Doriva: We need balance and discipline( 26 Jul 2014

Brazil have long been the pre-eminent force in South American women’s youth football, having now qualified for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup six times as continental champions.

As that record proves, there is plenty of quality for Brazilian coaches to work with. Yet the immediate challenge facing Doriva Bueno Pacheco, the man who will take the country’s U-20 women’s side to Canada 2014 following his appointment in May, is to marry that natural talent with tactical organisation and discipline.

“We don’t have much time to work with, but I can sense an improvement since our first get-together,” he told “Our aim is to work on tactics and shape a really well organised team out on the pitch. Brazil are a major force in South America, and this team has been playing together for a while. I’m looking to build on the understanding that already exists between the players to bring in some new aspects that I see as essential to the team’s balance.”

Doriva began his playing career with XV de Novembro de Jau and won the Sao Paulo U-17 state title with them during his eight-year stay with the club. After then playing for a number of clubs in Sao Paulo’s state, he moved into coaching, taking charge of XV de Jau and working with Corinthians’ youth teams before moving to the Middle East.

“I’ve come straight from the men’s game and I want to help women’s football become more professional,” he said, discussing his latest career aims.

One tough missionDoriva has been handed the most daunting of assignments at Canada 2014, with Brazil having been drawn in Group B alongside world powers and Japan 2012 finalists USA and Germany, not to mention the equally formidable China PR. Rather than be daunted by the challenge awaiting his side, however, the Brazil coach is motivated by it.

“Every side is strong, including Brazil, but they all have their weak points too,” Doriva, who believes France, Korea DPR and hosts Canada can also go far in the tournament, explained. “There are some big games there, no question, but we’re putting together a competitive and balanced side that can progress.” 

While acknowledging Brazil’s strength has traditionally been its attacking play, the coach stressed the importance of organisation and balance in every sense, a point he has been repeatedly making to his players. 

“What really matters is having a tactically organised side that is also on an even keel in an emotional sense,” he said, illustrating that point. “We’re trying to analyse what each player has to offer, select the best 21 and build a balanced side. What we’re aiming to do is create a real ‘team’, in which everyone thinks about what’s best for the side and where there’s tactical discipline and team spirit.”

Voicing his agreement with France coach Gilles Eyquem’s assessment that Canada 2014 will be a great showcase for women’s football, Doriva signed off by saying: “We’ve got the Olympics coming up in Brazil in 2016 and some of our players could be competing there. We’ve even had the women’s senior team coach Vadao (Oswaldo Alvarez) along to watch us train and play. 

“The U-20 side has always been an excellent testing ground for young players looking to make it to A Seleção. The goalkeeper Leticia Izidoro is a good example of that. She’s already spent quite a bit of time with the A team and there’s no doubt that’s been a source of motivation for her.” 

Role model Lahm bows out on a high( 18 Jul 2014

Germany fans have some unexpected news to digest in the wake of the national team’s fourth FIFA World Cup™ win. Five days after helping Die Mannschaft see off Argentina in the Final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, captain Philipp Lahm, one of the standard-bearers of German football, has announced his retirement from the international game.  
The news has been greeted with shock in Germany, particularly as the 30-year-old gave no indication during the World Cup that he was making his last appearances for his country.

“This is the right time for me,” he commented, before adding that he was leaving the national team on excellent terms. Lahm went on to explain that he had been mulling over the decision for some time: “I knew I wouldn’t be carrying on after this World Cup.”

The skipper informed Germany coach Joachim Low of his intentions during breakfast on Monday, only a matter of hours after the 1-0 extra-time defeat of Argentina.   Versatile, valuable and popularThe Bayern Munich fullback or defensive midfielder has long had the ability to catch people off balance, as he has shown throughout an international career that lasted over ten years and during which he frustrated opponents and thrilled Germany fans with his raids down the flanks. On this occasion, however, it is off the pitch that the Munich-born Lahm has wrong-footed everyone.
While there has been plenty of speculation over the last few days about the future of Low and 36-year-old striker Miroslav Klose, there was no inkling that the team captain would be calling it a day.
“For the last ten years he has been a fantastic player for the national team and, above all else, the perfect role model. I thanked him for all he has achieved on behalf of the DFB,” said Wolfgang Niersbach, the president of the German Football Federation (DFB). Explaining that he had spoken to Lahm by telephone on Friday, Niersbach said he quickly realised there was no point in trying to get the player to change his mind.”
Last Sunday’s Final was Lahm’s 113th match for Germany, making him his country’s fourth most-capped player behind Lothar Matthaus (150), Klose (137) and Lukas Podolski (116). The Bayern Munich man is also the fourth Mannschaft captain to lift the World Cup Trophy, after Fritz Walter in 1954, Franz Beckenbauer in 1974 and Matthaus in 1990. Now an undisputed legend of the game, he is bowing out at the peak of his powers, having proved himself to be a consistent performer at the very highest level over many years.
A spearhead of the Germany team at Brazil 2014, Lahm’s many attributes include his versatility, which he showed in starting the tournament as the side’s midfield organiser, a role in which he starred last season under club coach Pep Guardiola. Following the hard-fought 2-1 defeat of Algeria in the Round of 16, however, Low moved him to the right side of a four-man defence, leaving his long-time sidekick Bastian Schweinsteiger – now fully recovered from injury – to pick up the reins in midfield.   
In an interview with Stern magazine ahead of the quarter-final against France, Lahm spoke of the tactical switch: “The important thing for me is to find the best solution for the team, and that means I have to be tactically disciplined.”

