Di Canio: No bids for Ritchie

BY foxsports • January 24, 2013

Mubarak Wakaso's penalty was enough to give Ghana a 1-0 victory over Mali in Group B in the Africa Cup of Nations in Port Elizabeth.

Wakaso scored from the spot in the first half after Emmanuel Agyemang Badu had been brought down in the area at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

However, the midfielder could find himself in trouble with FIFA after celebrating by pulling his shirt over his head to reveal a T-shirt with the words "Allah is Great!"

Wakaso was shown a yellow card for his celebration, ruling him out of Ghana's final group game, and could face further sanctions as FIFA rules prohibit players from making religious or political statements during a game.

In a first half low on clear-cut chances, referee Noumandiez Doue was the central figure and was faced with a number of big decisions.

The first came after just seven minutes when goalkeeper Ghana goalkeeper Fatau Dauda handled the ball outside the penalty area as defender John Boye attempted to shield the ball back to him with Seydou Keita lurking.

However, the referee produced only a yellow card - much to Keita's annoyance - and the same player then curled the resulting free-kick narrowly wide of the post to compound his fury.

Ghana eventually settled and Badu saw his header catch the outside of the post after he had done well to get on the end of a free-kick from Wakaso, who had slipped as he played the ball in.

And just four minutes later Ghana took the lead following another major decision for the referee.

Asamoah Gyan attempted to find Badu in the area and he was brought down by Adama Tamboura, although replays suggested Tamboura had initially connected with the ball as he slid in.

Doue pointed to the spot and Wakaso calmly stroked the spot-kick home, even though goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa went the right way.

Mali had beaten Niger in their opening group game but looked short of ideas and never seriously threatened to get back into the contest in a poor second half which featured more yellow cards than chances.

Ghana attempted to increase their lead and Gyan shot narrowly wide before Badu saw a free-kick pushed wide by Samassa, while substitute Solomon Asante also flashed a shot the wrong side of the post in the closing stages.

His previous contract had been set to expire on January 31, but Vassell has impressed recently-appointed manager John Sheridan sufficiently to be offered the chance to stay at Home Park.

The 19-year-old attacker made eight substitute appearances last season.

The former Scotland international made only four substitute appearances during an injury-hit stint at McDiarmid Park after leaving Hearts in the summer.

A club statement read: "The contract between St Johnstone FC and Craig Beattie has been terminated by mutual consent. The club wishes Craig every future success."

The 29-year-old recently spent time training with Notts County with a view to a move but was not deemed fit enough by the npower League One club's manager, Keith Curle.

Schmeichel was part of the last United side to win the tournament at Wembley in 1999, the second part of that fabulous Treble, after which the Denmark keeper quit for a short stint with Sporting Lisbon.

He left behind a massive controversy as the Red Devils - as European Cup winners - were invited to the first Club World Championship in Brazil by FIFA, a tournament that clashed directly with the FA Cup third round.

United felt it was impossible to fulfil fixtures in both competitions at the same time, and with the FA desperate for Sir Alex Ferguson and his team to represent England in Brazil and curry favour ahead of the 2006 World Cup host vote, the Old Trafford outfit backed out of the world's oldest cup competition.

Looking back, Schmeichel believes it was a big mistake and contributed massively to the shine being taken off the competition.

Speaking to promote 'Dancing with United' on behalf of the Manchester United Foundation, Schmeichel said: "The FA made a massive mistake not letting United sit out the third round when they went to Brazil.

"That would have made everything easy.

"But by leaving the European champions and defending FA Cup winners out of the competition the FA degraded the FA Cup.

"Clubs started to think about the FA Cup in a different way and play their reserves and younger players."

Allowing United a bye into the fifth round was one of the proposals put forward by then Red Devils chief executive Martin Edwards.

When that was rejected by the tournament committee, withdrawal was the only option given Ferguson had ruled out the option of picking a team made up of youth players, fearful of the damage to their careers should United be drawn against Arsenal or Chelsea, who subsequently went on to win the competition.

Only now does Schmeichel feel the competition has got its lustre back.

But he accepts it will never challenge the dominance of the Champions League.

"One of my greatest lifetime ambitions, from being a small kid, was to play in an FA Cup final for Manchester United, at Wembley, and win it," he said.

"I didn't think about winning the English championship. It was the FA Cup final.

"I don't think many players are dreaming that dream any more.

"The FA Cup went through a very tough period, but now it is back and Manchester United have an important game in it against Fulham on Saturday."

There are still problems for the FA though, including the knowledge that should either United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Tottenham draw at the weekend, their fourth-round replays will be held on the weekend of the fifth round as there is no alternative space in the calendar.

However, Schmeichel has more pressing issues to address, namely getting in shape for 'Dancing with United', the club's version of Strictly Come Dancing.

Former United wide-man Quinton Fortune has also confirmed his entrance, whilst Ulrika Jonsson is the latest celebrity to sign up, joining Coronation Street duo Antony Cotton and Jennie McAlpine and Schmeichel's intended partner Camilla Dallerup.

In addition, Gary Neville will be one of the judges, a role he has received such grief for following his damning analysis of David de Gea's performance at Tottenham on Sunday.

"Gary has gone from being one of the world's best full-backs to becoming a fantastic broadcaster," said Schmeichel.

"He has learned to project himself, and that is what judging is all about.

"I have no idea how much he knows of dancing but, knowing Gary, I am sure he will prepare properly, probably watching the last five series' of Strictly Come Dancing.

"I expect him to deliver his opinions with a flourish, probably like Bruno (Tonioli)."

Reports this week had linked the former Portsmouth man with a move away from the County Ground but Di Canio revealed there are no offers on the table.

"There wasn't even any official request and not even any amount of money that they are ready to spend for Ritchie," the Italian told the Swindon Advertiser.

"Some news also came out about what happened last year. Some reports were ?400,000, some were ?500,000, that we rejected. No, last year a club came and they proposed to us nearly ?1million for Ritchie.

"That is the truth. This is the only offer we have had. Last year a club came with a deal close to ?1million. This year we did not receive any offers from any club."

Meanwhile Di Canio confirmed that on-loan Charlton midfielder Danny Hollands will spend six weeks on the sidelines recovering from a microfracture in his foot.


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