First Team 1 week ago

Internationals: Sarr On Brazil Clash

Ismaïla Sarr said he has no fear going into a glamour international friendly with Brazil on Thursday.

The 21-year-old forward was named in a 23-man squad by coach Alio Cissé in what will be the Lions of Teranga's first game since the heartbreaking African Cup of Nations final defeat to Algeria in July.

Sarr, who is joined in the squad by Sadio Mané, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gueye, is bidding to make his 18th start (his 24th appearance in total) for his country and is relishing the chance to go up against Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino at the Singapore National Stadium.

“No, [I'm not worried]. Why should I be?” he said. “We have a great team, too. We are strong, too. We have great players. We have Mané and we have Cheikhou Kouyaté. I'm not going to predict the score of the game. I don't like to.”

Sarr has only made one Premier League start for the Hornets since his club-record move from Rennes, but Abdoulaye Doucouré, who knows a thing or two about moving from France to Watford in your early twenties, has seen enough to know the 21-year-old will be a hit in the Premier League.

“He can be very successful here,” the French midfielder told Sky Sports. “He needs more time to adapt in the Premier League, in the country and everything. But he is so happy to be here, now he’s more settled, and we will see the best of Ismaïla soon.

“He doesn’t speak English, so it is very hard for him. He came in a bad moment for us when we don’t win one game [in the league]. So for him it’s very hard but I think he has the quality to adapt in the Premier League and we are here to help him.”

Quique Sánchez Flores gave Sarr his full debut against Wolves and has brought him on as a substitute in the other three games he has overseen since returning to the club as Head Coach.

“We need to protect this player, we need to care about him,” said Sánchez Flores. “He is really young, it is really different the characteristics of this player, it is very different to the Premier League characteristics.

“Here they want to take the player, the defenders, to have contact. He wants space, so it’s completely different but he is a very good player. He understands very well, even though he doesn’t speak English, but he has Capoue like a dad in the training ground.

“He understands everything, he is potentially a starter because he has a lot of skills, physically he is very good. So we need to care about him. When he does play it is because we want these characteristics, even if he is really young, but when he doesn’t play, we need to say, ‘You don’t play, but you are still good’.”


Click here to see who else is in action for their country this international break.

Ladies 1 week ago

Ladies: Watford 3-1 MK Dons

Good things come to those who wait, and that was certainly the case for a thoroughly dominant Watford side who needed a two-goal cameo from substitute Andrea Carid to eventually see off MK Dons.

Much the better side throughout, Emily Hill’s early opener seemed destined to set the tone for a comfortable victory under the Orbital Fasteners Stadium lights at Kings Langley, but a Jessica Driscoll equaliser against the run of play threw a spanner in the works just before half-time.

Undeterred, the Golden Girls stuck to their task diligently and, having already seen a succession of chances come and go, finally put the game to bed with a brace of Carid strikes inside the final quarter-of-an-hour.

It was a victory for persistence and a fifth game unbeaten for the Hornets, whose FA Women’s National League promotion push continues to gather momentum.

It was a dream start for the hosts, who took the lead as early as the second minute thanks to their captain Hill. The defender planted the ball into the bottom corner with her right boot following a Watford corner, a real sign of intent from a confident looking side who were quickest out of the blocks by some distance.

Clinton Lancaster’s team spent much of the opening 45 camped in the opposition’s half, Alysha Stojko-Down showing a tendency to get into scoring positions and a willingness to shoot. The midfielder went close three times – two shots deflected just wide and an audacious third from some distance looping over scrambling keeper Emma Kirby and onto the bar.

All the more frustrating then that in a rare foray up-field, MK Dons hauled themselves level with just three minutes remaining until the break. Watford keeper Nina Wilson got a glove to Driscoll’s close-range shot, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the equaliser.

Only the woodwork denied the Golden Girls an instant reply. Adekite Fatuga-Dada’s header was tipped onto the cross-bar by Kirby, meaning the two sides went into half-time all-square at 1-1.

Perhaps aware of the need for extra ruthlessness in front of goal, manager Lancaster introduced Helen Ward from the start of the second half. The experienced striker – who replaced Katie O’Leary – could have been forgiven for feeling a little weary, having only flown home during the morning from Wales’ international in Belarus last night. The 33-year-old was an unused substitute in the UEFA Women’s Championship qualifier.

The chances kept coming for Watford after the break. Emma Beckett was heavily involved, first heading over then firing just wide of goal, before slipping in Fatuga-Dada, who drew a save from Kirby in a frantic few minutes of attacking play.

Megan Chandler went closer still – in fact we’ll probably never know whether or not the midfielder’s curling shot from 25 yards crossed the line after bouncing off the underside of the bar. Where’s goal-line technology when you need it?

Sooner or later, you felt, the Hornets had to make their dominance pay. Fatuga-Dada looked destined to restore the lead when presented with a one-on-one opportunity, but the winger was denied by Kirby. Then Ward’s placed effort with 70 minutes played was tipped wide by the Dons’ in-form keeper.

There was more than a slice of fortune when the goal eventually came. Substitute Carid’s shot took a wicked deflection on its way past Kirby, but the Golden Girls had earned their luck and were well worth their 2-1 lead.

Carid then put the result beyond doubt with the goal of the night on 89 minutes, firing an emphatic first-time shot beyond Kirby and into the far corner to round off an impressive cameo from the bench, and a successful night’s work for the Hornets.

GOLDEN GIRLS: Wilson (GK); Hill (C), Beckett, Meiwald; Rolandsen, Chandler, Stojko-Down, Vyse; Fatuga-Dada (Scanlon, 84), O’Leary (Ward, HT), Bell (Carid, 59).

Subs not used: Wiggins (GK), Richards.