All posts by Daniel Feliciano

Australian Josh Cavallo becomes first openly gay male footballer

Australian midfielder Josh Cavallo has come out as homosexual, making him the first male professional gay footballer.

In a landmark moment for the men’s game, Cavallo made the announcement publicly for the first time on social media.

The 21-year-old released a statement on his official Twitter account and said he was hopeful that by being first, he would encourage others that were ‘hiding’ to come out and be themselves.

Cavallo is a midfielder for the Adelaide Jets and released the statement after stating that he had been living a “double life” and “fighting his sexuality for six years”.

His full statement read;

Today, I’m ready to speak about something personal that I’m finally comfortable to talk about in my life.

I am proud to publicly announce that I am gay.

It’s been a journey to get to this point in my life, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out. I have been fighting my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that to rest.

For the people that know me personally, you’ll know I’m a private person. Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed. Ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay. Hiding who I truly am, to pursue a dream I always wished for as a kid, to play football and be treated equally never felt like a reality.

Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer. Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before. I’ve lived my life assuming that this was a topic never to be spoken about.

In football, you only have a small window to achieve greatness, and coming out publicly may have a negative impact on a career. As a gay footballer, I know there are other players living in silence. I want to help change this, to show that everyone is welcome in the game of football, and deserves the right to be their authentic self.

It is astonishing to know that there are currently no gay professional footballers who are out and actively playing, not only in Australia, but around the world. Hopefully this will change in the near future. I hope that in sharing who I am, I can show others who identify as LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the football community. As the game of football keeps expanding, I want to help evolve the game even further, and let other players in my situation feel that they’re not alone.

Those who already knew this about me have met me with love and support every step of the way. I’m incredibly thankful for this support. To my family and friends – thank you, especially Tommy and David for making it possible for me to proudly and publicly say I’m gay.

To my Adelaide United family, thank you for greeting me with the utmost respect and acceptance. I’m incredibly grateful.

Happy Pride and GO UNITED!”

A true landmark moment for the men’s game. Well done Josh!

Newcastle looking to bring in two huge names following takeover

Newcastle United are keen to bring in both Erik Ten Haag and Ousmane Dembele as they look to make a statement following their takeover.

The Magpies were bought by the Saudi Arabian government last month unofficially, but have now got almost unlimited funds to spend over the next several years to become a major force in football.

After sacking manager Steve Bruce last week, the club have now turned their attentions to incomings and reports are suggesting that there are two huge names they are eyeing up.

According to several reports the new owners are targeting current Ajax boss Erik Ten Haag as their new manager and are willing to offer him £6million-per-year after tax to get him to join the club.

The Dutch boss has overseen a renaissance at the Amsterdam club following their Champions League run a few years ago and they are now back to their free-flowing best, with youngsters shining and lots of goals being scored.

That is something that is appealing to the north-east club, but Ten Haag is reportedly not sold on the idea. He has also been linked with the Manchester United job, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer get the sack after the recent poor run of results.

The amount of cash available in the transfer market could potentially convince him though, especially with the news that Newcastle are planning to splash the cash on trying to persuade Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele to join.

Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona waves the fans prior to the Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Juventus at Estadi Johan Cruyff on...

The French winger joined the Catalan giants in a €145m deal back in August 2017 as Neymar’s replacement after he joined Paris Saint-Germain.

However a string of injury problems and attitude issues in training have seen him fail to really live up to expectations and the club and he is currently in the final year of his contract.

Barcelona are desperate to re-sign him to a new deal but Dembele is reportedly unsure about signing after a lack of game time, leaving Newcastle to believe they could swoop in and bring him to the Premier League.

Newcastle fans are excited and the Premier League is waiting to see what they do first. January is only around the corner, so not long to wait now.

Brentford goalkeeper David Raya ruled out for five months with knee injury

Brentford’s survival hopes have been dealt a huge blow after goalkeeper David Raya was ruled out for five months with a knee injury.

