Apollon thumped by five-star Gladbach

first_imgBy Andreas VouNewly appointed Apollon manager Ioan Andone got off to a nightmare start as his side were dealt a 5-0 thumping by Borussia Monchengladbach on Thursday night, their second straight Europa League defeat.Apollon started the game confidently but their good early work was cancelled out by a moment of madness from midfielder Hugo Lopez, who rather than clear the ball out of defence, opted for a horizontal pass across his own penalty box which was dispossessed. Branimir Hrgota then laid the ball off to Ibrahima Traore who hit a sweet left-footed strike which wrong-footed goalkeeper Bruno Vale to give Gladbach the lead after just eleven minutes. Early in the second half, Lopez had a good chance to atone for his error as a hopeful up-and-under pass played the former Barcelona youth player through on goal but his tame effort was easily stopped by Yann Sommer in the Germans’ goal.The Cypriots had Vale to thank for keeping the scoreline at just 1-0 in the first-half following a number of excellent saves but the Portuguese stopper was helpless to prevent Apollon’s second-half capitulation.Just five minutes after Lopez’s chance to level the game, Apollon were 2-0 down. Another top save from Vale to deny Traore only fell as far as Hrgota whose rebound trickled over the line.Traore, who had terrorised the Apollon defence throughout the night, scored his second on 67 minutes with another left-footed strike coming in from right-hand side of the box. Second half substitute Patrick Hermann got in on the act seven minutes from time with a close range effort before Thorgan Hazard completed the rout with a deflected effort in injury time to seal a 5-0 thrashing. Elsewhere in Group A, Villarreal comfortably dealt with the challenge of FC Zurich, defeating the Swiss side 4-1. The result means the Spaniards preserve their lead at the top of the group while Apollon’s defeat drops them to third place.last_img read more

Hamilton wins season-opening Australian GP

first_imgBy Ian RansomLewis Hamilton’s world championship defence got off to a flying start on Sunday with a crushing victory for Mercedes in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as Formula One rivals succumbed to a farcical rash of reliability problems.Pole-sitter Hamilton started from a grid reduced to 15 cars from a possible 20 and cruised to his 34th race win with a 1.3-second gap to runner-up team mate Nico Rosberg.With Mercedes enjoying a Sunday stroll, Sebastian Vettel finished third — 34 seconds behind Hamilton — on his Ferrari debut after winning a battle for the podium with Williams driver Felipe Massa.Ferrari’s cheer was tempered, however, by two botched tyre changes for Kimi Raikkonen, the second forcing the Finn to retire when fifth late in the race due to his left rear wheel not being properly attached.Interviewed on the podium by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood ‘Terminator’, Hamilton said it was great to be back on top.“It is an incredible feeling to continue winning,” he said.Max Verstappen’s record-setting turn as the youngest ever F1 driver ended on a sour note when the Dutch 17-year-old rolled to a stop near the pit entry after complaining of smoke in the cockpit of his Toro Rosso.Only 11 cars finished, with both Lotus drivers out before the end of the first lap on an embarrassing day for a series that prides itself on being the pinnacle of motorsport.McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, standing in for the absent Fernando Alonso, and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat were unable to start after both suffered failures on their formation laps.The two Manor Marussia cars were scratched on Saturday after failing to participate in qualifying or any practice sessions, while Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was ruled out of the race with a back injury less than an hour before the start.After a chaotic start that saw Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado crash into the barrier on turn two after being nudged from behind, Hamilton and Rosberg sped away from the chasing pack.Opening a 15-second gap to third placed Felipe Massa after the 20th lap, Hamilton successfully kept his team mate Rosberg at arm’s length.Following a week of legal battles, Sauber were buoyed by a fifth place finish for Brazilian rookie Felipe Nasr, gaining their first points since 2013.It was the best finish by a Sauber rookie, with Nasr’s team mate Marcus Ericsson and Red Bull’s Carlos Sainz also earning their first points by finishing eighth and ninth respectively.Local hero Daniel Ricciardo had a terrible start and his Red Bull lacked pace but he battled hard to finish sixth in front of home fans.It was a dark day for Honda-powered McLaren, however, with Jenson Button finishing last of the 11 cars and lapped twice by Hamilton and the leaders.Force India driver Sergio Perez had an eventful afternoon, being instructed to drop back two places after over-taking illegally when the safety car was out early.He then overcame a collision with Button in a battle to avoid the indignity of last place. Driver and constructor standings after the Formula One Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on Sunday Drivers Points 1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 252. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 183. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 154. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 125. Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 106. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 87. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 68. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 49. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 210. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 111. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 0 Constructors Points 1. Mercedes 432. Ferrari 153. Sauber – Ferrari 144. Williams-Mercedes 125. RedBull – Renault 86. Force India – Mercedes 77. Toro Rosso – Renault 28. McLaren 0. Lotus – Mercedes. Marussia – Ferrarilast_img read more

‘Usain at his best doesn’t have much to worry about’

first_imgBy Kayon RaynorUsain Bolt is happy with his condition in the lead-up to August’s world championships and will not be denied more sprint gold by American Justin Gatlin, according to his coach Glen Mills.“We take all competitors with a level of seriousness and I don’t see Gatlin as a joke, but the truth of the matter is Usain at his best doesn’t have much to worry about,” Mills told Reuters in an interview.Jamaican Bolt will bid for a third 100 metres gold and a fourth 200m gold in succession at the August 22-30 meeting in Beijing.In Bolt’s absence, Gatlin dominated the Diamond League last season, ending the year as world leader in the 100 and 200m with personal best times of 9.77 and 19.68 seconds respectively.“It’s good for the sport and creates the kind of interest, but those kinds of things don’t affect us in any way because Usain and myself knows what we can get him to do when he’s fully fit and ready and that’s what we’re working to do,” said Mills, who has guided Bolt since 2005.“When we are ready and he’s peaked then let’s hear the shout, ‘I’m sure it will be Usain Bolt!’”The 100 and 200m world record holder, Bolt won both events at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.Having taken time off last year, the 28-year-old told Reuters he was looking to set quick times this season.“I always try to wait until I run my first race (to set targets), but for me the aim is always to go to the championship and to defend my titles,” he said.“But I want to run really fast this season so I’m working on it.”Mills said Bolt had stepped up his preparation since running 46.37 seconds over 400m on March 14 in Kingston.“He has made significant strides since the last time you saw him (in competition),” he said.“He’s down to compete in Brazil in another two weeks and he’s getting into the kind of competitive shape that he’ll be able to perform to the kind of levels that we know he’s capable of doing.Bolt, who will compete on wildcard entries in Beijing, was also satisfied with his condition as he gears up for his April 19 race in Rio de Janeiro, the host city for next year’s summer Olympics where he will be expected to defend his titles.His schedule also includes Diamond League meetings in New York, Paris and Lausanne before Beijing.“I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m doing a lot of work leading up to this first run in Brazil … that’s the focus right and that’s what we’re working towards,” said Bolt, who posted a picture of himself training this week on his social media accounts.Bolt could also appear at Jamaica’s national trials between June 25 and 28 in Kingston.“He didn’t compete that much last year, he did very little, and in preparing for the world championships we’re trying to get him a fair amount of competition in pointing him in that direction,” Mills said.“We have a number of international races lined up before the trials and his progress in those meets will determine whether or not he needs to run the trials, but it’s not off the table.”last_img read more

