This is the end for me - Gulf Times

This is the end for me - Gulf Times

WEDNESDAY, JuNE 29, 2016 QATAR’S FIRST ENGLISH SPORTS WEEKLY VOLuME XI ISSuE NO.21 QR2.00 www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com P 6 | FOOTBALL P 26 | RA...

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WEDNESDAY, JuNE 29, 2016

QATAR’S FIRST ENGLISH SPORTS WEEKLY

VOLuME XI

ISSuE NO.21

QR2.00

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

P 6 | FOOTBALL

P 26 | RAMADAN EVENTS

CHANGE AT ARABI’S HELM

THE GRAND FINALE

Veteran Uruguayan coach Gerardo Pelusso replaces ex-Italy and Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola at Al Arabi.

Sharq emerge as winners of the Al Wajba Palace football tourney by beating Barzan in the final.

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P 19 | FOOTBALL

‘This is the end for me’ P 28 | BEACH VOLLEYBALL Rio calling!

P 20 | POSTER

CHILE

PAGES 22-23

COPA AMERICA CHAMPS

UK £1, Europe €2 | Oman 200 Baisas | Bahrain 200 Fils | Egypt LE 2 | Lebanon 3,000 Livre | Kuwait 250 Fils | Morocco Dh 6 | UAEDh 5 | Yemen 75 Riyals | Sudan 1 Pound | KSA 2 Riyals | Jordan 500 Fils | Iraq $1 | Palestine $1 | Syria LS 20

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The writer can be contacted at [email protected]

Despite all the hype and hoopla, England suffer humiliating loss ĈĈI didn’t expect England to progress

beyond the quarterfinal stage

E

URO 2016 has reached the quarterfinal stage. And missing from the line-up are champions Spain and England. Both, overwhelming favourites to progress, were dumped out last Monday. Spain’s defeat to Italy couldn’t be seen as a shock, but Iceland’s stunning win over England ranks as one of the biggest upsets in history as much as the Three Lions’ embarrassing loss at the 1950 World Cup when they were knocked out by United States, an amateur side also comprising postmen and funeral directors! The defeat to Iceland was equally humiliating as they were beaten by a country, as England great Gary Lineker put it, “which has more volcanoes than professional footballers”. The fact that Iceland’s national joint-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is a part-time dentist, compared to England’s full-time professional manager Roy

Hodgson who is paid $4.6m a year, simply adds insult to injury to the game’s so-called inventors. It isn’t fair to apportion the blame to one individual. Of course, Hodgson made some mistakes, reshuffling the pack too often, leaving many eyebrows raised. As a result, England never looked a settled combination. But ultimately, it’s the players who’ve to perform on the field. Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Harry Kane, to name but a few, failed miserably while players like Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and others got limited opportunities. Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect England to progress beyond the quarterfinal. As is the case often, it’s the English media which has created all the hype and hoopla around this team. Are they paying a price for hosting the world’s best league? Homegrown talents are few and far between and the relentless domestic schedule is draining the energy of those who get opportunities to play with top clubs. Even Spain seem to be suffering from similar

Editor-in-Chief

Senior Editor/Writer Senior Sports Writer Sports Writers

Dr Ahmed Al Mohannadi Kumar Ravi Aswin Abraham N Ganesh Sajith B Warrier Mohammad Amin-ul Islam Sarath Pookkat

Photographers

Mohan

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WEDNESDAY, JuNE 22, 2016

QATAR’S FIRST ENGLISH SPORTS WEEKLY

VOLuME XI

ISSuE NO.20

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P 6 | FUTSAL

P 24 | RAMADAN EVENTS

INTER FAVOURITES

UNDYING SPIRIT

Movistar Inter of Spain start as firm favourites at the upcoming Intercontinental Cup in Doha.

The pair of Sheikh Hassan bin Khalid Al Thani and Ahmad Askar reign supreme at the NBK tennis tourney.

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Technical support

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16 -19

P 20 | POSTER

DANIEL STURRIDGE

P 22 | CUE SPORTS

Qatar ready for Snooker Worlds

P 28 | TENNIS Serbian valley!

UK £1, Europe €2 | Oman 200 Baisas | Bahrain 200 Fils | Egypt LE 2 | Lebanon 3,000 Livre | Kuwait 250 Fils | Morocco Dh 6 | UAEDh 5 | Yemen 75 Riyals | Sudan 1 Pound | KSA 2 Riyals | Jordan 500 Fils | Iraq $1 | Palestine $1 | Syria LS 20

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Dr Ahmed Al Mohannadi

Bold and innovative survey by DSP

INBOX Managing Editor

problems. Almost all top scorers in La Liga are foreigners and the national team didn’t have a genuine striker. On the contrary, some La Liga stars like France’s Antoine Griezmann, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Wales’ Gareth Bale benefited from their experience so much so that they led their teams into the quarterfinals almost singlehandedly. Spain have an additional problem, with central defenders Sergio Ramos and Gerrard Pique, often at loggerheads on the domestic circuit, failing to click as a reassuring pair. Be that it may, we still have some mouthwatering fixtures in store, with Saturday’s Germany vs Italy tie getting the top billing.

France’s decision to ban alcohol near the match venues and fan zones is the latest in a long list of such myopic reactions (Doha Stadium Plus, June 22). As your survey findings rightly indicate, it isn’t fair to punish a wellbehaved majority for the potential misdeeds of a misguided minority. Blanket ban on alcohol at venues can infringe on the rights of football fans who travel from around the globe to enjoy the matches. Hats off to your magazine for coming up with such a bold and innovative survey. Lusan Worsley, Doha.

Great opportunity It’s great news to fans like me that the World Snooker Championship

Editor-in-Chief

is coming to Doha (Doha Stadium Plus, June 22). In addition to seeing the cream of world snooker in Doha, it would also give Qatari cueists a big chance to rub shoulders with the best in the business. I just can’t wait for the tournament! Ahmad Rashad, Doha.

Advantage Djokovic World No.1 Novak Djokovic undoubtedly looks the man to beat at the ongoing Wimbledon (Doha Stadium Plus, June 22). With this being an Olympic year and going by the Serbian ace’s current form, it won’t be a surprise if he accomplishes a Golden Slam this year. I feel it’s a matter of time before he surpasses Roger Federer’s record of 17 Grands Slam in the Open era. Noor Mohammad, Doha.

4

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Extra time Day, Lowry pull out of Rio Games over Zika fears

W ššUnai Emery

UNAI EMERGES! S

PANIARD Unai Emery has signed a two-year contract with Qatarowned Paris Saint-Germain with an option for an additional season, the Ligue 1 champions said on Tuesday. The 44-year-old joins from Sevilla, having guided the Spanish club to a third consecutive Europa League title. He replaces Laurent Blanc, who had parted company with PSG after three seasons in charge. “It’s with great pride that I agreed to

become the PSG coach,” said Emery. “I’m both happy and honoured to be able to help realise their great ambitions.” The former Real Sociedad midfielder, who started his coaching career in 2004, managed Valencia from 2008 to 2012 before taking over at Sevilla in 2013. Blanc departed officially last Monday. His future at PSG had appeared in jeopardy since club president Nasser Ghanem Al Kholaifi this month described the 2015-16 season as a failure because of the club’s

Hulk close to joining Shanghai

elimination from the Champions League by Manchester City. PSG achieved their second successive domestic treble by winning Ligue 1, the French Cup and the League Cup, but Champions League progress stagnated as they lost in the quarterfinals for the fourth successive season. Emery was tied with Sevilla until June, 2017, but negotiated a release from contract. Sevilla have appointed former Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli to replace him.

Zenit St Petersburg’s Brazilian forward Hulk is close to joining Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG in a deal worth around €56m. The deal could break the Asian transfer record of €50m that Jiangsu Suning paid Shakhtar Donetsk for Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira in February.

ORLD No.1 Jason Day and Ireland’s Shane Lowry on Tuesday withdrew from August’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, citing fears over the Zika virus. Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, but a number of big names, including four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy and Fiji’s Vijay Singh, have also pulled out due to Zika concerns. “ T h e re a s o n for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” Australian Day said. “Playing golf can’t take precedent over the safety of our family. I’ll not place them at risk,” the 28-year-old added. Lowry said his decision was based on firm medical advice. “While I’m bitterly disappointed to be missing out on that experience and the opportunity to win an Olympic medal for Ireland, on this occasion I’ve to put my family’s welfare first,” said Lowry, who recently got married.

“Zenit have reached a preliminary agreement with Shanghai SIPG concerning the transfer of Hulk, and on Wednesday the player will undergo a medical,” Zenit’s press officer, Dmitri Zimmerman, told Russian daily Sport Express. “Zenit will receive around €56m, while a further €2m could be added to the total price.”

ššVincenzo Montella

Montella is new AC Milan boss?

Alves dreams with Juve

V

B

INCENZO Montella is reportedly on the brink of being named the new coach of AC Milan, with Marco Giampaolo set to replace him at Sampdoria. According to Italian media reports, the 42-year-old has emerged as the favourite to sit on the Rossoneri bench next season with Cristian Brocchi unlikely to be confirmed in the position he filled for the final third of last season. The appointment is to be confirmed as soon as club president Silvio Berlusconi fully recovers from a recent heart operation to discuss the matter with the group of Chinese investors who have until the end of the month to complete their takeover of the Serie A club.

ššDani Alves

RAZIL international Dani Alves said on Tuesday that his ultimate goal was to win the Champions League with his new Serie A club Juventus. “Juventus have a dream which is to win the Champions League, and I want to help them achieve this,” said Alves after signing a two-year deal with the Italian champions. The 33-year-old full-back left Barcelona in June at the end of his contract, after eight seasons with the Catalan giants produced 23 trophies. “The history of the club strikes me. And then to live a new experience, in a new country, that interests me,” explained Alves.

After leaving Sevilla for the Camp Nou in 2008, the Brazilian claimed six La Liga titles and three Champions League winners’ medals. “I’m not a star, I’m a hard worker. I’ll do my best to write history here too,” said Alves. Juventus, winners of the last five Serie A titles, have lifted Europe’s elite club trophy twice, in 1985 and 1996. In Turin, Alves will wear the No.23 jersey. “I’ve chosen the 23 in honour of LeBron James and all players like him who know how to reinvent themselves.” Alves was part of the Brazil squad that was knocked out of the Copa America centennial edition in the United States in the group stages.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5

I went to see the FA four or five years ago and I said, ‘I’ll have that job’. They said, ‘No, it’s a lack of experience’. And I said, ‘You’ve hired experienced guys, you’ve paid them an absolute fortune, I couldn’t have done any worse than those guys’. Alan Shearer, former England striker.

YOUSEF AL KUWARI

STAR OF THE WEEK

‘I’m passionate about bikes’

Q REUTERS/ Kai Pfaffenbach

ATAR Rugby Federation (QRF) President Yousef Jeham Al Kuwari is the man responsible for reinvigorating the sport in the country. Though the QRF was formed only last year, Al Kuwari, a former American football player with semi-professional side Colorado Cougars during his college days in the US, gave the sport a boost with his proactive ways. The QRF has hosted a couple of international competitions while Qatar’s victory at the Asian Championship Division 3 in April was another major achievement. ЂЂWhat other sports do you follow? ЃЂI like football very much. I follow the

English Premier League, Spanish League, Italian League and Qatar Stars League (QSL).

RAGNAR SIGURDSSON S

IGURDSSON is probably one of the very few names familiar to England fans, for a certain Gylfi plays for Premier League side Swansea City. And last Monday, Ragnar Sigurdsson made sure England would remember the name, painfully, for some time to come. The Krasnodar defender equalised for his team after England took the lead through Wayne Rooney, almost

made it 3-1 with an audacious bicycle kick and produced a perfectly-timed tackle to preserve the lead when faced with the onrushing James Vardy as Iceland shocked England to book their berth in the quarterfinal of European Championship. Sigurdsson said England’s overconfidence caused their humiliating defeat to the Nordic minnows and

they “panicked”. “They thought this would be a walk in the park,” said Sigurdsson. “But we had faith in our ability. I think it’s the second or third goal scored with long throw, it’s one of our weapons that we use a lot, so no surprise there. I think (England) are obviously a good team and tried hard, but as you know it’s not easy to score against Iceland,” he added.

ЂЂYour favourite football club... ЃЂQatar Sports Club, but unfortunately

they were relegated from the QSL last season. As a youngster, I played for Qatar SC, a favourite team among Qataris.

ЂЂWhat’re you passionate about? ЃЂI’m quite passionate about bikes. I’ve

nine Harley Davidson bikes which I ride in the weekends and during holidays.

» [email protected]

Inside

9

18

30

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Football

ENTER PELUSSO Al Arabi appoint Uruguayan coach Gerardo Pelusso in place of Italian Gianfranco Zola, who was sacked after just one season in charge. N Ganesh

A

L ARABI have announced Gerardo Pelusso as their new coach. The Uruguayan replaced former Chelsea and Italy star player Gianfranco Zola, who was sacked last week after just one season. The decision was announced by Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Jabor Al Thani, who took charge as president following the club’s general assembly last week. Pelusso, a form e r Pa ra g u a y coach, last managed Colombian

şšGianfranco Zola

club Santa Fe. Former champions Arabi showed signs of promise at the start of last season and for a brief period in January. However, they finished a disappointing eighth in the 14-team league, the

The Uruguayan will be the 13th coach to manage Al Arabi over a period of six seasons. same as the previous season. Arabi are infamous for their hire-andfire policy and Pelusso will be the 13th coach to manage them in six seasons. The Reds are reportedly making big

“I’ve been supporting Al Arabi for more than 25 years now. I’m grateful to everybody at the club for giving me an opportunity to lead it. I would like to extend my special thanks to HE Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, who supported me and I know the value of his backing. This is a great responsibility which I hope to fulfil in the best way.

Lekhwiya rope in defender Vivien from Kharaitiyat

E

plans for next season and the 62-yearold has the task to rebuild the team. Sheikh Khalifa announced that all foreign players except Paulinho had left the club. The Brazilian, however, will have to fight for his place as Nigerian forward Imoh Ezekiel, who was away on loan at Belgian club Anderlecht, has been brought back. Uruguayan centre-back Federico Platero and Chilean midfielder Luis Antonio Jimenez are the new foreign faces. The management is on the lookout for a new Asian foreign player. Arabi also brought left-back Rami Fayez from El Jaish on a season-long loan, and New Football Head Salah Al Mulla, said they would sign five more Qatari players. DSP

MIR’S Cup champions Lekhwiya signed centre-back Vivien Koua for five seasons in a swap deal with Al Kharatiyat, which saw striker Lassina Diaby and defender Khaled Radwan move in the other direction. Kharaitiyat had finished 12th in the 14-team league last season, while former champions Lekhwiya came a disappointing fourth. DSP

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Jabor Al Thani, Al Arabi Sports Club President.

