De Jong denies Irish victory

The Republic of Ireland impressed against the Netherlands on Friday night but had to settle for a 1-1 draw to kick off their preparations for Euro 2016.

  • Republic of Ireland 1 Netherlands 1
  • Long opens the scoring on 30 mins
  • Hosts continue to dominate
  • De Jong finds late equaliser
  • Dutch lucky to emerge with draw

Match Summary

Martin O'Neill's side looked the better team for much of the friendly encounter at the Aviva Stadium and they took the lead through Shane Long from a corner on 30 minutes.

The Oranje barely threatened on the night but they finally struck back five minutes from time as Luuk de Jong got o the end of Jetro Willems' cross to head home the equaliser to put a dampner on Ireland's positive performance.

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The hosts barely got a sniff at the ball in the opening stages as they were pinned back in their own half by Danny Blind's men, who probed but could not make an early breakthrough.

The first real chance of the game fell to Ireland, though, when space opened up for Harry Arter and he lined up a shot from outside the area that flew straight at visiting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen on 17 minutes.

O'Neill's charges grew in confidence and they started to apply more pressure, their efforts being rewarded on the half-hour mark from a corner, which was headed towards goal by John O'Shea and cleared off the line, although Long was on hand to open the scoring on the rebound.

The Dutch looked to respond before the break but their final ball was disappointing, allowing the home defence to breathe easy on several occasions.

The Irish continued to cause problems in the second half, with Jonathan Walters sending his header straight at Cillessen from Robbie Brady's free-kick on 48 minutes, while Shane Duffy headed over from an unmarked position soon afterwards and then David McGoldrick sliced wide from another set-piece.

The Oranje finally created their first real chance of note on 69 minutes as Janssen forced Darren Randolph into a low but comfortable save with his header, while Bas Dost could not keep down a cross from Jetro Willems eight minutes later as the ball flew over the crossbar.

Ireland almost doubled their lead moments later as the visitors struggled to deal with another Brady free-kick, which was headed narrowly wide by Duffy.

But they were cruelly pegged back with five minutes remaining as De Jong found himself in space at the back post to head home a cross from Willems to equalise for the Netherlands.

Eunan O'Kane had a chance to restore the hosts' lead at the death after the ball fell kindly to him inside the penalty area, but his shot lacked power and was easily saved by Cillessen.

Rashford helps England past the Aussies

An early debut goal from Marcus Rashford and another from Wayne Rooney saw England claim a 2-1 win over Australia at Wembley on Friday.

  • England 2 Australia 1
  • Rashford scores on his debut
  • Rooney adds a second
  • Dier with an own goal

Match Summary

Manchester United's teenage striker Marcus Rashford wasted little time by scoring in just the third minute of his first senior cap, giving England a lead that they were able to hold onto until halftime despite a spirited performance from the Socceroos.

10 minutes into the second half and England doubled their lead through Wayne Rooney, who blasted Raheem Sterling's cross into the roof of the net, before Australia pulled one back when Eric Dier came off the bench to head a threatening cross through the legs of Fraser Forster.

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It didn't take long for debutant Marcus Rashford to make an impact. The teenage Manchester United striker carried his amazing late-season form from the Premier League to the international stage with a thumping low volley at the near post in just the third minute of the game.

Despite the early setback, Australia took the game to their hosts, but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities despite playing the match at an entertaining high tempo.

Socceroos goalkeeper Matthew Ryan was also alert in the 31st minute to deny England a second in the 31st minute when Ryan Bertrand carried the ball all the way to the byline before pulling it back for Rashford. His pass saw it fall to Adam Lallana in close proximity to goal, but the Valencia stopper was quick to smother the danger.

Australia continued to threaten without ever coming close to scoring, and it was England who had the last chance of the first half when a free kick was worked short for Jordan Henderson to try curl it in from the edge of the box, but Ryan was able to swat it away from the far corner.

England struck again early in the second period, and Raheem Sterling got his second assist of the night when his run down the left sucked defenders away from the central avenue, into which Wayne Rooney was storming to collect the Manchester City's winger low cross and fire home a thunderous strike into the roof of the net.

But thing went wrong for England in the 75th minute when Eric Dier, who had only come on for Chris Smalling two minutes earlier, scored an own goal. It was another recent substitute, Miloš Degenek, who whipped in a threatening ball that gave the Spurs defender a bit too much to think about.

Chaminuka aims to build on Tsholotsho win

Border Strikers coach Saul Chaminuka believes his side has now turned the corner, following their first win of the season against Tsholotsho on Wednesday.

Kudzanayi Kwashi scored the only goal of the match, to end the Beitbridge outfit's seven-game winless run in the league, at Mandava Stadium on Wednesday night.

Border's coach Chaminuka is hopping the victory will animate a change of fortunes for his team, as the look to work their way up the league standings.

"It is very frustrating when you keep on losing matches. But now we can manage to smile because we have won our first game," Chaminuka told SuperSport.

