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Mo: Turn hurt into success

Mo Marley has urged her England Women’s U20 side to harness the hurt of their World Cup exit to help them achieve greater success in the future.

The Young Lions slipped to a 2-1 defeat by Nigeria which, coupled with draws against South Korea and Mexico, meant they failed to make it beyond the group stage of Canada 2014.

Twelve of the squad could have played at this year’s U19 Euro finals in Norway and seven of them are still young enough to play at next year’s Euros – which also doubles up as an U20 World Cup qualifying campaign.

England 1-2 Nigeria

FIFA Women's U20 World Cup
Group C
Thursday 14 August 2014
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton

Marley said: “I can only be proud of what the players have put into this team over the past couple of years.

“We had no right to finish second in the Euros last year because we had a really, really young squad, but the players excelled and subsequently qualified for this World Cup.

“They were inexperienced at this level and I think that told in the end.

“Of course the players are disappointed now, but the big test is what they do next and what they learn from this whole experience.

“I said before the Mexico game that there is no use in us going out and doing really well in this World Cup but then none of the players make it into the senior squad in the future.

“This tournament has finished but there is a bigger picture. The girls must remember that.”

England went into the Nigeria game knowing a win would guarantee their progress to the last eight and they got off to a dream start when Everton forward Nikita Parris put them in front after just five minutes.

Nikita Parris celebrates the opening goal against Nigeria

Nikita Parris celebrates her early goal

The Africans equalised against the run of play just before half-time, courtesy of Loveth Ayila’s 25-yarder.

And then two second-half penalties changed the course of the match. Sunderland striker Beth Mead blazed her spot-kick over the bar while, just five minutes later, Asisat Oshoala calmly converted her penalty which ultimately ended England’s World Cup campaign.

Marley added: “The penalties were two significant turning points.

“I mentioned it in my pre-match press conference ; that’s the difference at this level. If you get an opportunity you have to be clinical.

“When they equalised our body language changed. We had played so well early on and had gone in front and when they equalised I think that was a big psychological blow.

“But we responded quite well. It was always going to be tough after the penalty but we tried, we pushed. The players had to take risks and that left us open.”

She continued: “I thought we started the game exceptionally well. There were a few things we identified that we could take advantage of and we did that.

“Once we got the goal I think we settled on that, a bit like we did in the Mexico game. We dropped off a little bit instead of taking the initiative and pushing forward.”

Marley, who has now led three different England sides at an U20 World Cup, said this particular squad has come a long way since their opening Euro qualifier in April 2013.

They lost that particular game 5-4 to Serbia, but bounced back with successive 3-0 wins, over Hungary and Norway, to book their spot in the finals – where they eventually finished runners-up to France, a run which also meant they qualified for this World Cup.

Seven eligible in 2015

Jess Carter
Natasha Flint
Gabby George
Caitlin Leach
Ellie Stewart
Leah Williamson
Katie Zelem

Marley explained: “We’ve had mixed experiences with this group of players over the last couple of years.

“It tells you how far we have come when you think back to the Euro qualifiers last year.

“We had to beat the host nation 2-0 to qualify for the Euros. Before that game nobody gave us a chance and we ended up winning 3-0.

“That just shows you that there is quality in this squad and we can normally produce when we need to.

“But now it’s about how the players respond. It’s about what they want for their future England careers.

“I’m sure they have learned a lot over the last 12 months. Hopefully they can use that to make them even better players in the future.”

Julio Grondona obituary

Key ally of Sepp Blatter and one of the most vocal critics of the FIFA reform process, Julio Grondona has passed away aged 82. Keir Radnedge looks back on the career of the 'Godfather' of world football.

With the death, at 82, of Julio Humberto Grondona, FIFA has lost its senior vice-president and finance chairman, Argentina has lost its long-serving football federation president . . . and the world federation has lost its most resistant opponent of reform.

‘Don Julio’ was not nicknamed the ‘Godfather’ of world football without reason. He had headed the Argentinian game – both the football and commercial sectors – for the past 35 years. He died in the Mitre hospital after being admitted for emergency heart surgery.

He was a man and an administrator of his era, having come to power under the military dictatorship. Parliamentary democracy may have returned to Argentina but Grondona’s leadership style and attitudes remained rooted in the autocratic era which empowered him.