His role in Low’s side had generated plenty of debate in the lead-up to Brazil 2014, though the player himself said he had no interest in adding his views to the discussion.
A national talisman
Lahm made his Germany debut in a 2-1 defeat of Croatia on 18 February 2004, and went on to score five goals for his country, the most fondly remembered of them a spectacular strike against Costa Rica in the Opening Match of Germany 2006, a goal that got the tournament off to the best possible start. Four years later at South Africa 2010, with Michael Ballack laid low by injury, Low had no hesitation in handing the ultra-dependable Lahm the captain’s armband.

“He understands the coach’s instructions and interprets them perfectly,” said Jurgen Klinsmann, Germany’s assistant coach at the time.

Blessed with a rare ability to read the game and the archetypal utility player, Lahm will forever embody the spirit and quality of the side that brought German football its fourth world title. His dynamism and elegance also encapsulate Die Mannschaft’s recent radical shift towards a finely honed brand of football.
“I am proud and happy that my retirement from international football has coincided with winning the World Cup in Brazil,” said Lahm in an open letter published on the DFB’s official website on Friday afternoon. “My thanks to all of you for a wonderful time.”

Having entered a new era following its triumphant campaign in Brazil, German football is now pondering the question of who will fill the position occupied up to now by one of the greatest defenders in its history.

Neuer: It’s a dream come true( 14 Jul 2014

Germany’s celebrations knew no bounds after winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Final with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday evening. The team’s songs of triumph were clearly audible in the depths of the iconic Estadio do Maracana after the final whistle and players and coaching staff alike beamed with joy after cementing their place as a golden generation in Germany’s footballing history.
One of the pillars of the freshly-crowned world champions was without doubt Manuel Neuer. The 28-year-old custodian’s astonishing reflexes, ability to dominate his penalty area and his widely-lauded performances in fulfilling a dual function as a goalkeeper-cum-sweeper made him indispensable to coach Joachim Low.

Neuer’s role in securing a fourth World Cup title for Germany cannot be overstated and his displays were recognised with the adidas Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper at a thrilling and top-quality tournament in Brazil.

Given such success it is hardly surprising that Neuer’s voice was among those leading the singing in the changing rooms, yet he still emerged, overjoyed and with glowing eyes, to speak exclusively to You and your team-mates have just won the World Cup for Germany for the first time in 24 years and on top of that you were named as the tournament’s best goalkeeper. How are you feeling right now?
Manuel Neuer: It’s absolutely unbelievable. The main thing is of course that we were successful as a team. It’s incredible, we really are world champions now. A dream has come true for us Germans and we’ve finally won the trophy again. We’ve wanted it for so long. It was our time again. Everyone gave their all to be able to win it and I think we deserved to too. It’s still not completely sunk in yet.What do you think made Germany so strong in Brazil?Our main strength is just that we’re a good team. It’s a simple as that and we proved that here. Everyone fights for each other, everyone’s there for each other and is happy for each other. We worked well collectively and that’s what counts. We’re a very close-knit group and that really was the decisive thing at this tournament. I can honestly say that we can all rely on every single member of the team. That sense of security drove us to win the title and now we’ve won it.

Over the last few weeks you have drawn widespread praise from numerous experts for your modern playing style. How would you assess you own performances at the competition?
Of course I’m happy with the way I played and I know I’ve had a good tournament, but that’s only secondary. The main thing for me is that the team’s success is always more important. I know that I’m nothing without my team-mates. At the end of the day I was only able to have such a good World Cup because of the people in front of me on the pitch, so my thanks go to them that I could play so well and receive this award.You made history as being part of the first European team to win the World Cup in South America. Will Brazil always be a special place for you?I’ve fallen in love with Brazil. The people are amazing, very open and warm-hearted. That’s something we’ve all discovered and come to appreciate over the last few weeks. They love football more than anything else, they’re so enthusiastic and did everything they could to show their country in the best possible light. They succeeded in the most wonderful way and we have to thank them for that. I’ll never forget it.

