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Barcelona jets in for a day to beat South African champs

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Andres Iniesta returned to the scene of his greatest triumph in his penultimate game for Barcelona as the Spanish champion beat South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in a friendly in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Iniesta played the first 45 minutes at FNB Stadium, where he scored the goal that won Spain the World Cup in 2010. Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes scored for Barcelona against the South African league winner in a game that formed part of South Africa's celebrations to mark 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon who died in 2013. Lionel Messi didn't start but drew a roar from the crowd as big as any other on the night when he got up off the bench and started to warm up 20 minutes into the second half. He came on for the last 15 minutes, enough time for him to launch a stinging, long-range shot that goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene struggled to stop. It was a quick turnaround for the Barcelona squad, which arrived in South Africa on the morning of the match and was expected to head home again a couple of hours after the final whistle. Barcelona plays its last game of the Spanish season on Sunday against Real Sociedad, Iniesta's farewell after 22 years at the Catalan club. Dembele, Suarez and Gomes all took advantage of defensive errors, with Dembele curling a left-foot shot into net in the third minute and Suarez doubling the lead in the 18th minute. Gomes added the third in the 66th. Sibusiso Vilakazi scored Sundowns' goal late on but Barca was in cruise control. Barcelona fielded two completely different lineups in each half. Suarez, Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets played the first half. Gerard Pique and Philippe Coutinho were in the 11 for the second half and Messi joined the action near the end. Earlier, Messi and the rest of the squad drew hundreds of South Africans to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg at 6 a.m. local time to see Barcelona arrive. Runway workers at South Africa's biggest airport temporarily abandoned their jobs to gather near the plane and cheer the team's arrival......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 17th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: With Mane, Senegal expects to match 2002 run

By Ken Maguire, Associated Press DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — When the World Cup trophy tour reached Senegal, President Macky Sall got the taste of being a champion. It's an experience he hopes to feel for real one day. Turning to coach Aliou Cisse, Sall said optimistically, "It won't be long." That's some pressure for a team making only its second World Cup appearance. Back in 2002, a team of relative unknowns led Senegal to the quarterfinals in a run that began with a 1-0 victory over defending champion France. The 2018 team boasts more recognizable players, led by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. There's also Monaco winger Keita Balde and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. It's a cosmopolitan crew who play all over Europe, whereas the 2002 squad was almost entirely France-based. For a country with so much talent, Senegal should qualify for the World Cup more often. Certainly, the Senegalese thought that would be the case after a wildly successful debut 16 years ago that came with a freewheeling style of play and memorable celebrations. A national holiday was declared after the victory over France. It's still among the best performances by an African team. Cameroon (1990) and Ghana (2010), neither of whom qualified for the tournament in Russia, are the only other African teams to reach the quarterfinals. Senegal's preparations for the World Cup have not been perfect. Two recent friendlies ended in draws with Cisse experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation instead of the 4-4-2 used during the qualifying campaign. Fasting during Ramadan could present training challenges for the Senegalese, many of whom are Muslims, including Mane. The holy month ends several days before their first match at the World Cup. Here's a closer look at the Senegal team: COACH Cisse was the captain of the 2002 team and he has now led Senegal to a second World Cup from the sidelines. On returning to Dakar following a 2-0 win over South Africa to clinch the spot, supporters at the airport picked up Cisse and threw him in the air while singing songs in his honor. So much more awaits Cisse, potentially. Bruno Metsu, the Frenchman who coached Senegal in 2002, is so revered in the country that his image is on a wall of fame in the "Place du Souvenir African" in Dakar. The exhibit highlights achievements of Africans, including Nelson Mandela. Metsu died of cancer in 2013 and is buried in Dakar. Cisse, though, has done his best to downplay the high expectations. GOALKEEPERS Khadim Ndiaye was Cisse's top choice by the end of qualifying. He is one of the few squad members who play in Africa — starting for Horoya AC in Guinea — and at 33 is the most experienced of the goalkeepers. Playing regularly might also give him an edge over others who play in Europe, but as backups. French-born Abdoulaye Diallo was No. 1 at the start of World Cup qualifying but an injury sidelined him and opened the door for Ndiaye. Diallo plays for French club Rennes, but usually as a backup. Don't count out 24-year-old Alfred Gomis. Raised in Italy, he has seen plenty of action this season for Spal in Serie A. DEFENDERS At 6-foot-5, center back Kalidou Koulibaly is Senegal's defensive titan. He plays for Napoli but has been linked to a move to clubs including Barcelona and Chelsea. As the France-born Koulibaly evolved into one of Europe's top defenders, French fans wondered how they let him slip into the national colors of his parents. After a header for Napoli secured a Serie A win over Juventus in April, even Diego Maradona was buzzing about him and posted a photo holding a Koulibaly jersey. The right side seems set with Lamine Gassama and Youssouf Sabaly. On the left, Senegal would love to have Kara Mbodji, but he injured his knee and hasn't played for his club, Anderlecht, since late last year. In his place, Senegal could turn to Papy Djilobodji. Also on the left side, Armand Traore's ability to play defense or midfield provides flexibility. Another option is Pape Ndiaye Souare of Crystal Palace. MIDFIELDERS There's a Premier League look to the midfield. The captain is Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham, who has drawn comparisons to Patrick Vieira. Another stalwart is Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton. Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham) and Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Stoke) were called up by Cisse in qualifying and should play important roles in Russia. FORWARDS Mane, who recently became the highest-scoring Senegalese player in Premier League history, is the key to success up front. He's been overshadowed by the spectacular Mohamed Salah this season for Liverpool, but Mane has been no slouch with his goals and assists. The trick will be who else to plays up front to get the best out of Mane. Keita Balde, Diafra Sakho and Ismaila Sarr are expected to make the final squad. If Cisse wants experience, he could look to the likes of Moussa Sow or Demba Ba. Both are 32 and play in Turkey. GROUP GAMES Senegal starts in Group H against Poland on June 19 in Moscow, then plays Japan on June 24 and Colombia on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Germany gets reality check before defense

