Osieck happy to persist with McDonald

15 August 2012 08:40

Australia coach Holger Osieck has denied Scott McDonald is running out of chances to score his first international goal.

The Middlesbrough striker has had little trouble finding the back of the net at club level, scoring better than a goal every three games in spells with Scottish Premier League clubs Motherwell and Celtic, as well as netting 27 times in 86 appearances for his current side.

But the international scene has been a different prospect for the 28-year-old, who has failed to find the back of the net in 25 caps and fallen behind the likes of Archie Thompson, Robbie Kruse and Alex Brosque in the battle for spots up front in Socceroos squads.

He put in a positive performance during his country’s 2-1 win over Wales in August 2011 – his last international appearance – and Osieck had no qualms calling the Boro man up for Wednesday’s friendly with Scotland at Easter Road.

“If he had scored (against Wales), even with his ear, everyone would have said, ‘He broke the deadlock’,” Osieck told reporters in Edinburgh on Monday.

“I think he’s good enough and even when I see him training, he’s in a good position right now. He’s very mobile, he’s ambitious.

“I don’t want to call it a final chance, because in football you should … never say never. If you say, ‘Never again’, then you are on the wrong track as a manager.”

Osieck also praised 22-year-old Hearts defender Ryan McGowan, who could make his Socceroos debut in the city where he plays his club football.

“I think Ryan is a decent boy. I had him in the scouting camp last year in Germany and he was a little bit raw then, but he showed a great deal of commitment and a great understanding of the game,” he said.

“Then after that I followed his way, and he made it into the first team here, he made it in the (Scottish) Cup final. He’s been quite successful and (had) some decent performances, so I decided to give him the opportunity to join our group and maybe he gets the opportunity to get on the pitch tomorrow.”

Copa Sudamericana wrap: Nacional comeback seals progress

15 August 2012 07:13

Nacional stormed into the second round of the Copa Sudamericana on Tuesday with a 4-0 second-leg win over Deportes Iquique.

After losing the first leg 2-0 away in Chile, Uruguayan giants Nacional needed at least two goals in 90 minutes to stay alive in the competition.

They did just that in the first half to draw level with their opponents, as Alexis Rolin and Gonzalo Bueno struck goals at either end of the opening 45 minutes to square the tie with a half remaining.

A tense second half ensued, but the Estadio Centenario hosts prevailed late after Alvaro Recoba struck the winner on 86 minutes, before he teed up Matias Vecino to put the exclamation mark on the win in injury time.

Bolivian side Aurora did enough to progress in their second leg away at Cerro Largo, holding the Uruguayans to a 0-0 stalemate to win 2-1 on aggregate.

Colombian team Millonairos booked their place in the second round with a convincing 3-0 win at home against Peru side Inti Gas.

After the teams drew 0-0 in the first leg, Wilberto Cosme, Wason Renteria and Otalvaro Arce all scored to set up a tie against Paraguay’s Guarani for a place in the round of 16.

Bardsley sidelined after ankle operation

15 August 2012 05:52

Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley has undergone ankle surgery and will miss the start of the Premier League season.

The former Manchester United full-back joined the Black Cats in 2008 and has since gone on to make 130 appearances for the club, cementing himself as a first-team regular.

Manager Martin O’Neill expressed his disappointment that the 27-year-old required an operation on an injury sustained in an earlier pre-season fixture and will miss the start of the new season.

“Phil Bardsley has had an operation,” O’Neill told reporters. “That’s a real blow for us.”

But there was positive injury news for the Stadium of Light boss with Stephane Sessegnon, Wes Brown and David Vaughan all doing well in their recoveries from injury.

However, all three will be unavailable for their opening game against Arsenal.

“Stephane has done a little bit of training this morning and hasn’t felt any affects,” O’Neill said.

“He hasn’t been able to do that much but in the course of the next few weeks in terms of the sort of fitness level that he can attain, we hope he gets there pretty quickly.

“Wes Brown is feeling a bit better but obviously getting a bit annoyed that injuries have plagued him.

“David Vaughan’s making progress and he has had an operation on his side to cure a problem. He’s making good progress out there on the training field, but hasn’t joined in with us yet.”

Ranocchia keen for fresh start at Inter

15 August 2012 04:45

Inter defender Andrea Ranocchia is hoping for a more fruitful campaign after a shaky beginning to his career with the club.

The 24-year-old moved to San Siro from Genoa in January 2011, but a lack of form saw him miss out on a place in Italy’s Euro 2012 squad.

But he is certain that a more successful 2012-13 Serie A campaign lays ahead, as there is a better atmosphere among the squad than before.

“Last year I did not enjoy myself,” he told Inter Channel.

“Whether it was in training or playing a game, there was always more tension than enjoyment. I did not have a good experience, but I learnt from those mistakes and have started off this season with more hunger.

“I am enjoying myself and hope to feel this way for the whole season. I want to play as much as possible, and continue along this path.

“If the Italy call comes, it will be because I have earned it. The fans have always been close to me and I cannot wait to replay them.”

Inter’s next game is a Europa League qualifier against Vaslui on August 23.

Green accuses SPL of ´agenda´ against Rangers

15 August 2012 04:34

Newco Rangers owner Charles Green believes there is an agenda against the club after their failure to be reinstated in the SPL.

The Ibrox side were forced into liquidation during the summer, with Green and a consortium buying the club, but he feels they are currently fighting a losing battle.

The latest development to have wound up Green was a phone call from the Scottish Premier League regarding archive rights, but the former Sheffield United chief executive is remaining bullish, claiming he will not let the fans down.

“We’re not having, excuse my French, people taking the pee out of us anymore. It’s finished,” he told STV.

“I will give you an example. This morning, I had a phone call from the SPL telling us we can’t put our old games on the website because we don’t own the archive rights.

“‘And by the way, Charles, don’t get angry. You shouldn’t think we are being vindictive, it’s just what the agreement says’.

“Tell me how I took that? I was walking on the ceiling. I think there is an agenda.”

Green continued by adding that while people are being unfair to him and the club he will refuse to sit down, noting that no-one has spoken up in defence of Rangers for several years.

“There’s still battles to be won. I shan’t let you down,” he added.

“I said to someone earlier that when everyone was against us, we stayed. People are now warming to us and we are staying.

“But if we leave fans to one side for a moment, while that lot are against us, I’m not leaving.

“There’s no-one spoke for this club for three or four years. It’s not had anyone standing up.

“I am going to get fined every week, I suspect, or I will get banned.”