Monthly Archives: June 2019

U.S., Serbia lead way into U-20 World Cup quarters

Rubin was at his predatory best when he fired a rocket into the roof of the net from 12 yards in the 58th minute to score the all-important goal.


Tab Ramos’s side were reduced to 10 men in the final 10 minutes when Kellyn Perry-Acosta conceded a penalty and received his second yellow, though Steffen saved the spot kick from Jarlan Barrera, who was inconsolable at the game’s end.

The U.S. will next meet Serbia, who made the last eight in their first appearance at the tournament as an independent nation, after an 118th-minute own goal by Hungary defender Attila Talaber handed the Serbs a 2-1 victory in Dunedin.

Diadie Samassekou, Dieudonne Gbakle and Aboubabacar Doumbia all scored to give Mali a surprise 3-0 victory over 2009 champions Ghana, who had been one of the more impressive sides in the tournament in New Zealand.

Senegal beat Ukraine 3-1 on penalties after goalkeeper Ibrahima Sy saved three shots in the shootout to advance to the last eight after their match had ended 1-1 after extra time.

Sy had thrived on the pressure and played to the decent-sized crowd in Auckland that went a little way to allay fears the tournament was failing to attract the attention of fans in rugby-mad New Zealand.

With the June 20 final at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland already declared a sell-out, organisers had been hoping the start of the knockout phase would push them closer to an ‘aspirational’ target of 500,000 fans attending matches.

The game between Serbia and Hungary at Dunedin’s indoor stadium attracted 5,149 spectators, while 2,235 turned up for the early game at Wellington Regional Stadium between Mali and Ghana.

The U.S.-Colombia match, which was spiced up with off the ball incidents, attracted a large group of Colombian supporters, who added to the noise level in Wellington and swelled the crowd to 6,062, after the Mali-Ghana game had been played in cold and wet conditions.

The weather has affected the crowds at all of the games in Wellington, with FIFA statistics for the Austria-Panama group match on June 2 putting it at 2,009, the smallest crowd at the 35,000-capacity venue.

Local organising committee head Dave Beeche had earlier told Reuters that poor weather was always a factor in ticket sales in New Zealand’s capital, no matter what sport was played at Wellington Regional Stadium.

Beeche had hoped to have about 500,000 fans through the gates for the 52 games at the seven venues.

Local organisers said more than 170,000 people had attended the 36 group phase matches. About one-third of those had been at the three New Zealand games.

According to FIFA’s statistics, which differ slightly from the local organisers, the smallest crowd of 1115 was at the Nigeria-North Korea game in New Plymouth.

The opening match between the Junior All Whites and Ukraine was the largest with a sell-out of 25,000 at North Harbour Stadium.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty/Sudipto Ganguly)

Read more »


As Aung San Suu Kyi visits, China says own laureate won’t be released

Activists are putting pressure on Suu Kyi, who will be in China until Sunday, to make some reference to Liu’s detention during her trip.


Any mention of Liu would be bound to embarrass the ruling Communist Party.

Asked whether China would listen to any appeal by Suu Kyi to release Liu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “There is no reason to alter the judgement made in accordance with the law by China’s judicial organs.”

Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organising a petition urging an end to one-party rule. He won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.

China has been keen to engage Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy is expected to do well in a general election in November, the first free vote in the country for 25 years.

Suu Kyi is excluded from the presidency under a military-drafted constitution, but her power and influence will grow if the NLD performs as well as expected. 

Hong said China hopes Suu Kyi’s visit would “further deepen the understanding and trust between the two parties” and jointly promote cooperation in all areas.

The China-Myanmar relationship has been strained this year as stray army shells from fighting between the Myanmar government and ethnic Chinese rebels killed at least five people in China’s southwestern Yunnan province in March.

Suu Kyi became an international icon after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and spent most of the next two decades under house arrest, from where she continued to resist Myanmar’s military rulers. She was freed in 2010.

Despite tight censorship, several Chinese Internet users managed to remind others of the similarities between Suu Kyi and Liu. 

“China’s ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ is still in jail!” wrote a microblogger called “Beisilang”.

Several quoted her musings on living under an authoritarian government. 

“Often the anxious question is asked: will such an oppressive regime really give us democracy?” wrote Yuan Yulai, a well-known rights lawyer, quoting Suu Kyi. 

“And the answer has to be: democracy, like liberty, justice and other social and political rights, is not ‘given’, it is earned through courage, resolution and sacrifice.”

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Alex Richardson)


Read more »


Dutch success now anything but guaranteed

There is an uneasy air as the Dutch travel to Riga for their Group A game, their concerns exacerbated by injury in training on Tuesday to central defender Ron Vlaar.


He was a certainty to shore up the back four after the Dutch warmed up last Friday for the qualifier with a desperate defensive performance in a 4-3 home loss to the United States in a friendly international.

Vlaar’s place is to be taken by Bruno Martins Indi, said coach Guus Hiddink, whose return to the helm of the side has not lived up to expectation so far. Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder in the starting line-up still makes the Dutch favourites for all three points in Riga.

“I think that the loss to the Americans was a good wake-up call,” Sneijder told reporters this week.

