12
Aug

Swedish 7th division player scores 21 goals in regional match, breaks record

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(Image: Facebook.com/KongoUnited)

Sometimes athletes like to pad their stats, and a game in the Stockholm’s regional seventh division is an extreme example of a perfect opportunity to do just that. 

Kongo United’s Yanick Djouzi Manzizila is now the new holder of a Swedish football record for the most goals scored in a game that had stood for the last 60 years. 

Manzizila had a a stellar game against opponents Balrog Botkyrka Södertälje IK, knocking in 21 goals. (The previous Swedish scoring record was 18 goals, set in 1954)

Unsurprisingly, Kongo United trounced the other team with a final score of 30-0.

The runaway victory didn’t come as a surprise to the goal scorer.

“I had scored 12 goals against them before, so I knew there was a chance to score goals,” Manzizila told Aftonbladet.

The team is sitting pretty at the top of the standings in the division with a goal difference of 86-8.

(h/t Who Ate All The Pies)

11
Aug

Ibrahimovic helps Swedish learning disabled team get to Brazil for INAS World Cup

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(Image: Facebook.com/UnknownSwedes)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may not have been able to lead his country to the World Cup this year, but he’s not going to let that happen again.

He’s now the official ambassador for Sweden’s football team for the learning disabled, named “The Unknown Team.”

The team, which qualified for the INAS World Cup in Brazil was having trouble raising funds to get the players to Brazil. So they reached out to Sweden’s soccer stars asking for auction-able items.

But Ibrahimovic decided to do better than a signed jersey, saying "What the hell are you going to do with a shirt? How much is it to go?" The striker then decided to pay the whole bill upfront, which was about 350,000 kronor ($51,000).

According to the Swedish football federations's website, Ibrahimovic was more than happy to help his fellow countrymen realize a dream.

"Football should be played by anyone, regardless of gender, disability or not," Ibrahimovic is quoted as saying. “And when we missed the World Cup, I was deeply disappointed, but when I heard about ‘The Unknown Team’ I said to myself that I wanted to do everything in my power to help them to experience the World Cup. There was nothing to think about. Now I get to experience the World Cup through them.”

The INAS World Cup begins on August 11 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

(h/t Dirty Tackle)

20
Dec

Must-read: Zlatan Ibrahimovic chats with US Media in amusing conference call

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A conference call with Zlatan Ibrahimovic – eccentric Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden striker, professional brooder, devout worshipper at the altar of Zlatan, serial third-person referrer of self, mass-winner of league championships, and delightful provocateur – is an experience.

We had one such opportunity on Friday, so here, free of framing, editing or diluting, the best things he said in his deep, ear-ringing voice during the half-hour call.

On the Ballon D’Or, for which he wasn’t nominated as a finalist:

“I’m the best, boy.”

On coming to Major League Soccer:

“I’m not nominated for the Golden Ball so, I don’t know, maybe in America nobody knows who I am there. So maybe I should come over and play some seasons so people get to know me.”

On his favorite player to watch:

“My favorite player all time is Ronaldo The Phenomeno, of course, but he’s not active today. Eeehhh… As you play every day, train every day… pffff… play games almost every three days it’s not easy to watch even football when you come home. I have two kids to take care of and other interesting things I’m doing in my life, other hobbies, so it’s not like football 24 hours. I like to see big games and that’s it. Finals of tournaments and these kind of games that is exciting to watch but I’m not the one that like to watch a lot of football.”

On what it would take for a player of his stature in his prime to come to America:

“I can only speak for myself. It could be interesting to go over to America and try the football there but today it’s not interesting.”

On continuing to improve into his 30s:

“I’m like the wine. The older the wine is the better it is. So the older I get, the better I get.”

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21
Nov

Zlatan: I didn’t applaud Ronaldo’s hat trick (With video!)

Comments made by Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the rounds on Thursday, with the Swedish talisman denying reports he applauded Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable hat trick.

“Was I applauding Ronaldo? No, I was just trying to encourage my team-mates,” Ibrahimovic told La Gazzetta dello Sport, via the London Evening Standard.

"I clapped my hands to cheer them up and motivate them for the last few minutes.