ššGerardo Pelusso

Shahaniya sign Algerian Tiaiba

A

L SHAHANIYA, who are back in the Qatar Stars League, signed Algerian striker Mohamed Tiaiba last week. Tiaiba, top scorer in the Algerian league last season, will join compatriot Khalid Gormy, Iranian Mehrdad Pooladi, and Spaniard Alvaro Mejia as Shahaniya’s fourth foreign player. He will wear the No.9 jersey. Tiaiba, 27, has played for several clubs including ES Setif, CS Constantine, USM El Harrach. Shahaniya will begin training for the

ššMohamed Tiaiba

new season in Doha on July 10 before travelling to Germany for a training camp, to be held from August 10 to 26. DSP

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

7

Magnus to take on Barbosa in final

M šĈMohammed Ghanem Al A’ali

‘Belhadj to leave, no negotiations with Ibra’ ĈĈPortuguese Ferreira will

continue as Sadd coach

A

L SADD Football Head Mohammed Ghanem Al A’ali said Algerian left-back Nadir Belhadj, who played a pivotal role in their AFC Champions League triumph in 2011 and many other domestic titles, would part ways the Wolves after a ‘sincere’ six-year spell. In an interview with www.qsl.com.qa, Al A’ali dismissed the club’s negotiations with Swedish great Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the news of skilful forward Khalfan Ibrahim leaving the club as rumours. ЂĈOn renewing the contract of

Portuguese coach Ferreira... ЃĈAnybody who saw the team during the end of last season would’ve noticed that the team improved in terms of harmony; the players and coach were in sync. We’ll therefore benefit from stability at the coaching level. ЂĈAre

you negotiating with Ibrahimovic and Ricardo Quaresma? We read about many names, coaches and players, coming and going before the start of every season. We have negotiated with neither of these two names. ЂĈAbout Belhadj leaving the club... ЃĈWe’ve come to an agreement with Nadir

to end our association and he understood the decision. If I was to speak about him for a year, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to his professionalism, hard work and sincerity during the last six years. He became a part of the history of the club and he’ll

Sadd turf relaid

return to us some day in a coaching or management capacity. ЂĈAbout the future of Khalfan, Talal Al Balooshi and Mohammed Kassola at the club... ЃĈI’ll start with Khalfan. He still has a contract with us. When he’s at his natural technical level, he’s more valuable for us than a foreigner. He’s capable of regaining his form. I’ve said before that Khalfan is a priceless jewel.. Talal suffered recurring injuries last season and lost his position. He has to fight to get it back. His contract is still

When Khalfan is at his natural technical level, he’s more valuable for us than a foreigner. running and he’s an important and experienced player for us. As I said before, he has to work more to regain his level and his position. As for Kasola, we renewed his contract last season. ЂĈLetting Akram Afif join Villarreal... ЃĈAkram had a historic opportunity. If

ŢĈBrazilian side Carlos Barbosa proved too good for Al Rayyan.

šĈLuan Muller, left, and Tiago de Melo.

I feel the pain of having conceded the equaliser at the death of the regulation time. Wagner, giving Magnus a memorable win. “It was one of the most difficult games in my 40-year career as a player and coach. It was very competitive and maintained a very high level. I felt a big relief after winning it,” said Magnus coach Leite. His Barcelona counterpart Marc Carmona rued their luck. “We played very well, but we weren’t lucky. People sometimes underestimate luck, but it’s a part of any game,” said Carmona. “I feel the pain of having conceded the equaliser at the death of the regulation time. I don’t have words to explain it. But looking back, we couldn’t score enough goals,” added Carmona. His men start as the favourites in the third-place play-off against Rayyan on Wednesday. DSP

» e-mail: [email protected]

we had stood in between that, then history wouldn’t forget it. The offer that came wasn’t one of a trial or for training; it was an official contract to play for the fourthplaced team in the Spanish League. Just as we sacrificed Akram and his team-mates for the European project in recent years, we’re now proud of this sacrifice which’ll make him the first Gulf player to feature in the best league in the world.

Al Sadd, who are eager to regain the Qatar Stars League title next season, will look for a smooth ride at home after relaying its field. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) provided Sadd with the grass developed at its pioneering turf Research and Development Centre at the Aspire Zone. SCDL Manager for Landscape and Sport Turf Yasser Al Mulla said, “Normally, during a game, some bits of grass could be uprooted. But in the test events played following the laying of the new turf, we had no such problems.” DSP

DSP/Vinod Divakaran

INTERVIEW

AGNUS Futsal will take on Carlos Barbosa in an all-Brazilian final of the 2016 Intercontinental Futsal Cup at the Ali bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena on Wednesday. In the semifinals on Tuesday, Magnus pipped FC Barcelona Lassa 6-4 in tiebreaker after regulation and extra time ended 3-3. Carlos Barbosa had a relatively easy route as they saw off Qatar’s Al Rayyan 3-0. In a thrilling match, which Magnus coach Fernando Leite described as the best in his 40-year career both as a player and coach, they contained an onslaught of attacks by Barcelona and tried to catch them on the break. In hindsight, it was Magnus’ goalkeepers who did the star turn for them. Tiago de Melo had a near-perfect outing and produced at least a dozen exceptional saves throughout to walk away with the man of the match award while second choice Luan Muller, a specialist in penalties, came up with a vital block in the tie-breaker which ended 3-1. Earlier, a Dyego Henrique own goal gave Magnus the lead in the 10th minute while Sergio Lozano, arguably Barcelona’s best player on the court, equalised in the 19th. Leandro Simi put the Brazilians again ahead in the 24th while Marc Tolre drew parity again in the 29th. Lozano added a second to give the Catalans hope by netting in the 37th. Barcelona tried to defend the lead, but Leandro came up with the goal of the match in the dying seconds to take the game into extra time where the deadlock continued. In the tie-breaker, Rodrigo Hardy, Leandro and Falcao converted for Magnus. Only Lozano was successful for Barcelona as Luan denied Carlos

8

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Football

HUMILIATION England’s last-16 loss to Iceland seems a perfectly-logical result. Brian Homewood

E

NGLAND’S 2-1 defeat by Iceland may have looked like one of the worst reversals in their history yet in many ways it was a perfectly logical result. For England, the last-16 defeat was the culmination in a series of embarrassing performances, including their failure to reach Euro 2008 and a firstround exit at the 2014 World Cup after losses to Italy and Uruguay and a draw with Costa Rica. For their victorious Icelandic opponents, who face hosts France in the last eight, it was the next step in a spectacular rise which has seen them beat World Cup runners-up Netherlands home and away, Czech Republic and Turkey in qualifying. Bearing that in mind, and looking at the way the teams have been playing in France, the England result should not have been considered an upset at all. England had managed only three goals in their three group games, one less than their opponents, despite facing arguably more modest opposition in Russia, Wales and Slovakia. Iceland neutralised Cristiano Ronaldo as they held Portugal, one of the tournament dark horses, to a fully deserved 1-1 draw, led for most of the match against Hungary before drawing 1-1, then

beat Austria, another highly-rated side, 2-1. In fact, if anyone with no prior knowledge of the match had wandered into the stadium, they would have struggled to make out who were the former world champions and who were the tiny nation competing at their first major tournament. Iceland’s success has largely been attributed to their blanket defence and work rate, but they showed that their game is

Iceland have scored six goals in four games, the same as Germany and France. more sophisticated than that. Their defence was indeed superb, the highlight being Ragnar Sigurdsson’s lastditch tackle on Jamie Vardy in the penalty area when the England forward was about to shoot. Their passing and movement were more assured and effective than England. They broke dangerously and could ultimately have won by a greater margin. Iceland have scored six goals in four games, the same as Germany and France and fewer only than Belgium and Wales. Although their first goal by Sigurdsson followed one of Aron Gunnarsson’s trademark long throws, the second, scored by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, followed an intricate ‘tiki taka’ style passing exchange on

FIVE BIGGEST UPSETS USA bt England 1-0 at 1950 FIFA World Cup North Korea bt Italy 1-0 at 1966 FIFA World Cup Uruguay bt Brazil 2-1 at 1950 FIFA World Cup Senegal bt France 1-0 at 2002 FIFA World Cup Germany bt Brazil 7-1 at 2014 FIFA World Cup

QUARTERFINALS All matches start at 10pm Doha time. June 30

Poland vs Portugal

July 1

Wales vs Belgium

July 2

Germany vs Italy

July 3

France vs Iceland

Marseille Lille Bordeaux Saint-Denis

the edge of the area. England, who took the lead in the fourth minute through a Wayne Rooney penalty, froze once Iceland had gone ahead in the 18th minute and some of their play was so bad it was almost slapstick. Their movement was ponderous, passes went astray under no pressure whatsoever and free kicks and crosses were over-hit. Iceland’s confidence was exemplified by forward Jon Dadi Bodvarsson when he was substituted in the 89th minute with his team tantalising close to victory.

We’ve been improving slowly and, in my opinion, this was our best game yet, but we still haven’t shown what we can do. Heimir Hallgrimsson, Iceland’s joint-coach. ŢšEngland players look dejected after their shock defeat to Iceland.

ššRoy Hodgson

‘Time for someone else to take over’

E

NGLAND coach Roy Hodgson’s four-year reign came to an abrupt end after their shock defeat by Iceland last Monday. Hodgson wasted little time in announcing he was stepping down at the end of his contract when he read a prepared statement at the post-match news conference. “We’re out of the tournament, so now is the time for someone else to oversee the progress of a hungry and extremely talented group of players,” said Hodgson. “My contract was always going to be up after this tournament. I would’ve loved to have stayed on another two years, but now it’s time for someone else to take over.” The coaching staff of Gary Neville and Ray Lewington, who sat with Hodgson at the news conference, are also leaving. The much-travelled 68-year-old was handed the post after a club career mostly served in England and Scandinavia and with a spell as Switzerland coach on his CV. Harry Redknapp had been the media favourite for the job, but was overlooked by the English Football Association. Meanwhile, Hodgson denied reports that his players questioned his selection decisions before the embarrassing loss to Iceland.

English football’s worst loss: Media England journalists left their readers with no illusions after their side’s hopes were crushed by Iceland, describing the loss as the worst in their history. British media held nothing back with the headlines proclaiming the loss as not only “embarrassing” but also “the ultimate humiliation”. “This was England’s most humiliating night in international football, far worse than the 1950 FIFA World Cup defeat to the USA in Belo Horizonte,” Paul Hayward wrote in The Telegraph. The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor also compared the result to the 1950 loss in Belo Horizonte and suggested England’s allusions to being one of the powerhouses of world football now needed to be questioned. The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuel described the loss as a “seismic wave” and felt that Hodgson probably should have been sacked after the side’s group phase exit at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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FIVE THINGS LEARNT

COACHING MASTERCLASS Written off before the tournament began, Italy are more than the sum of their parts and that is in large part down to their coach Antonio Conte. If he was hailed after the Azzurri beat Belgium 2-0 in their opening group match, he deserves to be so again as Italy stunned the reigning champions. Chelsea fans will be even more excited now about the prospect of seeing Conte at the helm of their team next season.

REUTERS/ Darren Staples

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ššGraziano Pelle scores Italy’s second goal against Spain.

Italy rejoice as Spain exit Toby Davis

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IKE an ailing heavyweight, Spain and their hopes of a third straight European title went up in smoke in a tame surrender as their 0-2 defeat by Italy represented the definitive end to a golden era in their footballing history. A first-half effort from defender Giorgio Chiellini and stoppage-time goal by striker Graziano Pelle sent the Azzurri into the quarterfinal at Euro 2016 and left Spain to mull over a second successive failure on the international stage. They came into the tournament hoping to re-establish their status as the game’s dominant power and prove their shock early exit at the 2014 World Cup was the exception not the rule.

Their failure, however, to land a blow on an ageing Italy side showed the Spain team that won back-to-back European titles either side of their 2010 World Cup triumph, might still float like a butterfly, but no longer stings like a bee.

In the first half, we were more concerned about watching them play than playing our game. Spain were second best from the start against Antonio Conte’s men, who were better organised, more effective on the ball and ruthless in every department. The Italian defence, regimented like no other in the world game, never looked

like being dragged out of position by their opponents’ passing patterns. The Spanish midfield axis of Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, for so long the engine room of the national team’s dominance, looked slow and ponderous. Spain used to make other sides chase shadows as they passed the ball around them but, until Italy scored last Monday, the two combatants had equally shared possession. “In the first half, we were more concerned about watching them play than playing our game,” said Iniesta. In attack, Spain’s Alvaro Morata was forlorn and isolated, a pale shadow of the players who led the line in the heyday of Spain’s dominance, such as David Villa and Fernando Torres, and only when he left the field did they flicker into life.

Spain finally appeared to have a centre-forward worthy of the name at this European Championship in the shape of Alvaro Morata. Scorer of three goals in the group stage, he nevertheless found the going far tougher up against an Italian defence comprising players he has called his team-mates at Juventus in the last two seasons. And Italy’s back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Chiellini — aka the BBC — along with veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, ensured that Morata provided no threat.

RAMOS DISASTER If Sergio Ramos had not missed a penalty in Spain’s final group game against Croatia, Vicente del Bosque’s side would have avoided facing Italy in the last 16. It had already been a difficult tournament for the Real Madrid stopper and Spain skipper before he endured a torrid time against the Italian attack at the Stade de France. Eder and Pelle were outstanding in blue and the latter thoroughly merited his goal when it arrived at the death.

WHITE KIT JINX

ŢšGiorgio Chiellini

Spain do not much enjoy playing in their white change kit. As master statistician @2010MisterChip pointed out on Twitter at the beginning of the evening, La Roja had lost their previous five matches at a major tournament while wearing white. That run started with their 1-2 defeat to Italy at the 1994 World Cup and continued all the way up to their 1-2 loss to Croatia in Bordeaux recently that condemned them to second place in Group D and the clash with the Italians.

ITALY HAVE REVENGE COACHES SPEAK The players have something important inside them, out of the ordinary. We’ve proved that Italy isn’t just catenaccio (Italian for a tactical system with strong emphasis on defence).

Italy were probably better. They don’t play great football, but they’re strong in the air, very physical and they were dangerous. We tried everything, but we couldn’t score.

Antonio Conte, Italy.

Vicente del Bosque, Spain.

Two of Spain’s biggest results during their recent era of domination came against Italy. There was the penalty shoot-out win in the quarterfinal of Euro 2008 that set Luis Aragones’ team on the way to a first major trophy in 44 years. And then there was their stunning destruction of the Azzurri in the Euro 2012 final, when they won 4-0 in Kiev. Italy had not beaten Spain at a major tournament since a 2-1 win in the quarterfinal of the 1994 World Cup.

