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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Kerr keeps Warriors winning with yoga, creative approach

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Anderson Varejao lowered his 6-foot-11 frame into a runner's lunge and raised one arm high into the air to add a twist, demonstrating after a recent shootaround the new yoga pose he just learned. Then, he took it up a notch and attempted an airplane balancing pose on one leg with his arms spread wide. The Golden State Warriors have become yogis. Coach Steve Kerr is committed to changing things up, and he gave Golden State a day off from the practice floor one day last week so the players could practice yoga instead. In the middle of a prolonged stretch at home with a more regular routine, the schedule allowed for some improvising. 'I really liked it,' Varejao said. 'I'm going to do more.' Doubt you'll see Draymond Green or Klay Thompson doing downward-facing dog again soon — though Green might be talked into another try eventually. 'I'm bad,' Green said. 'Yoga isn't for everybody. I think it's a great thing, I just don't think my body is made for all of those different positions. I did well at a few of them. It's hard, it's tough. My body really isn't cut out for yoga.' The very next night after the group class, during warmups for a home game with the Pistons, player development coach Bruce Fraser pulled his foot to his opposite inner thigh for an impromptu tree pose. He laughed as an amused Shaun Livingston watched from the baseline. Andre Iguodala is an experienced yogi who can really cat-cow and is considered top on the team, often taking classes. Center Zaza Pachulia also can forward fold with the best of them. They took prominent positions in the class led by Lisa Goodwin, Golden State's director of corporate communications and also a yoga teacher, at a Berkeley studio — a first for Kerr taking the team away from team headquarters for a yoga session. No surprise, two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry can bring it on the mat, too. 'We've had some optional yoga sessions at our facility. This is the first time we took everybody and made it mandatory,' Kerr said. 'It was good.' The temperature was about 92 degrees for the hour-long power vinyasa class, so it was steamy. Everybody was drenched in sweat by the end for final resting pose, or savasana. 'My muscles felt good,' forward James Michael McAdoo said, rubbing his stomach where his core got a workout. 'It was fun. It was hot in there, like working in a sauna. I told our strength and conditioning coach, 'You got to step up your game. Lisa embarrassed us.'' 'It's awful, it's pitiful,' Thompson said of his own yoga ability. 'It's something I worked on and it's something I actually enjoy. More than just being physically challenging, it's an incredible mental workout. It tests your pain tolerance and your ability to push yourself mentally. That's why I like it. It was really good. I think it helped a lot of us — everybody, even the coaches.' Along with the experienced yoga veterans, there were some first-timers. A few found it extremely tough. 'I'm not the most flexible,' acknowledged player development coach Chris DeMarco. Assistant coach Mike Brown described his debut as 'terrible.' 'For me, it was really hard, but it was fun,' he said, later adding, 'I nearly passed out.' Ron Adams, another assistant who focuses on preparing Golden State's defense, happened to work out in the hottest corner of the room for his first time practicing in that high temperature. 'It's such a cleansing exercise,' he said. The Warriors aren't the only ones doing it. Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy has scheduled yoga time for the Pistons, saying: 'It's got its value, no question about it. Would I consider doing it with them? Probably not.' Kerr goes whenever he can fit it in, typically taking an hour-long class during the lunch hour on game days when the schedule — and his body — allows. It's a time he can focus on taking some deep breaths, literally, away from the pressure-packed NBA workload and just be just another yoga student for 60 minutes out of his day. This weekend marks one year since Kerr formally returned to the bench last Jan. 22 against Indiana after a lengthy leave of absence to deal with complications from a pair of back surgeries. Current Lakers coach Luke Walton led the way during a record 24-0 start and went 39-4 before Kerr's comeback on the way to winning Coach of the Year after an NBA record 73-9 finish. While the 51-year-old Kerr still has some discouraging, physically challenging moments dealing with pain and headaches, he considers himself fortunate to be on the sideline doing what he loves. 'I guess normal is a good way to say it. He seems like his old self,' Curry said. 'You know he's been through a lot just physically trying to recover from the surgeries he's had. I can't imagine the frustration, how long it took and things he had to do and all the doctors he's met with. His whole story is crazy. We're obviously happy to have him back but not only that, you see him with energy and his presence like he wants. It's been good to see.' Whether Kerr will take his team back to yoga any time soon, time will tell. The Warriors are at the season's midway point and the 'dog days' of January as Kerr has put it. Golden State was home for all but a night from Dec. 26 until leaving for Houston on Thursday for Friday's game against the Rockets, with just a quick bus ride to Sacramento as the lone road trip in a 10-game stretch during that span. Because there was so much time to practice, the yoga day was a nice change of scenery. 'Just to get away and go do something else,' Green said. 'We're still together doing something productive. But, it's not for me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Briton falls to death at 2022 Qatar World Cup stadium site

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer A British man fell to his death this week at a World Cup stadium building site in Qatar, where construction conditions have come under sharp scrutiny since the country was awarded the 2022 soccer tournament. The 40-year-old man has not been named by World Cup organizers or the company overseeing the building of the Khalifa International Stadium , which will also host the world track championships in 2019. The contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, said it was still working with local authorities to establish the cause of Thursday's death. br /> 'The fatal accident took place while the worker was on a suspended catwalk platform designed to manage technical functions relating to sound and light installations,' Midmac-Six Construct said in a statement Friday. 'For unknown reasons one of the lever hoists supporting the platform failed, causing the fall of the worker, who was wearing all his safety equipment, including the safety harness. br /> 'Sadly, the harness was cut during the fall with a fatal outcome. What caused the cut is subject to further investigation.' br /> The stadium, which was first built on the site in 1976, is next to the Aspire sports academy and is described by organizers as 'Qatar's most historic stadium.' br /> 'All parties concerned will carefully review the circumstances of the accident and commit to take any necessary measures that can prevent its recurrence,' Midmac-Six Construct said. br /> Qatar's World Cup organizing committee is also investigating the incident and said it 'shares our deepest condolences with the family for their loss.' br /> Qatar has previously announced the death of four stadium workers, with one fatality the result of a work-related accident. br /> The focus of the scrutiny has been on Qatar's use of a low-paid, migrant workforce to build the sites for the first World Cup in the Middle East, but the organizers are also relying on expertise from Europeans to oversee projects. br /> FIFA, which awarded the World Cup to Qatar in a 2010 vote, said it 'deeply regrets the loss of life' at the stadium. br /> 'It is with great sadness that we send our sincere condolences to the victim's family and colleagues,' FIFA said in a statement. br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Pochettino, Guardiola confounding expectations in EPL

