In-form Apollon aim to keep up the pressure

first_imgBy Nemanja BjedovIN-FORM Apollon are aiming to record their 12th victory in 17 league games when they visit Alki in Larnaca on Saturday at 6pm, while Anorthosis take on Doxa Katokopia three hours earlier looking for revenge after a 2-1 home defeat earlier in the season.Christakis Christoforou’s team is currently two points behind league leaders AEL and they will definitely be looking for another quick goal away from home to set the game on the desired course, after they dismantled Omonia 4-2 last weekend at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia.The Limassol outfit is the best team away from home as they have claimed 19 points from the eight games they have played outside the Tsirion Stadium.Dan Alexa and Toni Calvo are not available for selection for Anorthosis coach Jorge Costa and he will have to find replacements for the duo, as well as his prolific striker Roberto Colautti, who might miss the match at the Makarios Stadium as he nurses a minor injury. He will probably be given a late fitness test to determine his availability.AEK Larnaca, who are on four-game unbeaten run, are making the short trip to Paralimni where they will take on Enosis at the Tasos Markou Stadium on Saturday (4pm).Sunday afternoon (3pm) sees AEL host Omonia in what should be the most interesting game of the weekend, with a lot of speculation surrounding AEL’s Portuguese striker Orlando Sa’s status at the club.“The player does not want to leave and he will be available for selection,” said AEL coach Ivaylo Petev, who denied an interest in the player from PAOK who are said to be trying to sign the league’s top scorer for a one million euro fee. The Greek side is apparently ready to meet AEL’s demands, but if the transfer goes through, 20 per cent of the fee will go to FC Porto, as stipulated in the player’s contract.At 5pm, AEK Kouklion host Ermis Aradippou, just a few days after they eliminated them from the national cup, but it is expected that this will be a different game unless AEK goalkeeper Charalambos Kairinos displays his top form yet again.Defending champions APOEL take on Nea Salamina, who have appointed ex-Omonia coach Neophytos Larkou and this is will be his first game in charge, in the capital at 6pm.In the final Round 17 game, Ethnikos Achnas meet Aris Limassol on Monday night at the Dasaki Stadium in Achna.last_img read more

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Counting down the days until Brazil welcomes the world

first_imgBy Ronaldo Lazário de LimaONLY 100 days. It’s hard to believe it’s so close. It seems like only yesterday that Brazil was confirmed as the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ host nation. I remember the excitement I felt once I realised that my country was going to stage the most important football event on the planet.Even though I won’t be out there on the field, I’m starting to get the same butterflies in the stomach as I used to do when a big game was coming up. After all, the World Cup will be a kind of ‘final’ for Brazil, in terms of the country establishing itself on the global stage. The spotlight will be on us, and it’s a great chance to show the world just what’s so special about Brazil and the Brazilian people.With the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics taking place here in Brazil, we have the chance to prove to the world not just how much we love sport, but also how strong we are economically. Brazil is a world leader in biotechnology and one of the biggest meat, mineral and soya producers on the planet. Very soon thousands of tourists and foreign journalists will arrive on our doorstep, anxious to discover the real Brazil.Although Brazil is a country of great social contrasts, we have made significant progress in tackling this problem in recent years. We are a diverse but unified society, a land of talented, determined, creative and innovative people – characteristics that are captured perfectly by Neymar’s dizzying, magical dribbles, the music of Tom Jobim, and the scientific achievements of Miguel Nicolelis, whose exoskeleton research has given paraplegics hope that they may one day walk again.Brazil is such a colourful country, blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. Tourists that come here for the World Cup should prepare themselves for an unforgettable experience. Whether it’s from visiting the beaches of the northeast, witnessing the vastness of the Amazon River, or taking in the dazzling blend of ocean and mountains that makes Rio de Janeiro such a special place, every visitor will take home a treasured personal memory.Brazil is a place of great happiness and joy, and we will welcome World Cup visitors with open arms. But until then, we must keep working.As a 2014 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee Management Board member, I have been lucky enough to observe up close the dedication and skill of the workers who are helping to construct this unique event. In all 12 host cities I’ve witnessed the commitment of the thousands of people who are striving to create the best World Cup possible.We faced some tough tests during the preparations. Last year, we hosted the best FIFA Confederations Cup in history. That’s not just my opinion, but also that of fans, journalists, and even FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.Less than six months later, we successfully organised another challenging event: the Final Draw at the Costa do Sauípe in Bahia. And after we discovered in which cities the games would be played, the 32 national teams that will dispute the tournament discussed their operational plans with members of the LOC, FIFA, and the Brazilian government.This exchange of ideas and opinions between organisersand national teams is an ongoing process, and another key event, the National Teams Workshop at the Costão do Santinho in Florianópolis, took place last month.Subjects such as safety, transport, and how the teams are to be looked after were discussed in detail.Now we’re really on the home straight. Since the beginning of the year two new stadiums have opened: the Arena das Dunas, in Natal, and the new Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. They’re beautiful, just like the Arena Amazonas, the Arena da Baixada, the Arena Pantanal and the Arena Corinthians, which are also almost ready.By the time the World Cup begins, all the stadiums will have carried out test events. These are of vital importance so that the tournament organisers can make final adjustments to their plans.There is not much time left now until the tournament begins and the greatest players on the planet go head to head. Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Iniesta, Neymar…I can’t wait. I’ll be expecting you in Brazil. See you at the World Cup!last_img read more

