This blog will keep you updated with the latest news related to UEFA's 53 member associations.
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Greek Under-21 international Giannis Gianniotas has joined second-tier German side Fortuna Düsseldorf from Aris Thessaloniki FC for a reported transfer fee of €450,000. The 20-year-old winger, who can play on both flanks, has signed a three-year deal with the 2. Bundesliga outfit. "Fortuna's officials made a big effort to sign me," said Gianniotas, currently on FIFA U-20 World Cup duty in Turkey. "They're a great club with a beautiful stadium. I've always wanted to play football in Germany. I hope I can help my new team return to the Bundesliga."
After a disappointing season, 2011/12 Romanian champions CFR 1907 Cluj have rebuilt, starting with the appointment of coach Mircea Rednic, who led R. Standard de Liège into next season's UEFA Europa League. Rednic has signed a one-year contract and is followed by forward Florin Costea from relegated CS Severin, while nine players have left: Nuno Claro, Nuno Diogo, Nicolas Godemeche, Cristian Panin, Weldon, Dominique Kivuvu, Sasa Bjelanovic, Pedro Celestino and Nwa Obiora.
Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht have signed Spanish Under-19 international Fede Vico from Córdoba CF. Midfielder Vico, 18, arrives at the Brussels club from Spain's second tier on a five-year contract. Described as quick, powerful and technically adept, Vico said he was looking forward to lining up alongside "top players like Matías Suárez, Dennis Praet and Massimo Bruno", adding that joining Anderlecht was "the right move".
Norway 2-0 Macedonia
A Norway team containing several second-string players made light work of their opponents at Ullevaal. Per Ciljan Skjelbred marked his first game for the national team in three years with the opening goal, heading in a Tarik Elyounoussi cross. Macedonia's task became a mountainous one when Boban Grncharov was sent off and their fate was sealed courtesy of Daniel Braaten's 78th-minute finish.
Estonia 1-1 Kyrgyzstan
Playing their third friendly in eight days, home coach Tarmo Rüütli took the opportunity to blood several younger players. Estonia nonetheless started with intent but failed to make the most of their first-half dominance. Estonia continued to probe and ended Kyrgyzstan's resolve when Sander Puri (pictured) punished a mistake by the goalkeeper on the stroke of half-time. The visitors emerged re-energised after the restart and Vadim Kharchenko resorted parity with a tidy finish when one-on-one with Artur Kotenko.
Estonia 1-0 Trinidad and Tobago
Henri Anier got the only goal of the game as Estonia defeated Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly. Having lost their most recent friendly at home to Belarus, Tarmo Rüütli's men were keen to make amends, and a lively start saw them go ahead after 13 minutes. Tarmo Kink's cross from the right allowed Sergei Zenjov to cut back for Anier who made no mistake with a fierce shot to register his third international goal in seven matches.
Zenjov and Aleksandr Dmitrijev squandered further chances for Estonia, while Trinidad and Tobago had the upper hand early in the second half when Jamal Gay and Ataullah Guerra troubled Sergei Pareiko, but the hosts earned the win.
Hungary 1-0 Kuwait
Vilmos Vanczák scored the only goal of the friendly in Gyor as Hungary ended the season on a high.
The experienced right-back broke the deadlock in the 57th minute, rising unchallenged to head home a corner on the right from captain on the night Balázs Dzsudzsák. Sándor Egervári’s side had laboured up until that point against their well-organised visitors, Vanczák and Ádám Gyurcsó coming closest to scoring in a goalless first half but thwarted by goalkeeper Kahled Al-Rashidi.
Hungary could have added to their tally late on, twice hitting the post through Dzsudzsák and Tamás Priskin, and debutant Gergő Lovrencsics also forcing an acrobatic save from Al-Rashidi. Goran Tufegdžić’s side rarely threatened Ádám Bodgán’s goal, but in the end Hungary had to settle for Vanczák’s solitary effort.
Next up, Hungary play the Czech Republic in a friendly in August before facing Romania in Bucharest on 6 September in their next qualifier.
Denmark 2-1 Georgia
Goals from Nicklas Pedersen and Christian Eriksen ensured a home friendly win after Irakl Dzaria had given Georgia the lead in Aalborg on Denmark's Constitution Day.
After a first half with few opportunities, Dzaria benefitted from a cross from Mamuka Kobakhidze on the right to make it 1-0 for the visitors six minutes into the second half. The lead lasted until the 77th minute, when substitute Pedersen intercepted a pass from Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria and shot into the empty net from 35 metres out. With two minutes left Eriksen's superb free-kick found the top corner to complete the comeback.
Denmark will hope to build on this win when they resume FIFA World Cup qualifying on Tuesday against Armenia in Copenhagen, aiming to improve on their current fourth position in Group B. Georgia's next qualifier is at home to France on 6 September as they attempt to close the six-point gap to Les Bleus in Group I second place.
Bundesliga side 1. FC Nürnberg have signed Poland striker Mariusz Stępiński from RTS Widzew Łódź. The 18-year old's previous contract had run out but Nürnberg still had to pay a training compensation fee for the the player who will sign a deal until summer 2016. Following Martin Angha (Arsenal FC), Daniel Ginczek and Nick Weber (both Borussia Dortmund) he is Nürnberg's fourth signing this summer
"F or a long time we have followed Mariusz Stępiński's development," said sporting director Martin Bader. "He is a versatile attacker and adds options to our attack. He is a young and very promising player, one of Poland's big attacking hopes and who has already proven his qualities by winning his first-tier and senior international team debut aged 17.
Mariusz Stępiński himself added: "I am looking forward to playing for 1. FC Nürnberg next season. The Bundesliga is a big challenge for me. In the past, many young players broke through at Nürnberg. I want to continue that tradition."
Ciprian Marica hit a hat-trick as Romania swept aside Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 in the first meeting of the nations. The FC Schalke 04 forward opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark and struck again minutes later. An own goal by Daneil Cyrus added to the visitors woes and their misery was complete when Marica added the final flourish nine minutes from time.
FK Partizan defender Ivan Ivanov's header secured Bulgaria a 2-1 friendly victory in Almaty against Kazakhstan. Second in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B behind Italy, the visitors went ahead ten minutes into the second half when Georgi Iliev struck with a spectacular free-kick. Three minutes later Ivanov rose highest to thump his effort into the net, past a helpless Aleksandr Mokin. The hosts upped the tempo in their bid to get back into the game and eventually got a consolation in the 90th minute through Dmitri Shomko.
OGC Nice midfielder Kevin Anin has been seriously injured in a road accident. The 26-year-old reportedly sustained arm and spinal injures and has been placed in an artificial coma. "In the light of the information currently in our possession, the situation seems quite serious. We are worried," said Nice chief executive Julien Fournier. "I am in touch with the family of Kevin and I await the medical verdict."
Alexander Kacaniklic's 38th-minute header steered Sweden to a 1-0 victory against the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Fulham FC schemer profited from some fine work from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose delicious cross allowed him to score the game's only goal. Kacaniklic almost set the seal on a fine individual performance when his shot bounced back off the crossbar.
It was a memorable night for 34-year-old Kristen Viikmäe who made his 115th and final international appearance for Estonia in a friendly against Belarus. The veteran forward played the first 42 minutes and missed a glorious opportunity before he was replaced by Rimo Hunt.
The visitors had succumbed to defeat in four of their previous five meetings with Estonia but soon made light of such facts when Anton Putilo turned in Maksim Skavysh's centre. Estonia's Taavi Rähn was shown a red card just after the hour mark and Vitali Rodionov's calm finish ten minutes from time ensured Viikmäe bowed out on the losing team.
FC Rostov and FC Krylya Sovetov Samara will continue in the Russian Premier League again next season, after both came through play-offs with second tier opposition to hold on to their top-flight status.
Rostov earned a 7-2 aggregate victory against SKA-Energiya Khabarovsk, with Benoît Angbwa and Igor Portnyagin both scoring twice in the second leg, while Krylya Sovetov won both home and away against FC Spartak Nalchik. The results mean just two sides from the second tier will come up into the top division next season, with FC Ural and FC Tom Tomsk replacing FC Mordovia Saransk and FC Alania Vladikavkaz.
Israel 2-0 Honduras
Hen Ezra and Shimon Abuhazira gave Israel victory in a friendly in New York. Ezra came off the bench in the second half to open his international account from 25 metres out and Abuhazira also claimed his first goal for Israel 15 minutes before the final whistle thanks to a fine pass from Elyaniv Barda.
A goalless draw proved a fair result between Ukraine and Cameroon in Kyiv as the hosts warmed up for Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier away against Montenegro. Forced to rest a number of key players ahead of that game, Ukraine failed to win for the first time under coach Mikhail Fomenko (pictured), who took over in December. Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar had the best chance of the first half but was unable to register from close range, while Roman Zozulya spurned two good opportunities in the final ten minutes.
Two goals from Robbie Keane helped the Republic of Ireland defeat Georgia 4-0 in a friendly ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifying match against the Faroe Islands on Friday. Moving joint level with Shay Given as Ireland's most capped player on 125 appearances, Keane struck a pair of late goals after earlier efforts from Richard Keogh and Simon Cox, goalkeeper Giorgi Loria having been sent off for Georgia on just 20 minutes. Before the match, the two sides commemorated former Ireland captain Tony Grealish, who died in April.
Russia will be without Oleg Shatov (pictured) for Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Portugal as the FC Anji Makhachkala midfielder is making an early trip to join up with the Under-21 squad currently preparing for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel. Originally selected by Nikolai Pisarev for U21 duty this summer, Shatov was meant to travel to Israel after helping the senior side tackle Portugal, but he will now be available for Russia's Group B opener against Spain on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, FC Spartak Moskva defender Evgeni Makeev and FC Lokomotiv Moskva goalkeeper Miroslav Lobantsev have also been withdrawn from the squad to face Portugal. Both had been called up for the first time to give coach Fabio Capello a closer look at their attributes. Russia currently sit top of World Cup qualifying Group F on 12 points, one more than Portugal but having played two games fewer.
The Czech Republic have gathered for their training camp in Prague ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Italy on Friday 7. The squad is now complete, with the bulk of the players joining those, such as Libor Kozák or Petr Jiráček, who arrived on Monday for a pre-camp.
"Tomáš Pekhart and Michal Kadlec have some minor health problems, they will train individually today, but all the other players are fit," said coach Michal Bílek. "We also expect all the FC Viktoria Plzeň players, who became champions yesterday, to join the team in the afternoon and start training."
Long heavy rain spells in the Czech capital caused flooding in some parts of the city on Sunday, but the team have not been impacted. "We have three training sessions planned where we will have perfect conditions, though we all hope the weather will be better soon," Bílek added.
Italy prepared for next week's FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic by beating neighbours San Marino 4-0 in a friendly in Bologna. Midfielder Andrea Poli scored his first international goal after 28 minutes and Bologna FC striker Alberto Gilardino added the second (34) after reacting quickest when San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini could only parry a shot by Alberto Aquilani.
Five minutes after the break Andrea Pirlo scored the third with a wonderful free-kick and Aquilani (79) added the fourth when Simoncini parried another set-piece effort by Pirlo. Mario Balotelli went close to adding further gloss but his late header cannoned back off the bar. "The players are eager to show what they can do," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. "This is the right spirit to have when playing with the national team."
The Bulgarian Football Union has approved a new league format for the 2013/14 season. The league, which will now consist of 14 teams, will have a regular season with 26 matchdays. The teams will then be split into two groups in which the clubs will meet each other twice. The change will mean an early start to the season of 20 July. The number of top-flight clubs will be reduced for the following season after it was confirmed four teams would be relegated and just two promoted in 2014.
