Moyes upbeat ahead of Newcastle visit
Manager urges his side to bounce back from Everton loss Pirates hope Stars are not aligned in Platinum’s favour
MANCHESTER United manager David Moyes yesterday challenged his players to build another long unbeaten run as they seek to close the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal.
A damaging 1-0 defeat by Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday was United’s first loss in 13 matches in all competitions and left the champions 12 points behind Arsene Wenger’s team.
With all of their fellow title “They had a defeat against Swansea, but they had four straight wins before that, which is a great record to get.
“I know what it’s like – to try to win three or four games in a row is a hard thing to do. Congratulations to them, but they come to Old Trafford and we’re going to make it as difficult as we can for them.”
United will be without Wayne Rooney, who is suspended, while Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are also doubtful.
Van Persie is recovering from a groin strain and Kagawa fell ill after the match against Everton.
Moyes said: “Shinji’s had a sickness and was unwell after the game. I’ll need to see how he is tomorrow (Saturday). He wasn’t too good after the game.
“It happens at all football clubs. You get injuries, sickness and suspensions; not just at this one. We’ve got a few injuries, like every other club in the Premier League.
“They’re all making progress. Some have got a chance, some don’t.”
It means that Moyes’s options for a central striker are limited, with only Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez fully fit.
The transfer window reopens next month and Moyes suggested he could move to bring in new signings to add to his squad.
“Yes, but the club is always thinking about that,” he said when asked if United were monitoring the market.
“Every transfer window, you’re thinking about strengthening. If we can do that, we’ll try to make that happen.”
Meanwhile, United centreback Rio Ferdinand has expressed reservations about Moyes’s method of revealing his starting line- up for the club’s games.
Whereas Moyes’s storied predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson used to name his team well in advance of matches, Moyes waits until the last minute before announcing his starting XI.
“This manager’s a bit different in that he doesn’t name the team beforehand,” the 35-yearold former England defender said in a video diary on the BT Sport website.
“You don’t really get to know the team. The old manager used to give you a little bit of an idea if you’d be playing, and stuff. – Sapa-AFP SO FIERCE was Nelson Mandela’s love of sport and astute his appreciation of its values in unifying a nation, it seems entirely appropriate that tonight’s Telkom Knockout final between Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars will go ahead as planned.
The Premier Soccer League said yesterday that neither the final nor any other PSL game this weekend would be postponed, following the news of Madiba’s passing.
All clubs have been asked by the league to wear black armbands, and a moment’s silence will take place ahead of kick off in honour of the republic’s first democratically elected president.
At a packed Mbombela Stadium, the tears are likely to flow in the moments before the final starts (8.15pm kick off), and Pirates coach Roger De Sa yesterday paid a strong tribute to the hero of a nation.
“The first time I met him was in 1993 over lunch at a Bafana training camp,” said the former national team goalkeeper.
“There was definitely an aura about the man that was not normal. He was unbelievable. “No words will ever describe probably the greatest human being that ever lived in our lifetime.
“I played so many games where he walked on the field and shook all our hands, and so many games where he watched, and others that he didn’t watch. Now we know that he will definitely be watching this one.”
De Sa acknowledged that the moment’s silence before tonight’s game would carry a heavier emotional charge than most.
“There are often moments of silence for different people, but… this is a lot more.”
And hopefully the Buccaneers and Platinum Stars can give a fitting tribute to a man who played such a major role in South African football success, from victory at the 1996 Africa Nations Cup, to bringing the World Cup finals to South Africa in 2010.
The game has all the makings of a fascinating encounter, with Pirates hoping to overturn their defeat to Stars in the MTN8 final, and finally bring some silverware home in their third showpiece of the season, following defeat to Al Ahly in the African Champions League.
Platinum Stars, meanwhile, are the surprise package of the new campaign, in the sense that though they finished runners-up in the Premiership last season, few predicted further success once Cavin Johnson left the club to join SuperSport.
Allan Freese, however, has arguably done even better, bringing one trophy back to Phokeng already, with another just a game away.
“I consider what he has done in the last couple of months, since taking over the team, as nothing short of fantastic,” said De Sa.
The mind games this week have seen Pirates try to portray themselves as the underdog, a move dismissed by Freese, though the Platinum Stars coach was confident enough to say that his side did not need any special plans for any of the Buccaneers’ “big- name” players.
“We are not going to pay special attention to anyone… we will come out and play, they have players that are in the (South African) national team, but we have a players who play for Botswana ( Mogakolodi Ngele), and Malawi ( Robert Ng’ambi) and we have Tsepho (Gumede) who plays for the national team.”
Ng’ambi is certainly an early candidate for player of the season, a feisty midfielder who also contributes his share of goals, seven already in the current season.
And Gumede’s partnership with Benson Mhlongo is one of the more impressive central defensive combinations of the campaign.
Pirates, however, will hope that after all their near-misses so far this season, this is finally their time.
“The mood is good, the mindset is good,” added De Sa.
“I definitely saw an improvement in training (this week), we are happy to be in another cup final and to have another opportunity to win.”
INVOLVED: Manchester United's manager David Moyes reacts during their Premier League match against Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
THIRD TIME LUCKY? Pirates coach Roger de Sa feels that his side can win a trophy as their mindset is good, though he is wary of the threat that Platinum Stars carry in the Telkom Knockout final tonight.