Germany have one eye on the finals, Ireland one on Scotland

Germany have one eye on the finals, Ireland one on Scotland

first_imgBy Conor HumphriesWhile world champions Germany will be eager to seal their automatic qualification for Euro 2016 with a win on Thursday, Ireland will have one eye nervously cast on the progress of play-off rivals Scotland.Victory in Dublin would keep Germany on course to top Group D ahead of Poland although winger Lukas Podolski is doubtful for the match, and Sunday’s game against Georgia after picking up an ankle injury.However, Marco Reus is available after missing the last two qualifiers with a fractured toe.The Germans, like every other national team, have only had a short time to prepare and coach Joachim Loew said he had taken that into account in his planning.“The players at the moment are under a lot of strain and that is something we have considered, but I don’t want to start experimenting,” he said.Loew said he expected the Irish to be more aggressive than Scotland, who lost 3-2 to Germany in Glasgow last month.“Scotland were mainly concerned with not conceding a goal, The Irish will be attacking with even more courage. They have a lot of high quality players,” he said.An injury-hit Irish defence faces the daunting task of stopping Germany‘s frontline that includes in-form Thomas Mueller, who has scored eight goals in qualifying, and Mario Goetze, both of whom scored twice in their wins over Poland and Scotland last month.Captain John O’Shea, who scored a last minute equaliser when the sides met a year ago, will likely be partnered by the inexperienced Richard Keogh at the heart of defence with Marc Wilson and Ciaran Clark both doubtful. Midfielder Glenn Whelan is suspended.Ireland coach Martin O’Neill will mostly be keen to get on and talk about someone other than Jack Grealish, the Aston Villa midfielder who eventually chose to represent England over Ireland last week, a saga that has dominated Irish football for over a year.Ireland are four points clear of Scotland in the battle for a third place play-off spot and will not need a result against the group leading Germans or Poland if Scotland fail to get at least a draw at home to the Poles on Thursday and a win over lowly Gibraltar in their final game.“I wouldn’t have a concern at all about the play-offs,” O’Neill said.“Over two games I’d take my chances. If you were saying would I take the play-offs now, there’s no point in beating around the bush – yeah.”last_img read more

Britain win Davis Cup after 79-year wait

Britain win Davis Cup after 79-year wait

first_imgBy Martyn HermanAndy Murray sealed Britain’s first Davis Cup title for 79 years with a brilliant 6-3 7-5 6-3 defeat of Belgium’s David Goffin in a fever-pitch atmosphere at Ghent’s Flanders Expo on Sunday.With hundreds of British fans decked out in union flags and saltires roaring on the Scot and thousands of baying Belgians urging on Goffin, Murray’s nerve held firm to subdue an inspired opponent and give the visitors a winning 3-1 lead.Murray was forced to play some of his best tennis against an opponent who refused to buckle, but he would not be denied as he led his country to a first title since 1936.He wobbled briefly when he dropped serve early in the third set but the world number two responded to move 5-3 ahead.He finished the job in spectacular fashion, hoisting a lob over the stranded Goffin before collapsing onto the court.Murray was immediately swamped by his team-mates, captain Leon Smith and the support staff and was hoisted shoulder high on the court before saluting the dancing British fans.“It’s been an incredible few years,” an emotional Murray said on court. “I can’t believe we did it, I never thought we would. I play my best tennis when I play for my country.“The atmosphere was phenomenal. I imagine we’ll have a party tonight.”The 28-year-old Scot became the first man to win three live rubbers in a Davis Cup final since American Pete Sampras in 1995, taking his record in this year’s competition to 11-0.Britain’s first title since 1936 takes their tally to 10.Belgium began the day needing to win both the reverse singles if they were to pull off a remarkable comeback and win the 115-year-old team event for the first time.last_img read more