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Germany coasted through World Cup qualifying with 10 wins out of 10 and a European record 43 goals before getting a reality check. The World Cup holders haven't won any matches since qualifying for Russia. After drawing friendlies against England, France and Spain, Joachim Loew's team lost 1-0 to Brazil to end a 22-game unbeaten run. Becoming the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their World Cup title now looks even trickier for the Germans. "We're not as good as we're made out to be, or as some think we are," midfielder Toni Kroos said. "There's huge room for improvement." The recent slump in friendly matches could be a blessing in disguise if it eradicates any complacency going into the World Cup. "I'm not worried. In 2014 and 2010 we also lost in March," Loew said. "You can be sure that we'll improve." The first task for Loew's side will be to top Group F to avoid a likely second-round clash against Brazil. Here's a closer look at the Germany team: COACH Loew was assistant coach to Juergen Klinsmann during Germany's "summer fairytale" hosting of the 2006 World Cup and was promoted to the top job after its third-place finish. Loew favors a fast-paced possession-based game, pressing opponents to recover the ball and switching quickly from defense to attack. He has overseen steady progress since taking over, reaching the final of the 2008 European Championship, claiming third place at the 2010 World Cup and reaching the semifinals at Euro 2012 before finally winning a title in convincing fashion at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A disappointing semifinal exit to France at Euro 2016 followed, but Loew laid the groundwork for a successful World Cup title defense by winning the Confederations Cup with a young team of promising talent last year in Russia. Loew hasn't been afraid to test young talent, and Germany's strength in depth means one of his hardest tasks is leaving players out of the 23-man squad. Loew also has the unfortunate tendency to find himself in the headlines for other reasons. The 58-year-old has previously apologized after being caught on camera picking his nose or in other compromising positions during games. GOALKEEPERS The biggest concern is captain Manuel Neuer's fitness. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper sustained a repeat of the hairline metatarsal fracture in his left foot while training last September and hasn't played since. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could well establish himself as the No. 1 with doubts over Neuer's fitness. The Barcelona goalkeeper has overcome a shaky start to his international career and helped Germany win the Confederations Cup. Bernd Leno of Bayer Leverkusen and Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Germain are also options, while Sven Ulreich has been filling in impressively for Neuer at Bayern. DEFENDERS Bayern defender Jerome Boateng faces a race to be fit with a thigh injury sustained in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid in April. Bayern teammate Niklas Suele would be an able replacement to partner Mats Hummels in the center. Another Bayern player, Joshua Kimmich, has emerged to soften the blow of Philipp Lahm's retirement at right back. The modest Jonas Hector will likely keep his place on the left despite Cologne's relegation. MIDFIELDERS Toni Kroos will be among the first names on Loew's team sheet. The Real Madrid midfielder is the driving force behind the side. He will likely be partnered by Juventus' Sami Khedira, who provides more of a defensive presence, with Mesut Ozil in front, flanked on either side by Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus — if the latter proves his fitness. Reus has been unlucky with injuries and has only recently returned to shine again for Dortmund. But Germany has a wealth of options in midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler, Julian Weigl and Julian Brandt all providing ample backup options. FORWARDS Timo Werner seems sure of his place after another good season for Leipzig, albeit with most of his goals in the first half of the campaign. The 22-year-old Werner has seven goals in 12 international appearances, but it's his runs into space and the problems he causes defenders that benefit the team. Loew will likely bring one of Mario Gomez or Sandro Wagner as a more experienced option for Werner, while Mario Goetze is another option to play up front if he gets recalled following a disappointing season for Dortmund. Goetze scored the winning goal for Germany to beat Argentina in the 2014 final. GROUP GAMES Germany kicks off its title defense near its tournament base in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium against Mexico on June 17. The side then faces a long trip south to Sochi for its second game against Sweden on June 23, before wrapping up Group F against South Korea in Kazan four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

