Weekend Guide 8.1.2016

We hope you had great holidays, but it's time to get back to the business.

The Weekend Guide is once again here, and this time we have a double header from the Caribbean with the Copa América Centenario playoffs and the league of Bermuda, and a short visit to the Far East and the league of Hong Kong.

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Amateur (Like these guys)

What? Trinidad and Tobago – Haiti (Copa América Centenario playoffs)

When? Friday, 2330

Where? Estadio Rommel Fernández, Panama City

Why? The centennial tournament of the Copa América will take place in the USA next summer and the last two CONCACAF spots are left to be decided. On Friday night, in Panama, Trinidad Tobago and Haiti will play for the qualification.

Key Players: Khaleem Hyland will be the top Soca Warrior for this match, with 8 years of experience in the Belgian league and 53 international caps. Meanwhile, Haiti leading player is the promising 21 years old attacker, Duckens Nazon, who plays for the French second tier club Laval and scored 4 goals in the Gold Cup.

Panamanian Heritage: Until 1993, the stadium was named "Estadio Revolución". Now it is named after Rommel Fernández, a Panamanian footballer who died in car accident. He died at the age of 27.

Professional (like this guy)

What? Eastern – South China (Hong Kong Premier League)

When? Sunday, 1030

Where? Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong

Why?After both teams played 6 matches, just one point is the difference between the leaders Eastern and the second place South China. Eastern haven't lost yet and they wish to win their first title since 1995. South

Key Players: Eastern's Australian Andrew Barisic is one of the league top scorers with 4 goals, and except from playing in Hong Kong he previously played in India, Indonesia and German amateur leagues. South China's main player is goalkeeper Cristian Mora, 36 years old Ecuadorian who played for the national during their World Cup campaign in 2006.

The O Team: In the 1992/3 season, Eastern started the season with 9 wins in 9 matches, and had an impressive balance of 30 goals for and no goals conceded.

World Class (like this goal)

What? Dandy Town Hornets – Robin Hood (Bermuda Premier League)

When? Sunday, 2000

Where? St. John's Field, Pembroke Parish

Why? Dandy Town is on first place with 25 points, while Robin Hood is 9 points behind in the second place. If Dandy Town will win it, they’ll get closer for their eighth title. If they lose, the race will open up.

Key Players: The two leading scorers of the league will be on the same field, so it's a showtime! Dandy Town’s Tomiko Goater is 18 years old, who scored 7 goals in his debut season. Robin Hood’s Lejuan Simmons scored 9 goals this season, after playing for Ilkeston, a non-league English club, at the 8th division.

National Player: Former Bermudian footballer Kyle Lightbourne had 40 international caps and played for over a decade in England. Except from being international footballer, Lightbourne made 5 caps for Bermuda national cricket team in 1990.

Weekend Guide 19.12.2015

After last week, I decided to give you more finals in our Weekend Guide. An Arab-Latino final from Chile, the Indian Super League finish line, and a tight race in Trinidad and Tobago.

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Amateur (Like these guys)

What? Universidad Católica – Palestino (Chilean Primera División)

When? Sunday, 2330

Where? Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo, Santiago

Why? Colo Colo is the champions, and both teams playing for Libertadores tickets. It’s the second leg of the Apertura final, afer Palestino won the 1st leg 2:1. This match is a decisive one.

Key Players: Cristopher Toselli, one of the best Chilean goalkeepers, is the guy to keep your eyes on in Universidad Católica. Palestino striker, Marcos Riquelme, is the league top scorer with 10 goals.

First Time: While Palestino didn't won the league since 1978, the women team made a great history this season, with their first title ever. At the final they won 2:1 against Colo Colo, who won the last 10 national titles.

Professional (like these goals)

What? FC Goa – Chennaiyin FC (Indian Super League)

When? Sunday, 1430

Where? Fatorda Stadium, Goa

Why? The 2nd edition of the ISL is coming to its end, and we will have new champions – Goa or Chennai. Goa finished at top spot in the regular season, so they have the home advantage. Chennaiyin, last year’s runner-ups, eliminated former champions Atlético de Kolkata in the semifinals, and will hope to finish one place higher than last year.

