By Nemanja BjedovMARCOS Baghdatis recorded his first singles win on the ATP Tour for five months when he beat Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Citi Open in Washington D.C.The struggling Cypriot’s last win had come in Rotterdam in February.Having lost to Lacko in their first two meetings, at Wimbledon in 2010 and last year in Zagreb, the 16th seeded Baghdatis this time came out on top, and he will now take on the winner of the match between second-seed Kei Nishikori of Japan and American hope Jack Sock.The Limassol native hit nine aces and crucially saved five of the six break points he faced to beat Lacko in just over two hours.While waiting for his next opponent, 28-year-old Baghdatis committed to the Malaysian Open, which will take place between September 21-28 at the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.“Kuala Lumpur has been a special event for me. When I was in the final they really gave me so much support, which I remember well, so I am really looking forward to the event,” said Baghdatis, the World No 44, who will make his fourth Kuala Lumpur appearance with his best performance coming in 2011 when he reached the final.
By Benjamin GroundsRaheem Sterling’s unsavoury scuffle with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia marred a productive evening against Ecuador in which Ross Barkley shot to prominence as a serious wildcard in England manager Roy Hodgson’s armoury of attacking options.Under the Miami heat, with shirts clinging to bodies, Sterling’s ill-timed lunged sparked a furious reaction from Valencia, the standard bearer of the South American’s Word Cup hopes who perhaps is still smarting from a leg break sustained four years ago this September.The World Cup has long been the breeding ground of infamous dismissals that have shaped and sealed the fate of many a nation’s hope of glory. Zinedine Zidane’s entrance into the World Cup hall of fame was guaranteed from the moment his head met ball twice from corners to sink Brazil in the 1998 final – but exited infamously when red mist, and Italy’s Marco Materazzi, descended eight years later courtesy of that same beret-hanger.It wasn’t the first time either that ‘Zizou’ had been given his marching orders at football’s main event; stamping a Saudi Arabian in a 1998 group match temporarily left France without their talisman en route to the final. Only Rigobert Song (94, 98) has equalled the former Real Madrid and Juventus playmaker’s tally of two World Cup reds, but with temperatures expecting to stifle free-flowing attacking football this summer in South America, the heat may to be too much for a few others.5. Mario BalotelliThe ticking time-bomb of Milan, Balotelli has been linked with a move back to England prior to a ball in Brazil being kicked, which will crank up the thermostat measuring the striker’s desire to impress.Remembered affectionately in the UK for letting off fireworks from his bathroom window, ‘Crazy Mario’ was sent off for his country in a friendly against Czech Republic last year for two bookings in as many minutes, and has endured several strained relationships with managers in his short career draped in disciplinary problems.Guiseppe Rossi’s omission from the final 23-man squad will mean the burden of a country’s hopes will fall on Balotelli’s 23-year-old shoulders.4 – Nigel de JongAnother from the Rossoneri camp, de Jong’s combative approach has earned him the nickname ‘the terrier’.A career that has seen only one red card to date – for two bookable offences against Rapid Bucharest in Hamburg’s 2005/06 UEFA Cup campaign, betrays his penchant for dishing out the rough stuff.The 29-year-old makes the list purely for the Kung-Fu kick on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 final that referee Howard Webb remarkably believed only merited a booking.3 – Sergio RamosSpain may have felt they were on the receiving end of some industrious tactics by the Dutch in the final showdown in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium four years ago, but Vicente del Bosque’s side have a hit-man of their own.Sergio Ramos has a history of violence for his club side Real Madrid, having accrued 19 red cards during his time at the Bernabeu.Remarkably, despite over 100 caps for La Roja, Ramos is yet to receive his marching orders, but in a World Cup where the reigning World and European champions have drifting favouritism, he may well be forced to deploy dirtier tactics.2 – PepeRamos’ Real Madrid counterpart, Pepe, is equally effusive in the tackle and will forever be remembered for his 10-match suspension after he lost his cool against Getafe in 2009.The Portuguese defender, having conceded a penalty, aimed two swipes at the prone Javi Casquero, and his bad boy image reared itself once more in the home defeat to Barcelona this year, when he and Cesc Fabregas resembled rutting stags. His short temper, saddled with the burden of a group of death that pits the Portuguese alongside Ghana, USA and Germany means whatever happens, controversy is likely to tail the 31-year-old in Brazil.1- Wayne RooneyEngland’s great white hope has previously seen his World Cup go up in smoke, having been sent-off in 2006 for a stamp on Riccardo Carvalho.Rooney, who missed the group stages of Euro 2012 following a hack at Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic in qualifying, attacked the British public after a drab goalless draw against Algeria in South Africa, and enters this year’s tournament out of form and short on fitness.Paul Scholes has questioned whether if he is passed his best, and if England toil, Rooney may well implode again.For more articles and the latest football news, check out FTBpro
