Ono keen on Wanderers stay

24 January 2013 02:32

Shinji Ono has confirmed his desire to remain with the Western Sydney Wanderers next season in a major boost for the fledgling club.

The Japanese superstar comes off contract at the end of the current campaign but is hopeful of at least one more season with the competition newcomers.

“I want to stay, I love it here,” Ono said before training at Blacktown on Thursday.

“I want to stay but I don’t know (what’s happening yet), I think my agent is talking with the club, I don’t know, I’m not sure.”

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic confirmed he wants to re-sign the 33-year-old but says the club is in no hurry to get the deal done.

“All along we’ve said that we’re very happy with Shinji and obviously there’s a process that needs to be taken,” Popovic said.

“But he knows the club’s desire and he knows my desire of wanting to keep Shinji and we’ll see if we can make that happen … with Shinji we haven’t spoken about any terms as yet but he knows our desire is to keep him.

“The process has started now and hopefully both parties will be happy and we’ll see him here again next year.

“There’s no time frame on that, I mean I’d be happy if it was the end of the season, I wouldn’t be worried when it is (done).

“We’re not going to rush anything and as long as he’s happy and he’s happy playing, we’re happy with how the process is going and that’s the main thing.”

Meanwhile, Popovic says he cannot fault his marquee man’s form this season but believes his best is yet to come.

“I’ve been happy with him since day one. You can look at in a few different ways. We saw some great things from him early on but the difference is he wasn’t able to do it for long periods because of his lack of match fitness and his lack of fitness when he got here,” he said.

“Slowly he’s got stronger and fitter, and he always had the talent, but now he’s just showing it for longer periods.

“He showed again on the weekend in a tough game for us, especially in the first half. His leadership and quality in the second half shone through and he played a major part in overturning that 1-0 deficit.”

The man himself is also happy with his progress since arriving in Australia just days out from the start of the season.

“I’m very fit and physically and mentally everything is OK,” Ono said.

“I’m just waiting to find out (if I’m starting this weekend). I don’t know if I will start or not, the head coach Tony will make the decisions so I’m waiting.”

Carteron bracing for Ghana test

24 January 2013 02:30

West African rivals Ghana and Mali face off in a key Africa Cup of Nations Group B clash on Thursday.

Mali coach Patrice Carteron is wary of a team he considers one of the main contenders in South Africa.

“For me, tomorrow’s game is against one of the big favourites for the tournament,” he said.

“A few days ago, I made a really positive comparison (of Ghana) with the Germany side of the 80s. In every tournament, you knew that Germany would be in the quarter-finals. I think its part of the culture, Ghanaians work hard, they’ve got a mindset that helps them to be consistent.

“It’s going to be a fantastic game, a historic game, because even though Mali showed lately that it can raise its level, Mali has rarely beaten a great football country. Now we are getting closer to that.”

Mali sit on top of the group after a 1-0 win over Niger and will remember their victory over Ghana in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations play-off for third place.

Ghana are desperate for a first win in their campaign, after a disappointing draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo in their opening tie.

Ghana had established a two-goal lead in that fixture, but let their opponents come back to end the game 2-2.

Captain Asamoah Gyan could return for Ghana from injury, while Mali will be looking to former Barcelona player Seydou Keita to make an impact in what could be one of the most explosive matches in the tournament so far.

Ibini poised for Mariners return

24 January 2013 01:52

Bernie Ibini has a big chance to play when Central Coast hosts Adelaide in a top of the table A-League clash in Gosford on Friday.

Ibini, 20, spent more than a week training with Belgium heavyweights Club Brugge and impressed in the limited time he had to shine.

He got back in Australia on Wednesday and trained on Thursday.

With star playmaker Tomas Rogic gone, Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is hopeful Ibini will stay at the Mariners for the rest of the season.

But whether or not that happens remains in doubt. It is believed Club Brugge officials were extremely impressed with Ibini during his short training stint.

“From what I’ve heard he did very well in terrible weather conditions,” Arnold said of his young striker.

“There’s been no offer as yet so it’s up to Club Brugge now. We’d love for him to stay on the coast for the season and then go, but who knows what will happen.

“We’re glad to have him back for Friday night.”

Meanwhile, Arnold has not ruled out playing new signing Nick Fitzgerald against Adelaide.

With Rogic gone and Ibini’s future uncertain, the Mariners coach moved quickly this week to bring Fitzgerald from Brisbane earlier than first planned after he initially signed a deal for the next two A-League seasons.

