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FA Cup fights for relevance as EPL gets wealthier

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer br /> LONDON (AP) — Within minutes of lifting the FA Cup in May, Louis van Gaal discovered how little the competition factored into the decision on his Manchester United future. United's approach for Jose Mourinho to succeed Van Gaal emerged as the Dutch coach was facing the media at Wembley Stadium straight after beating Crystal Palace. Two days later, Van Gaal was booted out of United, paying the price for failing to secure Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four. It's clear what the priority is now for English Premier League owners like the Glazers. United and the other 19 Premier League teams enter the FA Cup in the third round this weekend, knowing success in soccer's oldest knockout competition has rarely counted less. What matters is making cash through the Premier League, which has eroded the FA Cup's long-standing cherished place in the English football calendar over the last two decades. Van Gaal is one of several managers to leave their jobs despite reaching an FA Cup final. Alan Pardew, his Palace counterpart in May, was fired in December due to the London club's lowly Premier League position. Going back to 2013, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was turned out of his job two days after losing the final to Wigan, which was relegated in the same season. Martinez did, however, secure a move to Everton after his triumph. Roberto Di Matteo, the 2012 cup winner, was at least given until November after his May triumph before being dumped by Chelsea. Perhaps the only manager the FA Cup has mattered to in recent years was Arsene Wenger, with successes in 2014 and 2015 easing some of the heat he has faced for Arsenal's failure to win the Premier League since 2004. Wenger's last cup final victory came against Aston Villa in May 2015. Given that Villa hadn't won a major trophy since the 1996 League Cup or won the FA Cup since 1957, reaching the final was a proud day for manager Tim Sherwood. Five months later, Sherwood was dismissed and he hasn't found another job. No current manager has more experience of the FA Cup and the debate about its luster than Wenger, who has spent 21 years at Arsenal. 'I have no special solution,' the Frenchman said. 'But as well when April comes and May comes and teams go to Wembley it's something special ... it's a big priority for us. 'We have shown historically that we care about that competition and it's a massive competition for everybody.' Just less so in January. 'After the congested Christmas period it's always a tricky game the third round, and that is why I believe (it's a) mental challenge as well for the Premier League teams to prepare well, not to have a bad surprise, and especially today when you go to a Championship team it's always difficult.' Arsenal travels on Saturday to Preston, which is 11th in the 24-team second-tier League Championship. Preston North End's heyday was in the 19th century, winning the top tier twice and the FA Cup once. The northern English club's last major honor was lifting the FA Cup in 1938. Here is a look at the pick of the third-round fixtures involving Premier League teams against lower-league sides. ___ MAN UNITED-READING United's cup defense begins with a reunion as former defender Jaap Stam returns to Old Trafford. The Dutchman won the cup in United's 1998-99 treble-winning season along with the Premier League and Champions League. 'I'm not going to make a big thing of it because I'm not going to be waving,' Stam said. That's because the next time he returns to United he hopes it is because Reading, currently third in the Championship, is back in the Premier League. TOTTENHAM-ASTON VILLA Steve Bruce, whose Hull side lost the 2014 final to Arsenal, is midway through his first season at Aston Villa. There's little doubt his main task is returning the team to the Premier League but it is a place below Preston in 12th place and seven points from the playoff spots. Tottenham is likely to use the cup on Sunday as a chance to rest the key players behind the five-match league winning run, crowned by the victory over Chelsea on Wednesday that lifted Mauricio Pochettino's side to third. LIVERPOOL-PLYMOUTH It's second in the Premier League versus second in the fourth tier at Anfield on Sunday. And it's Juergen Klopp's first taste of the FA Cup, but the Liverpool manager is likely to use the game to test the depth of his squad and give game time to youngsters. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Chelsea gets 13th straight win, Liverpool maintains pursuit

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer br /> LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Chelsea fought off a dogged Stoke for a record-equaling 13th successive Premier League win as Liverpool maintained its pursuit of the leaders with a victory over Manchester City. Thanks to Saturday's 4-2 win, Chelsea will enter the second half of the season holding a six-point advantage over Liverpool in Antonio Conte's first season in charge of the London club. Juergen Klopp is also satisfied with Liverpool's progress as he looks to deliver the club's first title since 1990 by chasing down Chelsea over the next 19 games. 'Can you imagine how annoying it is when you have won 13 games in a row and another team is only six points behind,' Klopp said after Liverpool's 1-0 win over City. 'It is unbelievably difficult this league.' It was Pep Guardiola with little to celebrate on New Year's Eve as City slipped 10 points behind leader Chelsea. ___ CHELSEA 4, STOKE 2 Chelsea has emulated Arsenal's 2002 side by reeling off 13 wins in a row in the same season and it's thanks to Willian's double. Goals from Gary Cahill and Willian were canceled out by Stoke duo Bruno Martins Indi and Peter Crouch. When Willian put Chelsea in front for a third time in the 65th minute, Stoke could find no way back this time and Diego Costa added a fourth. 'When you win a lot there is a great danger to be satisfied, to be relaxed, to think, 'OK, but we won a lot in the past, now if arrive the draw, if we don't lose, if we don't win it's not important,'' Conte said. 'No. My players showed me great will, great will to fight, great will to win, great will to take this great achievement for us. I'm pleased for them and they deserved this. I'm their coach, but they deserved this.' ___ LIVERPOOL 1, MAN CITY 0 Georginio Wijnaldum's eighth-minute header secured Liverpool's fourth successive league win. Wijnaldum will take the plaudits for providing his second goal of the season, but Adam Lallana's contribution underscored how the midfielder is an essential ingredient in the title bid. It was Lallana's seventh assist of the season — he has also scored seven — that set up Wijnaldum. The Dutch midfielder climbed above City defender Aleksandar Kolarov to meet Lallana's well-placed cross from the left flank before planting a header beyond goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. 'It was kind of a wild game,' Klopp said. 'It was intense. It's not about having a philosophy, it's about adapting to the quality of the opponent and in this case we needed to defend from a compact formation.' ___ MAN UNITED 2, MIDDDLESBROUGH 1 Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba scored late goals in the 85th and 86th minutes to rescue a fifth successive win for Jose Mourinho's United. Grant Leadbitter had given Middlesbrough the lead but United gave the watching former manager Alex Ferguson the perfect 75th birthday gift. 'If the fans remember this not just for Sir Alex's birthday but for the kind of performance we had, I think it's a great tribute,' Mourinho said. United's in-house television channel received a shock after the game when nine-time Olympic Usain Bolt called in with his analysis. ___ LEICESTER 1, WEST HAM 0 Leicester moved six points clear of the relegation zone on Saturday after the struggling champions ended a three-game winless streak courtesy of Islam Slimani's header. Leicester moved up one spot to 15th. ___ SWANSEA 0, BOURNEMOUTH 3 Swansea's miserable form continued in the first game following Bob Bradley's firing. Benik Afobe and Ryan Fraser scored first-half goals and substitute Josh King completed a comfortable win for Bournemouth in the 88th minute. ___ SOUTHAMPTON 1, WEST BROM 2 In the final five minutes of the first half, Shane Long put Southampton ahead and Matt Phillips equalized. But Hal Robson-Kanu struck a second-half winner for West Bromwich Albion before Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk was sent off in the 88th for bringing down striker Salomon Rondon. ___ BURNLEY 4, SUNDERLAND 1 Burnley moved closer to mid-table safety powered by Andre Gray's hat trick against relegation-threatened Sunderland. ___ SUNDAY'S GAMES Fourth-placed Arsenal and fifth-placed Tottenham are both in action on New Year's Day. Tottenham is at Watford before Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2016