Meanwhile, UEFA Europa League hopefuls PFC Levski Sofia have appointed Nikolay Mitov on a full-time basis. The 40-year-old was named interim coach in April after the departure of Ilian Iliev and guided the team to the Bulgarian Cup final, which they lost on penalties to PFC Beroe Stara Zagora. Mitov, whose side lost the league title to PFC Ludogorets Razgrad on the final day of the season, has signed a one-year deal with the option for a further two seasons.
FC Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés will not be renewing his contract at the club once his deal expires next summer. The 31-year-old – who won six Liga crowns and three UEFA Champions Leagues among other titles during an illustrious, lifelong career with the Blaugrana – announced his decision at a press conference on Friday. "I have spent 20 years here, 12 of which have been with the first team," the Spanish international said. "I have been lucky enough to have shared a dressing room with some of the best players in the world while winning titles that you only dream about as a child. [However,] I feel that my time here will end [with] my current contract in 2014."
Fernando Santos's 21-man squad for Greece's FIFA World Cup qualifier in Lithuania next Friday is notable for the absence of centre-backs Avraam Papadopoulos, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Stelios Malezas. Borussia Dortmund's new signing, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Olympiacos FC's Kostas Manolas are the only recognised central defenders in the group, though Kostas Katsouranis and Loukas Vyntra can play there if needed.
The 3-1 away defeat by Bosnia and Herzegovina in March has left Greece trailing in Group G and Santos was blunt in his assessment of his side's situation when announcing his selection. "We need to win in Vilnius," he said. "We need to prove on the pitch that we are better than our rivals. We can't afford any excuses from now on, either about the plastic pitch or about the fact that some players are still engaged in the Super League play-offs."
Japan 0-2 Bulgaria
Bulgaria continued their good form under Luboslav Penev with a friendly win in Toyota. Just three minutes in midfielder Stanislav Manolev took a free-kick from the left that deceived goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and went into the net. Seven minutes before the break Bulgaria lost central defender Iliya Milanov through injury and Alexander Dragomirov Alexandrov made his international debut.
In the second half Japan did their best to turn the game, but Bulgaria defence showed resilience and with 19 minutes to go home captain Makoto Hasebe turned Hristo Zlatinski's free-kick into his own net. Bulgaria next face Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Croatian champions for the eighth successive season, GNK Dinamo Zagreb have signed goalkeeper Pablo Migliore on a three-year deal from CA San Lorenzo de Almagro in his native Argentina. The 31-year-old is likely to replace Ivan Kelava, who is expected to join Granada CF. "I talked to [compatriot] Luis Ibáñez and he told me that I can come without any fear as this is a great club," said Migliore. Nicknamed 'El Loco' (crazy), Migliore will wear the No22 shirt.
Belgium ran out 4-2 winners in their friendly against the United States. Marc Wilmots's side were on the front foot from the start and forged ahead on six minutes when Everton FC foward Kevin Mirallas chipped into an empty net after club colleague Tim Howard failed to gather at the feet of Romelu Lukaku.
Geoff Cameron's 23rd-minute equaliser for the hosts came against the run of play but Belgium reestablished their lead on the hour through Christian Benteke. Marouane Fellaini made it 3-1 five minutes later before Benteke grabbed his second and Belgium's fourth. There was still time for Clint Dempsey to reduce the deficit but Belgium saw out the remaining minutes to clinch victory.
"4-2 is a good result, especially away from home," said Belgium coach Wilmots. "It is important that we played a good match and got into the rhythm. This is the match we needed before Serbia [their next FIFA World Cup qualifying opponent on 7 June]."
When Germany play Ecuador in Miami on Wednesday, it will be a depleted side with many players who recently played the UEFA Champions League final not available, as well as both of their Real Madrid CF players, while Miroslav Klose and Sven Bender will only take part in Sunday's match against the United States in Washington DC.
However, Joachim Löw has brought along four uncapped players in central defender Philipp Wollscheid, midfielder Sidney Sam (both Bayer 04 Leverkusen), attacking winger Nicolai Müller (1. FSV Mainz 05) and striker Max Kruse (SC Freiburg) and has found words of praise for them: "The new guys have left a very, very good impression. Wollscheid's heading is great, Müller is being drawn towards goal. Kruse is a very clever player and Sam very strong when dribbling."
Prospects seem especially good for Kruse, 25, who will join VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach this summer and for whom Löw had special praise: "I am very fond of Kruse. Because he is a clever, nifty player who is always asking for the ball, running very well and is very good when it comes to finishing."
Turkey 3-3 Latvia
Two goals from 18-year-old Latvia striker Valērijs Šabala denied Turkey revenge for their memorable defeat in the UEFA EURO 2004 play-offs in this international friendly in Duisburg.
Abdullah Avcı's side was clearly better in the first half and took a quick lead through Olcay Şahan, who headed in after eight minutes. Selçuk İnan doubled the lead from the spot to make it 2-0 at the break.
A deflection allowed Veysel Sarı to restore a two-oal lead after Edgars Gauračs's strike, but Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs had Šabala to count on. The Skonto FC youngster scored his first goal for Latvia midway through the second half and then secured a draw with a header six minutes from time.
Lithuania will be missing at least one key player in each position for their upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying home game against Greece. Goalkeepers Žydrūnas Karčemarskas and Giedrius Arlauskis are injured, defender Marius Žaliūkas is not yet fit after missing few months with an ankle problem, while midfielder Deividas Šemberas and striker Darvydas Šernas are suspended
"It's not easy having two main goalkeepers injured, but on the other hand, Emilijus Zubas is in great form in the Polish league and already has international experience at Under-21 level," said coach Csaba László. "It’s a pity we are missing players like Žaliūkas and Šemberas at the back, but this is also a chance for others. I hope Marius Stankevičius will be ready to play." Stankevičius returns after recovering from a long-term injury, while Kazahstan-based Arūnas Klimavičius is back from suspension.
Goalkeepers: Emilijus Zubas (GKS Bełchatów), Armantas Vitkauskas (VMFD Žalgiris), Paulius Grybauskas (Skonto FC).
Defenders: Marius Stankevičius (S.S. Lazio), Arūnas Klimavičius (FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan), Tadas Kijanskas (Korona Kielce), Vytautas Andriuškevičius (Djurgårdens IF),Tomas Mikuckis (SKA-Energia Khabarovsk), Arūnas Klimavičius (Zhetysu), Valdemar Borovskij (FK Daugava Rīga), Saulius Mikoliūnas (PFC Sevastopol), Mantas Fridrikas (FC Šiauliai).
Midfielders: Edgaras Česnauskis (FC Rostov), Deividas Česnauskis (Baki FK), Mindaugas Panka (Ruch Chorzów), Arvydas Novikovas (Heart of Midlothian FC), Kęstutis Ivaškevičius (Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC), Vytautas Lukša (KSP Polonia Warszawa), Mindaugas Kalonas (Ravan Baku FC), Fedor Chernych (FC Dnepr Mogilev), Andrius Bartkus (FK Atlantas), Artūras Žulpa (VMFD Žalgiris).
Forwards: Deivydas Matulevičius (CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu), Evaldas Razulis (FK Atlantas), Tadas Eliošius (FK Atlantas).
Kolo Touré is to join Liverpool FC after the expiry of his Manchester City FC contract at the end of next month. The 32-year-old moved to City from Arsenal FC in 2009 and helped them win the 2011/12 title but this season appeared only 13 times. His signing follows the retirement of Liverpool central defender Jamie Carragher.
Crystal Palace FC won today's Championship promotion play-off against Watford FC to clinch the remaining available place in England's Premier League next season. The south London club, who were last in the top flight in 2004/05, booked their return thanks to substitute Kevin Phillips's penalty 15 minutes into extra time. The 39-year-old's spot kick was the solitary goal of a Wembley final in which Ian Holloway's Crystal Palace had the better chances, save for a Watford siege in the closing moments. Cardiff City FC and Hull City AFC had been promoted automatically as the division's first and second-ranked teams.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento has given midfielder André Martins his first ever call in the squad to face Russia in FIFA World Cup qualifying and a friendly against Croatia. Back in the squad is defender Ricardo Costa, midfielders Ruben Amorim and Ruben Micael and attackers Nani and Nélson Oliveira.
Bento's side are third in Group F and need victory in Lisbon against leaders Russia on 7 June, before a trip to Geneva to face Croatia three days later. The Spain-based players - Beto, João Pereira, Fábio Coentrão, Ricardo Costa, Sílvio, Sereno, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hélder Postiga and Nélson Oliveira - do not link up with the team until next Monday.
"There is no more room for errors," Bento said. "We made some during this qualification and this game is extremely important. We play under pressure but our players are used to it and we will respond well and fight for our goal, which is qualify for the World Cup."
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Beto (Sevilla FC), Eduardo (Istanbul BB)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid CF), Sereno (Real Valladolid CF), João Pereira (Valencia CF), Neto (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Ricardo Costa (Valencia CF), Sílvio (RC Deportivo La Coruña).
Midfielders: André Martins (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Custódio (SC Braga), João Moutinho (AS Monaco FC), Miguel Veloso (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe SK), Ruben Amorim (SC Braga), Ruben Micael (SC Braga), Vieirinha (VfL Wolfsburg).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), Danny (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Hélder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United FC), Nélson Oliveira (RC Deportivo La Coruña), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto).
Coach Norbert Meier has left Fortuna Düsseldorf after their relegation from the Bundesliga. A statement on the official club website read: "After a number of days of contemplation and personal discussions with the 54-year-old coach, the pair have decided to mutually end their work together."
Meier had been in charge of Fortuna since January 2008, taking over as Fortuna arrived in the third division. In just four years he took the club to the Bundesliga. Chairman Wolf Werner thanked Meier for his services: “With Norbert Meier we found someone who successfully led us from the third division to the Bundesliga. The club’s sporting rise to recognition will forever be linked with his name.”
Fortuna were 13th at the winter break, 12 points above the drop zone, but only secured nine more points all season, sealing their, and Meier's, fate.
Kris Commons has announced his retirement from international football having won 12 caps for Scotland. The Celtic FC midfielder said: "I have enjoyed my time immensely with the Scotland team and it was a very proud moment every time I pulled on the Scotland shirt. I will always, of course, be a Scotland supporter. At this stage of my career I just want to give Celtic my 100% commitment and ensure I can prolong my club career as long as possible." Commons has been involved in two of Scotland's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Romania captain Răzvan Raţ, who has spent the past decade at FC Shakhtar Donetsk, will join West Ham United FC on a free transfer on 1 July. Raţ, a UEFA Cup winner with Shakhtar in 2009, helped the Ukrainian side to this season's UEFA Champions League last 16 and to another domestic title. The 31-year-old has 87 caps for his country. "I'm hugely happy that we've got a player of his experience and his character," said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. "We certainly know he's got the ability and he's at an age where he's still capable of producing." Raţ has signed an initial one-year deal.
FK Crvena zvezda defender Marko Vešović, 21, has received his first senior call-up for Montenegro's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on 7 June, though several regulars are missing. Miodrag Džudović and Mitar Novaković are suspended, Nikola Drinčić is injured, while Simon Vukčević, Milan Jovanović and goalkeeper Vukašin Poleksić are short of competitive matches.
Montenegro lead Group H with 14 points from six games, two ahead of second-placed England. Ukraine are on eight points, but one game in hand. "This is very important match, for us and Ukraine," said coach Branko Brnović. "If we get three points we will be very close to securing a top-two place and be favourites for automatic qualification; Ukraine will be back in contention if they win in Podgorica."