The Spaniard was hurt in a collision with Leicester City forward Ayoze Perez during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat against the Foxes.

The goalkeeper was able to finish the game as James Maddison scored a late winner at the Brentford Community Stadium but the club have now confirmed he will be out of action for a while.

In a statement released by the club on Tuesday evening, the club confirmed the 26-year-old suffered the injury as he rushed at the feet of Perez late on to make a save.

The club’s head of medical Neil Greig said of the injury;

“David has unfortunately sustained an injury to the Posterior Cruciate Ligament in his left knee. The issue will require a prolonged period of time to heal and for David to then regain function and strength around the joint.

Ayoze Perez of Leicester City collides with David Raya of Brentford during the Premier League match between Brentford and Leicester City at Brentford...

“Positively, this type of injury usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process. We anticipate the recovery period for an injury like this to be somewhere between four and five months, which will enable David to be back to his previous high levels well before the end of the season.”

Raya had been enjoying a fine start to the campaign, conceding just nine goals in the first nine games of the season as a newly promoted side as Brentford earned three wins and three draws from those games. He kept three clean sheets also.

Brentford currently sit in 12th place in the Premier League in their first season in England’s top flight.

Islam Makhachev can prove Khabib Nurmagomedov right at UFC 267

Last weekend marked one year to the day that Khabib Nurmagomedov officially retired from mixed martial arts as an undefeated champion, following a submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

After the fight and subsequent confirmation of his decision to retire from the sport, Khabib did a round of media interviews across the world where he was asked who he believed the best fighters in the division were now that he was gone.

One name consistently popped up, his teammate and long-time friend Islam Makhachev.

Makhachev has since improved his record to 20-1, with two wins this year against Drew Dober at UFC 259 and then a main event win over Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31 in July.

This weekend at UFC 267 he returns to Abu Dhabi and Fight Island to take on Dan Hooker in a three-round lightweight fight on the main card.

It was supposed to be Rafael Dos Anjos in a grudge match, but the Brazilian withdrew following knee surgery and it was ‘Hangman’ who stepped in on short-notice after he snapped a two-fight losing streak with a decision win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266.

Stylistically, the fight still favours Makhachev. He is a great striker on the feet with good power to match up with Hooker’s kickboxing, but he has the ability to take a fight to the ground and keep it there in a dominant way – much like Khabib did.

Hooker will be looking for a huge upset on the night, but if Makhachev can get the victory that many are predicting and expecting on the night then he will further help to prove that Khabib was right about him the whole time.

With the lightweight title fight at UFC 269 in December just around the corner between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier, a stand-out win for Makhachev could easily see him installed as the next contender for the belt.

He is currently ranked at number 5 with Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler ahead of him scheduled to fight each other, with both men coming off title shot defeats.

Beneil Dariush is the other man ahead of Makhachev, but proving Khabib right at UFC 267 means he is likely just two wins away at most from becoming the lightweight champion of the world.

Barcelona to play Boca Juniors in first ever ‘Maradona Cup’ match

Barcelona and Boca Juniors will face off against each other in the inaugral Diego Maradona Cup match in the legendary forward’s honour.

Maradona, who passed away on November 25th 2020 after years of troubles with substance abuse and alcoholism, was regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all-time.

He represented six club sides during his illustrious career, including two spells with the Argentine club and two seasons with the Catalan giants.

Now almost a year after his passing the two clubs announced that they will face off against each other in a one-off encounter on December 14th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in his honour.

Barcelona announced the fixture in a statement on the official club website, which read;

“On December 14, FC Barcelona and Club Atlético Boca Juniors will be meeting in what is being called the Maradona Cup, a friendly to honour the memory of the great Diego Armando Maradona just over a year after his death.

