Gi­nola against Blat­ter

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Manch­ester City coped ad­mirably when lead­ing striker Ser­gio Aguero was on the treat­ment table ear­lier this sea­son but take mid­field pow­er­house Yaya Toure (pic­tured) out of the en­gine room and the ma­chine starts grind­ing to a halt.

Af­ter a slug­gish start to the sea­son Ivory Coast’s Toure was at his ma­raud­ing best in the fi­nal weeks of 2014, scor­ing six goals in eight games as cham­pi­ons City closed an eight-point gap to Chelsea in the Pre­mier League.

Since he de­parted for the African Cup of Na­tions, how­ever, City have lost mo­men­tum, draw­ing 1-1 with Ever­ton last week and on Sun­day los­ing 2-0 at home to Ar­se­nal -- a de­feat that left Manuel Pel­le­grini’s team five points behind Chelsea.

In fact, of the four Pre­mier League games the 31-year-old Toure has missed this sea­son, City have won none of them.

They may have a squad laden with house­hold names, but when he is in the mood it is Toure who still makes them tick, still the go-to man when trou­ble is brew­ing.

Ar­se­nal’s first win at The Eti­had since 2010 was built on sti­fling City’s mid­field cre­ativ­ity and hit­ting the hosts on the break. When chas­ing the game af­ter fall­ing behind to Santi Ca­zorla’s first-half penalty, City badly missed the sledge­ham­mer power Toure pro­vides with his runs and his shoot­ing.

With a trip to Chelsea in their next league match on 31 Jan­uary, Pel­le­grini can only hope Toure is not de­tained too long in Equa­to­rial Guinea, although it would be a ma­jor sur­prise if he was back in time for the clash at Stam­ford Bridge.

“I hope that we are go­ing to re­cover and play in the way we have so far, ex­cept for this game.” — Reuters NAPOLI — Gon­zalo Higuain (pic­tured) has poured cold wa­ter on spec­u­la­tion about a pos­si­ble move away from Napoli, in­sist­ing he is happy at the Serie A out­fit.

The Ar­gentina striker has been strongly linked with a big-money switch to Liver­pool in the win­ter trans­fer mar­ket.

How­ever, speak­ing to Sky Italia shortly af­ter Napoli’s 1-0 tri­umph at Lazio on Sun­day –– a match which saw him net the only goal –– Higuain said: “I am happy here. I have a con­tract here.”

Napoli’s sign­ing of Italy for­ward Manolo Gab­bia­dini from Sam­p­do­ria last week in­creased spec­u­la­tion about Higuain fu­ture at the club.

The 27-year-old joined Napoli in the sum­mer of 2013 from Real Madrid and is under con­tract with the Naples out­fit un­til June 2018. Higuain’s win­ner against Lazio saw him move onto 10 goals in 19 league ap­pear­ances for Napoli this sea­son, and helped his side leapfrog their op­po­nents into third place in Serie A.

The top three teams in Italy’s top flight will com­pete in next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League.

“For­tu­nately, we took con­trol of a game that looked to be a dif­fi­cult test,” Higuain said. “Lazio are a strong side to face but we have to win in or­der to over­take them in the table. This was an im­por­tant game for us and now we need to look ahead to our next match.”

Napoli host Udi­nese in the Coppa Italia round of 16 tonight. — Reuters LON­DON — David Gi­nola crossed the foot­ball di­vide from the pitch to a pin-up long be­fore the days of David Beck­ham and now he wants to be Fifa pres­i­dent.

The 47-year-old French­man wants to stand against Sepp Blat­ter to sit at the helm of world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body and is be­ing paid £250,000 by a bet­ting firm, which de­nies the cam­paign is a pub­lic­ity stunt.

As a player, Gi­nola was box of­fice. He pro­duced mo­ments of magic to stun the op­po­si­tion and wow fans.

The winger wouldn’t win any prizes for track­ing back, but for some his at­tack­ing abil­ity more than made up for it.

In his na­tive France he played for Toulon, Rac­ing Club de Paris and Brest be­fore his big move to Paris St-ger­main. He helped PSG to the league ti­tle in 1993-94, while he also won the 1993 French player of the year award and 1993-94 Ligue 1 player of the year award in his time at the club.

A move to New­cas­tle United fol­lowed be­fore spells at Tot­ten­ham, As­ton Villa and Ever­ton as he made an in­deli­ble mark on English foot­ball. He had a sea­son to re­mem­ber while at Spurs dur­ing 1998-99 when he claimed both the PFA Player of The Year and Foot­ball Writ­ers’ Foot­baller of The Year awards.

In Novem­ber 1993, France were level at 1-1 against Bul­garia in the fi­nal min­utes of a World Cup qual­i­fier and Les Bleus would have been on the plane to USA 94 had it stayed that way.

But Gi­nola gave the ball away with a cross, Bul­garia scored and Emil Kostadi­nov’s last­gasp win­ner in Paris sent France crash­ing out of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Ger­rard Houl­lier was the France man­ager at the time. It’s safe to say he didn’t take the heart­break too well and the Mus­ke­teer spirit of ‘one for all and all for one’ was in short sup­ply.

“The ad­ven­ture is over all too soon,” said Houl­lier. “With only 30 sec­onds re­main­ing we were there but we got stabbed in the back and at the worst pos­si­ble time.”

In 2000, Gi­nola, who played 17 times for his coun­try, com­plained in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy: “Houl­lier blamed me for ‘mur­der­ing’ France’s bid to qual­ify for the 1994 World Cup fi­nals.

“My ‘crime’ was to over­hit a cross aimed for Eric Can­tona dur­ing our last qual­i­fy­ing match against Bul­garia in Paris.”

Gi­nola’s long locks and model looks did not take long to get no­ticed by those mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tives at a num­ber of ma­jor firms.

As well as tread­ing the cat­walk, one of his most fa­mous ad­verts was for a men’s sham­poo.

“I’m a foot­baller, not a movie star. I haven’t got time to worry about my hair. I just want to feel good about the way I look,” he mused in the ad­vert.

Yet Gi­nola did try his hand at act­ing af­ter he re­tired from foot­ball. He starred in a film called Ros­beef as well as The Last Drop, which also in­cluded Michael Mad­sen –– of Reser­voir Dogs fame ––and co­me­dian Jack Dee.

The French­man be­came the fig­ure­head of the Red Cross anti-land­mines cam­paign in 1998 af­ter be­ing cho­sen to take on the role pre­vi­ously car­ried out by Diana, Princess of Wales, prior to her death.

“I am very hon­oured to be cho­sen to head this cam­paign –– it is a cause that is worth fight­ing for,” he said.

“David spoke in very mov­ing terms about why he wanted to do this work and we are very happy to have such a fig­ure work­ing for us,” said Stephane Man­tion, then cam­paigns di­rec­tor of the French Red Cross.

Gi­nola was part of the BBC Sport team which pro­vided cov­er­age of the 1998 World Cup in his na­tive France and has gone on to con­tinue work­ing as a pun­dit for var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions.

He was also one of the am­bas­sadors for Eng­land’s failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup be­fore he de­cided to run for Fifa pres­i­dent. “We all know that the Fifa sys­tem isn’t work­ing,” said Gi­nola.

“By join­ing Team Gi­nola, you are say­ing ‘yes’ to a Fifa built on democ­racy, trans­parency and equal­ity. You are say­ing ‘yes’ to a Fifa which cares about one thing - foot­ball.” — BBC

David (right) daz­zled sup­port­ers at New­cas­tle af­ter start­ing his Pre­mier League ca­reer in 1995.

Fifa Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter will stand for his fifth Fifa pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

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