The fixture will be Montenegro's 50th since independence from Serbia, and Brnović is eyeing another landmark. "We beat Ukraine [1-0] in Kyiv, but they are very dangerous on their travels. I hope we can find a way to stop them and make a big step towards fulfilling our dream of playing in a World Cup."
Mladen Božović (Videoton FC), Srđan Blažić (Nea Salamis Famagusta FC).
Savo Pavićević (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC), Vladimir Božović (FC Mordovia Saransk), Marko Baša (LOSC Lille), Stefan Savić (ACF Fiorentina), Ivan Kecojević (Gaziantepspor), Blažo Igumanović (FK Rudar Pljevlja), Marko Vešović (FK Crvena zvezda).
Vladimir Volkov (FK Partizan), Branko Bošković (SK Rapid Wien), Elsad Zverotić (BSC Young Boys), Milorad Peković (FC Hansa Rostock), Nemanja Nikolić (OFK Beograd), Miloš Krkotić (FC Dacia Chisinau), Marko Bakić (Torino FC).
Stevan Jovetić (ACF Fiorentina), Mirko Vučinić (Juventus), Fatos Bećiraj (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Andrija Delibašić (Rayo Vallecano de Madrid), Filip Kasalica (FK Crvena zvezda), Dejan Damjanović (FC Seoul).
Norwich City FC midfielder Anthony Pilkington is in line to make his senior debut for the Republic of Ireland after being named in the squad for Giovanni Trapattoni's side's four upcoming fixtures. Ireland face England in a friendly at Wembley on 29 May, before taking on Georgia four days later. They then host the Faroe Islands in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group C on 7 June, before finally taking on Spain in New York. Trapattoni, 74, has named a 28-man squad, though there is no place for Wolverhampton Wanderers FC trio Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward and Stephen Hunt.
David Forde (Millwall FC), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland AFC), Darren Randolph (Motherwell FC).
John O'Shea (Sunderland AFC), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City FC), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace FC), Richard Keogh (Derby County FC), Marc Wilson (Stoke City FC), Seamus Coleman (Everton FC), Stephen Kelly (Reading FC), Darren O'Dea (Toronto FC), Paul McShane (Hull City AFC).
Glenn Whelan (Stoke City FC), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic FC), Paul Green (Leeds United FC), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County FC), Aiden McGeady (FC Spartak Moskva), Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City FC), James McClean (Sunderland AFC), Robbie Brady (Hull City FC), David Meyler (Hull City AFC).
Andy Keogh (Millwall FC), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion FC), Conor Sammon (Derby County FC), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City FC), Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest FC), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City FC).
Tonight's French Cup semi-final between ES Troyes AC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux has to be postponed because of a waterlogged pitch at Stade de l’Aube. The match will now be played on Tuesday 14 May at 20.55 CET, as confirmed by the French Football Federation (FFF). Évian Thonon Gaillard FC play host to FC Lorient tomorrow night in the other semi-final.
HNK Hajduk Split and NK Lokomotiva will play in the Croatian Cup final on 8 and 22 May after completing last-four victories. Already 2-1 going into their home leg against NK Slaven Koprivnica, Hajduk came from behind to draw 1-1 on the night to reach their tenth cup final, in pursuit of a sixth trophy. Zagreb's Lokomotiva, by contrast, are in their first final after overcoming HNK Cibalia 3-0 to complete a 4-1 aggregate triumph.
Blagoja Milevski has been reappointed as coach of FK Vardar just three months after being replaced by Nikola Ilievski, who stepped down on Sunday. Vardar are third in the Macedonian First League, a point adrift of FK Turnovo and FK Metalurg Skopje. "Unlike the previous occasion when I took over as Vardar coach, when we were on equal terms with our main rivals for the title, this time we are behind," said Milevski. "Nevertheless, we still have the same players that last year won the title and this winter were top of the table. It's certain that over these past couple of months they haven't forgotten how to play and therefore I hope that we can very quickly return to winning ways."
With France's interest in European competition ended, the country's attention turns to the Coupe de France quarter-finals which kick-off on Tuesday, with Ligue 1 bottom side ES Troyes AC hosting AS Nancy-Lorraine, and AS Saint-Étienne entertaining FC Lorient. The remaining half of the programme takes place the day after, with FC Girondins de Bordeaux travelling to the last remaining Ligue 2 side, RC Lens, while Paris Saint-Germain FC will be hoping to keep their dreams of a domestic double alive at Évian Thonon Gaillard FC.
That is not the only cup action in France this week, as on Saturday a UEFA Europa League berth is up for grabs as Stade Rennais FC take on St-Étienne in the French League Cup final. Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti declares the competition "holds a special spot in [my] heart", with the current tenth-placed team are seeking a first major trophy since 1971. Les Verts themselves are looking to end a 32-year wait for significant silverware and will be full of confidence as they are in the midst of an excellent campaign.
BSC Young Boys have parted company with coach Martin Rueda (pictured). The 50-year old took over following Christian Gross's departure last summer, but his side have not lived up to expectations: YB are currently sixth and in danger of missing out on their goal of a European place. We have always stressed how much we value Martin Rueda and his work," said club president Werner Müller. "But the lack of success and the position in the table forced us to act." Reserve team boss Joël Magnin will act as caretaker while the club look to bring in a new coach for the last ten games of the season.
Elsewhere in Switzerland, FC Luzern have found a successor for coach Ryszard Komornicki in Carlos Bernegger, who has agreed a contract until summer 2015 at the second-from-bottom club. The 44-year old last coached the reserves at FC Basel 1893. Komornicki was let go on 2 April, having taken 19 points from 19 matches.
FC Internazionale Milano are likely to be without forward Rodrigo Palacio for around 20 days after the Argentinian international picked up a muscular injury during the 2-0 win at UC Sampdoria on Wednesday. The 31-year-old scored both Inter's goals in the rearranged Serie A game, but then underwent scans which revealed a problem to the back of his left thigh. The prognosis remains unclear, but Palacio should be sidelined for three weeks, further depleting Inter’s attacking options as Diego Milito is already out for season with a knee injury.
FC Sheriff Tiraspol have sacked coach Mihai Stoichiță after a series of unconvincing results in Moldova league. The vacancy has quickly been filled by Vitali Rashkevich who first took the helm of the first team in 2011-12 and has lately been working with Sheriff's reserve side. The Tiraspol outfit are topping the league table with 12 point cushion from FC Dacia Chisinau.
Athletic Club took a big step towards securing their Spanish Liga status on Monday night with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Granada CF. Aritz Aduriz scored the only goal, midway through the second half, to earn the home side - who finished with ten men after Markel Susaeta was dismissed for two yellow cards - a vital win. Athletic now sit 13th, 11 points clear of the drop zone. Granada hover just four points above it.
Real Betis Balompié and Getafe CF remain seventh and eighth respectively after a goalless draw in the day's late kick-off.
FC Anji Makhachkala full-back Andrei Eschenko will be sidelined for at least six months after suffering a severe knee injury.
The 29-year-old Russian international, who joined Anji in January, was injured during the first half of the 4-0 league defeat by FC Krasnodar, damaging his meniscus and cruciate ligaments. Anji are currently third in Russian Premier-Liga and bowed out of UEFA Europa League after 1-0 aggregate loss to Newcastle United FC.
Anorthosis Famagusta FC have parted company with coach Roni Levy after the Cypriot title chasers suffered a 2-0 home defeat by APOEL FC on Sunday to fall six points off the pace. An announcement on the club's website on Monday confirmed the 46-year-old former Maccabi Haifa FC and FC Steaua Bucureşti boss's exit with six games to go in the end-of-season play-offs.
Anorthosis appeared to be on track for their first major trophy since 2008, but since a shock 2-1 reverse at Nea Salamis Famagusta FC on 10 February they have picked up only six points from a possible 18. Levy's charges were also dumped out of the Cypriot Cup after a heavy 6-0 aggregate loss to AC Omonia.
Vitória SC secured a 2-0 win against second-tier leaders CF Os Belenenses in the first leg of their Portuguese Cup semi-final. Belenenses are 22 points clear at the summit in their ppromotion push but conceded goals to Ricardo on 29 and 76 minutes to leave them with a tough task in their home return in Lisbon on 17 April.
In the same city on the same day, double-chasing SL Benfica will defend a 2-0 lead at home to FC Paços de Ferreira from the first leg on 30 January.
France coach Didier Deschamps said there was no shame in losing to Spain after Les Bleus slipped to a first Group I defeat and surrendered top spot in the section. "We had our chances in that game against the best team in the world and we shouldn’t be ashamed to have lost but things could have panned out differently even," he said. "Even with ten men on the pitch, we kept threatenting an equaliser and were a match for them."
Franck Ribéry was one of France's stand-out performers and could not hide his disappointment after defeat in Paris. "I have many regrets tonight, we just missed that vital goal," he said. "It is a pity because we produced a good game as a team. I had a clear chance in the first half. We tried hard and we'll keep trying to go to qualify for Brazil next year."
Everything you need to know about Tuesday's FIFA World Cup qualifying games all in one place ...
Despite winning 2-0 in Malta and sitting top of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli wants more from his players. "We have to react better in these circumstances," said Prandelli after watching Mario Balotelli score both goal in Ta' Qal. "Mario has got to find stability and have the desire to keep scoring goals and never tire out in order to stay on top form."
"Every match is fundamental and we cannot risk losing any points as this would ruin all the hard work we have done so far. We want to get mathematical qualification as early as possible."
Malta coach Pietro Ghedin spoke of his disappointment after losing back-to-back games against Bulgaria and Italy. "In Bulgaria my team were not balanced and of course the wintry conditions did not help. Today, we were much more motivated but Italy were still strong enough to see them through."
Ghedin also backed Michael Mifsud to overcome his penalty miss. "When you face a goalkeeper such as [Gianluigi] Buffon in goal the goalposts seem so small," he added. "I thank all my players and the stupendous support today and we will continue to move forward with our work."
Joachim Löw will be without FC Schalke 04's Benedikt Höwedes and FC Bayern München's Mario Gomez for Germany's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan this evening. As a result of their injuries, both players have left the team camp in Herzogenaurach. Höwedes is struggling with a tight muscle, whereas Gomez has picked up a muscle strain. Both were forced out of training on Monday night as a result. After discussions with national team doctors, it was agreed that the pair would receive treatment at their respective clubs.
"I don't think we can ever play any poorer than we did against Bulgaria," said Malta coach Pietro Ghedin, whose team are still reeling from Friday's chastening 6-0 defeat by Bulgaria. Tonight's visit of Group B leaders Italymeans there is no respite for Malta with a record crowd expected inside the Ta’ Qali National Stadium. "We arrive back in Malta with the intention of setting the record straight and improving upon the few things we did well in Sofia," added Pietro.
Bologna FC have rewarded coach Stefano Pioli for a positive spell since replacing Pierpaolo Bisoli as coach in October 2011, with the 47-year-old signing a two-year extension to his contract, binding him to the cluib until June 2015. The former Parma FC, AC Chievo Verona and US Città di Palermo coach led the Felsinei to ninth place in Serie A last term, and Bologna are currently 12th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
"I feel happy here - I have never felt like that before, even when I was a player," Pioli said. "I am only thinking about the league. I want the players to do the best they can this season then start working towards the next one."
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has called up midfielder Alessandro Florenzi from the country's Under-21 squad ahead of the Azzurri's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Malta on Tuesday. The 22-year-old has been selected as a replacement for AS Roma club-mate Daniele De Rossi, who is suspended, and joins the senior side having featured for the U21s in Friday's 2-0 friendly win against Russia. Italy lead qualifying Group B by one point ahead of Bulgaria, who have played one game more.