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Griezmann cometh! Antoine Griezmann returns to form and scores a brace as France edge Ireland to reach the quarterfinal. Patrick Vignal

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RANCE forward Antoine Griezmann had looked slightly below par in their opening games and the host nation’s fans feared he might be exhausted after a gruelling season. However, the speedy forward reassured them by scoring twice in quick succession to help Les Bleus tame Ireland 2-1 last Sunday and advance to the quarterfinal. Griezmann, who went all the way to the Champions League final with Atletico Madrid, proved his legs were still fresh by equalising with a header from a Bacary Sagna cross just before the hour and then fired France in front three minutes later. The relatively frail 25-year-old kept busy after that, coming close to increasing the lead on a couple of occasions. “I think I started my game well and tried to come back to get the ball, but a goal gives you wings and I took advantage of that after to play on the counter,” he said. “Grizou”, as his team mates affectionately call him, has reached another level this season, establishing himself as one of the most efficient forwards in European football. It remained to be seen, however, if he could find the extra energy to deliver for the national side. “I was never worried,”

he said. “I know my body and I knew I could be there at important moments. I’m glad I could help out the team and I hope I can keep doing it.” France have done things the hard way so far, needing dramatic late goals in earlier matches and having to fight back after conceding an early penalty against a spirited Ireland. That is nothing new for Griezmann, who has experienced similar situations this season with his defensive-minded Atletico side, often lifting them out of tight spots.

I knew I could be there at important moments. I’m glad that I could help out the team. “The stress has been like this all year with Atletico,” he said. “We win games 1-0 and so have to keep fighting until the end. I thought it would be different here with France but there you go, we have to suffer.” France’s most dangerous weapon in the opening stage of the tournament had not been Griezmann, but Dimitri Payet, who caught the eye with dazzling displays crowned by two sensational goals. Payet said he was very happy to let Griezmann take the limelight. “I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. We all know we need everybody here,” said Payet. “It was Grizou who scored two goals and we’re all pleased with that.”

ššAntoine Griezmann

GRIEZMANN FAST FACTS

SMALL FRAME

SPANISH TEMPER

WORLD’S TOP THREE

‘MATE’ LOVER

BUMPER CONTRACT

The scene of Griezmann’s heroics were particularly sweet for the Atletico Madrid forward as he grew up a huge Lyon fan. He even trained with the French team a youngster, but was never offered a deal because he was considered too small. Griezmann, 25, joined Spanish club Real Sociedad when he was 13 and went on to make over 200 appearances for the Basques before joining Atletico for €30m in 2014.

Despite spending all of his adult life in Spain, Griezmann insisted he was not tempted to switch allegiance to the European champions, but has developed a Spanish temperament. “I think in French, but I get angry in Spanish,” he said. “I’ve always had the same idea to play for Les Bleus because I was born in France and grew up watching Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry during the 1998 World Cup, so my dream is to live and repeat that in French shirt.”

Griezmann has scored 57 goals in two seasons at Atletico to be hailed as a worthy heir to star strikers such as a young Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa. Atletico boss Diego Simeone believes only Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi can be considered better than Griezmann.

Griezmann’s ability to adjust to hispanic culture even stretches to South America as he enjoys a particularly close relationship with Atletico’s array of Argentinians and Uruguayans. He is often seen supping on Mate — a caffeine rich hot drink popular with South American players. “I don’t change my habits. I’ve a mate every morning with Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez,” he said.

Despite the immense disappointment of missing a penalty in normal time as Atletico lost to bitter local rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons, Griezmann’s 32-goal season with Atletico has been rewarded with a new bumper contract until 2021.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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Deschamps makes the right moves

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IDIER Deschamps can come across as quiet and unassuming, but after his team’s dismal firsthalf display against Ireland, the France coach had to shake up his players to turn the tricky tie into a 2-1 victory. Coming in at the break, the hosts looked shell-shocked and asleep after conceding a second-minute penalty that appeared to ebb away all their attacking game. “I raised my voice at times, but we also needed calm,” said Deschamps who, as captain, won the European Championship in 2000. “I had to shake the trees, but there were also players who spoke up, even ones who were on the bench. I think we’ve a real group and they’re all fixed on the objective of winning,” he said. While Antoine Griezmann’s two goals will get the plaudits, it was Deschamps’s tactical switch that changed the game completely.

ššPoland’s Grzegorz Krychowiak converts the last penalty against Switzerland.

Little luck in shoot-out science Mitch Phillips

E ššDidier Deschamps

O’Neill rues lack of time to prepare

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RELAND manager Martin O’Neill complained that France had far more time to prepare for last Sunday’s 1-2 second-round defeat of the Irish than his squad. The hosts, who battled back from a goal behind, had a week’s rest after a goalless draw with Switzerland in their final group match, while the Irish had three days less to recover after their defeat of Italy. “Three days is an incredible amount of time one side could have as an advantage over another,” he said. “I know we knew that before but we definitely got the short straw in that aspect. That said, France are a really, really fine team and good luck to them in the tournament.”

ššMartin O’Neill

XACTLY 40 years ago, Antonin Panenka settled the first European Championship shoot-out, patenting the nonchalant dink over a committed keeper, as Czechoslovakia beat West Germany 5-3 after a 2-2 draw. With this year’s expanded format featuring 15 one-off games compared to seven since 1996, it is a near-certainty that a nation’s joy or despair and an individual player’s career will be defined by 10 shots from 12 yards. Like many other aspects of top-level sport, some players, and some nations, seem to thrive under the ultimate test of nerve and technique under pressure. And others melt. After their win in 1976, Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic took part in

two more Euro shoot-outs, winning both, and have yet to miss a single attempt. The Germans obviously learnt from that experience and quickly became the masters, subsequently winning four out of four in the World Cup and beating England in their only other Euros shoot-out in the 1996 semifinal.

Shoot-outs generated a large amount of peer reviewed papers of late. That, of course, is no particular achievement as the country which invented the sport has become firmly established as a laughing stock in shoot outs. In the World Cup and Euros, they have managed to lose six out of seven, their sole success coming against Spain in the Euro ’96 quarterfinal.

Others too have come to dread the shoot-out, with the Netherlands losing five out of seven and Italy five out of eight, although they boast the unique feat of both losing (1994) and winning (2006) a World Cup final on a shootout. “Penalty shoot-outs have generated a large amount of peer reviewed papers in recent years in an effort to arrive at optimal strategies for both the penalty taker and the goalkeeper,” said data analyst Robert O’Connor. So if the Czechs and Germans never lose and rarely miss while England and the Netherlands almost always lose and always miss, it is surely time to dismiss the commonly-expressed idea that the whole thing is a “lottery”. FAST FACTS Almost 30 per cent of penalties are missed. Strikers have around an 83 per cent success rate while defenders have only 73. Under-22 players are successful 85 per cent while their older team-mates convert about 78 per cent.

Caution erring goalkeepers during penalties: Collina

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OALKEEPERS who move forward off their line when a penalty is taken must be given yellow cards and spot-kicks retaken even during a shootout, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina said last week. Collina, a former World Cup final referee, said the standard of officiating at this year’s event had been excellent with referees benefiting from a new pre-match analysis of team tactics and players that gives them extra insight. He acknowledged, however, that there had been at least one big mistake in the group stages during the Croatia vs Spain match when Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic saved a penalty after advancing well off his line

to stop the shot. “The keeper moved forward. It wasn’t spotted by the referee’s team. It was a mistake. Unfortunately it happens, but it was a mistake within a match that was refereed well,” said Collina. He said the tournament’s remaining 12 refereeing teams had debriefed ahead of the knockout phases and among the topics discussed was keepers’ moving off their line. Collina said the issue was not a trend, but had to be stopped. “Referees should pay attention the penalty kicks are taken correctly. It should be retaken and whenever the goalkeeper infringes, he’ll be cautioned,” he added.

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Old domain! Belgium’s Eden Hazard looks forward to deliver the knockout punch against Wales at Lille, where he started his career. Berend Scholten

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ELGIUM produced a stunning attacking display, beating Hungary 4-0 to reach the quarterfinal and Eden Hazard was the deserved man of the match. To make things even more wonderful for the 25-year-old, they face Wales in Lille, where Hazard began his career. “We’re lucky enough now to play in Lille. I know the city very well,” said Hazard. The Red Devils played fast and furious attacking football from the start in Toulouse, and the captain, together with Kevin De Bruyne, was the engine. Nerves were still jangling, though, at 1-0 up until Hazard set up Michy Batshuayi to make it 2-0 with the substitute’s first touch with 12 minutes remaining. The No.10 then scored the third himself, evading three Hungarian defenders before bending a shot around goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. “It was great, but it was about the team performance,” said Hazard. “As a team, I feel we were really solid. We made a lot of chances, and didn’t give them too many.” Lille, just over the border with Belgium and known as Rijsel in Flemish, was where Hazard moved in 2005 to join Lille Olympique Sporting Club’s (LOSC) youth scheme. After being one of the

stars at the 2007 UEFA European Under17 Championship in Belgium, Hazard made his senior debut the same year. After having been elected France’s young player of the year twice, he took the senior prize in 2011 and 2012, aiding LOSC to the domestic double in the first of those campaigns. “I don’t know the new stadium very well. I’ve never played there. I was really motivated to go through. It’ll be a great celebration on Friday and I hope there’ll be plenty of fans there,” said Hazard.

We played against Wales in the qualifiers. They’re a very tough team, but we’ll prepare well. Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ have now reached the stage where they were eliminated at the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal. “We’ll try to carry on in the same vain. We know Wales very well. We played against them in the qualifiers. They’re a very tough team, but we’ll prepare well,” said the Chelsea playmaker. “For the time being, we’ve achieved nothing,” he added. “We’re just in the quarters and we’ll take it one game at a time.”

» www.uefa.com

COACHES SPEAK At half-time, we can’t come in at 1-0. We kept the game at 1-0 too long. I told everyone to stay calm and told them to keep going because they were moving the ball very well.

We can leave with our heads held high. We’ve never played against a side like that. But we’ve learnt a great deal for the future.

Marc Wilmots, Belgium.

Bernd Storck, Hungary. ššBelgium’s Eden Hazard being challenged by Hungary’s Gergo Lovrencsics.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Germany’s Draxler is back in limelight

Wilmots does not want to take Wales lightly Angus MacSwan

Steffen Potter

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ELGIUM’S title credentials were boosted by a big win over Hungary last Sunday, but before they can even think about reaching the final they face a tricky rematch with recent conquerors Wales. They played the Welsh in the qualifying competition for a place at the finals and lost 0-1 in Cardiff in June last year to a Gareth Bale goal following a 0-0 draw in Brussels. Belgium coach Marc Wilmots is under no illusions about the challenge facing his side when they meet one of the tournament’s surprise packages on Friday. “We’re not in the final yet,” said Wilmots. “Wales are a very strong side, and not just with Gareth Bale, they’ve other good players. They’ve annoyed us in the past because they play very deep. We’re going to plan tactically.” Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ will not need to be reminded of their experience at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, when they beat the United States in the Round of 16 but were disappointing in their quarterfinal defeat against Argentina. Wilmots, sometimes accused of not getting the best out of his players, thinks he has now hit on the right formula. “I think the 4-3-2-1 formation, with almost four forwards, we were able to strike the right balance,” he said.

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OT too long ago, Julian Draxler looked to be another in a long line of German midfield wunderkinds. The youngest-ever Bundesliga player at Schalke and a World Cup winner with Germany, his career seemed to be moving in one direction only, but he could not prevent Wolfsburg’s drop to eighth in the league, with his own form suffering. Some even questioned his place in Germany’s squad, but when Marco Reus was ruled out of the finals with injury, Draxler suddenly became a candidate for a starting berth on the left. He started in the first two games. Some liked what he offered, some less so. While he did not play badly, he struggled to contribute, dwelling on the ball and often choosing the safer option with his passing. So it was no great shock when he made way for Mario Gomez in the third Group C outing against Northern Ireland, with Mario Goetze taking over as left-winger. Draxler’s inclusion

šŠJulian Draxler

at the expense of Goetze in their Round of 16 match against Slovakia last Sunday was a genuine surprise, even if the Bayern midfielder had been far from dazzling. The 22-year-old did not shy away from a riskier approach this time and twisted his way through the Slovakia defence on several occasions. He dribbled on the left and right, and a stepover paved the way for Gomez to score Germany’s second goal in their 3-0 victory.

In his talk with me, the coach told me to look for one-on-ones, to make use of my pace. “In his talk with me, the coach told me to look for one-on-ones, to make use of my pace,” said Draxler. “He’s given me a lot of confidence and made it clear to me that I’m a good player.” Draxler capped the win with a beautiful goal after the break, volleying in acrobatically from close range. It was his first competitive Germany strike. “He played well. He was brave enough to look for those on-on-ones,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

» www.uefa.com

COACHES SPEAK It was a good performance, in defence and attack, but I think that with all respect to our opponents. We need to be stronger at decisive moments. The first sides we’ve played were not top 10 teams.

ŠŠMarc Wilmots

Joachim Loew, Germany.

Any defeat is painful, but there should be a good feeling that we got to the last 1ast 16 and played the world champions. We’ve played them twice now. One win and one loss, so that’s okay. Jan Kozak, Slovakia.

Boateng happy with maiden goal

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ERMANY’S Jerome Boateng’s first international goal and another rock solid performance against Slovakia cemented his position as a new team leader. Boateng’s sweetly struck eighth-minute volley set Germany on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win and a quarterfinal berth. “I hit the ball well and am glad it went in. It was also about time I scored,” said Boateng. Before the tournament, the towering 27-year-old Bayern Munich defender, who was born in Berlin to a German

mother and a Ghanaian father, was dragged into a race controversy. In May, the deputy leader of the rightwing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Alexander Gauland, said, “People find him good as a footballer, but they don’t want to have a Boateng as a neighbour.” Gauland faced widespread condemnation for his remarks, which were widely seen as racist, but Boateng brushed them off. “I can only smile about it. In all honesty, it’s sad that something like that is said these days,” he said.

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HIGH HOPES Expectations weigh heavily on Wales as they are out to eclipse the class of 1958 at the FIFA World Cup. Mark Pitman

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HRIS Coleman’s side is making a noise at the Euro Championship, but reaching the quarterfinal stage provides another opportunity to set a new mark for Wales. The 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden was Wales’ one and only previous major tournament. For generations, players have performed in the shadow of that golden era, but 58 years of hurt seemed to have ended after the team qualified for the quarterfinal.

Greats such as John Toshack, Joey Jones, Mark Hughes, Neville Southall, Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, the late Gary Speed and many more all tried, but failed to achieve what the likes of Ivor Allchurch, Cliff Jones, Trevor Ford and the great John Charles did under the guidance of Jimmy Murphy in 1958. Manager Coleman, another to have failed to reach such heights during his

There is a belief which stems from within that this is a special moment in Welsh football history. own international playing career, finally brought that particular wait to an end. However, the quarterfinals are also synonymous with the team of 1958, since that is where that particular journey ended, and is the next challenge that Coleman and his side must confront to establish themselves, without argument, as the greatest-ever Wales team.

