Chief of Qatar-owned PSG dispels Gianluigi Buffon transfer rumors

Gianluigi Buffon is a man in demand after announcing he is leaving Juventus. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2018
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Chief of Qatar-owned PSG dispels Gianluigi Buffon transfer rumors

  • Italy legend has been linked with a move to France
  • But president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has faith in No. 1 Alphonse Areola

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has poured water on suggestions Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon could step in to replace the French club’s No. 1 goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola.
Buffon, 40, played his final game for the Italian giants in a 2-1 win over Verona on Saturday, capping a 17-year career in Turin that harvested seven consecutive Serie A titles.
Buffon’s contract will expire in a matter of weeks, but asked if the French capital could be the emblematic Italian’s next destination, Al-Khelaifi told L’Equipe sports daily on Sunday: “We have Areola, he’s our number one.”
When then asked if that would also be the case next season, Al-Khelaifi replied: “Yes, for sure.”
He added: “He (Buffon) is a fantastic goalkeeper, he’s very charismatic and is a true gentleman. I’m sure all the clubs want him.”
Areola underlined his feelings about the situation when he told Le Parisien newspaper Saturday he wanted to “remain number one” at PSG and would leave the club if that were not to be the case next season.
“Because if I’m not the number one anymore, it would mean the season I’ve just finished has all counted for nothing,” said the 25-year-old Areola, whose own deal ends in June 2019.
PSG, who regained the French league title this month, will be taken over by coach Thomas Tuchel next season. He succeeds Spaniard Unai Emery.


Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

Updated 14 October 2018
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Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

  • On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0
  • Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia as he seeks to build ahead of next year’s Asian Cup in the UAE and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Really, I don’t care about the results,” Katanec told Arab News. “What will be, will be. I hope that I will see good things from our players — personality and nothing more. I will just ask the players to give all that they have. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to show too much in a game, that behavior can be a problem also.”
On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0. Katanec fielded a reinforced five-men defense, but to little avail as Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi all got on the scoreboard. “To prepare a friendly match with two training sessions… with players that I don’t quite know — how they are, how their behavior is and all these things, that’s difficult but anyway we are here, that is our job,” said Katanec
Ali Adnan from Atlanta in Italy and Justin Meram from Columbus Crew in the US started against Argentina, but the new Iraq coach may ring the changes against Saudi Arabia, a team he rates highly.
“I will give a chance to all the players who are now with us,” said Katanec. “I hope that we will be at a very good level. Saudi Arabia is a good team, a 100 percent. If they participated in the World Cup, they deserved it. They also played quite good football in Russia, even in the first game: a part of the first game, but the following two matches they were very solid. I know, in this region you have good players. Saudi Arabia have invested a lot of money in football and that’s important. So, big respect for them. They can show, if they can, that they are better than us, but we will also try to do our best.”
In September the Slovenian was appointed coach of Iraq, succeeding Basim Qasim.
Katanec enjoys a wealth of experience in the international game, having guided his native Slovenia to the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. He also coached the United Arab Emirates from 2009 and 2011, but his 2011 Asian Cup campaign ended in disappointment as his team failed to register a single point in a group with Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
The 55-year-old considers the friendly against the Green Falcons a part of the learning curve for Iraq as they look toward the 2019 Asian Cup and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. In November, Iraq have confirmed a friendly against Jordan in preparation for the continental tournament where they will face Iran, Vietnam and Yemen in group D.
“These friendly games are very important in that I will know what to do before the Asian Cup,” explained Katanec. “We need information: how the players are, what their condition is like at this moment. You know, the media at all times want to put some pressure on all of us, but until now I am very satisfied with how the team works.”