<![CDATA[rss-Sports]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Sports]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Pires hails new manager Emery as Arsenal's 'best signing']]>
The north London outfit chose Emery, a former Sevilla and Paris St Germain boss, to succeed long-serving manager Arsene Wenger in May and the 46-year-old has already signed five new players as he overhauls the squad.

"The best signing for me is Unai Emery, the manager. Of course I believe in the players, and especially the new players," Pires, who played under Wenger for six years between 2000-06, told Sky Sports News.

"He won in Spain. He won in France. He has a lot of experience and I hope for him and Arsenal that he is successful with the club."

Uruguay international Lucas Torreira and teenager Matteo Guendouzi became Arsenal's latest arrivals last week, while long-serving midfielder Jack Wilshere left the club earlier this month to join league rivals West Ham United.

Emery took charge of his first match in Saturday's 8-0 win over fifth-tier side Boreham Wood but will face sterner tests against Spain's Atletico Madrid and former club Paris St German in a pre-season tournament in Singapore next week.

The Spaniard has been tasked with improving on Arsenal's sixth-placed league finish and their run to the Europa League semi-finals last season. The Gunners also suffered a shock third round exit in the FA Cup. ]]>
7/19/2018 6:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sturridge ready to stay and fight for more game time at Liverpool]]>
Sturridge has been hampered by a spate of injuries during the last few years with the England international passing the 10-goal mark only once over the last four seasons, scoring 13 in the 2015-16 season.

He was loaned out to West Bromwich Albion in January but failed to make an impact at the Hawthorns outfit, failing to score in six appearances for the relegated club.

Local media reports linked Sturridge with a move away from Liverpool but manager Klopp said this week that the striker still has a future at Anfield.

"I see myself staying at Liverpool, hopefully being part of the team week in, week out," Sturridge told the Daily Mirror.

"Pre-season is going well, so for me it's keeping my head down and building on that. I'm excited about the season ahead and it feels great to be back."

Sturridge, who was left out of Gareth Southgate's England team for the World Cup, has played in all three of Liverpool's pre-season friendlies so far.

Liverpool continue their pre-season fixtures against Blackburn Rovers on Thursday before heading to the United States to face Borussia Dortmund, league rivals Manchester City and Manchester United in the International Champions Cup. ]]>
7/19/2018 5:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Brighton sign Mali midfielder Bissouma from Lille]]>
The 21-year-old, who has earned 13 caps for his country, made 55 appearances for Lille after making his senior debut for the Ligue 1 side in 2016.

"He is someone with good technical ability on the ball, and has good experience at a relatively young age, after playing regularly in a competitive French league for the past two seasons," Brighton manager Chris Hughton told the club website https://www.brightonandhovealbion.com.

Bissouma is Brighton's sixth signing in the current window as the Seagulls aim to improve on their 15th-placed league finish from last season. ]]>
7/19/2018 1:10:00 AM
<![CDATA['I want to cement my legacy': Joshua plans history bid]]>
Joshua, the reigning WBA, IBF and WBO champion, faces mandatory challenger Povetkin at Wembley on September 22 amid mounting expectation the British fighter will then get in the ring with WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

Negotiations between Joshua's camp and Wilder's team are still on-going and the unification clash could be lined up for April 13, with Wembley reportedly booked for that date.

Before that, former Olympic gold medallist Joshua must put his belts on the line when he tangles with Povetkin.

Joshua isn't over-looking the 38-year-old Povetkin, also a former Olympic champion, but he has reached the stage in his career where it is his legacy that motivates him rather than emerging unscathed from individual duels.

"It's not just about Povetkin and Wilder. It's about proving my worth as a heavyweight champion It's about me, my legacy and achieving my potential," Joshua told a press conference at Wembley on Wednesday.

"Now it's more, I know I'm good at this. I've built my mindset over the last 10 years.

"I've got 10 years left in boxing and I want to cement my legacy.

"(George) Foreman, Bernard Hopkins, (Wladimir) Klitschko went on until 40. I believe I can do that with the advances in sports science.

"I've been 12 rounds, I've been dropped, I've put on weight, I've lost weight, I've learnt boxing specific training.

"I think back to the gold medal. It was a tournament I had to get through. I'm back in the tournament. It's great. It resonates with people."

Promoter Eddie Hearn agrees that Joshua is more than capable of adding more polish to his already glittering CV.

"The pace that this young man is moving at and the challenge he is wiling to take is fantastic for the sport of boxing," Hearn said.

"Anthony wants to create a legacy and the only way you do that is by fighting real fighters."

- 'Unbelievable pedigree'

Joshua won his first world title in 2016 and has made five defences, taking his record to 21-0 with 20 knockouts.

The 28-year-old beat Joseph Parker of New Zealand by unanimous points decision in Cardiff on March 31.

Povetkin knocked out David Price on the undercard of Joshua's victory over Parker.

He previously fought for the titles Joshua now holds in a 2013 defeat by Klitschko.

"He's got an unbelievable pedigree. I've watched him for a long time," Joshua said of Povetkin.

"People should never underestimate a fighter if he doesn't have a big social media fanbase.

"Hes one of the best fighters I will face on my record. I look forward to it."

Povetkin, who was the super-heavyweight champion at the 2004 Games in Athens, is relishing the chance to take on Joshua in front of a full house at Wembley after a tarnished career.

He twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2016, costing him fights with reigning WBC champion Deontay Wilder and former champion Bermane Stiverne.

"Anthony Joshua has proved he's one of the strongest fighters. I'm very excited for this fight," Povetkin said.

"The best motivation for myself is knowing he's a world champion."

7/18/2018 8:50:54 PM
<![CDATA[Sarri just wants to have fun at Chelsea]]>
The 59-year-old Italian replaced compatriot Antonio Conte who was sacked, a year after leading the team to the title, after Chelsea failed to qualify for next season's Champions League.

"My goal is to have fun and be competitive in all the competitions until the end," Sarri told a news conference on Wednesday.

"If a team has fun, often the fans have fun too. This is very important. We want to reach high-level objectives, but first we must have fun."

Spanish media have linked Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with Real Madrid and although Sarri wants to keep the duo at Stamford Bridge, the former banker is happy for the club's hierarchy to handle transfer business.

"Clearly we would like to keep the strongest players...this is what any manager and club wants to do," the former Napoli boss added.

"I am much more a pitch manager than a general manager. I am one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market. Our task as managers is growing the players that we have."

With players involved in the World Cup yet to join the club for pre-season training, Sarri will need time to embed his philosophy at Stamford Bridge.

"I play in a slightly different way (from Conte) so it will take some time for the squad," said Sarri. "Many players still have to come back from the World Cup.

"I hope this initial time can be shortened. I hope the quality of the players will allow me to have the results."

Italian midfielder Jorginho has followed Sarri from Napoli to become Chelsea's first signing of the close season and the manager is keen to strengthen his midfield further.

"I spoke with the club and I said a pinch of quality is lacking in our midfield for a certain kind of play," he said.

Chelsea open their campaign in the Community Shield against champions Manchester City on Aug. 5. They visit Huddersfield Town in their league opener six days later. ]]>
7/18/2018 8:10:57 PM
<![CDATA[Chamberlain could miss entire Liverpool season - Klopp]]>
Oxlade-Chamberlain sustained cruciate ligament damage when going in for a tackle during their Champions League semi-final first-leg win over Italian side AS Roma at Anfield in April. The 24-year-old underwent surgery eight days later.

"We're preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus," Klopp told the club's website https://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/first-team/307548-oxlade-chamberlain-injury-update-jurgen-klopp.

"It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab.

"We've known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it."

The former Arsenal player scored five goals and provided eight assists in his debut campaign at Anfield before suffering the injury that also ruled him out of contention for England's World Cup squad.

The midfielder also missed the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship due to injury and Klopp said there would be no rush to get Oxlade-Chamberlain back on the pitch.

"It is so important -- because of how valuable and important he is to what we are looking to do here in the coming seasons -- that the focus is on doing this right and not rushed. Ox is completely on board with this approach," Klopp added.

"I cannot wait to have him back with us for matches, but we will wait for him and we will show the patience that is required to make sure he comes back ready to continue where he left off: as one of the most outstanding performers in European football in that moment."

Liverpool have signed Naby Keita and Fabinho to bolster their midfield ahead of the new season as well as versatile forward Xherdan Shaqiri. Liverpool host West Ham United in their league opener on Aug. 12. ]]>
7/18/2018 8:09:41 PM
<![CDATA[Al Ahly officially boycotts IHF Super Globe in Qatar ]]>
The club decision came after an invitation from the Egyptian Football Federation to the club to participate at the tournament.

2018 IHF super globe is the eleventh edition of the competition, nine of them hosted by Doha and the other two hosted by Cairo and Vienna.

African Super Cup winners, Zamalek, had previously said they would not participate in the Super Globe as long as it is held in Qatar.

Both teams boycott the sports events in Qatar since the decision of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab Gulf countries cut ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, over the small Gulf nation’s alleged support to terrorists.

Barcelona, who won a record of three IHF Super Globe titles including the last one, will participate at the tournament.]]>
7/18/2018 7:00:42 PM
<![CDATA[Hazard and Courtois futures in board's hands says Sarri]]>
The 59-year-old Italian speaking at his unveiling, after being appointed the successor to sacked compatriot Antonio Conte, admitted to being disinterested by the transfer market.

This will be music to the board's ears as one of the reasons for Conte falling out badly with them shortly after guiding the club to the Premier League title in 2017 was his carping over a lack of say in buying new players and the ones being bought were not of the same level to those who left.

Hazard and Courtois both shone at the World Cup -- the latter winning The Golden Glove for goalkeeper of the tournament as Belgium finished a best ever third -- but with their contracts running down have been linked with moves to Spain.

Hazard said after the Belgians beat England 2-0 in the third place play-off last Saturday it "Might be time to discover something different," and Real Madrid are prepared to pay a reported £200million ($260million, 224million euros) for the Belgian playmaker.

Sarri, who forged his reputation in charge of Napoli guiding them to runners-up twice and third in his other season, said of course it would be for the better to keep the best players.

"Clearly we would always like to keep all the strongest players," said Sarri, who began in English but switched to his native Italian so he did not "say anything wrong".

"This is what any manager wants to do, this is what any club wants to do.

"Then we will have to see how the transfer market goes over the next few days.

"I think that I am one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market.

"I don't want to talk about the transfer market and I'm not that interested in it."

Sarri described Hazard as one of the top two or three players in Europe and said he would like to meet with him.

Hazard, though, is on holiday and Sarri admitted phoning him would not be sufficient.

"A telephone call without looking them in the eye would not give me any certainty," said Sarri.

"I'd like to meet them face to face. I would also like a player to come on the (training) pitch four or five days to have a clear idea."

Chelsea's new manager the chain-smoking former banker Maurizio Sarri says it will take time to make changes to the team's playing style but he will keep all the good things predecessor Antonio Conte introduced - AFP / CARLO HERMANN

- 'Extremely difficult challenge' -

Sarri, a chain-smoking former banker, said he came to the Chelsea job with an open mind and had chosen not to ask his successor at Napoli and former Chelsea handler Carlo Ancelotti for any advice or insight into a post that has seen many different faces down the years since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

"Well, for me this is a difficult challenge, but a fascinating one," said Sarri.

"I know it will be very difficult and here we have the strongest coaches in the world and the strongest players in the world.

"I know this will be an extremely difficult challenge for me.

"I have not asked anything of anyone."

Despite having won no silverware Sarri was named Serie A coach for the 2016/17 season and has praised Conte for what he had achieved in his two year spell at the club.

Conte won the FA Cup last term, but crucially failed to secure them a spot in this season's Champions League.

"This is a post-World Cup time," said Sarri.

"It will take some time to build a slightly different way of playing.

"All good things Antonio Conte did must be left. They must not be changed."

Sarri, whose methods are admired by title winners Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola, said he would not go into the discussions he had had with Abramovich.

"They have just asked me to build a season to be competitive in all competitions," said Sarri.

"Then during the season we'll see whether or not we want to have more specific objectives."

7/18/2018 6:39:22 PM
<![CDATA[Real will sign "brilliant" players, says President Perez]]>
European champions Real have had a tempestuous close season with Zinedine Zidane stepping down as coach in May days after his team won the Champions League for the third year in a row.

Real's record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus and the club have only recruited youngsters Alvaro Odriozola (22), Vinicius Junior (18) and Andriy Lunin (19) who all arrived in the Spanish capital to little fanfare.

Traditional big-hitters when it comes to making signings, especially in World Cup years, Real have been heavily linked in British and Spanish newspapers with Chelsea's Belgian internationals Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois.

“We need to strengthen our present and our future. This is a great squad that will be strengthened by some brilliant players,” Perez told a news conference on Wednesday.

“We’re in one of the richest periods of our history. We’ve won unique titles. We’re sound institutionally, have strong financial power and have the supports of millions of fans.

“We’re going to look to carry on winning and nobody should be in doubt about that. Many thought it was impossible to win three Champions Leagues in a row. We are Madrid and we always want more.” ]]>
7/18/2018 6:15:37 PM
<![CDATA[Toulon owner Boudjellal fined 75,000 euros over Treviso comments]]>
The punishments follow an EPCR investigation into comments Boudjellal made following Toulon's European Champions Cup tie against Italian club Benetton Treviso in January.

EPCR said Boudjellal "made comments that (among other things) allegedly condoned homophobic conduct, discriminated against and insulted various groups, and brought the game of rugby into disrepute by attacking, disparaging and criticising EPCR" during media interviews in January and February.

His comments included a robust defence of Toulon star Mathieu Bastareaud, who was cited and then banned for three weeks after the France centre admitted verbally abusing a Benetton player.

The often outspoken Boudjellal was also given a further 25,000 euros fine, suspended for three years, for any similar misconduct in any rugby jurisdiction.

Three-time European champions Toulon's points deduction has been suspended for three seasons and applies to any ERC tournament.

Officials said it would be activated for "any similar offending or misconduct by the club or any of its representatives in any rugby jurisdiction".

EPCR's statement added: "The independent disciplinary committee considered the misconduct to have been very serious and determined that both Mr Boudjellal and RC Toulon should receive a significant sanction.

"The committee also concluded that there were several aggravating factors, including poor disciplinary records and poor conduct during the disciplinary process, and that these increased the severity of the sanctions imposed.

"That poor conduct included ignoring directions made by the independent disciplinary committee and responding derisively to requests from the committee for information."

The disciplinary panel, in its written decision, said: "We had a responsibility to pass a sanction which properly marks rugby's disapproval of the use, or condoning of the use, of any remark which is discriminatory or insulting.

"Such remarks only undermine the confidence and the desire of the majority of those involved in rugby to promote an entirely inclusive and diverse game.

"We considered this case to be a very serious example of offending of this type."

7/18/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Alderweireld says World Cup show proved Spurs snub unfair]]>
The 29-year-old played a majority of Tottenham's matches in the opening stages of last campaign before a hamstring injury disrupted his season and, despite declaring himself fit in January, Alderweireld made just six appearances since November.

Despite his Premier League snub, Alderweireld featured in six of Belgium's seven World Cup matches in Russia as manager Roberto Martinez's side secured a historic third-placed finish at the tournament.

"I was very focused on this tournament," Alderweireld told British media. "I wanted to prove something to me, show that the period before the tournament in which I, for whatever reason, did not play, it was unjustified.

"I wanted to show that I'm still Toby, same as in November."

Alderweireld has been linked with a move to several European clubs and the centre back says he is uncertain about his future although he is planning to start next season at Tottenham.

The north London club play AS Roma, Barcelona and AC Milan in the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament along with a friendly against Girona before their Premier League opener against Newcastle United on Aug. 11.]]>
7/18/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Wenger says he regrets staying at Arsenal for 22 years]]>
The 68-year-old Frenchman, who was appointed in Oct. 1996, left the north London club at the end of last season after winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.

In an interview with French outlet RTL, Wenger said he will make a decision on his future "in the next few months".

When asked what was the biggest mistake of his career, Wenger said: "Perhaps staying at the same club for 22 years.

"I'm someone who likes new things, likes change. But I also like challenges. I was a little bit of a prisoner to my challenge each time."

Wenger admitted he was obsessed with ensuring Arsenal's success on the pitch, adding that sacrifices in his personal life were one the hardest parts of being a manager.

"I regret having sacrificed everything I did because I realise I've hurt a lot of people around me," he added.

"I've neglected a lot of people. I've neglected my family, I've neglected many close ones. Deep down though, the obsessed man is selfish in his pursuit of what he loves. He ignores a lot of other things. But it's a bone to chase at the same time."

Wenger was also confident that former Arsenal players Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, who are now pursuing coaching careers, have the qualities to succeed at the top level.

Vieira recently became Nice coach, while Henry, assistant to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez at the World Cup, has quit his Sky Sports punditry role to focus on becoming a manager.

However, Wenger warned the French pair of the sacrifices involved in following a coaching career.

"Often, I'm asked if Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira will be good managers and I always answer yes," he said.

"They have all the qualities; they are intelligent, they know football, they have excellent skill sets, but do they want to sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed to do only that? It's an obsession which bounces around your head day and night."]]>
7/17/2018 8:17:30 PM
<![CDATA[Beckenbauer tells Deschamps 'Welcome to our club']]>
Beckenbauer won the World Cup as player with West Germany in 1974 and as Germany manager in 1990. He followed Brazilian Mario Zagallo, who won as a player in 1958 and 1962, as a head coach in 1970 and as an assistant in 1994.

Deschamps won as a player in 1998 and, on Sunday, triumphed as a coach when France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final in Moscow.

"Now we are three," Der Kaiser told German newspaper Bild. "Perhaps we should get together."

Like Beckenbauer, Deschamps captained his country to World Cup victory. That was significant the German said.

"You'll automatically learn how to lead a team," Beckenbauer said. "That helped me later as a coach"

"Of all the World Cup favourites, only France went through the tournament at a consistent level."

Beckenbauer added that he thinks the club should be bigger.

"It's surprising that in the long World Cup era, going back to 1930, it has happened so little," said the German. "Some have already tried, Maradona for example, but have not succeeded."

7/17/2018 8:10:53 PM
<![CDATA[Martinez advises Hazard to leave Chelsea ]]>
“It could be the best time for Hazard to try something different; he could carry a new project anywhere in the world. He is at the best moment of his career,” Martinez told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Tuesday.

Hazard shined with the national team under Martinez’s command at 2018 World Cup in Russia, they finished the tournament at the third position for the first time in the nation’s history.

The manager praised Hazard, saying “He could fit in at any team in the world. He is a player who has maturity and a lot of leadership. His play is based on talent.”

Hazard joined Chelsea in 2012 after successful five years at the first team of his childhood club, Lille, leading the club to win the French League and the French Cup in 2011.

Since 2012, Hazard established himself as one of the key players at the club leading them to achieve 2013 UEFA Europa League, 2018 FA Cup, 2015 Football League Cup and two Premier League titles in 2015 and 2017.

Martinez added: “Players need new challenges and new projects. Perhaps it's a good time for Chelsea and for Eden to split.”
7/17/2018 8:06:19 PM
<![CDATA[Al-Ahly to play 'do or die' game at CAF Champions League ]]>
Al-Ahly players have no option but to achieve their first victory at the group to keep their chances to reach the quarter finals.

The draw put Al-Ahly in Group A alongside Botswana’s Township Rollers F.C., Uganda’s Kampala City and Tunisia’s Espérance.

Al-Ahly suffered a frustrating start after a goalless draw with Espérance at home and a 2-0 loss to Kampala City in Uganda.

Al-Ahly, who won a record of eight CAF Champions League titles, stays at the bottom of the group with one point, two points behind Kampala City and Township Rollers who share the second position and three points behind the group leaders, Espérance.

Al-Ahly fans are waiting for the impact of Al-Ahly new manager, Patrice Carteron, on the team in his first official game with the club.

Carteron’s expected line-up for the game consists of: Mohamed el-Shenawy, Saad Samir, Ahmed Fathy, Ayman Ashraf, Ali Maaloul, Hossam Ashour, Moamen Zakaria, Walid Soliman, Amr el-Solia, Junior Ajayi and Walid Azarro.

Borg El-Arab stadium will host the game which starts at 9 p.m. ]]>
7/17/2018 4:07:39 PM
<![CDATA[Modric blames Griezmann's penalty for World Cup loss ]]>
“We recovered after the first goal and when we played our best football, he gave a penalty and it kills you. I think we were unlucky to lose,” Modric said.

The French team opened the score after 20 minutes by an own goal from Mario Mandžukić and 9 minutes later Ivan Perisic equalized for Croatia. VAR granted France a penalty seconds before the half time after the ball touched Perisic’s hands and Griezmann converted it to make the score 2-1.

At the second half, France scored two goals by Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, respectively and Mandžukić scored Croatia’s second goal to end the game 4-2.

Modric added: “We played well and I think we were the better team but sometimes better teams don’t win. We have to be proud of how we played but it wasn’t enough to win it."

Croatia's captain led his team to their first World Cup final surpassing the Croatian achievement in the 1998 World Cup when they finished third.

Modric was named the best player in the tournament. ]]>
7/17/2018 3:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Deschamps wins World Cup as player, manager]]>
Deschamps, who was the first French to lift the World Cup title as the captain of the 1998 team, wrote a new chapter in football history after this achievement.

Deschamps is the third footballer to achieve the World Cup as a player and a manager after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer.

Zagallo won the World Cup title in 1958 and 1962 as a player before achieving the title in 1970 as the national team manager.

Beckenbauer captained the German team when they won the title in 1974 at home defeating Netherlands 2-1 at the final before winning the World Cup in 1990 as the German national team manager.

French Football Federation assigned Deschamps as national team manager in 2012 to rebuild a new generation for France after their failure at the 2008 and 2012 UEFA EURO and the 2010 World Cup.

Deschamps needed two years to build a squad of young players like Antoine Griezmann, Raphaël Varane, Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud.

France had a stunning run at the 2014 World Cup but was eliminated from the quarter finals, losing to the tournament champions, Germany.

Two years later, he was so close to win the EUROS at home like he did as a player in 2000 but they lost the final 1-0 to Portugal.

Deschamps lead France to put an end to 20 years of setbacks on the international level when they defeated Croatia 4-2 on Sunday to win the title.
7/17/2018 1:59:13 PM
<![CDATA[Conte bids farewell to Chelsea]]>
“I would like to thank all of my friends at Chelsea Football Club for their hard work and support over the past two seasons," Conte said.

Conte was sacked by Chelsea and will be succeeded by Italian manager, Maurizio Sarri.

Conte had incredible two seasons with the English club leading them to achieve the Premier League title in his first season and the FA Cup title in his second season as club manager.

Conte added: “To the players, whose talent and commitment was so important to our successes, I thank them for everything. It has been a pleasure working with them every day.”

Conte was appointed as Chelsea manager in 2016 after leading the Italian national team to 2016 UEFA EURO quarter finals losing to the 2014 World Cup winners, German, by penalty shootouts.

Conte has not decided his future destination yet. ]]>
7/17/2018 1:57:12 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi congratulates Macron after France wins World Cup]]>
France managed to win the 2018 World Cup held in Russia, after the team gave a great performance through all the stages of the tournament, to be a second well deserved World Cup trophy for Les Bleus.

The French president attended the final game between his national team and Croatia, alongside with another 14 world leaders, including Valdimir Putin and Croatia President Kolinda Kitarovic. Macron went to the lockers room and celebrated with the players after their great achievement.

7/17/2018 1:40:46 PM
<![CDATA[Serena returns to top 30 in world rankings]]>
The 36-year-old American climbed 153 places to 28th despite losing Saturday's final at the All England Club to German Angelique Kerber, Williams's fourth tournament since giving birth to her daughter 10 months ago.

Kerber, who won her third Grand Slam title, moved up six places to world number four, with French Open winner Simona Halep of Romania retaining the top ranking despite her third-round exit at Wimbledon.

In the men's rankings, Novak Djokovic's fourth Wimbledon crown propelled him back to 10th in the world after falling outside the top 20 for the first time since 2006.

South Africa's Kevin Anderson moved up three places to a career-high fifth after reaching the Wimbledon final for the first time in his career.

Spaniard Rafael Nadal remained at the top of the rankings and increased his lead over number two Roger Federer, whose Wimbledon title defence was ended by Anderson in a marathon quarter-final. ]]>
7/17/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Croatia fly flag for the little guys]]>
It was Iceland and Wales who shook up the established order in 2016, now Belgium and Croatia have shown that smaller nations can dream of footballing success as the gap to the traditional powers continues to narrow.

“Every team is set up so well now and properly prepared that there is not much between anybody,” said France coach Didier Deschamps after his team overcame Croatia 4-2 in Sunday’s World Cup final.

With a population of just over four million, Croatia punched considerably above their weight to reach the final, going down gallantly at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

Belgium reached the semi-finals with a golden generation of players despite a relatively modest footballing infra-structure and will have legitimate ambitions of claiming a first major international title at Euro 2020.

At the European Championship two years ago, Wales were surprise semi-finalists and Iceland captured the imagination by beating England to make the last eight.

With just over 300,000 people, Iceland followed that up by becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup.

On other continents too, there are growing examples of consistent challenges to the established order and particularly from countries whose playing resources are limited by the size of their population size.

“On our bus there is a slogan that says ‘We are a small nation with big dreams’," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic after the loss to France.

"That's a good message to all. If you work hard, you can produce good players and get results.

"You have to believe it is possible. Maybe things have to fall into place. But you have to have a dream and ambition and follow them.”

It is also essential to have key personnel, like player-of-the-tournament Luka Modric and fellow midfielder Ivan Rakitic, to inspire the rest of the squad.

But teams like Iceland and Japan have shown that tactical discipline and mental fortitude can sometimes trump talent. Japan displayed as much when they almost upset Belgium in the round of 16, leading 2-0 before going down 3-2.

Superpowers like Brazil, Germany, France and Spain will continue to be considered favourites at major tournaments but they will be very wary of the next "little guy" to pose a genuine threat.]]>
7/17/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Crowds pack Champs Elysees as French World Cup winners return home]]>
France overcame a determined Croatia team to win 4-2 in Sunday's final, with teenager Kylian Mbappe applying the coup de grace and cementing his place as a new global superstar at the age of just 19.

Thousands of people lined the Champs Elysees parade route for the World Cup-winning French team on Monday - AFP / Bertrand GUAY

Millions of fans in France celebrated into the night, honking car horns and flying the tricolour flag while the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe were lit up in the national colours of blue, white and red.

Crowds began converging early Monday on the Champs Elysees, the gathering point for all national celebrations, for a parade by the team atop an electric bus expected to start in the early evening.

"We're so proud of this team, they have truly become our players," said Priscilla Lagneaux, 28, who was waiting with friends under a wilting sun on the avenue. "We had to see them, and also the Cup."

The players arrived to a raucous welcome at Charles De Gaulle airport northeast of Paris, including a "water salute" by the fire brigade which sprayed arcs of water over the Air France jet as it taxied to the gate.

Captain Hugo Lloris, flanked by coach Didier Deschamps, was the first to emerge from the aircraft, raising the famed golden trophy before heading down the stairs and onto a freshly laid red carpet.

Commentators have focused on the outpouring of patriotism and sense of national unity created by the multiethnic French team, many of whose stars including Mbappe and Paul Pogba hail from deprived and often overlooked suburbs of Paris.

Laurent Joffrin, editor of the leftwing Liberation newspaper, said they had lived up to the ideal of "the republic that we love: united and diverse, patriotic and open, national without being nationalist".

After the parade France's newest idols will be welcomed at the Elysee Palace by Emmanuel Macron, whose office has already promised the Legion of Honour for the victors' "exceptional services" to the country.

7/16/2018 7:25:50 PM
<![CDATA[Heavy rain damages Russian World Cup stadium]]>
Footage from the southern city of Volgograd showed a fresh landslide on an embankment near the stadium, which made a several-metre-deep hole in it and covered a sidewalk with mud.

A spokesman for the state Sport In company overseeing the construction said there were also leaks inside the stadium which could take up to a week to repair.

"I'm sorry for the city. They invested so much money and it was washed away by one rain," 19-year-old Vitaly Ovchinnikov, a local resident, told Reuters TV.

Volgograd Arena, a stadium that can accommodate up to 45,000 spectators, was built for the World Cup at a cost over 16 billion roubles ($257 million), according to data on the regional government's website.

"It's not normal. It was built for federal money, for taxes we pay them," another local resident, Mikhail Nesterenko, 64, said.

Eight teams played World Cup group matches in Volgograd, including England and Japan who made it to the knockout stages.

Spokesmen for the Volgograd government and Sport In said the rain was extraordinary and was dealt with as an emergency.

"This happens once in a hundred years," a Sport In spokesman said.

The Stroytransgaz company, which built the stadium, gave no immediate comment. ]]>
7/16/2018 6:37:48 PM
<![CDATA[World champion teenager Mbappe is game's new global star]]>
At the end of a World Cup in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi headed home after the first knockout round and Brazilian Neymar failed to deliver, the game perhaps needed a new talent to excite the global public.

The 19-year-old from Bondy, on the gritty north-east outskirts of Paris, has provided it with his terrifying pace, superb touch and clinical finishing in ample evidence.

With his goal, Mbappe became the first teenager since the great Brazilian Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final.

Mbappe, who netted four goals in Russia, was also voted the young player of the tournament, recognition of his excellent performances, particularly in the knockout stages.

Former Germany World Cup player and coach Juergen Klinsmann, working as a BBC pundit at the tournament, believes the Paris St Germain forward can become one of the greats of the game.

"There is so much to come down the road. He is shaking up the market. With Ronaldo moving (to Juventus) and (Paris St Germain's) Neymar being linked with other clubs, where is it finishing with this kid?"

The striker, who joined PSG from Monaco in a multi-million dollar deal among the biggest the game has seen, showed his finishing ability on the biggest stage of all with a low drive in the 65th minute for his team's fourth goal.

He ended the game dancing around the field in delight with his team mates as he celebrated becoming a world champion

"I'm very happy. The road was long but it was worth it. We are proud to make the French happy. We had this role to help them forget all their problems. We play for that kind of thing," said the forward.

"I do not just want to be in football but rather to be world champion. I want to do even better, but world champion is already good. We're going to celebrate, we've been working all season and now it's time to celebrate this summer."

7/16/2018 4:01:25 PM
<![CDATA[Pacquiao, the Philippines hero still king of the ring at 39]]>
Known to his countrymen in the Asian archipelago as "The National Fist", Pacquiao knocked out Argentine Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur to be crowned World Boxing Association welterweight champion at the age of 39.

To most of the 105 million Filipino population, the winner of an unparalleled eight world championships in different weight divisions is a beloved national symbol and living proof that success is possible with hard work even if you are dirt-poor.

Pacquiao, 39, declared a net worth of 2.946 billion pesos ($56.2 million) in 2017 and placed 20th in Forbes' list last year of the highest-paid athletes of all time with total earnings of $510 million.

He has successfully parlayed his boxing fame into a political career, getting elected to the House of Representatives and then, in 2016, to the Senate, a high-profile, national position which is often used as a stepping-stone to the presidency.

Manny Pacquiao (R) began his professional ring career as a teenager, and in 23 years has compiled a 60-7-2 win-loss-draw record with 39 knockouts

He admits to having considered running for president someday and many Filipinos are urging him on.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was ringside at the Axiata Arena Sunday to see his old friend triumph and has even mentioned "Pac-Man" as a possible successor.

Pacquiao has also served as a celebrity endorser for products ranging from appliances to pizza and cars, hosted TV shows, starred in movies and had an improbable stint as a professional basketball player and coach.

He launched his own professional basketball league in 2017 and last month founded his own cryptocurrency, the "PAC Token".

Known for his generosity and common touch, he has given away huge amounts to friends, supporters and to the poor. He is known for accommodating his fans, letting them watch his training sessions.

The 1.66-metre (5ft 5.5in) southpaw began his professional ring career as a teenager, and in 23 years has compiled a 60-7-2 win-loss-draw record with 39 knockouts.

In the ring he is a volume power puncher who uses lightning footwork to create angles with which to deliver flurries, the likes of which have felled Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.

- Doughnuts to glory -

The son of a deadbeat father, Pacquiao dropped out of high school at 14, sold doughnuts on the roadside and became a grocery stacker to help his mother support two younger siblings. He became a pro boxer at 17.

Fans of Manny Pacquiao watch the fight in Manila, where he is idolised

The sport brought him fame, power, influence and wealth, and with it the vices: booze, gambling, cockfighting and romantic links to beautiful film stars that at one point nearly wrecked his marriage.

But in 2012 he found religion and he sold his shares in a Manila casino, nightclub and bar, giving away the proceeds to employees. He also gave away his 1,000-plus fighting cocks to friends.

He often cites God as the source of his success, peppering his speech with biblical references.

But Pacquiao has also suffered some setbacks in and out of the ring, leading some supporters to suggest that he should hang up his gloves.

He hadn't knocked out an opponent since 2009 but silenced all his critics with a seven-round destruction of champion Matthysse Sunday.

Before that his star had seemed to be fading: he lost on points in his much-anticipated 2015 superfight with American Floyd Mayweather as the two best "pound-for-pound" fighters of their generation squared off.

Manny Pacquiao (C) silenced all his critics with a seven-round destruction of champion Lucas Matthysse Sunday

Then a year ago, in a shocking upset, Pacquiao lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight belt to the lightly-regarded Australian Jeff Horn in Brisbane in 2017.

Pacquiao also stirred international anger when he compared homosexuals to animals in an interview in 2016, later citing the Bible in his defence. Sportswear giant Nike cut its ties with Pacquiao as a result.

He has also been an avid supporter of Duterte whose brutal anti-drug campaign has left thousands dead and which has been widely condemned by human rights groups.

7/16/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[I feared Serena might die, says husband]]>
Alexis Ohanian, the internet entrepreneur and founder of Reddit, saluted the 36-year-old Williams for battling back from life-saving surgery to get within touching distance of an eighth Wimbledon title.

However, the American suffered a straight sets defeat to Angelique Kerber in Saturday's final.

"Days after our baby girl was born, I kissed my wife goodbye before surgery and neither of us knew if she would be coming back," Ohanian wrote on Instagram.

"We just wanted her to survive — 10 months later, she's in the #Wimbledon final."

The couple's daughter Olympia was born in September but Serena then needed a series of operations to free her from the risk of clotting.

"Congratulations, @angie.kerber. @serenawilliams will be holding a trophy again soon — she's got the greatest one waiting at home for her," added Ohanian.

"Our family knows she'll win many more trophies, too. She's just getting started. And I couldn't be more proud."]]>
7/16/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Rooney debuts for DC United, makes impact in two Arriola goals]]>
The game also saw the MLS debut of former Manchester United and Everton star Wayne Rooney, who contributed to two goals not long after entering the game.

D.C. United was in control through the first 10 minutes, setting the pace and getting opportunities, but the Whitecaps managed to hold their shape and keep the ball out of the net, with goalkeeper Brian Rowe coming up with a nice save.

In the 15th minute, the Whitecaps put a ton of pressure on United, but Felipe Martins' shot went high over the goal.

Asad finally struck first, placing a shot perfectly over Rowe's outstretched hands in the 27th minute, the ball tucking into the goal just under the crossbar.

The Whitecaps looked to strike back in the 32nd minute off a dangerous set piece on a free kick, but Kei Kamara's header deflected off the crossbar.

Looking at a one-goal deficit as the second half started, the Whitecaps came out firing on all cylinders, controlling the pace and putting a lot of pressure on United's back line.

Vancouver's Doneil Henry just missed off a corner in the 52nd minute, the first really dangerous chance of the half, and headers went wide or high on a series of crosses.

With the pace not going United's way, Rooney entered the game in the 58th minute, and the momentum seemed to swing to the host club.

In the 69th minute, Arriola, the beneficiary of a series of pinpoint passes that started with Rooney, dashed into the box and popped the ball past Rowe for the 2-0 lead.

The Whitecaps looked lost, chasing the ball, and failing to keep possession when they did get it, and generally looking listless and uninspired.

That allowed Arriola to strike again in the 80th minute from inside the box off a Rooney assist for his second goal of the game.

The Whitecaps came out of their funk in stoppage time. Alphonso Davies got a consolation goal in the 94th minute, robbing United goalkeeper David Ousted of his first clean sheet of the season against his former club.]]>
7/16/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Belgium squad handed hero's welcome on World Cup return]]>
Belgium beat Panama, Tunisia and England in the opening round, staged a dramatic comeback against Japan in the last-16 and fought past Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Their dreams of World Cup glory, however, were shattered by France in the semi-finals, but another win against England on Saturday sealed third place.


