The saga that rocked the Palestinian football community: A Bolivian coach, Jibril Rajoub & the strongest man in Middle Eastern football.
Meet the Bolivian club who will look to surprise River Plate, despite having 1/8 from their rivals budget
Señoras y señores, our Weekend Guide is in Latino mood! We have an interesting final with the underdogs of the Brazilian Paulista, a close race all the way to the title in Colombia and a team that want to clinch the title in Bolivia.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this guy)
What? Santos – Audax (Campeonato Paulista)
When? Sunday, 2100
Where? Estádio Vila Belmiro, Santos
Why? After 1:1 in the first match, everyone is ready for the decisive championship game. Santos won 6 out of the last 10 Paulista titles and in this season they lost only once in 18 matches. Audax was founded only 10 years ago, never played in the top Brazilian divisions, but they had a tremendous season after eliminating São Paulo and Corinthians.
Key Players: Santos scoring rate in the Paulista is high thanks to the 19 years old striker, Gabriel, who scored 7 goals this season. Audax main player is Camacho, a midfielder who was part of Botafogo's promotion in the last season.
El Presidente: After being the technical director of Audax, former Brazilian international player Vampeta appointed as the club president.
Professional (like this goalkeeper)
What? Atlético Nacional – Independiente Medellín (Colombian Categoría Primera A)
When? Sunday, 0000
Where? Estadio Atanasio Girardot, Medellín
Why? El Clásico Paisa, the derby of Medellín will turn into a turmoil, as the race for the title is extremely tight. With three matches left the gap between the 1st and the 5th place is only 3 points. Atlético Nacional are in the 1st place with 32 points, Independiente Medellín are in the 3rd place with 30 points.
Key Players: Orlando Berrío is a player you can't miss in Atlético Nacional, as he already have 4 national titles with his team. Independiente Medellín has one of the best defenses in the league mainly thanks to their goalkeeper David González, who spent few years in Turkey and England.
No Rivalries: Even though there is a rivalry between the teams, Independiente Medellín manager, Leonel Álvarez, played for both of the team and even won Copa Libertadores with Atlético Nacional in 1989.
World Class (like this goal)
What? Jorge Wilstermann – Real Potosí (Liga de Fútbol Profesional Boliviano)
When? Sunday, 2100
Where? Estadio Félix Capriles, Cochabamba
Why? Jorge Wilstermann are close to win their first title since 2010. They lead the table by 10 points, while only 5 matches left. Meanwhile, the bottom is on fire. Real Potosí watching their rivals, Nacional Potosí, getting closer to the second division, but Real themselves, are only 3 points above the relegation playoff spot.
Key Players: A top team must have a great defender on their roster, but Enrique David Díaz is maybe too great, as he was booked 34 times in 2 seasons as Jorge Wilstermann’s defender. Gilbert Álvarez of Real Potosí is the leader in this difficult season for his team, as he is the top scorer with 16 goals.
The Aviator: Last week we met the Chilean leader O'Higgins, so now we will meet Jorge Wilstermann, the first Bolivian civil aviator. Wilstermann died at 1936, when he was 25 years old, during flying from Cochabamba to Oruro.
I can tell you missed us, didn't you? The Weekend Guide is back in business, and this time we take you to the derby of La Paz, an Olympic clash between the women national teams of United States and Mexico, and finally, the African Champions League kick-off.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this guy)
What? The Strongest – Bolívar (Liga de Fútbol Profesional Boliviano)
When? Sunday, 2215
Where? Estadio Hernando Siles, La Paz
Why? The highest capital in the world is getting ready for the Clásico Paceño - the city derby
. After both teams failed to win the Apertura, they hope that the Clausura will be different. The Strongest are in 4th place, 2 points from the leadership, and Bolívar are on 2nd place with a gap of just of 1 point.
Key Players: Ramiro Ballivián took part in the tremendous seasons of Universitario de Sucre in the past 7 years and he will try to repeat it in The Strongest. Erwin Saavedra, Bolívar’s defender, is just 19 years old but he is part of the team lineup in every match.
Are You Ready? If you thought that The Strongest is an unusual name, in Bolivian regional leagues you can find club with the name Always Ready, one of the first clubs in La Paz and first ever Bolivian team to travel to Europe.