“The venue is Mrsool Park, in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, which holds 25,000 spectators. Barça and Boca are, of course, two of the clubs that enjoyed the services of Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest players ever to grace the game, who passed away last 25 November 2020. The game will be screened both on Barça TV and via the club’s Barça TV+ streaming service (also on-demand).

The two sides previously met in the 2018 Joan Camper Cup final, a pre-season friendly hosted by Barcelona. The La Liga side came out 3-0 winners on that occasion thanks to goals from Malcolm, Lionel Messi and Rafinha.

Since Maradona passed away he has also been honoured by another former side Napoli, who renamed their stadium “Diego Maradona Armando Stadium” in his honour following his sudden death.

Why Antonio Conte isn’t a good fit for the Manchester United job

If one thing is sure right now at Manchester United, it’s that there needs to be a change of manager as soon as possible.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is, as of this writing, currently still the manager at Old Trafford despite the embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.

But there are reports doing the rounds now that the club hierarchy are considering his position as manager of the club, and some even state that Antonio Conte has been included on the shortlist of potential replacements.

Now lets get this clear, Conte would 100 per cent be an upgrade on Solskjaer.

He is a brilliant coach, with a track record for success at club level and even internationally with Italy where he kickstarted the journey that has led to them becoming European champions under Roberto Mancini.

He led Juventus to three successive Serie A titles before leaving after a fall-out with the board. He took Italy to the quarter-finals with wins over number 1 ranked Belgium and reigning champions Spain, before a penalty-shootout defeat to Germany at Euro 2016.

He then came to the Premier League with Chelsea and won the Premier League in his first season, before winning the FA Cup the following year and leaving following another bust up with the board.

Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea poses with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford...

Then at Inter Milan, he missed out on the Serie A title by just one point in his first season before then waltzing to the club’s first championship since the days of Jose Mourinho in 2011. He left Inter in the summer after the club informed him of their plans to sell a key player to make money.

There is no doubting his ability to coach, but one thing all those teams have in common in addition to their success is the profile of the squad and the players he brought in. It goes totally against what Manchester United currently have and have been doing in the market.

Conte is a big advocate of a three-at-the-back formation and the truth is that United’s defenders aren’t good. So it’s a positive that they’d get extra help, but United don’t have great full-backs either.

United’s biggest strength is their wingers and attackers, who play at pace and are all a great goal threat. So limiting the amount of attackers that can play in the team because of the need for an extra defender seems counter productive to the team.

Inter Milan's Italian coach Antonio Conte reacts during the UEFA Champions League first round first leg, group B, football match between Inter Milan...

Conte is also an incredibly opinionated manager which would be great for fans who are sick of the board making footballing decisions based on no experience. However despite that, the likelihood of the Glazers appointing a manager at this stage who won’t support them publicly is unlikely.

Add to that the fact that Conte would require further huge investment in a squad to overhaul it to fit in with his style and moniker, before likely leaving a couple of years later after a bust up with the board then it makes you question whether it’s worth risking a Jose Mourinho v2 appointment.

Another big concern of mine is his tendency not to use young players. While at Chelsea he had access to one of the best academies in the land and yet opted to experienced signings and shuffling players into new positions.

Players like Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho are in the first-team currently but could find their position under threat or forced to perform roles that are far from their best.

Manchester United's English striker Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring the opening goal with Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho during...

Youngsters such as Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga, Teden Mengi, James Garner and Ethan Galbraith could quickly find their path to the first-team blocked and United would be throwing away bags of talent.

The best way for United to ensure a successful appointment for their next manager is to decide on a playing style and personality type they want in charge and then appoint based on that. Not pick a big name or pick someone who doesn’t align with those processes.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich will appoint a nobody so long as they align with the thoughts of the board, because they’re not scared to wave the axe if necessary.

If Manchester United want to be considered a top club again, then they need to start acting like one. All this talk of ‘United DNA’ or ‘the United way of playing’ is nonsense if you don’t appoint staff that adhere to it.

Ole tried and failed. Conte wouldn’t even try, just like Mourinho didn’t. That’s not what the club needs and why United should stay away from Conte.

Khamzat Chimaev faces different task on return at UFC 267

The year 2020 was wildly remembered by many MMA fans as the year that Swedish fighter Khamzat Chimaev broke into the mainstream.

Two wins in ten days on Fight Island followed by a 17-second knockout win over Gerald Meerschaert meant that Chimaev was being pushed to the moon in the UFC by president Dana White.

He was openly fighting in two weight classes and was even given the opportunity to fight a top-five ranked fighter in Leon Edwards despite never having fought anyone else in the rankings.

But with the Edwards fight being made, rescheduled and then scrapped three times the hype died down a little.

Chimaev suffered with COVID-19 and had long term symptoms from the virus that caused the world to shut down. The problems with his health led to kidney issues and he even teased retirement at one point.

But after receiving treatment, listening to the doctors’ advice to rest and finally getting healthy again, the 27-year-old is now ready to return to the Octagon once again at UFC 267 when he faces highly rated Jingliang Li.

This time however, the expectation surrounding him will be far greater than ever before.

There was a period of time where the buzz around Chimaev was so great that people were genuinely pushing for him to get a title shot against Kamaru Usman or Israel Adesanya, despite three wins against unranked fighters.

The moment has passed now however and many have seen the light that it was likely too soon for that to be a thing, so he now must prove himself all over again against a fighter who many believe could have a big future in the organisation.

On top of the fact that Li is by far the best fighter he’s ever fought, there will be pressure on him to deliver just as he has in each of his three dominant wins.

If he wants to pick up where he left off and get the hype train rolling again, simply winning may not be enough. But what a win does do is prove his legitimacy in the company and among the best around.

A win over Li means there is no going back for Chimaev as is the strength of the division. There will only be killers in his future, with super tough fights no matter where he looks.

This is the biggest test and biggest moment of his young career to date and Chimaev is going to look to take it with both hands at UFC 267.

Paulo Costa told to move to 205lbs after defeat to Marvin Vettori

After a week full of drama and surprises, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori delivered a brilliant main event at UFC Vegas 41.

The two were scheduled to face off in a middleweight main event bout in the Las Vegas Apex, only for Costa to reveal during fight week media obligations that he wouldn’t be able to make the weight.

Vettori and Costa then verbally agreed to a 195lbs catchweight bout, before the fight finally got moved again to 205lbs the day before weigh-ins.

With Vettori now a fan favourite for refusing to let the fight get scrapped and wanting a war with one of the best strikers in the UFC, the two met an entire weight class above their usual division.

What followed was a brilliant fight in which Vettori showed his incredible granite chin to take the power shots of a humongous Costa in the cage, while also showing his cardio is among the best in the world with a 25-minute performance in which he earned a unanimous 48-46 decision across the scorecards.

Following the fight, in which Costa didn’t disgrace himself by any means, ‘Borrachina’ revealed a bicep injury was the reason he was unable to cut weight during fight week and said he hoped to return to 185lbs for his next fight.

UFC president Dana White had other ideas though seemingly, stating that Costa would be competing at 205lbs going forward. Speaking in the post-fight press conference, White said;

“Yeah, we absolutely tell you where to fight when this happens. Yeah, he’s gonna have to fight at 205.

He’s a light heavyweight. I mean, you guys saw him tonight. He’s massive. And the thing that stood out the most for me: as big as he is, look at the cardio that he had tonight. That was a fuckin’ dog fight. That was a war between two guys who both really wanted to win.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must go after 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool

It was arguably the most embarrassing performance in Manchester United’s Premier League history on Sunday, as Liverpool came to Old Trafford and thumped them 5-0.

A hat-trick from Mo Salah and goals from Naby Keita and Diogo Jota put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to the sword, as Jurgen Klopp’s men rushed to a 4-0 lead at half-time.

