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Soccer coach donates to help migrant aid group

A Spanish aid group dedicated to saving migrants crossing the Mediterranean says soccer coach Pep Guardiola donated 150,000 euros ($176,000) to repair one of their ships that had been impounded by Italy. Source link link: Soccer coach donates to help migrant aid group.....»»

Category: newsSource: manilainformer manilainformerJun 12th, 2018

Soccer coach donates to help migrant aid group

A Spanish aid group dedicated to saving migrants crossing the Mediterranean says soccer coach Pep Guardiola donated 150,000 euros ($176,000) to repair one of their ships that had been impounded by Italy. Source link link: Soccer coach donates to help migrant aid group.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

NHL adds Seattle as league s 32nd team, play begins in 2021

By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press SEA ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Seattle is getting a National Hockey League team. It will just have to wait a little bit longer to drop the puck. The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved adding Seattle as the league's 32nd franchise on Tuesday, with play set to begin in 2021 instead of 2020 to allow enough time for arena renovations. The as-yet unnamed franchise will be the Emerald City's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008. "Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Expanding to Seattle makes the National Hockey League more balanced, even more whole and even more vibrant. A team in Seattle evens the number of teams in our two conferences, brings our geographic footprint into greater equilibrium and creates instant new rivalries out west, particularly between Seattle and Vancouver." The announcement came a few moments after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan let the news slip at a watch party in Seattle, prompting cheers: "I got a call from a mole in the room and it was a unanimous vote. We're getting hockey." The decision was widely expected after the Seattle Hockey Partners group impressed the board's executive committee in October with a plan that had all the ingredients the NHL was looking for. Strong ownership led by billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a downtown arena in a sports-crazed city and a season-ticket drive that drummed up 10,000 orders in 12 minutes all cleared the way for the NHL to add another team less than three years after approving a franchise in Las Vegas. Seattle Hockey President and CEO Tod Leiweke joked that he'd have to throw out some Seattle 2020 business cards because of the pushed-back timing. But all sides agreed 2021 was the best time to start. "They've always felt that we should have a little more time to build the arena right," Bruckheimer said. "We wanted to bring it to 2020-21 because we want to get going right away, but it's not fair to the fans or to the players to not have a 100 percent finished arena when we start." The owners will pay a $650 million expansion fee, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to join the league just two years ago. Leiweke said arena renovations will cost $800 million and the addition of a state-of-the-art practice facility makes it a total investment of over $1.5 billion. "(That's) a few bits of change which aren't around anymore," Bonderman said of the spending. "Seattle is one of my favorite cities and it's a pleasure to be here. If it was someplace else, I wouldn't have done it." The NHL will also realign its two divisions in the West for the 2021-22 season: Seattle will play the Pacific, home to its closest geographic rivals like Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose, and the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division. "It was at the end of the day the simplest, most logical and least disruptive option we had available to us and I think it'll work well for the Coyotes," Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. The remarkable debut by Vegas in 2017, which included a run to the Stanley Cup Final, gave the league more confidence about moving forward so quickly. Seattle will benefit from the same expansion draft rules Vegas had. Its front office is expected to be led by Dave Tippett, a former coach who would lead the search for the club's first general manager and staff. Tippett signed on to the project because of a connection to Leiweke, a major force in delivering an NHL team to Seattle. Leiweke got his start in hockey with the Minnesota Wild. He also worked in Vancouver and most recently helped build Tampa Bay into a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Leiweke left the Lightning in 2015 to become the COO of the NFL and didn't have any interest in leaving the league office until the project in Seattle began to gain traction. Leiweke's job will be to capitalize on a market whose demographics have changed significantly since he left the NFL's Seahawks in 2010 after being largely responsible for the team hiring coach Pete Carroll. Seattle is the largest market in the country without a winter pro sports franchise and has seen an influx of wealth in recent years. Even when he was running the Seahawks, Leiweke believed Seattle was ripe for the NHL and the response to the season-ticket drive only strengthened that belief. "I woke up today thinking about the fans," Leiweke said. "What did they feel on March 1 when they put down deposits without knowing anything? No team name, an ownership group they didn't know very well, a building plan that was back then somewhat defined but fairly vague. Today is a great day for the fans and we owe them so much. That's why today happened." The NHL's launch in Seattle will show how starved fans are for another team. Basketball is embedded in the DNA of the region thanks to 41 years of the SuperSonics and a lengthy history of producing NBA talent. When the rain of the fall and winter drive young athletes inside, they grab a basketball and head for the nearest gym to play pickup games. Basketball courts and coffee shops seem to be on every corner, but ice rinks are scarce. A lot about Seattle is different from 2008, when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. The skyline is filled with construction cranes. Amazon has taken over an entire section of the city, joined nearby by satellite offices of Google and Facebook. The amount of wealth now in the Seattle market is part of the reason Tim Leiweke, Tod's older brother and the CEO of event facilities giant Oak View Group, has regularly calls the city one of the most enticing expansion opportunities in pro sports history. Seattle has become a city of transplants due to the booming local economy. A hockey franchise would provide those newcomers a team to rally around, much like what happened when the Sounders of Major League Soccer arrived in 2009 — the last team added to the city's sport landscape. The Sonics were the first, joining the NBA in 1967, followed by the arrival of the Seahawks in 1976 and Mariners in 1977 after construction of the Kingdome. There have been several attempts at solving Seattle's arena issues and landing either an NHL or NBA team in the years since the Sonics left, but none had the support of the city or the private money attached until now. Asked Tuesday about possibly adding an NBA team, Bonderman responded: "One miracle at a time." While Seattle basks in the news, it's not clear the NHL will be satisfied at 32 teams even with the new team providing balance between the conferences and a natural, cross-border rival for the Vancouver Canucks. Daly said recently that there's no magic number, even though no major North American sports league has ever grown beyond 32 teams. Houston, Quebec City and Toronto have all been touted as possible new homes someday, but they'll also have to wait. "We're not looking right now and I think for the foreseeable future at any further expansion," Bettman said. ___ AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 5th, 2018

