Osaka Reverses Course, Will Play WTA Semi-Final

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 26: Naomi Osaka of Japan returns a shot against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 26, 2020 in New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP.

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka reversed her decision to withdraw from the WTA Western & Southern Open semi-finals on Thursday, saying she will now play the match that has been rearranged for Friday.

The two-time Grand Slam champion said in a statement on Wednesday that she had pulled out of her last-four clash with Belgium’s Elise Mertens in protest at the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

However, after WTA and ATP chiefs announced a suspension of play at the tournament following anger over Blake’s shooting, Osaka said she has now changed her mind.

“As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence,” Osaka said in a statement first reported by Britain’s The Guardian and The New York Times.

“I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent.

“However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday.

“They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement.

“I want to thank the WTA and the tournament for their support.”

In her statement on Wednesday, Osaka had said she was not ready to play tennis following the Blake shooting.

“Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” Osaka said.

“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”

Her move came after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their NBA playoff game over the shooting, forcing the league to halt Wednesday’s schedule of postseason fixtures.

AFP

France Beat Uruguay To Reach World Cup Semi-Finals

(From Left) France’s forward Olivier Giroud, France’s midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, France’s defender Presnel Kimpembe and France’s midfielder Corentin Tolisso celebrate their victory at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Uruguay and France at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on July 6, 2018. PHOTO: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

France became the first team to reach the World Cup semi-finals as goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann gave them a deserved 2-0 victory over Uruguay on Friday.

It is the first time France have been in the last four since 2006 and sets up a mouth-watering clash against either Belgium or Brazil, who play later on Friday, in St Petersburg on Tuesday.

France took the lead in the 40th minute from the unlikely source of defender Varane, who glanced home a fine header from an Antoine Griezmann free-kick.

It was only the Real Madrid player’s third goal for France and represented redemption for Varane, who was largely blamed for the goal which saw France lose at the quarter-final stage to Germany four years ago.

Griezmann, who counts several of the Uruguay players as close friends, scored a second in the 61st minute, but it was mostly due to a howler from La Celeste’s goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera.

The usually dependable stopper flapped at Griezmann’s 20-yard shot and agonisingly saw the ball float over the line.

It was Griezmann’s third goal of this World Cup, but his first not from a penalty.

That goal secured the victory but did not end the drama in Nizhny Novgorod, as Uruguay’s frustration boiled over in the 67th minute when Kylian Mbappe fell to the floor.

Uruguay skipper Diego Godin gestured with the teenager to get up, then tried to pull him from the turf, sparking a melee which involved most of the players and saw French coach Didier Deschamps come onto the pitch to try to calm tempers.

France’s victory was merited as it was they who had the bulk of possession and always looked the most likely to score.

They might have scored as early as the 15th minute when Mbappe mistimed a close header.

The lightning-quick Mbappe and Griezmann struck fear into the Uruguayan defence all afternoon.

In midfield, France’s N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba snuffed out any potential threat posed by Uruguay.

And up front for La Celeste, Luis Suarez cut an isolated and agitated figure as his team desperately went in search of an equaliser as Edinson Cavani was ruled out with injury.

Increasingly, Suarez vented his frustration with Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana, who, coincidentally, was the official in charge of France’s quarter-final 2014 defeat.

The Barcelona star was partnered by Cristhian Stuani after a week of will-he-won’t-he speculation surrounding Cavani ended up with the Paris Saint-Germain striker failing to recover from a calf strain.

Without Cavani, Uruguay posed little threat.

A tight and nervy encounter to begin with, the game burst into life after Varane’s goal.

Until that point, Uruguay had struggled to get into the French penalty area, but within four minutes of the goal would have been level except for an exceptional save by Hugo Lloris.

The French skipper saved superbly with one-hand from defender Martin Caceres, whose header from a free kick look destined to go in.

Diego Godin could have scored from the follow-up, but that was the closest the South Americans would come to scoring all afternoon.

AFP

AFCON 2017: Ghana Defeat DR Congo, Advance To Semi-Final 

footballBrothers, Andre and Jordan Ayew, have led the black stars to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Sunday in Gabon.