Hosts US in group of death for Copa America Centenario

first_imgThe hosting United States were drawn into the group of death for the 2016 Copa America Centenario on Sunday, opening against Colombia in the 100th anniversary of football’s oldest international championship.The US side topped Group A as one of four seeded teams for the tournament as the hosts, and landed a pair of 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists in Colombia and Costa Rica, along with Paraguay in their four-team cluster in which two teams will advance.Their match against Colombia on June 3 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., launches a 16-team version of the South American championship that has expanded by four teams and is being staged outside the South American CONMEBOL nations for the first time.“I take full responsibility and I apologise to the nation,” 1994 US World Cup player Alexi Lalas told reporters after pulling out the balls that gave the US an uphill climb and brought groans from a packed audience at Hammerstein Ballroom.Brazil opens Group B against Ecuador at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on June 4, one day before Mexico gets the tough Group C started against 15-time winners Uruguay at University of Phoenix Stadium at Glendale, Arizona.Argentina, a 14-time winner of the championship and host of the inaugural competition in 1916, begins Group D play against defending champions Chile on June 6 at Levi’s Stadium.US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he was energised about his 32nd-ranked team facing Colombia, ranked eighth in the FIFA world rankings.“Colombia is just exciting. We played them one-and-a-half years ago in London and we had them right on the edge, and then we gave an easy goal away right at the end. But it was an even game for 90 minutes. It’s going to be cool,” he said.Argentina’s Lionel Messi, a five-time world player of the year, has already committed to playing and organisers hope that Brazil’s Neymar, Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Chile’s Alexis Sanchez will also be among the world’s top players to compete in this Olympic year.Klinsmann said he hoped the very best players take part.“We all want to see the best players from South America. We can’t wait to have James Rodriguez here, Messi and Neymar and all these wonderful players showcasing themselves in the United States,” said the US coach.“I think the next couple of weeks people will become aware of what is coming. It’s an avalanche. I think it will get all the soccer people excited and they will all want to be a part of it.“I think it is a fantastic opportunity for us to show again that the game is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger. This will give the game a huge boost in the United States.”The final of the prestigious tournament will be held on June 26 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.last_img read more

Goal-line technology to be used in Champions League final

first_imgGoal-line technology will be used at this season’s Champions League final in Milan and Europa League final in Basel, UEFA said on Friday.Greek Theodore Theodoridis will take over as acting general secretary of European football’s governing body, it said, to replace Gianni Infantino who was elected as FIFA president last Friday.Goal-line technology, used to decide whether the ball has completely crossed the line, was approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 2012.It has been since been used in major European domestic leagues and at the 2014 World Cup.Theodoridis was previously UEFA’s deputy general secretary.UEFA could hold its presidential election to replace Platini before Euro 2016 if the Frenchman’s appeal is decided by CAS in time, officials said.Platini was banned by FIFA’s ethics committee in December and this week took his case to CAS, sport’s highest tribunal. UEFA has said it will not hold a presidential election until the appeal process has been exhausted.“Whenever there is a (CAS) decision, we can hold immediately a meeting of the executive committee meeting and go through an accelerated process for an election,” Theodoridis told reporters.UEFA’s legal director Alasdair Bell said it was no longer necessary for candidates to register three months before the election.“After we have the (CAS) decision, we can shorten the time for the election from three months to nil, so it’s possible,” he said.The European Championship will be held in France from June 10 to July 10.last_img read more

Insatiable Djokovic hunting fourth Wimbledon crown

first_imgNovak Djokovic’s vice-like grip on grand slam silverware will be put to the test at Wimbledon next week but such is the world number one’s dominance few look capable of loosening it.The insatiable Serb’s stunning level of consistency has left his rivals running out of ideas at how to stop him and made real the possibility that the 29-year-old could even threaten Roger Federer’s record total of 17 grand slam titles.In Paris earlier this month he became the first player since Jim Courier in 1992 to win the year’s first two majors — swatting away chief rival Andy Murray in ruthless fashion.It also completed his career slam, took him to equal fourth on the all-time list with 12 majors and means he holds all four of the game’s most cherished trophies at the same time.What is more he has not lost at Wimbledon since Murray beat him in the 2013 final and has has appeared in eight of the last nine title matches in the slams, winning six of them.“Everyone is chasing Djokovic, there’s no question about it,” three-times Wimbledon winner John McEnroe said this week looking ahead to Djokovic’s attempted defence of the crown.“At the majors, if you look at his records, he’s approaching Roger’s records, which would seem insurmountable. It’s amazing.”With seven-times Wimbledon champion Federer finally starting to succumb to injuries at the age of 34, he missed the French Open after 65 consecutive majors, his chances of snatching back the trophy from Djokovic seem to be receding.Although writing him off a year after his mesmerising semi-final defeat of Murray would be foolhardy.Rafael Nadal is missing with a wrist injury, which leaves Murray as the main threat, especially now he has Ivan Lendl back in his coaching corner — the man who guided the Scot to his two victories in grand slam finals, both against Djokovic.World number two Murray warmed up with a fifth title at Queen’s Club where he beat Canada’s Milos Raonic in the final.McEnroe, who is working with men’s sixth seed Raonic at Wimbledon got a close-hand view of Murray at Queen’s and was impressed with what he saw.“Murray is playing great. He’s obviously put himself in position numerous times,” McEnroe said. “But at the moment there’s no question that the level that Novak is at is something that you rarely, if ever, see.”With McEnroe in Raonic’s box, eight-times major champion Lendl working with Murray again, Boris Becker plotting for Djokovic and now Richard Krajicek fine-tuning Stan Wawrinka’s grasscourt game, the battle of the super-coaches looks like being as compelling as the on-court action.Wawrinka, seeded four at Wimbledon, has never been past the quarter-finals at the All England Club, but has proved previously that he can beat Djokovic — as has Japan’s Kei Nishikori who will be seeded five.While Djokovic stands in a league of his own and Murray is positioned ahead of the pack, there are signs that a new generation could soon be breaking up the status quo.Austrian Dominic Thiem, a French Open semi-finalist and winner on grass in Stuttgart where he beat Federer recently, will be seeded eighth while Australian Nick Kyrgios, quarter-finalist two years ago, will be dangerous at 15.Germany’s Alex Zverev also beat Federer in Halle last week.“Thiem, Zverev, these guys can see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s an exciting time for men’s tennis,” McEnroe said.last_img read more