He had no time for critics, rivals (of whom there were fewer and fewer down the years), journalists or even his own country’s succession of political leaders; as entrenched president of the AFA he had no need to care for such people.

Yet for all the criticism which rained in on Grondona and his dictatorial style it must also be said that he was never caught – as were Brazilians Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, for example – with his fingers in the world football till.

Also, no accusations of corruption ever threatened him as they did the likes of Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam.

Grondona was there before them and he remained in place and immovable long after they had all departed in disgrace.

However, even Grondona had signalled that his formal control of the levers of power was coming to an end.

He was re-elected in January last year as AFA president but, having lost his wife as well as younger brother and close aide Hector in the previous 12 months, had announced an intention to retire in 2015.

Grondona was born in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, on September 18, 1931. In 1956 he was a founder member of the Arsenal club of Sarandi which served as his initial power base as its president from 1957 to 1976. He was then president for three years of world and South American champions Independiente.

In 1979 Grondona was handpicked to head the AFA by Carlos Lacoste, the army strongman who had headed the organisation in 1978 of the World Cup finals which Argentina had won. He became a member of the FIFA executive committee in 1988.

Under Grondona’s leadership Argentina won the World Cup in 1986, finished runners-up twice – most recently earlier this month in Brazil – five world youth cups and Olympic Games gold in both 2004 and 2008.

Julio Segura, senior vice-president of the AFA and chairman of Argentinos Juniors, has taken over as acting president . . . on the day Alejandro Sabella had been expected to confirm his resignation as national team coach following the runners-up finish at the World Cup.

The start of the new Argentinian season, scheduled for this coming weekend, is expected to be postponed.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in tribute, said: “I feel a great personal sense of loss, because he was a lifelong friend. But it is also a huge blow for FIFA as an organisation, as he was one of its key figures. On behalf of FIFA, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Julio’s family.”

Grondona, as finance chairman of FIFA, was happy with the revenue results which accrued from the politically controversial decision to run bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup simultaneously.

He was no friend of British football for reasons deriving from both his close ties to the military junta of the 1970s and the early 1980s and the outcome of the reckless Falkands/Malvinas ‘adventure.’ Probably the only feature of the FIFA reform process of which he approved was the removal of the British vice-presidency.

Reform leader Mark Pieth made little secret of the obstructive behaviour of the Spanish-language clique within the exco where Grondona formed a formidable liaison with Spanish federation president Angel Maria Villar.

This led, early this year, to a failed attempt within the exco to scrap the ethics investigation into the 2018/2022 World Cup bids.

The England round-up

Jack Wilshere was man of the match as Arsenal were denied victory against Manchester City late on thanks to Martin Demichelis.

The sides fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium in Saturday’s lunch time encounter, but it will be the Gunners who were left feeling frustrated.

England striker Danny Welbeck, scoring of both goals in the Three Lions 2-0 win in Switzerland on Monday,  made his Arsenal debut after his move from Manchester United - and should have celebrated with a goal only to strike a post when clean through in the opening stages.

Sergio Aguero made the hosts’ pay for that miss by firing City ahead before half-time but goals from Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez looked to have secured a memorable victory for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Argentine international Demicelis had the last laugh, however, when poor marking at a corner allowed him to beat Wojciech Szczesny to earn a point seven minutes from time.

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers appeared as a sub for Arsenal

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers both appeared as late subs for the home side, with Joe Hart and James Milner playing for City.

Jordan Henderson and his Liverpool team-mates were left frustrated as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa to Anfield.

Gabby Agbonlahor, who has three caps for England, scored the game’s only goal after nine minutes, securing the points for the Villains – who had Fabien Delph in their side following his international debut this week.

Raheem Sterling and Rickie Lambert came on as second-half subs for the home side, but neither could find an equaliser.

Gary Cahill was in action for Chelsea as they maintained their 100 per cent start to the season. Diego Costa’s hat-trick and a Loic Remy goal fired the Blues to a 4-2 win against Swansea.

Ben Foster had a day to forget as his West Brom side were defeated 2-0 at The Hawthorns by Everton, who had John Stones, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines in their defence. Saido Berahino was in the Baggies side.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster kept a clean sheet for Southampton during their 4-0 victory over Newcastle United. The match also saw midfielder Jack Cork get on the scoresheet for the first time this season.

