Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes Mesut Ozil can be convinced to return to the Germany team after his retirement following the World Cup.Ozil cited the “treatment he received from the DFB” in his statement following the tournament, in which Germany flopped.Joachim Low’s team were unable to qualify from their group, and suffered humiliating defeats to Mexico and South Korea in Russia. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Their poor form has only continued after the Russian showpiece, losing to both the Netherlands – who did not qualify for the World Cup – and world champions France in the UEFA Nations League this month.Wenger managed Ozil between 2013 and 2018 at Arsenal, and insists that the Germany national team miss the playmaker.”I think Germany needs Ozil and I hope Low can convince him to come back,” Wenger told Sport Bild.”Ozil is a super football player and was not the worst at the World Cup.”I did not love it that he withdrew from the Germany team [because] the Germans respect what he achieved.”A small bit of motivation disappears when you know that you don’t have to be ready for a World Cup, a European Championship.”I love it when the players are as good as possible. He loses a bit if he does not play at an international level.”Ozil has made six Premier League appearances for Arsenal so far this season, scoring twice.Germany are next in action in November, facing Russia in a friendly and the Netherlands in the Nations League, with Low’s side in danger of being relegated from their group.
Barcelona forward Malcom, fresh from netting his first goal for the club, has rubbished reports suggesting that he could soon be heading out of Camp Nou.The Brazilian found himself at the centre of a transfer storm over the summer as he prepared to leave Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux.A switch to Roma appeared to be on the cards, only for Barca to hijack that deal and complete a €41 million (£37m/$48m) agreement of their own. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! They have had to be patient with the 21-year-old, with limited game time having sparked speculation regarding another switch just a matter of months after arriving in Catalunya.Premier League sides such as Arsenal and Chelsea have been credited with holding an interest in Malcom, but he insists there is no substance to the exit talk.“That is fake information and it will not break my confidence,” Malcom told Goal.“Scoring a goal for Barcelona right after that [the rumours] was important for my confidence and I’m sure I can do much more to help the club.”Malcom’s comments reiterate a message he recently posted on Instagram, in which he made it clear that he is not looking for a way out of Barca.He said: “About news that came out here in Spain, I want to clarify this: I came to Barcelona with many objectives, and those who know me know that I am a very determined person.“I’m very happy with my development with every passing day. My objective is to make my dreams come true.”Malcom insists that he is still living the dream at a La Liga heavyweight, with his boyhood ambitions being fulfilled after making his way from the academy ranks at Corinthians to Camp Nou.He added to Goal: “All that I have done has been worth it.“I had a dream of being a professional footballer, and then my dream was to be a champion with my first club and after that I dreamed of playing in Europe.“Everything I have dreamed of I have achieveed with lot of hard work.“And today, being at Barcelona, with great players by my side, it’s very good. It is worth every sacrifice that myself and my family have made.”Malcom’s first goal for Barca, in his fourth appearance, came during a 1-1 Champions League draw away at Inter.
Didier Drogba has hinted he may have changed his mind about retirement, posting a clip on Twitter indicating he is going to continue playing.The former Chelsea star has played the last couple of seasons with Phoenix Rising FC of the United Soccer League, the second division in the United States.Last March, Drogba said his playing career would come to an end at the conclusion of Phoenix’s season, which happened last night as his side lost 1-0 in the USL Cup final to Louisville City. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! But now the 40-year-old may have changed his mind on the matter, as he has posted a clip on Twitter from the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”In the scene the main character from the movie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is expected to announce he is stepping aside from his company, but instead announces to his staff that he is remaining, saying: “You know, what? I’m not leaving.”Warning: Graphic language in tweet belowRetirement🤷🏾♂️??? pic.twitter.com/tMVfsh0SFQ— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) November 9, 2018The former Ivory Coast striker has played over two decades in professional football, beginning his career with Le Mans in France at age 20.He would have spells at Guingamp and Marseille before his big move to Chelsea, where he would star from 2004 to 2012.Stints in China and Turkey followed his exit from the Blues, though he did return to Stamford Bridge for one season before making the move to North America, joining the Montreal Impact in 2015.Drogba has spent the last two seasons with Phoenix, where he is also a part owner, scoring 17 goals over his time there.
Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo could miss the remaining five games of the season after sustaining an injury in Thursday’s 0-0 Premier League draw with rivals Manchester United.Chilean Bravo was carried off on a stretcher in the 79th minute and replaced by Willy Caballero.”Of course he has an injury, probably [out] for some weeks,” manager Pep Guardiola said after the game. “I don’t know if he will be available again this season.”Fourth-placed City, a point and a place above United, travel to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Gareth Bale is set to miss the remainder of Real Madrid’s league campaign after coach Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday he did not know when the Wales international will return from injury.Bale has endured his longest spell on the sidelines in his fourth season with Real, which has been littered with injuries, and faces a race to get fit for the Champions League final against Juventus on June 3 in his home town of Cardiff.The forward has been limited to 17 league starts this season due to a serious ankle injury and repeated muscle problems and was absent from training the day before Real’s final home game of the season against Sevilla on Sunday.He is still recovering from a calf tear sustained against Barcelona on April 23.”He’s still training indoors, with some discomfort,” Zidane told a news conference.”We have to take it day by day but for now he’s not with us and I don’t know when he will be, but I hope it’s soon.”Madrid are locked on 84 points with Barcelona at the top of the La Liga standings, but are currently second due to an inferior head-to-head record.They have a game in hand, however, which is against Celta Vigo on Wednesday and seven points from their final three matches will see them lift a first title since 2012.Sevilla ended Real’s 40-game unbeaten run earlier in the season with a 2-1 win although have gone off the boil since then, winning three of their last 10 matches. Zidane, however, still urged his side to take no chances on Sunday.advertisement”It’s another chance to pick up points and continue on the great path we are on,” added the Frenchman.Zidane could become the first Real coach to lead the Spanish giants to a league title and European Cup in the same season since 1958, after his side saw off Atletico Madrid in their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.”It’s a game (v Sevilla) that’s just as decisive as the others we have left and we’re going to do everything to get the three points,” Zidane said.”We have a better chance than ever (to do the double), four games to win the league and Champions League, but we still haven’t won anything, we have to continue on the same path and keep working.”We’re in this position because of how we’ve worked all season but we want to keep working and think about what we have left to do. The hardest part is still to come.”
Chennai, May 17 (PTI) Senior journalist C P Pradeep Kumar died after he fell into the Adyar river here while crossing a causeway over it, police said today. Pradeep Kumar (58) was heading the Sports desk of city based English eveninger News Today where he had joined only two months ago. In a career spaning over 30 years, he had worked with newspapers including the The New Indian Express, Times of India and The Statesman in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and New Delhi. Besides sports, he has covered other fields too, including politics. Police, quoting eyewitnesses, said Pradeep reportedly tripped and fell into the river on Monday night. The low-roof causeway has no parapet walls and it is too close to the river. Also, the area is poorly lit. Efforts of local men and police to save him turned futile as they could not locate him in the sludge amid darkness. His body was found floating yesterday and it was handed over to the family today after completion of formalities, police said. The journalists body is being taken to his home town of Kollam in Kerala, for the last rites. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and son. Pradeeps wife Smitha is a senior civil servant with the Puducherry government.PTI VGN BN RBS
Chennai, May 18(PTI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami today condoled the death of Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave.The Chief Minister expressed grief and regret over the death of Dave, who died today in a Delhi hospital.Palaniswami said Dave was a Rajya Sabha member since 2009 and that he had “efficiently performed in his Minister post.””I express my heartfelt condolences and sympathies with the family of Anil Madhav Dave and pray for his soul to reach the holy abode,” Palaniswami said in a statement.Union Minister of State for Shipping and Roadways, Pon Radhakrishnan, also condoled the death of Dave, saying “his loss is an irreparable damage.”The Minister said he had met the late Dave thrice to discuss the jallikattu issue earlier and that the latter had extended his “unflinching support” for the conduct of the bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu.Sixty-year-old Dave had complained of uneasiness at his home this morning and was rushed to AIIMS where he had passed away. PTI SA ROH TRK