Bolt in 200m semis

Usain Bolt stepped up his quest for a third straight Olympic sprint sweep on Tuesday as Brazilian heroine Marta was left in tears by a bitter football defeat......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsAug 17th, 2016

Argentina's Tevez settling into role with Shanghai Shenhua

SHANGHAI (AP) — Argentine striker Carlos Tevez says he's already feeling at home with Chinese Super League squad Shanghai Shenhua. Tevez last month became the latest in a procession of star players to join the CPL after Shenhua paid a reported $11 million transfer fee to Argentine club Boca Juniors. He declined to offer financial details on Saturday, but said he'd been moved by the sincerity of Zhou Jun, the club's deputy general manager, who met with Tevez in Argentina to discuss arrangements. The 32-year-old said he shared a 'similar football philosophy' with Shenhua coach Gus Poyet, the former Sunderland and Real Betis manager who joined the club in November. A person familiar with the negotiations said Tevez is being paid $40 million over two years. The Super League season begins in March. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Zidane says Ronaldo is still a difference-maker for Madrid

div>  /div> div>MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo hasn't scored a goal from open play in three games, a run that has Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive. /div> div>  /div> div>The glitch isn't exactly a goal drought because Ronaldo did score one from the penalty spot against Sevilla. But the dry period has coincided with Real Madrid's two-game losing streak after a 40-match unbeaten run. /div> div>  /div> div>'Cristiano is fine,' Zidane said Friday. 'He might have a bad day here and there. So what? He will always be a difference-maker in my mind. /div> div>  /div> div>'We have lost a couple of games, but there is no need to go overboard. Nothing is broken. Actually, it might have been a good time to lose two straight, in order to get going again and build up some confidence.' /div> div>  /div> div>Madrid leads the Spanish league with 40 points from 17 matches, holding a one-point lead over surging Sevilla. It was Sevilla that beat Madrid 2-1 on Sunday, after Ronaldo had converted a penalty to give his team the lead. /div> div>  /div> div>Defending champion Barcelona is third in the league and two points behind Madrid, which has a game in hand because of its trip to Japan to win the Club World Cup in December. /div> div>  /div> div>The loss in Sevilla was followed by another setback on Wednesday, when Madrid lost 2-1 at Celta Vigo in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals — again raising questions about the after-effects of playing in the Club World Cup. /div> div>  /div> div>'I'm not thinking about that at all,' Zidane said. 'As in life, you can't always win in football. You are going to have some bad days, and you need to overcome them to push ahead. It happened last year. We are going to reverse this. /div> div>  /div> div>'We aren't playing worse football than before. We just had a few bad plays that our opponents took full advantage of. The locker room is fine. The good news is we have another game tomorrow (in the league against 13th-place Malaga), and we are looking forward to it.' /div> div>  /div> div>Zidane said Ronaldo has lately been playing out of position at striker, a move that somewhat surprisingly has not translated into more goals for the Portugal forward. Ronaldo has 12 league goals this season, two behind Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. /div> div>  /div> div>'He played up top against Celta, but his favorite position is on the left wing, and that will not change,' Zidane said. 'The problem is more when he doesn't score, since we have grown used to him taking over. Cristiano will always be subject to criticism. He is used to it.' /div> div>  /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Silence, mourning since fatal crash turn to hope at Chapeco