No Bull: Buffalo pulls off big upset, knocks off Arizona

Results from the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday (Friday, PHL time): ___ EAST REGION ALABAMA 86, VIRGINIA TECH 83 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Collin Sexton scored 21 of his team-high 24 points after halftime to lead Alabama over Virginia Tech for the Crimson Tide's first NCAA Tournament win in a dozen years. John Petty kept ninth-seeded Alabama (20-15) in it while Sexton struggled during a sluggish opening half and finished with 20 points while shooting 6 of 8 on 3-pointers. Sexton found a rhythm in the second half, including a handful of big shots over the final five minutes to give the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes, with no team ever being up by more than seven points. Justin Robinson scored 19 points to lead the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12). FLORIDA 77, ST. BONAVENTURE 62 DALLAS (AP) — Egor Koulechov scored 20 points and Florida eased past St. Bonaventure, ending the Bonnies' postseason run two days after their first NCAA Tournament victory in 48 years. Jalen Hudson scored 16 points and Chris Chiozza had 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Gators (21-12), who have reached the Elite Eight the past five times they've been in the tournament. A whirlwind week finally caught up with the Bonnies (26-8), who finished at 35 percent shooting but were in the 20s when the outcome was in doubt. Courtney Stockard led St. Bonaventure with 14 points after scoring 26 in a win over UCLA in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday. VILLANOVA 87, RADFORD 61 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and top-seeded Villanova hit 14 3-pointers to rout Radford. The Wildcats (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and led 44-23 at halftime. The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament. TEXAS TECH 70, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 60 DALLAS (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime and third-seeded Texas Tech ended the game on a 13-2 run. Evans' layup with 3:58 left put the Big 12 runner-up Red Raiders (25-9) ahead to stay. Texas Tech will next play the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game. SFA (28-7), the Southland Conference tournament champion, led by eight early in the second half. ___ SOUTH REGION BUFFALO 89, ARIZONA 68 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Wes Clark scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 23 and No. 13 seed Buffalo pulled off the biggest upset of the opening round, rolling over No. 4 seed Arizona. The smaller Bulls (27-8) used their quickness to zip around the Wildcats (27-8), scoring at the rim and on kickout 3-pointers. Defensively, Buffalo neutralized Arizona's size inside by collapsing on the paint, forcing the Wildcats to shoot from the perimeter. Arizona went 2 for 18 from beyond the 3-point arc, while the Bulls knocked down 15 of 30. CJ Massinburg had 19 points and Buffalo shredded Arizona's defense at a 55-percent clip for the program's first NCAA Tournament win. TENNESSEE 73, WRIGHT STATE 47 DALLAS (AP) — Admiral Schofield had 15 points and 12 rebounds as third-seeded Tennessee advanced to the second round by overwhelming Wright State. Lamonte Turner had 19 points and a career-high nine assists for the Volunteers (26-8), SEC co-champions in the regular season after being picked in the preseason to finish 13th in the 14-team league. They'll next play Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. Wright State (25-10) was the Horizon League tournament champ. KENTUCKY 78, DAVIDSON 73 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kentucky didn't make a 3-point for the first time in a game since 1988, but still did enough to top Davidson. Fifth-seeded Kentucky (25-10) went 0 for 6 from behind arc after hitting a 3 in a nation-best streak of 1,047 games. Kevin Knox scored 25 for Kentucky, which next plays the Arizona-Buffalo winner. Davidson (21-12) made 11 3-pointers, led by six from Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who finished with 21 points. LOYOLA-CHICAGO 64, MIAMI 62 DALLAS (AP) — Donte Ingram hit a 3-pointer from the March Madness logo just before the buzzer, lifting Loyola-Chicago over Miami 64-62 in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985. Ingram's long shot came from well above the key. The 11th-seeded Ramblers (29-5) matched the school record for wins from their 1963 national championship team. Loyola was boosted by a pregame prayer from its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. The buzzer sounded as Ingram's shot went in, but officials put 0.3 seconds back on the clock. A desperation pass by Miami (22-10) bounced away harmlessly. ___ MIDWEST REGION KANSAS 76, PENN 60 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Devonte Graham ignited sluggish Kansas midway through the first half, pouring in 29 points and lifting his top-seeded team. Lagerald Vick added 14 points for the Jayhawks (28-7), who trailed the Ivy League champs 21-11 with about 7 minutes left in the first half. Kansas advanced to play Seton Hall. A.J. Brodeur had 14 points to lead the Quakers (24-9). DUKE 89, IONA 67 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marvin Bagley III dominated in his NCAA Tournament debut, pouring in 22 points to go with seven rebounds as Duke rolled. The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year made 10 of 14 shots in 32 minutes and grabbed seven rebounds. Grayson Allen scored 16 points as the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-7) powered past 15th-seeded Iona (26-7). Duke will next play Rhode Island. RHODE ISLAND 83, OKLAHOMA 78, OT PITTSBURGH (AP) — E.C. Matthews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime and Rhode Island topped dynamic scorer Trae Young and the Sooners. The seventh-seeded Rams (26-7) won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and will play Duke on Saturday. Young scored 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting with six turnovers. The freshman scored 13 straight points for Oklahoma (18-14) late in regulation and made two free throws to open OT. SETON HALL 94, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 83 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Khadeen Carrington scored 26 points, Desi Rodriguez added 20 and eighth-seeded Seton Hall won a foul-filled first-round matchup. Myles Powell added 19 points and Angel Delgado scored 13 for the Pirates (22-11), who led the entire way a year after a late meltdown cost them against Arkansas. Allerik Freeman hit six 3-pointers and had 36 points to lead No. 9 seed North Carolina State (21-12). The only thing that slowed down the high-scoring, up-and-down matchup was the whistles. The teams combined for 53 fouls. ___ WEST REGION MICHIGAN 61, MONTANA 47 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Charles Matthews had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Michigan locked down on defense and the third-seeded Wolverines beat Montana in a plodding game. Michigan (29-7) trailed by 10 in the opening minutes, struggled to get into rhythm until late in the first half, and never really went on a big run to seize control of the game. Instead, coach John Beilein's team methodically drew away over a long period of the second half when No. 14 seed Montana (25-8) failed to score. Michael Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie scored 15 points apiece to lead the Grizzlies. GONZAGA 68, UNC GREENSBORO 64 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.8 seconds left to help Gonzaga escape a major scare. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) trailed 64-62 with 1:48 left after squandering a 12-point lead they took early in the second half. Gonzaga, in its 20th straight NCAA tournament, won its first game of March Madness for the 10th year in a row. UNC Greensboro (27-8) was the Southern Conference champ. OHIO STATE 81, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 73 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kam Williams made a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:36 left, then added a trio of free throws after being fouled on another 3-point attempt to lift Ohio State. The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (25-8) built a 13-point lead by reeling off 16 straight points midway through the second half. Ohio State advanced to play Gonzaga. The teams met in November and the Zags romped 86-59. Mike Daum scored 27 points for 12th-seeded South Dakota State (28-7). HOUSTON 67, SAN DIEGO STATE 65 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Rob Gray scored 39 points, including a wind-milling layup that just trickled over the rim with 1.1 seconds left that lifted sixth-seeded Houston. Trey Kell's off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good for 11th-seeded San Diego State (22-11). Houston (27-7) posted its first tournament win since 1984......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 2018

Ronaldo goal gives Real Madrid its 3rd Club World Cup title

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored from a free-kick as Real Madrid claimed its third Club World Cup title after beating Brazilian team Gremio 1-0 Saturday. The Ballon d'Or winner fired his right-footed shot between two players in Gremio's defensive wall, leaving goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe no hope of reaching the ball before it bounced inside the post in the 53rd minute. "(Ronaldo) is always there at the key moments," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "Nobody can do what he does." Madrid became the first team to retain the FIFA Club World Cup title, and collected its fifth trophy of 2017, along with the Champions League, Spanish league, European Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup. Ronaldo celebrated the goal by rushing to Madrid's dugout where he was embraced by his teammates. The goal increased Ronaldo's record to seven goals in the competition. He also scored in Madrid's 2-1 comeback win over Al Jazira in the semifinals. "What am I going to say? The numbers speak for themselves. I am very happy. The team played fantastically well and it has won another title," Ronaldo said. "We played a very good game and deserved the victory." Madrid equaled Barcelona's record of three titles for the short knockout tournament between the champions of FIFA's six continental confederations and the host nation's league winner. European clubs have won 10 of the last 11 Club World Cups, with only Brazil's Corinthians interrupting that streak in 2012 when it defeated Chelsea. Zidane played the same starting 11 from last season's Champions League final in June, when Madrid crushed Juventus 4-1 — led by Ronaldo's double. The European champions outclassed Gremio throughout the match, but the closest they got to scoring in the first half was Dani Carvajal's goal-bound volley in the 20th that was cleared by Pedro Geromel. Gremio had to scramble on several occasions to stop Madrid inside its own area. At the other end, a free-kick by Edilson for the South American champions swerved onto the top netting near the half-hour mark. Geromel had tried to set the tone early on with a hard tackle that left Ronaldo writhing in pain, and hoping for a booking that never came. Ronaldo had a poor first half. He twice erred in short passes with his back heel that failed to reach his teammates, and he squandered a good opportunity when he took too long to shoot when a loose ball fell to him close to the net. All that changed after the interval. Ronaldo baited Jailson into fouling him outside the area with some fancy dribbling, setting up his winner. Ronaldo thought he had another goal moments later, but Karim Benzema was ruled offside before he passed the ball back to Ronaldo. Marcelo Grohe kept his side in the game by pushing Luka Modric's shot onto his post and denied Ronaldo a second goal, but Gremio never mounted a serious response to get the equalizer. Mexico's Pachuca beat Al Jazira 4-1 in the third-place match earlier Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