Key Players: Forget about the old famous foreigners. Don't miss FC Goa's Jonatan Lucca, 21 years old Brazilian midfielder, that previously failed to play in AS Roma senior team and today shines in India. On the other side we have Chennaiyin's Stiven Mendoza, 23 years old Colombian striker and the league top scorer with 12 goals.

Indian World Champions: Each of the teams has a crew of owners which include businessmen, Bollywood stars and cricket players.  Virat Kohli of FC Goa and M.S Dhoni of Chennaiyin were both part of the Indian cricket team who won the2011 World Cup.

World Class (like this goal)

What? Defence Force – North East Stars (TT Pro League)

When? Saturday, 2100

Where? Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain

Why? After 7 weeks, the league of Trinidad and Tobago is extremely tight. Just 4 points separates the 1stand the 7th place and it seems that the season will stay close all the way to the finish. Defence Force are in on 1st place with 14 points, lost only once this season, while North East Stars, are behind on 3rd with 13 points.

Key Players:  Devorn Jorsling, Defence Force striker, is one of the veteran players of the club, playing at the club for 11 seasons. In North East Stars you can find Neveal Hackshaw, a 20 years old midfielder that already played several times for the senior national team.

To the Reserves: Ross Russell was a player and a manager at Defence Force for 26 years, winning 10 league titles. In January 2014 he had to retire due to the end of his military service.

Weekend Guide 22.1.15

One weekend, three games, Worldwide. All the information.

The weekend is here, and it's BabaGol’s weekend recap time. This weekend we will travel to Australia, to have a close look at one of the biggest games in the Asian continent. In addition, we will continue our tour in the Caribbean and we´ll meet one of the most ancient leagues in the world. All aboard! 

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Friday, 07:30, Iran – Iraq (AFC Asian Cup)
Due to the region´s history, Middle Eastern rivalries certainly produce some emotional match-ups. An Asia Cup quarterfinal match between Iran and Iraq is exactly the case.
The first Persian Gulf War started when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980. It was the longest conventional war in the 20th century. It was a battle between Shia and Suna, both wished to get several disputed areas like the area of Shatt Al-Arab. The war ended in 1988, as both countries counted thousands of casualties.

While Iran is dealing with nuclear sanctions and ISIS is tearing Iraq apart, it is the right time for a football match between these two great countries. Iran is one of the strongest teams in Asia. They have a long tradition of successful campaigns in the Asian Cup, as they won three consecutive titles in 1968, 1970 and 1972. In the last World Cup they produced an impressive performance, even though they got only one point. Their group stage in the Asian Cup was a bit easier, as they won against Bahrain and Qatar, but the decisive match for the first place against the UAE was dramatic, and only a winning goal in extra time by Reza Ghoochannejhad send them to the next round from the first place. Their manager Carlos Queiroz will try to lead his team to the semifinals, even though in the past few days the main issue in ‘Team Melli’ is a controversy selfie photo. 

The leader of the team is Javad Nekounam, probably in his last tournament. He will tie Ali Daei's record for international caps for the national team, as it will be his 149th cap. Another controversial player is Ashkan Dejagah, who grew up in Germany and played for their youth national team, and even won the 2009 U-21 Euro’s with players like Manuel Neuer, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil. He is a known outsider in conservative Iran, mainly because of his tattoos. "Berlin" is written on one arm, "Tehran" on the second, and on his neck there is a phrase, "Never forget where you’re coming from".

The Iraqi team arrived in this tournament while their country is collapsing. ISIS is murdering thousands of people all over Iraq. Earlier this week, 13 people were reportedly killed by the Jihadists for watching the national team against Jordan. For the Iraqis, all of it doesn't matter. They remember how in the first years of the American invasion to Iraq they made two major footballing achievements: the U-23 team reached the 4th place in the 2004 Olympics, after dominating against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portuguese team. They also won the Asian Cup in 2007. Younes Mahmoud, who scored the decisive goal in 2007 Asian Cup final, is the lone member of this team who is still playing. He is also the most capped Iraqi player with 134 caps. Most of the squad is based in the Iraqi league, but there are several players with experience abroad. Ali Adnan, nicknamed ‘The Iraqi Gareth Bale’, who plays for Turkish side Rizespor, Ahmed Yasin who immigrated to Sweden at the age of three, and Osama Rashid who plays in the Netherlands.

