What's next for U-23 coach Donovan Duckie?

By George Davis, Wayne Lewis& Mariah Ramharack August 01, 2019

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  • Low discounts Germany's Euro 2020 chances Low discounts Germany's Euro 2020 chances

    Joachim Low sees similarities between Germany's youthful squad and the exciting 2010 vintage but does not consider his team a leading Euro 2020 contender.

    Victory over Belarus in Monchengladbach on Saturday and anything less than a win for Northern Ireland against Netherlands would confirm Germany's place at next year's tournament.

    A developing Die Mannschaft have won five of their past seven matches and are starting to build momentum after a rocky post-World Cup period.

    Just one member of the squad, captain Manuel Neuer, is over the age of 30 and Low compared the potential of the team to the one that reached the semi-finals in South Africa almost a decade ago.

    But the long-serving head coach moved to temper expectations of a serious challenge for silverware.

    "As of today we have a very talented, ambitious, hungry team with a lot of potential, comparable to the team for the 2010 World Cup," Low said.

    "But we will not be among the absolute top favourites. For that, many players have to be even further along in their development. We're working on it.

    "France, England have been playing with the same players for years.

    "There's the Dutch, Spain… to play for a title is incredibly difficult. But the guys are really good, we have a good base."

    Neuer, 33, will start in goal against Belarus, with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen to take over for Tuesday's final Group C clash at home to Northern Ireland.

    Low confirmed two more Bayern Munich regulars, Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry, would be in the starting XI this weekend following their impressive performances in the club's recent Bundesliga win over Borussia Dortmund. 

    The Bundesliga champions, still without a full-time head coach, are now being linked with an audacious bid to bring Pep Guardiola back to Allianz Arena.

    Asked about that scenario, Low replied: "Pep Guardiola was very good for the Bundesliga.

    "He is one of the best coaches. I don't know if he will come back and whether he wants to [return] is just speculation. I don't know what Bayern are planning, that's their business."

  • RFEF demands resignation of LaLiga chief Tebas after judge shelves Miami match RFEF demands resignation of LaLiga chief Tebas after judge shelves Miami match

    The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has demanded LaLiga president Javier Tebas resigns for putting clubs at risk of "serious sporting and/or economic sanctions" after a judge shelved the league's plan to host a match in Miami.

    LaLiga had intended for Villarreal's home match against Atletico Madrid on December 6 to be played in Florida, United States, but Madrid's Mercantile Court ruled on Friday that the league is not permitted to act of its own accord and its actions "must be agreed and coordinated with the institution that directs football in Spain".

    A final decision is expected in February to determine whether the RFEF can prevent LaLiga hosting matches in the United States.

    But in the meantime, the RFEF is calling for the dismissal – or resignation – of LaLiga chief Tebas for his conduct to the detriment of the Federation and putting clubs in a risky position.

    A statement from RFEF read: "The request to the member clubs of LaLiga to start a dialogue with the Federation is reiterated and the immediate dismissal of the president of LaLiga or his immediate resignation is requested.

    "The president of LaLiga, Mr. Javier Tebas, has filed all kinds of lawsuits (criminal, civil, commercial, administrative) and appeals against the RFEF, in what is considered an attempt to justify his own mistakes.

    "The leader of LaLiga considers that he can act outside the Federation, however, judges, administration, etc ... have found and communicated that this is not possible and that, without the authorization of the RFEF, he cannot organise the soccer competitions in Spain.

    "LaLiga is a competition manager that must adapt its performance to the rules of FIFA, UEFA and RFEF. This attitude that can be considered a total disregard from the president of LaLiga for the rules of FIFA, UEFA, as well as the RFEF, leading to an extremely serious situation and putting LaLiga clubs themselves at risk.

    "In the opinion of the RFEF, this attitude is 'absolutely hostile and irresponsible' against the institution that directs football in Spain and is causing damage to this sport and especially for clubs that are part of LaLiga. It must cease immediately."

    Villarreal and Atletico had agreed for the match to be moved to Miami, with the two parties and LaLiga submitting a joint request to RFEF on October 17, but in doing so, RFEF have told both clubs to expect "serious" sanctions from FIFA or UEFA.

    LaLiga struck a 15-year deal in 2018 with Relevent, the company behind the International Champions Cup, as it looked to take one match per season to the United States.

    But RFEF and the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) condemned the plan and in December Barcelona pulled out of a proposed match with Girona, initially scheduled for early 2019 in Miami.

    Friday's judgement comes just four days after RFEF finalised plans for the revamped Supercopa de Espana to take place in Saudi Arabia in each of the next three years, starting in February.

  • Gareth Bale gets 'more excitement playing for Wales' than Real Madrid Gareth Bale gets 'more excitement playing for Wales' than Real Madrid

    Gareth Bale has further risked the wrath of Real Madrid's notoriously vociferous support by acknowledging he gets more excitement playing for Wales than Los Blancos.

    Bale, 30, joined Madrid for a then world-record fee reported to be worth €100million in 2013 and enjoyed significant success at the club, winning every competition, including four Champions League titles.

    In the most recent of those Champions League successes in 2017-18, Bale scored a vital brace as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but despite his haul of trophies at the club, fans never truly took to the winger, who has also had issues with coach Zinedine Zidane.

    He has received particular criticism for his inability to speak Spanish and a perceived commitment to golf ahead of Madrid, with the Spanish media often focusing on the latter.

    And Bale can expect further scorn from Madrid fans and the media after freely admitting on international duty that he unequivocally prefers playing for his country, who he is away with despite not playing at club level since suffering an injury in Wales' last get together.

    "I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales," Bale told reporters on Friday ahead of facing Azerbaijan.

    "I've been with most of the older players since we were in the Under-17s. It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. It's normal.

    "With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn't change what I do on the pitch.

    "I always give 100 per cent on the pitch wherever I am, that's what I always strive to do."

    Despite the vilification he is often forced to put up with in Spain, Bale insists he takes it all in good humour because he believes many of those criticising have no idea what they are talking about.

    "I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me," Bale said.

    "On one it said triple bogey, and I have never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.

    "Some of the things I have seen… people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So, I just find it quite funny."

    Bale accepts that it might look curious from Madrid's perspective that he is fit to feature for Wales again after a month out of action domestically, but he insists it is a coincedence.

    "I've done my rehab, four weeks training," he said. "Obviously there are two big games and I'm not sure if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes, but I'll do my best to play as much as I can. I fully understand the position I'm in.

    "I've done as much as I can in terms of trying to get back as quickly as I can. We've done 11v11 to try and get some match fitness in me.

    "If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit and training to play. Maybe to them it doesn't look great, but it's just a coincidence that the national team comes around this week.

    "Everyone knows how passionate I am about Wales. We always look to not just qualify for one, we want to qualify for multiple tournaments.

    "It's important not just for the here and now, but for the future of Welsh football. It will inspire kids again and hopefully make more kids play football and make our national team better for the future."

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