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Brazil and Argentina eclipsed at start of Copa America

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Uruguay, Chile and Colombia impressed at the start of the Copa America, eclipsing hosts Brazil and embattled Argentina early in the South American tournament. In the first round of matches, the continent's top powerhouses showed signs of weakness, prompting early doubts about their title chances. Brazil was booed by its own fans after a slow start in the 3-0 win against Bolivia, while Lionel Messi's Argentina was dominated in a 2-0 loss to Colombia. Uruguay and Chile, meanwhile, comfortably won their matches 4-0, over Ecuador and Japan, respectively. Here's a look at how the top teams fared in their opening games in the Copa America in Brazil. TOP PERFORMANCES With Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in form, Uruguay routed Ecuador in Belo Horizonte on Sunday. The first goal, by Nicolas Lodeiro, was one of the best of the tournament, with the midfielder controlling a pass from Suarez with his thigh before lobbing the ball over a defender and firing a shot into the net. The second, by Cavani, was also a beauty. The Paris Saint-Germain forward scored with an acrobatic volley from near the penalty spot after meeting a delivery into the area. Suarez later added the third goal before halftime, and the fourth was an own goal in the second half. Uruguay played well from the start at the Mineirao Stadium, though it was at a greater advantage after Ecuadorean Jose Quintero was sent off in the 24th minute. Two-time defending champion Chile also eased to victory over Japan, which has brought a young squad focused on the Olympic tournament at home next year. The veteran Chileans won Monday's match in Sao Paulo with two goals by Eduardo Vargas, one by Alexis Sanchez and another by Erick Pulgar. Colombia didn't have such an easy time against Argentina on Saturday in Salvador, but it showed its strength by closing out the match with two second-half goals by Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata. The first goal came thanks to a great long pass by James Rodriguez, who got the better of Lionel Messi in the opener at the Arena Fonte Nova. DISAPPOINTING FAVORITES Argentina, still trying to end its title drought, endured its first defeat in a Copa America opener since 1979. It was also its first defeat to Colombia in 12 years. Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria — the only remaining players from the teams that lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016 — couldn't lead the team to the opening victory in Brazil. Now the Argentines need a good result against Paraguay on Wednesday in Belo Horizonte to avoid the risk of an early elimination. Without the injured Neymar, Brazil managed to get the victory against Bolivia on Friday but the team was jeered by the home fans at Morumbi Stadium after struggling in the first half. Philippe Coutinho, taking over Neymar's leading role, scored twice early in the second half, including from a penalty awarded by video review. Substitute Everton closed the scoring late in the game. LOW ATTENDANCE The first round of matches was marked by low attendances. The biggest crowd was at Brazil's opener, when nearly 50,000 fans made it to the Morumbi. It was a disappointing crowd, though, as organizers had announced that nearly 70,000 fans were expected. The average attendance for the first six matches was about 25,000, but a couple of games had less than 15,000 spectators — Uruguay vs. Ecuador and Venezuela vs. Peru. BIGGEST DRAMA The 2-2 draw between Paraguay and Qatar was the most exciting match of the first round, with the South Americans squandering a 2-0 lead late in the second half. BIGGEST SNOOZE The least exciting match was the scoreless draw between Peru and Venezuela in Porto Alegre, in front of only 13,370 fans. Peru had two goals disallowed by video review. ___ AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report from Sao Paulo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 19th, 2019

Host Brazil still looking for right balance in Copa América

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — After escaping an embarrassing elimination, Brazil is trying to find the right balance for the rest of the Copa América at home. Brazil has been playing solidly on defense from the start, but has struggled in attack against teams with tight defensive systems. It was the case against Paraguay on Thursday in their quarterfinal in Porto Alegre, where Brazil needed a penalty shootout to advance after being held to 0-0 despite playing most of the second half with an extra man. Without the injured Neymar, Brazil has already endured difficulties against Bolivia and Venezuela in the group stage, drawing boos from the local fans. The exception was the match against Peru in the final group game, when Brazil scored early to open up the defense en route to a comfortable 5-0 rout. That victory oosted the team's confidence and raised hopes that coach Tite had found a solution to end the attacking slump. But despite playing with the same attackers who impressed against Peru, including youngsters Gabriel Jesus and Everton, the team struggled to find the net again. "The ball wasn't reaching the forwards," Tite said. "They defended very well in the first half. We made some adjustments and started creating more opportunities, and after the red card we tried to take advantage of that." Brazil pressed nearly full-time after gaining the man advantage in the 58th minute, but couldn't find a way to break the Paraguayan defense and a good performance by goalkeeper Roberto "Gatito" Fernández. Tite said the poor field at Arena Grêmio also didn't help his more technical attacking players. Brazil's defense — led by Dani Alves, Filipe Luis and Thiago Silva — was solid again, and is yet to concede a goal after four matches. Colombia, which plays Chile in the other quarterfinal on Friday, is the only other team yet to concede. Next up for Brazil will be Lionel Messi's Argentina or Venezuela, which meet on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil also suffered against Venezuela in the group stage, being held to a scoreless draw in Salvador. Argentina could theoretically give Brazil a better matchup in the semifinals, as it's not likely to play as defensively as Venezuela did in the group stage. "(Argentina) is a team with great individual quality," said Tite, who is under pressure to win the tournament at home a year after Brazil's World Cup elimination in the quarterfinals. Coach Dunga, Tite's predecessor, was fired in 2016 after Brazil's elimination in the Copa América. "It's part of the job as a coach, (this pressure) it's inevitable," Tite said. "The most important thing is to keep working normally.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2019