The opposition would be nuts to mess with this team.For more articles and the latest soccer news, check out 90min.com
By Clare LovellJose Mourinho felt ashamed by racist fans who pushed a black passenger off a metro train in Paris and he hopes the victim will accept an invitation to watch a game at Stamford Bridge to prove such behaviour was not a reflection of the real Chelsea.The man, named only as Souleymane, complained to police about the incident at Richelieu-Drouot metro station before the Champions League game between Paris St Germain and Chelsea on Tuesday.Chelsea have suspended three fans caught on video during the incident and said they were working with British and French police to identify others. They have invited Souleymane and his family to watch the return leg in March.“I think he would watch not only the game, but he would feel what Chelsea is. At this moment he will have the wrong idea of what Chelsea is,” Mourinho told reporters on Friday.“He would feel that the people who did this action with him is not Chelsea.“Chelsea is the owner, the board, the manager, the players, the people who work here, it’s also the true Chelsea supporter.“So I would support his coming here. Even if I don’t know if he’s a football fan.”After a strongly-worded statement from the club saying owner Roman Abramovich was disgusted at the incident and would suspend for life any fan proven to have taken part, Mourinho said he had not returned to London in 2013 to be connected with such “miserable” people.“We feel ashamed but maybe we shouldn’t because I refuse to be connected with these people. I left Chelsea in 2007 and I could not wait for the moment to be back and it’s not because of people like this that I wanted to be back,” Mourinho said.“I felt ashamed when I knew what happened but I am a proud club manager because I know what Chelsea really is.”Mourinho said the reaction of his players in a multicultural dressing room was the same.“This dressing-room.was always a dressing-room with big principles of equality not just about race, also about religion about everything,” he said.“The dressing-room reacted the way I react, with disappointmentbut always with the feeling that we do not belong to these people and they do not belong to us.”The club said on Friday more suspensions could follow as investigations continue but they were not releasing any names yet.The video appeared to show fans of the London team chanting “we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” as they stopped Souleymane boarding a train.The video footage has been widely condemned by football authorities including FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
By Toby DavisLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers could find himself under pressure sooner than expected with a host of new signings to bed in and a devilish run of fixtures to kick off the new Premier League campaign.There were rumblings of discontent among supporters after the club finished last season in abject fashion with an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at Stoke City to end a dismal streak that dropped them out of Champions League contention.Rodgers came under heavy fire from a disgruntled fanbase, who questioned his credentials following a third trophyless season at the helm, but he lived to fight another day after an end-of-season review by the club’s American owners.Doubts about his position, however, could resurface if Liverpool endure the sort of miserable start to the season they had last year.There has already been significant change on and off the pitch at Anfield.None more so than the departure of long-serving captain Steven Gerrard, who left the Premier League for a swansong at American side LA Galaxy.Yet he was not the only high-profile exit as Liverpool’s standout performer from last season, Raheem Sterling, engineered an acrimonious departure to Manchester City.In terms of new arrivals, however, there is evidence to suggest Rodgers has been trusted to bring in his preferred choices this time rather than having his will bent to that of the club’s much-discussed transfer committee.Christian Benteke, a bullish and highly mobile targetman, has been poached from Aston Villa to add some brawn to a Liverpool squad that at times looked lightweight by comparison to their rivals last year.Brazil forward Roberto Firmino was recruited for a substantial fee from Hoffenheim and comes with lots of promise, while James Milner adds mobility and experience to the midfield and Nathaniel Clyne fills a vacancy at right back.There has also been substantial change amongst Rodgers’ coaching ranks with former right-hand man Colin Pascoe dismissed as assistant manager along with first-team coach Mike Marsh.Sean O’Driscoll, who enjoyed mixed fortunes in managerial stints at Bournemouth, Doncaster Rovers, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City, has come in as Rodgers’ new assistant with former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister taking up a coaching role.The new arrivals will have to bed in quickly as the fixture computer has not been kind, even if it has shown a comedic bent by sending Liverpool back to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke in their opener on August 9.Then it all gets rather unpleasant as Liverpool face all of last season’s top five away before the end of November.Should they be struggling in the Autumn, there may be one more significant change on the horizon.