MAURICIO SAVARESE, AP Sports Writer   CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Silence and mourning are slowly being replaced by boisterous fans and hope. As the Chapecoense club rebuilds after the air crash that killed 19 players and nearly all members of the staff and board of directors, so is the town of 200,000. Like many in Brazil, football is the oxygen for everything: gossip, community pride and heated debate. On Saturday, Chapecoense's 20,000-capacity Arena Conda will host the team's first match since the tragedy almost two months ago. Lines outside are filled with fans excited about the club's and the city's restart. Fifty coffins lined the same field in November, where this time Chape's reconstructed team will play Brazilian champion Palmeiras in a friendly match. 'I bet I won't be able to sleep Friday night,' 19-year-old fan Marcelo Ribeiro said as he walked to the stadium. 'Since the accident the city is dead. The festivities were mostly canceled at the end of the year, and all most people are thinking about is the rebirth. I want to see what the rebirth looks like.' At the Hotel Bertaso, where most of Chape's players and coaching staff have traditionally lodged, the first signs of that rebirth are obvious. The second floor, which was home to many of the victims, including coach Caio Junior, is once again full. 'I can't help feeling a lot of hope for the future now,' said receptionist Gelson Mangone, who lost several friends in that crash on an Andean mountain side near Medellin, Colombia, on Nov.28. 'It has been a lot of work to settle all these new signings here, they are also learning their way here,' the receptionist said. 'But it does feel like a brand new start.' New coach Vagner Mancini is one of the hotel's new residents. He said the job makes him 'a better human being, but it's the most challenging to face.' 'We have to build a team, a coaching staff and a club infrastructure in a season in which Chape will be in demand,' Mancini told The Associated Press. 'I understand now that the city was so affected because the club and the city are run like a family,' he added. 'The players we brought are cut from that cloth, but we have to reach a higher level now.' After the crash, Colombian club Atletico Nacional, which was to face Chape in the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin, awarded the victory to the small Brazilian team. That means that Chape qualified for South America's No. 1 tournament for the first time, the competitive Copa Libertadores. The team will also try to defend its title in the Santa Catarina state championship, try to stay up in Brazil's top-flight competition, and play in a pile of fundraisers, including one against Barcelona. 'We have to assemble a competitive team at the same time we need to hire someone to handle passports, contracts,' Mancini said. 'The club used to handle this well, but like a family run business. Now we are at a different moment.' Chapecoense had almost nothing left after the crash: six players that did not travel on the ill-fated flight, two physiotherapists, one goalkeeping coach, one doctor, one data analyst, one nurse and a few club officials. New chairman and club co-founder Plinio David de Nes Filho, a wealthy local businessman known as Maninho, is leading the charge to bolster club finances. Former players like Nivaldo Constante, who played as a goalkeeper until the tragedy struck, are approaching players that can help. And Chapeco Mayor Luciano Buligon is working as a kind of ambassador for the club and the city. 'Our weekends were about three things: family, church and Chapecoense,' Buligon said. 'It has been hard to get the city back on track because the wounds are still very open. But we are slowly moving on. On Saturday we will start getting a part of our weekends back.' Not everyone is happy. Rosangela Loureiro, widow of crash victim Cleber Santana, said she is upset because his belongings still have not been returned to the family. 'I feel sadness and rage. No one is doing anything to bring their belongings back. I plead with them to soften our pain and make us get the memories that we will hold dear for the rest of our lives,' she said on Instagram last week. Other widows have complained about damages not yet being paid by the club. Chapecoense directors say they are doing the best they can as they try to rebuild. There are even complaints at the joyous Hotel Bertaso. 'These new players love to make a mess in their rooms,' said a cleaner, who declined to offer her name. 'The other ones were older, more mature and the new ones seem to be more infantile. I hope they are up for the task. The city really needs that now.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Pochettino, Guardiola confounding expectations in EPL

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — In one dugout at Etihad Stadium on Saturday will be a manager enjoying a six-match winning streak with his second-place team. In the other, a manager reeling from the biggest loss of his career and down in fifth place. Few at the start of the English Premier League would have predicted it would be Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino with the edge over struggling Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. But the top of the standings is confounding expectations in the second half of the season. City hosts Tottenham with Guardiola's side trailing the second-place London club by three points and leader Chelsea by 10 points. Having already ruled City out of the title race, Guardiola is now in a scrap just to secure Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four as he endures a difficult first season in English soccer. It was against Tottenham in early October when Guardiola experienced his first setback at City, with Pochettino ending the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach's winning league start. Last weekend, he was humbled by a 4-0 loss at Everton, a career low for the Champions League-winning coach. Has Guardiola lost the Midas touch? 'The coach has to adapt with the players, the players have to adapt with the coach,' Eric Abidal, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, told The Associated Press on Thursday. 'Tactically, and the methodology of Pep Guardiola is methodology from Barcelona ... he needs time. They will win trophies. 'I spoke with some players from (City), tactically they learn a lot,' Adibal added at a Barcelona event on Thursday in Singapore. 'But when you have a good coach and good players, a lot of teams want to beat you. So it's not easy, every weekend, and we know the intensity of English football.' City racked up six successive wins in the league before losing 2-0 at Tottenham on Oct. 2. Since then City has dropped 18 points, winning seven of its 14 games as the shortcomings of the brittle defense and shaky goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been exposed. City's attacking options have been reinforced with Gabriel Jesus completing his move from Palmeiras in time to feature against Tottenham. 'Gabriel is a technically gifted player who was chased by some of Europe's biggest clubs and we are delighted he decided to join City,' director of football Txiki Begiristain said. 'He has the potential to become one of the best attacking players in the game.' And for the 19-year-old Jesus, Guardiola played a big part in deciding his next destination. 'He was the only manager who called me so I was very pleased,' Jesus said. 'One thing I've noticed is that, like me, he is mad about football. He lives football 24 hours a day. I'm like that, too. 'When I'm not playing, I'm watching, or playing a video game, doing something linked to football. This is very important, that I'm the same as him, and I hope to learn.' Tottenham could move six points clear of City by completing the double over Guardiola's side. And for Pochettino it's not just about securing a second successive season in the Champions League but delivering the north London club's first domestic title since 1961. 'We have to try to show that we can be real contenders for the Premier League, that's the real challenge,' Pochettino said. 'It's more important that we can show ourselves, rather than show Manchester City. 'We need to show ourselves we are capable of dealing with that pressure, and to try to win games to achieve big things.' Tottenham has received more positive news on defender Jan Vertonghen's ankle injury. After initial fears the center back could be out for three months, Tottenham now expects him back in six weeks. Here are some other talking points around the Premier League: ___ PAYET PREDICAMENT West Ham travels to Southampton on Saturday with the fate of star player Dimitri Payet still uncertain after the France midfielder told the club more than a week ago he wants to leave to rejoin Marseille. Payet would not play against Crystal Palace last weekend, according to manager Slaven Bilic. 'Is his departure inevitable? I don't know,' Bilic said. 'We are not going to sell our best players on the cheap just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to go home. 'I left it with the chairman and I'm sure he's going to do the best thing. The ball is in Marseille's court. They are the ones who expressed interest. Now they should act ... like everybody, he has his price.' AT THE BOTTOM Two of the teams in the relegation zone have tricky trips to top-four opposition. Paul Clement takes Swansea to third-place Liverpool on Saturday for a daunting second league game in charge of the bottom-place team. 'It does not look hopeless,' the former Bayern Munich assistant coach said. 'We are one point behind the team outside the relegation zone and not far behind the teams just above that as well.' Sunderland, which is above Swansea on goal difference, is at West Bromwich Albion. Hull is a point further up the standings going into Sunday's game at leader Chelsea. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

