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Mohamed Salah
Salah to hang around to make history at Liverpool – Henderson
24 April 2018, 9:32 AM

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is confident Mohamed Salah will not be lured away from Anfield in the same manner the Egyptian was tempted from Roma last year.

Salah has surpassed all expectations since his then-club record 42 million-euro (£37 million, $52 million) move back to the Premier League last June and will face his old club in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.

An incredible return of 41 goals in 46 appearances saw Salah crowned the Premier League Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday.

However, unlike Liverpool stars of recent seasons such as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, who were attracted by the glamour of a move to Barcelona, Henderson hopes Salah is convinced to stay by the growing momentum at Liverpool and the belief they can compete for major trophies under Jurgen Klopp.

“He’s a fantastic player, obviously he’s up there with the world’s best and there will be other clubs that want to take him away,” says Henderson.

“But he’s in a great place with a great set of lads, great team, with a great manager, going in the right direction. We want to create our own history here and I’m sure Mo will want to be part of that for many years to come.”

Roma co-owner James Pallotta recognised this week that Liverpool didn’t even have to beat off much competition to Salah’s signature, as he had only shown inconsistent flashes of his full potential in two years in the Italian capital.

– Klopp’s ‘privileged’ players –

 

Klopp is credited with finding the system to bring the best out of Salah.

And having led Liverpool back to the last four of the Champions League for the first time in a decade, Henderson said his team-mates feel “privileged” to work with the German.

“He’s one of the best managers in the world. First and foremost tactically it goes without question how knowledgeable he is within the game, you can see that in the performances, the style of play and how we play football,” he added.

“Off the field he’s a fantastic human. Very genuine, has a great passion for football and that transcends throughout the team.

“He always keeps you on your toes, always looking for more, he never wants the standards to drop no matter who we are playing. He’s an amazing manager and everybody in the squad feels privileged to be working with him.”

Roma have had to wait even longer for a European Cup semi-final with their last appearance coming 34 years ago when they beat Dundee United but went on to lose to Liverpool in the final.

The manner in which they reached the semi-finals even outshone Liverpool’s 5-1 quarter-final thrashing of Premier League champions Manchester City as Roma came back from a 4-1 first leg deficit against Barcelona thanks to a 3-0 second leg victory masterminded by Roma’s own impressive coach in Eusebio Di Francesco.

But apart from their physical similarities, Di Francesco — who is making his debut as a coach in the Champions League this season, believes he has a long way to go to earn comparisons with Klopp.

“As Klopp mentioned there are similarities in that we both wear glasses and have a beard,” he joked.

“But I very much like his outlook. I am concerned we play a team coached by such a great manager. Klopp has proved himself, has won already titles, but I have great ambitions.”

Kaizer Chiefs fans on the field.
Police to probe Moses Mabhida’s pitch invasion
23 April 2018, 4:43 PM

A team of investigators has been appointed to investigate violence that occurred at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

A security guard was seriously injured as Kaizer Chiefs fans went on the rampage following their team’s loss in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.

One person has appeared in court on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property. 18 people were injured, TV equipment damaged and a portion of the stadium torched.

A number of pictures and videos are circulating on social media showing faces of people damaging property and assaulting a security guard at the stadium.

KwaZulu-Natal Police spokesperson Jay Naicker has urged people to come forward with information that can lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

“We will be probing if the deployment of SAPS, security personnel and other security agencies were in place according to the plan. We condone the actions of those spectators that were responsible for the violent behaviour that we witnessed at what should have been a sporting event. We welcome any person that may have information on the identity of the suspects involved to please contact our crime stop number on 08600 10 111,” says Naicker.

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Chaos at Soccer Stadiums by

Theft probe hits Russian football ahead of World Cup
23 April 2018, 3:41 PM

Russia’s World Cup preparations have been hit by an embezzlement probe involving the tournament’s anti-discrimination chief Alexei Smertin.

Moscow’s RBK business news site reported on Sunday that the interior ministry was looking into a complaint filed by Premier League club Dynamo Moscow against its previous leadership.

Dynamo believe at least 1.6 million euros ($2 million) were transferred from the club to shell companies linked to former general director Yevgeny Muravyov.

The money was paid under suspicious contracts signed by Smertin, who is also the team’s executive director.

Smertin serves as the World Cup’s anti-racism inspector and is the go-to official in cases of player or fan abuse.

