Celtic Humbled by Rampant Milan

Kaka celebrates his opening goal Creidt: Eurosport

Kaka celebrates his opening goal
Creidt: Eurosport

By Hamza Jabir

Defensive errors see team ‘contribute to their own downfall.’

Celtic’s Champions league campaign came to an abrupt end last night after a 3-0 home defeat to AC Milan. The comprehensive defeat cuts Neil Lennon’s side adrift at the bottom of group H with Ajax’ suprise 2-1 victory over Barcelona in Amsterdam meaning third place and the consolation of Europa League football after Christmas is an impossibility.

The Scottish champions went into the game with confidence due to apparent state of turmoil in their opponent’s camp. Milan did not have their troubles to seek after the club’s worst start to a domestic season in over three decades compounded by a supporters protest following Saturdays 1-1 home draw with lowly Chievo. However, Kaka and company rose to the occasion in emphatic style to boost their chances of qualification.

Neil Lennon was only stating the obvious when he attributed the defeat to a combination of school boy defending and profligacy in attack. First Kaka, then Christian Zapata took full advantage of Celtic’s disjointed zonal marking from corners to net with Mario Balloteli completing the rout late on. Virgil Van Dijk missed what can only be described as a sitter, hammering straight into Milan keeper, Christian Abbiati’s arms from six yards out. Beram Kayal, Charlie Mulgrew and Giorgios Samaras also squandered good opportunities.

Lennon said: “I do not think we were outplayed. Big moments in the game changed the course of the game and the psychology of the game. Milan took their chances when they came along. We had opportunities through Kayal, Mulgrew, Van Dijk and Forrest and snatched at them. That was the difference. I think tonight is symptomatic of our campaign – we missed good chances and I am really disappointed with the two goals we conceded from corners, I take a lot of pride in that and that’s the first time for a long time that someone has scored directly from a header against us.”

Despite his side’s European exit ,Lennon vowed to come back again next year for another crack at the Champions League group stage. He said this would preferably be done with a stronger squad.

Lennon said: “We had already lost some big players – Adam Matthews, Scott Brown, Nir Biton – and losing Kayal as well tonight, that’s three midfielders out of five. When your squad is not as big as some other squads it does tend to bite you. If we want to look to the future and continue to play in the Champions League then we have to improve the squad we have now and we have to improve our recruitment for next year. It’s never a forgone conclusion that you’re going to be in the Champions League. We do have some money and we want to spend it, preferably in the January window. We knew when the draw was made how difficult it was going to be. But we competed and we have competed again tonight. We will do everything we can to come back and compete again next year –that’s the target.”

Lennon’s nail bombers convicted

Trevor Muirhead, 44, and Neil McKenzie, 42, have been convicted of plotting a nail bomb attack against Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a five week trial at Glasgow High Court.

The men were found guilty of conspiring to send the package. The pieces of mail they sent last year were designed to injure but actually the devices could not explode. McKenzie got “bomb making” tips from US television show The A-Team.

A bank of evidence was mounted against the two, including recordings from a police bug in McKenzie’s car which taped him boasting about “building a bomb”.

There is also CCTV footage of the unemployed builder buying parts including nails for the packages from local shops.

They had previously faced an allegation of conspiracy to murder before it was dropped.

The Weekend in Sports

By: Maxim Lewerenz

Photo taken by George Groutas

Football:

Celtic are still on track on winning their first SPL title in four years and doing so possibly by a record margin. The ten point deduction of archrivals Rangers means Celtic can reclaim the points lost at last weekend’s Old Firm match by beating St. Johnstone on Sunday, with second and third placed Rangers and Motherwell taking each others points.

In the Barclay’s Premier League Manchester City will face Sunderland at home without star striker Sergio Aguero. A win would mean the Citizens would overtake Manchester United by their superior goal difference. At least until Monday, when United will travel to Blackburn.

QPR will host the rejuvenated Arsenal at a London derby on Saturday.

On Sunday traditional sides Newcastle and Liverpool will battle for a place in Europe.

Tennis:

Today at 3pm Andy Murray will face Rafael Nadal at the Semi-Finals of the Miami Open. World number one Novak Djokovic will meet 21th ranked Juan Monaco later on at 7pm for a place in the final on Sunday.

Golf:

At the Shell Houston Open the World’s Number 10 Carl Petersson and  Argentinian Angel Cabrera are  currently tying at the top of the field. Ernie Else, who needs to win the Open to gain a place in the Masters, is one under after two.

Rugby:

Edinburgh Rugby take on Scarlets tonight in the RaboPro Direct league at Murrayfield. They will be hoping to end their losing streak when the match kicks off at 7.35pm. Glasgow Warriors meanwhile have had a fairly successful season and will be aiming to continue their good run of results when they play Cardiff Blues tonight. Kick off is 7.35pm at Firhill.

 

For more on Edinburgh Rugby’s misfortunes and the return of their international players, click here.

SPL rebels aim for ‘Arab Spring’

Pressure has continued to mount on the Old Firm to accept new voting rules in the Scottish Premier League.

Yesterday Kilmarnock Chairman, Michael Johnston, compared the struggle of the 10 “rebel” clubs to that of the Arab Spring, “Hopefully we can be as successful as some of the pro-democracy movements elsewhere.”

The 10 clubs, which include Heart’s and Hibs, aim to end the 11-1 majority required for significant league changes and end the Glasgow duopoly on power. However Celtic chairman, Peter Lawell, has criticised their motives and claimed they are acting disrespectfully by excluding the Old Firm.