He also trained with the Mariners on Thursday and will play out the season with the club where he began his A-League career.

After two disappointing draws, Arnold said he wants ‘a positive reaction’ against Adelaide.

The Mariners are three points clear of Adelaide in top spot.

Wenger considering January signings

24 January 2013 01:27

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger cut short his press conference after Arsenal’s 5-1 win over West Ham ‘to do some work’ on his transfer targets.

Wenger’s men came from a goal down to put their London rivals to the sword on Wednesday, with Olivier Giroud scoring twice in a 12-minute blitz early in the second half to help secure all three points.

The Frenchman was pleased with the way his side responded after going behind to a Jack Collison strike, and reserved special praise for Lukas Podolski – whose thunderbolt effort restored parity in the first half – in the short time he spoke afterwards.

“We got a good response,” he told reporters. “West Ham were dangerous in the first half and from set-pieces. In the second half we created chance after chance.

“I thought it was an interesting test (at 1-0). I couldn’t predict we would score five, it was vital to equalise before half-time.

“It was a repetition of the game at West Ham when we were 1-0 down. Everybody can score against everybody.

“I never felt that the players didn’t know how important it is. I was worried they were sometimes a bit inhibited.

“Podolski was outstanding. He has an unbelievable shot, the ‘keeper had no chance. It was new for us, we scored from a corner.

“I still believe (the left) is his best position. Yes, (he had one of his best games), he was also very good in the away game at West Ham.”

Wenger confirmed Thomas Vermaelen is doubtful for Arsenal’s FA Cup clash with Brighton on Saturday after suffering an ankle problem.

When pressed on the club’s dealings in the transfer market, he was quick to suggest some developments were in the pipeline.

Asked whether there were any updates, Wenger said: “No (I have nothing to tell you). That is why I have to shorten the press conference, because I have to do some work.”

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said the start of the second half cost his side and he was preparing to set his team up to protect their lead before the blitz.

“When you concede as early (in the second half) as we did and they get into top gear, you have to give their players credit for their top spell,” he said.

“You wonder what Arsenal are going to be like when they have lost two on the trot, once we opened up they tore us apart.

“My strategy was working brilliantly until half-time. I had planned to introduce fresh legs and talent.

“But by the time I blocked it up, they were five ahead. It was the worst 45 minutes I’ve suffered this season.”

Hazard apologises for kicking ball-boy

24 January 2013 01:20

Eden Hazard has apologised to the ball boy he kicked during Chelsea’s League Cup semi-final second-leg with Swansea.

The 0-0 draw at Liberty Stadium saw Swansea progress to the final with a 2-0 aggregate win, but the match was overshadowed by Hazard’s kick to the mid-section of a ball-boy who would not give him the ball back after a wayward Cesar Azpilicueta pass went out of play.

The youngster decided to not release the ball promptly, and Hazard attempted to wrestle it from him before kicking him while he was lying on it and, after some deliberation, referee Chris Foy gave the winger a straight red card.

Hazard expressed regret at the incident.

“The boy put his
whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I
think I kicked the ball and not the boy,” Hazard told Chelsea TV. “I apologise.

“The
ball boy came in the changing room and we had a quick chat and I

apologised and the boy apologised as well, and it is over. Sorry.”

Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez confirmed the meeting had taken place.

“Eden Hazard has been in to see the ball boy and the two have apologised to each other,” Benitez told reporters.

“The ball boy knows he was wasting time. We are disappointed to lose the player but we cannot change things. They both recognise there was a mistake.

“The boy was apologising for time wasting. Hazard was frustrated and tried to get the ball. He was kicking the ball and getting the ball.

“We can analyse if for half an hour but we know that both are wrong.”

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup believes Hazard will feel foolish once he sees the incident back.

“Well I saw it from a very (big) distance, obviously from the bench, and just saw it after the game and I think Hazard, who is a great player, I think when he sees the images on television I think he will regret it,” the Dane said.

The ball-boy in question has received criticism for what has been deemed a blatant attempt to waste time, but Laudrup was adamant instructions to delay giving Chelsea the ball back were never issued.

“No, no, definitely not,” he said. “I think he was pushed and then he is on top of the ball. But whatever happens, I can understand all frustrations, you know, when you are behind, we all try that.

“I’ve been a player myself, you have a 118 in pulse, but there are things you can never do.”