blogger visitor
SPORTS: May 2016

Follow by Email

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo soaks up the Ibiza sunshine with pals just days after winning the Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo on holidays in Ibiza
Cristiano Ronaldo on holidays in Ibiza Xposure / GT
11:31, 31 May 2016
CRISTIANO RONALDO has been enjoying a well-earned holiday in Ibiza after getting his hands on a third Champions League trophy.
The Real Madrid forward, 31, netted the winning penalty in the clash at the San Siro and promptly jetted off to bask in some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Portuguese ace Ronaldo jetted off to the Balearic island with pals and was quick to get his kit off and soak up the sun.
Cristiano Ronaldo looks pensive on his private yacht as he enjoys some rays ahead of Euro 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo looks pensive on his private yacht as he enjoys some rays ahead of Euro 2016 LNAC

Ronaldo was spotted taking in the rays on board a luxury, private yacht, in just a pair of short, stripey swim-shorts.
The Galactico will not have too much time to rest on the island, however.
Portugal are gearing up to play in this summer’s European Championships in France.
Main Image
Cristiano Ronaldo has been enjoying the Ibiza sunshine having got his hands on a third Champions League trophy on Saturday LNAC

Cristiano Ronaldo has a laugh on his private yacht as he celebrates winning the Champions League in Ibiza with friends
Cristiano Ronaldo has a laugh on his private yacht as he celebrates winning the Champions League in Ibiza with friends GT


Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a bit of down-time with pals while on holiday in Ibiza
Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a bit of down-time with pals while on holiday in Ibiza LNAC

CR7 and Co line up in Group F alongside Austria, Hungary and Iceland, having topped their qualifying table.
Portugal won seven of their eight games to Albania, Denmark, Serbia and Armenia en route to France, going in in imperious form.
And Fernando Santos’ men will be hoping Ronaldo arrives fit and fresh as they will lean heavily on the Real Madrid man this summer in a line-up devoid of any genuine goal-scorer.

OFC NATIONS CUP Kiwis cruise as Fiji sink Solomons

Fiji captain Roy Krishna celebrates with team-mates after scoring
New Zealand have taken another major step towards the OFC Nations Cup semi-finals on a day that also brought joy and a vital, hard-fought win for Fiji. Talismanic captain Roy Krishna grabbed a late winner to boost Frank Farina’s side’s chances, while Anthony Hudson's Kiwis are all but assured of their place in the last four after a comfortable 5-0 win over Vanuatu. 

The All Whites had been unconvincing in their opening-match win over the Fijians but were on their game from the first whistle at Sir John Guise Stadium in the Papua New Guinean capital of Port Morseby. Indeed, the match was as good as over inside 10 minutes, by which time Hudson’s side had raced into a three-goal lead.

In-form Chris Wood led the charge, tapping home a close-range opener in four minutes after Bill Tuiloma’s long throw had caused chaos in the Vanuatu box. The Leeds United striker then doubled his tally just a minute later, snatching on a weak back-pass and coolly slotting home for a seventh goal in his last seven international matches.
Vanuatu had caused the bulk of their own problems at this stage, but there was nothing they could do to prevent New Zealand’s third goal. Another of the All Whites stalwarts was responsible for the moment of magic, with Michael McGlinchey curling a superb free-kick up and over the wall and into the top corner from 20 yards.
The only cloud on the All Whites’ horizon at this stage was the loss of Wood, their on-song skipper, to a shoulder injury, although Rory Fallon – who took on the armband – made it 4-0 on 19 minutes after rounding the keeper. Wood’s replacement, Kosta Barbarouses, then rounded off the scoring just before half-time with a fine outside-of-the-foot finish to cap a near-perfect opening 45 for the rampant Kiwis.
With the job done, New Zealand eased off after the break and Vanuatu took the initiative, carving out a series of decent chances. But though they went close on several occasions, most notably through Daniel Natua’s powerful free-kick and a well-saved Bill Nicholls effort, they emerged empty-handed and must now beat the Solomon Islands to avoid finishing bottom.
The Solomons came off worse in a far tighter and more evenly matched game than the day’s opening fixture, with the best of the first-half chances breakaway that ended with Fiji's Benaminio Mateinagara saving well from Jerry Donga. It was the Fijians who were left celebrating, though, after Roy Krishna coolly converted from the spot six minutes from time having won the penalty himself.
The two sides are now level on three points, although Fiji look better placed to qualify, with Vanuatu awaiting in their next fixture and Solomons up against favourites New Zealand. The section’s top three will advance to the next round of FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, while the tournament winner will go on to represent the continent at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. 

