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SPORTS: August 2015

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Absent champions' celebrations


Neymar of Brazi celebrates with fans
© Getty Images
They call it ‘The Festival of Champions’, but the next FIFA Confederations Cup will be devoid of its reigning and record champions.
Romario and Ronaldo hit hat-tricks apiece as Brazil demolished Australia 6-0 in the 1997 final. Adriano headlined their exhilarating 4-1 defeat of arch-rivals Argentina in the 2005 decider. A Seleção retained their crown by recovering a two-goal deficit to edge USA in 2009. And Neymar inspired the men in canary-yellow to a marvellous 3-0 reverse of Spain two years ago – a result he is seen celebrating with fans in the above picture.
Brazil will not, however, be at the Confederations Cup for the first time since it was adopted by FIFA in two years’ time, after their Copa America disappointment.
For the first time, the competition will feature three teams from the same confederation: Russia as hosts, Germany as FIFA World Cup™ holders, and the winners of UEFA EURO 2016 (or runners-up should Joachim Low’s side emerge victorious in France). recently launched its Russia 2017 section. It features videos, features, host city profiles and much more, so be sure to check it out.

Chicharito Hernandez seals Leverkusen switch

Hernandez seals Leverkusen switch

(AFP) Monday 31 August 2015
Hernandez seals Leverkusen switch
© Getty Images
Bayer Leverkusen signed Mexico striker Javier Hernandez from Manchester United for a reported fee of £7.3m.
Hernandez, who spent last season on loan at Real Madrid, agreed a three-year contract with the Bundesliga club just in time to beat the deadline on the last day of the German transfer window.
The 27-year-old was on the bench for United's 2-1 defeat at Swansea City on Sunday, but he hadn't started for the Premier League team for more than a year.
He returned to United in the close-season after scoring nine goals during his spell with Real, including the winner in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final against rivals Atletico Madrid, but manager Louis van Gaal has allowed him to leave permanently this time.
"I know two of the biggest leagues in Europe in the English Premier League and the Primera Division in Spain and now I want to experience the Bundesliga," Hernandez told Leverkusen's website.
"I've heard a lot about the fantastic stadia in Germany and about the unique fans they have there. The Bundesliga is an extremely attack-minded league and it's particularly enticing for me.
"It's fantastic that I can now play for a club like Leverkusen, who are obviously known to me from the Champions League. Bayer Leverkusen is a big opportunity for me and I can and want to achieve a lot here."
Leverkusen were drawn alongside Barcelona, Roma and BATE Borisov in Group E of the Champions League last week and Hernandez is being relied on to help his new side make an impact in Europe's elite club competition.
The club's general manager Michael Schade said: "After we finally secured our place in the Champions League, we wanted to send out a clear signal with our attack, and we've succeeded in doing this with Javier Hernandez."
Hernandez scored 59 goals in 156 appearances for United after signing from Chivas in 2010 and won the Premier League title in 2011 and 2013.

Australia: Snake eats crocodile after battle

3 March 2014
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Tiffany Corlis: "The snake certainly knew what it was doing"
The snake curls itself around the crocodile at Lake Moondarra on 2 March 2014
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The snake then dragged the crocodile onto land
The snake begins eating the crocodile at Lake Moondarra on 2 March 2014
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It then began to eat the crocodile, surprising residents
The snake, pictured after eating the crocodile at Lake Moondarra on 2 March 2014
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After the feast, the outline of the crocodile could be seen inside the snake
'Flexible jaws'
A snake has won a lengthy battle with a crocodile in northern Queensland, wrestling it, constricting it and then finally eating it.
The incident at Lake Moondarra, near Mount Isa, was captured on camera by local residents on Sunday.
The 10-ft snake, thought to be a python, coiled itself around the crocodile and the two struggled in the water.
The snake later brought the dead crocodile onto land and ate it.
Tiffany Corlis, a local author, saw the fight and took these pictures, which have been widely used in the Australian media.
"It was amazing," she told the BBC. "We saw the snake fighting with the crocodile - it would roll the crocodile around to get a better grip, and coil its body around the crocodile's legs to hold it tight."
"The fight began in the water - the crocodile was trying to hold its head out of the water at one time, and the snake was constricting it."
"After the crocodile had died, the snake uncoiled itself, came around to the front, and started to eat the crocodile, face-first," she added.
Ms Corlis said it appeared to take the snake around 15 minutes to eat the crocodile.
The snake was "definitely very full," when it finished, she said. "I don't know where it went after that - we all left, thinking we didn't want to stick around!"
Another witness, Alyce Rosenthal, told local media that the two creatures fought for about five hours. By the end, they appeared exhausted, she said.
"It's not something that you see every day," she said.
Pythons kill their prey by tightening their coils around the animal as it breathes out.
This can cause the animal to suffocate or suffer heart failure, allowing the python to swallow its prey whole. Many snakes have flexible jaws that enable them to swallow prey many times their own body size.
2012 study published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters suggested that snakes could sense their victim's heartbeat, and let go when it stopped, preventing it from using more energy than required.
The Australian state of Queensland is home to some of the world's most dangerous snakes, as well as saltwater crocodiles.

Gustave - Burundi's killer crocodile

Gustave the killer crocodile has been terrorising the locals of Lake Tanganyika in Burundi for the last 20 years. He is over six metres long, weighs a tonne and has allegedly eaten over 200 people.
Using his fearsome tail, he has been known to swipe children playing on the shore of the lake, and has been caught on camera hitting a fisherman.
Gustave the crocodile
Now Frenchman and Burundi resident, Patrice Faye has become a local hero after devoting his life to capturing the killer.
But so far Gustave has proved too clever for him.
At first Patrice wanted to kill the crocodile, but now he has decided to try to trap him and fit him with a tracking device so locals know his whereabouts.
Matthew Bannister spoke to Patrice and asked him all about his crocodile foe adversary.