Thampi, Rana, Tripathi are big gains from IPL-10 New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) It has easily been the biggest launchpad for talented cricketers but never has a single edition of the Indian Premier League thrown up a minefield of local talent like the one that concluded on Sunday. The stories of one season wonders like Swapnil Asnodkar, Manpreet Gony and Paul Valthaty is well documented but a close analysis of the 10th edition would reveal that a handful of players have emerged, which would only make the bench strength of Indian team solid in coming years. Three such cricketers would be fast bowler Basil Thampi from Kerala, Delhi left-hander Nitish Rana and unheralded Maharashtra boy Rahul Tripathi. The trio made the big stage their own, showed admirable technique but above everything else displayed temperament — the main ingredient to survive at the highest level in any sport. The man who has grabbed attention of one and all is young paceman Thampi. There are times when statistics will never tell you the whole story. Thampis performance is a case in point where his special talent as a limited overs fast bowler came to the fore. Thats the reason why IPL jury awarded him the Emerging Player award despite only 11 wickets from 12 games at an expensive economy rate of 9.49 runs per over. Thampi showed the ability to bowl yorkers at will and clocked 140 plus clicks effortlessly. He was able to hurry the batsmen for pace and even chairman of selectors MSK Prasad admitted that he is the one for the future. His IPL captain Suresh Raina and star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo also termed him “India prospect”. National captain Virat Kohlis liking for genuine quicks is well-known and Thampi could be a welcome addition to the reserve pool of fast bowlers in ODIs and T20 Internationals. A few months back, an irate Gautam Gambhir was taking potshots at Delhi state team coach KP Bhaskar for allegedly “destroying the confidence” of young players like Nitish Rana. Rana wasnt particularly having a good time in Vijay Hazare Trophy but was sent back home in the middle of the tournament for poor performance. Incidents such as these differentiate boys from men. The 23-year-old left-hander got an opportunity to prove himself for Mumbai Indians and he came up with inspiring show. The 333 runs in 13 matches at a strike-rate of 126.13 showed how wrong Bhaskars assessment was about Ranas quality and potentially what he could have brought to the table. He had to relinquish his place to seasoned Ambati Rayudu towards the business end of the tournament but Rana played his part in MIs triumph to perfection. He hit 17 sixes in all and most of them were big ones landing into the stands. And he is not just a T20 dasher. The 961 runs in 16 first-class matches at a steady 41 plus average shows that he has ability to play in longer formats. With a bottom-handed grip and strokes on both sides of the wicket, Rana is certainly one to watch out for. There is no substitute for orthodox cricketing shots even when batsmen out there in the middle are trying all sorts of innovation. Rahul Tripathi would not have got his share of chances had IPL specialist Mayank Agarwal not failed in the first couple of matches prompting skipper Steve Smith to realise that he is not an answer to Rising Pune Supergiants opening woes. Tripathi came in from the third game and by the end of the tournament scored 391 runs at a strike-rate in excess of 146. His performance somehwat tapered during the knock-out stages but he has done enough to earn praise from all quarters. Its not easy opening with a star player like Ajinkya Rahane but Tripathi not only did well but more than well enough to put Rahane in his shadows. His 93 against Kolkata Knight Riders was full of authentic cricketing shots. He has the ability to play pull- shot in-front of the wicket, the footwork against spinners has been admirable and looked equally adept on front and backfoot. For Thampi, Rana and Tripathi — the real test begins now. The next domestic season will be an acid test for them. While Indias red-ball team (Tests) is more or less set but a good season in whites will certainly give their confidence a boost and prepare them for white ball season (limited overs cricket). There will be an India A tour to South Africa in next few months and one can expect some of these youngsters to make the cut. The trio along with Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant gives an assurance that Indian cricket is in safe hands. PTI KHS AT AT AHadvertisementadvertisement
Manchester United has made Victor Lindelof the team’s first offseason signing, bringing in the Sweden center back from Benfica for 35 million euros ($39.4 million).Both clubs announced the transfer on Wednesday.Benfica gave the fee, which could rise by 10 million euros ($11.25 million) in add-ons. United said the 22-year-old Lindelhof has signed a four-year contract with the option of a further year.Lindelof made 32 appearances this season as Benfica retained the Portuguese league title. He began his career with Vasteras SK and moved to Benfica in 2011, progressing through the club’s youth system before establishing a place in the first team during the 2015-16 season.United manager Jose Mourinho said Lindelof is a “very talented young player,” adding “our season last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad.”