Belgium, who bettered their fourth-place finish in 1986, were greeted by tens of thousands of enthusiastic flag waving fans, some climbing street signs and traffic lights to catch a glimpse of the players who rode in on open-top buses along the streets of central Brussels, before heading to the city's picturesque Grand Place square.

After being treated to some fries, Belgium's national delicacy, at Brussels town hall, the team moved to the balcony overlooking the sun-drenched renaissance square, where a crowd of thousands had been waiting since the early morning, clad in the country's tricolour flags.

"When we were in Russia, we received many messages that you believed this team would make history. I hope we made you proud. We showed the world that we are Belgium," Belgium manager Roberto Martinez told the crowd.

Some of Belgium's key players will now have difficult decisions to make about where they play their club football next season.


Playmaker Eden Hazard, currently at Chelsea, has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and burnished his already lofty reputation with several strong performances in Russia with three goals and two assists in the tournament.

After scoring the second goal in Belgium's 2-0 win over England on Saturday, Hazard said he was considering leaving Chelsea.

In what could be another blow for the Stamford Bridge club, keeper Thibaut Courtois, who kept Belgium in the World Cup with a series of dramatic saves against Brazil in the quarter-finals, is also reported to be on Real's radar.

"Wherever I go, Hazard has to come. We won't let each other go no more. Oh well, we shall see. Holidays first, then I'll think about it with my people," Courtois told Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws.

Midfielder Nacer Chadli could also be set to leave West Bromwich Albion, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, amid rumoured interest from Turkish side Besiktas and French club Olympique Lyonnais.

By scoring 16 goals in seven games, Belgium also forced an electronics retailer to refund the purchase price of flat screen televisions for thousands of customers.

The retailer had launched a promotion before the World Cup promising to pay out if Belgium scored more than 15 goals.

7/16/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[West Ham sign Anderson from Lazio for club record fee]]>
The 25-year-old, capped once by Brazil, became manager Manuel Pellegrini's seventh close-season signing with Sky Sports reporting West Ham will pay an initial 35 million pounds ($46.31 million) with the deal potentially rising to 42 million pounds.

"West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and (Paolo) Di Canio," Anderson told the club website https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2018/july/15-july/west-ham-united-complete-club-record-felipe-anderson-transfer.

"They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too. I'm really happy to be here. It's a dream come true."

Anderson’s "undoubted creative ability" was a key factor in West Ham's decision to sign him, the club said.

"We believe that we have signed one of the most exciting talents in European football," director of football Mario Husillos said in a statement.

"Felipe has shown a fantastic level of performance at Lazio in recent seasons and we believe that he will now bring that quality to the Premier League. He is also a player very suited to the style of Manuel Pellegrini."

West Ham, who finished 13th last season, will begin their new Premier League campaign against Liverpool on Aug. 12.]]>
7/16/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Ruthless Djokovic outclasses Anderson to end title drought]]>
The 31-year-old put two years of turmoil behind him to beat a battle-weary Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6(3) on a sweltering Centre Court and add a 13th Grand Slam trophy to his bulging cabinet.

It was clear what it meant to the Serb as he ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by getting his hands back on the trophy he also raised in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

"I had any moments of doubt and didn't know if I could compete," Djokovic said on court. "It's my first Grand Slam final in a couple of years and this is the best place to come back. It's very, very special."

A first Wimbledon men's final in the professional era featuring to players aged 30 or over was no classic.

The last drops of Wimbledon drama had been used up in the two longest men's semi-finals ever played at the All England Club. But Djokovic did not care about that.

Having dropped to his lowest ranking since 2006 and without a title of any description this year -- the world number 21 entered Wimbledon in the unusual position of being an outsider.


But his game caught fire throughout a sun-drenched fortnight and against Rafael Nadal in an epic semi-final completed on Saturday he looked like the player who has spent 223 weeks of his brilliant career as world number one.

In truth he never had to scale those height against the 32-year-old Anderson who for two sets was clearly suffering the effects of having spent 21 hours on court just to reach his first Wimbledon final.

Anderson stunned Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, saving a match point to win in five sets, then beat John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set in a semi-final serve-a-thon which, at six hours 36 minutes, was the second longest tennis match of all time.

His elbow was hurting, his legs, which he described as like jelly after the Isner epic, would not move properly and his thinking was fuzzy as the errors flowed.

Djokovic, who made only one unforced error in the first set, picked over the carcass with relish.

The ruthless Serb broke in the first game and twice more in a 29-minute first set and although Anderson offered more resistance in the second set the outcome was the same as Djokovic pulled the 6ft 8ins eighth seed from corner to corner.

The faint-hearted probably wanted Anderson to be put out of his misery. But he is made of sterner stuff.

Firing himself up after virtually every point he began to threaten an unlikely comeback in the third -- having two set points when Djokovic served at 4-5 and three at 5-6.

Suddenly Djokovic, who spent a ferocious two hours and 21 minutes on Saturday playing the remaining two sets of a brutal, two-day, five-setter against Nadal, looked weary.

His survival instincts got him out of trouble, though, and he pulled away in the tiebreak, clinching victory on his second match point when Anderson netted a return.

Anderson's dream of becoming the first South African to win Wimbledon may have turned to dust, but he will be rewarded with a career-high top-five ranking and the respect of everyone who witnessed his incredible feats of endurance.

"I don't feel as fresh as I did at the start of the week," he said. "But I'd have given another 21 hours to get to play in the final here so it really meant a lot to me." LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic proved conclusively he remains one of the biggest beasts in men's tennis by outplaying South African giant Kevin Anderson to claim a fourth Wimbledon title on Sunday.

The 31-year-old put two years of turmoil behind him to beat a battle-weary Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6(3) on a sweltering Centre Court and add a 13th Grand Slam trophy to his bulging cabinet.

It was clear what it meant to the Serb as he ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by getting his hands back on the trophy he also raised in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

"I had any moments of doubt and didn't know if I could compete," Djokovic said on court. "It's my first Grand Slam final in a couple of years and this is the best place to come back. It's very, very special."

A first Wimbledon men's final in the professional era featuring to players aged 30 or over was no classic.

The last drops of Wimbledon drama had been used up in the two longest men's semi-finals ever played at the All England Club. But Djokovic did not care about that.

Having dropped to his lowest ranking since 2006 and without a title of any description this year -- the world number 21 entered Wimbledon in the unusual position of being an outsider.


But his game caught fire throughout a sun-drenched fortnight and against Rafael Nadal in an epic semi-final completed on Saturday he looked like the player who has spent 223 weeks of his brilliant career as world number one.

In truth he never had to scale those height against the 32-year-old Anderson who for two sets was clearly suffering the effects of having spent 21 hours on court just to reach his first Wimbledon final.

Anderson stunned Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, saving a match point to win in five sets, then beat John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set in a semi-final serve-a-thon which, at six hours 36 minutes, was the second longest tennis match of all time.

His elbow was hurting, his legs, which he described as like jelly after the Isner epic, would not move properly and his thinking was fuzzy as the errors flowed.

Djokovic, who made only one unforced error in the first set, picked over the carcass with relish.

The ruthless Serb broke in the first game and twice more in a 29-minute first set and although Anderson offered more resistance in the second set the outcome was the same as Djokovic pulled the 6ft 8ins eighth seed from corner to corner.

The faint-hearted probably wanted Anderson to be put out of his misery. But he is made of sterner stuff.

Firing himself up after virtually every point he began to threaten an unlikely comeback in the third -- having two set points when Djokovic served at 4-5 and three at 5-6.

Suddenly Djokovic, who spent a ferocious two hours and 21 minutes on Saturday playing the remaining two sets of a brutal, two-day, five-setter against Nadal, looked weary.

His survival instincts got him out of trouble, though, and he pulled away in the tiebreak, clinching victory on his second match point when Anderson netted a return.

Anderson's dream of becoming the first South African to win Wimbledon may have turned to dust, but he will be rewarded with a career-high top-five ranking and the respect of everyone who witnessed his incredible feats of endurance.

"I don't feel as fresh as I did at the start of the week," he said. "But I'd have given another 21 hours to get to play in the final here so it really meant a lot to me." ]]>
7/16/2018 12:03:00 AM
<![CDATA[Anti-Kremlin protesters invade pitch during World Cup final]]>
The pitch invaders, who were dressed in police-style outfits, were later detained by police, one of them told Reuters by telephone from a police station near Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, venue for the match.

Three of Pussy Riot's original members were jailed in 2012 for staging a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a church and the group have since become a symbol of anti-Kremlin direct action.

In the second half of the match, three people wearing white shirts with police-style epaulettes, black trousers and police hats ran out onto the pitch from the area behind the French goal. A fourth person tried to run onto the pitch but was tackled on the sidelines.

The three people were able to run about 50 metres, dispersing in different directions, before stewards wearing high-visibility jackets tackled them to the ground and then dragged them off the pitch.

The match was halted, but resumed about 25 seconds later. A witness at the stadium said he had seen police escorting the pitch invaders out of the stadium grounds.

Olga Kurachyova, a member of Pussy Riot, told Reuters by telephone she was one of the pitch invaders, and was being held at Luzhniki police station, near the stadium. She said she could not talk further because police were trying to take her mobile phone away from her.

Moscow police issued a statement saying that three young women and a young man had been detained after running out on the pitch during the final.

The pitch invasion was the first significant security lapse in the five-week tournament that has won hosts Russia widespread praise for their good organisation and efficiency.

In a post on the Pussy Riot Facebook page, the group said the pitch invasion was intended to bring attention to what they said were human rights abuses in Russia.

They alluded to Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker jailed for 20 years in 2015 after being found guilty of setting fire to two offices in Crimea, including one belonging to Russia’s ruling party, after Moscow annexed the territory from Ukraine.

In the Facebook post, Pussy Riot said their demands included freeing political prisoners, freedom of speech on the internet, freedom to protest, and allowing political competition.

Photographs of the pitch invasion indicated that the pitch invaders did not include the three Pussy Riot members who were jailed in 2012 for performing in the church. ]]>
7/15/2018 9:20:00 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: France celebrates "La Victoire" of FIFA World Cup 2018]]>
Following are comments, quotes and reactions from the French coach, players and President Emmanuel Macron.


"It is really beautiful. It is marvellous. We did not play a great match but we showed a strong mental quality.

"We also scored four goals. We merit it. I am very happy for this team. We are coming from very far and it has not always been easy, but thanks to hard work, they are here and are on top of the world for the next four years."


"I don't know where I am, it is great... Very happy. It was a difficult match. Croatia play a great game. We started timidly. We knew it was a World Cup Final. We got into the game and on counter attacks, we made the difference. Very happy. We look forward to lifting the cup and taking it to France."


In a tweet, the president said one word: "Merci"

French President Emmanuel Macron reacts during the game. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

















7/15/2018 8:48:19 PM
<![CDATA[France coach and players react to World Cup victory]]>
Following are comments, quotes and reactions from the French coach, players.


"It is really beautiful. It is marvellous. We did not play a great match but we showed a strong mental quality.

"We also scored four goals. We merit it. I am very happy for this team. We are coming from very far and it has not always been easy, but thanks to hard work, they are here and are on top of the world for the next four years."


"I don't know where I am, it is great... Very happy. It was a difficult match. Croatia play a great game. We started timidly. We knew it was a World Cup Final. We got into the game and on counter attacks, we made the difference. Very happy. We look forward to lifting the cup and taking it to France."]]>
7/15/2018 8:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Pride and tears for Croatians after World Cup final loss]]>
When the final whistle blew fans who had gathered in Ban Jelacic square in the capital Zagreb to watch the match on a big screen hugged each other in commiseration.

One young woman used a red-and-white Croatian flag to wipe tears from her eyes as a female friend, also crying, put her arm around her.

Others continued waving Croatian flags and scarves through the disappointment after watching their country play in the World Cup final for the first time.

“The French proved better in decisive moments although we practically let them score the first two goals too easily. Still, it is a great achievement to play in the final and we can only be proud of what our soccer team has done in the World Cup,” 59-year old Darko Ilakovac said.

Croatia, with a population of only 4.2 million people, were not among the favourites at the start of the tournament. Their progress to the final gripped the imagination of the Balkan nation and members of the Croatian diaspora living in countries from Germany to Australia.

"For a nation of four million people it's a miracle to come to the World Cup final," said Aleksander Ceferin, the head of European soccer's governing body UEFA.

Croatia will stage on Monday a welcoming party for the soccer team in Zagreb. Thousands of Croat fans are expected to come to the main Zagreb square in the early afternoon when the players are due to arrive.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic appealed to employers to let staff leave work early to join the celebration. Train tickets will be 50 percent cheaper for those wishing to travel to Zagreb from other Croatian cities for the occasion.]]>
7/15/2018 7:53:34 PM
<![CDATA[France lift second World Cup after winning classic final 4-2]]>
France led 2-1 at halftime after a Mario Mandzukic own goal and an Antoine Griezmann VAR penalty, with Ivan Perisic briefly bringing first-time finalists Croatia level.

Quickfire strikes by Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe midway through the second half put France on course for the title but Mandzukic was gifted a goal by French keeper Hugo Lloris to set up a nervous last 20 minutes.

France, however, withstood a spirited Croatia assault to lift the trophy for the second time, following their success on home soil 20 years ago, and ensure there was no repeat of two years ago when they were beaten in the European Championship final by Portugal in Paris.

The victory means that Didier Deschamps, captain of the 1998 side, becomes the third man to win the World Cup as player and coach after Brazil's Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer.

It was the highest-scoring final since England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in 1966 and the highest in normal time since Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 60 years ago. The landmarks came thick and fast in the first half too.


Croatia had started full of energy but fell behind when Mandzukic, who scored the extra-time winner against England in the semi-final, became the first man to score an own goal in a World Cup final when a Griezmann free kick skidded in off his head in the 18th minute. It was the 12th own goal of the tournament.

That meant it was the fourth successive knockout game that Croatia had conceded first but Perisic, who got the equaliser against England, was on hand again to level the scores 10 minutes later, smashing in a low shot after Sime Vrsaljko had headed Luka Modric's free kick across the box.

But it was then Perisic's turn go from hero to zero when he flapped an arm at a corner and, after a VAR review, Argentine referee Nestor Pitana awarded the 28th penalty of the tournament, another record, which Griezmann stroked home in the 38th minute for his fourth goal of Russia 2018.

That made it the highest-scoring first half since 1974, when West Germany led the Netherlands 2-1 - also the final score then.

It was harsh on Croatia, who had made most of the running, and they were on top again after the break, continually winning their one-on-one duels in the air and in every tackle and forging forward in the French box with plenty of variety.

But France's defence, so impressive all tournament, held and they went 3-1 up on the hour as Mbappe and Griezmann combined to set up Pogba on the edge of the box. His right-footed shot was blocked but he coolly curved the rebound in with his left.

After three successive extra-time knockout games the chances of another Croatian comeback seemed slight but they looked dead and buried six minutes later. Lucas Hernandez tore down the left to set up Mbappe who drilled a low shot beyond keeper Danijel Subasic for the 19-year-old's fourth goal of the tournament.

An awful blunder by Lloris revived Croatia, as the French keeper tried to dribble around Mandzukic only for the striker to tap the ball straight into an unguarded net.

Croatia, beaten by the French in the semi-finals in their first World Cup appearance in 1998, continued to press but their energy was sapped and France safely held out for the victory.]]>
7/15/2018 7:13:35 PM
<![CDATA[No surprises in France & Croatia line-ups, Modric vs Mbappe for the World Cup dream]]>
Twenty Two players carry the dreams of their people; will it be the first for Croatia or France for the double?

With the slogan “Small country, Big dream”, Croatia arrived to stadium headed by their coach Zlatko Dalic who announced the line-up for their first World Cup final ever.

France’s coach, Didier Deschamps, chose his favorite line-up which played the semi-final against Belgium and featured in most of the games in the World Cup. France search for their second title as they lift the prestigious trophy in 1998 for the first time in their history.

7/15/2018 4:20:55 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt reaps 7 medals in the World Junior Wushu championships]]>
Mohamed Amin places third in the 57kg competitions while Samira Mousa placed third in the Women’s competitions.

The tournament’s kick-off was on July 9th and it will end on July 16th.

Egypt’s champions previously reaped other five medals. Youssef Abdel Rahman achieved the Gold medal, Sara Salah won two Silver medals, Ziyad Ayman got a Silver medal too and Mahmoud Fahim won the Bronze medal.
7/15/2018 4:04:03 PM
<![CDATA[Sitting Volleyball – Egypt defeats Poland in the World Championships]]>
The match ended with Egypt winning 3-1 to reap the three valuable points at the beginning of the journey.

Egypt placed in Group D alongside Poland, Iraq and the title holders Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The Pharaohs' best achievement in the tournament was fourth in two consecutive editions in 2006 and 2010.


Egypt’s men will play their second match on Monday against Bosnia and Herzegovina at 3 p.m.

On the other hand, the Egyptian women team is in Group D of the 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championships next to Brazil, Finland and Ukraine.

Egypt’s delegation is headed by Ehab Hassanein for the Men team, while Hayat Khattab for the Women team.

Egypt’s Men team includes: Hesham Salah el-Din, Yasser Saad, Mohamed El Henawy, Salah Atta, Mohamed Saad, Ahmed Khamis, Ahmed Fadl, Hossam Masoud, El Sayed Moussa, Abdel Nabi Hassan, Motawea Abou El Kheir and Ahmed Abdel Fattah.

7/15/2018 3:40:19 PM
<![CDATA[Djokovic aims to turn despair into triumph with fourth Wimbledon title]]>
The 31-year-old former world number one won the last of his 12 majors at the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam.

And after a shattering quarter-final exit at this year's Roland Garros, which saw his world ranking slump to its lowest in 12 years, the Serb even considered sitting out Wimbledon where he has been champion in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

However, on Saturday, Djokovic was the big-hitting, chest-pumping star of old as he defeated old rival Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11/9), 3-6, 10-8 in an epic semi-final to book a Sunday title showdown with Kevin Anderson.

"Yes, there were moments of doubt, of frustration, disappointment, where you're questioning whether you want to keep it going," said Djokovic back in a Slam final for the first time since finishing runner-up at the 2016 US Open.

It was at Wimbledon last year where his troubles started.

An elbow injury forced a retirement in his quarter-final and he sat out the rest of 2017.

He was then knocked out of the Australian Open in the last 16 in January by Hyeon Chung, then ranked at 58.

Taro Daniel, the 109-ranked Japanese player, stunned in him in Indian Wells before Benoit Paire, at 47 in the rankings, knocked him out in Miami.

In what was becoming a familiar tale, Martin Klizan, at 140, ousted him in Barcelona before there were signs of life with a run to the final at Queen's Club on the eve of Wimbledon.

"I managed to overcome challenges and obstacles, get myself to the final of a Slam," added Djokovic, whose 5-hour 15-minute win over Nadal was the fifth longest singles match ever played at Wimbledon.

"Obviously if you told me that six months ago, I would take it right away.

"But did I truly believe that I can get back on the level? Yes, I mean, it's hard for me to play tennis and not believe that I can be the best in what I do."

At Wimbledon this year, he has battled unruly crowds, claiming elements of Centre Court were "unfair" to him in his win over home hope Kyle Edmund, and bizarre scheduling.

Seeded at a lowly 12, he suffered the indignity of being exiled to Court Two for his second round.

Marathon man: South Africa's Kevin Anderson

He will take a 5-1 career record over 32-year-old Anderson into Sunday's final.

His only loss was in 2008, while he has twice defeated the big-serving South African in two of his trophy-winning campaigns at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2015.

Victory on Sunday will make the 21st-ranked Djokovic the lowest-ranked champion since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.

Anderson, 32, is the first South African man since Brian Norton in 1921 to reach the Wimbledon final.

He is also just the third African to reach this stage after Norton and Jaroslav Drobny who represented Egypt when he made the championship match in 1952 and 1954.

"I really hope that it's a source of inspiration for kids," said Anderson after his 6-hour 36-minute epic semi-final win over John Isner, the second longest singles match ever played at a Grand Slam.

The 2017 US Open runner-up had knocked out eight-time champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, also in five sets, saving a match point along the way.

The Florida-based Johannesburg-born player has spent 21 hours on court getting to the final.

Sunday's final may not be easy on the eye, however, with Anderson having fired 172 aces so far while boasting the fourth fastest serve at 140mph (225.3 km/h).

"I don't know if I'll be the clear favourite in that one. I think we're quite even," insisted Djokovic as he looked ahead to the first Wimbledon final of modern times to feature two men over 30.

"He's definitely playing the tennis of his life. He's coming off from two epic marathon five-set wins. I don't think he has much to lose.

"He's going to come out with big serves and big tennis. Hopefully I'll be able to weather the storm."

7/15/2018 2:47:40 PM
<![CDATA[France and Croatia seek World Cup glory]]>
France are clear favourites to triumph in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium and will be spurred on by the bitter disappointment of losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal in Paris.

It is a final few people anticipated when football's global showpiece kicked off four weeks ago.

Croatia have brought joy to their Balkan nation of just four million people by defying the odds to progress to the final while reigning champions Germany, then Argentina and Brazil all fell by the wayside in Russia.

They have been inspired by mercurial midfielder Luka Modric while coach Zlatko Dalic, who only took over last year with the squad in chaos, has coaxed remarkable performances from his team.

Deschamps, who captained France when they lifted the World Cup in 1998, would become only the third man to win the trophy as both a player and a manager after Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.

World Cup 2018: Final France - Croatia

His France side, spearheaded by 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe and the more seasoned Antoine Griezmann, are the favourites.

Paul Pogba has finally become a leader in midfield for France and N'Golo Kante has excelled in doing the tireless work that allows his teammates to shine, while Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane are the nucleus of a solid defence.

Les Bleus laboured through their group, beating Australia and Peru by the odd goal and drawing with Denmark in the only goalless game of the tournament.

Then they hit form, sweeping aside Argentina in a match which announced to the world that Mbappe is set to be an international superstar as he scored twice and outshone Lionel Messi.

But apart from that 4-3 win, France have played like a Deschamps side, with the emphasis on defence.

Street celebrations

The cavernous 80,000-capacity Luzhniki will be the setting for the final, but the biggest celebrations will take place on the streets of the winning country.

France's Didier Deschamps would be just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach

Football fever has slowly built over the past four weeks as France took its young national team to heart, with ecstatic scenes on the Champs-Elysees avenue after their semi-final victory.

Giant screens have been erected in scores of fan zones across the country under exceptionally tight security, with the biggest gathering of all expected in Paris, where 90,000 will converge on a fanzone next to the Eiffel Tower.

"We must be proud to be French! We don't say it enough," forward Antoine Griezmann reminded his compatriots on Friday.

Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris said the team were aware of the rising levels of hysteria in France but said they should not underestimate Croatia.

"We will be coming up against opponents of great quality," he said. "They deserve to be in the final just as much as us.

"They have demonstrated their worth and that they have the physical and mental resources to go and win it."

Can Luka Modric and Croatia rouse themselves for one last effort in Sunday's final?

Croatia have shown impressive resolve to withstand three successive matches that went to extra-time -- Mario Mandzukic's winner in the 109th minute defeated England in the semi-final on Wednesday.

Dalic said on Saturday he was prepared to make changes for the final if any of his players have failed to recover from their exertions.

"Tomorrow is the World Cup final. Simply, the players know what that is," the coach said.

"One thing that brings me happiness is that all my players tell me if they are not 100 percent fit. They know what is at stake, but if they are unable to give their all they will tell us."

Ivan Perisic, who scored and set up Mandzukic's winner against England, was among five Croatian players to miss training on Friday.

"We have some minor injuries, minor problems, and I hope my players will be ready. If not, I have great players on the bench who will be raring to go."

Red-and-white chequerboard patterns are everywhere in Croatia, on car hoods, in shop windows, trams, buses as well as on jerseys worn by waiters, shop workers or TV presenters.

Zlatko Dalic only took over the Croatian side last year

The last time the two nations met in a World Cup was in the 1998 semi-final when two Lilian Thuram goals sunk a Croatian side playing in their first World Cup as an independent nation.

Win or lose, this Croatia team are already national heroes for improving on the 1998 team's performance.
7/15/2018 2:25:55 PM
<![CDATA[Croatia's road to the 2018 World Cup final]]>
Croatia 2-0 Nigeria, Group D

Croatia got off to a winning start for the first time at a World Cup since 1998 with a comfortable victory over Nigeria. An own goal from Nigeria’s Oghenekaro Etebo and a Luka Modric penalty did the damage, but Nigeria did actually finish the match having had more attempts than their opponents.

The win in Kaliningrad put Croatia in a strong position after Argentina were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Iceland in their Group D opener.

Croatia 3-0 Argentina, Group D

By far and away Croatia’s best performance at this World Cup came against two-time champions Argentina, who were blown away by Zlatko Dalic’s side.

Goals from Ante Rebic, a thunderbolt from Modric and a late Ivan Rakitic goal gave Croatia a first victory over a South American opponent in World Cup history, and inflicted the heaviest World Cup first-round defeat since 1958 on a beleaguered Argentina.

The victory meant Croatia sealed progression to the last 16 with a game to spare. “People will realise they should respect Croatia,” defender Dejan Lovren said after the game. “If we are like today, through all the tournament, I believe we can go far."

Croatia 2-1 Iceland, Group D

Despite making nine changes with their progression already secured, Croatia racked up three World Cup group victories for the first time with a narrow win over Iceland, scoring with both of their shots on target.

Milan Badelj gave the Croatians the lead in the second half but his goal was cancelled out by Iceland's Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored a penalty. Substitute Ivan Perisic hit the winning goal in the 90th minute, to ensure than Croatia topped Group D by a colossal five points.

Croatia 1-1 Denmark - (Croatia won 3-2 on penalties), last 16

This was no classic. After two very quick-fire goals — only the second match in World Cup history where both teams scored inside four minutes - extra time was needed to separate these two.

As the 120th minute approached, the match was labouring towards a penalty shootout, until a brilliant Luka Modric pass set Ante Rebic through, with the pacey forward winning a penalty. Modric stepped up to take it, only to see Kasper Schmeichel make a brilliant save.

In the shootout, Modric redeemed himself, converting his spot kick, but it was goalkeeper Danijel Subasic who was the hero, becoming only the second goalkeeper to save three penalties in a shootout at the World Cup to earn his side victory.

Croatia 2-2 Russia (Croatia win 4-3 on penalties), quarter final

Croatia needed nerves of steal once more to book a first semi-final spot since 1998, as well as boundless energy to counter a Russia side with the support of a nation behind them in Sochi.

Denis Cheryshev's curler for Russia was cancelled out by Andrej Kramaric within the 90 minutes, before Domagoj Vida looked to have headed the winner in extra time.

Mario Fernandes’ late equaliser took the game to penalties though, where Danijel Subasic was again the hero, making one save, and watching another wide as Croatia became the first side to win two penalty shootouts at a World Cup since Argentina in 1990.

Croatia 2-1 England, semi-final

Having fallen behind early on to Kieran Trippier’s sizzling free-kick, Croatia rarely looked like getting back into the match in the first half. But Ivan Perisic’s 68th-minute equaliser turned the match on its head, and from then on, it looked like there was only going to be one winner.

Perisic thundered a strike against the post in normal time, before England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a stunning stop to deny Mario Mandzukic in extra time. However, Croatia’s leading marksman was not kept out for long, as he latched onto Perisic’s flick to fire home what proved to be the winner as Croatia booked their first ever spot in a World Cup final.]]>
7/15/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[France's road to the 2018 World Cup final]]>
France 2-1 Australia, Group C

France produced an overall disappointing performance in their opening game but still got the job done, a scenario that would be repeated throughout their run to the final.

Antoine Griezmann converted the first World Cup penalty to be awarded after a video review to break the deadlock, but a bizarre handball by Samuel Umtiti saw Australia hit back. After a double substitution from Didier Deschamps, Paul Pogba grabbed a winner with 10 minutes left with a heavily deflected shot.

France 1-0 Peru, Group C

Deschamps recalled experienced hands Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi to his starting line-up for their second game, and France improved but still struggled to impress against the South Americans.

The breakthrough came with a deflected shot from Giroud which Kylian Mbappe tapped into the net, although Peru were not far from levelling when Pedro Aquino clanged the crossbar. The win saw France into the last 16 and sent Peru out.

France 0-0 Denmark, Group C

Deschamps made six changes to his team for the final group game and only needed a point to guarantee top spot, a result which also suited the Danes and would guarantee their passage to the last 16.

To little surprise, the circumstances lead to the tournament's first goalless draw and probably its least interesting game, with neither side willing to take any risks in attack.

France 4-3 Argentina, last 16

A match-up worthy of a World Cup final kicked off the knockout phase and was a thriller from the start, when Mbappe blazed through the middle of the pitch and won a penalty which Griezmann converted, right to the finish, when Sergio Aguero headed in an injury time goal to set up a tense finale.

In between, Angel di Maria scored a sensational long range strike, Benjamin Pavard cancelled out Gabriel Mercado's scrappy goal with an equally impressive hit, and Mbappe scored two thumping goals to restore France's lead and then extend it, adding extra panache to an already enthralling spectacle.

Uruguay 0-2 France, quarter-final

Griezmann had predicted that facing a team marshalled by his Atletico Madrid teammates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez would be a boring affair, and it took a Raphael Varane header from one of the forward's free-kicks to open it up.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris preserved France's lead with a stunning save to deny Martin Caceres, while Griezmann ended the game as a contest with a speculative shot that slipped through Fernando Muslera's hands, although he opted against celebrating out of his affection for Uruguay.

France 1-0 Belgium, semi-final

With France great Thierry Henry in the opposing dugout as assistant coach and a Belgium team full of players who had learned their trade at French clubs, this semi-final was packed with narratives and did not disappoint.

Belgium played the more attractive football, with Eden Hazard their main source of danger. But France were more street wise, playing a careful, defensive game and striking with Samuel Umtiti's header from a corner kick.

Paul Pogba summed up France's ruthless mentality in the game, saying: "I am not a natural defender, but I want to win the World Cup, and you have to make sacrifices."]]>
7/15/2018 7:11:00 AM
<![CDATA[Griezmann happy if France win World Cup 'ugly']]>

Belgium's players criticised the tactics France used in their 1-0 semi-final win as Didier Deschamps' team sat deep and Samuel Umtiti's headed goal came from a corner, but Griezmann dismissed the criticism.

"I don't care. I want the star (on my shirt for World Cup winners). If I get that star, I don't care about how we play," the 27-year-old Atletico Madrid forward told a press conference at France's training base outside Moscow.

Griezmann said he had changed the way he plays for France in order to benefit the team.

He finished top scorer at Euro 2016 with six goals but France lost the final to Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal on home soil.

He has scored three goals in Russia, two from penalties and one largely thanks to a goalkeeping howler from Uruguay's Fernando Muslera, but he has also contributed two assists.

"I was top scorer but we lost, so I said to myself: 'I am going to score less to see if we can win'.

"My game is changing, now I am more likely to dictate the rhythm or hold onto the ball.

"If I score, then that's great, but I am more a player who thinks of the team than of scoring."

After a slow start in Russia, France have picked up form. Their blend of experienced campaigners like Griezmann and Paul Pogba, and young stars like Kylian Mbappe and Benjamin Pavard, ensures they are the bookmakers' favourites.

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi said the defeat in the Euro 2016 final -- when France seemed to freeze in front of their own fans at the Stade de France in Paris and Portugal nicked a 1-0 win -- would be in many of the players' minds when they walk out at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.

"The tears have dried from Euro 2016 but it's still there in a little corner of people's minds," Matuidi said on Friday.

"It will be useful for us on Sunday, even if I don't like to keep bringing up the past. It will serve as a lesson to us and it means we know what it is to play in a final.

"We'll approach it differently and hope that we play really well and win it. It's up to us to put everything into place to achieve our dream of lifting the World Cup."]]>
7/15/2018 6:24:00 AM
<![CDATA[Jorginho follows Sarri to Chelsea on five-year deal]]>
Chelsea did not disclose financial details but British media reports said that the deal for the Brazilian-born player was worth in the region of 57 million pounds ($75.42 million).

"I am absolutely ecstatic to be here at Chelsea. It is not easy to become part of such a big team so I am very, very happy," Jorginho told the club's website https://www.chelseafc.com/en/news/2018/7/14/jorginho-becomes-a-blue.

"I am excited to play in such an intense league, for a team that gives everything to play and win."

The 26-year-old was also targeted by Premier League champions Manchester City but chose to link up with former Napoli manager Sarri at the London club.

Chelsea named Sarri as their new head coach on a three-year term earlier on Saturday, a day after parting ways with another Italian manager Antonio Conte.

Jorginho played an important role in Sarri's Napoli and the deep-lying playmaker is seen as the perfect fit for the high-tempo, possession-based style of play that the new boss is expected to bring to Chelsea.

"He was one of the most coveted midfielders in Europe and will become an important member of the playing squad," Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said.

"He has demonstrated his quality working under Maurizio Sarri and we are convinced his signing will help bring further success to Stamford Bridge."]]>
7/15/2018 1:02:00 AM
<![CDATA[Belgium beat England to secure third place finish]]>
France will face Croatia in Sunday's final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

A fourth-minute goal from Thomas Meunier and an 82nd minute Eden Hazard strike earned Belgium the victory and the third-place, which improves on their previous best performance of a fourth-place finish in 1986.

England were on top for most of the second half but with captain Harry Kane looking tired, Belgium's greater sharpness in the final third proved decisive.

Meunier's goal came after Romelu Lukaku swung the ball out left to Nacer Chadli who burst down the wing and slipped the ball across the face of the goal and the midfielder confidently slotted past Jordan Pickford.

The goal means Belgium have had 10 different goalscorers at this World Cup -- equalling the record set by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

While England manager Gareth Southgate made five changes to the side which lost to Croatia, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez made just two switches.

Meunier returned from suspension and Youri Tielemans given a start ahead of Maroune Fellaini in midfield with the Belgians fielding their strong front three of Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

De Bruyne should have made it 2-0 in the 12th minute when the ball found him at the back post after a slip-up from John Stones, but his poorly struck shot was easily dealt with by Pickford.

Kane, the tournament's top scorer with six goals, had an opportunity when set up by Raheem Sterling in the 24th minute but was off-balance as he screwed his shot wide.

Southgate brought on Marcus Rashford for Sterling and Jesse Lingard for Danny Rose at the break and the change worked well, with England well on top in the second half.

Toby Alderweireld was forced to clear an Eric Dier effort off his line at full stretch after a neat exchange between the Tottenham midfielder and Rashford ended with a chip over Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Dier and then Harry Maguire both headed wide from promising positions, while at thee other end Meunier went close to a second with a powerful volley that Pickford did well to save.

But the game was wrapped up when De Bruyne burst from midfield and slipped the ball through to Hazard, who glided past Phil Jones and fired into the bottom corner.]]>
7/14/2018 6:05:57 PM
<![CDATA[Djokovic outlasts Nadal in classic Wimbledon semi-final]]>
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2018. Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his semi final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal . REUTERS/Toby Melville

Twelfth seed Djokovic resumed two sets to one ahead after snatching a third-set tiebreak the previous night before Wimbledon's 11pm curfew left the match on a knife edge.

As it was for the first three sets the Centre Court roof was closed and, again, the quality on display was sensational.

Nadal grabbed the fourth set to set up a monumental 91-minute decider that Djokovic clinched when Nadal fired a forehand wide.

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2018 Serbia's Novak Djokovic with Spain's Rafael Nadal after winning their semi final match REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

The match lasted five hours 15 minutes making it the second longest Wimbledon semi-final after the six hour 36 minute marathon won by South Africa's Kevin Anderson against John Isner on Friday.]]>
7/14/2018 4:53:36 PM
<![CDATA[Anderson's tall story becomes epic tale]]>
Big in stature, the 32-year-old has also had to develop a thick skin.

Born in Johannesburg, but a long-time resident of the United States, Anderson is his country's leading tennis player by a country mile.

After a successful college stint in the US at the University of Illinois, Anderson's professional career has been one of peaks and troughs.

But having reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open last year -- where he lost to Rafael Nadal -- at the 32nd attempt, he is a poster boy for perseverance.

Hip problems saw his world ranking slump in January 2017 to 80, its lowest in seven years.

In 2016, his medical complaints stretched to ankle surgery, groin, left knee and right shoulder problems.

Should he triumph in Sunday's Wimbledon final, he'd be the first South African champion at a Slam since Johan Kriek at the 1981 Australian Open.

Nobody can doubt that he has the guts.

On Friday, he defeated John Isner 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 26-24 in the second longest Grand Slam match ever played.

It made him the first South African man since Brian Norton in 1921 to reach the Wimbledon final.

On Wednesday, he shocked eight-time champion Roger Federer, also in five sets, saving a match point along the way.

He has spent 21 hours on court getting to the championship match.

- Death threats -

Anderson has four career titles -- on home ground at Johannesburg in 2011, Delray Beach in 2012, Winston-Salem two years ago and in New York this year.