Brazil beats Paraguay in shootout in Copa América quarters

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Facing early elimination in the Copa América at home, Brazil finally found a way to get past Paraguay in a penalty shootout. After two consecutive eliminations against its southern neighbor, Brazil came out on top on penalties on Thursday to avoid an embarrassing elimination in the quarterfinals of the South American tournament. Goalkeeper Alisson made a save and Gabriel Jesus scored the decisive penalty as Brazil defeated Paraguay 4-3 in the shootout to return to the semifinals for the first time since 2007. Alisson dived to his left to stop the initial penalty by defender Gustavo Gómez, and Gabriel Jesus sealed the victory to keep Brazil on track for its first Copa América title since 2007. Brazil will next face either Venezuela or Argentina, which play on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil had lost to Paraguay the last two times the teams met in the Copa América quarterfinals, in 2011 and 2015, both times in penalty shootouts. Derlis González also missed from the spot for Paraguay, while Roberto Firmino failed to score for Brazil. Both players sent their shots wide. González, who also missed a penalty in Paraguay's 1-1 draw against Argentina in the group stage, had scored the decisive goal in the 2015 shootout. He was one of the five players back from that team that eliminated Brazil. Willian, Marquinhos and Philippe Coutinho converted their penalties for Brazil, while Miguel Almirón, Bruno Valdez and Rodrigo Rojas netted for Paraguay. "My teammates did their part, they took on the responsibility and succeeded. That was crucial," Alisson said. "This was an important step toward our goal of winning the South American title." Gabriel Jesus had missed a late penalty in Brazil's 5-0 rout of Peru in its last group game, but calmly found the net with his shot from the spot as Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto "Gatito" Fernández went the other way, igniting the Brazilian crowd of more than 48,000 at the Arena Grêmio. "I was confident, I knew that if I took the penalty the way I'm used to taking it, I would have more chances of scoring," Gabriel Jesus said. "I was upset after the other match because I didn't take the shot my own way. This time I waited for the goalkeeper to move and just sent the ball the other way." Gatito had been key in regulation as the visitors held on to a 0-0 draw despite having a defender sent off in the 58th minute. In the Copa America quarterfinals, extra time is not played and the match proceeded straight to penalties. Paraguay played with 10 men after Fabián Balbuena was sent off for a foul that was initially called a penalty kick but was reversed after video review determined the foul happened outside the area. "We have to be proud of the character shown by this team," said Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo, an Argentine. "We could have been rewarded with a wonderful and heroic triumph in the penalty shootout, but that doesn't take anything away from my players' great performance." Brazil controlled possession but struggled to create scoring opportunities against Paraguay's solid defensive system. The visitors had one of the best chances of the first half when González's close-range shot was saved by Alisson. Brazil pressed nearly full-time after Balbuena was sent off, but couldn't capitalize on its many opportunities. Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho, Everton and Firmino all missed great chances in front of the goal. Fernández made a great reflex save on a close-range header by Alex Sandro near the end of the match, and in the 90th Fernández could only watch as a low shot by Willian struck the post. Brazil coach Tite said the poor field conditions didn't help Brazil's attack. "It's absurd to have to play on a field where it's difficult to exchange passes," Tite said. Despite reaching the semifinals in 2015 and finishing runner-up in 2011, Paraguay has won only one of its last 21 matches in the Copa América, taking advantage of penalty shootouts to advance. Paraguay reached the last eight this year with only two points, finishing as one of the two best third-place teams from the three groups. Paraguay and Brazil failed to make it out of the group stage in the 2016 Copa América. An eight-time South American champion, Brazil has won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989. Brazil's Neymar, dropped from the squad because of an ankle injury sustained just before the tournament, watched from the tribunes at the Arena Grêmio......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2019

Copa America guests Japan, Qatar still in contention

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Copa America guest teams Japan and Qatar are still in contention as the last round of group stage matches begins, and some of their South American opponents aren't too pleased. Qatar and Japan, who met in the Asian Cup final in February, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each of the three groups qualifies for the quarterfinals but only the two best third-place finishers advance. If winless Argentina is prematurely eliminated, Group B rival Qatar could be responsible after being given entry to the Copa America to help preparations for the 2022 World Cup. Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0. "We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing," Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. "Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding." Sanchez's team on Sunday has the chance to upset Lionel Messi's Argentina, which has only one point from two games. "It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina," said Sanchez, whose contract was extended until 2022 after winning the Asian Cup. "It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage." The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year's Copa, which is being hosted by Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be another guest side. Japan has brought an under-23 team to Brazil that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel is particularly upset with Japan's decision to bring its Olympic team. "I do not agree that a guest like Japan gives due importance to its participation by coming with players that are mostly under 23," Dudamel said Saturday after Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 and qualified to the quarterfinals of Copa America. "I raise my voice and say Copa America needs to be only for South American teams," he added. "We have not seen South American teams be invited to the African Cup of Nations, tournaments in Europe... We have to respect the hierarchy that we have historically built." There is nothing unusual about guest teams being invited to the Copa America. Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan have all contested past editions. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001. Still, Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn't like the idea of teams outside of the Americas being given slots. "Playing among all American teams, that is logic," Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. "We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams." Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America. "We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup," Tabarez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Copa America guests still alive before final decisive games

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Both Copa America guests are still alive as the last round of group stage matches begins, a feature that doesn't seem to please some of their South American opponents. Qatar and Japan, who this year played in the Asian Cup final, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each group and the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarterfinals. If Argentina is prematurely eliminated, it will be because of Qataris with little international experience who are preparing for the 2022 World Cup. Japan sent to Brazil an under-23 team that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year. Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0. "We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing," Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. "Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding." After winning the Asian Cup, Sanchez's contract was extended until the end of the next World Cup. On Sunday, his team will have the chance to upset Lionel Messi. "It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina," Sanchez said. "It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage." The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year's Copa, split between Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be a guest side in 2020. Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The list of Copa America guests in past editions is long: Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001. Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn't like the idea of teams outside of the Americas such as Qatar and Japan playing the Copa America. "Playing among all American teams, that is logic," Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. "We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams." Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America. "We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup," Tabarez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Copa America: Tite expected to make changes to Brazil s team

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — Under pressure after two lackluster performances by Brazil in the Copa America at home, coach Tite is expected to make changes to his squad ahead of its final group game this weekend. Brazil faces Peru on Saturday in Sao Paulo needing at least a draw to guarantee a place in the next round. Few doubt Brazil will make it through, as the Selecao can advance even with a loss, but only a convincing performance will satisfy the demanding Brazilian fans and relieve some of the pressure on Tite. The coach did not say who will start on Saturday but hinted he will not keep the same team from the first two games. "We have several athletes with different characteristics," Tite said on Friday. "Each one can help in different ways depending on the match." The coach's main changes are expected in the attack, which has been the team's primary weakness. David Neres, Richarlison, and Roberto Firmino, the trio that started the first two matches, are yet to score. In the 3-0 opening win against Bolivia a week ago, Brazil had two goals from Philippe Coutinho and one from substitute Everton. The second match was 0-0 against Venezuela on Tuesday. "We need to improve our precision in attack, we acknowledge that," Tite said. "We know that we need to be able to translate our superiority into goals." Brazil entered the tournament without Neymar because of an ankle injury, and none of the other forwards have been able to make up for his absence. Neymar was dropped from the squad before the tournament but showed up at the team's hotel on Friday to visit his teammates and support the team. Tite, who on Thursday completed three years as Brazil coach, said after the team's World Cup elimination last year he regretted taking too long to make changes to the squad, and that this time he would not make the same mistake. Brazil was jeered in both Copa America matches and many of the boos were aimed at Tite when he substituted defensive midfielder Casemiro with another defensive midfielder, Fernandinho, against Venezuela despite the team's inability to create scoring chances. The fans wanted him to use Everton, who played well coming off the bench in both games and is the player most likely to earn a starting spot against Peru. The quick forward helped open up the opponent's defense, allowing Brazil to improve and create more scoring opportunities. The other possible player to get a chance is Gabriel Jesus, who has also come off the bench twice. The Manchester City forward wasn't as effective as Everton, but did help improve the attack. He found the net in the second half against Venezuela, but the goal was disallowed after video review. Neres had decent performances playing in Neymar's position, but it was Coutinho who many felt should have taken over the leading role. Coutinho also had a goal disallowed by video review against Venezuela, but despite his decisive scores against Bolivia his performances have been below expectations. Fernandinho didn't practice with the rest of the squad on Friday because of a right knee ailment and will not play on Saturday. Midfielder Arthur also practiced separately on Thursday because of a foot injury, but he was back with the rest of the team on Friday and is likely to be available against Peru. Brazil and Peru are tied at the top of Group A with four points, two more than third-place Venezuela. Bolivia has no points after two matches. Venezuela and Bolivia meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. Peru eliminated Brazil from the 2016 Copa America with a 1-0 win in the final match of their group, handing Brazil its first group-stage elimination in the tournament since 1987......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Uruguay s Vecino out of Copa America after thigh injury

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Uruguay midfielder Matias Vecino will miss the rest of the Copa America with a right thigh injury. Uruguay's soccer body confirmed the muscular injury on Monday, one day after Vecino left a 4-0 opening win over Ecuador in the 80th minute. Vecino started every game at last year's World Cup in Russia and coach Oscar Tabarez deems him as one of his team's key players. Arsenal's Lucas Torreira is his most likely replacement for the remainder of the tournament in Brazil. Uruguay leads Group C with three points and Ecuador has zero. Chile and Japan, the group's other teams, play their opener later on Monday. Also out of the tournament is Colombia forward Luis Muriel, who hurt his left knee in his team's 2-0 Group B win over Argentina on Saturday. Colombian doctors said Muriel will need five to seven weeks to recover from the injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019

Uruguay cruises past 10-man Ecuador in Copa America opener

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Uruguay started the Copa America in style, showing why it's considered a top favorite for the South American title. With Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in top form, Uruguay earned a comfortable 4-0 win over 10-man Ecuador in its opening match on Sunday. Cavani, Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro scored in the first half, and an own-goal by Ecuadorean defender Arturo Mina after halftime sealed the victory for a dominant Uruguayan squad in the Group C match at the Mineirao Stadium. "It was an important first step for us," Cavani said. "We have to try to keep this momentum during the rest of the tournament." Uruguay played with an extra man from the 24th minute after Ecuador's Jose Quintero was red-carded for elbowing Lodeiro during a ball dispute. Quintero was initially given a yellow card, but video review determined he deserved a red. Uruguay was already in control when Quintero was sent off at the Mineirao, which held a small crowd of about 13,000 people. Lodeiro opened the scoring in the sixth minute, controlling a pass from Suarez inside the area and lobbying the ball over a defender before finding the net. "After the red card the game opened up and we dominated," Lodeiro said. "It was an important opening victory. We have to keep going game by game, always trying to improve." Cavani had two close-range attempts saved by Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez before finally scoring with a volley in the 33rd, then Suarez added to the lead after a corner kick in the 44th. The fourth goal came when Mina as he tried to clear a ball crossed into the area in the 78th. The goal also had to be confirmed by video review. Uruguay had two goals disallowed for offside, one in each half. Ecuador finished with only on shot on goal, coming in the first minute of the match. "They were better than us in every aspect," Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez said. "Uruguay is a great team, very experienced." Guest Japan and two-time defending champion Chile will play the other Group C match on Monday in Sao Paulo. Uruguay is the Copa America's most successful team with 15 titles, one more than Argentina. Its last Copa America title was in 2011. Ecuador made it to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Copa America. Uruguay next faces Japan on Thursday in Porto Alegre, while Ecuador takes on Chile in Salvador......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Rodriguez leads Colombia to win over Argentina