Baghdatis beats Becker, earns clash with Kyrgios

Baghdatis beats Becker, earns clash with Kyrgios

first_imgMarcos Baghdatis unleashed a series of powerful forehand winners to overwhelm Benjamin Becker 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the Miami Open on Thursday.Cypriot Baghdatis compiled 26 winners, twice the number of his opponent, and broke the German’s serve three times. The victory sets Baghdatis up for a second-round clash, and his first career meeting, with Australian Nick Kyrgios.In other first round games on Thursday, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan posted his first win of the year, and it took him nearly three hours to do so as he beat Croat teen Borna Coric 4-6 7-5 7-5.The world number 76 plays Andy Murray in the second round.Novak Djokovic, coming off victory at Indian Wells, and Roger Federer, who has missed almost two months with a knee injury, take to the court on Friday.Federer meets the man who beat him in the 2009 U.S. Open final, Juan Martin del Potro, while top seed Djokovic faces Briton Kyle Edmund.Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) beat Benjamin Becker (Germany) 6-3 6-4Denis Kudla (U.S.) beat Chung Hyeon (South Korea) 6-3 3-6 6-1Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) beat Paul-Henri Mathieu (France) 6-2 2-6 6-3Tatsuma Ito (Japan) beat Nicolas Mahut (France) 7-6(3) 6-2Mikhail Kukushkin (Russia) beat Brian Baker (U.S.) 6-4 6-2Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) beat Borna Coric (Croatia) 4-6 7-5 7-5Tim Smyczek (U.S.) beat Tommy Paul (U.S.) 6-4 5-7 7-5Andrey Kuznetsov (Russia) beat Rogerio Dutra Silva (Brazil) 6-2 6-3Adrian Mannarino (France) beat Illya Marchenko (Ukraine) 2-6 6-2 6-3Aljaz Bedene (Britain) beat Roberto Carballes (Spain) 4-6 6-2 6-3John Millman (Australia) beat Pablo Carreno (Spain) 6-3 6-2Andreas Seppi (Italy) beat Donald Young (U.S.) 6-3 6-1Federico Delbonis (Argentina) beat Elias Ymer (Sweden) 6-1 4-6 6-3Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukraine) beat Nicolas Jarry (Chile) 7-6(7) 7-5Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) beat Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 4-6 6-3 6-4Pierre-Hugues Herbert (France) beat Lukas Rosol (Czech Republic) 7-5 6-4last_img read more

Leicester title challenge dented by West Ham, Liverpool win despite changes

Leicester title challenge dented by West Ham, Liverpool win despite changes

first_imgLeicester City stumbled on their march towards the Premier League title when they drew 2-2 with West Ham United and had goalscorer Jamie Vardy sent off at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.Vardy put Leicester ahead after a lightning counter-attack in the 18th minute with a left-foot shot into the corner of the net before picking up his first booking for a late challenge on Cheikhou Kouyate.He picked up his second yellow card for a dive early in the second half and West Ham gradually came back into the game against Leicester’s 10 men, equalising through an 84th-minute Andy Carroll penalty after Wes Morgan hauled down Winston Reid.Two minutes later Aaron Cresswell scored a stunning goal for the Hammers with a fierce shot from the edge of the box which flew past keeper Kasper Schmeichel, but Leicester equalised with virtually the last kick of the game when Leonardo Ulloa scored from the spot after Carroll fouled Jeffrey Schlupp.Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp made 10 changes from the team that beat Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League and watched his experimental side overcome Bournemouth 2-1 in a low-key game in the south coast sunshine on Sunday.Both Liverpool goals came at the end of the first half, Roberto Firmino ending a superb move with a close range tap-in after 41 minutes before Daniel Sturridge made it 2-0 with a header from a Jordan Ibe free kick.Bournemouth replied in stoppage time when Josh King half-volleyed in from the edge of the box.Before the kickoff flowers were laid on the pitch in memory of the Liverpool 96 fans who died at Hillsborough in April 1989 with the club’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” played as the short ceremony took place.Arsenal vs Crystal Palace 1-1 (report)last_img read more

Nadal and Djokovic roll on, symmetry for Williams sisters (Updated)

Nadal and Djokovic roll on, symmetry for Williams sisters (Updated)