Lucky for us, there’s video evidence to prove it:

This video shows Zlatan and Ronaldo’s reactions to their respective goals, and it’s quite telling. Considering you can see Ibra clapping his hands and encouraging teammates after CR7’s first and second goals, it seems the Swede’s side of the story holds water.

But there’s more to be seen in this video. It really should be enjoyed in its entirety, but some of our favorite moments:

  • Ronaldo glancing up to see the replay of his first goal, because who wouldn’t want to see that again (49 second mark)?
  • A two-fer! Ronaldo’s utter disbelief when Zlatan heads in his first, and Ibra’s steely stare at Pepe after scoring (2:25 mark).
  • An upset Cristiano attempting to spit on the ground after Zlatan scores his free kick, but hocking a nice rope of saliva onto his chin.
  • Pepe getting pulled off the Portuguese pile after Ronaldo’s hat trick (5:35 mark).

Let’s hope these two match up again real soon, and more videos like this emerge.

(h/t 101GreatGoals)

20
Nov

Portuguese announcer goes absolutely nuts over Ronaldo

Monday’s epic tilt between Portugal and Sweden really whet the soccer world’s appetite for the magic of the World Cup.

It’s a shame we have to wait seven months for such intensity. And, with all apologies to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, we’ll still be glued to our TVs, especially with performances like Ronaldo’s on Monday.

Thankfully for the announcer of this video, that seven-month layoff might give him just barely enough time to rest his pipes after going bananas for CR7.

His reaction to Ronaldo’s first goal is great, but we’re quite partial to his squeals after goal No. 2. Skip forward to about the 1:10 mark to set up that gem.

"Obrigado, Cristiano!"

June can’t come soon enough.

19
Nov

Heavyweights deliver goods on memorable final day of World Cup qualifying

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What a day of football.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a tremendous hat trick to lead Portugal into the 2014 World Cup — besting Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace, which had briefly revived Sweden’s hopes — while France became the first nation ever to qualify for a major tournament after losing a playoff first leg 0-2 on the road.

Elsewhere, Greece and Croatia also booked their tickets to Brazil, while African World Cup qualifying concluded with Ghana and Algeria claiming the last two African spots.

Care to see some goals now? Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic held their own personal shootout at Friends Arena, with CR7 ultimately besting Zlatan, 3 goals to 2. Whereas Ibra scored his brace on a pair of set pieces — one being an unstoppable free kick — Ronaldo feasted on a trio of breakaways, each finish cooler than the last:

Ronaldo thus wrapped up a clutch performance for the ages; he scored all four of Portugal’s goals over the two legs to ensure that he, and not Zlatan, is heading to Brazil. Not surprisingly, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was quick to congratulate Ronaldo, just weeks after publicly slighting him in favor of Lionel Messi. Even Blatter must have realized that a World Cup without the Ballon d’Or frontrunner would kind of be a bummer:

Ibrahimovic, for his part, could only applaud:

A historic moment of truth for Zlatan, realizing there are other players out there as good as him?

Eh, maybe not.

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Home fans were in a much better mood in Paris, as France grabbed a historic win over the Ukraine. Needing to win by three goals or more (had Ukraine scored an away goal), Les Bleus did just that, capping the comeback on an own goal in the 72nd minute:

Good thing, too. Imagine a Carnival without France. Impossible!

Before Tuesday, soccer fans had to prepare themselves for the possibility of a World Cup without the two leading Ballon d’Or candidates — Ronaldo and France’s Franck Ribery (apologies, Messi, but you were simply injured too often in 2013).

It would have been the first time in history that the reigning Ballon d’Or winner would watch the World Cup from home. But thanks to two incredible performances — one by Ronaldo himself, the other, a great  team performance by France — those fears have been squashed. A great World Cup awaits.

Only without Zlatan.

Images provided by Reuters.

11
Nov

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to get his own postal stamp… finally!

imageRumored to be one of the Zlatan stamps. Image: Posten (via The Local)

Good-bye, E-mails! Welcome back, oh ancient practice of writing letters! Expect a hike in pen-pal requests, Sweden! Because the game of modern communication has been changed forever.