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane has been ruled out of his team's FIFA World Cup qualifier at home against Austria on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Galaxy forward helped Ireland earn a 0-0 draw away to Sweden on Friday, but has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to a calf strain as Giovanni Trapattoni's men look to improve their position in qualifying Group C.
Currently fourth, level on points with Austria, Ireland have called up Wolverhampton Wanderers FC striker Kevin Doyle as Keane's replacement. "The manager has spoken to Kevin, and he will link up with the squad in time for training in Malahide tomorrow morning," read a statement from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).
Germany coach Joachim Löw has reacted to a raft of suspensions and injuries in his squad by calling up a pair of replacements for Tuesday's FIFA World Cup qualifier at home against Kazakhstan. With midfielder Julian Draxler the latest player to pull out due to concussion, Marcell Jansen and Patrick Herrmann have been called up for action by the Group C leaders. Hamburger SV defender Jansen (pictured) has been capped 36 times by Germany, while uncapped VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Herrmann – on Under-21 duty against Israel today – will travel to Nuremberg on Monday.
France midfielder Yohan Cabaye is savouring what will be "an important game" when Spain visit the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group I leaders at the Stade de France on Tuesday. "We know that a draw will be enough for us to stay top, two points clear," said the Newcastle United FC player, an unused substitute as Les Bleus went top by beating Georgia 3-1 on Friday. "They'll be coming here to win. Either way, nothing will be decided, as we'll still have difficult matches to come."
Germany will be without Mario Gomez for Friday night's FIFA World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan. The FC Bayern München striker has pulled a muscle in his right thigh and will be on the sidelines for two days. Joachim Löw had already hinted at playing a 4-6-0-formation – with no natural striker – even before the Gomez injury. Mario Götze now looks likely to play furthest forward. Kazakhstan visit Nuremberg on Tuesday.
Paris Saint-Germain FC defender Mamadou Sakho spoke to media inquisitors about France's upcoming fixtures, Friday's FIFA World Cup qualifier with Georgia and the game with Spain four days later.
We were given a DVD of Georgia's recent meeting with Spain. We know they are a very defensive team and we are not expecting an easy ride. We will have to be patient and remain focused, and even more so against Spain. You can't afford to switch off against some of the best players in the world. Playing for your country is a completely different experience to representing your club. Wearing the blue shirt comes with all sorts of expectations.
Olympique de Marseille forward Mathieu Valbuena talked about his growing role in France's squad at Clairefontaine today.
I want to score more. I have proved I can play the killer ball, but I want to find the net more often. I would love to score as often as I set them up. Of course it was disappointing not to play a single minute at the EUROs, but I feel I have worked hard since and now the coach trusts me with a more central position. I think I have been doing well there, I have been in the squad for long enough and I feel at ease here. I can make an impact as soon as I am asked to play.
The Netherlands training on Wednesday morning ...
Defender Giorgio Chiellini has withdrawn from Italy's squad with an ankle injury suffered in Saturday's 2-0 win at Bologna FC.
"His condition has improved in the past few days, but not enough to make him ready to play against Brazil or Malta," explained Azzurri team doctor Enrico Castellacci. "We opted to release him so he can recover with his club in Turin." Italy face Brazil in a friendly on Thursday before their FIFA World Cup meeting with Malta next Tuesday.
Blaise Matuidi has been attracting the praise of coaches of club and country as he prepares for France's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain. "He is playing at a high standard," said France boss Didier Deschamps. "I am not worried about his ability to perform." Paris Saint-Germain FC trainer Carlo Ancelotti added: "He is one of the best defending midfielder in Europe."
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has called Aston Villa FC midfielder Barry Bannan into the squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Wales on Friday and Serbia on 26 March. The 23-year-old replaces West Bromwich Albion FC's James Morrison who has withdrawn with a hamstring injury. Strachan's charges currently sit bottom of Group A with two points from their opening four games.
England international midfielder Frank Lampard is keen for his side to avoid a potential banana skin in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group H against San Marino before their trip to section leaders Montenegro.
"These are the moments when you need a strong squad," said Lampard, who has 94 caps to his name and is still enjoying international football at the age of 34. "We're very fortunate to have young players and it's time for them to step up. San Marino is a game to be professional and disciplined and to go about our job in the right way. We have to respect the smaller countries.
"The games are of huge importance. We're aware how tough Montenegro will be after last year [when they went unbeaten in all four group games]. I just want to earn more caps, it's nice to come away with England. I appreciate it more than ever now."
With Real Madrid CF goalkeeper Iker Casillas still recovering from a broken thumb, Manchester United FC's David de Gea has been promoted from the Under-21 squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group I fixtures against Finland on Friday and France four days later. De Gea said: "It's a pity that Iker can't be here, he's an idol for everyone; he's our captain."
Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, called into France's senior squad for the first time for Tuesday's crucial encounter with Spain, is not worried by comparisons drawn with former Les Bleus captain Patrick Vieira. "It's right that I'm rather tall, as he is," the 20-year-old said. "I also run in the same style he does. He is a role model, his name's a path to follow. But Vieira will stay Vieira. I want to be Pogba. I take Viaira as an example to become Pogba."
"[To be back at Clairefontaine] reminds me of my first caps with the U16 team. A new era begins. I'm satisfied but it's just the beginning."
England's defensive problems have mounted with Gary Cahill pulling out of the squad to face San Marino on Friday, following from Rio Ferdinand's withdrawal yesterday. A Football Association (FA) statement reads: "Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has been ruled out of England’s World Cup qualifier with San Marino on Friday evening. Cahill was assessed by England medical staff on Monday and will not be able to take part in the match, but will be reassessed later in the week with a view to the qualifier against Montenegro on Tuesday. Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor will join the squad in place of Cahill."
BREAKING: Michael Owen has announced that he will retire at the end of the season. The former England, Liverpool FC, Real Madrid CF, Newcastle United FC and Manchester United FC striker has been playing at Stoke City FC but has not featured regularly. More to follow on UEFA.com...
Germany Under-21 goalkeeper Kevin Trapp has suffered a broken finger in training for Sunday's friendly in Israel and is expected to be out for several weeks, a blow to Eintracht Frankfurt in their bid for a UEFA Champions League place. Frankfurt coach Armin Veh could now call upon former number one, 38-year-old Oka Nikolov.
Armenia coach Vardan Minasyan has been shorn of five first-team regulars for their 2014 FIFA World Cup home qualifier against Czech Republic on 26 March. Defender Hrayr Mkoyan and midfielders Artur Edigaryan and Karlen Mkrtchyan are suspended, while injuries have ruled out playmaker Aras Özbiliz and defender Levon Hayrapetyan. FC Gandzasar left-back Artur Avagyan, 25, received his first call-up while 20-year-old FC Sheriff defender Artyom Khachaturov is poised for his first competitive appearance. Armenia have collected three points in as many games in Group B and lie fourth.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento has called Málaga CF left-back Antunes into the squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group F games against Israel on Friday and Azerbaijan four days later. The 25-year-old, who joined the Spanish side on loan from FC Paços de Ferreira in the winter transfer window, already has three caps to his name and has been rewarded for his impressive form this term. The ex-AS Roma defender was a member of the Málaga side who eliminated FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. During that fixture João Moutinho sustained a thigh injury which makes him a doubt for the upcoming fixtures, while Sevilla FC goalkeeper Beto missed training with the flu.
Due to a hamstring injury sustained this weekend during Newcastle United FC's loss to Wigan Athletic FC, Mathieu Debuchy has withdrawn from the France squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain on 22 and 26 March respectively. Olympique de Marseille's Rod Fanni (pictured) has been named as his replacement.
S.S. Lazio forward Libor Kozák, the current UEFA Europa League top scorer, has been added to the Czech Republic squad to face Denmark and Armenia. He scored his first hat-trick for Lazio against VfB Stuttgart in the round of 16. "He is in a great shape, so I believe that he is going to bring his scoring potential to the national team," Czech coach Michal Bílek said.
Rio Ferdinand has withdrawn from the England squad to face San Marino and Montenegro. The Manchester United FC defender had received his first call since August 2011 but according to a Football Association (FA) statement a decision to withdraw "was taken following a meeting in London on Sunday evening with Rio Ferdinand and England manager Roy Hodgson".
Hodgson, who has promoted Steven Caulker from the Under-21s, said: "I'm disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it's not possible. However, I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.
"This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games - he can and has proven so. He's out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme. I must place on record how I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future."
Midfielders Lars Bender, Sven Bender and Toni Kroos have withdrawn from Germany's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan on 22 and 26 March. Lars Bender is suffering from an infection of his heel, while his twin brother Sven is ill and Kross has a knee problem. No decision has been made about any replacements.
Cesare Prandelli has confirmed Italy's 27-man squad for Thursday's friendly against Brazil and the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier versus Malta next Tuesday. Torino FC winger Alessio Cerci has earned a maiden call-up, while Genoa CFC left-back Luca Antonelli returns for the first time since 2010. Paris Saint-Germain FC midfielder Marco Verratti has been ruled out through injury, while AS Roma's Pablo Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi have recieived international recognition depite being suspended for the Malta game. Italy are currently top of Group H with ten points from four games.
Évian Thonon Gaillard FC's former France winger Sidney Govou faces several months on the sidelines after rupturing ligaments in his left knee during his side's 2-1 Ligue 1 victory at LOSC Lille on Saturday. The 33-year-old, whose contract with Évian expires at the end of the season, had to be substituted late on following a challenge with Lucas Digne.
A seven-time league champion with Olympique Lyonnais, the player capped 49 times by Les Bleus will now undergo surgery in Lyon during the week. "Thanks all for the support," he tweeted. "I have a meeting with the surgeon tomorrow."
Fourth-placed Iceland take on fifth-placed Slovenia (three points adrift) in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying group E on Friday and Iceland assistant coach Heimir Hallgrímsson has spoken of the difficulties in preparing to face a team who changed coach in January.
We know Slovenia have a well-organised, hard-working team who like to play the ball rather than get into a battle. The change in their gameplan [reappointing coach Srečko Katanec] meant all our preparation went down the drain. They used to played with three in the middle of the defence, but we do not know if they will still. The group is very equal so any team can win their game but if we win, we will leave Slovenia behind.
Feyenoord playmaker Tonny Trindade de Vilhena, 18, has earned his first senior call-up after being named in the Netherlands squad for their FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Romania on 22 and 26 March. Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Maarten Stekelenburg all return to the Oranje fold after missing February's friendly draw against Italy, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is out with a knee injury.
Olympiacos FC centre-back Avraam Papadopoulos is set for a return to the international fold nine months after suffering knee ligament damage in Greece's opening match of UEFA Euro 2012. "He is a very good, experienced player. He is as strong as a bull and I believe he can play all 90 minutes," said coach Fernando Santos, naming his 23-man squad for the crucial trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 March.
FC Schalke 04 defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos and AC Chievo Verona's Nikos Spyropoulos are injured but for the first time there is a place for Skoda Xanthi FC goalkeeper Yuri Lodigin. "It is every player's dream to be called to the senior team," said the 22-year-old. I am looking forward to reuniting with my friends from the Under-21s, Kostas Fortounis and Panagiotis Tachtsidis."
Cyprus boss Nikos Nioplias has dropped three regular starters for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Group E qualifier against Switzerland in Nicosia on 23 March. All-time top scorer Michalis Konstantinou, 35, has been omitted despite recently returning from a long injury lay-off to score in the Cypriot Cup for AEL Limassol FC in midweek, while APOEL FC's Efstathios Aloneftis and Andreas Avraam of Anorthosis Famagusta FC have also been left out by the Greek coach.
