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Rescued Thai soccer team unable to attend World Cup final

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — The youth soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand will be unable to accept FIFA's invitation to attend the World Cup final. The last four of the boys and the team's 25-year-old coach were rescued Tuesday from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks. "We have been informed by the Football Association of Thailand that due to medical reasons, the boys will not be in a position to travel to Moscow for the FIFA World Cup final," the sport's governing body said Tuesday after the rescue operation was completed. Eight more boys had been rescued in the previous two days after becoming trapped by rising water levels. "FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation," the governing body said. FIFA leaders will meet with Thai soccer officials in Moscow on the sidelines of the World Cup final on Sunday. "We will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a FIFA event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration," FIFA said in a statement. FIFA expressed "profound gratitude to all persons involved in the rescue operation," and condolences for the family of the Thai Navy SEAL diver who died. England defender Kyle Walker also sent a message on Twitter after the "amazing news" of the rescue. Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely! I'd like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address? @England pic.twitter.com/pQYwW4SPh7 — Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) July 10, 2018 "I'd like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address?" Walker wrote. Manchester United extended an invitation to the team to visit in the months ahead. #MUFC is relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season. pic.twitter.com/5CGMoD1Msq— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 10, 2018 "We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season," the club said on its official Twitter account. In 2010, Man United hosted a group of miners from Chile who spent almost 10 weeks underground before being rescued......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 11th, 2018

Rescued Thai soccer team unable to attend World Cup final

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — The youth soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand will be unable to accept FIFA's invitation to attend the World Cup final. The last four of the boys and the team's 25-year-old coach were rescued Tuesday from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks. "We have been informed by the Football Association of Thailand that due to medical reasons, the boys will not be in a position to travel to Moscow for the FIFA World Cup final," the sport's governing body said Tuesday after the rescue operation was completed. Eight more boys had been rescued in the previous two days after becoming trapped by rising water levels. "FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation," the governing body said. FIFA leaders will meet with Thai soccer officials in Moscow on the sidelines of the World Cup final on Sunday. "We will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a FIFA event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration," FIFA said in a statement. FIFA expressed "profound gratitude to all persons involved in the rescue operation," and condolences for the family of the Thai Navy SEAL diver who died. England defender Kyle Walker also sent a message on Twitter after the "amazing news" of the rescue. Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely! I'd like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address? @England pic.twitter.com/pQYwW4SPh7 — Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) July 10, 2018 "I'd like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address?" Walker wrote. Manchester United extended an invitation to the team to visit in the months ahead. #MUFC is relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season. pic.twitter.com/5CGMoD1Msq— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 10, 2018 "We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season," the club said on its official Twitter account. In 2010, Man United hosted a group of miners from Chile who spent almost 10 weeks underground before being rescued......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

Wolfsburg is on the rise again in the Bundesliga

By CIARAN FAHEY,  Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — From champions to relegation survivors, Wolfsburg's recent woes on the field have coincided with those of Volkswagen, the German club's main backer. However, the car manufacturer is on the rise again after its emissions scandal, and so is the soccer team after back-to-back seasons in the relegation playoffs. Wolfsburg opened its Bundesliga campaign with wins over highly rated Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen. The 2009 champions, now under coach Bruno Labbadia, are well-organized and playing with a commitment and hunger that had been lacking since 2015. That was the year Wolfsburg finished second behind Bayern Munich and won the German Cup before the breaking of the Volkswagen scandal. Results, coincidentally, suffered thereafter. The win over Leverkusen was unexpected, and the first time in 13 tries that Labbadia won against his former side. "We drew a lot of strength from the relegation playoff (against second-division club Holstein Kiel) and on top of that the team worked really hard in pre-season," Labbadia said Saturday after his team's sixth consecutive win across seasons and including the German Cup. Wolfsburg even had to come from behind after Leon Bailey put Leverkusen ahead. The players didn't panic, but combined well and fought for the equalizer, which came through an own-goal by goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan. New signing Wout Weghorst then got his first Bundesliga goal and Renato Steffen sealed it with another. "It was really pleasing to see how much of a unit we were and how the team got the deserved reward for the performance," Labbadia said. "We hurt them with our shape. It was a good day for us." Wolfsburg also needed a bit of luck to defeat Schalke, with Daniel Ginczek getting the winner in injury time. The signing of Weghorst has added some much-needed bite to the team's attack. The 25-year-old Dutchman scored 27 goals across all competitions for AZ Alkmaar last season. Wolfsburg also appointed Joerg Schmadtke as sporting director in the offseason. The 54-year-old Schmadtke, a former goalkeeper, enjoyed notable success as sporting director with Cologne, Hannover and Alemannia Aachen. Wolfsburg fans chanted "league leaders, league leaders" after the win propelled it to the top for the afternoon, but Schmadtke said he wasn't interested in the standings "but the fact we stayed stable after conceding a goal is comforting." Wolfsburg was without injured captain Josuha Guilavogui, and goalkeeper Koen Casteels was missing to attend the birth of his daughter. Casteels is the sixth Wolfsburg player to become a father in a little over a month after Marvin Stefaniak, Yunus Malli, Paul-Georges Ntep, Weghorst and Steffen. "That can give you a push," Steffen said. "But I can't get a child every week now." BAYERN'S ADVICE Compared to previous years, Bayern Munich kept transfer activity to a minimum in the offseason, with just Serge Gnabry and Renato Sanches returning from loan spells, while Leon Goretzka's free transfer from Schalke was already announced in January. Spanish defender Juan Bernat departed for Paris Saint-Germain but it looked at one stage as though there would be more business between the sides. PSG made a reported offer for Germany defender Jerome Boateng and was also interested in taking Sanches. Neither deal came to fruition, and Bayern has hit out at the French club for not following through. Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had already criticized PSG's "strange tactics," and now president Uli Hoeness has said the side should fire its sporting director, Antero Henrique. "I would advise Paris Saint-Germain to change its sporting director," Hoeness told Monday's Kicker magazine. "This man is not a figurehead for the club. If PSG wants to be a world club, it can't put up with such a sports director." DORTMUND'S WUNDERKIND Borussia Dortmund has developed a reputation for bringing in young players thanks to success with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and Mario Goetze, while Aleksander Isak and Dan-Axel Zagadou are waiting to follow suit. The next prospect could be 13-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, a Cameroon-born forward who has been scoring at leisure since he joined Dortmund's youth setup from St. Pauli in 2016. Strong and direct with a clear eye for goal, Moukoko was the leading scorer for Dortmund's under-15 team - while still 12 - to help the side win the Regionalliga West title and earn a call-up for Germany's under-16 team last year. He scored the decisive goal at Bayern Munich in the final, finishing the season with 40 goals in 28 games. This season, with the under-17s, has begun as the last continued. Moukoko already has six goals from four games. "We're going to give him all the time in the world for his development," Dortmund youth coordinator Lars Ricken told Kicker. "He can't play with the professionals until he's 17. So nobody needs to start gasping because of him.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 4th, 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

