Chapman set for K League move, Jets sign Allwright

Incheon United are on the verge of signing the young Melbourne City centre-back, who has struggled for games this season

Australian defender Connor Chapman is set to leave Melbourne City for K League club Incheon United pending the successful completion of a medical next week.

An Incheon official has confirmed to Goal that the medical is scheduled for Monday.

Chapman, who came up through the ranks at Newcastle Jets before joining City’s predecessor Melbourne Heart in 2014, has struggled for games this season.

If the transfer is completed, Chapman will leave City after 35 A-League appearances across three seasons with the 22-year-old having only played five times this term.

Brisbane Roar defender Jade North and FC Tokyo forward Nathan Burns are two Australians to have previously played for Incheon.

Incheon just avoided relegation from the K League Classic – South Korea’s top division – last year and they will start their new campaign against Jeju United on March 5.

Chapman’s expected arrival at Incheon will increase the number of Australians playing in the K League Classic to three with ex-Sydney FC centre-back Matt Jurman having joined Suwon Bluewings earlier this month and Tomislav Mrcela preparing for his second season with Jeonnam Dragons.

Joel Allwright Adelaide City v Brisbane Strikers FFA Cup 16092014

Meanwhile, Newcastle Jets have signed winger Joel Allwright from Adelaide City for the rest of the season under the A-League’s mature age rookie rule.

Allwright, 28, is a former Adelaide United youth player but never played a senior match for the Reds, however, an impressive trial over the past week convinced Newcastle coach Mark Jones to offer him a contract.

“I am over the moon,” Allwright said in a statement.

“I have been waiting for a very long time to get a chance in the A-League so I am very, very happy that this has happened.”

Jones considers Allwright primarily as a back-up full-back but believes the South Australian could also do various jobs in the midfield.

The A-League’s mature age rookie rule allows clubs to sign an Australian player, who is aged 21 or older, and pay them outside the salary cap as long as they come from an NPL club and haven’t played professional football for the past 18 months.

Allwright is the Jets’ second recruit of the January transfer window after they also signed goalkeeper Tomislav Arcaba last week.

RUMOURS: Real Madrid to sell Ronaldo by 2018-19

Los Blancos will allow the Portuguese to leave for China, where he will play before finishing his career in Major League Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo will not see out his Real Madrid contract with Florentino Perez keen to sell the Portugal international in 2018-19, acccording to Spanish outlet Don Balon

The 31-year-old signed a new five-year deal back in November, designed to keep him at the Bernabeu until 2021 when he will be 36.

Madrid reportedly sought to dispense with his service two years ago but were forced to keep him at the club, Madrid’s Champions League victory last season prompted his contract extension.

However, Perez apparently has no desire to allow him to see out his current deal and plan to sell him 12 months down the line to China, where he will command an astronomic transfer fee and play before finishing his career in MLS.

HD Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid


Luis Enrique hails Barca defence after ending Anoeta curse

Neymar’s penalty saw the Catalan giants to victory at the Basque venue for the first time since 2007, much to the pleasure of their coach

Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique saluted the defensive performance of his team as the Spanish champions edged Real Sociedad to move a step closer to the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

VIDEO: Inside Spurs’ new stadium

Neymar scored a first-half penalty to see holders Barca beat hosts Sociedad 1-0 on Thursday, ending their curse at the Anoeta.

Barca had failed to win at the Basque venue since 2007 but Neymar’s spot-kick in the first leg of the quarter-final tie changed all that.

“That was the first step towards the semis,” Luis Enrique said afterwards.

“But we know that the second part of the tie has yet to come. However, this win was especially encouraging because it came at a ground that has traditionally been so difficult for us.

“The team worked really hard, with effort, attitude and concentration at all times. I’d highlight the solidity in defence of the whole team. We managed to keep almost all of the football in their half and that meant that our virtues shone through rather than those of Real.

“[Goalkeeper Jasper] Cillessen’s long kicks were a great way to deal with the deep pressure they generated.

“For the second leg, this result is going to force them to come at us and try to score. That will make for a really attractive game.”

A-League's 4+1 rule unlikely to tempt J.League stars

While A-League fans may be excited by the proposed change, clubs are still going to struggle to lure Asia’s best to Australia

A-League fans hoping the proposed 4+1 foreign player rule will lead to a mass migration from the J.League to Australia are likely to be disappointed.

A former A-League player, who has placed numerous Japanese players with National Premier Leagues (NPL) clubs, has warned there remains a serious gap in terms of salary expectations between what clubs are willing to pay and what J.League players demand.

Naoki Imaya, who played for New Zealand Knights in the inaugural A-League season and now runs his own football academy in Japan, is excited by Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) decision to restrict one import spot to players from other Asian Football Confederation (AFC) members from 2018-19.

The impending change – that FFA has pledged to “prudently review” at the end of the 2017-18 season – will see the A-League move in line with the majority of leagues in Asia.