By Debora Rey, Associated Press SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — James Rodriguez got the best of Lionel Messi in the Copa America, leading Colombia to a 2-0 win over Argentina in their opening game in the South American tournament on Saturday. Rodriguez set up Roger Martinez's opening goal in the second half with a high, diagonal pass across the field, and substitute Duván Zapata scored late to seal the victory that allowed Colombia to end a 12-year winless streak against the Argentines. Messi had missed a chance to put Argentina in front, sending a close-range header off target as his team opened the tournament with a loss for the first time since 1979. "Our best player was the entire team," Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz said. "The next match will certainly be more difficult, this is only the beginning." Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America and the Colombians without a trophy since the 2001 edition. Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, where it lost both of the latter in penalty shootouts against Chile. Colombia's last win over Argentina was in South American qualifying for the World Cup in 2007. "It had been a long time (without beating Argentina)," Zapata said. "Everyone in Colombia is very happy, but there is still a long way to go in the Copa, we still have important matches ahead." Messi and Rodriguez had a mostly quiet match in Salvador, although Rodriguez provided the assist for Martinez's 71st-minute opener. The playmaker gained possession inside Colombia's own half before picking out Martinez with a long pass. The forward brought the ball down on the left flank before cutting into the penalty area and shooting into the far corner of the net. "We are disappointed because they scored a great goal when we were playing better," Messi said. "It will take some time to accept this defeat, but we have to take the positives from today and move on to try to win the next match. We still have plenty of chances." Argentina's first loss in a Copa America game in regulation time since 2007 was confirmed in the 86th minute. Five minutes after entering the match, Zapata converted from Jefferson Lerma's cross. Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Colombia veteran Radamel Falcao also couldn't do much to help their teams break through their opponents' defense in a tense opening match in Group B. "We improved in the second half and created chances," said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who complained of the bad field conditions at the Arena Fonte Nova. "We still have two matches left and if we win them we will certainly advance." Argentina will next play against Paraguay in Belo Horizonte, while Colombia will face Qatar in Sao Paulo. Paraguay and Qatar meet in the other Group B match on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Earlier Saturday, Peru was held by 10-man Venezuela to a 0-0 draw in Group A, a result that left both teams two points behind host Brazil, which opened with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday in Sao Paulo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Leonardo s PSG return could be welcome news for coach Tuchel

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Leonardo's return as Paris Saint-Germain's sporting director could be welcome news for coach Thomas Tuchel after a difficult first season. PSG announced Leonardo's appointment on Friday as a direct replacement for Antero Henrique, who leaves after two years despite helping secure two marquee signings in forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Tuchel's working relationship with Henrique had become increasingly strained because of the need to strengthen an injury-hit squad and an awkward situation concerning homegrown midfielder Adrien Rabiot. Henrique said in a December interview that Rabiot would remain out of the side after refusing to sign a new deal, despite months of negotiations. He did not play again and is now out of contract, meaning PSG will get nothing for him as he reportedly negotiates terms for a move to Italian champion Juventus. But Tuchel is a fan of Rabiot's style of play and wanted him available, especially with injuries in midfield during a fraught Champions League campaign. The club's disciplinary stance remained firm. At the time, Henrique appeared to have the backing of club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, with the signings of Neymar and Mbappe doubtless contributing to his standing. An exasperated Tuchel also lamented a lack of signings in the winter transfer window and had to wait until January 29 — right at the end — before the club bought Argentina midfielder Leandro Paredes from Zenit St. Petersburg. But Tuchel was reportedly not overly keen on signing Paredes, who made little impression. If their relationship was indeed a power struggle, it now seems like a victory for Tuchel over Henrique. Tuchel recently signed a one-year extension to his initial two-year deal. Leonardo's return offers the possibility of a more harmonious working relationship, one which the club hopes will end years of frustration in the Champions League. PSG has never been beyond the quarterfinals since Qatari backers QSI started bank-rolling the club with huge investment eight years ago. In the past three seasons PSG has gone out in the Round of 16 — twice blowing strong first-leg leads — and last season Tuchel's side failed to retain its domestic cups. FAMILIAR FACE While Henrique was unfamiliar with the club when he took the job, that's certainly not the case for Leonardo. He played for PSG in 1996-97 and was hugely popular. As an attack-minded defender or midfielder, he helped PSG reach the European Cup Winners' Cup final in '97. He won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994 and the Copa America in '97. He had spells as coach of AC Milan and Inter Milan, where he was also sporting director. Leonardo became PSG's sporting director for the first time in July 2011 and helped persuade Carlo Ancelotti to become coach in December 2011. It was a considerable coup considering Ancelotti's long-standing reputation in the game. "I'm extremely enthusiastic at the idea of coming back," the 49-year-old Leonardo said. "I've experienced some big emotions here." BITTER END Leonardo held his role until May 2013, when he was suspended for nine months by the French league for barging into a referee just outside the tunnel. Television images appeared to show Leonardo deliberately shoulder-barging Alexandre Castro after a home draw. Leonardo had been heavily critical of French referees that season, in particular launching one angry rant live on television after a draw at defending champion Montpellier. Following Leonardo's suspension, Ancelotti left to take charge of Real Madrid despite having one year left on his PSG contract. FUTURE DAYS Leonardo must quickly establish a strong and trusting relationship with Tuchel. The club is expected to be busy in the transfer market this summer, whilst fending off reported interest from Real Madrid for the prolific France forward Mbappe. PSG must also raise funds, and Leonardo's return coincided with the sale of 19-year-old forward Moussa Diaby to Bayer Leverkusen for a reported 15 million euros ($16.8 million). Fans want success but they also want to see local talents shine, and Diaby was one of the best players to have come through PSG's youth academy in recent years. If Leonardo persuades Rabiot to change his mind and sign a new deal, it would certainly please Tuchel......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Qatar building for 2022 World Cup on Copa America debut