Pogba dedicates France win to Thai cave survivors

    SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – Paul Pogba dedicated France's World Cup semifinal win against Belgium to the 12 boys who survived a harrowing ordeal trapped underground in Thailand. The final 5 members of a young football team were rescued from a flooded Thai cave on Tuesday after spending 18 harrowing days ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

After daring rescue, entire Thai soccer team, coach out of cave

Published: 7:59 p.m., July 10, 2018 | Updated: 10:29 p.m., July 10, 2018 MAE SAI, Thailand --- A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world. Thailand's Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely Tuesday. Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday. "We...Keep on reading: After daring rescue, entire Thai soccer team, coach out of cave.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 10th, 2018

FIFA says rescued Thai boys won t attend World Cup final

MOSCOW, Russia – Football's governing body FIFA welcomed the rescue of 12 Thai boys from a cave but said they were too weak to attend Sunday's World Cup final in Moscow. Elite foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs saved the final batch of 4 boys on Tuesday, July 10, after an 18-day ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 10th, 2018

Mexico opens World Cup prep with scoreless draw vs Wales

By Dan Greenspan, Associated Press PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Mexico opened its World Cup preparations with a 0-0 draw against Wales at the Rose Bowl on Monday night, but El Tri showed it has plenty more to offer in Russia than the score might indicate. Playing the first of three tuneup matches before its Group F opener against defending champion Germany on June 17 in Moscow, a rampant Mexican attack could not find a way to beat Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. However, Mexico was just as adept in keeping the Dragons under wraps. Wales took two shots and Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona did not have to make a save, getting some help when Hugo Ayala made a last-ditch tackle to keep Tom Lawrence from getting his try on goal in the 8th minute. Aside from that attempt and some early jitters in the opening few minutes, Mexico's defense settled in well in its first game without Nestor Araujo, who left the team Wednesday following a setback in his recovery from a knee injury. Araujo had been practically an automatic selection for coach Juan Carlos Osorio, and his absence was exacerbated by not having Diego Reyes of Porto FC and Hector Moreno of Real Sociedad available. Osorio expects both Reyes and Moreno to be healthy enough to play against Scotland in Mexico City on Saturday. "And I'm sure if they are in the starting line, we will improve the quality in many ways and I think we will have a very strong back line," Osorio said. Mexico, which will try to advance past the round of 16 for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals when it hosted the 1986 tournament, looks to be even more confident in its attacking prowess. Hennessey made eight saves, including sticking out his right foot to deny Mexico captain Hector Herrera's shot in the 56th minute from the edge of the 6-yard box. Hennessey also tipped Herrera's shot from outside the penalty box over the crossbar in the 40th minute and parried away Javier Aquino's attempt in the 22nd minute. "Mexico made us work for a clean sheet, they made us work hard," said Wales manager Ryan Giggs, praising the organization and tenacity of El Tri as much as its individual skill. Mexico took 17 shots and attempted 12 corners as it kept the pressure on a Welsh side mostly lacking in experience at the international level. "They've got a lot of quality, and what we've seen in the buildups with the videos is a team that likes to press," Giggs said. "When they lose the ball, get it back quickly, which puts you under pressure. It's very hard to keep the ball, so a very good team." The attack looks to be strengthened with the Los Angeles-based MLS trio of brothers Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos representing the Galaxy, and Carlos Vela from expansion team Los Angeles FC. Jonathan dos Santos came on in the 61st minute, and Giovani dos Santos was a 69th-minute substitute. They finished out the game without any apparent limitations from hamstring injuries that have limited both brothers this season. Osorio set a Saturday deadline to prove their fitness and make the final roster. Vela, who did not play against Wales, should be called upon against Scotland. He has scored seven goals in 12 MLS games. All three could be especially valuable if South Korea or Sweden decide to emphasize defense and force Mexico to break them down. Though they were unable to score against Wales, Osorio believes Mexico showed it is ready for that challenge, provided it can improve its chemistry in the final third. "Any team that will drop off will present the same questions in how we are going to penetrate them, how we are going to get entries into the attacking third. It will be a major factor. It was a big challenge for us," Osorio said. "However, we penetrated them enough times to score and the goalkeeper rescued them.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 29th, 2018