However Johnston rejects these claims saying, “Principally, this is about a measure of democracy that’s been lacking in the SPL in its decision-making processes.

“So this is the pro-democracy movement. It’s not a gang of 10 or anything subversive. It’s all up front and it’s perfectly open what we’ve been talking about, so there’s nothing hidden or disrespectful about it.”

It is believed the non-Old Firm clubs view a change in the voting system as the first step towards a fairer distribution of TV revenue and possible league expansion.

Neil Lennon mail-bomber accused go on trial

The High Court in Glasgow

The trial of the two men accused of a plot to kill Celtic manager Neil Lennon began at the High Court in Glasgow today.

Neil McKenzie, 42, and Trevor Muirhead, 43, both from Northern Ayrshire, are accused of sending suspected parcel bombs to Mr Lennon, QC Paul McBride and former MSP Trish Godman. They are also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. They deny all the charges.

The device sent to Mr McBride is alleged to be a plastic bottle filled with petrol and nails attached to a timing device. Cairde Na hEireann, the Irish Nationalist group, also had suspected explosives sent to their premises in Glasgow as well.

The alleged incident marked a climax in tensions during last season’s SPL, with a record seven Old Firm matches resulting in player bans and a high profile clash between Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon. Eventually the Scottish Government called a summit to calm the situation and introduced the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which comes into force on 1st March. The legislation means that anybody behaving in a way that could cause public disorder at or around matches face five years in jail.

The two pronged Act aims to outlaw sectarian behavior and singing at football matches as well as dealing with serious threats, often made on social media, intended to incite religious hatred.

This week in sport

Edinburgh Napier News Sports podcast for Thursday 24th November

Scotland's route to Brazil 2014 announced. Photo: SFA

Scotland’s World Cup qualifying fixtures announced, a discussion of Celtic’s Gordan Strachan approach, analysis of Hibs’ managerial search and Six Nations TV news.

Listen Here;

Champions League Round-Up

Comprehensive coverage of all big games in this week’s UEFA Champions League.

Listen Here;

‘Old Firm need to forget the past for the sake of the future’

by Ryan C. Gavan

Being an impartial observer, spending time covering the Old Firm clash at Hampden Park yesterday was an experience in the very least. It was the first time the teams have met since the much publicised game two weeks ago, all eyes were watching. I went wondering whether the fans had taken any notice of the warnings or the Summit on the Old Firm.

Union Jacks and Tricolors are abundant at Old Firm matches. Photo: R Gavan

I was greeted by a very heavy police presence. It looked to me like a the preparation for a riot. Mixing with fans on both sides, I noticed that the sectarian attitude is engrained to Old Firm meetings. Tri-colours on one side, Union Jacks on the other, it goes beyond religion to politics, using that term very loosely. One Rangers fan had a scarf with the words “William of Orange” while a Celtic fan wore a top with “Bobby Sands MP” embroidered in orange and green. Speaking to both sets of fans, they blame the other for the trouble. The real issue here is the culture, the so-called “90-minute bigot.” They go to the game, sing their sectarian songs and go home, not thinking about it until the next meeting. The issue for politicians, police and the Old Firm itself, is how to change years of hatred. Many wonder whether this is even possible.

[Read more…]

Red Card for Old Firm behaviour

by Patrick McPartlin

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, venue for Tuesday's summit

 

 

The ripples from last Wednesday’s explosive Scottish Cup replay between Celtic and Rangers continue to spread, with former First Minister Henry McLeish requesting both teams to “put their house in order” on the eve of a summit at Holyrood. Representatives of both clubs, the Scottish football authorities and the police will be present at the summit. [Read more…]

Football Round Up

By Tony Garner

After Wayne’s lunchtime wondergoal you could be forgiven for thinking that no other football took place over the weekend.

But, bicycle related hyperbole aside, it was a fairly standard two days of action both north and south of the border.

In Scotland, Celtic turned over the challenge of Dundee United with a 3-1 win to restore their five point lead over Rangers, who romped to a 6-0 win over hapless Motherwell, whilst there were wins for both Hibernian and Hearts against Kilmarnock and Hamilton respectively. St Mirren and Inverness Caledonian Thistle played out an entertaining 3-3 draw.

In the Premiership, Arsenal kept up the chase on Manchester United with a 2-0 victory against Wolves at the Emirates stadium. With Chelsea not playing until Monday night, Spurs took advantage and moved into fourth place with a win away at Sunderland.  Alex McLeish’s gritty Birmingham nicked a crucial win over Stoke in the final minute of stoppage time.  Apart from that, a series of draws meant it was largely ‘as you were’ in the lower reaches of the league.

All eyes are now on the Champions League matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The big game of the week is Arsenal taking on Barcelona in a rerun of last year’s second round game where the Gunners were cruelly dispatched by a four goal salvo from Lionel Messi.

Clubs prepare for Remembrance day

By Gavin Harper

All 12 SPL clubs will wear embroidered poppies on their shirts this weekend as football clubs across

Fans display banner at Celtic Park- picture courtesy of STV News

the country are preparing to mark Remembrance Day, as the row over last weekend’s protests at Celtic Park continue.

A group of Celtic fans displayed a large anti-poppy banner during their record-breaking 9-0 win over Aberdeen at Celtic Park last Saturday, and the club have since vowed to track down the fans responsible for the banner and issue lifetime bans.

A spokesman for the club said: “Celtic fans have gained a magnificent reputation for their positive behaviour and backing of the club, but it is extremely disappointing to see the actions of a small minority tarnish the club’s reputation.