PSG aims to avoid early elimination in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of breaking through in European soccer could end earlier than usual this season. A loss against Liverpool on Wednesday in Paris, coupled with a home win by Napoli over Red Star, would keep PSG from making it out of the group stage in the Champions League. And that would be a significant setback for the big-spending French team desperately trying to assert itself as a world-class club. It would be the first time PSG failed to reach the tournament's knockout round since 2011-12, after Qatar Sports Investments took over the club with the goal of turning it into a top contender. PSG was eliminated in the round of 16 last season, after reaching the quarterfinals four straight years before that. Failure this time would hurt PSG in its second season since signing Brazil star Neymar for 222 million euros from Barcelona in an attempt to increase its chances of succeeding in Europe. PSG enters the crucial match at Parc des Princes with five points in Group C, one behind leaders Liverpool and Napoli. A victory would put the French club back in position to advance depending on its own results. "It's a decisive match in a very, very complicated group," PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster TF1. The good news for Tuchel is that Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who had been sidelined because of injuries, are expected to be available for the home match against Liverpool. A look at the four Champions League groups on Wednesday: GROUP A Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund lead the group and have a chance to secure places in the knockout round in advance. Dortmund needs a draw at Club Brugge, while Atletico needs a home win against Monaco. Atletico can also advance if Club Brugge loses points against Dortmund, which is coming off a blistering start to the season under new coach Lucien Favre. The only setback for Favre so far was the 2-0 loss at Atletico in the team's previous Champions League appearance. Paco Alcacer, signed on a permanent basis from Barcelona on Friday, scored again on Saturday in a win over Mainz, taking his league tally to nine goals in seven appearances. GROUP B Harry Kane kept Tottenham's Champions League hopes alive with a late double to sink PSV Eindhoven in the last round of games. Now the striker has some back-up as his team tries to complete an unlikely recovery to qualify from Group B. Tottenham has struggled for attacking fluency this season, mainly because attacking midfielders Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have been missing at times because of injury. They appear to be fully fit now and were superb in Tottenham's win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, a 3-1 win that might have been its best display of the season. Spurs need to beat Inter Milan at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday to keep alive ambitions of a top-two finish. That would leave the teams tied on seven points. Tottenham would still likely require a win at already-qualified Barcelona to advance, given that Inter closes group play at home to last-place PSV. Barcelona, without Rafinha, Luis Suarez and Arthur because of injuries, has a three-point advantage at the top and will clinch first place in the group with a win over PSV, or a draw if Inter does not beat Tottenham. GROUP C Victories by Liverpool and Napoli would lock up the group which has proven to be the tightest of the Champions League. Napoli, the group's only unbeaten team with three draws and one win, hosts a Red Star team which still has chances of advancing in its return to the tournament's group stage after 26 years. The Serbian club has four points, one fewer than Paris Saint-Germain and two fewer than Napoli and Liverpool. Red Star held Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home in the first round, but then conceded 10 goals in losses against PSG (6-1) and Liverpool (4-0). Liverpool, which beat PSG at home, lost 2-0 to Red Star in its previous Champions League match, but it is coming off two straight wins in the Premier League. PSG, cruising in the French league, beat Liverpool 3-0 the only other time the teams met in Paris, nearly two decades ago. GROUP D Group leader Porto hosts second-place Schalke in a match in which a draw could be enough for both clubs to advance. They would clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a draw if Galatasaray fails to win its match at already eliminated Lokomotiv Moscow. A victory would secure first place for Porto, which has won eight straight entering the match at its Estadio do Dragao. Porto is trying to make it to the round of 16 for the third straight season. The Portuguese champion has 10 points, two more than Schalke and six more than Galatasaray. Porto and Schalke are the only unbeaten teams in the group. Schalke hasn't made it to the knockout stage since 2014-15. ___ Associated Press writers John Leicester, Ciaran Fahey and Steve Douglas contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 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