A solitary goal from a young Pele proved to be the difference in Gothenburg as Wales bowed out to eventual winners Brazil, but the Dragons were without their talisman of the time, John Charles, through injury, and the team was always left to wonder what might have been. Coleman has preached throughout the campaign that they must enjoy the experience. They have listened. The ‘Together, Stronger’ motto of the team has become ingrained in their mentality, and it extends from the team to the staff and to fans. There is a belief that stems from within that this is a special moment in Welsh football history, the scenes that accompany each goal and victory are bigger and better than the ones before. Now back at the quarterfinal stage of a major tournament for the first time since 1958, captain Ashley Williams must wait for news on the shoulder injury that he suffered against Northern Ireland, and Coleman will be desperate for the leader of his team to pull through.

» www.uefa.com

şşWales’ Gareth Bale, left, and Aaron Ramsey celebrate after beating Northern Ireland.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FIVE THINGS LEARNT FROM THE MATCH BETWEEN WALES AND NORTHERN IRELAND BATTLE OF ATTRITION Billed as another Battle of Britain, the game is more likely to be remembered as a war of attrition. After some superb performances in the group stage, Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern was not forced to make a save until parrying away Gareth Bale’s free-kick on 58 minutes. That was his lone contribution to the match as there was nothing he could do about Gareth McAuley’s own goal. BALE DELIVERS Bale failed to score for the first time in four games, but the Real Madrid star played a pivotal role in sending Wales through to the last eight. Shackled by defenders, he found a pocket of space when he was fed by Aaron Ramsey down the left and his devilish cross resulted in McAuley bundling into his own net on 75 minutes as Wales striker Hal Robson-Kanu lurked just behind.

Lady luck shone on us, says Coleman

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FTER topping their group ahead of England with convincing performances, Wales showed they knew other ways to win by edging out a battling Northern Ireland in a messy British derby to reach the quarterfinal. Wales looked nervous throughout their 1-0 win, with tournament jointtop marksman Gareth Bale, who scored in each of their three group games, failing to hit the back on the net. “We knew it was going to be an ugly match,” said Bale. “Northern Ireland made it difficult. There wasn’t much space up front. We worked hard and did everything we could. You can’t ask for more.” One of the sensations of the first round,

ššChris Coleman

Wales had been impressive notably in a 3-0 victory over Russia in which Bale shone along with energetic box-to-box midfielder Aaron Ramsey. However, Ramsey stood out more for

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ORTHERN Ireland will take a long time to forget the own goal that knocked them out, but they are leaving the tournament with their pride intact. The Irish had the best chances in the first half of their Round-of-16 encounter at the Parc des Princes before Gareth McAuley turned a Gareth Bale cross into his own net after the interval. “It was a very tight game. We were the better team,” said Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill. “We deserved at least to go into extra time. But when

Recalled Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty cut a lonesome figure against Wales’ three-man central defence. Overlooked for the final two group games, Lafferty replaced Conor Washington, but was made to toil against Ashley Williams, with little opportunity to add to his seven goals from the qualifiers. Washington was introduced on 69 minutes to provide extra support, but it was to no avail.

Northern Ireland finished third in Group C to make it to the last 16 playing defensively.

‘CUP TIE FEELING’

RARING TO GO Making their first major finals appearance since the 1958 FIFA World Cup, Wales have matched their quarterfinal run from 58 years ago. With Belgium, a side Chris Coleman’s team took four points off during qualifying, or Hungary awaiting them in the last eight, Welsh fans are up for a treat.

his bleached hair than his runs or passing. He hardly created a chance and the only Wales shot on target in the match was a Bale free-kick that goalkeeper Michael McGovern did well to save. “It was an ugly game, but who cares?” said Wales coach Chris Coleman. “We showed another side of our game. Northern Ireland played well and we didn’t. When luck comes your way, you take it.” The Irish, too, showed heart and courage if not much else, but the real disappointment was the performance of Wales, who had least kept fighting. “Lady luck shone on us and I think we earned it. The good thing about the team is they’ve a bit of spirit about them,” said Coleman.

We didn’t deserve this exit: O’Neill

LONESOME LAFFERTY

Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill had predicted the clash would have a “cup tie feeling” and he wasn’t mistaken. With the prize of a quarterfinal spot at stake, neither team was inclined to gamble and rue a costly mistake. Had the encounter gone to extra time and then possibly penalties and supported O’Neill’s initial instinct, it would not have been a surprise.

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ššNorthern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley, right, applauds fans at the end of the match.

McAuley feels ‘gutted’

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ARETH McAuley said he was “gutted” to have ended the Northern Ireland campaign after his own goal sent Wales into the quarterfinal. The West Bromwich Albion defender, 36, turned a Gareth Bale cross into his own net in the 75th minute. Northern Ireland fans have captured hearts with their ubiquitous chant about striker Will Grigg — who ended up not

playing a single minute at the tournament — and McAuley said he was sorry to have spoilt the fun. “I’m just gutted that everyone has to go home,” said McAuley. “It’s been fantastic. We’ve embraced and enjoyed it. It’s been brilliant. It’s rough and smooth. I’ve been in the game long enough to know that you keep it on a level keel.”

it ends like this, it’s very cruel. I don’t think we got what we deserved.” O’Neill would not blame McAuley for the goal which sent his team out of their first major competition since the 1986 World Cup finals. “I’m certainly not going to point the finger at him. He had a split second decision to make,” he said. Northern Ireland finished third in Group C to make it to the last 16 playing defensively. O’Neill was happy with their defence against the Welsh. “I think at international football, when you’re a small nation, you’ve to be strong tactically and make yourself hard to beat and we certainly did that. The boys have been tremendous,” he said.

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Football

TACTICAL NOUS Portugal’s performance proves unattractive, but coach Fernando Santos’s effective tactics shut out Croatia.

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It was a very tactical match. Portugal tried to take over, but Croatia didn’t let us. When they tried to take over, we didn’t let them. You’ve to look at both sides of the coin. We faced an amazing team. But I got the team ready to fight against Croatia’s strengths and make the best of exposing their weaknesses. Fernando Santos, Portugal.

Everything was perfect except we didn’t score. We played really well and conceded no chances except the last one. They kept us far from goal and that’s why they scored from the counter-attack. That was our mistake and we were punished. That’s football and the best team doesn’t always win. Ante Cacic, Croatia.

Joe Walker

AVING seen Croatia condemn champions Spain to their first defeat at a Euro Championship since 2004, Portugal coach Fernando Santos was well aware of what Ante Cacic’s side can do. Ricardo Quaresma scored late in extra time as Portugal defeated Croatia to set up a quarterfinal against Poland on Thursday. Portugal’s success was not pretty, but it was a dogged performance that was mighty effective. The 61-year-old fundamentally got it right on a night of fine margins. While setting up with a 4-4-2 diamond is nothing new for Portugal, Santos’s decision to introduce fresh legs was key to nullifying Croatia’s main threats. “It would be nice to play pretty, but that’s not always how you win tournaments,” said Santos. “Sometimes, you’ve to be pragmatic.” Adrien Silva’s boundless energy in the middle of the park afforded the mercurial Luka Modric little time to get his foot on the ball. Adrien’s partner William Carvalho performed a fantastic man-marking job on the dangerous Ivan Rakitic, just as he had on David Alaba in the group stage. With their two playmakers occupied, Croatia struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities from open play, and even the dangerous Ivan Perisic was kept in check by Cedric Soares and Raphael Guerreiro, while Mario Mandzukic struggled to get involved. He shuffled his pack wisely. Eyebrows were raised when a line-up containing

COACHES SPEAK

three players making their debut was announced. However, each change in the XI was more than vindicated. Jose Fonte, partnering Pepe at the heart of the defence, was imperious while Southampton team-mate Cedric — also making his tournament bow — helped form a backline that looked much more secure than the porous one that showed up against Hungary. Santos must now decide whether to bring back the rested Ricardo Carvalho and Vieirinha in their places. Likewise Adrien, excelled. While not

Nani joins club of centenarians Forward Nani made his 100th international appearance against Croatia last week, joining a select band of Portuguese centenarians formed by Fernando Couto (110), Luis Figo (127) and current team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo (130). For his part, Real Madrid’s Ronaldo was playing his 31st match in a major international competition, putting him level with Iker Casillas in seventh place on the list of players with most FIFA World Cup, and Euro appearances.

William Carvalho performed a fantastic man-marking job on the dangerous Ivan Rakitic. possessing Joao Moutinho’s vision, his stamina was what was required in a disciplined role at the heart of midfield. Against sides that are more difficult to unlock, he may not be the best option, but he was the right man for the task. With a plan to stifle Croatia working in the first half, Santos then needed to add attacking impetus to his hitherto blunt side. He did this emphatically with the introductions of both Renato Sanches and Ricardo Quaresma, who was brought in just three minutes of normal time remaining.

» www.uefa.com

ššPortugal’s Ricardo Quaresma exults after scoring against Croatia.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

17

Poles sink Swiss on penalties

P

OLAND beat Switzerland 5-4 in a shoot-out to reach their first European Championship quarterfinal as a riveting clash ended 1-1 after extra time last week following a brilliant late equaliser by Swiss Xherdan Shaqiri. Grezgorz Krychowiak drilled in the winning spot-kick after Granit Xhaka had missed Switzerland’s second penalty to send the Polish fans at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium into raptures. Jakub Blaszczykowski had given Poland a 39th-minute lead before Shaqiri levelled with a spectacular bicycle kick in the 82nd to send the contest into a dramatic climax. Shaqiri, who was superb in the second half and extra time, said the goal meant little after a painful loss. “It was a beautiful goal. I’m always proud to score for my country, but we’re out,” said the 24-year old.

ššPortugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, left, is challenged by Croatia’s Domagoj Vida.

Moment of class helps Portugal

P

With Shaqiri and Seferovic stifled by Poland’s defence, the Swiss created little. subdued, the Poles had to rely on chances created by livewire left winger Kamil Grosicki and the impressive Blaszczykowski on the other flank. Switzerland captain Stephan Lichsteiner could not keep up with Grosicki, who fired over the bar from 18M after a clever run through the middle.

Blaszczykowski broke the deadlock with a composed finish after a darting run by Grosicki and a dummy from Milik gave the winger time and space to pick his spot. With Shaqiri and striker Haris Seferovic stifled by Poland’s rock-solid defence, the Swiss created little in the opening period. They came out with renewed purpose in the second half and Shaqiri finally showed a glimpse of his talent with a dazzling solo run and a stinging shot which Lukasz Fabianski parried. Blaszczykowski had Yann Sommer at full stretch as the pace increased with Switzerland throwing men forward. Shaqiri produced a moment of magic with one of the best goals of the tournament in the 82nd minute, twisting his body in the air to unleash a fierce shot which gave Fabianski no chance as it went in off the post.

Polish delight for Crowe and Tusk

Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

ORTUGAL relied on a late moment of class to grab their first victory and move into the last eight with a 1-0 win over Croatia despite failing to hit the target for almost two hours and struggling to build any cohesive attacks. With both teams oozing talent, fans were expecting fireworks in a game pitting the goal-scoring prowess of Cristiano Ronaldo against the play-making abilities of fellow-Champions League winner and Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric of Croatia. Instead, they got to see two hours of cagey, nervy football with only one shot on target amid some shocking finishing until mercurial Ricardo Quaresma lit up the stadium with his winner three minutes from the end of extra time. All eyes were on Ronaldo, but for almost all the game he was nowhere to be seen, shut out by two and three Croats at all times. Winger Nani was equally subdued, trying to find some space but ending up crashing against a wall of defenders every time. Yet the best talent finds a way to make an impact, all that was needed was one spark, and they got it with teenager Renato Sanches, launching a quick break to feed Nani on the left. As always, Ronaldo dug deep into his reserves to charge up in support on the right and Nani picked him out with a clever, threaded low cross. Ronaldo’s shot from a tight angle was blocked by keeper Danijel Subasic’s quick reflexes, but susbstitute Quaresma was on hand to nod in on the rebound. It was not supposed to be Quaresma’s game and certainly not his tournament with coach Fernando Santos having hauled him off after he failed in their 0-0 group-stage draw against Austria. The 32-year-old, who made the squad after reviving his career with a second spell at Turkey’s Besiktas, was long seen by critics as having failed to make the most of his talent in a topsy-turvy career punctuated by tantrums.

Poland dominated the first half and should have gone ahead inside the first minute when Arkadiusz Milik sent his shot over a gaping goal following a calamitous defensive mix-up. With striker Robert Lewandowski

ššPoland players celebrate their pre-quarterfinal victory over Switzerland.

COACHES SPEAK The Swiss are world-class in defence and attack. It’s not surprising when they were losing they chased the game. We had to drop deep to defend and that’s why they created chances. But what’s most important is that when they scored their goal, you could see my team’s potential.

Hollywood star Russell Crowe joined European Union president Donald Tusk in expressing delight at Poland’s shoot-out qualification for the quarterfinal. “POL!!! Final 8!!!” tweeted “Gladiator” star Crowe after the Poles beat Switzerland in Saint-Etienne. Crowe, better known for his love of rugby league, has taken the Polish team — and especially swashbuckling forward Jakob Blaszczykowski — to heart after being impressed by their hardworking performances at the European Championship. He had earlier tweeted “KUBA!!! #POL” when Blaszczykowski, nicknamed Kuba, scored the opening goal in a match that finished 1-1 after extra-time before the Poles triumphed 5-4 on penalties. Tusk, who is Polish, broke off from trying to sort out the EU’s woes following the British exit to keep a close eye on Poland’s win and could not hide his joy. “I’ve waited for this for so many years! My God, I’m happy!” he tweeted.

Adam Nawalka, Poland.

I’m very sad for Granit Xhaka (who missed in shoot-out), but it’s not just about him. Switzerland lost and I’m sad about that. The players gave everything and showed what they can do. But unfortunately we made mistakes and paid for that. And then it was the lottery of penalties. Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland. ššRussell Crowe

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Football

HOT AGA Chile defend the Copa America title by yet again pipping Lionel Messi’s Argentina on penalties.

Rex Gowar

C

HILE have never beaten Argentina in open play in 27 Copa America meetings in 100 years yet have twice in 12 months dashed the hopes of Lionel Messi’s team of lifting a major trophy. A second successive victory on penalties in the final against their transAndean rivals, this time in the centenary tournament in the US last Sunday, has cemented Chile’s status as one of the world’s top teams. A further irony is that the revolution that has transformed the team is the work of Argentinian coaches, starting with the visionary appoint-

Chile have become audacious in the way they impose their game on any field. ment in 2007 of Marcelo Bielsa, who has earned cult status in Chile. “(Chile) have become audacious in the way they impose their game on any field, against any adversary,” said Diego Latorre, who was in the Argentina squad that won the Copa America in Chile in 1991. “This was unheard of in previous Chile teams prior to the Marcelo Bielsa era,” he wrote in his column in the Argentinian daily La Nacion. Argentina, boasting one of the world’s top players in superstar Messi and ranked No.1 in the world, were expected to avenge last year’s loss to Chile in Santiago having already beaten them twice this year. Messi has now lost four major finals with Argentina, three in the last two years including the 2014 World Cup decider against Germany in Rio de

ššChile players celebrate with the trophy.

