Pajtim Kasami

Adel Taarabt misses Morocco call-up because he wouldn’t answer his phone

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Every once in a while one of these bizarre stories comes through where technology hinders the advancement of the global game.

The story of Pajtim Kasami and the Malfunctioning Fax Machine comes to mind, where the Fulham player’s proposed transfer to Serie A’s Pescara was scuppered due to a paperwork transfer failure.

This time around, the player is somewhat to blame, and the name isn’t all that surprising.

Badou Ezzaki, manager of the Moroccan national team, told reporters that AC Milan winger Adel Taarabt was not included in his country’s squad for a trio of late-May friendlies because he wouldn’t pick up his phone.

“How can I call up a player who doesn’t respond to the phone calls or messages that we send?” Ezzaki asked.

If I told you this happened without naming the player, you’d likely have included Taarabt as one of your three guesses.  The 24-year-old has had a history of personality issues, including – but not limited to – saying he should have signed for Arsenal when he was on Spurs, taking former manager Neil Warnock on an unsuccessful wild goose chase to Morocco, and being called a “fruitcake” by Harry Redknapp.

So it should be no surprise that Taarabt’s me-first attitude has struck yet again, this time leaving his national team out to dry.

Credit to Ezzaki, however, for brushing the incident under the rug and giving credit to his other players. “You [the media] have given too much importance to this situation because a national team doesn’t consist of just one player,” Ezzaki insisted. “Our project is one that consists of several players that want to engage and contribute to the team.”

Taarabt has shown again and again why his talent on the field is unquestionable, but when a player like Taarabt decides when and where he wishes to try and when he wishes to not, it’s more than frustrating for any manager, and Ezzaki is just the latest in a long line to become fed up with Taarabt.

All but one Switzerland player under 30 on Hitzfeld’s World Cup roster

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Surprising world No. 8 Switzerland is bringing a relatively-young roster to Brazil, with accomplished manager Ottmar Hitzfeld naming just one player over the age of 30 to his 23-man roster.

Napoli’s Gokhan Inler and Bayern Munich’s Zherdan Shaqiri headline the squad, which features players from across La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga.

MORE: All the latest news on World Cup rosters

The only 2013/14 Premier League player on the list is on standby, with Fulham’s Pajtim Kasami part of a group of players Nos. 24-30.

Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), Roman Buerki (Grasshopper), Yann Sommer (Basel).

Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Michael Lang (Grasshopper), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schaer (Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo).

Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valentin Stocker (Basel).

Forwards: Josip Drmic (Nuremberg), Mario Gavranovic (Zurich), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg), Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach).

Standby: Marwin Hitz (Augsburg), Timm Klose (Wolfsburg), Silvan Widmer (Udinese), Eren Derdiyok (Bayer Leverkusen), Fabian Frei (Basel), Pajtim Kasami (Fulham), Pirmin Schwegler (Eintracht Frankfurt).

VIDEO: Top 10 Premier League goals of the year

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As the Premier League season has come to a close, we now begin to look back at the memorable moments from the 2013-14 PL season.

Right at the top of that list is the stunning goals scored, as we were treated to some absolute beauties.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge could of had a goal of the season competition on their own, as both dazzled for runners-up Liverpool. We had long-range efforts from Wayne Rooney and Jonjo Shelvey and pieces of sheer brilliance from Pajtim Kasami and Dani Osvaldo.

FULL COVERAGE: Premier League season review

In the video above somehow we’ve managed to pick just 10 goals as the cream of the crop from a stunning batch.

Below is who scored each goal in the video, have a vote in the comments section below on who you think deserves the goal of the season award.

1. Pajtim Kasami for Fulham vs. Crystal Palace

2. Jack Wilshere for Arsenal vs. Norwich

3. Wayne Rooney for Manchester United vs. West Ham

4. Luis Suarez for Liverpool vs. Norwich

5. Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion

6. Alexander Tettey for Norwich vs. Sunderland

7. Dani Osvaldo for Southampton vs. Manchester City

8. Jonjo Shelvey for Swansea City vs. Aston Villa

9. Ross Barkley for Everton vs. Manchester City

10. Fabian Delph for Aston Villa vs. Chelsea

Aston Villa 1-2 Fulham: A vital three points could help Cottagers reach safety (video)

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Fulham aren’t in the clear yet, but their win over Aston Villa provided a lifeline to the Cottagers. They’re now in 18th, five points from safety.

With Aston Villa missing three quality attackers in Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor and Fabian Delph, and Fulham being, well, Fulham, it came as little surprise that the first half brought little action.

The hosts’ best chance came just after the half-hour mark. A beautiful pass from Marc Albrighton, possibly Villa’s best player on the day, found Leandro Bacuna as he wiggled free of two Fulham defenders. David Stockdale was on hand, however, with a diving save to keep Villa from taking the lead.

With ten minutes left to play in the first half, the visitors started to make their presence felt, forcing Brad Guzan into two great saves. For the first, the American denied young Cauley Woodrow from point-blank range, and for the second, Guzan was able to keep the scoreline scoreless at the break by denying Holtby just before the whistle.

Felix Magath made a double change to start the second half, taking off Cauley Woodrow and Pajtim Kasami for Hugo Rodellega and Ashkan Dejagah, but it was the hosts that looked the more lively after the restart. Leandro Bacuna very nearly put Villa ahead after collecting Grant Holt’s layoff, but Stockdale got a hand to it and the shot only collided with the post.

