Mariga set for Inter debut


ROME, February 3 – Harambee Stars ace Macdonald Mariga has been included in the Inter Milan squad that will face Fiorentina in the first leg of their Italian Cup semi on Wednesday.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho expressed his delight with Mariga’s presence at the San Siro saying that he will provide much needed depth in the midfield.

"I’m happy about his arrival, he’s an extra option in central midfield. Today he trained for the first time," said the former Chelsea boss, who on Monday failed to land the coach of the year award for the 2008/09 season – voted on by his peers – losing out to Cagliari boss Massimiliano Allegri.

Mariga signed up with Inter on Monday after his much anticipated move to Manchester City fell through due to issues in gaining a work permit in England.

"We know he’s just coming back from injury but he seems to be ready to play,” said Mourinho.

"He’s not the finished product but I hope he will be because he’s young. He needs to improve but he’s one for the future as well as the present,” he added.

Mourinho hit out at the Italian Cup schedule ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

Following the game, the teams will have to wait more than two months before playing the second leg in Florence.

"It won’t be easy playing Fiorentina but mostly because the second leg won’t be played until April and who knows what condition the teams will be in then," said the former Porto boss.

"It’s like playing the first half of a match and then coming back two months later for the second period,” he added.

"I don’t even know what result tomorrow night (Wednesday) would be considered good. It might not even be enough to win 3-0 just as it might not be a drama to have to overcome a 1-0 deficit in two months time."

The much-maligned Italian Cup has been ridiculed by the Italian League’s scheduling this season, particularly with last week’s quarter-finals.

The league’s decision to reschedule the last eight tie between AC Milan and Udinese meant that two matches were played on Milan’s San Siro pitch on successive nights with Juventus’s trip to Inter following 24 hours after the Milan-Udinese game.

And now the semi-finals, which are played over two legs though no other round is, will be stretched over two months.

Even so, Mourinho is hoping to add this piece of silverware to his trophy cabinet, although he does not have Cameroon forward Samuel Eto’o available yet following his Africa Cup of Nations duty.