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Juventus star can't wait for Singapore

The New Paper | Saturday, Aug 9, 2014

France's national soccer team player Paul Pogba controls the ball during a training session at the Botafogo soccer club's Santa Cruz stadium in Ribeirao Preto.

Despite intense transfer speculation over the last couple of months, Juventus star midfielder Paul Pogba can't wait to start working with new coach Massimiliano Allegri, and create a bit of history here in Singapore.

The duo completed a friendly against an Indonesia All-Star team in Jakarta last night - the Italian giants won 8-1, with Fernando Llorente scoring a hat-trick - and will head to Australia for another exhibition match, before taking on a Singapore Selection side on Aug 16.

The game featuring the Serie A champions will be held at the new National Stadium and it has taken on even greater significance as it will be the first football game at the 55,000-capacity arena at Kallang.

When asked about the historical significance of the game, French international Pogba, 21, said: "It's a good thing - a new stadium. We hope for a good pitch and we hope it will be full when we play against Singapore.

Beauty

"The beauty of going on tour is the ability to reach out to those who follow you from so far away. We can't wait to meet our fans in Singapore."

Allegri added: "We are very proud to play the first football match at the new stadium and we will need to perform well because many supporters around the world will be watching the match on television and many will follow us in Singapore."

English clubs have declared their admiration and interest in Juventus' outstanding midfielders, Chile's Arturo Vidal and Pogba, who both starred at the recent World Cup.

In including them on the club's pre-season tour of Asia, Allegri has sent out a strong message that their future lies in Turin.

"Vidal and Pogba are delighted to be here and I am delighted to coach them," Allegri, the former AC Milan manager who took over Juventus from Antonio Conte last month, told reporters in Indonesia.

"I will try to use Pogba more in attack. He is one of the best young players in the world, with enormous technical and physical qualities. Having said that, there is also still plenty of room for improvement."

Pogba, voted the World Cup's Best Young Player, reciprocated by saying: "Conte and Allegri are two of the best coaches around and the atmosphere was immediately pretty good.

"We are motivated and ready to work successfully with Allegri. Conte's gone and now we have Allegri - we are ready to work together in absolute harmony.

"I am very happy to play for Juve. I am just focused on playing right now; the future does not concern me, I live in the present. I am not thinking of my contract and do not have meetings scheduled with Juventus chiefs. My goal is to continue to do well on the pitch."

With just two friendlies under his belt, Allegri admits there are still many areas to work on as Juventus prepare the defend their domestic title next season, and also vie for the Champions League crown.

He said: "We will be working on the physical and tactical aspects in order to improve and get to know each other.

"I have only just arrived, so we need to start working again on the tactics to try to improve the existing structure that has been working well for three years."

davidlee@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Aug 7 in The New Paper.


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