Carlo Ancelotti confident Napoli can cause upset against Liverpool

Ancelotti thinks his side has what it takes to beat Liverpool on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Carlo Ancelotti confident Napoli can cause upset against Liverpool

  • Napoli can still go though through to second round if they lose 2-1 at Anfield.
  • Italians on a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and defeated Liverpool 1-0 in October.

LIVERPOOL: Carlo Ancelotti believes Liverpool are good enough to win the Premier League, but the Italian is convinced his Napoli side can knock them out of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Ancelotti, who won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2010, takes his side to Anfield knowing that a point will guarantee a place in the last 16, and a victory will take them through as Group C winners.

Liverpool must win to stand any chance of going through, and a 1-0 scoreline — or any victory by at least two goals — will definitely secure their progress.

Napoli, however, arrive at Anfield on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and defeated Liverpool 1-0 with a late Lorenzo Insigne goal when the sides met at the Stadio San Paolo in October.

Ancelotti is wary of opponents who overtook Manchester City to go top of the Premier League on Saturday with a 4-0 victory at Bournemouth.

He believes Jurgen Klopp’s side have the squad strength to stay there, despite the wealth of options that Pep Guardiola has at the Etihad Stadium.

“The Premier League is always a competitive league. Liverpool has the possibility to win,” Ancelotti said.

“The fact that they started really well means that it’s possible that they can do it.”

The Napoli boss is fully aware of the impact that the Anfield atmosphere could have on Tuesday’s match, but said that neither he nor his players would be intimidated by it.

“We know what’s at stake. We need to take the final step to get through the group. There’s no way we’re going to take this game lightly,” he said.

“Anfield is a beautiful stadium. The people are really passionate and the atmosphere is the best in the world.

“It is really exciting to be here — my players are positive because everyone wants to play at the best in the world...

“It’s the crunch game tomorrow. If we’re intelligent in the defensive and offensive phases, then we’ll go through.

“We also have a little advantage in the group; the cake has been made — now we need to add a little cherry.”

NAPOLI WON’T SIT BACK

Even though a draw will take Napoli through, Ancelotti has indicated that his team will attack.

They are the joint top scorers in Serie A this season with 32 goals, although they have scored one fewer than Liverpool in their five Champions League group games this season.

“I think we can draw on the first game in Naples, it has given us a lot of confidence and we’d like to put in a repeat performance,” he added.

“Obviously I don’t know what Liverpool are doing tomorrow but we know how they play at home, the kind of intensity, with which they set out.

“We haven’t come here to sit back. We’ve come here to play our own game.”

Napoli have conceded only four goals in the group, and defender Raul Albiol suggested that they will need that discipline to thwart Liverpool’s forward.

“It’ll be important to defend deep and be compact. We know that they’re lethal in the spaces — they have strong, quick forward,” he said.

“The mentality is important, we need to think about scoring.

“It’ll be a tough game, a difficult game; we need to be quick mentally and aggressive. We all want to win this game, but we need to be calm.”


Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world, claims all-rounder Mohammad Nabi

Updated 18 March 2019
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Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world, claims all-rounder Mohammad Nabi

  • Maiden Test win give Afghans confidence they can take on anyone.
  • Mohammad Nabi praises spin kings after win over the Irish.

LONDON: Mohammad Nabi has claimed that on their day Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world.
The veteran all-rounder was speaking after helping his side claim their first Test win — a seven-wicket victory over Ireland — in just their second ever Test. Afghanistan, who lost the debut Test to India in just two days last year, joined an elite list of cricketing nations after winning their second five-day game.
Australia won their debut Test in 1877 and England and Pakistan won in their second Test outing.
That has Nabi dreaming that this is just the start for Afghanistan, s long as the batsmen give the bowling attack enough runs to defend on a consistent basis.
“It’s a very historic day for whole of Afghanistan,” the 34-year-old said. “Especially for those guys who bring cricket from zero to the Test cricket. We played two games and we won one.
“When you win then teams will tell you to come and play with them. Nobody plays a weak team. They might think that Afghanistan is weak but not so much that we can’t fight them.
“We have the world’s best spinners and we try to concentrate on our batting line-up. If we can put up a good score on board then we are confident of beating any team in the world.”
While a case of being able to beat any team in the world might be tough to make, it is hard to overstate the significance of the win against Ireland. As with the Irish Nabi’s team only achieved Test status two years ago, they only played their first ODI in 2009 and the confidence and class is clearly oozing throughout the squad.
Rahmat Shah top-scored with 76 and Ihsanullah Janat hit an unbeaten 65 to lead Afghanistan’s successful chase of 147 in the opening session of day four against Ireland in Dehradun in India.
Shah, who hit his second fifty of the match after making 98 in Afghanistan’s first innings score of 314, and Janat put on a match-winning stand of 139 for the second wicket.
Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan also played a key role in his team’s historic triumph after returning career-best figures of five for 82 to bowl out Ireland for 288 in their second innings.
Khan along with fellow spinners Nabi and Waqar Salamkheil accounted for 14 of the 20 Irish wickets to fall during the one-off match between the minnows.
Since overcoming the odds to compete in the 2010 World T20 in England, the Afghan team has managed to qualify for all the major international tournaments and they now await their second appearance in the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
But Nabi insisted a Test win is always special.
“Every format is different. Test has a different flavour to it. We played a lot of T20 and one-day matches and won but Test win was first,” Nabi said.”The way our guys performed in batting and bowling, the kind of comebacks that we did.... It shows we are ready for Test cricket.”