CSL: Guizhou Renhe 0 Changchun Yatai 0

10 August 2012 16:09

Guizhou Renhe could not break through at home against Changchun Yatai in a 0-0 draw in the CSL on Friday.

Renhe could not reproduce the form that saw them defeat top side Guangzhou Evergrande last start and were held by Changchun’s steely defence.

The hosts went into the clash at the Guiyang Olympic Sports Center in third and remain there on 34 points – six behind Evergrande and five behind second-placed Jiangsu Sainty.

Changchun, meanwhile, move up to fifth on 30 points ahead of Guangzhou R&F.

Changchun play Evergrande next Saturday while Renhe are away to Dalian Aerbin.

Pele talks up Brazilian gold

10 August 2012 15:37

Former Brazil star Pele is backing his national team to add Olympic gold to their array of other football accolades.

For all their success in the World Cup, Brazil has only managed two silver and two bronze medals in Olympic football – but they have the chance to put that right in London when they take on Mexico in Saturday’s final.

Pele, in the UK after being presented with an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh, never played in an Olympics having turned professional at the age of 17, when the tournament was reserved for amateurs.

But the 71-year-old is confident the likes of Neymar can deliver the global title that neither he nor Brazil have ever won.

“People always say Brazil haven’t got a gold medal in the Olympics,” Pele said.

“I started to play at 17-years-old in the World Cup, I become professional and at that time we didn’t have professionals (in the Olympics). The professional could not play, so I never played in an Olympics.

“I hope we get the gold medal that I never got. Brazil has a good team. I think Neymar is a fantastic player.

“I wish we get the only medal we don’t have. The Olympic medal. I am here, I wish that we will go back to Brazil with the gold medal.”

Brazil’s gold medal match against Mexico takes place at Wembley on Saturday, with Korea and Japan fighting for the bronze medal at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Friday.

Lille star backs PSG for title

10 August 2012 15:15

Former Ligue 1 Champions Lille are bracing for a tough campaign following PSG’s unprecedented recruiting spree.

The 2010 champions finished third last season behind PSG and surprise champions Montpellier but midfielder Rio Mavuba believes PSG should be unstoppable this season after signing the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

“If you think of it logically, Paris will be the champions,” Mavuba said.

“They have given themselves all the possibilities but we’re also ambitious. We will want to keep them on their toes until the end and I don’t think we are the only ones.

“They (PSG) have 15 or 20 internationals in their ensemble. It could be a source of motivation (for other teams).

“It will be the same with Marseille, Montpellier, Lyon, even Rennes or Bordeaux. Everyone will want to put the brakes on Paris.

“But we’ve got to accept the reality; we were complaining that there weren’t two teams in Paris, but now there are practically two teams in PSG who could play for the title, so that will be complicated.”

Lille winger Dimitri Payet echoed Mavuba’s sentiments but was quick to highlight, just as was the case last season, that big budgets don’t necessarily win titles.

“Seeing the recruitment, it’s certainly difficult to rival names like that,” Payet said.

“But at the same time, big names don’t necessarily mean you win the match or have a great team.

“So we will try and do our championship our way and we shall see where Paris is when we cross paths with them later in the season.”

Lille get their campaign under way against Saint-Etienne on Saturday and Mavuba said he was confident the side could improve despite the loss of Belgian star Eden Hazard to Chelsea.

“We had to tolerate Eden (Hazard) leaving but for that we’ll say we were prepared,” Mavuba said.

“Today we know that we will evolve without him but really; Marvin (Martin) has arrived, Salomon (Kalou).”

Hodgson names new blood

10 August 2012 14:25

England manager Roy Hodgson has named an experimental squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Italy.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and former captain John Terry missed out, while Adam Johnson and Michael Carrick both earned recalls.

There are first senior call-ups for Tottenham duo Steven Caulker and Jake Livermore as well as Ryan Bertrand, while Tom Cleverley joins Manchester United team-mate Carrick in the midfield.

There are two goalkeepers in the squad both hoping to earn their first senior caps, as John Ruddy is back after breaking his finger in the pre-Euro 2012 training camp, while Jack Butland is included after impressive displays for Team GB at the Olympics.

Frank Lampard is back after pulling out of Euro 2012 with injury, while up front Hodgson has chosen a mix of strikers including Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Theo Walcott, and Daniel Sturridge, who was not picked for the squad at Euro 2012.

The squad is due to meet up on Sunday after the Community Shield between Chelsea and Manchester City at Villa Park, and will travel to Switzerland on Tuesday.

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich City).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Steven Cauker (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Jake Livermore (Tottenham Hotspur), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Ashley Young (Manchester United).

Forwards: Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Mancini gives up pursuit of Van Persie

10 August 2012 14:09

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says that the club’s pursuit of Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is over.

The current Premier League champions are yet to sign anybody this summer, and their inaction to date continues to frustrate Mancini as he looks to build a lasting legacy at the club while turning them into the English game’s dominant force.

The Italian boss has now admitted that the club’s chase for the Dutch forward is all but over, arguing that he is either destined to stay put at the Emirates or move to the club’s bitter rivals Manchester United instead.

“Van Persie is not our player. He is an Arsenal or United player,” Mancini said on Friday.

“These questions you should ask other people. I don’t know what I can say. After three or four months … nothing.

“I think when you win something you should look to improve and buy new players, but not too close to the end. The league was finished in May and I think now it is very difficult to move in the market.

“But I don’t want to talk any more about players, my thoughts are now with the game against Chelsea. Now I have to think about the game.”

When pressed further on whether he was happy with the way that business was conducted with concerns to transfer at the club and the role that the club’s football administrator Brian Marwood plays in negotiations, Mancini didn’t pull any punches.

“You should talk to Brian Marwood for this. Not me. Talk to Marwood please,” he said.

“No I’m not happy. I don’t want to say anything at the moment. For me we have a good team. But we need to continue to improve.”

Meanwhile, Mancini concedes that Manchester United are the favourites for the Premier League title going into the new season.

The two clubs went head-to-head for most of last season and took the race right down to the final game of the season, with Sergio Aguero’s 95th-minute winning strike against QPR deciding the destination of the league crown.

However, Mancini believes Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will be the team to look out for.

“I think United are the favourite team this year,” he said.

“I am confident with my players because we won the league and also because last year we beat a fantastic team like United.

“But you do need to improve at every level. We are a young team and we need to get better, every month, every year.”

With the season’s traditional curtain-raiser against Chelsea in the Community Shield just days away, Mancini is nursing a few selection headaches ahead of the game, with the likes of Mario Balotelli and David Silva still requiring rest and Gareth Barry and Micah Richards consigned to the treatment table.

“Mario (Balotelli) and David (Silva) have had a busy summer, they need more time. They will probably be on the bench,” he said.

“(Micah) Richards, I think will be out for just this game, he has a small ankle problem. Gareth (Barry), I don’t know. I hope that maybe three or four weeks, or one month, but I don’t know.”