Qatar beats Japan in Asian Cup final for first major title

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Long scorned for a lack of soccer pedigree, Qatar will enter the 2022 World Cup as the champion of Asia. The Asian Cup was lifted by Qatar for the first time on Friday after a series of victories on the field just as improbable as winning the vote in 2010 that secured the FIFA showpiece for the small, super-rich Gulf nation. While Japan entered the Asian Cup hotly tipped to win a fifth title, the Qataris hadn't even reached the semifinals before. But confounding the disparity in the FIFA rankings — with Qatar at 93 and Japan at 50 — the Gulf nation won the final 3-1 to claim its first major soccer title. The strong attacking display was a reflection of Qatar's remarkable run over the last month in the United Arab Emirates, scoring 19 goals and conceding only once in winning all seven games. "Qatar today is a top Asian team," goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb said. "We wrote history." After upsetting the final favorite, players wrapped themselves in Qatari flags in a display of patriotic furor that will have resonated far beyond the stadium in Abu Dhabi. Since joining other Arab countries in cutting diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Doha in 2017, the UAE warned residents that expressing sympathy for Qatar could lead to fines and imprisonment. The UAE is among a quartet of nations accusing its regional foe of supporting extremists, which Qatar denies, and even prevented the team from traveling direct to Abu Dhabi for the tournament. There was even an attempt by the UAE to get Qatar disqualified after losing their semifinal. Tournament organizers confirmed only hours before the final they dismissed a challenge by the UAE against the eligibility of two Qatar players who were born outside Qatar. One of them, Almoez Ali, scored the opening goal against Japan in the 12th minute with an audacious overhead kick. That gave him an all-time tournament record nine goals, surpassing Ali Daei's previous record tally of eight with Iran in 1996. Abdulaziz Hatem doubled Qatar's lead with a curling strike in the 27th. While Qatar conceded its first goal of the tournament in its seventh game when Takumi Minamino netted in the 69th, Akram Afif restored the two-goal cushion in the 83rd from the penalty spot. "It's a huge disappointment," Japan captain Maya Yoshida said. "But we have to learn from this defeat." Victory will give Qatar renewed hope of being able to compete against the globe's best teams when it qualifies for the first time for the World Cup — as hosts — in 2022. "This result doesn't come from nothing," said defender Bassam Al-Rawi, the other player whose eligibility was questioned by the UAE. "It came with lot of effort. It came from determination. It came from immense hard work on the pitch. We were able to win today because we took all the chances." There is an even stronger test for the squad in June when Qatar joins Japan as guest nations at the Copa America. Qatar is in a group with Argentina, Colombia, and Paraguay. "This is one step more to continue developing the team to play another tournament in the summer and to be ready for 2022, to represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup," Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 2nd, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Lady Eagles open Japan training camp

Ateneo de Manila University’s preparation shifts into full gear with just a month to go before the opening of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. The Lady Eagles flew to Japan Saturday for their training camp in Osaka that will run until January 16. Head coach Oliver Almadro is expected to fine tune the Lady Eagles with his system heading into his first stint as Ateneo women’s mentor in the most prestigious collegiate league in the country. The squad, led by graduating players Bea De Leon, Ponggay Gaston, Maddie Madayag and Kat Tolentino, will also have tune-up games against local teams to further hone their skills and develop team chemistry. Kobe Shinwa Women's University will host the Lady Eagles' training camp thru coach Kiyokazu Yamamoto.  Aside from training sessions and tune-up games, Ateneo will also participate in mini tournaments and will be mentored by seasoned Japanese coaches. Rookie Samantha Fanger skipped the trip to attend to personal matters. Ateneo for the first time in seven years failed to advance in the Finals after receiving the boot from Far Eastern University in the Final Four of Season 80. The Lady Eagles bid goodbye to Thai head coach Tai Bundit, who was replaced by Almadro, who led the Blue Eagles to three-straight men’s titles from Season 77 to 79. As part of their pre-season build up, Ateneo participated in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference under the Motolite banner. The Lady Eagles finished runner-up to powerhouse team Creamline led by former Ateneo stars Alyssa Valdez and setter Jia Morado.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2019