Janeiro, leaving them still looking for their first major trophy since 1993. He often looked cut off from his team at a packed Metlife in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and cut a dejected figure at the end after his penalty miss and amid Chile’s victory celebrations. Bielsa, who was Argentina coach from 1999 to 2004, revolutionised Chile’s training methods and tactics, and led them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after being absent from the tournament since 1998. He and successor Jorge Sampaoli were instrumental in developing midfielder Arturo Vidal and forward Alexis Sanchez as world-class players while

Claudio Bravo has proved to be a topnotch goalkeeper. Sampaoli improved his mentor Bielsa’s work on a high pressing game, steered Chile to the round of 16 in Brazi two years ago and masterminded their first ever Copa America success at home last year. Argentina had never lost a competitive match to Chile until 2008 and had beaten the team now coached by Juan Antonio Pizzi twice in the last three months — in a World Cup qualifier in Santiago in March and their opening group game of this tournament in Santa Clara very recently, both times winning 2-1.

MOST TITLES

15 14 8

Uruguay

Argentina

Brazil

ROLL OF HONOUR Last 10 champions. 2016

Chile

2015

Chile

2011

Uruguay

2007

Brazil

2004

Brazil

2001

Colombia

1999

Brazil

1997

Brazil

1995

Uruguay

1993

Argentina

1991

Argentina

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

AIN COACHES SPEAK

It’s always hard to predict when a match is going to be decided by penalties. Both last year and now we ended up winning. I think it speaks about the parity between both teams and the respect we’ve for each other.

This is the end for me, it’s not for me: Messi Larry Fine

L

IONEL Messi said that he was to retire from international football after Argentina were beaten 4-2 by Chile in a penalty shoot-out in the Copa America title clash last Sunday, the fourth final the Barcelona striker has lost with the national side. Messi, a five-time World Player of the Year, missed Argentina’s opening penalty in the shootout after the game ended 0-0 and he was shown in tears while sitting in the team dugout. “It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis,” he said. “In the dressing room I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me. “That’s the way I feel right now, it’s a huge sadness once again and I missed the penalty that was so important. “I tried so hard to be champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it,” he said. Messi has played in three Copa America finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016 and the

Juan Antonio Pizzi, Chile.

We had high hopes, but are leaving empty handed. We should’ve won in 90 minutes. And should’ve won in extra time. Our players feel pride in wearing the national jersey and it’s there they find the will to foster hope again.

ŠŠLionel Messi

Carlos Bacca’s first-half goal was enough to give Colombia a 1-0 victory over the US in the third-place play-off. The winning goal came after half an hour when Colombia forged a well-worked move down the right with Juan Cuadrado slipping the ball inside to James Rodriguez. The Real Madrid playmaker chipped forward for Santiago Arias to head across the goal for Bacca to slide home. It was Colombia’s highest finish since 2001 while hosts US matched their best-ever finish in the tournament.

MESSI FACT FILE Name

Lionel Andres Messi

Nationality

Argentinian

Date of birth

June 24, 1987

Place of birth

Rosario, Argentina

Club

Barcelona (ESP, since 2000)

International appearances

112

International goals

55

International debut

August 17, 2005, vs Hungary

HONOURS CLUB Champions League

2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014-15

Club World Cup

2009, 2011, 2015

Spanish League

2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16

Spanish Cup

2008-09, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16

Spanish Super Cups

2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013

INTERNATIONAL

World Cup

Finalists (2014), quarterfinalists (2006, 2010), 5 matches, 5 goals

Copa America

Finalists (2015, 2007, 2016), quarterfinalists (2011), 16 matches, 3 goals

Olympic gold medal

2008

U-20 World Cup

2005 INDIVIDUAL

Ballon D’Or

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015

2009-2010 (34 goals), Top scorer in Spanish 2011-2012 (50 goals), League 2012-13 (46 goals)

Top scorer in Champions League

2008-2009 (9 goals), 2009-2010 (8 goals), 2010-2011 (12 goals), 2011-2012 (14 goals), 2014-15 (10 goals)

World Cup Golden Ball

2014

Olympic player of the 2008 tournament U-20 World Cup player 2005 of the tournament Top scorer at U-20 World Cup

2005 (6 goals)

Aguero warns more players may retire

Gerardo Martino, Argentina.

Colombia beat US to finish third

2014 World Cup final, and was on the losing side every time. Argentina failed to score in all four matches. The decision by the 29-year-old, who surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as his country’s highest goalscorer last week, came as a shock to his team-mates, who said they hoped his decision was not irrevocable. Sergio Aguero, Messi’s best friend on the team, said he had never seen the mood in the dressing room so low while goalkeeper Sergio Romero suggested he might rethink his decision. “I think Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because we missed that great chance,” said Romero. Messi’s retirement sparked disbelief in his homeland and sports newspaper Ole immediately launched a social media campaign, #NotevayasLeo, or Don’t go Leo, to get him to stay. He may not have been the only player to exit the national squad, with later unconfirmed reports that midfielder Javier Mascherano had also retired from the international game. Messi has won every trophy possible at club level with Barcelona, though his only titles with Argentina were the Under20 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics. Those club successes led Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Argentine coach of Chile, to praise Messi’s influence on the game at the post-match media conference, even though at the time he was unaware of his compatriot’s decision. “I believe that Messi is the best player in history,” said Pizzi.

19

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero warned more Argentina players could follow Lionel Messi into international retirement after the Barcelona superstar’s shock exit. “It’s likely that Messi won’t be the only one to go into international retirement,” said Aguero. “It’s our toughest defeat to take. We were all very devastated in the dressing room, particularly Leo, I had never seen him in such a state,” said Aguero who, however, did not say whether he would be one of the players to call time on his Argentina career. The future of Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano, 32, and attacker Gonzalo Higuain could be in doubt after the defeat.

CHILE Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

REUTERS/ Brad Penner

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Athletics

ARREST WARRANTED?

The arrests of coach Jama Aden and 800M runner Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla, who trains under him, as part of an investigation into alleged drug trafficking put Qatar in an unwanted spot.

Sajith B Warrier

A

S THE whole world continues to unite in its war on doping, the ever-swelling list of offenders is a cause for concern, especially in an Olympic year. Despite the International Olympic Committee doubling its budget, doperelated cases are still on the rise, with the latest being the arrest of track and field coach Jama Aden by Spanish police as part of an investigation into alleged drug trafficking. The Somali has a proven track record of nurturing some of the best middledistance runners, like Ethiopia’s current 1,500M world champion Genzebe Dibaba. The name of Qatar has been dragged into the current controversy after 800M runner Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla, who trains under Aden, was also reportedly arrested by Spanish cops for a similar offence. As the Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) is planning to send its biggest contingent to the Rio Olympics, the news of Musaeb

ššJama Aden

Qatar has been under media scrutiny for the way it has naturalised some athletes. being under the doping scanner is the least it required. Qatar has always been under immense media scrutiny for the way it has naturalised some athletes and, at times, been the punching bag of Western media ever since it won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, the QAF has sought to distance itself from the issue, saying the real picture was yet to emerge. “I can’t comment on this issue right

IAAF STATEMENT ON JAMA ADEN’S ARREST The arrest of distance running coach Jama Aden follows a lengthy investigation by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which began in 2013, working in close co-operation with Interpol, the authorities including the Spanish National Anti-Doping Agency, police and other organisations. The IAAF will use all available resources and powers to protect clean athletes and the integrity of our sport. This includes targeting and investigating individuals and coaches who’re intent on exploiting athletes and promoting the use of prohibited substances. The IAAF will not be making further comment on the ongoing investigation.

now. Whatever we’ve heard and read is all media reports only. I don’t think that’s the truth. When it comes to the war against doping, we’ve always strictly adhered to international guidelines. There has been no compromise on that,” said QAF President Dahlan Al Hamad. Dahlan, one of the vice-presidents of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said he would take up the issue with the higher-ups, if required. While it remains to be seen whether Musaeb, one of the Rio hopefuls, is guilty or not, questions have been raised in some quarters as to why the QAF kept faith in Aden despite him having a dubious past record when he trained Hamza Driouch, a Qatari middle-distance runner who is now serving a two-year ban imposed by the IAAF. Hamza had initially claimed that Aden had forced him to dope though he later retracted his allegations. There are some who believe the QAF should have followed the example of British long-distance runner Mo Farah, who distanced himself from his one-time coach Aden, after the recent scandal. QAF’s National Teams’ Director Khalifa Abdul Malik took a diplomatic view of the situation. “Aden is a coach with impeccable credentials. Look at the athletes he has trained — be it Dibaba, Abubaker Kaki Khamis or Taoufik Makhloufi — they all have proved their mettle in their disciplines. We can’t ignore his competency. Regarding Musaeb, it’s early to say anything as there’s still a lack of clarity,” he said. According to unconfirmed reports, the QAF is seeking legal action. How much damage will the incident have on the country, a potential future bidder for Olympics, is open for debate. DSP

ššMusaeb Abdulrahman Balla

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

23

Jama Aden is a coach with impeccable credentials. Look at the athletes he has trained, be it Genzebe Dibaba, Abubaker Kaki Khamis or Taoufik Makhloufi. They all have proved their mettle. Regarding Musaeb, it’s too early to say anything as there’s a lack of clarity. However, when it comes to the war on doping, we’ve always followed a zero-tolerance policy.

I’m yet to get the full details about the incident in Spain, so I can’t make any conclusion. Unless a person is proved guilty, he’s innocent in front of the law. So to me, as of today, (Musaeb) Abdulrahman Balla is innocent. I advise all Qatari athletes to be alert. They’re more or less professionals and they should know what they eat, what they carry while travelling etc.

I came to know about it (Musaeb’s arrest) through newspapers. But the reports were sketchy. Nowhere it’s mentioned that a dope test was conducted on him. How can anyone be pronounced guilty unless he returns a positive test? What’s going on is a trial by the (western) media. However, I want all Qatari athletes not to get associated with tainted persons in their support team.

Khalifa Abdul Malik, National Teams’ Director.

Talal Mansoor, former Asian sprint champion.

Nada Zeidan, two-time Asian Games archer.

Kumar Ravi

M

ANY of us may tend to dismiss this as a conspiracy theory. But a closer scrutiny makes it crystal clear that there is a certain pattern in the way some of the Western media outlets work overtime to tarnish the image of Russia and Qatar, especially after these countries won the bid to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup respectively. “What’s common between Phaedra Al Majid and Yuliya Stepanova? Both acted as whistleblowers — the former alleging irregularities in Qatar’s winning bid and the latter, a Russian athlete and herself a drug cheat, coming out with revelations of massive doping problem in her country,” said a senior Arab journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, referring to the arrest of Qatari athlete Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla in Spain last week. “And what’s common between The Times and Daily Mail? Of course, both are British newspapers — the former spearheading a media assault on Qatar following its successful World Cup bid and the latter being at the forefront of a ‘sting operation’ which culminated in the arrest of Musaeb,” he added. The veteran journalist said volumes had been written on Qatar’s World Cup, often with a single mission to malign the country. He strongly believed that the ‘sting operation’ that led to Musaeb’s

arrest was also more or less with the same intention. He did not say that everything was hunky-dory with athletics, but felt something was wrong somewhere. “I’m not saying what’s alleged to have happened in Russia is correct. I’m also not questioning the IAAF decision to ban Russian athletes. But I smell a rat in the arrest of Jama Aden and Musaeb and its timing — just about a month before Olympics. It’s here that I suspect some foul play,” said the scribe. He said there was a clear double standard on the part of some international sports federations while dealing with offenders. “Briton Mo Farah was associated with Aden until 2015, but he wasn’t investigated. Why only Musaeb was arrested, when there were more than 20 athletes training in Spain? I feel being a Qatari was the sole reason behind this. “Was anything written negative about United States even when some of the big names like Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones and the like tested positive? In fact, Gatlin avoided a life ban by cooperating with the investigators and got it reduced to eight years first and then four, and he’s back on the track. “Nobody writes or speaks about this. Nobody is criticising the US for its kidglove treatment of such drug cheaters. But in the case of Musaeb, the media went to town saying ‘Qatari athlete arrested’. Was a test conducted on him? Was it positive? No. Until he’s proved guilty, he’s innocent,” he concluded. DSP

Whatever we’ve heard and read is all media reports only. I don’t think that’s the truth. I can’t go by media reports. When it comes to the war against doping, we’ve always strictly adhered to international guidelines. There has been no compromise on that. I’ll follow up the matter with proper authorities. Dahlan Al Hamad, Qatar Athletics Federation President.

DSP/Vinod Divakaran

Western media ruining image of Russia, Qatar

ššDr Nasser Ali Al Ansari

‘Educating athletes is very important’ N Ganesh

Q

ATAR Anti-Doping Commission (QADC) Chairman Dr Nasser Ali Al Ansari said it was focusing a lot on educating athletes on how to stay clear of the doping menace. “Education is of utmost importance. Athletes should know what all medicines they shouldn’t take. We’ve our own team of doctors to make them aware of that. The athletes can always come to the commission and we’ll only be happy to help them,” said Dr Al Ansari. The official added that athletes worldwide are taking to doping deliberately. “A big number of athletes do it deliberately. They’re aware it’s the dark side. Yet, they take the risk. Education is important in their case and working with media, the anti-doping agencies world over tell them that, if they dope, they would be caught one day or other,” he said.

Dr Al Ansari said the QADC was following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) guidelines. “They should read the guidelines from right sources. WADA has a set of information and we make the guidelines based on them. We periodically provide questionnaires to athletes to test their knowledge and increase it.

WADA has a set of information and we make the guidelines based on them. “We also organise programmes to increase the awareness of law and violations. The athletes are also educated on the Therapeutic Use Exemption (the special permission given to an athlete if he has an illness that requires medication),” said Dr Al Ansari, who added that no athlete should be termed as a culprit until the court finds him guilty. DSP

24

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Motorsport

job well done! Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, in the company of French co-driver Mathieu Baumel, canters home in the Italian Baja to extend his lead at the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. ĈĈVladimir Vasilyev and

Boris Gadasin of Russia finish second and third respectively

Sajith B Warrier

I

Photo/ Red Bull Content Pool

T IS THREE out of three for Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah. The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies champion has been selective this season as he concentrates more on shooting with an eye on gold at the Rio Olympics. After skipping the opening round in Russia, Nasser convincingly won the next two legs in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. And last week he and his French codriver Mathieu Baumel, on a Toyota Hilux, cantered home in the Italian Baja and extended his championship lead. Russians rounded off the podium, with Vladimir Vasilyev and Boris Gadasin finishing second and third respectively in their Mini All4 Racing. Nasser has been based in Italy for a while to fine-tune his shooting

preparations. It suited him well that Italy hosted the the fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The latest win provided Nasser and Baumel the perfect platform to continue their assault on the World Cup as the series stays in Europe for races in Spain, Hungary and Poland in the coming months.

