1 NBA Page 6 Chicago Bulls hand Cavs their third straight loss CRICKET Page 11 Maxwell hit with team fine over Wade row To Advertise here Call: , Rabia l 5, 1438 AH GULF TIMES GOLF Tiger roars with bogey-free 65 in second round Page 5 EL CLASICO Barca, Real share honours Sergio Ramos stoppage-time equaliser cancels out Luis Suarez s 53rd-minute strike as Real Madrid maintain their six-point lead at the top of the La Liga while stretching their unbeaten run in all competitions to 33 games Barcelona Sergio Ramos s stoppage-time equaliser maintained Real Madrid s six-point lead at the top of La Liga as the European champions salvaged a 1-1 draw at Barcelona in yesterday s El Clasico. Luis Suarez looked to have breathed new life into the title race when he headed home the opener from Neymar s free-kick eight minutes into the second half. Neymar and Lionel Messi then passed up huge chances to add to Barca s advantage, and the hosts were made to pay when Real captain Ramos met Luka Modric s free-kick with a powerful header to stretch Madrid s unbeaten run in all competitions to 33 games. Before kick-off both sides came together to pay homage to the 71 victims that wiped out almost the entirety of Brazilian side Chapecoense s squad in a plane crash in Colombia earlier in the week. However, once the action got underway old hostilities were renewed as Madrid screamed for a penalty less than two minutes in. Lucas Vazquez went down under Javier Mascherano s challenge, but referee Carlos Clos Gomez waved play on. Barcelona enjoyed the majority of possession, but with captain Andres Iniesta left on the bench on his return from a two-month injury layoff, lacked the creativity to break down Madrid before the break. Sergi Roberto s shot was deflected behind by Raphael Varane before Messi s harmless free-kick was easily handled by Keylor Navas. At the other end, the spotlight was on Cristiano Ronaldo more than ever in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale and following allegations of grand scale tax avoidance published by a series of European media organisations. The Portuguese came to life towards the end of the first half as he had Madrid s first shot on target that was turned behind by Marc-Andre ter Stegen eight minutes before half-time and the German stood firm to deny another Ronaldo effort moments later. Varane also headed straight at Ter Stegen as Madrid looked the more likely to break the deadlock as half-time approached. However, Barca got the goal they badly needed to kickstart their title defence when Neymar s free-kick from the left found Suarez somehow unmarked to head home from point blank range. Iniesta was then introduced to a hero s welcome and teed up Neymar for a huge chance to seal the three points 21 minutes from time. The Brazilian skipped past Dani Carvajal, but blasted over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Madrid substitute Casemiro then made a brilliant block to deny another goalbound Neymar shot. Iniesta produced a sublime pass to lay the chance Messi had been waiting for all afternoon on a plate, but the Argentine pulled his effort wide of the far post with just Navas to beat. And Barca were made to pay for their profligacy as Ramos rose unmarked to power home Modric s free-kick as the game entered stoppage time to silence the Camp Nou. "It's clear that we should not give away fouls especially when the Madrid player has his back to goal," said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. "They are very good at counter-attacking. They can always come back into games. They show a lot of heart." Barcelona supporters chanted 'Come out of the closet' at Ronaldo before half time. They will almost certainly be fined with La Liga very keen to clamp down on homophobic chanting at football grounds. Barcelona looked a different side in the second half and when Suarez headed in Neymar's corner the game looked to be under their control. Andres Iniesta came on at the hour mark making his first appearance in six weeks since suffering knee ligament damage. With him controlling midfield Barcelona had the chances to win the game with Messi setting Neymar up twice only for the Brazilian to squander the chances. Messi then missed from close range with the game's penultimate opportunity. When the last chance came it fell to Ramos. Arda Turan fouled Marcelo and from Modric's kick Ramos took advantage of Mascherano's slip to score and earn Madrid a point. "Once again we showed our heart," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. "Ramos always comes up with something. He never gives up." In the earlier game, Granada picked up their first win of the season with a shock 2-1 victory over third-placed Sevilla but stay in the relegation zone. Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos celebrates his stoppage time equaliser. Luis Suarez (top) had earlier given Barcelona lead with a 53rd-minute strike. () UGLY GAME Guardiola apologises for Man City meltdown Manchester Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola issued an apology after his side lost their cool and were reduced to nine men during yesterday s 3-1 loss to Premier League leaders Chelsea. City took the lead late in the first half, but secondhalf goals from Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard gave Chelsea a smash-and-grab victory and the hosts lost their composure in stoppage time. Sergio Aguero was sent off for a flying lunge on David Luiz and in the ensuing touchline melee, Fernandinho was dismissed after throttling Cesc Fabregas and shoving him over an advertising hoarding. It s a pity it finished like this. I don t like that. I apologise for what happened, said Guardiola, whose side have now gone four home league games without victory. Aguero now faces a four-match suspension, but Guardiola claimed his airborne foul on Luiz had not been intentional. He also said Fernandinho, who will be banned for three games, had merely wanted to defend his teammate when he confronted Fabregas, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona. Asked for his verdict on Aguero s challenge, Chelsea defender Luiz said: I don t like to speak about these type of things. Aguero is an amazing player who does a lot for football. But he added: We showed our power. It also shows our character that we didn t lose our heads. It was Chelsea s eighth victory in succession their best such run within the same season since 2007 and left them four points clear of City at the top of the table. Win number eight was a smash-and-grab effort, with City dominating the game and seeing Kevin De Bruyne hit the bar from five yards at 1-0 before Chelsea clinically picked them off on the break. I think today was very tough and the game was open until the end. There were lots of chances for both teams to score, said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. I saw lots of character from my team and that s very important to grow. But we must continue to work and improve. City defender John Stones, whose side went ahead courtesy of Gary Cahill s own-goal, said: There is quite a sour feeling running through everyone s mind. It is a difficult one to take in the end. The scoreline didn t reflect the way we played. In my opinion we should have won 3-1. But that s football. Manchester City s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho (right) was sent off and faces a three-game ban for throttling Chelsea s Cesc Fabregas and shoving him over an advertising hoarding during their illtempered Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester yesterday. City striker Sergio Aguero was earlier sent off for a flying lunge on David Luiz and faces a four-match suspension. Chelsea won 3-1, the Premier League leaders eighth victory in succession their best such run within the same season since 2007 and leaves them four points clear of City at the top of the table. ()
2 2 Gulf Times FOOTBALL PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea rock title rivals City, Sunderland off the bottom Sanchez scores hat-trick as Arsenal record a 5-1 victory against West Ham Chelsea players celebrate after midfielder Eden Hazard scored the team s third goal during the English Premier League match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. () London Chelsea cemented their position on top of the Premier League with a 3-1 victory at title rivals Manchester City, who had Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho dismissed in a fiery finale, while Sunderland climbed off the bottom with a 2-1 win against Leicester yesterday. Gary Cahill s own goal from a Jesus Navas cross gifted City the lead on the stroke of half-time, but Diego Costa equalised with a clinical finish in the 60th minute. Costa capped a dominant display by setting up substitute Willian for Chelsea s second goal in the 70th minute before Eden Hazard struck to send Antonio Conte s men four points clear of City at the top. City s frustration boiled over in stoppage-time with red cards for Aguero and Fernandinho, the former for an ugly lunge on David Luiz, the latter for pushing Cesc Fabregas over an advertising board. It was very tough and the game was open until the end. There were lots of chances for both teams to score, Conte said. I saw lots of character from my team and that s very important to grow. But we must continue to work and improve. Aguero, City s star striker, faces a four-match ban and boss Pep Guardiola said: It s a pity it finished like this. I don t like that. I apologise for what happened. Chelsea s eighth successive league victory condemned Guardiola to a first defeat at Eastlands, where his side have now gone four home games without a win. City were left to rue some profligate finishing as Kevin de Bruyne hit the crossbar from close-range before Chelsea s equaliser. Later, Alexis Sanchez scored three goals and made an assist as Arsenal recorded a 5-1 victory at West Ham s London Stadium. The Chilean set up Mesut Ozil for the opener before hitting a hattrick, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also added his name to the scoresheet with a superb curling finish. Andy Carroll scored a consolation goal for West Ham, who remain just two points above the relegation zone following yesterday's loss. Arsenal rise to second with a point more than City, and three points behind leaders Chelsea. Liverpool, currently third, can tie for the top spot if they beat Bournemouth today. At the Stadium of Light, Sunderland took the lead in the 64th minute when Leicester defender Robert Huth deflected a Jan Kirchhoff header into his own net. Jermain Defoe grabbed Sunderland s second goal in the 77th minute and although Japan striker Shinji Okazaki reduced the deficit three minutes later, the hosts held on for a third win in their last four league games. Struggling champions Leicester remain just two points above the relegation zone after a fifth successive league game without a win. Harry Kane s double and a brilliant strike from Son Heung-Min inspired Tottenham as they got back on track with a 5-0 demolition of Swansea. Mauricio Pochettino s fifth placed team suffered their first league defeat of the season at Chelsea last weekend, but they won for just the second time in their last seven league games after opening the scoring in the 39th minute at White Hart Lane. England forward Kane drilled in the penalty after Kyle Naughton was harshly ruled to have fouled Dele Alli. A superb volley from Son, who leapt acrobatically into the air to unleash his shot, doubled Tottenham s lead just before half-time and ended the South Korean s 10-match goal drought. Kane struck again four minutes after the interval and Christian Eriksen claimed Tottenham s final two goals in the 70th and 90th minutes to leave Swansea bottom of the table. Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke eased the pressure on boss Alan Pardew with a brace in a 3-0 win over Southampton at Selhurst Park. After six successive defeats, including an astonishing late meltdown in a 5-4 loss at Swansea last weekend, Pardew finally got a lucky break when Palace went ahead in the 33rd minute. Southampton keeper Fraser Forster miskicked Jose Fonte s backpass to gift the simplest of tap-ins to former Liverpool forward Benteke. James Tomkins netted for Palace in the 36th minute and Benteke marked his 26th birthday with his second goal in the 85th minute to secure the Eagles first win in their last eight league games. Stoke eased to a 2-0 win against Burnley as Jonathan Walters struck in the 20th minute and Marc Muniesa bagged his first Premier League goal in the 35th minute. West Bromwich Albion climbed to sixth place, ahead of Manchester United, with 3-1 victory over Watford at the Hawthorns. Jonny Evans put Albion in front with a powerful header from Chris Brunt s 16th minute corner and Brunt made it two in the 34th minute when he fired home with a 25-yard free-kick. Christian Kabasele got one back for Watford on the hour, but their hopes of a comeback were ended when Roberto Pereyra was sent off for kicking James McClean in the 84th minute and Matt Phillips scored Albion s third in the final moments. RESULTS West Ham 1 (Carroll 83) Arsenal 5 (Ozil 24, Sanchez 72, 80, 86, Oxlade-Chamberlain 84) Crystal Palace 3 (Benteke 33, 85, Tomkins 36) Southampton 0 Manchester City 1 (Cahill 45-og) Chelsea 3 (Costa 60, Willian 70, Hazard 90) Stoke 2 (Walters 20, Muniesa 35) Burnley 0 Sunderland 2 (Huth 64-og, Defoe 77) Leicester 1 (Okazaki 80) Tottenham 5 (Kane 39-pen, 49, Son 45+1, Eriksen 70, 90) Swansea 0 West Brom 3 (Evans 16, Brunt 34, Phillips 90) Watford 1 (Kabasele 60) Playing today Bournemouth v Liverpool (1330 GMT), Everton v Manchester United (1600 GMT) Playing tomorrow Middlesbrough v Hull (2000 GMT) Klopp backs Origi to shine in Coutinho absence Bournemouth, United Kingdom: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Divock Origi is primed to help fill the vast attacking void left by Philippe Coutinho s absence through injury. Liverpool will be without the influential Brazilian playmaker for about six weeks with the ankle injury he sustained in the win over Sunderland last weekend that kept them firmly in the early title race. Klopp and Liverpool are also missing England striker Daniel Sturridge as he continues to struggle with a calf injury, which means Belgium international Origi will lead the line in their Premier League clash at Bournemouth today. After spending most of the season on the substitutes bench, Origi is set for his first sustained run in the starting line-up, but Klopp has no concerns about his ability to step up. Divock is still 21 and he hasn t had the most match time in the last few months, so then he had no rhythm, but he is always working, never moaning, Klopp said. I was really happy for him having this opportunity and being in the shape to use it. It was really nice to see. Timing is really important. You don t always have influence on timing, but in this case it worked out really well because it was exactly one or two weeks since Divock was back in shape, in the race. That was lucky, I would say, so he was ready for this specific moment coming in. I think everybody could see the difference between one or two substitutions when he came in a little bit earlier, it was not too easy for him. Liverpool are boosted by the return of forward Roberto Firmino after he recovered from a calf injury, while midfielder Adam Lallana has returned to training following a groin injury, but is unlikely to be risked. Klopp is wary of the threat posed by Eddie Howe s Bournemouth, who are up to 12th place after some enterprising displays. I have seen a lot of Bournemouth games this season and they did well, Klopp added. They are a football-playing side with a good plan. Eddie Howe is doing a fantastic job there. They have, of course, the pressure we all have to win games, but it s a club that knows about the difficulty of the league. So they are cool enough and confident enough to cause each team problems. We need to find solutions for these problems and that s what we ve tried to do. This is a milestone match for Howe as he takes charge of Bournemouth for 300th time, a spell that has him sitting second on the Premier League list of longestserving managers behind Arsenal s Arsene Wenger. FOCUS Mourinho admits title is some way off for United By Paul Wilson Theguardian.com José Mourinho has revised his timescale for Manchester United winning the Premier League title, claiming that changing the way a team plays is the most difficult thing in football. On succeeding Louis van Gaal in July Mourinho said his objective was to try to win the league in his first season. Now he concedes that may not happen and even admits the next time United are champions may be after he has left the club. At all his previous clubs Mourinho has managed to get off to a quick start and stamp his personality on the team early. He is struggling to do that at United, he says, because his philosophy is entirely different from that of the last manager and the players need time to adapt. Sometimes when a manager takes over a new club the differences in approach are not significant, he said. In that case all it needs is a little touch, just a fingerprint from the new man and you can get a lot from what was already there. Here we are trying to do something completely different. We could probably get better results if we weren t trying to go in an opposite direction. I am not talking about tactical systems here. I am talking about the way this team wants to play Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. and that is the most difficult thing in football to change. Broadly speaking, Mourinho believes Van Gaal promoted too defensive a style, with too much sideways and backwards passing and not enough looking forward to attack between the lines. Most people agree United are playing well at the moment and Michael Carrick went so far as to suggest there were signs of the old club emerging. But what is frustrating Mourinho is that the best performances have occurred in the cups and not the league. United are at Goodison Park on Saturday, one of Mourinho s favourite stadiums, and the manager is hoping for a better return away from home than the sequence of four league draws at Old Trafford that led to his side losing ground on the leaders. In the league we have not been getting the goals our performances deserve, he said. There is no doubt we are improving, though. We know where we want to go and our destination is to be champions. Maybe we cannot do it this year. You can never tell in football but the gap might be already too large. I don t know when we will do it, maybe when I am not here, but that is what we are working towards and I think it will happen. Paul Pogba will be back from suspension at Everton today, meaning Bastian Schweinsteiger s services are unlikely to be needed, though the midfielder who appeared for the last few minutes of United s 4-1 EFL Cup win over West Ham in midweek could have a future at United after all. He is another one that can help us and he was ready when we needed him when Pogba and [Marouane] Fellaini were both available, Mourinho said. It was widely assumed the Germany international would move on in January after being shunned by Mourinho at the start of the season but, as the manager now accepts, the player is the one in control. When you have a contract with a club you are the powerful one, Mourinho said. We tried to make something happen in summer but he decided to stay and the same thing could happen again. At least he is happier now he is working with the team again. He has always been professional and I like people with determination. Mourinho is also back from suspension after the water bottle incident in the league match against West Ham, philosophical about his punishment but convinced he is being treated differently from other managers. I am willing to obey the rules but I would like to see the same rules for everyone, he said. I cannot kick a bottle of water, I accept that, just as I accepted the sending-off and the suspension without complaint. If those are the rules, fine. I just need to be sure they are the same for all the other managers.