Referee criticized for protocol lapse in Koulibaly incident

By The Associated Press FIFPro and UEFA have criticized referee Paolo Mazzoleni for "failing to respect anti-racism protocol" after monkey noises were directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly throughout his team's 1-0 Serie A loss at Inter Milan. FIFPro, the world players' union, and European soccer's ruling body UEFA also said the racial abuse aimed at the player, who was born in France to Senegalese parents, on Wednesday was "unacceptable" and had "no place in football." The two organizations backed the prompt action taken by the Italian league judge, who has decided Inter's next two home matches should be played behind closed doors, and included a partial closure for the club's third home game. "FIFPro and UEFA are very concerned by this unacceptable racist incident and by what appears on the surface to be a failure to respect the widely-recognized three-step anti-racism protocol," they said in a joint statement on Friday. "Koulibaly was subject to racist chanting and, despite announcements made by the stadium speaker, the chants did not stop. Moreover, it seems Napoli's coaching staff had already informed the referee several times of racist chants. FIFPro and UEFA support the Italian football authorities on any additional measure that will be taken to tackle racism in stadia for which FIFPro and UEFA have a zero-tolerance policy." Koulibaly was sent off in the 81st minute after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession, the second for sarcastically applauding Mazzoleni after being shown the first. The league judge's punishment was handed out for the racism aimed at Koulibaly and for anti-territorial chants aimed at Napoli. Also, Koulibaly was suspended for two matches — one for the red card and one for applauding the referee. After the game, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse. He asked several times for the match against Inter to be halted after the chants, and announcements warning fans this would happen were made but no further action was taken. The first step of UEFA's anti-racism protocol says "if the referee becomes aware of serious racist behavior, or is informed of it by the fourth official, he shall, as a first step, halt the game and ask for an announcement to be made requesting the public to immediately desist from such racist behavior." The second step explains that "if the racist behavior does not cease once the game has restarted, the referee shall suspend the match for a reasonable period of time, and ask the teams to go to the dressing rooms." The final step says "if the racist conduct does not end after the game has then resumed, the referee shall definitively abandon the match as a last resort. The UEFA delegate will assist the referee, through the fourth official, in determining whether the racist behavior has stopped, and any decision to abandon the fixture will only be taken after all other possible measures have been implemented and the impact of abandoning the match on the security of the players and public has been assessed.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Southgate, Kane on Queen s list for honors after WCup run

LONDON (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate and his captain Harry Kane have been rewarded in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year honors list on the back of the team's surprise run to the World Cup semifinals. Away from soccer, Geraint Thomas, who won cycling's Tour de France in July and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month, gets an OBE, while former England cricket captain Alastair Cook and ex-England rugby skipper Bill Beaumont received knighthoods. After decades of disappointment at major tournaments, England's soccer team matched its best overseas World Cup performance earlier this year. The 48-year-old Southgate was key to the surprise display in Russia, changing the culture of the team, with their run followed by progress to the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals. He received an OBE — Officer of the Order of the British Empire. "I hope everybody that has supported me throughout my career feels pride in the fact I've received this honor because I wouldn't be in this position without that help and guidance," former England defender Southgate said. Kane, honored with an MBE — Member of the Order of the British Empire, won the Golden Boot after finishing top scorer at the World Cup. The 25-year-old striker netted six goals as Southgate's side reached the final four and he has also shone throughout the year for high-flying Tottenham. "It's quite surreal," Kane said. "It's been a great year for club and country. It's hard to put into words. I'm very passionate about our country, very patriotic." England, which hosted and won the World Cup in 1966, previously reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990. Outgoing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore becomes a CBE — Commander of the Order of the British Empire — for services to football, and former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg gets an OBE. The 86-year-old Gregg survived the Munich air disaster in 1958. Four-time Ashes winner Cook, 34, becomes the first England cricketer to be given a 'Sir' prefix since Ian Botham in 2007. He retired from internationals this year, scoring a 33rd test century on his final appearance against India at The Oval. Cook has compiled more test centuries and runs — 12,472 — than any other England player during a record 161 tests. The 66-year-old Beaumont is recognized for services to rugby. He led England to a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1980 and also captained the British and Irish Lions. He is a former Rugby Football Union chairman and was elected chairman of World Rugby in 2016. Irish rugby great Willie John McBride — the most decorated player in British and Irish Lions history — was "absolutely thrilled" to receive a CBE. There is also an OBE for ex-Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir, who is fighting motor neurone disease, for services to rugby, motor neurone disease research and to the Scottish Borders community. World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness gets a CBE for services to sport, and fellow Scot — Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin — is made a Dame. British honors are awarded twice each year, at New Year and on the Queen's official birthday in June. The winners are chosen by committees based on nominations from the government and the public......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