The 42-year-old was the national team captain in 2004-05 and joined Dynamo’s management in 2013.

RBK said Smertin’s signature also appeared on other dubious financial records unearthed during an audit.

The Izvestia daily had previously quoted a source at Dynamo saying Smertin himself was not suspected of benefiting from the scheme.

Smertin “is not being accused of unscrupulousness”, the source said.

“At the same time, a number of executives believe that he could have approached the documents he was signing more judiciously.”

Dynamo chairman Vladimir Strzhalkovsky told RBK that Smertin “was firmly told to sign” the contracts by the former general director.

Neither Smertin nor the World Cup organising committee in Moscow immediately responded to requests for comment.

Smertin is responsible for raising awareness about racism in Russian football and trying to clean up the domestic game ahead of the June 14-July 15 World Cup.

It is a high-profile role on which world governing body Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) is placing special emphasis because of racial abuse at Russian matches in the past months.

Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Russia over ape noises heard during a World Cup warmup against France in Saint Petersburg in March.

And Russian football chiefs this week will study similar chanting directed at Cape Verdean midfielder Nuno Rocha during a domestic cup semi-final in Moscow.

Dynamo are a storied club that was backed by the secret police in the Soviet era but has had financial difficulties in more recent years.

They were relegated to Russia’s second division in 2016 and underwent a management overhaul at the start of this year.

Izvestia reported that Smertin was on the verge of being ousted from the club when the fraudulent contracts first came to light in April.

RBK said Smertin signed two contracts now being investigated by police.

The first was a for a sum of 1.3 million euros that changed hands during a player transfer.

A second payment of 300,000 euros went to a firm purportedly hired to study players in eastern Europe that Dynamo could sign.

Both companies allegedly belonged to former general director Muravyov.

Christiano Ronaldo
Only as a team can Bayern stop Ronaldo – Boateng
23 April 2018, 3:23 PM

Jerome Boateng says only a defensive team effort can prevent Cristiano Ronaldo adding to his mind-blowing tally of nine goals in six games against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Bayern host Real Madrid in a blockbuster Champions League semi-final, first-leg, at the Allianz Arena with Ronaldo in goal-scoring form.

The Portugal superstar has scored 15 goals in the Champions League this season, hitting the net in each of Real’s ten games in Europe.

“We can only stop Cristiano Ronaldo as a team,” Bayern centre-back Boateng told German magazine Kicker.

“In front of goal, he’s like a machine.

“You can’t shut him out completely, he always gets his chances in a game, because of the lines he runs and his excellent timing.

“Real base their game around him and it’s important we give him as little room as possible.”

Ronaldo was at his lethal best when Real beat Bayern 6-3 on aggregate in last season’s quarter-finals, scoring five of their goals.

He hit two second-half goals as Real came from behind to win 2-1 in Munich, then bagged a hat-trick in a 4-2 extra-time win in Madrid.

That came after he scored twice in Munich in the 2014 semi-final 4-0 rout of Bayern and hit two more against the Bavarians in the 2012 semis.

“There is a no more complete striker than Ronaldo. Left foot, right foot, header – he is in perfect control of everything he does,” says Boateng.

In his six Champions League knock-out games for Bayern against Ronaldo’s Real, Boateng has lost five of them.

His only success was a 2-1 win in Munich in the 2012 semi-finals when Bayern later progressed by winning a penalty shoot-out in Madrid after losing 2-1 in the second-leg.

“I went through only once against him with Bayern, but twice we have gone out,” says Boateng.

“He also has the best team-mates at Real. Shutting him out is only 50 percent of it, the other players are simply too good for that at this level.”

Satawu urges non-striking bus drivers to join strike
23 April 2018, 2:23 PM

Transport union, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has called on non-striking bus drivers to join their striking colleagues to put more pressure on the employer to return to the negotiating table.

Commuters have been inconvenienced since last week when thousands of drivers downed tools countrywide. Talks deadlocked on Friday.

Workers now want 9.5% salary increase, while employers are offering 8.5% for the first year and 8% for the second year. Drivers had been demanding 12% but have dropped that to 9.5%.

Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela says, “There are no negotiations happening nor are they planned for later today or tomorrow. When talks broke down last week it was not a friendly mood, and we haven’t heard from the employer since then. However, on our side we’re calling on those workers in the sector who are not part of the unions to join the strike, it is a protected industry-wide strike because whatever agreement is signed here will benefit them also.”

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