Oscar and Tevez kick off Shanghai’s Asian challenge

Updated 06 February 2017
0

Oscar and Tevez kick off Shanghai’s Asian challenge

HONG KONG: New Chinese Super League recruits Carlos Tevez and Oscar get the chance to repay at least part of their massive salaries when they make their debuts in the 2017 Asian Champions League playoffs.
Shanghai SIPG and Shanghai Shenhua must win their home games on Tuesday and Wednesday, against Sukhothai of Thailand and Australia’s Brisbane Roar respectively, to move into the group stage of Asia’s premier club competition, which kicks off on Feb. 22.
With the 2017 Chinese Super League season not due to start til next month, this will be the first time the country’s clubs have been in action at home since going on a spending spree during the off-season.
As well as Oscar, signed from Chelsea in January for around $60 million, SIPG also has fellow Brazilian international Hulk, after buying the striker from Zenit St. Petersburg for a similar amount in June 2016.
Sukhothai faces a tough challenge. With a player budget reportedly 68 times small than Shanghai’s, the Thai team only arrived in Shanghai less than 36 hours before kick-off after having problems getting visas.
“Shanghai is a strong team and have great players with World Cup experience,” said chairman Somsak Thepsuthin. “We are a club from Thailand but to play this level of opponent is a great chance for us, regardless of what happens. We have to give everything and perhaps there will be a surprise.”
The players have been promised a sizable bonus if they beat Shanghai but Somsak said they already have enough motivation . “It is about the chance to create history and bring glory to Thai soccer and the country,” he said.
Now led by former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach Andre Villas-Boas, Shanghai SIPG reached the quarterfinal of the Asian Champions League in its debut appearance in 2016, losing 5-0 to eventual champion Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea. The loss contributed to Sven Goran Eriksson leaving the club at the end of the season.
City rival Shanghai Shenhua is coached by former Chelsea midfielder Gustavo Poyet. The Blues defeated Sydney United, a semi-professional Australian club in a warm-up for the clash with Brisbane, with Tevez scoring a spectacular goal.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of playing in Asia,” said Poyet. “Brisbane will be a tough opponent and we will have to be prepared in order to get the right result.”
The Blues have appeared in the tournament on five previous occasions but progressed past the group stage just once, in 2006.
In the eastern zone’s two other playoffs, South Korea’s Ulsan Horangi faces Kitchee of Hong Kong.
Ulsan was added to the tournament after defending champion Jeonbuk Motors was ejected after being found guilty of bribing referees in 2013. Jeonbuk’s appeal to be reinstated was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Feb 3.
Elsewhere, Malaysian champion Johor Darul Ta’zim takes on Gamba Osaka in Japan.


New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

Updated 24 March 2019
0

New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

  • The Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs
  • The Crusaders have been asked by fans to change their name following last week's terror mosques attack that killed at least 50 worshippers

PRETORIA, South Africa: The Crusaders lost for the first time this season and the Chiefs won for the first time, shaking up Super Rugby at the top and the bottom of the standings on Saturday.
In their first game since the mosque shootings in their home city eight days earlier, the Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs.
Wallabies fullback Israel Folau sealed the Waratahs’ 20-12 win and equaled Doug Howlett’s record of 59 Super Rugby tries when he followed up on a high kick and reacted quickest to score the home team’s third try in the 73rd minute. The Waratahs led 15-7 for most of the second half before Folau ensured there was no way back for the Crusaders.
The two-time defending champions’ first loss in a year was followed by another serious surprise in round six when the Hamilton-based Chiefs, winless and bottom of the overall standings, upset the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Chiefs didn’t just win. They hammered the Bulls 56-20 and seven tries to two. There were doubles by winger Solomon Alaimalo, center Alex Nankivell, and captain Brodie Retallick as the Chiefs, who once lost a Super Rugby final 61-17 at Loftus, produced a spectacular turnaround in form.
The Crusaders’ loss meant the Hurricanes drew level with them on points at the top of the New Zealand conference. The Lions, the losing finalists the last three years, moved a point behind the Crusaders in the overall standings after beating the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The Sunwolves were on the board first in that game through a penalty try which saw Lions wing Sylvian Mahuza yellow-carded for a deliberate knock down.
The Lions were inspired by hooker Malcolm Marx, who scored two tries and came up with numerous crucial turnovers in the 37-24 win. That capped a miserable couple of days for the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, who learned on Friday they would be cut from Super Rugby at the end of next season.
Also, the Hurricanes beat the Stormers 34-28, and the Sharks beat Melbourne Rebels 28-14 to both gain ground.
The Waratahs made a fast start against the Crusaders, scoring tries through lock Jeb Holloway and wing Cameron Clark to lead 12-0 after as many minutes. They then kept steady defensive pressure on the Crusaders who made an uncharacteristic 18 handling errors.
The Waratahs were able to pin the Crusaders within their half and those errors cost the champions their usual continuity.
“Looking up at the board I see we had 46 percent of possession so we’re building wins off defense,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. “I’m really happy that we were able to get tries when we can and then were able to build a big wall to stop these guys.”
The Crusaders were playing their first game in two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled fixture against the Highlanders was canceled in the wake of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 dead. On Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Crusaders and Waratahs players stood together silently before the game, arm in arm, to remember the victims.
Winger Wes Goosen scored two second-half tries and Beauden Barrett contributed 14 points as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Stormers 34-28.
The match presented a stark contrast in styles between the Hurricanes, who lacked a reliable set-piece and tried to play the game at pace, and the Stormers, who sought to slow play and control possession through a powerful forward pack.
The Hurricanes finally emerged on top, snatching the lead with a try to Barrett 10 minutes from fulltime and outscoring the Stormers by five tries to three. The lead changed hands five times in a close match in which neither side managed to exert complete control.
“From the outcome point of view it was good, we were certainly after that win,” Barrett said. “But there were moments there where we were frustrated.”