Salah in line to retain African Player of the Year award

Salah in line to retain African Player of the Year award
Title-holder Mohamed Salah of Egypt was among 10 African stars named Friday in a Premier League-dominated short-list for the 2018 CAF Player of the Year award. The 26-year-old scored 44 goals for Liverpool in all competitions last season, his first at Anfield afer moving from Roma, and is set to be voted number one in Africa again. After a slow start to his second season in England, Salah is joint leading Premier League scorer on 10 goals with Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal. Salah and 2015 African Player of the Year Aubameyang are among five nominees from England’s top flight, with Manchester City winger Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, who won the award in 2016 after helping Leicester City to a historic Premier League title, joining them. Salah’s Senegalese Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane, and Nigerian Alex Iwobi of Arsenal are the other candidates from the most-watched football league in the world. There are two goalkeepers vying to become the first to win the award since Badou Zaki of Morocco 32 years ago — Cameroonian Andre Onana of Ajax Amsterdam and Ugandan Denis Onyango from South African club Mamelodi Sundowns. Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia, Egyptian midfielder Walid Soliman and Tunisian striker Anis Badri complete the list. French coach Herve Renard, who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia and the Ivory Coast and is now in charge of Morocco, is among three Coach of the Year contenders. His rivals are Aliou Cisse of Senegal and Moine Chaabani, who guided Tunisian side Esperance to the CAF Champions League title after being put in charge just one match before the final. The award winners will be announced on January 8 at a ceremony in Dakar. African awards short lists Player of the Year Alex Iwobi (Nigeria, Arsenal/ENG), Andre Onana (Cameroon, Ajax/NED), Anis Badri (Tunisia, Esperance), Denis Onyango (Uganda, Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco, Juventus/ITA), Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool/ENG), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon,Arsenal/ENG), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria, Manchester City/ENG), Sadio Mane (Senegal, Liverpool/ENG), Walid Soliman (Egypt, Al Ahly) Women’s Player of the Year Abdulai Mukarama (Ghana), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Bassira Toure (Mali), Chrestinah Kgatlana (South Africa), Elizabeth Addo (Ghana), Francisca Ordega (Nigeria), Gabrielle Onguene (Cameroon), Janine van Wyk (South Africa), Onome Ebi (Nigeria), Raissa Feudjio (Cameroon), Tabitha Chawinga (Malawi) Youth Player of the Year Achraf Hakimi (Morocco), Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria) Coach of the Year Aliou Cisse (Senegal), Herve Renard (Morocco), Moine Chaabani (Esperance/TUN) Women’s Coach of the Year Desiree Ellis (South Africa), Joseph Ndoko (Cameroon), Thomas Dennerby (Nigeria) National Team of the Year Madagascar, Mauritania, Uganda Women’s National Team of the Year Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa

Liverpool’s Klopp hails Man Utd quality ahead of Premier League clash

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Manchester United have “unbelievable quality” despite their struggles this season, playing down his own team’s growing injury problems ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash. Liverpool are top of the Premier League heading into the weekend fixtures, 16 points ahead of Jose Mourinho’s side, but the Klopp is taking nothing for granted. “I was never interested in the points of Manchester United and I am not today,” he said on Friday. “I am aware of the criticism and stuff but when we analyze them and switch off the sound there is a lot of quality. “There is speed, technique, physical strength, pretty much everything. They still have (David) de Gea in goal, unbelievable. They have strikers they can switch between (Marcus) Rashford, (Romelu) Lukaku, (Jesse) Lingard, (Anthony) Martial, unbelievable quality.” Mourinho has been wrestling with the problem of how to get the best out of midfielder Paul Pogba, who has not been in the starting line-up for the past two Premier League matches. Klopp was asked whether he thought United were better with or without the World Cup winner but said he would not comment beyond calling him a “world-class player”. He said he is unlikely to make a move during the January transfer window after insisting his mounting injury problems in defence are not a crisis. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold (foot) and Joel Matip (broken collarbone) this week joined Joe Gomez (broken leg) on the injury list. Midfielder James Milner played at right-back recently and Nathaniel Clyne has returned to fitness but has barely featured since the beginning of last season. Klopp admits he may have to get creative but that is unlikely to involve spending in January. “A crisis is if you feel it is a crisis,” he said. “With Trent, it’s not as serious as with the other two boys, but of course it’s not top-class news, that’s clear.” A back problem restricted Clyne to just five appearances in the final few weeks of last season and his injury issues have continued into the current campaign but his return to full training is timely. “Clyne is a very experienced player,” said Klopp. “Is it perfect? No. But is he experienced enough to do it? Yes, 100 percent. “We have other options so we will not push Clyney after not the longest spell of training. “As long as we have options everything is fine. If we don’t have the obvious option any more then we need to be creative.”

