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Saudi Gazette, Friday, June 22, 2018






Key tie

for Serbia

and Swiss

England and

Kiwis shatter

women’s T20

record against

South Africa

Iceland steps into the heat

World Cup adds spice to French GP return


Serbia will

attempt to wrap up qualification to

the World Cup knockout rounds

Friday as it takes on a Switzerland

team brimming with confidence

after grabbing a draw with Brazil.

The Serbs control their own

destiny in Group E after an open-

ing 1-0 win against Costa Rica

Sunday, which came courtesy of

a stunning Aleksandar Kolarov


Victory over Switzerland in

Kaliningrad Friday would guar-

antee Serbia a place in the last 16,

regardless of whether it win or lose

its final group game with Brazil

next week.

Roma star Kolarov acknowl-

edged that Serbia is in a strong

position to qualify for the knock-

out rounds for the first time since

it competed alongside Montenegro

in 1998.

However the 32-year-old cau-

tioned that the Serbs would take

nothing for granted against the


“It’s very important that we

have these three points in the bag,

but it’s not over, Switzerland will

be the hardest match,” he said.

“I don’t want to do the maths

for now, if we draw it would not

work, we want to win of course.”

Serbia boasts a host of current

and former Premier League talent,

including Manchester United Mid-

fielder Nemanja Matic.

But its rising star is Lazio’s

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, a rangy

attacking midfielder who has

drawn comparisons to Serbian

great Dejan Stankovic.

Former coach Slavoljub Mus-

lin, who led the team to qualifica-

tion for Russia, reportedly paid

with his job for failing to select


It’s not a mistake current coach

Mladen Krstajic intends to repeat

and the Lazio man —who has

reportedly attracted the interest of

Real Madrid —was lively against

Costa Rica.

“Milinkovic-Savic is a great

player, with really exceptional

technique,” said Swiss defender

Denis Zakaria.

“It’s not just him, lots of their

players play for big clubs, but we

also have good players.”

Switzerland was ranked above

France and Spain in sixth place

before the tournament and battled

hard for a point against a Brazil

side led by Neymar in their opener.

“It was very good teamwork

on the right side. It was almost a

perfect game. It’s important to have

this teamwork,” saidArsenal-bound

captain Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Serbia has based itself in Ka-

liningrad — Russia’s European

territory on the Baltic Sea —

throughout its stay in the tourna-

ment and tens of thousands of its

countrymen are expected to travel

for the game.

One sub-plot to watch for

could be the Serbian fans’ treat-

ment of Switzerland’s three Koso-

van-born players.

Midfielders Valon Behrami

of Italian club Udinese, Arsenal’s

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri

of Stoke City were all born in

Kosovo and all three played in the

Brazil game.

Kosovo was a former prov-

ince of Serbia, and Serbian fans

gathered in Kaliningrad Tuesday

night to celebrate Russia’s 3-1 over

Egypt while chanting “Kosovo is


— Reuters


England posted a new

women’s Twenty20 International

record of 250 for three against

South Africa at Taunton Wednes-

day — just hours after New

Zealand had done the same thing

to the Proteas at the same ground.

The three sides are taking part

in a triangular tournament where

teams will play ‘double-headers’.

It was South Africa’s turn

Wednesday. First it conceded 216

for one against New Zealand, but

that record did not last long.

A few hours later, England

eclipsed that score, with Tammy

Beaumont — one of the stars

of the side that won last year’s

50-over Women’s World Cup —

making 116 and putting on 147

for the first wicket with Danni

Wyatt (56).

Beaumont said the team had

ignored advice from England

women’s coach Mark Robinson.

“We saw the Kiwi girls broke

it, Robbo told us in the pre-match

chat not to try and break it, but I

think a few of the girls got a bit

of a challenge on,” Beaumont

told Sky Sports during the mid-

innings break of England’s match.

“It’s an incredible wicket, and

we feel a bit sorry for the South

Africa girls having to go two in

two, but that’s the way it is going

in this T20 series and we’ve all

got one of those.”

England went on to win the

match by a huge 121 runs.

Earlier, New Zealand captain

Suzie Bates top-scored with 124

not out off 66 balls, and with So-

phie Devine (73) put on a record

182 for the first wicket against the

overworked South Africans.

New Zealand’s total surpassed

Australia’s 209 for four against

England in Mumbai in March.

It came barely a week after

the White Ferns posted a colossal

490 for four — the highest total in

any One-Day International, wom-

en’s or men’s, against Ireland in

Dublin — an innings that featured

Amelia Kerr’s individual record

232 not out.

Bates’s innings Wednesday

saw her go past former England

captain Charlotte Edwards as the

leading run-scorer in women’s


“It’s the best I’ve batted for a

while,” Bates told the BBC after

South Africa managed just 150

for six in reply.

Bates, 30, hit 16 fours and

three sixes but fell just two runs

short of equaling the individual

women’s T20 record of 126 made

by Australia’s Meg Lanning

against Ireland in 2014.