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — In one dugout at Etihad Stadium on Saturday will be a manager enjoying a six-match winning streak with his second-place team. In the other, a manager reeling from the biggest loss of his career and down in fifth place. Few at the start of the English Premier League would have predicted it would be Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino with the edge over struggling Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. But the top of the standings is confounding expectations in the second half of the season. City hosts Tottenham with Guardiola's side trailing the second-place London club by three points and leader Chelsea by 10 points. Having already ruled City out of the title race, Guardiola is now in a scrap just to secure Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four as he endures a difficult first season in English soccer. It was against Tottenham in early October when Guardiola experienced his first setback at City, with Pochettino ending the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach's winning league start. Last weekend, he was humbled by a 4-0 loss at Everton, a career low for the Champions League-winning coach. Has Guardiola lost the Midas touch? 'The coach has to adapt with the players, the players have to adapt with the coach,' Eric Abidal, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, told The Associated Press on Thursday. 'Tactically, and the methodology of Pep Guardiola is methodology from Barcelona ... he needs time. They will win trophies. 'I spoke with some players from (City), tactically they learn a lot,' Adibal added at a Barcelona event on Thursday in Singapore. 'But when you have a good coach and good players, a lot of teams want to beat you. So it's not easy, every weekend, and we know the intensity of English football.' City racked up six successive wins in the league before losing 2-0 at Tottenham on Oct. 2. Since then City has dropped 18 points, winning seven of its 14 games as the shortcomings of the brittle defense and shaky goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been exposed. City's attacking options have been reinforced with Gabriel Jesus completing his move from Palmeiras in time to feature against Tottenham. 'Gabriel is a technically gifted player who was chased by some of Europe's biggest clubs and we are delighted he decided to join City,' director of football Txiki Begiristain said. 'He has the potential to become one of the best attacking players in the game.' And for the 19-year-old Jesus, Guardiola played a big part in deciding his next destination. 'He was the only manager who called me so I was very pleased,' Jesus said. 'One thing I've noticed is that, like me, he is mad about football. He lives football 24 hours a day. I'm like that, too. 'When I'm not playing, I'm watching, or playing a video game, doing something linked to football. This is very important, that I'm the same as him, and I hope to learn.' Tottenham could move six points clear of City by completing the double over Guardiola's side. And for Pochettino it's not just about securing a second successive season in the Champions League but delivering the north London club's first domestic title since 1961. 'We have to try to show that we can be real contenders for the Premier League, that's the real challenge,' Pochettino said. 'It's more important that we can show ourselves, rather than show Manchester City. 'We need to show ourselves we are capable of dealing with that pressure, and to try to win games to achieve big things.' Tottenham has received more positive news on defender Jan Vertonghen's ankle injury. After initial fears the center back could be out for three months, Tottenham now expects him back in six weeks. Here are some other talking points around the Premier League: ___ PAYET PREDICAMENT West Ham travels to Southampton on Saturday with the fate of star player Dimitri Payet still uncertain after the France midfielder told the club more than a week ago he wants to leave to rejoin Marseille. Payet would not play against Crystal Palace last weekend, according to manager Slaven Bilic. 'Is his departure inevitable? I don't know,' Bilic said. 'We are not going to sell our best players on the cheap just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to go home. 'I left it with the chairman and I'm sure he's going to do the best thing. The ball is in Marseille's court. They are the ones who expressed interest. Now they should act ... like everybody, he has his price.' AT THE BOTTOM Two of the teams in the relegation zone have tricky trips to top-four opposition. Paul Clement takes Swansea to third-place Liverpool on Saturday for a daunting second league game in charge of the bottom-place team. 'It does not look hopeless,' the former Bayern Munich assistant coach said. 'We are one point behind the team outside the relegation zone and not far behind the teams just above that as well.' Sunderland, which is above Swansea on goal difference, is at West Bromwich Albion. Hull is a point further up the standings going into Sunday's game at leader Chelsea. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

UEFA president says travel tricky for fans at Euro 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Soccer fans will face 'a challenge' when traveling between games at the continent-wide 2020 European Championship, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said Thursday. The tournament will be held in 13 cities across Europe to mark its 60th anniversary, ranging from the Irish capital of Dublin in the west to the Azerbaijani city of Baku in the east. 'Of course it's a challenge if fans have to travel thousands and thousands and thousands of kilometers across Europe,' Ceferin said at a ceremony in the Russian host city of St. Petersburg. 'It can be very interesting but it can be a big challenge even for a big organization such as UEFA. I think everything will be fine, I'm sure.' UEFA will pair cities for the group stage to try to reduce travel distances for fans, though the exact system won't be revealed until later. Having 13 host countries also means everyone has to go through qualifying. In the past, hosts qualified automatically, even when the tournament was held in two countries at once, such as Poland and Ukraine in 2012. Ceferin also said he was dedicated to ensuring Europe would receive more qualifying spots when FIFA expands the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026, up from its current allocation of 13. 'We will fight for as much possible,' he said. 'The best quality of football in the world is in Europe.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Kapamilya star Gerald Anderson is PHI's bet in Los Angeles Marathon

Kapamilya actor and sports enthusiast Gerald Anderson will be playing a new role, this time carrying the country’s pride on his shoulders as our representative to the 2017 Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon set on March 19. Anderson is the Philippines’ bet to the 32nd edition of the annual race where 25,000 runners both amateur and professional from all over the world are set to answer the crack of the starting gun. “I’m very excited and at the same time kinakabahan,” the actor and new Skechers Performance brand ambassador said during the press conference held at Dusit Thani Hotel Tuesday. “But at the end of the day hindi po ako pupunta doon para magpakita lang, para lang i-fulfill ko ang commitment ko sa Skechers. I really wanna go and finish the race sa best time na kaya ko.” Anderson has been training and joining numerous marathons, duathlons and triathlons including the 2015 ASTC Asian Triathlon Cup, Powerman Duathlon Asian Invitational last November and Powerman Duathlon Pilipinas World Series last month where he finished fourth and sixth place, respectively, under the Male 24-29 age group.       For the LA run, Anderson has been training since late last year under triathlon national team coach George Vilog. He added he also trains in his free time during the taping of his upcoming teleserye “Ikaw lang ang IIbigin” opposite Kim Chiu.          “Sakto rin kasi ‘yung bagong teleserye na ginagawa ko is about triathletes and isa akong triathlete doon,” he said.     This will be Anderson’s first 42 kilometer run and he vowed that he will not only cross finish the race but at least log in a decent time considering that he is carrying the nation’s pride. “Siyempre ang isa sa mga goals and motivations ko is not just to finish the race but to have a good time (of finish). Ayoko na nandoon lang ako para magpakita lang ako,” said Anderson, also a skilled basketball player and an auxiliary officer of the Philippine Coast Guard with the rank of lieutenant. “Everything that I do in my life hindi ko naman ginagawa para gawin lang. You always want to be the best of what you do. So abangan na lang natin sa March,” he added.           ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Schroder hits go-ahead triple, leads Hawks past Knicks

