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Croatia will be ready for France in World Cup final, says coach Dalic

MOSCOW -- Ecstatic Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic is confident tiredness will not be an issue for his side when they face France in the World Cup final despite once again coming through extra time to beat England on Wednesday......»»

Category: financeSource: bworldonline bworldonlineJul 12th, 2018

England avenges Croatia WCup loss to get shot at new trophy

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Harry Kane's goalless streak was only five minutes from extending to eight games when the captain finally found the net again for England. As Ben Chilwell floated a free kick into the penalty area, Kane slid in, stretched out his right foot and nudged the ball into the Croatia net. It came four months too late to secure a place for England in the World Cup final. But the World Cup Golden Boot winner ensured England went some way to avenging the Moscow semifinal loss to Croatia by turning the tables with a 2-1 victory at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. While England advanced to the final four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Croatia was relegated to the second tier. Any doubts about what soccer's newest international competition means to England were dispelled in the relief and glee on Kane's face as he darted toward the crowd in celebration before being leapt on by Jesse Lingard as the Wembley crowd roared. Rarely in the 11 years since English soccer's national stadium was rebuilt has there been such tension for an international game. Not, perhaps, since the opening months when England was beaten by Croatia and denied a place at the 2008 European Championship. "I've never seen (Wembley) like this in an England shirt," the 25-year-old Kane said. "We are going to enjoy it so I hope the fans do too." For a competition that only debuted in September — to replace some largely meaningless friendlies — it has been quickly embraced in soccer's often-cynical heartland. The comeback from such a young side demonstrated a fortitude so often missing from a country that hasn't won a major title since the 1966 World Cup. "The most important thing is the connection with the fans," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "The energy that came back to the team in those difficult moments helped us get over the line." Now England has seven months to contemplate just how meaningful winning the Nations League would be in June. Portugal secured the hosting by winning its group on Saturday. Switzerland sealed the third spot on Sunday night by beating Belgium 5-2, before France or the Netherlands complete the lineup on Monday. "It's another semifinal, two wins away from winning a trophy," Kane said. "We showed that we can beat the big teams. Croatia and Spain are two of the very best in the world. So this is kind of our next step after the summer." Croatian players have said since July that they were inspired in the semifinal by what they perceived as arrogant undertones in the "Football's Coming Home" lyric in the "Three Lions" team anthem. Croatia went on to lose to France in the World Cup final. The song was played immediately after the final whistle on Sunday and even cited by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic to congratulate England. "It's coming home," Dalic said in his only post-match comments in English. "Very soon." Fatigued after going the distance to beat Spain on Thursday, Croatia was unsettled throughout the first half by England's pace. But Croatia found its stride in the second half, taking the lead after 12 minutes after cutting through England down the right. Josip Brekalo played in Nikola Vlasic, who cut the ball across to Andrej Kramaric. Switching the ball between his feet, the midfielder twisted unchallenged before raising a shot into the roof of the net, via a deflection off Eric Dier's thigh. "We let a soft goal in," Southgate said, "and it is a real test of resilience and patience." The game turned on Southgate's double substitution in the 73rd minute that saw Jadon Sancho and Lingard enter. The impact was felt within five minutes and the set pieces that served England so well on the run to its first World Cup semifinal in 28 years proved decisive again. Joe Gomez's long throw-in was headed down by Kane through the legs of Hrvoje Millic and Lingard tapped in from close range for his second goal in two games after scoring in a 3-0 friendly win against the Unites States on Thursday. At the other end, Lingard came to England's rescue. Domagoj Vida's header had beaten goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but Lingard cleared off line. Parity was maintained but England was still facing relegation from Group A4. Only a win would secure top-tier status and with it a place in the semifinals. For the first time since the last-16 World Cup game against Colombia, and after 747 frustrating minutes, Kane found the target in an England shirt again. "Harry is the best goalscorer in the world," Southgate said. "We have huge belief in him. He is so hungry to lead the team on and further.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Croatia coach Dalic traveled hard path to World Cup final

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — In a coaching journey across Croatia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Zlatko Dalic's belief in his own abilities never dimmed. "I used to say, 'Give me a Barcelona or a Real Madrid and I will win titles,'" Dalic recalled Thursday. Such jobs no longer seem so far out of reach, especially if Dalic collects the biggest prize in soccer on Sunday. Croatia will win the World Cup for the first time if Dalic's team can get the better of France and coach Didier Deschamps. Receiving trophies is nothing new for Deschamps. As a player, the midfielder won titles at clubs in France, Italy and England, as well as the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship with France. As a coach, he led France to the Euro 2016 final, losing to Portugal. But the 51-year-old Dalic had a largely unremarkable playing career before switching to coaching in his native Croatia. "In my life I have always taken the harder path, had to fight for everything myself," Dalic said through a translator at Luzhniki Stadium. "I started at the bottom of the ladder." The climb required a leap into the unknown with a move to the Middle East in 2010. "I did not want to stay in Croatia and be a middling coach and to live off handouts," Dalic said. "I went abroad whenever it was possible to find a job." Dalic eventually landed at Al-Hilal, where he won the Saudi Crown Prince Cup, and then reached the Asian Champions League final with Al-Ain. "We cannot sneeze at that. These are major competitions," Dalic said. "This brought me huge experience ... and I built a name for myself. This was a hard path but I believed in myself. When Croatia called, I never had any doubts." The call that ended Dalic's nomadic seven-year journey came last year, when Croatia had a game remaining to salvage qualification. "He is very dedicated to football," Croatian federation president Davor Suker said, "and we gave him the chance." Dalic led Croatia into the World Cup playoffs, where it beat Ukraine over two matches. Now he has taken his country further than ever before in a major soccer competition, eclipsing Suker's semifinalists in 1998. Brand Dalic is growing after Croatia came from behind to beat England 2-1 in the semifinal in Moscow on Wednesday. "The coach has created a special atmosphere," said Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, who plays for Liverpool. "He knows exactly how to interact with players and does it in a unique way." Dalic also relished interacting with the media on Thursday in the stadium where Croatia plays its biggest-ever game on Sunday. The highly ambitious coach used his moment in the spotlight to advertise his credentials. "Nothing was given to me on a plate, unlike some managers in Europe who can be given jobs to manage a big club because of their names as players," Dalic said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Still alive: Teams chasing World Cup spots through playoffs

A look at the lineup of teams in the intercontinental and European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia: ___ em> strong>EUROPEAN PLAYOFFS (matches to be confirmed) /strong> /em> strong>ITALY /strong> Four-time world champion Italy will be favored to qualify no matter which opponent it faces, yet the Azzurri aren't in top form after four discouraging results — a 3-0 loss to Spain, slim 1-0 wins over Israel and Albania, and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. However, the expected returns from injury of center forward Andrea Belotti and veteran midfielder Daniele De Rossi could provide a boost. The playoff outcome will likely determine the future of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura. Milan's San Siro or Palermo's Renzo Barbera stadium are being considered to host the home leg of the playoff. strong>CROATIA /strong> Croatia finds itself in familiar territory. Led by playmaker Luka Modric and other high-profile players in Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, the Croatians faced the same hurdle before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, eliminating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate. In this campaign, Croatia was on course to qualify automatically from the first place before two poor results — a 1-0 loss in Turkey and a 1-1 draw at home to Finland. Those results cost coach Ante Cacic his job. Under new coach Zlatko Dalic, Croatia won a needed 2-0 victory at Ukraine to seal a playoff spot behind Iceland. strong>SWITZERLAND /strong> Switzerland was perfect in World Cup qualifying for more than one year: Nine games, nine wins. Now coach Vladimir Petkovic must lift his players after a 2-0 loss in Portugal on Tuesday sent them to the playoffs, where the best runner-up record counts for little except being seeded. The Swiss have a reputation for being an efficient team in group-stage games that falls just short against good opponents in elimination games. They lost to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, and Poland at Euro 2016. Their opponents next month are likely to be below that class, and Petkovic can expect that forward Breel Embolo — a substitute in Lisbon — will be fully fit after a one-year injury absence. strong>DENMARK /strong> There's a chance Denmark could face neighbor Sweden, which denied the Danes a spot in the 2016 European Championship by winning their playoff. Christian Eriksen is the undoubted star of the Denmark team, the playmaker having been one of the best players in the English Premier League over the last two years and scoring eight times from midfield in qualifying. Denmark was second to Poland in its group, only missing out on automatic qualification in the final round. strong>GREECE /strong> Reaching the playoffs came as a relief for Greece's players and coach Michael Skibbe following an embarrassing qualification campaign for Euro 2016, when the team was twice beaten by the Faeroe Islands and finished last in the group. An obdurate defense was again the key to earning a runner-up spot, nine points behind Belgium, with Skibbe struggling to find stability in midfield and a strike partner for Kostas Mitroglou. The German coach may look forward to the development of 21-year-old Tassos Donis, who provided some badly needed pace in midfield, as well as the talents of the Portuguese-born Carlos Zeca. strong>SWEDEN /strong> Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist says he'd prefer to not play Italy or Scandinavian archrival Denmark and would rather face Croatia or Switzerland. Sweden, for example, has never beaten Italy in the last 17 years. Sweden finished behind France in its group, but ahead of the Netherlands, in its first qualifying campaign without retired striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Marcus Berg has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's leading striker and scored eight times in the qualifying. strong>IRELAND /strong> This will be Ireland's ninth time in the playoffs for a major tournament. The Irish have progressed on three occasions, with their most high-profile failure coming against France in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal. In the final round of group play, Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff in a virtual playoff for the playoffs. Coach Martin O'Neill's counterattacking tactics worked perfectly in that 1-0 win and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the playoffs. strong>NORTHERN IRELAND /strong> After reaching the knockout stage at Euro 2016, the Northern Irish continued their rise in international soccer by finishing runner-up behind Germany in their group. They have never been to back-to-back major tournaments. There's no chance of a potentially spicy match against neighbor Ireland, as both are set to be among the non-seeded teams after the seedings are confirmed on Monday. ___ em> strong>INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS /strong> /em> strong>HONDURAS vs. AUSTRALIA /strong> Both countries have been regulars in recent World Cups, with Honduras looking to make it for a third straight tournament and Australia seeking a fourth in a row. Los Catrachos — as the Honduras national team is nicknamed — were squeezed out of an automatic place in Russia by Panama, which scored a late winner in a dramatic denouement to qualifying in the CONCACAF region. Asian Cup champion Australia had its chances to qualify directly, but failed to capitalize on a glut of scoring chances in the last group game against Thailand and ended up finishing in third spot behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos then beat Syria 2-1 after extra time to clinch the two-legged Asian playoff, but only after Syria hit the post with a free kick in the last moments of the second leg. The Australians were most recently in an inter-confederation playoff in 2006, when they ousted Uruguay over two legs. strong>PERU vs. NEW ZEALAND /strong> On New Zealand's side is a more recent appearance at the World Cup — going through the group stage in 2010 unbeaten but still being eliminated — and a first taste of Russia by qualifying for the Confederations Cup in June. But more than a 100 places separate New Zealand and Peru in the FIFA rankings. While New Zealand is at No. 113, Peru has surged to 12th as it chases a first visit to the World Cup since 1982. Peru claimed fifth place in the tough South American qualifying group to set up the intercontinental play-off that will be played over two legs on Nov. 6 and 14. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

The next senior World Cup is in France, not Qatar

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — The "next" World Cup got plenty of hype in Russia. A massive cube was alight with video images of "Qatar 2022" in Gorky Park, while the ground floor of the high-end shopping mall at Red Square was devoted to displays touting the event. But apart from a social media campaign, there was little attention on the (actual) next senior World Cup: the women's tournament next year in France. That was surprising. In the past several years since scandal enveloped soccer's governing body, FIFA has made a point of proclaiming that it aims to raise both the role of women in the organization and the profile of the women's game. President Gianni Infantino appointed Fatma Samoura as the first female secretary general of soccer's international governing body in 2016, while also announcing the creation of a women's soccer division. The men's World Cup in Russia could have provided an opportunity to address equity in the sport while also pointing to the women's tournament next year. But France 2019 wasn't promoted much at all: No signs, events or displays in tourist areas. Samoura made some appearances, but was not visible during the awards ceremony following France's victory over Croatia on Sunday. Venezuelan forward Deyna Castellanos was deemed the women's soccer ambassador in Russia and she starred in a social media campaign anchored by the hashtag #DareToShine. But while the 19-year-old is considered a rising star in the women's game, Venezuela failed to qualify for France so the selection seemed odd. Infantino acknowledged more could be done for the women's game at his wrap-up news conference in Moscow. There's no doubt that the men's World Cup every four years is FIFA's financial juggernaut. But the women are the governing body's second-biggest commercial asset. "We have to invest in women's football. We are thinking of a new women's world league, because 50 percent of the world population, the ladies, need to be treated in the right way as well in a sport which is said to be macho like football," Infantino said. "We have to invest in women's football, we have programs and we have ideas." The call for greater equity in soccer is not new. In the run-up to the last Women's World Cup in 2015, a group of international players, led by U.S. star Abby Wambach, protested because the tournament would be played on artificial turf, which is considered by many to be inferior to real grass. The men's tournament had always been played on grass. Once the point was made about the turf, the tournament in Canada turned out to be a rousing success, attracting the biggest crowds of any FIFA tournament outside of a men's World Cup. It also broke TV rating records in North America, with the final drawing more viewers than any other prior men's or women's match in the United States. Following their victory over Japan for the trophy, the U.S. women went on to bargain for, and receive, a better contract with U.S. Soccer that brought them closer to the compensation level of their male counterparts. The Americans were not alone, national teams from other countries won more equitable contracts with their federations, including Australia and Ireland. France could provide FIFA an opportunity to showcase concrete change at the highest level, and the possible messaging couldn't get more perfect: France won a World Cup, and now will host it. Two issues stand out. It remains to be seen how much prize money will be increased in 2019. The U.S. women took home $2 million in 2015. In contrast, France's men earned $38 million for their victory on Sunday. And there's no word yet whether video replay will be used just as it was for the men for the first time in Russia. U.S. women's coach Jill Ellis was in Moscow the final week of the tournament for a media session put on by FOX, which has the domestic TV rights for 2019 France. She'd like to see an increase in prize money and the use of replay. "I don't know what the ramifications were in other countries, but you look at our own team, in our own country and the viewership and the attendance — there's no difference (with the men)," Ellis said. "So I think that FIFA 100 percent should look at our game as a game, not as a women's game or a men's game." ___ AP Sports Writer Ron Blum in Moscow contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2018

Deschamps joins Zagallo, Beckenbauer as champ player, coach

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Didier Deschamps walked into the interview room in the bowels of Luzhniki Stadium and prepared to answer questions for the first time as coach of a World Cup champion. A noise to his right caused him to turn, and his players rushed in. A bare-chested Benjamin Mendy jumped onto the table in front of Deschamps, and Florian Thauvin leaped up, too. Olivier Giroud and probably a dozen more giddy buddies sprayed their boss with bubbly, beer, cola and water. "This is third time I got changed, and I still smell just as bad," Deschamps said through a translator. He lifted the trophy as his nation's captain following the first title at Stade de France in 1998, and now he watched Hugo Lloris raise it in a Russian downpour following Sunday's 4-2 win over Croatia. The 49-year-old joined Brazil's Mario Zagallo (1958-62 as a player, 1970 as a manager) and West Germany's Franz Beckenbauer (1974, 1990) as the only men to play and coach a world champion. "Well, I don't really like to talk about myself, but I'm going to be forced to do so a little bit, of course," Deschamps said. "I had the immense pleasure and immense privilege to live through this as a player 20 years ago, and it was in France, so of course it will be marked in my memory forever. But what the players did today is just as beautiful, is just as strong." His players had to be brawny. They lifted Deschamps after the match and flung him into the air, over and over. "They've always been a little bit mad, my players," he said. Deschamps was a defensive midfielder for Nantes, Marseille, Bordeaux, Juventus, Chelsea and Valencia from 1985-2001, winning the Champions League with Juve in 1996 and the 2000 European Championship with France in addition to the World Cup. He coached Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before taking over France in 2012. His national team coaching career included a quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Germany at the 2014 World Cup and a 1-0 defeat to underdog Portugal in the Euro 2016 final. It seemed like film noir — he said there's an upcoming documentary coming out. "Two years ago, it was so, so painful to get past this opportunity of being European champions," Deschamps recalled. "But maybe if we had been European champions, then we would not have been world champions today. I did learn a lot myself through this final." Now the story arc includes happiness. He posed for photos on the field with wife Claude and Dylan, cradled one of the hardest trophies to win in sports. He hugged son Dylan as the 22-year-old waved a French tricolor. "When we were world champions, he was too young to understand," Deschamps said. "And today there are young people who are maybe 15, 16 years old, and they've lived through that. They had this happiness, to be able to live this event with us — of course maybe to be crazy and a little bit mad." Based on the losing experience of 2016, he revamped the team's routine ahead of the final. Player relaxation was at the forefront. And it worked. "They had to get that star, that shining star," Deschamps said, referring to the symbol that goes above a national team's crest to indicate a World Cup won. "I'm proud for them, and I'm also proud of myself — with all the humility, of course.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Vive la France! And a lot of other nations, too

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's father emigrated from Germany, and the France forward's mother is of Portuguese decent. Paul Pogba's parents arrived from Guinea. Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, his mom Algerian. Immigrants, sons of immigrants and grandsons of immigrants bonded together with scions of families that have been French for generations, all for the rouge, blanc et bleu. And for only the second time, France is the World Cup champion. About two-thirds of Les Bleus' roster included players with immigrant backgrounds, a mini-United Nations of soccer talent. "That is the France that we love," Griezmann said through a translator after Sunday's 4-2 victory over Croatia ended the most exciting World Cup final in decades. "It's beautiful to see it." Griezmann's free kick was headed in by Mario Manduzkic for the opening own-goal in the 18th minute, and then he converted a penalty kick for a 2-1 lead in the 38th after video review spotted a handball by Ivan Perisic. Mbappe's speed led to the third goal in the 59th . He added a goal of his own in the 65th , at 19 becoming the second-youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind 17-year-old Pele in 1958. Vive la diversite! A day after Bastille Day, the party was on. "The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France," midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, said through a translator ahead of the match. France won on a humid night in Russia, with thunderclaps during play and a downpour during the trophy presentation. Quite different from that indelible summer evening at Stade de France in 1998, when fans in the arena and throughout Paris sang "La Marseillaise" until dawn and young teenagers drove cars while their intoxicated parents sat in passenger seats. People called that team "Black, Blanc, Beur," noting how white, black and North African players came together. Zinedine Zidane, a son of Algerians, headed in a pair of first-half corner kicks against heavily favored Brazil. Patrick Vieira, born in Senegal, fed Normand-born Emmanuel Petit for the third in the 3-0 win. This year's team was perhaps even more diverse. Defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Zaire. Others descended from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Mococco and Senegal, plus Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. "There may be players who come from different origins, but we do have the same state of mind," Griezmann said. "We all play for the same jersey, the cockerel. For our country, we give everything we have. As soon as you wear the jersey, we do everything for each other." He scored the go-ahead goal after the first video review-created penalty kick in a World Cup final. During a delay of about four minutes that might have unnerved less-composed players. Griezmann told himself to pretend it was a league match. "Carry on and do the same thing as I normally do," he remembered thinking. At 27, he in his prime but in the penumbra of Spanish soccer at Atletico Madrid, toiling in a league that Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate. He led the 2016 European Championship with six goals and tied for second with four at the World Cup, three on penalty kicks, earning the Bronze Ball as third-best player behind Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Belgium forward Eden Hazard. Griezmann kissed the trophy, knowing his generation will be revered in the same way Zidane, Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez remain renowned from Calais to Cannes. "From tonight on, I'm sorry for them, but they are going to be different," coach Didier Deschamps said. "Those 23 players will be linked forever, forever. Whatever happens — they might follow different paths, but they will be marked forever and they will be together thanks to this event." Griezmann, man of the match in a World Cup final, will be on posters throughout the republic, asked for endorsements, a mainstay of commercials. He will asked for autographs for the rest of his life. "I'm going to be in the history of French football with my team," Griezmann said. "We don't quite realize it yet. Our children will very proud to have our names.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

WORLD CUP KICKOFF: A look at the World Cup’s final day

MOSCOW (AP) — Here’s a look at what’s coming up at the World Cup , which is down to its final day, featuring the title match Sunday in Moscow between France and Croatia. PUTIN REAPPEARS The Russian president has kept a fairly low profile at the World Cup considering he’s more or less the man behind the tournament. Vladimir Putin attended the opening match a month ago in Moscow, a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia that kicked off a surprising quarterfinal run for the home team. That’s evidently the only soccer he’s seen in person, though he has hosted a handful of events involving FIFA officials in and around Red Square, including a Saturday evening concert at the Bolshoi Theater. Putin was to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Sunday ahead of the final, then attend the match at Luzhniki Stadium a short drive from the Kremlin before heading off to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Finland on Monday. WORLD CUP-CLASS ENTERTAINMENT If Putin is into Puerto Rican pop, he’s in for a treat. The tournament’s official song, “Live It Up,” has showed up at World Cup stadiums about as often as Putin himself. It will be showcased Sunday when Will Smith joins singers Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi in performing it during the closing ceremony. The song is innocuous enough, but that doesn’t mean some controversy couldn’t crop up. Though the three avoided anything sensitive during their news conference this week, Istrefi has ruffled feathers in the past on a topic that caused problems earlier in the tournament: An ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, she upset some conservative Serbs last year when she shot a music video inside an Orthodox Church. FIFA fined several Swiss players, also ethnic Albanians, who made pro-Albania symbols with their hands in a comeback win over Serbia in the group stage. WHO’LL TAKE HOME THE HARDWARE England’s Harry Kane has six goals to his credit, making him a near lock to win the Golden Boot , awarded to the tournament’s top scorer. The awards based on judgment calls are more up in the air. Croatia midfielder Luka Modric is a good bet to be named player of the tournament if he plays well again and Croatia wins. But the Golden Ball could just as easily go to Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann if France triumphs. Best goalkeeper? Maybe the toughest call of all. The two playing Sunday — France captain Hugo Lloris and Croatian sensation Danijel Subasic — and England’s Jordan Pickford all have strong cases in a tournament where several ’keepers have excelled. OH, AND THAT OTHER TROPHY Will France win its second World Cup, or Croatia its first? That could come down to the Croats’ stamina. No team has played three extra-time matches in the same World Cup, as Croatia has done in its past three contests. Moreover, France has had one more day to prepare because its semifinal preceded Croatia’s. “An extra 24 hours is a really big thing at this stage of the tournament,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez noted Saturday, allowing for what edge his side might’ve had in its 2-0 win over England in the third-place match. On the other hand, Croatia has defied logic on this once already. It was faced with a fast, younger, relatively rested team in its semifinal against England, just as it is against France. After going down a goal, the Croats steadily grew stronger, controlling the game and beating opponents to the ball as if they were the ones with fresh legs, finally getting the winner in extra time. France will be favored for a lot of other good reasons , but another upset shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been watching Croatia or the rest of this upset-filled World Cup. Catch the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Final between France and Croatia on July 15, Sunday, 11 PM LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Another early exit for Socceroos at the World Cup

SYDNEY (AP) — Any Australians who didn't stay up to watch the World Cup woke up Wednesday to the inevitable news that their Socceroos failed to make it past the group stage for the third consecutive tournament. Caretaker coach Bert van Marwijk's tenure is over after the Australians lost 2-0 to Peru in their last group game and slumped to last place in a tough Group C which also included France and Denmark. The match began at midnight on Australia's east coast. Veteran striker Tim Cahill finally took the field in the 53rd minute for his first action in Russia but couldn't score a goal in his fourth consecutive World Cup. The worst news to come out of the tournament was that Socceroos attacker Andrew Nabbout requires a shoulder reconstruction and will miss the next six months. Nabbout is flying to Melbourne to have surgery after dislocating his right shoulder in Australia's draw with Denmark last week. "I have been told the rehab is about six months," Nabbout said after missing the loss to Peru. "It's a painful one but hopefully I can make it back in less and be ready for the Asian Cup (next year)." Australia had its preparations for the World Cup affected by the resignation of Ange Postecoglou as coach shortly after the Socceroos qualified for Russia. Van Marwijk was hired to coach for the World Cup only, and Graham Arnold will soon take over as a fulltime coach. "Agony," the Daily Telegraph in Sydney said in the headline. It also showed a picture of Cahill touching a goalpost and wondering if it is was his final goodbye to the sport. Dan Colasimone of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio said van Marwijk may have made the Socceroos too one dimensional. "In the end, van Marwijk talked a good game — when he spoke to the media at all — but he could not deliver one win at the World Cup for Australia, let alone qualification for the next round," Colasimone said. "The line Van Marwijk and his players repeated ad nauseam, in lieu of any clear public discussion of plans or formations or tactics, was that this side was built to deal with any situation, any opposition. Yet it was only really built to limit damage against superior sides.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018

Salah, Neymar, Messi, messy, messy: World Cup stars stifled

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — With nagging injuries, heavy marking from opponents and some simply uninspired play, the top stars of the 2018 World Cup have struggled to deliver on the impossible expectations they carried into the tournament, with one prominent Portuguese exception. Aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has all four of Portugal's goals in its two games, many of the biggest names are off to a shaky start. No one has had rougher treatment from the opposition than the world's priciest player, Neymar. During Brazil's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, the 26-year-old was fouled 10 times, the highest number on a single player in a single match since the 1998 World Cup, when England's Alan Shearer took 11 challenges against Tunisia. Overall, Switzerland fouled Brazil 19 times , with little intervention from the referee, and it worked — especially on Neymar. Brazilians suggested their opponents were too violent; Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes thinks Neymar has another problem. "He just falls too much," Fernandes said after the game in Rostov-on-Don. "Out of these 10, only seven or eight were fouls. We have to stop their star, and he is the star." Neymar felt the effects of the Swiss strategy long after Sunday's match ended, limping out of training Tuesday as he continues to recover from a foot injury he picked up before the tournament. He trained Wednesday and was confirmed as a starter for the match against Costa Rica on Friday. Superstar Lionel Messi did face heavy marking too, but he also had two uninspired performances for Argentina, which is now on the verge of early elimination after a 3-0 defeat against Croatia. Throughout the matches against Iceland and Croatia, disciplined defenders and midfielders stopped Messi from making his famous runs and getting one-on-one chances. Against Iceland, Messi saw his penalty spot kick saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, and the game ended 1-1. Against Croatia, he crumbled with the rest of the team, which now desperately needs to beat Nigeria in the last round of group stage to have a chance of advancing to the next phase. "Messi is human," Aguero said after the Iceland match. "Sometimes things happen for a reason. We need to be with him. This was a bad day, but he can decide a match at any given moment. Hope he is better against Croatia." Croatia was taking note. "You can't stop him with one player, you have to defend like a team. You saw that with Iceland," defender Dejan Lovren said ahead of the Argentina clash late Thursday. Egypt striker Mohamed Salah set a Premier League scoring record for Liverpool and held all the hopes for a deep run by the Pharaohs in their return to the World Cup, until he injured his shoulder playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final in a clash with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, of Spain. Salah sat out the opening 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Yekaterinburg, with coach Hector Cuper hoping to have him fit for Egypt's second match, against Russia. He made his World Cup debut in St. Petersburg and scored from the penalty spot, but only after the hosts led by three goals, and his mobility was clearly affected. He barely touched the ball in the first half and avoided physical contact with Russian defenders during the entire game, and Egypt was eliminated with one match left to play. Ronaldo isn't entirely alone in starting strong. Diego Costa has three of Spain's four goals, Harry Kane has both of England's, and Luka Modric scored one goal and set up the other in Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria. And there's plenty of time for others to turn things around. Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old striker at the center of the second-most expensive transfer in history, managed just one chance in France's 2-1 win over Australia in Kazan, but scored Thursday against Peru in front of an empty net. His famous runs and dribbles, however, were blocked by Australia's physical game. It's early, and the tournament has seen plenty of stellar play from lesser-known players, but many of the star scorers have work to do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Brazil wants to lower Neymar s expectations for World Cup

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil wants to reduce the expectations on Neymar. The world's most expensive footballer is at the end of his recovery from a foot operation, and joined 16 Brazil teammates on Monday for physical and medical tests at their Granja Comary camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro. Neymar was also going to receive a private meeting with Brazil coach Tite, who wants to try and reduce the pressure on the striker. "Neymar will hear from Tite that he spent three months off the pitch and will not be the exceptional Neymar after that," Brazilian Football Confederation coordinator Edu Gaspar said at the camp. "We will create some ground for him to get his self-confidence back, and that it goes up without too much pressure on his performances." Neymar hasn't played since late February when he cracked the fifth metatarsal that connects to the little toe in his right foot. On March 3 he underwent surgery in Brazil and returned to training just one week ago in France. "Neymar will keep doing what he is doing at Paris Saint-Germain. There is a physical part, then a technical one. But there will also be the emotional part, so he has the real magnitude of what we are thinking," Gaspar said. "We are not thinking only about Neymar, we will have communication strategies for every athlete." Gaspar said Neymar will be expected to play about 45 minutes of the friendly against Croatia in Liverpool on June 3, the first of two for Brazil before the World Cup. The second is against Austria in Vienna on June 10. "Today, we talked about playing those two games as if they were the World Cup," Gaspar said. "We need total reality then, so we start the tournament well. We studied those two teams tactically and saw they were ideal for those friendlies. For now, they are more important than our (World Cup) opener." Brazil opens in Russia against Switzerland on June 17 in Rostov. Their group also features Costa Rica and Serbia. Left back Marcelo, midfielder Casemiro, and striker Roberto Firmino will only join the squad in London next Monday, after Real Madrid and Liverpool meet in the Champions League final in Kiev. The first actual Brazil training will take place on Wednesday at the camp, which went through a $4 million renovation to host the team until Sunday. Brazil will have six practices in Teresopolis before moving camp to North London until June 8......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Mane leads Senegal s 23-man World Cup squad

By Ken Maguire, Associated Press DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal named its final 23-man squad for the World Cup on Thursday, with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane leading a group that includes key defender Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli and midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham. Coach Aliou Cisse, captain of the 2002 team that reached the quarterfinals in the country's only previous World Cup appearance, gambled on the fitness of Monaco winger Keita Balde and Anderlecht defender Kara Mbodji. Balde last played on April 7 while Mbodji missed most of this season with a knee problem but has recently returned to training. The 20-year-old Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr also made the squad. The midfield has an English league look with Kouyate, Idrissa Gueye of Everton, Cheikh Ndoye of Birmingham and Pape Alioune Ndiaye of Stoke selected. Cisse, appointed in 2015, is relying on the players who brought Senegal through the qualifying campaign. "This team, this selection above all reflects continuity and coherence," Cisse said at a news conference in Dakar. "For me, it's essential to preserve this positive dynamic." Cisse said he's been monitoring Mbodji's recovery and is confident the defender will be fit. If so, he'll likely form a strong partnership in central defense with Koulibaly. Much of Senegal's hopes rest with the 26-year-old Mane, who has been in sizzling form with 10 goals in 29 appearances in the Premier League. Although it's only Senegal's second World Cup appearance, there is plenty of expectation with the squad having been drawn with Poland, Japan and Colombia in Group H at the finals in Russia. Cisse's men will have training sessions next week at a resort town outside Dakar before moving camp to Vittel, a city in northeast France. Mane will join up late as Liverpool prepare for the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Senegal has pre-World Cup friendlies scheduled against Luxembourg (May 31), Croatia (June 8) and South Korea (June 11). ___ Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes, France); Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya, Guinea); Alfred Gomis (Spal 2013, Italy). Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy); Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor, Turkey); Moussa Wague (Kas Eupen, Belgium); Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux, France); Kara Mbodji (Anderlecht, Belgium); Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes, France); Salif Sane (Hanover, Germany). Midfielders: Cheihkou Kouyate (West Ham, England); Alfred Ndiaye (Wolverhampton, England); Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, England); Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham City, England); Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Stoke, England). Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England); Diafra Sakho (Rennes, France); Moussa Sow (Bursaspor, Turkey), Moussa Konate (Amiens, France); Ismaila Sarr (Rennes, France); Keita Balde (Monaco, France); Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke, England); Mbaye Niang (Torino, Italy)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Modric, Rakitic headline Croatia s preliminary WCup squad

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — In possibly their last World Cup as midfield partners, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic were named Monday in the provisional Croatia squad for the tournament in Russia. Modric's focus could be distracted by perjury charges he faces in his country for testimony about financial deals with a former Dinamo Zagreb director charged with embezzlement and tax fraud. The prosecutors in the eastern town of Osijek say Modric gave a false court statement in June about his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. Striker Mario Mandzukic, who just clinched yet another Serie A title with Juventus, was also chosen by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic for his 32-man selection. Mandzukic has scored 30 goals for his country in 82 international games. Forwards Ivan Perisic and Nikola Kalinic are also available up front. Center back Dejan Lovren, who will play in the Champions League final with Liverpool, and veteran Vedran Corluka will likely anchor Croatia's defense. Domagoj Vida, Josip Pivaric, Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic are also part of Croatia's defensive line. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and his likely backup, Lovre Kalinic, were also included. Croatia will play in Group D at the World Cup campaign against Nigeria on June 16 before facing Argentina on June 21 and Iceland on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Nigeria calm under Rohr for now

By Gerald Imray, Associated Press Gernot Rohr has restored stability to Nigeria heading into the World Cup. The German brought a sense of calm to a team that went through five coaches in two years following the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Africa's most populous nation flew through qualifying and was the first team to qualify from the region, seeing off continental champion Cameroon. Nigeria then showcased its qualities by winning a friendly last year against Argentina — its final Group D opponent. Nigeria has an array of attacking options that includes Premier League talent in Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa. The challenge is to ensure the defense is similarly strong and the squad doesn't get sidetracked by off-the-field issues that have undermined previous campaigns at major tournaments. At the 2014 World Cup, it was a disagreement over player payment that almost caused the team to go out on strike ahead of the last 16 game against France, which Nigeria lost. Rohr will be hoping there's no repeat. Here's a closer look at the Nigeria team: COACH Rohr hasn't had a high-profile career, coaching Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso before taking on one of Africa's most demanding football jobs. Rohr has set out to experiment with various formations in an effort to make the team more tactically aware and versatile, and able to compete with the best in the world like Argentina. Nigeria has lost just twice since Rohr took over in August 2016. GOALKEEPERS This area has been an issue for Nigeria ever since regular No. 1 Carl Ikeme revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. Rohr made Ikechukwu Ezenwa, one of the few Nigeria-based players in the squad, the new first-choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the World Cup qualifying campaign. But there may be a surprise in goal in Russia, with Rohr recently talking up 19-year-old prospect Francis Uzoho, who last year became the youngest foreign goalkeeper in La Liga when he made his debut for Deportivo La Coruna at 18. The 6-foot-5 teenager is definitely a talent. DEFENDERS Leon Balogun, born in Germany, and William Troost-Ekong, born in Netherlands, are the preferred central defensive partnership. Either side of them, places are up for grabs. Elderson Echiejile appears to be the first option at left back and Shehu Abdullahi at right back. But there are other contenders for starting places. One of the most intriguing is left back Brian Idowu, who was born in St. Petersburg to Nigerian parents and has lived his whole life and spent his entire career in Russia. MIDFIELDERS Captain John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi are the rocks of the team in central midfield and their diligence allows Nigeria to play three and sometimes four players in advanced positions. The 21-year-old Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester also has a growing reputation. FORWARDS Victor Moses' recent resurgence means Rohr expects the Chelsea forward to lead Nigeria's attack, which promises to be a handful for opponents. Alongside Moses, Musa and Alex Iwobi could be the other starting forwards if Rohr continues with a formation that gives him two men playing either side of central striker Musa. But the competition for places in Nigeria's attack is fierce. There's also Iheanacho, Moses Simon and China-based striker Odion Ighalo. GROUP GAMES Nigeria's opening game is against Croatia on June 16, it then plays Iceland on June 22 before the big one to finish its Group D campaign, against Lionel Messi and Argentina in St. Petersburg on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

The thunderclap heads to Russia: Iceland gets World Cup spot

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — The Icelandic thunderclap is making its way to Russia. Iceland added to its incredible European Championship campaign by becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup on Monday. That means the Viking chant popularized by Iceland fans at Euro 2016 will be heard across Russia next year. Iceland secured an automatic berth by defeating Kosovo 2-0 in Reykjavik to win Group I and kick-start celebrations in the island nation of about 330,000 people. Fireworks were set off after the match at a packed Laugardalsvollur Stadium, and captain Aron Gunnarssonled immediately led the crowd in the traditional chant in which players and fans yell and clap their hands at a rhythmic crescendo that is likened to a Viking war chant. The chant was a success when Iceland made its major tournament debut at the Euros in France last year, when it stunned by reaching the quarterfinals after drawing with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the group stage and eliminating England in the last 16. Serbia also qualified for the World Cup for the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. Ireland secured a playoff spot from Group D, while Gareth Bale's Wales was eliminated only 15 months after reaching the semifinals at Euro 2016. Spain and Italy won their last qualifying games in Group G, which had already been won by the Spaniards. Italy was already assured of a playoff spot. Here's a look at the action on Monday: strong>GROUP D /strong> Serbia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2010 by beating Georgia 1-0 in Belgrade with a goal by Aleksandar Prijovic's in the 74th minute. The result left Wales and Ireland to decide their fate in the Celtic showdown in Cardiff, and the Irish got the victory and a playoff berth after James McClean's 57th-minute goal following a defensive mix-up by the Welsh. 'That last half hour seemed an eternity,' Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said. 'We had to withstand pressure but we knew at some stage we would have to try to win the game and we did it.' Bale couldn't play for Wales because of injury. Serbia finished with two more points than Ireland, and four more than Wales. The Irish will try to qualify for the World Cup for a fourth time — and first since 2002. They will not be seeded in the playoffs draw which will take place on Tuesday. strong>GROUP G /strong> Spain ended its qualifying campaign by beating Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, while Italy scraped past Albania 1-0 in Shkoder in another poor effort which will do little to inspire confidence in coach Gian Piero Ventura and his team. 'We have some limitations at the moment but today there was the desire to try and do things,' Ventura said. With a World Cup berth already secured, Spain played without most of its regular starters in Jerusalem but won thanks to a long-range strike by Asier Illarramendi in the second half It finished unbeaten with nine wins and a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin last year. The Italians ended five points behind Spain. Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the match between the two bottom sides in the group. Liechtenstein was outscored 39-1 in its 10 qualifiers. strong>GROUP I /strong> Iceland made history by beating last-place Kosovo with a goal by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the first half and another by Johann Gudmundsson in the second, keeping the momentum from its inspiring run at Euro 2016. The result left the Icelanders two points in front of Croatia, which beat Ukraine 2-0 in Kiev to secure the playoff spot. Ukraine ended three points behind Croatia in third place. It was the tightest group in European qualifying. Iceland entered the final round with a two-point lead over both Croatia and Ukraine. Kosovo completed its maiden qualifying campaign for a major tournament with a single point from a draw at Finland. Iceland, unbeaten in 13 competitive home games, will be the smallest nation in terms of population to play in soccer's showcase event. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2017

Juventus beats Inter 1-0 to open up 11-point lead in Serie A

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Mario Mandzukic often scores important goals and he did so again as he helped Juventus to a 1-0 win over title rival Inter Milan in the Derby d'Italia on Friday. The imposing Croatia striker headed home in the 66th minute after Inter had missed a couple of golden opportunities as Juventus continued its seemingly unstoppable march to an eighth successive Serie A title. Juventus has an 11-point lead over second-placed Napoli, which hosts lowly Frosinone on Saturday. Third-place Inter is now 14 points behind Juventus. Paulo Dybala had the first chance of the match but headed Cristano Ronaldo's cross over the bar after drifting into the penalty area. Inter had two great chances in quick succession. Mauro Icardi did well to hold the ball up and pick out a good run from an unmarked Roberto Gagliardini, but his scuffed finish came off the inside of the right post. Moments later Icardi and Ivan Perisic both went for a Matteo Politano cross and ended up colliding with each other. Juventus began to take control and Marcelo Brozovic had to desperately slide in to block Rodrigo Bentancur's effort. Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini scored his first goal in two years in last week's 3-0 win at Fiorentina and he almost got another one but he headed the resulting corner narrowly over. Juventus finally broke the deadlock when former Inter midfielder Joao Cancelo put in a delightful cross from the left for Mandzukic — who netted in the World Cup final defeat to France — to nod in at the far post. There was more positive news for Juventus as midfielder Emre Can came on late on for his first appearance for the Bianconeri since Oct. 6, having undergone surgery to have a thyroid nodule removed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2018

FIBA WORLD CUP: Yeng assures Gilas ready for Kazakhstan

MANILA, Philippines --- Gilas Pilipinas is ready to go. On the eve of its home game against Kazakhstan, the Philippines has done all its necessary preparations for this crucial outing. Gilas wrapped up one of its final preps Thursday at the MOA Arena, with the official 12-man lineup going over specifics before the big game. "Were as ready as we can be," head coach Yeng Guiao said on his national team. "We should be ready, we don't want to burn out the guys. We also want them to be well-rested for tomorrow. It's going to be a physical game, so we're ready for that," he added. The Philippines destroyed Kazakhstan by 37 points in the Asian Games a couple of months back and so while that gives some sense of confidence on Gilas, you can never be too sure. Coach Yeng has his team ready for anything new Kazakhstan might offer this time around. "Sa nangyari doon sa Asian Games, I'm sure they'll make adjustments," Guiao said. "So we cannot totally rely on what we did in the Asian Games. I’m sure they’re going to do something different. So we’re just putting in some options just in case they try to differ from their original game plan in the Asian Games," he added. The Philippines and Kazakhstan will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the MOA Arena.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

Kai on first run with Gilas: 'Kapag nilagyan ko ng effort, nakaka-sabay naman ako'

Kai Sotto finally had the chance to run with Gilas Pilipinas Sunday against Lebanon and the Ateneo high school star is more than thrilled. Sotto was in uniform for the national team's last tune-up game ahead of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers and was given the chance to see the court for limited minutes. Kai started for Gilas in the second half and played for about six minutes. He made the most of his limited action and even tried to dunk on Lebanon's Ater Majok. He missed but he was fould and Sotto made the two free throws before he was subbed out. "Sayang, kasi yun na yung chance ko eh," Sotto said of his brave attempt to posterize the Lebanese powerhouse. "Okay lang," he added. As an official part of the 20-man pool for this upcoming FIBA window, Kai can be part of Gilas' final 12 for the very first time. Sotto elated to have an opportunity and he's ready to earn his slot. "Hindi sa mahirap pero kailangan mo talagang pagtrabahuhan. Iba yung mahirap sa yung kaya mo pero pagtatrabahuhan mo talaga," he said. "Kapag nilagyan ko ng effort, nakaka-sabay naman ako kahit papaano. Masaya ako dahil kahit papaano nasa isip pa rin ako ni coach Yeng, nagpapa-salamat ako sa kanya na sinama niya ako sa pool," Sotto said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 25th, 2018

FIBA WORLD CUP: Jordan walks out of practice game vs. Gilas Pilipinas

MANILA, Philippines --- Looks like Gilas Pilipinas can't escape controversy. Another game by the Philippine national team ended before the final buzzer as Jordan packed its bags and left the playing court Wednesday at the Meralco Gym here. At the time of Jordan's walkout, Gilas was up, 82-73, with 6:26 to go in the fourth period. Much like Monday's clash, the second of two practice games between the Philippines and Jordan was intense and physical. There was a mini commotion in the first half following a hard foul by a Jordan player on Christian Standhardinger. Jordan head coach Joseph Stiebing was called for a technical foul on that play and as tempers flared, Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao met his counterpart inside the court and a shouting match ensued. Things came to a fault in the fourth quarter when another Jordan player threw the ball at Scottie Thompson in protest of a foul. That triggered the final confrontation between the two head coaches in which Guiao says Stiebing challenged him to a fight. "The coach [Steibing] said he was ready to take my ass. I was challenging him to take my ass pero hindi naman siya ginawa," Guiao said of his aletercation with Stiebing. The Jordan coach didn't deny having choice words for Guiao but insisted that those words came during the heat of the moment. He argued that Guiao was cursing at his players and he asked for him to stop. Stiebing says coach Yeng persisted. "When an opposing coach curses at your players and calls them names, I think that's crossing the lines, and I think that's what got me upset. I asked the coach earlier, I said, 'Please, don't talk to my players.' And then he did it again. I've had players before, if a coach curses at them, they'll go after them and start a fight. I think that's unprofessional," Steibing said of Guiao. "And you know, I told the coach something that I shouldn't have said but I didn't curse at him and it was just at the heat of the battle. But I did ask him twice not to curse at my guys and he continued to do it even after that," he added. Following the walkout, Gilas ended up splitting its practice games against Jordan following Monday's six-point loss. The Philippine national team still has another pair of tune-up games this week against Lebanon before hosting Kazakhstan and Iran for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 21st, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018