Yahoo Premiership Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football (Soccer) [not my image]

Newley.com readers who are interested in fantasy football (soccer) are invited to participate in my annual Yahoo English Premiership group. Here’s more info on the game. It’s free. And fun. (Though FC Newley — a perennial force in the late 1990’s — has had several down years of late.) Team selections must be made by the start of the season, which is August 11.

If you’re interested, email me (newley [at] gmail.com) and I’ll hook you up with the group name and password. This year our pool of players is as geographically diverse as ever, with participants in Hong Kong, Argentina, the US of A, and Thailand.

Thailand 1-3 Holland

Thailand 1-3 Holland

On Wednesday night A and our friends Austin and NG ventured out to Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium to see Thailand host The Netherlands in an international friendly. Holland won 3-1, though the scoreline flattered the Thai team. The Oranje were superior technically and physically and simply outclassed their opponents. Thailand did, however, score a consolation goal in the second half.

(Side note: Holland is home to the tallest people on the face of the planet; that made for some extreme differences in height when the Dutch players stood side-by-side with the diminutive Thais on the pitch.)

I was particularly interested in seeing Holland’s Dirk Kuyt, the player in the white uniform in the foreground above; he’s a striker at Liverpool and I was impressed with his pace and skill. Here’re some more pics:

Thailand 1-3 Holland, Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok
Rajamangala Stadium.

Thai Fans Celebrate a Consolation Goal
Thailand scores.

Dutch Supporters Post-Game
A Clockwork Orange: Dutch supporters after the game.

Thaksin to Buy Man City?

Is Thailand’s ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra aiming to snap up English football club Manchester City?

IHT/AP:

Toppled Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who earlier made an unsuccessful bid for Liverpool, is planning to buy another English soccer club, according to a Web site close to Thaksin seen Monday.

The site — http://www.hi-thaksin.net — said that the former prime minister was ready to pay more than 6 billion baht (US$185 million; €136 million) for the Manchester City Football Club with partners from China and the Middle East.

Nopadol Pattama, Thaksin’s lawyer and de facto spokesman in Thailand, said he had read about the bid on the Web site but had not yet had time to ask Thaksin about it.

Thaksin, one of the country’s richest people, was toppled in a bloodless military coup last September following months of mass street protests accusing him of massive corruption and abuse of power. He has since been spending time at his home in London and traveling in Europe and Asia.

In 2004, the then-prime minister made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Liverpool and had also reportedly expressed interest in acquiring other English soccer clubs.

Note: Perhaps Everton FC would be a better fit, given the club’s prominent Beer Chang advertising partnership.

US Olympic Skier Reunited with Family in Seoul

US Skier is Reunited with Family in Korea [Not My Image]

Here’s a great story you may have missed. A small Korean child is lost in a market, ends up in an orphanage, and then is adopted, when he’s three, by a couple of American ski instructors. The kid, Toby Dawson, grows up in Colorado and goes on to win a bronze medal in freestyle skiing in Turin last year. Now 28, he gets in touch with his biological father and brother and is reunited with them in Seoul. Father and son have the same sideburns, and both brothers have earrings. (Dawson in on the right in the photo above.)

Zidane Playing in Chiang Mai Charity Match on Saturday

Zinedine Zidane [Not My Image]

CNN:

French football legend Zinedine Zidane, whose career ended with an infamous head-butt in last year’s World Cup final, will play a charity match in Thailand this weekend.

Zidane will play alongside top southeast Asian players in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on Saturday, corporate sponsor Adidas Thailand said.

Watching the ASEAN Football Champtionship — From Pitch Level

Last Sunday night A and I had the good fortune to attend the final of the biennial ASEAN football championship between Thailand and Singapore here at Bangkok’s Supachalasai Stadium. And our perspective was unique: we were in the media gallery down at pitch level, just behind the goal.

The sound of 40,000 Thai supporters cheering on their side (pictured above) was overwhelming. Sadly, Thailand lost by an aggregate score of 3-2 in a here-and-away match; the first leg, in Singapore, was marred by a refereeing controversy that caused the Thai squad to walk off the field for 15 minutes in protest. On Sunday evening, Thailand scored a goal in the first half, drawing even on aggregate, but then Singapore pulled one back late in the game to defend their crown.

Here was the vantage from the field.

The atmosphere was festive; this supporter’s costume featured a tank — a humorous reference to the September military coup.

More fans.

The crowd at halftime, as seen from the pitch.

A interviewed some Singapore supporters.

And so did PJ Roberts, of the ESPN Star Sports highlights show Nokia Football Crazy.

The Singapore squad was presented with the trophy amid a burst of confetti.

Though the match was hard-fought and tempers flared on the field at times, the Thai supporters treated the small contingent of Singapore fans with respect and generally lost gracefully.

Kazakhstan 52, Thailand 1

Kazahkstan 52, Thailand 1 [Not My Image]

AP/globeandmail.com:

Changchun, China — Kazakhstan scored 52 goals against Thailand in Asian Winter Games hockey competition yesterday, but the goal that brought the most cheers came from the outgunned Thais.

The Asian hockey little guys went into the game knowing they were going to lose to tournament favourite Kazakhstan, but an opportune goal seven minutes into the third period was celebration enough in the 52-1 loss.

The hero was forward Arthit Thamwongsin…who jumped on a rebound off the boards to slam a shot past Kazakhstani goaltender Sergey Ogureshnikov.

Up to that point, the highlight for the Thais had been when defenceman Teranai Harnnarujchai bodychecked one of the linesmen.

(Emphasis mine. You know your hockey team is doing poorly when a routine defensive play is considered a “highlight.”)

Becks Pursues His American Dream

David Beckham Chia-Pet Doll

Soccernet:

David Beckham will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and join side Los Angeles Galaxy on a £128m five-year deal – which works out at a mere half-a-million pounds a week. The former England captain will leave Real in June and begin his new career in MLS in August.

The “mere half-a-million pounds a week” refers to the fact that his current contract with the Spanish side pays him much, much more than that. [Edit: Whoops, I think perhaps the Soccernet folks were being sarcastic and silly, as usual, and I fell for the “mere.” This new contract for Becks is actually quite lucrative even compared to other big-name soccer deals, though the Galaxy will retain his image rights.]

While I’ve been critical of the MLS in the past, overall this deal is great for soccer in the US.

It’ll raise the profile of the league globally, and I think other high-quality players — Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids is one early candidate — will eventually cross the pond, as well. Crucially, Becks is arriving in LA with several years left before he’s a has-been; too often, ex-world class players come to America in their twilight years simply to collect a decent wage and have an easy go of it until they retire. That’s not quite the case with Beckham. His days of playing for the England national side may be over, but he’s expressed an interest in building up a good team in Cali.

But perhaps most important is this: What effect will Mr. Spice’s move to the US have on the David Beckham Chia Pet Bobble Head Doll industry that has sprung up — sorry — in Asia?

(Thanks to reader Katie C for sending along this link.)

Yahoo EPL Fantasy Football

Deportivo Azogues (Ecuador)

A brief alert for all newley.com readers who’re into fantasy football (soccer). My kid brother Colin has put together a Yahoo English Premier League group; go here to sign up. It’s free. Email me (newley [at] gmail.com) for the group name and password. Lineups must be submitted by 11:00 a.m. GMT on Saturday, August 19 (that’s 6 a.m. EST in the US). FC Newley is in. It will be scintillating fun, I promise.

The Best Basketball Essay I’ve Ever Read

While I admit that I don’t read much about basketball generally or the NBA specifically, this just might be the most amusing — and incisive — thing I’ve ever read about the sport.