Igesund settled in South Africa role

7 August 2012 15:32

Gordon Igesund has been in the job for just over a month, but so far the new South Africa coach seems to be making all the right moves.

The four-time League title-winning coach was officially appointed as Pitso Mosimane’s successor on July 1, and has wasted no time in getting players, coaches and club owners to subscribe to his way of thinking.

Igesund has been touring the country to meet with the various stakeholders in the local game and is hoping it bears fruit as Bafana Bafana start their build-up to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

“Things are going very, very nicely,” Igesund told KickOff.com.

“My main priority over the last few weeks has been to make sure I visit every team; to build up a relationship with the coach, to build up a relationship with the chairmen, to focus on how we need them and what we can do for them and what they can do for us in regards to releasing players on time, about calling up players and giving them reports after the camps and so forth.

“So far everyone’s been very positive and obviously I’m very happy about that.

“I will be making a statement in the next week or two about what I’m trying to achieve with these visits, and then I want to try and get overseas and see a couple of players there that I need to have a chat to, so that’s where I am at the moment.”

Igesund’s appointment seems to have everyone excited; so much so that Orlando Pirates striker and Bafana’s leading all-time scorer Benni McCarthy has gone public about his desire to represent the national team again.

However, Igesund says he is not prepared to discuss individual players and that everyone has an equal chance of playing for the country.

“As far as Benni McCarthy is concerned, he is no different to any other player in our domestic league,” the coach said.

“Everybody will know that to play in the national team you need to play with passion, with pride, and I’m sure they will all do that, but they have to be at the top of their game.”

Igesund’s first game in charge will be a high-profile international friendly against five-time world champions Brazil on September 7.

Heynckes: Bayern defence needs to improve

7 August 2012 15:00

Jupp Heynckes admits Bayern Munich still have work to do in defence following their Liga Total! Cup campaign at the weekend.

The Bavarians had to settle for third spot in the annual pre-season tournament after a 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen and a 1-0 win over Hamburg, but while veteran coach was pleased with the side’s forward play, he is demanding an improvement at the back.

“Our attacking play is marked by imagination, intelligence and skill. However, we have to work harder as a team in defence, which we did outstandingly well in the first third of last season,” Heynckes told the club’s official website.

“We’ll be working on that almost every day. Once the players are rested and have restored their energy levels, it’ll be much easier to train this area and make it happen in matches.

“We have three weeks to go until the league restarts, and two weeks until the cup tie. We’ll use the time to run into form and take ourselves back to the top.”

Bayern start the 2012-13 Bundesliga campaign with a trip to newly-promoted Greuther Furth.

Moura can go, if the price is right

7 August 2012 14:52

Sao Paulo vice-president Joao Paulo de Jesus Lopes has confirmed that Paris Saint-Germain are keen to sign Lucas Moura.

The 19-year-old was previously linked with clubs such as Inter and Manchester United, but the Serie A side recently pulled out of the race to sign the winger, while no bid has yet been tabled by the Reds.

Consequently, PSG now seem to be sitting in pole position to sign Lucas, with the Tricolor supremo now admitting that a transfer could be on the cards if the Brazilian is open to a move to the Ligue 1 giants.

“PSG have made an enquiry about Lucas. (PSG sporting director) Leonardo has a very good relationship with Sao Paulo, but no definite decision has been made yet,” Paulo de Jesus Lopes told Le 10 Sport.

“It’s a financial issue. Paris Saint-Germain are a big club in European football, and if the player’s interests and also the club’s are met, I do not see why it could not happen.

“A transfer is an option, but it is up to the player to decide.

“Sao Paulo’s policy is to listen to the player’s desire. If Lucas wants to leave the club, Sao Paulo will not hamper a move. However, he will only leave for the right price.”

Lucas is playing for Brazil at the Olympics and is expected to decide on his future after the tournament.

Szczesny learns from Euro experience

7 August 2012 14:31

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has claimed he appreciates his torrid Euro 2012 experience this summer.

The Polish number one was sent off in the host’s opening game and subsequently only played 69 minutes of his country’s campaign, with Poland crashing out in the group stages.

And after enjoying a strong breakthrough season at the Emirates Stadium, Szczesny admitted the events in Poland and Ukraine were tough to take, but he believes the whole experience will help him in the long term.

Szczesny told the club’s official website: “It was obviously quite tough getting sent off in the first game and then being left out for the third match, but the experience of being there was different, something I have never had before.

“Every time I play for the national team and hear the national anthem it is probably the best feeling a player can experience. But then the buzz (at Euro 2012) was unbelievable and if anything we wanted it too much.

“We were up for (the opening game), we had been preparing for four years and for me it all finished quite quickly. But to experience it will make not only myself, but the whole team, stronger.”

And the 22-year-old is ready to accept his dismissal as simply another element of a steep learning curve, insisting the events in Poland and Ukraine have helped him to mature as a player.

“Obviously the sending off is (part of) a learning curve for me and hopefully that will never happen again. But it has made me more mature,” Szczesny said.

“Before the game I had never felt better in my life. Physically I was really fit and mentally strong and it just shows you that you never know what is around the corner. In that way it made me more mature.”

Santa Cruz enjoys City game time

7 August 2012 14:22

Roque Santa Cruz is happy for some pre-season game time for Manchester City after spending last season on loan at Real Betis.

The Paraguay striker has been out of favour at the Etihad Stadium, with Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko all ahead of him in the pecking order.

But he appeared late-on in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Wolfsburg and played 73 minutes in Sunday’s 4-0 friendly win over Limerick.

Speculation over his future continues but the 30-year-old is concentrating on Saturday’s Community Shield and the start of the Premier League season for the time being.

“For me, it was great to play for 70 minutes – I had a good, long season last year and I’m just coming back from holiday and feeling good, looking forward to what is coming in the next two weeks,” Santa Cruz told the club’s official website.

“There are a couple of players who haven’t played so much this pre-season so it was good to have a game and build up some match fitness.”

The former Blackburn forward partnered Dzeko against the Irish side and, after watching the Bosnian score two of City’s four goals, he was happy at his team-mate’s success.

“I’m really pleased for Edin to come back in and get a couple of goals after his injury,” Santa Cruz said.

“It’s really good for his confidence looking ahead to the new season.”

After the Community Shield on Sunday, Roberto Mancini’s men will face Southampton six days later in the first match of the new Premier League season.