Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Guide to the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011

The AFC Asian Cup 2011 is the first major soccer tournament of the new year. Following the tournament's qualification process, sixteen finalists will compete for the much-respected title of AFC Asian Champion in Qatar from January 7th to January 29th.

The AFC Asian Cup 2011 winner will qualify for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. With a host of European-based stars such  as Tim Cahill (Australia and Everton), Shinji Kagawa (Japan and Borussia Dortmund) and Park Ji Sung (South Korea and Manchester United) on show, the 2011 Asian Cup is definitely one to watch for soccer fans around the world.

Here's the World Soccer Shop Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask Guide to the AFC Asian Cup 2011.



A PDF version of the AFC Asian Cup 2011 schedule is available at the AFC website at this link.

Team to Watch

Now an Asian powerhouse since moving from the Oceania Football Confederation in search of more challenging opposition, the Aussies are loaded with European-based talent. Following a disappointing run in the 2007 Asian Cup, the Socceroos are among the tournament favorites and will be looking to advance beyond the quarter-final round for the first time.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. South Korea on Janaury on January 14th. This match should determine top spot in a group also featuring Bahrain and India.

Key Players: Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham FC), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers)

Now rebuilding after surprisingly missing out on the final AFC qualification round for the 2011 FIFA World Cup, China has shown good form off late with friendly victories of Latvia and Estonia. China will have to maintain this form to advance from a tough group featuring hosts Qatar, Uzbekistan and Kuwait.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. Uzbekistan on January 16th. This could be a do or die match for the Chinese.

Key Players: Hao Junmin (Schalke 04), Qu Bo (Shaanxi Zhongjian)

With the most of the team that came within a penalty kick of the quater-finals of last summer's World Cup called up to represent Japan at the Asian Cup, anything less than a semi-final appearance will come as a shock to Blue Samurai fans. The team has shown fine form since the World Cup with recent friendly wins over Argentina and Paraguay.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. Saudi Arabia on January 17th. This match is expected to determine first place in Group B.

Key Players: Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Makoto Hasebe( VfL Wolfsburg)

They're not expected to advance beyond the first round in their first appearance in the Asian Cup since 1984. Nevertheless, India's national soccer program has been the beneficiary of significant investment from parties seeking to raise the profile of the sport to a market of over one billion Indian citizens. Good performances could do wonders for the sport in the cricket-mad economic power.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. Australia on January 10th. A good showing by the Indians will spur interest in the world's most second most populous country.

Key Players: Suni Chheteri (Sporting Kansas City), Bhaichung Bhutia (East Bengal)

The three-time champions and seemingly perpetual semi-finalists will be seeking a return to the final four of the Asian after a disappointing quarter-final exit in 2007 and an equally disappointing 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. neighbors and long-time rivals Iraq on January 11th.

Key Players: Javad Nekounam (Osasuna), Masoud Shojaei (Osasuna)

Shock champions in 2007, Iraq will be looking to repeat in 2011 under manager former Werder Bremen boss Wolfgang Sidka. Though they are defending champions and gave a good showing in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup (with two draws and one loss), the turmoil in Iraq has left soccer in the country in a state of disarray and Iraq remains somewhat of an unknown quantity. A recent 1-0 loss to Syria followed by a 1-0 win at Saudi Arabia is indicative of this.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. neighbors  and long-time rivals Iran on January 11th.

Key Players: Younis Mahmoud (Al-Gharafa), Nashat Akram (Al-Wakrah)

Saudi Arabia
Either champions or second place finishers in an astounding six of the last seven AFC Asian Cups, Saudi Arabia knows how to find success in the tournament. The team is also looking to re-establish itself as an Asian power after missing out on its first FIFA World Cup since its debut on the world stage at USA 1994.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. Japan on January 17th. The winner should take first place in Group B.

Key Players:  Yasser Al-Qahtani (Al Hilal), Mohammad Al-Shalhoub (Al Hilal)

South Korea
Like rivals Japan, South Korea will send most of the team that came within a whisk of a 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-final spot to Qatar. Featuring several players currently plying their trade in the English Premier League, Scottish Premier League and German Bundesliga, South Korea are among the favorites to take the cup home.

Big Group Stage Match: vs. South Korea on Janaury on January 14th. Expected to see who tops the Group C.

Key Players: Park Ji Sung (Manchester United), Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton Wanderers), Cha Du-Ri (Celtic FC)

Where to Watch
Free highlights will be available at the AFC Asian Cup YouTube Channel. ESPN STAR Sports has acquired the television rights to the tournament in Asia. For the U.S., One World Sports acquired the rights through World Sport Group, the AFC’s exclusive marketing and media partner.
One World Sports has licensed the full event to iN DEMAND, which will distribute the football tournament to Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter, Mediacom and a host of other U.S. affiliates; DISH Network; and Avail/TVN, which includes AT&T and Verizon FiOS among its affiliates. Matches can be purchased on a per-game basis through Pay-Per-View. Broadband coverage will be available live via One World Sports Broadband. Mobile coverage is on Verizon Wireless V CAST Video.

