Mexico´s Tena plots Brazil upset

11 August 2012 14:10

Mexico manager Luis Fernando Tena says his team are capable upstaging favourites Brazil in the men’s football Olympic final on Saturday.

Brazil are red-hot favourites to end their gold medal drought at the London Games after booking their spot in the final for the first time since 1988.

Tena’s side beat Japan 3-1 in the semi-final on August 7 to advance to the final game of the competition and he believes a shock could be on the cards at Wembley Stadium.

“We are happy knowing that at least we’ll get the silver medal, but at the same time we are ambitious so we’ll try to close these games in the best fashion,” the 54-year-old said.

“We can play well against Brazil even though they are favourites. Even before the Games started, they already were alongside Spain and Team GB (as favourites) but mainly, it was Brazil.

“Yesterday I read about the odds for this game in Las Vegas and apparently they’re favourites by far but still, we believe in ourselves and I think we can surprise Brazil.

Tena also spoke about Giovani dos Santos’ injury, saying Mexico would miss the Tottenham attacking midfielder but hoped they could compensate for his loss.

“Unfortunately Giovani dos Santos, who’s a great player and was showing great character in the training sessions and games in order to overcome his injury, won’t be pickable in the end,” he said.

“It’s a pity for him and sensitive for the team but we have shown that we are strong enough mentally. We can overcome these adversities and we know that we have a good enough team and alternatives.

“As I just said, it’s a shame he’s injured because obviously we wanted him to play this final. But our team his strong and we trust in ourselves.”

Meanwhile, head coach Mano Menezes is adamant his Brazil squad will not underestimate their opponents.

Brazil have claimed victory in all five matches en route to the final, scoring a total of 15 goals in the process but the former Corinthians manager insists the players are focused on the task at hand.

“The players are very calm, not over-euphoric about being in the final,” he said.

“But our team should be congratulated, they have come a long way since May when they were nowhere and now they are in an Olympic final.

“It has been 24 years since Brazil have been in the final, which shows how difficult it is to get there.”

Report: Torino chase Drenthe

11 August 2012 13:37

Former Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe could be on his way to Torino, according to reports.

The Turin side are eager to add some fresh blood to their squad in order to be competitive at the highest level following their promotion to Italy’s top tier last season, and head coach Giampiero Ventura sees the Dutchman as a useful addition to his team, Tuttosport reported on Saturday.

Drenthe came through the ranks of the Feyenoord youth academy, but left the Eredivisie side for the Bernabeu in 2007.

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old failed to live up to the high expectations at the La Liga champions, and was released on a free transfer after loan spells at Hercules and Everton in the past two seasons.

He has since been linked with clubs such as Feyenoord and Galatasaray, but could now be on his way to Italy instead following Torino’s interest.

Krkic focusing on Roma duties

11 August 2012 13:16

Bojan Krkic is determined to prove his worth at Roma and a potential return to Barcelona in the future is not on his mind.

The 21-year-old moved to the capital city club from Camp Nou in 2011 but the Catalans are obliged to re-purchase him at the end of the season.

Nevertheless, Bojan is solely focusing on his time at Roma for now, and is hoping that he can realise his potential under Zdenek Zeman.

“I want to have a great season at this club,” Bojan told Roma Channel.

“Not because I want to impress Barcelona, but simply because Roma are a great team. It’s important for me to be here.”

Roma could block Bojan’s return to Barcelona next year if they pay the Liga giants a 28-million-euro fee.

Stoke set to seal Popov loan move

11 August 2012 13:07

Stoke City are set to sign Dinamo Kiev full-back Goran Popov on a season-long loan deal.

The club have announced that they hope to finalise the move on Monday before the Macedonia international joins up with his national team for their friendly against Lithuania.

Popov, primarily a left-back, faced Stoke in the Europa League last season and left a lasting impression on manager Tony Pulis.

“Goran really impressed me last season,” Pulis told the club’s website. “He’s an experienced player for his age and he has a great left foot on him.

“Naturally gifted left-sided players are like gold dust, so he will give us strength in depth down that left hand side which can only improve us.

“We had him watched when he played in the Europa League against Feyenoord the other night and he did exceptionally well in that game.

“Goran wants to play in the Premier League and he was impressed with us when we played the two games against them in the Europa League.

“It’s a season-long loan, so we have got a good opportunity to see how he adjusts to English football before we make a commitment to signing him.”

Popov, 27, can also operate on the left side of midfield and played for Eredivisie outfit Heerenveen before moving closer to home by joining Dinamo.

He has won 41 caps for his country, scoring in friendlies against Estonia and Montenegro.

Ramires keen to deliver City blow

11 August 2012 12:56

Chelsea midfielder Ramires believes his side have closed the gap on Premier League champions Manchester City.

Roberto Di Matteo has bolstered his squad with the additions of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar already while his fellow Italian Roberto Mancini has yet to complete any transfers.

Ramires believes Chelsea’s acquisitions mean they are now ready to challenge for the Premier League title and defend their Champions League crown this season, but need to begin by scoring first blood in the Community Shield at Villa Park on Sunday.

He told The Mirror: “It would be huge for morale and that is why the Community Shield is so important for us. We want to win and show that we can go far.

“City are similar to the team they were last year but Chelsea have made signings and reinforcements and it will be a psychological blow if we beat them.

“Our challenge is to win the Premier League, but we must also balance it with Europe. We are the Champions League holders and we must defend that title for prestige and professionalism.”

Ramires predicts the usual contenders will again jostle for the top spots in the table but believes Chelsea will find it difficult to replicate what he considered to be a ‘dream’ campaign.

“I think it will be a very close season in England. Along with the two Manchester teams, we, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham will be in the race,” he said.

“Everyone knows I was supportive of Andre Villas-Boas and I hope he does well at Tottenham – but just not against us.

“But this year it will be harder to win games. Personally, last season was a dream for me. Titles and a goal at the Nou Camp against Barca will always be in my head.”