COME ON YOU SPURS!
Ghana coach Avram Grant is confident his side were deserved winners after seeing off South Africa 2-1 to book their place in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.
The Black Stars were heading for a rare early exit at the continental championship after Mandla Masango’s spectacular volley after 17 minutes put Bafana Bafana in front.
However, a desperate Ghana turned things around in the second half at Mongomo Stadium, with substitute John Boye equalising from close range in the 73rd minute before Andre Ayew headed home 10 minutes later to ensure Grant’s men finished top of Group C.
With their spectacular performance, the Israeli coach said that his side were worthy winners.
“We deserve it because South Africa were not better than us,” said the former Chelsea manager, whose side also saw off Algeria on their way to making the quarter-finals.
“We started the match very well with two or three good chances. We had the match in our hands.
“We have finished first in the group of death, which is not bad.
“After losing the first match we showed great attitude in the second and continued along the same lines today.
“I am very happy that the players showed, just as in their last match, a good spirit and good attitude.”
Welshman addresses headline making incidents of recent weeks.
Gareth Bale has dismissed rumours he could be nearing a Manchester United switch with the Real Madrid forward claiming he’s happy in the Spanish capital.
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The Red Devils have been linked with a mega £150 million bid for the Welshman in recent weeks but the forward has said there is no possibility of a deal happening with the Premier League side.
“I did an interview recently and I said I’m happy here,” said Bale to Spanish radio station El Larguero, transcribed by AS.
“I’ve got several years left on my contract and I’m having a good tim. We’re winning trophies and I want to stay here.”
Bale also addressed recent criticisms after he was called a ‘ball-hog’ in the Spanish press and booed in the Bernabeu for failing to pass to Cristiano Ronaldo when he was open for a tap-in and instead electing to shoot and missing.
“People have their own opinions and that’s how they make their living. It’s their work, they get paid to do it. I think that when I’m playing I set goals up, and I score them too. I play football my way. That’s what I like,” he said.
“All I can remember is that I was going through on goal and I wanted to score,” he said of the recent incident against Espanyol.
“And if I had scored nobody would have talked about it again. But I didn’t see him and it would have been a difficult pass. But it’s part of football and that’s that.
Bale said he didn’t think this was an issue that had much importance or was given much attention and said situations such as this happen all the time on the pitch but go unreported, that’s just football.
Bale also addressed the rumours of a poor relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo after the three time Balon d’Or winner was scene cursing at Bale and gesticulating after the Welshman refused to pass the ball to him.
He added: “[Cristiano and I] didn’t speak about it afterwards. It happens all the time in football. It’s something that just gets left on the pitch. Nobody talks about it afterwards.”
Newly signed Enyimba FC goalkeeper Moses Ocheje hopes to be given further opportunities to stake a claim for a regular starting place after debuting against Warri Wolves.
Enyimba beat Wolves 1-0 in a Super Four championship in Abuja for their first win of the competition after previously losing 2-1 to the Flying Eagles.
After Ifeanyi George had converted a 14th minute penalty for the People’s Elephant, Ocheje made several important saves to help his side to victory, and is now hopeful of being given another chance to prove himself when Enyimba square up to Dolphins FC on Wednesday.
“I would be glad if the coach can start me again in our next match, and I promise to live up to expectation again,” the former Sunshine Stars skipper was reported as saying by the Daily Indepenedent.
“This is my first game for Enyimba, and I am so much happy that we won the match which is also our first win in the Super Four championship,” Ocheje added.
“Warri Wolves was superb in this encounter, but I thank God who gave me the grace not to allow them to score.
AC Milan head coach Filippo Inzaghi insists he can make the former Italian champions great again, but will need more time as things continue to go south at the San Siro.
The Rossoneri are now out of the Coppa Italia after losing 1-0 to Lazio on Tuesday, while they are also struggling in the Serie A, where they currently sit in 11th place.
Inzaghi had a very successful playing career with Milan, but is struggling to replicate that success as a manager, meaning he could follow former team-mate Clarence Seedorf out of Milanello.
