Bayern Munich duo on the mend

Injured Bayern Munich duo Franck Ribery and Medhi Benatia are closing in on returns after their respective spells on the sidelines.

Ribery has been out with a long-term ankle problem since March, while Benatia picked up a thigh injury in the second game of the season.

The French winger made his return to training, running for the first time and taking an individual session with the fitness coach on Thursday.

Moroccan defender Benatia has also returned to individual training and is hoping to join the rest of the team in the next fortnight.

"I've had to watch the team from the sidelines for too long," Benatia told "But I'm feeling a lot better now. I hope to be back in team training in 10-14 days."

Mascherano praise for Benitez

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has thanked Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez for helping his career, but admits they can't talk very often these days.

The Argentina international joined Benitez's Liverpool from West Ham in 2007, and is grateful to the Spaniard for his tutelage during their time together at Anfield.

"He took me out of a pit 20 metres underground and to the top," Mascherano told Panenka, as quoted by Marca.

The pair now find themselves on opposite ends of La Liga's strongest rivalry, and Mascherano admits that the situation has cooled his relationship with Benitez.

"We can't keep in touch since we're not on the same team," the 31-year-old added. "He's a great person and a teaching coach, and you can learn a lot from him if you really want to.

"Our relationship hasn't changed but it's now an uncomfortable situation. I spoke to him last year when he coached Napoli but now it's logical we speak less because of the circumstances.

"But I appreciate everything he did. Someday I'll leave Barca or he'll leave Madrid and everything will be back to normal. We still talk but not with the same regularity."

Herrmann blow for Monchengladbach

Borussia Monchengladbach have been handed an injury blow with the news that Patrick Herrmann could miss up to a month with a knee problem.

The 24-year-old has netted one goal and one assist in six Bundesliga games so far in what has been a difficult start to the season for the club.

Following a medical examination, it was found that Herrmann has a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the same knee he took a knock to back in September.

The Germany international will now undergo a four-week rehabilitation program, before further tests will be done to determine whether surgery is necessary.

Should the forward need to go under the knife, it is expected that he could be sidelined for up to six months.

Guardiola urged to extend Bayern stay

Honorary Bayern Munich chairman Franz Beckenbauer has urged manager Pep Guardiola to extend his contract at the club.

The Spaniard's current deal expires at the end of the season and he has yet to indicate a willingness to stay on.

However, Bayern remain positive an agreement can be reached and Beckenbauer believes Guardiola is a perfect fit for the club and urged him to pen a new deal.

"In the Bible it says: What belongs together, should not be separated," he said. "I told him that I would be happy if he stays. We simply fit together."

Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, meanwhile, believes there is still enough time to discuss a new deal with Guardiola.

"I've always said that we would sit down in the second half of 2015," he told Sport1. "And that leaves us still a few months.

"There's a lot on the table which is pro-Bayern, and a game like this one is bound to make the coach happy too."

Sankara hails Middendorp impact

Free State Stars defender Robert Sankara has credited coach Ernst Middendorp for bringing self belief back to the team.

Ea Lla Koto are unbeaten since the German-born tactician took over, securing three wins and a draw in all competition, including their shock 1-0 Telkom Knockout victory over Bidvest Wits.

Prior to Middendorp's arrival, Stars went winless under Kinnah Phiri, who oversaw three consecutive losses at the start of the season before suffering the axe.

And, Burkina Faso international Sankara has applauded the impact Middendorp has made at the club.

"The confidence is back, the spirit of the players at training is even different now and the way we work has also changed," he told KickOff.

"The desire to play football with the intention of winning matches is also back. We are enjoying ourselves yet again.

"The tactics of the coach has brought confidence to the players now. When the coach arrived he told us that we must not afraid to play which is what we have done. The training sessions are always tactically designed.

"The coach always makes sure that he gets his message across in a way that is understood because he wants us to play and not feel the pressure."

Navas: Bafana can dominate

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas says South Africa has the potential to dominate global football after their 1-0 win in an international friendly on Thursday.

Bafana Bafana overcame the Costa Ricans at Estadio Edgardo Baltodano Briceno thanks to an early goal from Andile Jali, and the Real Madrid stopper was impressed with the opposition's ability.

"Looking at how they competed here, I am still surprised that South Africa is not dominating Africa and even most top countries in the world," he said.

"If they play this type of football on a regular basis then surely they should be among the giants in the world. They are electric fast, can pass the ball with high tempo and hardly lose possession when they are in charge.

