Thursday, December 23, 2010


Boka: I aim to make a name

Arthur Boka may be a diminutive figure at just 1.67m and 67kg, but the Côte d’Ivoire’s international is a bundle of muscular energy on the field of play. The versatile defender is now in his fifth Bundesliga season with VfB Stuttgart and rates as a key player for Die Schwaben.

His nickname, ‘The African Roberto Carlos’, is very apt, with the Ivorian’s physique and style of play reminiscent of the iconic Brazilian wing-back. "I’m honoured to be compared to such a great player, but I’m Arthur Boka, and I want to make a name for myself in my own right," he explained to

Boka took up the game in his home town of Abidjan, where he was born in April 1983. While still at the ASEC Mimosas academy, the left-footer caught the eye of European scouts, and he duly switched to Belgian top-flight outfit Beveren in 2002. He later left the Jupiler League and crossed the border to Racing Strasbourg, where his solid performances in Ligue 1 earned him his international breakthrough.

The world stage as showcase
Boka appeared in all three of the Elephants’ group stage matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Germany and was subsequently snapped up by Stuttgart, a move he has never regretted.

"There’s been a huge improvement in the quality of German football in recent years. The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in the world, both in terms of the football and the infrastructure. The stadiums and training facilities here are absolutely state-of-the-art," commented Boka, reflecting on his experiences in Belgium, France and Germany.

The highlight of the 27-year-old’s career to date came in 2007 with Stuttgart’s storming run to the Bundesliga title. Years of careful team-building and development at the club paid off, as Boka and Co continued their good form in the following seasons, with sixth spot in 2007/08, third in 2008/09, and sixth again last term.

Expectations at home always run extremely high, and that puts a huge amount of pressure on the team.

Boka on Ivorian expectations
Pleased with progress at VfB
"Winning the league was fantastic. We’ve certainly come on a long way as a club. We’ve qualified for Europe eight times in the last nine years, including three appearances in the Champions League," Boka declared with some pride.

However, things have gone awry this term and Stuttgart are facing arguably their greatest crisis since relegation from the German top flight for the second time back in the mid-1970s.

At the midpoint of the domestic campaign, the club have amassed just 12 points from 17 league matches, with eleven defeats and only three victories. Two head coaches have already been dismissed, and VfB find themselves adrift just one place off the bottom of the league.

However, the team coached since last week by Bruno Labbadia have performed with far greater credit in Europe, easily winning UEFA Europa League Group H from Young Boys Berne, Getafe and Odense.

High hopes of improvement
"We started well in the Europa League, so there was much less pressure later on. We need to maintain that momentum in the new year," said the player, whose side meet top Portuguese outfit Benfica in the Round of 32.
For all his team’s tribulations this season, Boka himself is in respectable form. The man capped 58 times by his country has started 12 of the Swabians’ 17 Bundesliga matches, scoring twice and providing three assists.

"I’m happy to play wherever the coach needs me, which is in left midfield at the moment. A midfielder should be operating closer to his opponents’ goal than a defender, and it's worked out pretty well so far," he noted.

Regular for the Elephants

Good form at club level is also vital for the player’s future international career, which has already featured appearances at the last two FIFA World Cup finals. Following his debut on the global stage in 2006, Boka was again a member of the Ivorian squad last summer and has now played four games at the finals.

"Our final group match at the last World Cup was bittersweet. On the one hand, we beat North Korea to get our first win [of the campaign], but on the other, it wasn’t enough to make the last sixteen," Boka recalled.
In both 2006 and 2010, Côte d’Ivoire were regarded as promising outside bets, but failed to survive the group stage on both occasions.

It was a major disappointment for the African heavyweights, as Boka freely admitted to "Expectations at home always run extremely high, and that puts a huge amount of pressure on the team. We’ve not quite met expectations at a major tournament yet, but we’re working all the time towards fixing that."

Next chance in 2012?

The Ivorians are currently engaged in qualifying for their next major tournament, the CAF African Cup of Nations in 2012. The Elephants have made a perfect start to their Group H campaign with a 3-0 victory over Rwanda and a 1-0 success against Burundi. The next fixture is a home meeting with Benin in March 2011.