Evin Lewis makes comeback in Windies T20I squad against Bangladesh


Left-handed opener Evin Lewis is optimistic to make a strong comeback in Windies side as he has been included in the 15-man squad for the three-match Twenty20 International series against Bangladesh starting from December 17.

With a strike-rate of 157.44, Lewis will add immense power to Windies batting line as they are looking to take revenge of their defeat in ODI series. Lewis last time featured in a T20 back in July this year against the same opponent. Right-arm fast bowlers Kesrick Williams and Sheldon Cottrell also made a return to the Maroon Army’s T20 squad against the hosts. It is pertinent to mention here that Kieron Pollard will not be available for the series as he suffering from a knee injury. Andre Russell also missed a chance to be the part of the final squad. The chairman of Windies selection committee, Courtney Browne welcomed Sheldon Cottrell and Kesrick Williams back in the final squad and is hopeful for the series. “The selection panel welcomes back Sheldon Cottrell and Kesrick Williams,” he said. Browne is also satisfied with the return of Evin Lewis who missed the series against India. “The selection panel hopes to see a bigger commitment from Lewis to Windies cricket.”   Squad: Carlos Brathwaite (c), Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Fabian Allen, Kesrick Williams, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell (VC), Denesh Ramdin, Shai Hope, Sherfane Rutherford, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas

Imad’s brilliance leads Islamabad to a win in National T20 Cup

Imad Wasim showcased all-round performance to guide Islamabad to register a 24 runs victory over Lahore Region Blues in their match of the National T20 Cup at Multan Stadium on Friday. Imad besides his special knock took two crucial wickets to help his team go strong with the bowling as well. Islamabad after winning the toss decided to bat first on a pitch which gave batsman ample time to score runs. Skipper Imad smashed five boundaries and two towering sixes to complete his 64 runs knock while Ali Sarfraz made 45 runs to take Islamabad’s total on high. Aizaz Cheema and Qaiser Ashraf took two wickets each conceding 24 and 30 runs respectively in four overs. Saad Nasim and Ehsan Adil bagged a wicket as Islamabad reached to 159 runs for the loss of seven wickets. In reply, Lahore bowled out after scoring just 135 runs. Rizwan Hussain (72) tried hard to take his team over the victory line but the wickets were tumbling at the other hand. He struck four boundaries and five sixes in his inning. Saad Nasim with the help of two boundaries managed to contribute 18 runs to his team’s total. Apart from Imad, Arsal Sheikh, and Junaid Khan shared one wicket apiece. In another match of the day, Rawalpindi easily beat Lahore Region Whites by six wickets. Lahore while batting first managed to score just 105 runs for the loss of eight. Captain Salman Butt with 25 runs was the highest scorer for Lahore. Wahab Riaz scored 23 runs with the help of a six and boundary. Zahid Mansoor and Khalid Usman took two wickets each for Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi in reply reached the target with five to spare. Hammad Azam remained not out on 30 runs. Umar Amin played a brief but worthy inning of 28 runs. Bilal Asif bagged two wickets while Hasan Khana and Amad Butt took a wicket each. On Saturday, Multan Region will play FATA Region while on the other hand Karachi Region Whites to face Peshawar Region.

Bangladesh cruise to series win over Windies

Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar slammed half-centuries as Bangladesh cruised to an eight-wicket win over the West Indies in the third and final one-day international to take the three-match series 2-1 on Friday. Tamim hit an unbeaten 81 in the northeastern city of Sylhet while Soumya added 80 off 81 balls to guide Bangladesh to 202-2 in 38.3 overs after Mehidy Hasan’s career best 4-29 helped the home side restrict the West Indies to 198-8 in 50 overs. Shai Hope fought a lone battle for the tourists, scoring his second successive hundred of the series but it was in vain as no other batsman provided support. Fresh from an unbeaten 146 off 144 balls in the previous match, Hope struck another unconquered knock of 108 off 131 to prop up the visitors, taking his tally in the series to 297 runs. Bangladesh made a steady response, with Tamim and Liton Das hitting 45 runs for the opening wicket before Liton offered a catch to Rovman Powell at mid-on off Keemo Paul. Soumya and Tamim denied the West Indies any momentum, putting 131 runs in their second wicket stand, which all but sealed the contest and the series. Soumya was the aggressor-in-chief, smashing five sixes and as many fours before Paul sent his leg-stump cartwheeling. Tamim, who happily anchored the innings, sealed the game with successive fours off Powell, his eighth and ninth boundary of the innings. Mushfiqur Rahim was unbeaten on 16 at the other end. Earlier, skipper Mashrafe Mortaza and spinner Shakib Al Hasan claimed two wickets each after man-of-the-match Mehidy rattled the West Indies’ top-order. “It was a good match, Hope played an excellent inning,” Mashrafe said after the match. “Our bowlers have been very good. Spinners have been tight and pacers also stuck to the plans,” he added. Earlier, Hope defied the spirited Bangladesh attack, hitting Shakib over the long off to bring up his fourth ODI century after the ninth wicket had fallen for 177 runs. The opener, who was named the player of the series, also hit 10 fours in his fine innings. “Still a bit dizzy to be honest, but I’ve hung in there. Obviously wanted my team to get over the line, but very unfortunate for the guys to not take it till the end and hopefully we will learn from our mistakes,” said Hope. Bangladesh won the first match by five wickets on Sunday before the West Indies leveled the series with four-wicket win in the second match two days later. The West Indies will wrap up their tour with three Twenty20 internationals, with the opening match scheduled at the same venue on Monday.

