Moratti denies Diakite interest

5 December 2012 18:53

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has denied the club are chasing Lazio’s Modibo Diakite.

The 25-year-old rejected a contract extension at Stadio Olimpico and Lazio president Claudio Lotito said he thought Diakite may sign for Andrea Stramaccioni’s side.

Moratti, however, has hit back at Lotito’s claims, saying he had not even heard of the player.

“When I read the words of Lotito I almost fell over,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I rang my directors in the middle of the night and asked who this player was as I couldn’t even remember his name. I don’t know why Lotito is insisting with this story and I could get upset if he continues.

“Diakite may be a good player, but we have done nothing and we’ve not even thought about making a move for him.”

Inter are third in Serie A, four points behind leaders Juventus.

Milan through but Allegri wants more

5 December 2012 03:39

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri believes his side were unfortunate to lose to Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday.

Portuguese star Danny scored the only goal after 35 minutes, however, Malaga’s positive record against Milan meant that the Italians would finish second in Group C regardless of the result.

And it means Milan have still to win at home in Europe’s premier competition this term but Allegri is adamant that record should have ended on Tuesday.

“We created a lot of chances and played with a good pace but unfortunately we conceded in what was their only chance in the game,” Allegri told Milan’s official website.

“At the moment, the objective is Torino (in Serie A on Sunday), third place is still far away. We’ll be thinking of each game as it comes, in the Italian cup as well.

“Acerbi and Zapata played well and conceded very little to Zenit. We weren’t lacking in commitment, the team played well from a technical point of view even though the motivation can’t have been at its highest.

“We didn’t deserve to lose though, I’m disappointed for the players but we have to start not conceding goals. Twenty goals in 21 games is too much, we have to do better in certain situations.

“I’m happy with all the individual performances including Mesbah and Ambrosini, who both came back from injuries.

“We’ll see about Montolivo in the next few days, if there’s any risk, he won’t be on the pitch against Torino.”

Flores geared up for Adelaide return

5 December 2012 03:39

Melbourne Victory star Marcos Flores is anticipating a heated reception from Adelaide United fans in his first appearance against his old side.

The Argentine attacking midfielder claimed the Johnny Warren Medal playing in an Adelaide shirt in the 2010-11 A-League season, scoring nine goals in the process.

Flores, 27, says he has a lot of respect for his former club and for however the fans react to him on Friday night at Hindmarsh Stadium.

“I’m expecting the people to express freedom, they can express what they want,” Flores said on Wednesday.

“I am sleeping very peacefully every day in my bed, every night, because I gave them (Adelaide) everything … 110 percent I gave to them.

“I am peaceful myself, my heart is with a lot of peace, but they can express what they want and I’m happy to receive.”

Ange Postecoglou’s Victory have turned their season on its head in recent times, winning five of their past seven since a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of champions Brisbane Roar.

Despite playing for the club with the biggest fan base in the A-League, Flores said he does not feel any additional pressure to churn out positive results.

“It’s beautiful, pressure,” he said.

“If that (winning for the fans) is how we call pressure, I want to have that pressure all my life. Pressure is living in Argentina, and (you) don’t have good salary to feed your family – that is pressure.

“But I live a good life, and I am doing what I love and every team-mate is doing what we love, and we are in one important club, and we want to do our best.”

That heavy loss to the Roar was winger/attacker Andrew Nabbout’s debut, but if such a baptism of fire was meant to scare the teenager off professional football, it backfired heavily.

Since then, Nabbout scored a memorable match-winning brace to help Victory see off bitter rivals Sydney FC 3-2 away, before also being on target in the club’s 2-2 draw with the Central Coast Mariners.

But Nabbout said he knows he has a lot of hard work ahead of him to build his fitness to run out a full 90 minutes – something he is yet to do in the A-League.

“I’ve just got to slowly catch up to the guys as quickly as I can. I hope in the next few games to get these fitness levels up because I want to be at the levels of the other boys to keep up during the game,” Nabbout said.