Meanwhile Nioplias has given a call-up to 20-year-old attacking midfielder Alex Konstantinou after the youngster impressed for Apollon Limassol FC this season. AEL defender Christos Theophilou, 32, has been recalled for the first time since a 4-0 reverse against Germany in a UEFA EURO 2008 qualifier back in November 2007. Cyprus sit bottom of the group with three points from their opening four games.
Juventus youngster Paul Pogba has earned his first senior call-up with France as Les Bleus prepare for key FIFA World Cup Group I games against Georgia (22 March) and Spain (26 March). Real Madrid CF centre-back Raphaël Varane is also set to appear against the world and European champions at the Stade de France, and Queens Park Rangers FC forward Loïc Rémy is a surprise inclusion in the selection. France and Spain are level on seven points at the top of the section.
Having missed February's friendly get-together, Pepe returns to the Portugal squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Israel (22 March) and Azerbaijan (26 March), aling with Carlos Martins, Paulo Machado, Vieirinha and Pizzi, but there is no space for Nani. João Pereira and João Moutinho, both nursing thigh injuries, have been called up by coach Paulo Bento, whose team lie third in Group F, level on seven points with Israel and five adrift leaders Russia, who boast a 100% record.
"We can still qualify, but finishing top is no longer down to us," said coach Paulo Bento. "What is down to us is trying to qualify for the World Cup by some other way. Our goal was to finish first in the group, but we also knew that three other teams had that target. We will try to win the matches our way."
Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko has named a 25-man squad to face Poland and Moldova in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification. With Ukraine in severe need of points, several experienced players have been recalled including 37-year-old FC Metalist Kharkiv goalkeeper Olexandr Goryainov, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk holding midfielder Serhiy Kravchenko and FC Arsenal Kyiv striker Volodymyr Homenyuk.
Dnipro attacking midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka is also in the squad but is touch-and-go having missed the two last weeks because of a back injury. Ukraine lie fifth in Group H with just two points from three games and play in Poland on 22 March before hosting Moldova four days later. "We still have seven games to play," said Fomenko (pictured below). "They are all important. We will not rush things and proceed step by step. Now we have important games in Warsaw and Odesa. Then we can point out the next goals."
As expected Frank Kramer has been been named as new coach of SpVgg Greuther Fürth, bottom of the Bundesliga. The former TSG 1899 Hoffenheim reserve coach, signing a deal until summer 2015, will follow Mike Büskens, who was sacked three weeks ago. Caretaker coach Ludwig Preis, who coached the team in the last three matches, will assist Kramer until the end of the season. Fürth president Helmut Hack said: "In Frank we have signed a coach who completely convinces us. He will initiate our reconstruction process so we can positively look forward."
Kamer, a former Fürth reserve player and coach, said: "I am happy to return to Fürth. It surely is not an easy situation at the moment, but I will work day and night to make the best of it. The club is healthy and that's why I am confident concerning the tasks ahead. Our common way is it to work with young and talented players and I totally submit to that."
Russia coach Fabio Capello has named a 25-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Norther Ireland on 22 March in Belfast and the London friendly versus Brazil three days later. Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Kokorin are the sole forwards with goalkeeper Anton Shunin, defender Oleg Ivanov and striker Fedor Smolov dropping out of the provisional squad. FC Lokomotiv Moskva defensive midfielder Dmitri Tarasov - previously called up by Capello's predecessor Guus Hiddink but never capped - is the only potential debutant.
First-time title winners last season, FC Daugava Daugavpils beat Skonto FC 4-1 in the Latvian Super Cup game. The cup holders and league runners-up sent a youthful side to Daugavpils with the first team preparing for the new season in Turkey, and were 3-0 down by half-time, Stanley Ibe, Ibrahim Olalekan Babatunde and Armands Pētersons - who joined Daugava from Skonto this winter - on target. Another newcomer, Nigerian defender Joseph Enakarhire made it 4-0 after the break, before 16-year-old Nikita Ivanovs struck back for Skonto.
"It was nice to see the fans who came to the stadium despite freezing temperatures," said Daugava coach Ivan Tabanov. "The difference between the sides was obvious, but those are not our problems. Daugava took the pitch to win the game and get the Super Cup and we cmpleted both tasks in emphatic fashion. Now we can switch all our attentions to the league." Defender Igors Savčenkovs, who joined Daugava from Skonto this winter, added: "It was a bit annoying to concede that goal as our fans deserved a 4-0 victory. However I hope they were not angry about that as they saw us playing solid quality football today."
Daugava will host FC Jūrmala in the Latvian Cup quarter-finals next Saturday while Skonto visit SK Liepājas Metalurgs.
Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni has conceded defeat in his bid to have Aston Villa FC defender Richard Dunne fit for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria. Trapattoni has named a provisional 29-man squad for the games away to Sweden and at home to Austria, but there was no place for veteran defender Dunne – who has not played for club or country since the Republic's defeat to Italy at UEFA EURO 2012 - and midfielder Keith Andrews, who are both struggling with injury.
"Richard Dunne said he is not ready - he said he may be ready in the future but for now, it was a serious injury, and it's a pity as Richard is a very important player for us,” said Trapattoni. “We have confidence in Ciaran Clark, we follow him a lot, he has a good personality and I have a good relationship with him."
The uncapped Norwich City FC midfielder Anthony Pilkington, who was denied a possible debut in a friendly against Poland last month, is included while Stoke City FC defender Marc Wilson is also named after recovering from a broken leg.
There are no suprises in Igor Štimac's 26-man squad for Croatia's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Wales on 22 and 26 march. "We have two very important matches ahead of us and I was analysing all the players form and abilites until the last moment," said Štimac. "I have some problems with the competitive form of some players - the season has just restarted in Ukraine, and young Mateo Kovačić and Josip Radošević have had less time on the pitch since leaving Dinamo and Hajduk. Milan Badelj is looking tired, Ognjen Vukojević is not in top form, Ivan Perišić is playing in a key position but has lost his place at Wolfsburg... For these matches we will choose players in top form who are ready to play all 90 minutes." With three victories and one draw, Croatia share top spot in Group A with Belgium.
Simon Rolfes will stay at Bayer 04 Leverkusen two more years after extending his contract with the Bundesliga club. "Simon's signature is important in setting the course for a successful future," said sporting director Rudi Völler. “He has exceptional strategic awareness and has been a crucial part of our team's good performance in the past years. He will also play an important role for us as a leading player in the years to come."
Rolfes, who has made 223 Bundesliga appearances and scored 34 goals for the club, is looking forward to the years ahead. "So far, I've had a fantastic and successful career with Bayer Leverkusen," he said. "The next few years are all about the football. In Leverkusen, consistency is written in bold and the aim is to develop the team. The mix of youth and experience makes for quality players. I want to do my bit so that we can continue to achieve more in the future."
Struggling Pescara Calcio have parted company with coach Cristiano Bergodiafter Sunday's 1-0 home loss to Udinese Calcio left the club five points from safety in the relegation zone. The 48-year-old joined Pescara in November to replace Giovanni Stroppa, who resigned after a difficult start to the league campaign, but the former defender managed to collect just ten points in 14 Serie A outings. The Udinese defeat represented a seventh in the Abruzzo outfit's last eight games, and the club are expected to name Bergodi's successor in the next 24 hours.
Ligue 1 high-fliers AS Saint-Étienne will be without midfielder Jérémy Clément for the rest of the season after the 28-year-old underwent surgery on the ankle fracture he suffered in Saturday's 4-0 win against OGC Nice. Clément, who had started 26 of St-Étienne's 27 Ligue 1 outings this term, is expected to need five to six months to recover. "I can honestly say that I'd rather have lost this game than lose Jérémy," said coach Christophe Galtier, whose team sit fourth in the standings.
RC Lens on Thursday booked their place in the French Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-0 victory against SAS Épinal of the third tier. Second division Lens are the only non top flight side into the last eight, where they will take on FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
French Cup quarter-final draw
RC Lens v FC Girondins de Bordeaux
ES Troyes AC v AS Nancy-Lorraine
AS Saint-Etienne v FC Lorient
Evian Thonon Gaillard FC v Paris Saint-Germain FC
PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar will meet in the Dutch Cup final in Rotterdam on 9 May. Dick Advocaat's PSV won 3-0 at PEC Zwolle thanks to a hat-trick from 19-year-old forward Jürgen Locadia, who started in the absence of Jeremain Lens (suspended) and Tim Matavž (ill). Holders PSV will defend their trophy against AZ , who beat AFC Ajax 3-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA. It took until 16 minutes from the end for Jozy Altidore to open the scoring, but Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson doubled the visitors' advatange, while Altidore added one more at the death.
FC Zenit St Petersburg forward Danko Lazović has joined FC Rostov on loan until the end of the season. The 29-year-old, who scored 21 goals in his 77 competitive appearances for Zenit, had featured only once for the UEFA Europa League contenders' reserve team so far this season.
Former Slovenia coach Matjaž Kek has taken charge at HNK Rijeka after Elvis Scoria resigned following a 4-1 defeat at GNK Dinamo Zagreb and a home draw against HNK Cibalia. The 51-year-old managed Slovenia from 2007 to 2011 and has won two Slovenian titles with NK Maribor. Rijeka are currently fifth in the Croatian First League and play NK Istra on Sunday.
Stade Rennais FC say Romain Alessandrini has successfully undergone surgery in Marseille after suffering a serious knee injury on 16 February. Some spectacular goals have made the 23-year-old a popular player on his Ligue 1 break-out season and the No19 is given a round of applause in the 19th minute of Rennes home games.
"I had the same injury four years ago," the French international said. "Back then, the surgeon predicted this could occur to my other knee. Here we are. Many things have happened to me recently. I'll try to make the most of this imposed break to reflect on that."
Hannover 96 will be without midfielder Szabolcs Huszti for "several weeks" after he suffered a knock during Sunday's 5-1 win against Hamburger SV. The Hungarian international picked up a muscle injury just before half-time, slipping after scoring a penalty to make it 2-1, and must now undergo an operation. Huszti has scored nine goals and provided 11 assists so far this season.
FK Ekranas and VMFD Žalgiris have both been busy in the transfer market ahead of their Lithuanian Super Cup showdown on Saturday. Polish international midfielder Jakub Wilk joins Žalgiris on a season-long loan from KS Lechia Gdańsk, while Ekranas have acquired the services of 24-year-old Spanish defender Óscar Reyes Sánchez, who spent a portion of his youth at RCD Espanyol and Real Madrid CF.
Following a 3-3 draw against Germany on 13 February, France will intensify their preparations for UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with home friendlies against Brazil and Canada on 6 and 9 March respectively. Les Bleues were drawn alongside England, Russia and Spain in Group C for this summer's finals in Sweden.
Gian Piero Gasperini has resumed the coaching reins at US Città di Palermo just three weeks after parting company with the Serie A side. The 55-year-old takes over from Alberto Malesani, who lasted just three league games, all of which ended in draws. Palermo are bottom of Serie A with 20 points from 26 games following Saturday's 0-0 stalemate at home to Genoa CFC.
Croatia's Eternal Derby between rivals HNK Hajduk Split and GNK Dinamo Zagreb was postponed on Sunday due to heavy rain. The match was due to kick-off at 18.00CET, but referee Ivan Bebek decided the game could not go ahead due to a waterlogged pitch. The game has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 19.00.
FC Kuban Krasnodar have bolstered their midfield options with the acquisition of Burkino Faso captain Charles Kaboré and Nigerian international centre-back Ayodele Adeleye on four and three-year deals respectively. Kaboré joins from Olympique de Marseille, where he amassed nearly 200 appearances, while Adeleye arrives from SC Tavriya Simferopol in Ukraine. "I have no doubt he will make us stronger and help us to solve our problems in the league," said Kuban sporting director Sergei Doronchenko. Kuban are fourth in the Russian Premier League, 11 points off leaders PFC CSKA Moskva.
