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Season Preview: Newcomers Cardiff fly under radar

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Cardiff City at a glance:

Premier League titles: Zero

FA Cups: 1 (1927), Runners up: twice (1925, 2008)

League Cups: 0 (best finish: finalists in 2012)

FA Community Shield:  (1927)

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The Bluebirds haven’t spent in the manner of which their promotion counterparts Wolverhampton and Fulham have this summer, and maybe that is for the best.

Cardiff enters its first top-flight season since 2013/14, when the club exited immediately with a last-place finish in the PL.

Neil Warnock and his side will aim to complete a longer stay this time around, and with a squad that features many of last season’s key contributors from their Championship performance as runners up, Cardiff may be able to fly under the radar and make some noise in the process.

That said, Cardiff may have to be more active in the January transfer window if things don’t start off smoothly at Cardiff City Stadium.


Cardiff will contend because… Warnock’s ability to get his players to buy in to his style has already shone through since he took over the club prior to rising to the top flight.

Cardiff will end up fighting relegation because…. the club has always struggled in its bouts in the PL. Last time out, the Bluebirds finished dead last in the PL back in 2013/14, after having won the Championship the year prior to earn promotion.

Best possible XI:

Smithies

Peltier — Cunningham — Morrison — Bamba

Ralls — Reid — Gunnarsson — Mendez-Laing

Zohore — Hoilett

Transfers In: Greg Cunningham (Preston North End), Josh Murphy (Norwich City), Bobby Reid (Bristol City), Alex Smithies (Queens Park Rangers)

Transfers Out: Ogo Obi, Rhys Abbruzzee, Frédéric Gounongbe, Greg Halford, Matthew Kennedy (St Johnstone), Ben Wilson (Bradford City), Connor Young

Ranking their offseason: C

Smithies provides the club with an underrated goalkeeper to step in at the Cardiff City Stadium, and the Bluebirds stocked up in a few other key positions as well. Murphy and Cunningham provide the squad with depth on the left side of the pitch, particularly, the former, who shone through with Norwich City as a winger.

Star player: Junior Hoilett enters his third season with Cardiff as the club’s go-to goalscorer, and for the Canada international it will be an opportunity for redemption in the PL. Hoilett’s last go around in the top flight wasn’t everything he had anticipated while he was playing with Queens Park Rangers, so 2018 presents a new challenge for the 28-year-old.

Coach’s Corner: Neil Warnock has been around the block in just about every imaginable situation for a manager in England, so if anyone can keep the Bluebirds up it’ll be the Sheffield native. With Cardiff, Warnock has done his best managerial job in his tenured career, winning over 50.6 percent of his matches in charge, which includes guiding the club up to the PL.

PST Predicts: It’ll be a struggle for sure, as is the case for any club entering its first season in the PL, but Cardiff was wise with some of its underrated moves. We’ll have a real gauge of how good this team is after the first month-plus of the season, which includes a three-game stretch against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Haiti stuns Costa Rica to claim Group B at Gold Cup

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Poetic justice, put it in a Song.

Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.

[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]

Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.

Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.

An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.

The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.

Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.

AFCON wrap: Diaby’s sensational rip highlights trio of matches

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The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.

[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]


Mali 4-1 Mauritania

Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.

Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.

Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa

There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.

Tunisia 1-1 Angola

A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.

Copa America roundup: Uruguay tops Chile; Full knockout bracket

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Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.

Ecuador 1-1 Japan

There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.

Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.

Chile 0-1 Uruguay

Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.

Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.

Knockout round schedule

June 27
Brazil v. Paraguay

June 28
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile

June 29
Uruguay v. Peru

July 2
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru

July 6
Third place playoff

July 7
Final

Norwich City adds Switzerland international Drmic on free transfer

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Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.

Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.

Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.

Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:

“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.

“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.