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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Birds v Bucs in original Soweto derby

Moroka Swallows will hope to make it a double in the league against Orlando Pirates at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday night. Kick-off at 7:30pm.

Although the Dube Birds are languishing at the bottom of the log standings at position 14 with 15 points from 15 matches, they’re motivated by their previous clean sheet against Bloemfontein Celtic last Sunday.

Looking at the Sea Robber’s camp, they’re sitting at position five with 22 points from 15 matches and their aim is to keep their winning run intact after beating Ajax Cape Town 4-0 last Saturday.

Swallows’ defensive midfielder, Larry Cohen, believes the match will be an open affair as they’re motivated by their draw to Siwelele.

“We’re ready and motivated ahead of the Pirates match because we managed to keep a clean sheet away to Celtic,” said Cohen.

“We aim to build on that performance and see how we can stun Pirates, we’re at home and that’s a plus.

“Yes, Pirates are a big team and it’s not going to be easy in that sense, but they’ll attack and that will open up the game.

“I believe this will be a great game for the fans and the players as well – we’re ready as players.”

Baxter - We must stay on our toes

Head coach Stuart Baxter has warned his Kaizer Chiefs team against complacency, as they continue their dream Premiership run.

Chiefs secured a 2-1 win over league strugglers Free State Stars in Polokwane on Tuesday night, in the penultimate round of matches before the mid-season break, stretching their unbeaten run to 17 matches.

The Soweto giants climbed 15 points clear at the top of the log, and while most of the teams below them held at least one game in hand, they were set to take a significant advantage into the second half of the campaign.

"I've said to the boys that we can beat any team in the league, but any team in the league can beat us," Baxter said.

"If we don't approach the game properly we tread on a landmine at any time."

Kingston Nkhatha gave the hosts the lead in the 35th minute, after receiving a header from Tefu Mashamaite and flicking the ball back to leave Stars goalkeeper Glenn Verbauwhede stranded.

Seven minutes after the interval, Nkhatha was involved again, delivering a neat pass to Siyabonga Nkosi who tapped it in to extend their lead.

Azul win to setup Real Madrid semi

In a match reminiscent of the 1974 Fifa World Cup Germany™ semifinal between the hosts and Poland due to the deluge of rain experienced at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah in Rabat, Cruz Azul saw off nine-man Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 in extra-time. The win sets the CONCACAF Champions League winners up against Real Madrid in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Early chances were exchanged in the opening minutes as the two sides worked out the intricacies of the wet pitch as Matthew Spiranovic’s flashing header was well saved by Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose Corona 11 minutes in.

Marco Fabian nearly put Cruz Azul ahead in the with a spectacular strike from 25 yards out but his dipping effort just skipped wide of the post, much to the relief of Wanderers keeper Ante Covic. Fabian continued to look dangerous throughout the first half, the Mexican international volleying high after connecting on Xavier Baez’s well placed cross.

Despite an equal share of possession throughout the first 45 minutes, the CONCACAF champions controlled most of the play but Cruz Azul had nothing to show for their chances as they went back to the dressing room goalless. The Mexican club would later rue their missed opportunities 20 minutes after the restart.

Cruz Azul were controlling matters in the adverse conditions throughout the second half but the AFC Champions League winners remained alert and capitalised on one of the only chances they saw in the final 45 minutes. A poor clearance allowed Iacopo La Rocca a clean look on goal and the Italian midfielder took an ambitious strike from 25 yards out, which settled into the far corner to give Wanderers the lead against the run of play.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas to bounce back

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has shown remarkable resilience to bounce back from a run of poor performances and doubts over his future at the club earlier this year.

The Real captain saved his second penalty in consecutive matches when he kept out a spot kick against Cruz Azul at the Club World Cup on Tuesday to emphasise his return to form.

Casillas was whistled by his own supporters when Real lost the La Liga derby with Atletico Madrid in mid-September but he has since enjoyed a renaissance that has coincided with their Spanish record 21-match winning streak.

"I have always been the same but players clearly go through good and bad runs. In the end all you can do is keep your head up and keep going," Casillas told reporters.

He parried a first half penalty in Real's 4-0 win over Cruz Azul in the Club World Cup semi-final, having stopped a spot-kick in last Friday's 4-1 victory at Almeria in La Liga.

"It is always good to have in mind what you have achieved although you can't live off it. Making two penalty saves is a nice anecdote if and when things work out and we win the titles," he added.

Romanian coach Cosmin Contra to accept Chinese side Guangzhou R&F's job offer

Financially-troubled Getafe have urged their Romanian coach Cosmin Contra to accept Chinese side Guangzhou R&F's job offer and help the La Liga club to raise funds.

"I'm the only one at Getafe who has an offer, they want to sell me in China," Contra, who took over at the Spanish club in March, told local media. "They suggested I should help the club.

"I know the problems and I would do that for the club which is going through some pretty bad financial times."

Guangzhou R&F finished third in this year's Chinese Super League to qualify for next year's Asian Champions League second preliminary round.

The manager's job at Guangzhou R&F became vacant after much-travelled Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson quit last month.

"They (Guangzhou R&F) are offering me a salary, which is five times bigger than the one I have at Getafe," said former Romania international Contra, adding that the Spanish club want him

Manchester United are capable of winning the title this season - Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney has warned Premier League leaders Chelsea that Manchester United are capable of winning the title this season.

United stretched their winning run to six matches on Sunday with an emphatic 3-0 victory over bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Despite struggling in the opening stages of what was expected to be a season of transition under new manager Louis van Gaal, United have risen to third in the table and they are only eight points adrift of Chelsea heading into the hectic Christmas programme.

So far this season Chelsea have looked the class of the league, but that does not faze Rooney.

The striker was part of the United team that won the league six seasons ago despite trailing Liverpool by eight points in January and he also remembers their last triumph in 2013, when they won the title by 11 points despite rarely blowing sides away.

Balotelli no world class player

Moroccan international Adel Taarabt has added to Mario Balotelli's woes after dismissing suggestions the misfiring Liverpool striker was a world class player.

Queens Park Rangers striker Taarabt spent half a season on loan at AC Milan, where he played alongside Balotelli before the Italy international signed for Liverpool at the start of the season.

Taarabt also returned to England in time for the new season but has been training on his own recently amid a spat with QPR manager Harry Redknapp.

Taarabt confirmed recent reports in Italy when he admitted he was looking to return to Serie A and would play for Milan for free.

The 25-year-old, meanwhile, said he was not impressed by Balotelli during his five-month spell at the Serie A club.

"Everyone told me he was great. I've played with him and he is good but he didn't strike me as a world class player," Taarabt said in an interview with the Sky Football Night programme on Sky Sport.