This rivalry is full of History, tensions, blood and a desire to dominate the other. It is everything a national team’s football match should contain. Don’t dare to miss.

Saturday, 01:00, W Connection – Central FC (Trinidad and Tobago Pro League)
After last week we checked the Jamaican League, we will continue our cruise in the Caribbean, to our next stop: Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidadian football isn't highly developed, and except their one participation in the 2006 World Cup and their all-time greatest player Dwight Yorke, the football scene in this country is almost unknown. On Saturday, ambitious W Connection will meet the league leaders, Central.

W Connection is one of the biggest clubs in the history of the Trinidadian football. Alongside five domestic championships and four domestic cups, they twice won the CFU Club Championship.
Several of the best Trinidadian players are recognized with the club. Kenwyne Jones, Cardiff City’s player, and Arnold Dwarika, who played 73 matches for the national team. Last season they won the championship easily, losing only twice in 24 games. Most of the players in the squad are Caribbean, as the key players are Silvio Spann, a former Wrexham player; Mekeil Williams, who came back after playing in Poland and Denmark, and Gerard Williams, player of the St. Kitts and Nevis national team with 27 caps.

Central is the newest team in the Trinidadian league. It was founded by former international football player Brent Sancho who tried to build their reputation by developing projects in the community. At the end of their first season, they already had 12 community projects, so the connection with its’ fans is very strong.
The current manager is the only non-Caribbean manager in the league, Zoran Vraneš from Serbia, who managed the Trinidadian national team in the 90's and since 2009 leads the U-20 national team. Central’s squad is based only on Trinidadian players and some of the notable names are: Jan-Michael Williams, who has 49 international caps, Hector Sam, who played for lower level teams in England, and Ataullah Guerra, who came back to his home nation after one year in RoPS from Finland. Another interesting name is defender Elton John, who might sing the national Trinidadian anthem before the match (not seriously).

When the champions are facing the new title contenders it’s always exciting, especially if it’s in Trinidad & Tobago.

Saturday, 10:30, Kitchee – Eastern (Hong Kong Premier League)
Here´s an interesting fact: Hong Kong is one of the oldest football nations. The local cup tournament has been played since 1896, and the league’s first season was in 1908.

This weekend, league leaders Eastern will play 4th spot Kitchee. The five point gap between the two is not crucial, as Kitchee has two games in hand compared to Eastern. 
Kitchee is the reigning champion and one of the biggest teams in Hong Kong’s history. They won six domestic titles and last season they reached the semifinals of the AFC Cup, the second-tier trophy of the Asian football.

Kitchee’s manager is the Spaniard José Francisco Molina, who was the goalkeeper of Atlético Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna. The team has some other Spanish faces in their roster. Juan Belencoso was a Spanish lower division player until his transfer to Hong Kong. Since his arrival he can't stop scoring: in the last season he scored 16 goals in 17 matches and this season he scored 5 in 6. More key players are Fernando Recio, home-grown player of Espanyol, and captain Lo Kwan Yee, who played 37 times for Hong Kong's national team. Another interesting name is Nigerian Christian Annan, who has been playing in Hong Kong since 2005, and also married a local and played for the national team.

The league leaders, Eastern, are one of the veteran clubs in Hong Kong, established in 1932. Nevertheless, Eastern won only four domestic titles and their last one was back in 1995. Their great opening to this season makes them believe that now it's possible to win the title after a long time. Their current manager is Cristiano Cordeiro, a Brazilian who played for 14 years in Hong Kong, became a permanent resident and even was the captain of Hong Kong's national team. The main player is Brazilian Giovane, who has a great experience in Chinese and Hong Kong football. More notable names are the goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai, the current Hong Kong national team captain, and Rohan Ricketts from England, who was part of the youth system of Arsenal and now plays in the tenth nation of his career (after England, Canada, Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Ireland, India, Ecuador and Thailand).

Hong Kong is a nation with a long tradition of football. This game is surely going to be an important chapter of it.