Hitzfeld facing ban for gestures

14 October 2012 03:27

Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld is facing UEFA sanction after making uncouth gestures toward Norway’s coach during Friday’s 1-1 draw.

The former Bayern Munich tactician was left frustrated following his team’s inability to hold on to a one-goal lead in their World Cup qualifier in Berne, a match which saw several refereeing decisions go against them.

“There were a lot of emotions during the game,” Hitzfeld told Swiss publication Blick.

“I’m sorry for the gesture. I was just p****d off at not being able to take home three points.

“It’s always difficult to play against 12 men (in direct reference to Spanish referee Fernandez Borbalan).”

However, it is still unclear whether UEFA will opt for a sympathetic stance in wake of Hitzfeld’s apology for his misdemeanour after it handed Montpellier coach Rene Girard a one-game ban for raising his finger to opposite number Huub Stevens during their Champions League clash against Schalke on October 3.

Girard then claimed Stevens had provoked a response in the 2-2 draw in Gelsenkirchen.

A suspension of any length would result in the 63-year-old missing Tuesday’s upcoming fixture away to Iceland.

Trapattoni won´t quit Ireland job

14 October 2012 01:49

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is remaining defiant despite calls for him to resign after his side’s 6-1 drubbing by Germany.

The Boys in Green were ruthlessly outclassed by Joachim Loew’s side in a World Cup qualifying match at the Aviva Stadium on Friday as they suffered their heaviest home defeat ever.

However, Trapattoni has insisted his squad still respect his methods and refused to reference calls for his sacking.

“We give them jobs and we have a system to get goals, and the players believe in this,” he said.

“The team tries to do what we ask and they are also happy to do it.

“I told them that when you lose, conceding on goal or six goals or three goals, it’s the same, it’s three points gone, it only changes the psychological situation.

“I reminded them that when they play at their clubs and they lose a game, they often have another one after three days and they have to start again for that next match with the same enthusiasm and immediately forget the defeat.”

The 73-year-old preferred to focus on his side’s next game, calling for his squad to bounce back in style against the Faroe Islands on Tuesday.

“We have to recharge the batteries and focus on the next match in the Faroes on Tuesday,” he said.

“We can accept defeat against Germany. Realistically, we were never going to compete against Germany for first place in the group.

“Our target is not Germany, our target is Sweden and Austria, and in the next game, the Faroes.

“We have to win and we will look to win.”

Meanwhile, Trapattoni is sweating over the fitness of striker Robbie Keane for the crunch qualifier.

Keane missed Friday’s defeat after sustaining an Achilles injury in training and the former Liverpool striker is now a doubt for the nation’s next World Cup qualifier against the Group C minnows on Tuesday.

Despite doubts over Keane, the Italian announced that he has an otherwise full-strength squad to pick from.

Postecoglou fuming after Victory loss

14 October 2012 01:31

Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou has turned down an olive branch from former club Brisbane after his team were thrashed 5-0 on Saturday.

After a week of what he described as ‘distasteful’ and ‘disrespectful’ build-up, the man who steered the Roar to two straight A-League championships received a sombre homecoming to Suncorp Stadium as his new troops were humiliated by the team he turned his back on.

The simmering tensions between Postecoglou and his old club were brought to the fore when Besart Berisha vowed to send him home a loser and Thomas Broich described Rado Vidosic as ‘the brains’ behind their success.

Broich and Vidosic both moved to mend relations after the game on Saturday night by explaining their remarks were taken out of context – but an aggrieved Postecoglou was having none of it.

“They had their choice about how to approach the week. It’s a free world,” he said.

“Anyone can do whatever they like, that’s fine. From my point of view I don’t have to like it.

“I’ve spoken about the Roar, and I don’t care anymore. They’re a good side, congratulations to them.

“Nothing to do with me. I’ve got nothing to do with this football club anymore.”

Brisbane fans rubbed salt into the wound late in the match with the unfurling of a banner that read ‘Without Us, You Are Nothing’.

“To me, it’s just another game. That’s it,” Postecoglou said.