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — For 2022 World Cup host Qatar, every Copa America match will be like a final. Sunday's clash against Paraguay at the historic Maracana stadium is especially so because it is probably the team's best chance to pick up points in the tournament. Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez told journalists on Saturday his team will try to compete at a high level in all three group stage matches against Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay. He believes the first two are candidates to win the title, meaning the game against the Paraguayans represents the best chance for Asian Cup holder Qatar to register a victory. "It will be like a final," said Sanchez. "But it will be the same against Argentina and Colombia. These are all great footballing nations." Qatar, which is making its Copa America debut, lost a friendly against hosts Brazil 2-0 earlier this month. Brazil coach Tite said he was impressed with Qatar's defense, although the team's ball possession was not as good as it was in the Asian Cup. Paraguay is trying to rebuild under coach Eduardo Berizzo after failing to qualify for the last two World Cups. "It is a team that counters very well, that can adapt to different tactics. They have a great offense," Berizzo said of Qatar. Paraguay's coach, however, thinks his team is the favorite to win in Rio de Janeiro. "We need to reaffirm our identity," he said. Sanchez, who took over in July 2017 and had his contract extended to 2022 just before the Copa America, said matches like these will help the team reach a higher level before the World Cup. "We have to forget what happened in the UAE and focus here," the Spanish coach said, in a reference to the venue for his team's Asian Cup triumph. "For us to get there (2022) in good conditions, we have to play tournaments like this." Qatar captain Hassan Al-Haydos, who was taking selfies on the Maracana pitch before the press conference, agreed. "We are here to develop, to adapt and to grow," the striker said. "It is an honor to be in this tournament and to be in Brazil with so many other great teams." Next year Qatar will return for another Copa America in Argentina and Colombia. In 2021, the tiny nation will stage the Confederations Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Brazil opens Copa America with spotlight still on Neymar

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil will get the Copa America underway with the Neymar saga still far from over. As the hosts closed their preparations for Friday's opener against Bolivia, Neymar was still attracting most of the attention in the country even though he is not playing in the South American championship. The player, who was ruled out of the tournament last week because of an ankle injury, appeared at a police station amid a media frenzy on Thursday to answer questions related to the allegations of a Brazilian woman who says he raped her when she visited him in Paris. Neymar has denied wrongdoing. The team practiced a few hours later at the Morumbi Stadium, where it will begin its quest for the South American title against Bolivia in Group A. Brazil is trying to quickly get past the Neymar controversy and focus solely on soccer. "There's more talk about Neymar (in the media) than there is talk about him within the squad," Brazil coach Tite said on Thursday. "Within the squad we are focused on our preparations. I would never want to be in this situation of playing without Neymar, a top-three player in the world, but we have to be prepared." Neymar hurt his ankle in Brazil's win over Qatar in a Copa America warm-up last week. He was on crutches on Thursday when he arrived to speak with investigators at the police station, where a crowd of fans cheered him. This will be Brazil's first tournament since the team's loss to Belgium in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Tite kept his job despite that elimination, but only the title will be good enough at the Copa America at home. "We know it's important to win titles, we can't run away from that," Tite said. "But winning that has to be done step by step, it's part of a process." Tite said injured Barcelona midfielder Arthur is back in training but won't start on Friday. Goalkeeper Ederson is also out after hurting a muscle in practice on Wednesday. He is expected to be sidelined for about a week. Brazil has won the Copa America all four previous times it hosted the tournament, though its last South American title was in 2007. Bolivia didn't get past the group stage in the 2016 Copa America, but it made it to the quarterfinals in the 2015 tournament. "Brazil is a favorite in any competition it plays and always has the responsibility to win," Brazil defensive midfielder Casemiro said. "We are without Neymar, our biggest star, but we remain very strong. There's no doubt we are prepared. The work done so far has been very good.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019