Juan Carlos Garrido has extended his contract as coach of Club Brugge KV until the end of next season. The former Villarreal CF boss joined the Belgian outfit in November, succeeding the sacked Georges Leekens initially on a deal until the end of the campaign.
"I want to thank everyone for showing faith in me and for believing in the way I work," said Garrido, whose team are sixth in the Eerste Klasse. "I have been here for three months; everyone knows me and knows how I work. I am happy got get the chance to continue here. I love my job." (@UEFAcomBerendS)
Jess Thorup will become Denmark Under-21 coach in June after the expiry of his contract at Superliga club Esbjerg fB. Thorup is replacing Morten Wieghorst who has joined Swansea City AFC as assistant coach to Michael Laudrup.
"I was very happy when I was approached by the [Danish Football Association] DBU regarding the U21 team," Thorup said. "It is a big challenge, as I will be responsible for working with the oldest group of talents in Danish football."
The DBU's John Helt added: "In Jess Thorup we get a relatively newly-educated coach with a lot of experience as a player at the highest club level nationally as well as abroad, international club matches and experience as head coach as well as assistant coach."
With Denmark absent from this summer's UEFA European U21 Championship finals in Israel, Thorup's challenge will be to qualify for the 2015 edition in the Czech Republic. Denmark are up against Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia and Andorra in Group 2 and first up go to Estonia on 7 June.
Emmanuel Emenike will miss FC Spartak Moskva's opening Russian Premier League games after the winter break because of a thigh injury sustained during Nigeria's Africa Cup of Nations semi-final victory against Mali. The 25-year-old finished as the tournament's leading scorer with four goals, helping Nigeria to lift the trophy. Emenike is expected to be out for a month, with Spartak resuming their campaign against FC Terek Grozny on 10 March. They are sixth in the Russian top flight, 11 points adrift of leaders PFC CSKA Moskva.
Aleksandr Gutor has swapped FC BATE Borisov for domestic rivals FC Dinamo Minsk. Gutor, 23, has taken up the option to terminate his contract with the UEFA Europa League round of 32 contenders having been largely overlooked last season. "I had no conflict with the coach," said the Belarusian Under-21 international. "He always said he would field the first-choice keeper and I respect that. Whatever happens, happens for the best. If you want to improve you need to do something about it. I've missed too much football and now I want to prove I'm still ready for big things."
Second-half goals from Nani and Javier Hernández ensured Manchester United FC's safe passage to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win against Premier League strugglers Reading FC.
Introduced for the injured Phil Jones just before the interval, Nani was a thorn in the visitors' side throughout. He had seen a blistering volley come back off the woodwork before his deflected strike found the net following Antonio Valencia's centre 21 minutes from time. The Portuguese then turned provider, delivering a cross for Hernández to swiftly double United's lead at the near post.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team did not have it all their own way, however, with David de Gea ulling off a string of fine stops and Nemanja Vidić clearing off the line with the score 0-0. Jobi McAnuff did pull one back nine minutes from time, but a trip to Old Trafford awaits the winner of the tie between Chelsea FC and Middlesbrough FC.
France forward Mathieu Valbuena has extended his Olympique de Marseille contract by two years June 2017. Second on the Ligue 1 assists list to LOSC Lille’s Dimitri Payet, Valbuena joined Marseille from FC Libourne Saint-Seurin in 2006 and now has 19 caps. Marseille sit third in the league, five points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain FC, who they visit on Sunday.
Francisco Costa, best known as Costinha, is the new coach from struggling SC Beira-Mar. The former Portuguese international, who won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League for FC Porto, will make his debut as a coach at the Aveiro outfit, who lost last Friday at home 2-0 to FC Porto and lie 15th in the 16 team Portuguese Liga, with only three wins in 19 matches.
After ending his football playing career, at Atalanta BC, he became Sporting Clube de Portugal and Servette FC’s sporting director and will now lead Beira-Mar until the end of the season, starting this Monday.
Former SSC Napoli forward Carmelo Imbriani has died after losing his battle with cancer; he was 37. Imbriani, who made his Serie A debut with Napoli under Marcello Lippi in 1994 a few days after turning 18, scored four goals in 34 games with the Partenopei. He was called up several times by Italy at Under-21 level but never made his debut.
After leaving Napoli in 1996 he played for several clubs in Serie B and Serie C1 ending his career at 33 with hometown club Benevento Calcio. It was there that he started his coaching career, first with youth sides and from November 2011 taking over the senior team.
Reflecting on France's 3-3 home draw against Germany in Strasbourg yesterday, with both teams gearing up for UEFA Women's EURO 2013, coach Bruno Bini said he was "happy to be being asked what more we needed to do to win games rather than a little time ago when the big question was how much more we needed just to get a draw". Les Bleues were 3-1 up 24 minutes from time. "We failed to finish two counterattacks we got at 3-1," Bini said. "But it's these kinds of games that will help us get ready for the tournament. This was the first time we have taken the lead against Germany since [a 1-0 Algarve Cup win in] 2007." France next host Brazil in Nancy on 9 March, and will take on Russia, Spain and England in Group C in Sweden.
AC Ajaccio club doctor Gilles Testou revealed today that Adrian Mutu is suffering from a torn calf. The 34-year-old forward picked up the injury in his left leg during last weekend's 1-0 success against FC Girondins de Bordeaux. “He will certainly be out for a minimum of three weeks.” stated Testou. The picture will be clearer after the former Chelsea FC player, who joined the Corsican side as a free agent in the summer, undergoes scans in the upcoming days.
Denmark Under-21 coach Morten Wieghorst (left) has left his post to assist former Danish international Michael Laudrup, now coach of Swansea City AFC. The Danish Football Association (DBU) have released the 41-year-old with six months left on his contract, with general secretary Jim Stjerne explaining: "We have agreed with his new club that we can call him back if we are in a position to offer him a job with our senior team." Former Celtic FC midfielder Wieghorst added: "I have been very content with my work in the DBU for the past 18 months. It has been a challenge to work with the many talents in Danish football."
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps appeared unfazed after his side's second consecutive home defeat with Germany winning 2-1 at the Stade de France. "There is no reason to worry," the former France captain said. "We knew how good Germany were and it was just a warm-up game. "The aim was to win," he added. "We lacked efficiency up front. Now we'll prepare the best we can for the two games to come." Stakes will be much higher on 26 March for the visit of Spain, France's main rivals in FIFA World Cup Group I.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
Before tonight's friendly against Germany at Stade de France, the players who took part in the famous 1982 FIFA World Cup semi-final in Seville will be presented to the fans. Michel Hidalgo's charges left their mark onFrance football history in spite of losing on penalties havingy led 3-1 in extra time.
That was one of four famous France-Germany games recently highlighted by UEFA.com. "As Les Bleus meet Germany on 6 February at Stade de France, and in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty, tribute will be paid to the participants in the semi-final France-West Germany held in Seville in the 1982 FIFA World Cup," the French Football Federation (FFF) stated. Although France have subsequently won the 1998 World Cup and two UEFA European Championships, that game still has a special place in the heart of the nation.
Klaus Fischer celebrates equalising in Seville
UEFA.com Portuguese newsdesk:
Uncapped SL Benfica midfielder André Gomes (pictured right) today joined the Portugal squad in Guimaraes preparing for a friendly on Wednesday against Ecuador. The 19-year-old, who has replaced injured SC Braga player Rúben Micael, said: "I'm very happy, it was a big surprise and I thank Benfica. I've always been very supportive and coach [Jorge Jesus] has taught me a lot. I owe this to them."
Gomes scored on his Benfica debut, a 4-0 win against SC Freamunde, earlier this term in the Portuguese Cup and made two appearances in the Eagles' unsuccessful UEFA Champions League group stage campaign.
UEFA.com German newsdesk:
Miroslav Klose tore ligaments in his right knee on Sunday during S.S. Lazio's Serie A encounter with Genoa CFC and will miss Germany's midweek friendly against France as a consequence. It is not known for how long the 34-year old striker will be sidelined. Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender has been called up as a replacement.
Bender's twin brother, Lars, has a minor knee problem but has joined up with the squad nonetheless. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marcel Schmelzer, Mario Götze and Marco Reus have already pulled out of Joachim Löw's party due to illness or injury.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
US Città di Palermo have parted company with coach Gian Piero Gasperini after less than five months with the 55-year-old at the helm. Gasperini makes way with the Sicilian club having won just three league games since his appointment last September, when he replaced Giuseppe Sannino. The Rosanero are expected to name a successor for the former Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano boss in the next few hours. Palermo are bottom of Serie A with 17 points from 23 games following the 2-1 home defeat on Sunday by Atalanta BC.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps is looking forward to seeing his team back in action against Germany. "Historically, Germany are one of our main rivals," he said. "I am expecting a good game against a very strong side. Joachim Löw's side are very disciplined, talented, but also very experienced - nearly all of their players have already taken part in a major tournament. It is good to be back in France as we haven't played since November and our last two games were away. Hopefully we can build up on the good football we were playing in the latter stages of 2012. The most important thing is to enjoy ourselves."
UEFA.com Russian newsdesk:
FC Dinamo Moskva have strengthened their attacking options with the loan signing of Sergei Davydov, who leaves FC Rubin Kazan FC to link up with old coach Dan Petrescu. "Dan is one of the best coaches I have worked with," said the 27-year-old, who flourished under the former Romanian international during a two-year spell at FC Kuban Krasnodar.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Juventus forward Sebastian Giovinco has withdrawn from Italy's squad ahead of Wednesday's friendly against Netherlands after sustaining a thigh injury in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at AC Chievo Verona. Meanwhile, Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli has reserved special praise for AC Milan's Mario Balotelli, who scored twice on his debut, the second a nonchalant last-minute penalty to see of Udinese Calcio 2-1. "I'm glad that Mario has returned to Italy. He appears more motivated and we can keep taps on him," said the 55-year-old tactician.
UEFA.com Spanish newsdesk:
FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández joined international team-mate Xabi Alonso in pulling out of Spain's squad for Wednesday's friendly against Uruguay after the 33-year-old suffered a knock to his right hamstring in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Valencia CF. Lionel Messi's 34th Liga goal of the campaign from the penalty spot cancelled out Éver Banega's opener in a game where David Villa came on against his former side to make his 100th appearance for Barça. "We're not looking for excuses; we weren't at our best today," said full-back Daniel Alves after the encounter. "Valencia matched us with an intense game and [for that reason] we have to be happy with a point."
UEFA.com Spanish newsdesk:
Real Madrid CF midfielder Xabi Alonso has pulled out of Spain's traveling party to Doha for the international friendly against Uruguay on Wednesday after complaining of discomfort in his groin following his club's 1-0 Liga defeat against Granada CF on Saturday. Club Atlético de Madrid's Mario Suárez will take his place. Speaking after his Madrid's fifth league reverse of the campaign, coach José Mourinho said, "We didn't play well and lost as a consequence. I wasn't happy at all with the first half we put in, frankly it was horrible."
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
Defender Raphaël Varane has withdrawn from the France squad for Wednesday's friendly against Germany in Paris. The 19-year-old sustained a hamstring injury during Real Madrid CF's 1-0 loss to Granada CF this weekend. Newcastle United FC's January signing Mapu Yanga-Mbiwa has been called up as a replacement by coach Didier Deschamps.