After good start, time for Balotelli to score away from home

JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   PARIS (AP) — It is about time for Mario Balotelli to start scoring away from home. The Italian striker's return from suspension is much needed for Nice, which faces a difficult match at Bastia on Friday after losing ground last weekend. Nice unexpectedly dropped points by drawing 0-0 against struggling Metz, and Balotelli's absence — through suspension — was felt. The draw played into the hands of free-scoring Monaco, which moved to the top on goal difference, and defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, now only three points behind. Nice will be stronger with Balotelli leading the line, considering he averages nearly a goal a game since joining on a free transfer from Liverpool in the offseason. But the worrying statistic for Nice is that his eight league goals — and nine of the 10 he has scored overall — have all been at home. When Nice plays at home, it often dominates possession through its slick midfield and Balotelli, with his outstanding ability to hold the ball up, is regularly involved in the quick and neat approach play. It's a different story away from home, where Balotelli often drifts in and out of position as he roams for space to create opportunities out of nothing. Nice coach Lucien Favre needs Balotelli to be at his disciplined best on Friday, rather than in improvisational mode. Balotelli, who has a long history of controversy on and off the field, will also have to keep this cool. Although Bastia is only one place above the relegation zone, the Corsican side is always fiercely motivated at home, where the passionate locals at the compact 20,000-capacity Armand Cesari Stadium reserve their most vitriolic and hostile welcomes for southern clubs Nice and Marseille, and for PSG. Because of the seething animosity between Bastia and Nice fans — there have been violent clashes in the past — France's Interior Ministry decreed a ban on travelling fans. Any daring Nice fans trying to circumnavigate the ban will be prevented from trying to reach the island of Corsica either by sea — via the ports of Nice, Marseille and Toulon — or by air. Nice deplored the ban, which it says 'automatically deprives its fans of passion for the umpteenth time.' Favre, who took charge in the offseason after leaving German side Borussia Moenchengladbach, is bracing himself for a heated encounter. 'There's always something special about this game, so I've been told,' said Favre, who replaced Claude Puel after he joined Premier League club Southampton. 'In football, you always have commitment, headers, tackles. It's part of the game, if it's fair. It's up to us to react properly. You must control your emotions.' ___ GOALS GALORE Lorient's players can hardly be looking forward to the trip to play Monaco, given how many goals the French leaders are scoring. Last weekend's 4-1 rout of Marseille made it 60 league goals in 20 games — comfortably more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues — and 86 in 33 games overall this season. Bad news for Lorient, which is languishing in 19th place and has conceded 39 goals — more than any other team in the league. Monaco must be relieved it did not sell Colombian striker Radamel Falcao after he spent two unsuccessful seasons on loan at Manchester United and Chelsea as he fought back from a serious injury. Falcao has been an inspirational captain, scoring eight in the past seven games and 17 in all competitions this season. Behind him and strike partner Valere Germain, the midfield quartet of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva is striking a good balance. Bakayoko and Fabinho do much of the holding work, thus freeing up the skillful Lemar and the quick Silva to roam free. They were unstoppable against Marseille, with Lemar scoring an audacious lob and Silva netting twice. ___ A TIGHTER DEFENSE PSG is looking for a fifth straight win when it travels to play Nantes on Saturday. Following a rocky spell just before the mid-season winter break, PSG has won its two league games and two cup games since without fuss and without conceding a goal. But Nantes could be a different proposition, especially given how well the team is playing under coach Sergio Conceicao. Wednesday's 1-0 win over Caen was the sixth in seventh games since the former Portugal winger took charge in early December. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Robinho in Brazil squad for Chape fundraiser versus Colombia

