Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 18


UAE to host the 2019 finals

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) selected the United Arab Emirates over a bid from Iran to host the 2019 continental champions at its meeting on Monday in Manama, Bahrain. The Asian Cup, which was hosted and won by Australia in January, will be expanded from 16 to 24 teams in the next edition. AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said there was no doubt the UAE was better equipped than Iran to host the continent’s biggest soccer event. “I could say the decision was ... not difficult,” he said. “After that we have to be realistic because the UAE’s capabilities are bigger and I wish them success, because after what we saw in Australia the championship was successful in every sense. So for sure this is a challenge for our brothers, but I hope the organizing committee put in a more successful event than the previous championship.” The UAE hosted the Asian Cup in 1996, when they lost the final on penalties to Saudi Arabia.


Zola fired, Zeman rehired

Serie A strugglers Cagliari on Monday reappointed Zdenek Zeman as coach following the sacking of Gianfranco Zola, with the club looking to stave off relegation from the top flight. Zeman was himself sacked by Cagliari just before Christmas, but after less than three months on the sidelines the wily Czech coach is back at the helm with the job of saving the Sardinians from the drop. Zola took over from Zeman two days before Christmas, but despite a brief spell of hope the former Chelsea forward ultimately saw his side lose six of the 10 games under his leadership. Cagliari sit third from bottom, four points shy of Atalanta BC. Born and bred on Sardinia, Zola is still considered one of the island’s best soccer exports, despite having only played for Cagliari after his seven-year spell with English Premier League giants Chelsea ended. A statement by Cagliari earlier on Monday said the decision to sack Zola “was not an easy one, given the greatness of a man who has written unforgettable pages in the history of Cagliari and who has represented Sardinia with prestige on the international stage.”


Eto’o honored in London

Samuel Eto’o was honored on Monday for his “inspiring” stand against racism, as the organizers behind the award warned that prejudice still stalks the game in Europe. The former Cameroon and Barcelona striker received the Medal of Tolerance from the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation at a gala dinner at London’s Kensington Palace. Eto’o, who now plays with UC Sampdoria in Italy, famously tried to walk off the pitch during a Spanish match in 2006 due to the racist abuse he was suffering. “Since that day, I decided I will stand up and fight against abuse,” he said after receiving his award. “The only path is to stand up and shout.”


Getafe score late winner

A late goal by Juan Rodriguez gave Getafe a 2-1 comeback win over last-placed Cordoba on Monday in La Liga. Romanian forward Florin Andone had given the hosts the lead in the 77th minute, but Getafe equalized when Cordoba defender Federico Vico scored an own-goal 10 minutes later, accidentally back-heeling the ball over goalkeeper Mikel Saizar’s head and inside the far post. Cordoba looked dispirited as the match drew to a close and Rodriguez grabbed all three points for Getafe in the second minute of stoppage-time. Cordoba remain last on 18 points, while Getafe rose to 12th place.