But it has not been an easy road for a man who has faced death threats as well as being labelled a traitor for his less-than enthusiastic commitment to the Davis Cup.

"It pretty much happens after every match regardless of the circumstances," said Anderson after a first round loss at Wimbledon in 2015 had many on social media baying for his blood.

"People who have bet on the match tend to take to social media and say very inappropriate things."

He has attracted criticism at home for not playing Davis Cup since 2011, having featured in just five ties.

Anderson is the only South African in the top 200 but even though he is in the process of applying for US citizenship, he wants to inspire the next generation of African players.

"I really hope it's an example of sticking to your dreams and keep believing in yourself," he said after seeing off Federer.

"I always say I was in the same position, it's not easy coming from South Africa, it's very far from the tennis scene."

Anderson is getting used to breaking barriers.

When he finished runner-up to Nadal at the US Open, he was the first South African man in a Slam final since Kevin Curren at the 1984 Australian Open.

He was also the oldest first-time finalist at a major since Niki Pilic at the 1973 French Open.

Off the court, Anderson is married to college sweetheart Kelsey and counts the likes of South Africa cricket superstar AB de Villiers amongst his friends.

He relaxes by playing guitar, his efforts uploaded to YouTube.

He is also an influential member of the ATP Players Council where high on his agenda now will be a push to introduce tiebreaks in the fifth set of all Slams!]]>
7/14/2018 4:27:16 PM
<![CDATA[Belgium vs England - Official line-ups revealed]]>
Both teams lost the semi-final after a competitive game against France and Croatia. France defeated Belgium 1-0 thanks to Umititi’s header while Persic and Mandzukic’s two goals secured Croatia a place in the final game over England.

Whichever team reaps the victory today, will finish third in a World Cup for the first time as England was fourth in the 1990’s edition while Belgium finished fourth in 1986.

England’s manager, Gareth Southgate and Belgium’s manager, Roberto Martinez chose the line-up that will feature today.

Belgium XI:

England XI:

7/14/2018 3:12:54 PM
<![CDATA[It's better for Shikabala to play at Saudi Arabia: Mortada]]>
"I contacted Shikabala and we solved all the misunderstanding points; everything is clear now. But in my opinion, it is better for him to play in Saudi Arabia next season as he may get a good contract," Mortada said to LTC channel.

Mortada Mansour with Farag Aamer

On the other hand, Mortada revealed that he reached an agreement with Smouha’s president, Farag Aamer, to sign a defender from the Alexandrian club.

“I had a deal with Farag Aamer to include their defender, Yasser Ibrahim, next winter transfer market [January], as the squad list is full of all the 25 seats,” Mortada added.

Zamalek club has a training camp in Germany in preparation for the start of the new season early next month.

Mortada Mansour with Ibrahim Hassan

The White club has announced the signing of six players so far, namely, Ismaili’s players, Ibrahim Hassan and Bahaa Magdy, Emad Sayed from Enppi, Omar Al-Saeed striker of Wadi Degla, Hamid Ahad, Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi’s striker and the Tunisian international, Ferjani Sassi.

Ferjani Sassi

7/14/2018 2:50:51 PM
<![CDATA[Liverpool sign Switzerland forward Shaqiri on long-term deal]]>
The details of the deal were not disclosed but local media said Shaqiri had joined on a five-year contract after Liverpool paid his 13.5 million pounds ($17.86 million) release clause.

“It’s a huge club with big history, big players and a fantastic coach (Juergen Klopp). So I’m really glad and happy to be here," Shaqiri, 26, said on the Anfield club's website Liverpoolfc.com.

Shaqiri started all of Switzerland's games at this year's World Cup, where they lost to Sweden in the last 16, and has scored 21 goals in 74 games for his country, including a last-minute winner against Serbia in the group stage in Russia.

The talented Swiss playmaker is Liverpool's third signing in the transfer window so far after the arrival of AS Monaco midfielder Fabinho and Naby Keita from RB Leipzig.

“...he (Shaqiri) is someone who makes a big difference to the squad and team, because he can fit in so many positions in our system. He gives us greater flexibility in how we can use our current players also," said Klopp.

Shaqiri began his career with FC Basel and joined Bayern Munich in 2012, spending 2-1/2 years at the Bundesliga giants before a six-month spell with Inter Milan.

He won league titles in Switzerland and Germany plus the Champions League with Bayern in 2013.

“I know him well from his time in Switzerland and especially Germany – I have been a long-time admirer," added Klopp.

"But the added bonus now is that he knows the Premier League and what it takes to perform in this uniquely intense environment. He also did really well at the World Cup – so he comes to us full of belief and confidence."

Shaqiri joined Stoke in 2013 and scored 15 goals in 84 league games over three seasons at the Midlands outfit, who were relegated from the top flight last season.

“As a player you always want to be on the biggest stage in football. A few years ago I wanted to come too but it didn’t happen," added Shaqiri, who was linked with Liverpool in 2014 when Bayern reportedly blocked a move.

"I’m really happy that now I’m finally here. I want to improve myself too, I want to be with the best and I want to win titles. That’s what I’m here for.”]]>
7/14/2018 2:16:50 PM
<![CDATA[Former Napoli manager Sarri replaces Conte at Chelsea]]>
Chelsea on Friday split with Conte after two years with the former Italy manager having a year remaining on his current contract.

Sarri, 59, led Napoli to two second-place and one third-place finish in three seasons in charge. He won the Serie A Coach of the Year award in 2017.

"I am very happy to be coming to Chelsea and the Premier League. It is an exciting new period in my career," Sarri said in a Chelsea statement.

"I look forward to starting work and meeting the players on Monday ahead of travelling to Australia, where I will be able to get to know the squad and begin our match action.

"I hope we can provide some entertaining football for our fans, and that we will be competing for trophies at the end of the season, which is what this club deserves."

Conte joined the Roman Abramovich-owned club in 2016 and led them to the league title in his debut season along with an FA Cup triumph last campaign.

He had already taken charge of pre-season preparations at the club's Cobham training ground outside London but his relationship with Chelsea's hierarchy was strained after disagreements over their transfer policy last season.

Under Conte, Chelsea failed to qualify for the coming season's Champions League after finishing fifth in the Premier League. The team will now play in the Europa League.

Chelsea take on Huddersfield Town in their opening fixture of the new Premier league campaign on Aug. 11.]]>
7/14/2018 2:08:15 PM
<![CDATA[Juventus' Ronaldo faces Real Madrid next August]]>
Real Madrid announced on Tuesday the departure of their historic Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, after 9 years in the Spanish club.


A press conference is scheduled to be held on Monday before moving to the Allianz stadium, the Juventus stronghold in Turin, as the fans are set to greet their new star.

The Sport Mediset reported that Ronaldo will receive additional comfort, after the ceremony, to make sure his absence from the matches against Bayern Munich and Benfica in the International Friendly Champions Cup in the United States on 26 and 28 of this month.

After joining Juventus on July 30, Ronaldo is expected to take part in the match against MLS stars on August 2.

Juventus is expected to face Real Madrid on Wednesday (August 4th) at the end of the Italian team's preparations.

Saudi Arabia will witness the first official match for the Portuguese star with Juventus’ jersey team when the Italian Super on August 12 against Milan will be held.

Ronaldo, 33, has won everything with Real Madrid since he joined the club in 2009 from Manchester United.

Ronaldo won four UEFA Champions League titles, two La Liga titles, two Spanish Cup titles, three FIFA Club World Cup titles and he was crowned the best player in the World four times.

7/14/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Southgate to make "as few changes as possible" for Belgium]]>
Southgate says his selection will be based primarily on the fitness of individual players suggesting he will resist the temptation to give some fringe players a run-out.

All 23 players in Southgate's squad trained on Friday at the team's Repino base.

"We've set the standard of how we work, the standard of how we play, and we want to maintain those standards right to the end. The players did that this morning in training," Southgate said.

"We have to decide who can go again physically. Everyone wants to play. Everyone trained this morning. Sometimes it's not always a good decision to play if people's energy isn't quite there.

"It won't be exactly the same starting eleven, but we want ideally to make as few changes as possible."

"(There are) one or two injuries, one or two with a bit of illness. But we have high motivation to perform and finish with a medal at a World Cup, which only one English team have ever done. We'd like to redress having lost to Belgium once before already, too," he added.

England lost 2-1 to Croatia after extra time in their semi-final on Wednesday and Southgate said it had been a tough loss to process.

"In terms of mentality, it's obviously been a really difficult couple of days for us. We were 20 minutes from a World Cup final and then, in extra time, 10 minutes from a shootout to get to a World Cup final. The reason for us being here was to achieve that big goal.

"We got back to St Petersburg at 6.30am on the day after the game, so it has been an emotion fuelled few days. But the players are incredible. They're a pleasure to work with. Their energy this morning and desire to finish the tournament well, we owe it as much to ourselves as to our nation to finish well," added the England manager.


One player who will be particularly keen to play will be England forward Harry Kane who is currently the top scorer in the tournament and has a chance to win the Golden Boot.

Kane has six goals, despite sitting out England's final group game, a 1-0 loss to Belgium.

"There have been some exceptional individual performances and we are very proud that Harry Kane is the top scorer," said Southgate.

"Outside that I'm not interested in individual awards. Football is about winning as a team. The first thought for Harry has been about how far can he help the team go.

"He sat out against Belgium earlier on in the tournament to help the team and it will be even more powerful for him winning the Golden Boot after making that sacrifice."

The England manager said that Kieran Trippier's injury, which forced him off the field in the final stages of extra time against Croatia, appeared to have been a combination of a nerve issue and cramp.

Trippier was among those training on Friday.]]>
7/14/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Croatia will have excess energy for World Cup final - Rakitic]]>
The Croats needed penalties to beat Denmark and Russia in the last-16 and quarter-finals respectively and then played another 120 minutes to edge England in the last four and reach their first tournament final.

Some of Rakitic's team mates looked to have reached their physical limits after the England game and were barely able to get off the pitch.

Yet that will matter little in the biggest game the Balkan nation has ever played, Rakitic said on Friday. "There will be excess power and energy, don't you worry about it," Rakitic told reporters.

"This is an historic game not only for us. For the players but also for everybody who is a Croat."

"There will be 4.5 million (population of Croatia) players on the pitch. We will carry each another, we will have the energy. We want to leave the pitch with our heads held high and to say we did everything."

Croatia reached the last four at the 1998 World Cup but lost 2-1 to eventual winners France. For Rakitic that game means nothing.

"We have to put that game behind us. History is history and the past is the past. We dreamt about (France's Lilian) Thuram and his two goals for many years but we have to put that past us. They won that tournament. We want to win on Sunday."

The creative midfielder, who has won the Champions League, the Europa League and a string of other titles, said he would trade all of his trophies for the World Cup. He would even retire the next day if that was the price he would have to pay.

"I would exchange all titles. I would definitely leave my boots at home if that were the price I would have to pay," the 30-year-old said. "I would pay any price for the success of my country. Individuals don't matter. It is all about us."

Rakitic was also quick to praise Argentine referee Nestor Pitana who will be in charge of the final. Pitana also refereed Croatia's shootout victory over Denmark in the round of 16.

"I was very glad to see that he will be refereeing. We had the luck to see him perform in the game against Demark. Not only did we win the game but he had a perfect attitude. His linesmen were also fantastic," Rakitic said.

"This is probably his greatest game of his career... I hope after the game we can shake hands and God willing he will congratulate me on our victory."]]>
7/14/2018 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[An AFP photographer's up-close take on Croatia's World Cup joy]]>
But nothing prepared him for the 40 seconds that have brought him international fame: ending up beneath an avalanche of Croatia players celebrating the goal that sent them to the World Cup final.

Cortez was on the sidelines photographing Mario Mandzukic's extra-time goal at Wednesday's semi-final against England when he found himself swallowed up in the celebration, buried beneath a pile of ecstatic Croatian footballers.

When they realized he was beneath them, they helped him to his feet, asked him if he was OK and put his glasses back on his head. He even got a kiss on the cheek from defender Domagoj Vida -- an image that instantly went viral.

Ever the professional, the grinning Cortez kept his shutter clicking throughout, sending a touching series of photos that gave the world an unusually intimate look at a moment of pure football joy.

The 53-year-old El Salvador native, who caught a flight home just after the match, arrived on Thursday evening back in Mexico City, where he is AFP's chief photographer.

He had one hell of a story to share.

Q: How did you end up beneath that mountain of Croatian footballers?"I was using my 400-millimeter lens, which is the one we normally use for football. Then I see the goal... I see (Mandzukic) celebrating, and I see him coming toward me. I figure my lens is going to be too long, so I grab my other camera, with the wide-angle lens. When he arrives in front of me, I start taking pictures of him. At that moment, more players arrive... then more and more. When the players from the bench arrive, this kind of avalanche throws me back, with them on top of me. Fortunately I didn't lose my camera.

"I guess at that moment they didn't realize there was a photographer buried under them in that mountain. When they realize I'm there, they help me up, ask me if I'm OK, and then come all the emotional moments -- handshakes, the kiss from Vida, which has become so famous..."

Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic offers to help AFP photographer Yuri Cortez after he fell on him with teammates while celebrating their second goal during the World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England

Q: When did you realize you'd become a celebrity?

"I had to leave right away for the airport.... That's when I started getting call after call. My phone wouldn't stop ringing. I figured it must be about this. But I was driving, using the GPS, there was no way I could answer the phone.

"I glanced at the screen at one point and there were hundreds of missed calls.... That's when I started to realize it was a viral phenomenon."

Q: You've covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, violent coups, devastating natural disasters -- how does this compare?

"The thing they have in common is the adrenaline rush -- you're running on 10,000. But when your life is at risk, the situation changes, the adrenaline is different. You hear shots, explosions, and you know they're aimed at where you are.... This is different. I never felt my life was at risk. I did get some bruises though."

Q: Were you worried you would miss the big shot?

"No, I knew I had good material, and material that was completely different from everyone else's, because of the situation. I just kept shooting. That's something I've always planned, no matter what the situation. In war situations I always thought about that: no matter what happened, I was going to try to keep shooting."

Q: You weren't even supposed to be at this match. How did you end up in the right place at the right time?

"I was only supposed to cover the World Cup until July 4. That's how it is, as teams get eliminated, you need fewer photographers. But when Mexico (the team he was following) made it through the first round... they extended my stay in Russia until July 12. And now, here I am (laughs). After what happened, we tried to extend my stay, but it wasn't possible.... I would have loved to stay for the final. Especially after this!

Q: So will you be rooting for France or Croatia in the final?

"I feel a bond (with Croatia) now, I identify with them. So I'm going to cheer for Croatia. Without a doubt (laughs)."

7/14/2018 7:04:00 AM
<![CDATA[A-Z of the 2018 World Cup]]>
A - Africa. For the first time since 1982 no African teams made it to the knockout stage. Egypt and Tunisia never got close, Morocco were a bit unlucky, while Nigeria and Senegal were a matter of minutes away - but when the dust settled it was a huge disappointment for the continent to spend the second half of the tournament watching from home.

B - Boot (Golden). With the final and third-place playoff to come, England's Harry Kane is in pole position on six goals, ahead of Belgium's Romelu Lukaku, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Russia's Denis Cheryshev, all on four. Kane's tally matches Gary Lineker in 1986 as England's tournament best and is the first to include three penalties. Brazil's Ronaldo, who got eight in 2002, is the only player in the last 10 tournaments to score more than six.

C - Counter-attack. Belgium proved the masters of the counter-attack and there can have been few better, or more dramatic, examples than their brilliant 94th-minute winner against Japan. From a Japanese corner, via the hands of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, four Belgians somehow found the will to drive the length of the pitch to create a wonderful goal of pace and precision, finished off by Nacer Chadli.

D - Debutants. Iceland continued from where they left off at the 2016 Euros, drawing with Argentina, giving their all and coming up just short in a tough group. Panama were horribly outclassed - thrashed by Belgium and England and even beaten by Tunisia.

E - Europe. For the third tournament in four, there is an all-European final. This and the previous Europe-based tournament also featured all-European semi-final lineups. Once again the continent's top sides, and some of its lesser ones, have left the rest of the world trailing - and that was with Italy and the Netherlands watching from home.

F - Forgotten. It could have been one of the greatest-ever World Cup goals and instead turned into one of the greatest-ever World Cup saves, but Jordan Pickford's unbelievable stop from Mateus Uribe's 30-metre top-corner piledriver was not even repeated on the big screen in the Spartak Stadium as from the resulting corner Colombia snatched a mayhem-inducing equaliser.

G - Golden Generation. Belgium's players were sick and tired of hearing about and being asked about the tag and how it was "time to deliver." In most ways they did, performing superbly, scoring memorable goals and dispatching Brazil in the quarter-finals, but they could not muster enough ideas to unpick the French defence in the last four. The bulk of the team, certainly its creative end, is still far from retirement age so stand by for more GG headlines in two years.

H - Hazard. Finally he wore the mantle of superstar like it was not a hair shirt. After disappearing as Belgium slipped out of the last World Cup and 2016 Euros, Eden Hazard really stepped up to the mark in Russia. Demanding the ball, dominating the key games, he could not quite get them over the line in the semi-final but nobody can this time accuse him of not trying.

I - "It's (not) coming home." England's unexpected run to the semi-finals launched a nationwide reprise of the 1996 anthem "Football's coming home," which also boomed out of the loudspeakers at every stadium before they played and after every goal. Back at Euro '96 they sang about "30 years of hurt" in relation to the barren spell after the 1966 World Cup. It's now up to 52... and counting.

J - Japan. Flew the Asia flag with pride on and off the pitch. After their heart-breaking late defeat by Belgium Japan's players might have been forgiven for throwing a few cups and punching the odd wall. Instead they picked up every piece of debris and left their dressing room looking as if it had never been used. All they left behind was a note, in Russian, thanking their hosts. Pure class.

K - Kante. Can any player ever have had so much influence on the success of his teams while attracting so little attention? N'Golo Kante patrols the area in front of his defence with such understanding and appreciation that he rarely seems to need to sprint, let alone stretch. He is a dream-screen for the men behind him and, as so many teams in Russia have discovered, an absolute nightmare to have to get past.

L - Late goals. Barely a day seemed to pass without some team snatching a goal in the dying moments - helped by what seemed to be the new minimum of five minutes' stoppage time. Iran, Colombia, England, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Tunisia and others all enjoyed that explosion of joy and relief that comes with a last-gasp winner or equaliser and that have contributed to so much of this tournament's excitement.

M - Modric (not Messi). Luka Modric has matured through the tournament, and matured through the game in Croatia's semi-final victory over England. His ease of movement, eye for the right pass and overall class eventually shone through as those around him fell away.

Not so Lionel Messi, who left with his World Cup dream unfulfilled. One of the greatest players of all time alongside Pele and Diego Maradona went out with barely a whimper to join the sub-set of GOATs who have never won the World Cup - including Ferenc Puskas, Johan Cruyff and George Best, who never even got to play in one.

N - Neymar. Option 1. Bravely recovering from a long injury absence, Neymar, the most-fouled player in the tournament, had more attempts on goal than any other player and did all he could to drag a disappointing Brazil team towards a first final for 16 years. Option 2. Neymar personified everything bad about the world's most popular game - his amazing talent overshadowed by diving, cheating, and truly ridiculous rolling around that made him the planet's biggest laughing stock.

O - Oldest. Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary became the oldest player to appear in a World Cup finals game when he played in his country's final group game against Saudi Arabia at the age of 45 years, 161 days.

P - Penalties. The 28 awarded up to and including the semi-finals was a tournament record by a distance with the previous highest being the 18 given in 2002. Several were the result of VAR intervention.

Q - Qatar. Host country for the next World Cup, to be held in November/December 2022, where determined fans will be sometimes able to watch three games in a day - instead of taking three days to get to a game in Russia.

R - Ronaldo. With his shorts hitched to the max, Ronaldo's last-gasp, free-kick equaliser in the 3-3 draw with Spain was one of the highlights of the early matches. He continued to perform heroics but was unable to drag a very limited Portugal team into the quarter-finals. Of the "Big Three" in Russia, however, he can probably be most pleased with his contribution.

S - Sneaky. Colombia's players appeared to have been overtaken by mass hysteria when a penalty was awarded against them for hauling down England's Harry Kane but in the midst of the four-minute protest one of them was "in the moment" enough to repeatedly dig his heal into the grass around the penalty spot in a feeble attempt to make things difficult for the penalty-taker. It didn't work as Kane converted and England went on to win on a penalty shootout.

T - Tiki-Taka. Spain made an astonishing 1,137 passes in 120 minutes against Russia but barely created a scoring opportunity and went out on penalties. Pointless passing suddenly looked so last decade. Back to the tactical drawing board.

V - VAR. With very few exceptions the first use of the Video Assistant Referee system has been a huge success. Several penalties were awarded, and a handful overturned, on the basis of replays and fears of repeated and lengthy delays proved largely unfounded.

U - Upsets. In World Cup terms they don't come any bigger than Germany losing to South Korea to finish bottom of their group. Spain being knocked out by 70th-ranked Russia, Argentina held by Iceland and torn apart by Croatia and Spain and Portugal clinging on by their fingertips to draws against Morocco and Iran also had the neutrals cheering.

W - Wrestling. For some unknown reason, dozens of players decided that the best way to defend a corner was to ignore the ball and instead wrap their arms around their opponent and wrestle them to the ground. After initially turning a blind eye, FIFA and its referees decided to clamp down and started awarding penalties - much to the shocked outrage of those who had grappled with impunity in their opening games.

X - Xenophobia. Despite all the dire warnings, there has been none, and Russians have shown themselves to be friendly hosts in every city.

Y - Yellow. The famed and adored kit of Brazil, which they chose to sometimes replace with a new shiny blue one, as did Colombia. Nigeria introduced a kit that was a world-wide best-seller, then wore a change strip for their first game. Commercial imperative blew tradition out of the window and left fans scratching their heads.

Z - Zagallo. Mario Zagallo won the World Cup twice with Brazil in 1958 and 1962 then managed them to the title in 1970. Franz Beckenbauer followed him (1974 and 1990) and now Didier Deschamps, captain of France's 1998 winners, has the chance to join a very exclusive club.]]>
7/14/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Argentina's Pitana to referee World Cup final]]>
The 43-year-old also took charge of the opening match of the tournament between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia at the same stadium and becomes the second Argentine to referee the biggest game in football after Horacio Elizondo in 2006.

Pitana officiated at four matches at the last World Cup in Brazil and the final will be his fifth match at this tournament with his previous outings including the quarter-final between France and Uruguay.

He will be assisted on the touchlines by compatriots Hernan Maidana and Juan Pablo Belatti, while Italian Massimiliano Irrati will be the first Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to officiate at a World Cup final.]]>
7/14/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[LAFC transfer Gaber to Egypt]]>
The move was made to accommodate a personal situation for Gaber, who is a native of Cairo and played for the Egyptian National Team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

"Omar is a great player and person," LAFC executive VP of soccer operations and general manager John Thorrington said in a statement. "He made us aware of a family matter in Egypt and we were able to accommodate his move with a deal that makes sense financially for the club. We wish him all the best in the next step of his career."

Gaber appeared in seven matches (two starts) with LAFC this season, his first in MLS.

Gaber initially joined LAFC as a discovery player using targeted allocation money on a one-year loan from FC Basel in November 2017.

"We would like to thank Omar for his contributions to the Club," stated LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "We wish him great success as he continues his career back in Egypt."]]>
7/13/2018 7:05:17 PM
<![CDATA[After cave ordeal, Thai boys now face battle with fame]]>
The boys, aged 11 to 16, will spend at least a week in hospital and a month at home, health officials said, following a daring rescue from the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai that captivated the world.

"The world is watching," said Kham-oey Promthep, 64, grandmother of 13-year-old Duangpetch Promthep, or Dom, 13, captain of the 'Wild Boars' soccer team.

"He was trapped in a cave and everyone in the country and from around the world had to come and help him. What do we have to give them in return?" Kham-oey told Reuters.

"We have nothing, so he must be a good boy."

They already face the pressure of rising expectations.

The head of the Thai navy SEAL diving team involved in their rescue urged the boys to make the most of their lives and "be a force for good".

Global attention on their fate and the multinational rescue has put the area firmly on the map, with plans for a museum to showcase the rescue.

Despite the heightened interest and pressure, the boys need to live as normally as possible, said Dr. Andrea Danese of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College in London.

"The boys need to go back to their normal life, to their daily routines, in order to fully appreciate that the threat is over," said Danese, who heads the institute's stress and development laboratory.

His research suggested up to 20 percent of the boys may develop longer-term psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has asked that the boys be given time and personal space to recover. "The best way is not to bother them and let them study," he told reporters this week.


Thai authorities have prevented the world's media, camped in cafes and at street corners outside the hospital in Chiang Rai, from interviewing the boys, and with good reason, Danese said.

"Intense media scrutiny might act as a reminder of their traumatic experience and prevent them from settling back to normal life," he said.

The story is already set for a retelling by Hollywood, with two production companies looking to put together movies about the boys and their daring rescue.

It was a similar case eight years ago when 33 gold miners spent 69 days trapped underground at the San Jose mine in northern Chile.

One of the miners, Jorge Galleguillos, told Reuters the parents of the cave boys should ensure they have no unaccompanied contact with lawyers or journalists.

A movie starring Antonio Banderas called "The 33" was produced in consultation with the miners - who are taking legal action against their own lawyers following a dispute over the profits from the film.

Two of the accused lawyers told Reuters that the accusation was "without substance".

"A lot of parasites will want them to sign the rights to books, to films," said Galleguillos. "It's dangerous, after everything that's happened, that you become a global celebrity and everyone wants something from you".

For now, the families are focused on the more immediate relief of being reunited with their loved ones.

"I don't know how he will cope (with the attention)," said Oui-pan Sompiengjai, 66, grandmother of 16-year-old Pheeraphat Sompiengjai.

"I'm just happy he got out of the cave".]]>
7/13/2018 4:53:03 PM
<![CDATA[2022 World Cup will be held between November 21st to December 18th ]]>
"The dates of the World Cup are decided; it will be played in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022. All the leagues’ officials are informed and will have to adapt their calendars accordingly, in the end, it is the right decision,” Gianni Infantino , FIFA president , told a news conference held at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on Friday .

Infantino reported that what is not yet confirmed is how many teams will participate. The South American Confederation proposed that for this edition be extended to 48 teams, as it will be in 2026, but the FIFA Council decided to transfer that request to the Qatari organizers.

“For now it’s 32, but a decision has not been taken yet," Infantino replied abruptly when asked about the make up of the Qatar tournament.

“Well, it is too early to start speculating about that,” said Infantino. “We have of course already spoken to Qatari delegation and we will continue to have that dialogue.

Everybody is open-minded about this. We are engaging in a frank and open debate. There is no prejudice there, there is no precondition for that. We have contracts with Qatar which are the basis of our conversation. We would be very happy with a World Cup with 32 teams as previously established, but if all are involved, beginning with the Qataris – and they could insist on having agreed on a 32-team format – that would be great in itself, but if everybody comes on board and everybody agrees that it might positive to change this format then we can have a look at it.”

Some reactions on the new dates of the next World Cup:

7/13/2018 4:23:18 PM
<![CDATA[El Shenawy and Fathy to Pyramids, Tarek Hamed and Ferjani Sassi to Zamalek]]>
Ahmed El-Shenawy with Zamalek's jersey – Courtesy of Zamalek official website

He also revealed through his official Facbeook page that Tarek Hamed will remain in the ranks of Zamalek SC for more three years. Al-Sheikh will fund the deal of Tunisia’s international Ferjany Sassi to Zamalek.

Tarek Hamed at Zamalek S.C.
Ferjany Sassi at Zamalek SC..
Ahmed el-Shenawy at Pyramids F.C.
Mostafa Fathy at Pyramids F.C.

Tarek Hamed - Press photo

Zamalek’s president, Mortada Mansour, announced that the player will renew a three-year contract and will receive EGP 7 million in one season and EGP 5 million from Turki Al-Sheikh.

Ferjani Sassi

Sassi featured with Tunisia in the 2018 World Cup and scored one goal against England from the penalty spot.

The 26-years-old was a player at Esperance du Tunis before he joined the Saudi club, Al-Nasr last season.

7/13/2018 3:07:56 PM
<![CDATA[Wimbledon men's semi-finals -- five facts]]>
Over 30 club

-- All four semi-finalists are aged 30 or over – the first time in the Open era that the men's singles semis at a Grand Slam have been contested exclusively by players over 30. Nadal is through to a Grand Slam semi-final for the fifth time since turning 30 while Djokovic has reached the last-four at a major for the first time since his 30th birthday.

Not you again!

Familiar foes: Novak Djokovic has met Rafael Nadal 51 times

-- Nadal and Djokovic meet for the 52nd time. Djokovic has the slight edge at overall Tour-level at 26-25, but Nadal ended a seven-match losing streak against the Serb at Madrid last year and also won their only meeting so far in 2018 in the semi-finals of the Rome Masters.

Nadal's total of nine Grand Slam match-wins against Djokovic is the most that anyone has managed against the Serb, but Djokovic has also defeated Nadal at the Grand Slams more often than anybody else, with 4 victories against the Spaniard at the majors.

First time around

Federer conqueror: Kevin Anderson

-- The winner between Kevin Anderson and John Isner will go second on the Open era list for most attempts before reaching the Wimbledon final behind Marin Cilic, who set the record last year after reaching the final on his 11th Wimbledon appearance.


Perfect service: John Isner has yet to drop serve

-- Isner has won 95 consecutive service games at Wimbledon this year and also leads the aces count, having served 160 aces in five matches.

Borg in Nadal's sights

-- Nadal is bidding to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year for the third time and equal Bjorn Borg's all-time record. Borg achieved the feat in three consecutive years (1978-80), while Nadal won Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back in 2008 and 2010

7/13/2018 1:45:51 PM
<![CDATA[Serena Williams's seven Wimbledon titles]]>
AFP Sport looks at the American legend's previous seven final victories at the All England Club:

2002: bt Venus Williams (USA) 7-6, 6-3

-- Aged 20, Serena already had two Grand Slam titles under her belt, but winning her first Wimbledon crown, at the expense of her sister Venus, was her true breakthrough moment. Venus, two years older, was the world's top player at the time. Serena made it clear who would end up being regarded as the family's best player as she sealed a dominant win that moved her above Venus to the top of the WTA rankings.

2003: bt Venus Williams (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

-- With five Grand Slams in her trophy cabinet, Serena was well established as a global star, but the Williams' sisters popularity with fans was still hit and miss after a less than warm reception at the French Open. This was one of a clutch of strangely lacklustre all-Williams finals that played a role in the public's apathy. Despite suffering from an abdominal injury earlier in the tournament, Venus was Serena's final opponent again and it was the younger sibling who took the title for a second successive year.

2009: bt Venus Williams (USA) 7-6, 6-2

-- After a barren six-year spell marred by Wimbledon final defeats against Venus and Maria Sharapova, it was Serena's time to regain her throne. The sisters went into the final with a 10-10 record, but having powered through the draw without dropping a set, defending champion Venus began as a marginal favourite. Serena had other ideas, winning comfortably to end Venus's hopes of a third straight title. Victory in the fourth all-Williams Wimbledon final made it 11 Grand Slams for Serena.

2010: bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-3, 6-2

-- In the most one-sided of Serena's Wimbledon finals, she needed just 66 minutes to demolish the out-classed Vera Zvonareva. The American didn't drop a set in the entire tournament and Russian 21st seed Zvonareva, playing in her first Grand Slam final, was no match. Williams also moved past Billie Jean King to sixth in the all-time list of female Grand Slam singles champions with 13 major titles. Looking towards King in the Centre Court Royal Box afterwards, Williams said: "Hey Billie, I got you, it's number 13 for me."

2012: bt Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2

-- This was an emotional fifth Wimbledon title for Serena after injury and health issues forced her to the sidelines for over a year between 2010 and 2012. Radwanska made a fight of it, winning a rain-delayed second set. Serena became the first woman over 30 to win Wimbledon since Martina Navratilova in 1990, while her 102 aces were the most in an All England Club campaign. "I can't even describe it. I almost didn't make it a few years ago," she said.

2015: bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-4, 6-4

-- For the second time, the American secured the 'Serena Slam' as she held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time. Muguruza was making her major final debut and Serena exploited the youngster's nerves despite a brief wobble of her own late in the second set when she twice dropped serve. It was the 33-year-old's 21st Grand Slam title and third of 2015. "There was definitely pressure towards the end," said Williams, who also completed the Serena Slam in 2003.

2016: bt Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-5, 6-3

-- Serena's seventh Wimbledon triumph gave her an historic 22nd Grand Slam title, equalling Steffi Graf's Open era record. Kerber had beaten Williams in the Australian Open final in January, but the German couldn't produce another shock. Williams, who had lost the French Open final just weeks earlier, was back to her best, dropping only one set en route to the silverware. "This court definitely feels like home," she said.]]>
7/13/2018 1:36:27 PM
<![CDATA[Tunisia coach Maaloul leaves post to join Qatar's Al Duhail]]>
The 55-year-old rejoined the north African side last April and helped the team qualify for this year's World Cup in Russia, with Tunisia winning one of their three group games to finish third in Group G, behind Belgium and England.

"The club's management contracted with the Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul to be the new technical manager of the first football team..." Al Duhail said on their website http://www.lekhwiyaclub.qa/en/football/news/12607-2018-07-12-18-17-47.html.

"Coach Nabil Maaloul will arrive to Austria in the upcoming hours to join the team's camp which is held in Austria these days."

Maaloul, who has prior coaching experience in Qatar with El Jaish, will take the reins of Al Duhail from Djamel Belmadi, who left the club for "special reasons" and is widely expected to be named as the Algerian national team's new manager.]]>
7/13/2018 1:25:59 PM
<![CDATA[Chelsea part ways with manager Antonio Conte]]>
Conte joined the Roman Abramovich-owned club in 2016 and led them to the league title in his debut season along with an FA Cup triumph last campaign.

The former Italy manager had a year remaining on his current contract and had already taken charge of pre-season preparations at the club's Cobham training ground outside London.

"Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company," Chelsea said on their website https://www.chelseafc.com/en/news/2018/7/13/statement-on-antonio-conte.

"We wish Antonio every success in his future career."

The 48-year-old's departure comes after Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said on Wednesday that Chelsea were close to securing a deal for the Italian club's former boss Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri, 59, led Napoli to two second-place and one third-place finish in three seasons in charge. He was replaced by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti in May with the Naples club seeking to end Juventus' dominance in the league.

Conte's relationship with Chelsea's hierarchy was strained after disagreements over their transfer policy last season.

His future has looked uncertain with Chelsea failing to qualify for the coming season's Champions League after finishing fifth. The team will now play in the Europa League.

Chelsea take on Huddersfield Town in their opening fixture of the new Premier league campaign on Aug. 11. ]]>
7/13/2018 1:23:39 PM
<![CDATA[Our squad is complete, Emery]]>
“We signed the players we need, in this moment I think the squad is complete, only the possibility for one or two players to leave,” Emery told skysports.

Arsenal signed Uruguay’s Lucas Torreira, Germany’s Bernd Leno, Greece’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos, France’s Matteo Guendouzi and Swiss defender, Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Asked about the club’s desire to sign French midfielder, Steven N'Zonzi, Emery said: “I know him, but we didn't do movement for him."

Emery worked with N'Zonzi in Sevilla and Emery was the manager to bring the midfielder to Spain from Stoke City.

After signing Leno, the club has five goalkeepers competing for a position in the starting line-up.

Emery said: “It is clear we have many goalkeepers but we want to work in the future with three in the first team but now I want to look, work every day with all the goalkeepers and then I am going to decide the first."

Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager to succeed the club’s historic manager, Arsene Wenger. ]]>
7/13/2018 10:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[France out to rectify Euro 2016 mistakes in World Cup final - Pogba]]>
France face the Croats in the World Cup final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, but they are rejecting the favourites tag which cost them dearly two years ago, he said.

The French beat Germany in the Euro 2016 semi-final setting up an encounter in Paris against then-underdogs Portugal, who stunned them 1-0 in extra time to win the continental title.

"We are conscious of the situation, we do not want to make the same mistakes like two years ago. We want to work for it, to give everything we have to take this Cup home," Pogba told reporters.

"I think at the Euro we thought it was already a done deal, the mentality was not the same as now. I cannot lie that when we beat Germany we thought that was the final. I know the taste of losing a final. I don't want it to happen again.

"Against Portugal we thought we had won it before the start of the game. That will not happen again."

France have been improving throughout the tournament and have beat Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium in the knockout rounds without needing extra time or penalties.

Croatia needed spot kicks to advance against Denmark in the last 16 and against Russia in the quarter-finals. They then came from a goal down against England on Wednesday to win 2-1 in extra time.