UEFA.com English newsdesk:
Jermain Defoe has withdrawn from England's squad to face Brazil in Wednesday's friendly at Wembley after suffering suspected ankle ligament damage during Tottenham Hotspur FC"s 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion FC on Sunday. Manchester United FC midfielder Michael Carrick has also pulled out after injuring an ankle against Fulham FC on Saturday, while Liverpool FC forward Daniel Sturridge is a doubt due to a thigh complaint.
UEFA.com German newsdesk:
Germany will be without Bastian Schweinsteiger for their trip to France on Wednesday after the FC Bayern München midfielder sustained an ankle injury in their 3-0 win against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday. The 28-year-old, who has scored six goals in all competitions this term, is expected to be out for around three days.
Türker Tozar in Istanbul:
Turkey coach Abdullah Avcı (pictured) has called up Karabükspor's uncapped winger Ahmet İlhan Özek in his 23-man squad to face the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The 25-year-old player has impressed since joining from Manisaspor and caught the eye with his quick bursts of speed as well as scoring key goals in Karabükspor's victories against Galatasaray AŞ and Trabzonspor AŞ this year.
Speaking about his call-up, Ahmet İlhan said: "Wearing the national team shirt has always been a passion for me. I'm really excited that I have a chance to do so. I am hoping to go beyond my league performance and be a regular for this team."
Rangers FC's hopes of winning the Scottish Cup from the fourth tier have been dashed with a 3-0 last 16 defeat by Premier League team Dundee United FC. Johnny Russell scored twice, either side of a Jon Daly header for the home team, under new manager Jackie McNamara while Rangers, top of the third division, ended with nine men.
The remainder of the round is played over the weekend, with UEFA Champions League contenders Celtic FC visiting Raith Rovers FC on Sunday,
Dmitri Rogovitski from Moscow:
FC Alania Vladikavkaz have signed former Real Madrid CF mifielder Royston Drenthe as a free agent on a three-and-a-half-year deal. The 25-year-old, capped once for the Netherlands, is set to join his new club today at their training camp in Turkey, becoming their eighth newcomer this winter. He started his career at local club Feyenoord before moving to Madrid in summer 2007. After dropping out of favour, he played on loan for Everton FC and Hércules CF.
"I have not trained for a while dedicating myself to my family and things I love," the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship winner said. "But the people from Alania came to the Netherlands and gave me the feeling that I can start everything again. They gave me energy and self-belief. I am sure a month will be enough for me to get into shape. I do not come here to play jokes but to prove everyone that I can play football and that I have not had my last say yet." Valeri Gazzaev's Alania are bottom of the league with 11 points after 19 games.
Evgheni Balaniuc from Tiraspol:
Moldova coach Ion Caras has named a 23-man squad ahead of the friendly against Kazakhstan in Turkey, including three midfielders from their Under-21 side. FC Rapid Chisinau's Ion Jardan, FC Sheriff's Serghei Gheorghiev and FC Aarau's Artur Ioniţă are the players selected, although their former U21 team-mate Radu Gînsari has been allowed to continue his trial at FC Rubin Kazan having been in the provisional squad. FC Hoverla Uzhhorod midfielder Vitalie Bordian is absent due to personal reasons while FC Zimbru Chisinau's Radu Catan is injured. Moldova lie fourth in FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying Group H with four points from as many matches.
UEFA.com Spanish newsdesk:
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has included uncapped Málaga CF midfielder Isco and Chelsea FC full-back César Azpilicueta in his squad for Wednesday's international friendly with Copa América champions Uruguay in Doha. Expected to feature prominently for La Rojita in summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel, Isco's call up to the senior side at just 20 is recognition of his displays at the heart of a Málaga side which has progressed to the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League undefeated, as well as sitting fourth in Liga. Azpilicueta, meanwhile, is continuing his notable progress at Chelsea where he has made 16 Premier League appearances since signing from Olympique de Marseille in August. While the uncapped duo will be hoping for a first international appearance Spain regular Carles Puyol will earn a 100th cap if selected.
UEFA.com Dutch newsdesk:
Daley Blind and Jonathan de Guzman could make their international bows against Italy on Wednesday after being included in Louis van Gaal's 20-man Netherlands squad. The son of assistant coach Danny Blind, Daley is a product of AFC Ajax's world famous youth academy and played every minute of their 2012/13 UEFA Champions League Group D campaign. Canadian-born De Guzman, meanwhile, has flourished in the Premier League while on loan at Swansea City FC from Villarreal CF, scoring five goals in 19 appearances. A series of more familiar names including Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and John Heitinga, have been rested for the friendly at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Athens (@UEFAcomVassP):
Atromitos FC central defender Sokratis Fitanidis has received his first call up to the national squad from Greece coach Fernando Santos. The 28-year-old central defender is the only new name in the 21-man selection for the friendly encounter against Switzerland on 6 February in Piraeus. "It is a dream come true for me to be called into the national squad," said Fitanidis "I have been working hard for so many years for this moment.".
The Portuguese coach cannot call on the services of injured duo Kyriakos Papadopoulos of FC Schalke 04 and Giorgos Samaras of Celtic FC, but welcomes back R. Charleroi SC goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis for the first time since UEFA EURO 2012, as well as Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis, who both missed the November friendly against the Republic of Ireland.
UEFA.com English newsdesk:
England goalkeeper Jack Butland has signed for Stoke City FC on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Birmingham City FC, with the 19-year-old set to link up with his new club in the summer. Butland became the youngest ever England international goalkeeper when he made his debut against Italy last May. "Im very lucky to come to such a great club and I'm really looking forward to it," he said.
UEFA.com Turkish newsdesk:
Beşiktaş JK have snapped up Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang on loan from Qatari outfit Al-Sadd. The 33-year-old former Olympique de Marseille player spent the 2011/12 season with Fenerbahçe S.K, scoring 15 goals in 29 Turkish Super League games.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
Former France captain Alou Diarra, 31, has returned to the country of his birth, joining Stade Rennais FC on loan until the end of the campaign. Diarra, capped 44 times by his country, arrived at West Ham United FC from Olympique de Marseille in the summer but has struggled for first-team opportunities and started just one Premier League match.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
Olympique de Marseille have added 29-year-old midfielder Alaixys Romao to their ranks. The Togo international, who is currently on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, leaves FC Lorient having made 18 league appearances this season. "It's a disappointing move for us but a great one for him," said Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Udinese Calcio have reached an agreement with Defensor Sporting Club to take diminutive midfielder Diego Rodríguez on loan for the remainder of the season. The 23-year-old was part of the Uruguay team that featured at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
Toulouse FC have strengthened their attacking options with the signing of Eden Ben Basat, while Emmanuel Rivière has left for AS Monaco FC. Ben Basat, an Israeli international, makes the move from fellow Ligue 1 side Stade Brestois 29 having scored nine league goals this term. As for Rivière, his departure comes just 18 months after signing for Toulouse in a €6m deal from AS Saint-Étienne. The 22-year-old has penned a four-and-a-half-year contract with Claudio Ranieri's side, who currently lie second in Ligue 2.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Greece midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos has ended a five-year spell with Panathinaikos FC to link up with Bologna FC. The 26-year-old, formerly of PAOK FC, made 76 league appearances for the Greens, scoring 15 goals. Well-travelled forward Davide Moscardelli has also agreed to join the Rossoblù from Serie A rivals AC Chievo Verona.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
ACF Fiorentina have lured experienced midfielder Mohamed Sissoko from Paris Saint-Germain FC in a loan deal that runs until the end of the season. The former Juventus and Liverpool FC player, 28, has slipped down the pecking order at the capital club, featuring in just three Ligue 1 fixtures this term. Fiorentina are sixth in Serie A following their 2-1 defeat at Calcio Catania last weekend.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have signed goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on loan from Tottenham Hotspur FC until the end of the season. The 31-year-old Brazilian is "an experienced keeper, who has played on the highest level both domestically and internationally", according to general manager Andreas Müller. The former PSV Eindhoven keeper made 95 league appearances in three and a half years for Spurs.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Marco Rigoni has joined Genoa CFC on loan until the end of the campaign. The 33-year-old attacking midfielder was in the middle of a season-long spell at AC Chievo Verona but struggled to make an impact, mustering one league goal to date. He will hope to rediscover the form that brought 11 Serie A goals for relegated parent club Novara Calcio in 2011/12.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Aston Villa FC have completed the signing of midfielder Yacouba Sylla from French Ligue 2 outfit Clermont for an undisclosed fee. The 22-year-old, who has represented France at Under-21 level, made 65 appearances for Clermont in a three-year spell. Sylla is Paul Lambert's sole signing of the January transfer window thus far.
UEFA.com Russian desk:
PAOK FC have signed Liberia international Sekou Oliseh on loan from Russian Premier League leaders PFC CSKA Moskva until 30 June 2012.
The 22-year-old joined the Russian side in August 2009 from Danish side FC Midtjylland. He has started 27 of his 70 league appearances at CSKA. "I told my agent that I wanted to find a club where I could show my abilities. He offered me this option and I know PAOK FC very well. I came here to play and will do my best to make fans happy," said Oliseh.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Danny Graham has completed his move to Sunderland AFC from Swansea City FC for a fee in the region of €6m and has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light.
The 27-year-old striker, who joined Swansea in the summer of 2011 from Watford, made 54 league appearances for the Welsh outfit and scored 15 goals.
Graham told Sunderland's website: "As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland I didn't even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table. I was born and brought up in the north east so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world - it's special and there's nowhere else like it."
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
UEFA Champions League contenders Paris Saint-Germain FC have loaned midfielder Adrien Rabiot to fellow Ligue 1 side Toulouse FC for the rest of the season. The 17-year old appeared once in the UEFA Champions League this season and featured in six Ligue 1 games.
"The aim will be to play more to improve," Rabiot said. "I also want to help the club to reach the next level." Toulouse have also welcomed defensive midfielder Adil Rami yesterday, a former RC Lens player who has returned to Ligue 1 after a spell in Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal FC.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps has named his 23-man squad for Les Bleus' friendly against Germany on 6 February, and among the list of usual suspects, two names stood out. Stade Rennais FC forward Romain Alessandrini and Real Madrid CF centre-back Raphaël Varane have both been rewarded for their fine club form this season with call-ups, leaving both in line to make their international debuts next week.
The 23-year-old Alessandrini has struck nine times - in nine different matches - during his 19 outings for Rennes this season after joining the club from Clermont last summer. Varane's impressive campaign reached a high on Tuesday in a man-of-the-match display in a 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg. Marca described the 19-year-old's performance as "Colossal" on their front page today.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Fulham FC have announced the loan signing of AC Milan's Urby Emanuelson until the end of the season. The 26-year-old, who can play full-back or in midfield, has 16 caps for the Netherlands. A graduate of the famed AFC Ajax academy, Emanuelson made 172 appearances for the Amsterdam club, where he was managed by Fulham boss Martin Jol in 2009/10. He departed for San Siro in January 2011 but has struggled to make an impact with the Rossoneri.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Luciano Becchio has completed his move to Norwich City FC from Leeds United AFC, with the Canaries paying an undisclosed fee plus striker Steve Morison (pictured) in exchange for the Argentinian's services.
The 29-year-old Becchio, who has scored 16 second-tier goals this season, has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year deal at Carrow Road and told the Norwich website: "I cannot wait to play my first game for Norwich. I am really happy about having the chance to play in the Premier League, it is brilliant for me personally and for my career."
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Serie A strugglers US Città di Palermo have announced the signings of midfielder Alejandro Faurlín (pictured left) and forward Diego Fabbrini from Queens Park Rangers FC and Udinese Calcio respectively.
