Scottish Premier League

Taiwo: Hibs no one-man team

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Mon, 20 May 2013 18:04:00

The south stand of Roma's Stadio Olimpico will be closed to supporters for one Serie A game after several fans ignored warnings against racially abusing AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

The capital club were fined 50,000 euros (?42,250) last week after a section of fans directed racist abuse at several black Milan players - including Balotelli - in a goalless draw at San Siro.

The Lega Calcio's disciplinary commission also warned Roma to take measures against any repeat of the incident, and has taken further action today after several Roma fans sang abusive refrains about the former Manchester City striker during Sunday night's 2-1 victory over Napoli, despite both teams' appearance in anti-racism t-shirts before kick-off.

The chants began in Rome when news filtered through that Balotelli had scored a penalty six minutes from time in a 2-1 win at Siena.

A statement published on read: "In the 39th minute of the second half, Roma supporters occupying the area of the stadium called the 'Curva Sud' directed chants of a racially discriminatory nature towards the player of another club.

"The decision is to sanction Roma with a 50,000-euro fine with the added obligation they play a game with the 'Curva Sud' closed to spectators."

The Curva Sud can hold 8,486 people and typically houses Roma's hardcore fans - or 'ultras'.

The stadium restriction does not apply to Sunday's Coppa Italia final, in which Roma face their city rivals Lazio at the Olimpico, but to the first home Serie A match of the 2013-14 season.

Inter Milan, who lost 5-2 at home to Udinese, were also fined 50,000 euros as a section of supporters sang racist songs about Balotelli in the 84th minute.

The 27-year-old was one of 10 players offered fresh terms by the newly-promoted League One club at the start of May but Vincent has snubbed the two-year deal on the table in favour of looking elsewhere for another club.

Manager Micky Adams told Vale's official website: "I am personally disappointed that we couldn't reach an agreement with Ashley but that is football and we move on.

"I'd like to thank Ashley for his contribution for his time at Port Vale, particularly in the first half of the season."

Vincent joined the Valiants from Colchester last summer and made 40 appearances this season, scoring eight goals.

Mourinho is expected to take charge of Chelsea again this summer and Real have fuelled speculation about his departure by calling a press conference for Monday evening.

President Florentino Perez is due to speak to the media and will confirm that the club have agreed to let Mourinho leave at the end of the current campaign, according to reports.

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti is in line to replace him, but the newly-crowned Ligue 1 champions are reluctant to let him go.

Club president Nasser Al Khelaifi said: "Yes, we had discussions, he asked to depart for Real Madrid.

"I said it is not possible because he has a contract for one year more, so that is our decision.

"It is his problem, it is not our problem. We have offered him another year more on his contract as well as the one he has.

"When you have a contract, everyone is normally obliged to honour that."

Ancelotti admitted his interest in the Real job at the Ligue 1 awards evening.

He said: "Real is a possibility but I have a year left on my contract. It is the club who will decide.

"We have to decide together. My decision is to leave the club. It is not easy because I have had a very good relationship with everyone.

"It is not the time to explain the reason why I wish to leave the club, and perhaps I will never explain it."

Leigh Griffiths needs just two goals from the Hampden meeting with the SPL champions to become the first Easter Road attacker to net 30 goals in 40 years.

But the on-loan Wolves man's sensational form - which has won him both the Scottish Football Writers' Association's and Clydesdale Bank Player of the Year awards - has been in contrast to the performances put in by some of his struggling team-mates.

The Leith outfit had won just once in the SPL since the turn of the year before ending their league campaign with three successive victories.

But their meek displays led some critics to suggest their points tally which took them to seventh place in the SPL would have been far less had it not been for Griffiths' contribution.

Taiwo, though, disagrees strongly and hailed the input of other members of the Hibs squad.

He said: "Look at Robert Lewandowski at Dortmund or Mario Gomez the season before at Bayern. They are scoring 30 goals a season but no-one is calling them a one-man team.

"Leigh is playing well and scoring so many great goals that have won us games but people say we are a one-man team.

"But if we win 1-0 with Leigh getting the winner on Sunday, you have got the four boys at the back and Ben Williams in goal keeping the clean sheet and that is just as important.

"We know we are lucky to have Leigh because he will probably go on to massive things but at the same time, we have to give respect to the other boys who are doing their jobs too.

"That sort of comment about Leigh being the only player performing for us doesn't anger me - it just makes Sparky's ego even bigger.

"He loves being the top dog and he thrives on it. We let him think that but we all know he's not really."

But former Carlisle man Taiwo does admit that Griffiths deserves his special attention after a record-breaking season.

The Scotland international beat Steve Cowan's mark of 27 goals from the 1985/86 season and will become the first Hibees to bag 30 since both Alan Gordon and Jimmy O'Rourke managed just that in 1972/73 if he musters a cup-final brace.

Taiwo joked: "If he doesn't score two and get to that 30 mark then his season has been a failure - well that's what I keep telling him anyway!

"He's been fantastic all season. It is difficult to replace any player who scores 28 goals in a season but he also brings an enthusiasm to the side as well.

"He's been a bright spark in games when we have not been doing too well and pulled us through.

"Every team needs a talisman, whether it be an inspirational figure like James McPake, Leigh or the big man Ben in the sticks pulling off saves. If they can all help us on May 26 I'll be more than happy."

Taiwo quit League One side Carlisle at the end of last summer before moving to Scotland in September.

His move came four months after the black day that saw Hibs lose 5-1 to city rivals Hearts in last season's cup final debacle.

The humiliation of that defeat still resonates round Edinburgh but Taiwo insists the current Leith crop have nothing to be ashamed of.

Just six of the 14 players who featured in the derby disaster are still employed by the club and Taiwo says those now in place are free from the burden of those painful memories as they look to end the 111-year wait for the trophy.

He said: "The boys who have come in can't be tarred with the brush from last year's defeat.

"But even if the boys who played that day had all stayed, I don't think it would have mattered. If anything it would spur them on to put things right.

"We all know what happened last year. The boys who have come in like myself are playing against Celtic, trying to win the cup after so many years of being away from Easter Road, that's the biggest motivation for us."

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