France to host 2023 Rugby World Cup, stunning South Africa

ROB HARRIS, AP Sports Writer LONDON (AP) — France will host the Rugby World Cup in 2023, a year before the Olympic Games in Paris, after surprisingly beating South Africa and Ireland in a vote on Wednesday. The World Rugby Council disregarded the recommendation of an evaluation report to hand the tenth edition of its showpiece tournament to South Africa. A secret vote by member nations instead saw France, which hosted the 2007 World Cup, beat South Africa 24-15 in a second round. "If you look there wasn't a great deal between France and South Africa in the evaluation report," World Rugby president Bill Beaumont said. "It was very close." It means France will host four prestigious sporting events within six years, with golf's Ryder Cup in Paris next year and soccer's Women's World Cup across France in 2019. The French sports ministry said the decision to award it the Rugby World Cup so close to the Olympics and Paralympics in Paris in 2024 "demonstrates the excellence of the French know-how in organizing major sporting events." The Rugby World Cup final is set to be played at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, just outside Paris. Eight other cities that will host matches: Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse. South Africa, which staged the Rugby World Cup in 1995, has now failed with four successive bids to land the tournament again. Fans gathered in the capital Pretoria expecting to celebrate victory in the vote. Instead, some of the crowd, dressed in the colors of the South African flag, was in tears as they watched the announcement from England. "Why has it gone against the recommendation when most of the unions said they would vote with the recommendation?" Joel Stransky, who kicked the dropped goal that won the 1995 final for South Africa against New Zealand, said on SuperSport television. "What is the point of having an independent auditor if you're not even going to take heed of their recommendation?" ___ AP Sports Writers Samuel Petrequin in Paris and Gerald Imray in Cape Town contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017

South African trader AWOL in $80 million bitcoin ‘scam’

Johannesburg, South Africa — An alleged bitcoin currency scam in South Africa has left speculators with losses of more than $80 million as an investment company admitted Friday its senior trader had disappeared without trace. “This may prove to be the tip of the iceberg with potentially thousands more yet to discover they’ve lost money,” […] The post South African trader AWOL in $80 million bitcoin ‘scam’ appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 25th, 2018

Trump-Kim summit in play as Moon visits White House

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Donald Trump holds a high-stakes meeting with South Korea’s president at the White House Tuesday, talks that could decide whether the US president’s much-vaunted summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un goes ahead. Moon Jae-in jets into Washington on a mission to salvage a rare diplomatic opening between the US and North [...] The post Trump-Kim summit in play as Moon visits White House appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Madrid draws at Villarreal 2-2 before Champions League final

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid showed Liverpool its strengths and weaknesses a week before their Champions League final. Madrid squandered first-half goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in drawing at Villarreal 2-2 on Saturday in its last match before attempting to win Europe's most coveted trophy for a third year in a row. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane aligned what could be his starting 11 for the final against Liverpool, except for giving 20-year-old son Luca Zidane his competitive debut in goal. Zidane left striker Karim Benzema on his bench in favor of starting Ronaldo and Bale alone up front and playing Francisco "Isco" Alarcon along with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as playmakers in front of holding midfielder Casemiro. Madrid showed the same dominant form that has taken it to another Champions League final in the first half at Villarreal. But after Ronaldo and Modric were replaced by Benzema and Lucas Vazquez with half an hour remaining, Zidane's bunch displayed the same complacency and faulty defending that scuttled its Liga title defense months ago. The draw in the final round meant Madrid finished the Spanish league in third place behind Atletico Madrid and champion Barcelona. Bale opened the scoring with a solo effort in the 11th minute, and Ronaldo headed in a superb cross by Marcelo just after the half-hour mark. Fifth-place Villarreal outplayed the visitors in the second half and leveled through goals by substitutes Roger Martinez in the 70th and Samuel Castillejo in the 85th. "We played a very, very good first half, with determination, scoring goals, but the second half was the exact opposite," Zidane said. "The important thing is that we didn't have any injuries and can now rest well for next weekend. We are only thinking about winning the final." Bale, who struggled for most of the season to make Zidane's first-choice 11, has finished the season strong and appears to have earned a spot in the Champions League final. His opener against Villarreal, created when he let Modric's pass run through as he spun around his marker, was his 14th goal in the last 10 rounds. "Gareth has never given up," Zidane said. "He has trained well. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that now he is scoring." Ronaldo's goal was his 26th in the league. Barcelona's Lionel Messi leads the competition with 34. Castillejo snatched the draw after he raced behind Marcelo to receive a lobbed pass from Rodrigo Hernandez. Luca Zidane, who normally plays for Madrid's reserve team in the third divison, stopped his initial chipped shot but Castillejo slotted the rebound into the open net. Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al Dawsari made his Liga debut as a second-half substitute for Villarreal. ASPAS MAKES HIS CASE Iago Aspas made the most of his last chance to show Spain coach Julen Lopetegui that he deserves a spot on his World Cup squad. The striker scored twice to lead Celta Vigo's 4-2 win over Levante, taking his season tally for the league to 22, the most by a Spanish player. Aspas was regularly chosen by Lopetegui during World Cup qualifying. Celta announced after the match that coach Juan Carlos Unzue will leave the club and break his contract by mutual agreement. OTHER RESULTS Uruguay striker Christian Stuani scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season to lead Girona's 2-1 win at Las Palmas. Leganes fought back while playing with 10 men for over an hour to beat Real Betis 3-2 in a farewell of coach Asier Garitano, who won't stay on after a good season for the modest Madrid club. Wissam Ben Yedder gave Sevilla a 1-0 win over Alaves, and Loic Remy converted a penalty for Getafe to beat Malaga 1-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