West Indies opener Evin Lewis slammed his second T20 International century to help West Indies beat India by nine wickets at Kingston.This is also his second hundred against India. The previous one was when the Windies took on India at Florida last year. His 100 helped West Indies beat India by one run at Lauderhill.Chasing 191, Lewis came out to bat with Chris Gayle and kept attacking right from the word go. He took the role of the aggresor and allowed Gayle to settle down. His continuous hitting didn’t allow the bowlers to settle in their rhythm. But he finally gave a chance when he skied one off Bhuvneshwar Kumar but a misundertanding between Mohammed Shami and captain Virat Kohli led to a dropped catch. The southpaw made full use of it and completed his 50 by hitting a six on the very next ball off Ravindra Jadeja. He took just 24 balls to reach his fifty.The 25-year-old kept attacking the Indian bowlers even after the fall of Gayle’s wicket with West Indies on 82/1 from 8.2 overs. Marlon Samuels joined in him next and took his time to get into the flow. Lewis was given a second chance when Dinesh Karthik dropped him and he continued the carnage.Lewis finally completed his hundred with a single off Jadeja from just 53 balls.After completing his ton, Lewis looked in a hurry to finish the game off and finally did so with slog sweep of Jadeja, with nine balls to spare.He has hit six fours and 12 sixes in his unbeaten 62-ball knock of 125. He hit a maximum off every Indian bowler in his innings.advertisementThis is also the highest score by a West Indian in T20s. Not only that, this is also the highest score in chases and third highest in the history of T20Is.Aaron Finch holds the record for highest individual score in the shortest format of the game with 156 against England back in 2013 at Southampton. He is followed by Glenn Maxwell with an unbeaten 145 against Sri Lanka at Pallekelei n 2016.He also became only the third player in the history of T20 cricket to score two centuries after Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum.Evin Lewis’ 125* today:Highest score in a chase in T20IsHighest score for West IndiesHighest score vs India3rd Highest in T20Is#WIvIND- Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) July 9, 2017With this defeat, India’s tour of the West Indies comes to an end. They won the five-match ODI series 3-1 but lost the sole T20I to go out of the Caribbean on a losing note.
South Africa coach Russell Domingo, who was in England for the ongoing four-match Test series, has once again flew back home in order to be with his critically injured mother.Domingo returned to South Africa after his side slumped to a huge 211-run defeat at the hands of the Joe Root-led team in the first Test at the Lord’s.The 42-year-old’s mother, who was critically injured in a car accident while travelling alone in Port Elizabeth, has now been placed on life support.Reflecting on the matter, Cricket South Africa (CSA) said that although Domingo’s mother had shown some signs of improvement, her condition has obviously taken a turn for the worse over the past few days, Sport24 reported.Domingo had earlier headed back home during South Africa’s three-match T20 series, which England went on to win by 2-1.South Africa are slated to play second Test from Friday at Trent Bridge.
Karolina Pliskova rose to the top of the WTA rankings without striking a ball on Tuesday as results at Wimbledon saw her overhaul Germany’s Angelique Kerber.By a quirk of the points-based ranking system the 25-year-old rose to the summit — the 23rd player to do so — thanks to Simona Halep’s quarter-final loss to Johanna Konta.Romanian Halep would have become world number one had she beaten the Briton but went down 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4.Bizarrely Pliskova, seeded three at Wimbledon, lost in the second round to Magdalena Rybarikova but her consistent results this year, including reaching the French Open semi-finals, means she will be number one when the rankings are updated on Monday.”Although right now I am not celebrating a victory on the court, I have become the world number one. And this really means a lot to me. Actually, I can’t even realise what I have achieved,” Pliskova wrote in a post on Instagram.Despite never having won a grand slam tournament, the Monte-Carlo based player becomes the first Czech to be number one since the rankings were introduced in 1975.Czech-born Martina Navratilova, who won 18 singles majors, became number one in 1978 but was representing the U.S. by then.”Karolina is an exemplary athlete on and off the court and she truly deserves this fantastic moment in her career,” WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon said in a statement.Pliskova has won three titles this year, in Brisbane, Doha and the Wimbledon warm-up event at Eastbourne.advertisementKerber, who spent a total of 34 weeks as world number one, needed to reach the Wimbledon final to have a chance of hanging on to the top spot, but was beaten by Span’s Garbine Muguruza in the last 16 on Monday.For Halep it is a case of try and try again.She would have become number one had she beaten Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final and faltered again against Konta on Tuesday after coming within two points of victory.
