Japan down ‘Les Bleus’
France suffered an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat by Japan in a friendly on Friday four days before Les Bleus travel to Spain for a World Cup Group I qualifier. Didier Deschamps’ side toiled in a dull encounter at the Stade de France and lost to Japan for the first time after Yasuyuki Konno poked the ball home two minutes from time. France were shaky at the back, toothless up front and failed to stamp their authority on the midfield in the absence of the injured Abou Diaby and Rio Mavuba. The home team could have taken the lead a few minutes before Konno’s goal but Olivier Giroud’s fine volley was superbly parried by goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. “It’s a bad result. Japan had more opportunities after the break but we also had ours and you can’t win when you don’t score from your chances,” Deschamps told the TF1 television station.
Poles leave it late
A late goal from Marcin Komorowski gave injury-hit Poland a 1-0 win over South African in an international friendly on Friday. Polish coach Waldemar Fornalik, who had to do without injured captain Jakub Blaszczykowski and first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, also kept striker Robert Lewandowski on the bench. Lewandowski’s replacement, Artur Sobiech, failed to capitalize on a couple of chances before leaving the pitch on a stretcher after a collision with South Africa ’keeper Itumeleng Khune in the second half. Poland had chances throughout the game but could not find a way past Khune until the 81st minute when Kamil Grosicki’s cross found Komorowski who scored with a left-footed drive. South Africa found the net in stoppage time when Siyabonga Sangweni’s header went in but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Cuban players go AWOL
Several players went missing from the Cuban team that faced Canada in a World Cup qualifying match on Friday, Cuban coach Alexander Gonzalez said. Gonzalez said he had a squad of 15 players when he left Cuba and that four had since left the team. One of those was sick, he added without elaborating. “As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they are all chasing the American dream,” Gonzalez said after Cuba lost 3-0 to Canada. “It’s difficult to try to keep the team together ... Obviously it’s a difficult situation for the team and it’s tough for me to talk about it.”
Zamperini slates Ancelotti
Palermo president Maurizio Zamperini has launched an attack on Paris Saint-German boss Carlo Ancelotti, saying that he knows nothing about soccer. Zamperini, who has a reputation for the outrageous, was responding to suggestions during an interview with Web site calcissimo.com that he had unloaded a flop on PSG when he sold them Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore. He quickly turned his ire on the Champions League-winning Ancelotti. “Pastore is not a flop, Pastore is a phenomenon. Ancelotti does not know anything about football,” Zamperini said. “And do you know what I say? I’m glad that they lost in the Champions League [1-0 away at Porto], and that hopefully he’ll learn not to play Nene in place of Pastore. I don’t rate him as a manager.” Ancelotti is a four-time winner of the European Cup, having won it twice as an AC Milan player and twice as the club’s manager. Zamperini’s volatile relationship with coaches has earned him the nickname “Manager-Eater” and he has fired 41 coaches in 26 years.