South Africa coach Gordon Igesund feels that the mian difference between 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil and current World Champions Spain is the individual quality of Neymar.
Neymar bagged a hat-trick as the Samba Boys cruised to a 5-0 win over Bafana Bafana in an international friendly encounter at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday evening.
Igesund guided Bafana to a memorable 1-0 win over Spain at the same venue four months ago, but South Africa had no answers for the Barcelona star who took A Selecao to an emphatic victory in their last game before Luiz Felipe Scolari announces his World Cup squad.
“I think against Spain, we watch teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona on a regular basis and sometimes they can become a bit predictable, they play the same way. They pass the ball around but what Brazil do differently is they have players who can run with the ball and eliminate players, like Neymar,” said Igesund.
“When he gets the ball he runs with it with pace and great skills and it caused us many, many problems where Spain haven’t got that type of player, they don’t have a player like Ronaldo.
“I think the big difference between the two teams [Spain in Brazil] was that Brazil were excellent. I think they wanted to show the world that they are going to be the favourites to win the World Cup.
“Their striking force is outstanding and their ability to eliminate players with speed and precision, that is the difference between the two teams.”
Egypt’s football association has suspended a player accused of gesturing in support of the military chief, in violation of rules against political statements by players.
Salah Amin, who plays for Tala’ea El-Gaish, is the latest sportsman to be punished for making a political gesture, after the Al Ahly club suspended a player last November for a pro-Islamist salute.
Egypt has been sharply polarised between supporters of the military and those of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, deposed by the army in July.
Amin shaped the finger and thumb of each hand into the letter “C” after scoring a goal. Sisi’s surname is often written as “C.C” in graffiti.
The association said he would be suspended for the rest of the season and fined 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,900).
Amin denied he was making a “C.C” gesture, telling state television he was mimicking pressing an aerosol can of the type used in some Egyptian celebrations.
“I don’t know anything about politics,” he said.
“He doesn’t know anything,” concurred his former coach, also being interviewed on the state television show.
Egypt’s kung fu association also banned a player after he made a pro-Islamist salute.
The four finger gesture refers to a pro-Morsi protest camp in which hundreds died in clashes with police last year.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria drew 0-0 with Mexico in an international friendly played at the Georgia Dome, America on Wednesday night.
Nigeria started the brighter of the two sides and almost got an early boost when Ahmed Musa won a free kick after he was stepped on by Hector Moreno in the third minute.
The Super Eagles continued to ask attacking questions in the early stages and Victor Moses had a penalty claim waved away in the eighth minute by the Costa Rican referee, Walter Quesada.
In the 11th minute, Emmanuel Emenike was denied what would have represented a most delightful goal by the Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa who produced a big stop to beat out the powerful strike by the Fernabahce forward from inside the box.
The West Africans were clearly on top and the Mexicans were on the ropes. They needed some inspiration from somewhere and it soon arrived.
That however did not arrive until the 18th minute when Victor Moses somehow failed to score after he charged impressively into the Mexico box.
At this stage, the Mexicans were now keeping the ball better and stringing passes together.
Hector Herrera finally gave the Mexican fans something to cheer about when his rasping drive from outside the box in the 23rd minute just flew over Enyeama’s goal.
Three minutes later, Enyeama produced a save from point blank range that defied logic after Mexico captain, Rafael Marquez connected powerfully with a header off a corner.
Four minutes later, the Mexicans came close again but this time, Oribe Peralta’s belter just missed the target by inches.
The Mexicans were now camped in the Nigeria goal and on 32 minutes, Enyeama had to show some fine reflexes to claw the ball away from the path of Luis Montes who was lurking dangerously.
The traffic on the Nigeria goal continued in the 34th minute when Herrera delivered a sharp cross for Hernandez, who tried to karate-kick the ball in but Enyeama bravely cut in front of him to punch away.
Mexico started the second half the brighter of the two sides and almost got their reward two minutes in but Ejide was on the right spot to save from Peralta.
Fortuna Düsseldorf defender, Leon Balogun replaced Efe Ambrose at the break but was substituted in the 66th minute after he picked up an injury in fortuitous circumstances.
The 25-year-old clattered into the advertising hoardings as he attempted a clearance and his evening came to a premature end.
Musa got behind the Mexican defence in the 56th minute and should have scored but for an impressive stop by Ochoa.
Mexico responded immediately but substitute, Alan Pulido was denied by a fine low save by Ejide as the game stirred to life again.
Ramon Azzez had a chance to score on his debut in the 67th minute but side-footed wide from inside the box after some good work from Moses down the flanks.