Salah added a fifth just after the break to round-up his monumental day, before substitute Paul Pogba was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Keita.

It was a straight up humiliation from United’s fiercest rivals as they came to town and cut through the Reds defence like a hot knife through butter.

United adopted that strange high-but-not-so-high press with a low block midfield and defence, meaning there was about 40 yards of space for the Liverpool defence to play into the halfway line and then be right at the team.

It was the exact same approach that has seen United win just three of their last nine games, getting cut open constantly because there is no shape or structure to the team.

Paul Scholes warned the team following the midweek 3-2 comeback win against Atalanta.

Do that against Liverpool and see what happens. The game will be gone.”

He was absolutely spot on. The game was over inside half an hour and United were completely helpless to stop anything.

It’s as clear as day now that Solskjaer has hit his ceiling with the job. He did a great job in rebuilding the squad, bringing in top talent, getting rid of deadwood and improving the morale of the squad after a torrid few years.

But now, when it comes to making the step up to becoming contenders and competing with Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and the like, he isn’t and never will be up for it.

Any top side would react to a run of three wins in nine games, especially with the manner of the performances and a thumping to your most fierce rivals at home with a change.

Manchester United like to push the narrative that they’re still a top club, so they need to act.

If they don’t, it summarises where they are as a club. Mediocrity is a term thrown around quite a lot in football, but with one title in the last decade and no trophy for almost five years now United are entering that territory.

Not sacking Solskjaer now sends a message out that the current form and performances are acceptable, which would just confirm to all that the club aren’t interested in success on the pitch anymore.

The squad is strong enough that there is still time to save this season if action is taken quickly, but contrary to what Solskjaer said yesterday it can still get worse.

UFC Vegas 41: Costa vs Vettori – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again for UFC Vegas 41 this weekend as Paulo Costa takes on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division.

The Brazilian is looking to earn some respect back following his excuses and defeat to Israel Adesanya, while Vettori is looking to finally get that marquee name on his resume following his most recent defeat to… Israel Adesanya.

It’s not the most stacked card this week in name value, but there are some very fun fights on the card that we’ll look to predict.

Last week at UFC Vegas 40 we struggled at went 5/10 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 439/689 (63.72%) with 187 perfect picks (42.6%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims picks, we completed our prelim picks here and now move on to the main card.

Nicolae Negumereanu (10-1) vs Ike Villanueva (18-12) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A 205lbs stepping stone bout between a prospect and a veteran. Negumereanu returned from over two years out to earn a split decision win over Aleksa Camur at UFC Vegas 29, while Villanueva has lost three of his last four with a KO defeat to Marcin Prachnio last time out at UFC Vegas 30.

Villanueva is a decent boxer with good power, preferring a hook to a straight and looking to take someone’s head off. Negumereanu on the other hand is a powerful striker himself with good wrestling to dictate where the fight goes. He’s incredibly aggressive and physical, with a pretty decent gas tank too.

For Negumereanu the game plan should be simple; do what you do well, and you’ll win. If he uses his wrestling, his aggressive and avoids the big punches that Villanueva can threaten with, then this should be a relatively comfortable win for ‘Nick’.
PICK – Nicolae Negumereanu via Knockout, Round 2

Francisco Trinaldo (26-8) vs Dwight Grant (11-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An interesting welterweight bout set up here between the 43-year-old Trinaldo and the man with the biggest back in MMA. Trinaldo was defeated by Muslim Salikhov at UFC Vegas 28 last time out, while Grant earned a split decision win at UFC 261 against Stefan Sekulic.

Trinaldo is a powerful striker with one of the best left hands in the division, with good boxing skills. Grant is a good mover with explosive power too, using his jab and length. He tends to throw his strikes just one at a time though and the lack of volume can often be an issue.