first_imgA dominant Rafa Nada reached one career milestone on Thursday but the nature of the Spaniard’s passage through the early rounds of the French Open suggests his eyes are fixed firmly on another more significant landmark.The world number five, seeded four at the tournament he once owned, destroyed Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis 6-3 6-0 6-3 to reach the third round with the loss of only nine games, chalking up a 200th match victory in grand slams.“That’s only another number and that’s it,” Nadal, who would become the only man to win the same grand slam 10 times in the professional era if he triumphs this year, told reporters.“I know I have to play at a very high level in order to go deep. That’s my sole objective, my only reality.”It was his first appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier, where he has sunk his teeth into La Coupe des Mousquetaires nine times, since being humbled by Novak Djokovic in a one-sided quarter-final last year.World number one Djokovic, who dispatched Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis 7-5 6-3 6-4, will be a formidable obstacle again.Djokovic, who has a burning desire to claim the only grand slam title to elude him, was, however, critical of his performance against a player nicknamed The Shark.“There were things that I definitely didn’t like in my game today. Too many unforced errors,” Djokovic, who next plays Slovenian-born Briton Aljaz Bedene, told reporters.Defending women’s champions Serena Williams was joined by sister Venus in the third round, the American siblings posting symmetrical victories on Court Suzanne Lenglen.Serena beat Brazil’s Teliana Pereira 6-2 6-1 before ninth seed Venus produced the same result against fellow American Louisa Chirico to reach the third round for the first time since 2010.With Maria Sharapova suspended, pending the outcome of a doping hearing, and several leading seeds knocked out early, Serena looms as the overwhelming favourite to claim a fourth title in the French capital.But others will have something to say about that.Former champion Ana Ivanovic is a possible last-16 opponent and the Serbian 14th seed looked in good form as she belted 22 forehand winners in a 7-5 6-1 defeat of Japan’s Kurumi Nara.TRICKY MATCHProspective last-eight opponent Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, seeded 12th, beat China’s Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3 while eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky survived a tricky second round against 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard 6-4 6-4.Bouchard, who has slumped down the rankings after reaching number five in 2014, led 4-1, then lost 10 games in a row before mounting a late comeback attempt.“The brain is like a muscle. You got to work it out,” Bouchard, tipped as the new queen of tennis not so long ago, said of her ongoing battle to rediscover the mental strength needed to survive in the higher echelons.Only one women’s seed fell on Thursday, number 28 Andrea Petkovic who was beaten by Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.Five Frenchmen set out to reach the third round on day five but only one succeeded in joining the three already there.Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seeded six, did so to the delight of a noisy crowd, although he did it the hard way, coming from two sets down to beat mercurial Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-7(6) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 and notch a 100th grand slam win.“It’s an anecdote, it’s a number. The match itself is something I’ll remember, because to recover after two sets to zero, it’s not something you do daily,” Tsonga said.Seventh seed Tomas Berdych, like Tsonga a former semi-finalist here, beat Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-1 2-6 6-2 6-4 while 12th seed David Goffin and 13th seed Dominic Thiem, both advanced in straight sets.Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev, two 19-year-olds billed as the next big things, reached the third round with Coric surprising Australia’s 20th seed Bernard Tomic 3-6 6-2 7-6(4) 7-6(6) and Zverev seeing off Frenchman Stephane Robert.last_img read more

Tennis superstar Serena Williams confirms pregnancy

Tennis superstar Serena Williams confirms pregnancy

first_imgBy Frank PingueTennis superstar Serena Williams is pregnant and taking maternity leave through the rest of 2017, expecting to give birth this fall, her spokeswoman said on Wednesday in an announcement that upended a sport the 35-year-old athlete has dominated for the past decade.The confirmation came hours after Williams, due to regain to the No. 1 world ranking next week, set off a day of frenzied speculation with a short-lived selfie posted on social media – posing for a photo in a yellow one-piece swimsuit on Snapchat with the caption: “20 weeks.”Williams deleted the photo shortly after it appeared and waited more than six hours to make any public comment, stoking debate among tennis fans about whether or not she was joking.“I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” Los Angeles-based publicist Kelly Bush Novak said.Bush Novak told Reuters that Williams intended to sit out the remainder of the 2017 season and return next year.Williams, the world’s highest paid female athlete, announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last December.Days ago she seemed to quell speculation about impending motherhood with an Instagram post praising a newly published guidebook for new mothers by former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, adding in the caption: “One of these days I hope to apply this (but for now I’ll stick to my dog Chip).”If Williams is indeed 20 weeks into her term, that would mean she was approximately two months pregnant when she captured her record 23rd Grand Slam tournament singles title at the Australian Open in January.Her victory over older sister Venus Williams broke a tie with Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam singles championships in the sport’s modern era. Serena Williams has not played since then, citing a knee injury.TECHNICALLY A DOUBLES MATCH?Fans and celebrities reacted with a mixture of awe and glee to Williams’ Snapchat post.“Serena Williams was pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam tournament at the Australian Open. And did not drop ONE SET. Let that sink in,” wrote Twitter user @noelleharmony.“So Serena cheated,” Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, wrote on his Twitter account. “Because that’s technically a doubles match.”The Women’s Tennis Association congratulated Williams on Twitter before deleting its post.Tennis’ U.S. governing body, the United States Tennis Association, wrote on Facebook, “Join us in congratulating the GOAT and her fiancé Alexis Ohanian on this incredible news!” referring to Williams with the acronym for “Greatest of All Time.”Researchers who study pregnancy in high-performing athletes said her training during pregnancy, the speed of her body’s recovery after giving birth and her will power are the keys to Williams returning to top-level play. James Pivarnik, a kinesiology professor at Michigan State University, said her muscular build could overcome some of the changes that usually impair performance.Other women have left the tour to have children and returned at a high level, although none has done so at Williams’ age. Kim Clijsters of Belgium retired and had a child before coming back at age 26 and winning three Grand Slam titles as a mother.Australians Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court also won Grand Slam titles after having children.Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, missed most of the 2016 season to have a baby and is expected to return to the tour this summer.“We’ve seen some other mothers come back … but will she have enough motivation when she sees that little one?” former world No. 1 Hall of Famer Tracy Austin said on the Tennis Channel. “She’s already done so much, does she need more?”For Williams, who commands nearly $29 million in salary and sponsorship earnings, becoming pregnant makes her all the more attractive to corporate sponsors, industry executives said.Williams is the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles title and still dominates the tour at an age when most players have retired.Williams, who has played professionally for two decades, first gained the No. 1 ranking in 2002 and has held that spot for more than six years in total.Sister Venus, 36, has won seven Grand Slam singles titles.last_img read more