By Mike CollettJose Mourinho was delighted that Chelsea made a winning start to their Champions League campaign on Wednesday, but said he was not happy that Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal had all lost their opening matches in this season’s competition.Chelsea, who have made a poor start to the defence of their Premier League title winning only one of their opening five matches, cruised to a 4-0 win over Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv at Stamford Bridge.They were the only one of the EPL’s four contenders to win after Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Juventus and Manchester United lost 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.Arsenal were also beaten 2-1 at Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.“I think it is sad and bad and I am not happy about it,” said Mourinho. “I want Man City, Man United and Arsenal to lose in the Premier League but I don’t want them to lose in the Champions League.“It is not good for us. Season after season, it is difficult for English teams to be successful. At the start of the week if you can make 12 points (with all four winning) and you make only three, that is bad news.”Although the group stage has only just started, English clubs’ records in Europe’s top club competition in recent seasons has been patchy and could impact on how many teams get spots in the tournament.England, Spain and Germany currently have four clubs eligible according to the coefficients UEFA use to determine how many clubs a country is entitled to enter into the competition.There are five Spanish clubs this season as Sevilla entered as winners of last season’s Europa League.The top three clubs in the Premier League advance directly to the following season’s group stage, while the team finishing fourth enters the playoffs.No English club has won the Champions League since Chelsea in 2012, which was also the last season an English club reached the final.None reached the quarter-finals last season and the EPL’s right to four places could come under threat in two years time from Italy, their nearest challengers in the coefficient table, who currently provide three teams for the competition.
The Hula boys batted first and batted out the full 20 overs posting a target of 142.A top order batting collapse left them reeling at 6/45 from some superb bowling from John Igo (3/27) and Vagi Frank (3/20).But an unbeaten 45 runs from Lope Va’a steadied the ship for Hula.Va’a was assisted by a handy 24 runs from Wari Kapa.The boys from Rent-A-Tent found themselves in dire straights at 5/66 after their top order batsmen failed to impress.Jake Kapa was the standout batter scoring 20 runs.In the end, Rent-A-Tent were all bowled out for a 100 after 16.2 overs.Wari Kapa did the damage for Hula taking 3/33.In other matches, Taurama was too strong beating Alukuni by six wickets.Finals for the T20 competition will get underway in September.
The kick off at the National Football Stadium was done by Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko.Present during the ceremony were PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka and Digicel PNG CEO Maurice McCarthy.The crowd of close to 3000 fans and supporters is seated at the main grandstand area.Other four matches are also underway at other centres, including Kokopo, Goroka and Mendi.
The players are in eight groups of seven players each.Defending champion Monty Fong with a handicap of 15 is in Group G. His opponents in the group who will play at Aviat Club are Martin Patu (50), Ida Keni (20), veterans Richard Whitchurch (20), Skey Magoke (40), Rhonda English (35) and Oscar Pomaleu (35).The 2014 winner and current PNG snooker champion, Marcus Ng with a handicap of minus 30 is in group B with Miria Rima(15), Welton Gai (15) and PNG women’s representative, Helen Samuel (15).Group B matches will be played at Lamana Q Club.Also playing at the Lamana Q Club is another former champion Kelly Yambi (0) in Group A. He is up against 2016 BSP Men’s Minor National champion Marcus Rahman (15), Tournament Director Danny Earls (15) and Julie Mel (45).The lowest handicapper in Group C is Q Club manager, Joey Chan (10).He will get some stiff opposition from youngster Vare Vaieke (20), Kevin Bray (20) and women’s B Grade star Jane Laigi (35).Yiannis Nicoloau (0) is in Group D and the only worthy opposition is Ralph Kaina (-5). Both players will give their opposition players starts of 30 or more.Stalwart Roger Ng (-10) heads Group E with Tom English (0), Alex Awesa (15) and Damita Bray (25) at the Q Club. 2011 winner Lasark Joseph with a plus 15 handicap is in Group H at the Aviat Club. His opponents include Toua Simoi (20), Anup Kumar (20) and Tanya Susuve (40).Group F also playing at the Aviat club has big names like Noel Ramos (-5) and Arua Simoi (0) up against Richard Bario (20) and Mea Whitchurch (45). All group matches will be played over the best of three frames and all sessions start at 3pm during weekdays. For Saturday and Sunday, matches start at 11am.
Children under 15 years played five on five from 5pm to 7pm; while 16 years and over tried their skills in the three on three matches played from 7pm to 9pm. BFPNG teamed up with the PNG High Performance through their Talent Pathway Program to deliver the third phase. Talent pathway coordinator and James Cook University – Honours Researcher, Kieran Sciberras, explained Twilight Basketball was not just about community engagement. “The aim in conducting the session for now is community engagement, however it may also provide an insight into any areas we may be missing for the talent identification and research project. “For example, if people from certain schools that we are testing during Twilight Basketball are providing exceptional results, all might come from similar schools.”Twilight Basketball is part of BFPNG’s community engagement strategy made possible by the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnership Program. Twilight Basketball will be held again on the following dates – November 3, 10 and 17.