Pakistan upset at cricket players body for security warning

Updated 11 January 2017
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Pakistan upset at cricket players body for security warning

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board is angry that the international players’ body has advised foreign players against visiting Lahore in March for the Pakistan Super League final.
The Twenty20 league will be played mainly in the United Arab Emirates, but the PCB has scheduled the final for Lahore on March 5.
In case foreign players refuse to go to Lahore, the PCB said it plans to replace them with other willing foreigners.
But a report by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) warns all foreign players from going to Pakistan for security reasons.
“Indiscriminate and targeted attacks are likely to continue, and expert advice is consistent with all government agencies and diplomatic missions, who generally advise to reconsider the need to travel,” FICA said. “There have been attacks at sporting events, which have had significant security overlay in the past, and terrorist groups in Pakistan have demonstrated the intent and capability to launch attacks anywhere in the country. Locations including luxury hotels are also at high risk of being targeted by militant groups.”
The security risks for foreign players in Pakistan “remain heightened,” FICA executive chairman Tony Irish wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. He added they were obliged to pass on security assessments.
Without naming any foreign players, the PCB said the league has received confirmation from top international players who will play in Lahore if their teams qualify.
But the PCB remained extremely disappointed by FICA, and described the report as a “careless and cavalier approach.”
“FICA has done great disservice to the cause of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular by advising players not to play in the PSL final,” the PCB said in a statement. “FICA has cited unnamed expert security consultants for updated security advice that claims Pakistan is at an extremely elevated state of insecurity.
“FICA sits thousands of miles away from Pakistan and cannot name even one credible security expert, yet makes a sweeping negative statement about the security situation in Lahore.
“FICA’s claim that ‘westerners and luxury hotels have been attacked’ is contrary to the facts on the ground that prove that not a single foreigner or hotel has been attacked in Lahore in the last five years.”
The PCB said the government has guaranteed protection by more than 3,000 Army and police personnel in Lahore for the final, and the board will provide armored buses for travel by the teams along with VVIP security.
Pakistan has been trying to regain the confidence of major foreign teams to restart touring Pakistan since the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 in Lahore.
Among Test-playing nations, only Zimbabwe has toured Pakistan, for three ODIs in 2015. Affiliate members Afghanistan, Kenya, and Hong Kong plus a Malaysian team have also visited.


Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

Updated 19 June 2018
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Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.