PCB Dynamites register win in Triangular One Day Women’s Cricket Championship

Natalia Pervaiz scored 67 runs which propelled PCB Dynamites to beat PCB Challengers by five wickets in their match of the Triangular One Day Women’s Cricket Championship at State Bank Ground, Karachi on Friday. Natalia struck four boundaries during her stay at the crease which made the chase easy for PCB Dynamites. PCB Challengers after winning the toss decided to bat first on the wicket which looked good for batting. Kainat Imtiaz with the help of five boundaries and a six made 52 runs. Nida Dar contributed 40 runs to her team’s total. Saba Nazir took three wickets for PCB Dynamites conceding 25 runs. Nashra Sandhu bagged as many wickets for 28 runs. PCB Dynamites in reply reached the target for the loss of five wickets with 12 balls to spare. Natalia made a healthy contribution while Javeria Khan also played a responsible inning of 44 runs. Aimen Anwar took two wickets for PCB Challengers.

Australia happy after day one in Perth despite India fightback

Australia were pleased with their overall position at the end of the first day of the second Test against India on Friday, despite several top order batsmen failing to capitalise on promising starts in Perth. A century opening partnership after captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat appeared to lay the foundation for a sizeable total on a challenging pitch at Test cricket’s newest venue, but openers Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch were among a number of top order players who couldn’t build the big individual score Australia craved. At stumps on a scorching day, the home side were 277 for six, with Tim Paine on 16 and Pat Cummins on 11, a crowd of 20,746 braving the heat to be part of history on the first day of Test cricket at the new Optus Stadium. Finch, who made 50 at the top of the order to ease some of the pressure on his spot in the team, said the Australians were satisfied with their work given the conditions. “I thought we batted really well today,” he said, adding that the wicket presented “some challenges”. India dropped two catches and ended the day with concerns of their own. Paceman Ishant Sharma briefly left the field late in the day with what team officials said was cramp, and their batsmen would have been slightly alarmed by some of the variable bounce. Recalled batsman Hanuma Vihari, who picked up two important wickets with his part-time spin including a sharply rising delivery which removed Harris, admitted it was impossible to ignore the variable bounce but that their batsmen would not be concerned by it. Vihari said the game was evenly poised heading into the second day. “The first hour tomorrow is crucial,” he said. Four Australian batsmen made over 40, but none went on to post a substantial inning. Second-gamer Harris led the way with 70, Finch made 50, Travis Head hit 58 before throwing his wicket away and local favourite Shaun Marsh made 45.

– 3 wickets lost for 22 –

Australia started very well, with Harris and the under-pressure opener Finch putting on 112 for the first wicket. Despite the pitch having a distinctly green tinge that appealed to a rare four-pronged Indian pace attack, the pair backed their captain’s call at the toss until Finch’s luck ran out and he was trapped in front by paceman Jasprit Bumrah (1-41). Finch’s dismissal brought struggling left-hander Usman Khawaja to the wicket and he made just five, sparring at a short ball from Umesh Yadav and getting a thick edge to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Harris was dropped at second slip from the bowling of Mohammed Shami on 60, he but added just 10 more before falling to Vihari (2-53). Vihari got a ball to rise sharply off the pitch and it followed Harris as he recoiled, fending it to Ajinkya Rahane at first slip. Harris had been there for 141 balls, but his dismissal meant Australia had lost three wickets for just 22 runs and surrendered their early advantage. Australia slumped to 148 for four when Peter Handscomb (7) again fell against a short ball outside off stump, Indian skipper Virat Kohli pulling down a scintillating one-handed catch in slips from the bowling of Sharma (2-35). Marsh, dropped by Pant on 24 from the bowling of Vahari, and Head steadied the shop with an 84-run stand. However, Marsh became Vihari’s second victim, caught at first slip by Ajinkya Rahane. Head was growing in confidence and was eyeing his first Test century until a rush of blood saw him lash out at a wide delivery from Ishant and slice it straight to Mohammed Shami on the third man boundary. India won the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs as they seek their first series victory on Australian soil.