A minute later, Ejide produced a fine double save, the second from the impressive Pulido, to keep the score line even.
The Super Eagles were cut apart in the 73rd minute but Jimenez failed to connect with precision off Guardado’s inviting cross from the left.
Nigeria and Mexico traded chances again late on; Nsofor for Nigeria in the 82nd minute and Mexico, through a rasping Pulido drive beaten out by the impressive Ejide.
Mexico continued to advance menacingly toward the Nigerian goal and Jimenez eventually got the better of Ejide in the 84th minute but could only hit the side netting.
Imoh almost snatched a late winner for Nigeria but saw his deflected strike in the 89th minute comfortably collected by Ochoa.
The 68,220 fans in attendance at the Georgia Dome were loving it as the two sides continued to go for the win.
Obinna’s poor free kick represented the last chance in the game as both sides settled for the draw.
Both coaches will be delighted with the result and even more so, with the performances of their charges.
Ghana’s Black Stars started their World Cup preparations on a disappointing note after they lost 1-0 to Montenegro in an international friendly played on Wednesday.
Montenegro handed Ghana a good test as the much-physical Brave Falcons came up tops before an expectant home crowd at the Stadium Pod Goricum.
Dejan Damjanovic scored an early goal from the spot past Adam Kwarasay after Ghana defender David Addy had tripped an opponent in the box.
The Black Stars were not lacking in ambition as attempts by Majeed Waris, Michael Essien, Jordan Ayew, John Boye, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Asamoah Gyan failed to find target.
For the Ghana coach, Kwesi Appiah the competition for places is still on as he fine-tunes his squad for the World Cup in Brazil.
It was the first warm-up for the Black Stars before the May announcement of the 23-man World Cup squad.
Appiah will now look ahead as Ghana line up another international friendly against the Netherlands in Rotterdam on 31 May.
Ghana line up
Adam Kwarasey, Daniel Opare, David Addy/Samuel Inkoom, Jerry Akaminko, John Boye, Michael Essien/Kwadwo Asamoah, Christian Atsu/Asamoah Gyan, Agyemang Badu/Sulley Muntari, Majeed Waris, Jordan Ayew/Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mubarak Wakaso/Albert Adomah.
Stephen Adams, Jonathan Mensah, Andre Ayew
Striker Asamoah Gyan models the new kit designs as Puma show off the jerseys the Black Stars will wear during the 2014 World Cup on Wednesday.
The Ghana captain is the poster boy for the kit manufacturers and he was clearly thrilled by the garments on display.
“The team has been waiting a long time since the 2010 World Cup in which we reached the quarter finals. Being so close to becoming the first African team to reach the semi-final was a great triumph but painful at the same time and are really motivated to come back and achieve an even better result.
“The new kit design from PUMA reflects the pride and passion of our nation and we’ll be leaving for Brasil with full confidence that we can make our country proud,” said Gyan.
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is proud to be the “idol” of Romelu Lukaku.
Blues striker Lukaku is shining this season on-loan at Everton.
Galatasaray centre-forward Drogba said: “It is true that I am his idol. For me it’s flattering to see a young person like him identify with me. But again, and he said it very well, you should let him become Lukaku.
“He has certain qualities that I do not and others that I have and he has not, but he must have time. We must let him work quietly.
“Stop comparing him to Didier Drogba! He’s Romelu Lukaku.”
Kenya coach Adel Amrouche has recalled Inter-Milan midfielder Macdonald Mariga for Wednesday’s international friendly match against Sudan in Khartoum.
Mariga is making a return to the team after a two year absence and is among eight foreign based players called up for the match which will be one of several to be played on the Fifa friendly day.
Other foreign based players called up for the fixture are Johana Omollo (Lommel United), Francis Kahata (FK Tirana), David Ochieng (Al-Taawon), Victor Wanyama (Southampton), Ayub Timbe (Genk), Edwin Lavatsa (MC Alger) and Dennis Oliech (Ajaccio).
Goalkeepers: Duncan Ochieng’ (Sofapaka), Wycliffe Kasaya (AFC Leopards).
Defenders: David Owino (Gor Mahia), Joackins Atudo (Tusker), David Ochieng’ (Al-Taawon), James Situma (AFC Leopards), Sammy Meja (Thika United), Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia).
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Southampton), McDonald Mariga (Inter Milan), Anthony Akumu (Gor Mahia), Peter Opiyo (AFC Leopards), Johanna Omolo (Lommel United), Francis Kahata (Tirana), Clifton Miheso (Sofapaka).