"We’re regarded as favourites, and we aim to live up to that billing, although we know all about the strength of our rivals and will need to be well-prepared. Naturally, our aim is to qualify for the African Cup tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea," the player said.

If Boka’s team-mates can match his determination and single-mindedness, it could yet be that this highly-rated Côte d’Ivoire side emulates the class of 1992, who brought the continental trophy home to the west African nation for the first and only time in their history.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o was named African Footballer of the Year for a record fourth time at the annual CAF awards ceremony in Cairo on Monday.

The 29-year-old native of central town Nkon finished ahead of first-time finalist Asamoah Gyan of Ghana and former winner Didier Drogba of Côte d'Ivoire in a poll among national coaches on the continent.

Eto'o, who won the most prestigious African football individual honour three years in a row from 2003, was voted the best player at the FIFA Club World Cup won by his Italian team Inter Milan last Saturday. The Cameroonian scored a clinical, close-range second goal in a 3-0 triumph over TP Mazembe from Democratic Republic of Congo, the first African club to reach the final of the competition.

Inter are now champions of the world, Europe and Italy and the goals of former Real Madrid, Real Mallorca and Barcelona star Eto'o have played a pivotal role in those successes. However, he had meagre success as captain of the Cameroon Indomitable Lions this year with the team making a meek quarter-final exit from the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

The leading all-time scorer in this competition scored once against Zambia and Tunisia, but the Lions suffered a shock group loss to Gabon and defending champions Egypt outclassed them in the first knockout round.
Cameron then fared disastrously at the first FIFA World Cup™ hosted by Africa last June, losing all three group matches under the leadership of Eto'o and were the first country eliminated from the competition.

TP Mazembe, the four-time CAF African Champions League winners who stunned Internacional of Brazil 2-0 in the United Arab Emirates last week before finishing runners-up to Inter Milan, were named Club of the Year. Milovan Rajevac, the humble Serb coach who made 2010 such a memorable year for Ghana, took the Coach of the Year award. He resigned after the FIFA World Cup to join Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad Jeddah.

Other award winners included:

Al-Ahly and Egypt midfielder Ahmed Hassan (Africa-based Player)

Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah (Most Promising Talent)

Ghana were predictably named best national team.

Coach Milovan Rajevac,former Ghana coach took the Coach of the Year award

The Woman Footballer of the Year went to front runner Perpetua Nkwocha
whose prolific goal scoring exploits won Nigerian Falcons the 7th CAF Africa Women’s Championship this year. Its Nkwocha’s third title after wins in 2004 and 2005

TP Mazembe made it a back to back win when they were crowned Africa Club of the Year.

The Presidential awards, given to those who have contributed immensely to the development of football, for this year went to the following Presidents of Federations:
EGYPT: Samir Zaher,
GHANA: Kwesi Nyantakyi,
ALGERIA: Mohamed Raouraoua:
COTE D’IVORE: Jacques Anouma,
CAMEROON: Iya Mohammed
South Africa: Kirsten Nematandani,
NIGERIA: Aminu Maigari.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Fancy footwork: Part 1 of the trickster trilogy

Pirouettes and stepovers, solo runs and back-heels - it is these kind of technical masterstrokes which have earned football its worldwide reputation as the beautiful game. Important though tactical discipline is to any successful team, nothing quite beats watching the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the retired JAYJAY OKOCHA thrill the crowds with their delectable skills.

RONNIE COLLINS through FIFA also would like to offer a wide range of Special Moves to help you show a clean pair of heels to your opponents. is happy to present the first installment of our 'trickster trilogy' - a three-part tutorial on all that fancy FIFA 11 footwork.

Most of the Special Moves in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 11 involve holding down the L2 button and then moving the right analogue stick in various ways - though each individual Special Move has its own particular technique.

You are tearing your way towards goal, but a defender is blocking your path. Not a problem! The Shoulder Drop will leave your opponent kicking at thin air as your breeze your way past. Just hold the L2 button and move the right analogue stick in the direction you wish to run.

