In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.
That's why, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. This week, we cast the spotlight on an intriguing title race in Libya, while paying tribute to one player exiting the women's game and another making his name in the men's.
'A' internationals was the impressive milestone reached by Cheryl Salisbury on Saturday as Australia's women claimed a 1-0 friendly win over New Zealand. The match was more notable, however, for the 86th and final appearance of Salisbury's fellow Matildas stalwart and defensive partner, Di Alagich. But for injuries, Alagich - who debuted against Norway as a 16-year-old in 1995 - would almost certainly have rivalled Salisbury's record tally, although the Adelaide-born centre-half still managed to start every one of Australia's Olympic and FIFA Women's World Cup matches between 1999 and 2007. On Saturday, the Matildas were also protecting a 17-match unbeaten streak against the Football Ferns that stretches back to 1994, and while Alagich and Salisbury dominated the headlines, it was a player just starting out on her Matildas career, Leena Khamis, who sealed victory with her first international goal.
days shy of his 17th birthday, Toronto FC's Abdus Ibrahim announced his arrival as one Major League Soccer's rising stars with a superbly-taken strike in his side's 2-1 defeat to Chicago Fire. In rounding Chicago's MLS All-Star keeper Jon Busch to slot home his first senior goal, the Ethiopia-born USA U-17 international became the week's youngest goalscorer, this just a month after moving from FC Dallas. Born in Dira Dauca, Ethiopia, Ibrahim started playing football at the age of eight when his family moved to Kenya, but it was when he followed his father to the US three years later that his passion became a vocation. By 14, ‘Ibee' had joined US Soccer's Olympic development programme, competing against players two years his senior, and within a year he had been picked up by Dallas in the second round of the MLS Superdraft. Now, this member of 'Generation Adidas' - an MLS initiative aimed at identifying and retaining talented American youngsters - is making a name for himself with the US top flight's sole Canadian representatives.
games unbeaten is a run that would normally be sufficient to secure a league championship. In Libya, the complication lies in the fact that both the country's top two, Al Ittihad and Al Ahli Tripoli, have survived the entirety of their Division 1 campaigns thus far without tasting defeat. The result is a two-horse title race that is simply too close to call, with Al Ittihad currently holding a slight advantages over their cross-city rivals due to their superior wins-to-draws ratio (24-4 against 22-6). Nevertheless, while there are no head-to-head meetings between the top two remaining as the league approaches its conclusion, Al Ahli will be determined to maintain their unbeaten record to provide Al Ittihad with a challenge as the Tehaa chase their fourth successive league title.
seconds was all it took after climbing off the bench against Palmeiras for Eder Luis to score the most important goal of his fledgling Sao Paulo career. The substitute's 83rd-minute strike in the Classico established a two-goal lead for Tricolor Paulista that proved sufficient to withstand a stoppage time consolation from Jeci. As well as sparking delight inside a packed Morumbi, the former Atletico Mineiro striker's goal ended a three-game winless streak for the reigning Brasileiro champions, who nevertheless remain seventh, a full nine points behind leaders Flamengo. Palmeiras, though two places and one point better off, are now on a three-game winless run of their own.
years after being named Portugal coach in the wake of guiding the country's youngsters to a second successive FIFA World Youth Championship, Carlos Queiroz once again finds himself in charge of the Seleçao das Quinas. The Mozambique-born coach previously held the reins between 1991 and 1993, during which he struggled to replicate the success he had enjoyed at U-20 and U-17 level, missing out on qualification for UEFA EURO 1992 and the 1994 FIFA World Cup™. Since then, however, Queiroz has reinforced his coaching credentials with stints in charge of clubs in USA, Japan, Spain and Portugal, as well as gaining acclaim during his spell as South Africa coach and for his contribution as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United. Now, after Luiz Felipe Scolari called time on his five-year tenure to take charge at Chelsea, the 55-year-old has been tempted to leave Old Trafford for a second time, with his task to lead another talented generation onwards to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.