CLUB WORLD CUP
Casablanca win opener
Raja Casablanca scored late into stoppage-time to beat Auckland City 2-1 in the opening match of the annual Club World Cup in Morocco on Wednesday. Abdelilah Hafidi tapped home the winner in the 2nd minute of added time to ensure the host club a winning start at the Agadir Stadium. Raja took a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute through Mouhssine Iajour after he beat goalkeeper Tamati Williams with a shot into the far corner. The New Zealand club rallied through Fijian Krishna, who found himself alone to beat keeper Khalid Askri, after Mohamed Oulhaj and Ismail Benlamalem ran into each other. Raja set up a quarter-final match on Sunday with Mexican club Monterrey after Williams saved Oulhaj’s header, only for it to fall to the foot of Hafidi. Formerly known as the Intercontinental Cup, the Club World Cup is being played in Africa for the first time. European champions Bayern Munich and South America’s Copa Libertadores victor Atletico Mineiro enter from the semi-finals, starting on Tuesday next week.
Spain choose Caju as base
Spain have chosen Atletico Paranaense’s Caju training center in the south of Brazil as their base for next year’s competition as they prepare to retain the trophy they won in South Africa. “Caju in Curitiba will be the headquarters at the World Cup,” a Spanish federation spokesperson said. Mild temperatures at the Alfredo Gottardi Center, known locally as Caju, attracted Spain to Curitiba even though they have to play matches in heat and humidity, including their opening game against the Netherlands in Salvador on June 13. The facilities at Caju include eight full-size soccer pitches, a thermal swimming pool and a gym. Spain were well beaten by hosts Brazil in this year’s Confederations Cup final. The experience of playing in the country warned them off choosing a base in the north with higher temperatures.
Three Ajax fans stabbed
Three Ajax supporters were stabbed in Milan on Wednesday during fighting before the match against AC Milan and one is seriously hurt, Italian police said. The Ajax fans fought with both opposing supporters and Italians demonstrating against Enrico Letta’s government in running battles throughout the day. The supporter in the worst condition was knifed in the stomach, while the others were wounded in the buttocks and leg, a police spokesman said. “The one with the stomach wound is clearly the most serious, but as far as I understand it’s not life-threatening,” he said. All three were taken to Milan’s San Carlo Hospital, while a local street salesman also suffered a minor knife wound in the scuffles, but was not hospitalized. Three Ajax supporters were arrested in a separate incident for trying to rob a street kiosk.
Hull seek name change
Hull City have applied to the English FA to change their name to Hull Tigers from next season, the BBC reported on Wednesday. Club owner Assem Allam wants to rebrand the 109-year-old Yorkshire club, but the move has provoked a fierce backlash among fans. Egyptian-born businessman Allam changed the name of the club’s holding company from Hull City Association Football Club to Hull City Tigers in August. Allam believes a “Tigers” brand would have more of a “global marketing impact.” Diehard Hull fans have pledged to fight any name change and have formed the campaign group “City Till We Die.”