This came on the same weekend that Hearts unveiled a banner commemorating their former players who were killed in action during the First World War, when some 16 then-players formed the MacCrae’s battalion, and by the conclusion of war, seven had lost their lives.

Also at Anfield, former Liverpool manager Bill Shankley was depicted on a large banner alongside the poppy, so this move by the Green Brigade section of Celtic supporters is likely to anger fans nationwide.

The Green Brigade released a statement regarding their actions, saying: “Our group and many within the Celtic support do not regard the British Armed forces as heroes, nor their role in many conflicts are worthy of remembrance.”

The banner read: “Your deeds would shame all the devils in hell: Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No bloodstained poppy on our hoops”

It is also expected that Celtic will face disciplinary action from the SPL, with a large fine looking like being the most likely outcome, but there is the option of a points deduction, which would hamper the  club’s effort’s to wrestle the SPL championship from city rivals Rangers.

Celtic supporters plan Hampden protest

By Sam Hendry

A group of Celtic fans are planning to hold a protest outside Hampden Park over reports of an alleged cover-up by members in the higher echelons of the SFA.

A Facebook group set up to organise the protest, which will take place on Saturday between 12pm and 1pm has already attracted over four and a half thousand members since its creation on Sunday.

This follows the recent match between Dundee United and Celtic at Tannadice where the away side were awarded a penalty, only for referee Dougie McDonald to overturn his decision after apparent consultation with his assistant Steven Craven. Both match officials have since admitted lying about the incident to referee observer Jim McBurney and Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Celtic supporters are unhappy with several high profile decisions made against their team

Craven has now resigned and has controversially accused Scottish Head of Referee’s Hugh Dallas of attempting to cover-up the true version of events and place the blame for the incident on the linesman.

On their Facebook page, the protestors have said, “we believe that, just as Hugh Dallas attempted to make Steven Craven a ‘scapegoat’, so the S.F.A will now attempt to do the same to him and Dougie McDonald, in order to ensure that the whole incident can be ‘swept under the carpet.’ This cannot be allowed to happen.

“The purpose of the planned protest is to highlight this on-going situation. We demand that an independent investigation is carried out into refereeing in Scottish football. We must do everything in our power to ensure that the S.F.A. becomes a more transparent and accountable organisation, responsive to clubs and fans. Decisions like those taking place in the last few weeks should not be allowed to happen or be covered-up in future.

“The thing the SFA hates the most is adverse publicity. They are active in making sure that some damaging articles never see the light of day. If we, the Celtic support, turn up en masse, the media cannot ignore this.”

The SFA were unwilling to comment on the planned protest at this time.

The final whistle on Scottish Football? An insight into the current furore

By Christopher Hall

For years Scottish Football has had it’s issues, everyone knows that.

Sectarianism, racism and debt have all manifested themselves over the last few years within the match day terraces and streets of Scotland. Refereeing enquiries, while omnipresent, are usually taken no farther than the post-match summary from the irate gaffer.

However, the question looms nearer. Are the current refereeing scandals a genuine threat to the game and the final nail in an already watertight coffin?

Only time will tell.

The happenings within the SFA will either be lost within a plethoric archive of footballing news articles or there will be a genuine outcome to this long running saga which poses a real significant threat to our national game.

To simply understand the situation you would personally have to comb through an infinite amount of news articles and reports and still not establish a firm conclusion. On the one hand, you have the letters from Neil Lennon outlining his misgivings with decisions given against his Celtic side at Tannadice and more recently at Parkhead in the Old Firm derby. On the other side, there are officials such as Stephen Craven deciding to quit the game in bizarre circumstances after his involvement in a decision to overturn a penalty for the Glasgow team last week. There appears to be a smoke screen appearing within the game which wont be cleared until the SFA provide their official investigation and a proper conclusion is reached which will allow normal service to resume.

To the fair minded individual, it is obvious that referees are not hired on the basis of their religion, creed or race but by their ability to handle a football match in a manner which is fair and competent. Edinburgh Napier News looks at some major decisions in Scotland in the past five years which have added fuel to the flames within the Scottish football refereeing debate:

* Hearts fans are incensed after Defender Takis Fyssas is given a straight red after an alleged challenge on Celtic midfielder Shaun Maloney (Jan 2006)

* St Mirren are in the news as Gus Macpherson is threatened with a fine for criticising an assistant official in a cup match against Dundee United. (Feb 2007)

* Craig Levein is fined £5000 by the SFA after a post match outburst against former whistler Mike McCurry. Levein was outraged after a string of bizarre decisions which went against his team in a match against Rangers (May 2008)

* Rangers player Kyle Lafferty is fined by his club after deliberately feigning injury which resulted in a straight red card for Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew. (May 2009)

* Stephen Craven and Dougie Macdonald are under fire after awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United before quickly overturning the decision to the shock of Celtic Manager Neil Lennon (October 2010)

If you think that you’ve got what it takes to become a referee in Scotland the why not follow this link

Diving row hits Scotland

By Phil Turnbull

The Scotland versus Wales friendly match tomorrow is threatening to be overshadowed by the continuing row over diving.

In a week where Liverpool striker David N’Gog dived to win a penalty in a Premier League game against Birmingham, the diving row has now reached the international scene.

While Scotland hitman Kevin Kyle conceded he personally would take a dive in attempt to influence the outcome of a game, national team-mate James McFadden yesterday hit back, saying: “No way, I couldn’t dive”.

faddy

James McFadden (picture credit: skysports.com)

Birmingham striker McFadden said: “You try to play as fair as you can. You can foul for tactical reasons but I don’t think you can get away with a tactical dive.”