England U18 international Lewis Cook played the full game as Leeds United drew 1-1 at Birmingham City in the Championship.

And Patrick Roberts, who made his U19 debut on Monday against Germany, was unable to help Fulham going down by three goals to nil at Reading after coming off the bench.

Another member of that squad, Dele Alli, was on the scoresheet for MK Dons as they came out on top of a 5-3 thriller away at Barnsley.

Dele Alli

Dele Alli was on the scoresheet for MK Dons

Jack Whatmough was on the wrong end of 2-0 defeat for Portsmouth at Southend United.

Onto the Under-21 squad, and defender Ben Gibson helped Middlesbrough to a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town.

And Danny Ings’ afternoon was cut short with what looked to be a hamstring injury as his Burnley side drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.

Another forward Harry Kane did manage to get the ball in the net, but unfortunately for him and his Tottenham Hotspur team-mates it was at the wrong end as he scored an own goal in a 2-2 draw at Sunderland. Eric Dier and Danny Rose also featured for Spurs.

Liam Moore showcased his defensive attributes as the centre-back helped Leicester City to a well fought 1-0 win at Stoke City.

Bundesliga preview 2014-15

In the wake of Germany's World Cup triumph in Brazil, hopes are high that the forthcoming Bundesliga campaign will be a memorable one.

The 2014-15 Bundesliga is sure to be a special campaign following the Nationalmannschaft’s imperious triumph at the World Cup.

The euphoria generated by the national team’s first world title for 24 long and frustrating years is showing no sign of abating. The 52nd edition of the German championship will be a unique occasion to celebrate their heroes, cash in commercially, turn even more kids onto football and further raise the profile of the country’s number one sport.

As a consequence of Manuel Neuer’s saves, the goals of Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze, and the classy midfield prompting of Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger, football Deutschland-style is now money-spinning gold. And whether it is a case of the German League negotiating new and improved TV contracts or Bundesliga clubs augmenting their merchandising and sponsorship streams, it is all aboard the gravy train.

“This world title clearly will bring so much more to the Bundesliga,” says Christian Heidel, general manager of Mainz, who are one of the more modest financial operations in the German top flight.

“The status of our game has received a real boost throughout the world and even the smallest of our clubs will profit.”

Not that a substantial rise in attendances is likely. The Bundesliga already boasts the best gates in Europe (some 13 million spectators last season for an average crowd of 42,609 – up 1.7 per cent from the previous campaign) and at the moment there is very little spare capacity. Most games last term were sell-outs, and while promoted Cologne are a fan magnet, the increase in numbers they bring will effectively be wiped out by the relegation in May of Nuremberg, who despite their mediocrity on the pitch, attracted 40,200 through the turnstiles once a fortnight.

Compared to the two previous German World Cup titles of the Bundesliga era, in 1974 and 1990, today’s top flight is in a much better position to inspire, consolidate and grow. Back in 1974 when Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier ruled the roost, football was far from the globalised big business it is now. In 1990, many of the key national-team protagonists – such as Lothar Matthaus, Andy Brehme, Rudi Voller, Thomas Berthold and Jurgen Klinsmann – earned their money abroad.

This year, nine of the team that started the Final against Argentina were Bundesliga employees and therefore every week of the new season will be a mini-World Cup fest; a time for excitement, adoration and passion for winning performance.

It will not be enough, however, for the championship to solely take the form of a Brazil 2014 love-in. What the Bundesliga desperately needs is a multi-handed battle for top spot – unlike last season, when Bayern Munich dominated from start to finish and, in effect, had the title in the bag well before Christmas.

One can only hope for a touch more equality and unpredictability in the months ahead. But while Bayern remain hot favourites for the title, the men from the Allianz-Arena can take nothing for granted.

Domestic seasons in the aftermath of a World Cup are notoriously difficult for big clubs
to cope with and there has to be a concern that Bayern’s many internationals will at some point pay a physical price for the lack of off-season regeneration.

Ideally, Bayern’s management would have preferred to start the new season a week or two later than the scheduled August 22. But the suggestion was overruled by other clubs, prompting Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to claim: “The reason for that is that they saw it as their only chance to cause Bayern problems.