ResultsVanuatu 0-5 New Zealand 
Solomon Islands 0-1 Fiji

Next Up
Defending champions Tahiti will be aiming to strengthen their early stranglehold on Group B tomorrow when they take on Papua New Guinea, while Samoa – the section’s only pointless team - will be hoping to get off the mark against New Caledonia.

Monday, May 30, 2016

FIFA U-17 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP Draw sets the scene for Jordan 2016

the official draw ceremony of FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Jordan 2016
Following a great deal of anticipation and expectation, the shape of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016 has been revealed. The draw for the group stage of the tournament took place during a major event at the Al-Hussein Cultural Centre in central Amman, on the evening of Monday 30 May.
Naturally, all eyes were on the fortunes of the hosts. The Jordanians will be in Group A and play their first match against Spain on the opening day of the competition, 30 September. Three other matches will also take place that day, including the tournament's opening match between New Zealand and Mexico.
Draw event held in celebratory atmosphereThe draw event took place at the Al-Hussein Cultural Centre in downtown Amman, overseen by His Highness Prince Ali bin Hussein, the President of the Jordanian Football Association. People across Jordan were watching intently, while in attendance were Lydia Nsekera, a member of the FIFA Council; representatives of the teams taking part in the competition; journalists from various media organizations; and hundreds of other guests.
The celebration began with the Jordanian national anthem, followed by a video presentation about Jordan, describing the beauty of this Middle Eastern kingdom and its preparations to host this global youth football fiesta. The presenters of the draw event, Alia Touqan and Mohammed Al Madfai, welcomed the attendees.
His Highness Prince Ali bin Hussein then took to the stage to give a speech, stating that: "This is a dream come true. It has been a long and challenging journey to get here, and I would like to thank everyone who has supported this challenge. Most of all, I'd like to thank our girls. Some of them are here today. Others who joined us at the beginning of our journey have since retired. But if it wasn't for all their dedication and determination, we wouldn't be here for this draw today. This tournament will be a milestone for women's football in the region and the world. And we hope you enjoy our hospitality, whilst in the country."
Following this was FIFA Council Member Nsekera, who in her speech said: "The kingdom of Jordan will witness a magnificent event in the coming months, as FIFA’s flagship U-17 women’s football competition travels to the Middle East for the first time. This momentous event is sure to leave a positive legacy and have a sustainable impact for generations well into the future.
"The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is part of FIFA’s commitment to promote, develop and invest in women’s football, so that the sport and those who play it can grow to reach their full potential in Jordan, across the Middle East, and beyond." The event continued with a folk-dance show which was well-received by the guests present.
Moments of expectationA few moments after this performance, an expectant air descended on the event, similar to the moments before a penalty shoot-out. Tatjana Haenni, the Deputy Director of FIFA’s Competitions Division and Head of Women’s Competitions, gave a brief explanation of the draw procedure and the way teams are assigned to pots based on four levels of performance record. The draw then started, with the help of four Jordanian sportswomen, Maha Barghouthi, Dana Haider, Stephanie Al Naber and Yasmeen Khair, in addition to Samar Nassar, the CEO of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Local Organising Committee.
The names of the teams taking part were announced one after the other and the groups began to take shape. The teams taking part in each group were displayed on the screens in the room, as the guests speculated about who would be drawn in Jordan’s section.
After the draw the coaches and team representatives went up on stage for photos, before going to the common area and sharing their thoughts on the event.
The Groups
Group A: Jordan, Spain, MexicoNew Zealand
Group B: Venezuela, Germany, Cameroon, Canada
Group C: Nigeria, Brazil, England, Korea DPR
Group D: USA, Paraguay, Ghana, Japan