3 Gulf Times FOOTBALL 3 BUNDESLIGA Dortmund win easy ahead of Real game Leaders Bayern Munich won 3-1 at Mainz on Friday night Berlin Pierre-Aubameyang scored twice and Marco Reus provided three assists as Borussia Dortmund prepared for their Champions League clash at Real Madrid by routing Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-1 in the Bundesliga yesterday. Dortmund are fifth in Germany s top flight, six points behind leaders Bayern Munich, who won 3-1 at Mainz on Friday night, and RB Leipzig, who were hosting Schalke last night, ahead of their trip to Spain. With both sides already into the last 16, the victor at Real s Bernabeu on Wednesday will be confirmed as Group F winners. Dortmund warmed-up with an emphatic win over Moenchengladbach at Signal Iduna Park. The fleet-footed Reus was outstanding as Dortmund fought back after Gladbach took the lead with six minutes gone when Brazilian forward Raffael slotted home from the edge of the area. Dortmund were level 59 seconds later. Ousmane Dembele dribbled through the visitors defence and his pass found Reus, who laid the ball off to Aubameyang to drill past Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer with his first touch. Dortmund grabbed a second on 15 minutes when Dembele s corner was flicked on by Marc Bartra to Lukasz Piszczek, who headed home to make it 2-1. Reus had a goal ruled out for offside just after the break, but there was no containing the winger. With deft footwork, Reus poached the ball off Gladbach defender Nico Elvedi to allow Dembele to slot home Dortmund s third on 64 minutes. The pair struck again four minutes later when Dembele s pass and Reus backheel saw Aubameyang score his second and Dortmund s fourth. Hertha Berlin held onto third with a 3-2 comeback victory at 10-man Wolfsburg as Salomon Kalou converted the winning penalty in the 91st minute. With his side near the relegation zone, Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael dropped Germany international Julian Draxler from his starting line-up and his side responded with two goals in the opening 20 minutes. Ex-Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral gave Wolfsburg a 12th-minute lead before Marvin Plattenhardt put Hertha level by expertly drilling his free-kick over the wall. Wolfsburg went back in front when midfielder Paul Seguin, who was later sent off for a second booking five minutes from time, slammed his shot home on 18 minutes. Alexander Esswein levelled Dortmund s Gonzalo Castro (centre), Moenchengladbach s Thorgan Hazard (left) and Mahmoud Dahoud fight for the ball during the Bundesliga match at the Signal-Iduna-Park in Dortmund, western Germany, yesterday. () for Hertha 20 minutes from time before Daniel Caligiuri fouled Plattenhardt to concede the penalty Kalou converted for the winner. Hoffenheim, who along with RB Leipzig are the only unbeaten teams in the Bundesliga, are fourth after romping to a 4-0 win at home to Cologne. Ex-Bayern striker Sandro Wagner scored twice for Hoffenheim while Jeremy Toljan and Mark Uth also got on the scoresheet. Bayer Leverkusen, who host Group E winners Monaco on Wednesday with both teams through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, drew 1-1 at home to Freiburg. Janik Haberer gave Freiburg a shock first-half lead before Hakan Calhanoglu levelled after the break. Leverkusen s Javier Hernandez failed to convert a late penalty as the Mexico striker fired his spot-kick at the feet of Freiburg goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow. Werder Bremen climbed out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win at home to Ingolstadt, who are second from bottom, thanks to Fin Bartels second-half winner. RESULTS Hoffenheim 4 (Wagner 8, 67, Toljan 39, Uth 89) Cologne 0 Borussia Dortmund 4 (Aubameyang 7, 68, Piszczek 15, Dembele 64) Bor. Moenchengladbach 1 (Raffael 6) Bayer Leverkusen 1 (Calhanoglu 60) SC Freiburg 1 (Haberer 31) Wolfsburg 2 (Mayoral 12, Seguin 18) Hertha Berlin 3 (Plattenhardt 16, Esswein 69, Kalou 90+1-pen) Werder Bremen 2 (Kruse 24, Bartels 76) Ingolstadt 1 (Suttner 58) Played Friday Mainz 05 1 (Cordoba 4) Bayern Munich 3 (Lewandowski 8, 90+1, Robben 21) FAMILY THE BASE OF OZIL S STRENGTH London: Arsenal playmaker MESUT OZIL credits his family with making him into the World Cup-winning star he is today despite having grown up in impoverished circumstances. The 28-year-old German whose creativity is reflected in being joint equal with French legend Eric Cantona in Premier League assists admits to The Times he was the butt of jokes at the youth club he played for back in Germany because his parents could not afford to buy him a pair of flashy boots. They had nice brands, the best boots, but there is nothing you can do about it, said Ozil. In my life, maybe I don t have a lot of money, but I always had my family, always supporting me, so in this way I was very lucky. Sometimes I had to miss matches because we didn t have a car. But my parents believed in me. They always said: go for it. Ozil, whose grandfather was Turkish and emigrated to Germany where he worked as a miner in Essen, said happily for him his natural talent overcame that handicap. But you can have the best boots, but that doesn t make you the best on the pitch... I was the best player. That gave me confidence, he said. Ozil, who grew up in a spartan apartment with his miner father and cleaner mother and three siblings consisting of two bedrooms and a living room, said it is thanks also to the wise counsel of his family he is not one who will splash the cash and go out carousing in nightclubs. Some people are getting crazy, going to nightclubs, having fun, you have this opportunity if you have money, says Ozil, whose strong Muslim beliefs saw him undertake a pilgrimage to Makkah this year. But my parents controlled it. If I went to spend lots of money, they said, hey, hey, what are you doing? One of Ozil s characteristics and learnt from his upbringing in Germany is to ignore racism and treat people with respect. I don t care about racism. If you ask the other people in my school, they will say that I always treated people with respect, he said. If someone is racist, maybe that is because of the influence of their parents or background. If you show them respect, you make them better people... You show them the right way. SERIE A Napoli s Hamsik matches Cavani, back to drawing board for Inter Milan Marek Hamsik hit his 104th goal for Napoli to tie Uruguayan Edinson Cavani s tally for the Italians in a defiant 3-0 win over Inter Milan at the San Paolo on Friday night. Inter travelled to Naples looking to continue their strong start under new coach Stefano Pioli, who started his spell in charge with a 2-2 derby draw at AC Milan and secured a 4-2 win over Fiorentina last weekend. But Napoli were desperate to make up for dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Sassuolo, a result that left Maurizio Sarri s men eight points behind leaders Juventus, and were soon on their way to a moraleboosting win after hitting two quick-fire goals in the opening six minutes. A great attacking move saw Jose Callejon knock down Hamsik s pass for Piotr Zielinski, who fired a low volley from 12 yards past Samir Handanovic and into the far bottom corner after just two minutes. The Napoli fans were gifted another gem four minutes later when Hamsik beat the offside trap on his way to a through ball and fired an unstoppable angled drive under Handanovic. The Slovak s 104th goal for Napoli pulled him level with Cavani, who is now at Paris Saint Germain, and means he is well on his way to beating Diego Maradona s Napoli record of 115. I m happy, it s something positive for me. Now, it s full steam ahead to try and reach first place, Hamsik said. Napoli could have added more, Handanovic parrying Manolo Gabbiadini s strike before a header from the big forward glanced wide. Inter spurned a chance to reduce the arrears after Pepe Reina came rushing off his line to block from Mauro Icardi with his legs. Icardi wasted another chance when he rolled the ball across for Ivan Perisic rather than go for goal, and moments later the Argentine was denied by Reina at the near post. But Handanovic was soon back in action, parrying a Gabbiadini snap shot and a vicious drive from Hamsik. Inter emerged in determined fashion after the interval, but all hopes of launching a fightback were kept in check when Lorenzo Insigne volleyed a loose ball from a corner past Handanovic on 51 minutes. Handanovic saved Inter s blushes with a point-blank save from Hamsik after Insigne s pass, while Reina denied Antonio Candreva a consolation goal with a great, one-handed save down low. Napoli move up to sixth place at five points behind Juventus, who were hosting Atalanta last night. Roma, in second at four points adrift, are away to Lazio in the capital derby toady when AC Milan, third also at four points behind, host Crotone. Napoli s Marek Hamsik (right) and Inter Milan s captain Mauro Icardi vie for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match at the San Paolo Stadium on Friday night. () ROUND-UP Spanish taxmen investigate Ronaldo revelations Madrid Spanish tax authorities are investigating reports that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo hid 150mn euros ($160mn) from image rights in tax havens. A group of 12 European newspapers made the allegations based on leaked documents obtained by German weekly Der Spiegel. Other high profile clients of Ronaldo s agent Jorge Mendes were also implicated, including Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Both Ronaldo and Mourinho say that they have fully complied with British and Spanish fiscal requirements. The information in the hands of the tax office correspond to what we have learned in the media, Jose Enrique Fernandez de Moya, secretary for Spain s tax office, told radio station COPE. What I can say is that the tax agency is an extraordinarily professional agency and, as it has to, will carry out the inspections it sees fit. Lawyers for Ronaldo told the newspapers at the heart of the investigation that a Spanish tax audit aimed at the Portuguese was still in progress. Ronaldo is far from the only high profile footballer to find himself investigated by the Spanish tax authorities. Earlier this year, Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was given a 21-month prison sentence while fellow Argentine Javier Mascherano was handed a one-year suspended sentence, both for tax fraud. MALAYSIA PLAYER BEATS MESSI, NEYMAR TO FIFA SHORTLIST A Malaysian footballer has beaten the likes of Neymar and Messi to score a place in FIFA s shortlist for top three goals of the year. Midfielder Mohamad Faiz Subri s cracker of a free kick for Penang state in the Malaysian Super League in February was reminiscent of the swerving thunderbolt by Brazil legend Roberto Carlos against France in Footage of the 29-year-old scoring a viciously swerving goal from 35 metres (115 feet) out has gone viral, making him a sensation in footballcrazy Malaysia. This is something I will never forget and it motivates me to improve my game further, Faiz told on Thursday. Football brings people together and football supporters here are of many races, Chinese, Indians and Malays, and they voted for my goal, he added. Ten FIFA Puskas Award 2016 finalists, chosen from thousands of goals scored around the world between September 2015 and September 2016, were revealed last month. FIFA announced that Brazil s Marlone and Venezuela s woman footballer Stephanie Roche were joining Faiz on the shortlist. The winner will be announced on January 9 in Zurich. For now, Malaysia s football hero is playing it cool. It s not time for partying yet, Faiz said. Let s wait till January 9. KLOPP HINTS AT SAKHO SALE Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted he could sell exiled Mamadou Sakho in January after admitting the French defender is no longer in his first-team squad. Klopp was quizzed about his plans for the January transfer window this week and insisted he had no intention of selling England striker Daniel Sturridge or any other firstteam player. There is absolutely no thought or idea to sell any player from the first team squad. I don t think it would make sense, Klopp said. But the German indicated that rule does not apply to the out of favour Sakho. Now you know, I said it: he is not in these plans for the first team, Klopp said. The first-team squad is here (at the training ground). Do you really think I would have said Sakho will not be sold in winter? Nothing changed. Once again this actual first-team squad is in this dressing room, from this point of view nobody will be sold. Sakho, 26, has been training with the club s under-23 squad since September, when he used social media to dispute Klopp s comments about his fitness. Sakho s Anfield career ran into trouble in April, when he was suspended by UEFA for failing a drugs test, a sanction later dropped by Europe s governing body. But an Achilles injury followed and in the preseason he was sent home from Liverpool s tour of the United States for disciplinary reasons.