VOLLEYBALL IS LIFE: A look back at Philippine volleyball in 2018

Glorious victories, dynasties, historic feats, controversies and memorable moments once again highlighted another fruitful year for Philippine volleyball.   Now, let us take a look back in the year that was in volleyball:   DYNASTY Powerhouse teams continued to thrive in the country’s most popular collegiate leagues. Arellano University muscled its way back into the NCAA Season 93 Finals and met a newcomer in San Beda University. The Lady Chiefs did find the Lady Red Spikers as feisty opponents in their first championship meeting, needing five sets to survive San Beda in Game One. But it didn’t take long for Arellano U to stomp its class over the newbies to capture its second straight title and fourth overall crown in five years. De La Salle University painted UAAP Season 80 green after annexing its third straight title handing legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus his third grand slam in the country’s most popular and competitive collegiate league. Second year setter Michelle Cobb stepped up to the challenge of filling the big shoes left by Kim Fajardo and complemented the depth and firepower of DLSU. Far Eastern University, which advanced into the Finals for the first time after a decade, stood no chance against the onslaught of the Lady Spikers, which swept their way onto throne. University of Perpetual Help completed a four-peat in the NCAA juniors after sweeping Letran. Philippine Air Force snatched the Premier Volleyball League men’s Reinforced Conference crown and the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. Sisi Rondina cemented her legacy as the UAAP’s queen of the sands after completing a three-peat in women’s beach volleyball. Rondina wrapped her tour of duty with four titles in five years. The Tigers ruled the men’s division.       YEAR OF THE UNDERDOGS San Beda University made great strides in NCAA Season 93 after earning its first-ever Finals appearance behind the efforts of Cesca Racraquin and twins Nieza and Jiezela Viray. The Lady Red Spikers closed the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record and took down Perpetual in the semis. Languishing at the bottom half of the standings since the return of its women’s volleyball program in 2008, Jose Rizal University made history by advancing into the Final Four. Shola Alvarez capped the Lady Bombers’ remarkable season by pocketing the Most Valuable Player award.   Far Eastern University made it to the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals by booting out crowd-favorite Ateneo de Manila University in the semis.  For the first time in five years, the Blue Eagles found themselves in a very difficult position in the Final Four. With a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo shocked FEU – a team that beat them twice in the elims – to march to its fifth straight championship appearance.      But the real underdog story belonged to NU. After three years of finishing runner-up to the Blue Eagles, the Bulldogs led by Bryan Bagunas finally got their long-awaited revenge as they swept Ateneo off its three-year reign at the throne.     OFF COURT STORIES, CONTROVERSIES University of the East parted ways with head coach Francis Vicente midway in Season 80 after three and a half seasons with the Lady Warriors. Vicente left for ‘personal reasons’ with a UE coaching record of 2-45 (win-loss). Red Warriors head coach Sammy Acaylar also resigned from his post midway in the season. University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure after months of speculations to the real reason of her sitting out UAAP Season 80 broke her silence by saying that needed time to recover from her right shoulder injury to end all the rumors circulating including an alleged pregnancy.    Sound bites, videos and clips that show collegiate players’ ‘human side’ made its rounds around social media that drew mixed reactions from fans.  Just like in the previous years, controversy filled the formation of the national women’s volleyball team. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. initially named Ramil De Jesus as the national team coach but just two months after his designation, the multi-titled DLSU mentor resigned from his post citing ‘conflict of schedule’. Shaq Delos Santos took over De Jesus’ spot. Netizens went abuzz when the composition of the national team that participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was released as fans give their different views on who should and should not be included in the roster.             LVPI named a new president in Peter Cayco of Arellano U to replace Joey Romasanta during the association’s election.   WRITING HISTORY Smart’s Cuban import Gigi Silva carved a world scoring record in the Philippine Superliga after scoring 56 points in a lost cause against Cocolife in the 2018 Grand Prix. Silva pounded 53 kills and had three aces to land her name in the fourth spot in the women’s world scoring record behind Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan’s 58 points in 2015 while playing in Japan, American Madison Kingdon’s 57 (2017 Korea Volleyball League) and Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva’s 57 (2013 Korea Volleyball League). Silva also surpassed the 55 points of Americans Nicole Fawcett (2013 KVL) and Alaina Bergsma, who led Petron to the 2014 PSL Grand Prix crown, (2016 KVL).     Not to be outdone, local volleyball star Marck Espejo had a 55-point explosion of his own in the Blue Eagles’ five-set Game 1 UAAP Final Four win over FEU. The five-time MVP pounded 47 attacks, had six kill blocks and two service aces for the Katipunan-based squad. Espejo scored 11 points in the deciding frame including Ateneo’s last four to seal the win in the match that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes. Espejo’s feat fueled Ateneo’s eventual semis series win over the twice-to-beat Tamaraws.  Espejo and DLSU libero Dawn Macandili were named as the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s 2017 Mr. and Miss Volleyball.     The Philippines saw three players make their mark in the international scene this year as Espejo and sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were tapped as imports in Japan’s V. Premier League. Espejo is now playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler while Jaja and Dindin suit up for Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively.     After 36 long years, the Philippines sent a women’s volleyball team to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The squad won against Hong Kong in straight sets in pool play in the country’s first Asian Games victory since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games. The PHI advanced in the quarterfinals but went home empty-handed. The Filipinas ended up at ninth place in the AVC Asian Cup. Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio made waves in the country’s hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open after the duo barged in the quarterfinals. The tandem eventually bowed down to eventual champion Japan. The NU Bulldogs brought its bark into the international scene and howled its way to giving honor to country by winning the ASEAN University Games gold medal at the expense of Thailand. Volleyball proved to be the most talked about sport in the country as #UAAPSeason80Volleyball became the most tweeted sports hashtag in 2018.   SMASHING WIN, BLAZING VICTORY Creamline became the most successful club in the Premier Volleyball League this year after winning its breakthrough Reinforced Conference crown before following it up with a title romp in the Open Conference. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought after leading the Cool Smashers to the Reinforced Conference throne.   Creamline’s Michele Gumabao joined Binibining Pilipinas and represented the country im the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania, landing at the top 15.     Petron lorded it over in the PSL after winning the Grand Prix and All-Filipino Conference titles at the expense of archrival F2 Logistics, which ruled the Invitational Conference. University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought by claiming the PVL Collegiate Conference championship and followed it up by reigning supreme in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam The SiPons tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons of Petron annexed their second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball title. University of Perpetual Help reclaimed the NCAA men’s title after taking down Arellano University as the Altas bagged it 11th title overall.           National University took back the title it lost last year in the UAAP boys’ tournament while De La Salle-Zobel bagged the girls’ mint. The Beach Volleyball Republic continued its advocacy of propagating the sport throughout the country.   END OF THE ROAD After winning three straight UAAP titles, the Lady Spikers bid goodbye to its Big Three in Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili. Season 80 saw the end of the six-year Ateneo-DLSU Finals rivalry as the Lady Eagles bowed down to FEU in the semis. The Blue Eagles three-year reign ended at the hands of NU as Ateneo gave its farewell to its greatest men’s volleyball star Marck Espejo and prized setter Ish Povorosa.    NU’s four-year domination in the girls’ division was snapped by DLS-Zobel. After a dry 2018 PVL season, Pocari Sweat parted ways with its franchise player Myla Pablo as newcomer Motolite agreed to buyout the hitter’s last three contract years.      Thai coach Tai Bundit after five years and bringing two titles including a rare tournament sweep to the Lady Eagles finally called it quits after Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80. Creamline gave Bundit a farewell championship trophy in the PVL.      A NEW BEGINNING It was a colorful 2018, indeed, for volleyball but 2019 is another promising year for the sport. Can the Lady Chiefs complete a three-peat in the NCAA? Newcomers are sure to bring more excitement and interest in the UAAP. DLSU will try to extend its reign for another season while NU is looking for a repeat crown in the men’s side. Another season for the PSL and the PVL will open while the national men’s and women’s team will highlight the country’s Southeast Asian Games hosting.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Kings of the World: Team Lakay s dominance highlights 2018 in Mixed Martial Arts

