Pienaar issues warning to Spurs

BY foxsports • February 13, 2011

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."


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