Pienaar issues warning to Spurs

Harry Redknapp’s side flew into the northern Italian city confident

of grabbing a shock win against the Champions League holders in

last October’s group stage match against Inter Milan. But those

hopes were dashed by a dreadful opening half hour which saw the

visitors go 4-0 down while being reduced to 10 men following the

dismissal of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. Gareth Bale restored some

pride for Spurs when he scored a second-half hat-trick before

inspiring the Londoners to a 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture at

White Hart Lane the following month. Pienaar admits the prospect of

playing in such games was one of the reasons why he moved from

Everton to Tottenham in last month’s transfer window. The South

African, who is likely to play some part in Tuesday’s clash due to

concerns over Bale’s back injury, believes Spurs must adopt a

cautious approach in the San Siro or risk putting their hopes of

qualification to the quarter finals in jeopardy. “The Premier

League is a lot different to the Champions League, it’s more like a

game of chess,” he said. “With the Premier League, it’s an

end-to-end game, with the Champions League it is more like a game

of chess. “We have to be careful that we don’t put ourselves into

trouble quickly and play open and lose the game.” Pienaar’s record

of playing against the Italian giants should be a good omen for

Spurs. The winger won three out of four encounters with the

seven-time European champions when he played for Ajax and scored in

the Dutch team’s 3-2 quarter-final defeat at the San Siro in 2003.

“It’s a huge game for us and we are all looking forward to it,”

Pienaar said. “I have got good memories of playing against AC

Milan. I have played against them four times. “The only time that I

lost against them was when I scored. Hopefully this time we can

win.” Injuries to Bale, Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone have meant

Pienaar has been thrown in at the deep end at White Hart Lane,

playing three out of the four games since arriving in a

£3million transfer from Everton last month. The former

Borussia Dortmund midfielder would have a 100% appearance record

had he not suffered an ugly clash with compatriot Bongani Khumalo

in training that left him with concussion a fortnight ago. He has

adapted quickly to life under Redknapp and is relishing the

prospect of playing in Europe’s premier club competition after a

five-year absence. “It’s every player’s wish to compete there at

the highest level and to have that opportunity at the age of 28 I

consider it an honour,” he said. “So far it has been going well

here. Sometimes I think I’m dreaming. “I’m quite happy with the way

things are going and thank god I can show my talent to the rest of

the world on a daily basis so I’m quite happy here.” White Hart

Lane has been the scene of some pulsating European ties this year,

the highlight being November’s Bale-inspired demolition of Inter.

Pienaar hopes playing at home in the second leg will work to Spurs’

advantage. “Playing at home second will help us, definitely,” the

28-year-old said. “If we get a good result away from home we can

finish them off at White Hart Lane.” Bale, Van der Vaart and Modric

all missed Saturday’s Premier League clash with Sunderland and

Redknapp admits he does not know if any of the trio will be fit for

the San Siro. “It’s difficult to say whether they’ll be fit for

Tuesday,” the 63-year-old said. “Luka has started jogging, Rafa has

a calf strain and Gareth is coming back slowly with his back. “We

have one or two injuries but hopefully it won’t be too long.”