Messi becomes father
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi announced on Friday the birth of his first child, Thiago, although the club say he was still to play yesterday. Messi’s partner, Antonella Roccuzzo, delivered their son at the Dexeus hospital about 700m from Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium. “Today, I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift! Thanks to my family for the support! A hug to everyone,” the 25-year-old Argentine said on his Facebook page. Messi had permission to miss training in the morning, Barcelona said in an online statement. However, coach Tito Vilanova said the Argentine was still expected to play at the Camp Nou yesterday.
National team dissolved
Zimbabwe has dissolved the national soccer team for failing to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations as a major match-fixing scandal still overshadows their performance, an official said on Friday. “The team has been discarded in its entirety,” Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) president Cuthbert Dube told a news conference in the capital, Harare. Zimbabwe lost 0-2 to Angola in the last qualifying game for the continental tournament after they had carried a 3-1 lead in the first leg, and failed to qualify on away goals. Shocked fans point to a 2009 match-fixing scandal involving the national team that resulted in a lifelong ban for 15 players and officials, which ZIFA announced in October. The scandal might have contributed to the team’s poor performance in Angola, Dube added.
Vidic out after surgery
Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic could be out of action until Christmas, according to manager Alex Ferguson. Serbian defender Vidic was ruled out for a minimum of eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery in September. However, suggestions the 31-year-old could return to action before the end of the month appear to have been optimistic, with Ferguson telling MUTV: “I think we’re talking around December for Vidic. Maybe around Christmas time.” Vidic missed the final five months of last season with a cruciate ligament problem, but this latest setback is not related to that injury.
Brest beat Lorient 2-0
Israel striker Eden Ben Basat grabbed an early goal and Dutch forward Charlison Benschop scored in stoppage time as Brest beat Lorient 2-0 in the French league on Friday to move six points clear of the relegation zone. Ben Basat put Brest ahead in the 14th minute with a confident finish after being set up by midfielder Benoit Lesoimier, and Benschop got his first goal for the club in the third minute of added time with a cool lob over goalkeeper Fabien Audard. Lorient’s best chances fell to forwards Jeremie Aliadiere and Kevin Monnet-Paquet. Lorient — who have conceded 12 goals in their past three matches — are mid-table ahead of the weekend matches and without a win since Sept. 16.
Levein’s job in balance
Scotland manager Craig Levein expects to find out next week if he will continue in the job following the country’s poor start to their World Cup qualifying campaign. Scotland’s chances of getting to Brazil 2014 are hanging by a thread as they sit bottom of their qualifying group with two points from four matches. Levein met Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan and president Campbell Ogilvie this week to discuss his position.