The 360° turn is executed by standing on the ball and turning on an axis. Pull this trick off, and you have an excellent chance of beating your opponent hands down. To perform the 360° turn in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 11, hold down the L2 button and move the right analogue stick in a circle. However, it is not recommended to use the 360° turn too often, as if your opponent reads the trick, he can easily snatch possession and take your player out of the game.

One of the most effective ways of bamboozling opposing defenders is the Stepover, which involves stepping over the ball as if you are going to move it in a certain direction, then going the other. To execute the Stepover in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 11, hold down the L2 button, move the right analogue stick forwards and then in a smooth movement to the right or left. With practise, you can perform several stepovers one after the other, making it even harder for your opponent to predict your next move.

Just like in real football, perfecting your Special Moves requires training. The best way to practise your newly-learned tricks is to use the Arena Mode in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 11.

Which is your favourite Special Move in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 11? Where do you still need to improve? Which tricks would you like us to present in future tutorials? Let us know by commenting below/through sms to +2348131273946
Courtesy of FIFA

Thursday, December 16, 2010



Samuel Eto’o has been a talisman for each of the clubs that have dominated his career. After winning a league, cup and UEFA Champions League treble with Barcelona in 2009, the Cameroonian striker decamped to F.C. Internazionale Milano and won the same treble in his first season in Italy.

Eto’o missed out on the Catalan outfit’s subsequent triumph at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009, but now has the chance to make up for that gap on his CV with I Nerrazzuri, who step out in this year’s competition against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C. on Wednesday. Clearly excited at the prospect, the irrepressible Eto’o shared his exclusive views on the tournament with and also discussed his objectives for the remainder of his career and his memories of an eventful year.

Samuel, how much are you looking forward to making your entrance at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010?

Samuel Eto’o: We’ve been thinking about the tournament ever since we won the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid. The pressure is there but that’s a positive thing because it’s always great to take part in elite competitions. The thing is you have to know how to handle it. Everything’s going well for us here right now. We’re training well, we’ve settled in nicely and all we’re waiting for now is to get out on the pitch.

After South Africa 2010, this will be your second World Cup competition in six months. How are you approaching this tournament?

SAMUEL:It’s always a great tournament to play in, and whether you’re with your club or your national side, taking part in a World Cup is a chance to write history. My team-mates and I can do that now with Inter, and we’re going to do everything we can to write it with a golden pen. We simply can’t have any regrets at the end of this competition.

'This team now has the opportunity to rewrite Inter's history and make it even greater. Samuel Eto'o '

Q: nternazionale lifted the Toyota Intercontinental Cup in 1964 and 1965, after winning the European Cup twice in succession. What do you think a third world title would mean to the club?

A:It’s a major objective for us. This club has a great history behind it and has already won lots of silverware. But it still needs to win a lot more because the number of trophies it has to its name doesn’t reflect the size of the club. This team now has the opportunity to rewrite its history and make it even greater.

Q: You won the Champions League twice with Barcelona but you’ve never taken part in a FIFA Club World Cup. You missed the 2006 competition through injury and you’d moved to Italy by the time the 2009 event was played. Do you think winning here in 2010 will set the record straight for you?

A: Well, I did play in and win [the Intercontinental Cup] with Real Madrid when I was younger (in 1998). I missed out with Barcelona unfortunately, but I don’t feel I have to set any record straight. All I know is I now have the opportunity to win it with Inter and I’ve worked hard to be on top of my game and give my very best. I really hope the help I give my team-mates can help us secure the wins we’ve been dreaming about, in the semi-final first of all and then the final.

Q:You’re up against Korea Republic’s Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma FC in the semis. How have you gone about preparing to face them?

A:We know it won’t be easy, especially because we’re the favourites to win. We respect their strengths and what they’ve done to get here. Up to now we’ve just been getting an idea of what they're about, but no matter the opposition we usually focus on our own game first and foremost. If we can play our very best football, then we’ll be tough to beat.

Q: As a Cameroonian, have you been keeping an eye on Africa’s representatives, TP Mazembe Englebert?

