West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has hailed Cameroon ace Alex Song as his club’s answer to Manchester City’s Ivoirian midfield supremo Yaya Toure.
The in-form Hammers host City in the league’s weekend opener in London today and Allardyce expects Song, on a season-long loan from Spanish giants Barcelona, to have a huge say in proceedings against the reigning African player of the year.
“Signing Alex Song, that’s a Yaya Toure for us,” Allardyce said on Friday. “We’ve got a top-quality player of the highest calibre and he’s going to provide the sort of service our front line needs.
“He links everything together really well. We’ve got a player of the highest quality who’s played for Arsenal and Barcelona in the Champions League.”
The English tactician believes Song has been crucial to their good start this season, but reckons the 27-year-old star has been overshadowed by the attention to new Senegalese signing Diafra Sakho and Ecuadorian Enner Valencia.
“He’s probably been over-shadowed by Valencia and Sakho but he’s going to have a big impact for us as well,” Allardyce said. “He has nothing to prove because of his quality.
“On the training ground he is a massive influence and in the changing room it’s his dress sense that’s the massive influence. I’ve never seen so many hats in my life – or scarves that look like tea towels.”
Teammate Mark Noble knows the club is as high profile as Barcelona, but after seeing limited game time at Camp Nou, he thinks Song is just happy to be playing regularly again.
“He’s settled in well and got a smile on his face every day,” Noble revealed. “Living in London, he seems happy, see him on the pitch now he looks like a happy man.
“He did not get much playing time at Barca. It’s a different kettle of fish here, but he is playing well for the team.”
Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, has raised concerns about the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) decision to organise next year’s Africa Cup of Nations despite the threat of the deadly Ebola virus.
The 32-year-old, who was speaking after Lille drew 0-0 with Everton in the Europa League on Thursday, claimed if the tournament goes ahead, it would be very risky.
He said: “I really wish it doesn’t happen with all the people that will be moving around.
“But I’m not CAF. I’m not the one who calls the shots.”
Authorities have put the number of people killed by the Ebola virus at almost 5,000 across West Africa and Enyeama says it is because of a culture of hugging and shaking hands.
“It’s risky for everyone because you go to Africa and then everyone is hugging you and shaking you, and what can you do? You’re at risk.
“But if it happens I will play, if we qualify.”
Nigeria are currently third in Group A and have two more games to try and seal qualification.
Guinea star Ibrahima Traore scored twice for his club Borussia Monchengladbach to lead the six African marksmen on target in Europa League games played across Europe on Thursday night.
The winger struck in the 11th and 66th minutes as the Germans wallowed visiting Apollon of Cyprus 5:0.
Senegal star Demba Ba scored his first goal in the competition to help his Turkish club Besiktas to a 0:4 thumping of Serbians hosts Partizan Belgrade. The former Chelsea star also set up his side’s last goal.
Ivoirian midfielder Tiemoko Konate scored just after the hour to give his Czech side Sporting Praha a 0:3 victory over Slovakian hosts Slovan Bratislava. Konate also set up the last goal for his team.
Two Africans gave Turkish side Trabzonspor a 2:0 victory over Belgian guests Lokeren. Mali midfielder Mustapha Yatabare OPENED scoring in the 54th minute and Guinea star Kevin Constant sealed the win six minutes from time. Both goals were conceded by Lokeren’s Ivoirian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Teenage Ghanaian defender Daniel Amartey must have thought he had given his Danish side FC Copenhagen all three points when he scored the game’s first goal in the 89th minute, but Belgian hosts Club Brugge hit back in stoppage time to ensure a 1:1 draw.
Newcastle United are competing with Everton for CSKA Moscow striker Seydou Doumbia.
The Daily Express says both clubs are keen on signing the 26-year-old this January as Roberto Martinez and Alan Pardew search for more firepower.
Everton are yet to see the best of Romelu Lukaku this season, whilst Newcastle are in dire need of a goalscorer to help them avoid a relegation dogfight.
