Wednesday Kickoff: Bradford City book improbable Cup Final berth, El Salvador qualifies for Gold Cup,and more

BY DAN KARELL

League Two side Bradford City have achieved the near-impossible, beating Aston Villa 4-3 over two legs to make it to the League Cup Final next month at Wembley Stadium.

Despite playing in the fourth division of English football, the team from the north of England took down three Premier League sides on their way to the finals, starting with Wigan, then Arsenal, before finishing with Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Though hard to believe, Bradford City were in the Premier League in 1999, lasting two seasons before dropping back down to the Football League, where they have languished ever since.

The Bantams will face either Chelsea or Swansea in the final.

Here are some other stories to get your Wednesday going:

EL SALVADOR EARNS GOLD CUP PLACE VIA BLIND DRAW

El Salvador secured a place in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup after finishing tied for second place in their Copa Centroamerican0 with Panama, then winning a blind draw to determine the second-place team in the group.

El Salvador won that draw, which placed them with Costa Rica, Honduras and Belize among the teams that have already qualified for the Gold Cup. The lone remaining qualifying spot will be determined in the tournament’s fifth-place match between Panama and Guatemala.

RONALDINHO EARNS BRAZILIAN RECALL

Luis Felipe Scolari has picked his first squad since his reappointment as Brazilian national football team manager, and it includes the former World Player of the Year winner Ronaldinho.

The former Barcelona star has enjoyed a renaissance while at Atletico Mineiro, leading them to a second place finish in last season’s Brazilian Serie A, as well as receiving the award for player of the year.

Now 32, Ronaldinho will grace the pitch at Wembley Stadium next month when Brazil takes on England.

FABREGAS HOPES TO TAKE ON MADRID IN THE NEXT ROUND

Barcelona and Real Madrid have yet to secure a place in Spain’s Copa Del Rey semi-finals, but if the expected happens, they will be facing each other in yet another El Clasico encounter, this time over two legs.

Since January 1, 2011, Barcelona and Real Madrid have met a total of 12 times in different competitions, including La Liga, the Spanish Supercopa, the Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League.

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has spoken of his side’s confidence in the lead up to their quarter-final match against Malaga, saying that he hopes when Barcelona win they will meet Real Madrid in the next round.

The two teams still have one more league meeting left, as well as the possibility of meeting once more in the Champions League’s later rounds.

AFCON DAY FOUR PRODUCES WINNERS

Yesterday’s Group D matches saw late winners in both matches, breaking the spell of draws over the previous three days.

In the first match, favorites Ivory Coast battled Togo. Manchester City’s Yaya Toure opened up the scoring in the eighth minute, rifling home a blistering drive past the Togo goalkeeper Agassa. But Jonathan Ayite’s header in the 45th minute tied the match between the two sides. It seemed headed for a 1-1 draw, before Arsenal’s Gervinho scored a terrific goal on the volley from a free-kick in the 88th minute, giving Ivory Coast the 2-1 win.

North African rivals Algeria and Tunisia faced off in the second match of the day, which saw the Tunisians picking up a 1-0 win, thanks to a beautiful curling effort in open play from Youssef Msakni.

Today’s African Cup of Nations matches sees South Africa take on Angola, followed by Morocco facing Cape Verde.

QUICK KICKS

Swansea City striker Michu has signed a new four-year contract with the Welsh club. (REPORT)

Long time Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is set to sign a new three-year contract with his club. (REPORT)

Malaga has confirmed the loan acquisition of Uruguayan centerback Diego Lugano from PSG, a move that could cost Oguchi Onyewu playing time. (REPORT)

Peru’s impressive run in the South American Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament has been tainted amid reports that one of their players is in fact a 25-year-old Ecuadorian. (REPORT)

Ryan Giggs has began earning his UEFA coaching badges while still playing for Manchester United, leading to rumors that he may eventually take over at the club. (REPORT)

Milovan Mirosevic, last year a midfielder for Columbus Crew, has rejoined his former club Universidad Catolica in Chile. (REPORT)

Barcelona legend Carles Pujol has signed a new contract through 2016 with the Catalan club. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these developments? Think Bradford City’s march to the finals the most improbable run ever? Do you think Ronaldinho will be able to keep a place in the Brazil squad?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, CONCACAF Gold Cup, European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Bradford City book improbable Cup Final berth, El Salvador qualifies for Gold Cup,and more

  1. zeygote note says:

    somebody getting sacked in the morning

    hard to see the transfer hurting Gooch as hes only played like 8 out of 30 games this season. You guys think he will return to Lisbon in the summer or move to a new club?

  2. Josh D says:

    Classic youth corruption: Not only is the player 25, he’s not even from the country!

    I don’t see Giggs coaching United, but I can see him coaching Wales very soon as they already tried publicly offering him the job once.

  3. zeygote note says:

    MLS should have made a move for Michu. Offer him a 4 year 12million dollar contract

  4. biff says:

    Someone claiming on a soccer blog that Fulham and Newcastle have made inquiries about Terrence Boyd. I could not find any news stories confirming this.

    link to ftbpro.com

    • THomas says:

      biff don’t tease me. Seeing him paired with Berbatov up top could be awesome.

    • Josh D says:

      Newcastle are desperate to replace Ba. However, they recently pick up Gouffran so I doubt they are looking. Fulham aren’t doing well this season, but they have solid strikers. I’d imagine a team like VIlla are more desperate for a big striker with Bent on the outs and injured.

      Good find on the rumors. I too couldn’t find any sources.

  5. The Imperative Voice says:

    A lot of people think Lambert is toast losing to a fourth division team like this but a commentator on the BBC thinks Lerner won’t fire his coach in-season and that Lambert might even survive the drop. So we’ll see.

    The thing that makes me nervous about the Copa Centroamericano is Honduras is playing games.

    How is Malaga affording anything? I thought they were so in the red they got penalized under UEFA financial fair play rules.

    • wfrw07 says:

      They are doing it entirely with domestic and MLS players. The Honduras we play will look little like the side playing now.

    • Sly says:

      They’re not paying transfer fees and may not be paying the full cost of the salaries from their loan players, includes Piazon from Chelsea I believe. Since theyve been banned from Europe next year by Uefa they can only really make money by finishing as high a possible. They seem to be aiming for 3rd or 4th, which they are not far from.

      Plus they will sell atleast 3 good players to meet debt obligations (Isco to Liverpool please, though I think Coutinho can sorta play his role if not as well) come summer so this is probably a also an extended trial run.

  6. ed - houston says:

    the aston villa loss reminds me of the timbers’ US open cup loss to wynalda’s team.

  7. Upstate Jason says:

    Bradford City lasted 2 years in the EPL, not just one.

  8. Jeb says:

    wow…the valencia v real madrid game got extremely cagey at the end…all told 2 red cards and 9 yellows. phew!

  9. Maykol says:

    El Salvador Baby!!!

  10. Maykol says:

    Mmhmm el salvador

  11. MATHEW MUNGA says:

    Bradford city players must be in the moon all the best to them they deserve it.