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

Megan Rapinoe sees disparity as World Cup approaches

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press FRISCO, Texas (AP) — With the Women's World Cup less than eight months away, U.S. national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe is dismayed by what she sees as ongoing issues of inequality in soccer. From uncertainty about the use of video review and the amount of prize money, to scheduling other tournament finals on the same day as the championship game, equity issues are getting more attention as the World Cup looms. From Rapinoe's standpoint, that's symptomatic of the short shrift paid to the women's game by FIFA, soccer's governing body. "And that's not to say they (FIFA) don't do anything. They obviously do things for the women's game. But in the way that they truly care about the men's game, they don't truly care about the women's game," she said. The United States qualified for the World Cup on Sunday night with a victory over Jamaica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF women's championship tournament. The top three finishers earn spots in the World Cup, so the U.S. and Canada secured berths with semifinal victories. The two teams will play each other in the championship match Wednesday night. Rapinoe has always been one of the most vocal players on the team. She was among a chorus of voices that criticized FIFA in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup in Canada because the tournament was played on artificial turf, which was considered a slight to the women. So it's understandable the 33-year-old national team vet would call out FIFA for more recent issues. FIFA has been criticized for scheduling the Women's World Cup final on the same day as the men's Copa America final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. There have been calls for FIFA to use VAR, or Video Assistant Referees, at the tournament in France. VAR was used at the men's World Cup for the first time in Russia. Prize money has been an issue since 2015, when the U.S. women's team received $2 million for winning the World Cup, out of a pool of $15 million. By comparison, the prize pool for the men's World Cup in Russia was $400 million. FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman responded to some of the criticism last week when the organization released its first-ever global strategy for women's soccer. The wide-ranging policy seeks to grow the women's game overall — and one aim is to get more women involved in the decision-making processes at all levels. "We have to keep pushing," Bareman said. "Because it's proven that having more women in these decision-making bodies creates a more diverse decision-making process, and also a more robust and I would say — how do I put this diplomatically — a more honest and integral process as well." The strategy shows that FIFA is committed to the women's game, she said. As for VAR, a decision has not been announced. FIFA did not announce its intention to use VAR for the men's World Cup until just a few months before the tournament. Bareman also confirmed that World Cup prize money would be increased but did not reveal a figure. An announcement is expected later this month at the FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda. She said the prize structure would include "new elements that haven't existed before in the women's game" including money to help qualified teams prepare. Sports Illustrated reported last week that the prize pool would be doubled, to $30 million. Rapinoe wanted to know what metric was used in determining the amount — especially in light of the disparity with the men's. "I mean, I think that they're probably looking for pats on the back for the increase. They're not getting any from here. I mean, until they're really going to take meaningful steps to truly show that they're caring about the women's game in a sort of deeper way, I don't know. $15 million is nothing to them. ... If they wanted to just sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million," she said. Rapinoe is not alone. Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn have also publicly addressed some of the controversies. Coach Jill Ellis first called for VAR at the Women's World Cup when she visited Russia for the men's tournament, and during qualifying she has questioned the scheduling decisions. The U.S. team is uniquely positioned to speak to contentious issues. The players fought for and received an improved collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer in 2017 that brings player compensation more in line with the men's team. And as the No. 1 team in the world, the players' voices carry weight. "I think they themselves are an incredible mouthpiece for our game, for the women's game. Not just because of their popularity, but also their investment. This is a group that wants the game to grow," Ellis said. "So I think them speaking their minds, honestly, and being open about how they feel about issues — as in bonuses for winning, dates of competition, VAR, all those things that you want to be on the same level and same platform as the men's game. And that's the expectation, and anything less that that is not acceptable.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

New South Korea coach targets Asian title

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2016 file photo, then Olympiakos' coach Paulo Bento holds the ball during the Europa League Group B soccer match between Olympiakos and APOEL at Georgios Karaiskakis s.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsAug 24th, 2018