The brothers grabbed a goal each to beat Dr Congo 2-1 in the Gabonese city, Oyem.

The Ayews, are the sons of Ghana football legend, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, ranked among the greatest African footballers of all time.

Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew, opened the scoring on 62 minutes, curling the ball past Ley Matampi in the Leopards goal.

Paul-Jose M’poku, equalized for DR Congo with a sensational curling long-range effort from outside the box, while West Ham’s Andre Ayew, then coolly dispatched a winning penalty, to seal the win.

However, Ghana runner-up in the last competition, is seeking a first Cup of Nations title since 1982.

Nigeria Through To Semi-finals Of All Africa Games

Under-23Nigeria’s U-23 team has booked a place in the Semi-finals of the male football event of All Africa Games, after defeating Ghana with a 2-0 margin.

Two second half goals from Junior Ajayi and Kingsley Sokari gave the Nigerian side the victory.

The Wednesday game showed the football rivalry that has existed between Nigeria and Ghana.

Before the game began, Coach Samson Siasia had warned the Dream Team VI that they would need to take their chances if they would come out victorious against the defending champions.

The first goal of the tie came on the 55th minute when Junior Ajayi carefully tapped in a cross from the right flank, giving Nigeria the lead.

Ghana pressed hard for an equaliser, but they were caught flat footed when a defence splitting pass was given to Kingsley Sokari and the Enyimba star with what the commentator described as a fantastic shot buried the ball into the net to double the lead.

UEFA League: Bayern Demolish Barca 4-0

[highlight]Barcelona has fallen to the Machination of Bayern Munich as the Spanish side was pounded 4-0 in the first semifinal clash of the UEFA Champions League competition this evening.[/highlight]

Thomas Mueller scored twice, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben had one goal each and Bayern Munich routed Barcelona 4-0 Tuesday night in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Barcelona had few chances, while Bayern used its size to out-muscle the Spanish team.

In a game perhaps signaling a shift in power, Bayern Munich sent Barcelona to its first four-goal defeat since a 4-0 loss to Getafe in the Copa Del Rey semifinals on May 10, 2007.

Mueller scored in the 25th minute and Gomez doubled the lead in the 49th against a defense missing injured center backs Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.

Arjen Robben made it 3-0 in the 73rd, and Mueller got his second goal in the 82nd.

The second leg of the tonight’s clash will be played at Camo Nouu on May 1st.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund will be hosting Real Madrid tomorrow for the second semifinal clash of the Champions League.

Four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, slowed by a hamstring injury, made his first start since April 2 but wasn’t a factor.

Smoking Ba Sails Chelsea To FA Cup Semis

An unbelievable and well thought volley by Senegalese and Chelsea player; Demba Ba ensured that the European champions book a place in the FA Cup semi-final clash at the expense of rated almighty unbeatable Red Devils- Manchester United today as the game ended 1-0.

In a replay of the quarter final game between the heavyweights and one which bets favoured the Red devils, Ba’s strike made the difference in what would have gone either way going by the potential on both sides.

In what looked like a drab match in the first half, was kick-started which so much determination from both sides.

A save by Chelsea No.1 goalkeeper Petr Cech which will stand as one of the classic save of this season got everyone thinking a comeback from Ba’s effort would actually be cancelled. It was a superb effort by Javier Hernandez midway through the second half but Cech denied him that glorious moment.

The FA Cup holders will now lock horns with Manchester City for the semi-final, even though they finished today’s game with just 1-0 margin despite their dominance which a lot expected would produce more goals for the bridge boys.

Chelsea will be visiting Wembley on April 14 to keep alive their hopes of defending the crown they earned against Liverpool in last season’s final, this time to face City.

In the build-up to the goal that sank United today, Juan Mata who was the architect of Chelsea’s comeback to draw 2-2 in the first game at Old Trafford was again the brain behind Ba’s goal, with his notable contribution with a deliciously chipped pass to Ba.