“I would have liked to have seen more solidarity among the clubs who sent a lot of players to the World Cup. Dortmund also sent eight or nine players. At least we didn’t suffer any injuries in Brazil.”

Anti-Munich conspiracy theories aside, a non-Bavarian title challenge is not entirely out of the question. Schalke, third last term, boast an excellent crop of young players who are growing in maturity and assurance all the time – as illustrated by the frequency with which they came from behind to win in 2013-14. Wolfsburg, with their impressive mix of experienced old heads and youthful vigour, are also a force in the ascendency, and under new coach Roger Schmidt, Bayer Leverkusen have the attacking-third weapons to blow any opponent away.

Schmidt wants his new team to press high and attack with gunshot velocity, and such tactics will very much continue to be the modus operandi of last season’s runners-up Dortmund. If the Yellow-and-Blacks can avoid the over-subscribed treatment room of the past 12 months, they will be back in the breakneck blitz business. When it comes to pushing the motivational buttons coach Jurgen Klopp is a genius.

Ultimately, though, the title will be Bayern’s to lose, and knowing the perfectionist ways of coach
Pep Guardiola and the character of Muller, Neuer and Schweinsteiger it is hard to imagine the wheels coming off. Blessed with the deepest of first-team squads, Guardiola will be able to conquer any post-World Cup fatigue with a reshuffle here and some rotation there. Now that Polish striker Robert Lewandowski has signed on the goals should flow in torrents.

Lewandowski’s move from Dortmund to Bayern was not the only switch to set the pulses racing on the Bundesliga circuit. The Dortmunder believe they have repaired the damage up front by paying ¤26million for Hertha Berlin’s Colombian marksman Adrian Ramos and Torino finisher Ciro Immobile. Elsewhere, Leverkusen splashed out ¤14.5m on highly-rated Hamburg attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu; Hertha pulled off a coup with the acquisition of dynamic Swiss midfielder Valentin Stocker; Wolfsburg fought off a lot of competition to recruit Eintracht Frankfurt right-back Sebastian Jung; and Dortmund increased their defensive options by signing Freiburg’s talented centre-back Matthias Ginter.

Full marks, too, to Borussia Monchengladbach for their wheeler-dealing, with the ¤12m received from Barcelona for goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen funding the enrolment of excellent Swiss stopper Yann Sommer, dashing Augsburg winger Andre Hahn, USA World Cup right-back Fabian Johnson – who was a European champion with the German under-21 side in 2011 – and the inventive Belgian midfielder Thorgan Hazard, who has been sent on loan by Chelsea.

The new campaign will feature four recently-arrived coaches. Despite never having taken charge in the Bundesliga, Schmidt’s free-wheeling philosophy looks a good fit at Leverkusen, while the Dane, Kasper Hjulmand, was a surprise selection to succeed the inimitable Thomas Tuchel at Mainz. Former Bundesliga-winning coaches Thomas Schaaf and Armin Veh – at Bremen and Stuttgart respectively – will be getting to grips with major rebuilding jobs at Eintracht Frankfurt and Stuttgart, which are not tasks for the faint-hearted and should they stumble early the knives will be out.

The season after Germany’s last world title, in 1990, newly promoted Kaiserslautern stunned the country by jumping straight out of the traps and winning the Bundesliga shield. But do not expect the this year’s new boys to achieve anything similar. For all their prestige and tremendous support, Cologne are more solid than scintillating, and as for top division virgins Paderborn, survival is the only game in town.

“We’ll be the most extreme outsider in the history of the Bundesliga,” says Paderborn coach Andre Breitenreiter, a striker with Hamburg in his playing days. “We can draw strength and motivation from this. We surprised everyone by gaining promotion last season and will aim to cause another sensation by surviving in the top flight.”

Residents of the smallest ground in the Bundesliga – their Benteler Arena home only having room for 15,000 – Paderborn certainly could not have timed their major league breakthrough better. Good luck to them. They deserve a place in the sun and a chunk of the world championship dividend.

Furious Marcello Lippi stages one-man pitch invasion

World Cup winning coach Lippi incandescent at referee's decision.

Guangzhou Evergrande’s coach Marcello Lippi stormed on to the pitch to confront the referee after the Asian champions had two players sent off in their 1-0 first leg defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals.