“I would not deliberately do that and try to con a penalty or to get a benefit because in the end you look stupid.”

Earlier in the week Kilmarnock striker Kyle admitted he would dive in a match if it helped Scotland to win.

Asked if he would take a tumble in the box, Kyle said: “I probably would because you go out on a Saturday afternoon just wanting your team to win at any cost and you take every opportunity that’s available to you.”

Kyle’s views are at odds not just with McFadden, but also SFA Chief Executive Gordon Smith.

Smith has been at war with FIFA over players diving ever since Arsenal star Eduardo dived to win a penalty against Celtic in the Champions League Qualifiers, eliminating the Glasgow side in the process.

It is not known how SFA bosses will react to the conflicting points of view from their star strikers.

Meanwhile Scotland captain Darren Fletcher has been passed fit for the clash in Cardiff.

fletch

Darren Fletcher (picture credit: independent.co.uk)

The Manchester United playmaker had missed training on Wednesday, but has now been given a clean bill of health by the Scotland medical staff.

The decision will come as a relief to manager George Burley, who is already without Old Firm quartet Steven Whittaker, Kevin Thompson, Scott Brown and Shaun Maloney.

Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon also misses out due to a broken arm.

Scotland’s last friendly match, against Japan in Yokohama, was dogged by call offs that entered into double figures.

While the Scots have no such problems this time round, Wales have been hit by a raft of withdrawals.

Eight players, including £14 million Manchester City star Craig Bellamy, have pulled out of the Welsh squad, forcing manager John Toshack to select Swansea City centre-half Ashley Williams as his new captain.

Williams will be Toshack’s 11th skipper used in his five-year tenure as national team manager.

Wales versus Scotland kicks off at 3pm tomorrow at the Cardiff City Stadium, and is live on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30pm.

Could Old Firm boardrooms step further away from sectarianism?

Its not religion that’s the problem, it’s the lack of it’ – Protestant Jock Stein, Celtics most successful manager, summed up his and the majority of Scotland’s views on the Sectarianism and bigotry that brutally divides the supporters of Glasgow’s ‘Old Firm’, Rangers and Celtic. Stein made this observation towards the end of his glittering managerial career whilst managing Scotland in the early 80s. So here we stand, as a nation, almost thirty years on, and it’s safe to say Scotland is no more religious now as it was then. But what have the boards of these two clubs that dominate Scottish football done to tackle the problem? Have they done their utmost to curb the cancer of Scottish football?

David Murray, who has recently stepped down as rangers chairman, claimed last year that ‘in the 20 years I’ve been at this club, there has been a vast, vast improvement on the behaviour of sectarianism at the club’. How much of this is down to Murray and his board? In 2002, Rangers launched an orange strip, a colour that they have never sported before. Immediate comparisons were made to the orange order (Rangers fans have worn orange clothing to games for years) and Rangers were accused of profiting from their sectarian overtones. Despite proving hugely popular, Rangers dropped the strip after only one season. Last year, Celtic wore a strip with famine memorial crests across the centre of the shirt against Hibernian. Hibernian, who were also founded by Irish immigrants during the potato famine, didn’t feel the need to mark the occasion.

rangers_nazi_salute_israel_2

Almost every Saturday between August and May, one stadium in Glasgow (it is still unthinkable to pit the two teams playing at home on the same day) will be packed with tens of thousands of Celtic fans in the East End, or Rangers fans in the Govan area. The matchday experience at both of these grounds consists of  the PA system blaring songs right up until kick-off. At Ibrox, Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ is one of the highlights. Gaining popularity in the 90’s during Rangers period of dominance, the breaks between lines in the chorus are taken advantage of by the Rangers fans to add in ‘F**k the Pope and the IRA’. For years, it seems the only person in the stadium who doesn’t hear this is the DJ, who insists on playing it week in, week out, along with ‘The Billy Boys.’ Of course, this only highlights how little encouragement some fans need, but it also shows how Rangers could do a lot more to step away and prevent bigotry.

celtic-ira

Across the city at Parkhead, things aren’t much better. There, the DJ opts for a more traditional approach, playing Irish anthems and toned-down republican songs like ‘Let The People Sing’, that urges the crowd to ’sing their stories and their songs, and the music of their native land, their lullabies and battle-cries and songs of hope and joy.’ Songs at these grounds are then sung throughout the match, often started by official singing ‘groups’ that were created in recent years in attempts to improve atmosphere. At Parkhead, the main group is titled ‘The Green Brigade’, an obvious reference to the ‘brigades’ referred to in Irish republican anthem ‘The Boys Of The Old Brigade’. Rangers attempts are similarly blatant, with their chief group called ‘The Blue Order’, a clear reference to the Orange Order.

A fortnight ago, as Rangers approached their champions league game with Romanian side Unirea, they decided to halt the slump in ticket sales by giving almost two thousand free tickets away to the British army. This was done amid a wave of publicity created by the club, stating that the club were ‘in total support of these brave individuals.’ On the face of it, this is a kind gesture. But when investigated, perhaps cynically, the move by the club could easily trigger reactions from certain sections of the Celtic fans. Also, Rangers didnt make the move until Unirea declined their allocation of tickets, meaning there was at least 1800 tickets that wernt going to be sold at least. Perhaps ill-advised, it would have been more beneficial for Rangers to keep distance from these issues and publicity. For the bigoted minority amongst the Celtic fans, their hatred of the British army is so strong that several hundred walked out of the stadium after the poppy featured on their shirt last year. Last weekend, the Celtic chairman John Reid, an ex home and defence secretary, didn’t wear a poppy to Parkhead.

