Salvador, Jun 16 (AP/UNB) — James Rodriguez got the best of Lionel Messi in the Copa America on Saturday, leading Colombia to a 2-0 win over Argentina in the teams' debut in the South American tournament.
Rodriguez set up Roger Martinez's opening goal in the second half with a superb long pass across the pitch, and substitute Duvan Zapata scored late to seal the victory that allowed Colombia to end a 12-year winless streak against the Argentines.
Messi couldn't do enough to spark Argentina, which lost its first Copa America match since the 2007 final against Brazil. It was also the team's first opening defeat in the tournament since 1979.
"Our best player was the entire team," said Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz. "The next match will certainly be more difficult, this is only the beginning."
Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America and the Colombians without a trophy since the 2001 edition.
Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, where it lost both of the latter in penalty shootouts against Chile.
Colombia's last win over Argentina was in South American qualifying for the World Cup in 2007.
"It had been a long time (without beating Argentina)," Zapata said. "Everyone in Colombia is very happy, but there is still a long way to go in the Copa, we still have important matches ahead."
Messi and Rodriguez had a mostly quiet match in Salvador, but Rodriguez helped Colombia take the lead thanks to his great assist for Martinez's 71st-minute opener.
The playmaker had the ball in Colombia's own field before finding Martinez with a long pass toward the area. The forward picked up the ball and cut toward the middle before firing a mid-height shot toward the far corner to open the scoring.
"We are disappointed because they scored a great goal when we were playing better," Messi said. "It will take some time to accept this defeat, but we have to take the positives from today and move on to try to win the next match. We still have plenty of chances."
Zapata sealed Colombia's victory five minutes after entering the match, completing a cross by Jefferson Lerma in the 86th minute.
Argentina came closest to scoring with a close-range header by Messi that missed just wide in the 66th.
Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Colombia veteran Radamel Falcao also couldn't do much to help their teams break through their opponents' defense in a tense opening match in Group B.
"We improved in the second half and created chances," said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who complained of the bad field conditions at the Arena Fonte Nova. "We still have two matches left and if we win them we will certainly advance."
Argentina will next play against Paraguay in Belo Horizonte, while Colombia will face Qatar in Sao Paulo.
Paraguay and Qatar meet in the other Group B match on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.
Earlier Saturday, Peru was held by 10-man Venezuela to a 0-0 draw in Group A, a result that left both teams two points behind host Brazil, which opened with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday in Sao Paulo.
Rio De Janeiro, Jun 16 (AP/UNB) — For 2022 World Cup host Qatar, every Copa America match will be like a final.
Sunday's clash against Paraguay at the historic Maracana stadium is especially so because it is probably the team's best chance to pick up points in the tournament.
Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez told journalists on Saturday his team will try to compete at a high level in all three group stage matches against Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay.
He believes the first two are candidates to win the title, meaning the game against the Paraguayans represents the best chance for Asian Cup holder Qatar to register a victory.
"It will be like a final," said Sanchez. "But it will be the same against Argentina and Colombia. These are all great footballing nations."
Qatar, which is making its Copa America debut, lost a friendly against hosts Brazil 2-0 earlier this month.
Brazil coach Tite said he was impressed with Qatar's defense, although the team's ball possession was not as good as it was in the Asian Cup.
Paraguay is trying to rebuild under coach Eduardo Berizzo after failing to qualify for the last two World Cups.
"It is a team that counters very well, that can adapt to different tactics. They have a great offense," Berizzo said of Qatar.
Paraguay's coach, however, thinks his team is the favorite to win in Rio de Janeiro.
"We need to reaffirm our identity," he said.
Sanchez, who took over in July 2017 and had his contract extended to 2022 just before the Copa America, said matches like these will help the team reach a higher level before the World Cup.
"We have to forget what happened in the UAE and focus here," the Spanish coach said, in a reference to the venue for his team's Asian Cup triumph. "For us to get there (2022) in good conditions, we have to play tournaments like this."
Qatar captain Hassan Al-Haydos, who was taking selfies on the Maracana pitch before the press conference, agreed.
"We are here to develop, to adapt and to grow," the striker said. "It is an honor to be in this tournament and to be in Brazil with so many other great teams."