The 2006 World Cup-winning Italy coach strode on to the pitch to remonstrate with the Emirati referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed after the midfielder Gao Lin and the defender Zhang Linpeng were both shown straight red cards.

Zhang was dismissed for an elbow on Mark Bridge after 88 minutes and Gao followed in stoppage time after being adjudged to have fouled Saba, the Brazilian.

Lippi was still scathing afterwards, accusing the referee of incompetence.

“The first one I didn’t see very well but the second one was right in front of me and was not a red card,” he said through a translator.

“You know me from the World Cup and the Champions League, I am not like this, I am an educated man. I know I shouldn’t go on the pitch but I just wanted to ask him to explain his decision.”

Lippi’s mood was not helped when he was prevented from speaking to the referee after the match. He concluded the press conference shouting in Italian – with neither his English nor Mandarin translator able to keep up.

“I didn’t want to talk about winning the World Cup or anything, I just wanted to ask him for an explanation,” he said.

Victorious Wanderers manager Tony Popovic had no sympathy for Lippi.

“I don’t know what he’s so upset about,” he said. “We all disagree with decisions but we do it from the touchline. But you can’t have coaches going on the pitch and manhandling players.”

Still, if nothing else, Lippi’s animated reaction shows that even in the autumn of his career, working in a relative backwater footballing-wise, the passion for coaching still burns brightly.

Russia will host World Cup, insists Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter is adamant that the 2018 World Cup will be hosted by Russia, regardless of the political situation in neighbouring Ukraine.

One certain fact about the Ukraine crisis is that, in four years time, nothing will be as it is now.

Hence FIFA president Sepp Blatter has underlined a need for stability and clear thinking in insisting that Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup finals is not up for question.

A European Union discussion document has raised the prospect of adding culture and sport to boycott tools in the dispute over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the military action in eastern Ukraine.

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and several German and United States politicians have also demanded a World Cup bocyott or removal.

All appear ignorant of the fact that the finals are almost four years away and that European qualifying does not start for another two years.

By the time the finals kick off the world political picture will be vastly different with a new US President and probably a new UK Prime Minister (if the UK still is the UK after the Scottish referendum this month) and German Chancellor.

Hence Blatter, who has no time for political boycotts of any shape or sort, said in Austria earlier this week: “We are not placing any questions over the World Cup in Russia.

“We are in a situation in which we have expressed our trust to the organisers of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. A boycott has never achieved anything.”

Asked last week whether there was any risk that Russia could lose its right to hold the finals because of the political turbulence, President Vladimir Putin said: “I hope not. FIFA has already said football and sport are outside politics and I think that is the right approach.”

Russia intends to host the 2018 World Cup at 12 stadia in 11 cities, including two venues in Moscow, although it is likely that at least one venue will be cut back. The 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar.

Both awards were made simultaneously in December 2010 after a scandal-wracked process which has been the subject of a two-year investigation by FIFA’s independent ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia.

A verdict is expected early next month from ethics judge Hans-Joackim Eckert. It is not expected that he will order either a re-vote of removal of either award though Garcia is expected to be highly critical of the bidding process.

The 2018 and 2022 awards were made by the FIFA executive committee. A change in rules, prompted by the scandal, means that future World Cup awards will be made by the full congress of the world football federation.

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‘Eddie Howe is the best’

As his side prepare to kick-off their Championship season at Huddersfield Town this afternoon, AFC Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn believes his club are in the hands of “the best” young English manager in the country.

Eddie Howe guided the Cherries to their highest-ever position last season, finishing 10th in the Championship after guiding them to promotion from League One the previous year.

Howe, 36, is revelling in his second spell in charge at Goldsands Stadium after returning to the South Coast following a one-year spell as manager of Burnley – and it is all down to his “articulate” planning at every level of the club according to Mostyn.

"Eddie is articulate, has an insatiable appetite for learning and he doesn’t leave anything to chance"

Mostyn on Howe

Speaking to TheFA.com, he said: “You say one of the brightest young coaches in the country, but without being biased I believe he is the best.

“Eddie is articulate, has an insatiable appetite for learning and he doesn’t leave anything to chance. The way he works with youngsters as well, everything he does is inspiring.

