Coetzee in doubt for World Cup qualifier

Although not yet withdrawn from the national squad by his club, Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Coetzee looks doubtful for next weekend's World Cup qualifier in Burkina Faso.

The 19-year-old Coetzee has endured regular injury lay-offs over the last year and missed South Africa's last two matches, against Mauritania and Egypt.

He now has a hamstring tear that may rule him out for Bafana Bafana's opening game in their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.

"Coetzee underwent a scan on Monday and it has revealed a hamstring tear. He is off for the rest of the week and we will do another scan next Monday to assess again‚" Ajax coach Roger De Sa told TMG Digital.

The Bafana squad are due to congregate in Johannesburg on Monday, October 3.

The South African Football Association can if they wish summon Coetzee to the camp to conduct their own medical.

Rodgers: Sterling lost his way under Pellegrini

Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Raheem Sterling lost his way under Manuel Pellegrini after leaving Anfield to sign for Manchester City.

Sterling join City for a reported fee of £51 million in the 2015 off-season transfer window, having been lauded as the most promising talent in the Premier League. 

However, his form and impact for England and the Citizens fell dramatically in his first season under Pellegrini.

Rodgers feels the arrival of Pep Guardiola and the lessons learnt during a difficult debut campaign has improved Sterling and he expects the winger to return to form as a world-class player.

"Obviously he left, he was a star of England and a star of Liverpool and I just think he's gone into a totally different changing room and you just need that time to settle in," the Celtic boss told the Manchester Evening News.

"He just needed to regain his identity. What he is. He's working now with a coach who is very clear in terms of how he wants to play and I think when you have that with Raheem you maximise what you get out of him.

"So he had his year of settling in and now you see him working at the level he's at and I watch him and you see him being back to where he was a few years ago, playing with big confidence, taking people on, super aggressive.

"He lost what he was which is a one v one guy who is dynamic and can take people on. He can press the game, can score goals and create goals.

"And he can work hard. I felt he drifted into being something he wasn't. But you can see him now working with a clear plan."

Downs stars stress importance of MTN 8 victory

A number of Mamelodi Sundowns players have stressed the importance of picking up a victory against Bidvest Wits in the MTN 8 final on Saturday.

The Chloorkop-based outfit booked their in the top-eight cup competition final with a 1-0 aggregate victory against Chippa United, whilst the Clever Boys recorded a comprehensive 3-0 victory against newcomers Cape Town City.

The occasion will possibly prove to be an emotional one for Sundowns' new acquisition, Sibusiso Vilakazi, following his move from Wits during the most recent transfer window - after a seven-year tenure with the club.

"It's important for us to win the trophy. I mean what's the point of getting to a final and not winning it," Vilakazi told reporters.

"We know they want this final but we have to prove that we want it the most," he added.

The in-form Percy Tau, meanwhile, revealed his excitement at having to appear in front of the home support in the final at the Mbombela Stadium, whilst citing what an honour it was to play for the CAF Champions League finalists.

"I am from Mpumalanga, so this means a lot to me. To play the final in my home province," the 22-year-old said.

"I am honoured to play in the same team with the best players in the league. I see them everyday at training."

Brazilians captain Hlompho Kekana admits they have a lot of respect for their opponents, but maintained that they would play their own game. 

"We respect Bidvest Wits, they are a very good team but we need to go there and play our own game," Kekana said.

Baraza: Sofapaka players not to blame

Sofapaka assistant coach John Baraza says the players cannot be faulted for the efforts, despite the club looking doomed for relegation.

With five matches to play, Sofapaka, the 2009 league champions, are bottom of the Kenyan Premier League table and eight points from potential safety.

However, Baraza - who only retired as a player in February - says not all hope is lost and that team will continue to fight for their survival.

"I didn't say that we have given up. We haven't resigned to fate. Until that moment when that is decided, we shall continue to try to win," Baraza told the official KPL website.

The 2012 Kenyan Premier League Golden Boot winner would not be drawn into pointing fingers at individuals and says the players' commitment this season cannot be questioned.

"What happened is that we started the season badly. Why we started the season badly is for anyone to guess but I know for sure that the players cannot be blamed for that," he added.

"By the time we were half-way through the season we were already at bottom place and it was always going to be difficult to get ourselves out. The players did their best. I don't think we can blame them."

Mertesacker impressed by Mustafi

Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker was left impressed by the performance of Shkodran Mustafi in combination with Laurent Koscielny in the 3-0 derby win over Chelsea.

The pair snuffed out the threat of a dangerous Diego Costa, who has tormented the Gunners in recent seasons, and Mertesacker has praised the man who will likely succeed him in the starting XI.

The German centre-back used his match programme notes for the UEFA Champions League clash with Basel to praise the duo.