A: Their opening game was on when I arrived here in Abu Dhabi and I watched the rest of the match with the other African players in the Inter team. We started getting behind them and we all wanted them to hang on to their lead. I was absolutely thrilled they won in the end. They showed a lot of pride in representing our continent and I’d like to congratulate them on the way they did that. I hope they can make the final now but if we do end up facing them there, then we’ll just treat them like any other side.

Q:Is this tournament a chance for you to escape the pressure you’ve been under in Italy? The team has been struggling in the lea gue and the Champions League and you’ve been suspended.

A: We’re not thinking about that. We’re all very calm about the team’s results and my personal situation. I got a three-match ban because I breached the disciplinary code that applies to every player. These things happen but I know I won’t do it again. On a team level we’ve had a lot of problems, partly because we’ve had one injury after another in the last five months. Things have got a lot better lately, with virtually everyone back to full fitness and some young players coming into the team. We’re convinced that as we get back to full strength we’ll hit top form and start getting the results the club’s looking for.

Q: Internazionale seemed invincible last season. Has your difficult start to the current league campaign triggered any soul-searching?

A: We’ve never thought of ourselves as the best team in the world. And at the start of the season we knew we had to go out and defend everything we won last season, which is not easy. The injuries haven’t helped and we’ve not been able to put the same team out for two games running. We have to keep on adapting to situations but we have to remember that all’s not lost yet. We’re ten points off the lead in the league but there’s still everything to play for. We only have to look back to last year, because we were ten points clear at the mid-season break but only clinched the title in the last few weeks. As for the Champions League our aim was to get through the first round and we’ve done that. The competition’s going to enter a different phase now and we’ll need to sharpen our focus. People are expecting big things of us. We know that and we know we can get there.

I’ll miss it all, when, in a few years time, I won’t be able to pull on the jersey any more, and go out on the pitch and say to myself, ‘Today I’m going to win’. Samuel Eto'o

Q: You finished second in your group and will have to face one of the section winners now. Are you worried about the draw?

A: We’ll need to have maximum respect for whichever team we face, but as a sportsperson you should never feel scared. I don’t think any of the group winners will want to face Inter either, and I also think our experience will give us an advantage. We weren’t favourites last season but we beat teams who were better than us for the simple reason that we believed in ourselves every time and we played our very best football. That’s the spirit we need to show for the challenges that lie ahead. People say you learn a lot when you lose but we’ve learned a lot in winning too.

The FIFA Ballon d’Or 2010 will be awarded in a few weeks time, with three of your old Barça team-mates in the running: Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi. Who’s going to win it?
It’s hard enough to compare them, but having to decide between them is impossible. All three of them deserve to win and I’d love to see them make an exception this time and give them all the award. They should hand out three Ballons d’Or this year.

Q: You’ve been nominated for the African Footballer of the Year award, seven years after you won it for the first time. What’s the secret to your continued success in the game?

A: I’ve kept on working, but more than anything I always try to do better every year. I don’t just settle for hitting my best form; I try to do even better. If I win this year, it will mean just as much to me as my three previous wins (2003, 2004 and 2005), though it would be a little bit special. I’m getting to the end of my career and every title means that bit more now. I’m getting older and I’m working hard to stay at the top, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to win any more trophies.

Q: Your trophy cabinet must be pretty full already but you still seem as motivated as ever. What keeps you going?

A: Winning! I’ll miss it all, when, in a few years time, I won’t be able to pull on the jersey any more, and go out on the pitch and say to myself, ‘Today I’m going to win’. All I’ll have then will be my memories. But the more victories and memories I have, the more wonderful stories I’ll have to tell my children, like when I went to Abu Dhabi in 2010 and won the Club World Cup with Inter (laughs).

Q: You’ve had a productive 2010 with your club but a difficult one with Cameroon. Looking back, what stands out for you?

A: We shouldn’t dwell on our disappointing World Cup but the problems we had there will help us improve in the years to come. We know there are so many things we need to put right and we’re going to try to do it quickly. But overall it’s been a very positive year, and not everything’s been that bad.



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