em>By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press /em> NEW YORK (AP) — Dennis Schroder gave the Hawks the lead and the New York Knicks had three chances to take it back. Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah, whom they hoped would be the backbone of a contending team, all failed from inside a few feet. 'When things are not going your way, sometimes they go all the way left,' Anthony said. 'That's a shot that I think I could hit in my sleep.' Schroder scored 28 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 22 seconds left, to lead the Hawks to a 108-107 victory on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 points and Paul Millsap had 17 for the Hawks, who won for the ninth time in 10 games to reach the midpoint of their schedule at 24-17. 'Guys got heart on this team,' said Millsap, who blocked Rose's shot on a drive to the basket before Anthony missed a fairly easy follow. 'Guys compete and when you compete good things happen.' Anthony scored 30 points for the Knicks, who changed their lineup but it wasn't quite good enough. They lost for the 11th time in 13 games. The Hawks rested Dwight Howard, while the Knicks were without Kristaps Porzingis again because of a sore left Achilles tendon. They gave undrafted rookie Ron Baker his first career start and moved Courtney Lee to the bench. Baker helped spark a 10-0 run to start the fourth with a pair of three-pointers, but Schroder kept the Hawks in it all the way while making 13-of-16 shots. 'We knew they were going to make their run,' Hardaway said. 'Their second group does a tremendous job raising the intensity on both ends of the floor. We just had to match that.' It was a much better effort for the Knicks than Sunday (Monday, PHL time), when they reached an embarrassing low by being outscored 27-8 in the third quarter of a 116-101 loss at Toronto. But as usual with the Knicks, the game was only a minor part of the chaos. Anthony responded to questions about a Fanragsports.com piece written by Charley Rosen, a Phil Jackson confidante, that said he had 'outlived his usefulness in New York' by saying that maybe he needed to have a conversation with Jackson if he felt that way. It's unclear if Jackson does, because he has barely spoken publicly this season and not at all to the New York media since preseason, though Rosen posted another piece Monday that his thoughts were his alone. Anthony said he hadn't heard from Jackson and didn't need to. 'My job is to go out there and play ball and I'm not concerned about that,' Anthony said. Anthony made buzzer-beaters to end the second and third quarters, but the Knicks needed one more. 'I was surprised he missed that one,' Millsap said. 'He's made a bunch of tough shots.' strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Hawks: /strong> /em>The Hawks have won five in a row on the road, their longest streak since a 12-game run in the 2014-15 season. Hardaway, a former Knicks guard, had his ninth 20-point game of the season. em> strong>Knicks: /strong> /em>The Knicks were also without forward Lance Thomas because of a fractured left orbital bone. strong>MARTIN KING LUTHER JR. DAY STATS /strong> The Hawks improved to 17-9 on the holiday, with seven straight victories. The Knicks fell to 20-11 with a two-game winning streak snapped. strong>CARMELO CONCERNS /strong> Anthony has a no-trade clause and would need to agree to any deal. Coach Jeff Hornacek, though only in his first season here, says Anthony, like all players, has to deal with trade speculation. 'I think he does a great job of dealing with it and handling that kind of stuff. But does it affect him? I am sure it does in some way,' Hornacek said. 'But hopefully like most players, the trade deadline comes and goes every year.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Hawks: /strong> /em>Visit Detroit on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The teams have split two meetings, with the Pistons winning 121-85 in Atlanta on Dec. 2 (Dec. 3, PHL time). em> strong>Knicks: /strong> /em> Visit Boston on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The Knicks have lost four straight in the series and four in a row in Boston. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Guardiola virtually concedes title after heavy loss for City

Guardiola virtually concedes title after heavy loss for City br /> STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer   MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Premier League season is barely past the halfway point and already Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has virtually given up on winning the title. The world's most coveted coach can't have envisaged his first year in English soccer being this tough. It takes something special to overshadow a match between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, but City's 4-0 loss at Everton on Sunday did just that. As he slumped to the heaviest loss of his career in a domestic league match, Guardiola — with his arms folded — was seen staring into space while he sat in the Goodison Park dug-out. At other times, he had his face in his hands. City has dropped out of the Champions Leagues positions, into fifth place, and 10 points adrift of leader Chelsea. Asked if the gap to first place was now too great, Guardiola said: '(To) the first one? Yes. Ten points is a lot of points. The second one is three points. We have to see.' A fifth loss of the league season was administered by a team managed by Guardiola's friend and former Barcelona teammate, Ronald Koeman. 'Pep Guardiola knows it is a project at Manchester City,' Koeman said. 'Of course, maybe they expected better results and a defeat like this is really strong but Pep has the experience to turn it around.' Man United kicked off less than an hour after City's drubbing but couldn't get a win that would have put the neighbors tied on points, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool at Old Trafford. After 21 of 38 games, City and United — the two pre-season title favorites — are outside the top four. Two high-profile managers were always going to have their reputation tarnished this season, with six big teams challenging for four Champions League spots. Few would have predicted they'd be Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. Here's a closer look at the top games that pitted Merseyside against Manchester: ___ EVERTON 4, MANCHESTER CITY 0 While there was misery for City at Goodison Park, there was jubilation for Everton after a win that was sealed by goals from two of the club's promising teenagers. Goals either side of halftime by Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas set Everton on its way before 18-year-old midfielder Tom Davies raced into the area and dinked a deft finish over goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, the ball landing just inside the post. It completed an impressive display by Davies, who has now started two straight games and is distinctive with his all-action style and mop of blond hair. The fourth goal was scored by 19-year-old debutant Ademola Lookman, four minutes into injury time. And it summed up City's sloppy performance. John Stones — a former Everton player — tried to clear the ball for a throw-in only to see it ricochet off Everton defender Seamus Coleman to set up Lookman. Signed from Charlton this month and on as a late substitute for his debut, Lookman placed his shot through Bravo's legs. 'How we played in the second half was really perfect,' Koeman said. 'In my opinion, it is impossible to play at a higher level, in every aspect of football. It was a perfect afternoon.' ___ MANCHESTER UNITED 1, LIVERPOOL 1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalized late for United to bail out teammate Paul Pogba in a frantic, intense match at Old Trafford between the two most decorated teams in English soccer. On the day United rolled out advertising hoardings displaying Paul Pogba's new Twitter emoji, the player himself made a crucial mistake by conceding a penalty for handball while jumping with his back to the ball at a corner. James Milner converted the spot kick but Liverpool was denied a win after Ibrahimovic glanced a header in off the crossbar in the 84th minute, moments after substitute Marouane Fellaini headed against the post. Liverpool ended United's nine-game winning run in all competitions — six of which had come in the league — but dropped seven points behind first-placed Chelsea. Sixth-placed United was 12 points off the leader. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Coaches association announces Michael H. Goldberg Award