MAURICIO SAVARESE, Associated Press   CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Veteran forward Robinho has been called back into Brazil's national team for Wednesday's friendly against Colombia — a match that will raise funds for the families of the victims of the Chapecoense team air crash. The former Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan player has not played for Brazil since the 2015 Copa America. The 32-year-old Robinho is now at Atletico Mineiro. Brazil coach Tite chose a squad made up of locally based players for the fundraiser match. Nineteen Chapecoense players died in the accident that killed 71 of 77 passengers as the Brazilian team traveled to Medellin to play Colombian club Atletico Nacional in the Copa Sudamericana final. Chapecoense fans expected former goalkeeper Nivaldo, who retired after the crash, and midfielder Nenem to be called to the national team by Tite as a tribute. Instead, the coach called fitness coach Paulo Paixao, father of Anderson, who was Chapecoense's fitness coach and also died in the tragedy. 'All these players coming for this game could have a future with Brazil, that was one of the criteria,' Tite said at Brazilian football confederation headquarters. Only 5,000 tickets have been sold for the game, which will be played at the Engenhao Stadium — the venue for last year's Olympic track competition. The Maracana Stadium was ruled out because of a clash between its administrators. ___ Brazil squad: Goalkeepers: Alex Muralha (Flamengo), Danilo Fernandes (Internacional), Weverton (Atletico Paranaense) Defenders: Fagner (Corinthians), Marcos Rocha (Atletico Mineiro), Fabio Santos (Atletico Mineiro), Jorge (Flamengo), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Pedro Geromel (Gremio), Vitor Hugo (Palmeiras), Luan (Vasco da Gama) Midfielders: Camilo (Botafogo), Diego (Flamengo), Henrique (Cruzeiro), Rodriguinho (Corinthians), Walace (Gremio), Willian Arao (Flamengo), Lucas Lima (Santos), Gustavo Scarpa (Fluminense) Forwards: Dudu (Palmeiras), Diego Souza (Sport Recife), Luan (Gremio), Robinho (Atletico Mineiro) .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi stepping out of brother's shadow

DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press   MILAN (AP) — As a coach, Simone Inzaghi is finally stepping out of his older brother's shadow. The younger Inzaghi had some success as a player with Lazio, winning one Serie A title and three Italian Cups. But Filippo Inzaghi was one of the most famous forwards in the world, winning three Italian league and two Champions League titles with Juventus and AC Milan. Filippo, a former Milan coach now at the helm at third-division club Venezia, also helped Italy win the World Cup in 2006, and finished his international career with 57 appearances. Simone played only three times for Italy. But Simone, now 40, is coming into his own as coach of Lazio after taking over from Stefano Pioli in April. Under Simone this season, Lazio — which finished eighth last year — is proving to be somewhat of a surprise package, challenging for a Champions League spot behind Serie A leader Juventus, Roma and Napoli. 'Our aim is to try to always do well,' Simone said. 'Forty points in 20 matches is a lot. We've got to applaud these lads, because in July probably nobody believed Lazio would put together 40 points and deserve them and should even have a few more. 'Now the difficult part comes because we're not a surprise anymore. We have the duty now to try to remain there right until the end, knowing that it will be difficult, knowing that there are teams which are much better-equipped, but we have proved we belong there and we want to remain at the top.' Next up for Lazio on Sunday is a trip to Juventus, which last weekend lost at Fiorentina 2-1. Juventus has been tough to beat at home, and improved on its own Serie A record with a 26th consecutive home victory on Jan. 8. 'We've won five of the last six games, losing only to Inter despite an excellent first half,' Simone said Wednesday after Lazio beat Genoa 4-2 to reach the Italian Cup quarterfinals. 'We have to continue like this. 'We know we're playing against Juve, which has won the last 28 matches at home, so we know it will be very difficult for us but we have three or four days to recover, get our energy back and we'll go there to try and impose our game, try to do our best against a team which has been dominating our league for five to six years.' Simone has already faced Juventus twice as a coach, losing 3-0 in Turin in April, shortly after taking charge, and 1-0 in Rome in August. Lazio hasn't beaten Juventus in the league in 13 years, while the Bianconeri have won the past eight encounters. 'We have to try to give our all,' Simone said. 'In the first match this season we had a good match but there was a mistake and (Juventus midfielder Sami) Khedira punished us. 'We have to try and impose our match, knowing that we're facing a really strong team ... I beat Juventus as a player, I'd like to beat it as coach, too.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

PSA to honor Diaz as 2016 Athlete of the Year

Behind her powerful arms and legs, a young petite lady gave Philippine sports a lift it badly needed in the year just passed. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz gave this country of 100 million people something to cheer about at the break of dawn one rainy day in August after copping an Olympic medal that was long overdue during the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games. A combination of hard work, effort, heart, and sheer luck paved the way for the 25-year-old pride of Zamboanga City to run away with the silver in the women’s 53-kg weight division behind eventual winner Hsu Shu-Ching of Chinese Taipei. Diaz totaled a combined 200 kgs. in both the snatch and clean and jerk to the 212 of the Taiwanese bet. An Airwoman First Class at the Philippine Air Force, Diaz was only hoping for a bronze medal finish, but ended up a surprise runner up when fancied Li Yaiun of China – who earlier set an Olympic record in the snatch - failed to complete her final two attempts in the clean and jerk. “Sabi ko thank you Lord. Bronze lang ang hinihingi ko, pero silver ang ibinigay mo,” said Diaz moments after her triumph as the first-ever Filipina to win an Olympic medal. The Cinderella finish by Diaz was the first for the country in the last 20 years since boxer Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco punched his way to a similar silver medal feat during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Hidilyn also became the first Filipino weightlifter to win an Olympic medal for the country and the only one to bag a silver outside of boxers Velasco and the late Anthony Villanueva (1964 Tokyo Games). In the light of her outstanding feats, the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) was one and unanimous in naming Diaz its 2016 Athlete of the Year during its traditional Awards Night presented by MILO and San Miguel on Feb. 13 at the LE PAVILION in Pasay City. Diaz is the first lady to be feted by the country’s oldest media organization with its highest individual honor after boxer Josie Gabuco and the Team Manila women’s softball team in 2012. “This one is a no-brainer. Hidilyn Diaz is truly the hands-down choice as the 2016 PSA Athlete of the Year,” said PSA president Riera Mallari, sports editor of The Standard. Last year, pro boxers Nonito Donaire Jr. and Donnie Nietes, along with young golfer Miguel Tabuena were the recipient of the coveted award annually handed out by the PSA, comprised by editors and sportswriters from the different broadsheets, tabloids, and online portals in the country. Diaz, who came home empty handed during both the 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London) Olympics, respectively, leads a long list of personalities and entities to be recognized during the formal rite co-presented by CIGNAL/HYPHER TV. In the coming days and weeks, recipients of the President’s Award, Lifetime Achievement honor, Executive of the Year, National Sports Association of the Year, Mr. Basketball, Mr. Golf, Mr. Football, and Ms. Volleyball will also be named as part of the two-hour program backed by Smart, Foton, Mighty Sports, Philippine Basketball Association, ACCEL, Gold Toe, SM Prime Holdings Inc., Globalport, Rain or Shine, ICTSI, and MVPSF. There will also be major awardees in different sports and citations to various personalities and entities in the annual rite backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and Federal Land. Not to be missed out is the PSA’s recognition to young promising achievers such as the Tony Siddayao Awards and the Milo Male and Female Junior Athletes of the Year, as well as posthumous awards to those dearly departed friends of the local sportswriting community.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Danger matches Tuesday for Djokovic, Williams at Aussie Open