World Rugby committed to investing in the 10 tier two unions

World Rugby committed to investing in the 10 tier two unions

first_imgWith global participation and competitiveness at an all-time high and World Rugby committed to closing the performance gap, the global governing body has injected approximately £34 million for the period 2012-15 directly into the 10 tier two nations participating in Rugby World Cup 2015.This money will underwrite a package of programmes aimed at reducing the competition gap with the 10 tier one nations.In addition, World Rugby has indirectly invested a further £16m in unions via high performance competitions to enhance the pathway to the Rugby World Cup for teams.With Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay and USA all arriving in England ahead of RWC 2015, World Rugby’s funding and strategic initiatives have assisted them by supporting high performance structures, development programmes, player welfare initiatives and training and education.Specifically, direct union high performance investment supports athlete, coach and match official programmes, including talent identification, development, welfare, sports science and sports medicine plus research and innovation; it supports the daily training environment and competition initiatives for academies and national teams; and it also supports leadership and excellence initiatives including programme management and governance, administration, human resources, player insurance and infrastructure.In addition, World Rugby has helped source specialist technical coaching consultants for the Rugby World Cup-participating tier two teams in targeted areas, including defence, skills, scrum, attack, medical, strength and conditioning programme/team management specialists. These appointments include Steve Borthwick (Japan), Phil Davies (Namibia) and Alama Ieremia (Samoa).High performance competitions facilitated include the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, Nations Cup and Tbilisi Cup for national teams, the World Rugby Pacific Challenge and Americas Cup for national “A” teams, and the World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy for national junior teams. World Rugby also supports the participation of the tier two teams in June and November window test matches including match-ups with tier one teams on annual European tours.  In 2011, World Rugby announced an overhaul of the Rugby World Cup daily match schedule to deliver equity of rest and preparation days for teams, which has been achieved within the England 2015 schedule.World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Rugby World Cup is the financial engine that drives the development and competitiveness of the global game and the continued commercial success of the tournament has enabled World Rugby to invest a record £192m in the sustainability and growth of the game worldwide between 2012 and 2015.“This is particularly beneficial for our high performance tier two unions as it has enabled an unprecedented £50m to be ring-fenced specifically for high performance initiatives in order that they can perform to their full potential at England 2015.”last_img read more

NCDABA win men’s and women’s titles

NCDABA win men’s and women’s titles

first_imgIn the women’s grand final, NCDABA were too strong beating Port Moresby Women’s Basketball League (1) 63-38 at the Taurama Aquatic Centre.In the third and fourth playoff, Mt. Hagen defeated Kerema 67-51.The men’s grand final was a thriller with NCDABA coming out victors over PNG Men’s Basketball League (1) 70-65.Third place in the men’s division went to Daru after they beat Kupiano 79-67.Photo credit:  Basketball Federation of PNGlast_img