New Delhi, Jul 14 (PTI) Delhi residents can online track expenditure made on DDA infrastructure projects in their areas, as the urban body has developed a software for recording measurements and payments to its contractors.The e-MB software facilitates quick payments, dispute- free measurements, permanent record of measurements along with latitude and longitudes of the place, ensuring a foolproof system to check the timeline of construction, material management and the quality of construction, the DDA said.”In order to have greater transparency and moral ethics relating to execution of works and related payments, the software has been put in public domain for review or reference of the public,” it added.The online software can be accessed on the web — www.dda.org.in/bms using username PUBLIC and password PUBLIC, the DDA said.Delhi citizens, resident welfare associations can track “expenditure on projects” taking place in their areas and they can post comments about the same, the DDA said.The DDA already has launched four mobile applications, including one for receiving feedback from allottees for its housing schemes, in a bid to bring in greater transparency and ease in operation and consumer grievance redressal.Three of these four applications are about giving feedback on sports complexes and golf courses, community halls and housing scheme, while the fourth is for DDAs internal project monitoring. PTI KND DIP
Qatar’s national football team will be permitted to play in the preliminary qualifying rounds of the 2022 World Cup despite being given an automatic berth in the finals as tournament hosts, the Asian Football Confederation has said.Under the current system, the 12 teams advancing to the final phase of Asian qualifying for 2022 also secure places at the finals of the Asian Cup the following year.The AFC said the decision was made at a meeting of its competition committee on Tuesday and that, pending FIFA approval, Qatar would also be allowed to play in the final phase of 2022 qualifying should they advance.The AFC has also said it would continue to work with federations in the Gulf region to ensure broadcasts of Asian qualifying matches for next year’s World Cup in Russia, as well as Asian Champions League broadcasts, would not be interrupted by ongoing diplomatic issues.Qatari broadcaster BeIn Sports, a division of the Al Jazeera network, holds the exclusive broadcast rights for matches under the control of the AFC for the Middle East region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.Those three countries, along with Egypt, severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants. Doha denies the claims.Lin Xiaohua, who chaired the discussion after Saoud Al Mohannadi, a Qatari, recused himself, said it was important the AFC defended its commercial rights.”This is an extremely complex situation but we are pleased to have received reassurances from SAFF and UAEFA that they have no objection to the AFC delivering the international television feed for the games in Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said Lin.advertisement”The committee recognises that it is important that the AFC commercial rights be defended and we are confident that the positive work, which is taking place to ensure the matches go ahead, continues.”The diplomatic situation has already resulted in FIFA changing the officials due to take charge of a World Cup qualifier between Thailand and the UAE in June. A referee from Qatar had originally been slated to take charge of that match.The confederation said it would continue to liaise with FIFA over the two remaining World Cup qualifying matches to be played by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.Saudi Arabia travel to face the UAE on Aug. 29 before hosting Japan on Sept. 5. The UAE play Iraq in Tehran in their final game.The AFC also announced an increase in prize money for the Asian Champions League from 2018, with the winners receiving $3 million and the runners-up claiming $1.5 million.
By Poonam Mehra Hamburg, Aug 24 (PTI) Shiva Thapa and Vikas Krishan will be among Indias best bets to better both the colour and number of medals at the 19th World Boxing Championships, starting here tomorrow. Placed joint 49th in the all-time medal count, India have a bronze each to show for from the 2009, 2011 and the 2015 World Championships. Shiva (2015), Vikas (2011) and the now-professional Vijender Singh (2009) are the only ones to have been on the podium of the prestigious event, which doubles up as an Olympic qualifier in alternate editions. For this edition, an eight-strong team has made the cut through the Asian Championships held in Tashkent earlier this year. “Our build-up has been fantastic. We had a good Asian Championship where the boys won two silver and two bronze medals and finished third overall,” the teams Swedish coach Santiago Nieva told PTI. “Then we went to France and Czech Republic for training- cum-competition trips and the results were excellent there. So, I am hopeful of a strong performance but I dont want to make any predictions about the medals,” he added. To be tied with Australia, Tajikistan and Czech Republic in the all-time medal tally isnt exactly a true reflection of how far Indian boxing has come since Vijender won the breakthrough bronze in 2009 in