“He works, plans, plots and schemes – and I think if you ever listen to him speak he is one of the few that always thinks before he says anything and he comes across as the most articulate manager in the Championship.”

Mostyn, speaking while out in Denmark with England U17s as part of his FA Youth Committee Council role, cannot see any reason why Howe should not reach the very top of his profession – but hopes he will achieve all he can with Bournemouth.

“One thing that Eddie always does, and I’d like to think I do too, is work in baby steps – just taking one step at a time,” explained Mostyn.

“To think that he could manage England one day, I wouldn’t want to say that at the moment, but, if his career continues to develop as it is now, then I would think he would stand as much chance as anybody in the years to come.

“It’s whether or not he would want to take that road away from managing a club – but I honestly believe he would want to fulfil all his ambitions with Bournemouth Football Club as opposed to moving to a Premier League side and finding that the grass wasn’t quite as green.”

Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe can realise all his ambitions at Bournemouth according to Mostyn

In an ever-changing financial climate, a number of clubs in the Championship have to rely on producing their own players as they struggle to compete with those teams still receiving Premier League parachute payments.

Bournemouth are one of those according to the chairman, who believes the philosophy Howe is introducing throughout the whole club will be hugely beneficial to the future.

“It’s essential for clubs with limited budgets who are battling all the time, especially with the huge clubs coming down into the Championship with huge parachute payments like this year when the three teams have £23m,” he said.

“You have to develop players through the youth academy and hope that they can progress into the first-team.

“Sam Vokes and Danny Ings at Burnley are two examples of players produced here under Eddie, and of course he worked and continued to help him develop during his time in charge there.

“Due to their prolific goalscoring, Burnley were promoted last season, and that’s the kind of thing that wins titles when you don’t have a lot of money to throw about.”

"Every player wearing a Bournemouth shirt will play his style of football"

He added: “Since Eddie came back to Bournemouth, his footballing philosophy goes right down to the youth team. He made sure that he took overall responsibility for all levels at the club, and he wants all our players right through to play his brand of football.

“There’s no point in the youth team playing one style of football, the academy playing another, then when they progress to the first-team having to re-teach them – so every player wearing a Bournemouth shirt will play his style of football and will be ready for it once they progress to the first-team.”

And ahead of the season’s curtain-raiser, the ever optimistic Mostyn refused to set any targets of promotion.

He said: “We are as optimistic as everyone else, and at the moment we are positive without putting pressure on the players. We finished 10th in our first season in the Championship, which was the highest position in our history.

“You always want to try and better that – but when you look at the teams coming down, it would be extremely disrespectful of ourselves to say that we will finish in the automatic promotion spots.”

Furious Marcello Lippi stages one-man pitch invasion

World Cup winning coach Lippi incandescent at referee's decision.

Guangzhou Evergrande’s coach Marcello Lippi stormed on to the pitch to confront the referee after the Asian champions had two players sent off in their 1-0 first leg defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals.

The 2006 World Cup-winning Italy coach strode on to the pitch to remonstrate with the Emirati referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed after the midfielder Gao Lin and the defender Zhang Linpeng were both shown straight red cards.

Zhang was dismissed for an elbow on Mark Bridge after 88 minutes and Gao followed in stoppage time after being adjudged to have fouled Saba, the Brazilian.

Lippi was still scathing afterwards, accusing the referee of incompetence.

“The first one I didn’t see very well but the second one was right in front of me and was not a red card,” he said through a translator.

“You know me from the World Cup and the Champions League, I am not like this, I am an educated man. I know I shouldn’t go on the pitch but I just wanted to ask him to explain his decision.”

Lippi’s mood was not helped when he was prevented from speaking to the referee after the match. He concluded the press conference shouting in Italian – with neither his English nor Mandarin translator able to keep up.

“I didn’t want to talk about winning the World Cup or anything, I just wanted to ask him for an explanation,” he said.

Victorious Wanderers manager Tony Popovic had no sympathy for Lippi.

“I don’t know what he’s so upset about,” he said. “We all disagree with decisions but we do it from the touchline. But you can’t have coaches going on the pitch and manhandling players.”

Still, if nothing else, Lippi’s animated reaction shows that even in the autumn of his career, working in a relative backwater footballing-wise, the passion for coaching still burns brightly.