A debut season to remember for De Reuck
LONDON: Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas says he owes Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho a debt of gratitude for handing him a second chance in English football.
The Spanish midfielder will hope to ruin Mourinho’s day in tomorrow’s FA Cup final against Manchester United and salvage something from a disappointing campaign.
But win or lose, Fabregas says he is full of admiration for the man who signed him for Chelsea in 2014, during Mourinho’s second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge.
After three years at boyhood club Barcelona, following a move from Arsenal where Fabregas spent almost a decade, the 31-year-old proved a pivotal figure as Chelsea claimed the 2014-15 title, providing a league-leading 18 goal assists.
“I love him. I always say that. I owe him a lot because he brought me here, I will always remember that,” Fabregas told reporters at Chelsea’s training ground this week.
“My first year here, (former Arsenal manager) Arsene (Wenger) had always treated me like a son.
“But the closest anyone has been to him was Jose. The way he treated me, the way he made me feel, how he let me be a leader of the team from day one.
“This was fantastic and in all the four years since I joined Chelsea, now they will always stay with me. This experience is thanks to him.”
Yet Fabregas has spent a large part of his career in opposition to Mourinho – as he will do again at Wembley tomorrow when Chelsea hope to make up for finishing fifth in the Premier League with a first FA Cup win since 2012.
The early years of Fabregas’s stint at Arsenal coincided with Mourinho’s arrival as manager of Chelsea, while he was also part of a Barcelona side that was vying for Spanish supremacy with Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
“We have our history between us,” Fabregas said. “I played for Arsenal and him at Chelsea.
Barcelona with him Real Madrid. We were confronting each other, but then we humbled ourselves and started a good relationship.
“This is very nice but hopefully it will not be his day (tomorrow) and Chelsea can win,” the Spanish World Cup winner said.
Apart from Fabregas, several other players from the 2014-15 title-winning team including Gary Cahill, Willian and Eden Hazard will be involved tomorrow.
While they will all be familiar with Mourinho’s methods, Fabregas knows their old manager will conjure something new for a oneoff game that means so much to both teams.
“In the last two years we played many games against them and he has changed the system many times. I am sure he will change something again on Saturday. You can expect that.
“We just need to prepare our game and focus on ourselves. We don’t need to be thinking too much about what they are going to do and we have to do what we do.”
United finished runners-up in the Premier League and are favourites against a Chelsea side who ended the league season with a 3-0 defeat by Newcastle United.
Fabregas said last season’s final when Chelsea lost to Arsenal after winning the Premier League title showed why the Wembley showpiece is so hard to call. “Anything can happen really,” he said. “Last year everyone was saying Chelsea will win it and we played one of our worst games of last season.
“Mourinho prepares finals very well and I am sure Antonio (Conte) will do the same.”
PITSO Mosimane frowned at a suggestion that the Mamelodi Sundowns defence may be the weakest link in a team that has been incredibly consistent after errors at the back gifted Barcelona two goals in their friendly match on Wednesday night.
Perhaps it is a little unfair to argue that the coach should consider looking elsewhere to reinforce his back four given they were playing against a team of Barcelona’s stature, but it must be pointed out that the mistakes in the 3-1 defeat were a bit schoolboyish.
Just minutes after kick-off of the Nelson Mandela Centenary clash at FNB Stadium, centrehalf Bangaly Soumahoro carelessly gave the ball away to Ousmane Dembele who didn’t waste time making the Ivorian pay for surrendering possession so cheaply.
And then in the second half, captain Hlompho Kekana was too casual in playing the ball from the back as per Mosimane’s instructions at half-time, allowing Andre Gomes to benefit from the miscommunication to score what was then Barcelona’s third on the night.
“It was simply stage fright, that is how to best sum it up. We were playing Barcelona, give the guys a chance.