The mindless element of these supports will, if things continue as they are, always be present. From PA speakers to strips, the clubs are still enshrined in politics of no importance to what the vast majority of fans are there to see. Lots of older fans were raised in age where Sectarianism was more acceptable and present all around them. It is clear the Celtic and Rangers could be doing a lot more to ensure that more young fans don’t suffer the same fate.

Former Celtic player Larsson retires from football

by Linn Dupont

Swedish football striker Henrik Larsson retires from professional football.

Yesterday the former Celtic and Barcelona striker announced his retirement. After 16 years as a professional football player he has come to the decision to put his career to an end.

“I am now 38. It’s enough,” Larsson says in a press statement. “Now it’s time for something else”. His decision to retire has been developed over time.

Larsson, who plays for the Helsingborg team in the Swedish premier division, will play two more matches in the Swedish league before he does his final match when the season ends on 1 November. After that he will put his red and blue Helsingborg sweater on the shelf and go for a well deserved vacation.

During the 2000-01 season when playing for Celtic, Henrik Larsson won the Golden Boot for being Europe’s top scorer. Amongst Celtic supporters he is known as ‘The King of Kings’.

Larsson also played in Manchester during 2007. He participated in three World Cups and three European Championships and scored 37 goals in his 106 international matches for the Swedish team. Over the  years, Larsson has retired from the Swedish team several times, but he always came back when they needed him to help support his national team.

When Larsson helped Barcelona beat Arsenal with 2-1 in 2006 it became his biggest European triumph. Barcelona received it’s first Champions League title in 14 years and Henrik Larsson became the hero.

Back in Helsingborg, sports journalist Martin Bergstroem, reveal his opinion on the matter.

“He is without a doubt one of Sweden’s absolute best football players throughout history. Of course that makes his retirement a loss for the Swedish national team and for his fellow club players in Helsingborg,” Martin Bergstroem tells Edinburgh Napier News. “Larsson’s shoes leave a big empty hole to fill out, which opens up for new, younger players to rise in Swedish football.”

“Although, Larsson’s decision was expected,” Bergstroem continues “I think he did the right thing now when Sweden missed out on the World Championships and Helsingborg at the same time missed their chance to this year’s gold medal”.

Say what you want about Sweden loosing one of their greatest football strikers, but Larsson has plans on a future as a trainer. “If he decides to stay in the football world and help develop other players, we should consider ourselves lucky'”, says Bergstroem.

After this mornings press statement with his home club in Helsingborg, Larsson stated that he is fully satisfied with his decision. “It has developed furthermore during this season. Of course, it has been tough, but it was a tougher decision leaving the Celtic,” Larsson said. “I have enjoyed my career and am very grateful to everyone who has supported me ,” he finished his statement.

Henrik Larsson

Somalian to represent Scotland

By Ross Doyle

Teenage footballer Islam Feruz was this week called up to the Scotland U17’s squad
The Somalia born 14 year-old moved to Glasgow when he was 7 and has

"proud to wear the Scotland jersey" http://pictures.footymad.net/upload/246/448851-3.jpg

"proud to wear the Scotland jersey" picture.footymad.net

worked his way through the youth setup at Celtic FC.

Feruz has benefited from the new FIFA rule changes which allows players who own a British passport and have at least 5 years education with the UK to represent one of the home nations.

Islam Feruz has already impressed at youth level, representing the Celtic U19’s team on several occasions, making his debut while still just 13 years old.

He also has the required education period from attending Glasgow’s Hillhead High School.

“I have been very proud to live in Scotland” said Feruz after his call-up, “I would like to thank Celtic for all it has done for me over the past 5 years”.

Islam will likely receive his first U17 cap during the upcoming European Championship qualifiers from October 20-25th

SFA Cheif Executive Gordon Smith was delighted by the rule change which will benefit Scottish football as a whole, “Islam is a fine example of the type of person this new rule is designed to benefit.” The move will help promote social inclusion in football and incorporate with changes in society.

The rule change has also seen other footballer’s come into contention for call-ups to the national set-up including the much debated possible inclusion of Andrew Driver. The highly rated Hearts winger has no Scottish blood relation but has been resident within Scotland long enough to seek benefit from the new FIFA rules.

Where now for Celtic?

By Stewart Primrose

Tuesday’s defeat to Arsenal raises many questions for Celtic manager Tony Mowbray, whose honeymoon period looks over.

The media can dress it up as much as they like. Celtic were not unlucky, but while avoided a mauling, were comprehensively beaten by a side better in every department.

Saturday’s win at Aberdeen was impressive. Make no doubts about it, but they were playing a side that are disjointed and have conceded 11 goals in 3 games under new manager Mark McGhee.

Yet, predictably, we heard cries of ‘scintillating football’ and of being the ‘Arsenal of Scotland’. Mowbray does not get to control what the media say, but he would be better to avoid making ridiculous comments, like comparing his style of football to Barcelona’s.

Celtic, like Rangers, do not have the players, money or resources to compete at the highest level. Their ‘star’ names included Scott Brown and Aiden McGeady. Neither is good enough to get on Arsenal’s bench, let alone making the starting 11.

