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

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JONTY MARK

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.”

REUTERS

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.

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