“I’m coach of the Melbourne Victory Football Club and my responsibility lies solely now with trying to get this football club back to where it belongs.”

Vidosic said he was ‘disappointed’ about how the week had panned out.

“The comments have been taken (in a way that) maybe people did not mean or say,” he said.

“You say 10 positive things and then you say one negative, and that negative has been published.

“That’s not me, that’s not my style. I never said anything bad about Ange.

“We were all sad to see him leave this club. That was a decision that he made.

“I’m really sorry that all this week went like this, but maybe we can all learn a little bit from this lesson.”

Mixed feelings for Del Piero

14 October 2012 01:24

Sydney FC superstar Alessandro Del Piero insists the club are moving in the right direction despite a second straight defeat in the A-League.

The Italian playmaker scored his first goal for the Sky Blues with a magical first-half free kick against Newcastle Jets on Saturday.

However, his efforts were not enough to avoid a 3-2 loss in a pulsating encounter that also included a goal from Jets marquee man Emile Heskey.

“From last week definitely we improved, we had a great second half but we have to do all the match like that with the same energy and same concentration,” Del Piero said.

“We have to smile a little bit because we are definitely not happy about what’s happened tonight but we have a lot of work to do.

“This is the second match for us, not only for me but for a lot of guys.

“This is one of the worst things that’s happened to us because we have to know each other, sometimes the training is not enough.

“We’re not happy but we’re going up a little bit.”

Asked to relive the goal that left the 35,419 crowd in raptures, Del Piero replied: “I’m happy to score the goal but I play for the win, not to score the goal.

“But I’m happy, it’s a good start for us at home. We had 35,000 people (which is) amazing and we are very proud of this and we hope at the end of the season the fans will be proud of us more than today and I think that will happen.

“I think the people didn’t completely enjoy today because we lost but they watched five goals and we hope next time if there’s five goals it’s three for us and not for the opposition.”

Coach Ian Crook was full of praise for his marquee man but lamented his side’s poor first half.

“We just watched him produce again another 90 minutes of what we all knew he could do plus with the icing on the cake with the goal,” Crook said.

“I think people would have gone away disappointed that we got beat but I think they’ve seen a good game of football today.”

Ryan Griffiths gave the Jets the lead in the 12th minute before Del Piero answered with a curling 25m free kick in the 26th minute.

Heskey restored the visitors’ lead with his first goal in Jets colours just before the break and when Craig Goodwin hammered home a classy finish on the hour the Sky Blues had a mountain to climb.

“The first half was probably where the game was won and lost, I felt that we just didn’t affect the game that much in the first half and we turned the ball over cheaply for the (Jets’ second) goal,” Crook said.

“And then we were chasing the game but full credit to the players I thought in the second half they just gave it absolutely everything and if a couple of things go our way it’s a different result.

“It’s been a massive day, a fantastic crowd and I thought they were magnificent and stuck with the team the whole way through and we need to build from the second half, that’s what we need to use today.”

AC Milan not for sale, insists Galliani

14 October 2012 00:58

AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has slammed reports suggesting the club should be put up for sale.

Galliani emphatically dismissed speculation president Silvio Berlusconi is prepared to part with his majority share to investing entities.

The Rossoneri’s summer was characterised by the high-profile sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, raising questions among fans whether coach Massimiliano Allegri’s side were able to compete on an even financial footing with the rest of Europe’s greats.

However, Berlusconi’s right-hand man has denied one of Milan’s worst starts to the season will prompt an exit from the patron, dismissing continual suggestions to the contrary.

“I really think fans cannot complain at all,” Galliani told Sky Sport Italia. “I want to remind everyone that the presidency of Berlusconi has delivered 28 trophies in 25 years.

“I repeat what I have already said before – there is no ongoing negotiation that regards the sale of Milan.”

The 68-year-old’s declaration comes in the wake of reports the San Siro outfit’s board was considering offloading shares to Russian company Gazprom or the Qatar Investment Authority, in a bid to alleviate mounting organisational debts.

“There are no negotiations to sell Milan shares, not with Arabian nor Russian investors,” Galliani said.

“There are simply no negotiations at all.”