However, reports in Russia claim that the Magpies are front-runners for his signature, with Pardew ready to make the former Ivory Coast international a lucrative offer.
Chelsea captain John Terry insists they have enough firepower to take care of Manchester United on Sunday.
Star man Diego Costa looks likely to miss out with hamstring and groin injuries, while Loic Remy is touch-and-go after limping off in the midweek win over Maribor.
That leaves Drogba as the only senior Chelsea striker left for the visit to Old Trafford.
Terry said: “We’ve got a big squad; Didier came on and showed what a great player he still is.
“The players are showing how important the depth of our squad could be this season.
“As the manager rightly says, everybody’s got a part to play and we’ve seen that in the last few games.”
Former Nigeria international Sunday Oliseh has said coaches in Africa must prepare themselves adequately to rub shoulders with top-class coaches across the globe.
He said aiming at improving themselves will help them chalk success when given the chance to manage any big club or national team.
Several African coaches do not travel outside the continent fearing the risk involved, especially competing with experienced Europeans and other nationals, and the few who do, succumb to pressure and face a great deal of task in managing players’ egos.
In an interview with ace Ghana journalist Yaw Ampofo Ankrah on SuperSport, 40-year-old Oliseh admitted that African coaches must upgrade their credentials to suit the growing demands of modern football.
“Of course African coaches can beat the best in the world, but we [coaches] must first prepare ourselves adequately. Just because we [Africans] want to manage our own affairs does not mean we should walk into a trap of under-achievement and failure. Our time as coaches will surely come soon but preparation is key ahead of that day,” Oliseh said.
The ex-Dortmund player believes African players fighting officials over monies [appearance and winning bonuses] during tournaments must be managed well to save the continent from disgrace.
“There is a simple philosophy that players are always right as long as they win but that is not set in stone. We have had money issues in Nigeria, Cameroon, lvory Coast, Ghana, Togo and other countries. It is not a good legacy at all and must be stopped.”
West African giants Ghana and Nigeria have recently laid off their coaches after bizarre performances and more are likely to follow following the poor runs in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang produced two superb finishes for Germans Borussia Dortmund as they thrashed Turkish hosts Galatasaray 0:4 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
The pacy forward got Dortmund going after just six minutes when he side-footed home from a cross by German Marco Reus.
He doubled the advantage 12 minutes later when he struck into the net after he was picked out by Polish teammate Lukasz Piszczek.
The 25-year-old star was only denied a first half hat-trick by the post. Aubameyang played all 90 minutes of the game, while Cameroon defender Aurelien Chedjou put in a full shift for the Turks.
Elsewhere Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah featured for the entire game as his team Juventus lost 1:0 at Greek side Olympiakos, while compatriot Frank Acheampong also played a full game for Belgian side Anderlecht in a 1:2 loss to English visitors Arsenal.
Anderlecht led the game until the 89th minute before the Londoners turned it around.
Five African stars were on target for their clubs in the UEFA Champions League games played on Tuesday night.
Nigeria forward Chinedu Obasi scored the first goal and set up the second for his German club Schalke as they beat Portuguese visitors Sporting CP 4:3.
Obasi’s goal in the 34th minute made it 1:1 after former Manchester United ace Nani had given the visitors the lead in the 16th minute. The Nigerian then set up Dutch teammate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar with a pass to give Schalke a 2:1 lead five minutes after the break.
With the game eventually poised at 3:3 going into stoppage time, Cameroon striker Eric Choupo-Moting, who replaced Ghana star Kevin-Prince Boateng at the start of the second half, then scored the winner from the spot after the referee spotted a hand ball.
In London, club legend Didier Drogba scored Chelsea’s second goal from the spot in a 6:0 thrashing of Slovenian visitors Maribor. The Ivoirian star joined the fray in the 16th minute for injured French star Loic Remy.