Photo Credits: Getty Images 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II FG Elite Cleats (Black/Circuit Orange/Black)

Back in October, Nike released the Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II  Safari Edition of the Cristiano Ronaldo's signature shoe. Now the sportwear giant has released a new colorway of the popular, high-end soccer boot in a Black/Circuit Orange/Black  scheme. Expect to see them on  the feet of professional-level soccer players over the next few weeks in the world's foremost leagues and at 2011's Asian Cup and Copa America.

Here is more information on the Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Elite FG Men'sSoccer Cleat from Nike:

  • Flywire for ultra-lightweight support and comfort
  • Revolutionary traction for extra grip
  • Traction pattern for cutting and instant acceleration
  • Includes exclusive shoe bag and box
  • Firm-ground (FG) bladed and conical cleats for use on short-grass fields
The Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Elite Cleat has firm-ground (FG) molded cleatsfor use on short-grass fields that may be slightly wet, but rarely muddy. It  also features Adaptive Traction, a pressure-activated cleat in the forefoot that extends when needed for the relentless grip and acceleration the game demands.  Injected studs and a vapor traction pattern allow for effortless cutting and  instant acceleration. And, for instant bursts of speed, this cleat features toe-off traction.

For ultra-lightweight support, the Vapor Superfly II Elite features innovative Flywire in a streamlined upper. Made up of super-strong, thin nylon  fibers that help hold the foot in place, Flywire reduces the cleat's weight, adjusts to the foot, provides support and increases ball feel. Also contributing to this boot's unprecedented light weight is the carbon-fiber chassis, which strips weight to the absolute minimum while maximizing strength. The contoured  design mirrors the shape of the foot for enhanced fit and feel, and the lightweight,  perforated sockliner provides low-profile cushioning and support while reducing  cleat pressure.

Nike Elite Series
The Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Elite is part of the Nike Elite Series, which optimized four of Nike's key soccer cleats with premium materials, decreasing  weight for competition on sports' biggest stage last summer. Available to players  of all levels, these super-light and incredibly strong silhouettes have been worn by the world's best.
Nike Soccer+
  • Each pair of Mercurial Vapor Superfly II cleats comes with a unique code. Go to and enter your code for exclusive access to:
  • Insider coach and player interviews
  • Exclusive invitations to Nike Soccer+ events and meet-and-greets
  • Specialized training programs, drills and practice techniques, both online and in-person
  • Top players' signature moves, with step-by-step demonstrations to help you master them
  • Track your progress and share it on Facebook, Twitter and more
Nike's design team worked closely with athletes including Cristiano Ronaldo,Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato throughout the design process to create  a cleat that enables toe-off acceleration and minimizes slippage in game-changing  situations. Players emphasized that acceleration around a defender is just as  important as beating him in a straight line. Through additional research, Nike  found there were 845 slipping events over 63 games, or roughly 14 per game—a  costly price that designers were determined to minimize with the creation of  the Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Elite.

The  Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II FG Elite soccer cleats in Black/Circuit Orange/Black are now available at this World Soccer Shop link.

Friday, December 17, 2010

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Draw

Following several exciting qualification rounds and a group stage that saw the emergence of clubs like Tottenham Hotspur, FC København and FC Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe's foremost club soccer competition, the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League is now set for its knockout stages.

The draw for the tournament's Round of 16 took place took place in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday. As always seems to be the case with UEFA Champions League draws, soccer fans are left with several mouth-watering matchups. The foremost of these include:
  • Inter Milan and Bayern Munich clashing in a rematch of last season's very entertaining final.
  • FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC meeting in another rematch. This time it is of the 2006 final that saw Barca triumph.
  • Impressive UEFA Champions League debutants Tottenham Hotspur returning to the San Siro to face seven-time champions AC Milan. Spurs topped a group featuring fellow San Siro residents Inter Milan in the last round of the competition.
  • A repeat of last season's Round of 16 series between Real Madrid and Olympique Lyon that resulted in Madrid's elimination from the Champions League.
Group stage runners-up will play the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 at home on either the 15th/16th or 22nd/23nd of February, with the second legs taking place on either the 8th/9th or 15th/16th of March 2011.

Here are all of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchups:

AS Roma (ITA) v FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
AC Milan (ITA) v Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG)
Valencia CF (ESP) v FC Schalke 04 (GER)
Inter Milan FC (ITA) v FC Bayern München (GER)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) v Real Madrid CF (ESP)
Arsenal FC (ENG) v FC Barcelona (ESP)
Olympique de Marseille (FRA) v Manchester United FC (ENG)
FC København (DEN) v Chelsea FC (ENG)

All matches will be shown in the USA on Fox Soccer Channel. Selected matches are usually shown on regional Fox Sports networks on tape delay on the days that they are played.