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL Takakura: Japan needs to rediscover confidence

Japan coach Asako Takakura
A little less than a year after their 5-2 loss to USA in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ Final, Japan will have a chance to gain a small dose of redemption when they meet the world champions in two matches over the coming week. While these two sides are old rivals - they have met a total of 35 times - things are looking quite different for Japan as they head into their latest match-ups against the Stars and Stripes.
In their last meeting at the global showpiece in Vancouver, Japan were the defending champions. They were coached by Norio Sasaki, who took Japan to their maiden world title at Germany 2011 with a penalty shoot-out victory against none other than USA. But now, 11 months on the Nadeshiko have found themselves struggling in their own region, after crashing out in March's continental qualifying for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016. Sasaki stepped down in the wake of that failed campaign, and filling the void is Asako Takakura, a former midfielder of some renown who represented Japan at Atlanta 1996.
Japan, needless to say, enter the two matches against USA desperate to rebuild credibility. But for the new coach Takakura, playing against the world champions is more than just an opportunity to redeem themselves, as she told "Of course, it is one of our initial goals to win the games," said the 48-year-old ahead of the matches in Commerce City on Thursday, and in Cleveland on Sunday. "But we are expecting more than just results. I want to see what our team can do and what they can't. It is my first game in charge and we play against the world's best team. I am excited about that."
Rich experience 
Takakura's appointment came as no big surprise for those that closely follow Japanese football. As a player, she had been renowned for her creative talents with both Yomiuri-Seiyu Beleza and the national team. But Takakura is, perhaps, is better known for coaching a series of youth national teams following her retirement. Notably, Takakura helped Japan become world champions at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Costa Rica 2014, a milestone achievement which earned her that year's AFC Woman’s Coach of the Year award.
"Winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup was a launching pad for me to step up to the next stage," she said. "I hope my past experiences at the different age group levels can help with the Nadeshiko's rebuilding process. It's an honour (to become the head coach) for me. But I am fully aware that this is no easy job. I have a strong sense of great responsibility. But I am expecting the team to make good progress (during my tenure)."
Playing to strengths 
For many, Japan, now seventh in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, have their work cut out if they are to return to the global summit. But Takakura voiced her optimism by announcing that Japan can lead the world through their style of play. "I want my team to adopt a style tailor-made for Japanese players," she explained. "Playing in such a style requires high-level techniques, systematic unity, and combination. These are the three elements in which our major strengths lay. Japan teams have worked in these fields since I was a player. I believe with this style, our team can lead the world in a different way from other teams."
Of course, Takakura's confidence is not unfounded considering Japan's outstanding showings on the international stage over recent years. The physically smaller Nadeshikoplayers have deftly dealt with stronger European and North American rivals over recent years, and Takakura says her side must continue to play to their strengths.
"Our team work and co-operation can make up for any physical weaknesses," said the newly-appointed coach. "Japanese players are quick-minded - they immediately think about what to do next, while either running for the ball or competing against a rival player."
Having reached the final at Germany 2011 and Canada 2015, as well as London 2012, Japan's failure to qualify for Rio 2016 was a significant disappointment. For Takakura, her immediate priority is restoring the team's self-esteem. "The players have to get their confidence back,” she said. “They should believe in themselves. The Nadeshiko may have failed to qualify for the Olympic Games, but as a team we should keep moving forward.
"Coaching the senior side should be largely different (from managing youth teams). The players need more communication. From my side, I have high demands in every element, such as techniques, tactics, pace, fitness as well as reading of games. I want to discover fresh talents for the team and I hope to continue to develop our style of play. But I will just focus on one thing at a time.”