On the build up to this latest ‘Battle of Britain’ encounter, we were subjected to the absurd stories linking Brown away from Parkhead to Spurs for £12 million. For somebody who cannot pass, shoot, tackle cleanly or has a decent first touch, you have to wonder why some media hacks continue to write such nonsensical material. He is a decent player, but his true value would not even go anywhere near half of the quoted price.

McGeady is probably the most talented player for the Hoops. He is skillful and does posses some natural ability, but has not really made great inroads to progress as a footballer. He does not score enough goals, something that he even admits. His crossing is mediocre at best and his attitude to learn is limited. The best thing he could do is to start looking up whilst running with the ball instead of tilting his head downwards.

Despite their flaws, both McGeady and Brown will remain pivotal to domestic success. Mowbray will rely on them heavily throughout the season, more so than his new signings, who look to be a mixed bag.

Has been 'unfortunate' so far for Celtic.

Has been 'unfortunate' so far for Celtic.

Marc-Antoine Fortune looks way of the pace and he is best summed up by a Journalist, who claimed he is someone ‘who doesn’t look like he wants to score goals’. That is a damming statement for a striker, who cost just shy of £4 million. Landry N’Guemo looks to be the best capture so far despite only being on loan. He is neat and tidy on the ball and seems able to read the game, but the true test for the African will come when the weather turns sour and games become a real battle. Danny Fox disproves Gordon Strachan’s theory that you cannot buy a player for a modest sum (£2 million) who is better than Lee Naylor. He looks good going forward and has a fine delivery. His defensive qualities do look suspect though, and this is something that could be exploited when playing against quality wide men.

Mowbray has just started his Celtic career and while defeat to Arsenal is certainly no disgrace, it does give him, the supporters, and some quarters of the media a reality check that was needed. It will be a long, tough season for them, as they look to wrestle the title back from Ibrox and secure automatic Champions League qualification.

Celts Triumph in Old Firm Cup final

By Stewart Primrose
Celtic Celebrate Old Firm win photo courtesy of BBC

Celtic Celebrate Old Firm win photo courtesy of BBC

Celtic defeated Rangers 2-0 yesterday to win the Co-operative Insurance Cup, after an extra time victory.

Goals from defender Darren O’Dea in the 91st minute and an Aiden McGeady penalty in the dying minutes of the game gave the Bhoys their first major trophy of the season.

Much like the last Old Firm derby, the match started tentatively. Both sides seemed to cancel each other out early on, partly thanks to both managers deploying identical 4-1-4-1 formations.

Celtic’s best chances in the first half came with Scott Brown, who had several efforts go just over the bar, while Rangers’ Kyle Lafferty forced a good save from Celtic goalkeeper, Artur Boruc.

The second period began much as the first had ended. Glen Loovens had a header cleared off the line by Pedro Mendes and substitute Nacho Novo looked lively, creating a few opportunities for Rangers.

The game then stretched as both sides went looking for a winner in 90 minutes, but to no avail.

But it was Celtic, and an unlikely hero in O’Dea, who finally broke the deadlock a minute into extra time. A free kick from Shunsuke Nakamura was met well by the Irishman, who headed high past Rangers Goalkeeper, Allan McGregor.

Darren O'Dea   photo courtesy of Daily Mail

Darren O'Dea photo courtesy of Daily Mail

The Hoops gained confidence from their goal and should have added more soon afterwards, with Scott McDonald and Georgios Samaras both guilty of weak efforts in front of the Rangers goal.

The Gers failed to go on the offensive after conceding and seemed to tire and run out of ideas. Then, with moments to go, McGeady raced clear on the counter-attack, only to be brought down by Kirk Broadfoot in the penalty area.

The Rangers defender was sent off and McGeady coolly stepped up to take the penalty and send his supporters and team mates into raptures with virtually the last kick of the game.

Don’t cross the boss

COMMENT by Graeme Macleod

Aiden McGeady’s recent spat with Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has confirmed one of football’s unwritten rules – don’t cross the boss.

The Republic of Ireland international has been fined two weeks wages and banned from all first team activities for a fortnight. That will rule the winger out of next week’s Old Firm derby, arguably Celtic’s biggest game of the season so far.

teamtalk.com

Aiden McGeady could be on his way out of Celtic after his recent fall-out with boss Gordon Strachan. Picture: teamtalk.com

He may be regarded as the best player in the Parkhead squad, but an alleged foul-mouthed rant at manager Gordon Strachan after last week’s draw with Hearts could have cost McGeady his Celtic career.

McGeady is only 22-year-old but he seems to feel he is immune from criticism. He wasn’t the only player given a rollicking during the alleged bust-up last week. Experienced internationals like Gary Caldwell and Georgios Samaras were reported to have been on the receiving end of some rough criticism from the boss before the alleged row with McGeady. But both took it on and chin like men and were wise enough not to answer back.

It’s not the first time McGeady has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. Earlier this season, the wide man was caught up in violent scenes on a night out in Glasgow, with allegations that the player’s arrogant attitude was at the heart of the problems.

Being arrogant enough to answer back to the manager during the course of a verbal dressing down rarely does a footballer’s career any good. But it seems to be an underlying problem with young professionals in Scotland.

Earlier in the week, former Dundee United manager Jim McLean recalled the story of when a 19-year-old Duncan Ferguson had been omitted from the Scotland squad. It was 1991 and McLean said the striker was upset. The following Saturday, Ferguson played for United in front of watching Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh and had performed poorly in the first half. McLean reminded his young forward it was the perfect chance to prove the Scotland boss wrong. Ferguson, McLean says, replied with “I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.”