It’s a great feeling to notch up another win at what was a very challenging event. Nasser (150 points) is well ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, who is second on 84 points. Vasilyev (68) is third. “It’s a great feeling to notch up another win at what was a very challenging event. I arrived here with a clear plan and it’s extremely satisfying to say I was able to stick to it. With similar races to the Italian Baja now coming up in Spain, Hungary and

Poland, we’ve put ourselves in a great position for more success in the World Cup,” said Nasser, who competes for the Overdrive Racing Team. Nasser’s skills were tested to the limit as he weaved his Hilux through the narrow, dusty tracks in the Pordenone region, which is notorious for its unpredictable and technically challenging route. His relief was palpable after emerging unscathed. “We had a small problem with the water crossings and lost a little time as well. Despite the setbacks, we never stopped pushing. It’s very satisfying to have overcome everything we had to deal with and walk away with the win,” added Nasser. DSP

RESULTS 1. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (QAT)/ Mathieu Baumel (FRA)

Toyota Hilux

3:37:13

2. Vladimir Vasilyev/ Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS)

Mini All4 Racing

3:39.22

3. Boris Gadasin/ Aleksei Kuzmich (RUS)

Mini All4 Racing

3:42:55

STANDINGS 1. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (QAT)

150

2. Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA)

84

3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)

68

ŢĈNasser Saleh Al Attiyah competes in the Italian Baja.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

25

Qatari Adel disappointed with his fifth-place finish

Q

ATAR’S Adel Hussein Abdulla, who competes in the support category (T2) of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, was disappointed with his fifth-place finish in the Italian Baja after finding himself second at one stage.

HOW THE RALLY WAS WON

Adel, backed by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and driving a powerful Nissan Patrol Y62, produced a determined performance on one of Europe’s toughest Baja rallies. He was

I was pushing at the beginning, but it was like driving on ice in the middle of the stage.

Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel use their impressive pace to dominate from start to finish. The duo wins four of the five stages in all to assert supremacy. Nasser clocks the fastest time of the opening day on the 12km prologue stage. On the second day, Nasser’s main rival and World Cup contender Vladimir Vasilyev loses 40 minutes due to a mechanical problem, handing the former advantage.

ššAdel Hussain Abdulla

behind eventual winner Yasir Saeidan of Saudi Arabia until his car stopped after a water splash on the final special stage, costing him precious time and three positions on the leader board. “The stage was very muddy because of the rain. I was pushing at the beginning,

but it was like driving on ice in the middle of the stage. It was very slippery. Once my engine cut in one corner and I had to switch off and start again. That cost me some time,” said Adel. “But we put the marks in the road book after the first pass to let us know where the difficult sections were.” Adel, who regularly competes in the Qatar Rally, was disappointed on missing out on second place. “I was thinking about the points. Second place would’ve given me 18 points and there’re still five races remaining. So the championship has a long way to go,” added Adel, who had signed a sponsorship deal with Nissan Middle East which will see him and his French co-driver Jean-Micheal Polato compete in the support category of the World Rally Championship as well. DSP

Promising Saeed keen to impress

On the final day, Nasser’s experience on the tight World Rally Championship-style tracks and Baumel’s expert navigation combine well.

Q

şšNasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel.

ATARI rider Saeed Al Sulaiti, who made his debut for Team Pedercini Racing in the World Superbike Championship (WSBK) this season, is keen to put up a good show. The championship is halfway through and though Saaed has not had a good outing so far, he is keen to improve, especially with the season-ending race scheduled to be held in Qatar in November. “My goal is to take this opportunity to boost my sporting ambitions and achieve better results throughout the season. I’ll certainly do my best to make my debut season in WSBK an unforgettable one,” said Saeed, who rides a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R bike. Having started his career in the Endurance Worlds, Saeed also has the experience of competing in the Spanish CEV Championship. Riding alongside France’s two-time Superstock champion Sylvain Barrier, Saeed hopes to make good use of it. “I’m thankful to Team Pedercini Racing and the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, who’re providing a chance to race with top riders and,” added Saeed. The next round will be held in US. DSP

ššSaeed Al Sulaiti

ššXavier Simeon, right, negotiates a turn at the Dutch Grand Prix.

QMMF riders put up battling display

Q

ATAR Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) Racing Team riders Xavier Simeon and Julian Simon, competing in the Moto2 category of the FIM World Championship, battled hard in treacherous conditions, but had nothing to show at the rain-marred Dutch Grand Prix. After a fantastic start at the Assen circuit, Simeon narrowly missed out on a top-10 finish, coming 11th in the race that was red-flagged with just two laps to go. “I had a good start and top-10 finish was within my grasp. Without rain and interruption, I probably could’ve got a better result. But at least I achieved my target, which was to fight for a top-10 finish,” said the Brussels-based Simeon. Team-mate Simon of Spain was 14th when the race was stopped, but

ššXavier Simeon

came 16th in the classification according to his position in the previous lap. Nevertheless, both riders and the team left Assen satisfied after solving their technical problems. “I kept battling with the top riders. On some laps I was quite fast, but not quick enough to close the gap. I can look forward to the next race in Germany (on July 17), where I want to score some points,” said Simon. DSP

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Ramadan events

GRAND FINALE Sharq emerge as winners of the Al Wajba Palace Football Tournament by beating Barzan in the final. honours in the event

N Ganesh

S

HARQ reigned supreme in the Al Wajba Palace Football Tournament at Al Rayyan last Sunday. In a spirited final played in two halves of 25 minutes each, they defeated Barzan 4-2 on penalties after regulation time ended 1-1. The 15-team event was sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL). Ali Majed Al Qahtani put Barzan ahead just before half-time while Sharq found the equaliser at the death through Abdullah Al Suwaidi. In shoot-out, Hamed Al Qahtani, Fahad Al Naimi and Khaled Al Sulaiti all found the back of the net for Sharq. Only Ahmed Shaya could convert for Barzan as Abdullah Al Adsani was denied by keeper Ahmed Al Hagagi and Khalifa Al Ali smashed his shot against the post. Sharq coach Mishaal Ibrahim Al

Nasser lauded his players’ never-saydie attitude. “Any other coach would’ve given up his hope, but I knew my players. I was confident that they would fight until the final whistle. And we were rewarded for our perseverance as we scored the equaliser in the last second,” said Mishaal. HH Sheikh Jassem bin Hamad Al Thani, Personal Representative of HH the Emir, graced the occasion. Minister of State for Defence HE Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah and SCDL Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi gave away the trophies. Minister of Culture and Sports HE Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Emiri Guard Commander Major General Hazza bin Khalil Al Shahwani, and SCDL Assistant Secretary General (Tournament Affairs) Nasser Al Khater were also present. DSP SPECIAL AWARDS Top scorer

Hassan Al Hassan (Al Ghayala, seven goals)

Best goalkeeper

Fahad Ali (Dhakira)

Best players

Khalid Al Kubaisi (Dhakira) and Hassan Al Sugatri (Muaither)

DSP/Mohan

ĈĈA total of 15 teams vied for

šĈSharq team members are all joy after winning the Al Wajba Palace Football Tournament.

Andalus are champions

DSP/Vinod Divakaran

A

šĈAl Andalus players with Salah Saqr, back row, second right.

L ANDALUS emerged as winners of the 42nd Salah Saqr Football Tournament last week. In an entertaining final at the Doha Stadium, Andalus defeated Sudan Stars 3-2 in extra time. The final comprised two halves of 30 minutes each and extra time of 10 minutes. Andalus took an early two-goal lead through Mohammed Mustafa (third) and Mohammed Ali (10th). However, Sudan staged a valiant fightback in the second session and levelled the scores, thanks to goals from Al Hassan Mohammed (37th) and Mohannad Hazab (47th). Though momentum was with Sudan at that moment, Andalus kept their cool in extra time and made it 3-2 in the 63rd through Mahmoud Ali and defended the lead firmly. “It was a tough match. We’re amateurs

and it was difficult to maintain our high tempo. Still, we stayed focused. We’re very happy to have won this tournament,” Andalus captain Amro Warbi told Doha Stadium Plus. His Sudan counterpart Hythan Tampal rued the team’s bad start. “It’s football and we’ve to take defeat in our stride. We became more confident when we drew level, but we let ourselves down by conceding again early on in extra time. Looking back, our poor first-half performance cost us dear,” said Hythan. Former Qatar international Salah Saqr, in whose name the tournament is held, handed over the trophies and medals. “We witnessed some great contests this year. I congratulate the winners and thank everybody who worked to make this tournament a success,” said Salah. DSP

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

27

ššMembers of Hyper Spikers, Aktor and Team TWS with officials.

Soul Riders win volleyball tourney

S

OUL Riders emerged as winners in volleyball at the Fifth Ramadan Sports Festival organised by the Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) last week. Q League and Qatar University came second and third respectively in the fiveday tournament featuring 11 teams. In ladies’ volleyball, favourites Hyper Spikers continued their superb run, prevailing over Aktor in a thrilling final. Team TWS ended up third. In junior futsal, Team Barcelona claimed the title, stunning Brazil 3-1

Loyola makes winning moves

In addition to the sports competitions, a walking event and activities for families were organised. in the final. Bayern finished third. This year’s fortnight-long festival witnessed more than 1,000 people participating in 11 different sports. Competitions were also organised in football, basketball, cricket, tennis

and table tennis. In addition, a walking event around the Aspire Dome and several activities for families were also held. AZF’s Ramadan Organising Committee Chairman Abdullah Al Khater said, “This year’s festival had several memorable moments for organisers and participants alike. Our pre-Iftar walking competition around Aspire Dome evoked a big response. The festival’s success is a testament to our efforts in promoting physical activity among members of the local community during Ramadan.” DSP

WINNERS

MEN Doha Ballers Munshat Abdullatif Soul Riders Blasters Katara WOMEN Volleyball Hyper Spikers Tennis Dura Abbasi BOYS Futsal Barcelona GIRLS Tennis E N Servanti STAFF FUTSAL Mediterranean United TABLE TENNIS FOR PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS Physical Khaled Al Yafei Visual Hamad Al Marri Mental Mohammad Mousa Hearing Abdullah Taleb Basketball Football Volleyball Cricket Beach Soccer

90 70 teams

hours of competition

150 matches

Rolenson Loyola of the Philippines won the tournament organised by the Qatar Chess Association last week. He accumulated seven points in the seven-round competition while his compatriot Jethro Jimenez came second followed by India’s Mohammed Sadiq. DSP

ššThe Aspire Zone Foundation delegation members interact with an elderly person at Ihsan.

Aspire Zone Foundation officials visit Ihsan

A

DELEGATION from the Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) visited the Qatar Foundation’s Elderly People Care Home Ihsan. The visit during the month of Ramadan demonstrated the AZF’s commitment towards the local community. Ihsan officials thanked the AZF for the visit and added that the holy month was all about mercy, generosity and doing noble things. Mohammad Saleh Al Nosf of Ihsan

said, “Such visits are opportunity for the community to engage with the elderly at our centre, helping fulfil one of our major objectives. The visit demonstrates the AZF’s commitment towards social responsibility and we would like to take this opportunity to welcome all organisations in Qatar to visit us.” The delegation had earlier visited Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs and Orphans Care Centre Dhreima. DSP

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

At a glance

BOXING

Qatar’s Erseker qualifies for Rio

H

AKAN Erseker became the first Qatari boxer to qualify for the Rio Olympics, booking his berth by reaching the quarterfinal of the Olympic quota event in Baku, Ajerbaijan, last week. Qatar had fielded two other pugilists, Thulasi Tharumalingam (64kg) and Hakan Nuraydin (81kg), but only Erseker, who contested in the 60kg lightweight category, could make the cut. Erseker, 21, beat Thailand’s Pachanya Longchin in the round of 32 and followed it up with a win against Georgia’s European Confederation Championships silver medallist Otar Eranosyan. However, he failed to maintain the tempo, losing to eventual winner Enrico La Cruz of the Netherlands in the last eight. A total of 469 boxers from 105 countries fought for the 39 Olympic quota places in different categories. The first qualification event for Rio 2016 was last year’s AIBA World Championships held in Doha. “It’s a historic moment for us. We’ve been watching Erseker’s progress. We’re thrilled to know that our country will be represented at the Olympics in our sport,” said Qatar Boxing Federation President Yousef Al Kazim, who added that it would also send entries to the July 3-8 Olympic quota event in Venezuela. DSP

ššHakan Erseker

ššQatar’s Jefferson Pereira, left, and Cherif Younousse celebrate the triumph.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Rio calling! Qatar book Rio Olympic berth by winning the Continental Cup.

Q

ATAR qualified for the Olympics by winning the Asian Volleyball Confederation’s (AVC) Continental Cup in Cairns, Australia. Qatar beat China 2-0 in the bestof-three final of the eight-team event last Sunday to make the cut for the Rio Games, to be held from August 5 to 21. Two pairs represented each country at the Continental Cup, with Qatar fielding Jefferson Pereira-Cherif Younousse as one duo and Julio Junior-Ahmed Tijian as the other. “We did it! We’re going to the Olympics and are part of history now. It’s a reward

We worked so hard for this moment and everyone is so happy about it. for our hardwork,” said Qatar Volleyball Association (QVA) President Khalid Ali Al Mawlawi. Qatar had defeated Oman in Doha at the AVC Western Zonal Championship in January to qualify for the Continental Cup.

VOLLEYBALL

Qatar bow out with win

Q

ATAR ended their FIVB World League campaign on a winning note, beating Puerto Rico 2522, 25-23, 25-16 in the last match of Round 2 at Thessaloniki. They had earlier defeated the hosts 25-21, 25-17, 26-24 and lost to Slovenia 21-25, 18-25, 20-25. It was a good improvement from Round 1 matches in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where they won one and lost the other two. Despite the good performance, they could not progress to the Final Four in Frankfurt. Hosts Germany, Chinese

Taipei, Slovenia and Greece were the teams who have made the cut. Seasoned campaigner Ibrahim Saeed was the architect of Qatar’s win against Puerto Rico with 14 points. “I’m satisfied with the final outcome. Though we could beat only Tunisia in the first round, we were very competitive against Venezuela and Slovenia. We did a good job in the second round and our next goal is to show a good level at the Asian Cup, to be held in India later this year,” said Qatar’s coach Roberto Piazza. DSP

ššQatar’s Ibrahim Saeed smashes against Puerto Rico.