Faurlín, 26, made 112 league appearances for QPR and joins the Sicilian outfit on loan until the end of the season with an option to make the deal permanent in the summer. No details have been released about the transfer of 22-year-old Fabbrini, who scored two goals in 20 Serie A games for Udinese after joining the Zebrette from Empoli FC in 2011.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Torino FC have signed forward Jonathan on loan from Serie A rivals Pescara Calcio with an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the campaign. The 23-year-old former AZ Alkmaar player has scored one goal in ten Serie A games this season for Pescara after joining in the summer from Brescia Calcio.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Wigan Athletic FC have re-signed Paul Scharner on loan from German club Hamburger SV until the end of the season. The 32-year-old Austrian international, who played for the Latics from 2006 to 2010, becomes the Latics' fourth signing of the January transfer window, following Roger Espinoza, Angelo Henríquez and Joel Robles.
Manager Roberto Martínez said: "His experience will be a huge asset going into the last third of the campaign and he knows our football club inside out the same way that we know Paul and his professionalism in detail. He is ready for the challenge and to help the team in an area where we have suffered a few injuries."
SL Benfica won 2-0 at FC Paços de Ferreira in the first leg of their Portuguese Cup semi-final. Lima broke the deadlock on 58 minutes, with Ola John doubling the Eagles' advantage a quarter of an hour from time following the dismissal of Vítor Silva for a foul on Nicolás Gaitán. The other semi-final first leg, between Vitória SC and CF Os Belenenses, will take place on 27 March, with the returns scheduled for 17 April.
Olympique de Marseille will play Paris Saint-Germain FC in the last 16 of the French Cup after triumphing 2-1 at Rouen FC in their rearranged round of 32 tie. Goals from Mathieu Valbuena (42) and debutant Modou Sougou (59), a January signing from CFR 1907 Cluj, were enough for Élie Baup's men to progress, despite Rémy Dugimont (68) halving the third-tier side's arrears. OM will now face PSG twice in a matter of days next month, with their cup tie set to follow the Ligue 1 fixture between the clubs on 24 February.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Genoa CFC have reached an agreement with ACF Fiorentina to sign Italy right-back Mattia Cassani on loan with a view to a permanent transfer in the summer. The 29-year-old, formerly of Juventus, UC Sampdoria, Hellas Verona FC and US Città di Palermo, made eight Serie A appearances prior to Christmas, but has not played since. He earned his second international cap, three years after his first, in September when the Azzurri defeated Malta in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Berend Scholten @UEFAcomBerendS:
Marco van Basten's SC Heerenveen have signed midfielder Yassine El Ghanassy (pictured right) on a six-month loan. The 22-year-old Belgian international made just three appearances, all in domestic cups, in the first half of the season while on loan at West Bromwich Albion FC from KAA Gent.
UEFA.com German newsdesk:
1. FC Nürnberg have utilised the January transfer window by bringing in Japan midfielder Mu Kanazaki from Nagoya Grampus. The 23-year-old, who has featured five times for his country, arrives on an 18-month deal with the option of a further two years. "Mu can play in every attacking position, which give us flexibility," said Nürnberg coach Michael Wiesinger.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
French full-back Ronald Zubar has left Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to join AC Ajaccio. Zubar, 27, made 69 appearances for the West Midlands club, scoring four goals. "He has made a valuable contribution during his time at Wolves," chief executive Jez Moxey told the club site. "He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club". Meanwhile, defender Carl Medjani has ended a five-year spell with the Ligue 1 outfit by signing on at AS Monaco FC.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
AC Chievo Verona have reinforced their defensive options with the signing of centre-back Nikolaos Spyropoulos from Panathinaikos FC. The Greek international, capped 31 times by his country, moves on having made 117 appearances for the Greens. Chievo's 1-0 win at S.S. Lazio on Saturday lifted them up to 11th in Serie A.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
FC Sochaux have agreed a deal with VfL Wolfsburg for former French Under-18 international forward Giovanni Sio, subject to a medical. The 23-year-old is expected to sign on a season-long loan, having already featured for FC Augsburg this season.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Argentinian midfielder Adrián Calello has swapped GNK Dinamo Zagreb for AC Siena. The 25-year-old, who began his career at CA Independiente, made four UEFA Champions League group stage appearances this season. He joins Siena with the club rooted to the bottom of Serie A having won just one of their last eight league fixtures.
UEFA.com English newsdesk:
Queens Park Rangers FC have stepped up their bid to avoid the drop by signing South Korean international defender Yun Suk-Young. The 22-year-old has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year deal, ending an affiliation with South Korean outfit Chunnam Dragons that began in 2008. Harry Redknapp's side are four points adrift at the foot of the Premier League following a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City FC on Tuesday evening.
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
LOSC Lille have won the race to sign highly rated midfielder Florian Thauvin from SC Bastia, with the 20-year-old set to link up with his new club at the end of the season. Tahuvin, who has scored three goals in his debut top-flight season, said: "Lille are a huge club. I'll always be grateful to Bastia for giving me the opportunity to play at the highest level."
UEFA.com French Newsdesk:
France and LOSC Lille midfielder Rio Mavuba is set for a long lay-off after undergoing surgery on his left knee today. The club expect the 28-year-old to be sidelined for up to three months, after damaging the patella in his side’s penalty shootout loss at AS Saint-Étienne in French League Cup semi-final on 15 January. The injury will mean Mavuba is also likely to miss France's home FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain at the end of March.
UEFA.com Spanish newsdesk:
Liga strugglers RCD Mallorca have confirmed the signing of Scottish international full-back Alan Hutton who arrives at the islanders on-loan from Aston Villa FC until the end of the season. The 28-year-old – who began his career at Rangers FC before joining Tottenham Hotspur FC – will hope to lift the fortunes of the Liga's second-from-bottom team who have won just one of their last 16 top-flight encounters.
UEFA.com German-language newsdesk:
The Austrian Bundesliga's top goalscorer Philipp Hosiner has received his first senior international call-up under Marcel Koller for Austria's game against Wales in Swansea on 6 February. Koller said: "We will take him with us to get an idea of what he can do. He deserves it." The 23-year-old FK Austria Wien striker has scored 16 goals in 14 league games since making his debut for the club at the start of September, and won his only cap to date under Koller's predecessor, caretaker boss Willibald Ruttensteiner, coming on briefly during a 4-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Azerbaijan in October 2011.
Koller hopes Wales will be good preparation for Austria's next Group C fixture against the Republic of Ireland. "They are not exactly the same," he said. "Wales are very compact, solid in defense. It will be difficult to score against them."
UEFA.com German newsdesk:
VfL Wolfsburg forward Srdjan Lakić has signed for fellow Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt on loan until June 2014. The 29-year-old former Croatian Under-21 international has vast experience in Germany's top flight having previously played for Hertha BSC Berlin, 1. FC Kaiserslautern and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before his arrival at Wolfsburg. Eintracht sporting director Bruno Hübner said: "In Lakić we've got a striker who is good in the air and one who fits perfectly to Eintracht Frankfurt and the requirements of manager Armin Veh."
UEFA.com French newsdesk:
French Under-19 international midfielder Soualiho Meite (pictured, left) has joined LOSC Lille on a four-and-a-half-year deal from AJ Auxerre, where he will remain on loan for the rest of the season. The Paris-born 18-year-old has impressed in Ligue 2 this term and is excited at the prospect of joining his new club. "I am a player who can bring more to both defence and attack," he said. "I work daily to fine tune my short and long passing. I realise how lucky I am to join one of the biggest French clubs, but this is just the first step."
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Queens Park Rangers FC defender Anton Ferdinand has joined Turkish side Bursaspor on loan until the end of the season. The former West Ham United FC centre-back made 44 Premier League appearances for the west London club since joining from Sunderland AFC in August 2011. Bursaspor are currently seventh in the Turkish Super League, nine points adrift of leaders Galatasaray AŞ.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
Parma FC have lured defender Andrea Coda, 25, from Serie A rivals Udinese Calcio in a loan deal until the end of the season. The move temporarily ends his seven-year affiliation with Udinese after joining the club from Empoli FC. After their 2-1 defeat at home to SSC Napoli on Sunday, Parma slipped to tenth.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
West Ham United FC have signed Austrian international defender Emanuel Pogatetz on loan from VfL Wolfsburg for the rest of the campaign with the option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season. The 30-year-old has Premier League experience having spent five seasons at Middlesbrough FC and has represented his country 52 times.
"I feel very good to be here and I am very excited about playing for West Ham," he said. "I am looking forward to the opportunity to play for the club and help it get good results. I will be doing my best to play well and hope I can play a part in the club achieving the targets for this season.
Emil Gasevski from Skopje:
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia coach Cedomir Janevski has named his 21-man squad for the upcoming friendly against Denmark in Skopje, which includes no new faces, but is shorn of a number of familiar names due to injury and suspension.
Right-back Daniel Georgievski (FC Steaua Bucureşti), central defender Vance Sikov (FC Volyn Lutsk) and midfielder Feran Hasani (VfL Wolfsburg) will miss the match on 6 February due to injury, while left-back Goran Popov (West Bromwich Albion FC) and striker Stevica Ristic (Suwon Bluewings FC) remain sidelined after both were suspended from the national team prior to October's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Serbia due to disciplinary reasons.
"The injured trio will not be with us for the upcoming test with Denmark, but I hope they will be fit [for the FIFA World Cup qualifying double-header] against Belgium at the end of March," said Janevski. "I think that we made the right choice with the test against the Danes as they have a similar style to Belgium and we can put into practice some of our tactics."
Berend Scholten from Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS)
RSC Anderlecht have signed 19-year-old Ghanaian forward Frank Acheampong on loan until the end of the season. Acheampong, who made his senior Ghana debut in August last year, arrives from Buriram United FC in Thailand. The Belgian First League leaders have the option to buy at the end of the campaign.
UEFA.com Italian newsdesk:
US Città di Palermo have reached an agreement with Wigan Athletic FC to sign the 27-year-old Mauro Boselli on loan until the end of the season. The Argentinian, formerly at CA Boca Juniors and CA Estudiantes de La Plata among others, has experience of Serie A having played seven games on loan at Genoa CFC in early 2011. Palermo are currently second from the bottom in Serie A, with 17 points from 22 games.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
Everton FC have confirmed that they agreed a deal with FC Twente for the transfer of Dutch international Leroy Fer. The 23-year-old midfielder, capped twice by the Netherlands, will now head to Merseyside to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical. Fer began his career at Feyenoord before making the switch to FC Twente in summer 2011, where he has made 38 appearances, scoring 11 goals.
UEFA.com London newsdesk:
1. FSV Mainz 05 have announced the signing of Danish international midfielder Niki Zimling from Club Brugge on a four-and-a-half-year contract.
The 27-year-old has joined for a fee believed to be worth around €2m and will help fill the void left by Poland international Eugen Polanski, who has departed for Bundesliga rivals TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel told the club's official website: "Niki Zimling is a player fully suited to central midfield. He has skill and physical strength, has played regular internationals for his country and is also known for playing in Europe at club level."
Ondřej Zlámal (@UEFAcomOndrejZ) in Prague:
SK Slavia Praha, one of the oldest Czech clubs, celebrated its 120th anniversary at the end of last week. The celebrations finished in the famous National Theatre on Sunday evening where a ceremonial evening took place; the stage dressed in red and white - the traditional colours of Slavia.
"We could have not chosen for such an important occasion a better place as the history of our club is closely connected to Czech one. 120 years ago, when a group of enthusiasts founded a club that is legendary today, they certainly could not know what kind of phenomenon they would be merited these days," said Zbyněk Kusý, Slavia Prague's general manager.
Among the honorary guests were also the representatives from Slavia's first English opponents following club's foundation back in 1892. Civil Service London and Oxford University Association Football Clubs came to Prague with congratulations and symbolic presents.