Pizarro: Let’s make the most of this generation

( Monday 31 August 2015
Pizarro: Let’s make the most of this generation
© Getty Images
No other member of the Chilean national squad has been part of the senior set-up as long as David Pizarro, the cultured 35-year-old central midfielder having made his national-team debut back in 1999. Yet despite also being the only current Chile international to have been in the squad that grabbed bronze at the Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000, several of his Roja team-mates have nearly double the player's tally of 46 senior caps.
The reason for this can be found in the eight years, between 2005 and 2013, which Pizarro spent in the international wilderness for personal reasons, a period which coincided with arguably his most fruitful period in European club football. Turning on the style for the likes of Inter Milan, Roma and Fiorentina, the gifted orchestrator was a trophy winner on seven occasions, including during a brief loan spell at Manchester City.
His eventual return to the national-team fold came with coach Jorge Sampaoli’s squad in the final stages of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. In spite of typically assured displays, El Fantastista did not make the cut for Chile’s Brazilian adventure, though he took the setback in his stride and waited patiently for another opportunity. That chance would come this year, as part of the squad that made history by claiming Chile’s first ever Copa America – Pizarro playing his part with four appearances, all as a substitute, in his country’s six games.
Now once again back in Chile at his first club Santiago Wanderers, following 17 seasons spent on European soil, Pizarro agreed to speak to about La Roja’s glorious present. Has Chile’s Copa America triumph taken on a new dimension now that several weeks have gone by?
David Pizarro:
 We achieved something important. Winning a championship that our national team had never won before is a very big deal, and we’re fully aware of that. What worries me now is hearing that they want to make 4 July [the date of the 2015 Copa final] a national Day for Sport in Chile. That makes me wonder: do people think we’re never going to win anything else? (Laughs)
What’s the next step for this squad of players?The plan is to make the most of this generation of players and keep challenging for trophies. The wayChile play was [originally] put in place by [Marcelo] Bielsa. I compare it with what Cruyff did at Barcelona: he instilled an ideology which to this day is bringing significant results. That’s the issue in question. The goal is to change the destiny of Chilean football history.
The Copa America success has earned Chile a ticket to the FIFA Confederations Cup. How much will it mean to take part?We’re really excited about it! We’ll be competing against heavyweight national teams and it’ll be an important preliminary test ahead of, God willing, another World Cup campaign. It’ll mean a great deal for a generation of players that are very bold, very gutsy and have a lot of character. We want to keep breaking records and build on the Copa America success.
What’ll be the hardest part about trying to stay successful?
Staying humble and not letting egos become a problem. Let me give you an example: social media. I can’t say that I see much point in it, in my view it’s a tool that, more than anything else, serves to inflate people’s egos. The key will be to maintain the same levels of passion and commitment, particularly given how hard it was to get this far. If we can manage that, we’ll be on the right track.
Earlier you mentioned the World Cup, a competition that you’ve yet to appear in. At the age of 35 and with a new qualifying phase about to begin, do you dream of making it to Russia 2018?Very much so. Due to decisions I took at the time, and which I still totally stand by, I missed out on other World Cups, but I’m still in with a chance of staying involved with the national squad. And there’s nothing bigger in football than the World Cup. Even so, if I don’t manage to make it as a player I won’t let it get to me. Perhaps I’ll need to wait until I’m a coach instead… (Laughs) I’ve got to get to a World Cup, whatever it takes! (Laughs again)
Is there any risk of complacency setting in after making history at the Copa America? I ask because South American Zone qualifying will begin shortly...For a footballer, at national-team level, [appearing at] a World Cup will always be the pinnacle. In world football, that’s the highest you can go. We’re now champions of South America, but Chilean players shouldn’t settle for that. We’re part of a process. There are players coming through with the same hunger [for success] as those currently in the squad. And for this generation, the likes of Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Gary Medel and Claudio Bravo, they’re at major clubs where life is constantly demanding. They’re called upon to take responsibility at their clubs, they’re all under pressure to win, and that helps the national team to stay competitive too. Chile mustn’t lose that determination to go toe-to-toe with anybody. As a Chilean footballer, that’s what concerns me.
Players like the ones you mention and Chile’s performances in general mean they’ll now be among the favourites at every competition, including World Cup qualifying. What are your thoughts on that? There’s no doubt that Chile have earned that [favourites] tag. But, if there’s one thing the Copa America made clear it’s that these qualifiers will be the hardest they’ve been for a long time. On top of the leading contenders from previous campaigns you’ve got Peru and a resurgent Paraguay. What’s more, you’ve got to go and play in places like Bolivia and Ecuador, which is always incredibly tough. Look, I spent a long time in Europe and I’d always give my [European] team-mates stick about their national teams’ qualifying phases… They just don’t compare to ours!
On an individual note, how would you define the role you play in La Roja’s dressing room?I see myself as having an important role in terms of the group as a whole. That’s something that’s always mattered to me, that the squad always pulls in the same direction, that nobody goes off alone down the wrong path or tries to put themselves before the squad. Those are things that I won’t stand for, because I understand that this is a team sport.
Has the fact you’re back playing in Chile again given you a different perspective on pulling on the national-team jersey and the success you’ve had?No doubt about it. Spending so much time abroad means you miss the day-to-day stuff, and now that I’m back I’m still finding myself surprised by it. Not just by the amount of thanks we get for having won the title, but by the amount of coverage the national team is getting. But we have to be a bit wary: Chileisn’t just about the national team, we’ve a domestic championship too and that must be shown respect.