"It is quite different from either the European or south or central American style. Their football is refreshing and exciting to see.

"I suppose they need to play against top sides in the world in order to express themselves more and dominate on a regular basis.

"I am not trying to impress anyone. If anything, no one normally praises your vanquisher but we need to give credit where it is due, South Africa are a good football playing-nation and that is a fact."

Rooi wants shift in focus

Orlando Pirates stand-in captain Rooi Mahamutsa has urged his team-mates to shift focus from the CAF Confederations Cup to their Telkom Knockout clash against University of Pretoria.

The Buccaneers are through to this year's continental final after seeing off Al Ahly 5-3 on aggregate in the semis, leading to claims the Soweto giants may be tempted to neglect their domestic obligations.

However, Mahamutsa, who has skippered Pirates in the absence of the injured Oupa Manyisa, has set his sights on first advancing to the quarter-finals of the TKO, where they face AmaTuks in the last-16 at the Orlando Stadium on October 16.

"The more we play, the more we remain focused for the games we have to play," Mahamutsa told Soccer Laduma.

"Our next game is against Tuks and we have to focus on that and win it. We have to continue winning and keep the momentum as we wait for the CAF Confederation Cup final."

Pirates will square off against Etoile du Sahel from Tunisia in the Confed Cup final, which will be played over two legs, with the first fixture coming on November 21 at the Orlando Stadium.

Klopp: We'll go 'full throttle'

New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he will look to implement a "full throttle" approach to football after taking up the reins at Anfield.

The German was confirmed as the Reds' new boss on Thursday, taking over from Brendan Rodgers, who was shown the door last Sunday following the 1-1 draw against Merseyside rivals Everton.

And, speaking to LFCTV, the former Borussia Dortmund boss said: "Firstly, I would like to offer thanks to the ownership of Liverpool Football Club for showing faith in me and my staff and presenting us with this wonderful opportunity. They have presented to me a very clear vision and I share their ambitions and model of work.

"I am very excited by the challenge we face and eager to start the job and begin implementing our ideas and ways of working with this team. This is a talented group of players and there is still much to compete for this season.

"Winning is important but so is how you win and how you play the game. I believe in a playing philosophy that is very emotional, very fast and very strong. My teams must play at full throttle and take it to the limit every single game.

"It is important to have a playing philosophy that reflects your own mentality, reflects the club and gives you a clear direction to follow. Tactical of course, but tactical with a big heart.

"Liverpool has extraordinary supporters and Anfield is a world renowned home, with an incredible atmosphere. I want to build a great relationship with these supporters and give them memories to cherish. I hope we can feed off each other's energy and that we take this journey together."

Costa: Players are to blame

Diego Costa admits he returned from pre-season training overweight, and says he and his Chelsea team-mates need to take responsibility for their poor start to the Premier League season.

The Blues have slumped to four defeats already this campaign, having only lost three times on their way to winning the title last season, and find themselves in 16th place, 10 points adrift of league leaders Manchester City.

"We know we're not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season," Costa admitted. "We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realised the team was already in a bad situation."

Although manager Jose Mourinho has naturally taken most of the blame, the Brazil-born Spain international has leapt to his coach's defence and taken the opportunity to speak for the rest of the squad and reiterate his faith in the Portuguese boss.

"I'm responsible 100 percent, and so are the other guys," he added. "We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here.

"Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I'm not going to do that.

"I'm here because I'm happy with the manager but I'm not only speaking on my behalf. I am here to speak for everyone, for the group. All that matters at the end of the day is the group. Yes, he has supported me, but he has shown support for all of the players.

"I'm here because I'm happy with the manager but I'm not only speaking on my behalf. I am here to speak for everyone, for the group. All that matters at the end of the day is the group."

Matano accepts second place

Ulinzi Stars coach Robert Matano admitted the side were disappointed not to challenge for the Kenyan Premier League title this term, but feels second is still a commendable achievement.

Few could match the pace of Gor Mahia this season after the Nairobi giants successfully defended the KPL crown they won last year, wrapping up the title with four games to spare.

And while the aim for Matano had been to lift the title, the coach said he was still happy to settle for a runners-up finish.

"We had planned to win the league. That is what we had set out to do this year, but we were inconsistent in the first leg and also at the beginning of the second leg. We let Gor run away with it and just could not catch up with them," he told the KPL's official website

"But second place is still a good position. Even in class, a student who finishes in the second position commands some level of respect, doesn't he?

"So we are definitely going to guard our position jealously and try and secure it in our next fixture so that we can relax."