“In the last game, I found myself puffing in the first 20 minutes, so that can’t happen throughout the season. I’ve just got to keep working hard, and listen to the coaches, and I’ll get there very soon.”

Knee injury rules out Wheelhouse

5 December 2012 03:31

Newcastle Jets skipper Jobe Wheelhouse will miss Saturday’s A-League derby with the Central Coast Mariners after a training mishap.

Wheelhouse injured his knee in a training accident on Tuesday morning and faces an anxious wait for medical tests to determine the extent of the damage.

However, coach Gary van Egmond confirmed the 27-year-old defensive midfielder would not play against the Mariners.

“We will know more by Thursday. He has some movement in there in his knee so I would suggest there is no way he will be playing this weekend,” van Egmond said at a media conference on Wednesday morning.

“The initial thoughts from the physio is it is a grade two (tear) but we just have to wait and see from the scan on Thursday.

“It is just one of those things. He slid in to get the ball and as he did someone came from the other side and the ball fell close to his foot and his foot has gone and he has tweaked his knee.”

The loss of Wheelhouse compounds a squad issue for the Jets with fullback Josh Mitchell and forward Ryan Griffiths suspended.

And with first-choice defensive midfielder Ben Kantarovski still recovering from knee surgery and central defender Tiago Calvano also injured, van Egmond is forced to make wholesale changes with Josh Brilliante, Jacob Pepper and Taylor Regan likely to win call-ups.

“That is football. When it rains, it pours. The benefit is we have a good squad and good depth and some good young players coming through and it gives them an opportunity and what better opportunity than in the F3 derby,” van Egmond said.

“Josh Brillante, who came in for the last game, and Jacob Pepper, are looking like the two obvious ones that can come in to replace at this stage.

“For us it is good that we have some depth in the front third with Craig Goodwin and James Virgili. Probably Craig is a little more favoured to replace Ryan being a natural leftie.

“At the back we have the option of bringing Dom (Ritter) in but then we get a bit skinny in the fullback area, so more than likely we will go with a straight swap with Taylor (Regan).”

With Wheelhouse out van Egmond will also need to appoint a new captain.

“Come Thursday or Friday we will get to that,” he said.

“We have the likes of Ruben Zadkovich that comes into the fold, someone like Scott Neville also comes into that fold as does Dominik Ritter, Emile (Heskey) obviously, so we will have a bit more a look at it and talk to the leadership group and make that decision.”

Vorm nears Swansea return

5 December 2012 03:11

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm has moved a step closer to a return to Premier League action after resuming full training.

Vorm has not appeared for the Swans since tearing his groin trying to save a Carlos Tevez shot in the 1-0 defeat by Manchester City on October 27.

The 29-year-old has missed Swansea’s last league matches, with second-choice goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel replacing him, but is now in line for a return to first-team action.

“It’s great to be back. I’m very happy to be out there with the boys on the training field,” he told the club’s official website.

“I’ve done a lot of gym work and strengthening my groin with Richard (Buchanan) and Kate (Rees) from the physio team, and I feel very good.

“I don’t feel any pain, but I know I am not quite 100 percent yet, which is to be expected as I only got into full training today.

“But I think the main thing for me is to make sure I am absolutely ready before I am in contention to play. That is something I have learned in my career.

“We have some massive games coming up, and if I’m ready then that’s great, but if I’m not 100 percent then I won’t put myself into contention for selection.”

Second-choice goalkeeper Tremmel has not been on a losing side in Vorm’s absence – winning four and drawing three of his seven starts in all competitions, along with two clean sheets and 28 saves, while only conceding four goals – with Michael Laudrup’s men rising from 11th to seventh in the table.

“Gerhard has come in and he has done very well. He has worked so hard in training to ensure he is ready for any opportunity, and I think everyone has seen his quality and experience really shine through,” Vorm said.

“It’s great for me because I know Gerhard is doing a great job, and that means I’m not rushing myself to get back to 100 percent.

“It can be so difficult for a goalkeeper to come into certain situations because it’s a very special position and different to the others, but Gerhard has come in and done so, so well.”