“I am not looking for excuses,” Inzaghi said. “I don’t want to compare myself to him, but Sir Alex Ferguson won his first title after seven years in charge at Manchester United.
“We know we need to improve but when we have to rebuild and I need to be given the time, and with commitment and hard work we will return Milan back to the way it was.
“I have a president who loves me and is by my side and I have to thank the fans. We had a good game in the Coppa and we created a lot, but it did not go well for us at all. I’m sorry to go out this way.”
Despite sitting in the bottom half of the Serie A table, Milan are hoping to qualify for European football next season. But Inzaghi knows they will have to start picking up points soon if they want to be taking on the rest of the continent any time soon.
“We must start again with a win, we’re not in the cup any more, but we have to get back into Europe and we have to win on Sunday against Parma,” he concluded.
Zimbabwean and former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Lionel Mutizwa hopes to sign for a club in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League before the transfer deadline on Friday.
Mutizwa has been without a club since his contract with Sundowns concluded at the end of the 2012/13 season, while he spent that term out on loan at the University of Pretoria, where he played 17 matches.
According to the midfielder’s father, former player Stanford Mtizwa, his son is still hopeful that he could play in the PSL again.
“At the moment Lionel is in South Africa trying to work out if he can find a club to join in that country,” Mtizwa senior told The Herald.
“He has told me that he will only try to get a team in the Premiership there, and if nothing materialises he will return home, but he really needs to be back in action.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino may be facing a hostile reception against Sheffield United on Wednesday, but having survived the crucible of South American football, he fancies his chances against the rowdy Yorkshiremen.
Spurs take on the Blades at Bramall Lane in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final with a 1-0 lead from the first leg at White Hart Lane.
Although England is known for its atmospheric stadiums, the support of the fans is usually non-militant these days, compared to the violence he was accustomed to in South America during his time with Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys.
“It was always crazy with the army, military people and police,” Pochettino recalled. “In Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru or Ecuador, people are very aggressive. It is nothing like that here.”
The Argentine played and scored against America de Cali in the 1992 Copa Libertadores in Colombia, and his memories feature a much more hostile environment than one would find in England.
“In Argentina, when you play at the Bombonera, at Boca Juniors, if you survive on the journey to the stadium, you are lucky. Sometimes you are scared, in different countries, like in Paraguay, you are worried for your life.
“In Argentina it is impossible to have the supporters in behind you because they throw things, radios and mobile phones, it is dangerous. So if I can cope with that, we can cope with anything.”
When Premier League viewers talk of a hostile atmosphere, they usually refer to audible home support, but the fans of their League One opposition will have to hurl more than words at the Spurs boss if they hope to unnerve him.
“When I came over to France, to England or Spain, people told me it was difficult to play in, but when we arrived, it was nothing,” he continued.
“They shout when something goes wrong, but nothing else, so this is easy. It is normal the people shout at you, but in England the respect is massive.
“Your life here is better, more comfortable, than in other countries. I think football is to be enjoyed, for families, no violence.”
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Real Madrid’s transfer wish-list reportedly includes Liverpool attacking midfielder Raheem Sterling and Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane.
The English duo have been two of the Premier League’s star performers so far this season.
Speedy Sterling, 20, has bagged four goals and provided five assists in 21 league games, while Kane, 21, has netted 19 times in all competitions.
Because both players are so young and under contract until 2017 and 2019 respectively, Real know that huge transfer fees will be needed to tempt Liverpool and Spurs into selling their prized assets.
In order to fund mega-money moves for Sterling and Kane, the La Liga giants are keen to sell Karim Benzema, according to Fichajes.net.
France international Benzema has attracted interest from Arsenal and Manchester United in recent times and Real seem keen to strike a deal with either club.
Sterling has been valued at around £26m, while Spurs would probably demand slightly more for Kane due to his contract having longer left on it.