Photo Credits: Getty Images

Monday, December 13, 2010

FC Barcelona Signs Shirt Sponsorship Deal with Qatar Sports Investments

Defending Spanish La Liga champions and current table-toppers FC Barcelona have signed the biggest shirt sponsorship deal in history with Qatar Sports Investments. The deal will run for 5 ½ years until 2016 and is worth €166 million ($222 USD). It was finalized on Monday at the Barca's iconic Camp Nou stadium between representatives of both entities.

The Catalan giants were the last major European club to have a jersey without a shirt sponsor until they started carrying the logo of international children's welfare body Unicef in 2006 as part of a partnership to raise awareness and funds to benefit children affected by HIV and AIDS.

According to a press release from Qatar Sports Investments:

The partnership will see Qatar Foundation, a private, non-profit organisation chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, as the club's new shirt sponsor from next season.

Qatar Foundation supports Qatar on its journey from carbon economy to knowledge economy by unlocking human potential through programs in education, scientific research and community development. The announcement follows the historic decision by FIFA to award Qatar the hosting rights for the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East in 2022...

FC Barcelona and Qatar Foundation also remain committed to the club's existing relationship with Unicef. Unicef will continue to have a presence on the FCB shirt and receive significant contributions from the club over the next five years.

Photo Credits: Getty Images

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys

The Portland Timbers will move from the United Soccer Leagues (USL) to Major League Soccer (MLS) as a 2011 expansion franchise. In preparation for the new season, the club has hired former Scotland international John Spencer as its manager and is in the process of building its roster. Earlier this week, the club announced the signings of MLS-experienced players Eric Brunner, Peter Lowry, Adam Moffat, and Rodney Wallace.

Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys

On Thursday, the Portland Timbers officially unveiled their adidas 2011 home and away kits, apparel and training wear during a “Runway on the Runway” fashion show at the Horizon Air maintenance hangar at Portland International Airport.

According to the Portland Timbers website:

The team’s primary jersey, produced by adidas, the official athletic sponsor and product supplier of MLS since the league’s inception in 1996, features a Ponderosa green that pays tribute to the Timbers’ rich history and exciting future in MLS. The body fabric, which prominently displays the Alaska Airlines logo and Timbers primary logo, is specially engineered with the Timbers signature chevron repeating down the middle, tying together the two shades of green that make up the body of the shirt. The classic look reflects the diversity of color one would see in a lush Oregon forest.

Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys

The primary jersey also pays homage to the team’s passionate supporter’s group, the Timbers Army, and further celebrates the team’s unique history with an axe prominently featured on the back of the neck and a subtle, lower-back emboss of a rising sun.

The white sleeves of the primary jersey provide a modern twist to the split-jersey design, while the jersey features adidas’ FORMOTION technology that allows maximum athletic movement as well as CLIMACOOL technology that combines moisture-wicking fabric and mesh construction in the player’s highest heat zones to improve body ventilation and keep the athlete at optimum temperature. Piping around the shoulders and engineered rib give the jersey further definition.

Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys

Portland’s primary jersey can be worn with either white or dark green shorts, and the on-field look becomes complete with dark green socks that feature the Timbers axe.

The secondary jersey was inspired by the unrivaled passion and pride in Portland – the Rose City. Also featuring a similar split-jersey design and the familiar Alaska Airlines script, the secondary jersey features two shades of red, with the body fabric specially engineered by adidas with Rose City thorns repeating down the middle and a new Rose City logo badge prominently displayed opposite the team’s primary crest on the front of the jersey.

Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys

White sleeves again provide a modern element to the secondary jersey, while the “Rose City” verbiage on the back of the neck and printed thorn back-neck taping further call to its inspiration.

The secondary uniform is rounded out by white shorts with Rose City red adidas stripes and red socks that feature the “Rose City” verbiage.

The Portland Timbers adidas 2011 home jersey is now available at this World Soccer Shop link.

Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys
Portland Timbers adidas 2011 Home and Away Jerseys

Photo Credits: and the Portland Timbers Facebook page

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nike CTR360 II Maestri Elite Soccer Shoes

We have the boots that Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas wears.

Introducing the

Nike CTR360 II Maestri Elite FG Soccer Shoes in Challenge Red, White and Black

This boot promises to increase control and passing pace.

It weighs 8.8 ounces and is composed of Kanga-Lite synthetic leather upper which mirrors the properties of natural Kangaroo leather, while offering durability in an easy to care for upper material. Innovative built-in features like dampening pods and asymmetrical lacing deliver maximum ball control and optimal passing-pace. High performance, molded sock-liner with Poron low profile cushioning delivers great under the foot comfort. The sole is made of Carbon fiber with direct-injected bladed studs for traction. The Carbon reinforced chassis is engineered for exceptional energy return and strength.

See the entire line of Nike CTR360 II Soccer Shoes