‘Trophies matter’, says Mourinho ahead of Man Utd-Liverpool clash

'Trophies matter', says Mourinho ahead of Man Utd-Liverpool clash
Jose Mourinho says success is best measured in trophies as he prepares to take his injury-hit Manchester United squad to high-flying Liverpool on Sunday. Liverpool are top of the Premier League before the weekend round of matches but have yet to win a trophy under the management of Jurgen Klopp, who has been in charge since October 2015. The 18-times English champions have won just one prize in the past 12 years — the League Cup under Kenny Dalglish in 2012 — despite featuring in two European finals. Mourinho won the Europa League and FA Cup in his first season at Old Trafford but ended last season empty-handed and his team are lagging 16 points behind Klopp’s side in this season’s title race. “I think trophies matter, yeah,” said Mourinho. “I think it matters, especially when you have the potential to fight for trophies and when you clearly say the objective is to win the trophies. “I think sometimes just to say it is not very intelligent. But when you have the potential you have nothing to hide. “I don’t read much but I think they (Liverpool) have said that their objective is to win the Premier League,” he added. Even though Klopp has yet to win silverware at Anfield, Mourinho acknowledges that the Liverpool manager has built a team in his own image, full of attacking intent. By contrast, the United manager believes he is still a long way from having a team that reflects the way he wants to play. “A football team is not just about spending the money,” said Mourinho. “A football team is a little bit like a house. A house is not just about buying your furniture. You have to do work on the house and when it’s ready you buy the furniture. “You spend money on the best possible furniture and then you are ready to live in an amazing house.”

– Injury toll –

Mourinho faces taking a depleted squad to Anfield on Sunday, with several players battling to recover from the injuries that kept them out of Wednesday’s Champions League defeat in Valencia. Defender Victor Lindelof and forward Alexis Sanchez will definitely miss the game as they continue to recover from hamstring injuries. Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, Diogo Dalot, Scott McTominay and Marcos Rojo will be assessed to ascertain whether they can return against Liverpool. Goalkeeper David de Gea and midfielder Nemanja Matic, who were rested against Valencia, will return, but United’s manager remains unsure how many players he will have to choose from. “In Valencia, only De Gea and Matic were available to play and didn’t travel by decision,” he said. “Apart from that, the other players who didn’t travel were not fit to play in Valencia. All of them had injuries and they were not ready. “All of them didn’t train yesterday again and today there will be a little introduction to training — I don’t want to say test — to see the answer, to see if we can increase it a little bit tomorrow to have them available for Sunday. I hope that some will be available but for sure some will not be.”

Malinga back as Sri Lanka ODI, T20 skipper

Sri Lanka Friday brought back Lasith Malinga after a long hiatus as captain of its limited-overs squads to lead the national team against New Zealand. Sri Lanka Cricket said the 35-year-old right-arm fast bowler was named skipper of a 17-man squad for three one-day internationals and one T20 starting January 3. Malinga led Sri Lanka to the T20 World Cup in 2014. But since captaining Sri Lanka against the UAE in February 2016, he has not led the national team. He had lost his captaincy as well as his place in the team after recurring injuries which forced him to sit out many tournaments. However, he captained an ODI match against India in August last year. The latest squad for the shorter forms of the game was ratified by President Maithripala Sirisena in the absence of a sports minister, the cricket board said. Sri Lanka is effective without a government since a disputed cabinet appointed by Sirisena was defeated in a no-confidence motion last month. Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella (V.Captain), Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Mendis,Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara.

Tauqeer Dar resigns as hockey team head coach

Former Olympian Tauqeer Dar on Friday stepped down as the coach of the national hockey team after the dismal performance of the team in the Hockey World Cup. Dar while talking to the media said that the team played poor hockey which led them down in the mega event. Pakistan finished the world cup campaign without getting off the mark. “Pakistan were not perfect in a single department which the reason behind their downfall in the mega competition,” he said. Former Olympian said that shutting down hockey is much better than running it in such a way which is harming the past glories achieved by Pakistan in this sport. “If the federation doesn’t want to work for hockey then they better shut down it,” said Dar. Dar who took the team’s charge just before the all-important World Cup said that he had told the federation about his availability for just one event. “I told the federation that I will coach the team just in the world cup,” he said. Dar is not happy with the government’s attitude towards hockey as he said that they didn’t support the team before going to participate in the mega event. “Government didn’t support us before going for the world cup,” he said. It is pertinent to mention here that winless Pakistan team finished their world cup campaign losing to Belgium in a crossover contest. It is for the first time in the history that Pakistan came back without winning a single match in the world cup.