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Eto’o Ends Playing Career

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Four-time African player of the year Samuel Eto’o has signalled the end to his 22-year playing career.
The ex-Cameroon and Barcelona forward, 38, posted on Instagram, stating: ”The end, towards a new challenge.”
Eto’o, his country’s record scorer with 56 goals in 118 games, also enjoyed brief stints in the English Premier League with Chelsea and Everton.
Last year, after a short spell with Turkish side Konyaspor, he joined Qatar Sports Club, his last club.
Eto’o joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in 1996 at the age of 16, but was limited to just three appearances before loan spells with Leganes, Espanyol and Mallorca.
After a permanent move to Mallorca in 2000, he struck 54 goals in 133 outings to establish himself as the team’s all-time leading scorer.
His move to Barcelona followed in 2004 where the Douala native won three Spanish La Liga titles before helping the Catalonian side to two European Champions League triumphs in 2006 and 2009, scoring in both finals.
In 2006, Eto’o became the first and only African to win the La Liga Golden Boot when he netted 26 times in 34 matches.
The Cameroonian forward scored 108 goals in 144 games for the Nou Camp club before a move to Inter Milan in 2009, where he won his third Champions League crown as well as an Italian Serie A title and the Fifa Club World Cup in 2010.
Eto’o then spent two years in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala before joining Chelsea in 2013. He later had short spells at Everton, Sampdoria and Antalyaspor, before moving to Konyaspor and then Qatar SC.
He made his debut for Cameroon against Costa Rica in 1996 and was the youngest player at the 1998 World Cup aged 17 years and three months.
Eto’o went on to play in three more World Cups, captaining Cameroon at the 2010 and 2014 editions where he scored two goals.
He was part of the team that won two successive Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002 and went on to become the tournament’s record scorer with 18 goals.
Eto’o also has an Olympic gold medal which he won with Cameroon in 2000 and was voted the third best player in the world in 2005.

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Coutinho To Spark Bayern’s Champions League Charge

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As Bayern Munich launches its Champions League campaign against Red Star Belgrade tonight, Bavarian hopes of reclaiming European club football’s top prize to a large extent on the shoulders of Philippe Coutinho.
Following seven semi-final appearances in the last decade, the former Liverpool’s midfielder has been hailed as the man who can take Bayern the extra step in European football’s flagship competition this season.
Last season’s defeat to Liverpool in the last 16 sparked fears that Bayern’s Champions League aura was fading.
The departure of veteran stars such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben seemed to confirm the end of an era, but Coutinho’s arrival on loan from Barcelona has prompted fresh hope that Bayern can be restored as one of the continent’s most feared sides.
“There are always big expectations at Bayern and of course the Champions League is a goal,” said Coutinho at his unveiling in August.
Many believe that the 27-year-old can inspire Bayern to their first Champions League title since 2013.
Earlier this month, his Brazil team-mate and Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson told German newspaper Bild that Coutinho’s arrival put Bayern among the title favourites this season.
Fellow Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso echoed that sentiment in an interview with Sky last month, saying that the loan signings of Coutinho and Croatian winger Ivan Perisic would be decisive for Bayern.
“Before those two arrived, we didn’t necessarily have a team that was capable of winning the treble,” said Tolisso.
“With this team, we can go very far in the Champions League. I think the title is possible.”
Such expectations could weigh heavy on Coutinho, who is looking to reboot his career after struggling to hold down a first-team spot in a year and a half at Barcelona.
His price tag is also a potential burden. Though Bayern paid a loan fee of just 8.5 million euros ($9.5m) to secure his services, German media estimate Coutinho’s wages at around 13 million euros a year after tax, which would make him the highest-paid player in the Bayern dressing room.
“Those things don’t bother me. I want to enjoy being on the pitch, play in big games and win titles. The numbers are just a side note for me,” Coutinho told TideSports source last week.
The Brazilian has charmed the Munich press so far, promising to learn German and speaking in glowing terms of the welcome he has received at Bayern.
He told Sport Bild that he hoped to emulate the sort of form which once made him a fan favourite at Liverpool.
“I have noticed in my first few games for Bayern that football here is very intense like it is in England. Much more so than in Spain and Brazil. That is good for me,” he said.
Coutinho even claimed he could imagine staying longer at Bayern if the club were to win the Champions League this season.
“That is a big dream for me, similar to winning the World Cup,” he said.
Yet it remains early days for Coutinho, who has made just one start for Bayern in three Bundesliga appearances so far.
He played just 10 minutes in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, with Thomas Mueller preferred in the starting line-up.
Coach Niko Kovac insisted that Coutinho needed time to recover after returning from Brazil following the international break.
“He only had 72 hours recovery time. He will definitely play in the next few games,” said Kovac.

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Barca Faces Threat Of Stadium Closure

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Barcelona faces the threat of being forced to play a game behind closed doors as their transfer dispute with Atletico Madrid and a deal involving Antoine Griezmann rumbles on.
A year on from seeing the France international pass up the chance to move to Camp Nou, he finally arrived during the summer transfer window of 2019.
Barca agreed to pay the release clause in his contract, with €120 million (£107m/$134m) changing hands between two Liga rivals.
The trigger in Griezmann’s deal at Atletico reached that point on July 1, having previously stood at €200m (£178m/$221m).
Given that Barca had held long-standing interest in the World Cup winner, domestic rivals are not convinced that they waited until mid-summer to get a deal done.
Atletico claim that an agreement was reached with Griezmann when his larger exit clause was in place and are demanding that they receive the €80m (£71m/$88m) difference.
Those demands have fallen on deaf ears in Barcelona, with the Catalan giants adamant that they have done nothing wrong.
It is, however, possible that sanctions will be imposed on them for breaching Spanish football’s disciplinary code.
Juantxo Landaberea, the judge appointed by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), to rule on the case is in the process of completing his findings.
Any action that he proposes will not be binding, with the RFEF committee set to have the final say, but they will be taken into account.
With that in mind, it is possible that Barcelona will be forced to close the doors on Camp Nou for one fixture.
That is considered to be unlikely, with a fine expected to be handed out.
Goal is able to confirm that those are the two options being mulled over and that Barca could get away with things very lightly.
If no ban on supporters is implemented, then the Blaugrana will be asked to pay just €300 to settle the case.
Given the regulations that are said to have been breached, the RFEF charter only allows for small financial penalties to be put in place.
If that course of action is taken, then it will come as little consolation to Atletico.
They stand to lose out on the €80m that they believe they are owed, while Griezmann their most potent attacking weapon across a five-year spell in the Spanish capital is now on the books of a domestic rival.

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Brazil To Clash With Nigeria, Senegal In Singapore

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Brazil has confirmed two friendly matches against Senegal and Nigeria in the October FIFA international window, with both games to be played in Singapore.
The first game will be against 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finalists, Senegal on October 10, the first time the two teams will clash in senior international football.
The second will take place against Nigeria on October 13, and comes against the back-drop of Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr suggesting this week his side needed to face African opposition in the window in order to prepare for the Cup of Nations qualifiers in November.
His words now seem more pointed, though he will surely be happy to test his side against the South American giants.
It is the second meeting between Brazil and Nigeria after a 3-0 friendly win for the Samba stars in Abuja in 2003.
“We chose two of the best African teams because they are high level opponents,” Brazil Football Confederation official, Juninho Paulista told the country’s association website.

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