Wednesday Kickoff: Bradford City book improbable Cup Final berth, El Salvador qualifies for Gold Cup,and more

Wednesday Kickoff: Bradford City book improbable Cup Final berth, El Salvador qualifies for Gold Cup,and more

South American Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: Bradford City book improbable Cup Final berth, El Salvador qualifies for Gold Cup,and more

BY DAN KARELL

League Two side Bradford City have achieved the near-impossible, beating Aston Villa 4-3 over two legs to make it to the League Cup Final next month at Wembley Stadium.

Despite playing in the fourth division of English football, the team from the north of England took down three Premier League sides on their way to the finals, starting with Wigan, then Arsenal, before finishing with Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Though hard to believe, Bradford City were in the Premier League in 1999, lasting two seasons before dropping back down to the Football League, where they have languished ever since.

The Bantams will face either Chelsea or Swansea in the final.

Here are some other stories to get your Wednesday going:

EL SALVADOR EARNS GOLD CUP PLACE VIA BLIND DRAW

El Salvador secured a place in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup after finishing tied for second place in their Copa Centroamerican0 with Panama, then winning a blind draw to determine the second-place team in the group.

El Salvador won that draw, which placed them with Costa Rica, Honduras and Belize among the teams that have already qualified for the Gold Cup. The lone remaining qualifying spot will be determined in the tournament’s fifth-place match between Panama and Guatemala.

RONALDINHO EARNS BRAZILIAN RECALL

Luis Felipe Scolari has picked his first squad since his reappointment as Brazilian national football team manager, and it includes the former World Player of the Year winner Ronaldinho.

The former Barcelona star has enjoyed a renaissance while at Atletico Mineiro, leading them to a second place finish in last season’s Brazilian Serie A, as well as receiving the award for player of the year.

Now 32, Ronaldinho will grace the pitch at Wembley Stadium next month when Brazil takes on England.

FABREGAS HOPES TO TAKE ON MADRID IN THE NEXT ROUND

Barcelona and Real Madrid have yet to secure a place in Spain’s Copa Del Rey semi-finals, but if the expected happens, they will be facing each other in yet another El Clasico encounter, this time over two legs.

Since January 1, 2011, Barcelona and Real Madrid have met a total of 12 times in different competitions, including La Liga, the Spanish Supercopa, the Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League.

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has spoken of his side’s confidence in the lead up to their quarter-final match against Malaga, saying that he hopes when Barcelona win they will meet Real Madrid in the next round.

The two teams still have one more league meeting left, as well as the possibility of meeting once more in the Champions League’s later rounds.

AFCON DAY FOUR PRODUCES WINNERS

Yesterday’s Group D matches saw late winners in both matches, breaking the spell of draws over the previous three days.

In the first match, favorites Ivory Coast battled Togo. Manchester City’s Yaya Toure opened up the scoring in the eighth minute, rifling home a blistering drive past the Togo goalkeeper Agassa. But Jonathan Ayite’s header in the 45th minute tied the match between the two sides. It seemed headed for a 1-1 draw, before Arsenal’s Gervinho scored a terrific goal on the volley from a free-kick in the 88th minute, giving Ivory Coast the 2-1 win.

North African rivals Algeria and Tunisia faced off in the second match of the day, which saw the Tunisians picking up a 1-0 win, thanks to a beautiful curling effort in open play from Youssef Msakni.

Today’s African Cup of Nations matches sees South Africa take on Angola, followed by Morocco facing Cape Verde.

QUICK KICKS

Swansea City striker Michu has signed a new four-year contract with the Welsh club. (REPORT)

Long time Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is set to sign a new three-year contract with his club. (REPORT)

Malaga has confirmed the loan acquisition of Uruguayan centerback Diego Lugano from PSG, a move that could cost Oguchi Onyewu playing time. (REPORT)

Peru’s impressive run in the South American Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament has been tainted amid reports that one of their players is in fact a 25-year-old Ecuadorian. (REPORT)

Ryan Giggs has began earning his UEFA coaching badges while still playing for Manchester United, leading to rumors that he may eventually take over at the club. (REPORT)

Milovan Mirosevic, last year a midfielder for Columbus Crew, has rejoined his former club Universidad Catolica in Chile. (REPORT)

Barcelona legend Carles Pujol has signed a new contract through 2016 with the Catalan club. (REPORT)

————————

What do you think of these developments? Think Bradford City’s march to the finals the most improbable run ever? Do you think Ronaldinho will be able to keep a place in the Brazil squad?

Share your thoughts below.

More from

More SBI
Home