PBA: Manuel hits the winner as Aces spoil Balkman s return

Five years later, Renaldo Balkman still can't beat Alaska. The Aces spoiled Balkman's return to the league as Vic Manuel scored a runner to beat San Miguel at the buzzer, 105-103, Saturday in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup. 🎥 Manuel 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻 game winner! Aces keep SMB winless, 105-103. #WeArePBA pic.twitter.com/QBHEW8zz3c — PBA (@pbaconnect) May 19, 2018 Down by as many as 22 in Dumaguete City, the defending champion Beermen slowly clawed back, eventually forcing a 103-all tie. However, import Antonio Campbell forced a turnover on Balkman with less than 20 seconds to go, giving Alaska a chance to win. Manuel, who is having a breakout conference for the Aces so far, came through. The Muscle Man finished with a team-high 23 points, guiding Alaska (4-1) to a fourth straight win and a share of first place in thd standings. Four others scored in double figures for the Aces with Jvee Casio finishing with 18 while Chris Banchero got 15. Campbell and Calvin Abueva added 13 points each. Alaska was on a roll heading into this game and dominated right from the start. But San Miguel would storm back with Balkman at the lead. The Beermen though, would ultimately come up short and the champs are now buried in a 0-3 hole in their title defense. Balkman scored 32 points and had 13 rebounds in his first PBA game after five years. Top rookie Christian Standhardinger also continued to up his production, this time scoring 22 points. Marcio Lassiter added another 20 for San Miguel in the loss.   The scores: Alaska (105) - Manuel 23, Casio 18, Banchero 15, Campbell 13, Abueva 13, Racal 7, Magat 5, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 3, Enciso 2, Teng 2, Baclao 0, Pascual 0. San Miguel (103) - Balkman 32, Standhardinger 22, Lassiter 20, Santos 12, Fajardo 7, Lanete 6, Cabagnot 4, Ross Quarters: 28-20, 57-43, 81-72, 105-103.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Fiery Dottie fires 69, paces field by 2

Dottie Ardina bucked tough condition and a rain delay, firing a three-under 69 to wrest a two-stroke lead over South African Stacy Bregman, Korean Min G Kim and two others at the start of the Symetra Classic at the River Run Country Club in Davidson, North Carolina Thursday......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

China to deploy fighter jets to South China Sea — think tank

In a matter of time, China will deploy fighter jets to its artificial islands in the South China Sea, which is expected to significantly expand Beijing’s capability to project power in its outposts, a private think tank has reported......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Long-awaited matchup arrives for Rockets, Warriors

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com James Harden and the Rockets must get past the Warriors to reach their first Finals since 1995. Finally, it’s here. The series the NBA world has been waiting for from the moment Chris Paul requested a trade last summer that sent him to the Houston Rockets to join forces with James Harden has arrived. It's the Rockets vs. the four-time Western Conference and two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors for West supremacy. The Rockets had a feeling they could see this journey through to this point, even when the teams met on opening night at Oracle Arena. Houston was built to beat the champs, and did it twice in their three regular season encounters. Rockets center Clint Capela voiced his opinions on the matchup after a January win, saying his team was superior to the champs. And he’s just as eager for this match up, in which the Rockets hold home-court advantage. “I’m real excited,” Capela said. “This [Warriors] team is going to be hard, it’s going to be a fight. There’s going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It’s going to be a chess game. Of course, we’re going to be ready. They’ve been to The Finals three straight years. So we’re just excited. Everybody's excited about it. I’m sure all the NBA fans are excited about it, too.” The Warriors are fired up, too, and have heard all the chirping. “Now you’ve got to play the game,” All-Star forward Draymond Green said. “You wanted us, now you’ve got us.” The Warriors are attempting to conquer the West for a fourth straight season, but this will be their first West finals without home-court advantage. Doing it against a team specifically designed to take them down just adds to a battle wrought with connections. Harden, Paul, Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all won gold medals together, be it on the Olympic or World Cup of Basketball stage. Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost The Finals in 2012. Paul’s LA Clippers squad in 2014 was the last West foe to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before The Finals. And the Rockets were the team the Warriors beat in the 2015 West finals to jump-start their would-be dynasty. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni pioneered the style the Warriors have used to dominate the league while he was coaching in Phoenix, where Warriors coach Steve Kerr was the Suns GM. The three-pointers will fly from all directions. Both teams are capable of defending at a championship level. The personnel on both sides is ideally matched. Perhaps best of all, though, is that both teams are healthy and without any ready-made excuses overshadowing this showdown. It’s best on best, a test of collective wills between the “cream of the Western Conference crop,” as Curry declared after the Warriors and Rockets each won their West semifinal series just hours apart on May 8 (May 9, PHL time). The NBA world has been waiting on this heavyweight showdown. Now, it’s finally here. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who flinches first, Kerr with his “Hamptons Five” lineup or D’Antoni with his Harden-Paul-Capela trio? Against every other team in the league, the Warriors’ small-ball unit of Durant, Thompson, Curry, Green and Andre Iguodala has a clear advantage. No one else has three shooters like Durant, Curry and Thompson playing alongside the versatile Green and Iguodala. The Rockets come close with Harden, Paul and Capela alongside defensive specialists and three-point marksmen Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker. It’ll be a fascinating study in styles watching them matchup against each other. But advantage Warriors ... until we see someone crack the code against the "Hamptons Five." 2. What’s more valuable -- Houston's home-court advantage or Golden State's experience? Home-court advantage is always preferred. The Warriors know that. It’s been good to them in each of the past three seasons grinding through the West playoffs to The Finals. But it’s not infallible (as the Cleveland Cavaliers taught us, rallying from a 3-1 Finals deficit to take Game 7 at Oracle Arena). Which is exactly why the Rockets need to have the threat level turned all the way up for Games 1 and 2. Lose either one of the first two games at Toyota Center and the Warriors will pounce in this series. 3. Who is the biggest wild card for each team? And, are they capable of swinging this series? It’s Eric Gordon for the Rockets and whichever big man (JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney or perhaps Jordan Bell) that Kerr taps for service for the Warriors. Gordon has to shoot more consistently than he has thus far in the playoffs (34.2 percent overall, 31.4 percent on three-pointers) if the Rockets hope to match the Warriors basket for basket. The Warriors have a big man for basically every season, it’s just a matter of which one will fare best against a much-improved Capela. He has outplayed two more heralded bigs (All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and the Jazz's Rudy Gobert) in each of the Rockets’ series to date. Overall, though, there's too much star power in this series for any role player to swing the momentum for more than a few minutes. The number to know 100.7 --The two best offensive teams in the regular season have been the two best defensive teams in the playoffs, combining to allow just 100.7 points per 100 possessions on their way to the conference finals. In the first round, the Rockets and Warriors held the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs to 5.6 and 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the regular season, respectively. And in the conference semifinals, they held the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans to 7.0 and 16.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the first round, respectively. The Rockets' starting lineup has allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions in its 153 minutes, having forced more than 21 turnovers per 100 (the best mark among lineups that have played at least 75 minutes). The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup, meanwhile, has allowed less than 87 points per 100 possessions in its 54 minutes, and the champs have allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions in 250 total minutes with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the floor together. These teams aren't just here because of how potent their offenses are, and the team that advances to The Finals will be the one that continues to defend at a high level. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Rockets made it their mission to put together a group to avenge their 2015 and 2016 playoff failures, with the Warriors serving as their primary target. They’ve got home-court advantage, an inspired Paul and what appears to be all of the requisite parts needed to interrupt the Warriors’ dynasty plans. But do they have the nerve to snatch it all from Golden State, which took a measured approach to 2017-18 and has seemingly flipped the proverbial with another championship run on the line? Experience over ambition this time. Warriors in 6. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2018