4 4 Gulf Times FOOTBALL TRAGEDY Brazil mourns fallen football team as funeral held in rain Bodies of 50 players, coaches and staff from the Chapecoense Real club were taken on a funeral procession Soldiers carry a coffin into the stadium under heavy rain. () Relatives of the members of the Chapecoense Real football club team killed in a plane crash in Colombia enter the field during a funeral ceremony at the stadium in Chapeco, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, yesterday. () Chapecó, Brazil In a driving rain, the small Brazilian city of Chapeco held a massive funeral yesterday for its football team, tragically wiped out in a plane crash in Colombia. The bodies of 50 players, coaches and staff from the Chapecoense Real club were taken on a funeral procession from the airport to Conda Arena, the stadium where just 10 days ago the team were thrilling their fans. Draped in the club s green and white flag, the coffins slowly wound their way through the city, as family and fans braved the weather to watch with a mix of sobs and cheers. Soldiers unloaded the coffins onto the pitch when they arrived at the packed stadium, where the city was expecting a crowd of some 100,000 people half its population. Chapeco is in mourning for its little team that could, cut down at the height of its glory. The unsung club was having a fairytale season until the charter plane flying it to the biggest match in its history ran out of fuel and slammed into the mountains outside Medellin on Monday night, killing 71 people. There was imposing silence at the stadium as the funeral cortege arrived, broken only by cheers of Champions! whenever the screens showed images of the procession. Soaking wet from the rain, his eyes red from crying, mechanic Rui Alonso Thomas watched the procession with his 10-year-old daughter, who was draped in the Chapecoense banner. We would have been here rain or shine. Our dream was finally becoming reality. It was so close. There s just no explaining it, he said, choking back tears. Chapeco will take a long time to get over this. But I plan to keep coming to the stadium. Chapecoense is in our hearts. It s our family, said Patricia Carraro, a 32-year-old cashier. Earlier, fireworks lit up the sky over the stadium as two Brazilian Air Force planes transporting the team s coffins touched down at the southern city s airport. The arrival was delayed by an outpouring of emotion at a refuelling stop along the way, when locals in the Amazon city of Manaus flocked to the airport to pay tribute to the crash victims. Brazilian President Michel Temer met the planes upon arrival and attended the memorial alongside the coach of the Brazilian national team, Tite, and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino. The crash has left the football world in mourning. A minute s silence for the team will be held before every Champions League and Europa League game next week. In Brazil, other clubs have offered Chapecoense players so it can continue competing. Chapecoense had been on their way to Medellin for the finals of the Copa Sudamericana, South America s second-biggest club tournament. Inside their stadium, a single set of goal posts remains the one star goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha, 31, defended in the semifinal match with a heroic last-minute save that sealed Chapecoense s trip to the finals. It s very sad remembering not only that stop (against Argentina s San Lorenzo), but also... him running across the grass with his arms wide open. My son was all passion, said the goalkeeper s mother, Ilaide Padilha. The stadium has capacity for 19,000 people, so two giant screens were set up outside for the overflow crowd. Tents were put up on the pitch for some 2,000 family members and close friends of the team. The other plane crash victims Brazilians, Bolivians, a Paraguayan and a Venezuelan were flown home Thursday and Friday. Six people miraculously survived the crash, though some with major injuries. Alaide, mother of Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo holds a picture of her son who was a victim of the plane crash in Colombia. () One surviving crew member, Erwin Tumiri, was flown home Saturday to Bolivia and was taken in a wheelchair for medical checks. Authorities are still investigating the crash. Colombia s civil aviation safety chief said the crew of the British Aerospace 146 jet had disregarded international rules on fuel reserves. The Bolivia-based charter company, LAMIA, had its permit suspended Thursday. Chelsea apologise profusely to Johnson over abuse London: Gary Johnson received a public apology from English football giants Chelsea yesterday over the sexual abuse he suffered as a young player from late scout Eddie Heath in the 1970s. The club who had been heavily criticised after Johnson claimed he was paid 50,000 ($63,000) by them not to go public with his allegations issued a statement praising Johnson s courage in talking about the traumatic experience. It is clear that Gary Johnson suffered unacceptably while in our employment in the 1970s for which the club apologises profusely, read the statement. Johnson is one of around 350 people to have told British police they were victims of abuse by football coaches in a mounting scandal that has rocked the sport. Chelsea also explained they had felt with the original agreement with Johnson a confidentiality clause was normal procedure but had revoked it after the slew of allegations of sex abuse across English football had emerged in the past fortnight. Johnson has told them through his lawyers that there were other cases of abuse at the club while Heath was employed there but had been unable to find any other players. We certainly have no desire to hide any historic abuse we uncover from view and are fully committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all children and young people who are in our care or attending our premises. Ex-Chelsea football star Alan Hudson said it was common knowledge that Heath was a paedophile. It was common knowledge that Eddie Heath was a nonce (slang for paedophile), Hudson wrote on Facebook, cited by British tabloid newspapers. I was around and it was common knowledge that Mr Heath was a danger to us youngsters, but luckily for me, he never came near me, almost as if I had a sixth sense. Players from other London clubs he worked for, Leyton Orient and Charlton, have also come forward about his predatory behaviour. Jimmy Scott, former skipper of Orient where Heath worked during the 1950s and 60s, said he had retorted he would punch him when he was propositioned whilst a former trainee from Charlton, where he worked in the early 1980s, claimed in The Times he had touched up two of his team-mates. Former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said he didn t believe the Football Association (FA) were in a good position to investigate how their predecessors had dealt with the matter. Sutcliffe, sports minister in the Labour Government from 2007 and 2010, said there was concern during his tenure about how the FA dealt with governance of the sport and with youth development. The 63-year-old said it would be preferable if an independent body, such as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport looked at the issue rather than the FA investigating itself. What I ve seen in football over the years is that they re very narrow, very insular, and may not do a proper job even though with the right intentions, he said. According to reports, a former employee of Southampton Football Club accused of abusing young players in the 1980s is still working in the sport. BBC s Radio 4 said it understood the employee, who faced allegations from four former players, left Southampton after concerns were raised about his conduct with youth team members, but went on to work for other clubs one of which asked that he leave as well. He was accused of inappropriate behaviour by a former Southampton youth player the fourth one to come forward but who wished to remain anonymous on the same programme yesterday. The club said Friday it had been contacted by police following information supplied to us in relation to historical child abuse within football. Former Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy in charge from 1973 to 1985 and winning the FA Cup as a Second Division side in 1976 beating Manchester United said he was shocked and disgusted by the claims of grooming and sexual abuse. Certainly if I d known that was happening in my time and I don t think it did happen in my time I would have got it killed straightaway, he told the BBC. If I thought for one minute that sort of thing was happening, I d have acted... certainly I d have gone straight to the police. Former England captain and Southampton star Alan Shearer also urged footballers to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse, saying he was shocked and deeply saddened by the recent revelations. Montpellier rock mediocre PSG Paris LIGUE 1 Paris Saint-Germain s French midfielder Blaise Matuidi (left) vies for the ball with Montpellier s French defender Nicolas Saint-Ruf during the French Ligue 1 match at the La Mosson Stadium in Montpellier, southern France, yesterday. () Paris Saint-Germain blew their chance to provisionally move top of Ligue 1 yesterday as they crashed to a shock 3-0 defeat at Montpellier. Paul Lasne struck just before half-time for Montpellier, the last team other than PSG to lift the French title back in , with Ellyes Skhiri adding a second shortly after the break. Ryad Boudebouz capped a remarkable afternoon at the Stade de la Mosson with a terrific individual goal 10 minutes from time as Unai Emery s PSG remained a point behind leaders Nice. The reigning champions could lose further ground with Nice hosting Toulouse today, while Monaco will climb back above PSG if they beat Bastia at home later. PSG face Ludogorets of Bulgaria in the Champions League on Tuesday as they try to seal top spot in Group A before taking on Nice next weekend, but they were blindsided by a Montpellier outfit that had won just three times in 15 matches this season. The visitors were without midfield trio Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta as 19-year-old Christopher Nkunku was drafted in by Emery for his first league appearance this term. The teenager should have put PSG in front from Angel Di Maria s left-wing cross with just six minutes gone, but his close-range header was turned away well by Laurent Pionnier. Montpellier, whose last win over PSG in the league came in May 2010, grabbed the lead three minutes before the interval as Lasne latched onto a long ball out of defence and lobbed an advancing Alphonse Areola. Skhiri doubled Montpellier s advantage three minutes into the second half as Morgan Sanson chased down a loose ball before laying it back to edge of the area for the former to curl home superbly. A mix-up between Vitorino Hilton and Daniel Congre presented Di Maria with a chance to halve the deficit, but the Argentine fired straight at Pionnier on 53 minutes. The Montpellier keeper then blocked with his legs to deny Lucas with Blaise Matuidi subsequently blazing over from Layvin Kurzawa s cutback. Algeria international Boudebouz extinguished any prospect of a late PSG revival as he ran from inside his own half before arrowing a low strike beyond Areola for Montpellier s third.
5 Gulf Times 5 SPOTLIGHT Tiger roars with bogey-free 65 in second round It was very important for me. I don t know what it is about playing and competing, but keeping cards clean, there s something really special and it feels pretty good... STAYING AHEAD Dodt maintains lead at Australian PGA Reuters Sydney Andrew Dodt will tee off with a two-shot shot lead for the third day in a row in the final round of the Australian PGA Championship after a two-under-par 70 kept him on top of the leaderboard yesterday. Adam Scott looked like reining in his fellow Australian when he eagled the ninth and set off on a back nine which he tore up on Friday, but the world number seven found the water twice and ended up with a 70 and a share of fourth. Dodt s mixture of five birdies and three bogeys on a windy day at Royal Pines left him on 14-under for the tournament, two clear of popular American Harold Varner III and Ashley Hall with Scott and John Senden (68) a further two shots back on 10-under. I guess I picked up where I left off yesterday, I feel really comfortable in the wind, said Dodt, who has twice won similarly co-sanctioned European Tour events in the Asia-Pacific. I feel like my game can handle the wind, it s more about controlling me and I thought I did that well today. Big-hitting Varner bagged eagles at the 15th and 17th, the latter when he holed his approach wedge off the pin, but his hot finish was stalled by a bogey after he found a bunker at the last and he finished with a 67. Hall, who lost out to Jordan Spieth in a playoff at the Australian Open two weeks ago, also shot two eagles but bogeyed the last two holes for a 70 as the leading groups raced an approaching storm to get safely back into the clubhouse. Scott has been lurking a few shots off the pace all week and he looked like he might make his move when, having picked up birdies at the third and eighth, he drained a long eagle putt at the par-five ninth. He failed find the fairway on the first four holes on the back nine, however, and drives into the water at the 10th and 13th resulted in bogeys. Even when he did get a shot back at the 15th, he followed that with a bogey at the 16th and he just missed a 10 foot birdie putt at the 18th which would have brought him to within three shots of the lead. I hit two in the water so there s no escaping that, Scott said. But I m still in there, there s not that many in front but I m going to have to out there and post a good number tomorrow. Selected Scores Leading scores in the third round of the Australian PGA Championship yesterday at the Royal Pines Resort course (par 72): Andrew Dodt (AUS) Harold Varner III (USA) , Ashley Hall (AUS) John Senden (AUS) , Adam Scott (AUS) Ryan Fox (NZL) Steve Webster (ENG) , Scott Hend (AUS) , Julian Suri (USA) Samuel Brazel (AUS) , Todd Sinnott (AUS) , Michael Sim (AUS) , Brett Coletta (AUS) , Brett Rumford (AUS) ATHLETICS Corruption-hit IAAF adopts Coe s reforms Tiger Woods of the United States waves on the ninth green during round two of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, The Bahamas. Nassau, Bahamas Tiger Woods evoked memories of his glory days by firing a bogeyfree seven-under-par 65 Friday at the Hero World Challenge in his second round after a 16-month back surgery layoff. Former world number one Woods, a 14-time major champion, shot his best sub-par round since a 10-under 62 in the second round of the 2013 edition of the elite 18-player event that benefits his charity foundation. It was very important for me, Woods said. I don t know what it is about playing and competing, but keeping cards clean, there s something really special and it feels pretty good doing that. Woods thrilled about 200 spectators at the 7,302-yard Albany Golf Club in a remote Bahamas billionaire enclave to finish 36 holes on six-under 138 level ninth and six shots behind co-leaders BOTTOMLINE Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama. Through 15, I didn t really miss a shot, Woods said. I really had it dialed in. Woods, playing alone after England s Justin Rose withdrew with back pain, opened with a birdie and added another at the par-5 sixth, chipping from sand to 12 feet and sinking the putt. He then salvaged par with a six-foot putt at the eighth after pulling his tee shot into sand and bushes, telling caddie Joe LaCava, I m not dropping a shot. He didn t. Woods birdied the par-5 ninth and 11th holes after bogeys on both Thursday, lipping out a 25-foot birdie putt at 10 in between. Woods put his tee shot inches from the cup at the par-3 12th, saying, I couldn t hit any better, then curled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the 14th and tapped-in for birdie at the par-5 15th. At 16, where Woods made double bogey Thursday, sent his tee shot behind a bush in rocky sand. He blasted out and rolled a 20-foot par putt into the cup, pumping his right fist and smacking the putter blade to celebrate. That was big, to not go down a shot and not lose any momentum, Woods said. I wanted to keep that card clean. Woods sank a three-foot par putt at 18 to finish his round after only two hours and 54 minutes. Making some of those putts and those two birdies at 9 and 11 changes the entire energy of the round, Woods said. Instead of being angry at myself and ticked and trying to fight back, now I m building momentum and energy. Woods, who turns 41 later this month, has not produced such a score against a fuller field since a 9-under 61 in the second round of his most recent victory the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone. Until Thursday, Woods had not played a competitive round since August 2015, when he shared 10th at the PGA Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina. I hadn t felt the competitive flow and feel in a long time. It has been almost a year and a half, Woods said. And today I had it early. The first tee shot I felt very comfortable. THAT S HOW YOU WIN Woods, ranked 898th in the world, ended the longest layoff of his career after 466 days, then electrified those seeking signs he might regain the form that once dominated golf. I turned those holes around. Consequently, the momentum, the feel of the entire round changes, Woods said. That s what you have to do. That s how you win golf tournaments. Woods, whose 79 career titles are three shy of Sam Snead s all-time record, said he has slightly altered his swing to ease the stress on his back since the operations last September. I ve made subtle changes here and there, Woods said. I ve tried to go back and look at and do some stuff that I used to do as a junior that I did