em>NBCA press release /em> The National Basketball Coaches Association (“NBCA”) is proud to announce the inception of the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be an annual award given to honor the most successful Head Coach in the National Basketball Association (“NBA”) as voted upon by his or her peers. It will be the only award chosen entirely by NBA Coaches. Every season, Head Coaches representing all 30 NBA Teams will select the winner. The winner of the 2017 Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be announced at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 NBA regular season. This award will recognize the dedication and hard work of NBA Head Coaches. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be presented to a Coach who helped guide his or her players to a higher level of performance on-the-court and showed outstanding service and dedication to the community off-the-court. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award is named after the esteemed Michael H. Goldberg, the long-time Executive Director of the National Basketball Coaches Association (a group that encompasses all Head and Assistant Coaches in the NBA and its alumni group). In 1980, six years after the NBCA was founded, Michael H. Goldberg became its first Executive Director. Building upon the existing foundation of the NBCA, he guided it during the years of the greatest growth in professional basketball. He helped gain significant benefits for NBA Coaches, including billions of dollars in increased retirement funds, and disability insurance. And so, the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award honors the substantial contributions of Mr. Goldberg, who set the standard for loyalty, integrity, passionate representation, and tireless promotion of NBA Coaching. “This award honors the life work of a great leader, tireless foot soldier for the best interests of Coaches and the NBA, and most importantly, a trusted friend,” said NBCA President Coach Rick Carlisle. “The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will have special meaning because of its namesake and the fact that it is voted on by all Head Coaches.” Mr. Goldberg graduated from New York University in 1963 and later attended St. John's University School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1966. After law school, he joined the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) where he was a Branch Chief. He left the SEC in 1972 and became General Counsel for the American Basketball Association (“ABA”). Mr. Goldberg guided the ABA along with its late Commissioner, Dave DeBusschere, until the league merged with the NBA in 1976. Through the agency he founded, National Media Group, Inc., Mr. Goldberg has been a fixture in the business of sports marketing working over the years with a wide variety of prominent corporate sponsors and licensees wishing to promote their products and services through sports/entertainment tie-ins. Among a long list of clients are IBM, American Express, Schick, Fleer Trading Cards, Gatorade, Nike, Self Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. The agency also played a key role in the growth of the sport of basketball in the US and abroad, organizing the Gatorade World Coaches Clinic program, and launching the highly successful NBA/FIBA McDonalds Basketball Championship. He now devotes himself primarily to his work on behalf of the NBCA. “Michael Goldberg is a legend in basketball circles and has distinguished himself by his relentless advocacy on behalf of NBA coaches and his deep caring for everyone involved with our game,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “This new award reflects his vital and everlasting contributions to the NBA.” The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be presented to a Head Coach who exemplifies the same high quality of integrity and excellence that Michael H. Goldberg exhibited during his highly respected career. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to be recognized by this award,” said Michael H. Goldberg, NBCA Executive Director. “I have been very fortunate to work with the National Basketball Coaches Association for over thirty-five years. During this time, I have found the Coaches to be passionate, wise, and caring leaders. This award, determined by peer vote, is tremendously meaningful to our NBA Coaches, the League, as well as for my family and me.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Graham Taylor, the England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John, has died. He was 72. Taylor, who won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early Thursday of a suspected heart attack, his family said. 'The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss,' a family statement said. Taylor is one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John, who owned Watford during Taylor's two stints in charge, said it was a 'sad and dark day' for the club. 'He was like a brother to me,' John wrote on an Instagram post . 'We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. 'He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to uncharted territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.' Taylor reached the pinnacle of English management when he was hired by the national team in 1990, inheriting a side that reached the World Cup semifinals. 'His enthusiasm for life and football was incredible,' former England player Paul Gascoigne said. Taylor guided England to the 1992 European Championship, but the team was eliminated at the first stage, setting the tone for the rest of his time with the national team. After England lost 2-1 to Sweden in its final game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Taylor with the headline: 'Swedes 2 Turnips 1.' Taylor's head was superimposed on a turnip, a caricature that led to the manager becoming known harshly as 'Turnip Taylor.' 'It hurts and that's what really, really annoys me,' Taylor recalled in a 2012 BBC documentary. 'They have no recognition about how much it hurts you. They think you don't care. 'And those people that know it hurts you, they put the knife into you so it hurts you even more.' Taylor's decision to grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew for the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup backfired when the extent of the strain of the job was exposed. In 'The Impossible Job,' Taylor was filmed complaining about a refereeing decision during a qualifier against the Netherlands, telling the linesman: 'Tell your mate he's just cost me my job.' Reflecting later on his shortcomings in the England job, Taylor said: 'I am not bitter. I am just disappointed in myself.' The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Taylor's accomplishments in management after a modest playing career ended at age 28 due to a hip injury. Having already become the youngest person to attain a full Football Association coaching badge, Taylor was able to move straight into management with Lincoln after playing for the team. After winning the fourth tier, Taylor moved south to Watford. With the boardroom backing of John, Taylor guided Watford from the fourth division to the first division (then the top tier), an FA Cup final and European competition in five years from 1978. John then allowed Taylor to move to Aston Villa, where he secured promotion to the top-flight and a second-place finish in 1990. He returned as club management after his England management, taking Watford back into the Premier League and enjoying one final spell at Villa before leaving the dugout for good in 2003. He was a regular commentator on matches in recent years for BBC radio. He is survived by wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

