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Melbourne – The International Cup is Australian rules footballs world cup. The 2008 event is being held in Melbourne to celebrate 150 years of Australian rules football.

Currently the nation winning the International Cup is considered a distant second to Australia, who does not compete at the cup. This is beacause the difference in skill level between Australia and the next best team is quite considerate. The Australian Football League still names an All-Australian team anyway.

Group A

New Zealand compete after playing against a touring Maffra side, who play in the West Gippsland Latrobe Football League. The match played in Auckland on August 2nd. The final result for this match was a win for the Maffra side 13 goals 13 behinds 91 to 3 goals 1 behind 42.

2005 Japanese captain Michito Sakaki was the first non-Irish internationally based player to play at AFL level.

New Zealand have been grouped with Samoa, Japan and cup debutants India.

Group B

2002 and 2005 runners up Papua New Guinea are set to play a trial game in Coolongatta before heading off to the cup. “Unless Mal Michael’s allowed to play, we’ve got no height” says coach Andrew Cadzow. Michaels plays for the Brisbane lions in the AFL.

The Pease Team, a combined Isreali-Palistinian team, is a cup debutant. It is being sponsored by The Pratt Foundation.

“It’s going to be a very interesting team,” said foundation chief executive Sam Lipski. “Trying to get Palestinian, Arab and Israeli kids together to play football, it’s quite an achievement.”

Great Britain come off the AFL Great Britain Northern Grand Final between Newcastle Centurians and Middlesborough Hawks. The match being won by the Centurions 11 goals 15 behinds 81 to 4 goals 13 behinds 37.

Plans are also in the works for a National Championship between The Centurions and sothern Champions, the Southampton Titans.

PNG, The Peace Team and Great Britain have been grouped with Narau.

[edit] Group C

2005 third place getters the United States are generally considered the banch mark of this group. However the Danes enter the competiton off the back of the national grand final.

With the Olympics in Beijing this year, the Beijing Bombers will play a demonstration match in the Chinese capital during the games. The Bombers will supply players to the Chinese national team for the Cup.

China, the USA and Denmark are joined in the group by South Africa.

Group D

“We have Finland up first on August 27th and we are now totally focused on that game, but at the end of the day, you have to beat them all and we believe we are capable of doing just that,” Canadas General Manager Martin Walter has commented in a recent interview.

The Canadians bring a mix of experience and youth to their third International Cup. They are being finacially supported by Foraco Drilling, Quantec Geoscience and Laramide Resources Inc; three of Canadas multi-national mining companies.

“This has put the team into a strong financial position, and that allows us to bring the best football talent that the Ontario Australian Rules Football League and other Canadian leagues have to offer,” Walter says.

Canada are joined by inaugural champions Ireland, Sweden and Finland.

Source : wikinews

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English football team Manchester United’s star striker, Wayne Rooney, will likely miss the opening match of the English Premier League, England’s top-level football league, on August 17, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Rooney, who also plays for English National Team, contracted a mystery illness on United’s pre-season tour of Africa.

“I doubt Wayne will be fit for the start of the season,” United boss Sir Alex Ferguson told the BBC. “It’s a virus he picked up in Nigeria and it’s not a nice one. He’s not been back in training yet.”

The striker position, also known as forward in some countries, is the closest offensive position to the opponent’s goal and is more likely score goals than other position. Rooney played in 43 matches last season, scoring 18 goals with seven assists.

With absence of Rooney at striker, Argentine Carlos Tévez is the only fit veteran striker available for United. Portuguese striker Nani is suspended, while Anderson is playing for Brazil in the Olympics. Fraizer Campbell and Frenchman Louis Saha, both largely untested in the Premier League, remain two options, as does the signing of an outside player, such as, the BBC reports, Tottenham Hotspur’s striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Ferguson also said Tuesday that Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo will be staying at Manchester United, and not transferring to Real Madrid, as has been reported, both in the media and on blogs this summer.

“The matter is closed now,” Ferguson said Tuesday. “He is a Manchester United player — it’s finished. He’ll be playing here next season believe me. It’s finished.”

Whether or not Ronaldo does indeed stay at United, he will have to remain on the sidelines until an ankle injury heals. The BBC reports it will be September or later before Ronaldo is playing fit.

The winger position, a type of midfielder, is the middle position in relation to the opponent’s goal, behind strikers, but ahead of defenders. Wingers typically play toward the left and right sides of the pitch. Ronaldo score 42 goals in 48 appearances last season, the most of any United player.

United has two more friendlies this pre-season, facing Juventus and Portsmouth on August 6 and August 10. Manchester United, 2008 winners of both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, starts their season against Newcastle United.

Hamedog.

Australian football (soccer) club Melbourne Victory FC have defeated New Zealand‘s Wellington Phoenix FC 8-7 in a penalty shootout to win the fourth annual A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup. The match, played at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand in front of 9,208 spectators, finished at 0-0 after the regulation 90 minutes.

The match saw relatively few chances, the best of which fell to the Phoenix. Melbourne goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos made two stunning saves in the second half which were the obvious highlights of the regulation playing time. On 68 minutes, the Victory failed to sufficiently clear a corner kick by the Phoenix, and midfielder Richard Johnson sent a volley shot heading towards the right hand side of the net from 20 metres out until Theoklitos’ intervention prevented it from breaking the deadlock.

The other major chance of the match came 12 minutes later, when the home side’s striker Shane Smeltz headed the ball towards the bottom left hand corner of the Melbourne goal. Once again, Theoklitos managed to readjust his balance and made the save down low to his right, parrying the ball away from the danger area.

With the 2008-09 A-League — Australia’s top-tier football completion — season proper starting in only nine days, competition rules provide that if the scores finish level after 90 minutes, the match goes directly to a penalty shootout. In nearly all other competitions around the world, including the season proper’s final series, 30 minutes of extra time would be played before a penalty shootout is used.

Melbourne captain Rodrigo Vargas won the coin-toss prior to the shootout and elected that his side would go first. During the opening five penalties, both Smeltz for Wellington and Nick Ward for Melbourne missed the goals completely — both shooting high and to the left of the goals in very similar style to each other — resulting in the scoreline being 4-4 after the five mandatory penalties. At this point the shootout became a “sudden death” situation.

Three more pairs of penalties passed with success by both sides, before the shootout was decided on the ninth round of the shootout. Melbourne scored, before Wellington’s Karl Dodd‘s penalty driven low to the right hand side of Theoklitos was stopped by the Victory ‘keeper to win the Cup for Melbourne after 18 penalty kicks.

The trophy was the Victory’s third piece of silverware since their establishment for the start of the A-League competition in 2005; they we the premiers and champions of the 2006-07 A-League season. For Wellington, this was their first ever final in any competition, as well as the first time a New Zealand side has been in an Australian domestic club competition final in the history of professional football (soccer) in the country, which dates back to the Football Kingz FC in 1999.

Source : Wikinews