Eritrean team disappears
Eritrea’s national soccer team has disappeared while visiting Uganda, in what would be potentially the fourth team to abscond from authoritarian Eritrea, officials said on Monday. Police were alerted after 16 soccer team members disappeared after losing to Rwanda 2-0 in a regional tournament, the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) said. “The police have been notified,” CECAFA official Moses Magogo said, adding that the players failed to return to their hotel after a shopping trip in Kampala. Thousands leave the Red Sea nation every month, fleeing conscription and a hardline government that jails critics in harsh desert labor camps, and is ranked worst in the world for press freedom, the UN says.
National team get new boss
Argentinian Jorge Sampaoli was appointed manager of the national team on Monday, replacing compatriot Claudio Borghi, who was sacked last month. Sampaoli, 52, has been tasked with securing the country’s place at the 2014 World Cup from sixth place in the qualifying table after they failed to build on a bright start to the qualifiers and lost three in a row. “I take this job on with a huge responsibility and obligation hanging over me to take Chile to Brazil [where the World Cup is being held],” Sampaoli said. Sampaoli got the job on the back of guiding Universidad de Chile to three national titles and the South American Cup last year. His task is not insurmountable, as while the team are sixth after nine games, the top four qualify automatically while the fifth can still make it through a play-off, they only trail fourth-placed Venezuela on goal difference.
Valladolid beat slow Sevilla
Two early goals gave promoted Real Valladolid a 2-1 victory at Sevilla that moved them up to seventh in La Liga and the brink of the European places on Monday. Miroslav Djukic’s side have 21 points from 14 games, one behind Malaga in fifth and Getafe in sixth who are tied on 22 points. Wildly inconsistent Sevilla, who have beaten third-placed champions Real Madrid and fourth-placed Real Betis Balompie at home this season, left the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to whistles from the crowd and are 11th with 18 points. Valladolid’s German winger Patrick Ebert netted on a break away after only two minutes and midfielder Oscar squeezed a shot over Diego Lopez for the second in the 12th. Sevilla struggled to react until visiting striker Manucho headed into his own net just after the restart, but their fightback was hindered when Gary Medel was sent off in the 64th minute for a second yellow card.
Hoffenheim fire manager
Struggling Bundesliga side TSG1899 Hoffenheim sacked manager Markus Babbel on Monday, the day after a 4-1 drubbing by Werder Bremen left them 16th in the table and with nine defeats in their past 10 matches. The 40-year-old former Germany international — who has previously coached Hertha BSC Berlin and VfB Stuttgart — will be replaced temporarily by the under-23 team manager Frank Kramer. “The deteriorating situation on the sporting front and the negative atmosphere left me no choice,” general manager Andreas Mueller said. Mueller said that Babbel — whose overall record was seven wins, eight draws and 14 defeats — had worked hard, but that things simply had not worked out. “I am conscious of the work that Markus has put in. What is dreadful is that the team didn’t follow his lead on the pitch,” he said.