UBI Hills crowned as Sumkar soccer champions

UBI Hills crowned as Sumkar soccer champions

first_imgUBI Hills defeated Sumbar 2 of Talidig Sports Association on Monday in Kinim Station, Karkar Island.UBI Hills walked away with the champions cup and K1,500 cash prize money while Sumbar grab the runner-up trophy with K1,000.The third placing went to 2MK club of Mamoke area in Karkar Island with K700 cash and fourth placin to Bisel of Biranis village in Sumgilbar Local Level Government area with K500 cash prize.Sumkar District Sports Chairman Atis Deme said a total of 38 teams took part in soccer with teams divided into four pools with only eight progressing  into the quarter finals. The winners then advanced into the  semi-final which saw the winning two teams play the grand final.Deme said in Dart, last year runner up  in the District Games Sea Waves of Kusang village along the North Coast road  took the cup away from the defending champion Traim Tasol of Bangme, Karkar Island.Traim Tasol came third with K600 while second place went to Wagaben dart club of inland Karkar Island trophy with K800 and Galsan Hunter of Komoria village inland Karkar Island with K400 cash.“In Men’s Volleyball last year runner up Irasa from Mirap in Sumgilbar LLG came back strong this year winning three sets to one against last year champions Sum One of Banab village and walked away with champions cup and K800 cash. The runner-up  received the trophy with K600 cash prize, third prize went  to Young Gunz of Basken in Sumgilbar LLG. Bisel took fourth prize with a trophy and K400.”In the women’s division fourth prize went to Irasa of Mirap with K400 cash prize, third  to Sum two with a trophy  and K500, second prize to Sum One with K600 and grand finalist  winner Sumbar of NCR took trophy and K800 cash.“In Touch footy two teams advance to the final Karkum of North Coast road going up against Kados 1 of Bunu village who proof too strong defeating Karkum to claim champion’s cup with cash prize of K800 while Karkum claim trophy with K500 cash prize,” Deme said. Deme said other results in Basketball for both male and female division saw defending champion of  the women last year in first Sumkar District Games  Sobilara of Megiar  take the cup again with K800 cash prize and United Sisters of Bangme, Karkar Island  took second with  K500 cash and fourth prize  went to Kuspas of Kulili in Karkar IslandIn the Men’s division fourth place went  to Irasa of Mirap village, NCR with K400 cash prize, third prize  to Kidoga with K500 cash, second prize goes to Sobilara with K600 cash prize and the champions cup  went to Ba One with K800 cash.Deme said in total soccer had the highest number of teams with 38 teams Dart has 20 divided into four pools, Volleyball and Basketball both male and female had 20 teams each respectively while touch footy had only five teams in this year’s district games.last_img read more

PNG cricket umpires officiating at ICC comp

PNG cricket umpires officiating at ICC comp

first_imgSix teams, Bermuda, Denmark, Italy, Jersey, Oman and host USA will be competing in the one week competition which started on Saturday 29 October.“It will be a very challenging trip but an awesome experience at the same time,” said Oala.This will be the second major ICC Event that Oala and Kapa will be officiating in.Both took part in the ICC Intercontinental Cup (ICUP) and World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) matches between the HEBOU PNG Barramundis and Namibia last month in the country.“Bermuda, Denmark, Italy, Jersey, Oman and hosts USA are very strong teams and I know Alu and I will enjoy the experience. We will try our very best on the field and be good ambassadors for both PNG and Cricket PNG,” said Oala.The top two sides from among the competing teams – Bermuda, Denmark, Italy, Jersey, Oman and the USA – will advance to the ICC WCL Division 3 while the bottom two will drop to Division 5 in the system of continuous promotion and relegation between divisions.The third and fourth teams will remain in Division 4.Oala and Kapa were the only two PNG umpires selected in the 2016 ICC Associate/Affiliate Umpires panel which include some of the best umpires in the Associate/Affiliate Countries along with a number from the full-member cricket countries.   ICC World Cricket League Division 4 (Schedule)29 October:       USA v Bermuda (Severn); Denmark v Italy (Wright), Jersey v Oman (Wong).30 October:       Bermuda v Oman (Severn), Denmark v Jersey (Wright), USA v Italy (Wong).1 November:     Italy v Jersey (Severn), USA v Oman (Wright), Bermuda v Denmark (Wong).2 November:     USA v Denmark (Severn); Bermuda v Jersey (Wright); Italy v Oman (Wong).4 November:     Denmark v Oman (Severn); Bermuda v Italy (Wright); USA v Jersey (Wong).5 November:     Final (Severn), 3rd v 4th playoff (Wright); 5th v 6th playoff (Wong)last_img read more