Phoenix accept Sigmund ban

30 October 2012 02:05

Wellington Phoenix adopted a more conciliatory tone when accepting Ben Sigmund’s one-match ban on Tuesday.

Less than 24 hours after coach Ricki Herbert’s stinging attack on the A-League Match Review Panel’s decision to uphold the defender’s red card and not punish Adelaide’s Jeronimo Neumann for diving, the club, in a short statement, said they had ‘respectively accepted the decision’.

General manager David Dome added that ‘the correct process had been followed and so far as the club is concerned the matter has been laid to rest’.

It was a far cry from Herbert’s comments the previous day where he squarely laid the blame on referee Jarred Gillett.

“The referee in the Chelsea-Manchester United game this morning (in the Premier League) dealt with Fernando Torres, who went down in the same manner as Neumann, by showing him a red card,” Herbert said.

“Unfortunately the referee in our game with Adelaide did not deal with the situation competently and we are paying the penalty rather than the player who was guilty of simulation.

“This referee has been in the same situation in a grand final and did not deal with it competently there either.

“It is very disappointing for both Ben and the club that he will miss the game against Melbourne Victory, and also wrong that the game is being ruined by players who dive and do not get punished for it.”

Herbert could find himself in hot water with Football Federation Australia for those comments while Phoenix captain Andrew Durante is waiting to see if he will face punishment for his post-match comments where he labelled the Argentine ‘a cheat’.

FFA are expected to demand an explanation for the comments in the coming days and could punish Durante for breaking the A-League player code of conduct.

Sigmund will miss Monday’s trip to Melbourne to play against Victory.

Gnabry eyes Arsenal starting berth

30 October 2012 01:57

Serge Gnabry wants to secure a starting place in Arsenal’s first team after recently making his Gunners debut.

The former Stuttgart trainee made his first appearance as a substitute in the Capital One Cup and has since made cameos against Norwich and Schalke.

After breaking into Arsene Wenger’s thoughts, the winger is now targeting a spot in the starting XI and believes he has the ability to perform well, despite his inexperience.

“I enjoy football and so a chance to play for Arsenal was one I was eager to take to help the team, but also to show what I can contribute,” Gnabry told reporters.

“I was just happy to get the chance to get on against Norwich and try to help the team.

“Like all players, I prefer to start games, but when you watch from the bench you become anxious to get on and play and do something. It was the same against Schalke and that is why I felt comfortable.

“I have a lot to learn and improve on and one way is to play games. It is a big challenge, but one I am enjoying and the fact that the whole team helps me makes it easier.”

The Germany Under-17 international is still a largely unknown quantity and is hoping that he can spring a surprise on teams as he gets more chances for the Gunners.

“Defenders and other teams do not know about my game or my style of play, and perhaps that may help, but it is up to me to play my game and take advantage of that,” Gnabry added.

“I like to play on the left side of the pitch, but I can play on the right or in the middle. Anywhere the manager asks me to play, I will play and give my best.

“I know I am still young and have much to learn, but the faith that the manager has shown in me has given me a big boost.

“I’m looking forward to more opportunities to play for the first team so that I can make a real contribution.”

Agent: Top clubs tracking Sampirisi

30 October 2012 01:50

Genoa right-back Mario Sampirisi is being tracked by Manchester United and Chelsea, according to the player’s agent Giuseppe Riso.

The promising defender has recently broken into the first team of Genoa, after moving from the youth setup at AC Milan in 2011, and has since attracted the attention of many top European clubs.

The player’s agent has confirmed that many top Premier League clubs have shown an interest in the Italy Under-21 right-back and that he would be well-suited to playing in England.

“Chelsea and Manchester United interested in him? Yeah, they sent their scouts to follow him live but I don’t know if they’ll try to take him in January,” Riso told tuttomercatoweb.

“Genoa do not want to sell. But I am not surprised that the Premier League clubs have their eye on him. Mario has the typical physique that British teams like.

“But also some Italian clubs are following him.”

Liga MX: Cruz Azul 3 Toluca 0

30 October 2012 01:49

Toluca fell to a 3-0 Liga MX defeat at Cruz Azul on Saturday as the play-off race heated up in the Mexican top flight.

First-half goals from Gerardo Flores and Javier Aquino, tallied with a Hugo Pavone effort after the break sealed all three points for the home side.

Flores netted the opener on 11 minutes after Julio Dominguez headed the ball back across goal from a corner.

Toluca struggled to stop the onslaught and Aquino pounced on some sloppy defending to double the lead 10 minutes before the break.

The visitors came out fighting in the second half with Isaac Brizuela producing a long-range effort that tested goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona.

But as Toluca poured forward they fell victim to the counter-attack, Pavone making it 3-0 from an Alejandro Vela cross.

Toluca lost top spot to Tijuana as a result of the defeat but are assured of a place in the play-off phase of the season.

Cruz Azul strengthened their post-season hopes with the victory and sit in fifth place, with the top eight making it through to the play-offs.

Hoolahan gets Hughton endorsement

30 October 2012 01:19

Norwich manager Chris Hughton has backed Wes Hoolahan to make a major impact for his side after starting their last three games.

The Irishman struggled to hold down a spot in the side earlier in the season as Hughton paired Grant Holt and Steve Morison in attack, but Hughton has never been in doubt of Hoolahan’s ability.

The former Blackpool playmaker assisted Michael Turner’s strike against Aston Villa at the weekend and could be set for an extended run in the side after public backing from his manager.

“My view of Wes hasn’t changed. Before I came here I knew he was a good, influential player,” Hughton told reporters.

“Wes is a good player. He was a good player before I came here. So he’s certainly not going to become a bad player overnight.

“There’s no doubt he’s best used in a central position because he’s somebody you need to get on the ball.

“In pre-season and perhaps at the start of the season I was looking more at playing two strikers. It’s always a bit more difficult to fit him into that – Wes is as good a player as I thought he was.”