Unlikely heroes may miss final as Kane, Salah set to return

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Lucas Moura and Divock Origi have been the unlikely heroes for Tottenham and Liverpool in the Champions League this season. They kept alive their team's hopes of winning the European title with crucial goals and decisive performances. Without them, the English sides probably wouldn't have made it to Saturday's final in the Spanish capital. But despite helping their teams reach the final at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, both may miss out on playing in the match because of the return from injuries of Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will have to choose between the in-form Moura and the recently injured Kane, while Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp will have to sit Origi or rearrange his attack to leave him in the lineup along with Salah. Neither coach gave anything away on Friday. "If Pochettino says his exact lineup, call me and I will tell you our lineup as well," Klopp said. "If not, then I thought I'd keep at least a few question marks open." Pochettino kept quiet. "It's not going to be easy to take a decision," he said. "We are going to take the best decision to try to win. It's so painful when this type of game arrives and you can only use 11 players from the beginning." Moura has been starting since Kane hurt an ankle ligament in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. The Brazilian scored the hat trick that allowed Tottenham to come from behind and beat Ajax 3-2 in the second leg of the semifinals, helping the English club overcome a 1-0 home loss in the first match. The hat trick included a stoppage-time goal that sealed the comeback and the team's first-ever final appearance. Moura, who joined from Paris Saint-Germain in January 2018, also scored a crucial late equalizer against Barcelona in the team's final group game in December, securing the English club a spot in the knockout stage. "All of this is a dream and now I have the opportunity to play in the final and to win the competition I have always dreamt about," Moura told UEFA.com. "Without a doubt it's the best moment of my career." Origi replaced Salah after the Egyptian had a concussion in a game against Newcastle in the Premier League just before the second leg against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals. Origi scored a late winner against Newcastle after replacing Salah in the second half, then was crucial in the return match against Barcelona, scoring twice in the 4-0 win that put the team in the final for the second straight season. Kane has been a mainstay in the Tottenham attack, but even before his injury some had been calling for Moura to get more minutes in the squad. The versatile 26-year-old Brazilian can play in different attacking positions, including as an attacking midfielder, and could even play alongside Kane if Pochettino wanted to. For Moura, the Champions League final could give him another opportunity to show Brazil coach Tite he made a mistake by leaving him out of next month's Copa America squad. Tite announced the team shortly after Moura's superb display in the Champions League semifinals, but they weren't enough to persuade the coach. Salah fully recovered from his concussion and is more certain to make his Champions League return on Saturday. He played only about 30 minutes in last year's final because of a shoulder injury sustained in the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid. Origi also is versatile in attack and may get to start alongside Salah and Sadio Mane. The 24-year-old Belgian will have added competition from Roberto Firmino, though, who also had been out injured but is fit for the final. "These are always tough decisions," Pochettino said. "But it's part of my job to decide the starting 11 and to try to win the game.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

Silence, mourning since fatal crash turn to hope at Chapeco

MAURICIO SAVARESE, AP Sports Writer   CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Silence and mourning are slowly being replaced by boisterous fans and hope. As the Chapecoense club rebuilds after the air crash that killed 19 players and nearly all members of the staff and board of directors, so is the town of 200,000. Like many in Brazil, football is the oxygen for everything: gossip, community pride and heated debate. On Saturday, Chapecoense's 20,000-capacity Arena Conda will host the team's first match since the tragedy almost two months ago. Lines outside are filled with fans excited about the club's and the city's restart. Fifty coffins lined the same field in November, where this time Chape's reconstructed team will play Brazilian champion Palmeiras in a friendly match. 'I bet I won't be able to sleep Friday night,' 19-year-old fan Marcelo Ribeiro said as he walked to the stadium. 'Since the accident the city is dead. The festivities were mostly canceled at the end of the year, and all most people are thinking about is the rebirth. I want to see what the rebirth looks like.' At the Hotel Bertaso, where most of Chape's players and coaching staff have traditionally lodged, the first signs of that rebirth are obvious. The second floor, which was home to many of the victims, including coach Caio Junior, is once again full. 'I can't help feeling a lot of hope for the future now,' said receptionist Gelson Mangone, who lost several friends in that crash on an Andean mountain side near Medellin, Colombia, on Nov.28. 'It has been a lot of work to settle all these new signings here, they are also learning their way here,' the receptionist said. 'But it does feel like a brand new start.' New coach Vagner Mancini is one of the hotel's new residents. He said the job makes him 'a better human being, but it's the most challenging to face.' 'We have to build a team, a coaching staff and a club infrastructure in a season in which Chape will be in demand,' Mancini told The Associated Press. 'I understand now that the city was so affected because the club and the city are run like a family,' he added. 'The players we brought are cut from that cloth, but we have to reach a higher level now.' After the crash, Colombian club Atletico Nacional, which was to face Chape in the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin, awarded the victory to the small Brazilian team. That means that Chape qualified for South America's No. 1 tournament for the first time, the competitive Copa Libertadores. The team will also try to defend its title in the Santa Catarina state championship, try to stay up in Brazil's top-flight competition, and play in a pile of fundraisers, including one against Barcelona. 'We have to assemble a competitive team at the same time we need to hire someone to handle passports, contracts,' Mancini said. 'The club used to handle this well, but like a family run business. Now we are at a different moment.' Chapecoense had almost nothing left after the crash: six players that did not travel on the ill-fated flight, two physiotherapists, one goalkeeping coach, one doctor, one data analyst, one nurse and a few club officials. New chairman and club co-founder Plinio David de Nes Filho, a wealthy local businessman known as Maninho, is leading the charge to bolster club finances. Former players like Nivaldo Constante, who played as a goalkeeper until the tragedy struck, are approaching players that can help. And Chapeco Mayor Luciano Buligon is working as a kind of ambassador for the club and the city. 'Our weekends were about three things: family, church and Chapecoense,' Buligon said. 'It has been hard to get the city back on track because the wounds are still very open. But we are slowly moving on. On Saturday we will start getting a part of our weekends back.' Not everyone is happy. Rosangela Loureiro, widow of crash victim Cleber Santana, said she is upset because his belongings still have not been returned to the family. 'I feel sadness and rage. No one is doing anything to bring their belongings back. I plead with them to soften our pain and make us get the memories that we will hold dear for the rest of our lives,' she said on Instagram last week. Other widows have complained about damages not yet being paid by the club. Chapecoense directors say they are doing the best they can as they try to rebuild. There are even complaints at the joyous Hotel Bertaso. 'These new players love to make a mess in their rooms,' said a cleaner, who declined to offer her name. 'The other ones were older, more mature and the new ones seem to be more infantile. I hope they are up for the task. The city really needs that now.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