Milan. “This World Championship is going to be slightly different from the previous one because the draws will be opened up. There have been changes in weight categories, some of those who went to Rio Olympics last year have quit. So there is going to be a lot of churning,” Nieva pointed out. “So, yes, we can hope for more than just one bronze medal,” he added. The boxers, on their part, also spoke confidently about their chances. “It has been a long journey and we have seen a lot in all these years. World Championships is the premier tournament for us after the Olympics. I am as prepared as I could ever be for a big tournament,” said Shiva, all of 24 but a two-time Olympian with three back-to-back Asian Championship medals. The Assam boxer, who won a bantamweight 56kg bronze in the 2015 world championship, will be competing in the lightweight 60kg category this time. He had caught the eye of none other than Manny Pacquiao by clinching a rare knockout win for an Indian boxer at the big event. The transition to the new weight category has gone rather well for him, the biggest proof of it being a silver at the Asian Championships just three months ago. Another bright medal prospect for India is without doubt Vikas. The 25-year-old would be eager to make a mark especially after getting a disciplinary warning for forfeiting his Asian Championship semifinal bout due to “confused” travel plans. The middleweight (75kg) boxer, a former Asian Games gold medallist, has chosen to stay aloof since the Asian meet and even trained alone in Pune at the Army Sports Institute, away from the national camp in Patiala. Not to be counted out is veteran Manoj Kumar (69kg), forever the dark horse who manages to surprise with tenacious performances. The 31-year-old former Commonwealth Games gold- medallist is perseverance personified and is yet to find a strong challenger on the national scene. Another medal hope is Sumit Sangwan (91kg), who made a fine comeback from injury breakdowns to claim a silver medal at the Asian Championships earlier this year. “It is a strong squad, very dedicated and I am sure they will not let anyone down in performance,” said Nieva summing up the hopes. The 10-day championship will feature 280 boxers from 85 countries. Squad: Amit Phangal (49kg), Kavinder Bisht (52kg), Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg), Shiva Thapa (60kg), Manoj Kumar (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Sumit Sangwan (91kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg). PTI PM AH AHadvertisement
Italy scraped past Albania 1-0 in its last World Cup qualifier, another poor effort which will do little to inspire confidence in coach Gian Piero Ventura and his team.Italy was already guaranteed second spot and a playoff berth from Europe Group G, and Antonio Candreva’s second-half goal ensured it of top-seed status in the draw.The Azzurri finished five points behind Spain, which won in Israel 1-0. Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the match between the two bottom sides in the group.”I didn’t celebrate when Candreva scored, it seemed right that we were in front, but I was happy, above all for the lads,” Ventura said. “We have some limitations at the moment but today there was the desire to try and do things.”These were the aims that we set ourselves before. We took another small step forward but we continue to give the ball away. … But I’m happy for them, this is a good group, with a few limitations because of certain absences.”Italy and Ventura came under fire on Friday following a dismal 1-1 draw at home to Macedonia.Without injured key players such as Claudio Marchisio, Daniele De Rossi, Marco Verratti and Andrea Belotti, Ventura opted to employ an experimental 4-2-4 formation in Shkoder.However, the Italian visitors struggled to create anything of note and Ciro Immobile had their only shot on target of the first half but it was saved by goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.Italy was denied what looked a clear cut penalty shortly before halftime when Eder’s cross was stopped by the arm of Freddie Veseli but the referee waved off Azzurri appeals.advertisementAlbania grew in confidence and almost scored just after the hour mark but Gianluigi Buffon reacted well to parry Eros Grezda’s swerving effort – and then shouted in fury at Italy defender Davide Zappacosta.Italy broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when Leonardo Spinazzola put in a precise cross from the left to the far post for Candreva to fire into the roof of the net.SHAKY CROATIA ENTER PLAYOFFSStriker Andrej Kramaric struck two superb second-half goals to grab second spot in Group I for Croatia and a place in the playoffs, as they beat Ukraine 2-0 in their final World Cup qualifier in Kiev on Monday.Having sacked manager Ante Cacic and replaced him with Zlatko Dalic after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday, the Croatians still looked shaky, winning two corners in the first two minutes but doing little else in the opening half.Needing a win to grab second place in the group, the home side took control, wasting two great chances around the half-hour mark, with Taras Stepanenko driving a powerful shot outside the post and Yevhen Konoplyanka heading just wide moments later.The first half finished scoreless and there was little to suggest that Croatia had any chance of breaking the deadlock until Kramaric gave them the lead with their first effort on target.Luka Modric delivered a pinpoint cross from the right and the striker sent a powerful downward header into the corner of the net in the 62nd minute.With just four points from their last four games amid some poor performances, the goal did little to settle the Croatian nerves as the Ukrainians pressed forward in an attempt to get back in the game.Instead, Kramaric scored again in the 70th minute, this time ghosting in at the far post to rifle a deep ball from Ivan Rakitic into the goal to the obvious relief of his team mates.(With Reuters inputs)
