Conte shocked by Cassano comments

16 November 2012 00:37

Juventus coach Antonio Conte says he has been left astounded by comments made by Antonio Cassano as their war of words rumbles on.

The Inter Milan forward labelled the Juventus coach a ‘quaquaraqua’, intimating that he often speaks to the media but with little or no meaning and said Conte could not comment on his actions due to his own moral misgivings.

That accusation has forced the 43-year-old to issue a fierce defence of himself and deliver a damning verdict on the 30-year-old’s latest outburst.

“I was astounded to read the statements from Mr Cassano, following which I am forced to make certain clarifying points,” Conte told the Juventus website.

“First of all I never used the term morality, despite the fact I have it in spades. I have already expressed my opinion on the ban for failing to report match-fixing in the past.”

The former AC Milan man also said Juve only ever sign small players, with Conte insisting the club purchased those with specific professional characteristics – an area he says Cassano is lacking.

“When asked how I choose players for Juventus, I said we look to the man, by which I meant how he interprets the role of a footballer in a professional manner,” he said.

“That means effort, commitment, respecting the rules and the roles of others, plus caring about the common good of the team.

“I think that Mr Cassano has already shown many times over his career both on and off the field – such as his impressions of Fabio Capello at Real Madrid or insulting gestures at referee Roberto Rosetti and other incidents – that he does not have the requisite characteristics I am looking for.”

FA Cup: Altrincham 0 Burton Albion 2

15 November 2012 23:48

Burton Albion emerged 2-0 victors in their FA Cup first-round replay at non-league Altrincham on Thursday.

Chris Palmer and Calvin Zola both struck in the second half as the League Two outfit earned a second-round showdown with Crewe Alexandra.

Gary Rowett’s men were keen to avoid an upset after their thrilling 3-3 draw with Altrincham almost a fortnight ago.

But they were fortunate not to fall behind when Damien Reeves found himself in space on eight minutes.

Scott Leather had whipped in a cross but the Altrincham striker could not prevent his shot from sailing over the crossbar.

The visitors had an opportunity of their own to break the deadlock in the 24th minute, but Zola’s header cannoned off the bar.

After a goalless first half, bot sides went in search of the opener and it was the travelling side that finally made the breakthrough.

Jacques Maghoma won a free-kick outside the box and Palmer stepped up to convert the resulting set-piece with just over an hour played at Moss Lane.

The result was put beyond doubt 10 minutes later when Zola hit the back of the net from close range.

Albion are now undefeated in 10 straight fixtures against Altrincham following Thursday’s triumph.

PSG look to learn lessons

15 November 2012 23:30

Paris Saint-Germain defender Alex has urged his team to learn from their mistakes as they look to return to winning ways on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men are winless in their past two Ligue 1 matches, now holding onto top spot only on goal difference.

Alex said avoiding making the same mistakes would be crucial when his side take on Rennes, who come into the clash on the back of consecutive wins.

“We know it wasn’t a good performance against Saint-Etienne. We were really bad in that match and that’s the reason why we didn’t get the three points,” he said.

“Against Montpellier we got a red card and in my opinion that wasn’t the right decision. We managed to keep our pace even when we were down one man, but Montpellier is a great team and they found their way to score.

“We learned from those situations and hopefully we won’t do the same mistakes again, especially when we are playing on our ground.”

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed PSG’s loss to Montpellier through suspension and is also unavailable to face Rennes.

Ibrahimovic netted four goals in Sweden’s 4-2 international friendly win over England on Wednesday, including an overhead kick from 30 yards to seal the victory.

Alex said he was yet to see the stunning fourth goal but is hopeful Ibrahimovic can replicate his form when he returns for PSG.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but everybody is talking about that. Especially about the last one which according to what I’ve heard was amazing,” he said.

“He is a player who decides matches – not only for his country but for us as well. We hope he can do the same thing he did yesterday playing for PSG as well.”

Alex believes the four-goal showing has taken Ibrahimovic a step closer to winning the coveted Ballon d’Or.

“I believe those four goals he scored yesterday will help him a lot – scoring for the national team always helps,” he said.

“I think it’s too risky to say who is going to win because they are all good players, but yesterday he did a step forward on getting it.”

Qatar continue planning for summer World Cup

15 November 2012 22:52

The director of communications and marketing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar says they plan to host the tournament in summer.

Qatar were awarded the rights to host the iconic event, but calls have been made for a winter start due to the soaring temperatures in the Middle Eastern country.

But Nasser Al-Khater said his team would continue to work toward a summer start as planned.

“We are confident of our bid story. We are confident now of our World Cup plans,” he said.

“We know it’s going to be a Middle Eastern celebration of cultures and we know that it’s going to be a unique moment for the history of this country and our region.

“Yes, the temperatures in Qatar can be very warm in the summer, however, it has never stopped people from going about their lives.

“It has never stopped people going out at night, it has never stopped people going to the beaches, it has never stopped people from … going about their jobs and their daily lives.

“It’s something that everybody has lived with in this country and you know that the majority of the people living in this country are non-Qataris, so we have a lot of foreign ex-pats that live here.

“We have a lot of Westerners that live here and they absolutely love it in the summers.”

Al-Khater admitted that ultimately the decision was out of his hands, but said plans for cooling technology in stadiums was already being developed.

“We’ve said this before, this isn’t something that is in our hands,” Al-Khater said.

“We’ve talked about the international football community having to make this decision and if they do make this decision we’ll be happy to oblige.

“It won’t have any affect on us and on our plans. The cooling technology is a legacy that we’re planning to have for the country so we’re going to go ahead with the cooling technology.

“We’ve bid for a summer World Cup and our plans are for a summer World Cup.”




Urrutia rules out Llorente sale

15 November 2012 22:40

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia has issued a hands-off warning to clubs considering a January swoop for Fernando Llorente.

The striker has been linked with several of Europe’s biggest sides and his lack of playing time under coach Marcelo Bielsa has led to more speculation he is set to depart in the upcoming transfer window.

However, Urrutia has made it clear the club have no intention of selling Llorente, who has attracted suitors in England and Italy, while admitting talks over a new deal for defender Fernando Amorebieta have not run smoothly.

“There will not be any movement in the winter. The team is much more competitive with Aritz (Aduriz) and Llorente in attack,” he told reporters.

“There is no progress, but we are expecting a positive response (from Amorebieta’s representatives) soon. We know that the player wants to renew.”

Europa League runners-up last season, Athletic have struggled this campaign and have mustered just four La Liga wins to date.

But, Urrutia is remaining positive ahead of his side’s clash with Real Madrid on Saturday, while leaping to the defence of teenager Iker Muniain.

“This time last year we had the same number of points in the league. The team has had a number of issues to contend with but we still have great passion,” he said.

“Real Madrid are favourites but you never know how the game will unfold.

“Anyone can make a mistake. At his age, Iker shows great character. It is normal with very young players.”