Syria told to focus on ensuring victory against Jordan after opening draw against Palestine

Stange is only too aware Syria cannot afford another slip up against Jordan on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2019
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Syria told to focus on ensuring victory against Jordan after opening draw against Palestine

  • Syria could find no way past an obdurate Palestine side in Sharjah.
  • Draw ensured Palestine secured their first ever point in the Asian Cup.

LONDON: Syria coach Bernd Stange has told his players to focus on winning their next match against Jordan after they were held 0-0 by Palestine on Sunday.
The Syrians were strongly fancied to beat their neighbors but were unable to find a way past Noureddine Ould Ali’s men in Sharjah. That now means Stange’s team have to get a result against Jordan on Thursday to have a chance of progression to the knockout stages.
“Looking back at the game, we tried to do everything. We changed the system and increased the pressure but we didn’t come through,” said Stange.
“We have a strong starting XI and a equally strong bench with Mohammed Osman, Yousef Kalfa and other players but we were playing against a wall of a very organized Palestinian team.”
The German, though, was quick to praise his opposite number, Noureddine Ould Ali and his players for the way they took on Omar Khribin and Co.
“You must give respect when it is due and you must respect the tactics of your opponents. They (Palestine) played very well and made it hard for us to find the target.
“My players are very disappointed with the result. They wanted to give their best for Syria but it’s difficult to play these kind of teams, when they play compact football.
“I can’t blame anybody, just my team for not using at least a handful of clear chances to score. That’s why we are more disappointed.
“That’s football. One-way football over 90 minutes did not bring the result, the three points, we wanted to achieve. And now we have to look forward to the next match against Jordan.”


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.