“Otherwise we might have gone to Riga with a bit of a feeling of we are off on a holiday. This happens sometimes at the end of season but we have had our knuckles tapped and everyone is now a look sharper,” he said of his squad mates.

The Dutch are third in the group, outside of the top two automatic qualifying berths, trailing the Czech Republic by six points and Iceland by five. Losses in Prague and Reykjavik have put Hiddink’s team firmly on the backfoot, less than a year after they finished third at the World Cup.

Latvia must do without CSKA Moscow midfielder Aleksandrs Cauna and Hamburg forward Artjoms Rudnevs for Friday’s match.

Latvia were just seconds away from a famous win away against the Czechs in March when they gave up a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

They have drawn three and lost two of their five qualifiers, including a 6-0 loss to the Dutch in Amsterdam last November

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Justin Palmer; [email protected]广西桑拿, +27828257807 Messaging mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters广西桑拿,@reuters南宁桑拿,)

Read more »


NRL’s round 13 loophole finally closed

Arguably the most talked-about contractual clause in Australian sport is officially no more.


The NRL’s round 13 loophole was finally closed at 5pm on Wednesday, ending any chance of another player following in the controversial footsteps of Daly Cherry-Evans.

The freshly re-signed Manly halfback will go down in history as the last player to exploit what started out as a well-intentioned rule, but ended up as another blight on the game.

“The rule has been of some benefit to some players over the years… and it was introduced mainly to assist clubs in the first instance,” Rugby League Players’ Association chief executive David Garnsey said.

“But having said that, it’s true there has been some creation of uncertainty or unwanted attention that, obviously, we’re better without.”

Cherry-Evans’ decision to spurn the contract he signed with Gold Coast and take up a revised offer from Manly was the final straw for a rule that too often resulted in fan heartbreak.

His now-infamous backflip not only robbed the Titans of the player they hoped to build their future around, but it hugely damaged their other recruitment plans, which were predicated on the presence of the Queensland State of Origin playmaker.

Several other big-name players, including Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manly pivot Kieran Foran and Dragons forward Trent Merrin, all had until close of business on Wednesday to change their minds.

None did, and now they will move to the clubs they have committed to next year.

In response to an overwhelming groundswell of criticism from coaches, commentators and fans, the NRL has changed the rules to give players a 10-day cooling off period to renege after signing a contract.

No player signing announcement can be made by a club until after that cooling off period, and no player can sign with a new club until the final year of their contract.

“We’ve listened to the fans, listened to the clubs, we’ve made a clear change,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg told NRL HQ.

“I think most public expectation is that when you sign a contract, that’s it – that’s the final piece.

“I think it’s sensible, it’s pragmatic and it will come straight into force.”

The new guidelines are only an interim measure until NRL head of strategy Shane Richardson’s all-encompassing review of the game is complete.

Read more »


Plenty of niggle in Origin I: Thurston

Accused of grubby tactics by NSW, Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston admits there had been no shortage of niggling in State of Origin I but hopes a consistent 10 metres in defence will avoid game two fireworks.


Thurston has urged referees to crack down on the 10m rule in Origin II on June 17 at the MCG amid NSW claims they will retaliate if the Maroons use dirty tricks again.

The Blues say they were victims of cheap shots in their 11-10 Origin I loss in Sydney, with hooker Robbie Farah claiming Queensland got away with it because officials were conned by the Maroons’ “clean skins”.

Thurston admitted there was plenty of niggle in game one – from both sides – but felt there would be no Origin II dramas if referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton provided a consistent 10m in defence.

“There always is (a bit of niggle),” Thurston told AAP.

“When the referees get the interpretation of the 10m rule right, it’s normally a very good game.

“They’ve done an outstanding job over the last couple of years of controlling that and keeping it to 10-11m.

“That opens up the game a little bit as well.”

Thurston admitted keeping a consistent 10m may be easier said than done following claims by NSW prop James Tamou that the Blues would use Queensland’s game one “cheap shots” as motivation.

“It’s hard to get it right. It’s a pressure cooker for us and them,” Thurston said.

“They’re not going to get every call right, but I think what the players and fans want is consistency.

“I’m pretty sure we will get that.”

Cummins and Sutton were retained after being in charge of Origin I, with NRL referees boss Tony Archer saying the pair remained the “form referees so far this season”.

Maroons back-rower Aidan Guerra defended Queensland’s game one display but admitted they would not be changing their approach to game two.

“That’s the first I have heard of it,” Guerra said when told of the NSW accusations.

“(But) Origin has always been a physical game.

“We have players in our side that really bring that physicality which makes it such a spectacle.

“We will be out giving our all.”

Guerra rated the series opener a “typical, hard Origin game”.

“There’s nowhere to hide in Origin,” he said.

“The brand of State of Origin is different to NRL – it always has been and with a bit of luck it always will be.”

Queensland held a weights session on Wednesday at AFL club St Kilda’s training base.

The Maroons’ preparation will click into another gear on Thursday when they hold their first field training session of their Melbourne camp.

It will be the first chance Daly Cherry-Evans – filling in for injured halfback Cooper Cronk – will have to combine with pivot Thurston for the Maroons ahead of game two.

Read more »