The Swedish Postal Service (Posten) announced plans on Monday to release a full set of Zlatan Ibrahimovic stamps, and it’s only about ten years overdue. We’ve waited far too long for a chance to get a taste of this legendary man, but our long global nightmare is finally over.

According to the Postal Service, Zlatan’s iconic schnoz will appear on five different stamps and come in a special booklet of ten stamps, which is perfect because then we can use one of each stamp for our mail and keep the other in our wallets for daily inspiration. The set is to be released on March 27th, according to The Local.

"It’s a great honour to be on a postage stamp and I’m very happy and proud to have been chosen," Ibrahimovic said on his personal app, Zlatan Unplugged. "I usually receive bills and they seldom have nice stamps. Maybe that will change now."

Britt-Inger Hahne, head of stamps with the Posten, is equally excited about the new collection. She believes the Zlatan stamps could motivate a whole new generation to send letters and use the postal service:

"Many young people had  never read a book before until his [autobiography] came out. I hope that the stamps will achieve a similar thing. Zlatan was very positive about the project and picked all the pictures out which feature on the five different stamps. It is a great honour for him as not many people get their own set of stamps."

We can’t wait to see which images Zlatan chose for himself, but in the meantime, we’ve come up with a few of our own:

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Awesome.

14
Oct

Four direct berths, playoff spots in balance as UEFA WCQ comes to a close

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Expect plenty of drama and turmoil to unfold as Europe concludes the group phase of its World Cup qualifying efforts on Tuesday.

Most of the heavy hitters have either locked up a place in Brazil or situated themselves properly to claim one ahead of the last round of fixtures. Several prominent sides – including England and Spain – still need a result to guarantee a direct berth, while other countries – ranging from the usual suspects in France and Portugal to potential first-timers Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland – must obtain results to either finish in top spot or seal a place in the playoffs next month.

Here is a look at the state of play heading into a decisive day across the continent:

Qualified: Belgium (Group A), Italy (Group B), Germany (Group C), Netherlands (Group D), Switzerland (Group E)

Into the playoffs: Croatia (Group A), Sweden (Group C)

Assured of a direct berth or a playoff spot, depending on results: Bosnia-Herzegovina (Group G), France (Group I), England (Group H), Greece (Group G), Portugal (Group F), Russia (Group F), Spain (Group I)

Group A: Nothing to see here with Belgium (qualified) and Croatia (playoffs) already confirmed as the top two.

Group B: Italy has already booked its place in Brazil. Bulgaria (13 points, +6 GD), Denmark (13 points, -1 GD), Czech Republic (12 points, +3 GD) and Armenia (12 points, -1 GD) remain in contention for second place, but the low point haul and the smattering of the results here and elsewhere means not one of the four sides is likely to qualify for the playoff as one of the top-eight finishers (only the results against the top five teams in the group count in that convoluted table).

Bulgaria hosts the Czechs (already eliminated from playoff contention based on results) in Sofia with a chance to claim second place. If the Bulgarians falter, then Denmark will almost certainly top them given their task at home to bottom side Malta. Armenia must win in Italy and then hope for some help along the way.
 

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8
Oct

Swedish player causes stir with Pop Idol performance

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Image courtesy of Getty

Chances are you haven’t heard of Kevin Walker but he is causing a bit of a stir in his native Sweden. The 24-year-old midfielder has a day job with second division side GIF Sundsvall, but has dreams of playing on a bigger stage — as a pop star.

Walker is proving to be a smash hit on the Swedish version of Pop Idol, but his appearances have not gone down well with opposing teams. The reason? Channel TV4 owns the rights to both the program AND match broadcasts, and ordered GIF Sundsvall’s game against Assyriska to be moved to a Sunday so that it didn’t clash with Walker’s live performance the day before.

Niklas Klingberg, a midfielder with rival club Degerfors, branded the decision “ridiculous” and Robert Laul, a writer for Swedish sports paper Sportbladet, called the situation “unprecedented in Swedish football history.”

There’s no doubt Walker, whose dad used to play for English side Gillingham between 1977 and 1981, sings like a bird but he’d better watch out on the pitch for those unhappy with being messed around with. Listen to Walker’s audition and see if the decision was worth it:

H/T 101 Great Goals