As always, 2018 offered up another year's worth of memorable moments from the world of mixed martial arts.  From the East to the West, the world's fastest growing sport found a way into sports headlines, and here are some of the biggest stories inside and out of the cage from the past twelve months.    "CHAMPIONS ARE NOT BORN, THEY ARE MADE" 2018 definitely belonged to famed Filipino mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay.  The humble La Trinidad, Benguet-based gym has established themselves as the top team in the Philippines for the past few years, but in 2018, they cemented their status as one of the best in the world.  Building off their elite-level striking skills and continuously-improving grappling accumen, the boys from Baguio City dominated Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE Championship, capturing four world championships in just a span of a single year.  Flyweight star Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Six months later, Eustaquio dropped the "interim" tag by defeating two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  After putting together a tremendous winning streak, young strawweight star Joshua "The Passion" Pacio earned a well-deserved rematch for the ONE Strawweight World Championship against two-time champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito. Back in September, Pacio erased the bitter memory of his previous defeat against Naito two years prior by stifling the Japanese submission specialist with impeccable grappling defense to earn a unanimous decision win and capture the strawweight crown in Jakarta. Much like his stablemate Eustaquio, Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon had to go through two world champions to take his place at the top of the bantamweight division. After blasting former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April, Belingon dominated then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to become the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion and finally earn a long-awaited rematch with long-time bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes. In November, Belingon did what no other man in ONE has done and defeated Bibiano Fernandes via split decision to become the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion, ending Fernandes' seven-year winning streak and five-year reign as ONE world champion.  Capping off Team Lakay's spectacular 2018 campaign was the return to glory of arguably the biggest homegrown MMA star in the country, Eduard "Landslide" Folayang. After losing his title twelve months prior, Folayang put on a masterclass against dangerous Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to once again capture the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  Outside the ONE Championship banner, another world champion from Team Lakay continues to reign, as BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen "The Sniper" Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.    THE TRUTH RETURNS Speaking of Filipino world champions, the biggest one of them all finally made his return in 2018.  After a two-year absence due to outside commitments, reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera made his way back to the cage, and his comeback was nothing short of explosive.  Taking on the hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila last December 7th, Vera needed only 64 seconds to dispatch Cerilli via knockout and remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    NOTORIOUS Conor "The Notorious" McGregor was arguably the biggest combat sports star of 2017, after crossing over to boxing and facing off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the year's biggest combat sports event.  In 2018, the Notorious one was all over the headlines once again.  In April of 2018, McGregor was stripped of the UFC Lightweight World Championship due to inactivity.  Earlier that month, the Irish star was at the forefront of a backstage melee during the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York that saw McGregor hurl a dolly at a bus full of fighters, leading to a number of minor injuries. McGregor would later be slapped with charges due to the attack.  In August, it was announced that McGregor would be making his return to the Octagon to challenge reigning lightweight king Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, who was the initial target of McGregor's backstage bus attack earlier that year.     "I COME FOR SMASH THIS GUY" The drama-filled leadup to the UFC Lightwieght World Championship bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor made it no doubt one of the most anticipated matches of the year, and when the two were finally locked inside the Octagon, it didn't disappoint.  Nurmagomedov ultimately imposed his will, grounding McGregor for three rounds, before finishing the Irishman off in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke to remain unbeaten and retain the UFC's 155-pound strap.  What happened after, however, overshadowed everything that came before it.  After forcing McGregor to tap out, Nurmagomedove scaled the Octagon fence and jumped out to the crowd to confront Dillon Danis, McGregor's grappling coach.  It didn't take long for mayhem to ensue, as chaos broke out inside and out of the cage.  Both Nurmagomedov and McGregor have been suspended indefinitely, with the final hearing, which will decide the fate of the two fighters, expected to take place this month.    THE HOME OF MARTIAL ARTS Since ONE Championship's inception in 2011, it has primarily operated as a mixed martial arts promotion. In the past years, ONE has put on grappling superfights and special martial arts bouts.  In 2018 however, ONE took it to a whole new level by introducing the ONE Super Series back in April, which features Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts.  The new wrinkle has attracted some of the world's best strikers, including Giorgio Petrosyan, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Andy Souwer, Cosmo Alexandre, and many more.  ONE also dipped their foot in boxing, bringing in reigning WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as the headliner for ONE's October card in Bangkok, where he successfully defended his title against Mexican challenger Iran Diaz in front of a raucous hometown crowd at the Impact Arena.    "DC" ALSO STANDS FOR "DOUBLE CHAMP"  No other fighter has had a better 2018 than Daniel "DC" Cormier.  After being named the UFC Light Heavyweight World Champion after Jon Jones tested positive for banned substances during their 2017 title bout, Cormier successfully defended the 205-pound belt against Volkan Oezdemir.  Six months later, Cormier jumped up to heavyweight and shocked the world by knocking out the once-dominant champion Stipe Miocic to become just the fifth two-division world champion and the second simultaneous two-division world champion in UFC history.  In November, DC made even more history by becoming just the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend world titles in two weight divisions after submitting Derrick Lewis in the second round.    BIG STARS HEAD EAST Asian mixed martial arts giant ONE Championship made worldwide MMA news in 2018 after snagging a handful of big name talents in former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez, former long-time UFC Flyweight World Champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, and former UFC lightweight and welterweight standout  "Super" Sage Northcutt.  Alvarez and Northcutt signed with ONE after their UFC contracts had expired, while Johnson made his way to ONE via the first-ever trade in MMA history, which sent former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben "Funky" Askren to the UFC.  All three stars are set to make their debuts in 2019.  Aside from bringing in top-tier athletes, ONE also brought in another big name to fill an executive spot, with former UFC and Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight World Champion Miesha Tate coming in as a Vice President. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2018