naturally. Woods said his body felt better than Thursday, calling that a very good sign. Matsuyama grabs share of lead Nassau, Bahamas Japan s Hideki Matsuyama, making the most of a hot putter, shot a five-under par 67 Friday to match US Open champion Dustin Johnson for the lead at the Hero World Challenge. Sixth-ranked Matsuyama, coming off three Asian triumphs in the past six weeks, moved level with the third-ranked American on 12-under 132 through 36 holes at the 18-man invitational event at the Albany resort. I m very happy with my round, Matsuyama said. I got it around and I played well. Hopefully I can just keep playing my own game and play the best that I can. South Africa s Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion and a three-time major runner-up, shared third with Olympic bronze medallist Matt Kuchar of the United States on 134 after each fired a second 67. Hideki Matsuyama of Japan hits a shot on the 11th hole during round two of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, The Bahamas. Matsuyama, who won the PGA Phoenix Open back in February, captured the Japan Open in October by three strokes, rolled to a seven-shot victory two weeks later at the World Golf Championships HSBC Champions event in Shanghai and added a sevenstroke triumph at the Taiheiyo Masters three weeks ago in Japan. My putting has been a lot better and that s what s probably the reason why I ve played well, Matsuyama said. When I ve missed some shots the past month or so, I ve been able to make the putt. Johnson, last season s US PGA Player of the Year, has won twice since capturing his first major title last June at Oakmont, taking the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in July and the BMW Championship last September. What I m working on is the right thing, just keep trying to get better, improve the wedge game, improve the short game, said Johnson. I struggled a little bit with the driver on the back nine but made some nice up and downs. I ve been rolling the putter pretty well too. Johnson birdied three of the first four holes, eagled the par-5 11th and answered his lone bogey at 12 with birdies at 14 and 18 for his second consecutive 66. Playing solid, playing pretty consistent, Johnson said. Tomorrow need to just drive it a little bit better. Matsuyama birdied the par-5 third, sixth and 11th holes then ran off three birdies in a row ending at the par-5 15th. But a bogey at the par-3 17th combined with Johnson s closing birdie left them deadlocked atop the leaderboard. Lurking six strokes off the pace after a bogey-free 65 Friday was 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, making his comeback this week after a 16-month back injury layoff. While Woods has lost the aura of invincibility that once accompanied his game, Johnson recalled that he was more intimidated meeting Woods for the first time than he was meeting his father-in-law, Canadian ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. I would say Tiger because the first time I met him was when I played with him in a tournament round, Johnson said. That was definitely more intimidating. Wayne is too nice. Sebastian Coe, IAAF President, during an event in Monaco. Monaco The IAAF yesterday unanimously adopted a reform package drawn up by president Sebastian Coe in a bid to end grotesque corruption that has rocked track and field s governing body. In a Special Congress in Monaco, 182 member federations voted for the reforms, with 10 against and five invalid votes. Some 197 of the IAAF s 213 member federations were present. Let me thank you for the confidence that you have shown the Council today in the reform proposals that you have agreed to. This is a very important moment in the history of our sport, said Coe. Coe s reforms, with a nod to disgraced predecessor Lamine Diack s abuse of the presidency, include stripping himself of some powers, with the president and IAAF Council not allowed to serve more than 12 years and with more checks put in place. They also push for gender balance, handing athletes a greater voice and crucially establishing an independent integrity unit that would manage all anti-doping matters and be responsible for greater intelligence gathering. Since Coe took office in August 2015, the IAAF has been mired in the fall-out from the presidency Diack, at the centre of a corruption scandal in which several former senior IAAF officials were found to have bribed Russian athletes to keep quiet over positive doping tests. Coe admitted that the reforms had not been to everyone s taste, all the while praising the civilised discourse and the clarity and honesty of dialogue. The fundamental principles, I believe, have broad support, said the Briton, a two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist. On gender balance, a number of areas told me they needed more time - you ve got it. I want checks and balances in place... I don t want to be in an office choosing carpets and signing off expenses. I would not ask for change if I didn t think we needed it. BOLD STANCE Coe s bold stance on gender equality envisages the 26-member Council transitioning to half-men, half-women by At the 2019 Council election, he wants a minimum of nine of each gender elected including two vicepresidents of each gender. Indicative of the ground shift that will entail was that just three of the 42 member federations who addressed the Congress before the vote were women, notably Paula Radcliffe representing Britain and also including representatives from the Cook Islands and the Turks and Caicos. Notable countries voting against the reforms were Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Abstainees included Lamine Diack s Senegal, vice-president Sergey Bubka s Ukraine and Jamaica, despite Usain Bolt picking up a record sixth IAAF Athlete of the Year award and throwing his weight behind Coe. I know that Seb Coe is trying to make track and field more transparent to everyone so they can see what shape it is in and to make sure there is not one person fully in control, said Bolt. That s a bold move from him as IAAF president. That s also helped the sport to make people more confident and to trust the sport more.
6 6 Gulf Times SPOTLIGHT Bulls dominant in paint, hand Cavs ALL FOR A BET LeBron arrives at United Center in a Cubs uniform their third defeat Chicago Bulls scored a staggering 78 points in the paint against an anaemic Cleveland Cavaliers defense and they pounded the Cavs on the glass Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) enters the United Center wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform. Chicago No, LeBron James isn t bringing his talents to the North Side. But you can add gracious loser to the Cleveland Cavaliers star s already impressive resume. James made good on his bet with Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade by wearing a Cubs uniform upon arrival for Friday night s game at the United Center. The former Miami Heat teammates made the bet as the World Series featuring their favorite baseball teams kicked off last month and when the Cubs roared back from a 3-1 deficit (sound familiar, Cavs fans?), James was forced to wear the Cubs uniform (with the No. 23 on the back) during his first visit to Chicago. Wade greeted James as Cavs players got off their bus and the pair joked about the bet as they headed to their respective dressing rooms. It s all in good fun, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. He and Dwyane obviously have an unbelievable relationship. Two very good friends that won championships together. Yeah, pretty cool. Hoiberg was then asked if he owned a Cubs uniform. I was going to wear it in but..., Hoiberg said with a laugh. Veteran James Jones planning to retire after season LeBron James has made it clear James Jones has a place on his team as long as he wants to keep playing. Jones has now decided when that will be. Jones told the Beacon Journal he will retire after next season, which will be his 15th in the NBA. His ultimate dream is to ride off after three consecutive championships in Cleveland, he said Friday before the Cavaliers played the Chicago Bulls, although clearly there is a lot of work to do before that happens. I know playing 15 years is a number where I can look back and I can be like, I accomplished something, Jones said. Fourteen vs. 15 may not be much, but to be able to say I played 15 years, that s enough for me to hang em up. Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) catches a pass over Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (8) during the second half at the United Center. Chicago LeBron James dismissed any problems facing the Cavaliers following their second troubling loss in as many games Thursday when the Cavaliers lost to the Clippers. Lose three straight, James reasoned, and there s something to talk about. So, let s talk, The same problems that have plagued the Cavs all season _ and have been exacerbated this week _ resurfaced yet again in Friday s loss to the Chicago Bulls at United Center. The Bulls scored a staggering 78 points in the paint against an anemic Cleveland defense, the Bulls pounded the Cavs on the glass and Rajon Rondo recorded his first tripledouble in a Bulls uniform. The Cavs also whiffed again on the third quarter, allowing the Bulls to take BOTTOMLINE command of a game the Cavs controlled through the first half. James had 27 points, 13 assists and five rebounds and Kyrie Irving had 20 points and eight assists, but the Cavs are mired in a threegame losing streak for the first time since Dec. 1-5 last year. Kevin Love scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He pulled the Cavs within on a 3-pointer with 4:07 to play, the closest the Cavs had been since early in the third quarter. But that was it. Dwyane Wade took James off the dribble and beat him to the rim for a layup with 2:30 left, extending the Bulls lead to James had the ball stolen by Nikola Mirotic for his sixth turnover on the Cavs ensuing possession and Wade made it costly with an offensive rebound and basket, effectively sending the Cavs to their third consecutive defeat. Three nights after the Milwaukee Bucks scored 68 points in the paint against them, the Bulls pounded the Cavs inside again on Friday. The Bucks did it with a flurry of power dunks and no resistance to their dribble penetration. The Bulls had some of that while also getting solid contributions from their bigs. Taj Gibson made his first nine shots and matched his career-high with 26 points and Robin Lopez added 10 points in the post. Jimmy Butler scored 26 points and Wade had 24 points, while Rondo had 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Much like how the Bucks scored 118 points on just seven 3-pointers Tuesday, the Bulls scored 111 points despite only three 3-pointers. They missed 10 of their first 11 3-point attempts Friday and ended the night just 3-of-18, but they had so much success inside that it didn t matter. The Bulls continued a disturbing trend of whipping the Cavs in third quarters. The Cavs have now been outscored in third quarters against the Bucks, Clippers and Bulls. It s no surprise, then, that all three resulted in losses. James entered the arena in a jovial mood despite having to wear a Cubs uniform to pay off a bet he lost to Wade. The two shared a laugh in the hallway, but there isn t much to laugh about right now regarding the Cavs. They ll take Saturday off after the back-to-back and fly to Toronto for a game Monday against the Raptors, who are now suddenly just a half-game behind them for the top spot in the East. Wade outduels friend LeBron Chicago Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (L) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade during the second half. As LeBron James trotted downcourt after sinking a tough thirdquarter jumper in Dwyane Wade s face, he slapped his former teammate and close friend on the rear. Seconds later, Wade returned the favor, burying a 3-pointer in James grill and slapping him back. Both smiled. James first look at Wade as a Bull lived up to its billing, complete with James entering the United Center in a full Cubs uniform to pay off their friendly World Series bet. Befitting two champions of their stature, the light-hearted gamesmanship faded to stonecold competitiveness down the stretch as the Bulls downed the Cavaliers, James wasn t smiling when Wade took him to the rack and scored with 2 minutes, 39 seconds left for a six-point lead. In fact, Wade saved his best for last, also rebounding a Nikola Mirotic miss for a put-back and eightpoint lead. Mirotic started the possession with a strip of James and, following Wade s put-back, also blocked Kyrie Irving s shot for a 24-second violation. Wade doesn t sugarcoat matters and bluntly called Friday night a measuring stick game, early December or not. And the Bulls purged the sour aftertaste Results Results from the NBA games on Friday (home team in CAPS) Houston 128 DENVER 110; SAN ANTONIO 107 Washington 105; CHICAGO 111 Cleveland 105; LA Clippers 114 NEW ORLEANS 96; Detroit 121 ATLANTA 85; BOSTON 97 Sacramento 92; TORONTO 113 LA Lakers 80; NY KNICKS 118 Minnesota 114; Orlando 105 PHILADELPHIA 88 of their loss to the Lakers with the stirring victory over the Cavaliers, sending James crew to their third straight loss. Beyond the solid response, it s a strong way to begin the only four-games-in-five-nights stretch of the season. It was huge, Jimmy Butler said. We competed. We guarded. Butler s team-high 26 points marked his 12th straight game with 20 or more points. Wade added 24. Taj Gibson scored 21 of his 23 points without missing as the Bulls posted a staggering 78 points in the paint to survive 3-for-18 3-point shooting. And Rajon Rondo posted his first triple-double as a Bull, the 29th of career, with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. He s a great player and a great leader, Gibson said. The starters all scored in double figures and carried an extremely heavy load yet again, tallying 98 of the 111 points. Mirotic missed his first seven shots, Bobby Portis didn t play by coach s decision and coach Fred Hoiberg shortened his rotation dramatically, not ideal for the front end of such a busy schedule stretch. But give Mirotic credit for perseverance, spurred in part by a talk from Wade during a timeout. Strange things typically happen when James visits the United Center during the regular season. Mirotic as defensive stopper takes its place alongside John Lucas III burying jumpers over James. He made winning plays, Hoiberg said of Mirotic. Mirotic s big plays tied into the defensive effort overall as the Bulls enjoyed a plus-16 rebounding edge and limited the Cavaliers to just 10 free throws, four off intentional fouls. I didn t even know he was 1-for-9, Wade said of Mirotic in a compliment. You re not going to shoot the ball great all the time. But if you get out of yourself and do whatever it takes for the team to win when you re not shooting well, that s big. James finished with 27 points and 13 assists. I could play against that guy 82 games a year, Wade said. He brings the best out of everyone. He certainly did for the Bulls on Friday. DOMINANCE Raptors rip through punchless Lakers Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. Toronto It took almost two minutes of playing time for the Toronto Raptors to score on Friday night, but their first bucket began an avalanche that buried the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers. Toronto (13-6) won its fifth consecutive game, a defeat of the Lakers (10-11). The Raptors made 75 percent of their second-quarter shots, and 60.9 percent of their firsthalf shots. Point guard Kyle Lowry made five of his six threepointers in the first half, and had 18 points by halftime. Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan added 16 points, as did UCLA product Norman Powell, who started in place of the resting DeMarre Carroll. And while everything seemed to be going well for the Raptors during the game s final 46 minutes, very little went well for the Lakers. The Lakers shot 34.4 percent on the way to their lowest scoring output of the season. I felt like we weren t mentally ready to compete against one of the better teams in the NBA tonight, Lakers Coach Luke Walton said.... Felt like they took us out of our rhythm and made it tough for us to get shots. When that s the case it s even more important for us to cut hard and set harder screens. We weren t really doing those things tonight, which is frustrating because that s taking a step back from who we are and who we ve become so far early in the season. Again without their starting backcourt, the Lakers turned to veteran Jose Calderon, who spent the first nine years of his career in Toronto, and rookie Brandon Ingram to replace starting point guard D Angelo Russell and starting shooting guard Nick Young. It was Ingram s second consecutive start, and he scored a career high 17 points, making eight of his 16 shots. He broke the Lakers gameopening scoring drought with a layup after the Lakers missed their first five shots. It just happens, Lakers guard Lou Williams said. If you re going to play 82 games, you re not going to play perfect.... For the past few games we haven t shot the ball well. I think in Chicago... we did enough on the defensive end and got stops, to give us an opportunity to win the game. But it happens and we ll get out of it. Although Ingram started, Walton removed him from the game after five minutes in the game so he could reunite the rookie with the Lakers second unit. But even that group, which Raptors coach Dwane Casey called lethal before the game, could do little to offset the Raptors firepower. The 33-point loss was the Lakers second most lopsided loss of the season, after their 43-point loss to the Golden State Warriors. As they ve worked through injuries to starters, the Lakers past four losses have come by margins of 33, 17, 24 and 43 points.