Argentina defiant in defeat( 14 Jul 2014

The Argentina players cut dejected figures as they waited to collect their medals at the end of Sunday’s Final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Yet as Alejandro Sabella’s men wiped away the tears triggered by their narrow defeat to Germany, their compatriots back home gathered en masse in streets up and down the land to express their gratitude.

The epicentre was Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires, a traditional setting for the nation’s sporting celebrations, though anyone unaware of the scoreline could have almost have been forgiven for thinking La Albiceleste had won, such was the upbeat mood in the air.

“It’s a lovely touch obviously,” said Sergio Aguero, speaking exclusively to, on hearing of the celebrations in Argentina. “Getting that kind of recognition gives us the strength to overcome the sadness we’re feeling right now. I honestly can’t put into words how thankful I am for their support and their affection.”

One of the players to win over the ever-demanding Argentina fans during the course of Brazil 2014 was Sergio Romero, whose place in the side was questioned by some at the start of the tournament.

Having answered the doubters in style, the composed goalkeeper told FIFA: “I’ve been saying for days that we’re the ones who should be applauding the fans. They’ve stuck by us and supported us, and a lot of them came without a ticket just to give us their positive energy. All we needed to make everyone happy was the Cup.”

Aguero, who came on at the start of the second half and has now gone two World Cups without scoring, then explained why he believes the team have earned the devotion of the fans.

“It’s down to our commitment,” said the Manchester City man. “Today we went out and played another great game for 120 minutes, and I think we did enough to win. We created some clear-cut chances but we just couldn’t put them away.”

Romero agreed: “It’s very hard to come back from a goal like that, right at the end of extra-time, but we gave our all on the pitch. Our objective was to take Argentina back to the top and we did that. And what’s more, I think we can go and do it again in the near future.”

Looking on the bright sidePrior to Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner, Romero had gone 486 minutes without conceding a goal, the third-longest unbeaten stretch in World Cup history behind Walter Zenga’s 571 minutes for Italy and Peter Shilton’s 499 for England.

“What stood out was the team’s workrate,” added the keeper. “The side grew in stature with each game. It responded well, kept its shape and tried to get more people into attack than just the forwards. The players up front helped the midfielders, and the midfielders helped the defenders, and vice versa. We’ve had a great World Cup.”

“We were so close and that makes it hard to take,” commented Aguero, trying his best to put his disappointment to one side. “We need to keep pushing on and try to think positively. We’re feeling sad now, but as the days go by we should start taking some satisfaction from the World Cup we’ve played.”

Romero, who was up for the adidas Golden Glove award and said Manuel Neuer was a deserving winner, ended on an optimistic note: “I think we can build on this. There are some young players in this squad who showed plenty of quality and personality, and who weren’t weighed down by the shirt. We achieved our objective of getting Argentina in the top four, which is why we’re going home with our heads held high, even if we’re not smiling.” 

Gotze: It’s an unbelievable feeling(AFP) 13 Jul 2014

FIFA World Cup Final™ match-winner Mario Gotze said he felt “unbelievable” after scoring the extra-time goal that gave Germany a 1-0 win over Argentina on Sunday.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said the Bayern Munich forward after etching his name into World Cup legend at the iconic Maracana.

“I don’t know how to describe it. You just score that goal and you don’t really know what’s happening after that.

“It’ll be a party with the whole team and the country. It’s a dream come true to win the World Cup, especially in Brazil.”

After replacing Miroslav Klose in the 88th minute, Gotze’s historic moment arrived seven minutes from the end of extra time when he chested down a cross from Andre Schurrle and lashed a volley past Sergio Romero.

It was a cathartic moment for the 22-year-old, who left his boyhood club Borussia Dortmund for Bayern last year in a €37 million ($50.3 million) transfer that rocked German football.

Gotze struggled to hold down a first-team place in his maiden campaign at Bayern and he admitted that he had endured a testing 12 months.

“It hasn’t been a simple year for me or a simple tournament. I owe a lot to my family and my girlfriend (model Ann Kathrin Brommel), who always believed in me,” he said.

“It’s not been simple, but I am simply happy to be here. I kept on training and working hard, and we deserved this trophy.”