AP column: Good and bad in Ballon d Or twerking uproar

By John Leicester, AP Sports Columnist PARIS (AP) — First, the good news: In 2018, a man can no longer disrespect a trailblazing sportswoman on global TV without incurring instant opprobrium. French DJ Martin Solveig learned this to his discomfort when he asked Ada Hegerberg to twerk just after she became the first female winner of the Ballon d'Or and used her victory speech to appeal to girls everywhere to "please, believe in yourself." Immediately after the awards ceremony ended, with outrage already frothing on social media, Solveig still couldn't see why his inappropriate suggestion to the 23-year-old Norwegian was causing such upset. "It was a joke. You must have a bit of a sense of humor," he told The Associated Press as gala guests filed out of the domed Grand Palais in Paris on Monday and Hegerberg posed for photos with her heavy golden trophy. But then, as a video clip showing Solveig's interaction with Hegerberg started to rack up millions of views on Twitter, he understood. Solveig sought out Hegerberg to explain himself and tweeted "sincere apologies." "I didn't mean to offend anyone and I didn't know that this could be seen as such an offense," he said in a video message. The bad news, as the whole sorry episode showed, is that in 2018, the behavior of men is still overshadowing the achievements of women. And Hegerberg's achievements are immense. The steely forward is a three-time winner of the Women's Champions League with French club Lyon. Given her young age and current fearsome pace of 41 goals in 41 games in the tournament, she seems likely to make history like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the men's side. Already, she set a tournament record with 15 Champions League goals last season — including in Lyon's 4-1 victory over Wolfsburg in the final . Hegerberg appeared visibly miffed, shaking her head, responding with a firm "Non" and then turning away after Solveig asked her on stage in French, "Do you know how to twerk?" Had Messi or Ronaldo been standing beside him, it's hard to imagine the DJ asking them to shake their backsides in the twerking dance made famous by singer Miley Cyrus rubbing against Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. That Solveig did so with Hegerberg immediately struck many as icky. "Why do woman still have to put up with that (expletive)?" tennis player Andy Murray wrote on Instagram. "To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke, it wasn't. I've been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal." At the gala for her daughter's prize moment, Hegerberg's mother, Gerd, said the impropriety of Solveig's remark was initially lost on her. "Let him dance with the queen tonight, I was thinking," she told the AP. But when the meaning of twerk was then explained to her, she reacted with dismay, with an expletive. Hegerberg herself didn't let the uproar mar her evening. After meeting with Solveig and hearing his apology, she was determinedly cheerful by time she came to speak to waiting reporters. "I wasn't upset," she said. "I got to dance a bit and I got the Ballon d'Or." The visibility and status that comes with that trophy will give Hegerberg more power to push the cause of women's soccer. She is already putting that leverage to use. She told the AP in an interview shortly before she picked up her trophy that she won't play in the Women's World Cup in June in France because of a dispute with the Norwegian federation. Hegerberg hasn't played for the national team since last year because of what she perceives to be a general disregard for women's soccer in Norway. "It's all about how we respect women's football. I don't think the respect has been there," she told the AP. "Sometimes you have to take tough decisions to stay true to yourself." She also expressed frustration with the uneven pace of progress for women. A few hours later, Solveig's behavior made her words ring true. "Sometimes you have episodes or situations where you feel like, 'Damn, we're in such a man's world,'" she said. "That could be in a daily situation, being a woman, to be honest. Outside of the pitch as well. There's a lot of discussions to take and to bring on the table as a woman in 2018.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 5th, 2018

Copa Libertadores final postponed after Boca bus attacked

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina --- Argentines expected the final of the century between their country's biggest clubs and eternal rivals. Instead, the world witnessed one of the biggest embarrassments in South American soccer history. The Copa Libertadores final was postponed to Sunday after Boca Juniors players were injured when their bus was attacked by River Plate fans. CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez announced the decision on Saturday, just 10 minutes before the final was supposed to start. "One team didn't want to play and the other didn't want to win under these conditions," Dominguez said. Boca players were injured in their bus just a few blocks from River's Monume...Keep on reading: Copa Libertadores final postponed after Boca bus attacked.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 25th, 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

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

Kevin Belingon defeats Bibiano Fernandes to become Undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion

For the first time in five years, ONE Championship will have a new bantamweight king.  Team Lakay star Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon did what no man has done in 14 fights, defeating Bibiano Fernandes via split decision to become the new, undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion in the main event of ONE: Heart of The Lion, Friday evening at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.  It was a highly-anticipated rematch of their 2016 encounter that saw Fernandes submit Belingon in the first round. Being one of the most dangerous grapplers in the world, it was no surprise that Fernandes wanted to take the fight to the ground and work towards a submission, and the Brazilian champion wasted no time in taking Belingon down. Belingon managed to survive and got back up to get the better of Fernandes in the stand-up department.  A solid overhand right from Fernandes rocked Belingon early in round two, but the Pinoy again wills himself back up and lands a hard kick to the body.  Later in the round, Fernandes again brought the fight to the ground and swiftly took Belingon's back, threatening to finish the fight with a rear naked choke.  Belingon survived but found himself back in trouble after Fernandes locked in an armbar.  Showcasing his ever-improving ground game, Belingon fought off the armbar and wound up on top of Fernandes.  From there, Belingon unloaded a cascade of ground and pound, but was unable to get the finish, leaving Fernandes woozy.  After a slow third round, action picked back up in the fourth, with Fernandes again getting Belingon down, but not mounting any significant offense from the dominant position.  Belingon rolls out, but gets caught in an armbar once again, and manages to spin out once more.  The Filipino striker ended the fourth round on a strong note, dropping Fernandes with a well-timed counter right that sent "The Flash" stumbling backwards.  The final round saw both fighters go back and forth, each trying to sway the judges' decision in their favor. At the end of five rounds, it was the Filipino star who earned the split decision nod to become ONE Championship's undisputed bantamweight king.  Belingon puts a halt to Fernandes' remarkable 14-fight winning streak that spanned nearly seven years.  More importantly, it snaps Fernandes' five-year reign as ONE Bantamweight World Champion. He joins teammates ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio and ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio as Team Lakay's current reigning ONE World Champions.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2018

Rescued Thai football team honored by Manchester United

MANCHESTER, UK – The team of young Thai footballers who captured the world's attention when trapped in an underground cave for more than two weeks this summer enjoyed a day to remember at Manchester United's Old Trafford on Sunday, October 28. Having met United manager Jose Mourinho and first team stars ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Tuchel stands up to player power at PSG, and it worked

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel made a bold move by standing up to big names at a club where player power usually rules. He dropped 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappe, widely tipped as soccer's next superstar, and midfielder Adrien Rabiot for the game at Marseille on Sunday night. Both players are Parisian-born and fully understood the importance of the match for PSG fans against the club's bitter rival. Yet both turned up late to a pre-match team talk, something Tuchel simply could not excuse and he left them out of the starting lineup. "(It was) a disciplinary situation. We needed to do that," Tuchel said unapologetically on Canal Plus television. "It's like that." Mbappe came off the bench in the second half and scored the first goal in a 2-0 win which sent PSG to an 11th straight league win. It was also the World Cup star's 10th league goal so far, in just seven games for him. Rabiot, who refused to be on France's reserves list for the World Cup and has long been negotiating a new PSG contract, came on about 10 minutes from time. Despite his authoritative decision-making, which was backed by PSG winger Julian Draxler, the coach was surprisingly downbeat and sounded almost despondent after the game. "I don't like playing without Kylian," he said. "I hate it." Tuchel was then was then asked if it was a good day for him as a coach. "For me, personally, no," he said, his head dropping and his voice trailing off. "For me it was quite tough today." It has been a topsy-turvy week for Tuchel, who saw his side fall behind twice and dominated for long spells in a 2-2 home draw with Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday. That draw leaves PSG third in its group and in danger of not qualifying for the Round of 16. If so, Tuchel would become the first PSG coach knocked out of the group stage since cash-rich Qatari investors QSI took over at the club seven years ago. On the other hand, his team is coasting in the league with 39 goals in 11 games and the best defense. Tuchel has earned praise from the French media for his player management skills, often touted as a counterpoint to his predecessor Unai Emery, but the decision to drop Mbappe seemed to weigh heavily on him. Perhaps with good reason, for it puts him in a potentially difficult position because star players often have their own way at PSG. Such is the club's desire to win the Champions League and join Europe's elite, some players have been seemingly indulged. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for example, was allowed days off to go hunting in the forests of his native Sweden. Others, such as Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, returned late from the mid-season winter break — which even led to public criticism from their own captain, Thiago Silva. Pampering stars has not had the necessary outcome, either, with PSG unable to get beyond the quarterfinals of the Champions League since QSI took over. In the last two years, PSG has failed to reach the quarters, leading to Emery's departure and Tuchel's arrival. Despite his friendly and easy-going appearance, Tuchel is a disciplinarian and firm on principles such as cutting out sugary drinks on the team bus and strict time-keeping. At a club with such lofty ambitions, these should be rudimentary. Yet the way Mbappe was comforted before Sunday's game, even by the vastly experienced goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, suggests he got the sympathy vote rather than Tuchel getting the understanding. Even Tuchel seemed anxiously keen to encourage Mbappe before the teenage forward went on in the 62nd minute, wrapping a consoling arm around him as if to apologize for the sanction. Still, Tuchel was at least supported by Draxler, who scored the second goal against Marseille. "It's something between the coach and the player, but for me it's clear the club is more important than a single player," Draxler said. "The coach will decide what he wants and we won, so he's right.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018