'Bull's eye!': Dybala works through adversity with class

ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer   ROME (AP) — 'Take a bow and arrow, aim: Bull's eye!' That's what Paulo Dybala tweeted after scoring one goal and setting up another in Juventus' 3-2 win over Atalanta in the Italian Cup. If only it was always that easy for the Argentina forward. Considered one of the brightest young talents in world soccer, the 23-year-old Dybala is enduring a turbulent season that has included a six-week injury layoff and a decisive penalty blocked by AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Italian Super Cup shootout that reduced him to tears. 'I had a bit of a rough time over the break,' Dybala said. 'I had never missed a penalty with Juventus before and I missed the most important one.' Fortunately, the rough spell didn't last long. Dybala regained his confidence from the penalty spot by converting in Juventus' first match after the holiday break, a 3-0 win over Bologna. Midway through the first half against Atalanta on Wednesday, Dybala scored with a splendid volley from outside the area following a touch from Mario Mandzukic. Then he returned the favor by threading a pass through several defenders to Mandzukic, who made it 2-0. By the end of the month, Juventus is expected to extend Dybala's contract by one year to 2021 and increase his salary — which would end speculation over potential moves to Barcelona and Real Madrid. 'I'm not someone who goes and reads the newspapers. I read these things on social media but these are things you have to ask the club and my agent about,' Dybala said. 'I train all week focused on Juventus to repay the fans for their affection. I don't worry about external things. 'My agent will arrive over the next few days and we should have some news next week,' Dybala added. 'I'm happy here. ... I'm in good condition now but I think I can still offer a lot more.' Nicknamed 'La Joya' — The Jewel in Spanish — Dybala was handed the difficult task of replacing the departed Carlos Tevez in Juventus' attack last season after a celebrated transfer from Palermo. He responded with 23 goals in 46 matches in all competitions, helping the Bianconeri to a fifth straight Serie A title and the Italian Cup trophy. Capable of playing any position and just as adept at creating chances as scoring — not to mention his ability on free kicks — Dybala might be Juventus' most complete forward since Alessandro Del Piero. When Paul Pogba left for Manchester United before this season, Dybala was offered Del Piero's old No. 10 but he turned it down, preferring to keep his No. 21 shirt. As a 'trequartista' — playmaker — Dybala has proven capable of complementing both Mandzukic and fellow Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain, who took some of the pressure off Dybala when he joined Juventus in an Italian-record 90 million euro ($100 million) transfer from Napoli before this season. 'I am only 23, so I need to improve in so many areas, such as my physical strength and my right foot,' Dybala said. 'I am enjoying the trequartista position that (coach Massimiliano) Allegri is giving me. It gives me a lot of space and I can express myself well there.' ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Warriors' Zaza Pachulia has Kerr, not critics, in his head

JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer OAKLAND, California (AP) — Zaza Pachulia heard all the negative noise from his Golden State Warriors fans, and he began taking it personally. He was the new guy at the start of this NBA season, the lone non-All-Star in Golden State's decorated starting lineup. He was no Andrew Bogut, the imposing big man he replaced, and fans got nasty with their frustration. Now, Pachulia constantly recalls what coach Steve Kerr preaches: The only thing that matters is how the Warriors feel about each other, not what anyone outside thinks or says. Not that it was easy for Pachulia to ignore the scrutiny. 'That was one of the biggest challenges I've had. I've never been in this situation,' he said on Monday. 'It's a lot of responsibility, I understand it. It was very emotional for me at the beginning. I was kind of taking it very personal. But that's where mental toughness kicks in. 'I'm fortunate I have friends who have been in this situation throughout the league, but most importantly, the biggest help came from my coaching staff.' With Kerr in his ear, Pachulia has made an effort to tune out the critics. As expected, the Warriors have needed time to jell this season, and Pachulia's been at the center of the development. Early on, the center from Georgia took a passive approach, and also found himself in subpar shape. Now he's getting more comfortable, and is emerging at the perfect time. The Warriors are headed into the second half, and Pachulia has found his place complementing Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Last month, Pachulia had season-bests of 15 points and 14 rebounds in a win at Brooklyn, and he believes that helped him turn a corner. He has four straight games scoring in double figures entering Tuesday's home matchup with Miami after doing so just twice in his first 32 games. In a victory at Sacramento on Sunday, Pachulia made a jaw-dropping, no-look backward heave that was right on target to Curry and led to an easy basket by the league MVP. 'He's tried some crazy stuff before, but he made a good, timely read as the best way to get me the ball,' Curry said. 'It was right on target, one bounce into my lap and I was able to finish it. I'm sure Coach will make sure he's not experimenting too much more with that.' Pachulia's enjoyed being part of the 'fancy stuff' these pass-happy Warriors get up to — Golden State wracks up 30-assist performances at an astonishing rate. 'Zaza's got a little flair to him,' Kerr said on Monday. 'He likes making plays like that. Not that he's constantly making them, but he's got a little of that in him. I know he had fun with that play.' Never before had the big man been part of a team with so many great players, and finding his way with this group made for a daunting adjustment. That core of talent is the reason he chose to join Golden State for his 14th season. 'No disrespect to Dallas, Milwaukee, but we weren't this type of team. No one was expecting a championship from us,' Pachulia said. 'This team is different, right? Let's be honest. So every time you make a mistake on the court, and that's very normal, especially in the beginning, it looks like 10 times, 100 times worse. 'Fans are spoiled here because of the types of seasons they had — last year, where they broke the record even though they lost in the Finals, it was amazing. The year before they won the championship, so they were feeling really comfortable with the players and the personalities they had.' For Pachulia, the improvements have come from focusing on the small things — such as minor footwork adjustments and working to better defend the perimeter. That has come with a willingness to learn. 'The thing that I'm most proud of in watching him this year is his growth. I'm talking about a guy who's played a lot of basketball,' Warriors assistant coach and defensive guru Ron Adams said. 'The ability to be coached at his age has really been fun. ... He is one of those lifelong learners.' Still, Pachulia knows the compliments from those around him must be earned. From the basketball-crazed Bay Area fans, too. 'My skin got thicker,' Pachulia said. 'I don't listen to stuff from outside or even if I hear or if I read something, I just let it go very easily. It's not bothering me, because the truth is that Steph or Klay or KD or Draymond or Andre (Iguodala), all these guys, they either like playing with me or they don't. That's what matters. The coaching staff is happy with my presence or not. 'Maybe the first day, you're not expecting any of your teammates to give you some good words. We've played enough games that my teammates have a lot of compliments to say about me. My coaching staff has a lot of compliments to say about me. Those compliments don't come just like that. They are professionals and you get a compliment because you deserve it. That means a lot.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2026