More recently, with Rangers struggling under the tenure of Paul Le Guen, midfielder Charlie Adam was interviewed about life as a footballer. The then 20-year-old replied that he found it hard to occupy himself after training each day, which lasted just two hours. With his side well out of the title race at the time, a young player anywhere else in the world looking to improve the fortunes of himself and his team may take it upon himself to put in a few extra hours each day on the training ground. Not in Scotland it seems.

And his Rangers teammate, Allan McGregor, is now almost as famous for his bedroom exploits as his goalkeeping saves. The shot stopper has seen his form dip this season and his playboy lifestyle has now been criticised by supporters.

Arrogance may be the reason why Scotland cannot produce world class stars like in yesteryears. Gone are the days of Dalglish, Law and Jordan. And unless young footballers in this country adopt a hard-working ethic and take on board what they are told by their experienced managers, it could be a long time before another Scot is capable of gracing the world stage.

And in the case of McGeady, he isn’t the first player to fall foul of his manager and face the consequences. Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United is renowned for moving on high-profile stars who don’t toe the line, most notably David Beckham.

And it proves that when a player and the boss cross swords, there can only be one winner.

Weekend Sports Preview

With a busy weekend of sport ahead, Ross Hart takes a look at the upcoming action.

Football:

Weather permitting, there is a full card of league fixtures this weekend and a Scottish Cup tie this evening.

Tonight, Inverurie Locos and Vale of Leithen will attempt for the fouth time to play their third round Scottish Cup tie after adverse weather conditions resulted in three postponements. The winners will be rewarded with a home tie against SPL side Motherwell in the fourth round.

In the Scottish Premier League this weekend, Rangers travel to in form Dundee United in the early kick off on Saturday. United have only lost once in their last 14 league and cup games and sit third in the table, while Rangers will look to put more pressure on leaders Celtic after defeating Hamilton 7-1 last weekend.

Celtic meanwhile are looking to recover from last weekend’s loss to Hibernian by defeating the other half of Edinburgh at Celtic Park. Last night’s Champions League victory over Villarreal provided a confidence boost but Hearts have won five successive matches to maintain their push for European football next season.

Hibernian will look to build on their victory over the leaders last week by defeating struggling Hamilton at Easter Road. The visitors sit bottom of the table after recording only one win in their last 12 league matches but are boosted by striker Richard Offiong signing a contract extension.

In the other SPL games, Aberdeen will look to maintain their position within the top six at home to Falkirk, while St Mirren will climb above Inverness with victory at Love Street. Motherwell host Kilmarnock on Monday evening in a game to be broadcast live on Setanta Sports.

In the First Division, Dunfermline Athletic, who sit second in the table, look to keep up their push for promotion as they travel to play Queen of the South in Dumfries while Livingston will be looking to earn a first victory for new boss Paul Hegarty as they travel north to take on Ross County.

Rugby:

The Edinburgh Gunners are again in action this weekend as they travel south to play London Wasps in a Heineken Cup pool two clash. The sides met at Murrayfield last weekend with the Gunners falling to a 25-16 defeat so Andy Robinson will be hoping his team can gain revenge on former Scotland coach Ian McGeechan’s team on Sunday afternoon.

Scotland’s other European representatives Glasgow Warriors take on Bath at Firhill on Sunday and will also be looking to avenge defeat by their English counterparts. Sean Lineen’s team narrowly lost out last weekend by 35 points to 31 at the Recreation Ground.

Snooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan is looking to defend his Maplin UK Championship title as this year’s tournament gets underway on Saturday in Telford. Current World Champion O’Sullivan kicks off the defence of the UK Championship against Rory McLeod on the opening day of the tournament.

There is plenty of Scottish representation, with five players flying the saltire. Five time UK Champion Stephen Hendry takes on England’s Stephen Lee while the ‘Wishaw Wizard’ and current Grand Prix champion John Higgins faces world number 20 Joe Swail.

Former World Champion Graeme Dott faces Ireland’s Ken Doherty while the clash between world number two Stephen MaGuire and Jamie Burnett, ranked 43 places below, guarantees a Scottish name in the second round.

Weekend Sport Preview

Graeme Macleod previews this weekend’s sports action.

Rugby:

Heineken Cup Pool Two

Edinburgh Gunners vs. London Wasps

The Gunners welcome Guiness Premiership champions Wasps to Murrayfield for this Heineken Cup clash on Friday. Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson is set to make one change to the team that defeated Ospreys last week. That means full-back Chris Paterson is set to make his 50th european appearance for the hosts as they look to repeat their 2005 win over Wasps.

The visitors are two-time winners of the competition with their last success coming as recently as 2007. This will be Wasps first match since a boardroom reshuffle – which saw World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio appointed a director of the club – earlier this week.

Football:

Scottish Premier League

Falkirk are looking to bounce back from conceding a late equaliser against Hibernian last week when they host St Mirren.

Inverness CT welcome Dundee United to the Caledonian Stadium while Kilmarnock host Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

Motherwell were dumped 2-0 at Pittodrie last week and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host in-form Hearts at Fir Park. The Jambos picked up a superb three points last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Rangers at Tynecastle. That means Csaba Laszlo’s side have won five games in a row, lifting them up to third spot in the SPL table.

Rangers take on Hamilton to Ibrox looking to bounce back from that defeat. Walter Smith is likely to have Kenny Miller, Sasa Papac and Steven Davis back in the squad.