SouthAfrica skipper Dane van

Niekerk admitted: “I think we went

to Plan Z. There were a couple of

run-out chances we didn’t take,

but the class of Suzie and Sophie,

they’ll make you pay.”



Iceland will try not to melt in the

fierce heat of Volgograd when it

take on Nigeria in only its second

ever World Cup match Friday

after impressively holding twice

champion Argentina to a draw at

the weekend.

World Cup debutant Iceland

is dreaming of the knockout

stage and writing a new chapter

in one of the most outstanding

stories of international football in

recent years.

In its way stand not only

Nigeria, which is desperate for a

win after losing its opening game

2-0 to Croatia, but also the chal-

lenge of searing temperatures in

the southern Russian city.

Weather forecasters are

predicting heat of 32 degrees

Celsius (90°F) at kickoff time

Friday, 10 degrees hotter than

when Iceland pulled off its 1-1

draw with Argentina Saturday.

“Of course we’ve talked

about it,” assistant coach

Helge Kolvidsson told report-

ers Wednesday at their training

camp in Gelendzhik before

Iceland make the journey to


“We have doctors... and

we’re trying to prepare as good

as we can, if it’s going to help

with vitamins or stuff like that,

but it’s going to be the same for

both teams.”

Iceland, which features many

players based in northern Eu-

ropean countries, has chosen a

resort near Sochi, on Russia’s hot

Black Sea coast, to help its ac-


Kolvidsson said the players

were mindful of Nigeria’s long

experience at the top table of

world football.

“They’ve been in the World

Cup finals five times, three times

they have moved on to the next

round,” he said. “We are here for

the first time.”

In a potential blow for

Iceland, winger Johann Berg

Gudmundsson — who is central

to the team’s quick, counter-

attacking style — is a doubt after

tearing a muscle in the Argentina


Playmaker Gylfi Sigurds-

son, who recovered from injury

just in time for the World Cup,

played 90 minutes against the

South Americans, raising hopes

he will remain fit for Nigeria.

While a draw for Iceland

would keep its knockout hopes

alive, Nigeria, which is at the

bottom of Group D, is under

huge pressure to get all three

points with manager Gernot Rohr

saying his team must win.

Striker Odion Ighalo promised

Nigeria would be on the front foot

after managing only two chances

on target against Croatia.

“The Iceland game will be

different from the Croatian one,”

Ighalo told FIFA’s website. “We

want to attack that game and we

want to create chances because

only with chances you score


So far, only one team from

Africa has won at the Russia

World Cup — Senegal which

beat Poland 2-1 Tuesday —

adding to the pressure on Nige-


— Reuters



One heads for an unprecedented

run of three successive weekends

of races and five in six weeks

from this Sunday, starting with

the return of the French Grand

Prix after almost a decade off the


The revamped Paul Ricard

circuit at Le Castellet was a

fixture on the F1 calendar until

1990 when four-time champion

Alain Prost won the last race

held there for Ferrari.

Half of the current drivers

were not born when the French

Grand Prix, the oldest event in

the sport, then moved to Magny-

Cours, until 2008, when it was

taken off the calendar following

Brazilian Felipe Massa’s win for

Ferrari, their third in succession

at that track.

The dual challenges of racing

on a totally-redesigned circuit

that has been only used sparsely

for testing and then departing to

Austria and Britain, without a

break, will be a major test, the

triple header having been intro-

duced to avoid a clash with the

World Cup final on July 15.

“It should be an interesting

race,” said Mercedes team chief

Toto Wolff.

“We don’t often race where

we have little or no historical

data. It makes our preparations

trickier than usual, but that ele-

ment of the unknown adds to the


“The triple header will test

all the F1 teams to their limits,

but also offers a chance to score

a lot of points over three weeks,

which is precisely what we’re

aiming to do.”

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton

is hoping for a power-boost and

continued reliability this week-

end as he and Mercedes bid to

overcome Sebastian Vettel and


The Briton and his Mercedes

teammate Valtteri Bottas were

out-gunned at the Canadian

Grand Prix where fellow-four-

time champion Vettel secured

his 50th career win to regain the

lead in the drivers’ title race by

a point.

Both Ferrari and Red Bull

was given upgraded engines in

Montreal while Mercedes con-

tinued to use the power-units that

had started the season.

It was a factor as Vettel

dominated, winning ahead of

Bottas, and Hamilton struggled,

but extended his record run in the

points to 32 outings, by finishing

fourth (confirm).

“After that, I am glad to have

scored points that may be valu-

able later on, but I really want to

come back strongly in France,”

he said.

“People see me doing a lot of

different things, I know that, but

I am truly motivated. At the core

of me is racing above all else.

“So much time, dedication

and sacrifice has gone into me

getting where I am today. I love

what I do. I love the competition

and the challenge.”

At 33, Hamilton has found a

greater sense of serenity that has

helped him move within reach of

more records.

If he claims his 65th career

win on Sunday, he will set a

record for victories in different

Grands Prix, moving clear on 23

of seven-time champion Michael

Schumacher on 22.