7 Gulf Times 7 SPOTLIGHT Lots of skepticism after McGregor gets HOW TO... Leadership tips from NASCAR s winningest team owner California licence He s either serious about boxing or he s thinking he can get some leverage on the UFC. I ve seen him hitting the heavy bag, though, so I believe it s about leverage This file photo shows UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor during UFC 205 Weigh-ins at Madison Square Garden in New York. Los Angeles Conor McGregor s ability to obtain a boxing licence from the California State Athletic Commission this week may tweak his UFC bosses noses and generate headlines. But it s not going to get Floyd Mayweather Jr. into the ring. At a Thursday boxing news conference in Los Angeles, two of the men who helped propel the unbeaten retired champion s career Showtime Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza and newly created Ringstar Sports promoter Richard Schaefer agreed that Mayweather won t fight in California due to prohibitive income taxes that don t apply in Nevada. He s either serious about boxing or he s thinking he can get some leverage on the UFC, Schaefer said. I ve seen him hitting the heavy bag, though, so I believe it s about leverage. But that doesn t mean there aren t interested opponents for McGregor. NHL Unbeaten former two-division champion Mikey Garcia, who was at the news conference alongside his Jan. 28 opponent at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin, said he d be happy to meet the colourful Irishman who last month became the first man in UFC history to simultaneously wear two championship belts (featherweight and lightweight). The UFC followed that on Saturday night by announcing that it was removing McGregor s featherweight belt since he hadn t fought in the division since December 2015, giving it back to Brazilian Jose Aldo, whose 10-year unbeaten run was snapped by a McGregor knockout punch in 13 seconds. According to an official close to the situation who was unauthorized to discuss the situation publicly, McGregor last year agreed to surrender the featherweight belt if he had defeated then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. When dos Anjos was injured, and McGregor found himself losing to and later defeating Nate Diaz at welterweight, he was given the Nov. 12 chance to win the second belt against Eddie Alvarez. In an impressive display of striking, McGregor knocked down Alvarez five times en route to a second-round knockout triumph before a record fighting crowd at Madison Square Garden. McGregor asked at his post-fight news conference for more pay, including a share of the UFC that celebrities such as Conan O Brien and Tom Brady have, and he asked UFC leaders to meet with him to discuss such an option. As of this week, no such conference had happened, and then came word that the boxing license had been secured. I think (McGregor) getting his boxing license was sticking the finger to the UFC for stripping him of the title, said Carl Frampton, the featherweight boxing champion from Northern Ireland who ll fight Los Angeles Leo Santa Cruz in the Jan. 28 main event, a rematch of their fight-of-the-year contender from July. While McGregor is under contract with the UFC for more mixed martial arts bouts, it would be interesting to see what would happen if a legitimate boxing offer emerged. Sharks edge Canadiens, 2-1 San Jose, California San Jose Sharks center Chris Tierney was denied on a breakaway by Carey Price in the second period of Friday s game against the Montreal Canadiens. A few minutes later, Price robbed Mikkel Boedker on a wraparound attempt, then stopped Tommy Wingels on another Sharks breakaway. In other words, it was a good thing the Sharks got to Price when they did. Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski both scored first-period goals on Price to help pave the way to a 2-1 Sharks win, extending their nearly two-decade dominance over the Canadiens at SAP Center. Arturi Lehkonen scored a power-play goal for Montreal with 1:17 left in the third period, but goalie Martin Jones outdid counterpart Price, making 31 saves as the Sharks won for the Sharks center Joe Pavelski (centre) celebrates with center Joe Thornton (19) after scoring a goal against the Canadiens. sixth time in seven games. The Canadiens, who entered Friday with a Eastern Conferenceleading 34 points, have not won in San Jose since 1999, going in that time. After racing out to a 3-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, the Sharks got off to another fast start Friday. Burns scored his 10th of the season, best in the NHL for a defenseman, as his one-timer on the power play from just outside the faceoff dot got past Price 5:22 into the first. Burns goal came off a pass from Pavelski, as he now has four goals in the last seven games. Pavelski then created the Canadiens turnover that led to the Sharks second goal and his eighth of the season. The Sharks captain tipped an Alex Galchenyuk pass intended for Alex Radulov from inside the San Jose blue line to the other end of the ice. Thornton skated, scooped it up and found Pavelski, who tipped it past Price on a 2-on-0 for a two-goal Sharks lead with 57 seconds to go in the first. Jones made 13 saves in the first, including a nifty glove save on a shot by Galchenyuk from just outside the crease. The Sharks now get a rare weekend away from the ice as they plan to take Saturday and Sunday off before returning for practices on Monday and Tuesday. The Sharks played 15 games in November, going as they finished the month in first place There are rules against restraint of trade, and so what would a court or arbiter decide if he requested a different type of fight with the kind of purse expected for a fighter who has generated four of the 10 bestselling UFC pay-per-views in history? Garcia, who resides in Riverside, Calif., remains skeptical of the McGregor boxing talk. His abilities are not at the world championship levels in boxing, Garcia said. He has good boxing skills for MMA... he s a good striker... but his boxing abilities would not allow him to compete against world champion boxers. His level of boxing _ I don t see it being that much better than an amateur fighter. He makes a lot of mistakes he can get away with in MMA, but not boxing, and if he really wants to fight in California.... Floyd won t fight him in California, but I m from Cali, so if he s serious about trying something, let s do it. I doubt that he s serious about doing it. He might be doing it to stir up some things, get some media, but that s about it. in the Pacific Division. Starting with Wednesday s game against the Ottawa Senators, the Sharks will play nine games in 17 days before the Christmas break. This is my ninth year in the league and I don t think we ve had a weekend without a game, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said Friday morning. This is the first time I can remember it. The way it laid out, after the month we ve just had and the injuries and the stuff we ve just dealt with, it just made sense. We ve got another push until the Christmas break with another tough schedule. With our travel and the World Cup and everything, it didn t make sense to come down here and skate when we had a chance to actually recharge mentally and physically. Price was making his sixth straight start, as he entered Friday with a record, a 1.68 goals against average and a.947 save percentage. The Canadiens had allowed just four goals in its last three games. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Rick Hendrick (left). Katherine Peralta, Charlotte Rick Hendrick was enrolled in a work-study programme at NC State University in the late 1960s when he realised that selling cars was what he should be doing for the rest of his life. As part of a work-study programme, Hendrick spent much of his time at an automobile service station, honing the skills he d acquired as a kid while building, then drag-racing, his own cars. One day, a man came in with an Opel he wanted to sell, and he wanted $300 for it. Hendrick bought the car even though it needed work. A professor later came to the station, wanting to buy the car. I probably would have taken $500, but he offered me $1,200 for it, Hendrick said. So after putting a $50 clutch in it, I thought Well I need to quit working on em and start selling em. The rest is history, Hendrick, 67, told me this week at the Charlotte Chamber s annual meeting, where he was awarded the group s highest honour, the Citizen of the Carolinas. The recognition puts Hendrick into the ranks of Erskine Bowles, Harvey Gantt, Dean Smith, Hugh McColl and Jerry Richardson, among others all heavy-hitters who have helped shape the Carolinas in some way. In fact, when he was telling me that story about the Opel Tuesday night, Hendrick was interrupted by Gantt, who made history as Charlotte s first black mayor. Gantt embraced Hendrick, congratulating him for the award. You re the man. Love you, buddy, Hendrick said. It was when Gantt was in office that Hendrick was busy building his company, the Hendrick Automotive Group, now the largest privately held dealership in the country. Hendrick said he remembers being 28 years old and walking into a Charlotte bank in a pinstripped suit, lying about his age before asking for a loan to buy City Chevrolet in Charlotte, which would become the auto group s flagship location. I had to prove myself, Hendrick said. Hendrick Automotive Group now employs nearly 11,000 people, about half of whom are in the Carolinas. And in November, Hendrick s NASCAR team won its 12th championship in Homestead, making him the winningest team owner in history. Hendrick was raised on a farm outside a small Virginia town, and he cites lessons learned from his parents as the most important he knows in growing a business. Growing up on the farm, we didn t know what we didn t have. But my mom and dad taught us that you had to share, you had to depend on each other in order to survive, Hendrick said. If your barn burned, you had to get them to help you, or you help them. If you broke a tractor, you borrow a neighbour s or they borrow yours. We had to depend on each other. BASEBALL MLB spares a little change for All-Stars Los Angeles You can put a price on victory: $20,000. That s the bonus each player on the winning All-Star team will earn starting next season, one of a host of details unveiled Friday when Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association confirmed and announced a new collective bargaining agreement through the 2021 season. The league will use cash rather than the lure of homefield advantage in the World Series to try to motivate players to give it their all for their league in an exhibition game. The average major league salary on opening day last season was $4.4 million, or about $24,000 per day for the 183-day season. The league also announced that All-Star rosters would be made up of 32 players 20 position players and 12 pitchers with the commissioner s office rather than the All-Star managers making the final few selections for each roster. Among the other provisions announced Friday: The amount teams can spend on players without paying luxury taxes rises each year, from $195 million in 2017 to $210 million in The maximum penalty remains a 50 percent tax on the amount over the threshold, with the addition of a 12 percent surtax on amounts $20 million to $40 million over the threshold and up to a 45 percent surtax on amounts beyond $40 million over the threshold. The Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to pay about $30.5 million on a $250-million payroll for 2016; they would pay $36.65 million on the same payroll next season. Players given qualifying offers have 10 days to accept or reject them, not seven days. No player can be given a qualifying offer more than once. Teams no longer give up a first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who had received a qualifying offer. What teams give up _ and what the old team gets in return is weighted in favor of small-revenue teams and teams that do not exceed the luxury tax. Teams will be limited to from $4.75 million to $5.75 million per year on total bonuses for international amateurs, again weighted in favor of small-revenue teams, though those pools will grow with industry revenue. Teams wanting to spend more can trade for unused money from another team s pool. The number of random drug tests will increase from 3,200 to 4,800 during the season and from 350 to 1,550 during the winter, the latter ensuring that each player will be subject to at least one random off-season test. Drug-testing experts have said the relatively few winter tests could allow players to use banned substances in the off-season. The number of random blood tests will increase from 260 to 500 during the season and from 140 to 400 during the winter. Although penalties for steroid violators were not changed, players testing positive for stimulants will be suspended 50 games for a second offense, 100 games for a third offense and banned for life for a fourth offense. Smokeless tobacco is banned for all players making their major league debut in 2017 or later. Baseball will adopt an antibullying and anti-hazing policy. Each club must retain a bilingual media relations professional and enhance opportunities for Spanish-speaking players to learn English. No longer can a player be optioned to a minor league club for a day or two in September, as the Dodgers did last season.