Only two among the Qatari quartet can play in Brazil and the QVA will later take a final call on who will represent the country in Rio. Brazil-born Jefferson and Cherif, who had bagged the FIVB World Tour event in Kish Island in Iran earlier this year, should fancy their chances. The duo had also reached the quarterfinal of the World Championship in the Netherlands last year. “We’ve made a huge step towards that. We worked so hard for this moment and everyone is so happy,” said Jefferson. DSP

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

SQUASH

GYMNASTICS

Aspire’s Umair finishes third

Preparations on track

T

Q

HE ASPIRE Academy’s Umair Zaman finished third at the Italian Junior Open, a premier Grand Prix event. After losing 13-11, 2-11, 3-11, 4-11 to Switzerland’s second seed Roman Allinckx in the semifinal, Umair beat Italy’s Ludovico Cipolletta 11-1, 11-13, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9 in the third-place play-off. It was the second podium finish for Umair in the last three months. In April, he had won the Luxembourg Open, where he beat England’s Isaac Rawcliffe 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 in the final. Yousef Elsaka was the other academy graduate to impress in Italy as he reached the quarterfinal. DSP

ATAR Olympic Committee Secretary General Dr Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari expressed satisfaction at the preparations made by the Qatar Gymnastics Federation for the FIG 2018 Artistic Worlds. The QGF will also host the 12th Gulf Championships from August 31 to September 3 this year. Al Kuwari promised all support to make both events a grand success. “We’ve committed all aspects of organisational help to the QGF. The FIG tournament will be a huge success not only from the technical aspect, but it’ll also promote Qatari culture and hospitality in a big way on the international stage,” said Al Kuwari. “We wish the QGF all success and hope we’ll have an outstanding competition.” The QGF officials made a presentation

to Al Kuwari on the FIG event’s preparations. Doha, which won the Worlds bid in 2014, is to organise its 48th edition at the Aspire Dome from October 25 to November 3. The dates are yet to be confirmed. The Worlds, held annually except in the Olympic year, was first organised in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1903. QGF President Ali Ahmed Al Hitmi, who is also an FIG Executive Committee member, exuded confidence and thanked all stakeholders, including the QOC and ASPIRE Academy, for their support. “We’ve the experience to host such a major tournament. We’re confident of delivering a successful competition that’ll leave a lasting impression,” said Al Hitmi. DSP

Tough 2017 Worlds group for Qatar

Key MoU signed for anti-doping activity

T Ashraf supreme at Poland meet

H

AMMER thrower Ashraf Amjad Mohammed, fine-tuning his preparations for the Rio Olympic Games, clinched silver at the 62nd Janusz Kuzocinski Memorial Meeting in Szczecin, Poland, last week with an effort of 77.43M. Poland’s Pawel Faidek won gold with a throw of 80.10M while Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov clinched bronze (77.2) in the event held at the Miejski Stadium. Coached by Russian Alexey Malyukov, Ashraf has been making rapid progress at the international level. He first showed glimpses of his talent at the 2012 Asian Junior Championships in Colombo when he won the gold. He also set a new record with an effort of 85.57M at the junior Worlds later that year in Barcelona. DSP

Q

aim to build a collaborative anti-doping framework. We want to build on the commission’s workshops with our student-athletes and faculty on the topic, which we hope to expand to the wider sports community through this agreement. We’re delighted to be taking this step with the QADC. It demonstrates our conscious efforts to educate all athletes partaking in international sports events on the dangers of doping and the efforts made by the global community towards fighting it.” Dr Al Ansari said, “We, at the QADC, are mandated to carry out two main objectives. Firstly, monitoring doping according to World Anti-Doping Agency standards and procedures. Secondly, increasing awareness of doping in the sports community. We’ve been executing these objectives for several years with athletes, coaches, doctors, physiotherapists. DSP

DSP/Vinod Divakaran

ATHLETICS

HE ASPIRE Academy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Anti-Doping Commission (QADC) last week. ASPIRE Academy Deputy Director General Ali Salem Afifa and QADC Chairman Dr Nasser Ali Al Ansari signed the agreement in the presence of representatives from the two organisations. As per the agreement, both parties will promote effective implementation of international regulations through new programmes and initiatives in the areas of sports, education and student care, sports science, scientific research, policy improvement and professional development. It will also see the promotion of community awareness of anti-doping and attempt to reinforce national, regional and international efforts. Afifa said, “Through this MoU, we

ššAli Ahmed Al Hitmi, left, and Dr Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari.

HANDBALL

FOCUS ON ASPIRE

ššAshraf Amjad with Alexey Malyukov.

29

ššDr Nasser Ali Al Ansari, second left, and Ali Salem Afifa, centre, with other QADC and ASPIRE Academy officials.

ATAR have been drawn alongside Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, Bahrain and Argentina in Group D for the 25th International Handball Federation (IHF) World Championship, to be held in France from January 11 to 29. Qatar thus find themselves in one of the toughest groups. Egypt TEAMS are the No.1 side GROUP A GROUP B France Spain in Africa, Argentina Poland Slovakia are the bronze Russia Macedonia medallists at the Brazil Iceland Japan Tunisia Pan American Norway Angola Championship GROUP C GROUP D while Denmark Germany Qatar Croatia Denmark and Sweden Belarus Sweden are traditional Hungary Egypt European powerChile Bahrain Saudi houses. All teams Argentina Arabia in Qatar’s group except Bahrain QATAR’S have made the cut FIXTURES for Rio Olympics. January 13 vs Egypt January 15 vs Bahrain Qatar will begin January 17 vs Argentina their campaign January 18 vs Sweden against Egypt on January 20 vs Denmark January 13. Twenty four teams were pooled into four groups at the draw ceremony conducted by the IHF World Championship Organising Commission Caretaker Chairman Per Bertelsen in Paris, France, last week. Champions France are in Group A, where they will face Poland, Russia, Brazil, Japan and Norway, who were awarded wild card by the IHF Council. France had defeated hosts Qatar 25-22 in a thrilling final in the last edition held in Doha in 2015. DSP

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

At a glance

GOLF

Hurley shines in Maryland

L

OCAL favourite Billy Hurley III, helped by a stunning chip-in on 15 and a monster putt at the 16th, clinched his first PGA Tour victory by three shots last Sunday at the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland. The 34-year-old American, a US Naval Academy graduate who calls nearby Annapolis home, never relinquished his overnight lead in the final round at Congressional as he closed with a two-under-par 69 in the event hosted by Tiger Woods. Former world No.1 Vijay Singh, seeking his first PGA Tour win in eight years, fired a best-of-the-day 65 to finish second, with American Bill Haas (68) and Spaniard Jon Rahm (70) a further stroke back at 13-under in a tie for third. Meanwhile, teenager Lydia Ko cruised into the winner’s circle for a third time this season to claim her 13th career title on the LPGA Tour with a three-shot victory at the Arkansas Championship. The world No.1 finished three shots clear of Taiwan’s Candie Kung (69) and American Morgan Pressel (71).

jackpot! MOTORSPORT

Australian Jack Miller storms to a stunning victory at rain-hit Dutch TT in Assen as Valentino Rossi crashes out while leading the race.

A

USTRALIAN Jack Miller celebrated a stunning first MotoGP victory last Sunday after rain and slippery conditions caused chaos at a stopped and re-started Dutch TT at Assen. With top riders including Italian Valentino Rossi crashing out while leading, Miller mastered the wet track to seize the lead eight laps from the finish and beat Honda’s Marc Marquez by 1.991sec. Britain’s Scott Redding was third on a Ducati in the 250th race of the MotoGP era. Spaniard Marquez stretched his championship lead over compatriot Jorge Lorenzo, who finished 10th, to 24 points. Marquez has 145 points to

Spaniard Marquez stretched his championship lead over Lorenzo to 24 points.

ššBilly Hurley, left, with Tiger Woods.

‘I need to recover faster and that’s going to take time’ Tiger Woods gave the strongest indication yet that he might not return to competition this year, saying that he needed to be patient during his recovery from back surgeries. The former world No.1 has not played on the PGA Tour since undergoing microdiscectomy back surgery last September and, at the age of 40, has decided not to rush his comeback. “I’m playing, just I need more time,” tournament host Woods said during the final round of the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland. “I still need to get stronger, I need to recover faster and that’s going to take time.

Lorenzo’s 121 and Rossi’s 103. Miller was the first Australian MotoGP winner since Casey Stoner at Phillip Island in 2012 and the first on a non-factory bike since Spaniard Toni Elias in 2006. “I don’t know what to feel at the moment,” said an emotional Miller. “A lot of people have badmouthed us and everything like that, and said that this project wouldn’t work. And I hope we’ve shown them wrong and that we can ride a bike,” he said. RESULTS 1. Jack Miller (AUS)

Honda

22:17.447

2. Marc Marquez (ESP)

Honda

at 1.9sec

3. Scott Redding (GBR)

Ducati

5.9

4. Pol Espargaro (ESP)

Yamaha

9.8

5. Andrea Iannone (ITA)

Ducati

17.8

STANDINGS 1. Marc Marquez (ESP)

Honda

145

2. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP)

Yamaha

121

3. Valentino Rossi (ITA)

Yamaha

103

4. Dani Pedrosa (ESP)

Honda

86

5. Maverick Vinales (ESP)

Suzuki

79

ššJack Miller does a wheelie after the victory.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

31

Ivanovic blames wrist injury for shock exit

ššSerbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Britain’s James Ward.

TENNIS

Djokovic shows class, but Federer struggles

W

ORLD No.1 Novak Djokovic got his campaign for a third successive Wimbledon title off to a winning start with a 6-0, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory over Britain’s James Ward. The 29-year-old Serb, the holder of 12 Grand Slam titles after clinching a first French Open earlier this month, is on target for the tennis record books. A fourth Wimbledon title would make him just the second man since Don Budge in 1938 to win five straight Majors. It would also put him three-quarters of the way to becoming the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar Grand Slam. Top seed Djokovic, who holds all four Majors, will face France’s Adrian Mannarino for a place in the last 32.

Former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic blamed a wrist injury for a surprise first-round defeat by lowly-ranked Russian qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova at Wimbledon last Monday. The Serb lost 6-2, 7-5 to the world No.223 playing her firstever Grand Slam match after coming through qualifying. “Yeah, it was very tough,” Ivanovic said. “I mean, for two weeks I’ve struggled with my right wrist. It was very hard to accelerate on my forehand. I tried to do everything possible to be fit and recover and tape it and so on. But, yeah, it was a little bit sore. I feel like it caused me a lot of miss-hits.” Ivanovic, seeded 23, reached the quarterfinal of the Wimbledon warm-up event in Mallorca this month, but it was there that she started to struggle with her wrist. “It really got inflamed,” said Ivanovic, one of nine Grand Slam champions in the women’s singles draw.

Djokovic, who holds all four Majors, will face Adrian Mannarino for a place in the last 32. (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. The third seed, bidding for an eighth Wimbledon title at the age of 34, struggled to shake off a gutsy opponent before his class prevailed.

Australia emerge champs

ššMitchell Marsh celebrates the wicket of Johnson Charles.

WADA suspends Rio doping lab

Briton Joshua retains IBF title

CRICKET

A

Kuwait is seeking $1bn in damages from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for banning the country from international competitions. The IOC suspended Kuwait in October, 2015, accusing the government of interference in its national Olympic Committee. The ban is unlikely to be lifted before the Rio Games, which start on August 5, meaning its athletes would only be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag. Kuwait’s minister of information said it is doing so becasue of the IOC’s decision to suspend its Olympic Committee.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspended the accreditation of its Brazilian doping control laboratory in Rio de Janeiro, just six weeks before the city hosts the Olympics. The move prohibits the Rio lab from carrying out all anti-doping analyses on urine and blood samples. It means that samples that would have been processed by the lab, including those from the Olympics, will be transported to other WADAaccredited labs around the world. The International Olympic Committee and WADA are battling doping in a bid to convince public that Rio will be free and fair.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer began his 18th consecutive Wimbledon challenge with a straight-set win over Argentina’s Guido Pella, but it was never straightforward for the Swiss as he won 7-6

MATCH-winning three-wicket haul by Mitchell Marsh lifted Australia to a convincing 58-run victory against West Indies in the final of the triangular One-Day International series in Barbados last Sunday. Australia, who opted to bat after winning the toss, seemed destined to post a middling target until wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, batting at No.7, rattled off an unbeaten 57 off 52 balls. He finished his stint at the crease in style with a towering six over mid wicket off the final ball as the visitors scored

Kuwait sues IOC for $1bn over ban

270 for nine from their allotted 50 overs. The Windies made a breezy start in reply as openers Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher put on a quick 49. But the floodgates opened after Fletcher (9) was caught at slip off paceman Josh Hazlewood, as medium-pacer Marsh collected three quick wickets to turn the match decisively and inexorably in Australia’s direction. Marsh finished with 3-32 off 10 miserly overs, while Hazlewood (5-50) mopped up the tail as the home team were all out for 212 after 48.4 overs.

Britain’s Anthony Joshua put on a devastating display to retain his IBF heavyweight crown with a seventhround knockout of American Dominic Breazeale at London’s O2 Arena last week. Unbeaten Joshua dominated from the start, but the 30-year-old Breazeale proved a courageous opponent, absorbing some thunderous blows throughout from the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion before succumbing to Joshua’s power. Meanwhile in New York, American Keith Thurman beat challenger Shawn Porter by a unanimous decision to retain his World Boxing Association title.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com

Movers&Shakers Kumble out to improve India’s overseas record

ššBruce Oxenford

ššSerena Williams

A

Shielding trouble, Oxenford style

FORCE to be reckoned with at home, India’s Test side has struggled away from the subcontinent in recent years and new coach Anil Kumble has put top priority on building a team that can travel with confidence. Kumble, India’s most successful bowler, was given a one-year term as head coach last week with the country’s cricket board (BCCI) putting its faith in the 45-year-old despite his lack of experience. The BCCI received 57 applications for the job, which were then made available to an advisory panel that included former captains Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, and former batsman V V S Laxman — all of whom have played with Kumble. “The focus will be on our overseas record,” Kumble told the board’s website

U

MPIRE Bruce Oxenford was involved in a landmark incident without even giving a decision as he pioneered the use of a protective shield for officials in international cricket last week . The 56-year-old Australian’s left forearm was clad in what looked like a cut down riot shield as he stood in the second One-Day International between England and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston. Oxenford had previously worn the guard during an Indian Premier League match between Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore in April and before that in a World Twenty20 warm-up match involving Australia and the West Indies.

Serena worried about Zika virus

T

ENNIS star Serena Williams says she is concerned about the Zika outbreak ahead of August’s Rio Olympics, but has faith in the support team dealing with worries about the mosquito-carried virus. A number of major names, including golfer Rory McIlroy, have pulled out of the Games because of health fears over Zika. “Obviously it does (worry me). The US (team) has talked to all the athletes, they’ve been going through a lot of protocol to make sure everyone is okay and comfortable and if not there’s no pressure to go,” said Williams, who will be competing for the US at the Games.

ššAnil Kumble

(www.bcci.tv). “The mindset... I believe we need to start looking to address that from home itself. So when we sit down, we’ll look to make a plan and ensure that we train towards achieving those goals.”