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not much room for error: six-time Australian Open champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic face tougher-than expected first-round matches on Tuesday. Both are chasing records at Melbourne Park, where Williams is hoping to set an Open-era record by winning her 23rd Grand Slam title and Djokovic is striving to be the first man to win the Australian title seven times. Williams, who lost to Angelique Kerber in last year's final, has drawn Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. Their career record is 1-1, with Williams having beaten Bencic on clay at Madrid in 2014. Bencic advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year. 'I think it will be good for us both,' Williams said. 'She's done well here before. It's never easy for me. I didn't come here to lose in the first round, or the second round, or at all. If I can play the way I've been practicing, it will be fine.' Djokovic, meanwhile, faces veteran Fernando Verdasco, a man he's beaten nine times in 13 career meetings. Verdasco had an upset win over fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal last year in the first round. 'Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. In a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface,' Djokovic said. He's not overwhelmed by the occasion of playing on center court. I'm expecting a tough one, there's no doubt about it.' ___ BENCIC IS PUMPED: Bencic has a 9-2 record in first-round Grand Slam matches. Bencic found out about her first-round opponent when, she admitted, 'my Twitter was blowing up. I was like, What's going on? My first reaction was really happy. So I think I'm super pumped, like excited I get to play on the big court.' She thinks it's anything but back luck that she drew Williams: 'I think we're going to play on the big court. It's a big match ... it's what everyone's working for.' Williams has Bencic's record in first-round majors covered, and then some. She's 64-1 in Grand Slam first-round matches, her lone opening-round loss at a Grand Slam came at 2012 Roland Garros against Virginie Razzano. ______ RAFA READY: Rafael Nadal is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, and his match on Rod Laver Arena against Florian Mayer will be the first between the pair since 2012, when Nadal won on clay at Rome. Mayer beat Nadal on hard courts at Shanghai in 2011. Nadal has reached the second round or better in all but one of his 12 previous trips to Melbourne Park — the one failure coming last year when he lost to Verdasco in the first round. Mayer is hoping to end a seven-match losing streak at the majors and record his first Grand Slam match win since he reached the round of 16 here in 2014. ___ CAN KONTA DO IT AGAIN?: Last year, Sydney-born Johanna Konta was a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park, and the British player is now in the top 10 and coming off a victory in the Sydney International last week, where she overwhelmed third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. She'll play Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium to open the day session on Margaret Court Arena. 'I played her (Flipkens) last year in Monterrey, she beat me there. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play her again. She's a great player. She's a Wimbledon semifinalist (2013). She's been around the tour for a long time. That's by no accident.' Konta has won only five of her 12 first-round Grand Slam matches. ___ RAONIC FAVORED: Last year's semifinalist and No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic plays Dustin Brown of Germany in the second match on Margaret Court. Brown has never won a match at Melbourne Park, and he's only beaten a top 10 player once in a Grand Slam. Advantage to the Canadian. They have played once before, when Raonic beat Brown in the first round at last year's U.S. Open. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Chinese football: action planned on 'irrational' salaries

BEIJING (AP) — China's football association said Monday it plans a series of measures in response to 'irrational' spending by clubs on transfer fees and player salaries, amid concerns that foreign stars are crowding out local talent and harming the country's goal of becoming a global force in world football. The Chinese Football Association said in a statement Monday that the unidentified steps would target the 'operations and management' of teams in the top-tier China Super League and the China Premier League one step below it. The new measures will address 'recent irrational investments by clubs, high-figure transfer fees and salaries paid to domestic and international athletes and other issues,' the CFA said in a news release. Gaudy spending by Chinese clubs on players such as Argentina's Carlos Tevez has drawn global attention, raising fears among some that foreign stars are depriving local players of opportunities to grow. That could stifle the government's attempts to produce talent capable of achieving its stated goal of winning the World Cup by 2050, part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's push to make football success a national priority. Even in that endeavor, China is relying heavily on foreign talent, having hired veteran Italian coach Marcello Lippi to helm the men's national team. Other rules announced by the CFA appeared firmly aimed at addressing the lack of opportunities for Chinese players. They reduce the number of foreign club players who can appear at any given time from four to three and state that each team's starting list must include at least two Chinese players under age 23. Despite misgivings, Chinese clubs have continued to spend heavily over the past year to attract mainly South American stars. Apart from Tevez, whom Shanghai Shenhua said it paid an $11 million transfer fee to Argentine club Boca Juniors to acquire, they include Oscar, purchased from Chelsea, Brazilians Hulk, Ramires, Alex Teixeira and Paulinho, Colombian striker Jackson Martinez and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi. Altogether, Chinese Super League clubs splashed out close to $300 million in the winter transfer window on big names. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Liverpool frustrated with FIFA over Matip eligibility

  LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp expressed his frustration on Sunday that FIFA has failed to make a swift decision about the eligibility of defender Joel Matip. Matip withdrew himself from consideration for future selection for Cameroon's national team in September 2015, but his country tried to call him up for the African Nations Cup that started this month. Although Cameroon finalized its squad for the tournament more than a week ago, without Matip in it, Liverpool says the Cameroon Football Federation has failed to confirm he can play for the club during the African Nations Cup. The Premier League team has sought clarification from FIFA about the issue, but hasn't been given a decision by world soccer's governing body and did not feel it could take the chance on playing Matip against Manchester United on Sunday. He was therefore withdrawn from selection for a game that finished 1-1 at Old Trafford. 'We, the club, did everything we had to do to make this clear but until now we could not get the response we need to be 100 percent sure that he can play,' Klopp said. 'It's pretty difficult and pretty frustrating, to be honest. He's been in training for five days and would have been in the squad, 100 percent, maybe on the pitch today, so I don't think it's fair. But we cannot do more and are still waiting on the decision. We could not take the risk.' Liverpool believes Matip has followed all the correct procedures and considers he should be available for selection during a busy period for the club, which is playing Premier League, FA Cup and League fixtures this month. 'We need to get an answer as quickly as possible because on Wednesday we have the next game (an FA Cup third-round replay at Plymouth) and then another game and another game. We cannot wait forever,' Klopp said. 'It is public now, we have this problem and we are not the only team with this problem.' Fellow Premier League club West Brom has faced a similar situation with defender Allan Nyom, who has not played in the team's last two matches because it has not had similar clarification from FIFA. FIFA has the power to ban players it feels have not correctly acceded to the request of their national association. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Guardiola virtually concedes title after heavy loss for City

Guardiola virtually concedes title after heavy loss for City br /> STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer   MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Premier League season is barely past the halfway point and already Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has virtually given up on winning the title. The world's most coveted coach can't have envisaged his first year in English soccer being this tough. It takes something special to overshadow a match between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, but City's 4-0 loss at Everton on Sunday did just that. As he slumped to the heaviest loss of his career in a domestic league match, Guardiola — with his arms folded — was seen staring into space while he sat in the Goodison Park dug-out. At other times, he had his face in his hands. City has dropped out of the Champions Leagues positions, into fifth place, and 10 points adrift of leader Chelsea. Asked if the gap to first place was now too great, Guardiola said: '(To) the first one? Yes. Ten points is a lot of points. The second one is three points. We have to see.' A fifth loss of the league season was administered by a team managed by Guardiola's friend and former Barcelona teammate, Ronald Koeman. 'Pep Guardiola knows it is a project at Manchester City,' Koeman said. 'Of course, maybe they expected better results and a defeat like this is really strong but Pep has the experience to turn it around.' Man United kicked off less than an hour after City's drubbing but couldn't get a win that would have put the neighbors tied on points, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool at Old Trafford. After 21 of 38 games, City and United — the two pre-season title favorites — are outside the top four. Two high-profile managers were always going to have their reputation tarnished this season, with six big teams challenging for four Champions League spots. Few would have predicted they'd be Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. Here's a closer look at the top games that pitted Merseyside against Manchester: ___ EVERTON 4, MANCHESTER CITY 0 While there was misery for City at Goodison Park, there was jubilation for Everton after a win that was sealed by goals from two of the club's promising teenagers. Goals either side of halftime by Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas set Everton on its way before 18-year-old midfielder Tom Davies raced into the area and dinked a deft finish over goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, the ball landing just inside the post. It completed an impressive display by Davies, who has now started two straight games and is distinctive with his all-action style and mop of blond hair. The fourth goal was scored by 19-year-old debutant Ademola Lookman, four minutes into injury time. And it summed up City's sloppy performance. John Stones — a former Everton player — tried to clear the ball for a throw-in only to see it ricochet off Everton defender Seamus Coleman to set up Lookman. Signed from Charlton this month and on as a late substitute for his debut, Lookman placed his shot through Bravo's legs. 'How we played in the second half was really perfect,' Koeman said. 'In my opinion, it is impossible to play at a higher level, in every aspect of football. It was a perfect afternoon.' ___ MANCHESTER UNITED 1, LIVERPOOL 1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalized late for United to bail out teammate Paul Pogba in a frantic, intense match at Old Trafford between the two most decorated teams in English soccer. On the day United rolled out advertising hoardings displaying Paul Pogba's new Twitter emoji, the player himself made a crucial mistake by conceding a penalty for handball while jumping with his back to the ball at a corner. James Milner converted the spot kick but Liverpool was denied a win after Ibrahimovic glanced a header in off the crossbar in the 84th minute, moments after substitute Marouane Fellaini headed against the post. Liverpool ended United's nine-game winning run in all competitions — six of which had come in the league — but dropped seven points behind first-placed Chelsea. Sixth-placed United was 12 points off the leader. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Barcelona official relieved from role after Messi comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A Barcelona official has been dismissed from an institutional-relations role after he said Lionel Messi would not be as good if he didn't have great teammates, the club announced on Friday. Barcelona said it relieved Pere Gratacos from his responsibilities because 'he publicly expressed a personal opinion that did not coincide with the opinion of the entity.' Gratacos was responsible for the club's institutional relations with the Spanish football federation. Barcelona said he will remain working on other projects within the club.   The official told Spanish media after the Copa del Rey draw on Friday that 'Leo is one of the most important players of the team, but he wouldn't be as good without Neymar, (Luis) Suarez, (Gerard) Pique, (Andres) Iniesta and the rest of the players.' He added that 'obviously Messi is the best player.' br /> Gratacos was answering a question about Messi's importance after the team advanced to the Copa quarterfinals with a win over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, when Messi scored a decisive free kick goal. br /> The official's comments came as Messi, a five-time world player of the year, is reportedly negotiating a new contract with the Catalan club. br /> The 29-year-old Argentine has 12 goals in the last 11 games. He's scored decisive free kick goals in all three of Barcelona's matches this year. br /> br /> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Graham Taylor, the England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John, has died. He was 72. Taylor, who won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early Thursday of a suspected heart attack, his family said. 'The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss,' a family statement said. Taylor is one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John, who owned Watford during Taylor's two stints in charge, said it was a 'sad and dark day' for the club. 'He was like a brother to me,' John wrote on an Instagram post . 'We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. 'He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to uncharted territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.' Taylor reached the pinnacle of English management when he was hired by the national team in 1990, inheriting a side that reached the World Cup semifinals. 'His enthusiasm for life and football was incredible,' former England player Paul Gascoigne said. Taylor guided England to the 1992 European Championship, but the team was eliminated at the first stage, setting the tone for the rest of his time with the national team. After England lost 2-1 to Sweden in its final game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Taylor with the headline: 'Swedes 2 Turnips 1.' Taylor's head was superimposed on a turnip, a caricature that led to the manager becoming known harshly as 'Turnip Taylor.' 'It hurts and that's what really, really annoys me,' Taylor recalled in a 2012 BBC documentary. 'They have no recognition about how much it hurts you. They think you don't care. 'And those people that know it hurts you, they put the knife into you so it hurts you even more.' Taylor's decision to grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew for the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup backfired when the extent of the strain of the job was exposed. In 'The Impossible Job,' Taylor was filmed complaining about a refereeing decision during a qualifier against the Netherlands, telling the linesman: 'Tell your mate he's just cost me my job.' Reflecting later on his shortcomings in the England job, Taylor said: 'I am not bitter. I am just disappointed in myself.' The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Taylor's accomplishments in management after a modest playing career ended at age 28 due to a hip injury. Having already become the youngest person to attain a full Football Association coaching badge, Taylor was able to move straight into management with Lincoln after playing for the team. After winning the fourth tier, Taylor moved south to Watford. With the boardroom backing of John, Taylor guided Watford from the fourth division to the first division (then the top tier), an FA Cup final and European competition in five years from 1978. John then allowed Taylor to move to Aston Villa, where he secured promotion to the top-flight and a second-place finish in 1990. He returned as club management after his England management, taking Watford back into the Premier League and enjoying one final spell at Villa before leaving the dugout for good in 2003. He was a regular commentator on matches in recent years for BBC radio. He is survived by wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Higuain helps Juventus to record 26th straight home win

ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer   ROME (AP) — It's no coincidence that Juventus has won Serie A every season since the Juventus Stadium opened in September 2011. The Bianconeri have been virtually unbeatable in the Italian league's only major club-owned stadium and improved on their own Serie A record with a 26th consecutive home win Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain scored his fourth brace of the season as Juventus beat Bologna 3-0. Juventus held the previous record of 25 straight home wins, established at the stadium between 2013 and 2015. The current streak began against Bologna on Oct. 24, 2015, and Bologna never really had a chance to prevent the latest record. Higuain opened the scoring with a volley from a lobbed pass from Miralem Pjanic seven minutes in, Paulo Dybala added a penalty before the break and then Higuain headed in another early in the second half. Juventus, which still has a game in hand, restored its four-point lead over Roma, which beat Genoa 1-0 earlier. ___ ROMAN VICTORIES Roma finally found a way to win away from home — with an own goal. Armando Izzo redirected a cross from Bruno Peres into his own net in the first half as Roma won 1-0 at Genoa for its first victory away from the Stadio Olimpico since October. Roma has won all nine of its home matches, while its away record now reads four wins, two draws and four losses. 'It's a big win. This is a tough league and we've faced some difficult opponents,' Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. 'If we had won all of our away matches, too, we would be champions of Italy by now.' Roma's last win outside the capital had been a 3-1 victory over Sassuolo on Oct. 26 in Reggio Emilia. The Giallorossi also beat Lazio 2-0 in the Rome derby early last month when they were technically the visitors. Roma forward Edin Dzeko hit the post near the hour mark, the fourth time the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker has found the woodwork this season — more than any other player in the league. Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny preserved the win with a difficult save on a shot from beyond the area by Lucas Ocampos in stoppage time. 'For Genoa, I think in 38 matches they won't play one that's not physical. Because that's the type of football they play — very aggressive, man against man,' De Rossi said. 'We needed to put our work boots on and we did.' Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin tore his ACL early on and will miss the rest of the season. Lazio also won 1-0, over struggling Crotone with a last-minute goal from Ciro Immobile after Lucas Biglia hit the crossbar with a penalty in the first half. Lazio is fourth, one point behind third-placed Napoli, which beat Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday. ___ MILAN CLUBS WIN Fresh off its Italian Super Cup win over Juventus, fifth-placed AC Milan needed a late goal to beat visiting Cagliari 1-0. Carlos Bacca scored from close range two minutes from the end after being set up by Gianluca Lapadula. Cagliari ended with 10 men when Bruno Alves was sent off for pulling down Bacca just outside the area to prevent a clear scoring opportunity in added time. Earlier, Ivan Perisic scored twice and seventh-placed Inter Milan came from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 and win its fourth straight game. Perisic equalized in first-half added time, slotting a shot inside the near post after receiving a pass from Mauro Icardi, then headed in from a free kick three minutes from the end. It was the first brace in Serie A for Perisic, a Croatia international who joined Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015. Jakub Jankto, a 20-year-old Czech midfielder, had put Udinese ahead early in the first half after being set up by French talent Seko Fofana. ___ OTHER MATCHES: Atalanta revived its chances of finishing in the Europa League spots with a convincing 4-1 win at Chievo Verona. Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez scored twice for Atalanta, with Andrea Conti and Remo Freuler also finding the target for the Bergamo club. Sergio Pellissier's goal for Chievo temporarily made it 3-1. Domenico Berardi returned from a long injury layoff for Sassuolo in a 0-0 draw with Torino. The Pescara-Fiorentina match was postponed due to too much snow and ice inside and around the Stadio Adriatico. ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017