Of course, for Villa looking bright often means they’re on the verge of conceding. Sure enough, it was Fulham that opened the scoring. Kieran Richardson got on the end of a ball from substitute Dejagah, and, firing from over 20 yards out, managed to beat Guzan to send the ball into the top corner of the net.

But this is Fulham, who, prior to the match, had already conceded 73 goals this season. So it caused little surprise when Grant Holt managed to find his first goal for Aston Villa, in the 70th minute. Fulham left the forward unmarked on the far post, enabling him to easily get on the end of a corner from Albrighton to nod past Stockdale.

The equalizer brought a frentic final twenty minutes to the match. Goal-line technology was called into action after Lewis Holtby rounded Guzan, prompting Matt Lowton to slide in, making a fantastic clearance. The Villa defender nicked it just in time, with the ball staying out by the thinnest of margins.

But no one was there to rescue the Villa in the 86th minute, when Fulham took the lead once more. Again, it was a substitute making the difference, with Rodellaga on hand to flick Holtby’s cross in past Guzan. Possibly a pivotal goal for the Cottagers – could this be the moment that saves their season?

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Bennett (Tonev 66), Bacuna, Albrighton (Bowery 90), Weimann, Holt

Goals: Holt 70′

Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hangeland, Heitinga (Riise 83), Amorebieta; Diarra, Sidwell; Kasami (Dejagah 46), Holtby, Richardson; Woodrow (Rodallega 46)

Goals: Richardson 61′; Rodallega 86′

Fulham 1-3 Everton: Subs the story as Everton outclasses spirited Fulham (video)

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Despite a spirited battle by relegation-threatened Fulham, a pair of Roberto Martinez substitutes bagged goals as the Toffees showed too much quality for the Whites who despite their strong effort were less than solid in front of goal.

Steven Naismith, on for an injured Ross Barkley, put the shot on net that resulted in Everton’s first, and Kevin Mirallas hit the winner with under 15 minutes to go on a feed from Aidan McGeady – both substitutes.

Naismith then sealed the winner to ensure his name would appear on the scoresheet.

Ashkan Dejagah, also a replacement for the Whites, hit Fulham’s equalizer that gave them hope but ultimately it wasn’t enough.

The goalkeepers both starred as well, with Tim Howard putting on a highlight-reel performance, and Stockdale’s own goal the only blight on his otherwise stellar tally for the day.

Fulham were by far the brighter side in the first half, but could not muster a goal.  Young Moussa Dembele, just 17 years old, was a breath of fresh air at the front of the hosts’s attack, finding teammates with ease in the final third.

The best pass from Dembele came in the 23rd minute, when the Frenchman laid off to a streaking Kieran Richardson, but his low, powerful shot was stopped expertly by a foot save from Howard.

However, the youngster also bungled a few chances of his own, firing well over with space at the top of the box, and also finding himself a free header at the end of a long ball from Lewis Holtby but he put the ball directly at Howard.

Dembele wasn’t alone in his shooting misfortunes, and despite the home side clearly the more incisive in the first half, they were dismal in front of net. Holtby came closest, with a header of his own also producing a wonderful save from Howard to palm over on 27 minutes.

Pacey winger Pajtim Kasami found himself in a great position to find a waiting Dembele but instead tried to take it himself and was dispossessed.  The first half also saw John Arne Riise launch one over, as did

Despite their failure to put the ball in the back of the net, Fulham dominated Everton on the ball in the first half with pinpoint tackling and good runs. The home side completed 17 of 23 tackles in the first 45 minutes, and completed 4 of 11 crosses.

However, with the Whites failing to score in the first half despite their positivity, the writing may have been on the wall.  Everton made them pay for their wastefulness just six minutes after the break, when a corner fell to the feet of Steven Naismith.  His shot wasn’t convincing, but with goalkeeper David Stockdale on the ground the ball took a deflection off William Kvist and then clamored off Stockdale’s foot into the back of the net.

But Fulham were not deterred. The game maintained a back-and-forth nature with both managers making quality changes. Naismith came on for an injured Ross Barkley at halftime and had his obvious immediate impact, and Felix Magath after the goal made a double attacking change akin to their dire table situation.

Magath’s substitutions paid off almost immediately, as Dejagah cut back inside from the left flank, leaving poor Sylvain Distin in pieces on the pitch before striking a worldly into the top corner just seven minutes after coming on.

But the hope instilled from Dejagah’s goal wouldn’t last long.  Everton pushed hard to restore their lead, and with a new organization about the side and their quality restored, it was too much for Fulham to hold out.

A break from substitute Aidan McGeady slotted through fellow sub Kevin Mirallas who put the ball into the back of the net 13 minutes from full time, and a controversial third from Naismith in the final minutes left Everton well ahead.

The win for the Toffees moves them within four of Arsenal in the final Champions League position, and the two clubs will meet in a massive showdown next weekend.  Meanwhile, Fulham again are left with nothing, and with Crystal Palace beating Chelsea earlier in the week, things look exceptionally bleak at the bottom.

LINEUPS:

Fulham – Stockdale; Riether, Heitinga, Hangeland, Riise; Holtby, Kvist (Woodrow 64′), Sidwell, Richardson (Dejagah 64′); Kasami, Dembèlè (Roberts 81′).

Goals – Dejagah 71′

Everton – Howard; Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Deulofeu (Mirallas 68′), Barkley (Naismith 45′), Osman (McGeady 77′); Lukaku.

Goals – Stockdale (og) 51′, Mirallas 79′, Naismith 87′