Booth backs South Africa youth

27 January 2013 15:06

Former South Africa defender Matthew Booth said he is excited ahead of his country’s Africa Cup of Nations clash with Morocco.

Booth believes Bafana improved significantly after the first group match at the continental event against Cape Verde, a 0-0 stalemate, with their performance against Angola – a 2-0 win – changing the perception of South African fans.

“Obviously, it’s going to be an exciting game tonight. Our fans didn’t believe in the boys after the Cape Verde match, but that perception has once again changed,” Booth said.

“Our boys showed a lot of character (against Angola), created a lot of chances which is exactly what the fans want to see,” he said.

The Ajax Cape Town centre-back though, admitted Morocco will be very tough opponents for Bafana and cited their defence as the opponents’ strength.

“Morocco have a good pedigree, they are known for their defensive football. I think it’s going to be a war between our attacking players and their defensive players,” Booth said.

The 35-year-old Booth, who was part of the Bafana team competed in the 2009 Confederations Cup, believes that the national team does not miss his services. He admitted young players should be given an opportunity.

“I don’t think I am being missed, I mean, we are a 50-million population country and there a lot of young talent out there,” said Booth.

“I am 35 now and there is Bongani (Khumalo) and (Siyabonga) Sangweni in that position and I think they have done well for the team.”

Kroos credits Heynckes

27 January 2013 14:37

Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos has paid tribute to coach Jupp Heynckes for laying the foundations to his football career.

The veteran trainer first worked with the 23-year-old at Bayer Leverkusen five years ago, as the Germany international spent 18 months on loan in North Rhine-Westphalia, before they were reunited at the Allianz Arena in 2011.

Kroos initially struggled to establish himself in Bavaria upon returning from the BayArena, but he believes being subjected to Heynckes’ presence at a young age was pivotal to his development.

“Heynckes was the coach who gave me the chance to play in the Bundesliga. That’s why I’ll be sad when he retires,” he told reporters.

“I’ll always be grateful. Without him I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. That’s his work.

“I’m very comfortable with my development. But that doesn’t mean I’ll do less in future. There’s the next step which I can and must reach.”

Bayern and Borussia Monchengladbach legend Gunter Netzer recently claimed Kroos has the potential to become a world-class talent in the next few years, but the playmaker is more concerned about becoming a regular starter for his country.

“Without a doubt, Netzer understands football,” he added. “Maybe he sees my potential if he says something like that.

“I play for Bayern who are the best team after Barcelona. And when you’re a starter there, you’re on the right tracks. But I wouldn’t judge myself in public. That would be embarrassing.

“Sure, I want to be a starter for Germany, too. The European Championship was dissatisfying for me,” he added, referring to only getting 108 minutes of game time in the tournament.

Odemwingie continues WBA outburst

27 January 2013 14:23

Peter Odemwingie has followed up a Twitter tirade at West Bromwich Albion fans, with more scathing comments about the club.

The striker has made it clear he wants a transfer out of the Hawthorns, after what he feels has been a lack of respect shown towards him, backing up comments on Twitter on Saturday with more criticisms of WBA’s handling of his services.

The latest rejected bid came from Harry Redknapp and QPR, who offered two million pounds for the Nigerian’s services, but were told he was not for sale. That has outraged Odemwingie, who feels the club have not kept him informed of their plans for him in the future.

“(The) offer came, everybody knows,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I ask club what they think? Answer, not now. Maybe summer. I ask – or is it tactics to get more money? Answer, we have enough now there is no price for you. We need you.”

“I say ok. What’s the price for summer? We will tell you after the window closes,” he continued.

“I say, I have served the club well and deserve at least to have a prise now so I can plan my probably last move in England.

“Don’t want another summer window not knowing what will happen cos now I ll have to move my little son elsewhere. after all I have contributed to the clubs success last two seasons I hoped to at least get a low prise. Answer – talk later.

“Last season January window is when I should have handed in transfer request. Was one foot in Rubin Kazan – not for sale. Fulham. Not for sale. Newcastle. Not for sale. Wigan. Not for sale.”

These events have left Odemwingie bemused at the Hawthorns, and the striker feels let down by West Brom – the club he believes he has served well in the last two seasons.

“Loyalty left 70 percent. the rest they stole out of my pocket thinking I was keeping money in there,” he said.

“I can understand the reaction of few Albion fans on my desire to leave the club. Real reason? Cos they once doubted my commitment.

“Want to know why I wanted to quit top flight football last summer earlier than I wished to? They know at the club.”

Odemwingie has beeen blasted by the Baggies’ faithful for his comments, with earlier Twitter comments by the striker also causing dismay, but he insists it was the fans who persuaded him to stay in the past.

“Albion fans are not the only reason, but made it easier for me to decide to stay and try my best to forget about the disappointment.

“I succeeded in doing that. But it’s not getting better. Before bigger disappointment comes one day, I better leave on a good note.”

QPR are expected to make an improved bid before the January transfer window closes on Thursday.

Ibrahimovic welcomes PSG pressure

27 January 2013 13:57

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has heralded the positive progression being made at Paris Saint-Germain.

The French giants are in a three-way tussle at the top of Ligue 1 with Lyon and Marseille, and qualified for the Champions League last-16 by topping their group.

And the Sweden striker, who joined from AC Milan last summer, is relishing the new-found pressure of expectation at the Parc des Princes.

“The team are making progress, the club are growing and everything is new,” he told TF1.

“My situation is different, I have an obligation to help get the team results.

“Everyday there’s something new, and I try to learn from this. The PSG project keeps advancing, and that is positive.

“But that progress doesn’t come overnight, it takes time. Football is complicated and anything can happen.

“I’ve lived with pressure for years because I have played for so many great clubs. When one signs for Juventus, one’s perspective becomes global. Everyone knows who you are.

“This pressure became normal for me, but when I came to Paris, it did not seem normal to people, but it was for me. And that is how it should be.”

Casillas´ peers show support

27 January 2013 13:48

Real Madrid players have showed their support for injured skipper Iker Casillas ahead of their game against Getafe.

The club captain has been ruled out for up to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his broken thumb, which was acquired in Real’s recent clash with Valencia on Wednesday night.

Madrid’s official Twitter page revealed ahead of Sunday morning’s La Liga match the players would be wearing shirts to support the Spain international goalkeeper.

The shirts worn by Casillas’ team-mates had the words ‘Animo Iker’ printed on, which translates as ‘Get well soon Iker’.

Shot-stopper Diego Lopez was signed from Sevilla by Jose Mourinho following the injury to his skipper, and he was named on the bench for their Getafe clash, with Antonio Adan favoured to start.

Casillas’ absence means Madrid will need to rely on Adan or Lopez in their Champions League last-16 legs against Manchester United.