Pirlo: Balotelli could be crucial to Italy’s World Cup bid

first_imgAndrea Pirlo believes Italy’s bid to win the FIFA World Cup could be dependent on the form of Milan striker Mario Balotelli.Cesare Prandelli’s charges booked their spot in Brazil by finishing top of UEFA qualifying Group B, winning six and drawing four of their 10 matches.Balotelli was an integral part of Italy’s unbeaten qualifying campaign, scoring five goals, and the 23-year-old will be looked upon to help Italy through a tricky World Cup group featuring Uruguay, England and Costa Rica.Experienced Juventus midfielder Pirlo feels the form of Balotelli could be crucial to Italy’s success, but warned that the whole squad will have to be at their best.“We know it’s a difficult group, but I really like the atmosphere in Brazil,” he said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.“Do we depend on Mario Balotelli? Partly yes, but we are all important to the cause. Mario is old enough now, so he doesn’t need advice any more. “He just needs to focus on finding his form in the summer, concentrate on the football and leave the rest alone.”Closer to home, Pirlo is hoping to lift the UEFA Europa League in addition to a third straight league title.Juve earned a Europa League semi-final tie with Primeira Liga leaders Benfica by defeating Lyon 3-1 on aggregate in the last eight, and the club would have the added bonus of playing on home turf should they reach the final.“Benfica did well to reach the semi-final, they have had a great season and are technically gifted,” Pirlo added.“(But) we had a clear objective when we went out of the Champions League and that was to reach the final in Turin. The tournament is not a distraction, as we want it as much as the Scudetto.”last_img read more

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Ghana paying price for phasing out athletes – George Lutterodt

first_imgFormer Ghana Athletics Association chairman George Lutterodt believes roping in experienced athletes could be the solution to Ghana’s woes at international events.It was another washed out campaign for Ghana Athletics at the IAAF World Championships in London. And that will call for another navel-gazing exercise which is becoming customary after major track and field competitions.It looks like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The last time Ghana won a medal was 12 years ago in Helsinki, Finland courtesy Ignatius Gaisah and Margaret Simpson.Gaisah won silver for Ghana at the Championship having a jump of 8.34m while Simpson won bronze in heptathlon with a total point of 6375.Twelve years on and several inquests have gone into why team Ghana have performed abysmally at these outings.And for Lutterodt, Ghana is paying for phasing out old and experienced athletes. “One thing which I can just conjecture is that they got rid of all the old athletes too quickly. 8 years on the team and they got rid of all the old athletes,” he told Joy Sports.“Gatlin, I met Gatlin at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the guy is still winning a gold medal today at the World Championships. Why was there a need to get rid of these old athletes?”“They could have been mentors to the younger ones coming up and they got rid of all of them.”Team Ghana was represented by 9 athletes in London and won no medal.last_img read more

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