Forwards: Ayub Timbe (Genk), Paul Were (AFC Leopards), Edwin Lavatsa (MC Alger), Dennis Oliech (Ajaccio), Jacob Keli (AFC Leopards).
Technical bench: Adel Amrouche, Kennedy Odhiambo, James Nandwa, Benson Otieno, Dr. Wycliffe Makanga, Iddi Salim, Wilberfoce Juma.
Little known Nigeria defender Leon Balogun has replaced injured skipper Joseph Yobo for Wednesday’s World Cup warm-up against Mexico.
Super Eagles media officer Ben Alaiya has disclosed that Yobo is out of the match due to an injury he sustained while playing for his EPL side Norwich City against Aston Villa on Sunday.
Yobo’s late replacement is Germany based Leon Adeyemi Balogun and the light skinned 1.90m tall defender has since arrived Eagles camp in the Unites States for the game.
The 25-year-old Leon plays for Fortuna Dusseldorf in the German Bundesliga.
Africa’s five representatives to this year’s FIFA World Cup will all be in action this week as they continue their preparations for this summer’s tournament in Brazil.
Continental champions Nigeria take on Mexico in Atlanta, USA on Wednesday but will be without recalled captain Joseph Yobo, who has pulled out because of an “undisclosed strain”.
There will however be chances for new blood to impress with uncapped trio Imoh Ezekiel, Ramon Azeez and Michael Uchebo set to be given game time by coach Stephen Keshi.
Ghana travel to Montenegro and coach Kwesi Appiah will use the match to test out his goalkeeping options.
The Black Stars have, however, been boosted by the return to fitness of centre-backs John Boye and Jonathan Mensah.
Ivory Coast will take on Belgium in Brussels knowing that Brazil will be the last chance for many of their top stars to make an impact on the biggest international stage.
The likes of Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure and Dider Zokora have been some of the main men in what has been labelled the golden generation – a group of players who have been heavily tipped for success but haven’t delivered.
Belgium are considered a dark horse for the World Cup, having qualified impressively – unbeaten and drawing only two of their 10 matches – and will provide a stern test for Sabri Lamouchi’s side.
There is top European opposition for Cameroon, too, as the Indomitable Lions challenge themselves to keep Cristiano Ronaldo at bay in Leiria.
Cameroon coach Volker Finke has handed Barcelona reserves Frank Bagnack and Jean Marie Dongou unexpected call-ups, and he has also recalled in-form centre-forward Mohamadou Idrissou.
The only one of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers to play at home this week is Algeria, who welcome Slovenia to Blida.
The Fennec Foxes are keen to ensure they have are well prepared ahead of their second successive finals appearance and announced on Sunday that they have added another friendly to their build-up – a game against and will play Armenia in Geneva on 31 May.
Elsewhere, the Bafana Bafana of South Africa who will be visited by World Cup hosts Brazil in Johannesburg
While the game creates a buzz for fans, desperate to catch a glimpse of the five-time world champions, it also is a serious affair for under-fire Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.
He recently said he got “a vote of confidence” from the South Africa Football Association (Safa) after a long discussion over recent failures.
But reports in City Press newspaper quoted an unnamed Safa official saying: “Even if he (Igesund) beats Brazil 5-0 it will not help his case. The decision has already been taken that he should go.”
However, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said he is expecting a tough challenge against a South Africa side who beat world champions Spain 1-0 in November.
Olympiakos striker Michael Olaitan is in a “stable” condition after collapsing during the first half of a 3-0 defeat by Athens rivals Panathinaikos.
The Nigerian, 21, was running off the ball when he fell to the ground.
Earlier, Panathinaikos manager Yannis Anastasiou, fell to the ground after being hit with an object thrown from the crowd.
Olaitan, who helped Olympiakos beat Manchester United 2-0 on 25 February, regained consciousness before being taken to hospital for tests.
“I am pleased to inform everyone that after initial tests there is no sign of a serious medical condition,” Olaitan’s representative Paschalis Tountouris said..
The game was goalless when Olaitan collapsed but Olympiakos, the runaway leaders, fell behind just before half-time when Croatian midfielder Danijel Pranjic scored.
Marcus Berg doubled the lead in the 67th minute before Mehdi Abeid completed a miserable day for the home side when he scored with a free-kick seconds before the final whistle.
Despite their first league loss of the season, Olympiakos, who visit Old Trafford for the return leg of their last-16 Champions League tie on 19 March, remain 19 points clear at the top of the table.
Panathinaikos are fourth, another five points adrift.