That is not a sign of a struggling team, according to Pogba, but one that has a lot of talent.

"The Croats had a very difficult match and they were behind. But they are mentally very strong. There are two teams in the final, a Cup and there are 90 minutes more.

"For us, we are not the favourites. We stay as we are from the start of the tournament. We have no doubts, we play together, that's our strength. We are chasing something and will do everything to succeed."

France, world champions in 1998 after beating Croatia in the semis, are in their third World Cup final. It is unknown territory for Croatia however.

"For sure the Croats they want the star (for winning the title) they have had a good run. They want to win. But I have no star either although there is one on my shirt. I want mine."

Pogba said while Croatia midfielder Luka Modric was their driving force the French plan would not be limited to stopping the Real Madrid playmaker.

"The Croats are not just Modric. They have (Mario) Mandzukic, (Ivan) Rakitic and (Ivan) Perisic," Pogba said.

"Even their defenders are outstanding players. I don't think there is a plan just for Modric. The plan is to win the match." ]]>
7/13/2018 7:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Belgium better than England says Meunier]]>
The two countries meet in the third place playoff in St Petersburg on Saturday and the defender is expected to be back in the line-up after missing the 1-0 semi-final defeat by France on Tuesday because of suspension.

"We are better than England. Winning the match is not an obligation but something we want to do. Third place is a minimum for us," he told a news conference at the team's training base in Moscow.

"We beat England in the group phase and so we can do it again."

Both countries rested regulars for the Group G match in Kaliningrad on June 28 which Belgium won 1-0. The two teams had already secured qualification for the round of 16 before that encounter.

"We want third place for ourselves on a personal level, for those whose supported us over the last years and for all the work we did in qualifiers. We have a fantastic squad and to finish on the podium would be something."

Meunier admitted Belgium's 'golden generation' of players had likely lost their last chance at World Cup glory after their 1-0 loss in the last four.

"This group could still do something in two years," he said in a reference to the 2020 European Championship, "but in four years' time, many will have left."

"But there are a lot of exciting youngsters coming through who might continue our expedition," the Paris St Germain player added.]]>
7/13/2018 5:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[What happened when Croatia met France at World Cup ]]>
During their first participation in the World Cup as an independent nation in 1998 in France, they were the underdogs of the tournament.


They had a strong squad led by Slaven Bilić, Robert Prosinečki, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Jarni and their biggest star, Davor Šuker.

The team found their way towards the semi-final as they finished second at the group stage behind Argentina.


Croatia met Romania at the round of 16 and they won the game thanks to a goal by Suker seconds before the half time and they kept their lead stopping all the attempts from George Hagi to win the game and reach the quarter finals.


At the quarter finals, Croatia had to face the pre-tournament favorites, Germany, who achieved the UEFA EURO 1996.

Everyone expected an easy victory for the Germans but the Croats surprised everyone. Croatia's goalkeeper, Drazen Ladic, saved a header from Oliver Bierhoff in the first minutes and after that the Croats dominated the game.

German defender, Christian Wörns, was sent off after a tough tackle against Suker before the half time and minutes later Croatia opened the score from a screamer by Jarni.

In the second half, the Croats’ dominance continued despite the Germans’ attempts to equalize and Goran Vlaović made the score 2-0 for Croatia ten minutes before the final whistle.

Minutes later, Suker dribbled three German defenders and their goalkeeper, Andreas Köpke, to make the score 3-0 and sent the Germans home.

The Croats knew they have to defeat the host nation, France, at the semi-final to reach their first World Cup final; France national team was also dreaming of the same glory.

In 1998, France hosted the World Cup for the second time in their history. They first hosted the competition in 1938, when they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by the title holders, Italy.

The French fans did not expect a lot from their team, who failed to reach the World Cup in the last two tournaments, and they did not expect a better fate than that of 1938.

France’s national team, led by Aimé Jacquet, was a mixture between veteran players – like team captain Didier Deschamps, Emmanuel Petit and Marcel Desailly – and newcomers, like David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry.

France topped their group with 9 points from three victories over Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UEFA EURO 1992 winners, Denmark, to reach the round of 16, where they played against Paraguay.

France failed to score during the regular time, but they secured their victory thanks to a golden goal from their veteran defender, Laurent Blanc, that sent them to the quarter-finals.


France again found themselves against the Italians, who sent them out of the 1938 World Cup, but the French gained more confidence during their path and were ready to take revenge.

Both teams failed to score, despite having two massive attacking lines, and the game went to a penalty shootout. The French goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, took his nation’s 60-year revenge when he saved two shots from the Italian players, leading his team to the semi-finals.

On that night in July at Saint Denis, the Croats were the better side creating more chances to score; they found themselves leading the game after the second half start by Suker.

Suker received the ball alone at the edge of the French area while French defender, Lilian Thuram was covering the offside.

After the Croatian goal, Thuram turned into France’s biggest enemy and they would tear him apart if his teammates at the attacking line could not equalize the score.
Thuram had a different idea and decided to make his fate himself.

He ran towards the Croatian area a minute after their goal, took the ball from the Croatian defender and made a one-two with Youri Djorkaeff to score the equalizer for the French.


Thuram did not believe himself, as that goal was his first with the national team since he first wore the jersey in 1994.

The night held more surprise for Thuram, who took the ball from the Croatian defender around their area and scored his second goal in the game, securing his team’s qualification to their first World Cup final ever.

After the game, Thuram was more famous in France than the Eiffel Tower, having turned from their biggest enemy to their hero in just 20 minutes.


Croatia defeated Netherlands at the third place game and the French fulfilled their glory, as they defeated the title holders, Brazil, 3-0 to win their only World Cup in history.


On Sunday, the Croats will face the French again but this time at the World Cup final in a neutral pitch in Moscow. ]]>
7/13/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Promoted Fulham sign Seri and Le Marchand from Nice]]>
Fulham said on their website (www.fulhamfc.com) that the deal for 26-year-old Seri included an option for a further 12 months.

Seri, who had also been linked to Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund, joined Nice in 2015 from Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira.

"Jean Michaël arrives with Premier League qualities as well as great promise for the future, which is why he has been at the very top of our target list for a long time," said Fulham's director of football operations Tony Khan.

Le Marchand, 28, has played 81 matches for Nice, who finished eighth in Ligue 1 last season.]]>
7/13/2018 3:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[New Man City signing Mahrez eyes Champions League glory]]>
Manchester City, who won the Premier League last season with a record-breaking tally of 100 points, faltered in the Champions League, losing to Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

Yet Mahrez, who joined Man City on Tuesday for a fee reported by British media to be 60 million pounds ($79 million), feels that they have the tools required to lift European club football's elite trophy next season on Thursday.

"It's a club who wants to win this type of trophy," the 27-year-old said at a news conference.

"The Champions League is for big clubs. City are a big club with everything needed to try to win the Champions League."

"That's why I'm here, why I made the decision to come here, because I want to be part of this."

Mahrez was wanted by Man City manager Pep Guardiola in January but the club did not meet Leicester's valuation of the player, prompting the Algerian to hand in a transfer request and skip training.

"Maybe it could have happened sooner but it's destiny, it happened like this," he added.

"If I moved sooner, maybe I wouldn't have been happy. Now I'm very happy to have moved to City."

"I don't want to talk about the past too much. Now I'm here and it's the most important."

Mahrez could make his Premier League debut in City's opening game at Arsenal on Aug. 12.]]>
7/12/2018 10:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Croatian fans aim for Moscow's World Cup final at any cost]]>
Croatia secured a hard-won spot in the tournament showpiece against France, to be held at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, after defeating England 2-1 on Wednesday, the team's third consecutive match to go into extra time.

The final is a moment Croatian soccer fans are desperate not to miss.

Sitting in a street-side cafe in Moscow, wearing his country's red and white chequered colours, fan Zdenko Corluka said he had spent all morning fielding calls from friends back home, who were booking flights to Moscow and hoping he could find them a ticket to Sunday's game.

"All the time, each phone ringing and everybody calling to say, 'buy to us ticket, buy to us ticket'," said Corluka, whose cousin, Vedran Corluka, is a player in the Croatian national team.

Within an hour of waking up on Thursday, 25 of his friends had already wired him money for the tickets, Corluka said. The two phones in front of him were constantly buzzing with notifications.


Corluka said he thought tickets to the final now cost around $2,500.

"It's a lot of money but this is one time in your life," he said.

Croatia fan Boris Kuzmanovic, 31, staying in Moscow for Sunday's game, said there was no limit to how much he, or friends back home, were willing to pay for a ticket to the match.

"Croatians are crazy, they are buying on credit cards, doing anything, it's not smart," Kuzmanovic said.

"(But) when again will we have the chance to watch Croatia in the final?" he said, shrugging. His wife, who is pregnant, is also seeing if she can find flights to Moscow, he added.

Ivan Skegro, 30, from Zagreb, said he had to fly back home from Moscow on Thursday after watching the semi-final against England the previous day. But as soon as the referee blew the whistle, confirming Croatia's place in Sunday's final, he knew he would be flying to Moscow again two days later.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Skegro said, adding that return flights from Zagreb were now about 1,500 euros ($1,753.7).

"That's only the plane! You have to buy a ticket, let's say that's 500 euros. So a mini trip to Moscow is four months of the (average) salary," he added, laughing.

"But we have bicycles and we will (cycle) to Moscow - don't worry, we will come."


Two Croatia fans in central Moscow said they were supposed to be on a flight home on Thursday evening, but that their seats would remain empty.

"We have return tickets for tonight, but as you see, we are here still," Marco, a manager in a Croatian food company from Zagreb, said.

He has made the decision to miss his flight before asking for permission from his employers to take the time off. But he said that was not a cause for concern.

"Croatia is burning at the moment so we doubt that anyone would be against it," he said.

Fans are also fired up for the game as they see it as an opportunity for Croatia to seek revenge for their semi-final defeat by France in the 1998 World Cup.

"It's a costly decision, but not a difficult one," said Iosip, a fan from Zagreb who has also missed his flight home and has no plan for how to get back.]]>
7/12/2018 9:50:00 PM
<![CDATA[Barcelona signs Lenglet ]]>
The French defender will be a Barcelona player for the next five seasons until June 30, 2023, with a buyout clause valued at €300 million. Langlet is the 23rd French player to wear Barcelona jersey.

Lenglet, born in Beauvais, France, started his career at Nancy when he was 15 and he got promoted through the club rankings till he joined the first team when he was 18.

After stunning three and half years with Nancy, the defender moved to Spain in winter 2017 to play for Sevilla.

“Lenglet, who is left-footed, stands out for his good touch and his combination of strength, intelligence, and, above all, ball skills. This last quality will surely help him on team like Barça,” Barcelona statement said.

Langlet will challenge Gerard Piqué, Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen and Yerri Mina for a starting position at the defense.

Langlet is Barcelona’s second signing this summer after Brazilian midfielder, Arthur Melo.

The French will play his first official game as a Barca player against his former club, Sevilla, at the Spanish Super Cup on August 12 in Tangier, Morocco. ]]>
7/12/2018 8:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Dalic praises France ahead of World Cup final ]]>
“We’re facing another daunting task but it’s going to be a fantastic match. We are ready for it. I am sure everybody will enjoy watching that match,” Dalic told press on Thursday.

Croatia will face the French team, led by French manager, Didier Deschamps, who was the national team captain when France won the World Cup at home in 1998.

Dalic added: “I have huge respect for France. There is no weakness in a team which is in the final. They are a top-drawer team with fantastic players.”

Croatia reached the World Cup final for the first time in their history, defeating 1966 World Cup winners, England 2-1 at the semi-final on Wednesday.

The Croatian side was 1-0 down at half time as England opened the score after five minutes by Kieran Trippier. Croatia returned in the game scoring two goals by Ivan Perisic in the second half and Mario Mandzukic at extra time to win the match.

Asked about his speech to the players at half time, Dalic said: “During half-time, I told the players ‘calmly pass the ball, do not lose your heads’. We showed that we were the better team in all segments of the game.”

Croatia will face France on Sunday at the World Cup final at 5 p.m. ]]>
7/12/2018 7:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[England hailed as heroes after World Cup heartache]]>
England's hopes of reaching only their second ever World Cup final were dashed by Croatia, as Mario Mandzukic scored the deciding goal in a 2-1 extra-time win for Zlatko Dalic's side on Wednesday.

Despite failing to make the most of arguably their best chance of reaching the final since 1966, British media hailed the team as heroes with Mirror Sport declaring them "National Treasures", while the Daily Mail saluted their efforts.

The Telegraph's front page called for England to "Hold your heads high" while the Guardian captured supporters' mood with the headline "The hurt goes on".

The widespread optimism is a far cry from the reaction England received following their Euro 2016 exit, when the team and then manager Roy Hodgson were criticised heavily for their underwhelming performance in the competition.

England's valiant effort also drew praise from Britain's Prince William, who said the team's performance gave fans "something to believe in".

The team were backed by various pundits, celebrities and former players, including Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Jermain Defoe.

"This team have taken us to a place we never thought we'd ever imagine we'd get. England had never overachieved, but this team have in reaching the semi-final...," Neville, a pundit on ITV, said.

"Three weeks ago, there wasn't even a connection with the England football team. People looked upon it with some sort of despair. Now, everyone has loved the last three weeks and everyone can be proud of that."

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho also praised the England team.

"It's a young team, the majority of the players will play in the next World Cup with more experience at club level," the Portuguese boss told RT.

"If I was in charge of the FA there would be no doubt that I would keep Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland and give them the chance to take the team to the next Euros and the next World Cup."

England forward Marcus Rashford offered heartfelt praise to manager Southgate.

"You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," the 20-year-old said on Twitter with a picture of himself embracing the England manager.]]>
7/12/2018 6:56:04 PM
<![CDATA[FIFA investigate possible discriminatory chants by England fans]]>
FIFA did not give any details of the chanting but said it had received a report from observers at the match at the Luzhniki Stadium which Croatia won 2-1 after extra time.

"We can confirm that a report has been filed through the anti-discrimination monitoring system in relation to chants of a possible discriminatory nature by English fans at yesterday's match," FIFA said in a statement on Thursday.

"Subsequently, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Football Association... As proceedings are ongoing, please understand we cannot comment further at this stage."

FIFA has employed teams of specialist observers at all World Cup matches to detect possible racist and homophobic chanting and banners at matches.]]>
7/12/2018 6:47:31 PM
<![CDATA[Rakitic criticizes English attitude towards Croatia ]]>
“They [England] thought they were already in the final, with all the things uploaded on [social] networks, they can keep doing their stuff and we will play on Sunday", Rakitic told press after the game.

The Croatian side was 1-0 down at half time as England opened the score after five minutes by Kieran Trippier. Croatia returned in the game scoring two goals by Ivan Perisic in the second half and Mario Mandzukic in the extra time to win the match.

Rakitic unveiled that he had a tough night before the game against England; he said: “Last night I had a fever, almost 39°C, I was lying in bed trying to find the strength to play and it was worth it. I would play a final without a leg if necessary."

The midfielder, born in Switzerland to a Croatian family, led his national team to the World Cup final for the first time in history. Rakitic was a key player in the Croatian run at the tournament.

Croatia will face the French team, led by French manager, Didier Deschamps, who was the national team captain when France won the World Cup at home in 1998.

Rakitic added: “On top of all the football qualities, they have shown character. We are a nation of people who are proud, never give in and have character."

The World Cup final is set to take place on Sunday at 5 p.m.]]>
7/12/2018 6:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Giggs comments on Ronaldo's move ]]>
“Cristiano is obsessed with beating Messi. Now, he has the argument of having won in England, Spain and with Portugal, so he wants to say 'I'll do it in Italy as well',” Giggs told ITV.

Giggs shared Manchester United's dressing room with Ronaldo between 2004 and 2009 before Ronaldo’s departure to join Real Madrid.

Since Ronaldo’s arrival in Madrid, the rivalry between Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Lionel Messi’s Barcelona reached a peak.

Giggs added: “Having Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus on your CV is something special; he can use it in his favor in the argument of who is better between them."

Real Madrid announced on Tuesday the departure of their historic Portuguese winger, Ronaldo, to Juventus after 10 years in the Spanish club.

Ronaldo, 33, has won everything with Real Madrid; he won four UEFA Champions League titles, two La Liga titles, two Spanish Cup titles, three FIFA Club World Cup titles and he was crowned the best player in the world four times. ]]>
7/12/2018 5:13:58 PM
<![CDATA[Dreams broken but World Cup united Belgians]]>
"This kind of event brings Dutch- and French-speakers together," student Alpha Omba said after watching the national side, known as the Red Devils, lose 1-0 on Tuesday night at an outdoor screening in Brussels. "It's really helpful."

Despite disappointment, most of its 11 million people are happy Belgium did well, knocking out five-times champions Brazil last week. That new embrace of the team, often cited as one of the few real national institutions Belgium has left after the king, may feed into more sense of common purpose, some believe.

Few expect football to change politics quickly, but musings on the future were especially pointed on Wednesday as the Dutch-speaking half of the country marked its own "national" holiday, commemorating a 14th-century victory -- over the French.

The prime minister of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois, took pains to suggest Flemish and Belgium pride could co-exist: "That's our DNA and gives Flanders its own special form," he said.

His N-VA party, also the biggest in the federal parliament, wants eventual independence from poorer French-speaking Wallonia. But they are wary of seeming killjoys when pride in "Belgitude" is running high -- party leader Bart De Wever took flak for hanging a Flemish flag from his window on the day Belgium played Brazil.

Even in the Flemish press, one cartoon later showed De Wever cursing "I hate football!" as French-speaking federal Prime Minister Charles Michel celebrated the 2-1 win over Brazil.

Zuhal Demir, an N-VA minister in Michel's government, told De Standaard newspaper that the party's rivals were using the success of the multilingual, diverse national team to hurt the separatists: "Football has nothing to do with politics," she said. "Football is a celebration, the bars are full, everyone's happy and you can find me in front of a big screen too."


Flemish sports journalist Anouk Torbeyns had another take on how the freewheeling Red Devils with their English-only "We Are Belgium" motto, were challenging the cranky stereotypes:

"Flemings are always grumbling about absolutely everything," she wrote. "Belgians are proud and like to party.

"It's more fun being Belgian than Flemish."

For Jean-Michel De Waele, political scientist at the French-speaking Free University of Brussels, football success has been a shot in the arm for a fragile sense of national identity: "It's been an extraordinary excuse to have a party and shout about a collective 'us' that we normally lack," he told TV5.

"In the short term, it won't affect the political situation in the country," he said. "In the medium and long term, maybe."

"I don't really think that the success of the Red Devils will save Belgium," De Waele added, but he did believe younger people, especially Dutch speakers, were developing a stronger bond to a broader national idea. "They're the first generation since World War Two who are partying in the name of Belgium."

The Red Devils won fans around the world with their elegant style and they also reflect a Belgium that is home to Flemings and Walloons but also to many West and North African immigrants who take less part in those old communitarian rivalries.

"This is a new image of Belgium," wrote Jan Segers in the Dutch-language Het Laatste Nieuws. "A country in the image of a group of talented, disciplined, creative, carefree, open-minded and ambitious young men. Wouldn't you want to live there?"]]>
7/12/2018 6:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Deschamps to write a new chapter in football history ]]>
The man who leads the French side since 2012 will write a new chapter in the French football history if he manages to win the trophy.

Deschamps, who had a stunning career as a player on club and international levels, achieved many successes with clubs and he hopes to find the same success with the national team.

The manager, known as the water-carrier, started his managerial career with Monaco and built a squad that achieved the French League Cup in 2003; a year later, he led them to the UEFA Champions League Final when they lost to FC Porto.


Deschamps’ time with Monaco came to an end in 2005 and he was named Juventus manager in 2006 to rescue the team from a dark fate after the Italian giants were relegated to the second division after “Calciopoli” match fixing scandal.


The French could not reject a call from the team that he represented as a player between 1994 and 1999.


Deschamps completed his mission with the club known as the “Old Lady” and they sealed promotion to first division after achieving the second division title; then he decided to leave the team.

Two years later, Deschamps was appointed as Marseille manager. The club has a special place in Deschamps’ heart as the club witnesses his first major successes with the game. Achieving the UEFA Champions League title in 1993 was the highlight of these successes.


Since Deschamps and his teammates have lifted the French League trophy in 1993, Marseille could not achieve the title for more than 17 years, so they bet on Deschamps to bring the title home, and that is exactly what he did when he achieved the title in his first season with the club.


After three successful years in the south of France with Marseille, the French Football Federation assigned Deschamps to rebuild a new generation for France.


Deschamps needed two years to build a squad of young players like Antoine Griezmann, Raphaël Varane, Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud.


France had a stunning run at the 2014 World Cup but was eliminated from the quarter finals, losing to the tournament champions, Germany.

Two years later, he was so close to win the EUROS at home like he did as a player in 2000 but they lost the final 1-0 to Portugal.


In 2018, with the squad he built, France is at the final again, and on Sunday they have the chance to be the world Champions again.


“The Water Carrier” experienced the World Cup final in 1998 when he captained the French side that won their first World Cup title ever and till now he is the only French captain to lift the World Cup. But, on Sunday, Deschamps hopes the current captain, Hugo Lloris, to lift the trophy in Moscow like he did in Saint-Denis.


If France wins the title, Deschamps will be the third footballer to achieve the World Cup as a player and a manager after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. ]]>
7/12/2018 5:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt aims to host 2030 World Cup, 2032 Olympic Games ]]>
“Egypt is planning to host global major sporting events, including the 2030 World Cup and the 2032 Olympic Games,” the minister said.

“Our goal is to host the 2030 World Cup in Egypt and we will work on that in the upcoming period.”

The 2030 World Cup will be a significant event, as it marks the centennial anniversary of the major football event. There have been three other bids for hosting the cup, submitted by England, Argentina and Uruguay jointly and a co-bid from Tunisia and Morocco.

The only African country to have hosted the World Cup is South Africa in 2010, after beating Egypt and Morocco for the hosting bids.

As for the Olympic Games, the major sporting event has never been held in an African country. Egypt is aiming to be the first African country to host it.
7/12/2018 4:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pogba dedicates France semi win to rescued Thai boys]]>
"This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong," Pogba wrote on his official Twitter account after Samuel Umtiti's headed goal put France in Sunday's World Cup final in Moscow, where they will play Croatia or England.

The "Wild Boars" soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped on June 23 while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

On Wednesday, La Liga said they had invited the boys and their coach to Spain to attend a Spanish top flight game in the future when they have fully recovered from the ordeal.

La Liga's president Javier Tebas said: "When the moment is right and everyone is ready I would like to invite the children and their coach to go to a Liga game.

"We would like to host them and share with them the happiness of football, hoping that this can go some way to helping them after everything they've been through in the last few weeks."

FIFA had invited the boys to Sunday's World Cup final although the world organising body said that due to medical reasons the boys would not be in a position to travel to the game, although they would invite them to an event in the future.]]>
7/12/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mandzukic sends steely Croatia into first World Cup final]]>
England had looked on course for their first final since 1966 as they led through Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free kick and totally dominated the opening half.

But Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, levelled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more dangerous side.

It stayed level at 90 minutes, meaning Croatia faced extra time for the third successive game, having got past Denmark and Russia on penalties.

But instead of flagging, they seemed to gain in energy and avoided a third shootout when Mandzukic struck with a well-taken low shot in the 109th minute.

Since their dream run to the last four in 1998, their first tournament as an independent nation, Croatia have failed to get past the group stage, with every subsequent failing team being compared unfavourably with the heroes of France.

This group, however, have gone one better and will get the chance to avenge the defeat of 20 years ago when they face the French on Sunday back at the same Luzhniki Stadium.

"We are deservedly in the final," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said. "What the lads played tonight is fantasy, they've made history. We haven't said our last word, there is still one more game to go. God willing, we will be world champions."

As always, Croatia have shown fantastic spirit and belief, coming through extra time in three matches and battling back superbly after a wretched first half against England when they should have been put out of the game.

England had got off to a flying start when Trippier curled a superb free kick into the top corner.

It was their 12th goal of the tournament and ninth from a set-piece, but they should have added more from open play as they revelled in the space they were being given and looked completely in command.


Harry Kane shot weakly at Danijel Subasic and forced the rebound against a post while Raheem Sterling was a constant thorn in the Croatia defence.

The best chance for a second England goal was wasted by an unmarked Jesse Lingard when he curled wide when a goal looked certain.

Croatia had been desperately poor, a shadow of the team who carved Argentina apart in the group stage, but started to get a foothold in the game as the match rolled past the hour mark and Luka Modric's influence grew.

England paid the price for those misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was high and he threw an anxious glance at the referee, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints.

Perisic should have added another when given a great shooting chance but he cannoned the ball against a post as England's defence began to lose shape.

It was a different game from then on, with Croatia suddenly playing with accuracy and purpose as England lost momentum, though Kane missed a chance to win it in stoppage time when he headed wide from a free kick.

England initially regrouped well in extra time with Marcus Rashford introducing some pace and Croatia were grateful for Vrsaljko's goalline clearance of a John Stones header.

But it was Croatia who struck the killer blow when Perisic won a header on the edge of the box, England lost concentration and the ball dropped for Mandzukic, whose firm low finish beat Jordan Pickford.

"This is a miracle. Only great teams can be as brave as we were and fight back from a goal down against teams like England," Mandzukic said.

"We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final."

England captain Kane said the loss would hurt for a long time.

"We created some good chances when we were 1-0 up, maybe we dropped a little too deep and we didn't get enough pressure on the ball," he said. "There's a lot we could have done better."

Coach Gareth Southgate also lamented his team not making their early dominance decisive.

"When you have spells, you have to make them count; we probably needed that second goal," he said.

"We’ve come an incredible long way in a short space of time. We are probably beyond where we thought we might be able to go. So tonight we weren’t quite there, but the team will be stronger for that.”]]>
7/11/2018 11:35:09 PM
<![CDATA[England, Croatia official line-ups revealed ]]>
Both teams will challenge each others for the second spot at the World Cup final against France who defeated Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday at the first semi-final.

England players are seeking a World Cup final return after a long time of absence as they last appeared at the World Cup final in 1966 at home when they defeated Germany 4-2 to achieve their only World Cup title.

On the other hand, Croatia are searching for their first appearance at the World Cup final and they hope to surpass their best result at the tournament when they won the third place in 1998 World Cup in France.

England manager, Gareth Southgate’s chosen squad for the game consists of: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young, Dele Alli; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane.

Croatia manager, Zlatko Dalić’s chosen squad for the game consists of: Danijel Subašić, Šime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinić, Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozović, Mario Mandžukić and Ante Rebić.

The game starts at 8 p.m.
7/11/2018 7:39:30 PM
<![CDATA[Neny showered with warm wishes on his 26th birthday]]>Neny started his career at El-Mokaweloon el-Arab, where he stayed from 2010 to 2013, scoring two goals in 35 appearances.
He later on went on loan to Basel in 2013, joining his Egyptian fellow Mohamed Salah. The loan materialized to a permanent move in 2013, as Basel decided to sign him.
In 2016, London giants Arsenal secured Neny for reported £5 million from Basel FC.
The Gunners went on to wish the player a happy birthday, “El Neny turns 26 today – have a good one, Mo.”

Birthday wishes came from his teammates as well,

After all, the Egypt international will spend his birthday recovering from Egypt’s participation in the 2018 Russia World Cup. Soon enough, he will be joining his Arsenal teammates in order to prepare for the 2018/2019 season. ]]>
7/11/2018 6:56:55 PM
<![CDATA[Sara Samir, Esraa el-Sayed clinch Gold in the IWF Junior World Championships]]>
The IWF Junior World Championships, held at the Uzbekistan Sport Complex in Tashkent, kicked off on July 7 and will run until July 14.

Six Egyptian players feature in this version of the championships, including Ahmed Kamel, Ahmed Ashour, Osama el-Garhy, Mohamed Hesham, and the champions, Sara Samir and Esraa el-Sayed.

Sara Samir, national weightlifting champion, won the 69 kg clean and jerk gold medal.

She also managed to win gold in 69 kg snatch and silver in 63 kg clean and jerk.

Esraa el-Sayed won the gold medal, followed by Tunisia’s Ghofrane Belkhir and Uzbekistan’s Fayzullaeva Kumushkhon. The three lifters registered the same weight lifted, so the rankings were judged by the order of who performed the lift better.

The men’s categories in the competition are 56 kg, 62 kg, 69 kg, 77 kg, 8 5kg, 94 kg, 105 kg and over-105 kg.

Women, on the other hand, will compete at 48 kg, 53 kg, 58 kg, 63 kg, 69 kg, 75 kg, 90 kg and over-90 kg.

7/11/2018 4:06:52 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt loses to Paraguay, finishes last in Women’s Handball Junior Championship]]>
After getting eliminated from the group stages by finishing bottom of a very tough group D, the Egyptians had to play Paraguay in order to face China for the 21st place playoffs.
The loss to Paraguay means that Egypt is guaranteed to finish bottom of the tournament, in the 23rd place.

The first half of the game was not a far reach from the Egyptians, as they managed to end it 12-13. But Paraguay managed to extend their lead in the second half, finishing the game with an eight-goal margin – 31 to 23.

Paraguay will face China next for the 21st class, as Egypt concluded their dismaying World Championship campaign, losing all of their games.
7/11/2018 4:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Dortmund sign Morocco full-back Hakimi on loan from Real Madrid]]>
An attacking full back, Hakimi started all three of Morocco's games at the World Cup in Russia before they were eliminated in the group stage.

The 19-year-old Real Madrid academy graduate made nine league appearances for the Spanish club under Zinedine Zidane last season, as well as playing five times in the King's Cup and twice in the Champions League.

"Achraf Hakimi is a young, very dynamic full-back who has played at the very highest level with Real Madrid and the Morocco national team," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said in a statement.

Hakimi is new manager Lucien Favre's latest acquisition in a busy close season following the arrival of goalkeepers Marwin Hitz and Eric Oelschlagel, midfielders Thomas Delaney and Marius Wolf and defender Abdou Diallo.

He will join the Dortmund squad during the U.S. pre-season tour between July 18-26.]]>
7/11/2018 3:49:24 PM
<![CDATA[Southgate praises 'instrumental' Sterling ]]>
“If you look at all of our attacking patterns and the way that our front four have combined and played, he has been instrumental in that,” Southgate said.

English media criticized Sterling after he failed to score any goals at the World Cup, missing many clear chances during England's run at the tournament.

Southgate added: “He is a player that is really appreciated by the team. We are really pleased with his contribution.”

England has had an amazing run at the tournament and they reached the semi-finals for the third time in their history and the first time since 1990.

Southgate revealed that all the squad players are ready for the semi-final clash against Croatia.

“We have every player available, which is huge credit to our players for the way they have committed to the physical programmes that we have done,” Southgate said.

7/11/2018 2:26:09 PM
<![CDATA[Riyad Mahrez joins Premier League champions, Manchester City]]>
The 27-year-old is Pep Guardiola’s first major signing of the summer. Mahrez has signed a five-year contract and will wear number 26 jersey.

“I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under Pep Guardiola,” the player told City’s official website.

“Watching them from afar has been a pleasure. Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is perfect for me, and City’s performances last season were outstanding. They’re redefining English football and I want to be a part of it.”

“I believe we can be successful over the coming years and I believe my own game can develop under Pep’s management,” Mahrez concluded.

Leicester City has also confirmed that this deal is a club sale record, as they have bought Mahrez for only £450,000 from AC Le Havre in 2014.

Mahrez joined Leicester City in 2014, helping the club win the Sky Bet Championship in the same year before playing a major role in their 2015/2016 Premier League praiseworthy triumph.

7/11/2018 2:23:58 PM
<![CDATA[Euphoric France dreams of World Cup glory after 20-year wait]]>
Delirious supporters draped in the Tricolor flag spilled on to Parisian boulevards as the blare of car horns reverberated through the French capital. In a fan zone outside City Hall on the banks of the River Seine, jubilant supporters embraced and lit smoke flares.

"I'm totally blown away, this is crazy," said 41-year-old Gilles Rove in Paris' Belleville neighbourhood. "Nobody believed this could happen at the beginning of the World Cup, but this team has really shown something in recent weeks.

"This team gives me goosebumps, even more so than the team of 1998," he added, in reference to the last time France won the World Cup, on home soil against Brazil 20 years ago.

"We're going to the final, we're going to the final," scores chanted in one central Paris bar before breaking out into an impromptu rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem.

The partying was marred by clashes between riot police and mobs on the iconic Champs Elysees avenue. Live TV images showed bare-chested men hurling plastic crowd-control barriers and other missiles at the armed officers, who charged back.

In the southern city of Nice, more than two dozen fans were hurt when the detonation of firecrackers triggered a brief stampede near the seafront.

Hundreds of thousands of fans had poured on to the Champs Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe as bars, cafes and restaurants enjoyed a bumper evening of revelry after the World Cup equivalent of a local derby between the neighbouring rivals.


Some French fans were already looking forward to a possible final clash against long-time rivals England, who play Croatia in the second semi-final on Wednesday.

"Our unfortunate Belgian cousins were just not quite good enough. But it was Europe which won, and it would be amusing if we were to beat the English," said 45-year-old Francois Garnier who watched the game near the Eiffel Tower.

In St Petersburg, ecstatic French fans sang their way out of the stadium, relishing the prospect of a final against England or Croatia.

Belgium fans filed quietly out of the arena, while back home they drowned their sorrows in beer after their dreams of a first World Cup final were shattered by their bigger French neighbours.

"I feel ill," said Denis Backaert, 34, after watching France prevail 1-0 in the tightest of semi-finals between two quality teams in St Petersburg.

France won in front of President Emmanuel Macron, whose popularity has dropped in opinion polls and will be hoping for a World Cup bounce. The French leader went down to the players' dressing-room after the match.

Asked what Macron told the players, Les Bleus young forward Kylian Mbappe told TF1: "He said he would come back for the final, to see us with the cup."]]>
7/11/2018 1:30:55 PM
<![CDATA[Wolves boss Santo signs contract extension to 2021]]>
The 44-year-old joined Wolves last May and helped the club win the second-tier Championship with 99 points and secure promotion to the top flight for the coming season.

"We have a team and we are in the Premier League, and we are now in year two," the Portuguese manager told Wolves' website https://www.wolves.co.uk/news/first-team/20180711-nuno-signs-until-2021. "In year two we know the challenge is even more difficult, but we have something that we hold on to - we have our own identity.

"We need to bring in players and we will do so, but it is very difficult to find the right ones, because the quality that we have already is high."

First team coaches Rui Pedro Silva, Rui Barbosa, Antonio Dias, Joao Lapa and Julio Figueroa have also signed contract extensions while Ian Cathro joined as a coach on a three-year deal last month.

Santo has bolstered his squad with six recruits in the current transfer window, including Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio, Mexican striker Raul Jimenez and defender Willy Boly.

"The way we did it last year was absolutely amazing - I cannot thank the supporters enough. But at the same time I humbly ask, let's do it again. Together we are stronger," Santo added.

Wolves begin their pre-season fixtures against Swiss club FC Basel later on Tuesday. ]]>
7/11/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Torres signs for Japan's Sagan Tosu]]>
"We have had offers from every continent. My new team will be Sagan Tosu of Japan," the 34-year-old Torres said at an event held at the gym he owns in Madrid on Tuesday

"I have had offers from France, Germany and even one from Spain but at no point did I ever think about going to another European team. I wanted a new challenge in a completely different place."

According to reports, Torres also had offers to sign for Australian side Sydney FC and Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire.

Torres, who posed for a photo at the event holding a Sagan Tosu shirt alongside club chairman Minoru Takehara, will join the club on an 18-month contract with an option to extend the deal until 2020.

The move was also announced on Sagan Tosu's official website, with the club saying he would be given the number nine shirt, which he has worn for the majority of his career.

Torres, who spent the bulk of his career with boyhood club Atletico across two spells, has also played for Liverpool, Chelsea and AC Milan and won the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.

He said he planned to make his debut for Sagan Tosu on July 22.

Sagan Tosu have been in the top division of the J.League since 2012. They finished eighth last season but are mired in a relegation battle halfway through the current campaign.

"Asia has always treated me very well. The sensation that I can return the club to where they should be is another reason why I saw how much confidence they have in me," Torres added.

Torres becomes the second high-profile Spaniard to head to Japan in the last few weeks after former Barcelona great Andres Iniesta agreed to join Vissel Kobe in May. ]]>
7/11/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Benfica invites rescued Thai boys to train at soccer camp]]>
Club president Luis Filipe Vieira wrote to the Thai ambassador to Portugal to invite the boys to the camp in Seixal across the River Tagus from the capital, a club statement said on Tuesday.