Next year Qatar will return for another Copa America in Argentina and Colombia. In 2021, the tiny nation will stage the Confederations Cup.
Dhaka, June 15 (UNB) - Swadhin Bangla Football team member Abdul Khaleque died at his village home in Satkhira on Friday night. He was 75.
He breathed his last around 12 noon after suffering from old-age complications.
Khaleque was buried at his family graveyard at Bharukhali following a namaz-e-janaza after Zohr prayers on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Football Federation expressed its profound shock at the death of the Swadhin Bangla Football team member.
A 36-member team of Swadhin Bangla Football team played across India during the Liberation War in 1971 to mobilise public opinions as well as raise funds.
Dhaka, June 15 (UNB) - Bottom-placed Team BJMC tasted their maiden victory in the ongoing 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating Sheikh Jamal DC Ltd by 2-1 goals in their 16th league match at the floodlit Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Saturday.
Nigerian midfielder Samson Iliasu and forward Eleta Kingsley netted one goal each for Team BJMC while Sakhawat Hosen Rony netted the consolation goal for Sheikh Jamal DC Ltd.
With the day’s well-merited win, Team BJMC have secured 8 points from 16 matches with one win and five draws while Sheikh Jamal DC remained in the 6th slot with their previous credit of 18 points with four wins and six draws.
Team BJMC got their first success in the 19th minute as Samson Iliasu netted the first goal for his side (1-0).
The Nigerian midfielder put Team BJMC ahead by a perfect right-footed volley, outside from the box, utilising a cross from midfielder Abdul Hannan Raju.
After conceding the shocking goal, Sheikh Jamal DC Ltd put pressure on Team BJMC, but failed to level the margin.
Sheikh Jamal DC got another blow in the 53rd minute when Team BJMC captain-cum-forward Eleta Kingsley doubled the margin with a long-range shot from the edge of the box (2-0).
Despite having some close chances, Sheikh Jamal booters failed to score goal for lack of good finishers and shakiness in the attacking end.
But, Sheikh Jamal finally got the success in the 58th minute while forward Sakhawat Hosen Rony buried the ball with a close-range header (2-1).
In the next matches, Arambagh KS will play against Chattogram Abahani Ltd at 4pm while Sheikh Russel KC will face Dhaka Mohammedan SC at 7pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Sunday.
Dhaka, June 15 (UNB) - The 6th edition of the JFA Under-14 National Women’s Football Championship kicks off on Monday at six different zonal venues across the country.
The tournament is funded by Japan Football Association as part of the talent hunt programme of Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF).
A total of 39 district teams out of 64, split into six zones -- Rangpur, Mymensingh, Gopalganj, Jashore, Khagrachhari and Rajshahi -- will compete in the first phase of the championship on the knockout basis.
Chairman of the BFF women’s wing Mahfuza Akhter Kiron disclosed this at a press conference at the BFF House on Saturday.
“Six zonal champions and two best runners-up teams will qualify for the final round scheduled to begin on July 10 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here,” she said.
All the teams will get participation money of Tk 15,000 each for the preliminary round while Tk 20,000 each for the final round. The champions will be awarded with Tk 50,000 while the runners-up team will get Tk 25,000 as prize money, Kiron said.
Participating teams are:
In Rangpur zone, eight teams -- Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh, Dinajpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram and Nilphamari -- will play from June 25 to 28.
In Mymensingh zone, seven teams -- Mymensingh, Sherpur, Tangail, Netrakona, Jamalpur, Narayanganj and Gazipur -- will play each other from June 19 to 22.
In Goplaganj zone group, six teams -- Gopalganj, Faridpur, Rajbari, Madaripur, Manikganj and Bagerhat -- will play from June 18 to 20.
In Khagrachhari zone group, six districts -- Khagrachhari, Noakhali, Rangamati, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Laxmipur -- will play from June 17 to 20.
In Jashore zone, Jashore, Satkhira, Khulna, Patuakhali, Magura and Barguna will compete from June 17 to 19.
In Rajshahi zone, Rajshahi, Bogura, Naogaon, Chapainawabganj, Joypurhat and Sirajganj will fight from June 25 to 27.