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament which is likely to be held in North America. President Gianni Infantino's favored plan — for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 — was unanimously approved Tuesday by the FIFA Council. It meets Infantino's election pledge of a bigger World Cup, and should help fund promised raises for FIFA's 211 member federations. With 80 matches instead of 64, FIFA forecasts the equivalent of $1 billion extra income at current rates from broadcasting and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales, compared to $5.5 billion revenue forecast for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. FIFA projects an increased profit of $640 million despite some extra operating costs and prize money for teams. FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get. UEFA wants 16 European teams at the tournament, which is strongly favored to be played in North America. The CONCACAF region has not hosted the World Cup since the 1994 tournament in the United States. American, Canadian and Mexican soccer leaders have had informal talks about a co-hosting bid. Africa and Asia could be winners in a bigger World Cup with up to nine places each. They had only five and four teams, respectively, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Still, FIFA said it expects the standard of soccer to drop compared to the 32-team format locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The 'absolute quality' of play, defined by high-ranked teams facing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA acknowledged in a research document sent to members last month. It made 10,000 tournament simulations to reach that conclusion. Instead, Infantino wants to create fervor and months of anticipation back home in the 16 extra nations which would qualify, some probably making their World Cup debut. FIFA has pointed to Costa Rica, Wales and Iceland as examples of teams which overachieved at recent tournaments. FIFA must break with soccer tradition to make its new format work after an original 48-team plan — with an opening playoff round sending 16 'one-and-done' teams home early — was unpopular. Instead, three-team groups will replace the usual groups of four to create simple progress to a knockout bracket. However, it leaves one team idle for final group games and could risk collusion between the other two teams. FIFA said it could guard against result-rigging by introducing penalty shootouts after group games that end in draws. Despite the 16 extra games, FIFA believes the current maximum of stadiums needed will stay at the 12 used by Brazil and Russia. However, the demand for more training bases and hotels means developed countries would be better equipped to win future hosting contests. North America is the strong favorite for 2026 because European and Asian countries are blocked by a FIFA rule excluding continents which hosted either of the two previous tournaments. Russia will host the World Cup next year and Qatar in 2022. South America has been focused on a centenary tournament including original 1930 host Uruguay, and African nations are seen as lacking existing capacity and unlikely to fund multi-billion dollar infrastructure spending. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

FIFA set to approve bigger, richer World Cup on Tuesday

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is set to make the World Cup bigger and richer, even if the price to pay is lower quality soccer. FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes his ruling Council will agree Tuesday to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 nations, playing in 16 groups of three teams. A decision could be delayed if some Council members demand to know exactly how many qualifying places each continent will get before agreeing to scrap the 32-team format. It has been successful, popular and profitable since 1998 and is locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The prize of 16 extra places, and the biggest increases to Africa and Asia, has 'overwhelming' support from FIFA's 211 member federations, Infantino has said. Their promise of extra funding from Zurich could also be secured by FIFA's forecast 20 percent rise in rights fees paid by broadcasters and sponsors. 'Financially, the 48-team format is the most appealing or successful simply because the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important,' Infantino said two weeks ago. 'The decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs ... but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.' World Cup champion Germany is not in favor. It argued that diluting the number of European and South American teams — which won all 20 titles since 1930 — could 'strengthen the imbalance' seen at some tournaments. 'The (German soccer federation) fundamentally believe that the current 32-team format is the best option,' its president Reinhard Grindel said last week. Germany has no delegate at Tuesday's meeting though Grindel is set to join the FIFA Council in May. FIFA acknowledged the risk of lower standards in a research document sent to members last month, as first reported by The Associated Press. The 'absolute quality' of soccer, defined by high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA said, citing 10,000 tournament simulations made to reach that conclusion. Still, Infantino promised voters more World Cup places and funding raises before his election last February. FIFA expects $5.5 billion income tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though 25 of 34 sponsorship slots are unsold. The research document predicted the equivalent of $6.5 billion revenue from a 48-team tournament in the '16x3' format, which would send two teams from each group to a new Round of 32 knockout bracket. All 80 matches would play in an exclusive time slot. Currently, 64 World Cup matches have 56 broadcast slots because the eight four-team groups play their last matches simultaneously. FIFA predicts organizing costs for '16x3' rising from $2 billion to $2.3 billion, giving a potential profit rise of $640 million. Though a '16x3' World Cup would still need a maximum of 12 stadiums, the demand for 16 more top-quality training camps and hotels suggests FIFA would look for 2026 hosts with existing capacity. A North American bid from two or three of the United States, Canada and Mexico is currently favored in a contest that could start within weeks. Five options are open Tuesday, including staying with 32 teams. Infantino campaigned last year on a 40-team promise, in either eight groups of five teams or 10 groups of four teams. Neither impressed voters in recent regional meetings of FIFA member federations. When the FIFA leader first proposed 48 teams, it included an opening playoff round. The 16 winners would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group stage. FIFA members disliked 'one-and-done' teams going home before the 'real' World Cup kicks off. It would also stretch to a 39-day event with more short-notice travel for fans. Africa and Asia could be the big winners, and FIFA hopes new teams would include another Iceland, Wales and Costa Rica — over-achieving teams and feelgood stories at recent tournaments. Still, hapless Tahiti was outclassed at the 2013 Confederations Cup, conceding 24 goals in three games. 'The goal of expanding the FIFA World Cup,' it has told members, 'is to further advance the vision to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all.' ___ Entry quotas for 2018 World Cup: Europe 14 (including host Russia to qualify direct); Africa 5; Asia and South America 4.5 each; North, Central America and Caribbean 3.5; Oceania 0.5. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Man City routs West Ham 5-0 to reach FA Cup 4th round