The "Wild Boars", aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped on June 23 while exploring caves after soccer practice when a downpour flooded the tunnels. They were rescued between Sunday and Tuesday.

"We believe this simple gesture can help these faces recover the joy and smiles that no child should ever lose," Vieira said in the letter.

The academy is no stranger to celebrities. Pop star Madonna lives in the Portuguese capital Lisbon and her 12-year-old son last year started training at the academy. ]]>
7/10/2018 9:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Arsenal signs Uruguay’s Torreira ]]>
The player shined with his national team at the World Cup in Russia and he led them towards the quarter finals before losing 2-0 to France.

“In Lucas Torreira, we have found a young player who is a very bright talent. A midfielder with great quality, I have enjoyed watching his performances for Sampdoria in the past two seasons, and we all saw him do very well for Uruguay in the World Cup,” Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, told the club official website.

Torreira, 22, left home when he was 17 to play for Italy’s Pescara. He played there for three years before joining Sampdoria where he spent the last two years.

Emery added, "He is a young player already with good experience, but who wants to keep on growing. We welcome Lucas to Arsenal and look forward to him joining us soon for pre-season."

The Uruguayan will wear Arsenal shirt number 11 previously worn by Germany’s Mesut Özil, who took the vacant number 10, following the departure of Jack Wilshere to West Ham United.]]>
7/10/2018 9:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Gunnarsson signs one-year deal at Cardiff]]>
The 29-year old, who led Iceland in their debut World Cup campaign last month, was hindered by a long-term ankle injury last season as Cardiff finished second in the second-tier Championship to earn promotion to the Premier League.

"It was tough work to get back, ready to represent my country at the World Cup, and for Cardiff City," Gunnarsson told the club's website https://www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk/news/2018/july/aron-gunnarsson-signs-new-city-deal.

"Now, signing this deal has been my number one priority and I can't wait to meet back up with the boys." ]]>
7/10/2018 7:40:00 PM
<![CDATA[France, Belgium official line-ups revealed ]]>
The French players are seeking a World Cup final return after a long time of absence as they last appeared at the World Cup final in 2006 when they lost to Italy while Belgium are searching for their first appearance at the final.

France manager, Didier Deschamps’s chosen line-up for the game consists of: Hugo Lloris; Lucas Hernandez, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Pavard; N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba; Blaise Matuidi, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.

Belgium manager, Roberto Martinez’s chosen line-up for the game consists of: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli; Mousa Dembélé, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku.

French legend, Thierry Henry, will face a tough experience as he will stand against his home at the game.

The former French striker has served as Belgium assistant coach since August 2016 and worked with the Belgian team at the World Cup qualifiers.

Henry, who won his debut with France when he was 20, hopes the game ends against the French for the first time in his life.

Thierry wore the jersey of “Les Blues” at 123 international games and was one of the key players in the French Golden Generation who clinched the 1998 World Cup title at home and UEFA EURO 2000 hosted by Belgium and Netherlands.

The game starts at 8 p.m. ]]>
7/10/2018 7:10:53 PM
<![CDATA[Ronaldo signs for Juventus from Real Madrid]]>
The two European giants on Tuesday announced the much-anticipated deal for the five-times world player of the year who joined Real from Manchester United in 2008 for a then world record 80 million pounds ($106 million).

The 33-year-old Portugal forward is the Spanish club's all-time top scorer with 451 goals in all competitions and won two La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies with them.

The signing of the latest Ballon d'Or winner and top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons represents a major coup for Juve, who have had a stranglehold on the Italian title since 2012 but have not won Europe's top prize since 1996.

The signing also strikes a blow for the profile of Serie A against La Liga, which has now lost two of its three most famous players in the last year after Paris St Germain signed Neymar from Barcelona for a world record fee last August.

Real paid tribute to Ronaldo, who is the all-time top scorer in the Champions League, in a lengthy statement on their website and said the player had asked to be transferred.

"Real Madrid announces that it has agreed to transfer Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus FC due to the will and desire expressed by the player," the European champions said.

"Today Real Madrid would like to express its gratitude to a player that has proved to be the best in the world and has carved out one of the most brilliant eras in the history of our club and world football.

"Beyond all the trophies and matches he won on the pitch during these nine years, Cristiano Ronaldo has also been a role model in commitment, hard work, responsibility, talent and a desire to always exceed himself."


Despite his remarkable consistency, Ronaldo often appeared unsettled at Real and had threatened to leave on several occasions, first airing his dissatisfaction with the club's hierarchy in 2012 by saying in a post-game interview: "I'm sad and the club know why".

Reports emerged last year that Ronaldo was again upset with the club's President Florentino Perez over a pay dispute and was intent on leaving, although he stayed on to lead the club to a third successive Champions League triumph.

Ronaldo, however, soured the celebrations immediately after the 3-1 win over Liverpool in the final in Kiev by indicating he had decided to leave, saying in a post-match interview "It was beautiful to play for Real Madrid."

The Portugal international scored two goals against Juventus in Real’s 4-1 win in the 2017 Champions League final and earlier this season struck a jaw-dropping bicycle kick against the Italians in a 3-0 win in a quarter-final first-leg game in Turin which prompted Juve supporters to give him a standing ovation.

The Portuguese converted a stoppage-time penalty in the second leg to knock the Italians out 4-3 on aggregate.]]>
7/10/2018 6:53:39 PM
<![CDATA[Official: Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid]]>
“Today, we (Real Madrid) want to express our gratitude for a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has defined one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football," Real Madrid statement said.

Ronaldo, 33, has won everything with Real Madrid since he joined the club in 2009 from Manchester United.

Ronaldo won four UEFA Champions League titles, two La Liga titles, two Spanish Cup titles, three FIFA Club World Cup titles and he was crowned the best player in the World four times.

Real Madrid statement added "Beyond the titles conquered, the trophies won and the triumphs achieved on the pitch during these nine years, Cristiano Ronaldo has been an example of dedication, work, responsibility, talent and improvement."

Ronaldo is expected to complete the deal with Juventus in the next few hours with an expected fee of €105 million.]]>
7/10/2018 6:30:59 PM
<![CDATA[Croatia v England semi-final history factbox]]>
*England's first semi-final appearance at a World Cup came at their home tournament in 1966.

In front of more than 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Bobby Charlton put them ahead with a rebound shot from a clearance in the first half and added another after the break to go 2-0 up against Portugal, led by 1965 Ballon d'Or winner Eusebio.

The Portuguese cut the deficit in the 82nd minute with Eusebio's penalty but the hosts held on to set up a final against West Germany, whom they beat 4-2 after extra time to lift their only international trophy to date.

*The Three Lions reached their second World Cup semi-final in 1990 but it was a far less joyous experience.

England and West Germany were goalless at halftime at Turin's Stadio delle Alpi. German Andreas Brehme put the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finalists ahead with a deflected shot off Paul Parker.

With time running out and pressure mounting, England charged forward and their all-time top World Cup scorer Gary Lineker snatched an 80th minute equaliser to send the game into extra time.

Despite both teams hitting the woodwork and missing chances to score in extra time, including David Platt having an effort ruled offside, they were still tied 1-1 when they went to penalties.

The Germans and English scored all of their first three penalties, with Brehme, Lothar Matthaeus, Karl-Heinz Riedle and Lineker, Peter Beardsley and Platt.

But then Stuart Pearce had his penalty saved by Bodo Illgner before Olaf Thon converted Germany's fourth to give them the edge.

Chris Waddle then sent his effort high over the bar to send West Germany through to the final and leave England's Paul Gascoigne in tears.

*Croatia, who became independent after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, made their first World Cup appearance in 1998 and reached the semi-finals at their very first attempt.

Led by current Croatian Football Association President Davor Suker and a string of talented players who learned their trade in what was then Yugoslavia during their youth years, including Alen Boksic, Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinecki among others, Croatia enjoyed a fine run to the last four.

They finished second in their group behind Argentina but then edged Romania in the round of 16 with a Suker penalty before stunning Germany 3-0, with Suker again on target.

The Croats' 'golden generation' then took a 1-0 lead over hosts France at Paris' Stade de France early in the second half with Suker's fifth goal of the tournament but Lilian Thuram scored twice -- his only international goals -- to carry the home nation to a comeback victory and a spot in the final.

France beat Brazil to lift their first World Cup while Croatia had to settle for third place after goals from Suker and Prosinecki gave them a 2-1 win over Netherlands in the third place playoff match.

*Before its independence Croatia was part Yugoslavia, who had reached the World Cup semi-finals twice. Nicknamed 'the Brazilians of Europe', the Yugoslavs lost to Uruguay 6-1 in their 1930 semi-final at the inaugural World Cup.

They also reached the last four in 1962 before losing to Czechoslovakia.

Croatia-born Drazen Jerkovic was joint top scorer of the 1962 tournament and was briefly caretaker coach of a still-unrecognised by both FIFA and UEFA Croatian national team in 1990.]]>
7/10/2018 2:27:30 PM
<![CDATA[Vida denies mixing politics with football ]]>
“There’s no politics in football. It’s a joke for my friends from Dynamo Kiev. I love Russians and I love Ukrainians,” Vida said on Monday.

Vida and Croatia assistant coach, Ognjen Vukojevic, posted a video on social media to celebrate reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1998. Vida shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” while Vukojevic said: “This victory is for Dynamo [Kiev] and Ukraine.”

Vida and Vukojevic played for Ukraine’s Dynamo Kiev and their shouts were considered a clear reference to Ukraine’s severe tension with Russia that centers on Crimea.

The Croatian Federation announced on Monday that Vukojevic was released from his duties as Croatia assistant coach after the incident while the defender avoided punishment.

Vida scored Croatia's second goal at the game which ended with a 2-2 draw and went to penalty shoot-out. Vida also scored one of Croatia’s goals at the shoot-out and helped his country reach the semi-finals.

Croatia will face England on Wednesday at the World Cup semi-finals at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
7/10/2018 2:09:22 PM
<![CDATA[Real Madrid is everyone's dream, Hazard ]]>
“Zidane is someone special; it's true, but I think Real Madrid is everyone's dream. Zidane or no Zidane, the white jersey (of Real Madrid) is unique,” Hazard said on Tuesday.

Zidane left Real Madrid after leading the club to achieve three consecutive Champions League titles for the first time in the history of the competition.

Hazard has been linked with a move to Real Madrid since the end of the season and he is expected to replace Cristiano Ronaldo who could leave to Juventus.

Asked about his feelings if he could not move to Madrid, he said “The blue sweater (of Chelsea) suits me well, so it does not bother me if I stay.”

Hazard shined with Belgium at the 2018 World Cup in Russia leading them to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since the 1986 World Cup.

Hazard added; “For now, it's the World Cup. As I have said at least 100 times, I am at Chelsea, and for the moment nobody has made me an offer."

Belgium will face France on Tuesday at 8 p.m.]]>
7/10/2018 11:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[OFFICIAL: Al-Ahly blocks Azaro’s move to Chinese Hebei Fortune]]>
The technical staff, led by Frenchman Cartiron, held a meeting during the club’s pre-season camp in Croatia. The decision was that a deal was reached between both clubs about the player.

Later on, Mohamed Fadl, head of contract and agreements at the club, confirmed that the move was cancelled for good. This decision was due to the unprofessionalism revealed during the negotiations with the Chinese side. Al-Ahly refused to take part in such matters.

“The football committee agreed on the departure of the player. On that basis, I have conducted negotiations with the Chinese side in regards to the final transfer sum and the remainder of the contract terms,” he explained to Al-Ahly’s official website.

“It was agreed that Al-Ahly will receive € 8.6 million in cash and 15 percent if he’s transferred to any other club,” Fadl added.

After the deal was reached, an English lawyer and a representative of the Chinese club arrived to the Red Devils’ headquarters to finalize the move and from there, the deal fell apart.

“The lawyer and the representative arrived in Cairo, and we held a meeting that lasted more than 13 hours. They were keen to change several terms in the deal, which was previously agreed upon. We felt that the deal was entering a shady zone and we, Al-Ahly, wouldn’t want to take part in that.”

The changes in the contract, according to Fadl, were suspicious. The Chinese representatives wanted to split the contract into two. The first one is worth €5 million and is paid by the club and the second contract is worth €3.6 million and is paid by fictitious sponsorships rights to the Chinese club.

The Chinese club insisted on this step in order to avoid paying taxes to the Chinese government. The football rules in China state that if a player’s price exceeds € 5 million, the club pays 100 percent taxes. Al-Ahly had to refuse, since dealing with sponsors in signing breaches the FIFA regulations.

The second adjustment that was requested by the lawyer is paying the sum in installments, even though the agreement was to pay in cash. Al-Ahly agreed to that term, respecting Azaro’s wish to finalize the move.

Al-Ahly insisted that, in case of selling or loaning the player within the Arab Republic of Egypt during the contract period, Al-Ahly should receive another €5 million. Al-Ahly should as well receive the same amount in case the Chinese side breaches its contract with Azaro.

Hebei’s English lawyer insisted on changing that part of the deal, which raised eyebrows amongst Al-Ahly’s board and led them to cancel the deal.

Fadl concluded; “with regards to the unprofessional handling of the negotiations, the retreat of many previously agreed terms and the lack of clarity from the Chinese side; we decided to cancel the move.”

“We informed the technical staff that Azaro is with the team for the next period and that he will feature in the upcoming season’s squad.”]]>
7/10/2018 4:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[France ready for Belgium's tactical surprises, says coach]]>
Belgium are the tournament's top scorers, and Martinez sprang a surprise by changing his system in the quarter-final against Brazil, moving target man Romelu Lukaku out wide so Kevin de Bruyne could operate as a "false nine".

The tweaks worked a treat as Belgium neutralised Brazil's midfield while allowing Lukaku and Eden Hazard to get beyond their full backs.

De Bruyne profited from spaces opening up in the middle as Brazil's centre backs were forced to deal with the threat out wide, and he scored his first goal of the tournament in the 2-1 victory.

With Thomas Meunier suspended for the semi-final, Martinez is sure to make at least one change.

"Belgium didn't arrive here by chance. They played a great game against Brazil with a specific game plan," the 49-year-old Deschamps told a news conference on Monday. "Will they do something similar for us? Probably.

"Their team is geared forward. They keep that particular quality, but against Brazil, Martinez intensified the midfield... and the Brazilians couldn't use those corridors.

"They attack very fast. So I've made sure that my players are prepared for any scenarios from the beginning of the match and during the match as well if it changes."

Deschamps added that Martinez had benefited from the strong foundation he inherited from Marc Wilmots, who was sacked after Belgium lost to Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.

"I don't want to offend Martinez but he, of course, benefited from Wilmots' work, despite the fact that Wales eliminate the team," Deschamps said.

"He changed things a bit, put his own stamp on the team, but he had great potential with this group of players. I don't know if he's going to do it, but I congratulate him on being in a semi-final even though he's going to face us."

Forward Kylian Mbappe, one of France's best players in Russia, was not at the first 15 minutes of training open to the media, but Deschamps said he had a full squad to choose from.

"Nobody is out, even though we rested four players today. That was a precautionary measure," the coach added.

The teams have met 73 times before with Belgium winning on 30 occasions, France 24, and 19 matches drawn.

They last met in a friendly in 2015 and a number of Belgian and French players are team mates at club level.

Hazard and keeper Thibaut Courtois line up opposite Chelsea team mates Ngolo Kante and Olivier Giroud while Paul Pogba faces Manchester United colleagues Marouane Fellaini and Lukaku.

"We know them and they know us," Deschamps said. "It's peculiar because there are many players on my team who will be facing their own club team mates. It's an advantage on both sides, but we will seize every opportunity to reach the final."]]>
7/10/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Kramaric wants to talk about Croatia's World Cup for years]]>
Kramaric said the pressure on his team had been lifted after they passed the round of 16, and they were now simply enjoying their World Cup adventure which has taken them to the semi-finals for the first time since 1998.

"The biggest pressure for us was in the game against Denmark in the round of 16....now we are enjoying what is happening," he said.

"When the game starts, there will be a bit of pressure but we are enjoying the fact that we are here in the World Cup semi-finals.

"It would be a fantastic achievement for Croatia to play the World Cup final, it's our dream and we will do the best to fulfil it," he added.

Kramaric, who plays for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, spent one year in England at Leicester City in their title-winning season but could not break into the team.

"My stay in England is a great story for me, my first time outside of Croatia, everything was really new. I didn't play that much, it was difficult to get into the team because the team was doing really well," he said.

"I could talk about that for days, however I would hope to talk about this World Cup for years."

He also praised an England side he said was devoid of top names.

"England was one of the favourites for me because they have a young and hungry team with no big international movie stars," Kramaric said.

"England play a different style than they did previously, they seem to be very attack-minded and it's attractive football."

Both Kramaric and team mate Mario Mandzukic were barred from answering questions about the sacking of coaching staff member Ognjen Vukojevic over a "glory to Ukraine" video posted after Croatia beat Russia in the quarter-finals.

Vukojevic and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida published the video on social media after the match on Saturday in a move which was criticised by Russian politicians and led to a warning from FIFA's disciplinary committee.

Relations between Ukraine and World Cup hosts Russia remain fraught after the latter's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its backing for a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country.]]>
7/10/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Wilshere joins West Ham]]>
The player put an end to his career at the club of his life, Arsenal, after 17 years at the Gunners.

“It feels good and of course my family and a few of my friends are West Ham fans so everyone's buzzing." Wilshere said after signing his contract.

Wilshere, who joined Arsenal, when he was nine, was a diehard fan for West Ham.

“People will have seen the picture of me in a West Ham shirt and I've got good memories of my childhood supporting West Ham, watching them at Upton Park.” Wilshere said.

Asked about reasons behind choosing West Ham to be his destination, he said “I think it was a number of things that helped me make up my mind, the manager being one and the way he wants to play and where he sees me playing,"

Wilshere, who represented England at 34 games, signed a three year deal with the Hammers.

Wilshere added “I want to be playing here in front of the Hammers, and the bond I've had with the Club over my childhood will make it even more special."
7/9/2018 11:29:32 PM
<![CDATA[Henry with mixed feelings at World Cup semi-finals]]>
The former French striker has served as Belgium assistant coach since August 2016 and worked with the Belgian team at the World Cup qualifiers.


Henry, who won his debut with France when he was 20, hopes the game ends against the French for the first time in his life.


Thierry wore the jersey of “Les Blues” at 123 international games and was one of the key players in the French Golden Generation who clinched the 1998 World Cup title at home and UEFA EURO 2000 hosted by Belgium and Netherlands.


The French camp holds no hard feelings for Henry’s role with Belgium; even the starting striker for France, Olivier Giroud, joked about the situation, saying “I would be proud to show Titi (Henry) that he chose the wrong camp.”

Henry has had a great impact on the Belgian squad and they have a lot of respect for him after what he achieved in his football career.

“He is an idol for everyone within the group,” Belgian midfielder, Youri Tielemans, said.

Henry will stand against his former captain in 1998, Didier Deschamps, who is the current coach of France.


France will face Belgium on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg. ]]>
7/9/2018 10:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Scholes unveils Guardiola's impact on English football ]]>
“Guardiola has definitely been an influence for the national team, you just have to see the way the three centre-backs play and the way our goalkeeper plays.” Scholes said.

England reached the World Cup semi-finals for the third time in their history and the first time since 1990 and they are living the dream of achieving the title for the first time since 1966.

Scholes added “Gareth Southgate (England manager) went to see Pep and wanted to know how that kind of football is produced,"

Four of Guardiola’s City squad have been called for England at the World and they are playing a great role at England run at the competition.

Scholes continued “As an England fan and a former England player, we want to see the best football possible.”

Guardiola has been known for coaching teams at the Leagues of the nations that win the next World Cup. He started managing Barcelona in 2009 and the next year Spain won the World Cup and the same happened when he managed Bayern Munich in 2013 and the Germans won the World Cup in 2014.
7/9/2018 9:16:31 PM
<![CDATA[Spanish Super Cup held over one game - federation]]>
According to reports in the Spanish media, the federation plans to have the game played outside Spain, in the Moroccan city of Tangier.

The federation did not say where the game would take place and did not respond to requests for comment.

Sevilla's participation in the Europa League qualifying rounds is reported to be behind the move to a one-game competition due to a lack of available dates before the Liga season kicks off on Aug. 18.

The move is likely to anger Sevilla, who released a statement on their official Twitter account on Sunday declaring their opposition to playing the competition in one game.

Playing the contest at a neutral venue deprives each team of ticket revenue for the game that would otherwise be held at their home stadium.

"Sevilla have not changed their position, the Super Cup is scheduled for two games as it is stated in the calendar and that's how Sevilla want it to be played. The club has not accepted any other proposal," said the statement.

Barcelona were not immediately available for comment. ]]>
7/9/2018 8:50:00 PM
<![CDATA['Winners' Fellaini, Chadli keep African interest alive]]>
The midfield duo, who both have dual Moroccan-Belgian nationality, kept Belgium alive with their goals off the bench in the extraordinary round of 16 comeback against Japan and were handed starts in the 2-1 win over Brazil.

In the Kazan quarter-final, Fellaini rewarded coach Roberto Martinez with 90 minutes of hassling, harrying and sometimes hacking that played havoc with the flow of Brazil's vaunted midfield.

Born in Etterbeek to Moroccan parents, Fellaini is an established member of Belgium's "golden generation" despite criticism of his performances at Manchester United.

While his call-up to the World Cup squad was to be expected, Chadli would have been a shock inclusion in the squad even if he had not missed most of the season for West Bromwich Albion because of injury.

The versatile 28-year-old, who played a friendly for Morocco in 2010 before committing to Belgium, ran himself into the ground at left wing back against Brazil before making way for the better-known Thomas Vermaelen seven minutes from time.

That Belgium held off a late Brazilian charge to set up Tuesday's last four meeting with France in St Petersburg was another vindication of Martinez's faith in the duo.

"We are extremely proud of Nacer and Marouane," the Spaniard said before the Kazan Arena clash.

"Their performances have been incredible. Not just on the football level, where they've been very interesting technically and tactically.

"They are two players who are winners, they are fighters, they are survivors. I think for me they are an example for any young player who wants to play the game. And any young player who wants to face adversity in life."

Fellaini and Chadli are not the only players in the squad with African heritage, of course, with Romelu Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Dedryck Boyata and Michy Batshuayi all having at least one Congolese parent, while Mousa Dembele's father is from Mali.

Adnan Januzaj, meanwhile, is the son of Kosovar-Albanian migrants and Axel Witsel's father has roots in the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

"We are very, very proud of the diversity we have in the squad," Martinez added. "I feel that's probably the biggest strength that we have as a football team." ]]>
7/9/2018 7:56:45 PM
<![CDATA[OFFICIAL: Pyramids FC complete the signing of Ali Gabr from Zamalek SC]]>
Gabr, 29, moved to West Bromwich Albion on loan in 2018 but didn’t have enough game time and the team failed to remain in the English Premier League.

Zamalek’s chairman, Mortada Mansour, confirmed the move two weeks ago before it was made official; “West Bromwich decided not to buy the player after the end of the loan period, so we are selling him for about $2.5 million.”

“Gabr is currently sitting with the club’s officials (Pyramids) and they’re finalizing all the details,” Mansour told the Egyptian television.

Pyramids FC made numerous signings going into the new season, as they earlier confirmed the signing of Zamalek midfielder Ahmed Tawfik, Brazilian duo Marcos da Silva Franca and Lucas Ribamar, alongside Arab Contractors’ Mohamed Farouk.

7/9/2018 3:54:37 PM
<![CDATA[Enrique is Spain’s new head coach]]>
The Spanish team faced a problem just before the beginning of the World Cup, as the Football Association decided to sack the team’s former coach, Julen Lopetegui, after Real Madrid announced that Lopetegui will take charge of the team after the World Cup. The move led the association to sack him and give Fernando Hierro the responsibility to lead the team during the tournament.

Hierro managed to help Spain qualify to the round of 16, but unfortunately, the team lost to the hosts, Russia, through penalty shootouts.

On Monday, the official Twitter account of the Spanish national team announced that Enrique will be the new head coach of the team; Enrique won the world’s best club coach in 2014/2015 with Barcelona, after he led them to win 10 titles in three years, including the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup.

7/9/2018 3:27:44 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt loses to China 68-63 in FIBA U-17 World Cup]]>
The Pharaohs kicked off their World Cup campaign by beating New Zealand with a scoreline of 64-50, before losing the remainder of the group stage games to Canada and Montenegro 53-93 and 67-77, respectively.

The Egyptians managed to finish third in group C, only one point ahead of the bottom-placed New Zealand. They went later on to face Croatia in the round of 16, losing that game 68-55. The loss from Croatia prevented the Egyptians from reaching the quarter finals for the first time in their history.

Egypt went on to lose to Dominican Republic 65-67 in the 9-16th place quarterfinals and to the Philippines in the 13-16th place semifinals with a scoreline of 70-69.

Their final game was against China; the national team lost the game 68-63 to finish 16th in the competition.

The FIBA U-17 World Cup, held in Argentina, is the fifth edition of the competition. The Egyptian side featured in all of the previous editions. The Egyptian team is ranked 18th, according to the FIBA world rankings.
7/9/2018 1:47:09 PM
<![CDATA[Cult of Gareth Southgate grows, England World Cup fever mounts]]>
Clean-cut, waistcoated manager Southgate was not even supposed to be in Russia. Now he's about to lead England against Croatia with a place in Sunday's final beckoning.

When the 47-year-old was appointed in November 2016 after Sam Allardyce left his post following a newspaper sting after just 67 days in charge, there was little fanfare.

That's all changed now. "Southgreat" trumpeted the Sun on Sunday. "Cry God for Harry, England and St George!" said the Sunday Telegraph.

England, basking in a long summer heatwave, is starting to believe the team can reach their first final since 1966 after the young side saw off Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Almost 20 million people in Britain tuned in, not accounting for the many more who watched in pubs and public viewing areas.

Streets were deserted as people crammed into sweaty pubs, gathered around big screens or stayed home to watch the national side reach the last four of a World Cup for the first time in 28 years.

Marks and Spencer, official tailors to the England team, declared Saturday #NationalWaistcoatDay in honour of Southgate and the team.

England coach Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane celebrate their World Cup quarter-final victory against Sweden - AFP / Alexander NEMENOV

The manager has even been promised a lifetime supply of waistcoats from a firm in London.

"I'm so impressed with Southgate’s performance, and with his choice of attire," the founder Sir Plus, Henry Hales, told the London Evening Standard.

Exeter Cathedral, in southwest England, tweeted a video of an organist playing the unofficial team anthem "Three Lions (Football's Coming Home)" in an tweet entitled "To Russia With Love".

The song itself, released by the Lightning Seeds and comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel for Euro '96, hosted in England, is storming up the charts again.

Fans have also adapted another song, "Whole Again" by Atomic Kitten.

"Looking back on when we first met, I cannot escape it, I cannot forget," the fans chant.

"Southgate you're the one. You still turn me on and football's coming home again."

- Social media star -

Southgate was an accomplished defender for England and a clutch of Premier League clubs, but his managerial experience is limited to a spell at Middlesbrough and with the England Under-21s

He famously appeared in a pizza advertisement that played on his penalty miss in the Euro 96 semi-final shootout against eventual champions Germany.

But he has gone from fall guy to hero, taking social media by storm, with the hashtag #GarethSouthgateWould used thousands of times by people imagining how he would help them out.

"#GarethSouthgateWould siphon the petrol out of his own car and put it into yours, if he saw you parked up on the hard shoulder on a motorway out of fuel. He'd wave you off, then he'd wait for the AA (Automobile Association) to come get him, because that was his last few drops," tweeted @DrawtyDevil.

AmnestyUK tweeted: "#GarethSouthgateWould ensure we retain all our hard-won #humanrights after #Brexit."

Former British Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson tweeted: "#GarethSouthgateWould come all the way to London to make sure there was a ramp to get me off the train when he was only popping to Boro to get some milk."

Twitter user Claire Eubank tweeted a radically altered version of The Lord's Prayer.

"Our Gareth, who art in Samara, Hallowed be thy waistcoat.... For Thine is the semis, The Final and the Glory, For ever and ever. #It's Coming Home."

Southgate's rising profile has been a bonanza for lookalike airline pilot Neil Rowe, who even managed to temporarily fool BBC TV presenter and former England international Gary Lineker when he spied him in the crowd during the match against Sweden.

"I signed kids' napkins in McDonald's in 96 after he missed the penalty, have been shouted at by Colombian fans and got free beers in the Irish bar," Rowe told the BBC.

Perhaps, though, the Daily Mirror summed it up best as to why Southgate has wowed the English public.

"He is a gentleman."]]>
7/9/2018 10:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[World Cup ref gets life ban for bribery]]>
Marwa Range was filmed received a $600 bribe during the African Nations Championship in Morocco in January and is one of 22 referees sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football in an unprecedented clean up, announced at the weekend.

Rage, who was a reserve at the 2014 finals in Brazil, had earlier been removed from the list of match officials due to officiate in Russia.

The life ban was handed out by CAF's disciplinary board who also banned 10 other referees for between two to 10 years for similar offences.

A further 11 have been suspended pending an appearance in front of the board next month.

African football has long been plagued by allegations of bribery but never before has CAF banned such a large number of officials. ]]>
7/9/2018 8:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sameh El-Dahan triumphs in Paris ]]>
On the straddle of Suma’s Zorro, the Egyptian has beaten Bertram Allen with Molly Malone V and then the world number one Harrie Smolders with Don VHP.
“I’ve been living in Northern Ireland for seven years now and this is my third five-star Grand Prix (highest level) victory, after Calgary (Canada) last year and La Coruna (Spain) this winter.”

“I have been riding Suma’s Zorro since it was seven, now at fourteen, we have won everything together,” Dahan told AFP.

“In general, I was used to good rankings around 10th place, so I did not expect to win in front of top riders.”

Now, Dahan has his eyes on the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon next September, where he hopes to be part of the Egyptian team alongside Abdel Said, Karim El-Zoghby and Nayel Nassar.

“On paper, we have a very good team with good riders and good horses. Our goal is to qualify for the Tokyo Games. I hope we can give a nice performance,” Dahan concluded.
7/9/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt eliminated from the Women’s Junior World Handball Championship]]>
The Egyptians lost their opener against Spain 39-20 and lost their second game to France with a heavy score of 37-18.

The game against Croatia was no different, as the Egyptians sustained a 30-19 loss.
Egypt’s elimination from the championship was officially decided by the heavy loss against Germany with a score-line of 51-10. Germany didn’t face any difficulties against Egypt, and the result left Egypt bottom of the table with zero points.

Their final game in the group stage was against Sweden, which they lost as well with a score of 33-12.

Although the Egyptians were eliminated from the group stages, they will still face Paraguay for the 21st place. If they lose to the Paraguayans, they will play for the 23rd place. In case of a win, they will face China to decide who places 21st.

The tournament takes place in Debrecen, Hungary from July 1to 14, and this participation is Egypt’s second participation after finishing 20th in 2016.

The playoff against Paraguay will be held on Tuesday July 10 at 10:30 a.m. and should they make it to face China, the game will take place the next day at 12:45 p.m.
7/9/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Kahraba returns to Zamalek after 2 years in KSA]]>Mortada said in a statement to Zamalek’s official website: "Kahraba’s release contract is already here; we have already received it from Ittihad Jeddah after the end of Kahraba's loan."

Kahraba was in a good form with Ittihad Jeddah last season as he featured in 24 games and scored five goals in all the competitions. Kahraba spent two seasons in Saudi Arabia which guaranteed him a place in the Egyptian national team’s squad in the World Cup.
"We have no intention to sell or loan Kahraba again and the player will be with us next season," Mortada concluded.

Kahraba joined Zamalek coming from Enppi in the 2015\2016 season; he played for the White Club for only one season.

After beginning his career as a youth player with Al-Ahly, he made his professional debut in the Egyptian Premier League with Enppi in 2011. He joined Swiss Super League side FC Luzern in a one year loan deal in 2013 but left the club in March 2014 after his contract was terminated with Luzern due to inappropriate behavior. He returned to Switzerland the following season for a six-month loan deal with Grasshopper.

7/8/2018 9:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Zamalek’s Gross starts the camp with 28 players]]>
Gross chose 28 players to travel in the camp organized by Zamalek’s board. Zamalek is set to play three friendly matches against Nuremberg on Tuesday, and Emiriati club, Al Wasl, on Friday, while the third match has not been decided yet.

The Egyptian international players AlyGabr, TarekHamed, Kahraba and Shikabala are excluded from the list as they are taking rest after their participation in the 2018 World Cup.

The list includes:

Goalkeepers: Mahmoud Gensh, Emadel Sayed, and Omar Salah.

Defenders: Mahmoud Hamdi "Al Wensh", Mahmoud Alaa, Mohamed Abdel Ghani, Hazem Imam, Camacho,Ahmed Fattouh, and Hamdi Nagguez.

Midfielders: EmadFathi, Mahmoud Abdel Aati "Dunga", Mohamed Ashraf "Roqa", AymanHefny, Abdullah Gomaa, Mohamed Antar, Ahmed Madbouli, Ibrahim Hassan, MostafaFathi, Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Ahmed Refaat, and Mohamed Ibrahim.

Attack: Yusuf Ibrahim "Obama", Omar al-Saeed, Mustafa Mohamed, Hamid Ahdad, and Saif Farouk Gafar.

BahaaMagdi, the left-back who recently joined Zamalek fromIsmaily, is expected to join the delegation in the coming hours.

7/8/2018 5:42:26 PM
<![CDATA[Al-Ahly to face Krasnodar in their 2nd pre-season friendly on July 9]]>
The Red Devils undertook their first friendly, prior to the 2018-2019 season, against NK Olimpja Ljubljana – the Slovenian league and cup champions. The game ended in a positive draw with one goal for each team.

The Slovenian team was awarded a penalty in the 50th minute, which they used to take the lead. In the second half, WalidSoliman managed to score the equalizer.

The second game will take place on MondayJuly 9, against FACE Krasnodar, who finished fourth in the Russian Premier league.

Al-Ahly are currently preparing for the upcoming Egyptian Premier League, which will kick-off on August 1, with their first game being against Ismaily.

On the other hand, preparations are also underway for the upcoming Champions League clash against Towniship Rollers FC, on July 17. The game is set to take place in Egypt at 9 p.m.

Al-Ahly has had a rough start to their CAF Champions League campaign, as they now sit at the bottom of the table with one point.
7/8/2018 5:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Cairo International Stadium to reopen in October]]>
Darwish said in remarks to a radio program that the entire floor of the stadium is currently being changed, and the infrastructure of the drainage and water systems is being maintained.

“We have an agreement with an international company,which has already restored 400 stadiums around the world,to carry out the maintenance works. The ground floor of the Cairo Stadium will be like the ground floor of Kazan Arena in Russia, which hosted Brazil and Belgium game in the quarter-finals of the World Cup,” the director of the stadium added.

Major General Darwishmentioned that development plans of the stadium will also include the seats and the changing rooms of the stadium; Darwishstated that the stadium opens its doors to all the clubs,hoping that the stadium hosts the Arab Club Championship matches.
7/8/2018 3:32:28 PM
<![CDATA[Hierro cuts ties with Spanish federation after World Cup exit]]>
"After many kilometres travelled together, the Spanish Football Federation and Fernando Hierro have called an end to their relationship now that Spain have finished their participation in the World Cup," said a statement on the Spain team's website (www.sefutbol.com).

"The last Spain coach has declined to return to his old job as sporting director of the Federation in order to look for new horizons and new professional challenges."

Hierro was named sporting director for the second time in 2017 but was unexpectedly catapulted into the role of national team coach the day before the World Cup began when Julen Lopetegui was sacked after agreeing to join Real Madrid.

Under the former Real Madrid defender, who previously had just one season's experience as a coach with Real Oviedo, Spain won one of their four games in Russia, a 1-0 victory over Iran in Group B, and drew 3-3 with Portugal and 2-2 with Morocco.

They finished top of Group B but suffered a shock elimination by hosts Russia in the last 16 last Sunday in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

"The Federation would like to thank Fernando Hierro for his commitment and sense of responsibility for taking charge of the national team in extraordinary circumstances and his other roles for the organisation, which will always be his home," added the statement.]]>
7/8/2018 2:12:03 PM
<![CDATA[Brazil's World Cup defeat hits home in Lebanon]]>
"We are all Brazilian, we all love Brazil to death whatever happens," said Ali, dressed in a skin-tight shirt, after seeing his heroes lose 2-1 to Belgium on Friday and crash out of the tournament in Russia.

The 24-year-old watched the match in the Shiite outskirts of Beirut, where Brazilian flags hang from buildings and shop windows are filled with life-size posters of players.

"A supporter who loves his team, it's in victory but also in defeat," said Ali, who works in deliveries for a multinational firm.

