Football: Ibrahimovic ready for Milan derby after COVID-19 infection

Football: Ibrahimovic ready for Milan derby after COVID-19 infection

Europa League - Second Qualifying Round - Shamrock Rovers v AC Milan
AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring their first goal in a Europa League match against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght, Ireland, on Sep 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Lorraine O'Sullivan)

MILAN: AC Milan's veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is smiling, determined and ready to face Inter Milan in Saturday's derby after recovering from a COVID-19 infection, coach Stefano Pioli said on Friday (Oct 16).

The 39-year-old's presence, even for part of the game, would be a big boost for his club, who have won their first three Serie A games of the season without conceding a goal and are unbeaten in 19 matches in all competitions.

"Zlatan has been smiling and is in a positive and determined frame of mind," Pioli told reporters. 

"He's only been training for a week but is feeling fine. He's ready to play, but we still need to assess how many minutes he's got in his legs."

READ: Ibrahimovic 'cured' of coronavirus: AC Milan

One of Europe's most charismatic players, the Swede - who tested positive on Sep 25 and remained asymptomatic - has scored 14 goals in 22 matches since returning for a second stint at Milan in January, helping revive the team.

Pioli has just completed a year in charge of the Rossoneri, although he had a rough start and at one stage seemed unlikely to complete last season.

"Our journey began a year ago, but I can also say that we're still in the early stages: We still have plenty of room for improvement," he said.

"Beating such a strong side would give us enthusiasm and even more confidence in the qualities we have."

READ: Ronaldo 'violated' COVID-19 protocol, says Italy's sports minister

He added that Milan, who have lost their last four meetings with Inter, had learned from their 4-2 defeat in February.

"We drew many lessons from it, while we also proved that we can match them," he said.

"At the same time, we also learned that all it takes is a moment of carelessness to be punished. 

"Since that match, we’ve grown a lot."

Source: Reuters/kg