Rockets built to beat Warriors, but defending champs take talks in stride

  LOS ANGELES, United States – The mouth-watering match-up is set, but Draymond Green, emotional lynchpin of the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors, says it will be business as usual against a Houston Rockets team designed to dethrone them. "You know, they have made it known that their team ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 10th, 2018

Makati, Taguig score

MAKATI played just hard enough to beat Parañaque, 69-62, in the South Division in the 2018 Metro Manila Sportsfest 16 years old and under basketball tournament at the Pasay City Sports Complex. Andrey Astor and Paul Russel Isidro joined hands to power the Skyscrapers to victory over the Green Berets….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsMay 4th, 2018

SKorea confirms arrival of F-22 stealth fighters for drill

SEOUL: American F-22 stealth fighter jets have arrived in South Korea ahead of a joint air force drill, Seoul said Wednesday, despite a recent diplomatic thaw with Pyongyang. The “Raptor” fighters previously flew to the South in December when Seoul and Washington staged their largest-ever joint air exercise, days after North Korea test-fired a missile [...] The post SKorea confirms arrival of F-22 stealth fighters for drill appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Talent but doubts for Belgium

By Raf Casert, Associated Press BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium has all the ingredients for success at the World Cup. Romelu Lukaku leads the attack, supported by the creative genius of Eden Hazard and with Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield. Thibaut Courtois is in goal. But for all the exceptional talent, Belgium keeps underwhelming at major tournaments, only reaching the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship. There are doubts throughout the team. Center back Vincent Kompany spends much of his time in the treatment room at Manchester City. Too many Belgian players have morphed into glorified benchwarmers these days after falling out of favor, including Toby Alderweireld at Tottenham, Thomas Meunier at Paris Saint-Germain and Thomas Vermaelen at Barcelona. Axel Witsel and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco do have a lock on their starting position for their clubs, but in the modest Chinese league. It all makes the road to World Cup success seem far from clear for FIFA's third-ranked team. Here's a closer look at the Belgium team: COACH It took a loss to Wales at the 2016 European Championship for Belgium to oust underachieving coach Marc Wilmots and turn to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach with Premier League experience. Martinez led Belgium to the top of its qualifying group with an unbeaten record. But it's unclear how a coach who spent most of his time with teams like Wigan, Swansea and Everton will endure at a World Cup. At least he has already won a trophy, taking unheralded Wigan to the FA Cup title by beating Manchester City in 2013. GOALKEEPERS Having Courtois in goal has made Belgium the envy of world football. Then came the night in March at Barcelona when Lionel Messi beat Courtois twice with shots through the legs to open up the Chelsea goalkeeper to international ridicule for the first time. Courtois will need to banish any self-doubt in Russia. When it comes to doubt, there is plenty of uncertainty about backup Simon Mignolet, who has been banished to the bench at Liverpool. DEFENDERS Previously known for its dour defensive prowess, Belgium added flair with Kompany, Alderweireld, Meunier and Jan Vertonghen. Going into the World Cup, though, only Vertonghen inspires confidence and gets all the playing time he wants at Tottenham. Every time the 32-year-old Kompany takes the field for Belgium, onlookers fear he could come down with another injury. MIDFIELDERS This department is where Belgium's genius resides, with De Bruyne and Hazard dazzling with sparkling moves and piercing passes. Even if their synergy on the field has not been perfect, Martinez has been getting close enough. Now the coach has to figure out what to do with Radja Nainggolan, whose skillful doggedness helped take Roma past Barcelona in the Champions League. Martinez, though, has fallen out with Nainggolan and criticized his sometimes raucous off-field behavior. It means Nainggolan is still not an automatic pick to make it to Russia. FORWARDS The 24-year-old Lukaku is already Belgium's all-time top scorer with 33 goals. All hope is invested in Lukaku staying fit and in form for the World Cup after an impressive first season leading the Manchester United attack, with De Bruyne and Hazard in support. Martinez can also turn to Dries Mertens, the deft, diminutive winger-striker who has been instrumental in Napoli's pursuit of the Serie A title. Michy Batshuayi was just hitting form with Dortmund when he injured his ankle in early April and is racing to be fit for Russia. GROUP GAMES After opening in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on June 18 against Panama, the second Group G game is close to its Moscow base against Tunisia on June 23. The group concludes on June 28 against England in Kaliningrad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

