Before a ball has even been kicked the USA’s chances of advancing from Group G were given a huge boost on Thursday.
Head coach Kwasi Appiah has reportedly kicked out two of Ghana’s most talented and experienced players on the eve of their World Cup decider against Portugal.
In a bizarre twist, Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng will not play any part in helping the Black Stars advance by beating Portugal after they were said to have fought against each other in training on Tuesday.
It is then said that Muntari, who was already suspended for the game vs. Portugal after picking up two yellow cards vs. the USA and Germany at the World Cup, slapped committee member Moses Armah on Wednesday and Boateng has had heated rows with head coach Appiah. Reporters following the squad have spoken to both Muntari and Boateng and they have not traveled with the team to play Portugal in Brasilia.
That has resulted in both players being kicked off the squad, even though a win of two goals or more and a U.S. defeat to Germany on Thursday will likely see Ghana advance to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Why are tensions so high in the Ghana camp despite the obvious reasons of a World Cup showdown? Money.
On Wednesday reports of $3 million being flown to Brazil from Ghana, in order to pay their players their bonuses and fees, surfaced and it seems as though further issues have been caused by the lack of payment and players being left in limbo.
All of this madness will hardly have prepared Ghana’s young squad correctly for their crucial match with Portugal which they know they must win in order to have any chance whatsoever of making the knockout stages ahead of the U.S. As for the USA, news of this unrest and upheaval in Ghana’s camp is a huge boost before the face Germany. If Portugal beats Ghana, they have to overturn a much large goal difference to overcome the U.S. and finish second in Group G. Even if the USA lose by two and Portugal win by three, the Americans will go through.
That said, this is all about Ghana and the way they are dramatically unraveling.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.
Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.
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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).
Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.
The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.
“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”
Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.
Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.
In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.
He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.
But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.
Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.
You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.
Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.
Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.
“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”
Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.