Mark's Feed
Jun 15, 2014

Feghouli has chance to write his name into African folklore

SALVADOR (Reuters) – Algeria midfielder Sofiane Feghouli will make his entry on to the World Cup stage on Tuesday amid huge anticipation about the impact he could make at the finals.

As Africa looks for a new hero to replace the ageing Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, the 24-year-old is in a prime position to add to his growing reputation, starting with the north African country’s opener against Belgium in Belo Horizonte.

Jun 15, 2014

Soccer-Feghouli has chance to write his name into African folklore

SALVADOR, June 15 (Reuters) – Algeria midfielder Sofiane Feghouli will make his entry on to the World Cup stage on Tuesday amid huge anticipation about the impact he could make at the finals.

As Africa looks for a new hero to replace the ageing Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, the 24-year-old is in a prime position to add to his growing reputation, starting with the north African country’s opener against Belgium in Belo Horizonte.

Jun 15, 2014

Clean bill of health has Loew glowing with confidence

SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) – Germany coach Joachim Loew was finally able to pronounce a clean bill of health for his players at the World Cup on Sunday and immediately sounded a confident note on the eve of their opening match against Portugal. The dramatic airlift by helicopter of Bastian Schweinsteiger from their camp at Santa Cruz Cabralia on Saturday was no more than a routine check at a nearby hospital on his recent knee injury, requested by FIFA for insurance purposes, said the coach. Schweinsteiger later traveled with the rest of the squad to Salvador, where they play their Group G opener at the Fonte Nova arena on Monday. The recovery in recent weeks of captain Philipp Lahm, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and midfielder Sami Khedira added to a positive outlook from Loew about his team’s chances at the tournament in Brazil. “We are well prepared for the first game and we have the injury problems behind us now. All players have participated fully in training and all are 100 percent fit. “But in the last year we have shown we can draw on lots of talent and if we perform in this tournament with a passion and a resolve, then I think we’ll be a difficult team to beat. We’ve got a high level of quality. We’ve got a good chance to go far. “It’s our task as coaches to make sure the team maintains a high level of performance over the four weeks. Also key is avoiding injury, which can be a serious setback for the team. And, of course, you also need that extra pinch of luck along the way,” Loew told the pre-match press conference. “I also believe the extra days of preparation we’ve had have been able to add to the team spirit. They are a much tighter bunch. It is usually difficult to get that spirit going with the national team who don’t get together for months at a time.” The coach said arriving at the match venue on the eve of the game had turned up the level of excitement in the squad. “You can sense a rising tension and expectation. A bit of emotion kicks in and everyone gets excited when they see the stadium, the pitch; feel the atmosphere. We can sense now we are in the fever of the World Cup.”

(Editing by Nigel Hunt)

Jun 15, 2014

Soccer-Clean bill of health has Loew glowing with confidence

SALVADOR, Brazil, June 15 (Reuters) – Germany coach Joachim Loew was finally able to pronounce a clean bill of health for his players at the World Cup on Sunday and immediately sounded a confident note on the eve of their opening match against Portugal.

The dramatic airlift by helicopter of Bastian Schweinsteiger from their camp at Santa Cruz Cabralia on Saturday was no more than a routine check at a nearby hospital on his recent knee injury, requested by FIFA for insurance purposes, said the coach.

Jun 15, 2014

Drogba could be set for super-sub role

SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) – Didier Drogba proved a talismanic influence in helping the Ivory Coast to win their opening World Cup encounter but the ageing striker could be confined to a role as an impact player, coming off the bench at the tournament supposed to be his swansong.

The 36-year-old came on as a substitute, just after the hour mark, to spark a come-from-behind 2-1 victory for his country over Japan in a rain-drenched Recife on Saturday. But while Drogba, whose post-World Cup future is unclear, will be itching for a place in the staring line-up for the next game against Colombia in Brasilia on Thursday, his impact at the Pernambuco arena could well have marked his card. Coach Sabri Lamouchi was full of platitudes for Drogba after Saturday’s win but also made clear a lack of confidence in the imposing striker’s conditioning. “Part of leaving him on the bench was to do with strategy, part of it was his fitness,” Lamouchi said. “The last time he played 90 minutes was a few months ago in Turkey and he’s had an injury since then.” Drogba’s once automatic place in the team was filled by Wilfried Bony, who repaid his coach’s faith with the equaliser after Japan had taken a 1-0 half-time lead. Bony has been knocking on the door of starting 11 selection for a while, scoring three goals in five World Cup qualifiers. Even though the Elephants did not score until Drogba came on, they set up several chances before his entry on the back of impressive pace – provided by Gervinho, midfielder Serey Die and flying fullback Serge Aurier for Bony and frontline partner Salomon Kalou. Yaya Toure filled Drogba’s boots as the on-field leader and pointedly did not hand over the captain’s armband when Drogba came on in the 62nd minute. It was Lamouchi who did the unthinkable at the African Nations Cup finals in South Africa last year by dropping the two-time African Footballer of the Year because he was not fit enough. Then, Drogba was just coming off a two-months hiatus at the end of a brief spell in China and the coach stamped his authority on the team by putting the iconic player on the bench. This time Drogba is also playing catch-up with his fitness but having made such an impact after coming on against the Japanese on Saturday, there must now be a major temptation to hand him a new role – that of super sub.

Jun 15, 2014

Soccer-Drogba could be set for super-sub role

SALVADOR, Brazil, June 15 (Reuters) – Didier Drogba proved a talismanic influence in helping the Ivory Coast to win their opening World Cup encounter but the ageing striker could be confined to a role as an impact player, coming off the bench at the tournament supposed to be his swansong.

The 36-year-old came on as a substitute, just after the hour mark, to spark a come-from-behind 2-1 victory for his country over Japan in a rain-drenched Recife on Saturday.

Jun 14, 2014

Tackles fly in as Belgian intensity builds

SALVADOR, Brazil (Reuters) – Belgium are evidently chomping at the bit as they wait to start their World Cup campaign with the intensity ratcheted up a notch since the stunning win for their Dutch neighbors over Spain on Friday.

Two Belgian players were injured in tough challenges in training on Saturday and a full 90-minute warm-up game between the players at their base camp at Mogi das Cruzes on Friday had coach Marc Wilmots fearing for their safety.

Jun 14, 2014

Soccer-Tackles fly in as Belgian intensity builds

SALVADOR, Brazil, June 14 (Reuters) – Belgium are evidently chomping at the bit as they wait to start their World Cup campaign with the intensity ratcheted up a notch since the stunning win for their Dutch neighbours over Spain on Friday.

Two Belgian players were injured in tough challenges in training on Saturday and a full 90-minute warm-up game between the players at their base camp at Mogi das Cruzes on Friday had coach Marc Wilmots fearing for their safety.

Jun 14, 2014

Van Gaal’s softer side helps downfall of Spain

SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) – Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal’s surprise decision to allow family visits just hours before kickoff is being credited with helping put his players in the mood to demolish world champions Spain in their World Cup opener on Friday.

The decision was to allow the players to see their wives, girlfriends and children on the morning of the match was a significant departure from the usual style of a coach with a reputation as a no-nonsense hard-man.

Jun 14, 2014

Soccer-Van Gaal’s softer side helps downfall of Spain

SALVADOR, Brazil, June 14 (Reuters) – Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal’s surprise decision to allow family visits just hours before kickoff is being credited with helping put his players in the mood to demolish world champions Spain in their World Cup opener on Friday.

The decision was to allow the players to see their wives, girlfriends and children on the morning of the match was a significant departure from the usual style of a coach with a reputation as a no-nonsense hard-man.