Imaya is convinced more players from the AFC’s leading nations will add something different to the A-League and improve the competition.

But to sign someone of the calibre of Western Sydney Wanderers winger Jumpei Kusukami, who joined from Sagan Tosu this season, A-League clubs will generally need to revise their salary offers.

“I think a lot of players in J1 [Japan’s top division] receive around $250-300,000 net plus win bonuses, which they should probably be collecting about an extra $100,000 on top of that and they’re probably going to get not even half of that in the A-League if they’re lucky,” Imaya told Goal.

“So that’s always been a real hard case and so obviously A-League clubs will look for players like Jumpei, who hasn’t played [much] in J1 and I’m pretty sure he took a pay cut to come to Western Sydney Wanderers. But I think he wanted something different, a new challenge.”

Jumpei played just 31 minutes with Sagan Tosu in 2016 before signing with the Wanderers in July.

Imaya, who also works as an agent, regularly receives calls from J.League players interested in moving to the A-League but their salary expectations are often a stumbling block.

While this may mean that A-League clubs will focus on recruiting from other Asian countries, Imaya believes there are still Japanese bargains to be found.

The 36-year-old is in Australia this month on what has become an annual trip to help place Japanese players with clubs in the NPL.

The group of players he is representing include two with experience in Thailand, plus another who played in New South Wales’ second division last year but could join Blacktown City for 2017.

The advantage for A-League clubs of signing an import who has already proved themselves at NPL level is that the player should have already adapted to Australian playing and training styles, as well as the conditions and culture.

“Lower-budget [A-League] clubs will probably pounce on those state league visa players, who are more than capable to make that step up,” Imaya said.

One of Imaya’s clients – Tasuku Sekiya – scored 10 goals in 20 appearances for APIA Leichhardt last year to finish equal sixth in NPL NSW’s Golden Boot standings and was named in the competition’s team of the year for 2016.

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe: Mane & Saivet secure quarter-final spot

The Liverpool striker was on target for his country as they secured the win and their place in the knockout stages

Senegal became the first team to book their place in the quarter-finals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Zimbabwe at Stade de Franceville.

Aliou Cisse’s men did all the damage in the opening stages of the Group B clash on Thursday, launching an early onslaught their opponents were ill-equipped to handle.

Sadio Mane netted from close range and the influential midfielder Henri Saivet scored a magnificent free-kick.

Those goals and a trio of presentable chances all arrived within a torrid opening 13 minutes for Zimbabwe, and Senegal were content to keep their overwhelmed opponents at arms’ length for the rest of the first half.

Slack finishing and heroics from Warriors goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva after the interval prevented a more handsome margin of victory.

Only defeat, a Tunisia victory and a five-goal swing against them in the final round of matches will deny Senegal top spot, while Zimbabwe still harbour hopes of taking second with victory over the north African nation – providing Cisse’s men do them a favour against Algeria.

Senegal started firmly on the front foot, with Lazio forward Keita Balde driving towards a retreating Zimbabwe defence and dragging a shot wide, before Saivet dispossessed Willard Katsande and played in Mame Biram Diouf to dink over Mukuruva and into the side-netting.

Keita had an attempt blocked at the end of a menacing run by Sparta Prague defender Costa Nhamoinesu and Zimbabwe’s increasingly desperate resistance was broken in the ninth minute.

Saivet again took advantage of a disorganised midfield and threaded a pass down the left channel to Keita, whose cross was tapped in at the far post by Mane.

Diouf failed to get a decisive touch on Lamine Gassama’s teasing cross but Senegal did not have to wait long for their second.

Keita tormented Zimbabwe once more, drawing a foul from Onismor Bhasera and leaving Saivet to arrow home from 25-yards

Kalisto Pasuwa’s side managed to string together their first sustained spell of pressure after the half-hour mark and Senegal needed a thudding last-ditch tackle from Cheikh M’Bengue to deny Nyasha Mushekwi.

Senegal v Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane AFCON Senegal

Zimbabwe had improved markedly as half-time approached and Khama Billiat should have done better when he burst into the box and shot at Senegal goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo.

Diouf continued his wayward outing in front of goal when he lifted a shot over from seven yards in the 49th minute having been played into the box by Idrissa Gueye – the Everton man who was also pulling the strings when Mane crashed beyond the crossbar shortly afterwards.

Mukuruva came to the fore as his colleagues tired, standing firm to thwart Mane following a jinking run into the box, before beating Keita’s 72nd-minute strike to safety.

A counter-attack then ended with Diallo saving from Mushekwi and Billiat fired wide – Zimbabwe again leaving it too late as they only came to life in the half late on. 

Diouf’s replacement Moussa Sow looked to garnish victory with an overhead kick where enthusiasm outmatched execution and Mukuruva prevented Keita from adding the goal his endeavours deserved, but it was highly satisfactory outing for the Teranga Lions.