‘Proud’ Lampard eyes first Chelsea win in home debut

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2019

‘Proud’ Lampard eyes first Chelsea win in home debut

  • The 41-year-old, Chelsea’s record goal-scorer, is certain to get a hero’s welcome from his adoring fans despite the frustrating start to the season

LONDON: Frank Lampard admits his first match as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge will be a proud occasion, but only a win against Leicester will make Sunday’s homecoming a truly memorable occasion.
After successive defeats in his opening two competitive games in charge, Blues legend Lampard is desperate to get his reign up and running with three points this weekend.
The 41-year-old, Chelsea’s record goal-scorer, is certain to get a hero’s welcome from his adoring fans despite the frustrating start to the season.
A crushing 4-0 defeat at Manchester United in Chelsea’s opening game of the Premier League campaign was followed by Wednesday’s penalty shoot-out loss to Liverpool in the European Super Cup in Istanbul.
Both performances featured moments of promise for Chelsea, but Lampard knows he will be judged on results, making it essential to avoid a third consecutive defeat when Leicester visit west London.
“I’m proud to manage this club. I’ve been back a few times and had great support,” Lampard said.
“It will be an emotional, special day for me but the important thing is trying to get the three points and that’s what I am really worried about.”
“There were good parts of the Man United game that got lost in the result but not lost on me — against Liverpool, we played one of the top teams in the world and really matched them.”
Lampard has only one season of managerial experience in the second tier with Derby, but his strong connection with Chelsea persuaded owner Roman Abramovich to hire him in the close-season.
It was a bold move and Lampard is enduring a baptism of fire after Chelsea sold star playmaker Eden Hazard while operating under a transfer ban that has forced him to turn to the club’s youngsters.
Lampard is still getting settled into the job and he acknowledges Leicester, who opened the season with a goalless draw against Wolves, will pose a stern test to his hopes of a maiden win.
“It’s a big game for us in front of our home fans for the first time this season,” Lampard said ahead of the game against Brendan Rodgers’ team.
“Leicester are very much a team that should be respected for the players and manager they have got and how they have performed in recent years.
“I know Brendan well. He’s a fantastic manager. He’s got a great group of players there. They will be well coached so we are going to have a big challenge.
“Our mindset is important. It’s been a strange two games. We can’t think the strong performance on Wednesday will replicate itself just because we walk out on that pitch. It’s important we tackle it head on with a real focus.”
Lampard was forced to condemn racist abuse of Tammy Abraham on social media after the young Chelsea striker missed the decisive penalty against Liverpool.
It remains to be seen if Abraham returns to the team after he started the United game and was then a substitute against Liverpool as Olivier Giroud came in.
Lampard also has German defender Antonio Rudiger and Brazilian winger Willian back in contention after the pair returned to training.
Rodgers, who worked in Chelsea’s backroom staff during Lampard’s playing career, believes the inexperienced manager will prove a success in the long-term.
“In the games I have seen, Chelsea have played with a good tempo and intensity,” Rodgers said.
“Frank understands the importance of giving those young players a chance, but he also knows he has to win matches and get results, and I believe he will do well there.”


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.