8 8 Gulf Times FORMULA ONE Mission accomplished for emotional Rosberg Lewis was awesome so to take the title away from him is very special Vienna Formula One World Champion Germany s Nico Rosberg and his Wife Vivian arrive for the FIA Prize Giving Gala at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria. () Nico Rosberg said it was mission accomplished as the German star received his Formula One world championship trophy on Friday, just hours after he stunned sport by deciding to quit. The 31-year-old paid tribute to longtime friend and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, the outgoing world champion, as well as his father Keke Rosberg who won the F1 title back in It s mission accomplished as far as I am concerned, the German told the FIA prize giving ceremony at a star-studded event in Vienna. I m so proud to be here. It s been a pretty intense period but it was my childhood dream. When I saw this trophy for the first time today, I immediately went and found where my dad s name was on it. It s very special and emotional to share with him what he did 34 years ago. Rosberg admitted that had he come up short in the championship this year, he would have carried on in When I was six, I wanted to be world champion and I have done it. Now on to other things family first, see what the future holds and just follow my heart. Rosberg edged Hamilton to the title but he paid generous tribute to the Briton. Lewis was awesome so to take the title away from him is very special, added Rosberg who admitted that winning the title was the second most intense thing he has done. Well, watching my wife give birth, that was pretty intense. Dutch driver Max Verstappen won the award for FIA Personality of the Year and FIA Action of the Year. The colourful Red Bull driver became the youngest winner of a Grand Prix when he triumphed at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain at the age of 18 years and 228 days. It was one of only two races not won by a Mercedes driver in 2016 the other went to Verstappen s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in Malaysia. Meanwhile, the world rally championship trophy was presented for the fourth successive time to Sebastien Ogier and codriver Julien Ingrassia. But it was an emotional night for Ogier whose Volkswagen team revealed last month that 2016 was to be their last season in the championship. The whole story of the last four years has been amazing the time of our lives, said Ogier. It has come to an end and we are looking to the future and thinking about new challenges. We are confident that we can still be part of the next championship. Ogier was cheekily asked if he d be interested in filling the vacancy created by Rosberg at Mercedes in next year s Formula One world championship. Well, my heart s in rallying and I d need to get a super-licence, he said. But it would be a great story, no? Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen collected two special awards for the second year in a row at the International Automobile Federation (FIA) s gala prize-giving ceremony on Friday. The 19-year-old won the Personality of the Year, while his overtake of Nico Rosberg s Mercedes in the wet at the Brazilian Grand Prix was judged Action of the Year across all FIA-sanctioned series. The personality award was voted for by the international media. Verstappen, who became the youngest ever grand prix winner in Spain in May and is now the hottest young talent in the sport, has now won the Action of the Year award for three successive years. He won it last year for a daring move on Brazilian Felipe Nasr around the outside at Blanchimont at the Belgian Grand Prix. In 2014, while in European F3, his last lap Verstappen a double winner again at FIA awards overtake of Italian Antonio Giovinazzi was the winner. I m very happy with my second season in F1, said the Red Bull driver. When it started, I didn t think it was going to be this good... hopefully we can be even more successful next year. Rosberg, who won the championship in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, was handed his trophy at the ceremony hours after he stunned Formula One by announcing his retirement. It s mission accomplished for me. I ve done it. That s the dream come true, said the German, son of 1982 world champion Keke. When I saw this trophy for the first time straight away I had a look at where my dad was. So I found my dad down there and for me that s one of the most emotional things about all this that I managed to achieve what he did 34 years ago and share that with him, he added. Rosberg also said he would have continued for another year had he come second in the championship to team mate Lewis Hamilton, instead of beating him. Bolt surprised by shock Rosberg retirement Sprint king Usain Bolt expressed his surprise at Nico Rosberg s shock decision Friday to quit Formula One just five days after winning the world title with Mercedes. Bolt, who has amassed 20 Olympic and world titles in a sparkling career, is himself due to retire next season at the age of 31, having competed at one last world championships in August in London. But the Jamaican was left as stunned as the world of motor racing by news of Rosberg, who became the first reigning champion to quit since Alain Prost in No, I can t understand, said Bolt, who won three gold medals (100, 200, 4x100m relay) at the Rio Olympics for a third consecutive Games. Everybody has their reasons for everything, but I really don t know. I guess he felt like he has gotten what he wanted. I think he said he had never won a championship and that s what he wanted. If you accomplish your goal, there s no reason to stay around. That s what you wanted, you got what you want, just move on. But Bolt dismissed suggestions that he could have hung up his spikes after taking his Olympic medal haul to nine golds in Rio. For me this year, after the Olympics when I really achieved my goal, it s mainly for the fans, he said. It s my last opportunity. I really wanted to do next season just to say goodbye to the fans and go to my favourite places where I love to run. Bolt scoffed at ideas that he might take some time off and return in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I ve discussed this with my coach, he said: Do not retire and come back to the sport, don t ever do that, he said. You ve got to make sure you re sure to retire. That s why he always tells me to take it one year at a time, to make sure I m ready. For most athletes who leave the sport and come back, it never goes well. If you leave track and field, put weight on, pretty much do no form of running, to come back from two years of doing nothing to compete again is not going to be the same. Bolt said retirement at the age of 31 was wholly acceptable. Not to brag or anything, but a lot of people at 30 have not accomplished what I have accomplished. I ve done all I ve wanted to, he said. FOCUS Rosberg drew the best from himself before bowing out By Paul Weaver The Guardian For a driver who strove with such fierce diligence to win the world championship Nico Rosberg has given up its fruits very quickly; champion on Sunday, retired on Friday, he was not even a six-day wonder. For many years he has been one of the more anonymous of Formula One s leading drivers. Now, finally thrust into the spotlight of glory, it is almost as if he could not stand the glare. In truth Rosberg knows how almost impossibly difficult it was to win the F1 title, how repetitive luck as well as formidable skill played their parts. In all likelihood he would always have remained a one-time winner. His achievement, though, is monumental. He not only climbed the mountain but left Lewis Hamilton in his shadow. That is Hamilton, the three-times world champion, faster and more race-crafty and the man who had beaten him almost on a consistent basis for 16 years. It was Hamilton s greatness that defined Rosberg s championship as a worthy one; as Nico s father, Keke, would ruefully testify, the crown does not always go to the quickest driver. Nico Rosberg took 10 years in Formula One to finally win his prize only Nigel Mansell took longer, with 12. By doing so Rosberg confounded the many people who said he would never be capable of prevailing against Hamilton over a season, and with 21 races we have just seen the longest campaign in F1 history. He has also been acclaimed, belatedly, in his own country following the second place in Abu Dhabi that got him over the championship line. He was born in Wiesbaden, in Germany, 31 years ago but left with his family to live in Monaco at the venerable age of four weeks, and has lived there ever since, apart from when he is at his mansion in Ibiza. For Germans, Michael Schumacher was always the great racing hero. Schumacher was the driver with more wins and championships than any other. Crucially, though, he also had the common touch. After Schumacher there was the four-times winner Sebastian Vettel. The quiet and cerebral Rosberg failed to connect there in the same way. There is something essentially international about the man who speaks German, English, French, Italian and (a little less fluently) Spanish. The introverted image is a little misleading. Last year Nicola Pohl, of the German newspaper Bild, told me: He s actually very funny on social media. He has jokes and he is teasing all the time. The picture, though, was one of a calculated driver who has worked immensely hard, always talking to his mechanics and engineers, approaching each circuit with the care of a cartographer. Nor did his racing take up residence in the memory. When it came to wheel-to-wheel battle he was second to Hamilton, though his vital passing move on Max Verstappen during the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi was accomplished and courageous. Rosberg was a high-class journeyman, an eliminator of mistakes, usually two or three tenths of a second a lap slower than Hamilton but more likely than his celebrated Mercedes team-mate to extract the absolute maximum out of himself in every grand prix. His gentle manner also belied an essential toughness. When Schumacher joined Mercedes people speculated he would wipe the track with Rosberg but it did not happen. And now he has come out on top against one of the quickest drivers the sport has seen. There was also a keen intelligence. When Rosberg joined Williams and took their mandatory engineering aptitude test, he scored the highest marks in the team s history. He turned down the opportunity to study engineering at Imperial College London to pursue a career in racing. Everything relates to physics and maths, he once said. He reads the business pages for fun. He started karting when he was six and it was while racing karts at 15 that he came up against Hamilton. The German was behind, as usual, but the two became friends, playing football, eating ice creams and pizzas, competing on unicycles and telling each other how cool it would be if they ended up in F1. Rosberg moved to German Formula BMW in 2002, and won the championship. He moved to Formula Three and tasted F1 when he first tested for Williams in He won the GP2 title in 2005 and at the end of the year was confirmed as a Williams driver for The following year he was a seven-times points winner, including a best of fourth. His first podium came in He joined Mercedes in 2010, winning his first race in Hamilton joined him the following year. They got on well at first but then a series of clashes soured the relationship. Then, in Austin last year, Hamilton won the title, barging Rosberg wide on turn one as he did so. Rosberg took it badly and the race was followed by the famous cap-throwing incident. Rosberg went away and had a long think. He returned a tougher competitor and a championship-winning driver. Photo taken on April 17, 2016 shows Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team s German driver Nico Rosberg celebrating on the podium with his trophy after winning the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. ()
9 Gulf Times 9 RUGBY England roar back to complete perfect year The wins breed confidence. There is a feel-good factor and a self-belief that we didn t have in the past Reuters London England overcame an awful start to roar back superbly and overwhelm Australia with a dominant display at Twickenham yesterday to complete a perfect year of 13 victories under coach Eddie Jones. Australia led 10-0 and had three tries ruled out in an incredibly one-sided first quarter but they led only at the break and barely got another look at the England line. Clever tries for Marland Yarde and Ben Youngs and a second for Jonathan Joseph were fair reward for England s total second-half control as they finished off the year in style. Including the World Cup win over Uruguay, yesterday s victory took England s winning run to 14 equalling the national record set under Clive Woodward from It was also a fourth successive win over Australia, who, since losing to New Zealand in the World Cup final on the same ground 13 months ago, have lost nine of their 15 games. England will not want to watch too many replays of the first 20 minutes though the coaching staff will make sure they do but they will enjoy the rest of what was a highly impressive performance, mixing aggressive pragmatism with slick handling and inventive attacking. An extraordinary opening 20 minutes left Australia in total control and, if the TMO had been on their side, they could have been out of sight. Bernard Foley, who could not miss from anywhere in his side s World Cup triumph over England at Twickenham a year ago, sent one penalty wide from close range after two minutes but winger Sefa Naivalu got them on the board with a try. Tevita Kuridrani (twice) and Sekope Kepu crossed the line during periods of Wallaby dominance but a knock-on and non-groundings allowed England to escape with one more Foley penalty to trail 10-0 having barely touched the ball. England s Jonathan Joseph (R) celebrates after scoring their fourth try with Marland Yarde. (Reuters) SPOTLIGHT S Africa stun Fiji to win Dubai Sevens Dubai South Africa defeated defending World Series and Olympic champions Fiji to win the Dubai Sevens yesterday. It was a fifth Dubai title for South Africa who were second in the World Series last season before going on to take the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. Fittingly, last season s player of the year Seabelo Senatla scored South Africa s last try of the final taking his tally for the two days to 11. England beat Wales to claim third place. Results Quarter-finals Fiji 40 France 5 England 24 Scotland 21 Australia 12 Wales 21 South Africa 40 New Zealand 0 Semi-finals Fiji 31 England 12 Wales 5 South Africa 36 3rd place play-off England 38 Wales 10 Final Fiji 14 South Africa 26. FACTBOX England s victory over Australia yesterday completed an unbeaten year for the team under coach Eddie Jones. Below is a list of the 13 victories in 2016 Six Nations 6 Feb Scotland 9 England Feb Italy 9 England Feb England 21 Ireland Mar England 25 Wales Mar France 21 England May England 27 Wales Jun Australia 28 England Jun Australia 7 England Jun Australia 40 England Nov England 37 South Africa Nov England 58 Fiji Nov England 27 Argentina Dec England 37 Australia 21 Note: England also won their last game of 2015, 60-3 against Uruguay in the rugby World Cup, taking their winning run to 14 and equalling the national record set under Clive Woodward in 2002/03. The Tier One record for successive victories is 18, set by New Zealand from HACKED ON The hosts nibbled back at the lead with two Farrell penalties and when the inside centre hacked on after a Kepu fumble on halfway, Joseph was the fastest chaser to claim England s first try. Farrell converted and somehow England were ahead. Two more Foley penalties gave Australia a halftime lead that was the least they deserved. The Wallabies had further cause to curse the TMO four minutes after the restart when he ruled that Yarde just got his hand to the ball ahead of Israel Folau after a deft kick by Joseph. By the 50-minute mark it was after scrumhalf Youngs threw another of what is fast-becoming his trademark dummies to leave sucked-in opposite number Nick Phipps almost tackling a steward and the crowd roaring. Kepu scored in a rare Wallaby break but, after a harsh yellow card for winger Dane Haylett- Petty for a late tackle, Joseph got his second when he picked off a floated David Pocock try to hammer home the advantage and round off a memorable year. The wins breed confidence, flanker Tom Wood said. There is a feel-good factor and a self-belief that we didn t have in the past. We work hard in the week, to the relentless nature of Eddie Jones and the coaches. CYCLING Wiggins must resolve steroid use controversy London Five-time Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins has to clear up the question marks remaining over why he was granted therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for a steroid, his former team-mate Chris Froome says. Wiggins, 36, had his medical records leaked by presumed Russian hackers The Fancy Bears earlier this year. They revealed he d been granted the TUEs to take the banned triamcinolone to treat a pollen allergy including just before the 2012 Tour de France when he went onto become Britain s first winner. Froome, who was his faithful lieutenant on Team Sky that year and has won it himself three times since, told The Times that Wiggins denials since and responses to the questions have not resolved the matter. People ask me, Do I think it s tarnished his (Wiggins) image? I certainly think it s raised a few questions, that s for sure, he told the paper by phone from Australia. A lot of people have said it s taken the shine off his performances back in Kenya-born Froome, who will attempt the rare feat of doing a Grand Tour double next year having failed in his bid this season, said he still did not know what was in a package delivered to Team Sky during the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, which Wiggins won. I am completely in the dark on that, he says. I have asked the question. Hopefully we will find out at the end of the investigation. Those are questions for Brad to answer about what happened back then. In terms of who did what at the time, I still don t know all the answers myself. Froome, 31, says he couldn t fault the present Team Sky regime for being totally transparent and felt this had filtered through to spectators at the Tour de France whose attitude had changed between the angry and hostile one of 2015 towards him and his team-mates and this year. I can only deal with what I do know. From what I have seen for myself [at Sky], it s been completely above board. It s been clean. I ve laid all my cards on the table. Everything has been out there for a while in terms of my TUEs, he said. We have worked really hard to try to show we are being as transparent as possible. I feel we have made a lot of headway this year, especially on the roads of the Tour. I felt a genuine change in mentality of the French fans, a much warmer reception than it has been in the past. Five-time Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins (R) with Chris Froome.