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Another late strike thwarts Cyprus’ Euro dream

first_imgIn almost a carbon copy of Thursday’s defeat to Wales, Cyprus dominated for large parts of the game against Belgium but were ultimately outdone by a late strike from the most dangerous man on the field.It was Gareth Bale’s header on 82 minutes which separated the two teams just a few days ago and itwas Eden Hazard at 85 minutes who stole the points for the Red Devils on Sunday, making Cyprus’ chances of claiming the third and final playoff spot in Group B a steep challenge.Israel picked up a valuable draw against Wales earlier in the evening and Bosnia breezed past Andorra, causing Cyprus to drop down to fifth place in the group by the end of the night.With a wealth of talent throughout the Belgian side coupled with their 5-0 win over Cyprus in March meant few gave the home team any hope of leaving the national stadium with a favourable result but an excellent performance left the local supporters feeling hard done with the result.Manchester City’s new £57million signing Kevin de Bruyne proved the biggest threat early on. Thegame’s first big moment came after Constantinos Makrides claims on the edge of the Belgian box andthe away team broke at speed. Marouane Fellaini’s deflected effort fell into De Bruyne’s path whotucked the ball into the net, only for it to be ruled out for offside.Lone striker Nestoras Mitidis was forced off after just ten minutes which signaled the introduction of Pieros Soteriou, and the APOEL forward burst into action almost immediately. The youngster robbed Thomas Vermaelen of the ball on the halfway line but was slow to get the ball out of his feet, allowing the defence to regroup.But for all of Belgium’s household names, it was Cyprus who enjoyed the best of the first-half. On 30 minutes, some lovely incisive build up play almost saw the home side take a shock lead. A neat triangle between Constantinos Charalambides, Jason Demetriou and Giorgos Economides eventually found Makridis in the box but his effort went well wide of the keeper’s far post.Just moments later, a hopeful ball into the box by Marios Antoniades raised some tame penalty claimsfor a tug on Makrides. The ball eventually came out to Charalambides on the right who picked out Marios Nikolaou but the former AEL captain’s strike was practice work for Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. In the second half, Cyprus continued to look more threatening. The slow yet measured build up play saw the home side boss the nation ranked second in FIFA’s latest rankings. However, the absence of Stathis Aloneftis, Giorgos Efrem and Dimitris Christofi would leave fans wondering what could have been had one of the aforementioned trio been fit for selection. As was the case against Wales on Thursday, Cyprus’ lack of individual quality especially in the final third desperately let them down, and it would prove costly.A nervy ending saw Belgium pile the pressure and, in a repeat of the game against group leaders Wales, Cyprus could not hold on. A quick breakaway found substitute Dries Mertens free on the wing who then picked out Hazard on the edge of the six-yard box, and the Chelsea star would make no mistake with a measured strike beyond the reach of Georgallides to crush Cypriot hearts.The next internationals for Christodoulou’s men come just a month away, when they take on Israel away and Bosnia at home.last_img read more

