Ward, Naven looking forward to Wanderers test

19 February 2013 07:35

Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward and new assistant coach Gareth Naven are relishing the prospect of a sold-out clash with Western Sydney.

The home fans are set to crank up the volume at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday as the Wanderers attempt to secure a seventh successive win, but having toppled ladder-leaders Central Coast last time out, the visitors are quietly confident they can play the role of party poopers.

“I love to play in front of big crowds and it should be a good spectacle,” Ward said.

“I spoke to (Wanderers defender) Nikolai Topor-Stanley the other day and he said that they’re expecting a sell-out, so it should be good.

“They’ve been doing really well, they’re a very organised team, but we’ll do our work this week and hopefully we can go out and create an upset.

“If we stick to our gameplan and play like we did at the weekend, we’re in with a chance.

“And if we can silence their crowd as well, that’ll be good.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Naven, who was a regular visitor to Parramatta Stadium during his playing days in the NSL era.

“From what I remember of it it’s a beautiful football surface and the fans are pretty close to the ground which provides a great atmosphere,” Naven said.

“When you’re playing at home, your fans are your extra player and I’m sure Western Sydney will be raring to go

“But I think it’s a fantastic event and an opportunity for our players and the club to go there and do their best.”

Naven is also looking forward to what he believes will be an intriguing tactical tussle between Glory head coach Alistair Edwards and his opposite number Tony Popovic.

“They’ve got an astute coach who is organised and structured,” he said.

“And they have players who believe in what they’re doing and I think with that kind of combination within the A-League, you’re going to have a tough day.

“With the FFA coaching education processes and pathways, it does challenge and educate the coaches and gives them the knowledge and the tools to try and implement on the training ground.

“So it won’t just be a battle of the players, it’ll be a battle of the coaches as well.”

Ward, meanwhile, was quick to praise the impact both Edwards and Naven have had upon the playing group since taking the reins early last week.

“Alistair got me and everyone else in the team doing their jobs last weekend and it seemed to work really well,” he said.

“With the structure that he brought in, you’re not really running around getting in other people’s way.

“Everyone’s in their own space and it makes you a bit calmer on the ball.

“There’s a lot to learn, but we’ve got a good squad with some great players who have been around the world and are intelligent players, so we are picking up what he’s saying and I think we’ll get better each week.”

In early team news ahead of the Wanderers clash, Jacob Burns is still struggling to overcome his back injury and will not make the trip, but Danny Vukovic is expected to be declared fit despite missing Tuesday’s training session through illness.

Taggart happy to bide his time at Jets

19 February 2013 05:11

Newcastle Jets striker Adam Taggart says he has been happy to bide his time on the sidelines before hopefully making an impact in the run to the A-League finals.

Taggart, who signed on at the Jets from Perth Glory in the off-season, was seen as one of coach Gary van Egmond’s key players in their possession-driven attacking line-up for this campaign.

But the arrival of marquee player Emile Heskey has restricted the 19-year-old to a handful of appearances this season.

The situation was made more complex when Socceroos coach Holger Osiek selected Taggart for national duties at the East Asian Cup qualifying tournament in Hong Kong last December.

Taggart was in the curious position of scoring goals for the green and gold before he had netted one in the A-League for the Jets.

However, Newcastle’s struggle to score in recent weeks forced van Egmond into a line-up change, with Taggart and veteran Michael Bridges joining Heskey and Ryan Griffiths in an attacking line-up for last weekend’s 2-0 win over the Heart.

The success of the combination has seen van Egmond assure fans that he will go with the same line-up this Friday night when the Jets host top six rivals the Brisbane Roar.

“I don’t think I can complain,” Taggart told Sportal of his extended stint on the sidelines this season.

“I have been away a lot (with representative duties) and I didn’t expect I would come back and be straight into the side or anything like that.

“It is just one of those things that if you don’t get selected you just have to work harder and when your opportunity comes you have to take it with both hands and do the business on the pitch.”

Taggart, who along with Heskey and Zenon Caravella look set to overcome niggling injuries before this weekend’s clash, has done everything he possibly could to push for a berth in the run-on squad.

He has been in sparkling form for the National Youth League bagging a hat-trick and a brace in recent games against the Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC respectively.

“I think it is about trying to get some consistency to try to force your way into the squad,” said Taggart.

“You can’t just have one or two good weeks you have to keep pushing each week so it leaves Gary with and the coaching staff hard decisions to make for the weekend.

“That is what they want and the whole club wants.”

Petkovic apologetic for sorry Lazio display

19 February 2013 04:19

Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic has issued an apology to fans following the club’s 3-0 defeat by Siena on Monday.

A double from Siena’s Innocent Emeghara, either side of Alessandro Rosina’s strike, kept Lazio outside the Champions League places in fourth while Siena climbed off the bottom of the table.

Despite a lacklustre showing from his side, the 65-year-old Petkovic has accepted full responsibility for the loss.

“I take responsibility for the team and the tactics, but you have to compliment Siena for the way they played. There are no excuses for this defeat,” Petkovic told reporters.

“We have to apologise to the fans because tonight they did not see the real Lazio.

“I did not need to raise my voice at the players – they are smart and know what they have done wrong.”

Lazio host Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Europa League on Thursday before resuming their league campaign on Monday at home to Pescara.

Gomez headed for Allianz Arena exit – reports

19 February 2013 03:56

Reports have linked Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez with a move away from the club at the end of the season.

Having started the season sidelined through injury, the German international has found appearances hard to come by this term with and has posted just three goals from 10 games for Jupp Heynckes’ side.

The form of team-mate Mario Mandzukic, who is the Bundesliga’s leading goalscorer this term, has restricted Gomez’s playing time, while speculation linking Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski with a move to Allianz Arena has further unsettled the 27-year-old.

In Spain, Atletico Madrid’s star striker Falcao continues to be linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City.

Even if Atletico qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, the Colombian is still being tipped to draw big offers from interested suitors.

Liga Sagres: Rio Ave 1 Braga 1

19 February 2013 01:11

Ahmed Hassan went from hero to villain as he scored before being sent off in Rio Ave’s 1-1 Liga Sagres draw at home to Braga on Monday.

Egyptian striker Hassan put the hosts at Estadio do Rio Ave ahead after just three minutes with his third goal of the season.

But a penalty from Braga attacker Alan levelled scores on the stroke of half-time.

Rio Ave ended the game with 10 men after Hassan received a straight red card in the 88th minute.

The draw had no bearing on the standings, with Braga staying fourth on 31 points, one place and two points clear of Rio Ave.