I believe is Roma s slogan vs. Liverpool in CL semifinal

By The Associated Press Roma already erased a three-goal deficit once in this season's Champions League. The Giallorossi believe they can do it again against Liverpool on Wednesday. "We've already shown we're capable of coming back and we should have the belief that we can do it again," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. Liverpool won the first leg 5-2, so Roma needs a repeat of its 3-0 second-leg victory over Barcelona in the quarterfinals to reach next month's final in Kiev. A 4-1 win — Roma's result against Chievo Verona on Saturday — would also suffice. "I believe. That's my slogan and that's what I want to transmit to my players," Di Francesco added. However, Roma will have to find a way to stop its former striker, Mohamed Salah, who scored the opening two goals of the first leg. Security will also be a concern following clashes at the first leg that left a Liverpool fan in critical condition. Italian state police said "special attention" will be paid to the arrival and movements of 5,000 Liverpool supporters in the capital. Wednesday's game is a rematch of the 1984 European Cup final that Liverpool won in a penalty shootout in Roma's stadium. In the other semifinal, Real Madrid will look to protect a 2-1 lead against Bayern Munich on Tuesday as it seeks a third consecutive title. REDS REUNITE Liverpool should have its devastating front three intact for the second leg, with coach Juergen Klopp saying Sadio Mane will be fit after a minor thigh injury. Mane, who missed the 0-0 draw with Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday, will link up again with Salah and Roberto Firmino — reuniting the players who scored all of Liverpool's goals in the first leg. They have scored 28 goals between them in this season's Champions League, more than any other team in the competition. Klopp does have issues in midfield, though, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the rest of the season after sustaining a serious knee problem in the first leg to join fellow midfielders Adam Lallana and Emre Can on the injury list. Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are Klopp's only fit senior midfielders. Liverpool, a five-time European champion, has proved to be the master of the counterattack domestically and in the Champions League this season, so is the last team that Roma will want to be gung-ho against. The Reds did, though, squander a three-goal cushion against Sevilla in the group stage to draw 3-3. MADRID OPTIONS Madrid may not be as depleted as expected for the return match against Bayern. Right back Dani Carvajal is still set to miss Tuesday's match because of a muscle problem, but Francisco "Isco" Alarcon appears to have recovered from the shoulder injury that everyone expected to keep him from playing at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Isco, a key piece in Zinedine Zidane's midfield, had to be replaced at halftime in the first leg in Germany because of a sprained left shoulder. He practiced with the rest of the squad for the first time since the injury on Sunday. If Isco can't play, Zidane will likely start with Marco Asensio, who came off the bench to score the winner on Wednesday. Another player who may be available for Zidane on Tuesday is defender Nacho Fernandez, who had been out for a while because of a muscle injury but also practiced with the squad on Sunday. Zidane rested Cristiano Ronaldo and most of the regular starters in the team's 2-1 win against Leganes in the Spanish league on Saturday. Casemiro was the only player who started in the first leg against Bayern and also on Saturday. "They'll come here with nothing to lose," Zidane said of Bayern. "We'll have to put in a huge performance." BAYERN'S BELIEF Bayern is taking heart from the number of chances it created in the first leg and from its 2-1 lead in Madrid last year before Zinedine Zidane's side ultimately won their quarterfinal in extra time. "I think they were floundering for every cross and for every long ball, so we know what we have to do," Bayern striker Sandro Wagner said. Thomas Mueller, one of a host of players including Franck Ribery, James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski left out of Bayern's 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, says the side is traveling with confidence to Madrid. "We all know that we need a top performance on Tuesday. We all know as well, however, that there's everything to play for," Mueller said. Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez all missed the Frankfurt game through injury. Robben reportedly is still out and won't make the trip, while Bayern hopes David Alaba can make his comeback from a back injury. Bayern, which faces Frankfurt again in the German Cup final on May 19, needs to beat Madrid to keep alive its hopes of a treble after clinching the Bundesliga with five rounds to spare. "We swore that we'd throw everything into the return game," Wagner said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'd play it right now if I could.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Sweden not defined by just Zlatan

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Sweden has shed its major distraction: Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't coming back for the World Cup. The Los Angeles striker, who retired from international duty in 2016 after scoring a record 62 goals in 116 games, will be a spectator from California when Sweden heads to Russia. The Swedes have moved on from the 36-year-old Ibrahimovic. Playing more as a team, they are a tighter and more efficient unit — as shown when they kept two clean sheets against Italy to advance to the World Cup via the playoffs. They beat France in their qualifying group and were undefeated at home. From having a lineup defined by one player, Sweden is now a team without superstars. Here's a closer look at the Sweden team: COACH Janne Andersson took charge after the European Championship in 2016 as the replacement for Eric Hamren, following a coaching career based solely with Swedish clubs. The highlight was leading Norrkoping to the Swedish league title in 2015. The 55-year-old Andersson values organization above everything and has made the national team defensively strong and a force on the counterattack. GOALKEEPERS Robin Olsen has established himself as the starting goalkeeper heading into the World Cup, having opted to play for Sweden over Denmark — where his parents were born. He is tall and lean, standing at 6-feet-6 (1.98 meters). DEFENDERS Ibrahimovic's decade-long reign as Sweden's player of the year ended last year when national team captain Andreas Granqvist won the "Golden Ball" award for the first time. Those who voted for Granqvist might have been influenced by the center back's stoic display in the two-legged playoff victory over Italy, which earned him a last chance to play at a World Cup. At 33, he is the experienced organizer of the defense — alongside the more youthful Victor Lindelof of Manchester United — and plays for Russian club Krasnodar, where the Swedes will be based for the tournament. MIDFIELDERS Emil Forsberg, a quick attacking midfielder who usually starts on the left wing, is the team's standout player and has become a big name in the German league because of his form for Leipzig. He had the most assists in the Bundesliga last season. A relatively late developer, he only made his international debut at the age of 23 so has experience of just one major senior tournament. Sebastian Larsson is the other high-profile player in the midfield, having played for the national team for a decade and in the Premier League with Birmingham and Sunderland after starting his professional career at Arsenal. FORWARDS Marcus Berg leads the forward line in the absence of Ibrahimovic and scored eight goals in qualifying. He remains key to Sweden's plans despite being out of the limelight, at least to European audiences, following his decision to join Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates from Greek team Panathinaikos in the 2017 offseason. He is top scorer in the Arabian Gulf League, showing he is in prime form heading to Russia. Ola Toivonen plays just off Berg and scored Sweden's best goal in qualifying, an effort from near halfway to beat France 2-1. GROUP GAMES Sweden opens Group F against South Korea on June 18. The team will then face Germany on June 23 and finish the group stage against Mexico on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: SKorea wants to avoid 2nd candy attack

