King calls to congratulate World Cup-bound Morocco

Morocco's team players celebrate a goal at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on Saturday, November 11, 2017, during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Africa Group C qualifying football match between Ivory Coast and Morocco. ( AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO)
Updated 12 November 2017
0

King calls to congratulate World Cup-bound Morocco

JOHANNESBURG: Morocco and Tunisia have qualified for the World Cup, taking Africa’s last two places and doubling the Arab region’s involvement at football’s showpiece event in 2018.
They will join Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal as Africa’s five representatives at next year’s tournament and also mix it alongside Saudi Arabia and Egypt to give the Arab world four representatives at the tournament for the first time.
Morocco sealed its place by winning in Ivory Coast 2-0 in what was a straight shootout for the place from Group C, qualifying them for the first time since 1998. Tunisia secured the draw it needed, 0-0 at home against Libya, to qualify from Group A and edge out Congo to seal what will be their first appearance since 2006.
Morocco coach Herve Renard revealed after the match that Moroccan King Mohammed VI called to congratulate the team. “I thank His Majesty for calling me. It’s a huge honor,” said the Frenchman. “He wanted to talk to us to pay tribute to everyone. Tonight we are proud of the Moroccan shirt, proud that the Moroccan flag returns to the World Cup. This is the fifth qualification so Morocco is not a small (football) country.”
The qualification of Morocco and Tunisia signaled an apparent shift in African soccer, giving North Africa three teams at the World Cup and more than any other region for the first time since 1986. West Africa has dominated Africa’s contingent at the World Cup in recent years but some of its big names missed out this time: Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana, all African champions multiple times, will not be in Russia.
For Morocco, Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia scored in the space of five minutes in the first half in Abidjan to help send the Moroccans to their first World Cup in 20 years and deny Ivory Coast a fourth straight appearance.
Morocco’s win in Abidjan gave coach Renard success over his former team and the country he led to the African Cup title in 2015. Morocco needed just a point from the game to qualify but made sure.
Dirar’s in-swinging cross beat everyone and found the corner of the net in the 25th minute. Benatia scored with a first-time shot from a corner five minutes later to seal the victory.
Ivory Coast was already in decline after being eliminated by Renard and Morocco in the group stage of this year’s African Cup, where the Ivorians were defending champions. The failure to reach the World Cup after being ever-present since 2006 will put pressure on coach Marc Wilmots.
Tunisia survived some nervous moments in Rades as Libya finished strongly. The Tunisians held on for the draw, though, and it turned out to be a precious point.
Starting the final game three points behind Tunisia, Congo beat Guinea 3-1 in a whirlwind finish, when Congo scored twice in injury time. Had Tunisia lost, the two teams would have finished level on points and goal difference and Congo would have taken the World Cup place for scoring more goals in the qualifying campaign.


Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

Updated 21 May 2019
0

Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

  • The two-time defending NBA champions reach the title series for a fifth consecutive season
  • The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both posted triple-doubles to power the Golden State Warriors to a 119-117 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and into a fifth straight NBA Finals.
The two-time defending NBA champions reached the title series for a fifth consecutive season with the triumph in Portland, sweeping the Blazers in four games in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics, when they went to a record 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966.
The Warriors will battle for the title starting on May 30 against either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors, aiming to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers of 2000, 2001 and 2002 to three-peat as champions.
Curry and Green became the first teammates in league history to have triple-doubles in the same post-season game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Curry finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Green had his second straight triple-double — posting double digits in three key statistical categories — with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Fittingly, Curry and Green combined on the game-winning basket in overtime, Curry feeding Green for a three-pointer that pushed Golden State to a 119-115 lead with 39.6 seconds left in overtime.
The Trail Blazers had led 69-65 at halftime, and built the lead to 17 in the third quarter.
But Golden State, playing without injured superstar Kevin Durant as well as DeMarcus Cousins and veteran Andre Iguodala, chipped away, scoring the last nine points of the third period to close within 95-87 and knotting the score at 104-104 on Curry’s layup with 4:34 left in regulation.
Both teams had a chance to win in regulation, but Curry traveled before draining a three-pointer that didn’t count and Lillard was unable to get through in traffic as time expired with the score tied 111-111.
Portland star Lillard, playing with painful separated ribs, finished with 28 points while unheralded Meyers Leonard led the Trail Blazers with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
CJ McCollum added 26 for the Trail Blazers, but it wasn’t enough for a team that had fended off elimination twice in their second-round series against the Denver Nuggets.