Grant doesn’t really set his knockout shots up well, but when he lands he hurts his opponents. Trinaldo tends to plant his feet and throw bombs too, so it comes down to durability. At 43-years-old, I think Trinaldo’s chin will likely give out first and Grant can grab a win.
PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 2

Alex Caceres (18-12) vs Seungwoo Choi (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight clash between ‘Bruce Leeroy’ and ‘Sting. Caceres has won his last four-in-a-row with a big decision win over Kevin Croom last time out at UFC Vegas 20, while Choi has won his last three with a KO against Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 29 in his last outing.

Caceres is a really well-rounded fighter, with good striking and a great pace to go with some good grappling too. Choi will be opposite him with a pure boxing stance with great power in his hands and improved takedown defence over recent performances.

For Choi, he needs to avoid takedown attempts and use his physicality to slow Caceres down. He has solid knockout power, works the body well and is constantly improving. For Caceres he must use his speed to get in and out, but I see Choi doing enough to secure a big career win.
PICK – Seung Woo Choi via Decision

Jessica-Rose Clarke (10-6) vs Joselyne Edwards (10-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A decent bantamweight bout that seems way too high up on the card for me. Clarke returned from two straight defeats to earn a KO win over Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11, while Edwards won her UFC debut against Yanan Wu at UFC Fight Island 7 before a defeat to Karol Rosa a month later at UFC Vegas 18.

Clarke is a proper grinder. stepping forward with good takedowns and willing to take strikes to close the distance. Edwards on the other hand is a brilliant kickboxer with decent takedown defence but with a definite preference to keep the bout standing. For Clarke, she needs the bout on the ground and her pressure will likely get it there.

Edwards will need to show an improved takedown defence to keep it standing, where she has a clear edge and the ability and power to potentially score a finish. You’ll know after the first takedown attempt who wins this fight, but I think Clarke will just be able to scrape a victory.
PICK – Jessica-Rose Clarke via Decision

Grant Dawson (17-1) vs Ricky Glenn (22-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun co-main event in the lightweight division as the mightily impressive Dawson takes on Glenn. ‘KGD’ is on an eight-fight win streak with a KO victory against Leonardo Santos at UFC Vegas 22 last time out, while Glenn secured a first-round KO win over Joaquim Silva at UFC Vegas 29 in his last fight to get back to winning ways.

Dawson is a pressure fighter with some decent striking defence and a brilliant grappling background that has helped him secure 11 submission wins in his career. Glenn on the other side of the cage is a technical striker with good combinations and power, with a comfortable enough level on the ground where he’s not completely outmatched.

This is a great match up and stylistically Dawson has a big edge. His pressure and pace is relentless and when he gets a fight to the ground his striking and submissions are really good, while his cardio has held up a lot recently since his move to 155lbs. Glenn has stopping power, but the longer it goes the more I lean to Dawson.
PICK – Grant Dawson via Submission, Round 3

Paulo Costa (13-1) vs Marvin Vettori (17-5-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A BANGER of a main event, which has been switched to a light heavyweight fight at 205lbs after Costa admitted he couldn’t make weight during fight week. Costa was unbeaten before he clashed with Israel Adesanya at UFC 253 and got KO’d and has had plenty of professionalism problems since. Vettori was on a five-fight win streak with wins over Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 and Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23, before a defeat to Adesanya himself at UFC 263.

Costa is an absolute powerhouse, with bricks for hands and a stellar physique as well as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Vettori on the other hand is a fighter who steps forward, closes the distance with dirty boxing before taking his opponents down and dominating with ground and pound. Costa will come forward and look to take Vettori’s head off with each and every strike, with a violent body kick in his arsenal.

Vettori though has the advantage with taking the fight to the ground and the weight issues that Costa has been having this week can’t be a good thing. Vettori’s chin has held up throughout his career, with zero defeats by finish and while Costa has other-worldly power that becomes useless if he’s on his back. I expect Vettori to press forward, clinch against the cage and work for takedowns to control on the ground for a decision win in an entertaining fight.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision