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England, Gareth Southgate ready for football immortality

Gareth Southgate and England are ready to face the music......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarJul 11th, 2018

Paco Alcacer making most of 2nd chance with Spain

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Close to seeing his career stagnate, Paco Alcacer is making the most of a second chance to become Spain's top striker. Alcacer scored twice in his first appearance for Spain in two-and-a-half years to lead a 4-1 away win at Wales in a friendly last week. On Monday, the former Barcelona player will likely feature again when Spain hosts England in Seville seeking a second win over Gareth Southgate's team in the incipient Nations League. "I'm happy that I was able to help the team by doing what we strikers are supposed to, which is provide goals," Alcacer said after Thursday's match in Cardiff. "I just have to keep this good dynamic going." The 25-year-old Alcacer has been rejuvenated since leaving Barcelona on loan for Borussia Dortmund in August, a turnaround that has ended a hiatus from Spain's national team that was in danger of becoming a permanent adios. Previous to his two goals for Spain against Wales, Alcacer had scored seven times in a four-match scoring run for Dortmund. That streak included netting a spectacular hat trick that he completed on the last kick of the game for a 4-3 win over Augsburg. Ironically, Alcacer's slide toward oblivion at Barcelona began under current Spain coach Luis Enrique when he was condemned to a reserve role behind the superstar trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in 2016-17. Not even Neymar's departure at the start of last season changed the situation at Camp Nou for Alcacer. Favoring other players, new coach Ernesto Valverde gave him fewer appearances than Luis Enrique. So Alcacer decided that his best option was to leave Spain and try his luck in Germany. And it turned out that Alcacer just needed a chance to play. With his brace against Wales, Alcacer showed his leading quality as a striker. He is not the fastest, the strongest, nor the slickest passer; he is a pure goal scorer who excels at putting one-touch shots in-between the posts. Against Wales, Alcacer fired a rising right-footed shot into the near corner for the lead— and his first goal with Spain since Oct. 2015. He then put the win beyond doubt by poaching a clearance in the area to make it 3-0. "Alcacer is playing superbly because he is on a scoring streak, but overall his attitude has been marvelous," said Luis Enrique, who called Alcacer up to fill the void left by the injured Diego Costa. Alcacer was not supposed to need a comeback story. Four years ago, former Spain manager Vicente del Bosque considered Alcacer, along with Alvaro Morata, as his strikers of the future. The then Valencia player led Spain in qualifying for the 2016 European championship with five goals, but when he struggled to score for his club in the run-up to the tournament Del Bosque dropped him from his squad. Banished to the bench following his move to Barcelona from Valencia, Alcacer was also ignored by Julen Lopetegui in his two-year tenure that took Spain to last summer's World Cup. Circumstances, however, have put Alcacer in good position to now succeed for "La Roja." While competition remains fierce in the positions of midfielder and playmaker for Spain, the striker job is up for grabs. Long gone are the days when David Villa and Fernando Torres flourished up front for the 2010 world champions, as both Costa and Morata have failed to show they can be counted on for goals. Alcacer said that he had been preparing for this return to his best form. "It's about several things," he said, "about getting on a hot streak, about self-confidence, about having playing time, and, above all, about working each day when you are not playing so you can be ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 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

All those oh, so nears and more for England at World Cup

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — They sing of alcohol and agony, and of all those oh, so nears. The anguished English now have another line to add to the lyrics of "Three Lions": Football's not coming home. There was no penalty heartache this time, like in the semifinals at the 1990 World Cup or 1996 European Championship. But a 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time stopped England from reaching its first World Cup final since 1966. "It hurts a lot," England striker Harry Kane said. "It's going to hurt for a while." The fans sang of 30 years of hurt in 1996. Two years later, they refreshed it to 32. But the Lightning Seeds, an English musical act, stopped producing updates after that. It's now 52 years and counting. England came very close on Wednesday. For more than an hour, Gareth Southgate's young team led Croatia before the weary, aging opposition sprung back into life at the Luzhniki Stadium. Now, on their way to St. Petersburg for a third-place playoff against Belgium, there are just so many agonizing misses to replay in their heads. Kane. Jesse Lingard. Raheem Sterling. Chances to build on the lead secured by Kieran Trippier's free kick in the fifth minute. While Trippier did Bend it like Beckham for his goal, this generation of England players is far removed from the celebrity-obsessed David Beckham-era that straddled the millennium. They even managed to win a game on penalties, breaking the streak of five tournament shootout losses, in the round of 16. "Wasn't to be this time," British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter amid the latest Brexit turmoil within her government, "but it's been a great journey that's made the country proud." There is a genuine sense of warmth between this squad and its followers. The apathy of just four years ago — when the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium was more than half empty — replaced by a newfound affection for the national team under Southgate. Fans could relate to players like Kane, Trippier and John Stones, who toiled through lower leagues to eventually reach the pinnacle of the game. The coach even became an unlikely fashion icon. "If we have brought joy back home, which I know we have," Southgate said, "that has been worthwhile." Tens of thousands packed into Hyde Park in central London to watch Wednesday's match, roaring in delight and flinging beer in the air when Trippier scored. Thousands more made the journey from England to Russia, packing into the Luzhniki after shunning the group stage. Even after Mario Mandzukic's 109th-minute goal, a young squad was saluted for exceeding expectations with its deep progress in this year's tournament. "They are still maturing and Croatia have some hardened warriors," Southgate said. "They have broken through a number of barriers over the last few weeks. We have made such strides with our supporters." And still they sang , long after the final whistle as midnight approached, about "drinking all your vodka." There are sorrows to drown, but this was not an embarrassment for England. No need to rip up the script that has seen England recover from the humiliation of being denied a place at the 2008 European Championship by Croatia with a coaching blueprint instilled through all age groups winning titles. Champions last year at both the under-17 and under-20 World Cups, collecting the main prize will have to wait at least until 2022. A timepiece at the national team's St. George's Park base has been counting down to the final in Qatar. It was compared to the Doomsday Clock when new leadership took charge at the Football Association. But Southgate has real optimism that his team can hit its peak in the Gulf in four years — from Kane up front to Jordan Pickford in goal. "It's clear to everyone the progress that's been made in terms of the level of performances and the quality of the group," Southgate said. "This is a thoroughly different journey." English soccer has now had its reset moment. The country came to Russia to regain respect. From the ignominy of the failure to win a game at the 2014 World Cup to the meek collapse against Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. "This team has taken us to a place that we never thought we would ever have imagined we would get," Gary Neville, England's assistant coach during the Euro 2016 campaign, said on British broadcaster ITV. "They have taken the nation with them." For all the playfulness in practice with rubber chickens, splashing around with unicorns in a pool and the sense this was a group of friends having fun on an extended summer vacation, there was always a steely, winning mindset. There should be tinges of regret about falling short at a World Cup where defending champion Germany was eliminated in the group stage, and Argentina, Brazil and Spain fell before the semifinals. England does not appear in semifinals very often. Southgate was in the last one 22 years ago. A post-match news conference after the loss to Croatia looked like the last place he wanted to be. "I'm trying to get the balance right," Southgate said, "of recognizing that tonight was a wonderful opportunity for us and you can't guarantee that those opportunities will ever come again." Football will come home in two years when Wembley Stadium stages seven games, including the semifinals and final, at the 2020 European Championship. Southgate has to find a way to get his team one step further than in Russia. Without just coming oh, so near......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Coach of England wins the nation s heart by being a nice guy

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — In an age of tattoos, tongue piercings and tensions over Brexit, a soft-spoken man in a dark blue waistcoat and striped tie is uniting England amid dreams of victory in soccer's World Cup. Coach Gareth Southgate is the buttoned-down leader of a new generation of players who speak softly and let their victories silence critics. And England supporters have found that refreshing after years of underperforming teams led by stars such as David Beckham, who became as much a celebrity as an athlete. "He's very much about a team spirit. It's more about the collective — you can see it in the way he deals with the squad," said Paul Willis, who was in the stands last Saturday in Samara, Russia, when England reached the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. "We had superstars, but we didn't have a team." Southgate's focus on teamwork and civility has made him an unlikely icon in a country that is deeply divided by bitter arguments over plans to leave the European Union and a widening gap between rich and poor. England Captain Harry Kane may be the tournament's leading scorer, but fans are donning waistcoats and ties — even as the country enjoys an unusually hot summer — in homage to Southgate as pundits extol the 47-year-old coach's calm leadership. "He has shown us the value of courtesy, kindness, hard work and that most derided of virtues, niceness," columnist India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times. "He has redefined not just how to be a manager, but how to be a man." Southgate displayed his character after England's July 3 victory over Colombia, offering a supportive hug to Colombian player Mateus Uribe after his miss in a penalty shootout helped England advance. The England coach understood Uribe's agony, having missed a similar shot at the 1996 European championships. The moment of empathy also reminded the country how Southgate once lampooned his own failure with a Pizza Hut commercial in which he wore a bag over his head to shield his identity from angry fans. Southgate's compassion sparked a hashtag for the coach's real and imagined acts of kindness such as "#GarethSouthgateWould stop and help you put the chain back on your bike even if he was all dressed in his waistcoat and late for the game." Southgate became manager less than two years ago after the Football Association's first choice was forced out after unguarded comments to undercover reporters. Since then he has quietly ushered out the last of the old stars and brought together a group of youngsters who modestly shrug off compliments and give kudos to their teammates. Perhaps more importantly, he recognized the contribution of the fans, something that had been eroded during the superstar era. After every game, Southgate and his players walk across the field to applaud the supporters who have traveled to Russia to cheer for the team. "We had lost a bit of connection," Willis, a 57-year-old fan from Birmingham, said of past regimes. "That is now back. All the team and the back room applaud our input to the game." That has also translated into huge support back home in football-mad England. At least 20 million people, 38 percent of England's population, watched Saturday's victory over Sweden, according to figures from the BBC. Commentators say the actual number was much higher because so many people watched the game on huge screens in parks and shopping centers. London authorities are inviting 30,000 fans to the city's Hyde Park for a screening of Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. Fearing demand will far exceed that, authorities stressed that only those with tickets should come to the park. Ticket services reported hundreds of people were trying to dump theater tickets for Wednesday because they had more pressing business elsewhere. Social media sites are urging fans to wear waistcoats — please don't call them vests — to the office ahead of the big match — a "Waistcoat Wednesday" if you will. Marks & Spencer, the official tailor to the England team, says sales of the grandfatherly garments have doubled during the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand, one of the previous "golden generation" of players who is now a commentator for the BBC, has been leading the cheers for this year's team, asking fans to post video of their beer-throwing, chest-bearing, flag-waving celebrations after the win over Sweden. On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate's unique contribution. "Why weren't the golden generation... the golden generation???" he tweeted. "We as players look at ourselves first...we never performed....but sometimes you have to be allowed to perform! Gareth is allowing this current @England to do this." That's paying off. Kane, who turns 25 later this month, has scored six goals in the tournament. Dele Alli, 22, came back from injury to score the team's second goal against Sweden. Fabian Delph, 28, played the last 15 minutes of Saturday's game after missing the previous game against Colombia because Southgate allowed him to go home for the birth of his third child. Southgate himself recognizes the contributions of everyone, from the physiotherapists to the players who push their teammates in practice but rarely get into a game, even to fans back home. "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and I think sport has the power to do that and football in particular has the power to do that," he said. "So for us, we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home, and that's, that's a very special feeling. It's a privilege." Barring that, it does help to have a snappy waistcoat. "Quite frankly, I don't care what he wears," Willis said. "He can wear a tutu if we carry on winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

England completes World Cup prep by beating Costa Rica 2-0

LEEDS, England (AP) — Marcus Rashford scored from long range as England beat Costa Rica 2-0 in its final World Cup warm-up match on Thursday. In a rare England match away from Wembley, Danny Welbeck headed in the second after coming off the bench in the second half at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium. The victory came four years after England drew 0-0 with Costa Rica as it slumped out of the World Cup in the group stage. Just five members from Roy Hodgson's squad in Brazil are heading to the World Cup in Russia next year, with Gareth Southgate favoring promise over experience. This is a fresh group bursting with potential and Rashford is among the contenders to star judging by this audition in northern England, where a superb 25 yard (meter) opener in the 13th minute crowned a fine performance. The players were greeted earlier in the day by Prince William, who is president of the English Football Association but won't be traveling to Russia as a fallout from the diplomatic tensions between the countries. England opens its World Cup Group G campaign against Tunisia on June 18. Costa Rica plays Serbia in Group E the previous day......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Kane named England’s World Cup captain

Tottenham striker Harry Kane will be England's captain at the World Cup in Russia, the Football Association announced on Tuesday. Manager Gareth Southgate has shared the leadership role around since taking over as manager in 2016 but has now settled on Kane for the tournament, which begins next month. The 24-year-old, who has scored 12 goals in 23 international appearances, was first handed the armband for the qualifier against Scotland last June and has skippered the side on three further occasions. Southgate, who announced his decision during a team meeting at England's training base on Monday, said: "Harry has some outstanding personal qualities. He is a meticulous profes...Keep on reading: Kane named England’s World Cup captain.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: England looks to beak cycle of pain

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — England is attempting to break a cycle of heartache and humiliation at major tournaments that plunged the birthplace of football to its lowest ebb. A loss to Iceland in the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship was perhaps the ultimate embarrassment. Or maybe that came when the English endured their shortest World Cup campaign two years earlier whey they were only in contention for eight days. Before that, there were penalty shootout losses in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. And before that, who could forget Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal that denied England in the World Cup semifinals in 1986? It's no surprise that the nation's expectations are low heading to Russia. England coach Gareth Southgate has long been tempering his team's prospects. Defender Kyle Walker even acknowledged it would be a "miracle" if England won football's biggest prize this year. England won the 1966 World Cup, but has only reached the semifinals of a tournament twice since then. What next for one of the underachievers of international football? Encouraging draws in recent friendlies against Brazil, Germany and Italy show the English are heading in the right direction but they have been here before in the run-up to tournaments. Here's a closer look at the England team: COACH Southgate was promoted from England's under-21 team to become coach of the senior side in September 2016, with the appointment widely viewed with skepticism because of his lack of managerial experience in top-level soccer. However, opinions are changing on the former England defender who missed the decisive penalty in a shootout against Germany in the European Championship semifinals in 1996. He has made brave selection decisions — dropping Wayne Rooney, for starters — and has implemented a bold approach that has seen the team adopt a three-man defense and play the ball out from the back as much as possible. GOALKEEPERS Long-time starter Joe Hart has lost his place after a tough two years on loan at Torino and West Ham from Manchester City, with Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland moving ahead in the pecking order. Pickford, whose distribution is superior to Butland's, is expected to begin the World Cup as first choice. Hart should still be in the squad as third-choice goalkeeper, with Southgate valuing his experience gained playing for City and at international level since 2010. DEFENDERS Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young — attacking full backs with good delivery and energy — look to be England's starting wing backs, so it is the center-back combination that will be occupying Southgate's thoughts. John Stones and Harry Maguire are favorites to start even though the former is fourth choice at Manchester City and has barely played in 2018, while the latter is inexperienced. Kyle Walker, a pacey right back, has impressed in recent friendlies as a right-sided center back and other options include Joe Gomez, James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson. MIDFIELDERS England will play with either two or three central midfielders, depending if the team is deployed in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation, and they are likely to be functional, hard-working players. It's a far cry from the days when the country could call upon stars of the Premier League like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. Instead, Southgate will rely on selfless players such as Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and the unheralded Lewis Cook, who will keep their shape and allow the wing backs and forward players to offer a goal threat. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain definitely out injured and Adam Lallana unlikely to prove his fitness, the injury-prone Jack Wilshere could again make the plane as a wildcard midfielder. FORWARDS The most straightforward department for Southgate: Harry Kane will start as the central striker, with Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford as backups. Kane has been hit and miss for Tottenham this season, especially in recent weeks after returning quicker than expected from an ankle injury, but is England's most lethal striker and arguably its most important player. Raheem Sterling will be the main support for Kane, maybe along with either Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli or even 22-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek if Southgate opts for a 3-4-3 formation. GROUP GAMES England, which is based just outside St. Petersburg, opens Group G against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18. The team then plays Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and finishes against Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Jesse Lingard s goal gives England 1-0 win over Netherlands

By Mike Corder, Associated Press AMSTERDAM (AP) — Jesse Lingard scored his first international goal as England beat the Netherlands 1-0 Friday in a friendly that proved Gareth Southgate's team can win without striker Harry Kane. Lingard opened his England account in his ninth international, firing low into the corner past the despairing dive of Jeroen Zoet in the 59th minute after a cross from the left had rebounded to him off a Dutch defender. It was a deserved victory for England, which looked quicker and more dangerous than the Dutch going forward, even without injured captain Kane, and solid at the back. "I was pleased. I knew we would have pace and energy in the team but I was really, really pleased with the composure," Southgate said. "At times a little more quality in the final third was needed." The match at the Amsterdam Arena was a World Cup tune-up for England, while it marked the start of a rebuilding process for new Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman, who took over the reins after the Dutch failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia. "We were well organized in defense, generally didn't give away many chances, but we didn't create many either," Koeman said. While the Netherlands was largely impotent in front of goal, Southgate showed his squad's strength when he was able to replace Lingard, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford midway through the second half with Dele Alli, Danny Welbeck and Jamie Vardy. "We are playing England and you see the difference in quality," Koeman said. England plays Italy on Tuesday at Wembley in its last friendly before Southgate names his World Cup squad. With Kane missing, Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson led his team, while his club teammate Virgil van Dijk wore the Dutch captain's armband for the first time in his international career. Southgate's starting forward lineup of Sterling and Manchester United teammates Lingard and Rashford had only four goals between them in their previous internationals and they rarely threatened to add to that tally before the break despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's strong runs from midfield. Southgate said he was pleased with individual performances, but also with the fact his team looked like it was having fun. "I think probably most pleasing (was) the players looked like they enjoyed their football tonight," he said. "They enjoyed the ball." England suffered an early setback when Liverpool defender Joe Gomez limped off with a left ankle injury after just five minutes. Henderson came closest to opening England's account before the break when his flicked header from a Kieran Trippier free kick drifted just wide of Zoet's far post in the 32nd minute. Five minutes later, Zoet sprinted well out of his area for a sliding tackle to deny Sterling a chance. Bas Dost and Memphis Depay had the best Dutch chances, with Dost heading over from close range in the first half and Depay shooting straight at Pickford at the end of the first half and again late in the second half from a free kick. Police arrested some 90 England fans before the match for public order offenses mostly around the narrow cobbled streets of Amsterdam's Red Light District and some of the England fans booed during the Dutch national anthem. "It is not something I want to hear," Southgate said. "Our players have represented their country really well tonight, with pride and with some style, so anything else that takes away from that performance for them would be a great shame.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

Rooney excited for great moment in England farewell

WASHINGTON, USA – Wayne Rooney says he is honored to make a final appearance for England and happy for manager Gareth Southgate to decide his playing time Thursday, November 15, against the United States. Former Manchester United star Rooney, in video comments released Monday by his Major League Soccer club DC ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 13th, 2018

France lose top spot to Belgium in FIFA rankings

World Cup winners France dropped one place to second in the FIFA rankings on Thursday as Belgium moved up to claim top spot. England and Uruguay were the only other movers in the top 10, Gareth Southgate's men moving up one place to fifth and Uruguay moving the other way, to sixth. Elsewhere, lowly Gibraltar was rewarded for recent wins over Armenia and Liechtenstein by moving up eight places to 190th. FIFA rankings as of October 25: 1. Belgium 2. France (-1 place) 3. Brazil 4. Croatia 5. England (+1) 6. Uruguay (- 1) 7. Portugal 8. Switzerland 9. Spain 10. Denmark...Keep on reading: France lose top spot to Belgium in FIFA rankings.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 25th, 2018

England hands Spain its first home loss in 15 years

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It was an odd scene at Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville: The few visiting English fans were chanting "Ole" at every touch of the ball by their squad, while the home Spanish crowd was jeering its own players. It was only halftime on Monday and the Spaniards had already seen their national team concede three goals for the first time ever in a competitive match at home. By the end, they were witnesses to La Roja's first home loss in 15 years. Raheem Sterling scored twice and Marcus Rashford once in a stunning first half for England, which held on to beat Spain 3-2 in the UEFA Nations League to get back in contention for a spot in the final four of Europe's newest competition. In the other match in League A, Iceland lost to Switzerland 2-1 and was relegated to the second-tier League B. Sterling ended his three-year scoring drought with England with goals on each side of Rashford's strike before the break, leading England to its first win in Spain since 1987. "For a young team, they put in an incredibly mature performance, withstood pressure reasonably well and should all be really proud," England coach Gareth Southgate said. Spain suffered its first loss in a competitive match at home since 2003 against Greece. It hadn't lost at home in 38 matches, and had not conceded three goals in a home match since 1991 in a friendly against Hungary. "It shows how tough it is to come here and win and we have done that," England forward Harry Kane said. "We came out of the blocks firing, great pressing." Paco Alcacer scored Spain's first goal early in the second half and Sergio Ramos claimed the second on the final play of the match. "We have to admit we played very badly in the first half," Spain coach Luis Enrique said. "We made a lot of individual mistakes." Despite the loss, Spain stayed ahead in Group 4 of League A with two more points than England after three matches. Croatia, with a game in hand, was five points behind Spain. Spain could have secured a spot in the last four with a win, while a draw would have ended England's chances of advancing. Only the group winner moves on. Spain started well but its high defensive line struggled against the speed of England's young forwards. The visitors were clinical, scoring on all of their attempts on goal. Spain totaled 25 attempts and 70 percent of possession, and blew it. England opened the scoring early in a fast breakaway. Rashford sent a nice ball into space for Sterling, who entered the area with only the goalkeeper to beat and found the top of the net with a superb finish. It was his first goal for England since 2015, and first ever away from Wembley. "It was a beautiful feeling," Sterling said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to get in the box and score. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't, but it's my position to score goals so I need to keep that going." Rashford added to the lead in the 30th after a perfect through ball by Kane, entering the area and finishing with a shot from near the penalty spot. Sterling got on the board again from close range after Kane's set-up in a move which started with a nice pass by Ross Barkley over the top of the Spanish defenders. Spain got on the board in the 58th through a header by substitute striker Alcacer, who has 10 goals in his last six games with club and country. Ramos' last-minute goal also was a header. RELEGATED ICELAND Iceland needed to beat Switzerland for the first time to avoid relegation but the Swiss got off to a two-goal lead and held on to victory. Switzerland routed Iceland 6-0 at home in the team's opener. It moved into a tie with Belgium for first place in Group 2. The Belgians have a game in hand. LOWER LEAGUES In League B, Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 at home to take a six-point lead over Austria atop Group 3. In Group 2 of League C, Finland beat Greece 2-0 at home to remain perfect with four wins and a clean sheet after four matches. Estonia and Hungary drew 3-3 in the group's other match. Luxembourg defeated San Marino 3-0 to take the lead in Group 2 of League D, ahead of Belarus, which was held by Moldova to 0-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

49ers lose QB Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending knee injury

By JOSH DUBOW,  AP Pro Football Writer SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo's addition last season immediately turned around the fortunes of the San Francisco 49ers. Now the 49ers will have to go back to life before Garoppolo for the rest of the season. The Niners announced Monday that Garoppolo tore the ACL in his left knee while making a cut late in a loss at Kansas City, sidelining him for the rest of the season. "It is very unfortunate," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It was hard waking up today. We were down and disappointed about it because we were looking forward a lot to playing with Jimmy this year and going through the good and the bad knowing that he'd benefit from all of it. Now we don't get to do it. I know Jimmy is really down about it and so are we but it's still going to be all right." The injury deals a serious blow to the 49ers (1-2), who had planned their rebuild around Garoppolo and now must turn again to C.J. Beathard at quarterback. Garoppolo will undergo surgery in the next week or two after the swelling goes down and should be ready to play again next season. The 49ers are planning to promote Nick Mullens from the practice squad and also will bring several veterans in for tryouts this week, including Tom Savage, Kellen Clemens, possibly T.J. Yates and Matt Moore. One quarterback who won't be brought in is former 49ers starter Colin Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with San Francisco in March 2017 after Shanahan decided he wanted to go with a style of offense that didn't fit Kaepernick's game. "That's what I said last year and it's the same situation now," Shanahan said. "I always look into what style of offense I want to do and what style of offense we've been doing the last two years." The Niners struggled with Beathard and Brian Hoyer last season before the midseason addition of Garoppolo changed their fortunes. San Francisco won the final five games last year after Garoppolo took over as starter and the team rewarded him with a $137.5 million, five-year contract. The 49ers will have to wait another year to earn dividends on that investment. Garoppolo got hurt in the fourth quarter of a 38-27 loss Sunday when he was scrambling toward the sideline and decided to cut up field instead of going out of bounds. Garoppolo's left knee buckled just before Kansas City cornerback Steven Nelson delivered a big hit, ending what was supposed to be his first full season as a starter after just three games. Shanahan said the play should serve as a reminder to quarterbacks about the importance of protecting their bodies. "That's something that Jimmy will probably look at differently going forward because now he'll remember this the rest of his life," Shanahan said. "Nothing against him. This happens with everyone. You see it every Sunday. It's a reminder for everyone why it's an obvious coaching point." Expectations were high in San Francisco this season that the team could end a four-year playoff drought after Garoppolo had a full offseason to immerse himself in Shanahan's offense. But with Garoppolo and new running back Jerick McKinnon both knocked out for the season with torn ACLs in September, those high hopes have been put on hold. Garoppolo had completed 59.6 percent of his passes with five TDs, three interceptions and an average of 8.1 yards per attempt for a 90 passer rating. While he hasn't been quite as efficient as he was late last year after being acquired at the trade deadline from New England for a second-round pick, the Niners offense has been far more potent than it was before he took over as quarterback. Beathard started five games as a rookie last year, completing 54.9 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, six interceptions, 19 sacks, 6.4 yards per attempt and a 69.2 passer rating that was second lowest in the NFL. Beathard threw a touchdown pass to George Kittle on his first snap Sunday only to have it negated by a penalty and wasn't in for any other plays in the game. "I have a lot of confidence in C.J.," Shanahan said. "I think C.J. got a lot of experience last year. We liked him a lot coming out of college. ... He got thrown into as tough a situation as I could imagine a rookie quarterback being thrown in and the guy didn't blink." NOTES: CB Richard Sherman will miss a couple of weeks with a strained left calf. ... RB Matt Breida hyperextended his knee and is questionable this week. ... RG Mike Person will be questionable with a sprained knee......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2018

Dejected England, Belgium aim to leave World Cup on a high

    SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – England manager Gareth Southgate admits the World Cup 3rd-place playoff is a game that no team wants to play, but the match against Belgium on Saturday, July 14, offers the chance to finish the tournament on a winning note. A gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to Croatia after extra-time denied ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

‘We left everything out there’, says England manager Southgate

Moscow, Russia — Manager Gareth Southgate said England “left everything out there” after falling to an extra-time defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday. England were hoping to reach a first World Cup final since 1966, but let an early lead slip to lose 2-1. “I think in the first half we […].....»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

England sees ‘bloody’ clash vs Sweden

Having intentionally steered England into what’s widely considered the weaker half of the World Cup’s knockout bracket, coach Gareth Southgate is now casting the upcoming quarterfinal against Sweden as “bloody difficult.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

Team manager Dan Palami hopes new coach re-energizes Azkals

With new head coach Terry Butcher set to join the Azkals as they begin preparations for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, there are already expectations from the Philippine National Men’s Football Team moving forward. And from team manager Dan Palami’s side, he expects the former England skipper to re-energize the Pinoy squad as they get ready for what’s set to be a crucial pair of tournaments in the coming months. “I expect him to bring new energy, his leadership when he was a player and as a coach in his clubs will be infectious and will give the players the high that’s needed, rejuvenate them and get them to prove themselves in the competitions that are about to come.” Palami told ABS-CBN Sports. (READ ALSO: Azkals captain Phil Younghusband excited to learn from new coach) The arrival of Butcher signals the end of the Thomas Dooley era for the Azkals.  Dooley, who handled the Philippine National Team from 2014 to 2018, steered the Azkals to their biggest win yet, one over Tajikistan to secure their spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in Philippine football history, in his final match with the team.  And while there was nothing but gratitude for what Dooley did with the team during his four year stint, Palami explains that changes needed to be made, even coming off the heels of the team's biggest victory in history.  "Believe you me, when everything seems to be looking up, then you have to prepare for that, because you usually see a lot of downs, but the good thing is, we’re up and down, up and down, but the general trend is going up." "We wanna make sure that that continues and even bring it up some more, and that’s why sometimes we have to make changes, it’s a catalyst that will make us perform better, I hope, because historically, that’s how it’s been. Everytime we make changes, people criticize it, people get anxious, but at the end of the day, we have shown that our perfomance has gotten better." Palami added.  Later this year, the Azkals will be participating in the Suzuki Cup, and it could be a shot at redemption after having crashed out of the semifinals in the tournament’s previous staging back in 2016. Barely two months after the Suzuki Cup, the Azkals embark on their most important journey yet, as they kick off their AFC Asian Cup campaign, the highest level they’ve ever been on. Being grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan in Group C, it’s definitely an uphill battle for the Azkals, given that the country is on the lower tier of the pool in terms of rankings. Palami says that defying the odds is nothing new to Butcher, who back in 2009 to 2013, took a relegated Inverness club back to the Scottish Premier League. “Let’s face it, the Philippines is not the most palatable country to coach, but I think with Coach Terry, he has been in similarly-situated conditions, although in club levels. When he was in Inverness, he achieved a great deal with such a small club with such a small budget.” “It’s kind of inspiring, it parallels the journey of the Azkals, na parang maybe he could do the same, and he’s shown that kind of spirit throughout these years, since that time. I’m looking forward to him sharing that experience and bringing that experience dito sa atin.” Palami added. With a new coach, a new coaching staff, and new beginnings, this could be the start of something grand for the Azkals. For Palami and the rest of the squad, it’s nothing but excitement for the coming months. “I think everybody’s excited. We look forward to the tandem of Terry and [Senior Football Adviser] Scott [Cooper] doing a lot for Philippine football and the Azkals.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

England prepares for World Cup with 2-1 win over Nigeria

LONDON (AP) — England relied on goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane before slackening in the second half to beat Nigeria 2-1 in a World Cup warmup match on Saturday. On his first England appearance since October, Cahill headed in the opener in the seventh minute from Kieran Trippier's corner in front of 70,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. Raheem Sterling set up Kane to double England's lead in the 39th before Alex Iwobi reduced the deficit in the opening two minutes of the second half. After a week in the headlines over a gun tattoo and returning late for England duty, Sterling courted more controversy when he was booked for simulation for hitting the ground all too easily as goalkeeper Francis Uzoho came off his line to claim the ball. "I had a decision to make whether to play him after turning up late," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "But, actually, that wasn't a decision after he started to come under fire from every other direction. "It wasn't about getting a response. The most important thing I do in the next six weeks is protect the players. They respect each other and understand how important it is they support and protect each other." Sterling hopes to block out the criticism. "People will see stuff in the wrong way," he told broadcaster ITV. "If I got left out I wouldn't have had any complaints because I had to meet up at 11 o'clock, flight got delayed and I was a bit late in the morning so I completely understand where he's (the manager) coming from." England has another friendly against Costa Rica in Leeds on Thursday before Southgate's side opens its campaign in Russia against Tunisia on June 18. Nigeria, which was held by Congo on Monday, plays the Czech Republic on Wednesday before facing Croatia in its World Cup opener on June 16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Colts say rivalry on after McDaniels backs out of deal

By Michael Marot, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts general manager Chis Ballard showed up for a news conference Wednesday — just not the one he expected. Instead of introducing Josh McDaniels as the team’s new head coach, Ballard stood in front of reporters trying to explain why New England’s longtime offensive coordinator reneged on a deal he initially accepted. But if Ballard’s disgust about losing his top choice wasn’t clear from the occasional glare or the strong pitch in his voice, he left no doubt with one parting shot. “The rivalry is back on,” he said before leaving. Conducting a coaching search in February isn’t what Ballard or Indy envisioned when Chuck Pagano was fired just hours after Indy completed a 4-12 season on Dec. 31. Exactly 24 hours after announcing McDaniels’ hiring on the team’s Twitter account and roughly 16 hours after he called back to tell Ballard he was out, the search begins anew for the jilted Colts. Their other finalist, Mike Vrabel, has already taken the Tennessee job. Another top-tier candidate, Mike Nagy, has already been hired in Chicago. Baylor coach Matt Rhule, who also interviewed for the job, is back on campus getting ready for spring football. And it’s unclear where the Colts may turn next. “We have a list of candidates, I’ve had them from the get-go,” Ballard said. “There are other guys we wanted to interview, but because of the playoffs, we weren’t able to. “We’ll move forward with them and we will get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts — one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go. I’m very confident in this.” Ballard didn’t name names, of course, nor did he provide a timetable. Oddly, the timing could present Indy with a unique opportunity to pick off a candidate who might emerge as a top candidate on next year’s coaching carousel. Several possibilities exist including Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who was part of a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots with a backup quarterback. The good news for Indy is that the only coaching vacancy still looks pretty attractive — if Andrew Luck is healthy. Indy still has Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton, Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle, a revamped defense that showed major improvement as last season went along, the No. 3 pick in the draft and about $80 million to spend in free agency. Luck, meanwhile, continues to be the big question as he rehabs from last January’s surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Some believe McDaniels’ sudden change of heart was related to doubts about Luck’s health. Ballard didn’t bother asking McDaniels why he made the decision. On Wednesday, though, he attempted to alleviate lingering concerns about Luck while acknowledging the franchise quarterback still hasn’t thrown a football since returning from Europe late last year. “At this point, we feel very strongly that Andrew is in a good place. He doesn’t need surgery,” Ballard said. “I have not gotten that from the two doctors that he’s seen here after the season. His strength is good. He’s working on his throwing motion and he’s working on his arm speed right now. He has not picked up a football, but he is throwing balls, working on arm speed. “He’s going to do everything right to get himself ready to play and I’m very confident, he’s very confident, that he’s going to come back and prove a lot of people wrong,” Ballard added. McDaniels decision didn’t just leave the Colts in the lurch. Three assistant coaches — Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo — had already been hired in Indy. While Ballard said he likes all three and will honor their contracts by keeping them on the next coach’s staff, others strongly criticized McDaniels from walking away from them. “Haven’t read the article but I can tell you there is NO excuse big enough to justify this,” Dungy wrote on Twitter in response to a story that indicated McDaniels stayed with the Pats because he was more comfortable with the team. “It’s one thing to go back on your word to an organization. But having assistant coaches leave jobs to go with you then leave them out to dry is indefensible.” But as the news conference continued, Ballard said people say no to job offers every day, he wished McDaniels well at the end of Tuesday night’s brief call and that his primary concern now is finding someone who wants the job. “To me, it’s about being right,” Ballard said. “You’ve got to be right. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first out of the box and everybody praises you or you are the last one to make the hire. We want to be right.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2018

Showdown set: Battle-tested Patriots vs. fresh-faced Jaguars

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Watch out, New England. Here comes Sacksonville. Tom Brady and the big game-tested Patriots square off against the sack-happy Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, Massachusetts — with the winner headed to the Super Bowl. That's nothing new for New England, of course, which has been there three of the past six seasons. For fresh-faced Jacksonville, however, this is all rare territory. The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl. "I'm sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove or talk negative or hate or do whatever they want," quarterback Blake Bortles said. "But we get to keep playing. We get an opportunity to go play in Foxborough for another week, so I'm just honored to be able to do this and especially with this group of guys." And, it has all come full circle for Tom Coughlin, who was Jacksonville's coach the previous time the franchise got this far in the postseason. He went on to win two Super Bowls with the New York Giants — both against Bill Belichick's Patriots — but is now the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations. He helped assemble a squad with coach Doug Marrone that has been powered by a tenacious defense that ranked second in the NFL during the regular season in sacks. After a few ho-hum games, Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense showed it isn't too shabby, either, outslugging Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a stunning 45-42 victory Sunday . "Obviously, with what they have on their side of the ball, it's a good team and we know they've got a good offense," Bortles said. "We knew we had to keep scoring." There's also this neat nugget: Jacksonville's first AFC championship game appearance came during the 1996 season — against New England, which went on to play in the Super Bowl under then-coach Bill Parcells and lost to the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers. "It's been an awesome year," Bortles said, "and we want to keep it going." The Patriots have made it to the AFC championship game for seven straight seasons, clinching this trip with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night . New England has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six seasons. "The reality of the NFL is what we did this week will have nothing to do with what happens next week," Brady said. "We're going to have to go repeat it, so you've got to get right back to work, right back to the process of trying to figure out how to break down our opponent. "Everyone's got to feel good physically and mentally and go out there and try to cut it loose one more time in a huge game." The Patriots know how to do that, and they're masters of tuning out distractions. Despite a published report during the week that raised questions about the relationships between Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, New England was all business on the field against the Titans. "It's pretty incredible to be a part of that," Brady said. "I think the thing is that we don't really take it for granted around here. I know how hard it is to get to this game. We're very blessed to do it." Meanwhile, Philadelphia awaits the winner of the New Orleans-Minnesota game later Sunday to find out who it will face in the NFC title game. The Eagles used steady play by Nick Foles and a late goal-line stand to beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 on Saturday. "We'll be ready for next week," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017