LONDON (AP) — Manchester City swept aside West Ham 5-0 to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday, bringing an upbeat end to a testing week for coach Pep Guardiola. Midfielder Yaya Toure's penalty, Norwegian defender Havard Nordtveit's own goal and a strike from midfielder David Silva made it 3-0 by halftime. Top scorer Sergio Aguero and defender John Stones added goals after the break to give Guardiola the easiest of introductions to world soccer's oldest knockout competition. As well as a handsome win, it was welcome relief for Guardiola — the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, who is still adapting to his first season in England. He has been facing criticism following some erratic recent performances in the Premier League. City scraped past a gritty Burnley side 2-1 at home on Monday, following on from a 1-0 defeat away to title rival Liverpool — City's fourth league defeat of the campaign. This rout vindicated Guardiola's decision to field a strong line-up, and he clearly showed he is taking the competition seriously by recalling two of his best players in Silva and Aguero. West Ham, by contrast, left star player Dimitri Payet on the bench and immediately found itself under pressure against a City side which is fourth in the Premier League, seven points behind leader Chelsea after 20 games. Silva's early cut-back found Pablo Zabaleta, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Winston Reid, before Gael Clichy set up Silva only for his effort to be kept out by goalkeeper Adrian at the near post. Raheem Sterling was then denied by a superbly timed Reid tackle and from the resulting corner Adrian tipped Aguero's volley over. The pressure was always going to tell, though, and in the 32nd minute Zabaleta tumbled to the floor under Angelo Ogbonna's challenge. There was only minimal contact but referee Michael Oliver quickly pointed to the spot and Toure converted the penalty. West Ham then collapsed at the Olympic Stadium. City doubled its lead in the 41st minute, as Sterling arrived at the far post and forced an own goal from Nordtveit trying to clear Bacary Sagna's cross. It was all too easy for City as two minutes later Sterling took his turn to race down West Ham's weak left flank. The winger laid the ball across goal to Silva, who from six yards (meters) out had time to take a touch and steady himself before slotting in. Five minutes into the second half, Toure rifled a shot through a crowded area and Aguero diverted the ball into the net. A chastening evening for West Ham got even worse in the final 10 minutes when Stones headed in Nolito's corner. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

This time around, it was SMB cheering AVO from bench

With June Mar Fajardo holding down the fort and Gabby Espinas and Jay-R Reyes backstopping him, San Miguel’s frontline is all good. As such, there isn’t much opening for Arnold Van Opstal to make his mark. “I keep on telling him every game, be patient, your time will come,” coach Leo Austria said, talking about his rookie center. Van Opstal’s time finally came in the final frame of the Beermen’s matchup with Blackwater on Friday. With under three minutes to go, he scored the first two points of his professional career. “Thanks to Chris Ross. Shoutout to him, he passed me the ball and I just made my move,” he expressed while smiling ear-to-ear afterward. From that first basket, the Filipino-German added four more points to his name to wind up with six points and one rebound in two minutes and 34 seconds on the court. Each and every time Van Opstal sent the ball through the net, the San Miguel players on the bench were up and about in cheering for him. Nothing but appreciative to see that, he expressed, “I love my teammates. They’re really cool guys and I’m really lucky to be on this team.” Of course, having difficulty in breaking through the logjam of bigs in front of him in the rotation, it’s the six-foot-nine rookie who usually finds himself cheering for his teammates. And he has no problem with that at all as he said, “I have a great group of guys here and it’s fun for me, even if I’m playing or not, I’m still having fun cheering guys on.” He then continued, “Whether I’m on the court or not, I’m just here to give positive energy to the guys so we could come up with a win.” Van Opstal then went on to say that having the right attitude is a must especially on a team of high-character guys like the Beermen. “All these guys have names and they’re just so down-to-earth, they’re just so accepting and inviting. That was a learning process (for me) in the sense that the reason they’re so successful is because they don’t let their egos in the way,” he shared. That is exactly why the rookie isn’t expecting more minutes just yet. As he put it, “Whether I get more minutes or not, it doesn’t matter to me.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

FA Cup fights for relevance as EPL gets wealthier

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer br /> LONDON (AP) — Within minutes of lifting the FA Cup in May, Louis van Gaal discovered how little the competition factored into the decision on his Manchester United future. United's approach for Jose Mourinho to succeed Van Gaal emerged as the Dutch coach was facing the media at Wembley Stadium straight after beating Crystal Palace. Two days later, Van Gaal was booted out of United, paying the price for failing to secure Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four. It's clear what the priority is now for English Premier League owners like the Glazers. United and the other 19 Premier League teams enter the FA Cup in the third round this weekend, knowing success in soccer's oldest knockout competition has rarely counted less. What matters is making cash through the Premier League, which has eroded the FA Cup's long-standing cherished place in the English football calendar over the last two decades. Van Gaal is one of several managers to leave their jobs despite reaching an FA Cup final. Alan Pardew, his Palace counterpart in May, was fired in December due to the London club's lowly Premier League position. Going back to 2013, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was turned out of his job two days after losing the final to Wigan, which was relegated in the same season. Martinez did, however, secure a move to Everton after his triumph. Roberto Di Matteo, the 2012 cup winner, was at least given until November after his May triumph before being dumped by Chelsea. Perhaps the only manager the FA Cup has mattered to in recent years was Arsene Wenger, with successes in 2014 and 2015 easing some of the heat he has faced for Arsenal's failure to win the Premier League since 2004. Wenger's last cup final victory came against Aston Villa in May 2015. Given that Villa hadn't won a major trophy since the 1996 League Cup or won the FA Cup since 1957, reaching the final was a proud day for manager Tim Sherwood. Five months later, Sherwood was dismissed and he hasn't found another job. No current manager has more experience of the FA Cup and the debate about its luster than Wenger, who has spent 21 years at Arsenal. 'I have no special solution,' the Frenchman said. 'But as well when April comes and May comes and teams go to Wembley it's something special ... it's a big priority for us. 'We have shown historically that we care about that competition and it's a massive competition for everybody.' Just less so in January. 'After the congested Christmas period it's always a tricky game the third round, and that is why I believe (it's a) mental challenge as well for the Premier League teams to prepare well, not to have a bad surprise, and especially today when you go to a Championship team it's always difficult.' Arsenal travels on Saturday to Preston, which is 11th in the 24-team second-tier League Championship. Preston North End's heyday was in the 19th century, winning the top tier twice and the FA Cup once. The northern English club's last major honor was lifting the FA Cup in 1938. Here is a look at the pick of the third-round fixtures involving Premier League teams against lower-league sides. ___ MAN UNITED-READING United's cup defense begins with a reunion as former defender Jaap Stam returns to Old Trafford. The Dutchman won the cup in United's 1998-99 treble-winning season along with the Premier League and Champions League. 'I'm not going to make a big thing of it because I'm not going to be waving,' Stam said. That's because the next time he returns to United he hopes it is because Reading, currently third in the Championship, is back in the Premier League. TOTTENHAM-ASTON VILLA Steve Bruce, whose Hull side lost the 2014 final to Arsenal, is midway through his first season at Aston Villa. There's little doubt his main task is returning the team to the Premier League but it is a place below Preston in 12th place and seven points from the playoff spots. Tottenham is likely to use the cup on Sunday as a chance to rest the key players behind the five-match league winning run, crowned by the victory over Chelsea on Wednesday that lifted Mauricio Pochettino's side to third. LIVERPOOL-PLYMOUTH It's second in the Premier League versus second in the fourth tier at Anfield on Sunday. And it's Juergen Klopp's first taste of the FA Cup, but the Liverpool manager is likely to use the game to test the depth of his squad and give game time to youngsters. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Group effort helps Clippers rally past Grizzlies