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I am ‘The Thinkerman’ now, says Leicester mastermind Ranieri

first_imgClaudio Ranieri re-named himself ‘The Thinkerman’ on Thursday as he reflected on masterminding Leicester City’s improbable rise from relegation candidates to Premier League champions.The 64-year-old Italian received a standing ovation from assembled media as he appeared for his first news conference since his intrepid Foxes were confirmed as champions of England for the first time in their history.Sipping a glass of bubbly along with the press pack, Ranieri thanked ‘karma’ for delivering his first major league title and said he had felt ‘something special’ since the start of a season that will enter British sporting folklore.“I think it’s karma because I’ve fought hard to achieve this,” the much-travelled Ranieri, whose managerial career includes stints at Napoli, Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Roma and Monaco, said.“Never I could imagine this, but it’s good. I am ‘The Thinkerman’, not ‘Tinkerman’,” he added in reference to the old nickname he earned during his days in charge of Chelsea when squad rotation was one of his traits.This season Ranieri has out-smarted all his rivals, sticking by his tactics and relying on a settled formation.Leicester have used only 18 players in their starting line-ups this season, two fewer than second-placed Spurs while seven of his players have started 32 or more games.Leicester were assured of the title when second-placed Tottenham Hotspur drew at Chelsea on Monday, since when the provincial city has been in party mode.Ranieri confirmed that Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli would serenade the champions on Saturday when they receive the trophy after their match against Everton.“I would like to go around the city maybe with the black glasses to see what happens because it is amazing,” Ranieri said of the mood in the East Midlands.“Bocelli called me and he was so happy. He said he would like to set something up.”Ranieri said he was at home making dinner when events unfolded at Stamford Bridge on Monday.“I watched the match. Half-time I made dinner. Relaxed until the second Chelsea goal. After, I jump!” he said.“It was a little more quiet than Jamie Vardy’s house.”Despite all the hullabaloo, Ranieri said it would be largely business as usual once the whistle blows on Saturday.“I’m already focussed on the football,” he said.“Now I am happy to plan my next football and think about 1 July to come back here and prepare for the new season.”Asked if he would strengthen the squad to prepare to mix it with Europe’s elite in the Champions League, he added: “My lads are special. We have to bring some good players but who arrives must have the same spirit.”last_img read more

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Baghdatis beats Muller at Roland Garros

first_imgBy Andreas VouMarcos Baghdatis is through to the second round of the French Open following a 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 win over Gilles Muller on Tuesday afternoon.The Cypriot star struggled for any sort of rhythm early on and made a handful of unforced errors in the opening exchanges which saw him on the brink of losing the first set.Down 5-1, Baghdatis clawed his way back into contention as he reeled off six games in a row to claim the opening set.Muller, currently No.42 in the ATP rankings, just three spots behind the Cypriot, again looked sharper at the start of the second set, breaking serve right from the off. But, as he did in the first, Baghdatis overturned the deficit, and after going toe-to-toe right until the final stages, eventually took a two-set lead.While the first two sets had their difficulties, the third was a breeze for the Cypriot as he made light work of a dejected Muller, sealing his spot in the second round and a date with local favourite and sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.Victory enhances Baghdatis’ positive start to the year. The 30-year-old reached the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the end of February, eventually losing out to world No.4 Stan Wawrinka.Shortly after, he also helped the Cyprus Davis Cup team to promotion to Europe Zone Group II, first with comfortable wins in qualifying followed by a victory in the playoff match against the Republic of Ireland.This is Baghdatis’ 11th appearance at Roland Garros and his latest win brings his overall record to ten wins and ten defeats.last_img read more

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Ibrahimovic and Pogba shine as Man United sink Southampton

first_imgZlatan Ibrahimovic struck twice as Manchester United beat Southampton 2-0 at Old Trafford on Friday, with the world’s most expensive player Paul Pogba making his second Premier League debut for the home side.Ibrahimovic, playing his first home game for United, opened the scoring in the 36th minute when he leapt above Jose Fonte to firmly head in a cross by Wayne Rooney.The 34-year-old Swede added a second from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute after substitute Jordy Clasie fouled Luke Shaw as he drove into the box, guaranteeing victory for manager Jose Mourinho on his Old Trafford debut.Pogba demonstrated his class with a dynamic midfield display, dribbling with power and combining well with Ibrahimovic and Rooney.last_img read more