Millions of Lebanese have emigrated to Brazil since the end of the 19th century -- including the family of Brazilian President Michel Temer -- ensuring enduring support when it comes to football.

Haydar Baddar, 38, installed a projector on his doorstep, which attracted dozens of fans for the tie with Belgium.

Brazil are popular in Lebanese capital Beirut

Many in the male-majority crowd donned Brazil's yellow jersey for the occasion, while families watched from their balconies as the sound of drums and vuvuzelas filled the narrow street.

"Here in our part of town we see Brazil, the neighbourhoods and the streets of Brazil, and it's like our home," said Baddar, a shop owner with a neatly trimmed black beard.

In Beirut's southern neighbourhoods, "children play ball on the street. There's no football ground -- when the evening comes, you see them playing everywhere," he added.

Brazil's defeat by Belgium brings tears to the crowd, met with mocking wails from some women at the end of the street. Baddar opts for firing his pistol into the air.

With residents enduring economic woes, inadequate public services and widespread social inequality, football is a welcome distraction from daily hardships.

"We're in a country where the situation is bad. This neighbourhood is very poor," said unemployed Hussein Mohamed.

Lebanese children play football in a street filled with Brazilian flags in the Ersal district, southern Beirut, on July 6, 2018

"Football makes you forget. When you're suffocating, you go to the stadium and you forget," said the 25-year-old, who explained he dropped out of school because of his obsession with football.

Mohamed rallied the neighbourhood's youth into hanging Brazilian flags along the multitude of electricity cables that fill the street.

The result is an explosion of colour, with the distinctive blue, yellow and green banner eclipsing the drab concrete buildings.

"There are more than a thousand... It's Sao Paulo," boasted Mohamed.

7/8/2018 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Four-time NBA champion Parker leaving Spurs for Hornets: reports]]>
The Charlotte Observer, San Antonio Express-News and ESPN reported the deal, each citing unnamed NBA sources, to signal the 36-year-old playmaker's iconic era with the Spurs had ended.

Since being selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Spurs, Parker had been a standout and leader for San Antonio, helping spark the Spurs to NBA crowns in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. The six-time NBA All-Star was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2007.

Parker called Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to inform him of his decision to leave, ESPN reported, saying the Spurs wanted him back but that he would have a greater role with Charlotte behind Kemba Walker.

Joining Charlotte will unite Parker with a friend and countryman in swingman Nicolas Batum, and new Hornets coach James Borrego is a former Spurs assistant.

"Number 9, I see you soon in Buzz City my big bro..." Batum tweeted with two French flags.

Parker, who helped France win the 2013 EuroBasket title, played a career-low 19.5 minutes a game last season for the Spurs with a career-low 21 starts and career-low 55 appearances as the Spurs began developing young point guard Dejounte Murray.

The Hornets were seeking an experienced ball-handling guard and made salary room by trading Dwight Howard to Brooklyn.

In 1,198 regular-season games over 17 seasons with the Spurs, Parker averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds a game.]]>
7/8/2018 7:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Hamilton back on top in final practice as Hartley survives big crash]]>
The defending champion, who is one point behind fellow four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the scrap for this year's drivers' title, recorded a best lap in one minute and 26.722 seconds, nearly four seconds faster than his pole lap in qualifying last year.

It was enough to lift him nearly a second clear of Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen with Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes taking third and Vettel, who was quickest in Friday’s second session, fourth after doing only eight laps due to a sore neck.

On a sweltering day in central England, the session was interrupted by a 12-minute red-flagged pause after Brendon Hartley walked away unhurt from a high-speed crash when the suspension on his Toro Rosso car failed.

The left front wheel of the New Zealander’s car collapsed and he lost control and smashed into the barriers at the end of the Wellington Straight.

After a visit to the circuit medical centre, he was declared fit and well and was seen walking back in the paddock at the end of the session. The crowd gave him an ovation when he climbed from his wrecked car.

Max Verstappen, who crashed on Friday, was fifth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Kevin Magnussen and his Ferrari-powered Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson in the second Ferrari-powered Sauber.

"It's going to be very, very close this weekend," said Hamilton, sporting a gold-coloured helmet this weekend.

"The Ferraris are really fast. We're in for a serious fight, which is great for the fans. I hope we pull through."

Hamilton is bidding for a record sixth British win and his fifth in succession at Silverstone.

"The track is the fastest it has ever been," he added. "We're flat out through Copse and Turn One and through Turn Two with the DRS - it's insane how fast it is.

"The faster this track gets, the better it gets. It has to be the best track in the world -- it feels like driving a fighter jet around the track."

Hartley’s Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly said: "I’m glad he is ok – now we need to find out what happened because, at the moment, the team doesn’t really understand it."

7/8/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Are France - and Deschamps - about to repeat history?]]>
Ninety largely forgettable minutes followed, unless you count the VAR incidents, and France scraped home 2-1 against a rank outsider.

France's goals came via the penalty spot and an Aziz Behich own goal.

Insipid and uninspiring, those analysts who had pointed to France as potential world champions before a ball had been kicked were probably keeping quiet that day.

An uninspiring 1-0 win against Peru followed and then came the convenient 0-0 draw with Denmark.

France had been "boring" in qualifying for the knockout stage, critics said.

They were quickly moving from a team tipped as genuine title winners to also-rans.

How that has changed in less than a week.

Following a thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina in probably the match of the tournament, which introduced the rest of the world to wunderkind Kylian Mbappe, through to their comprehensive dismantling of street-tough Uruguay on Friday, France are now into a semi-final against Belgium.

The big question is, can France go all the way?

Kylian Mbappe was a constant menace to the Uruguay defence

It was a question Didier Deschamps was asked after the Uruguay win.

"All I can say at the moment is that we have the potential to be in the semi-finals," said Deschamps, coyly.

"Let's see what happens," he continued. "We grew against Argentina. It could have been a one-off against Argentina but today we showed we have grown.

"We played well but it was not the perfect match. There are so many things that we can improve on."

- Lessons from history -

No doubt that is true but it is also clear that France are doing what other successful teams at the World Cup have done, namely get stronger with each game and against progressively better opponents.

Asked to make the step up in class that each round of the World Cup requires, France have not been found wanting.

They have "momentum", a curious intangible concept, which nevertheless has been ascribed to several teams whose faltering start has given way to a rousing finish.

There are plenty of examples in World Cup history from which France and their supporters can draw parallels from.

Probably the best is Italy in 1982, who drew 0-0 with Poland, 1-1 with Peru and 1-1 with debutants Cameroon to scrape through to the next round without a victory and on goal difference from the Africans.

The apoplectic Italian press was so critical of Italy's performances that coach Enzo Bearzot refused to talk to the media.

Then drawn into a group containing Argentina and champions-elect Brazil, Italy exploded into life, winning both games, including the legendary 3-2 win over the Brazilians, thanks to a Paolo Rossi hat trick.

They beat Poland again, then West Germany to lift the World Cup.

But France -- and Deschamps -- are probably more likely to point to their 1998 World Cup win as the more relevant historical parallel.

Inspired by Zinedine Zidane, France glided through the group stage at the World Cup they were hosting, but they were resolute rather than impressive.

A last-16 extra-time win over Paraguay did nothing to convince the doubters, nor a quarter-final win on penalties over Italy.

In the semi-final, France conceded first against Croatia, then Lilian Thuram memorably scored the only two goals of his international career to send an unconvincing France into the final.

In their next 90 minutes, Deschamps skippered the team to its most golden victory and eternal fame.
7/8/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA['I cried': Serena reveals she missed her baby's first steps]]>
Williams has travelled to the All England Club with Olympia, but her parental duties have to be put on hold while she prepares for her matches.

That means sometimes being away while Olympia is taking major steps in her growth -- including walking for the first time.

Williams, who gave birth in September, advanced to the Wimbledon fourth round with a win over Kristina Mladenovic on Friday.

And just hours later, the 36-year-old said she had been in training when Olympia took her first steps.

"She took her first steps... I was training and missed it. I cried," Williams wrote on Twitter.

The American star last week posted on the Olympia's Instagram account showing her on one of Wimbledon's grass courts.

Williams was asked at Wimbledon why she has given her daughter such a public profile, given some fellow players keep their families out of the spotlight.

"I mean, it's 2018. I'm so modern," Williams said.

"For me, it was so natural. She's so fun. I just want to share those moments with everyone.

"We don't share a lot on her page, but we do share enough. It's just so cool."

Williams, chasing a 24th Grand Slam title, faces Russian qualifier Evgeniya Rodina in the last 16 on Monday.]]>
7/8/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Belgium's 'golden generation' finally make their mark at World Cup]]>
A 'golden generation' featuring Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku exited tamely to Argentina four years ago and blew a huge chance at Euro 2016 when on the kind side of the draw.

Now in their prime, this group of players is unlikely to get a better opportunity to win a major international tournament than over the course of the next week, with France to come in the last four on Tuesday.

Here, AFP Sports looks at Belgium's rich resources in every area of the field.

Courtois stands tall

Thibaut Courtois made nine saves in Friday's 2-1 win over Brazil

The giant Chelsea stopper needed every inch of his 6 feet 6 inch (1.99 metre) frame to prevent Neymar hauling Brazil into extra-time with a stunning stoppage time save on Friday.

"I know Neymar likes to curl it that way. I was ready and made a good save," said Courtois.

"I have been unfairly criticised a lot this year. Today I proved again who I am and why I am here."

Widely regarded as one of the world's best goalkeepers, Courtois has won two Premier League titles with Chelsea and La Liga while on loan at Atletico Madrid, but his nine-save display against Brazil was one of his best yet on the big international stage.

Last chance for ageing defence

Trailblazers for a wave of Belgian talent to make their way to the Premier League, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen have battled back from years of injury problems just to make the squad at the age of 32.

Before Toby Alderweireld's own injury problems this season, he and Tottenham teammate Jan Vertonghen had been hailed as the Premier League's best defensive partnership.

However, Vertonghen, 31, and Alderweireld, 29, also do not have time on their side.

The pace of Kylian Mbappe could cause problems in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, but Belgium will not be short of experience at the back.

Midfield maestros

Leading by example: Belgium captain Eden Hazard celebrates reaching the World Cup semi-finals

Coach Roberto Martinez had been criticised for not finding the right balance to get the best out of De Bruyne early in the tournament, but the Spaniard's bold tactical plan worked to perfection against Brazil.

Marouane Fellaini took De Bruyne's place in a deep-lying midfield role to free up Manchester City's player of the year to play much further forward and to devastating effect as he blasted home Belgium's second of the night and his first of the tournament.

Captain Eden Hazard has been consistently brilliant, scoring twice against Tunisia in the group stage, and providing the teasing cross from which Fellaini equalised in a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down to beat Japan 3-2 in the last 16.

As Belgium tired against waves of Brazilian attacks in the second half, Hazard carried his side up the field, winning free-kicks and relieving the pressure -- a sign of his and this side's growing maturity.

Lukaku more than a goalscorer

Complete striker: Romelu Lukaku has contributed more than just goals up front

Still in the race for the Golden Boot behind Harry Kane, with Belgium now guaranteed two more matches, Romelu Lukaku has shown another side to his game so far in the knockout phase after scoring four times in the group stages.

His superb run off the ball and dummy in the final seconds against Japan cleared the space for Thomas Meunier to tee up Nacer Chadli's winner.

Against Brazil, again it was Lukaku's link-up play that proved decisive as he powered past Fernandinho and Paulinho on a rapid counter-attack before feeding De Bruyne to smash home from the edge of the area.

7/8/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Croatia end Russia's World Cup dream on penalties]]>
Ivan Rakitic stroked home the winning penalty to send Croatia into a semi-final against England after a night of unremitting tension in Sochi, ending the remarkable campaign of a team ranked 70th in the world.

Fyodor Smolov saw Russia's first penalty saved by Danijel Subasic and, although Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved a Mateo Kovacic kick, the hosts' fate was sealed when Mario Fernandes fired completely wide from their third attempt.

In the previous 120 minutes, Denis Cheryshev rifled Russia in front with a long-range thunderbolt, his fourth goal of the tournament, in the 31st minute before Andrej Kramaric headed Croatia level six minutes before halftime.

Croatia then went ahead with a soft header in the eleventh minute of extra time but Brazilian-born Fernandes headed the hosts level with five minutes of play remaining to send the game to penalties.

Russia had already surpassed expectations by reaching the last eight, ousting Spain on the way.

After a lively opening, the game dropped off, with sessions of head tennis in midfield, but it was Russia's more rustic approach which paid off first as they went ahead out of the blue.

Cheryshev collected the ball near the halfway line, exchanged passes with Artem Dzyuba and curled a 25-metre shot past Subasic.

But slack defending allowed Croatia to level eight minutes later. Mario Mandzukic ran unchallenged into the penalty area and chipped a low ball back into the centre where unmarked Kramaric scored with a glancing header.

Croatia were agonisingly close to scoring on the hour when Russia's defence failed to clear the ball and Ivan Perisic's shot hit the inside of the post but rebounded harmlessly across the face of the goal.

Croatia appeared to have the tie in the bag after Vida's extra-time goal until Fernandes rose to head in a free kick and send both teams to their second penalty shootout of the tournament. ]]>
7/7/2018 11:43:27 PM
<![CDATA[Hazard not Neymar takes over as tournament's star]]>
But it is now Belgium's Eden Hazard who is making the strongest bid for that crown.

On Friday night in Kazan, Neymar too saw his World Cup end prematurely, as a Brazil team packed with talent but over-reliant on the forward's inconsistent individual contribution, were beaten 2-1 by a brilliant Belgium team, inspired by the gifted Hazard.

The semi-final clash against France will give a chance for the 19-year-old Frenchman Kylian Mbappe to make his claim to be the tournament's most exciting talent and the final itself could throw up another contender but at this stage it is Hazard who is setting the standard.

Face to face with Neymar on Friday, the difference between their contributions was strikingly evident.

Many will blame Brazil's exit on the way in which their attacks were constantly funnelled towards Neymar in the hope that he would deliver the world-class individual skill he has shown he is capable of but which he rarely delivered in Russia.

With all the talent and Brazilian coach Tite's disposal, the vortex of Neymar ended up weakening their collective effort, whereas Hazard has had the exact opposite effect on Belgium.

The Chelsea winger showcased his individual skill numerous times against Brazil, especially with a mesmerising dribble from wide in the second half, and the statistics showed that all 10 of his dribbles in the game ended with his team still in possession.

But his contribution went well beyond the eye-catching moments of skill.

Hazard dictated the tempo of the game, pressing the accelerator for counter-attacks that ripped open Brazil's defence but also, especially in the second half, slowing down play and maintaining possession.

That aspect of game management, of understanding the right moment to burst forward and equally the opportune time to calm things down, is what makes Hazard more than just a tricky winger or support striker.

And he is part of an attacking unit that the French will be very wary of on Tuesday night in St Petersburg.

The highlight moment of the win was Kevin De Bruyne's superb strike for Belgium's second, after a glorious run from midfield and killer pass from Romelu Lukaku.

The goal showed that while Belgium hugely benefit from Hazard they are far from dependent on him.

Indeed, Roberto Martinez's side have had nine different goalscorers, excluding own goals, in this tournament. Only Italy in 2006 and France in 1982 with 10 each have ever had more in a single tournament.

Hazard's ability has never been in question but there were some, heading into this tournament, who wondered if he had the mental fortitude to deliver on the biggest stage.

He was disappointing at the last World Cup in Brazil and two years ago at the European Championship he drifted out of the game during his team's quarter-final loss to Wales.

But here, when Belgium were facing a similar upset, trailing Japan in the last 16, it was his magical twist and turn and then pin-point cross that created Marouane Fellaini's headed equaliser.

He may not have an attention-grabbing personality or a strong marketing appeal but Hazard will surely be in demand after this tournament from Europe's biggest spenders.]]>
7/7/2018 8:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[England move into semi-finals after 2-0 win over Sweden]]>
Maguire opened the scoring in the 30th minute at the Samara Arena and Alli doubled the lead after the break as Gareth Southgate's young squad continued to defy dampened pre-tournament expectations with another confident display.

For once it was not Harry Kane who claimed the plaudits as the tournament's top scorer was kept quiet, but England found another hero at the other end of the pitch as Jordan Pickford produced three superb saves to shut out the workmanlike Swedes.

Hosts Russia or Croatia, who meet later on Saturday and are lower ranked than Gareth Southgate's side, are all that stands between England and a first World Cup final since they lifted the trophy in 1966.

Sweden had reached the quarter-finals by making life hard for supposedly superior opponents and it was easy to see why after a dour opening when England looked incapable of stringing passes together against their hardworking opponents.

It was predictable in many ways, therefore, that the deadlock was broken from a set piece.


England had laboured without reward before Ashley Young lined up a corner on the left and his curled effort was met by Maguire charging forward with conviction and barging Emil Forsberg out of his way to power a header down into the net.

That was England's eighth set-piece goal at this World Cup, but, while they are seemingly lethal from dead balls, apart from Kane they are not blessed with too many other sharp shooters.

Raheem Sterling has faced some criticism over his struggles to score for England and just before halftime his doubters were handed ammunition when he was twice left alone to bear down on Sweden keeper Robin Olsen.

His blushes were saved by the linesman's flag as he fluffed the first chance, but moments later he ran through again, this time trying to round the keeper, only to be denied once more.

England were almost made to pay straight after the interval and would have been pegged back if Pickford had not produced a top-drawer save to keep out a Berg header.

The killer blow, however, arrived in the 59th minute as Jesse Lingard's teasing cross into the box was met by Alli unmarked at the far post to head powerfully past Olsen.

England had not kept a clean sheet in their four previous matches and had Pickford to thank for ensuring they did not concede this time.

The keeper saved superbly from Viktor Claesson before tipping a shot from Berg over the bar and that was enough to ensure Swedish hopes of reaching their first semi-final since 1994 were dashed.]]>
7/7/2018 6:13:52 PM
<![CDATA[Defeat is saddest moment of my career-Neymar]]>
The Paris St Germain player came to Russia as one of the potential leading lights but he did not live up to his own high standards and left saying the 2-1 quarter-final defeat was the low point of his footballing life.

"I can tell you this is the saddest moment of my career, the pain is huge because we know that we could have gone far, we knew that we had what it takes to go further, to make history... but it wasn't to be this time," Neymar said on Instagram.

"It is hard to find the strength to want to return to play football again but I am sure that God will give me strength to face whatever is in front of me," he added.

"Very happy to be part of this team, I am proud of everyone, they interrupted our dream but they did not remove it from our head nor from our hearts."

Brazil were knocked out in an enthralling end-to-end encounter in Kazan on Friday that ended their chances of winning the World Cup for a record sixth time.

Neymar will arrive back in Brazil on Sunday morning for a holiday before returning to Paris for the French league season.]]>
7/7/2018 6:06:39 PM
<![CDATA[World Cup Quarter Final: Sweden vs England line-ups]]>

The English team qualified to the quarter-finals as they beat Colombia 4-3 by the penalty shootouts in the Round of 16 after ending the Full-Time by a 1-1 draw, while Sweden qualified after beating Switzerland 1-0 in the same round.

The winner of today’s match will face the winner from Croatia and Russia match in the semi final.

Sweden XI XI : Olsen; Krafth, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg, Claesson; Berg, Toivonen.

England XI : Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Young; Lingard, Dele; Sterling; Kane.

7/7/2018 3:28:03 PM
<![CDATA[EFA keeps negotiating with foreign coaches, Renard or Scolari?]]>
Renard, who led Morocco to present amazing performance in their three World Cup matches, welcomed the Egyptian offer and agreed with the officials of the EFA to send the financial details of his contract.

Renard, who started coaching in Africa in 2008, led Morocco to shine in the 2018 World Cup.


Despite their early exit, Morocco gave amazing performances against 2010 World Cup winner, Spain, and 2016 UEFA EURO winner, Portugal.

Morocco lost to Iran 1-0 from an own goal seconds before the final whistle and lost to Portugal with the same score, despite being the better side at both games.

They ended their last game at the competition with a 2-2 draw against Spain and they were leading the score till the last minute.

Egypt has offered Renard $120k as a monthly salary as his contract with Morocco was less than the Egyptian offer by $40k, according to EFA source.

The EFA has another plan if the negotiations with Renard stopped; they contacted former Brazil’s coach in 2014, Luiz Felipe Scolari, according to Brazililan reports.


Scolari is best known for leading his home country to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and 2012 FIFA Confederation Cup titles.

Egypt had a disastrous run at FIFA 2018, losing all three games at the group stage.
Egypt started their participation against Uruguay, where they lost 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Uruguayan defender José Giménez.

Egypt also lost the second game 3-1 to the host nation, Russia, with Mohamed Salah scoring Egypt’s only goal.


Egypt lost 2-1 at the Arab derby against Saudi Arabia, despite leading the score by a goal from Mohamed Salah. However, the Saudi team returned with two goals by each of Salman el-Farag and Salem al-Dawsri.

7/7/2018 3:13:22 PM
<![CDATA[IWF Junior World Championships starts with six Egyptian participants]]>
Six Egyptian players are expected to feature in the IWF including the Champion Sara Samir. The list includes: Ahmed Kamel, Ahmed Ashour, Mohamed Hesham, Osama El Garhy, Sara Samir and Israa El Sayed.

The men’s categories are 56 kilograms, 62kg, 69kg, 77kg, 85kg, 94kg, 105kg and over-105kg.
Women, meanwhile, will compete at 48kg, 53kg, 58kg, 63kg, 69kg, 75kg, 90kg and over-90kg.

Egyptian champion, Sara Ahmed, wrote another chapter in her history when she added another two gold medals to her collection at the 2018 Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Spain.
7/7/2018 2:53:47 PM
<![CDATA[Buffon joins PSG for final shot at Champions League glory]]>
"It is with a great feeling of happiness that I join Paris Saint-Germain," Buffon, who played 176 times for Italy in a 20-year international career, told the Ligue 1 club's website https://en.psg.fr/news/first-team/gianluigi-buffon-signs-with-paris-saint-germain.

"For the first time in my career, I am leaving my country and only a project this ambitious could have encouraged me to make such a decision. I want to thank the club and the president for their confidence," the 2006 World Cup winner added.

The talismanic shot-stopper, now 40, said a tearful farewell to Juventus after 17 seasons at the Turin club when he played his last match in a 2-1 win over relegated Verona in May.

Buffon, who was a World Cup winner in 2006, retired from international football in November after Italy's failure to qualify for this year's World Cup in Russia, although he later said he was open to returning if required.

Buffon, who made his professional debut for Parma as a 17-year-old in 1995, made his name at Juve, winning nine Serie A and four Coppa Italia titles.

He ended his career at the Turin-based club with 300 clean sheets in 655 matches in all competitions.


Buffon joins a PSG side who claimed a domestic treble last season but have struggled to make a mark in Europe despite spending big on players including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

However, he will miss the start of their European campaign having picked up a three-match ban for jostling the referee against Real Madrid in last season's Champions League quarter-finals.

"To have followed the club's incredible progression in recent years, I know what dreams PSG and its fans have in their hearts," Buffon added.

Buffon will compete with Alphonse Areola for a starting spot. His experience will also prove valuable to their back-up goalkeepers Kevin Trapp and Remy Descamps.

"I am going to bring all my energy, all my experience and all of my thirst to win to help my new club achieve all the great objectives it has set out for the future."

Buffon's move to the French capital is seen as a final attempt by the experienced keeper to add Europe's elite club competition crown to his glittering trophy cabinet.

He has been on the losing side on three occasions, against AC Milan (2003), Barcelona (2015) and Real Madrid (2017) but PSG are banking on his big-game experience.

"At 40 years old, his passion for football is intact and Gianluigi has found the ideal environment in our project to set himself high objectives transmitting his experience, not only to the other goalkeepers at the club, but to all of our players," PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said.

"His arrival reaffirms our will to go higher, an ambition that we intend to pursue with a determination just as strong." ]]>
7/7/2018 1:43:50 PM
<![CDATA[Belgium hold off Brazil in thriller to reach semis]]>
A Fernandinho own goal and a brilliant Kevin De Bruyne strike earned Belgium a date with neighbours France in St Petersburg on Tuesday, their second trip to the last four at a World Cup after 1986.

Brazil will depart at the last eight stage for the third time in the last four World Cups despite the best efforts of talismanic forward Neymar, who followed Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo out of the tournament.

They go out with their heads held high, though, after leaving everything on the pitch as they chased an equaliser in the last 14 minutes of the match in the wake of substitute Renato Augusto's fine headed goal.

Roared on by the vast majority of the crowd at the Kazan Arena, the Brazilians poured forward to try and keep their campaign alive but Roberto Firmino, Augusto and Coutinho could not convert gilt-edged opportunities to level the scores.

Neymar ran at the Belgium defence until the end but had a second penalty appeal waved away by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic and a final shot tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as the last few seconds ticked away.

It is Belgium's latest "golden generation", therefore, who will take their place in a World Cup semi-final lineup guaranteed to be all-European and for the first time not featuring one of Brazil, Argentina or Germany.

"I think I'm the proudest man on earth at the moment," said Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez.

"For me, Brazil are the best team in the tournament and without a doubt the biggest threat from open play. We had to defend well for 90 minutes. But I felt our performance merited the opportunity to go through."


If Belgium's first goal in the 13th minute had an element of luck, with the ball going into the net off Fernandinho's shoulder from a corner, the second in the 31st minute was a percfect example of counter-attacking football.

Romelu Lukaku took the ball with his back to goal, turned into space and stormed up the pitch past Fernandinho before releasing De Bruyne on his right for the playmaker to rifle the ball into the net from the edge of the box.

Man of the Match De Bruyne, playing in a more advanced role than he had in Belgium's previous four matches, was at the heart of his team's best work, managing the transition from rearguard defence to attack with vision, pace and accuracy.

There was to be no repeat of four years ago when Brazil were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals on home soil, however, and they kept their composure despite conceding two goals for the first time in 26 matches under Tite.

The Selecao continued to dominate possession and carved out chance after chance, especially after Augusto headed home Philippe Coutinho's cross to give them renewed hope some three minutes after replacing Paulinho.

Tite, who said it was not an appropriate time to discuss his future as Brazil coach, felt the difference in the match had been Belgium's finishing.

"It was a very impressive game between two teams with fantastic technical qualities," he said.

"For all the pain I feel right now, if you like football, you have to watch this game. It's going to give you pleasure.

"If you're a neutral, you can sit back and say, 'What a match!' Anyone who appreciates football can see that this was a beautiful game."]]>
7/7/2018 1:39:00 PM
<![CDATA[Russia try to keep World Cup dream alive after miracle win]]>
It has been an enchanted summer for the world's largest nation as it hosts the biggest event in sport.

Russia's once-hapless team have suddenly turned into giantslayers who dispatched 2010 champions Spain in the last 16 and are now seriously contemplating reaching the July 15 final.

The World Cup itself has been blissfully free of the hooligan battles and racist monkey chants that blighted Russian domestic league and international matches.

And President Vladimir Putin has managed -- if only briefly -- to stem the tide of Western media criticism by presenting Russia as a fun-loving and welcoming place.

"Many stereotypes about Russia have simply collapsed," Putin told a group of high-profile former players at a Kremlin reception on Friday.

European bookmakers still expect Croatia and their elegant midfielder Luka Modric to prevail in the quarter-final in the balmy Black Sea resort of Sochi.

But Russia's players are exuding a breezy confidence that comes from having avoided the fiasco many fans had initially feared.

"Even before the tournament started, we all knew we could reach the final," said star midfielder Alexander Golovin.

"Now, we are seriously counting on it."

- Through gritted teeth -

Few Russians agreed with Golovin when they entered the tournament as its lowest-ranked nation and without a win in eight months.

A thumping start in which Russia scored eight goals in wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt generated mostly surprise and relief.

A 3-0 loss to Uruguay that gave Russia the unenviable matchup with Spain was met with resigned shakes of the head from fans familiar with defeat.

But coach Stanislav Cherchesov worked up a rousing defensive effort against the Spaniards that pushed the match into extra time and eventual penalties with the score tied 1-1.

"You have to know how to suffer," silver-haired midfielder Alexander Samedov said of the constant Spanish pressure.

"We showed that we could."

A winning left-foot save from 'keeper Igor Akinfeev produced the moment of magic that brought fans from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka pouring out onto the streets in astonished glee.

Cherchesov and the players know they have already won over the nation and secured their place in Russian football history.

The coach and his masterful moustache have turned into an internet meme that has come to symbolise Russians' love affair with their team that has defied the odds.

They are the first post-Soviet team to either make it out of a World Cup group or win a knockout game.

The hosts have played their hearts out and are probably not as big an underdog against Croatia as they were in the game they just won.

A victory on Saturday would see Russia face either England or Sweden in only their second World Cup semi-final since 1966.

Not too many Russians are optimistic enough to look that far ahead.

Just 17 percent told a state pollster they thought Russia could actually win the entire tournament -- about the same number as the day after their Saudi win.

Yet seven out of 10 say they now are watching matches and the atmosphere has grown more electric by the day.

Akinfeev said the opening game crowd in Moscow's intimidating Luzhniki Stadium resembled a polite audience listening to a "chamber orchestra".

"Against Spain, the stadium breathed as one," the new hero said. "We are nothing without their emotions."]]>
7/7/2018 9:34:00 AM
<![CDATA[Captain Modric dreaming of Croatia's fairytale finish in Russia]]>
Ever since a talented Croatian side reached the 1998 World Cup semi-finals in their second major tournament as an independent nation, subsequent generations have been under pressure from the country's fans and media to emulate the feat.

The 'Class of 1998' lost to hosts France in the semi-finals, then beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the third-place playoff, inspiring many in the Balkan nation including a then 12-year-old Modric.

Now 32 and one of the biggest names left in Russia given the early exits of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Modric came to global prominence when he joined Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League in 2008.

A visionary passer and fleet-footed dribbler, he has kept his form with Real Madrid's multiple Champions League-winning sides since joining them in 2012.

Modric was devastating in the group stages and scored one of the goals of the tournament, upstaging Messi and Argentina by leading his team to the top of their group.

He was poised to hog most of the limelight in the knockouts with the departure of Ronaldo and Messi after Portugal and Argentina lost in the round of 16 but was mostly subdued during the match against Denmark.

Modric, however, put the win in Croatia's grasp minutes before the end of the second half of extra time with a sumptuous through ball that Ante Rebic ran on to before being felled by Mathias Jorgensen in the penalty area.

The Croatia captain, widely respected by his fellow players for being a complete team man, took the penalty but his weak shot was blocked by Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel to send the match into a penalty shootout.


Modric returned to the spot about 15 minutes later and got the better of Schmeichel with Croatia's third attempt as his side won 3-2 to keep his dream alive of surpassing the Croatian 'Class of 1998'.

"Since 2008 we have never gone beyond this first knockout game and it was very important for us to get that monkey off our back," Modric told the FIFA website.

"I was calm and focused. I embraced the responsibility as a captain and I had to do it. As a result I was very emotional after the game.

"I wanted this Croatia to confirm their talent, to take that step further. The game was not an enjoyable one, but our goal was achieved."

The hard-fought win over Denmark put Croatia one win away from their best-ever showing in 1998 and if they are able to reproduce their free-flowing football from the group stages on Saturday, the hosts would find it tough to stop them.

Davor Suker came closest to winning the golden ball, awarded to the best player of the World Cup, in 1998 when he finished second behind Brazil's Ronaldo.

Modric will be a strong contender to surpass Suker but he is waiting for an even better "fairy tale".

"To be at this World Cup is a great privilege," he said.

"Playing for my team is a great honour and a pleasure, but to win the World Cup with Croatia is almost unthinkable, like the most beautiful fairy tale! It would be incredible to lift the trophy as captain."]]>
7/7/2018 8:22:00 AM
<![CDATA[Karius Champions League howlers due to concussion: Klopp]]>
Karius, who was diagnosed as suffering from concussion by two American doctors days after the final as a result of an elbow from Real hardman Sergio Ramos, is likely to start in goal for the Premier League side in a pre-season friendly with Chester City on Saturday.

Klopp's comments come after earlier efforts reportedly to buy Brazilian number one Allisson from Serie A outfit AS Roma came to nothing. The Italians, irked they had sold Egyptian star Mohamed Salah to Liverpool too cheaply last year, upped the price to beyond what the English club were willing to pay.

Klopp, though, told Liverpoolfc.com nothing had changed for him with regard to his fellow German Karius's status from the moment the final whistle sounded in the final to his return to pre-season training.

Karius had been distraught at the end of the 3-1 defeat and it had been remarked the players who consoled him on the pitch were Nacho and Gareth Bale from Real as well as Liverpool icon turned pundit Jamie Carragher and not initially his own team-mates

"I don't know exactly what people think or made of the situation. The only thing I can say is he had a concussion in the game." said Klopp.

"Whoever had a concussion knows there is not one way how it feels, there are different ways. He didn't feel it obviously.

"That's how concussions are. The guy who has it is the last one to be aware of it probably."

Klopp, who will be under pressure to deliver some silverware this season after taking Liverpool to three finals and losing all of them, says it took a phone call from German legend Franz Beckenbauer -- who spoke to "Germany's most famous doctor" -- to convince him it had been concussion.

"I got all the pictures from different perspectives, saw it and thought: 'how can we all think that the boy who didn't show any weakness in that game until then, made these big mistakes in a very important game and nobody thinks it's because of the knock he got'?" said Klopp.

"But now I know a concussion isn't coming and going in a day. Five days after the final, Loris had 26 of 30 markers for a concussion still. That's clear."

"So, from this point of view, from my side everything is fine. We don't think about that anymore and we start completely new," said Klopp."]]>
7/7/2018 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Manchester United v Leicester to kick off Premier League season]]>
United's neighbours and reigning champions Manchester City will have to wait until Sunday for their first outing when they travel to Arsenal, who start a new chapter with Spanish manager Unai Emery after two decades under Arsene Wenger.

Also on the Sunday, Liverpool will host West Ham, where all eyes will be on the Reds' goalkeeper Loris Karius after his errors in the Champions League final. The clash will also be former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini's first game in charge of the Hammers.

Emery must have wondered whether a black cat had crossed his path before the fixtures were announced, as his United side faces 2017 champions Chelsea the following Sunday, with the game switched from the Saturday so it can be shown live.

Televised football viewers will also get an early sighting of two of the three newly promoted clubs.

Wolverhampton Wanderers, who finished top of the second tier Championship, play Everton, another club under new management in the shape of Marco Silva, in the early evening kick-off on the Saturday.

And Cardiff, managed by veteran Neil Warnock, have had their match with Newcastle the following Saturday moved to lunchtime so it can be televised.

However, the third new Premier League club Fulham will have to wait until their sixth game, home to Watford on September 22, which was switched so it could be televised live.]]>
7/7/2018 6:02:00 AM
<![CDATA['Maybe we won't get this opportunity again', says Southgate]]>
England have the most inexperienced squad left in the tournament and should, in theory, be hitting their peak at the European Championships in 2020 or the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, but Southgate believes it would be a mistake to adopt that thinking.

"Although our team will be better in two years with more life experience, maybe the cards on injuries and things won't fall as kindly and we won't get this opportunity again," he told ITV News.

"It's dangerous if I start to get carried away, but I'm proud of the way we're playing," he said.

Should England get past a resilient Swedish side, they will face the winner of the quarter-final between hosts Russia and Croatia in the last four.

The dramatic penalty shootout win over Colombia in the last 16 caused wild celebration back in England and the team have captured the country's imagination.

While his players have been watching social media videos of the celebrations, Southgate says he is delighted to see the impact of his team.

"It's a huge privilege to be able to send everybody to work happy, to be able to make a difference to people lives," he said.

"Football can bring connection through a country and I'm delighted we are exciting people, bringing enjoyment and we want to keep it going," added Southgate, who himself has risen to prominence during the tournament with his calm style earning plaudits.

England will probably be without their back-up striker Jamie Vardy for Saturday's game, due to a groin strain, although injury worries for Ashley Young and Kyle Walker appear not to be so serious.

But Southgate says it can be tricky to rely on players for honest opinions about their fitness at this stage of the tournament.

"The lads would always be prepared to risk injury for these games, but that can’t be to the detriment of the performance level. When it gets to these games, they’re not always as honest as they might be about how fit they are. So you’ve got to have a racehorse trainer’s eye at times to really try and sort that out," he said. ]]>
7/7/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Buffon arrives to France for Paris Saint-Germain medical]]>
The 40-year-old whose contract with Juventus ended in June, arrived at PSG around midday accompanied by his doctor. He was also seen at the American Hospital in the nearby suburb of Neuilly.

Buffon, who played 176 times for Italy, is expected to sign for two years and be presented to the press on Monday. He would be the first signing since German Thomas Tuchel took over as PSG manager in May.