Fellow Ivoirians Gervinho and Seydou Doumbia were also on target for their clubs.
In Italy Gervinho provided some light on a dark day for his club Roma. A point-blank header from the impressive forward in the 66th minute was only a consolation for the Romans as they were thumped 1:7 at home by a ruthless Bayern Munich.
Doumbia netted from close range in the 64th minute for CSKA Moscow after a fine low cross from Nigeria star Ahmed Musa, as they fought back from two goals down to draw 2:2 with English champions Manchester City.
Doumbia was to win a penalty that Israeli teammate Bibras Natcho converted to ensure a point for the Muscovites five minutes from time.
By TOM SHEEN
Everybody knows about Didier Drogba’s phenomenal scoring record against London rivals Arsenal.
The Ivorian striker scored 13 times against the Gunners in his first spell at Chelsea – and two more for Galatasaray in the Emirates Cup – a phenomenal record against one club.
But what is often glossed over is Drogba’s struggles against their over title rivals over that period, Manchester United.
With Diego Costa still struggling with hamstring injury and Loic Remy facing a race to be fit for Sunday’s game after hurting his groin in the 6-0 win against Maribor, Jose Mourinho may have to turn to the 36-year-old veteran at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Drogba may have scored 158 goals for the Blues in his two spells, scoring his first goal for the club last night since the Champions League final, but less than a handful of those came against Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
In 19 matches against United in all competitions, Drogba scored a measly three goals
If we look a bit closer at the numbers, Drogba may not have got on the scoresheet too many times but he has played a pivotal role – for good and bad – in matches between the two sides.
His first goal against United was the only goal of a truly terrible FA Cup final in 2007, one of the worst in recent memory; but it was a goal that handed Chelsea a trophy.
Drogba had to wait almost three years for his next goal against United, but again it was a massively important one, if highly contentious. In the title decider at Old Trafford in April 2010, Drogba scored a goal with 10 minutes remaining that effectively handed Chelsea the Premier League title – but the striker was offside.
His third and final goal came in the 2011 Champions League last-16 tie, again at Old Trafford. Chelsea lost 3-1 over two legs, a result that would lead to Carlo Ancelotti leaving the club in the summer.
Drogba also played a pivotal role in the 2008 Champions League final, but for the wrong reasons if you are a Chelsea fan. In extra-time, with Chelsea on top, the striker was sent off in Russia for pointlessly slapping Nemanja Vidic. The Blues would go on to lose the final in a penalty shoot-out.
Despite his lack of goals Chelsea’s record when Drogba is in the team against Manchester United is good.
Of the 19 games he’s been involved in Chelsea have won a slight majority, eight, drawing four and losing seven. But one of those draws and one of those defeats came in the largely pointless Community Shield, giving Drogba a more respectable eight wins from 17 matches.
Whether the striker ends up starting at Old Trafford on Sunday is a big if, but, as ever, he will certainly attract a lot of attention one way or the other.
Chairman of Queens Park Rangers Tony Fernandes, has apologised for the public spat between manager Harry Redknapp and midfielder Adel Taarabt and labelled it “an embarrassment”.
Redknapp accused the player of being overweight and claimed he could not even run about in a reserve game. But the Moroccan hit back and insisted his physical condition was fine.
Fernandes has now waded into the row and promised that matter will be dealt with internally.
“As a club, we are fully aware of stories in the press over the last few days regarding Harry Redknapp and Adel Taarabt,” Fernandes said.
“We regret these issues being played out in public and Harry Redknapp and Adel Taarabt have been notified of our disappointment regarding their handling of the situation. I have spoken to them both personally.
“On behalf of the club, I would like to apologise to the QPR supporters for the embarrassment this has caused and confirm that the issue has been dealt with internally.
“The club’s focus is now on the Aston Villa fixture next Monday and hopefully after a tough few days we can turn a negative into a positive and build on Sunday’s improved display.”