10 10 Gulf Times GOLF Stone stretches lead to three shots He (Schwartzel) seems to like this place so hopefully we get drawn together tomorrow Malelane South African Brandon Stone stretched his Alfred Dunhill Championship lead to three shots yesterday with a six-underpar 66 for a third-round total of 199 in the European Tour event. The 23-year-old winner of one competition on the circuit carded seven birdies at Leopard Creek Country Club, which borders Kruger Park game reserve in north-eastern South Africa. His only slip on a hot early southern hemisphere summer day was a bogey four at the 12th hole of a 6,663-metre (7,287- yard) layout carved out of thick bush. Defending champion Charl Schwartzel, fellow South African Keith Horne and Chris Hanson from England share second place on 202. Former US Masters champion Schwartzel, seeking a fifth Dunhill victory in 12 attempts, fired a 68, Horne a 67 and Hanson a 68 over the par-72 track. After reaching the turn in a level-par 35, Schwartzel collected five birdies in six holes to move within two strokes of Stone. However, he came unstuck at the par-three 16th, finding water from the tee, and holing a difficult putt for a bogey four. Stone, cautious after seeing what happened to playing partner Schwartzel, found thick green-side rough at the same hole, but saved par with a pitch and challenging putt. Both golfers parred the last two holes despite a wayward tee shot from Schwartzel at 18 and an equally poor second shot from Stone on the same hole. Hanson, the lone non-south African among the top four on the leaderboard, carded three birdies and one bogey on his outward nine. But the Englishman parred only one hole on a rollercoaster inward nine that included five birdies and three bogeys. Scot David Drysdale fired a 64 - the lowest round of the week - to lie six shots behind 2016 South African Open champion Stone. Stone, who was struggling with a back injury during his second round, told He (Schwartzel) seems to like this place so hopefully we get drawn together Stone eyes title battle with fellow South African Charl Schwartzel. tomorrow and hopefully we can have a good weekend of competition against each other. I woke up this morning and the back was feeling a little bit sore, and then on the range it didn t really feel too great either. During the course of the day it progressively got worse and then I had to hit one out of the deep jungle on the right of number eight and really tweaked it. I got some really good physio with my trainer on the ninth. I got the back sorted for a few holes there and it held its nerve for the back nine. A flawless round for a golfer seeking his first European Tour victory after 20 years as a professional included five birdies on the first nine and three more on the second nine. Leading third round scores Brandon Stone (RSA) Chris Hanson (ENG) , Keith Horne (RSA) , Charl Schwartzel (RSA) Benjamin Hebert (FRA) David Drysdale (SCO) Bryce Easton (RSA) , Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) , Richard Sterne (RSA) Thomas Aiken (RSA) , Alexander Bjork (SWE) , Thomas Detry (BEL) , Branden Grace (RSA) , Scott Jamieson (SCO) , Carlos Pigem (ESP) , JC Ritchie (RSA) , Joel Stalter (FRA) Ulrich van den Berg (RSA) , Sebastian Heisele (GER) , Graeme Storm (ENG) Max Orrin (ENG) , Jake Roos (RSA) Ashley Chesters (ENG) , Richard McEvoy (ENG) , Michael Hoey (NIR) , Espen Kofstad (NOR) , Erik van Rooyen (RSA) , Bernd Ritthammer (GER) , Jeff Winther (DEN) SPOTL IGHT Kumar leads after Panasonic Open round two New Delhi India s Mukesh Kumar took the lead after the second round while Lee Sung of South Korea captivated with a hole-in-one in the foghit Panasonic India Open golf tournament in New Delhi yesterday. Kumar dominated play with five birdies for an eight-underpar 136 total on the third day of the Asia Tour event which had been earlier reduced to 54 holes and three rounds. Kumar, who has won over 120 professional titles in his career, gave himself a twoshot lead heading into the final round of the $400,000 event. I will probably be a little more aggressive tomorrow as the field is very strong and there are a lot of good players chasing me, said the 51-yearold. But it was Lee who brightened up proceedings at Delhi Golf Club, which saw seven hours of play being lost on the first two days due to heavy fog. I jumped for joy when I saw the ball disappear into the hole. This is the second hole-in-one that I have had in my career. The last one was in 2003, said Lee. Thailand s Jazz Janewattananond (69) and Mithun Perera (68) of Sri Lanka shared second place with Indian duo Khalin Joshi (71) and Shankar Das (67). Perera needs to win the tournament to secure his full playing rights on the Asian Tour in 2017 before heading into the season finale next week. Defending champion Chiragh Kumar of India also stayed on course, with 73 players making the halfway cut before the final round on Sunday. Scores after round two 136 Mukesh Kumar (IND) Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 69-69, Khalin Joshi (IND) 67-71, Mithun Perera (SRI) 70-68, Shankar Das (IND) Rashid Khan (IND) 67-72, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 71-68, Chiragh Kumar (IND) 71-68, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 67-72, Deepinder Singh Kullar (IND) Kapil Kumar (IND) 68-72, Sanjeev Kumar (IND) 71-69, Brett Munson (USA) 71-69, Om Prakash Chouhan (IND) 72-68, Sung Lee (KOR) Shamim Khan (IND) 67-74, Arjun Atwal (IND) 69-72, Digvijay Singh (IND) Honey Baisoya (IND) 73-69, Angad Cheema (IND) 71-71, Chan Yih-shin (TPE) 72-70, Abhinav Lohan (IND) Ashok Kumar (IND) 70-73, Michael Tran (VIE) 71-72, N. Thangaraja (SRI) 75-68, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 71-72, M Dharma (IND) 71-72, Gaurav Pratap Singh (IND) Pratap Atwal (IND) 70-74, Mitchell Slorach (SIN) 71-73, Lionel Weber (FRA) 69-75, Masaru Takahashi (JPN) 70-74, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 72-72, Rahul Bajaj (IND) Mukesh Kumar of India plays a shot during round two of the Panasonic Open India at the Delhi Golf Club in New Delhi. () ATHLETICS Uncatchable Bolt swoops for sixth IAAF award Monaco Usain Bolt, winner of a sixth IAAF Athlete of the Year award on Friday, remains a beacon for clean athletes amid doping and corruption scandals that have mired the sport in recent times. As athletics emerges from its darkest hour fighting to restore its credibility, the reality for track and field is that it will soon have to cross that rocky road without Bolt. The Jamaican, who sealed an amazing third haul of three Olympic sprint gold medals in Rio, will compete at next year s world championships in London as his swansong, meaning the next Olympics in Tokyo will not feature one of sport s most recognisable figures. The man is a genius, IAAF president Sebastian Coe said of Bolt in Rio. There s been nobody since Muhammad Ali who s got remotely near to what this guy has done in terms of grabbing the public imagination. Bolt will not be lost to the sport, however, with Coe saying he envisaged the Jamaican, so often able to deflect bad news with his on-track performances, playing a key role in years to come. I ve been very clear, I said Whenever you decide to do other things, let s make sure in that portfolio of those things you will obviously want to go off and do, we don t lose you from the sport, Coe continued. I m very intent on that, he said, adding: It s one of those discussions that probably you can in reality only have once someone s got their competitive years behind them. He s in no doubt at all about how the sport feels about him and certainly how I do as a president. Bolt insisted it was mission accomplished after signing off with a treble-treble in his final Olympic race, predicting that his achievements may never be broken. The world s fastest man anchored Jamaica s 4x100m relay team to gold on a balmy Rio night to capture the 100m, 200m and relay titles for a third straight Games. I hope I ve set the bar high enough that no one can do it again, said Bolt. I ll have to make a new bucket list now, I ve achieved all I wanted to in track and field. Bolt, who has now won an astonishing 20 Olympic and world titles, matched American sprinter and long jumper Carl Lewis and Finnish longdistance runner Paavo Nurmi with nine Olympic golds. Lewis won his between 1984 and 1996, while Nurmi racked up the same tally in the 1920s. Bolt insisted all of his gold medals were special. They all mean the world to me, he said. It s nine all of them are special and they all came along at the right time. I ve proven to the world I m the greatest so it s mission accomplished! Usain Bolt of Jamaica (L) receives the Male World Athlete of the Year Award 2016 from IAAF s President Sebastian Coe in Monaco. (Reuetrs)
11 Gulf Times CRICKET 11 OPINION Current Indian team like the one in : Sachin IANS New Delhi Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has rated the current Indian team as the best in the world, asserting that the national squad reminds him of the batch of The current bunch of cricketers reminds me of the team we had in We had (Virender) Sehwag opening the innings, Rahul (Dravid) came at No. 3, followed by me at No. 4, Sourav (Ganguly) at No. 5 and (VVS) Laxman at No. 6. I see the same team in the present one. To me, it is the best side in the world, Tendulkar said during an interactive session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit yesterday. We have the right balance as far as quality fast bowlers and spinners are concerned. We have a well-balanced side with a very strong batting line-up, he added. The 43-year-old, who retired from Test cricket in 2013, also maintained that the team only needs direction and has the best man to guide them in current coach Anil Kumble. They have got an ideal man to guide them in Anil Kumble. To have Anil in the dressing room is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is fantastic to have him, Tendulkar said. He also feels the mentality of people had changed due to the popularity of Twenty20 cricket and technology, adding that the longer format now needs some rivalries to get back the interest of the spectators. The mindset of the people is changing. Twenty20s and technology has changed that mindset. When I was growing up, we were watching Tests and now kids watch T20, Tendulkar observed. When I was growing up, I watched Imran Khan bowling to Sunil Gavaskar and their rivalry was really engaging. We saw how to defend on backfoot among many other things. The competitive rivalries of Viv Richards-Jeff Thompson, Curtly Ambrose-Steve Waugh, Brian Lara-Glenn McGrath generated a lot of interest among the fans. We need to show something different to the youth to regenerate those rivalries. If we can recreate those rivalries people s interest will go up, he added. The 43-year-old said he does not miss cricket much because retirement has given him the opportunity to live life on his terms. I did not miss playing cricket after I retired but it is nice to play an exhibition game once in a while. I played three games in America with retired cricketers and the response was magnificent. But yes, I do miss the love and affection of the fans, he said. It feels nice that I get to do the things that I could not do while playing. Overall it has given me the opportunity to live life on my terms and mingle around, he added. Tendulkar gave a radical suggestion of introducing two different balls and two pitches in the same match in domestic cricket to improve the standard of the game in the country. We should not make tailor-made pitches. Let us make green-top pitches in India. We should make our batsmen and spinners play on them, Tendulkar said. We need to make our bench strength get used to foreign pitches and conditions. Our spinners need to know which areas to bowl in the first innings on a green top. Let us have two sets of pitches in domestic cricket. Green tops and also turning tracks. I would want the first innings to be played on green top. The second innings should be played on the turning track. If we can do this, we will be prepared for any condition. We need to travel better. This also means playing with two different balls and that means also playing with the kookaburra ball. For the bench strength it is important to know how a kookaboora ball seams or swings. When we play on two different surfaces, the captain knows if he bowls first, he ll be batting fourth on a rank turner. So, it s not going to be easy, he added. He said toss doesn t decide the outcome of the match as it only gives 10 % advantage to the winning team. Toss only allows the captain to have only 10 % advantage, but not the 80 % advantage where the wicket is damp, you put the opposition in, and when you go out to bat, it s a flat wicket, you score 600 runs and get them out again. That will stop. This move will also teach our batters to play on turning tracks. This will help in winning abroad, he said. Refusing to comment on the RM Lodha Committee recommendations, Tendulkar asserted that everything is not perfect and changes are needed to be made to ensure India remains the leading side in the world. The matter is in the Supreme Court, and it ll be unwise to get into the details and pass any judgment, he said. From the cricketing point of view, I have got a lot of support from the Indian cricket board (BCCI) and MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association). BCCI has also supported the game a lot. The board has helped all the players to get to where they are today. The Lodha Committee, which was appointed by the Supreme Court to clean up cricket administration in India following a corruption and spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL), had advised a host of far reaching changes which, if implemented, could alter the way the game is run in the country. Tendulkar said that everything is not perfect and changes are essential for improvement. It doesn t stop here. I am not saying everything is perfect and right, and we don t need to improve, we don t need to make changes. We need to make changes for better. We are already the leading side in the world. We need to capitalise on that and make things better for India, Tendulkar said. SPOTLIGHT Cook s conservatism Maxwell slapped with team fine over Wade row continues to invite talk of radical succession Joe Root says he is in no mood for promotion yet but after six Test losses so far in 2016, the rumours will not go away of the younger man taking the reins sooner rather than later By Ali Martin The Guardian When Andrew Strauss swapped the commentary box for the role of England s director of cricket in May 2015, among his first moves along with shoring up the position of a thenwobbling Alastair Cook was to relieve Ian Bell of the Test vice-captaincy and hand it to Joe Root, thus a putting a long-term succession plan in place. Fast forward 18 months, with England 2-0 down to India, looking worryingly ill-equipped to square the series and a year away from their defence of the Ashes in Australia, the question of when this button will be pushed is starting to cross minds, not least since Cook, who will turn 32 on Christmas Day, began openly talking of a desire to return to the playing ranks before his eventual retirement. Is the current team, one that beat Australia in 2015 and then won in South Africa but now sit two defeats away from equalling a record eight losses in a calendar year (matching 1984, 1986 and 1993), still progressing under Cook? It is something Cook and Strauss continue to discuss on a series-by-series basis. With a home Test summer against a resurgent South Africa and a perhaps less-threatening West Indies side, any change to the arrangement would logically need to occur after either the current tour or the Ashes, given Root would need a run-up to tackling such a winter. Australia is a tour that Cook himself may well eye as a swansong in the role given the 5-0 defeat suffered