Saturday Ticker: Ferguson upset with FA and EPL, Mali finishes third in AFCON, and more

Saturday Ticker: Ferguson upset with FA and EPL, Mali finishes third in AFCON, and more

International Soccer

Saturday Ticker: Ferguson upset with FA and EPL, Mali finishes third in AFCON, and more

BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

Sir Alex Ferguson attacked both the Premier League and the English Football Association on Friday, attacking decisions on match scheduling and fitness information leaks.

The longtime Manchester United boss accused the league of handicapping teams involved in the Champions League after the league decided to keep United’s match against Everton on Sunday, reducing his time to prepare the club for its battle with Real Madrid next Wednesday.

When Sky chose the United-Everton match for live coverage, there was an option for the game to be played today at noon in place of the Newcastle-Tottenham match. But when the Champions League fixtures came out and scheduled United-Real for Wednesday, Sky and the league kept the match on Sunday.

“The Premier League agree the contract with TV and they are in control,” Ferguson said. “But they are not giving our teams a chance to be successful in Europe. It is ridiculous to think we are playing on Sunday and Real Madrid have an extra day’s rest.”

Ferguson also went on to complain about the Football Association revealing the fitness of his domestic players while on international duty.

Phil Jones was pulled from the U-21 friendly earlier this week with Sweden with manager Stuart Pearce saying that the defender was suffering from shingles. Earlier this season, England senior team manager Roy Hodgson told reporters that Ashley Young was out with a knee injury before United made an official statement on his status.

Ferguson wants those leaks to stop, saying that the FA should take more responsibility for how injury information is handled.

Here are some more stories on this busy Saturday:

MALI DEFEATS GHANA, FINISHES THIRD IN AFCON

Mali defeated Ghana 3-1 on Saturday to claim third place in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Mamadou Samassa got the Eagles going with a goal in the 21st minute. He was joined in scoring by former Barcelona player Seydou Keita three minutes into the second half.

The Black Stars hit one back late on a Kwadwo Asamoah goal and searched for the equalizer. But Mali’s Sigamary Diarra put the nail in the coffin in stoppage time, securing the country back-to-back third place finishes in the competition. The Eagles defeated Ghana 2-0 in last year’s third place match.

PEPE WILL MAKE REAL MADRID RETURN ON WEDNESDAY

After missing the last five weeks with an ankle injury, Real Madrid defender Pepe will be back in the squad for the club’s match with Manchester United next Wednesday.

Pepe was listed in the team squad for Madrid’s match on Saturday with Sevilla, his first appearance since undergoing ankle surgery on Jan. 2.

The defender’s return will be a huge boost to the injury-plagued Real squad, which recently welcomed back another defender, Sergio Ramos, from his five-match suspension.

QUICK KICKS

FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes racism is a much bigger problem in the world of soccer than match-fixing. (REPORT)

Fans in Nigeria are upset that the country’s AFCON final match with Burkina Faso will not be available on any television station in the country. (REPORT)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels that referees could do a better job in protecting midfielder Jack Wilshere, who suffered another injury scare in Arsenal’s match today with Sunderland. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Your thoughts on Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments? How important will Pepe’s return be for Real Madrid? Agree with Wenger on the referees’ handling of challenges on Wilshere?

Share your comments below.

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