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Vaart a believer!

Posted: 13 Jan 2011 09:55 PM PST

Spurs' talisman feels they can push for title by beating United

Friday, January 14th, 2011 13:40:00

LONDON: Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart (above) accepts this weekend's clash with Manchester United represents their biggest game of the season having conceded his view that the north Londoners are capable of claiming the Premier League title.

The clash at White Hart Lane is one of the most eagerly awaited of the campaign to date, with entertaining Spurs' free-scoring form in the capital pitted against United's unbeaten record in the league thus far.

While many believe Spurs may not quite be ready to launch a serious tilt for the title, the in-form van der Vaart is of a contrary mindset — firmly of the belief they are capable of pushing for silverware.

"Belief is the biggest word in football. If you believe you can win something, then you can," he told Sky Sports' website.

"I think we are good enough to win the title. We have the squad to do it. We have to respect all the smaller teams too, but I think we can beat United on Sunday.

"At Spurs, we all believe we can win the league. It's a long way, but I believe we can do it because we have such a good squad. We played Charlton in the FA Cup last week and everybody said it was a second team but they are all great players and looked excellent."

If belief is key to success in football then van der Vaart believes Spurs have the ideal man at the helm in manager Harry Redknapp.

Since arriving at Spurs in the summer, at just £8 million, the Dutch playmaker has proved a revelation with 11 goals in all competitions.

And it is Redknapp he credits as being key to his seamless transition to life in the Premier League.

"Of course, I knew of the manager before I came here, but I also knew the players because they have great players so I was aware that I was joining a really good team," said van der Vaart.

"The trainer — or the manager, as you call him here — is key for us. You have to believe in yourself and he helps the players to do that."

Meanwhile, Ryan Giggs is hoping Wayne Rooney can return to the United firing line at Spurs.

Rooney missed the last two games due to an ankle injury he suffered during the 2-1 win at West Brom.

He opened the scoring with his fi rst goal from open play for United since March and Giggs admits the England international is eager for the chance to get back on the goal trail after ending that drought.

"Rooney's got an injury at the moment but hopefully he'll be back for Sunday," said Giggs.

"He had a problem with his ankle but his last game against West Brom he was man of the match.

"Unfortunately he picked up that injury but he's getting sharper and sharper, stronger and stronger, and hopefully he'll be back for Sunday."

Giggs is the only player to have played and scored in every Premier League season and is set to make his 600th league appearance for United against Spurs — extending his record as the club's leading appearance maker.

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King Raja needs a break

Posted: 13 Jan 2011 09:38 PM PST

Friday, January 14th, 2011 12:22:00

PETALING JAYA: National soccer coach K. Rajagobal (pic), who is somewhat of a celebrity these days, wants to be left alone to spend time with his family.

His long and arduous journey with the national team is far from over and before the grind begins again on Feb 2, he wants to savour the precious moments with his wife and children.

The invitations to functions, interviews and public appearances have been incessant.

"There was even a university who wanted me to give a motivational speech. I had to reject them all," said Rajagobal.

"I know they all mean well but I need my private time. I really want to be left alone so I can spend some time with my family. I have been away from them for quite a long time as we had a packed schedule last year. I even missed celebrating Deepavali with my family.

"It's already the middle of the month now and the national team will return to camp on Feb 2. That means I have about 20 days to spend with my family."

The national team's next assignment will be the 2014 World Cup quali ers slated to start on June 29.

The first phase of training is on Feb 2-10. They will play an international friendly on Feb 9 at KL Stadium.

The opponents have not been identified yet. Rajagobal reminded the players and even the fans to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

The Asean Cup victory, he said, was only a means to an end.

"We shouldn't get carried away. I don't deny all Malaysians are happy with our achievement but we still have a long way to go," he said.

2014 World Cup qualifier players/trainees:

Amar Rohidan (Kedah), Mohamad Azmi Muslim (Kedah), Mohd Sabre Mat Abu (Kedah), Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal (Selangor), Mohd Asraruddin Putra (Selangor), Mohd Safee Mohd Sali (Selangor), Safiq Rahim (Selangor), Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Negri Sembilan), Mahathevan Gengatharan (Negri Sembilan), Mohamad Aidil Zafuan Abd Razak (Negri Sembilan), Mohd Farizal Marlias (Negri Sembilan), Kunalan Subramaniam (Negri Sembilan), Mohamad Ashaari Samsudin (Terengganu), Mohd Sharbinee Allawee (Terengganu), Chanturu
Suppiah (Kelantan), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan), Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan), Gurusamy Govandar Kandasamy (Harimau Muda), Izzaq Faris Ramlan (Harimau Muda), Mahalli Jasuli (Harimau Muda),
Mohammad Muslim Ahmad (Harimau Muda), Mohd Fadhli Mohd Shas (Harimau Muda), Mohd Faizal Muhamad (Harimau Muda), Shahrizal Mohd Saad (Johor FC)

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