Sweden claimed a World Cup playoff spot despite losing 2-0 on Tuesday away to a Netherlands side inspired by Arjen Robben who finished his international career with both goals as the Dutch bowed out.The Netherlands needed to win by a seven-goal margin to reach the playoffs but finished level on 19 points, behind Group A winners France, with the Swedes second on goal difference.The home side started brightly in the Amsterdam Arena with a fired-up Robben converting a 16th-minute penalty and then hammering home a superb left-footed shot five minutes before halftime to raise the faint hopes of the home fans.The Dutch, however, lacked the necessary creativity as Sweden shut up shop in the second half and the match fizzled out, leaving the Netherlands in third place.Sweden now enter a two-legged playoff next month against one of the other eight best second-placed European sides.Tuesday’s encounter proved to be the last international for Robben who, after 37 goals in 96 internationals, received a standing ovation as he limped through the final minutes.After the final whistle, the Swedish players went to their changing room to celebrate, leaving the stage free for Bayern Munich forward Robben to say farewell to the Dutch fans.”We knew we didn’t have a chance but it was an amazing game. It hasn’t been an easy decision but I am 33 and now must give my full focus to my club,” said Robben.Missing out on the World Cup caps a remarkable demise for the Netherlands, who were runners-up to Spain at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, and third in Brazil in 2014, with Robben again in the side, in a semi-final defeat by Argentina.advertisementThey have now missed out on a second major tournament after also failing in their bid to qualify for last year’s European Championship in France.The opening goal followed a handball by Swedish defender Victor Lindelof, although Robben miscued a cheeky chip from the penalty spot and was fortunate that goalkeeper Robin Olsen had already committed to dive.Robben’s second goal, however, was a sweeping finish after the ball was laid back to him in the Swedish area. It was to be his last in the famous ‘Oranje’ national team shirt.
Karolina Pliskova was delighted to secure a WTA Finals last-four berth with one White Group match to spare after Tuesday’s 6-2, 6-2 victory over Garbine Muguruza enabled the Czech a chance to relax ahead of her last round-robin tie.”I’m just happy that I don’t have to play the next match for qualifying, because last year I was playing for it and it was pretty stressful,” the world number three told reporters as she remembered her agonising defeat to Agnieszka Radwanska in 2016.”So always happy, you know, that if I can win few matches in a row, it give me always extra confidence. Even today was not the best, but still I won so it counts,” she added after following up her opening day victory over Venus Williams.”There is one more match to go in the group, which I want to try to enjoy, not to lose, but just to try to enjoy the tennis a little bit more.”Pliskova, who still has a chance to end the season as the world number one, admitted it was difficult for her and Muguruza to go on court after Williams and Jelena Ostapenko had battled out a three-setter that lasted more than three hours.”I’m just happy that we didn’t play for the next three hours, because we were waiting for quite long. So always good to finish as soon as possible,” the 25-year-old added.”It was pretty tough, because we were waiting so long. There was already match point in the second set and then it went so long that we were both a little shaky in the beginning of the match, a little bit nervous and maybe a little bit tired.advertisement”Next time, I probably won’t watch that much tennis before my match. It’s always tough to go after a match like this and especially that late. Some people had left so the atmosphere was not as good as if we had played first.”Muguruza beat Ostapenko in her opening match but was completely flat against Pliskova and the Spaniard is hoping to regroup before her all-or-nothing showdown against the 37-year-old Williams for a semi-final berth on Thursday.”I’m not going to think a lot about this match, because it’s one of those days when your opponent is playing good and your tennis is not at the level it should be to play against this type of player,” the world number two said.”I’m just going to concentrate on my next match, because I know I still have a chance. I’m not a big fan of this round-robin format but now it can help me turn things around, so that’s honestly what I’m thinking right away.”
