Tottenham Hotspur
KAA Gent
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Borussia Monchengladbach
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Shakhtar Donetsk
Celta Vigo
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AS Roma
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Apoel Nicosia
Athletic Bilbao
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FC Dallas
Arabe Unido
1:00 AM UTC Feb 24, 2017
Leg 1
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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League

Kai Rooney is different gravy

This was the week in which the Premier League was enveloped by a red tide, an age row erupted in Nigeria, Kai Rooney was introduced to the world and Birmingham were linked with a move for Andrei Shevchenko.

Fergie's friendly fire - Friday, October 30

Barely a day goes by this season that Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't vent his spleen at someone - and it probably wasn't necessary to qualify that statement with 'this season'. Last Friday, it was the FA's turn for daring to arrange a friendly in Qatar against five-time World Cup winners Brazil.

Not bad preparation for next summer's finals, you may think. Not so Ferguson, who lambasted the "intrusion of a friendly game in some unknown country" in a manner that may not go down particularly well with United's legion of loyal fans in the region. By the way, Fergie, if you've got a map to hand, it's bang next to a mysterious land named Saudi Arabia in a place, known to only a few dedicated and brave explorers, called the Middle East.

Next week: Fergie takes issue with Gordon Brown's visit to the UN to meet "some unknown guy" called Barack Obama.

The red mist descends - Saturday, October 31

Saturday was a dark day in the history of the Premier League. And, no, before you ask, Andriy Voronin wasn't named Player of the Month. Instead, this fateful day witnessed a record eight red cards being shown across the country.

The full list of perpetrators reads: Philipp Degen, Jamie Carragher, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Carlos Cuellar, Kenwyne Jones, Radoslav Kovac, Geovanni and Jlloyd Samuel. Shame on you, one and all. Oh and, just for good measure, Barry Ferguson was then dismissed in the only game on Sunday.

This weekend of shame sparked debate as to whether referees had become too strict or whether player behaviour was out control. But here's a thought: perhaps the red tide was, wait for it, purely a coincidence.

Age concern in Nigeria - Sunday, November 1

The impossible quest to defy the ageing process has preoccupied the human race for thousands of years. From praying to primitive gods, to Simon Cowell's liberal use of botox, all have failed (except, perhaps, for Helen Mirren). However, one Nigerian player has apparently stayed the same age for seven years.

Fortune Chukwudi, captain of Nigerian's Under-17 team, has been hit by allegations that he is in fact 25. Former Sharks of Port Harcourt chairman Adokiye Amiesimaka takes up the story: "In 2002-2003... I decided to have a feeder team of fresh school leavers not older than 20 years. One of my key players then is the current captain of our so-called Under -17 team. By his own admission at that time, that is seven years ago, he was 18 years old. MRI test or not, his football history is common knowledge. If we are not utterly irresponsible, how can he be eligible for this tournament when he is not less than 25 years old now?"

The main question being asked (aside from how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would Chukwudi?) is whether the allegations are in fact true. Chukwudi has denied as much but rumours that he has been secretly videoed telling anyone who will listen that he is "down with the kids" remain unconfirmed.

Introducing ... Kai Wayne Rooney, different gravy - Monday, November 2nd

The newest member of the Rooney clan was welcomed into existence on Monday and Wayne and Coleen stuck stringently to the task appointed them by whichever shadowy figure demands that celebrities give their offspring slightly strange names.

While some unfairly predicted that the progeny's name would be 'Shrek 2', it was instead the name of Kai Wayne that was bestowed on the baby boy, to general bemusement everywhere. The Guardian immediately speculated on the motivation behind the name, ranging from the Hawaiian for 'ocean' or the Finnish word for 'probably'. Our favourite, however, is a translation in the west African language of Yoruba that approximates to 'gravy'.

Just think, in 18 years' time, we could have an England side boasting Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz in midfield, with Kai proving a menace up front. Whatever happened to good old football names like Stanley, Bobby and Geoff, eh?

Vieri in line for shock return - Tuesday, November 3rd

Any player that has played for nine different clubs, moved directly between the two Milan rivals and spent just two weeks at Sampdoria before quitting, might be forgiven the desire for a bit of a rest. But having recently retired from football, Christian Vieri has now announced his shock return to the game.

It has become apparent that the man who failed to win a contract at Blackburn over the summer will be joining Brazilian club Botafogo after his agent, Franck Assuncao, met with the club's president in a bid to hammer out a deal. The agent said: "On Wednesday, I will go to Botafogo again to sign all of the documents and, immediately after that, the news will be made official on the club's website."

Despite the fairly recent return of Ronaldo, clearly the Brazilian league hasn't had its fill of players who starred at the 1998 World Cup finals. We can only anticipate that Davor Suker will soon be signing for Santos and that Olivier Bierhoff will pitch up at Fluminense any time in the next fortnight.

Sheva's feeling Blue - Wednesday, November 4th

Just when you thought English football had been degrading enough to the former genius that is Andriy Shevchenko following a shocking spell with Chelsea, a further insult arrived on Wednesday when Birmingham City were linked with the Ukrainian striker.

Yes, that is the same Andriy Shevchenko who took Europe by storm at Dynamo Kiev, scored a hatful of goals in Serie A for Milan and was named European Footballer of the Year in 2004. And, yes, that is the same Birmingham City that has won a solitary League Cup at the top level of English football.

The final knock to Sheva's ego came in the Birmingham Mail's report, which stated: "The Ukraine hot-shot isn't believed to be a top priority". So who is instead? Apparently, "first team-coach Andy Watson watched [West Bromwich] Albion midfilder Graham Dorrans in action on Saturday".

Handbags at dawn for the 2018 bid team - Thursday, November 5th

It appears that England's 2018 World Cup bid just keeps running into problems. After being upbraided by influential FIFA member Jack Warner for failing to provide goody bags at a recent do, the very same man has very publically returned a recent gift of a luxury Mulberry bag from the bid team.

After initially taking the gift for his wife, Maureen, Warner changed his mind after subsequent criticism from the English media, explaining: "When these insults touch my wife, it represents an all-time low. This malaise of my wife and I has been allowed to fester for too long much to our embarrassment and the embarrassment of the institutions which I represent. In this regard, therefore there is only one recourse: a return of this gift, which has become a symbol of derision, betrayal and embarrassment for me and my family."

Who knew a simple Mulberry bag could provoke such a huge diplomatic incident within the halls of power at FIFA HQ?


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