UKRAINE Tymoshchuk: Swiss shoot-out was a highlight

Round of 16 Switzerland v Ukraine- World Cup 2006
© Getty Images
The summer of 2006 was a historic time for Ukrainian football. Under the guidance of former Dynamo Kyiv and USSR legend Oleg Blokhin, Ukraine reached the quarter-finals at their first-ever FIFA World Cup™. Leading the line for the Yellow and Blues was 2004 FIFA Ballon d’Or-winning striker Andriy Shevchenko, while Anatoliy Tymoshchuk stood firm in defensive midfield. spoke to Tymoshchuk on the eve of the ten-year anniversary of Ukraine's finest hour on the international footballing stage.
Ukraine made it to the World Cup at the third time of asking. They had fallen at the final qualifying hurdle on a number of occasions, both for World Cups and UEFA European Championships, so their success in reaching the finals in Germany was a major achievement. It was made all the more notable by the fact they emerged from a group containing former European champions Greece and Denmark, as well as Turkey, who had finished third in the previous World Cup in 2002. 
However, in their opening game of the tournament against Spain, whose golden era had yet to begin, Ukraine were thrashed 4-0. "That was a blow,"  Tymoshchuk recalled. "You always want to make a good impression on your debut but we were up against Spain. We deserved to lose but we didn't beat ourselves up too much afterwards because we had an experienced spine to the team.
"Everyone understood that we didn't have a lot of time to prepare," he went on. "We forgot about the defeat and that meant we were able to put in some good work ahead of the next game. The result against Spain put us in a situation where we didn't have a choice in the following matches."
Ukraine could not afford another defeat and turned the backs-to-the wall situation to their advantage. The eastern Europeans overwhelmed Saudi Arabia in their next match, securing a morale-boosting 4-0 win of their own, before edging out Tunisia 1-0 to clinch second spot in Group H and a place in the Round of 16.
"The desire to make amends came to the fore," Tymoshchuk explained. "Our opponents weren't that bad, but we were helped by the fact we wanted to prove that the game against the Spanish was a blip. The task was to get out of the group and everybody knew the results we needed to get."
Shovkovskiy's eternal recordIn the Round of 16, Ukraine and Switzerland looked evenly matched on paper and so it proved on the pitch. Both sides hit the bar but neither was able to find the net in 120 minutes. The penalty shoot-out that followed got off to the worst possible start for Ukraine: captain Andriy Shevchenko missed, just as he had done for AC Milan in the shoot-out of the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool the year before.
"Usually the coaches ask the players: 'who is going to take one?', 'who is going to assume the responsibility?', 'who feels up to it?'. We didn't have a fixed list of penalty takers and we didn't even practise them before the game. We all were shaken by Shevchenko's miss, but I was confident in the lads who were stepping up to the spot," said Tymoshchuk, who watched from the centre circle as Artem Milevskiy, Sergei Rebrov and Oleg Gusev successfully tucked their penalties away. 

At the same time, Oleksandr Shovkovskiy was writing himself into history in the Ukrainian goal. Until this day, he remains the only goalkeeper not to have been beaten in a World Cup penalty shoot-out, saving two efforts while the other rebounded off the crossbar.  

"Shovkovskiy's record might never be beaten," Tymoshchuk said. "Those penalties and the intense emotions around them remain my strongest memories from that occasion for me. I also remember the support of our home fans who had travelled a long way, and the organisation of the tournament – everything ran like clockwork."
Unfortunately, the Ukrainian fairy tale did not last. Eventual champions Italy were too strong in the quarter-finals, dispatching them 3-0 to leave Tymoshchuk with a sense of disappointment that he feels to this day. 
"We conceded an early goal but then we pulled ourselves together and created some chances," he said. "We played well but lost out against the team that went on to win the World Cup. It's no consolation, but perhaps we weren't ready to match Italy on that occasion."
Aiming highThe next major tournament for Ukraine was UEFA EURO 2012 on home soil. Despite playing well, the hosts were unable to make it out of a group containing both France and England. This year Tymoshchuk and Co have another chance to make history and once again it will be at the European Championship. 
Tymoshchuk took over as captain of his country after Andriy Shevchenko's career came to a close. Today he is 37 and plays for Kairat in Kazakhstan, while continuing to represent his national team. Tymoshchuk's record of 142 matches for Ukraine is an amazing feat and it could take years for one of his team-mates to surpass his tally.
"It's an honour to play for my country and I've never thought about any personal achievement," he said. "My objective was to get pleasure out of playing football and to serve my national team. It's a special feeling when the whole country is cheering for you. Now we've got the EURO coming up and we've set ourselves the highest aims."