em>By Beth Harris, Associated Press /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) — Austin Rivers scored a season-high 28 points and helped rally the Los Angeles Clippers from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 115-106 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their second win in a row. Jamal Crawford added 22 points off the bench and DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers, who improved to 4-9 in the regular season without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Both injured stars watched from the bench; Paul could return from a sore hamstring this week. Marc Gasol scored 23 points and Mike Conley had 17 points and a season-high 12 assists for the Grizzlies. Memphis closed to 97-96 on seven straight points in the fourth. Jordan missed a pair of free throws but got bailed out by Crawford's three-pointer that kept the Clippers ahead, 100-96. The Grizzlies were limited to two field goals in the final 4:19. They have lost four of their last six games. The Clippers snapped a six-game skid Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) against Phoenix but they were in a close game early against the Grizzlies and fell into a 13-point hole in the second quarter. Memphis led by 12 early in the third before the Clippers engineered a dramatic turnaround. They ran off 11 consecutive points, including seven by J.J. Redick, to close to 73-70. Redick finished with 19 points. From there, Rivers took over. He scored seven in a row before Jordan's three-point play on a dunk and free throw. Crawford had seven of the Clippers' final nine points to give them an 89-85 lead heading into the fourth. Redick scored 10 points during the spurt, which brought the crowd back into the game. Memphis built a 13-point lead in the second when the Grizzlies closed on a 26-13 run for a 63-53 halftime lead. Four players hit three-pointers in that span. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Grizzlies: /strong> /em>C Deyonta Davis (left foot), F JaMychal Green (maxilla fracture), G Chandler Parsons (rest) and F-C Brandan Wright (left ankle) sat out, leaving the Memphis bench thin. Green sustained his facial injury against the Lakers a night earlier. em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em>Paul had a full workout and went up and down the court during practice. Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said if Paul doesn't have any soreness on Thursday he could return Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Sacramento. Jordan had 20 rebounds for the second straight game. Rookie F Brice Johnson (acute herniated disk in lower back) also played at practice and was moving well. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Grizzlies: /strong> /em> Visit Golden State on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) to conclude a four-game trip out West. They beat the Warriors 110-89 at home on Dec. 10 (Dec. 11, PHL time). em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em>Visit Sacramento on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in their only road game during a seven-game home stretch. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

USC hits FG at gun, beats Penn State 52-49 in epic Rose Bowl

GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer br /> PASADENA, California (AP) — After 98 combined points and 1,040 yards of spectacular offensive play, the highest-scoring Rose Bowl in college football history rested on the left foot of a Southern California kicker who had already missed two field goals. Matt Boermeester somehow blocked out the cacophonous tension in the chilly air. He focused only on securing a perfect ending to an epic evening. 'Game was on the line, but you've got to keep true to your technique and trust it,' Boermeester said. His technique was sound. His kick was true. And the Trojans got their storybook finish in Pasadena. Boermeester hit a 46-yard field goal as time expired, and No. 9 USC rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 52-49 victory over No. 5 Penn State on Monday night in the 103rd edition of the Granddaddy of Them All. Freshman Sam Darnold passed for 453 yards and five touchdowns while leading a stirring comeback by the Trojans (10-3), who won their ninth consecutive game and triumphed in their first Rose Bowl since 2009. USC trailed 49-35 with nine minutes to play, but persevered to win one of the greatest Rose Bowls ever played. 'It was just two really good football teams playing at the highest level and competing until the absolute, very end,' USC coach Clay Helton said. 'The greatest players shined brightest on the biggest stage. It's what fairy tales are made of.' Deontay Burnett, who had three TD receptions, caught a tying 27-yard scoring pass from Darnold with 1:20 left to cap an 80-yard drive in 38 seconds with no timeouts available. Leon McQuay III then intercepted an ill-advised long pass by Trace McSorley and returned it 32 yards to the Penn State 33 with 27 seconds left. In an instant, the Trojans went from preparing for overtime to having a chance to win. The Trojans set up Boermeester, and the junior confidently drilled the Rose Bowl winner , sprinting away as it went through the south uprights and set off pandemonium on the hallowed field. 'It's beautiful,' McQuay said. 'This is a special group of guys. Oh man, this is the time to step up. This is the time to make plays.' McSorley passed for 254 yards and threw two of his four touchdown passes to Chris Godwin for the Nittany Lions (11-3), whose nine-game winning streak ended in heartbreaking fashion. Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards and two TDs as the Nittany Lions (12-2) followed up their 21-point comeback in the Big Ten title game with another ferocious rally, only to watch the Trojans rally back. 'That game doesn't really define us,' Penn State coach James Franklin said. 'I wouldn't be any more proud tonight sitting here with a win ... after what might have been the most exciting Rose Bowl game ever.' With one jaw-dropping play after another from two talent-laden offenses, the teams obliterated the combined Rose Bowl scoring record in the third quarter, surpassing Oregon's 45-38 victory over Wisconsin in the 2012 game. ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017