In Sunday’s match, Hibernian entertain Celtic at Easter Road. Mixu Paatelainen’s men salvaged a draw at Falkirk last week thanks to sub Colin Nish’s late strike and the towering forward is likely to be vying for a start when the champions visit. Celtic on the other hand are looking to rack up their 13th consecutive league win before Wednesday’s Champions League match agains Villarreal.

Scottish Cup

In the re-arranged third round fixtures, Edinburgh City host Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium while Spartans travel north to play Elgin City. Forfar Athletic take on Stranraer and the all non-league matches see Forres Mechanics face Dalbeattie Star and Inverurie Locos host Vale of Leithen, with the winners in that match set to be take on Premier League Motherwell at home in the next round. Junior outfit Lochee United host Second Division Ayr United with the winners meeting Kilmarnock in Round Four.

Boxing:

Amir Khan vs. Oisin Fagan

Bolton fighter Khan returns to the ring for the first time since his 54-second knockout at the hands of Breidis Prescott. The Olympic silver medalist is looking to rebuild his career following that defeat, the first of his professional career. The 21-year-old boast a record of 18-0-1 and will have to win this one to keep his hopes of a world title fight alive.

Opponent Fagan turned professional in 2003. The Irishman goes into this fight in London with a record that reads 22-0-5. The ‘Gael Force’ last fought in March against Paul Spadafora when he lost in a split decision after 10 rounds.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao

After Khan vs. Fagan, attention turns to Las Vegas where Oscar De La Hoya takes on Manny Pacquiao. This fight sees two of the best pound-for-pound fighters going head-to-head with the winner likely to be rewarded with a multi-million pound match with Ricky Hatton next year.

De La Hoya’s record reads 40-0-4 and his last appearance in the ring was a win over Steve Forbes in May. Pacquiao comes into the fight with a record of 47 wins, two draws and three losses. This clash with the ‘Golden Boy’ presents probably the biggest challenge of the Filipino’s career.

Celtic aim to smash away day hoodoo

Aiden McGeady could play a vital role for Celtic tonight

Aiden McGeady could play a vital role for Celtic tonight

By Euan Black

Celtic play Aalborg tonight with one of the most uneniviable records in the Champions League.

Gordon Strachan’s men have only picked up a single point from a possible 51 in seven barren years in the group stages of Europe’s premier competition. In these 17 games, they’ve never kept a clean sheet.

This makes for horrendous reading for Celtic fans and is made all the more incredible considering their outstanding home record, where only four teams have avoided defeat since the formulation of the latest Champions League format. Aalborg is one of those teams.

Not only do they have past failures to contend with, but also the possibility that if defeated this will be their last game in Europe for the season.

Even if Celtic win this evening, they have to rely on Manchester United beating Villareal in the other fixture to keep the knockout stage dream alive.

Strachan was particularly coy at yesterday’s pre-match press conference, where he offered little insight to his selection or tactics for the match.

He said: “I like to win football matches, I like to put out a team to play good football and I like to attack, so the side I pick won’t be any different from usual”.

There is a general consensus this match will present Celtic’s best chance of ending their torrid run of away defeats, but when asked if he agreed, he simply said: “All I’ll say is this: they’ll be looking for their first Champions League win and we’ll be looking for our first Champions League win away from home.”

Aiden McGeady, who will no doubt be key to Celtic’s plans tonight, was more open about his confidence. He claimed: “We’ve seen enough of Aalborg to see that we have a better team and it’s a game we should go out and win.

“I don’t think Aalborg created a lot of chances and, without going over the top, I thought we should have gone on and won”.

Allan Kuhn disagreed with McGeady’s assessment. The manager, who replaced Bruce Rioch at the end of October, tried to insist there was parity between the teams: “They have more international players, but at the moment I don’t think they are a better team than us.

“What is good football? To win matches? Celtic will always get results over there but this will be difficult for them because we are at home”.

Kuhn seemed to hit the nail on the head of Celtic’s problems, and if he has anything to do with it, it will take quite an effort to overcome the record that plagues their travels.

Safety first for Strachan’s men

By Brian McLaughlin

Celtic boss Gordon Strachan has introduced non-contact training in a bid to curb the club’s current injury crisis.

With 11 players currently out injured, Strachan is keen to ensure that no more key players are sidelined ahead of Celtic’s crucial Champions League clash with Danish champions Aalborg on November 25th. Failure to beat the Danes would send the SPL champions crashing out of the tournament.

Strachan said: “I cannot remember ever having an injury list like this during my managerial career, it’s not as if they are similar injuries, so it is very strange. There are different types of problems, so there’s not an aspect of our training we can look back on and pinpoint as leading to something.

“At this moment in time, we cannot have any practice games on the training pitch. We cannot do any contact stuff, I don’t have enough players at my disposal for it. I simply cannot afford to do it in case someone else gets hurt.”

Despite this move, the worst of the injury crisis that has hit Parkhead in recent weeks appears to be over, with Dutch defender Glenn Loovens back in training, along with Greek striker Georgios Samaras, with Loovens likely to feature in tonight’s match against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park.

The speedy recovery of set-piece master Shunsuke Nakamura has also given the Bhoys a boost, with the Japanese international returning to training just a week after injuring his knee in a training ground collision with first-team coach Neil Lennon.

On this, Strachan said: “The doctor cannot believe it after the scan results on his knee. Naka says he wants to play, which is a good sign, but we’ll have to see how he is. It’s the same for Loovens and Samaras. I would think Loovens would be the first one back.”

Former Cardiff man Loovens is close to return for Celts

Former Cardiff man Loovens is close to return for Celts

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