‘No Neymar, no problem’ insists PSG star Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe and Neymar have formed a deadly duo for the Paris club. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2019

‘No Neymar, no problem’ insists PSG star Kylian Mbappe

LONDON: Paris Saint-Germain do not need Neymar to get their hands on silverware and achieve success. 

That is the message from young gun Kylian Mbappe who fired the capital club to the verge of the Champions League quarterfinals as PSG beat Manchester United 2-0 on Tuesday. 

Heading into the clash the pressure was all on the French club. They lost their Ligue 1 unbeaten record the week before to Lyon and on top of being without their Brazilian talisman Neymar, they also took the field without their all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani, who injured his hip during the side’s 1-0 win over Bordeaux on Saturday. 

By contrast, the hosts went into the clash on a high — unbeaten under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with momentum on their side. The match, however, played out very differently to what most fans expected. 

PSG played with nous, patience and flair, scoring two unanswered goals in the second half — Mbappe with the winner after Presnel Kimpembe’s 53rd-minute opener. In truth, if it was not for David de Gea’s usual brilliance in goal for United, the scoreline could have been much better and the tie put to bed before the return leg in three weeks’ time. 

The clash offered up proof that PSG are finally maturing on the biggest stage of all and that they do not need all their stars to shine, according to the brilliant Mbappe. 

“We need to stop with the scare stories. People need to stop being afraid. Of course Neymar is hugely important and Cavani is fundamental to us, but football is played on the pitch and we showed that today,” Mbappe said.

In the absence of the dynamic duo PSG, for once, looked more than the sum of their considerable parts. Even without Neymar and Cavani the side can still boast an attacking array of talents that would be the envy of most sides. Mbappe showed why he has the world at his feet aged just 20 and Angel di Maria again illustrated the kind of drive so lacking when he played at Old Trafford four years ago. But it was the overall team performance from 1-11 that impressed and they succeeded in inflicting a first defeat on United since the appointment of Solskjaer as their interim manager.

“In the second half we came out with the best intentions because we knew they wanted to step up the rhythm and especially get a goal at home,” added Mbappe, whose goal was his 23rd of the season in all competitions.

“We are happy, but it’s only half-time in the tie and we need to continue preparing well, because I think in the last 20 minutes we dropped off a bit physically.

“We have three weeks now to make sure we are ready for the return and ensure we qualify.”

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel has warned his side against complacency, saying: “We deserved to win, and to do so here at Old Trafford just now, I congratulate my team — but it’s only half-time and we still have to play at the Parc des Princes.”

For his opposite number the result was a reality check but Solskjaer said United would not lie down when they go to the Parc des Princes. 

“There is a determination in the dressing room to put this right,” the United boss, currently favorite to get the job full time, said.

“We will give it a go. If we get to half-time with a one-goal lead, that is what we have to aim for.”


Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.