Team India’s middle-order might be a cause for concern ahead of the World Cup a year and a half later but the top order is as settled as it could get.Captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma’s consistent performances up top have made the team a force to be reckoned with. The duo’s tremendous success at No. 1 and No. 3 has seldom allowed the middle-order to flourish, therefore, the cropping and changing in search of a perfect No. 4 and 5 is still on.Kohli and Rohit have had a fantastic season with the willow, both scoring over 1000 runs in 2017 and in some style. The duo is the quickest to breach the four-figure mark in limited-overs cricket this year. While Kohli has accumulated 1460 runs from 26 matches, Rohit has hit 1076 from 18 games. The former has hit six tons in the process while the latter has managed one less.Yesterday @imVkohli broke Ricky Ponting’s record for most ODI runs in a calendar year as captain! #howzstat pic.twitter.com/J5ctcwSwDE- ICC (@ICC) October 30, 2017The KING reaffirms his dominance – 2nd hundred of the #INDvNZ series. @imVkohli pic.twitter.com/TJZ3cQxXVb- BCCI (@BCCI) October 29, 2017A combination of elegance, timing and placement for Hitman as he brings up his 15th ODI Century #INDvNZ @ImRo45 pic.twitter.com/ezqxD8CmSQ- BCCI (@BCCI) October 29, 2017This is however not the first time two Indians have scored more than 1000 runs in a calendar year. In fact, it is the fourth time in Indian cricket’s history that two Indian batsmen were quickest to breach the 1000-run mark in a year in ODIs. Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin achieved the feat in 1997 while in 1998, Sachin Tendulkar, Azharuddin and Ganguly scored more than 1000. Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni were also the first two batsmen to complete 1000 ODI runs in 2008.advertisementBut what makes these two special is that the team depends on them and a failure in the beginning could really lead to the rest falling like a pack of cards — something that the Indian fans saw during the Champions Trophy final at The Oval, where a fiery Mohammad Amir removed the duo in India’s steep chase of 339. The holders were bowled out for a mere 158 and lost the match by a huge margin of 180 runs to their ‘noisy’ neighbours.Only @SAfridiOfficial has reached 150 ODI sixes in fewer innings than @ImRo45! #howzstat pic.twitter.com/2WI0iBR0q9- ICC (@ICC) October 30, 2017The team’s dependence on them can easily be compared to the times when India’s run-scoring would depend on the shoulders of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid upfront. Add Shikhar Dhawan to the mix and the trio could well be called India’s new pillars in limited-overs cricket going forward.Perfect finish to a thrilling game. Great work @Jaspritbumrah93 @BhuviOfficial & @yuzi_chahal. Keep it up boys. My Best wishes for the T20Is pic.twitter.com/C74JbGGpb6- sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) October 29, 2017Kohli, who is chasing greatness, recently surpassed Ricky Ponting in the list of most centuries in ODI cricket. He is currently second with 32 tons to his name while Rohit hit his 15th century and first against New Zealand to level Virender Sehwag, who sits fourth on the list of most ODI tons by Indians. Not only that, Kohli also surpassed the 9000-run mark in one-day cricket during the third and final match against New Zealand in Kanpur. He became the fastest to reach the milestone in just 194 innings.Comparing them to three of the greats in the history of the game could be called a stretch but their form and the way they shoulder responsibility, certainly show that the signs are there of Indian cricket being in the safe hands for the next few years at least.
New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) Schneider Electric India today said the firm, along with non-government organisations, has provided solar lights to 350 households in Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir.Under its rural electrification project, SEIF & SHIF contributed Mobiya range of portable solar lights to the households of Darchik and Garkone villages in Kargil, Schneider Electric India said in a statement.Schneider Electric India Foundation (SEIF) is the social commitment of Schneider Electric India and Spreading Happiness InDiya Foundation (SHIF) partnership is backed by renowned sports personality Sachin Tendulkar.The foundations organised portable solar light distribution programme at primary school of Darchik village and Jamyang School in Leh district.This solar lighting system could benefit the residents, especially children, with improved lighting for late night studying and safety for night time transportation.”At Schneider, we believe that access to energy is a basic human right which should be made available to everyone. I am happy that this project would contribute meaningfully in helping remote communities gain access to safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable energy,” SEIF Vice President Venkat Garimella said in statement.The Mobiya range of portable products for lighting and mobile charging is an energy-efficient and eco-friendly LED lamp that provides up to 48 hours of lighting with one day of solar charge. PTI KKS BAL