"Now we want to build on this win and win more games. It is the start of better fortunes for us," he added.

"One can see that we had been playing very well and creating scoring chances but we were just failing to score goals. Today we managed to score and more goals are coming."

 

 

Billiat to focus on Warriors

After steering Mamelodi Sundowns to the Premiership title, Khama Billiat has turned his attentions to the Zimbabwe national team.

Billiat and the Warriors will be looking to secure their first Africa Cup of Nations qualification since 2006.

The 25-year-old played an instrumental role during the 2015/16 season as the Brazilians won the Premiership and Telkom Knockout cup double.

Zimbabwe are on top of Group L and on course to clinch qualification for the continental competition in Gabon next year.

The Warriors will next face bottom-of-the-group Malawi at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on 4 June.

"Qualifying is very important for Zimbabwean football. I always wanted to be in this situation and contributing to the country to qualify," Billiat told the Sowetan.

"And here we are one game away and this will be the greatest moment of my life. We work hard. [Tendai] Ndoro is a hard worker, [Knowledge] Musona is a hard worker, Nyasha Mushekwi is a hard worker... I believe I'm a hard worker. Being in this group motivates me.

"We are all positive about [qualifying] and we are all sharing the same goal... I don't think it should be a problem."

Les Dogues secure Enyeama future

Lille have received a massive boost with the announcement that Vincent Enyeama has committed his future to the Ligue 1 club for a further two years.

The former Nigeria international, who won 101 caps for his country before retiring last year, was part of a Les Dogues defence that conceded just 27 league goals this past season - only champions Paris Saint-Germain let in less (19).

Enyeama kept 17 clean sheets to help Frederic Antonetti's side finish fifth in the standings as they closed out the campaign with a 10-match unbeaten run.

The 33-year-old goalkeeper had just over 12 months left on his deal at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, which has now been extended until 2019.

"Vincent is an exceptional lad both on and off the pitch," LOSC adjoint director general Jean-Michel Vandamme told the club's official website.

"Continuing to work with a player of his calibre and a man of his quality is a fantastic thing for the club. He still has a lot of great days ahead of him and he showed once again in the season just past the full extent of his qualities.

"He is happy at LOSC and feels at home here. He brings so much to the team through his talent, his frame of mind and his capacity to boost the squad that we couldn't afford not to extend his deal. Right now it looks like Vincent Enyeama could end his career here at LOSC."

Tembo praises Baxter infuence

SuperSport United assistant coach Kaitano Tembo has applauded coach Stuart Baxter for transforming the team's mentality in a short space of time.

Baxter has steadied the Matsatsantsa ship since joining at the start of the year, replacing Gordon Igesund.

At the time Matsatsantsa were in the doldrums, with the team struggling for form in the bottom half of the table.

Baxter has turned the team's fortunes around with Tshwane club, securing a Premiership top-eight finish and a berth of the Nedbank Cup final.

"Coach Stuart has changed the team. He found us when the morale was down," Tembo told Soccer Laduma.

"He has installed belief and confidence in the team, mainly in the players and that's why we have managed to finish in top eight and are in the final of the Nedbank Cup. He had brought the fighting spirit which helps the team get results."

United will face Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup final at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.

Mandanda fancies move abroad

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has not ruled out the possibility of staying at the club for a ninth season, but admits a move abroad is a tempting prospect.

The France international kept nine clean sheets in a tumultuous season for L'OM, who finished just nine points above the relegation zone in 13th place and saw two managers depart.

Despite the team's struggles, Mandanda was named Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year for a second successive campaign, although his comments directly after losing the Coupe de France final to Paris Saint-Germain alerted clubs to his availability.

The 31-year-old had suggested that the Stade de France showpiece might have been his last appearance for Les Phoceens, and has subsequently been linked with Everton and Villarreal.

Mandanda is intrigued by the prospect of playing in either England or Spain, but acknowledged he could well continue his career at Stade Velodrome.

"Abroad would be something good at 31," he told RMC. "It would be a nice adventure on both a sporting and a personal level... the two leagues that interest me the most are the Premier League and La Liga.

"You don't know what the future will be made of because we all know in the transfer window it's quite complicated. And I play in a particular position.

"I could easily find myself still playing at OM next season - I don't know. It's clear that Marseille is my family. It's where I grew up, where I learned, where I discovered everything."

Huntelaar: I'd reject China for Ajax return

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar admits at this stage of his career he'd reject lucrative offers from China in order to return to Ajax Amsterdam.

Since the departure of Frank De Boer the return of the Dutchman has been in doubt, but the 32-year-old has quashed the notion, saying he'd love to return to the Eredivisie regardless of who's in charge of his former club.

"I choose a club," he told Voetbal International, when asked if he would still join Ajax with De Boer not there. "Not for a trainer.

"The point is: what do I want? I do not know. I am still awaiting on a number of developments at Schalke. I am therefore not yet ready. Offers from other countries I have indeed received, in China for example.

