Australia eye victory in Honduras test: Mooy

Australia head coach, Ange Postecoglou, center, walks on the field surrounded by his players during a training session at the Francisco Morazan Stadium in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Australia and Honduras will face for the first leg of the World Cup playoff on Friday. (AP)
Updated 09 November 2017
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Australia eye victory in Honduras test: Mooy

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras: Australia star Aaron Mooy says the Socceroos will go all out for victory on Friday as they aim to edge closer to the World Cup in the opening leg of their playoff clash with Honduras.
Mooy will be one of the linchpins of the Australian effort at San Pedro Sula’s intimidating 40,000-capacity Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, where Ange Postecoglou’s men will hope to take a stride toward a fourth consecutive World Cup.
Australia has had an unhappy record in World Cup playoffs, losing five deciders between 1966 and 2002 in a string of agonizing near-misses that saw the Socceroos become eternal nearly-men.
However despite that record, Mooy, 27, said Australia coach Postecoglou will eschew caution as the Socceroos aim to carve out a decisive advantage to take back to Sydney for next week’s second leg.
“The way the boss wants us to play is to go all out and try and win the game,” said Mooy, who is brimming with confidence after a successful start to the English Premier League season with Huddersfield.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s away or home — that’s what we will do. And hopefully that will give us a good result to take back to Sydney,” Mooy added.
Australia are already battle-hardened having come through a demanding play-off against Asian rivals Syria to determine which team would advance to face Honduras, the fourth-placed finisher in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
Mooy said the experience of prevailing over Syria in a tense two-leg battle would stand the Australians in good stead as they prepare to face Honduras, who are eyeing a third consecutive World Cup after appearances in 2010 and 2014.
“It gives us belief that we overcame that challenge,” Mooy told Football Federation Australia when asked about the Syria win.
“We’ve got another big challenge coming up and I’m sure it will be another tough game. But we’ve overcome these challenges and the next one will be no different,” Mooy added.
The venue for Friday’s game is in a Honduran city notorious for violence linked to the drug trade. Mooy however said the Australian squad had received a warm welcome since arriving in Honduras.
“It’s not been a problem so far. Everyone seems nice and friendly,” Mooy said. “I’m sure once we get to the game though it’s going to be a bit different.”


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 min 13 sec ago
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”