Ba’s technique in goal sense matched his confidence as he stunned United’s De Gea with his volley as such came unexpected to him and after United cleaned off the shock of the goal, they roared with so much vigour that it almost produced a goal to cancel Chelsea’s goal after Hernandez’s diving header.

Robin van Persie and Ryan Giggs were then sent on in place of Cleverley and Nani to try and save United’s FA Cup campaign.

Chelsea on their were not asleep as they responded to every move made by United and this was evident after Hazard gave United a let-off after 67 minutes when he burst into the penalty area following a mistake from Carrick only to shoot a yard wide of the goal and after Harzard’s effort it was as if United went to sleep because it prompted a flurry of opportunities for Chelsea but due to poor finishing none of the notable efforts could be converted to goal.

Super Eagles Not Underrating Mali — Keshi

Coach Stephen Keshi has hailed the Malian team and their driving force ahead of Wednesday’s clash in the semi-finals of the Afcon 2013 between the Super Eagles and the Malian team, saying the civil war going on in their country is responsible for the fighting spirit the team has shown.

In a game that will decide who plays the final of the African Cup of Nations in Durban tomorrow, the two West African team will be going into the game with so much determination, as the Super Eagles has been touted the favourites by pundits after a stunning finish against earlier favourites Ivory Coast who were shown the way out of the competition by a now advanced Super Eagles team with a 2-1 victory in the quaterfinals on Sunday, but the Super eagles Coach is playing the favourites tag thing down, claiming he does not know about his team being the favourites for the Afcon 2013 but he is presently concerned with the team delivering the desired results .

“I don’t know anything about being the favourites to win the game or to win the championship. All we know is that we’re playing a very good side of Mali.

He said further he is wary of the Malian team for he has been with most of the players that made the Malian squad as the Afcon 2013 and he sure knows what damage these player are capable of doing to an opponent.

“I know at least 85 per cent of them played for me for two years. I know it’s not going to be easy; we’re here to play it game-by-game until the end of the tournament.

He however stated that from the kick-off whistle the Super Eagles are going headlong so as to get the desired results as no team can be underrated so playing Mali has to be with all seriousness

“So that’s how we’re going to approach it, the same way as we approached the previous games, the seriousness we’re going to put in. we respect every team that is here. “There is no team we will take for granted or for a joke. Our concentration will once again have to be at its peak.”

The coach condemned the crisis going on in Mali saying the Malians are lovely people and the country a great one and it is the crisis rocking the country that’s spurring the players on.

“It’s a shame what’s going on in Mali, a great country with wonderful people,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s a place I love. There’s no doubt this group of players is thinking about that and that’s where they’re getting their power, motivation force and spirit from.”

Keshi, a former coach of the Malian team and also that of Togo before he attained the position of the head coach of the super eagles where he was a former player 19 years ago and he also lifted the Afcon trophy as a captain in Tunisia 1994.

Messi leads Argentina to thrash Uruguay 3-0

Lionel Messi guided Argentina past a tough Uruguay side in the final half hour with two brilliant goals for a 3-0 win on Friday that keeps them top of South America’s World Cup qualifiers.

Argentina leads the nine-nation South American group with 17 points from eight matches at the halfway stage. Colombia and Ecuador are one point behind, Uruguay and Chile five behind.

Messi created and finished his first goal in the 66th minute, playing the ball to Angel Di Maria and racing through to tap the rebound past Fernando Muslera.

Argentina went two up nine minutes later with another move on the left, Messi again feeding Di Maria who returned the ball with his first touch where Sergio Aguero touched it into the net.

The third goal in the 80th minute came from a cheeky free kick by Messi, who deceived the Uruguay wall by sliding the ball underneath them and inside the base of the near post when they jumped expecting a shot to one of the upper corners.

It was sweet revenge for Messi, who has now scored 12 goals in his last seven internationals, and Argentina after they were eliminated by Uruguay on penalties in the 2011 Copa America and which the 2010 World Cup semi-finalists went on to win

Argentina’s Coach Alejandro Sabella couldn’t hide his excitement as he admitted it was a “Great match by the players against an experienced team like Uruguay who for a good reason finished fourth at the recent World Cup.”