UN refugee agency welcomes Thai move to give cave boys citizenship

BANGKOK — The UN refugee agency welcomed on Thursday a decision by Thailand to grant Thai citizenship to three boys and their soccer coach from among a group of 13 who were rescued from a flooded cave last month. The 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, from the “Wild Boars” soccer team were […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  interaksyonRelated NewsAug 9th, 2018

The next senior World Cup is in France, not Qatar

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

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

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

Diver dies in race to get Thai boys, coach out of flooded cave

CHIANG RAI, Thailand---A former Thai navy diver died working to save 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped inside a flooded cave, highlighting the risks for rescue teams trying to find a safe way to bring the group out after 13 days underground.   Dwindling oxygen levels in the cave complex and weather forecasts predicting more heavy rain added to the pressure on authorities to work out a rescue plan.   Samarn Poonan, 38, a former member of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit, died on Thursday night as he worked underwater in the cave complex, laying oxygen tanks along a potential exit route, the SEAL commander said.   "We won't let his life be in vain. We w...Keep on reading: Diver dies in race to get Thai boys, coach out of flooded cave.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

Rodriguez misses Colombia training, scan shows calf swelling

KAZAN, Russia (AP) — James Rodriguez missed training on Saturday and a scan showed that he had minor swelling of his right calf, three days before a last-16 match against England at the World Cup. Rodriguez, who was the top scorer at the 2014 World Cup, has been bothered by the injury since the start of the tournament in Russia. Colombia's soccer federation said in a statement that the 26-year-old attacking midfielder didn't have a tear in his calf. No further details about the injury were immediately given. Rodriguez left the field in the 31st minute of Colombia's 1-0 victory over Senegal on Thursday night, but his injury has never been officially disclosed as the reason for the substitution. The South American team faces England on Tuesday at Spartak Stadium in Moscow. Before training on Saturday, midfielder Carlos Sanchez and backup goalkeeper also didn't shed any light on Rodriguez's recuperation. "James is a leader, but I'm also sure that if James isn't there, there are others who can step in and make the difference," Sanchez said. "Each member of the team's squad is here to play and they have the experience." Rodriguez missed two training sessions before Colombia's first group match against Japan and didn't start in the 2-1 loss. He was fit enough to play a full 90 minutes in the second match against Poland in the 3-0 win. With Colombia facing England on Tuesday, the possibility that Rodriguez wouldn't be fit enough to play would be a major headache for coach Jose Pekerman. "It's not a secret to anybody what James means for us, not only in football terms, but for the group. But I stand by what Carlos says," Vargas said. "At the level of the national team, everyone has the hope of giving their best. "Whatever happens, all 23 players have that dream.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Ronaldo, Portugal unable to continue great run at World Cup

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't carry the team by himself this time. The five-time player of the year, who scored four goals in his opening two matches at the World Cup, was eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after Portugal lost to Uruguay 2-1 in the round of 16. "We gave our best," Ronaldo said. "The team played well. As the team captain I am proud of this group." Portugal won the 2016 European Championship and came to Russia with high expectations following the surprise title in France two years ago, its first in a major tournament. Ronaldo started off this year's tournament with a hat trick against Spain and then added another goal against Morocco. But on Saturday, it was Edinson Cavani who scored twice to earn victory for the Uruguayans. "No team can win with one player alone," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "He tried. The team didn't win because Uruguay scored twice." Portugal hasn't reached the World Cup quarterfinals since 2006, when a young Ronaldo led the team to the semifinals. Back then, Portugal lost to France and eventually finished fourth after losing to Germany in the consolation game. Ronaldo, now 33 and still playing some of the best soccer of his life, failed to provide the spark Portugal needed against Uruguay. Ronaldo's great start in Russia allowed him to surpass the combined total of three goals he had scored in his previous three World Cups. He also joined Pele, Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler as the only players to score in four World Cups. The four early goals in this year's tournament had put him in position to contend for the "Golden Boot" trophy, but he was surpassed by England striker Harry Kane's five goals in the group stage. Despite his fast start in Russia, Ronaldo missed a penalty in the 1-1 draw against Iran in the third game. He also was nearly given a red card when his elbowing of an opponent was reviewed on video. Prior to the World Cup, Ronaldo led Real Madrid to its third straight Champions League title, but he arrived in Russia surrounded by distractions about his club future and a tax fraud accusation back in Madrid. He had said he would talk about his club future after joining the national team, but avoided the subject from the start. He only spoke briefly with the media in Russia. "Now it's not the time to talk about the future," Ronaldo said. "I'm sure that the national team will remain as one of the best in the world. We have great players, a fantastic group.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Bitter loss to Germany made Sweden stronger, coach says

Sweden's Ludwig Augustinsson holds his head as he lies on the pitch at the end of the group F match between Germany and Sweden at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russi.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018