Team Sepik launches fundraising drive for PNG Games

first_imgIt is the second time the games will be played across the Bismarck Seas.The biggest sporting extravaganza will happen in November.    The hype of the fundraising started with convey of vehicles driving around Wewak town carrying out publicity for the fundraising.Team manager David Kaling said there are five prizes in the raffle draw fundraising.“First price will be a Toyota Land Cruiser, return trip for two to Kimbe (all expenses paid), Genset 12KVA, 32 inch TV and solar panel set,” Kaling told Loop PNG.He said the major prize was bought by the East Sepik Provincial Administration.“The Land Cruiser and trip to Kimbe to watch the PNG Games can be claimed anywhere in PNG,” Kaling said.He added that two corporate dinners to be staged in Wewak and Port Moresby will complement the fundraising drive.Tickets are sold at K200 and for more information Kaling can be contacted on mobile: 70460860.last_img read more

Marum picks strong team to meet Dolphins

first_imgPNG SP Hunters coach Michael Marum announced the team yesterday with great confidence that being back in the winning circle for the away games they have set a strong team to take on the Dolphins this weekend.“We have come again with another strong team for this weekend’s game against Dolphins, however, only a few changes will be made due to injuries but otherwise we will maintain the team that beat Tweed Heads two weeks ago,” coach Marum said.Captain Noel Zemming is being given eight weeks off the field undergoing reconstruction to his right knee as utility Justin Olam remains at centre.Hunters Halfback Watson Boas is still maintaining fitness in training and recovering from his knee injury but coach Marum says they have until Thursday to make a decision as they are waiting on the physio’s report from the doctors to see if he is going to be in the team this weekend or not.“With Watson Boas’s decision pending, we are working on that to have someone cover for him,” Marum said.Winger Adex Wera is also ill, however, Marum said he is taking medications with doctors working closely with him and he will be alright on game time.However,  the ever present Bland Abavu will step in for veteran fullback Stargroth Amean this weekend. Stargroth has been given time off to sort out his family issues.The full team will be finalised on Thursday.last_img read more

Tottenham target West Ham win to pile pressure on Chelsea

first_imgTottenham Hotspur must beat West Ham United on Friday night to reduce the gap with Chelsea and hope the Premier League leaders falter under pressure, striker Harry Kane has said.Second-placed Tottenham can keep their title chase alive and cut the lead at the top to one point if they beat West Ham and Chelsea fumble against Middlesbrough three days later.“We just have to try to finish strong,” Kane told British media.“We’ve got another game Friday night and it’s good to play first. Hopefully, we can drop the gap to one point and then see what happens.”Kane said that Tottenham knew the pressure of playing later as they often played after champions Leicester City in the closing stages of last season and eventually faltered.“We know what it’s like from when Leicester were playing last year before us, and even today, that it’s good to play first and put the pressure on,” he added.“It will be a tough game away from home but hopefully we can get that win, put that pressure on and just wait and see.”Tottenham lost 1-0 at West Ham last year but beat their London rivals at White Hart Lane earlier this season.last_img read more