Neymar plays only 12 minutes as Brazil held by Nigeria

By The Associated Press SINGAPORE (AP) — Neymar limped out of Brazil's friendly against Nigeria in Singapore on Sunday after only 12 minutes of play. The game ended 1-1, marking Brazil's fourth straight match without a win. The 27-year-old striker was replaced by midfielder Philippe Coutinho after feeling an injury in his left thigh. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar stopped feeling any pain after the match and will go through more tests in France when he's back with his club Paris Saint-Germain. Nigeria midfielder Joe Aribo opened the scoring in the 35th minute after dribbling past Marquinhos in the penalty box. Brazil leveled in the 48th through a shot from midfielder Casemiro after he got to a rebound from a header that hit the bar. Neymar walked normally to the dressing room. He threw a shirt to fans and gave them a thumbs-up as he left. Neymar missed this year's Copa America because of a right ankle injury. He only returned to action two months later. The Brazilian also had a right foot injury in January playing for PSG. The problem in his fifth metatarsal kept him off the field for almost three months. Neymar struggled with injuries ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia which affected his performances in the tournament. The friendly in Singapore could have marked Neymar's rise to second all-time Brazil top goal scorer. He has 61 goals, one less than two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo. After lifting the Copa America title in July, Brazil drew 2-2 with Colombia, lost 1-0 to Peru and tied 1-1 with Senegal on Thursday. "This is a time in which we need to test (new players)," said Brazil defender Marquinhos. "But we have to find our pattern as soon as possible." Coach Tite had tried to use Neymar in midfield, replacing Coutinho, but the striker's injury made him quickly change plans......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2019

Brazil draws 1-1 with Senegal as Neymar reaches 100 caps

SINGAPORE (AP) — Brazil was held to a 1-1 draw by Senegal on Thursday in a friendly in Singapore that marked Neymar's 100th match with the national team. Roberto Firmino opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a lob over the goalkeeper, but Famara Diedhiou equalized from the penalty spot just before the end of the first half. It was Brazil's third consecutive match without a win. After lifting the Copa America title in July, Brazil has drawn 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-0 to Peru. It will have a chance to end the winless streak on Sunday in a friendly against Nigeria, also in Singapore. "If I said this doesn't bother us, I would be lying," said defender Thiago Silva. "In the last three matches we could not play our best. Today we had the best opportunities, but we failed in the details, in the last passes to score." Veteran Dani Alves blamed the long flight and the jet lag for the poor performance. "I am not trying to find excuses, we could have done better, but it is a trip that wears us out," he said. "We need to win to have tranquility in the preparations for World Cup qualifiers next year." Brazil coach Tite acknowledged that his team's performance was below par against Senegal, the second African team he has faced since he joined in 2016. "We also had difficulties in the 1-0 victory against Cameroon in November. African teams want contact, they are compact and they are strong in the air. We are still finding the best way to play against African teams," Tite said. Neymar started the game, played in a half-empty stadium, but could not add to his career haul of 61 goals for the national team. The 27-year-old striker is only one goal behind two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo, who is in second place on Brazil's all-time list of top scorers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2019

Neymar set to mark 100th game with Brazil

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — Ahead of his 100th game with Brazil, Neymar is adamant that he still deserves special treatment in the national team despite never having won a major title in his nine years wearing the famous yellow shirt. The 27-year-old forward will reach the century mark in a friendly against Senegal in Singapore on Thursday, and defended his status as the team's biggest star even though Brazil won this summer's Copa America without him. "I was always one of the main figures and one of those carrying it all on my back," Neymar said at a news conference Wednesday when asked about getting special treatment. "I never ran away from that. I always played my role in the national team very well. When a player reaches that level it is normal that there is a different treatment." "I was in places that had players with more history than me and I had to respect what coaches did for them," the Paris Saint-Germain striker added. "Messi has a different treatment at Barcelona. Is it because he is better looking? No. It is because he is decisive. He earned it. I don't say that only about myself, but I say it about everyone that has performances at that level. That is normal in soccer." Neymar's comments come at a time when some Brazil fans have accused coach Tite and the Brazilian soccer confederation of being too lenient with the striker over his problems off the pitch. Those include his altercation with a fan after the French Cup final in April; his insistence that his father-agent was allowed into Brazil's dressing room during a pre-Copa America friendly; and a rape allegation that was recently closed by police. Neymar is currently at odds with PSG's fans as well after trying to force a return to Barcelona during the offseason. And in Brazil, he remains the country's most polarizing player. His statistics with the national team are impressive: 61 goals and 42 assists in 99 games so far. That puts him one goal behind two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo, who is in second place on Brazil's all-time list of top scorers with 62. Pele tops the list with 77. With Neymar in the team, Brazil has 70 victories, 19 draws and 10 defeats. But aside from the 2013 Confederations Cup, no titles. At the 2014 World Cup at home, Neymar injured his back in the quarterfinal win over Colombia and the team was humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals without him. At least year's World Cup in Brazil he was far from his best after recovering from a foot injury, and made little impact as Brazil lost 2-1 to Belgium in the quarterfinals. And this summer he had to miss the Copa America because of an injury he sustained shortly before the tournament. Asked about his best memories with the national team, Neymar picked his debut, his World Cup debut in 2014 and the goal he scored in the opening game of the tournament against Croatia. "There is a positive balance, but it isn't all about victories in the life of an athlete," Neymar said. "There are many disappointments, defeats and mistakes. But if you fight for it, in the end, you make up for your mistakes. I am very happy to reach that mark of 100 matches. Not even in my best dreams I thought this could happen.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 9th, 2019

THROWBACK: FIBA 1954—the Philippines’ pinnacle as third best in world basketball

No other Asian team could eclipse what the Philippines achieved in 1954.  And this is what is considered an accomplishment that spoke of the glory the country once had—something that we had long desired to duplicate.  Sixty-five years since this stellar bunch of Filipino basketball icons first strode into Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 23, 1954, we still long for that moment, but have since made gargantuan steps in regaining that world basketball glory. It was the second FIBA World Basketball Championship, four years after the inaugural tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that time, Asia wasn’t even in the map of international basketball, with only Europe and the Americas battling it out for dominance. It wasn’t really a surprise, considering how the sport hasn’t really reached that kind of popularity in the region for it to produce a world-caliber team. Favorite pastime Except of course in the Philippines, where basketball has already been the most popular pastime and already the source of national idols people fancy. Collegiate and commercial leagues were already drawing crowds, not to mention the everyday Filipino finding extreme joy swooshing that ball in a ring with an attached net—be it at the backyard or the neighborhood street—thanks to an overwhelming American influence that continues up to this day.  But what they really find so much delight is watching the country’s best players and ballclubs going at it—a sort of primetime top rating action drama in today’s parlance. And the main cast steps in while everyone howls or cheers, seeing San Beda’s Carlos Loyzaga’s “Big Difference” in scoring baskets with impunity from everywhere on the court or watching Letran’s Larry “The Fox” Mumar with his sly and cunning moves, running rings around the opposition for that easy two.  And, a Philippine team of basketball demigods? Insane. Silva’s 12 picks They did prove their wizardry and magic in their first shining moment—when they were called upon to play in the 1954 Manila Asian Games. True enough, they were unstoppable clinching the Gold against the Republic of China and earning the first-ever Asian slot in the Rio FIBA World Basketball tourney.  It was a team coached by the legendary Herminio “Herr” Silva, who despite his failing health, became that ingenious and innovative tactician who devised the “dash-and-dribble” and the vaunted zone and “freeze” defense that sent opponent plays in disarray.  Joining the Loyzaga and Mumar in Silva’s 12 picks from the original 24 selected by the country’s governing body were the “Rajah of Rebound” Francisco Rabat, skipper Tony Genato, Benjamin Francisco, Nap Flores, Florentino Bautista, Pons Saldana, Bayani Amador, Rafael Barretto, Mon Manulat, and Mariano Tolentino. Their poise even at the start of hostilities were already world-class. They would pound Paraguay without let-up behind Loyzaga’s 15 points in a 64-52 drubbing on opening day.  Their intensity in the first game, however, left them gasping in their second game the next day, facing a mighty host team and lost, 62-99. Despite the loss, however, they still advanced to the final round with their 1-1 slate in Group A, after Brazil ousted Paraguay, 61-52. The Filipinos will soon have its first acid test and face the United States on October 27 for its first assignment in the Final Round. The Americans, who lost to Argentina in the Gold Medal match in 1950 was definitely hungry for their first World title, but facing the Philippines proved to be their most challenging match.  Challenging the US It was a close match in the first half with the Filipinos giving the Americans a very hard time in executing their offense, trailing by a mere three points at halftime, 25-22, and even led with its largest margin at 31-26 at the start of the second half. But the US, bannered by the Illinois squad Peoria Cats, adjusted their offense and pulled away at 49-30, with three minutes left to play. The game ended with the US winning by a mere 13 points, 56-43, their lowest winning margin in the tournament.  Mumar topscored with 14 points, Loyzaga added 12, and Tolentino had 11, but the rest each had at most two points.  Eventual MVP Kirby Minter led the US with 15 points. The Philippines, despite the setback gained the respect of the world with their performance against the Americans that sent shockwaves across the tournament. Led by Flores, the Filipinos would then cruise past Formosa (now Chinese-Taipei), 48-38, on October 29. The following day, Loyzaga and Saldana each scored 20 points and Philippines clobbered Israel, 90-56. They would however lose to their Group A tormentors and hosts Brazil, 41-57. Sealing glory What really sealed their glory and place in history, however, was their successive victories against Canada, 83-76, behind Mumar’s 24 points, France, 66-60 with Loyzaga leading all scorers with 19 points, and the hotly contested match against Uruguay, 67-63 with Loyzaga bombarding 31 markers.  The match against France was memorable when Mumar had an altercation with the French behemoth 7-footer Jean-Paul Beugnot, who took issue with Mumar’s sly tactics as he defended him in a drive to the basket. Rubbing his eyes after he claimed to have been spat on, Beugnot could not do anything but notice Mumar scoring on a lay-up unmolested that sealed the win.  Already assured of the bronze, the Philippines still engaged Uruguay in a tough battle. In fact, Uruguayans had complained about the Filipinos’ rough play throughout their game.  It however spoke of the Philippines’ tenacity in getting the win, as Genato made the biggest defensive gem of all, limiting Uruguay sniper Oscar Moglia, who buried 37 points in a previous match against Canada, to a mere nine points. Loyzaga’s monster game was the key factor in the four-point win, with Mumar scoring nine, Tolentino and Barretto contributing five each, with Bautista and Manulat both had four, Rabat two and Amador one.  The US would eventually cop their first World title, manhandling Brazil in the final, 62-41. Loyzaga part of World’s Mythical Five Loyzaga ended the tournament as the second top scorer with a combined 148 points, with a 16.4 average, behind Canada’s Carl Ridd, who totaled 164, and became part of the World’s Mythical Five.  Looking back, the stature of this Philippine squad seems too lofty to even emulate, but we are slowly, yet even at a painstaking grind, getting close even with small baby steps to achieving that feat. With today’s Gilas Pilipinas already reaching unanticipated heights in this more challenging and competitive arena, especially with open basketball coming into play, the Philippines’ lost world basketball glory may soon reemerge. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2019

Messi banned for 3 months after corruption outburst

    ASUNCION, Paraguay – Argentina superstar Lionel Messi was banned from playing for his national team for 3 months and fined $50,000 on Friday, August 2, by CONMEBOL after he heavily criticized the South American football governing body during the Copa America. The 32-year-old Barcelona forward had accused CONMEBOL of "corruption" after ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2019