And he will be one of the first

in the paddock to congratulate

two-time champion Fernando

Alonso of McLaren on his win

in last weekend’s Le Man 24-

Hour race, a second part of his

bid to land motor racing’s ‘triple

crown’ of Monaco, Le Mans and

the Indy 500.

— Reuters

Hinault calls for riders to strike

if Froome races in Tour de France


Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault has

called for riders to strike if defending champion Chris Froome, who

is under investigation over an adverse doping test, takes part in

this year’s race. Froome tested positive for excessive levels of the

asthma drug Salbutamol following a urine sample at last year’s

Vuelta a Espana. The 33-year-old has denied any wrongdoing

and is confident that he will be cleared after the investigation by

the sport’s governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

“Christopher Froome should not be at the start of the Tour,” Hinault

was quoted as saying by British media. “The peloton should put

its feet to the ground and say, if he is starting the race, we won’t

start. Quite simply because he has tested positive, for me this is

not an abnormal test. The people at the UCI should have said, you

have been caught, so you should not be racing.” Hinaulte has said

that Froome should not have been allowed to compete at the Giro

d’Italia and that the Briton cannot be listed among the sport’s

greats. Froome, who has won the Tour de France four times,

became the first Briton to win the Giro d’Italia in May.

— Reuters

Injured Coleman delays

return until July


World 100m silver medalist Christian Coleman will

delay his return to competition until mid-July as he recovers from

a hamstring injury, his manager said. “He will run his first race in

Rabat,” Emanuel Hudson said in a text message to Reuters. The

Moroccan Diamond League meeting is scheduled for July 13 with the

men’s 100m the major men’s sprint event. Hudson said Coleman, who

has not raced since late May, also has withdrawn from announced

races in Paris and Lausanne. He had been scheduled to face

Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut in a June 30 100m in Paris and meet fellow

Americans Noah Lyles and Michael Norman in a high quality 200

metres in Lausanne on July 5. The world indoor 60m record holder,

Coleman is back training but will not run in the US championships this

week in Des Moines, Iowa.

— Reuters

Two-time major champion

Hubert Green dies


Two-time major winner Hubert Green, who shook

off a death threat en route to a US Open triumph, died from

complications after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He was

71. Green was a dominant force during the 1970s and 1980s

when he won 19 times on the PGA Tour, including at the 1977 US

Open and 1985 PGA Championship, and was inducted into the

World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007. His one-shot US Open triumph at

Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, came despite being informed

by tournament officials after 14 holes that a death threat was

made against him saying he would be shot when he reached the

15th green. “He was perhaps best known for his win at the 1977

US Open, where he received a death threat during the round,

but continued on and ultimately captured the title,” Hall of Fame

President Jack Peter said on the shrine’s website Wednesday.

“A native of Alabama, Hubert had been battling cancer for more

than a decade, and passed away last night in the company of his

family.” Green, who is survived by his wife and three sons, also

represented the United States on three Ryder Cup teams and was

undefeated in singles play.

— Reuters

Former pitching coach

Connors dies at 76


Former major league pitching coach Billy Connors

died on Monday. He was 76. Connors had three stints with the

New York Yankees and two with the Chicago Cubs. He also served

as pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals (1980-81) and

Seattle Mariners (1987-88). Connors was pitching coach for the

Yankees from 1989-90, 1994-95 and on an interim basis in 2000.

He also held a front-office post from 1996-2012. “The Yankees

organization mourns the passing of Billy Connors, who was a

close and trusted friend of my family for many years,” Yankees

managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.

“Since joining the Yankees at the conclusion of the 1988 season,

Billy contributed to the organization in countless ways over his

long career as a pitching coach, executive and advisor. On behalf

of the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, I extend our deepest

condolences to Billy’s family, friends and loved ones.” Connors’

stints with the Chicago Cubs were from 1982-86 and 1991-93. In

1985, he was reprimanded for saying he would teach the Chicago

pitchers how to throw a spitball.

— Reuters

Cavaliers intend to keep

Love next season


The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t offering Kevin Love

in any trade offers and intend to have him on the roster next

season regardless of any decision LeBron James may make, ESPN

reported Wednesday. Love has two seasons remaining on his deal

with the Cavaliers and is owed just more than $49.7 million. The

second year is a player option. Speculation has been rampant

that Cleveland would look to deal Love if James leaves as a free

agent. Retaining Love, who turns in 30 in September, would leave

the franchise with at least a short-term standout to reload around.

Love averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 59 regular-season

games last season. The five-time All-Star has helped the Cavaliers

reach four straight NBA Finals. Cleveland lost three of them to the

Golden State Warriors. Love has career averages of 18.3 points and

11.3 rebounds over 10 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves

and Cavaliers. He twice averaged 26 or more points during his six

seasons in Minnesota.

— Reuters

Vladimir Petkovic (L) and Mladen Krstajic

Iceland’s players take part in a training session at Volgograd Arena in Volgograd Thursday. — AFP