Spurs and Real have struck two huge transfers deals in the past three years, with Luka Modric and Gareth Bale swapping White Hart Lane for the Bernabeu in moves worth close to a combined £120m.
However, Tottenham announced earlier this season that their ‘special relationship’ with Real was over.
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Gareth Bale has admitted he was an Arsenal fan growing up in news that will surely be hard to swallow for fans of the Gunners North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
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The former White Hart Lane favourite has said in an interview with Spanish radio station El Larguero, transcribed by AS, that as a youngster he idolised the like of Henry and Vieira.
“I used to like Arsenal a lot, but when I moved to Tottenham of course I liked them less – but I really liked Thierry Henry and Patrick Viera, Those kind of players. They were incredible,” Bale said.
The news might not come as a total shock to some, however, with Welsh rugby union star Sam Warburton admitting in 2013 that he turned down the chance to sign Bale when he approached Southampton for Theo Walcott because the Gunners had French left back Gael Clichy.
You heard that right! Arsenal turned down the chance to capture one of the world’s best players for a paltry fee at a young age because of the Frenchman.
South Africa captain Dean Furman admits the side were just not good enough against Ghana after crashing out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.
Bafana Bafana headed into this week’s final round of Group C fixtures needing nothing less than victory to progress to the quarter-finals, and looked to be on their way after Mandla Masango opened the scoring with a stunning volley.
However, just as in their previous two group games, Shakes Mashaba’s men were unable to hold on to their advantage as John Boye and Andre Ayew both fired home in the second half to secure the Black Stars a 2-1 win, and send Bafana home empty-handed.
Speaking after the game, a frustrated Furman said: “We took the lead then allowed them back into the game. We sat too deep and ultimately that proved costly for us.
“I thought we had good moments but we were not as good as in the previous two games.
“Second half we were poor, we stopped playing the football that was so good for us over the two games.
“We kept giving the ball away, we invited pressure, and against a good side like Ghana they made us pay.”
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Jose Mourinho does not expect Chelsea striker Diego Costa to receive any retrospective punishment from the Football Association, despite his apparent stamp on Emre Can on Tuesday.
A hot-blooded Capital One Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge saw Costa at the centre of several heated incidents, including his clash with Liverpool midfielder Can, where the Blues forward seemed to purposefully step on the German’s ankle.
Mourinho, though, was more interested in the fact Costa was not awarded a penalty after being upended by Martin Skrtel in the area during the early stages of the second-leg encounter.
When asked whether the striker could face retrospective action, Mourinho told Sky Sports: “No. Speak about Costa and the penalty that he had and was not given.
“Let Costa play his football.”
It was not only Chelsea who were fortunate to have avoided any sending offs, though, with Jordan Henderson and Lucas also lucky to have escaped second yellow cards.
But, when asked about his feelings regarding the referee’s performance on the night, Mourinho said: “If I speak, the FA will punish me as they always do so I think it’s better for you to do it.
“It’s so clear so it’s difficult to accept. Even winning the game, I have to ask myself why? But the most important things is that we won.”
South Africa coach Shakes Mashaba admits his side need to go ‘back to the basics’ after they were dumped out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations at the group stages.
Bafana Bafana’s Equatorial Guinea adventure had been plagued by their inability to see out results, with the side having taken the lead in all three of their Group C encounters, but on all three occasions they came unstuck against the opposition.
Their latest short-coming, against Ghana on Tuesday, saw Mashaba’s men open the scoring through a wonder striker from Mandla Masango, although the Black Stars battled back in the second period to eventually secure a 2-1 win.
The result left Bafana rock bottom of the standings after taking just one point, and Mashaba knows there is still plenty of work to be done before the side can compete with the best the continent has to offer.
The coach said: “I think we gave it our best. We came here and scored a goal but we couldn’t consolidate.
“In the first half we played very well. In the second half, in the first 10 minutes we started to sit back. We tried to push them out, made changes, but it didn’t work out.
“We need to go back to our basics of playing football, when to do things, how to do them, and where to do them.”