Professional (like that match)
What? United States – Mexico (CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship)
When? Saturday, 2200
Where? Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
Why? As we are getting closer to the Olympic Games in Rio, now it's the time to see which women teams will represent CONCACAF. United States, 4-times Olympic champions, won their first match against Costa Rica, 5:0. After qualifying to three World Cups, Mexico wishes to make an Olympic debut, after they defeated Puerto Rico 6:0 in last Wednesday.
Key Players: The American team is full of great players, but we chose to focus on Christen Press, who scored 30 goals in 57 international caps and you definitely should see her last goal. Cecilia Santiago, the 21 years old Mexican goalkeeper, was just 16 years old during her international debut and she is the youngest player to play in the World Cup ever.
The Debutants: While Mexico still tries to qualify, one team already confirmed they Olympic debut in Rio – the team of Zimbabwe, which knocked out Cameroon in the decisive match.
World Class (like this kick)
What? Ashanti Gold – MO Béjaïa (CAF Champions League)
When? Sunday, 1600
Where? Len Clay Stadium, Obuasi
Why? These two teams could easily progress to the later stages of the tournament but one will be eliminated in the preliminary round. Ashanti Gold won the Ghanaian Premier League for the first time since 1996 and they will try to go all the way to the finals, as they did in 1997. Even though MO Béjaïa missed the Algerian title by single point, they will make history with their debut season in continental competition.
Key Players: Ashanti Gold star is the veteran defender, Emmanuel Osei, who played in Turkey, Italy and the MLS. Zahir Zerdab, MO Béjaïa midfielder, spent few years in the French lower division before arriving to Algeria and he was main part in the club's last season.
Good to See You: In the same round, Cercle de Joachim from Mauritius will play against Young Africans from Tanzania. They will be the first team from Mauritius to play in the Champions league since 2010.
Thumbnail photo by AFP
One weekend, three games, Worldwide. All the information.
BabaGol weekend recap is here again, with all the matches you must watch and follow this weekend. You can be sure, it will be better than any match you've planned to watch.
This time we will visit a hot Balkan derby, another crazy race for the title world in a controversial Arab country, and finally, we will travel all the way to South America for the literally ‘highest’ rivalry in the world. Are you ready?
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Sturday, 1400, KF Tirana – Partizani (Albanian Superliga)
The Albanian league is not one of the best leagues in the Balkans, but still very popular by local crowd, while thousands of people are attending each game.
One of the major clashes of the country is the capital’s derby, KF Tirana against Partizani. Both teams need to gain points for the title battles, as they want to put an end Skënderbeu Korçë’s dynsty, who won the last four consecutive titles.
KF Tirana is one of the oldest and successful teams in the Albanian football – 25 championships, 17 cups and an impressive record in the continental competitions. At the moment, the club is ranked in the 2nd place, one point behind the leaders. The coach is Gugash Magani, who was well known player and played until the age of 40, but as a coach he failed to get any achievement yet.
The players which try to lead the team for the first title since 2009 are Debatik Curri, who returned to his home nation after 9 years in Ukraine and Turkey, Gjergji Muzaka, who was a part of last season’s title of Skënderbeu, Ervin Bulku, who played 56 times for the national team, and Selemani Ndikumana, the star of Burundi national team.
While some of KF Tirana players still remember their last title, there are players in Partizani that wasn’t even born in the last championship of their club, it was back in 1993. This season they have great chance to make it, as they are in the 4th place, just 4 points from top of the table.
The coach, Shpëtim Duro, was the coach who led Skënderbeu to the first title in 2011. Pay attention to Nderim Nexhipi, Macedonian-Albanian player who played in Germany and Belgium, Idriz Batha, one of the wonder kids of the Albanian football, and Endrit Vrapi, who came back to Partizani after playing for 7 Albanian teams in 12 years. Another interesting face is the Serbian player Stevan Račić, one of the leading scorers of the team, who despite the complex relations between the nations, preferred to play in Albania Partizani, rather than other ex-Yugoslav leagues.
This rivalry contains also a conflict between fans. Partizani is known as ‘The People´s Team’, who identify with the famous Albanian Liberation Army, and has a strong Ultras group who is famous all over the Balkans. KF Tirana fans are usually middle class Tiranians, with more of a local orientation and less national identification.
The big rivalries of the Balkans are a fight about football and social conflicts, only this time the teams will fight for the Albanian title too.
*Important Comment: Due to security and administration issues, on Friday 27.2.15 at 14:30, both clubs decided to delay the match to the 12.3.15, in order to be able and host fans of both sides and create a better atmosphere in the most important match of Albania. Well, at least you enjoyed some good early pregame. BabaGol will update you before the game is 'really' played.
Saturday, 1715, Al Sadd – Lekhwiya (Qatar Stars League)
On last recaps we checked the leagues of Bahrain and Morocco, and now we will keep on tracking an Arabic scenario, in one of the world´s most controversial football countries - Qatar. Eight games are left until the end of the season, and Lekhwiya wants to win its fourth title in 5 year, while Al Sadd, most decorated team in the country, wants to clinch another title. Al Sadd's season looks great so far. they finished in the 3rd place last season, and missed their Asian Champions League group stage by single point, and now they are leading the table with just one defeat through the whole term. The manager, Hussein Amotta, is the one who led Al Sadd for their last title in 2013, and have won with the club also as a player, in 2000.
As every team in Qatar, Al Sadd has some players which have tasted the highest levels of football. Brazilian striker Grafite, one of the superstars in German side, Wolfsburg, championship in 2009, and Nadir Belhadj, who played for Algeria in 2010 World Cup, are familiar faces. There are also some Qatari talents like Khalfan Ibrahim, the all-time leading scorer of the club, Abdelkarim Hassan, who 4 years ago broke the record of the youngest player in the Asian Champions League, and Hassan Al Haidos, Qatari footballer of the year in 2014. Lekhwiya won the title in the last year, and aiming for repeat this year. This season they are ranked second place, one point behind Al Sadd. The major reason for their success is their owner, Sheikh Abdullah al Thani. Being the owner of Málaga CF, he makes sure that money is not problem. Michael Laudrup is the manager and big names such as Vladimír Weiss, who arrived last season from Olympiacos, Chico Flores, who came from Swansea, and Tunisian international, Youssef Msakni. Sebastián Soria, Uruguayan who made 101 caps for the Qatari National Team, is also kicking there, and some interesting local names as Ismaeel Mohammed and Khalid Muftah, are also key players for the club and country.
With the responses and rejections over the 2022 World Cup saga, it should be interesting to watch the Qatari League, and try to understand what is the local scene looks like, or is it all about the money. The answer is there somewhere.
Besides, our previous matches from the Arab world were definitely at a high level and temper, full of emotions and intervals. Would you dare to miss another match like that?
Sunday, 2100, Bolívar – The Strongest (Liga de Fútbol Profesional Boliviano)
Hold your breath. It's not because you are suffering the Altitude disease of standing in the highest football stadium in the world, it's because our next match, El Clásico Paceño, the derby of La Paz. Two of Bolivia’s biggest teams will meet on Sunday for a match that can twist the Bolivian League´ season a part.
Bolívar is the current champions of Bolivia, and the current league leaders, with 19 points in 8 matches. Unfortunately, they have conceded their first defeat last game, what brings them in a shaky form before the decisive match. The manager is Xabier Azkargorta, Spanish who formerly was the manager of the Bolivian national team in 1994 World Cup. Pay attention to Juan Carlos Arce, who made 44 caps for the national team, Carlos Tenorio, who was part of Ecuador squad for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, and Juanmi Callejón, the twin brother of Napoli player, José Callejón, and the leading scorer of the team in this season.
The Strongest, a weird name by all accounts, is the oldest team in Bolivia. They got their name in 1908, after their founders decided to call the team "The Strongest" and not just "The Strong", their original name. The team is ranked in the 2nd place, 5 points behind Bolívar, but they played two matches fewer than the leaders, so there is a chance to turn things around if they will win the derby.
The players that should be noticed are Pablo Escobar, Paraguayan-born Bolivian player who scored 87 goals in the last 4 season, Daniel Vaca, 36 years old veteran goalkeeper, and Maximiliano Bajter, Uruguayan player who played also in Mexico and Norway.
This is one of the top rivalries in South America and only one team could win the 3 points. It could be Bolívar's run for the title or The Strongest's closer of the gap. Stay tuned!