Compton wants a break

Cavendish gets chance for Rio gold

E

M

NGLAND top order batsman Nick Compton is to take an immediate break from cricket after a challenging start to the season “both physically and mentally”, Middlesex and England management said last week. The decision means the South Africa born No.3 is unlikely to figure in the Test series against Pakistan between July 14 and September 7. “It has been agreed that the best way

forward is for Compton to spend some time away from the game,” Middlesex said in a statement, which did not indicate how long the break might be. The county side’s managing director of cricket, Angus Fraser, said a break “will allow him to refresh, recharge and return to play the sort of cricket we all know he’s capable of producing.”

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand made the cut for the women’s 100M at the Rio Olympics, less than a year after she was cleared to race following the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling on gender testing guidelines. She clocked a national record 11.30sec in 100M heats at the G Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

England fast bowler James Anderson is doubtful for the first Test against Pakistan commencing on July 14 due to a shoulder injury, the England and Wales Cricket Board said. The world’s top-ranked bowler sustained a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade during the third Test against Sri Lanka this month.

ARK Cavendish will get the chance to claim a long-awaited Olympic medal in Rio de Janeiro this year after being named in Britain’s track cycling team last week. The 30-year-old, the most prolific road sprinter of his generation with 26 Tour de France stage wins, will take part in the multi-discipline omnium event in the Rio velodrome. Cavendish missed out on a road race

Former US Open tennis champion Juan Martin del Potro is returning to Davis Cup action for Argentina after a four-year absence due to wrist injuries and differences with the previous management. Del Potro, fighting his way back up the rankings, was named in Argentina’s team to visit Italy in their July 15-17 World Group quarterfinal.

England fly-half Danny Cipriani was found guilty of drinking and driving following an incident last year in which he crashed his Mercedes into a minicab. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the 28-year-old was twice over the legal limit when he crashed his car following a night out on June 1, 2015.

medal at the London 2012 Olympics and in the Madison in Beijing eight years ago when he partnered Bradley Wiggins. Olympic road time trial champion Wiggins, 35, returns to his track roots in a bid for an eighth Olympic medal and fifth gold. Ed Clancy and Steven Burke, gold-medal winners in London, and Owain Doull make up the quartet with Cavendish as back-up.

South African Caster Semenya confirmed her versatility and good form by posting an Olympic qualifying time while winning the African Athletics Championships 1,500M title in Durban. She clocked 4:01.99 at the Kings Park Stadium in the Indian Ocean city to come painstakingly close to breaking former 5,000M world record holder Zola Budd’s national mark.

Former world and Olympic 400M champion Christine Ohuruogu withdrew from the British Olympic trials in Birmingham because of illness. “Sorry guys, I won’t be running. I’ve been fighting a virus and not yet ready to resume racing,” the 32-year-old said. The British Championships double as the trials for the Rio Games in August.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kaleidoscope

33

Dope testers could turn up anywhere!

D

ADIDAS EXTENDS GERMANY DEAL ĈĈThe agreement is worth

more than €50m a year

S

PORTSWEAR giant Adidas announced a deal worth more than €50m a year to remain as Germany’s kit supplier, doubling the amount it currently pays in the face of competition from Nike. Adidas’s current contract with the German Football Federation (DFB) is worth around €25m. With US competitor Nike keen to snatch away the prestigious contract

as part of a global football push, German manufacturer Adidas was forced to substantially up the stakes for the new four-year deal, which will begin in 2018. “I can tell you that we made the DFB an offer of more than €50m a year and it accepted,” said adidas Chief Executive Herbert Hainer. “We belong together.” DFB President Reinhard Grindel said, “They were the clearest, most sophisticated and, in the end, the most economically successful

negotiations in our federation’s history. And they produced a very good conclusion.” Adidas, based in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, has been Germany’s official kit manufacturer for more than 60 years. But it faces a constant threat from Nike, which snatched away Adidas’ longstanding partnership with France in 2011. Nike also sponsors Brazil, England as well as Portugal and will provide kits for the Swiss national team from 2018 onwards.

Get ready for Formula E virtual race and jackpot! 140sec videos now allowed on Twitter

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WITTER, known for its 140-character limit on tweets, is now allowing users to post longer videos, of up to 140sec. The microblogging site said some publishers would also be able to create videos that were as long as 10 minutes. Twitter also launched ‘Twitter Engage’, a new mobile app that allows publishers to analyse interactions with followers. Twitter previously restricted videos to 30sec. The new 140sec limit also applies to Vine, Twitter’s video streaming service, which previously had a 6sec limit. “Video is becoming central to the real-time conversations happening on Twitter,” Twitter Inc’s Vice-President of Engineering Jeremy Rishel said.

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ORMULA E, the world’s first fully electric car racing series, is planning a virtual race in Las Vegas next January with a likely $1m jackpot for the winner. Series chief executive Alejandro Agag said recently that the event, pitting regular race drivers against a handful of fans on simulators, could even become a round of the regular championship in future. “We think e-sports (electronic sports) is a huge opportunity and we want to be the first ones fully

immersed in that,” said Agag. “This’ll be the first virtual race with 20 professional drivers of a racing championship on a big stage and with a very large prize fund.” The Spanish entrepreneur said the race would be part of the January 5-8 global Consumer Electronics Show. While insiders indicated $1m as the likely prize, Agag said the amount would be “significantly plus of six figures”. “It’ll be a good jackpot for Vegas,” added Agag.

RUG testers warn they could turn up anywhere at any time in the run-up to the Olympics and they proved it, swooping on the presidential palace in Rome in the middle of a ceremony. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which has banned Russian track and field athletes from competing in August’s Rio Games, popped up last week in the Italian capital’s Quirinal Palace. Their target for a drug test was race walker Elisa Rigaudo, who was among a number of Italian athletes invited to the presidential residence for an Olympic flag handover ceremony. Italian media described how a German doctor and a delegate from the IAAF dropped in uninvited on the ceremony and asked to perform a blood test on Rigaudo. Rigaudo will take part in the 20 km walk in Rio.

Samsung takes fight to Apple

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MARTPHONE leader Samsung Electronics has for years been a spectator as Apple built a services ecosystem supporting its products. But now, as the two develop the market for mobile payments, the Korean tech giant is taking the fight to its US arch-rival. For Apple, offering users the ability to tap their iPhones on sales terminals to buy a coffee, snack or train ticket is a fresh revenue stream, like its iTunes music and entertainment service. The banks it works with cough up a small charge for each transaction — reportedly 0.15 per cent in the United States. Samsung, which has trailed behind its competitors in software and services, is taking a different path. It is not seeking fees from its financial partners, viewing Samsung Pay as an engine to drive sales of phones and other devices. “We’re a hardware company, and at the end of the day I think what we’re trying to do is get people who hold (one of) our phones and use it ... to just love it more,” said Samsung Pay Global VicePresident Elle Kim.

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Spot shots

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RAMADAN EVENTS

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DSP/ Mohan, Vinod Divakaran

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Society SPORT THIS WEEK Ĉ

QATAR

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29 FUTSAL Futsal International Cup, third-place play-off and final at Ali bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena, 9pm and 11pm.

SCDL serves Iftar meals to thousands of workers Members of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s (SCDL) youth panel have joined hands with Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services to serve Iftar meals to construction workers. The tents, set up close to the 2022 stadium sites at Al Khor, Al Rayyan and Al Wakrah, have been welcoming more than 1,500 people daily for the post-sunset meal. The youth panel programme aims to inspire young people living in Qatar irrespective of their nationality or background. Gamal Mohamed sent the details and photographs.

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INTERNATIONAL

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29

EPGA at French Open, Versailles; USPGA at Barracuda Championships, Reno and at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Firestone; LPGA at Cambia Portland Classic (till Sunday).

SATURDAY, JULY 2

Come, celebrate with Doha ’06 Memories! Doha ’06 Memories, a Facebook community celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2006 Doha Asian Games, was launched recently. It is an online exhibit that shares the Games’ unique and memorable legacy. “The Doha Asian Games

GOLF

witnessed an amazing display, where many dreams came true and they captured the imagination of sports fans,” said Doha’06 Memories page curator Prakash Maroli. The page, currently counting down to the 10th anniversary of the Games in December, is gaining

momentum in the social sphere. “I was proud to be associated with the Games by developing and producing exclusive merchandise and sharing its legacy, and hence have an emotional side to it like many others,” he added. Prakash Maroli sent the details.

CRICKET England vs Sri Lanka, fifth ODI at Cardiff. CYCLING Tour de France (till July 24).

SUNDAY, JULY 3 CRICKET England vs Sri Lanka, fourth ODI at The Oval. FOOTBALL European Championship 2016 in France (till July 10); Champions League, first qualifying round, first leg. TENNIS ATP and WTA at Wimbledon (till July 10)

ЂЂWhat is the name of Qatar’s orthopaedic

and sports medicine hospital?

THURSDAY, JUNE 30 FOOTBALL Europa League first qualifying round, first leg.

MOTORSPORT Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.

MONDAY, JULY 4 Name

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[email protected]

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TUESDAY, JULY 5

and be the lucky winner to get

e-mail

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three months’ subscription of

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Scotland vs Afghanistan, first ODI at Edinburgh.

CRICKET England vs Sri Lanka, first T20 at Southampton. FOOTBALL Champions League, first qualifying round, second leg.

www.dohastadiumplusqatar.com | Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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TOP TWEETS

BLAST FROM THE PAST

1985

INSTAGLOW iamzlatanibrahimovic

MICHAEL PHELPS

The American, who became the first to win eight gold medals at a single Olympics, is born.

Argentina’s failure to beat Chile in the Copa America title clash had a major casualty in Lionel Messi, who decided to call time on his international career, following a fourth defeat in the final with the national team. Messi, who has won many trophies with Barcelona, has not been able to repeat his club success with the national team, and that also played a part in his emotional decision. The Twitter world was shocked over his decision.

727k likes iamzlatanibrahimovic I came from this place people call “ghetto Rosengård”, conquered Sweden and made it my country. My way. I am Sweden. A huge thank you to the Swedish people - without you I would never have been able to fulfill my dreams. You will always be in my blue and yellow heart. I love you.

Gary Lineker @GaryLineker Hope the little genius changes his mind and gives us one more World Cup.

kaka

Tom Altepeter @tomaltepeter Sport does amazing things to us, #LionelMessi, not all of them good. Heartbreak need not dictate. Keep your head held high. You’re the best. Henry Winter @henrywinter Messi looks drained/devastated & shambolic, but hope he reconsiders international retirement. World Cup 5 etc a poorer place without Messi.

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Sudoku is a numberplacing puzzle based on a 9x9 grid with several given numbers. The object is to place the numbers 1 to 9 in the empty squares so that each row, each column and each 3x3 box contains the same number only once.

MERICAN Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest swimmer of this generation, was born to Michael Fred Phelps and Deborah Sue in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 30, 1985. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 22 medals from three Games. He also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold (18) and individual events (11). 4 At the 2008 Beijing Games, he surpassed compatriot Mark Spitz’s 5 record 9 by winning eight gold medals while five of those victories were 5 events. in individual He continued his brilliant form four years later at London, where 1 2 6 he claimed four gold and two silver medals, to become the most suc9 cessful athlete 7 of the Games for the third Olympics in a row.

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119k likes kaka Cause I’m happy!!

motogp

Solution-530 7 9 6 3 1 8 4 2 5

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Hayley B 2 @Hayles_101 7 Dont know why Messi is retiring just because he lost 4 finals. Klopp lost his 5th final in a row and still smiled like a child at Disneyland. 3 1

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55.1k likes motogp It wasn’t to be // @yonny68 slides out of the lead in part 1 of the #DutchGP

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Hearsay Everton eye United medio Schneiderlin

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VERTON manager Ronald Koeman wants to launch his campaign in the new season by signing Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. The France international is high on a list of targets that the Dutchman is considering as Everton look towards an exciting new era under major shareholder Farhad Moshiri. The former Dutch great wants to

deliver and is therefore keen on signing Schneiderlin to add proven quality to their midfield after Muhamed Besic, James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley failed to shine last season. Koeman worked with the 26-yearold for a season at Southampton and is well aware of his qualities. Schneiderlin would provide muchneeded cover in front of a back four that was breached far too easily last term.

Belgian forward Lukaku to stay at Everton

Conte interested in having Bonucci at Chelsea

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NGLISH Premiership League clubs Manchester United and Chelsea have both been mooted as potential destinations for Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, but the player’s agent said he was staying at Everton. The 23-year-old has been linked with a £65m move away from Goodison Park this summer, after scoring 25 times for them last season. But following the arrival of major shareholder Farhad Moshiri and new manager Ronald Koeman, as well as the promise that the Dutchman will have £100m to spend to turn the side into top-four contenders, Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola said the Belgium international could now stay on Merseyside.

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TALY manager Antonio Conte was happy with his team’s progress to the European Championship quarterfinal, beating Spain 2-0 last Sunday, but the former Juventus coach also want to see his new club Chelsea produce some happy moments for him. According to reports, Conte wants to strike a deal with Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci, but the Italian side told the English Premier League club that the defender was not for sale. The ex-Juve chief won three Serie A titles with Bonucci at the heart of his back-line and the 29-year-old has established himself as arguably Italy’s best defender. Manchester City are also interested in the Italy centre-back. However, Juve said they would “refuse any offers” that come their way as Conte looks to his former club for reinforcements in west London.

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F1 driver Ricciardo on Ferrari’s list

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ED Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is on Ferrari’s list of potential replacements for Kimi Raikkonen if the team decides not to renew the Finn’s deal. The Italian car maker is weighing options between retaining Raikkonen for a fourth season or find an alternative team-mate for Sebastian Vettel. “If they were to make a change, I’m a driver on their list,” said Ricciardo, who still has a deal with Red Bull for next season. “Am I the only driver on that list? Probably not. Am I their top pick? I don’t know. They haven’t made anything clear to me,” he said.

IPL’s shortened version on way

T Leicester keen on Brady

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NGLISH Premier League champions Leicester City are ready to make a £7m move for Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 hero Robbie Brady. The midfielder scored in his country’s 1-2 defeat against France in the round of 16 last Sunday. Brady also sparked emotional scenes last week when he scored the late winner that clinched victory over Italy. The tournament was the perfect

shop window for the Dubliner, who still has two years left on his contract after his £7m move from Hull to Norwich a year ago. Despite being relegated with Norwich last season, the 24-year-old was one of their standout players and is admired by Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri. The versatile left-sided player’s eyecatching displays for his country in the Euro Championship have ramped up his transfer value.

HE Board of Control for Cricket in India is likely to organise a shortened version of the Indian Premier League every year in September. The two-week event, comprising eight teams that compete in the sevenweek format, will be held at an overseas venue. The tournament hopes to bridge the gap in India’s international calendar after the Champions League Twenty20 was discontinued last year.

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