“When we play against Pirates and Chiefs we don’t have this.” said Mosimane before taking offence when names of Bidvest Wits duo, captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi, were put forward as alternative options by a journalist.
“They were nervous and had anxiety.
“Bangaly made a mistake, it’s normal. And Kekana normally comes out with the ball at the back there, but they were a little confident because at half-time I told them to play the way Sundowns way.
“I said they should not be afraid because Bangaly made a mistake. Do you think Hlatshwayo could have stopped those goals? I mean really ... “How can he stop Barcelona? He must stop Sundowns first.” Although those two names appeared to rub the coach up the wrong way, the point was that when Sundowns go up a level, like the Fifa Club World Cup in 2016 for instance, they seem to always hold their own in attack. But their defence is often their Achilles Heel. “I don’t agree that if we had signed other players from wherever else we would have done better. No, we made mistakes, let’s be honest. We gave them the two goals. But under normal circumstance, we are not that bad.” said Mosimane. “The class of Dembele and them was there for everyone to see. “He is a 21-year-old who is right footed, but finished that powerfully with his left foot.
“We also knew that he cuts in a lot. I don’t think our defence was bad.
“If we didn’t give them the two goals, who knows, maybe we could have held on longer. But what we need to speak about is the (poor) finishing in the country.
“Our finishing could have been better and I always say to Percy Tau that we need to work on that.”
Whether Mosimane agrees or not, the Brazilians will have to learn not to be overwhelmed by the occasion when they continue their journey to a second Club World Cup appearance via the CAF Champions League route.
Sundowns, the 2016 African champions, travel to Conakry in Guinea to face Horoya in the group stages on Tuesday as they look for their first win following the 1-1 draw at home against defending champions Wydad Casablanca two weeks ago.
@superjourno THE fairy-tale of Maritzburg United’s young defender Rushine de Reuck has been a story of perspiration and inspiration.
The 22-year-old from Kleinfontein in Cape Town will play in his debut final in top flight football in front of his family and community when the Team of Choice faces Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup final at the Cape Town Stadium tomorrow night (kick-off 7pm).
In 2014 De Reuck was compelled to leave school in Grade 11 and pursue his dream of playing in Europe. But his tenure in Europe was cut short because of homesickness.
“I didn’t finish matric because I decided to go to Europe in 2014. Football was the only thing I wanted to do. I have Grade 11. In Europe I played for Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal. They spotted me while I was playing in the Bayhill Cup. I was part of the dream team. They choose the dream team that goes overseas after the tournament. I was with FC Porto for three months and then I went to Pacos de Ferreira. I wasn’t mature enough. I was a young boy and missed home and I decided to come back,” De Reuck said.
De Reuck was signed by Maritzburg as a free agent at the start of the season.
“Before I came here I wasn’t playing at all. I took a gap year from football. I trained with Milano United (Vodacom League). Then I came here last season in April on trial. I clearly impressed and as they say, the rest is history,” De Reuck explained.
He has made 16 appearances in all competitions this season.
“I want to inspire kids from my area. We are role models to them. I have a younger brother (Redian) who plays for Mutual Academy. He is really excited. This is one of the main reasons I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to inspire him. I want to show kids that anything is possible if you work hard.”
What a story it will be for De Reuck to lift the trophy in front of his mother and siblings.
“It is an amazing feeling. This is my first season in top flight football and to be playing my first final in Cape Town in front of my family is really amazing. We’ve achieved a lot throughout the season. This goes to show how much you can achieve if you work hard,” De Reuck said.
The Team of Choice aim to become the first KwaZulu-Natal club to lift the Nedbank Cup since its inception in 1971.
“My family is coming. I come from the ghetto. People in my community can only dream of situations like this. I’m really proud of myself and I’m sure they’re also proud. I have no doubt that they will come in their numbers.”
Hlompho Kekana and Paulinho were constant companions in the middle of the park during the Nelson Mandela Centenary Challenge at FNB stadium on Wednesday night.