REPORTS WE COULDN’T MAKE UP
1 TIME FOR A CHANGE
While most footballers consider a career in coaching or the media after retiring, former Juventus, Arsenal and Switzerland defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has something else in mind. “I want to do something productive,” the 37-year-old told
Reuters, after beginning a six-month internship with Swiss watchmakers Maurice de Mauriac. “I see some similarities to football. In football if not all the team is perfect you will not win. It’s the same with a watch, if everything is not perfectly in place the watch is not going to work.” The plan is for Lichtsteiner to make a watch and sell it for charity at the end of his internship.
2 LIMA LET OFF
Alianza Lima’s relegation in 2020 sent shockwaves throughout Peruvian football. Only one club, their fierce rivals Universitario, have won more league titles, and the idea of a league campaign without them seemed inconceivable. Well, Alianza agreed, and have been appealing against their relegation ever since. Their argument was that Carlos Stein, who finished just outside the bottom three, should have been docked points for failing to pay players on time. Alianza eventually turned to CAS, who ruled in their favour, after the 2021 season had already begun. Carlos Stein’s only match was subsequently wiped from the record books.
3 IN YOUR FACE
A goalkeeper from Vietnam’s second division has been banned for three games and fined ten million Vietnamese dong for his celebrations during a recent clash. Pham Tran Thanh Vu was penalised for a penalty in the 88th minute of Can Tho’s clash with Cong An Nhan Dan, yet having kept the ball out – thereby preserving a point for his side – he then sprinted towards the referee and performed a knee-slide at his feet in celebration. “When I re-watched the video, I realised my behaviour was totally inappropriate,” Vu admitted. In another twist, the referee’s failure to book Vu meant that he was also handed a ban.
4 COVID CHAOS
Not for the first time this season, COVID testing protocols led to some bizarre situations, this time in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifier between Haiti and Honduras. A number of Haiti players and staff were late for pre-match testing, meaning that their results would not arrive in time for kick-off, forcing the team to field a starting line-up of just ten players, including a right-back in goal. During the match, a negative result came back for one of their goalkeepers, who was then able to join the action. To their credit, they only lost 3-0.
5 IN, OUT, IN, OUT
Kwame Poku’s call-up for Ghana should have been a fairy tale. Just two years ago, the Colchester United midfielder was playing non-league football for Worthing, yet now found himself preparing for his first international cap. Then things got rather messy: Ghanaian fans and media criticised the decision to select a player from England’s fourth tier, and Poku was subsequently dropped to the “A” team – who, bizarrely, were travelling to Uzbekistan for a friendly. Ghana’s FA then performed another U-turn, and reinstated the 19-year-old for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Sao Tome e Principe.