By John Duerden, Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Progress for South Korea's players will be avoiding being pelted with candy again on their return from the World Cup. After enduring three poor performances by the team in Brazil four years ago, fans were waiting at Incheon International Airport to make their anger felt. If collecting a solitary point in a group containing Russia, Algeria and Belgium was tough, the challenge looks even more daunting this time with World Cup holder Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F. The road to Russia offered few signs of progress. In the third round of Asian qualifying, South Korea picked up only two points from five away games to leave a place at a ninth successive World Cup looking uncertain. Coach Uli Stielike was fired and Shin Tae-yong was drafted in as a replacement to get the team over the line with two tense goalless draws. As the players celebrated in Uzbekistan, there was criticism at home that the party was undeserved given the unconvincing performances. The country has become accustomed to World Cup qualification since the 1982 failure and there is a desire to see more appearances in the knockout stage. Only twice have the Taeguk Warriors advanced from their group, in 2002 when they made the semifinals on home soil and in 2010 when they reached the round of 16. Performances have improved in warm-up games recently with a change to a 4-4-2 formation partly in an attempt to get the best out of attacker Son Heung-min. Son is the team's shining star and is coming off a fine season with Tottenham in the English Premier League. There are some lesser-known players who can show their worth including Kwon Chang-hoon and Lee Jae-sung, two of the highest-rated midfielders in Asia. South Korea is likely to be more defensive than usual in the hope of keeping out the opposition while hoping the attacking stars may be able to pinch a goal. Here's a closer look at the South Korea team: COACH Shin Tae-yong took the job in July 2017 and did just enough to ensure qualification. Shin's coaching reputation was forged during the 2010 Asian Champions League title triumph with K-League team Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, which led to him comparing himself to Jose Mourinho. A coach who likes to surprise tactically, Shin has experience in tournaments — with the Under-23 team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2017 Under-20 World Cup. On both occasions, South Korea breezed through the group stage before being eliminated in the first game of the knockout round. Shin might have to restrain his attacking instincts to focus on ensuring the senior side is hard to beat in Russia. GOALKEEPERS While there are more options than in the past, the country still lacks a top-class goalkeeper. Kim Seung-gyu is the established No. 1 but the arrival of Cho Hyun-woo on the scene has increased competition. DEFENDERS Shin is not averse to a three-man defense but usually opts to use four. South Korea is traditionally strong in the fullback position with Lee Yong strong on the right, and Kim Min-woo and Kim Jin-su, if fit, competing for the spot on the left. All have the ability to get forward and support the attack. Central defense has been more of an issue over the years but Jang Hyun-soo is a likely starter with another spot up for grabs. Regardless of the personnel, the defense is often undermined by concentration problems and is vulnerability from set pieces. MIDFIELDERS A major question hangs over picking a central midfield partner for Ki Sung-yeung, the captain who is the fulcrum of the team. Han Kook-young has often been an unassuming partner for the Swansea player but sometime fullback Park Joo-ho has been effective there too. The energetic Lee Chang-min has also been staking a claim. FORWARDS Coaches have been trying for years to come up with a formation that gets the best out of Son Heung-min on international duty. At times, the 25-year old Tottenham player has featured on the left, as a second striker and as a lone striker. It looks as if Son will start as part of a two-pronged attack with the other three forwards in the squad vying to partner him GROUP GAMES The first game is against Sweden on June 18, followed by a meeting with Mexico on June 23. South Korea is likely to be relying on collecting points from those games before closing out Group F against Germany on June 27. None of South Korea's group games are in St. Petersburg where the team is based......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

Champions League back in Chelsea s sights as rivals stumble

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea could squeeze into the Champions League after all. In the space of 20 days, Antonio Conte's side has reduced Tottenham's hold on fourth place in the English Premier League from 10 to two points. Cesc Fabregas was set up by Eden Hazard to secure a 1-0 victory over Swansea that gave Chelsea a third successive victory to take advantage of Tottenham's stumbles on Saturday. After Tottenham plays Watford on Monday, the north London club and Chelsea will have three games remaining. Adding further intrigue to the hunt for the three places below newly crowned champion Manchester City was Liverpool slipping to a third draw in four matches. With Mohamed Salah failing to score a 44th goal of the season, Liverpool was held by Stoke to 0-0. Juergen Klopp's priority is protecting a 5-2 advantage over Roma in the Champions League semifinals when it travels to Italy for the second leg on Wednesday. But if the five-time European champions aren't careful they might need to lift the cup again to secure a route back into the Champions League next season. Liverpool is only six points ahead of Chelsea having played a game more than the deposed champion it meets next Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United, which is two points ahead of Liverpool in second place, has four games remaining, starting on Sunday at home to sixth-place Arsenal. RELEGATION SCRAP The three teams in the bottom three staved off relegation, for now. West Bromwich Albion has mounted an improbable recovery under caretaker manager Darren Moore. Matt Phillips sealed a 1-0 victory at Newcastle — Moore's second success in a four-game unbeaten stint — to nudge the last-place team five points from safety. That's where Swansea is, a place and a point above the drop zone. Stoke is sandwiched between Southampton and West Brom, separated by two points from both fellow strugglers. Dusan Tadic scored twice to give Southampton its first home win since November, 2-1 over Bournemouth. Huddersfield isn't out of danger yet, sitting three points above Southampton after being beaten 2-0 by Everton, whose goals came from Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye. PALACE MAJESTIC Cyrstal Palace looked doomed after losing its opening seven games without scoring. The south London club climbed to 11th place — six points clear of the bottom three — after beating Leicester 5-0. Wilfried Zaha again excelled and scored the opening goal and James McArthur doubled the lead before gaining a man advantage in the 55th minute. Marc Albrighton was sent off for bringing down Zaha. The goal flurry came in the last 10 minutes when Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Patrick van Aanholt netted and Christian Benteke struck a penalty. Leicester, the surprise 2016 champion, is six points ahead of Palace in ninth place. BURNLEY FOR EUROPE Burnley can start to dream of playing in Europe after a 51-year absence, with seventh place virtual assured after drawing with Brighton 0-0. The northwest England club is six points clear of eighth-place Everton with two games remaining and a superior goal difference. Brighton moved five points clear of the relegation zone with nine points to play for. PROMOTION PUSH Cardiff has the edge to join Wolverhampton in returning to the Premier League. Cardiff beat Hull 2-0 to reclaim second place in the second-tier League Championship, a point ahead of Fulham heading into the final round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018