last time. He would likely have a side better equipped, you would think, to compete there than on the subcontinent, too. His captaincy, after an England-record 57 Tests, continues to attract criticism for conservatism, but with holes in the batting and only one spinner, Adil Rashid, fulfilling their role, not all of it should fall at his door. Root, speaking before he and the majority of the squad flew to Dubai for a mid-tour rest before the fourth Test in Mumbai on December 8, has unsurprisingly stated his preference for Cook to carry on for some time. I think he is pretty set on captaining for a few years and I hope he does because I think he is a brilliant leader and I ve really enjoyed playing under him, said the 25-year-old, who has only known life under Cook since making his debut in I m quite happy with the role I m playing at the moment and you want to do what is right for England and the side. And genuinely, honestly, I think he is the right man. Hopefully, we get these results we want in the last two games and we can put right what has been quite a frustrating last couple of weeks, Root added. Cook stated after the defeat in Mohali that the team s mini-break is certainly needed amid their epic seven-test pre-christmas schedule and while a six-month hiatus will follow in the new year, this is understandable on a personal level with the five days in Dubai seeing him reunited with his family and the daughter with whom he has spent only the 18 hours after her birth before flying out to join the team in Bangladesh. Root has been unaware of this having had any effect on his leadership, however, with blame for the current dormie scoreline in his eyes resting squarely on the jumbled batting lineup that, after racking up 537 first-up in the draw in Rajkot, failed to pass 300 in their first innings during the defeats in Visakhapatnam and Mohali. I think he is coping all right, said Root. He s very professional and you don t really get much from him in that respect. I imagine it must be quite tough being away from a new child and family and everything. You could put a lot of blame on Cooky but actually it is the responsibility of the batters to make those big scores. You can blame whoever you want, but we have to take responsibility for our own games. Root was certainly one of the guilty men during both, having run out his partner Haseeb Hameed and been caught in the deep during the second-day collapse in Vizag, and the swipe across the line against Jayant Yadav the first ball after drinks on the opening morning saw him trapped lbw for 15 and England falter again in Mohali. Greater disgust with himself would come in the second innings, however, when on 78 he was caught at slip off the left-armer Ravi Jadeja to end a stand of 45 with the injured Hameed at No. 8 that he felt may have given England a puncher s chance of bowling out India had it continued. Hameed, who has returned home this week for surgery on his broken little finger and will be replaced by Durham s uncapped left-hander Keaton Jennings (who celebrated his England call-up with an unbeaten century as Lions captain in their eight-wicket win over United Arab Emirates in Dubai), has made an impression on Root, who in his role as a senior player has spoken to the 19-year-old on how best to approach his cricket for Lancashire before the South Africa series in July. The only advice I gave was make sure you don t go back to county cricket at the start of the summer and rest on your laurels and think: I m a Test cricketer now, Root said. It s an England captain Alastair Cook (left) with his deputy Joe Root opportunity to prove to everyone in county cricket that you are there for a reason. You have opportunities to make some really big scores, keep learning and improving, put the good work he has done here into his game and continue to develop the way he has done. He will have different expectations in the future and that might be a different challenge but he has got a very good head on his shoulders and he should be proud of what he has done so far. Now it is about managing those expectations and being realistic it s going to take time to keep developing and it might not always go how he wants. But I m sure that if he does have some hard times, he ll get through it. Sound advice from the second best batsman in the world Test rankings. India s Virat Kolhi jumped into a career high third after Mohali, having begun the series in 15th, and with Australia s Steve Smith top and New Zealand s Kane Williamson fourth it means Root is the only one among this recognised elite who is not captain of his national side. When this changes remains to be seen. Reuters Sydney Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has been hit with a team fine for criticising Matt Wade over his decisions as captain of the Victoria state side, skipper Steve Smith said yesterday. Maxwell was recalled to the squad for the one-day international against New Zealand, to be played today, and took the opportunity to express how painful it had been for him to bat behind wicketkeeper Wade for Victoria. Australia coach Darren Lehmann said he would speak to power-hitting Maxwell to try to resolve the issue and Smith said the players had decided to take action. Everyone was disappointed in his comments, I ve expressed that with him myself and spoke to the team, Smith told reporters. One of our values is respect and having respect for your teammates, opposition, fans and media. I thought what he said was very disrespectful to a teammate and his Victorian captain. The leadership group got together and we decided to fine Glenn. We thought that was a sufficient punishment. Maxwell will still be considered for today s series opener at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He s available for selection and obviously the selectors will weigh up what they think is the best team for the game, Smith added. With Maxwell having apparently burnt his bridges in Victoria, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that New South Wales would be prepared to offer him a home from next year. Although undoubtedly a hugely talented batsman, Maxwell has struggled for runs and failed to nail down a spot in the Australia team over the last year, missing the series against Sri Lanka and South Africa. Australia are ranked number one in the world in the 50-over format but, after being swept 5-0 in South Africa, have plenty to prove in the series against New Zealand, which also includes matches in Canberra and Melbourne. The Black Caps also hold the Chappell- Hadlee Trophy after beating the world champions 2-1 in a series in New Zealand in February. We ve generally played some pretty good cricket here in Australia, Smith said. They are a quality team so we re going to have to be at our best to beat them in this series. Smith added that Maxwell was shattered when he heard his punishment. I don t think he (Maxwell) thought the words came out the way they actually did, Smith said. We ve moved on from that now. Maxwell said he lamented batting below Wade in Victoria s batting order, saying it hindered his selection chances. I think probably batting below the wicketkeeper is also a bit painful as well, Maxwell said on Thursday. The wicketkeeper should be batting at seven unless you re trying to squeeze an extra bowler into your line-up. New Zealand have hinted they may unleash firebrand speedster Lockie Ferguson against Australia. Skipper Kane Williamson was giving little away about the make-up of his final XI, but the SCG pitch is expected to favour the quicks early. He sent a couple of messages at training, Williamson said of Ferguson. He bowled really nicely so we ll have to wait and see. He bowls quick and run in and bumped me a few times which was great. It s what you want to face and it s fantastic preparation. The Australians will do the same.
12 GULF TIMES QATAR CHAMPIONS The Qatar rugby team pose after winning the International Open title in the Emirates Airline Dubai 7s tournament in Dubai yesterday. They defeated Titan Academy in their final match. At right, a piece of the action from the encounter. FOOTBALL/QSL Weiss double gives Gharafa 3-2 BASKETBALL Rayyan make winning start to league campaign win over Rayyan The tie opened up in the final minutes with both sides looking for all three points By Sports Reporter Doha Al Gharafa handed reigning champions Al Rayyan their first defeat of the season, winning 3-2 yesterday evening in a pulsating QSL game to move to fourth in the standings. Pedro Caixina s side secured the win with two minutes to spare thanks to a fine strike from Slovakian winger Vladimir Weiss, who grabbed a brace on the night. Gharafa laid down the signal of intent in the fifth minute but Abdulaziz Hatem s sharp shot, after being slipped through by Weiss, brought out a good save from Rayyan goalie Omar Barry. The back and forth contest quickly saw Rayyan carve out their first chance of note. Spanish striker Sergio Garcia played a smart one-two with Sebastian Soria. However the scuffed shot was dealt with by the Al Gharafa defence. The champions capitalised on their possession on the 18th minute, opening the scoring through Garcia. A long ball from Daniel Goumou found Garcia who beat defender George Kwasi before unleashing a curling shot past Yusef Hasan for his third goal of the season. Al Gharafa didn t waste any time in getting back into the game and where awarded a penalty just a minute later. Rayyan defender Gonzalo Viera clumsily tripped Krisztián Németh in the box and the referee duly pointed to the penalty spot. Weiss stepped and promptly smashed the ball into the net to level the score. With Al Rayyan pushing for a winner, Al Gharafa struck on the break to take a 2-1 lead. Substitute Al Gharafa players celebrate their win over Al Rayyan in the Qatar Stars League yesterday. Moayad Hasaan played the Rayyan offside trap to perfection and was left one-on-one with Omar Barry. The young winger kept his composure to lob the ball over the keeper, with the ball trickling into the back of the net. Undeterred Al Rayyan hit back immediately through Garcia just a minute later. The Spanish attacker calmly beat Gharafa defender Rashid Sumaila before curling the ball into the bottom left hand corner for his and his side s second goal of the game. The tie opened up in the final minutes with both sides looking for all three points. With five minutes to go, a cross found Németh free at the back post. The Hungarian international was unable to sort his feet before being saved by Barry. With two minutes left, Al Gharafa struck a deserved winner through Weiss. Gharafa broke forward on the right hand side and defender Othman al-yahri picked out the Slovakian international who swept the ball into the net much to the delight of his teammates. With moments left in the game, Al Rayyan pushed desperately for an equaliser and Ahmed Aladdin could have found one if his header had not passed just wide. Action from the Al Rayyan-Al Ahli match in the Qatar Basketball League yesterday. By Sports Reporter Doha Defending champions Al Rayyan made a rollicking start to their campaign in the Qatar Basketball League, thrashing Al Ahli in the opening match of the tournament here yesterday. Addison Spruill top-scored with 22 and Hassan Mohamed chipped in with 21 as Qatar s leading club side raced to a fluent victory at the Al Gharafa Club. Al Ahli put up a competent display in the first quarter when they trailed by just six points (26-20), but Al Rayyan pulled clear thereafter and never gave their rivals any chance to get close. For Al Ahli, Branko Ereminov and Elhadj Seydou were the main scorers with 18 each. In the second match of the day, Qatar Sports Club edged Al Sadd 74-72, with James Justice top-scoring with 25 and Quentin Dogett contributing 25. Sadd had done well to overcome a four-point first quarter deficit (27-23) to lead with the final quarter remaining. But Qatar Sports Club scored a whopping 22 points while restricting their rivals to just 12 to clinch a thrilling win. Mustafa Essam had 19 points for Al Sadd, while Raymond Sykes scored 18. Today, Al Arabi play El Jaish at 5.15pm followed by a match between Gharafa and Al Khor at 7.15pm. INTERVIEW Xavi eager to catch up with former Barca mates Al Sadd captain Xavi just can t wait to catch up with his former Barcelona teammates when the top Spanish side visit Qatar for a friendly against Saudi Arabia s Al Ahli on December 13. Xavi, who scored Al Sadd s winning goal against Al Khor in the Qatar Stars League on Friday, could hardly contain his excitement when he talked to www. sc.qa in an exclusive interview. To all of my former team-mates in Barcelona, it is a great pleasure to be able to welcome you here in Qatar. I am here as an ambassador of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and it s a great opportunity for the people of Qatar to see Barcelona. I hope we see a great game against Al Ahli, especially those who come to the stadium and those who watch on television, the former Barcelona and Spain legend said. It s a magic opportunity to see Barcelona live in the Middle East. I am in touch with the players a lot, but it s a Al Sadd captain Xavi in action against Al Khor in the QSL on Friday. It s a magic opportunity to see Barcelona live in the Middle East. I am in touch with the players a lot, but it s a great opportunity to see them in person again great opportunity to see them in person again, to go to the hotel and be with them at the stadium too. It will be a great opportunity to see how Qatar celebrates football ahead of It will be a full stadium, a spectacular game of football, because here they really love Barca. Xavi continues to closely follow global football and also praised his former coach Pep Guardiola for the way he has imposed his style in England. Guardiola is doing a great job in England, we ve seen some fantastic games by Manchester City, I think they played very well against Barcelona in Camp Nou until the sending off of Bravo, and in Manchester as well. I have seen some of the games they have played in the league, and you can that Guardiola is imposing his style on Manchester City. The problem of the Premier League is that everything is very close, there are 5 or 6 teams with chances to win the title. Chelsea is strong, Liverpool is strong, Spurs lost the other day but they are there, Manchester didn t start very well, but I m sure they ll get better and be up there. They are teams that could win the league. There is more competition in England than in other leagues, but I see Guardiola doing very well and he ll do a great job there. Xavi also expressed admiration for the work being done by Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. Conte is a coach who works very well. We ve seen it with Spain when we lost to Italy, and the great work he s done with Juventus. He can adapt his team having the ball but also without it, he is very well prepared. Xavi will play in Qatar s version of El Clasico, as he calls it, next week when his Al Sadd team take on last year s Qatar Stars League champions Al Rayyan. And he believes that as Qatar prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country is creating a new generation of talented players. There is a good team in Qatar, with talented players. There are players in the Under 23 and Under 19 teams who can be very important in There are coaches in Aspire and the QFA such as Felix Sanchez who are very important, and I am working in coaching with the Under 23 team and enjoying it. There are great players and six years to go until Those in the current National Team and the youth teams will be a great combination to compete in the home World Cup. The organization for the World Cup is going well, and in terms of football development we have time to work with these players, so there is the basis is there to have a great tournament. (www.sc.qa)
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