The club already has Kevin Trapp, who was part of Germany's squad at the World Cup, and Alphonse Areola, who is with France in Russia.]]>
7/7/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Griezmann inspires France past punchless Uruguay]]>
Uruguay went into the game without key striker Edinson Cavani, who was ruled out with a calf injury with Cristhian Stuani drafted into the starting line-up and the impact on their attack was noticeable.

France forward Kylian Mbappe, who had ripped apart Argentina in the previous round with his directness and pace, wasted a good opportunity to open the scoring in the 15th minute when Olivier Giroud headed across the box to him but the 19-year-old's looping header was off-target.

A relatively quiet game sprung to life in the 40th minute when Varane sprinted clear of his marker to meet a well-placed Griezmann free kick with a perfectly angled header.

Moments later, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ensured his side went in at the break with the advantage, producing a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a Martin Caceres header although Diego Godin will be disappointed his follow-up shot was wildly off target.

If that was an example of goalkeeping at its very best, Uruguay's Fernando Muslera showed how easily it can go wrong for the custodian with a horrendous error to gift France their second goal in the 61st minute.

Griezmann tried his luck with an effort from outside the box which was straight at Muslera but the keeper's ill-chosen attempt to palm the ball away ended with him merely deflecting the ball into the net.

Brazil and Belgium meet later on Friday while Saturday's quarter-finals see England take on Sweden and hosts Russia face Croatia]]>
7/6/2018 5:59:02 PM
<![CDATA[Zverev wins battle of Wimbledon's rising stars]]>
Zverev had just lost the third set when bad light forced play to be suspended late on Thursday evening.

But the 21-year-old German has plenty of practice at scrambling out of trouble after three times winning from two sets to one down at the recent French Open.

He staged another impressive escape act on Court One, winning the final two sets to move into the third round.

Zverev will face Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis for a place in the last 16.

"Stopping yesterday two sets to one down was not a nice feeling, but I came out today and knew I would have chances," Zverev said.

"I think the last two sets here showed my progress. I played well on clay, so it's coming together slowly.

"I'm preparing the best I can. This match showed I can't take anything for granted."

After enjoying the best Grand Slam run of his career when he made the French Open quarter-finals last month, Zverev is hoping to reach the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time.

He was beaten in the fourth round last year.

Following early exits for Swiss 16th seed Borna Coric and Canadian world number 25 Denis Shapovalov, Zverev's win was a boost for the group of young prodigies branded the sport's 'NextGen' stars by the ATP.

Like Zverev, the 20-year-old Fritz is a former junior world number one ear-marked for great things but yet to truly arrive at the highest level.

Fritz, ranked 68th, has strong tennis genes as his mother Kathy reached the Wimbledon last 16 in 1977.

But, looking for first win over a top five player, he let Zverev off the hook with a disappointing collapse.]]>
7/6/2018 4:33:38 PM
<![CDATA[World Cup Quarter-final: France vs Uruguay line-ups]]>
The French team qualified to the quarter-finals after beating Argentina 4-3 in the Round of 16, while Uruguay qualified after beating Portugal 2-1 in the same round.

Uruguay and France suffers the absence of their two main players, Edinson Cavani for injury and Blaise Matuidi due to suspension for receiving two yellow cards.

The winner of today’s match will face the winner from Brazil and Belgium match in the semi final.

Uruguay XI : Muslera; Gimenez, Caceres, Godin, Laxalt; Nandez, Torreira, Bentancur, Vecino; Suarez, Stuani.

France XI : Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante; Mbappe, Griezmann, Tolisso; Giroud.

7/6/2018 3:31:31 PM
<![CDATA[Azarou to leave Al-Ahly for a Chinese offer]]>
It is widely reported that Al-Ahly’s officials reached an agreement with the Chinese club to sell them the Moroccan striker for $10 million and both sides didn’t announce the news waiting to finish final negotiations.

Walid Azarou, 23, joined Al-Ahly in the last summer transfer window coming from Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi. He featured in 40 matches with the Red devils; he scored 26 goals, led the Egyptian League’s top scorer’s list by scoring 18 goals.

Azzarou 2

Since Azarou joined Al-Ahly, he faced many criticisms as he wasn’t lucky against the opponents’ nets, missed many chances in critical matches. But former Al-Ahly’s coach, Hossam El-Badry, insisted to put him in the starting line-up in many matches giving him confidence until he won the fans’ hearts when he scored a hat-trick against Etoile du Sahel in 2017/2018 CAF Champions league’s semi-final.

7/6/2018 2:57:14 PM
<![CDATA[Manchester United seeks signing Ronaldo despite Juventus rumors: Reports]]>
‘The Sun’ pointed out that the ‘Red devils’ believe they can sign Ronaldo if they offered Los Blancos an offer exceeds that of Juventus; which is reported to be €100 million.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs Las Palmas - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - November 5, 2017 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Cristiano Ronaldo will have £500k as a weekly salary for three years as reported by the English newspaper. Manchester United wants to use Ronaldo’s passion to the club where he starred when he was young.

United is aware that the relationship between the player and Mourinho is not the best, but his general manager Ed Woodward would be trying to convince the coach to give the green light to the operation.

Manchester United can frustrate the dream of Juventus, but at Old Trafford are aware that the price that Madrid would ask would be higher than the Italian club will pay.

Many reports circulated in the past two days claiming that Cristiano Ronaldo would be a new player of Juventus, in the absence of the official announcement by the 'Vecchia Signora' and Real Madrid.

FILE PHOTO: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scores bicycle kick against Juventus in the Champions League at Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - April 3, 2018 REUTERS/Alberto Lingria/File Photo

This is what the former Juventus’ sports director, Luciano Moggi, assured in an interview with 'Tele7Gold'.

Moggi states that "Cristiano has already signed and passed the medical review in Germany, which is the conclusion he reached after talking to people who have led the negotiation."

Cristiano Ronaldo already glimpsed his departure from the white club minutes after winning the Champions League against Liverpool.

7/6/2018 2:19:50 PM
<![CDATA[Real sign Spain full back Odriozola]]>
"Real Madrid C. F. and Real Sociedad have agreed the transfer of Alvaro Odriozola, subject to a medical," the club said in a statement on its official website (www.realmadrid.com)

"The player has signed a contract with the club for the next six seasons."

The signing of the 22-year-old follows Madrid's recent trend in hoovering up young Spanish talent, having signed Isco and Asier Illarramendi in 2013, Marco Asensio in 2014, Jesus Vallejo in 2015 and Dani Ceballos last year.

Odriozola was called up to the Spanish national team by Julen Lopetegui, his new coach at Real who was sacked by Spain on the eve of the World Cup for the manner in which he had negotiated his move to Real.

Odriozola has been capped four times for Spain, scoring once. He was part of the Spain squad for the 2018 World Cup but did not make an appearance.]]>
7/6/2018 1:46:14 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt face Germany at Women's Junior Handball World Cup]]>
Egyptian girls, led by Nasser Ali Abdel Wahed, hope to achieve their first victory at the tournament after three consecutive losses.

Egypt lost the opening game to Spain 39-20, lost the second game 37-18 to France and lost the third game to Crotia 30-19.

The World Cup draw put Egypt in the group of death alongside Sweden, France, Spain, Croatia and Germany.
Sweden won the title in 2012 defeating France at the final, while Germany won the title in 2008. Croatia was the first team to win the competition in 1977 when they were part of Yugoslavia.
On the other hand, Egypt participates at the tournament for the second time after their first participation in 2016 in Russia when they finished in the 20th position.

Hungary hosts the tournament between July 1 and 14.
7/6/2018 1:41:30 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt fails to reach FIBA U17 World Cup quarter finals ]]>
Croatia was the better side at the first quarter and they were leading the score 20-11 but the Egyptians returned in the game at the second quarter scoring 13 points while Croatia scored only two after six minutes but Egyptians failed to carry on their lead and finished the second quarter losing 34-29.

Croatia continued their dominance at the third and four quarters to win the game 68-55.

Youssef Osama was the best player from Egypt scoring 17 points while Croatia’s Ivan Perasovic scored 22 points.

Egyptian team is set to face Dominican Republic on Friday at 9–16th classification playoffs.

The draw put Egypt in Group C alongside Canada, Montenegro, and New Zeeland.

Egypt started the tournament with a victory over New Zeeland before losing to Canada and Montenegro respectively.

Argentna host the tournament between 30 June and 8 July.
7/6/2018 1:38:27 PM
<![CDATA[Putin says World Cup has broken stereotypes about Russia]]>
Russia's host nation status had been met with resistance by some in the West who suggested the tournament could be unsafe and play into the hands of Putin, who stands accused by Washington of conducting "malign activities" around the world.

But the month-long tournament, which ends on July 15, has so far been without major security incidents. Concerns about racism and hooligan violence that were discussed in the run-up have not been borne out and most visiting fans have spoken of a positive experience.

At a meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and former soccer stars at the Kremlin, Putin said the tournament and its coverage on social media had "helped break many stereotypes about Russia".

"People have seen that Russia is a hospitable country, a friendly one for those who come here," Putin said.

"I'm sure that an overwhelming majority of people who came will leave with the best feelings and memories of our country and will come again many times."

Increasingly isolated on the global stage, Putin has used the tournament to send a defiant message to his opponents that Russia is succeeding despite Western efforts to hold it back.

The Kremlin shrugged off on Thursday a fresh demand from Britain that it provide details about the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former double agent and his daughter in March after two British citizens were struck down this week with the same poison. Russia denies involvement in either attack.


Moscow's pedestrian streets have been flooded with fans and locals who have celebrated the world's most prestigious soccer tournament until the small hours of the morning.

"I was told people, police in the Red Square are smiling," Infantino told Putin, laughing.

"When they are asked for some information, they are very friendly. This is great. This is exactly what Russia is. This is the new image that we have about Russia."

The Russian team's unexpected success at the World Cup has also added to the event's appeal in the country.

After entering the tournament as the lowest-ranked side, Russia made it through to the knockout stage for the first time in post-Soviet history before upsetting Spain to make it to the quarter-finals.

Russia will face Croatia in the quarter-finals in Sochi on Saturday.]]>
7/6/2018 1:26:46 PM
<![CDATA[Tabarez brings Uruguay in from the wilderness]]>
"We were hardly competing internationally," he said in one interview. "We had to travel to the most distant parts of the world just to have matches."

Meanwhile, their training base outside Montevideo was nicknamed "the Low Performance Centre" by players who complained of cold rooms and lumpy mattresses.

Uruguay, who had lost to Australia in the playoff for a place in Germany, were in the wilderness.

Nobody would say that of the team nowadays.

Tabarez is still in charge 12 years on, having led them to one World Cup semi-final, one round of 16 and the Copa America title in 2011. On Friday, they face France in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Not even ill-health has stopped the 71-year-old who was expected to resign in 2016 after he was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease known as Guillain-Barre syndrome but has carried on regardless with the help of a walking stick or electric wheelchair.

Tabarez is more than just the national team coach and has effectively taken charge of youth development in Uruguay in what has become known as the "Tabarez process".

In an interview with Reuters 10 years ago, Tabarez, who also coached Uruguay at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, outlined his plans for football in the country and the challenge facing him.

He spoke of the importance of keeping the under-20 and Olympic teams active and bringing players over from Europe to receive additional coaching and keep them in touch.

The subject matter extended to pressure exerted by parents on their children to make it as professionals which turned matches even at under-10 level into battlefields.

"There are more or less 200,000 boys playing football in Uruguay, of this only 0.14 percent may have a possibility of going to Europe," he said. "The parents are making the wrong gamble and we have to make them aware of these facts."


Even amid the heat of the World Cup battle in Russia, Tabarez found time to talk about widely-seen television images which showed children in a Uruguayan school bursting out of their classroom to celebrate the late winning goal against Egypt in the group stage.

"Those kids will never forget that moment," he said. "I'm very proud about the way in which we live and experience football in our country. I talk to the players about this and use it as part of their motivation."

Known as the schoolteacher -- a profession he briefly exercised during the 1980s -- Tabarez has managed to retain Uruguay's renowned fighting spirit while curbing their wildest excesses.

Uruguay have the best disciplinary of the eight quarter-finals with only one yellow card so far. "When we won the Copa America in 2011, we also took the fair play title and that was very significant," said Tabarez.

His approach is summed up by a message which adorns the wall of his house and is attributed to Che Guevara: "You must toughen yourself without losing tenderness."]]>
7/6/2018 1:09:35 PM
<![CDATA[Tite backs under-fire Neymar, expects "beautiful" Belgium clash]]>
Neymar has scored two goals in Brazil's four matches, but he has been slammed by soccer pundits across the world for diving and rolling on the ground theatrically in Russia.

He has, however, also suffered a disproportionate number of fouls in the tournament so far, with his tally of 23 more than Uruguayan duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani combined.

"I’ve already talked about Neymar and I’ve been very specific about what happened," Tite told reporters on the eve of the quarter-final at Kazan Arena.

"You should look at the videos. All you have to do is look at the images.

"What makes me happy is to have him playing at his best. It's not just with the ball, it's not just dribbling. There are actions, there are transitions, defensive transitions and if you look, you see how much he has contributed."

Tite confirmed that his preferred left back Marcelo would return to the starting side in place of Filipe Luis after the Real Madrid defender missed the 2-0 win over Mexico through injury.

"I've spoken with both Marcelo and Filipe Luis. Filipe played very well in both matches. But now we are going with Marcelo again," said Tite.

Fernandinho is also expected to replace the suspended holding midfielder Casemiro who picked up a second yellow card against Mexico.

The dominant win over the Mexicans cemented Brazil's status as favourites to win a record-extending sixth World Cup trophy, but Tite said it would take a whole team effort to get past Roberto Martinez's Belgium and their array of attacking stars.

"It will be a great match. Both teams excel with a beautiful football. Belgium have great players and a great coach as well. I've always put them in the group of favourites (for the title).

"It's the same now."

With Brazil's last World Cup ending on home soil with a 7-1 semi-final humiliation by Germany that shocked the soccer-mad nation, Tite called on his players to ignore the pressure and expectations inevitably put on the side.

"If you ask me what is the greatest challenge of a World Cup? It's the mental fatigue, the pressure is immense, it’s extraordinary.

"(It) proliferates through the family. I hope the family can keep their heads cool. Don’t listen, don’t watch (the attention) because there is a lot of psychological pressure."]]>
7/6/2018 6:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Guardiola's City players dominate World Cup as last-eight looms]]>
As eight teams prepare for the quarter-finals, the majority of the City team that ran away with the Premier League title by a record 19 points are still competing in Russia trying to cap the season with the ultimate prize -- a World Cup winners medal.

The likes of club captain Vincent Kompany and midfield maestro Kevin de Bruyne are getting ready to face their City team mates Gabriel Jesus, Danilo and Fernandinho of Brazil.

Meanwhile, the Manchester club's English contingent of Kyle Walker, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and John Stones are all key members of Gareth Southgate’s team preparing for Sweden.

With City's goalkeeper Ederson also in the Brazil squad, the English side have more representatives in the last eight than any other club, with 11 players still in Russia.

Paris St Germain and Barcelona, the French and Spanish champions respectively, are also well represented with six key players remaining at the World Cup.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have one representative left in the quarter-finals in France's Corentin Tolisso.

The Germans may have faired better at the tournament if City's in-form forward Leroy Sane had been in their squad. Despite 10 goals and 15 assists in the league for Guardiola's team last season, Germany boss Joachim Loew left Sane at home.

Germany only scored twice as they exited in the group stage, with many commentators wondering why Sane was not selected.

It has not all been plain sailing for City’s players as Spain’s David Silva and Argentina pair Nicolas Otamendi and Sergio Aguero could not replicate their club form in Russia.

This is not the first time players from a club managed by Guardiola have made an impact at the World Cup. In consecutive tournaments, he has been the coach of the club champions of the nation who went on to win the World Cup -- Spain and Germany.

Spain’s 2010 world champions had a squad containing seven players managed by then-Barcelona coach Guardiola, while four years ago in Brazil the Spaniard's Bayern Munich side also had seven representatives in Germany’s World Cup-winning team.

With Guardiola among the world’s top managers and with his teams possessing enviable talent, it is perhaps no surprise that his influence has been felt at the sport’s showpiece event.

If history is to repeat itself and City's success is replicated by the national team in the World Cup final then England fans may just have a Catalan to thank.]]>
7/6/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Dzagoev says he is fit for Russia's quarter-final against Croatia]]>
Dzagoev has not played since leaving the pitch after 23 minutes with a hamstring injury during the tournament opener against Saudi Arabia last month.

The 28-year-old made the squad for their round of 16 match against Spain last week but was an unused substitute during their penalty shootout victory over the 2010 champions.

He then missed training on Wednesday with a back muscle injury.

"It was an old back injury. It was a bit jammed. Today I was training in a main group. Everything is fine. I am ready for the game," Dzagoev told reporters on Thursday at their training base on the outskirts of Moscow.

Earlier, Russia said the player had taken part in team training with some exercise restrictions.

The Russians have never reached the World Cup quarter-finals since the end of the Soviet Union, who were semi-finalists in 1966.

But the home team has so far exceeded expectations, coming out of their group with wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt and defeat to Uruguay, before eliminating Spain in the last 16.

"As they say appetite comes when you eat," Dzagoev said. "Why not?," he said of his team's chances against favourites Croatia, perceived to be a dark horse in this tournament.

"(Coach) Stanislav Salamovich (Cherchesov) will tell us closer to the game how we are going to play. So far we have some draft ideas.

"We had fine games with Saudi Arabia and with Egypt as well as with Spain. Maybe we did not show our level with Uruguay but I hope we will manage to show our level against Croatia."

The winner of the tie will face either England or Sweden, who also play on Saturday, in the last four at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium next week.]]>
7/5/2018 11:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt loses to Croatia at Women's Junior Handball World Cup]]>
The first half of the game witnessed Egypt’s best performance at the tournament; they were the better side and they managed to end the first half leading the score 12-11.

The second half was completely different from the first one and the European side showed a better performance and won the game 30-19.

Yasmine Waheed was the best player from Egypt, scoring six goals at the game.

Egypt stayed at the bottom of the group table with three consecutive losses as they lost the opening game to Spain 39-20 and lost the second game 37-18 to France.

The World Cup draw put Egypt in the group of death alongside Sweden, France, Spain, Croatia and Germany.
Sweden won the title in 2012 defeating France at the final, while Germany won the title in 2008. Croatia was the first team to win the competition in 1977 when they were part of Yugoslavia.
On the other hand, Egypt participates at the tournament for the second time after their first participation in 2016 in Russia when they finished in the 20th position.

Hungary hosts the tournament between July 1 and 14. ]]>
7/5/2018 9:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Brazil's Miranda says Kompany trying to "hide fear"]]>
Veteran Kompany described Brazil as "individually ... the strongest team in this World Cup," during a media conference. But he said no Belgium players were "going to sleep at night thinking we have already lost to Brazil."

Kompany added that Belgium would look their "opponents in the eye" when they play at Kazan Arena in the pick of the quarter-finals in Russia.

Miranda, who will become the fourth Brazil player to wear the captain's armband at the tournament, said his opposing centre back was trying to pump his team up.

"We know all kinds of provocation, a way to hide your fear," Miranda said through a translator at the pre-match media conference on Thursday.

"I think it’s a way of showing trust and hiding fear.

"You have to prepare yourself especially against the Brazil national team, and a leader like Kompany has to show confidence to his team mates, like the more experienced players have to show confidence in our actions to our team mates."

The match pits two of the most fancied teams at the World Cup, with Brazil's stingy defence to contend with Belgium's array of attacking threats.

Brazil have conceded just one goal in four matches, with Inter Milan's Miranda playing a big part in the defensive stonewall with centre back partner Thiago Silva.

The pair have started in all four games but may face their biggest test against a Belgian front line boasting the firepower of Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

Miranda said five-times champions Brazil could ill afford to focus on shutting down individual players, however, as they bid to reach a semi-final against either France or Uruguay.

"Belgium is not just Lukaku," he said.

"Certainly they have a very strong attack, but the main way to stop the opponent is to be aware of all the players on the pitch.

"(They have) several high quality players, they are very skilful and taller, so our defence will be very well-prepared to neutralise all of the opponent’s attacks.]]>
7/5/2018 8:40:00 PM
<![CDATA[Napoli sign Spanish midfielder Fabian from Real Betis]]>
Napoli, who finished runners-up last season, did not disclose the transfer fee on their website http://www.sscnapoli.it on Thursday but local media said they had met a reported 30 million euros ($35.14 million) buyout clause to bring Fabian to the Stadio San Paolo.

Ruiz is Napoli's second signing of the close season after striker Simone Verdi joined from Bologna for a reported fee of 25 million euros also on a five-year contract.

The 22-year-old Fabian made 34 Liga appearances and scored three goals last season for the Spaniards, who qualified for the Europa League for the first time in six years.

The Real Betis youth product made his debut in Spain's top flight in the 2015/2016 season.

Napoli, who finished four points behind Juve last season and qualified for the Champions League group stage, appointed the much-travelled Ancelotti, 59, in May to replace Maurizio Sarri.

The Italian returns to Serie A after nine mostly successful years abroad where he won league titles in England (Chelsea), France (Paris St Germain) and Germany (Bayern Munich).]]>
7/5/2018 6:57:59 PM
<![CDATA[Sela retracted sponsorship bid with Al-Ahly ]]>
Sources at Al-Ahly confirmed that they will hold discussions with the responsible administrative body in order to carry out a new bid for the club’s sponsorship contract, or agree with the second ranking company in the first bid on the contract.

The club, whose sponsorship bid was carried out several weeks ago, is currently awaiting a formal termination letter from Sela Sport Company, as they do not wish to move forward and sign the contracts anymore.

Sources also assured that Al-Ahly has many solutions to the situation if Sela Sport formally cancels its bid, explaining that a multitude of companies expressed their interest after news of the bid’s cancelation came out.

Sela had previously offered a bid worth LE 500 million over a four year period. Sela was also the official sponsor of Al-Ahly between 2015 and 2018.]]>
7/5/2018 5:58:10 PM
<![CDATA[Grisha's World Cup comes to an end]]>
Grisha took charge of the England-Panama game at group G in the World Cup. The game ended with a 6-1 victory for the European side.

Grisha was among 36 referees, including six Africans, who were chosen to officiate at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Grisha, who received his international stripes in 2008, is one of the African continent’s experienced referees.

He refereed at the 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 African Cup of Nations tournaments, 2015 CAF Champions League final, 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The committee selected 17 referees, 37 assistant referees and 10 video assistant referees for the remaining eight games of the tournament.

The committee appointed Argentina’s Nestor Pitana for Uruguay's game against France and Serbia’s Milorad Mazic for Brazil's game against Belgium.

Dutch Referee, Bjorn Kuipers, was appointed for England's game against Sweden and Brazil’s Sandro Ricci was appointed for Croatia's game against Russia.

The quarter finals will start on Friday June 6.]]>
7/5/2018 4:50:00 PM
<![CDATA[Petrojet historic captain, Amr Hassan, hangs up his boots]]>
Hassan joined Petrojet in 2001 at the age of 20 when the club, established in 2000, was still competing at the Egyptian lower divisions.

The defender played a great role at the club’s campaign to seal promotion to the Egyptian League first division in 2005 for the first time in the club’s history, and since then the club was established as one of the best teams in the league.

“It was a great honor to wear Petrojet's jersey for 17 years; Petrojet is the club of my life. I played alongside many great players and coaching staffs of different generations,” Hassan posted on his Facebook account.


Hassan’s best achievement with Petrojet was finishing the league in the third place in 2009 and securing a place at CAF Confederation Cup the following season for the first time in the club's history.

Hassan will join Petrojet's coaching staff for the next season and will start his coaching career under Tarek Yehya’s command. ]]>
7/5/2018 3:55:23 PM
<![CDATA[Matthaeus criticizes Neymar's attitude at World Cup]]>
“Neymar does not need it. He is an excellent player, one of the five best players in the world, why does he need the acting?” Matthaeus told press on Wednesday.

The Brazilian led his team to reach 2018 World Cup quarter finals scoring a goal and providing an assist against Mexico at round of 16 to lead his team to a 2-0 victory.

However, the winger was accused of over acting after a tackle from a Mexican defender during the game.

Matthaeus added: “It does not bring him sympathy. The 1986 World Cup winner, Diego Maradona, was not acting, Lionel Messi is not acting. We need players like Neymar but not the acting."

Matthaeus participated at three World Cup finals. He lost the title in 1982 and 1986 to Italy and Argentina, respectively and achieved the title in 1990 after a 1-0 victory over Argentina.

Brazil will face Belgium on Friday June 6 at the quarter finals. ]]>
7/5/2018 1:26:27 PM
<![CDATA[Cavani's participation against France in doubt ]]>
The player suffered an injury at the round of 16's game against Portugal and left the pitch 20 minutes before the final whistle.

The striker had his best performance at the competition against Portugal, scoring the two goals that led his country to a 2-1 victory.

Uruguay Football Federation account on Twitter shared on Tuesday the medical report of Cavani’s injury that revealed he is still suffering from a small local area of the edema in the internal part of the left gastrocnemius muscle.

French midfielder, Blaise Matuidi, believes that Cavani’s absence would affect Uruguay's performance, saying “Uruguay without Cavani is not the same thing. You don't easily replace one of the best attackers in the world. It would be a handicap for them.”

Matuidi shared Paris Saint Germain's dressing room with Cavani between 2013 and 2017 before the French decided to join Juventus.

Matuidi praised Cavani, saying “He is a very generous man, who does not give up on anything, and I know that he will do everything, right up until the last moment to be on the pitch.”

Uruguay and France will open the quarter finals’ games on Friday at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.]]>
7/5/2018 1:24:56 PM
<![CDATA[Genidy reveals reasons behind qualifiers’ setback ]]>
The team achieved their target but they were criticized after losing the first two games against DR Congo and Angola.

“We could not afford friendly games before the qualifiers and it really affected our performance especially that we were under pressure as it has been a long time since we played in front of a big crowd,” Egypt national team's captain, Ramy Genidy, said on Wednesday.

Egypt, led by Amr Abol Khir, achieved three victories from six games to secure the third position in Group C behind Angola and Morocco.

Genidy added “We are awaiting tough clashes at the qualifiers’ second round and we ask the federation to arrange friendly games against big European teams to be well-prepared and achieve our dream to reach the World Cup.”

The top three teams from Group C, Egypt, Angola and Morocco, will play alongside the top three teams from Group A, Tunisia, Cameroon and Chad in the first group of the second round.

On the other hand, Nigeria, Senegal, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Mali will play at Group B.

The top two teams from each group will win direct qualification to the World Cup, while the third placed teams will play against each other at a play-off game to decide a fifth African side to reach the World Cup.

The second round games are set to start on September 14.

Egypt participated six times at the World Cup and their best result was in the 1950 World Cup when they finished fifth.
7/5/2018 9:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian girls hope to achieve 1st victory against Croatia]]>
Egyptian girls, led by Nasser Ali Abdel Wahed, hope to achieve their first victory at the tournament after two consecutive losses.

Egypt lost the opening game to Spain 39-20 and lost the second game 37-18 to France.

The World Cup draw put Egypt in the group of death alongside Sweden, France, Spain, Croatia and Germany.

Sweden won the title in 2012 defeating France at the final, while Germany won the title in 2008. Croatia was the first team to win the competition in 1977 when they were part of Yugoslavia.

On the other hand, Egypt participates at the tournament for the second time after their first participation in 2016 in Russia when they finished in the 20th position.

The Egyptian team is set to face Germany on Friday before ending their group stage games on Sunday against Sweden.

Hungary hosts the tournament between July 1 and 14. ]]>
7/5/2018 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Fulham appoint former captain Parker as first-team coach]]>
The former midfielder returns to Craven Cottage after ending his playing career at the London club at the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Parker made 128 appearances for Fulham since joining them in 2013.

"I'm delighted to join the club this week and look forward to working with Slavisa once again, as well as with the rest of the coaching staff and players," he told the club's website http://www.fulhamfc.com/news/2018/july/04/scott-parker-appointed.

"I have first-hand knowledge of the quality and ambition at the club since I was a player here, with tremendous work carried out by staff within the first team set up and across all academy age groups."

Fulham were promoted to the top division after a four-year absence, securing a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa in the Championship Playoff final in May.

"I'm looking forward to getting started right away in preparation for the Premier League campaign," the former England international said.]]>
7/5/2018 6:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sweden will be tougher test for England than Brazil - Eriksson]]>
England booked their place in the last eight by edging past Colombia in a penalty shootout on Tuesday to raise hopes of a first World Cup title since 1966.

"It would be easier for England to beat Brazil than to beat Sweden in my opinion, Sweden today are a very hard team to break down," Swede Eriksson, who led England to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup quarter-finals, told Paddy Power News.

"England have a great chance to make a World Cup semi-final. But, if anyone in the squad thinks they have an easy game on Saturday, they're wrong.

"It'll be the most difficult game they'll have played so far, they can bet on that."

Sweden reached the World Cup last eight for the first time since finishing third in 1994 after a scrappy 1-0 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday.

"Sweden are so difficult to break down. They are very solid and really tough. If you woke them up in the middle of the night, they would know every position in defending – any possibility in the game, they know what to do.

"Their strikers are defenders when it's time to defend and they can defend in their own box as well.

"During my time with England we met them four times. We lost once, and the others were a draw and, going back before that, Sweden have beaten England in big games. My brain says England, though my heart says Sweden."

England had never won a penalty shootout at the World Cup before Tuesday and Eriksson believes overcoming that barrier will prove to be a big boost in the latter stages of the tournament.

"Everyone gets worried when a game goes to penalties, and with the record England have in competitions, it's huge in England that they've managed to win the shootout here... it's great for confidence because of England's history," he said.

Gareth Southgate's England side face Sweden in Samara on Saturday.]]>
7/5/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Delph to rejoin England squad after birth of daughter]]>
The 28-year-old missed the dramatic penalty shootout victory over Colombia on Tuesday night that sent England into the quarter-finals for the first time in 12 years, having earlier been given permission by manager Gareth Southgate to attend the birth of his child.

"I've just experienced the most amazing 24 hours," Delph said in a social media post on Wednesday.

"Watching my brothers come through a tough game both mentally and physically, I kicked every ball and felt every bit of emotion with the players, staff and fans.

"At 07:52 Me my wife and 2 beautiful daughters welcomed their baby sister into the world. I can't put into words the happiness and gratitude I'm feeling... Back to Russia now."

Delph, who can play in midfield and on the left side of defence, has made two appearances in Russia so far, coming on as a second-half substitute in England's 6-1 win over Panama and starting the 1-0 defeat by Belgium in the group stages.

England will take on Sweden in the quarter-finals in Samara on Saturday. ]]>
7/4/2018 9:20:00 PM
<![CDATA[Maradona calls English win "monumental robbery"]]>
Maradona, notorious in England for his famous 'Hand of God' goal at the 1986 tournament, said the American official should have penalised Harry Kane rather than give a penalty for a foul by Colombia's Carlos Sanchez during Tuesday's knockout match

"Today I saw a monumental robbery on the pitch... a fatal mistake for a whole country," he said of the incident that put England 1-0 ahead in the second half.

"Here's a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn't be given a match of this magnitude... Geiger, an American, what a coincidence," Maradona added on his nightly World Cup show for Venezuela-based Telesur broadcaster.

TV images showed Maradona wildly celebrating Colombia's late equaliser that took Tuesday's Round of 16 match to 1-1 and extra time. But he was despondent when England won a penalty shootout, taking them into a quarter-final against Sweden.

The ever-controversial former World Cup winner also pointed the finger at Pierluigi Collina, head of FIFA's referee committee, for allowing Geiger's designation.

"I'm just sorry for the whole Colombian people," Maradona said. "I cheered Colombia's goal as if I had headed it myself." ]]>
7/4/2018 8:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian Premier League fixture list to be released on Sunday ]]>
EFA invited the representatives of the 18 clubs that will participate in the league to attend the draw ceremony.

The 18 teams set to participate in the new season are: Al-Ahly, Zamalek, Ismaily, El-Masry, El-Dakhleya, Enppi, El-Entag El-Harby, Al-Ittihad, Misr Lel Makkasa, Al-Mokawloon, Petrojet, Pyramids F.C., Tala'ea El-Gaish, Smouha, Wadi Degla and the new comers, Haras El-Hodoud, El-Gouna and Nogoom El-Mostakbal.

Nogoom El-Mostakbal will participate in the competition for the first time in their history to be the 69th team to participate in the League.

The new Egyptian Premier League season is set to start in August.

Furthermore, Hussein revealed that the Egyptian Super Cup will be held by the end of the first half of the season.

Egyptian League Champions, Al-Ahly will face Egyptian Cup Champions, Zamalek at the Super Cup.
7/4/2018 7:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Rivaldo advises Neymar to join Real Madrid ]]>
“Neymar switching to Real Madrid would be an 'important change'. He should play for one of the biggest clubs in the world," Rivaldo told press on Wednesday.

Rivaldo represented Barcelona between 1997 and 2002 and he is one of the most important and legendary strikers in the history of the club. However, he believes that Barcelona arch rivals, Real Madrid, would help Neymar to be the best.

“At Paris Saint-Germain, with new coach Thomas Tuchel in charge, he will never be declared the best player in the world," Rivaldo added.

Since his arrival in Paris from Barcelona in summer 2017, Neymar has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Neymar led Brazil to reach 2018 World Cup quarter finals scoring a goal, and providing an assist against Mexico at the round of 16 to lead his team to a 2-0 victory.

Brazil will face Belgium on Friday, June 6, at the quarter finals. ]]>
7/4/2018 5:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Southgate praises England players after a 'special night']]>
It is the first time since 2006 that England reaches this stage; the English manager was proud of his players after their special performance against Colombia.

“It's a special night for everybody involved. I'm proud of the way my team played. I thought we controlled the game in the 90 minutes, and played with great discipline; we were very composed with the ball,” Southgate told press after the victory.

England captain, Harry Kane, opened the score for his team through a penalty 15 minutes after the start of the second half but Colombian defender, Yerry Mina, equalized for his team seconds before the final whistle to end the game 1-1.

Both teams failed to score at the extra time and the game went to penalty-shootout.

“We had total belief in what we were doing, right through to the end. Even when our first penalty was saved, I've seen enough shootouts where the first penalty missed isn't the key one,” Southgate added.

Jordan Henderson missed the third penalty for England but their goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, saved two shots from their opponent to lead his team to the quarter finals.

Southgate praised Pickford after the game, saying “his athleticism around the goal is excellent and he executed the plan in the penalty shootout.”

England will face Sweden at the quarter finals on Saturday night at Cosmos Arena, Samara. ]]>
7/4/2018 3:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Despite World Cup failure, Germany trusts Loew ]]>

Loew was criticized after the reigning champions, Germany, were knocked out of the competition from the group stage.

Loew’s choices for the World Cup surprised football fans as he left the Premier League Young Player of the Year, Leroy Sane, at home.

He also counted on Manuel Neuer as the starting goalkeeper despite suffering an injury and left Marc Andre Ter Stegen on bench despite having a stunning season with Barcelona.

Germany suffered a disastrous run at the World Cup. They lost the first game 1-0 to Mexico and bounced back defeating Sweden 2-1 thanks to a late free kick by Toni Kroos.

German fans expected their national team to destroy South Korea at the last group stage game and secure a spot at the second round but the German team lost 2-0 and suffered an early exit.

It is the first time since 1938 that Germany leaves the World Cup from the first round.

Loew’s contract with Germany is set to end after 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
7/4/2018 2:50:00 PM
<![CDATA[Trezeguet prefers joining Galatasaray]]>
It was reported that Trezeguet reached an agreement with the Italian giants, Inter Milan, to join them starting next season, according to Filgoal website.

But Trezeguet will not play for Inter Milan; the Italian club aimed to loan the Egyptian winger to Parma club which returned to Serie A.

Trezeguet denied the reports that claimed he joined Inter Milan; he stated that he prefers joining Galatasaray as the Turkish club will play at the 2018\2019 UEFA Champions League.

"I am here to start the training sessions with Kasimpasa as I am still a player in their squad," Trezeguet said to BeIn sports network when he landed in Istanbul airport.

"I never said that I am joining Inter Milan, I am waiting for Galatasaray as I want to play at the UEFA Champions League," Trezeguet continued.

Trezeguet’s release clause in his contract with the Turkish club, Kasimpasa, is €5 million.

The Egyptian has an amazing goal-record in the Turkish league, as he scored 16 goals and provided eight assists in all competitions to lead the top scorers of his team.

Trezeguet is an Al-Ahly academy product. He joined the club when he was 9 and got promoted through the club youth rankings till he joined the first team at 19.