Argentina enjoyed far more possession and territory than Uruguay in the first half but could not find a way through a well organised defence and when they did, they were caught offside.

Uruguay was a latent threat on the counter-attack with forwards of the calibre of Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan.

Messi created a good chance for himself with a dribbling run past several defenders towards the end of the first half in Mendoza but his final, left-footed shot went over the top and hit the far stanchion.

He was also close with a free kick from the left which would have gone in if Muslera had not punched the ball over.

There was fighting among players from both sides early in the second half when Uruguay captain Diego Lugano chased a loose ball with Sergio Romero and stamped on the Argentina goalkeeper’s hand as he went for it, earning a booking.

Messi’s first goal came during a spell of total Argentine dominance but soon after there was a scare for Argentina with defender Pablo Zabaleta clearing off the line.

It was an expensive outing for the Uruguayans with Lugano, who came off injured, and fellow central defender Diego Godin suspended for Tuesday’s visit to Bolivia after both were booked.

Brave Falconets fall 0-2 to USA

Nigeria’s U-20 team the Falconets this morning fell against the USA team in the semi-final stage of the FIFA Women World cup as they were defeated 2-0 by the Americans.

Goals from Morgan Brian and Kealia Ohai in either half of the encounter sealed victory for the Americans.

The Falconets started well with Francisca Ordega latching onto a through ball, beating USA goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin in a race to the ball in the seventh minute of the opening, but her effort went wide of the post.

Brian scored the all-important opening goal midway through the first half from a perfect header over goalkeeper Ibubeleye Whyte.

The Americans took charge of the game after the opener, creating several chances in the closing stages of the half.

Nigeria came back stronger after the break but Desire Oparanozie’s effort was ruled out for offside.

Almost immediately a skilful run from Ngozi Okobi set up Oparanozie for an equaliser only for her to blaze it over.

Ohai slotted in the second for the Americans which literarily ended the game as a contest midway into the second half.

Falconets will now meet Japan on Saturday to contest for the third place as Japan also fell to Germany.

W. Cup Qualifying Games: Sudan and Ghana joint leaders of Group D

The Black Stars of Ghana are now ahead with superior goal difference as Sudan defeated African champions; Zambia 2-0 to become group leaders with Ghana in group D of the 2014 World Cup  qualifying games after the opening day matches were played.

Sudan now at par with the former Gold Coast, Ghana still achieved a feat as they got the biggest victories on home soil.

The best of the two teams will however be known soonest as both teams are having away matches next.

Zambia will be fighting back to retain its recent glory as it was the Copper Bullets that knocked out Ghana in the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup which the Zambia eventually won and they will be meeting Ghana on the 9th of June in continuation of the 2014 World Cup qualifying games.

Chelsea Coach Di Matteo not happy with FA over fixture

Less than 72 hours before a possible clash with Barcelona for the Champions League semi-final,Chelsea Interim boss Di Matteo and the management has been bitter about the fact that the FA slated Sunday 6pm for their FA cup semi-final clash with Tottenham Hotspurs despite knowing of the international clash coming in matter of days.

Di Matteo accuse the FA of not bothering to aid the Stamford Bridge club in terms of seeing to it as the only English club remaining in the competition they get to have time to prepare ahead of the Champions League.

With a possible win over Benfica in the return leg on Wednesday, Chelsea will be facing either AC Milan or Barcelona in the semi-final

Di Matteo said all discussion with the FA to see some sense in re-scheduling the FA tie has not yielded fruit as they are not considering it.

He said “They have their reasons and we have to respect them. We were not much involved in the decision making. Look at the other federations in Europe. They give their teams the best possible preparation, playing even before Saturdays rather than the day after whether European games are on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. It makes a big difference.

Chelsea, who had originally lobbied for the game to be played on the Friday, was yesterday still locked in talks, but the FA was adamant.

Meanwhile Di Matteo, whose team face Aston Villa today, has admitted five wins in seven games since taking interim charge after the exit of Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed his desire to return to management full-time.