x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fair shakes for Aaron Hunt’s fair play

Aaron Hunt is a prime candidate for a Fifa Fair Play award after his refreshing honesty during Bremen’s 2-0 win over Nuremberg as both sides battled to avoid relegation.

Bremen's Franco Di Santo, left, celebrates his goal with Nils Petersen, centre, Aaron Hunt, second from right, and Zlatko Junuzovic during their match against Nuremberg. Hunt was given accolades after the match for refusing a penalty kick. Bremen went on to win 2-0.  Daniel Karmann / EPA
Bremen's Franco Di Santo, left, celebrates his goal with Nils Petersen, centre, Aaron Hunt, second from right, and Zlatko Junuzovic during their match against Nuremberg. Hunt was given accolades after the match for refusing a penalty kick. Bremen went on to win 2-0. Daniel Karmann / EPA

The Germany midfielder Aaron Hunt is considering his Werder Bremen future despite being hailed for his good sportsmanship after refusing to accept a penalty decision.

Hunt is a prime candidate for a Fifa Fair Play award after his refreshing honesty during Bremen’s 2-0 win over Nuremberg as both sides battled to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga top division.

With Bremen leading 2-0 at Nuremberg on Saturday, the 27 year old told referee Manuel Graefe to reverse a 75th-minute decision when he awarded Werder a spot-kick. Hunt had fallen to the ground inside the area after being challenged by Nuremberg’s Argentine defender Javier Pinola, but admitted there had been no contact. Graefe awarded a drop ball instead.

“Out of instinct, I wanted to provoke the penalty, but that was wrong,” Hunt told Sky Sports.

“I struggled with myself a bit [to say something], but we don’t want to win any games like that, even if we are in a relegation battle.”

Hunt was rewarded for his honesty with a handshake from Pinola and earned plenty of praise for his noble action.

“I take my hat off to him,” said Pinola, while Nuremberg defender Mike Frantz added: “He showed why he’s their captain”.

With his Bremen contract set to expire in June, the English-born Hunt has to decide whether to extend his 13-year stay at Werder, where his career began as a youth player in 2001.

“I need to make a fundamental decision: a lifetime at Werder or something new,” said Hunt, who has made three appearances for Germany.

Werder coach Robin Dutt praised Hunt for his honesty and also commended Nuremberg’s Japan international Hiroshi Kiyotake, who told the referee that a corner awarded to his team should have been a Werder goal kick.

*

*

ELSEWHERE

*

BAYERN MUNICH

*

Manager Pep Guardiola warned record-breaking Bayern Munich to expect “big problems” against Arsenal if they give the visitors too much possession in Tuesday’s Uefa Champions League last-16, second-leg match. European champions Bayern hold a 2-0 led from the first leg in London and warmed-up for the clash at Munich’s Allianz Arena with a 6-1 drubbing of Wolfsburg in league play on Saturday. Guardiola is all too aware that Arsenal claimed a 2-0 win in Munich at the same stage in Europe last season, although Bayern went through on away goals to eventually win the final. “If we give Arsenal too much possession, we will have big, big problems,” Guardiola said. “If we keep the ball, we’ll get into the quarter-finals, if they control it, they’ll go through.”

*

ARSENAL

*

Manager Arsene Wenger said Arsenal can use their march into the FA Cup semi-finals as a springboard for a great escape in their Uefa Champions League tie at Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Wenger’s side cruised into the last four of the FA Cup for the first time since 2009, thanks to their 4-1 win over Everton on Saturday. That stroll in the spring sunshine in north London should serve as a morale-booster before the more-daunting task of taking on reigning European champions Bayern in their own backyard, needing to overturn a 2-0 deficit. “It was important for us to win on a psychological front for a good mind,” Wenger said. “We can be inspired by our focus of the day and we need that same desire to go to Bayern with the same spirit. The statistics are against us going to Bayern. But we have to make sure the performance goes for us.”

*

STUTTGART

*

Bundesliga strugglers Stuttgart sacked coach Thomas Schneider and appointed Dutchman Huub Stevens in his place, the club announced. Stuttgart have slumped to 15th in the 18-club league, three points ahead of bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig, who held them to a 2-2 draw at home on Saturday. Stevens, 60, out of a job since being sacked by Greek club PAOK Salonika in August, will take his first training session today as the club prepare for a difficult visit to Werder Bremen next Saturday. He is no stranger to life in Germany, having previously coached Schalke (twice), Hertha Berlin and Hamburg before moving to Greece. In his first spell at Schalke, he led them to the Uefa Cup in 1997 and the German Cup in 2001.

*

RAJA CASABLANCA

*

The Moroccan club were knocked out of the African Champions League over the weekend just three months after finishing runners-up in the Club World Cup. The three-time African champions defeated Guinean visitors Horoya 1-0 at Stade Mohamed V, only to lose 5-4 on post-match penalties. Raja were among the favourites for the US$1.5 million (Dh5.5m) first prize this year, having greatly exceeded expectations in the Club World Cup hosted by Morocco last December. Midfielder Marouane Zemmama, who had a season on loan at UAE side Al Shaab, was confident ahead of the two-leg clash with Horoya. “Raja are the greatest club in Africa ... I don’t see why we cannot do it [win the African Champions League this year],” he told the BBC.

*

SYDNEY FC

*

Sydney FC lodged an official complaint to the Australian Football Federation over claims from former Iraqi international Ali Abbas that he was racially, religiously and culturally abused during Saturday’s A-League Sydney derby. Abbas made the explosive claims in a post-match interview. “We are not here to attack religion or culture. We are here to play football,” Abbas told Fox Sports. “I come from a different country. I respect everyone here. I should get it back. If I don’t get it back, I’m going to attack.” Abbas was on the end of a number of strong challenges during the incident-packed match, including an apparent blow to the head from Wanderers Italian midfielder Iacopo La Rocca. He had to be physically restrained by his teammates several times but had the last word by converting a stoppage-time penalty to seal a 3-1 win before more than 40,000 fans at Allianz Stadium.

*

*

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE