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Del Piero sidelined by hamstring injury
Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero will miss Sydney FC's weekend trip to play Wellington Phoenix in Australia's A-League with a hamstring injury, the club said on Thursday.
Officials said scans revealed the 38-year-old Italian World Cup winner suffered a strain during last weekend's scoreless home draw with Melbourne Heart. But Del Piero was cleared of any tear in the hamstring.
"Scans have shown that Alessandro has suffered a strained hamstring so he will not be traveling to Wellington for Sunday's game," said Sky Blues coach Frank Farina.
"The positive news is that there is no tear but we will re-evaluate how the injury has progressed and what we do going forward next week when we get back into training."
Del Piero has been one of the few positives in Sydney's troubled season, scoring five goals.
Mikel signs new five-year Chelsea contract
Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel has signed a five-year contract with Chelsea, the European champion announced on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old, who arrived from Norwegian club Lyn in 2006, is now under contract at Stamford Bridge until 2017.
"Chelsea seems like my home now because I have been here for over six years and I enjoy my time here," Mikel said. "I have basically won everything with Chelsea and those years have been really special for me, winning trophies with big names like Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard, who have had very long Chelsea careers.
"Last season, to win the Champions League was even more special, and I hope these next five years will bring even more success and I can win trophies with the new players we have here."
Mikel has made 261 appearances during his time at the club, scoring twice, and has won the Premier League once, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup and the Champions League.
Balotelli like Mona Lisa: unaffordable, agent says
Mario Balotelli's agent has upped the ante for potential suitors, including AC Milan, claiming the unsettled Manchester City striker is like the Mona Lisa, virtually unaffordable. "In Italy, no club could afford Balotelli," said Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola.
The claims would appear to scupper AC Milan's hopes of launching a bid to bring the Italian back to Milan, where he played for city rival Inter before moving to England.
Reports in Italy last week said the seven-time European champion could look to sell Brazilian pair Robinho and Alexandre Pato to boost the coffers for a swoop on Balotelli, who is a known supporter of the Rossoneri.
It was reported on Sunday the club's owner, Silvio Berlusconi, a known admirer of "Super Mario", wants to revive his partnership with fellow Italy striker Stephan El Shaarawy at Milan.
Despite club officials in recent days calming reports that Robinho could be sold, Berlusconi was quoted by Italy's sports media on Wednesday as saying the capture of Balotelli "is not a dream".
Goal-line system inevitable in England, FIFA claims
FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said he expects goal-line technology to be used in the English Premier League "sooner or later", as soccer's world body prepares to trial two systems in Japan.
Hawk-Eye and GoalRef will feature at the eight-game Club World Cup, which starts on Thursday and features continental champions - including Chelsea and Brazil's Corinthians - battling to be crowned the best team on the planet.
Speaking ahead of the opening match in Yokohama, Valcke said the high financial stakes involved in England's top flight meant goal-line technology would ultimately be introduced into one of the world's most profitable leagues.
He said it was costing FIFA $1 million to run the two systems in Japan, adding high installation costs would mean the technology was out of reach for smaller leagues initially but over time would become more affordable.
"At the moment it's a luxury cost. That's why you'll see it mainly in high-level competitions," Valcke said.
Casillas eyes bowing out at next World Cup
Several of Spain's golden generation of soccer players will bring down the curtain on their international careers after the 2014 World Cup, veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas said.
Casillas, 31, winner of the World Cup and two European Championships, added it would be time for the younger generation to take up the baton.
"A lot of us will retire from the national side after the World Cup," Casillas said. "The younger generation will replace us. It is why winning the World Cup again would be a wonderful way to bow out."
Casillas, though, said he had every intention of playing with Real Madrid until his contract finishes in 2017.
"I will play for as long as my head tells me to," he said. "At the end of the day, the wear and tear is more to do with the head than the body. For the moment my plan is to go to the end of my contract."
(China Daily 12/07/2012 page22)