"They want to pay a lot of money, but I turned it down. I had no second thought about it. I wouldn't leave my family behind ever to play football in a distant land. Not even for a lot of money.

"Money will not be a stumbling block. If I would opt for Ajax, I would still accept a move, even it is less money. The money is less important. I've never let my life be lead by money.

"I pick my future based on my feelings. But I must now make a choice. I am still under contract at Schalke.

"There is the next transfer period, but there is no special Ajax clause. It is also not true that I am waiting for Ajax. That impression I certainly do not want to entertain, I want to be clear. I'm at a great club, I want to emphasize that."

Orlando Pirates v SuperSport United

Both Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United will be hoping to end what has been a disappointing campaign on a high note when they clash in Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final.

The match takes place at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon with kick of schedule for 3pm.

For two clubs used to challenging for and winning league titles, both packed with quality players and well backed financially, a seventh (Pirates) and eighth placed finish in the league can certainly been seen as an underachievement.

It was only last week when the pair both secured their top eight finishes, having played each other in a  2-2 league draw in Orlando, giving both coaches a good idea of what to expect from the opposition in Polokwane. 

The corresponding first round game ended in a 1-0 win for SuperSport, while over the years there has been very little to separate the Gauteng rivals - in 33 matches, Pirates have won 14 and Matsatsantsa 13, with six draws.

Having lost out in the final of the CAF Confederation Cup earlier this season, Bucs boss Eric Tinkler is still looking for his first silverware since tasking charge two seasons back. SuperSport United coach Stuart Baxter is meanwhile eyeing his first success at a club which he joined only at the start of the year, having significantly revived their fortunes.

There are similarities too in terms of their form men - for the Buccaneers, the man with the golden touch in front of goal right now is Tendai Ndoro, the Zimbabwean the leading scorer in the 2016 Nedbank Cup with five goals from four matches. 

For the Tshwane side, the obvious danger-man is Jeremy Brockie, who has scored three goals in four Nedbank Cup matches. Fellow marksman Bradley Grobler has also been amongst the goals of late and is another potential game-breaker for United. 

For Brockie, the 28-year-old New Zealand international who has scored 17 in all competitions this season, this will be the first time in his career that he has the chance to win a trophy.

"It’s not only my first South African final, it’s my first final as a professional so I must say I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can lift the trophy," he said.

Add other individuals such as Mpho Makola and Luvuyo Memela (both Pirates) and Matsatsantsa pair Dove Wome and Thuso Phala into the equation and there are a lot of players on form for both clubs right now; the final should be a cracking affair and it would be a surprise if goals were in short supply. Especially when considering that neither team has any suspensions, and apart from long term absentee for Pirates in Oupa Manyisa, no injuries.

Key for Tinkler will be to make a plan to stop SuperSport scoring from set play, where men like Brockie and defender Clayton Daniels are a big threat.

"Aerially they are a threat and on set-pieces as well, so we need to deal with that, which we didn't do in our league game and we ended up getting punished," he said this week.

Since its inception in 2008,  Pirates have won the Nedbank Cup in 2011 and 2014, while SuperSport were champions in 2012. 

In reaching the final, Pirates have had the tougher road, having had to beat both Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs along the way, as well as Free State Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic.

SuperSport have beaten two second tier sides - Moroka Swallows and Baroka FC, on their route to the final, also edging past the University of Pretoria and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Road to the final:

Pirates: Kaizer Chiefs (2-0), Jomo Cosmos (3-1),  Mamelodi Sundowns (2-0), Free State Stars (4-2)

SuperSport: Moroka Swallows (1-0),  University of Pretoria (3-3. Won 4-2 on penalties), Mpumalanga Black Aces (2-1), Baroka FC (2-0)

Gor Mar, Leopards docked points

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards were docked three point each, after the clubs were found guilty of failing to control their fans during league matches earlier in the campaign.

The Kenya Premier League's Independent Disciplinary and Complaints Committee (IDCC), on Thursday, found the two teams guilty of not taking the necessary precautions to prevent hooliganism, after their supporters were involved in separate disruptive acts in their league games.

"All clubs participating in tournaments organised by the KPL must understand that the KPL does not condone any acts of hooliganism," the IDCC statement read in part.

Both clubs are expected to launch an appeal and challenge the ruling, as they feel the decision was unfair.

"I read clean and clear mischief in this ruling. Our scenario is the same as what occurred during the match between Harambee Stars and Guinea Bissau (on March 27). There was crowd trouble but the match was concluded and Caf never docked Kenya of any points. We shall appeal," Gor's Secretary General Ronald Ngala revealed.

Leopards co-chairman Dan Mule added: "They (KPL) are basing this ruling on an earlier threat from the FKF Chairman. We cannot work like this. There is nowhere we as the stakeholders of the game sat and passed such resolutions, we shall appeal."

Gor Mahia will now drop to second on the latest KPL standings with 26 points, while Leopards drop six places to 10th.