Lahm lauds Guardiola get

17 January 2013 23:24

Philipp Lahm believes Bayern Munich have found the best possible solution after appointing Pep Guardiola as their head coach.

With the current man in charge at Bayern Jupp Heynckes set to retire at the end of the season, the Bavarian giants announced the capture of former Barcelona manager Guardiola this week.

Guardiola – who will take charge at the end of this season – has not worked in football since quitting as Barca manager in June last year.

The 41-year-old led the Spanish club to three La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League successes and was in demand from several clubs across the world, with his signature representing a coup for Bayern.

And the club’s captain, Lahm, praised the work of the club for appointing Guardiola.

“As I said before, he is one of the most successful managers of the last couple of years,” Lahm said.

“That’s why everybody will be glad to work with him. We, as players thought about the retirement of (Jupp) Heynckes, and that there are not many options for his replacement.

“So Bayern found the ‘king-solution’ and we must say well done from the board.”

Lahm said it is a ‘big sign’ from Guardiola that he turned down reported options in Italy and England to coach Bayern Munich, while he also praised Heynckes for his work in making the club attractive.

“It is very special when such a manager wants to join Bayern Munich,” he said.

“That reflects the status of the club and the quality of the team that such a manager wants to train us. But it also shows what our current manager did in the last two years.

“He (Heynckes) formed a team that is competitive across all competitions. The new coach can maintain this way and improve on it. So I think that is very good for us.”

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer says the players can be ‘very proud’ after Guardiola’s appointment.

The club currently sit nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga at the halfway mark of the season.

Igesund keeps cards close to chest

17 January 2013 23:13

South Africa coach Gordon Igesund said he will only reveal his squad for their Africa Cup of Nations clash with Cape Verde on matchday.

It has been evident that the pressure is on both the Bafana Bafana coach and the players to deliver, starting on Saturday in the first match of the 2013 AFCON.

However, Igesund believes that there is pressure on every national team to perform in this year’s continental tournament in Africa. Unlike what former manager Carlos Parreira did during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Igesund said he won’t name a starting XI until the last minute.

“I won’t reveal my starting line-up until match day because I like to do it that way. It might be a little bit nervous (for the players) right up until kickoff you know, once you pass the first ball and the game is on,” Igesund said.

”They are professional football players and Cape Verde, England, Germany and Brazil are always nervous before the game starts and that’s human nature you know, it’s part of being a human being. I think we are not different to anybody else.”

Igesund, who holds a record of four league titles with four different teams in the Premier Soccer League, also said they haven’t set themselves any target of collecting a certain number of points in the first round of the tournament but emphasized the importance of winning their first match.

“We need to win every match to progress to the knockout stages but we haven’t set ourselves any target,” he said.

“I mean there are nine points on offer and if it means getting all nine points to qualify then we will do exactly that. However, the important thing right now is to win the first game against Cape Verde to ease the pressure on us and everything else will follow.”

Report: Valdes turns down Barca extension

17 January 2013 22:56

Victor Valdes has informed Barcelona he will not renew his contract when it expires in 2014, according to the player’s representatives.

Camp Nou chiefs held talks with agents of the Spain international on Thursday and the Catalan club had hoped to persuade the goalkeeper to extend his lifelong association with the club.

However, it now appears certain the 31-year-old will leave at the end of next season following the release of a statement on Thursday evening.

“Victor Valdes’ agents have told Barcelona, in the meeting held this afternoon, of the irrevocable decision from the player not to renew his contract, thus avoiding discussing future wage issues,” his representatives told Spanish news agency EFE.

Valdes’ contract expires in June 2014, and he could well make a move away from La Liga after recently expressing his desire to experience ‘other cultures’.

However, he had also revealed at the start of January his intention to retire at Barca, an opinion that has clearly changed since.

The La Liga leaders’ sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta previously thought Valdes had every intention of remaining at Camp Nou.

Reports in the winter transfer window have linked Manchester United shot-stopper David de Gea with a move back to the Spanish top flight, having left Atletico Madrid in 2011.

The Blaugrana are yet to comment on the latest Valdes news, with a pre-match press conference due to be held on Friday ahead of their clash with Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Ancelotti: Transfer window shut for PSG

17 January 2013 22:42

Carlo Ancelotti said Paris Saint-Germain do not need Cristiano Ronaldo and will not be making a move for the Real Madrid superstar.

The Italian stated it is not difficult to manage top-class players such as the Portugal international Ronaldo and PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but insisted he is not looking to pair the two together.

“Can Zlatan and Ronaldo can play together? All quality players can play together. You know, it’s not hard to manage a guy like Ibrahimovic. Ronaldo is a fantastic player, but today, I do not think of him,” he told RMC.

Following the departures of forwards Nene and Guillaume Hoarau, there has been speculation the French capital club will look to bolster their attack with big-money signings.

However, the former Chelsea coach believes he does not need to make any additions to his team in the transfer window and made it clear no deals will be done.

“Nene and Hoarau are gone, they won’t be replaced because the team is good. We don’t have to buy. The transfer window is closed for us,” he added.

The 53-year-old also added his belief that PSG are on course to lift the Ligue 1 title, but was naturally pessimistic about their Champions League chances, given the tough road ahead for his side in the knockout stages.

“We have to be champions. We clearly have the qualities to win. It all depends on the coach. If the manager does his job, then PSG is going to win. If we do not win it? Yes, it will clearly be a failure. The Champions league is harder.”

Stadiums ready to host AFCON

17 January 2013 22:23

South Africa’s football stadiums are gearing up for the start of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Both the Royal Bafokeng Stadium and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will host African Cup of Nation matches for the first time in their history.

The two arenas were used to great success at the 2010 Football World Cup.

The Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg will stage five Group D matches, two of them including many people’s favourites for the tournament Ivory Coast.

The stadium will also host one quarter-final while the opening match at the stadium, which features the Ivory Coast, takes place on January 22.

The Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth will stage five Group B matches, as well as one Group A match, a quarter-final, and the third-spot playoff match.