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Dagg brace ensures All Blacks retain Bledisloe Cup

first_imgIsrael Dagg scored two tries as the All Blacks beat Australia 29-9 in their Rugby Championship clash in Wellington on Saturday, which also ensured they retained the Bledisloe Cup for another year.Flyhalf Beauden Barrett also showcased his growing stature as the starting flyhalf with nine points from the boot and his all-round play drove his side around the field in a match that failed to reach the same heights as last week’s opener.Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley slotted two penalties, while debutant Reece Hodge landed a monster penalty in the first half for the visitors, who rarely threatened on attack and lost their sixth successive match.The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy since 2003 and only had to draw in Wellington to ensure it stayed locked in New Zealand Rugby’s trophy cabinet for another season.Steve Hansen’s side had hammered the Wallabies 42-8 last week in Sydney with a game of high pace and superb execution, and the Wallabies had promised they would perform better than they had at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.The only thing they did do better, however, was slow the pace of the All Blacks’ game with negative tactics, while they also antagonised the home team with several off-the-ball incidents.The tactics worked to an extent, the All Blacks only led 15-9 at halftime courtesy of Dagg’s tries and a conversion and penalty to Barrett, while Foley and Hodge kicked penalties for the visitors.The negative mindset, however, did result in main protagonist Adam Coleman yellow carded for a dangerous charge on All Blacks fullback Ben Smith late in the first half.The All Blacks did not score again while Coleman was off the field as the Wallabies slowed the pace even further, with the game at times descending into squabbles.Julian Savea then gave his side some breathing space just after Coleman returned when Barrett’s blistering pace again exploited space in the Wallabies defence before Same Cane grabbed his side’s fourth try about 15 minutes later.Both sides now have a week off in the Rugby Championship before the All Blacks face Argentina in Hamilton on September 10, while the Wallabies play South Africa in Brisbane.The final match of the Bledisloe Cup, which is now a dead rubber, is in Auckland on October 22.last_img read more

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Snooker champion Geua John misses out on Australian titles

first_imgTwenty seven women took part in the recent titles in Sydney and were placed in four groups with the top four advancing to the last 16.John advanced into the final 16 but was defeated 2-0 in the best of three frames by 2013 Oceania winner and New South Wales champion Jessica Woods.She won three of her six games to finish third in Group D and also made two high breaks of 31 during the tournament.Helen Samuel in Group A won two of her six games but was nudged out of the top four into fifth spot by Narelle Adams of Western Australia by a point.Madleine Kaina also won two of her six games but was placed 6th in Group B.This was the first time for the PNG women’s team to participate at the titles which was an international ranking tournament as well.Team manager Bobbie McCarthy said the women played to their best and gained invaluable experience against some of the best in the world.He added that it was also an international ranking tournament and it will be interesting to see where our women are ranked in the world when the rankings are released.Samuel said despite the loss, it was a good experience playing against some of the best snooker players in the world.The 2015 Australian Women’s Snooker Title was won by Chitra Magimaira of India when she defeated Theresa Whitten from the Australian Capital Territory.last_img read more

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Hunters to meet tough Magpies in opener

first_imgPNG have never lost to the Magpies and will be hoping to maintain their record but they will have to do it with a relatively inexperienced team.Former skipper and five-eighth Israel Eliab’s departure leaves a large void in the side, while the loss of rampaging forward Willie Minoga will be equally difficult to fill  but the Hunters have shown they are capable of unearthing new talent.The Team for tomorrow encounter is: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Noel Zeming (c) 4. Thompson Teteh 5. Adex Wera 6. Ase Boas 7. Atte Bina 8. Henry Noki 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Nickson Borana 12. Warren Glare 13. Ishmael Balkawa 14. Watson Boas 15. Justin Olam 16. Benjamin Hetra 17. Edward Goma 18. Philemon Kimisive.The Magpies with a sprinkling of talented fringe Broncos players added the to team, have a real chance to start the season on the front foot, with developing players Sam Scarlett and Herman Ese’ese set to provide some spark.This match will also be the 50th match for the Hunters who have won 32 of those matches; drawn three and lost 14.This is the half-century milestone for Coach Michael Marum (the 43rd coach to reach 50 games) and crafty rake Wartovo Puara, who is the only player to play all 50 games for the Hunters.last_img read more

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