Club skips match for players
Third-division club Shumen have refused to play top-flight PSFC Chernomorets Burgas in the Bulgarian Cup round of 32 to protect their young players from mental anguish. Shumen were drawn against the Burgas-based side on Tuesday, but club president Georgi Georgiev decided there was no need for his team to play against such strong opposition. “In order not to burden mentally our young boys, the team refuse to participate in the Bulgarian Cup,” Georgiev told local media. The first leg of the tie was due to be played on Sept. 18. The Bulgarian Football Union is expected to give Chernomorets a walkover.
Stomach bug downs squad
The national team has been struck by a stomach bug before their visit to Chile for a potentially decisive 2014 World Cup qualifier. Manager Cesar Farias told a news conference that 20 of his players, nearly the entire squad, had been affected. “They didn’t have a good night and they weren’t able to train well,” he told reporters, without giving further details. Venezuela, the only South American team never to have played at the World Cup, are sixth in the nine-team South American group, with 16 points from 13 games, behind Uruguay on goal-difference. Chile are fourth with 21. The top four teams qualify directly and the fifth-placed team play two legs against the team who finishes fifth in Asian qualifying.
Ozil left to be appreciated
New Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil admits he had no intention of leaving Real Madrid until he realized he risked being left on the sidelines. Ozil saw Gareth Bale complete his transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday before agreeing to move to the Emirates Stadium. The Germany playmaker said in an interview with the German Football Association’s Web site that he agreed to the move after it became clear that he no longer figured in the plans of Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. “At that moment, I was certain that I would stay at Real Madrid, but afterward I realized that the coach and the board no longer had confidence in me,” he said. “I am a player who needs that confidence and the possibility came up to go to Arsenal, which is why I chose to go there.”
Osasuna dismiss coach
CA Osasuna fired coach Jose Luis Mendilibar on Tuesday after a disappointing start to the season left them bottom of La Liga, the club said. “We have analyzed the play and results of the first three matches of this season along with nine games of last season and we have come to this decision,” club president Miguel Archanco said in a statement. It was the first sacking of a manager in Spain’s top flight this season. The club’s board took the decision “unanimously,” the statement said. Archanco added that assistant coach Alfredo Sanchez will take charge for now. Mendilibar’s sacking followed a 3-0 home defeat to Villareal on Saturday and earlier losses to Athletic Bilbao (2-0) and Granada (2-1).
Van der Vaart out of playoffs
Rafael van der Vaart has withdrawn from the Dutch squad for their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Estonia and Andorra because of a hamstring injury. He has been replaced by Adam Maher of PSV Eindhoven, the Dutch Football Federation said yesterday. The 20-year-old Maher has won four caps. The Dutch lead Group D and can qualify for the World Cup if they win in Tallinn today and Andorra four days later.