He played four years for Al-Ahly before leaving in 2016 to Anderlecht, who loaned him to Mouscron and Kasimpasa. ]]>
7/4/2018 1:46:24 PM
<![CDATA[Stop Mbappe! Uruguay's tactic v France for quarter-final]]>
The South Americans have conceded just one goal - the joint lowest in the tournament with Brazil - in four straight wins on their way to the showdown in Nizhny Novgorod.

But 19-year-old Mbappe has announced himself as one of the world's hottest talents with three goals, including two against Argentina and an amazing 70-metre sprint that ended with him winning a penalty.

"About Mbappe, everybody knows he's a really good player, he's like (Thierry) Henry a few years ago," Uruguay's own hotshot Luis Suarez told reporters after training on Tuesday.

"But I think we have a really good defence to control him - but not just one player, the (whole) France team."

As well as Mbappe, Uruguay will have another tricky French forward, Antoine Griezmann, to contend with.

That duel comes with a twist, given Griezmann's affection for Uruguay and friendship with their two central defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin at Atletico Madrid.

Suarez did not expect that to cloud Griezmann's desire to help France into the semi-final, though.

"He knows it is the World Cup. In the World Cup, it is a different mentality," he said. "We know it's a special game for us, I don't know for him. He's a really good player, he's brilliant with the left foot."

Midfielder Diego Laxalt said Uruguay would dig deep into its so-called "Garra Charrua" fighting spirit - named after a ferocious South American warrior tribe - to stop France.

"We know they have a strong attack. We need to go out with a lot of sacrifice ... be solid at the back, deny them space to maximize their speed," he told a news conference.

"We want to stop them playing, make their strikers uncomfortable, that's our weapon. Making them respect us."

Uruguay's own impressive front line may be without Edinson Cavani, who suffered a calf injury after scoring two fabulous goals against Portugal in the last 16.

He is fighting for fitness.

"About Cavani, we don't know, we're just waiting for a few days," Suarez said. "His significance, both for my play and for the team, is key because of the class of player he is."

Suarez revealed he had spoken to Argentina captain and Barcelona team mate Lionel Messi after his exit from the World Cup, but declined to give details.

"I spoke as a friend - obviously that stays between us."]]>
7/4/2018 11:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Brazil win, but Neymar and his antics hog headlines]]>
Neymar turned in his best performance of the tournament so far against Mexico on Monday, scoring one goal and setting up the other in their 2-0 win.

However, the chat online and in the media has focused not only on his football but on his diving and in particular one moment in the 72nd minute when he writhed about after Mexican Miguel Layun appeared to step on his ankle.

The incident was clearly meant to wind Neymar up, and Layun was lucky to escape punishment.

But he didn't look to have put pressure on Neymar's leg, and the player's delayed and exaggerated response was the subject of heated debate, especially coming after similarly petulant displays in earlier matches.

Outside Brazil, fans and former players condemned the Paris St Germain player, with Denmark's Peter Schmeichel calling his antics "disgraceful," former England player Alan Shearer tweeting "STOP IT. We are fed up of it," and Frenchman Eric Cantona, in one thinly veiled reference, saying "No more cheating. No more crocodile tears. No more Narcissism. Let us love Brasil like we used to love to."

Even fans who appreciate Neymar's unquestionable brilliance have been turned off by the antics of a player who too often comes across as spoilt and immature.

After he dived in a bid to win a penalty against Costa Rica in Brazil's second match, Tostao, a striker in the legendary 1970 World Cup-winning side, encouraged coach Tite to have a heart-to-heart with the player and "demand that he stop with the fits, the complaining, the arguing and the faking."

The opprobrium heaped on the 26-year old has prompted a counter-reaction from fans, who, with some justification, believe Neymar is more sinned against than sinner.

He has been fouled 23 times so far in the tournament, more than Uruguayan duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani combined.

The onus in football should be on protecting the ball players, many fans argue, irregardless of the response.

"Neymar exaggerates when he is fouled," Guga Chacra, a well-known Brazilian columnist and international affairs analyst wrote on twitter.

"But the attacks on him by the foreign media and foreign fans frightens me. It’s an irrational hatred. They criticize Neymar more than the players who hunt him down over 90 minutes."]]>
7/4/2018 9:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt advances in FIBA World Cup qualifiers]]>
Ibrahim el-Gammal scored 19 points and provided seven assists to guide Egypt to a 59-53 victory over Morocco.

Egypt, led by Amr Abol Khir, achieved three victories from six games to secure the third position in Group C behind Angola and Morocco.

The top three teams from Group C, Egypt, Angola and Morocco, will play alongside the top three teams from Group A, Tunisia, Cameroon and Chad in the first group of the second round.

On the other hand, Nigeria, Senegal, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Mali will play at the second group.

The top two teams from each group will win direct qualification to the World Cup, while the third placed teams will play against each other at a play-off game to decide a fifth African side to reach the World Cup.

The second round games are set to start on September 14.

Egypt participated six times at the World Cup and their best result was in the 1950 World Cup when they finished fifth. ]]>
7/4/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Lenglet joins Barcelona: MARCA]]>
On the other hand, Sevilla signed Croatia’s and Red Bull Salzburg's defender, Duje Ćaleta-Car, to be a replacement for the French defender.

The 22-year-old Lenglet shined with Sevilla this season; he led the Spanish team to the 2017\2018 Champions League’s quarter-final and the Spanish Cup’s final against Barcelona.

Lenglet’s contract with Sevilla extends to summer 2021, and his release clause is €35 million.

Lenglet chose joining Barcelona despite the probability of finding competition with the Blaugrana’s defenders, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umititi.
7/4/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[We have not been practicing penalties, says Russia keeper Akinfeev]]>
The Muscovite twice denied Spain from the spot on Sunday, including kicking away Iago Aspas's final shot to help his team win the shootout 4-3 following a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

"We definitely have not trained in it (penalties)," he told reporters at their base on the outskirts of Moscow. Akinfeev said the team had hoped to beat Spain in regular time and not have to go to penalties.

"But the game was long and all the emotions were gone in those 120 minutes," he said.

The Russians, whose win triggered wild celebrations around the country, next face Croatia in the last eight, and Akinfeev said the euphoria would now need to subside.

"Let's all put it all aside, please, and concentrate on the next game," he said. "The team created a holiday that evening. But it is already history, and we want to write new history now. We will try and fight."

"This tournament shows that we are sincere in what we are doing, and that is why it is going so well so far."

Russia's win over the 2010 world champions has boosted the confidence of what was the lowest-ranked team going into the tournament, and has whetted the hosts' appetite for more success.

It is the first time in the post-Soviet era that Russia have reached a World Cup quarter-final.

"It is no secret that each victory adds to confidence," midfielder Yuri Gazinsky told reporters. "Especially victory over Spain. I think that the country believed in us and maybe many had doubts ahead of the match with Spain."

"But I hope we have proved that they can believe in us and we do represent the country. So we will do everything possible to go further. We created a small miracle for the country."

Russia take on the Croats, who also went to penalties as they eliminated Denmark, in Sochi's Fisht Stadium on Saturday evening.]]>
7/3/2018 8:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Serena back doing what she does best at Wimbledon]]>
The American, who missed last year's tournament while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia, proved she had lost none of her old warrior skills as she overcame gusting winds and a tumble on Court One's manicured lawn to outclass tricky opponent Arantxa Rus 7-5 6-3 in the first round.

Apart from adjusting to her role "as a working mom", the seven-times champion also had to get used to hearing something "new" as she was addressed as "Mrs Williams" for the first time at the grasscourt major following her marriage to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last year.

But before the umpire could declare "Game, set and match Mrs Williams", the 36-year-old produced 29 unforced errors and needed six match points to finish off her 105th-ranked Dutch opponent.

Monday's outing was only her eighth match since giving birth and according to the WTA rankings, she is only the 181st best player in the world.

However, the 23-times Grand Slam champion is considered by many - including herself - as the woman to beat at these championships.

"I have such high expectations of myself. I don't go out there expecting to do well, see what happens. That's just not me," the 36-year-old, who wore flesh-coloured compression tights to help with blood clots during the match, told reporters.

"Not only do I expect to win, I expect to win emphatically."

While Monday's victory was far from emphatic, it did give Williams, who is seeded 25th despite her lowly ranking, a 15th successive win at Wimbledon as she also triumphed at the All England Club in her last two appearances in 2015 and 2016.

The contest also gave her 88 minutes of court time to test out her serving arm. Four weeks ago her French Open run came to an abrupt end after she was forced to pull out of her fourth-round showdown with Maria Sharapova due to an injury that impeded her service motion.

"I took a lot of time off with serving. I didn't serve at all. I just started serving when I got here," said Williams, who will next face Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova.

"As time will go on, it will get better. My arm is doing much better. My serve is a little playing catch-up, but it's doing better than I could have hoped, to be honest. It's all on the right track."

And what about the something blue that was spotted on a blustery Court One? Well that had nothing to do with Williams as it was Rus who came out swinging, albeit in a losing cause, with a blue-framed racket.]]>
7/3/2018 5:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Gross promises Zamalek fans titles]]>
Gross said in the press conference made for introducing him as Zamalek new coach to the media that he turned to a Zamalek fan once he signed the contract. Gross promised to do his best to help the team achieve titles, stressing that the players should have a strong will and a challenge-loving spirit in the forthcoming phase.

The Swiss coach declared that he respects all competitors, but his main aim is to collect titles, promising the fans that he will work hard to make them happy in the upcoming period.

Zamalek previously attempted to sign Gross but failed.

Mortada Mansour, president of Zamalek, announced the signing of Gross to take charge of the football team during the next season. The coaching staff will contain four assistants, a general coach, a performance analyst, a goalkeeping coach, and a fitness trainer.
7/3/2018 3:41:55 PM
<![CDATA[Loew to stay on as Germany coach despite World Cup failure]]>
Loew's contract runs until 2022, having been extended for two years in May. However, his side's shock exit in Russia, after defeats to Mexico and South Korea and a solitary win over Sweden, had sparked speculation over whether he would continue.

"We are all firmly convinced that with Jogi Loew, we have a national coach who will analyse (the situation) very precisely, take the right steps and lead our team back on the road to success," DFB president Reinhard Grindel said in a statement issued by the federation.

Loew said he was "very grateful for the confidence that the DFB continues to place in me."

Loew has been in charge for 12 years, having taken over after the 2006 World Cup, and in he 2014 led Germany to their fourth World Cup title.

Until Russia, he had led his country to at least the semi-finals in all major tournaments he had led them in.]]>
7/3/2018 3:20:38 PM
<![CDATA[England dare to dream after Belgium World Cup heroics]]>
In a tournament full of surprises, Gareth Southgate's young England team are the only former champions left in the lower half of the draw following the shock exit of Spain.

If England get past Jose Pekerman's tough South American side in Moscow, they would play the winners of Tuesday's other last-16 tie between Sweden and Switzerland before a potential semi-final against Russia or Croatia.

Brazil and France lurk in the top half of the draw but Lionel Messi's Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal are out.

Third-ranked Belgium avoided joining them on the tournament scrapheap late on Monday, mounting one of the great World Cup comebacks to beat Japan 3-2 in the dying seconds of injury time.

They became the first team to come from two goals down to win a World Cup knockout match since West Germany fought back from 2-0 down against England in 1970 to win 3-2 after extra-time.

Despite a growing sense of optimism over England's chances in Russia, manager Southgate is warning his team against thinking too far ahead.

England, who won the World Cup in 1966, have a dreadful record in major tournaments, and have not won a knockout match since they beat Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup.

"I think we've been in this position before many times over the last however many years," Southgate said.

"It's pointless about us even thinking about what might happen after tomorrow's game. We're focusing on tomorrow's performance and then maybe things will fall into place."

Southgate used England's shock defeat to tiny Iceland in the last 16 at Euro 2016 as a warning not to get carried away.

England scored eight goals in their opening two matches, beating Tunisia 2-1 with a late Kane goal before thrashing Panama 6-1. They then lost 1-0 to Belgium as Southgate made wholesale changes.

Kane, the tournament's top marksman with five goals in two matches, will be desperate to get back on the scoresheet as he hunts the Golden Boot.

Dele Alli is fully fit and could return in midfield after missing the past two games, but Colombia star James Rodriguez remains a doubt.

The Bayern Munich midfielder limped off with a calf problem during the first half of Colombia's 1-0 win over Senegal but Pekerman said the injury was not serious.

Radamel Falcao will pose another threat to England's defence. The striker is back on top form at Monaco after two dismal years at Manchester United and Chelsea.

In the other game on the final day of the round of 16, Switzerland meet Sweden in Saint Petersburg, looking to become the first Swiss team in 64 years to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals.

Sweden are counting on their collective spirit to carry them through after playing their part in sending defending champions Germany home early by topping Group F with victories over South Korea and Mexico.

- Belgium set up Brazil tie -

Belgium set up a quarter-final against Brazil on Monday after Nacer Chadli grabbed a dramatic late winner, with the match poised to go into extra-time.

Goals from Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini cancelled out efforts from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui and as the seconds ticked down, Belgium poured forward, with Chadli slotting home.

"No negatives today, it was about getting through," said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. "It is a day to be very proud of these players. Keep believing in Belgium."

Brazil cruised into the quarter-finals as goals from Neymar and substitute Roberto Firmino gave them a 2-0 victory over Mexico.

Neymar was criticised for his early performances in Russia as he eased his way back to fitness after a broken foot bone, but he is edging back to his best as the five-time winners move through the gears.

Brazil are not yet at their dazzling best but they have an impressive array of firepower, with Neymar supported by Philippe Coutinho and Willian.

And, ominously, Tite's team have now recorded three clean sheets in succession after their opening 1-1 draw against Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Germany coach Joachim Loew is set to remain in charge of the World Cup holders despite overseeing their disastrous performance in Russia where they crashed out in the group phase, reports said Tuesday.

The German Football Association (DFB) has yet to confirm the reports, but Loew has a contract until the 2022 World Cup and the DFB refused to sack him.

But Poland said their coach Adam Nawalka had resigned after they were eliminated.
7/3/2018 1:56:52 PM
<![CDATA[Colombia's Rodriguez still an option against England-coach Pekerman]]>
The Golden Boot winner at the World Cup four years ago lasted only 30 minutes in their dramatic 1-0 victory over Senegal that saw them advance through the group stage but he could recover for Tuesday's match.

"We had good news after his medical test (two days ago). After the MRI scan it was clear there was no serious injury," Pekerman told reporters.

Rodriguez did not start the training session with the team on Monday but instead did stretching exercises. It was not clear if he would join in once the media had left.

"We still have a day and a half until the game to see how he feels and we hope that he will be fit to play for the games that we have to play here," the coach said.

Pekerman said Luis Muriel, who had replaced Rodriguez against Senegal, was an option once more should the midfielder be ruled out. Rodriguez has been involved in 10 of Colombia's last 14 World Cup goals.

"Of course Luis Muriel is an option. He was great during match against Senegal and his skills were really valuable. He changed the pace, he is very gifted technically, very fast he can play really well," Pekerman said.

"I think the most important thing is to keep creating possibilities without losing possession. My team has managed to develop in this sense. We are quite stable even when things turn difficult," said the 68-year-old.

The Argentine praised England, saying they were favourites and had the advantage of having rested many players in their final group match as they had already secured their knockout spot early.

Colombia's qualification went down to the wire in their last group match with Senegal.

"This tournament has many games and not much time to recover so this is obviously an advantage for England," he said. "But we have played tough matches that have made us stronger, more confident and with more belief in ourselves.

"We are very self-confident and that will compensate for the fact that they are more rested. Even if they are considered favourites and they are very good players and fast, we believe our team is in a very good moment."]]>
7/3/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[New-look Federer straight back in the old routine]]>
The 36-year-old's whites were missing the usual swish and the familiar RF emblem were gone after the 20-times grand slam champion ditched long-term kit supplier Nike in favour of Japan's Uniqlo brand.

The top seed's new sponsor only got one hour 19 minutes of airtime as Federer began in stunning fashion - dashing off the first set in 20 minutes - and never looking remotely troubled as he sauntered into the second round.

Lajovic shook off his early nerves to at least give Federer some practice in the second and third sets but the Serbian could do no better than last year when he also suffered a straight-sets defeat by the Swiss, that time in the second round.

Federer, contesting his 20th consecutive Wimbledon, is bidding to become only the second player to win nine singles titles on the London lawns after Martina Navratilova.

"I felt very good from the start which is nice," Federer, who has now one 24 consecutive sets at the All England Club after blazing to the title last year without dropping one, said on court.

"Felt at home right away. Got the early break in each set and I was able to bring it home." ]]>
7/3/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[We let Schmeichel down, says Denmark playmaker Eriksen]]>
Schmeichel saved a penalty from Luka Modric in extra time and stopped two more in the shootout, but three Danes, including Eriksen with the first kick, missed from the spot as their World Cup journey ended.

"We let Kasper down - when he saves two penalties, we should win," Eriksen told reporters as the team prepared to depart form Russia.

"I will remember the World Cup because I missed that penalty kick. I'll see that kick many times, it will not be easy to forget," he added.

The 26-year-old returned to Denmark on Wednesday to be reunited with his partner Sabrina and their newborn son, and like many in the Danish squad he sees a bright future for the national side, despite their disappointing exit.

"Hopefully this will strengthen us, we have proved that we must be taken seriously at this level. We must be proud of what we have done - Denmark has not been here (in the knockout stage) for 16 years," he said.

Defender Mathias Jorgensen was one of few players to talk to reporters after the team landed in Copenhagen to be greeted by around 200 fans at Kastrup Airport.

"We can look at this team, which is going to get even better still the next couple of years, so that's what we can take with us right now," Jorgensen said. ]]>
7/2/2018 11:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[No change in Wimbledon's scheduling policy despite calls for equality]]>
Traditionally the men’s singles champion opens proceedings on Centre Court on the first Monday of the tournament and the men's final is contested on the last day of the two-week event.

In contrast, the women's title holder plays her first match on Centre Court 24 hours after her male counterpart and the contest to decide who wins the Venus Rosewater Dish takes place on the penultimate day of the championships.

With gender equality being a hot topic globally, former champion Chris Evert suggested that Wimbledon could change its schedule to alternate those honours between the men and women.

But Lewis said there was no need to change the championships' format.

“There is a long history and tradition of the men’s singles champion opening up at one p.m. on Centre Court on the Monday and the focus on the ladies' singles champion starting on the Tuesday. It works very well," Lewis told a group of reporters on a balcony overlooking Court 14.

"We've always been very proud of having standalone quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of the ladies singles as we think it gives a great focus on the ladies singles event, and the final on a Saturday works very well."

There has often been controversy about the split between women's and men's matches on the two main showcourts at Wimbledon.

On Monday, five-times Wimbledon champion and last year's runner-up Venus Williams was contesting her first-round match against Johanna Larsson on Court 2.

In contrast the Big Four in men's tennis -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray -- have never been scheduled to play matches outside of Centre and Court One once they had held aloft the Challenge Cup.

The last time any of the quartet had to venture on to an outside court was in 2009, when Djokovic played his fourth-round match against Dudi Sela on Court 3 -- two years before he won the first of his three titles at the All England Club.

On Monday, two men’s matches were scheduled to take place on Centre Court compared to one women’s, with the reverse on Court One.

Lewis said there were no plans to change those plans.

"We've always had a policy of putting on the marquee matches on Centre and Court One and there's been no change to that policy.

"People like to see a variety of tennis and not too much of the same thing. The feedback is put the best matches on Centre and Court One.”]]>
7/2/2018 9:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Russia tells its officials: don't tip off athletes about dope tests]]>
As part of an investigation into alleged state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics, a commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found in 2015 that athletes were given advance notice of out-of-competition testing, which helped drug cheats evade detection.

Russia dismissed the WADA report as baseless, and it still rejects allegations it has covered up its athletes' positive tests, including at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, though it has acknowledged shortcomings in its anti-doping set-up.

The internal memo, seen by Reuters, was dated April 4, signed by Deputy Sports Minister Natalia Parshikova and was addressed to staff of national training centres where elite sportspeople train.

"The employees of training bases must not notify athletes' staff or the athletes themselves of the arrival of doping control officers at the training bases," the letter reads.

Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer who worked on the 2015 WADA report and other probes into alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia, said he and his colleagues had not come across such documents.

Asked about the memo, the sports ministry said it was "periodically reminding employees of these sports facilities to comply with the requirements of international anti-doping legislation" but would not say when it began sending such letters. The letter does not say it constitutes a reminder.

WADA founder Dick Pound, who chaired the commission that produced the 2015 report, told Reuters the fact the ministry had sent the letter "must necessarily reflect some knowledge on the part of the government that the offending conduct has continued, or it would not have been necessary to 'remind' anyone."

While the ministry's letter calls for better anti-doping practices, it "serves to reinforce the existence of a previous deliberate regime to undermine anti-doping and confound the sample collection process," said Doug MacQuarrie, the chair of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO).

"It supports the theory that the rules were not respected when anti-doping control officers would arrive," said Christiane Ayotte, head of Canada's WADA-accredited laboratory.

The doping allegations have dealt a major blow to Russia's standing in international sports and continue to shape its relations with global sports bodies. ]]>
7/2/2018 8:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[After shock Russia win, Moscow cleans up huge party mess]]>
After a night of delirium as Russia reached the World Cup quarter-finals, on Monday morning clean-up crews tackled a mountain of trash, sweeping up cigarette butts and shards of broken glass left over from the celebrations.

On a pedestrian street behind the Bolshoi Theatre, a loader drove away with 21 black bags filled with garbage and torn cardboard boxes as commuters wobbled through the city centre with an enduring feeling of elation and, in some cases, hangovers. The smell of beer and urine lingered in the morning air.

"I've been working this job for two years and have never seen anything like this," said Bardayev as he took a break from scrubbing the stained pavement. "I think it's related to Russia's win last night but also to people's upbringing."

Since the start of the World Cup last month, Moscow's streets have been packed with foreign and local fans, wildly celebrating the soccer tournament until the small hours.

Celebrations broke out immediately after the final whistle of Sunday's match in the heart of the Russian capital, with cars tooting their horns and fans gleefully dancing in the streets, bringing traffic to a stand-still.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov compared Sunday night's festivities to the celebrations at the end of World War Two.

"If we looked yesterday at the streets of many Russian cities, including Moscow, which I saw myself, it would probably be comparable in many respects to images of May 9, 1945," Peskov told reporters.

Some fans in Moscow on Monday were still recovering from their emotional outbursts during and after the match.

"We drank a lot. We drank and we sang," said Maria Leonovets, a 22-year-old Russia fan from neighbouring Belarus with the Russian tricolour draped around her shoulders, carrying a water bottle to cure a light hangover. "My throat hurts."

Lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, an outspoken lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, suggested on Monday that Russians be given a day off to celebrate and recover after the national team's wins.

"We of course have to give people the opportunity to rest for a half-day or a day if they want," Milonov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid's radio station.

Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the World Cup, automatically qualified for the tournament as the host country. Convincing wins against Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the group stage saw Russia through to the round of 16 for the first time in the post-Soviet era.

After beating Spain 4-3 on penalty kicks at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, Russia will face Croatia in the quarter-finals on Saturday in Sochi, one of 11 World Cup host cities.

Until then, Moscow is relishing a nation's unexpected success.

"There were so many people, so much joy. I've never seen anything like it," said street cleaner Klara Bubnova, as she rested on a bench on Nikolskaya street.

"It reminds me of Victory Day," she added, referring to annual celebrations across Russia to mark the anniversary of the end of World War Two. "Now we can say this about soccer too."]]>
7/2/2018 7:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Hadary joins Ismaily for the 3rd time]]>
The oldest player ever to participate in the World Cup has reached an agreement with Ismaily after his contract with Al-Taawon FC of Saudi Arabia has ended.

Ismaily loaned the team’s goalkeeper Mohamed Awaad to Al-Wahda FC, which plays in the Saudi Premier league, and signed Hadary as a replacement.

Hadary joined Ismaily for the first time in 2009 coming from Switzerland’s FC Cion; then joined the team again in 2014 coming from Wadi Degla, which makes this time the third time for him to play for Ismaily.

The players of Ismaily are getting ready to finally participate in CAF Champions League, as the team hasn't appeared in the tournament since 2010.

Ahmed Adel Abdel Moniem, Al-Ahly's former goalkeeper, and Mohamed Abo Gabal, Zamalek's former goalkeeper, were the top targets for Ismaily to replace Awaad, but the team failed to close both deals.
7/2/2018 5:05:43 PM
<![CDATA[Filipe Luis in for injured Marcelo, Mexico make two changes]]>
It is the only change made by coach Tite from the group stage win over Serbia, meaning Gabriel Jesus, Willian and Philippe Coutinho support Neymar in attack.

Opponents Mexico make two changes from the 3-0 loss to Sweden, with Hugo Ayala replacing the suspended Hector Moreno in central defence and captain Rafael Marquez also coming into the side.

Marquez's inclusion means Miguel Layun drops to the bench and the responsibility rests with Hirving Lozano and Carlos Vela to support lone striker Javier Hernandez. ]]>
7/2/2018 3:41:01 PM
<![CDATA[With LeBron, Lakers suddenly a betting favorite]]>
With the announcement of LeBron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and head for Los Angeles with a four-year, $154 million contract in tow, the betting lines have changed seismically in Las Vegas.

While the Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA titles, remain the favorites at minus-110 -- meaning that a gambler would have to wager $110 to win $100 -- the Lakers and the Boston Celtics are next at 7/2, followed by the Rockets at 7/1.

After James' management agency, Klutch Sports Group, made the announcement about the superstar's decision, the Lakers announced that they had re-signed shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and signed free agent swingman Lance Stephenson, who has been with several teams, most recently the Indiana Pacers.

And yet to come is where San Antonio big man Kawhi Leonard will end up. He reportedly wants to play for the Lakers, but he is still under contract to the Spurs.

The Lakers last won a championship in 2010. James has played in eight straight NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference, with the Miami Heat and then with the Cavaliers.

Oh, and the Cavaliers' odds? Try 500/1.

7/2/2018 3:06:02 PM
<![CDATA[Mohamed Salah signs new £200,000-a-week Liverpool contract]]>
The Egypt international player is currently on holiday after playing at the World Cup but he has ended any discussion about his future after Liverpool ripped up his old terms and rewarded him with a deal that reflects his standing as one of the top players in Europe.

Salah, who had initially signed a deal worth around £100,000-per-week when he moved to Anfield from Roma 12 months ago, will now be one of Liverpool's highest earners and having scored 44 goals in all competitions can expect to have doubled that figure.

Manager Jurgen Klopp has already targeted an improvement on last season, when the club reached the Champions League final and finished in the top four.

It had long been a priority for Liverpool to reward Salah for his outstanding debut campaign. His tally of 32 goals in the Premier League broke a record for a 38-game campaign and he was instrumental in helping his side reach the Champions League final.]]>
7/2/2018 10:55:24 AM
<![CDATA[A game worthy of being watched: Selecao vs Tricolor ]]>
Brazil, also known as the Selecao, which holds the highest record of World Cup titles with five trophies, topped group E with seven points, achieved from two victories against Serbia and Costa Rica, and a tie with the Swiss team with a single goal for each side.

Neymar Jr, the most expensive footballer in the world, and his Brazilian fellows are now working to fulfill the dreams of their nation to recover from a disastrous performance in the last World Cup, where the team lost to Germany 7-1 in the semi-finals. The majority of the players, who wore the yellow shirts of Brazil in Germany’s game, are playing in the current tournament, but now they have more experience, clearly reflecting on their performance.

The Brazilian team also includes Philippe Coutinho who played a tremendous role in Liverpool's attacking lines, which pushed Barcelona to sign him in the latest transfer window. In addition to new several players who helped their teams a lot; just like Gabriel Jesus who won the Premier League with Manchester City, and Roberto Firmino the attacking star of Liverpool, the runners-up of the latest Champions league competition.

But, the game will not be easy for the Brazilians, as they will face Mexico that defeated the current World Champions, Germany, in the group stage, in addition to beating South Korea. Unfortunately, Mexico lost to Sweden in the last round of the group stage.

Mexico also has several strength points, as the team possesses the experience factor represented in Rafael Marquez who has played in five World Cup tournaments from 2002 until 2018.

Mexico also has Javier Hernandez also known as Chicharito, the former Real Madrid and Manchester united's striker, and current West Ham United; last but least Mexico has Guillermo Ochoa, who is expected to be the best goalkeeper of the tournament for his notable performance in defending The Tricolor’s nets.
7/2/2018 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Murray won't rule out Wimbledon withdrawal]]>
Murray is scheduled to play in his first round tie against France's Benoit Paire on Tuesday.

But the former world number one, who was crowned Wimbledon champion in 2013 and 2016, is making slow progress in his return from hip surgery in January.

Murray has played just three matches since last year's Wimbledon, winning one of his three matches on grass at Queen's and Eastbourne over the last two weeks.

The 31-year-old is encouraged by his improving performances and has been practicing at Wimbledon for the last few days.

But he is still experiencing some discomfort on court and is far from the form that made him a three-time major winner.

Asked if he could withdraw from Wimbledon, Murray told BBC Radio Five on Sunday: "Yes, it is still possible. I am taking it literally each day. Some days I feel better than others.

"I have played three matches, which was great, the last couple of weeks against some top players and did well.

"Some days I wake up and don't feel quite as good as others. It is a bit of stiffness, a bit of soreness, which is kind of normal based on the intensity I am practising at, compared to where I was even three or four weeks ago.

"I only started hitting balls two weeks before Queen's, which is not particularly a long time, and quite soon into that you are competing at the highest level.

"You need to be very patient and literally take it day by day just now, and see where you are at.

"I need to kind of see how I feel every day, but in terms of winning this event, I have no belief or thoughts that that is going to happen, really."]]>
7/2/2018 7:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Marc Marquez extends title lead with Dutch victory]]>
Marquez now has a 41-point lead in the standings over Italian Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who was fifth.

The race was tightly bunched almost throughout with frequent changes of position.

"I knew it would be difficult to get away in the race," Marquez said. "It was a crazy race especially in the straight with lots of wind."

"I decided to wait," the Spaniard explained. "Everybody had contact with everybody. I tried to manage my tyres."

Marquez made his move in the closing stages, grabbing the lead and pulling away to win by 2.269 seconds

"In last three laps I pushed with everything," Marquez said.

The winner of the last two races, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati), who started 10th on the grid, grabbed an early lead and held it for much of the contest despite being rammed by Rossi, but he faded to seventh.

For Rins, second place was a career best result.

"I spent my morning at the clinic for stomach problems" he said adding that it had been "a fantastic race and very difficult."

Vinales finished on the podium for only the second time this season, after Austin.

"I was here to win and I had the capacity to do it," the Spaniard said. "But I had a problem with forearm cramps that prevented me from getting good braking at the end of the straight."]]>
7/2/2018 5:12:00 AM
<![CDATA[Williams slams 'shocking' treatment over doping tests]]>
Williams arrived at Wimbledon this week on the heels of a report that she was unhappy at excessive targeting from US Anti-Doping Agency drug testers.

A Deadspin article revealed Williams' anger about an unannounced test in June where the tester refused to leave her Florida house.

The tester visited outside Williams' specified "whereabouts window" and found her not at home.

No athlete is obliged to comply with a testing visit if it is not made during the 60-minute window for which the athlete identifies their whereabouts in advance each day.

"I guess they decided it was a missed test, which really doesn't make sense. Anyone would logically think that I would have to be home 24 hours a day, or I get a missed test," Williams told a press conference on Sunday.

"You only get three missed tests. For me it's a little frustrating. How can I have a missed test when it's nowhere near the time I should be there?

"It's really disappointing, shocking. I was just like: 'That's just weird'."

The incident was made public after WTA chief Steve Simon was overheard leaving a message on Williams' answerphone at an airport.

Williams, preparing for the start of Wimbledon on Monday, admitted she was disappointed the story had gone public.

But the seven-time Wimbledon champion also made it clear she didn't expect to have been tested so often this year.

"It's unfortunate but I guess when you're in my position, you mention my name, people overhear things and they want to tell the press," she said.

"I actually thought the article was interesting. I didn't know I was tested so much more than everyone else. I do know I'm always getting tested all the time, no matter where I'm ranked.

"I didn't realise it was such a discrepancy, at least with the American players. It would be impossible for me not to feel some sort of way about that."

Concerned at being tested more than her fellow American players, Williams revealed she had spoken to USADA chiefs.

The 36-year-old said she was tested five times on June, compared to one or none from some of her compatriots.

Athletes returning from a long absence are often the subject of repeated drug tests, as they are seen as part of a higher-risk category than athletes in the flow of regular competition.

- 'All about equality' -

But, calling for equal treatment, the 23-time Grand Slam winner said: "I had a conversation with the lead guy with USADA. I think he was mentioned, as well.

"How is it I'm getting tested five times in June? It's only June, I've been tested five times. I'm okay with that.

"Literally verbatim, I said, I'm going with that, as long as everyone is being treated equally. That's all I care about.

"I despise having people in our sport that aren't being honest. I'm totally okay with testing and I encourage it.

"What I want to know is everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean.

"Tennis has given me so much. It's such an amazing sport. I feel like equality, that's all I've been preaching, it's all about equality.

"If that's testing everyone five times, let's do it. Let's be a part of it. It's just about being equal and not centring one person out.

"Just due to the numbers, it looks like I'm being pushed out. Just test everyone equally."]]>
7/2/2018 2:08:00 AM
<![CDATA[Russia beat Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarters]]>
Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke's and Iago Aspas' spot kicks in their first ever penalty shootout to send the hosts through following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.

Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Round of 16 - Spain vs Russia - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - July 1, 2018 Spain's Sergio Ramos look dejected after losing the penalty shootout REUTERS/Albert Gea

The 2010 world champions controlled the game with their slick passing but did little more, failing to create another scoring chance in the first half.

Russia looked equally toothless up front, with Aleksandr Golovin's curled effort their only noteworthy opportunity until Gerard Pique's handball gave them a chance to level with a penalty in the 42nd minute.

Forward Artem Dzyuba buried it for his third goal of the tournament, sending Spain keeper David de Gea the wrong way to equalise and awaken the subdued 78,000 crowd in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

The game lacked pace and tempo even after the break with both teams cautious not concede too much space and the Russians playing without an out-and-out striker after the substitution of Dzyuba.

Despite 75 percent possession, Spain's famed tiki-taka passing game rarely carried them into the box and they had to wait until the 85th minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from substitute Andres Iniesta.

Having long run out of steam and with several players cramping, Russia were reduced to desperately defending in extra time as Spain, who played more than four times the number of passes their opponents did, still struggled to slice open the Russian defence.

Akinfeev came to the rescue again to deny Rodrigo after his fine sprint in the second half of extra time before becoming a national hero by saving the two spot kicks to send the hosts past the former world champions.
7/1/2018 6:58:02 PM
<![CDATA[Spain and Russia reveal their line-ups]]>
Spain, the leader of group B with 5 points, which managed to achieve 5 points, from two ties and a single victory over Iran, scoring 6 goals, will be hosted by the Russians which qualified in second place from group A, with 6 points after defeating the two Arab nations, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and losing from Uruguay.

The Russian national team surprised all the football fans around the globe including the Russian fans, as the team thrashed Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the tournament with 5 clean goals, then defeated Egypt 3-1 the team which possess one of the top players of the world who failed to help his country to achieve a single point in the World Cup.

Meanwhile Spain faced difficulties in their qualification in the last round of the group stage as it was losing from Morocco until the 90th minute until Iago Aspas gave his team the equalizing goal to maintain his team’s seat in the round of 16.

Both teams will be fighting to book their place in the quarter-finals, but it will be a hard game for each side as Spain has a lot of top class players, while Russia has the advantage of the hosts.

Spain have never won a match against the host in any tournament; La Roja players have to change the history.

Last time both national teams met in an official match was in 2008 Euro’s semi-final; Spain crushed the Russian team 3-0 before beating Germany 1-0 in the final game.

Only four players featured in 2008’s squad and also in 2018’s squad; Sergio Ramos, David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Pepe Reina.

Spain and Russia announced their official line-ups:


Spain XI: De Gea (GK); Alba, Ramos, Pique, Nacho; Busquets, Koke; Asensio, Isco, Silva; Costa.

Subs: Arrizabalaga (GK), Reina (GK), Carvajal, Iniesta, Saul, Rodrigo, Thiago, Vazquez, Odriozola, Azpilicueta, Monreal, Aspas.

Russia XI: Akinfeev (GK), Ignashevich, Kutepov, Kudryashov, Fernandes, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Samedov, Kuzyaev, Golovin, Dzyuba.

Subs: Lunev (GK), Gabulov (GK), Semenov, Cheryshev, Gazinskii, Dzagoev, Smolov, Granat, Alexey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov.
7/1/2018 3:20:04 PM