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Monaco Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes victory as Mercedes punish Red Bull pit-stop error for Daniel Ricciardo

Hamilton back in world title hunt with first win of the season

Main Image
Lewis Hamilton holds off Daniel Ricciardo to win the Monaco Grand Prix Getty Images
By BEN HUNT in Monte Carlo
09:00, 29 May 2016
LEWIS HAMILTON's tyre gamble paid off in Monte Carlo after his shock victory in the Monaco GP.
The Brit, who admitted before the race he had little chance of winning from starting in third place, made the bold decision to stay on wet tyres in the rain-hit race before switching to slicks.
It saved himself from making another pitstop, as he leapfrogged pole-sitter Daniel RIcciardo, while his Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg had no reply to the 31 year-old's pace.
Daniel Ricciardo narrowly avoids hitting the barrier after failing to overtake Lewis Hamilton
Daniel Ricciardo narrowly avoids hitting the barrier after failing to overtake Lewis Hamilton Reuters

Hamilton took advantage of a poor Red Bull pitstop to overtake Ricciardo
Hamilton took advantage of a poor Red Bull pitstop to overtake Ricciardo Getty Images

It marked a huge contrast to Hamilton's mood just 24 hours early as he contemplated losing more ground to Rosberg in the championship after a fuel pressure problem.
But this win, only his second in Monaco, slashes the German's advantage from 43 to 24 points.
Heavy rain meant we were denied the chance of a seeing an exciting start, as it was kicked off behind the safety car.
And when it did come in, the action was quickly stopped when Brit Jolyon Palmer lost control on the painted zebra crossing and went into the barriers.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen had a similar moment when he lost control Mirabeau and crashed out.
Lewis Hamilton worked well in the wet conditions in Monte Carlo after starting third on the grid
Lewis Hamilton worked well in the wet conditions in Monte Carlo after starting third on the grid EPA

But in front there were no problems for Ricciardo who opened up a gap over Rosberg, who was clearly struggling.
The German's problems were evident and he was told to allow Hamilton through on lap 16 and after he moved to second he started eating into Ricciardo's lead.


Hamilton did a great job as he matched the lap times set by Ricciardo and Rosberg, who had both swapped to the intermediate tyres.
And when he did finally pit for the ultra-soft slick tyres on lap 31 he sparked a chain reaction from the rest of the leaders, who copied his lead.
But Ricciardo's lead was wiped out when his mechanics did not have his slick tyres ready, which moved Hamilton into the lead.
Michael Carrick and Louis Tomlinson with Daniel Ricciardo before the Monaco Grand Prix
Michael Carrick and Louis Tomlinson with Daniel Ricciardo before the Monaco Grand Prix Getty Images

And the two had a thrilling fight for the lead with the two coming close to taking each other out at the Nouvelle Chicane.
Things were closer between the Sauber duo Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson who lost their heads and took each other out at La Rascasse.
Hamilton held his nerve to come home in first place and received an added boost when Nico Hulkenberg piped Rosberg on the line to sixth place.
Driver of the Day: Sergio Perez did a fantastic job to come home in third place for Force India.
Move of the Race: Max Verstappen pulled off a thrilling overtake on Kevin Magnussen at Sainte Devote.
Mistake of the Race: The two Sauber drivers suffered red mist, ignored team orders and crashed at Rascasse.
Milkfloat: Manor's Rio Haryanto trundled around at the back of the pack.