Cole to miss Champions
Ashley Cole may have to wait several months to win his 100th national cap after being ruled out of the UEFA Champions League match Chelsea was to play against Shakhtar Donetsk at Stamford Bridge yesterday. The full-back suffered a hamstring injury during last weekend’s Premier League draw with Swansea City and Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo said on Tuesday that Cole would not be fit in time to face Shakhtar. As a result, the 99-times capped Cole may miss out when national squad manager Roy Hodgson today announces his squad for next week’s friendly away to Sweden. Injury prevented Cole getting to three figures in an England shirt during the opening 2012 World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine. His Twitter attack on the Football Association’s guilty verdict in the racism scandal involving his Chelsea teammate and friend John Terry may also have been a factor in Cole being rested for last month’s match with San Marino. Both Cole and Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard won their 99th caps in Poland the following week, but the Chelsea man may not now get his 100th until February at the earliest, when England play a friendly against Brazil.
National squad pick rookies
Serbia-based Eli Babalj has been named on his first national squad while goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Luke Wilkshere will also return from Europe after being named in the national side for a friendly against South Korea in Hwaseong on Wednesday next week. The 20-year-old Babalj of Red Star Belgrade will be joined by Tom Rogic of the A-League’s Central Coast Mariners and the Melbourne Heart’s Aziz Behich as the three first-timers named by manager Holger Osieck in the 19-man squad. The South Korea match will serve as preparation for next month’s East Asian Cup qualifiers, where it is expected that Osieck will rely heavily on young and locally based talent.
Olympiakos beat Montpellier
Late goals from Leandro Greco and Kostas Mitroglou kept alive Olympiakos Pireaus’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Montpellier Herault. Greco and Mitroglou struck in the final 10 minutes to seal the second successive victory over their French Group B rivals. Paulo Machado’s early goal handed Olympiakos a fourth-minute lead before Montpellier leveled the score in the 66th minute with a Younes Belhanda penalty. The Greeks took their total to six points to stay third, two behind leaders Schalke 04 and one adrift of Arsenal.
Striker Hulk’s sister found
The younger sister of FC Zenit Saint Petersburg striker Hulk, who disappeared on Monday, feared kidnapped, has been found after nearly 24 hours and reunited with her family, military police told reporters on Tuesday. Angelica Aparecida Vieira, 22, was at home in Campina Grande, in the northeast part of the country, said the deputy commander of the military police in the area, Major Alecssandro Medeiros. The officer gave no details about how Vieira was found, but added that the authorities were still working to determine whether she was kidnapped, as reported in the local media. “We will talk to her to determine if it was an abduction. For now, we only know that she is back home with her family,” Medeiros said.