He added: “We need that ability to kill off a game, that is one of the things I am talking about when we say the basics.
“We needed to take our time, but we were knocking it back to them and that’s where the problem was coming from.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Diego Costa was lucky not to have been sent off for an apparent stamp on Emre Can during Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.
The second leg at Stamford Bridge proved a fiery affair, with Blues striker Costa at the centre of several stormy incidents, the most notable of which saw a seemingly intentional stamp from the Brazilian on the Reds’ midfielder.
Neither referee Michael Olivier nor his linesman saw the incident, but Rodgers, whose side lost 1-0 on the night to suffer a 2-1 aggregate defeat, was left less than impressed with the Spain international’s antics.
“These things happen in the game but I think anyone watching it would not like to see what we’ve seen Diego Costa do,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“Not just on Martin Skrtel but on Emre Can, a young player who was clearly stamped on.
“You don’t want to see that. There’s no need for it. You can easily land somewhere else without having to directly land on an opponent’s ankle.
“It’s disappointing to see that on the replay and he was probably very fortunate the referee and the linesman didn’t see it.”
Rodgers was, however, determined not to let the incident take away from what he thought was an impressive display from the Merseysiders, both home and away.
“We’re very proud of the team,” he added. “Over the two legs, we were the better side but their goalkeeper has got them to the final.
“Up at Anfield and here tonight, he’s made some very important saves and that’s won them the game.”
The first leg ended 1-0 at White Hart Lane…
Tottenham Hotspur play against Sheffield United in the second-leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tie.
Spurs won the first leg 1-0, and will be hoping that that solitary goal means that they are able to weather any storm from the home side at Bramall Lane.
Here is the line up that Mauricio Pochettino is expected to pick…
GK) Michel Vorm
He made a blunder in their last match against Leicester City, but Pochettino has made it clear that he will pick the Dutchman again.
RB) Kyle Walker
The full-back was rotated out for the match against the Foxes, but should return for the big match.
LB) Ben Davies
Danny Rose will lose his place to the Welshman.
CB) Eric Dier
Since arriving in the summer the former Sporting Lisbon man has shown promise.
CB) Jan Vertonghen
The Belgian has been helping his young centre-back partner through matches.
CM) Benjamin Stambouli
With Nabil Bentaleb away at the Africa Cup of Nations, it is likely the Frenchman will deputise.
CM) Joe Mason
The Englishman has become a regular under the new management at White Hart Lane this season.
LM) Christian Eriksen
Possibly the Whites’ most creative player, the 22-year-old will be hoping to break down the Blades’ defence.
RM) Andros Townsend
Nacer Chadli’s continued absence means that the England international gets another chance on the wing.
ST) Harry Kane
The forward has been a revelation this season and is top scorer with 16 goals. He will be playing just off the striker.
ST) Emmanuel Adebayor
Now back in the first team after a long spell out, the former Arsenal man will be wanting to impress as his contract ends in the summer.
Tottenham Hotspur have made significant progress in their first season under new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
After a rocky start they have become more entertaining than Andre Villas-Boas’ team and have produced better results than when under Tim…
Mauricio Pochettino insists Sheffield United atmosphere will not bother him as South American fans are ‘much more aggressive’
RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: If Sheffield United are hoping a raucous crowd will help them barge their way to Wembley on Wednesday night, then they might need to work on other plans.
Spurs can book a place in their first Wembley final since defeat to Manchester United 6 years ago if they can hold on to the narrow lead picked up against Sheffield at White Hart Lane last week.
Andros Townsend’s penalty was enough to secure a 1-0 first leg win, giving Pochettino’s side a slender lead to take to Brammall Lane on aggregate.
Spurs have won 12 of their last 13 League Cup games against lower division…
With Chelsea having just secured a late victory goal in the first half of extra time against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur are favourites to face Jose Mourinho’s talented side within the Capital One Cup Final. Whilst Sheffield United should absolutely not be estimated by Mauricio Pochettino, the fact that Tottenham Hotspur are going into their second leg […]