Sydney confirm Griffiths signing

14 December 2012 02:44

Sydney FC have officially unveiled new signing Joel Griffiths while Newcastle Jets confirmed they failed to secure his services.

Griffiths spent four seasons at the Jets before moving to Beijing Guoan in 2010 with the 33-year-old last playing for Shanghai Shenhua alongside former Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

The former Socceroo, who won the Johnny Warren Medal in 2007/08, will make his A-League return after the transfer window opens on January 14 and Griffiths is excited to be returning to his home city after feeling the time was right to come back to Australia.

“I’m really happy to be joining Sydney FC and can’t wait to get into training with the team and then start playing games,” he said at a press conference on Friday.

“Sydney is my home, Sydney FC is a great club and has tremendous training facilities and I’m looking forward to playing in the A-League again.”

“I spent four years in China and really enjoyed the experience and the football.

“But the time was right for me to come back to Australia and I’m happy I’ve got the opportunity to play in front of my family and friends.”

Sydney FC coach Frank Farina was thrilled with the signing and hopes Griffiths can help resurrect Sydney’s flailing season which sees them bottom of the A-League table after 10 games.

“Joel is a quality player, a proven goal scorer and it’s great that we have signed him to play with Sydney FC,” Farina said.

“He has pace, he knows how to finish and he’ll be a tremendous addition to the squad.”

Meanwhile, the Jets were left empty handed from their pursuit of their former captain.

Jets CEO Robbie Middleby revealed his side had held discussions with Griffiths but could not persuade him to return to the Hunter Valley.

“We had been in discussions with Joel and his management since he signalled an intention to return to the A-League,” Middleby said.

“We respect his decision to sign with Sydney FC and wish him all the best for the future.”

Menez calls for focus

14 December 2012 01:40

Paris Saint-Germain winger Jeremy Menez has reiterated that his team-mates cannot afford to relax as they continue to chase league leaders Lyon.

The capital club face Remi Garde’s side on Sunday, when a win for PSG will send them to the top of Ligue 1 on goal difference.

However, a run of indifferent results after a blistering start to the season has put Carlo Ancelotti’s men on edge, and Menez insists they realise the implications of another dip in form.

“I said in an interview before the start of the season – we are our own enemy. Just because there are 11 players on the pitch with a history together doesn’t mean we will win every game,” Menez said.

“Everybody knows that. Everybody realises that as well, which is probably why we play better. Everybody goes in the same direction now, and for the last three weeks. We will be hard to play against I think.

“We can’t lie to ourselves. When thing goes wrong it might be because of a lack of commitment. Things went wrong.

“When we all meet, we tried to find what went wrong and find solutions. If we didn’t have good results, it’s because we didn’t have the good state of mind. We were not going in the same direction.

“One player was pressing, the others were not. Sometimes, it’s good to all meet and say what’s going wrong.

“There is always a risk to relaxing too early in a game. If it happens again, it means we are stupid and that we simply don’t want to succeed.

“We know that when everyone make an effort, we take pleasure in the pitch and everything is better.”

Stevens wants more consistency

14 December 2012 01:32

Schalke coach Huub Stevens has demanded more consistency from his side ahead of their clash against Freiburg on Saturday.

After a promising start to the season, Schalke are winless in their past five outings in all competitions.

The poor run has seen them slip to fifth in the Bundesliga and Stevens said playing well in patches would not be good enough.

“In the last few weeks, I haven’t always seen it (our qualities),” Stevens said.

“I’ve only seen strong performances occasionally. That’s not enough, and we know that, but the players also want to turn that around. That is our aim and everybody wants to help achieve that.

“When I see and feel how everybody is training or tries to train, then I can say, yes, they want to improve and that is very important.”

They meet a Freiburg side in contrasting form, with just one loss in their previous eight matches.

That defeat came to runaway league leaders Bayern Munich and Stevens is wary of the ‘organised’ Freiburg side.

“They’re a good team. They play in an organised manner, with a lot of movement, perform well with the ball and create quick switches in their play,” Stevens said.

“On Saturday, we are going to be up against a very difficult opponent. But we hope that our qualities will shine through.”

AFF Suzuki Cup: Thailand 2 Malaysia 0 (3-1 agg)

14 December 2012 01:24

Thailand have moved a step closer to their first AFF Suzuki Cup title in 10 years, with a 2-0 semi-final win over Malaysia on Thursday.

The two sides drew 1-1 in the first leg, but Teerasil Dangda and Theerathon Bunmathan scored two second half goals in four minutes the seal the 3-1 aggregate win.

The three-times winners have been present in five of the eight finals since the tournament’s inception in 1996 and will now contest their ninth over two legs against Singapore.

With their last four clash closely poised at 1-1 after Sunday’s opening leg, Malaysia and Thailand had everything to play for in Bangkok.

But Malaysia’s chances of progression suffered a setback on 44 minutes when Mohd Fadhli Mohd Shas was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Replays showed he shoved Datsakorn Thonglao, who also received a booking, but it was advantage Thailand going into the second half.

After the break, the hosts took just 20 minutes to break the deadlock, with Dangda capitalising on some poor defending to slot past the goalkeeper.

Bunmathan then made it 2-0 four minutes later, tapping home the spilled ball from Jakkraphan Pornsai’s free-kick.

The first leg of the final takes place in Singapore on December 29, with the return leg back in Bangkok three days later.

Copa del Rey wrap: Betis held by Las Palmas

14 December 2012 00:33

Real Betis have been held to a 1-1 draw by Segunda Division side Las Palmas in the first leg of their round of 16 Copa del Rey clash.

Neither side could find an opening in the first half with Betis striker Ruben Castro scoring in the 67th minute to put the away team ahead.

However, Macauley Chrisantus drew Las Palmas level in the 85th minute to send the home crowd into raptures and give his side a fighting chance ahead of their second leg clash in Seville early next year.

In Thursday’s other game, Real Zaragoza left it extremely late as they overcame Levante 1-0 at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.

Zaragoza forward Carlos Aranda scored in the 92nd minute to give Manuel Jimenez’s side a vital buffer as they look ahead to the second leg on home soil.