenal in 2008 for £15.8million. But he struggled for a couple of years, and was even left off of the 2010 French World Cup team. But he finally broke through last year with 15 goals and a nomination for Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.

Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini told www.mcfc.co.uk: “He’s a fantastic player because he has technique, he has mentality. I knew him when he played for Marseille. I followed him when I was at Inter and we wanted to take him five years ago. But I think in the last few years in the Premier League he’s improved a lot. Now I think he’s a top player.”

Nasri now joins a Muslim-laden squad in Manchester City. The Ivorian brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure are there, as well as fellow Ivorian Abdul Razak, and Somalian midfielder Abdisalam Ibrahim, not to mention the Emirati ownership.

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Malouda and Anelka Lead Chelsea to Opening Day Victory

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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File:  Florent Malouda

It was an all-Muslim score-sheet for Chelsea Football Club this past weekend as they won their opening English Premier League match 2-1 over West Brom. French striker Nicolas Anelka scored the equalizer, before French midfielder Florent Malouda knocked home the winning goal with seven minutes left in the second half.

This was the first match for new Chelsea manager Andres Villas-Boas, and it looked to be an easy time, with Chelsea having beaten West Brom in all 10 of their English League meetings. But Chelsea started poorly after falling behind 1-0 in the first half, leaving the faithful at Stamford Bridge a little nervous heading into half-time. Malouda had lost his starting place in the midfield, but was inserted into the line-up in the second half.

The home fans screamed for a penalty two minutes later when West Brom goalkeeper Foster clattered into Anelka but referee Lee Mason felt the goalkeeper had got a bit of the ball. There was little improvement from Chelsea at the start of the second half but a slice of luck helped them equalize in the 53rd minute.

Frank Lampard went down in the box laying the ball back to Anelka, who cut inside and unleashed a shot which took a telling deflection off the heel of Jonas Olsson and nestled in the far corner. The goal sparked the game to life, Scharner heading James Morrison’s cross over the bar and Malouda seeing a half-volley blocked before Lampard played in Anelka, whose shot hit the legs of Foster and rebounded to Malouda, only for Steven Reid to throw his body at the ball.

Lampard and Anelka were linking up well, the latter hooking over under pressure before Drogba just failed to control a great ball from Ivanovic. Anelka wasted a great breakaway chance with eight minutes left, steering the ball into the sidenetting from 35 yards after Foster had come racing off his line. It did not matter as the winner arrived a minute later, Bosingwa skipping too easily between Morrison and Nicky Shorey down the right and producing the ball of the match, swept home by Malouda at the far post.

Villas-Boas had not lost a league match with his former team, Porto, in the Portuguese league in over 16 months. Thanks to Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka, his unbeaten streak continues.

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The New Drogba Joins Tottenham

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

drogba_portraitDespite a wealth of soccer talent that has come from the Ivory Coast, including legendary Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, the team disappointed at last summer’s World Cup, and has yet to bring home hardware worthy of its talent. And follow up last year’s disappointment with a horrific five month post-election crisis, and the mood in Cote D’Ivoire has been dour. But the country was uplifted by the recent Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. There, a 16-year-old striker, by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, dubbed “The New Didier Drogba”, scored nine goals in four games for Ivory Coast, including a hat-trick against Brazil and a four goal game against Denmark in consecutive matches. Coulibaly ended up tying the tournament goal-scoring record set by former Liverpool player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but in three games fewer than the Frenchman. Souleymane in fact ended up scoring nine of his entire team’s tournament total of 11 goals. And for his efforts, Coulibaly was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournament’s best player.

Coulibaly currently lives with his father in Italy where he plays for Italian team Siena. But that is about to change, as Coulibaly was chased down by all of the big clubs after his record-setting tournament. After being courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Coulibaly settled on Tottenham of the English Premier League, where he is expected to move very quickly to the first team.

“I want to thank all those who said good things about me,” Coulibaly told Fifa.com after receiving the Golden Boot Award. “My team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.

Coulibaly himself humbly acknowledges Drogba’s clear physical advantage. “Drogba is taller than me, he’s more physically built than me and he’s better with air balls than me. If I can become a quarter of him I’d be so happy,” Coulibaly recently told Ivorian newspaper Frat Mat.

The Ivory Coast may not have brought home the Under-17 World Cup title. But Souleymane Coulibaly gave his country-people something to be proud of. And he should continue to do so in England.

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Goalkeeper Al Habsi Stays on at Wigan

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

playerArguably the finest Muslim goalkeeper in soccer has changed teams, as Wigan Athletic of the English Premier League has signed Ali Al Habsi from the Bolton Wanderers.

It was in particular the play of the 29-year-old that helped keep the Latics’ in the Premier League after having come over on loan from Bolton. Al Habsi made 34 appearances for Wigan and broke a club record for the least losses in a Premier League season, 14, while registering eight shutouts.

Manager Roberto Martinez told the club’s official website, “We are delighted to announce the best possible news for Wigan Athletic in securing Ali permanently. During his loan at our football club last season, Ali brought a great degree of professionalism in his daily work and put in many outstanding performances in the Premier League. Being voted player of the season reflects [not only] the huge impression that Ali had on the pitch but also the feeling of the supporters towards him. After making it really clear that he wanted to play for Wigan Athletic, moving forwards we’ve done everything possible to make this happen. The chairman and everyone at the football club are delighted that Ali will be staying and I’m sure every single Latics fan will feel extremely proud and be able to enjoy a great day after hearing this news.”

This is great news for Al Habsi, as well as for his home country of Oman, and for Muslim sports fans everywhere.

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Goalkeeper Al Habsi Stays on at Wigan

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

playerArguably the finest Muslim goalkeeper in soccer has changed teams, as Wigan Athletic of the English Premier League has signed Ali Al Habsi from the Bolton Wanderers.

It was in particular the play of the 29-year-old that helped keep the Latics’ in the Premier League after having come over on loan from Bolton. Al Habsi made 34 appearances for Wigan and broke a club record for the least losses in a Premier League season, 14, while registering eight shutouts.

Manager Roberto Martinez told the club’s official website, “We are delighted to announce the best possible news for Wigan Athletic in securing Ali permanently. During his loan at our football club last season, Ali brought a great degree of professionalism in his daily work and put in many outstanding performances in the Premier League. Being voted player of the season reflects [not only] the huge impression that Ali had on the pitch but also the feeling of the supporters towards him. After making it really clear that he wanted to play for Wigan Athletic, moving forwards we’ve done everything possible to make this happen. The chairman and everyone at the football club are delighted that Ali will be staying and I’m sure every single Latics fan will feel extremely proud and be able to enjoy a great day after hearing this news.”

This is great news for Al Habsi, as well as for his home country of Oman, and for Muslim sports fans everywhere.

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