He wrote: "As a defender, I enjoyed watching how Laurent and Shkodran dealt with Diego Costa. I think the two of them will be a great pairing and what I find most impressive is how quickly they've developed their partnership.

"They really complement each other. When they needed to get really tight, they did. When they needed to be strong, they were. I think their partnership is getting better and better.

"On that front, we have a bright future because the defensive structure will be vital for this team moving forward."

Hernandez praises Foxes' defensive display

Leicester City defender Luis Hernandez has praised the Foxes' defensive display in their 1-0 victory against FC Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

The reigning Premier League champions recorded their first-ever home victory in Europe's elite tournament, courtesy of Islam Slimani's first-half header.

Despite Porto's late surge to find a equaliser, Claudio Ranieri's side managed to hold on for the victory, prompting Hernandez to praise his side's defensive efforts.

"I think today we played a really good game," he told LCFC TV.

"In the first half I think we played really well. We had many chances to score and Porto didn't have many.

"In the second half, it was obvious that Porto wanted to win and we needed to defend, but today I think we defended very well.

"I think this is our way - our strength. Now, we have to recover because in four days we have another game. The Premier League is just as important," he said.

The 27-year-old also took the time to thank the Leicester City faithful for their amazing support during the encounter.

"It's fantastic because we've started really well in this competition. I think for us and all our supporters that's really important," he added.

"We've started well and we hope that the next game in this competition we will win again. I hope we can stay in the next round.

"It (the atmosphere) was unbelievable. I was our first game at home in the Champions League. It was a really good day for the club," he concluded.

Middendorp: Refs have sapped our energy

Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp says poor match officiating is adversely affecting his side's energy and confidence.

The Team of Choice lost their third consecutive league match when they went down 1-0 to Polokwane City at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Tuesday night.

Before that, Middendorp's men lost 2-0 to Kaizer Chiefs and 1-0 to SuperSport, with both matches having some tight calls going against the KZN side.

"It's not that the referee is to blame but we see 50/50 [challenges] and it's going in the direction of the opponent," Middendorp said.

"It's been weeks now. We got robbed on the short-term and we got robbed against Kaizer Chiefs. There's no doubt about it and I don't know the reasons till today. You can see and feel it and I saw it before. The energy is gone, the confidence is gone."

Maritzburg avoided relegation on the very last day of last season. They are currently 12th in the Premiership standings, with four points from five games.

Ancelotti: Simeone amongst world's best

Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti says he is a big fan of Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone.

The two will square up to each other in a Champions League encounter at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night, Atletico having knocked out Bayern on the away goals rule in last season's semi-final.

Speaking ahead of the match in Spain, Ancelotti, formerly in charge at Real Madrid, was full of praise for the Argentine.

"I like Simeone's style. He gets more tired now than when he was a player and he's a very good coach, one of the best in football right now.

"Atletico's style is very clear and everyone knows it - they are very well organised and difficult to play against.

"Though we don't have any clear advantage over them, Bayern Munich are in good form and ready to put on a good performance," added the 57-year-old Italian.

Ochomo sidelined by Muhoroni Youth

Wantaway striker Wycliffe Ochomo has been suspended by Muhoroni Youth for being a disruptive influence on the team.

It was reported last week that Ochomo, joint leading scorer in the Kenyan Premier League, had asked to be released by the club.

With the striker now reportedly not contactable by club officials, a decision was made to suspend him from the club.

"I have not been around for a few days and upon returning I found the team did not do so well in the past few matches and as such I also got a report from the technical bench indicating one of the reasons being negative energy in the team," chairman Moses Adagala was quoted as saying by SuperSport.

"It stated that Ochomo was suspended for that and I will be going with that because we are at a crucial stage of the season that we would better do without such sideshows," he added.

Apart from wrapping up their league fixtures, Muhoroni Youth (ninth on the league standings) are also set to take on Gor Mahia in the Top 8 Cup final.

Amapakabo: Rangers have one hand on the trophy

Enugu Rangers head coach Imama Amapakabo admits his side have all but won the Nigeria Professional Football League title.

Heading into the final weekend of action, Rangers are three points clear of Rivers United, and also have a superior goal difference of four over their nearest rivals.

Even if Rangers were to lose to El Kanemi Warriors on Sunday, it would still take a major shift in goal difference for Rivers to steal the title.

"Rangers have one hand on the trophy but we still have 90 minutes to play and in football anything can happen," Amapakabo told SuperSport.

He says he will tell his players to adopt their usual game-plan on Sunday.

"I always press high and try to strangulate my opposition no matter where I play home or away and Sunday's game won't be different," he said.

With the club having already secured a place in next year's CAF Champions League, Amapakabo has been thinking about squad reinforcements, although he says there will not be wholesale changes.

"We can only succeed on the continent by having continuity and adding a few players in certain positions," he revealed.