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Wednesday, Feb 21st

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International Friendly Wrap: England, Argentina, Brazil win

fabio_capello.jpgThe FIFA World Cup in South Africa is less than a 100 days away and the 32 participants were busy gaining some valuable practice over the last couple of days. The Samba boys Brazil, the ever-efficient Germany, Diego Maradona's Argentina were all in action in the mid-week friendlies, taking their World Cup preparation forward. As national coaches finalise their squads for the mega-event in June, friendlies at this juncture will help them clear any inhibitions or doubts they carry, about players.

England took on African Champions Egypt at London's Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night. Fabio Capello's men ran out 3-1 winners, though not in very convincing fashion one may add. Chelsea skipper John Terry was booed by the crowd prior to kick off but all was forgotten once the Lions got their act together. Borussia Dortmund striker Mohamed Zidan gave the Egyptians the lead in the 23rd minute, capitalizing on a mistake from center-back Mathew Upson to coolly finish past goalkeeper Robert Green. The first half was dull and the home side lacked the cohesiveness to take the game to the opposition. Capello wrung in the substitutions in the second half and a brace from substitute Peter Crouch sandwiched a 75th minute strike from another substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips to hand England the victory. The African Champions proved to be a better opponent than most would have predicted and Capello will be pleased with his team's second half performance. Peter Crouch has built a strong case for himself to start alongside Wayne Rooney, who burst into life once the tall striker entered the fray.

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The Greatest FA Cup Upsets of All Time

The enigma of the FA cup lies in its unpredictability - on any given day a club in its ashes can upset the very best of the Premier League. Be it Newcastle United, who was the casualty at the hand of the non-league division club Hereford United in 1972 or the second division Sunderland, who had already defeated Manchester United and Arsenal, overcoming Leeds in the 197 final or Barnsley knocking out both Liverpool and Chelsea in the 2008 season, overs the years, there have been many such instances when a high-flying club was brought to an abrupt landing by teams that had little recognition. It is this feature of the cup that attracts millions of viewers all around the world. Here's a look back at the upsets that the FA cup has witnessed in the recent past.

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Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United
FA Cup third round, 1984
Dean Court was the setting of this dramatic encounter in which a buoyant Bournemouth, a Third Division club, then managed by Harry Redknapp brought United's love affair with the Cup to end that year. It wasn't the most attractive tie but the home team displayed great determination as they got the better of the Red Devils. Goals by Milton Graham and Ian Thompson ensured the early exit of the top division club.

"We don't get many days like this in Bournemouth," said an ecstatic Cherries' manager Harry Redknapp after the match.

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Modern Perspective on the FA Cup

chelsea_win_facup.jpgThis is part 2 of a 5 part series on the FA Cup. This article talks about the importance of the FA Cup in the modern football world. To read about part 1 which focussed on the History of the World's Oldest football tournament please click here.

The rich club footballing culture, and the fondness that the fans have developed over the years towards the clubs they support, have ensured that the reputation of the FA Cup as a premier sporting event in England stayed put. The defeat of the mighty Leeds United to a second division Sunderland in the 1973 cup final epitomizes what the FA Cup stands for - the unpredictability, and the fact that, on any given day, status and stature mean nothing.

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History of the FA Cup

The oldest professional football knockout competition in the world, The FA Cup pits the giants of the top division against the minnows of the lower leagues, as all the Association clubs from England and Wales fight it out for the top honors. The competition, with its rich history and tradition, is one of England's greatest sporting institutions. If the grand scale of the tournament in itself generates tremendous interest, facup1931.jpgthe Cup finals provide a grandeur spectacle. Since its inception 138 years ago, it has had football enthusiasts, not only from England, but from all over the world, sit back and revel season after season.
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Top 10 Goalkeepers of All Time

lev_yashin.jpgA goalkeeper invokes in us a wide spectrum of emotions, ranging from the spectacular to the abysmal. After all, which football fan doesn't like a flying goalkeeper making saves; which are surreal, at the very least? In the light of the extremes in which goalkeepers are evaluated and remembered, it is hardly a surprise that their specimens have hogged a fair bit of limelight in football folklore.

In the history of professional football, numerous goalkeepers have threatened to touch immortality, but only a handful have actually come close. The following ten great names are different from the rest of the goalkeeping gentry by the mere fact that they knocked on the door to immortality day in and day out.

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FIFA World Cup 2010 Draw

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A thrilling draw of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was concluded today in Cape Town throwing up hordes of exciting matches. Hosts South Africa will kick-off the World Cup against 1970 and 1986 quarterfinalists Mexico, with France and Uruguay making up the other two teams in Group A.The French will see their 'good luck' at drawing arguably the easiest of the seeds as just rewards for being 'robbed' of a seeding by a late FIFA ruling to consider Team's October rankings instead of November's. The highlight of the draw, however, is easily Group G which features Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast and Portugal in one almighty Group of Death.

Group A:
South Africa (88)
Mexico (15)
Uruguay (19)
France (7)

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Charlize Theron to host FIFA World Cup Finals Draw

charlize_theron.jpgSouth Africa's Academy Award winner Charlize Theron will be the guest presenter assisting FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke during the Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Friday, 4 December 2009. They will be joined on stage by a star-studded line-up of sports celebrities, including football star David Beckham (England), one of only a few players to score in at least three consecutive FIFA World Cups, Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia), two-time Olympic gold medallist and nine-time athletics world champion, Makhaya Ntini, the first black player in the South African cricket team, John Smit, the captain of rugby world champions South Africa and Bafana Bafana playe
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