Conte tells Chelsea players not to rest on their laurels
Conte tells Chelsea players not to rest on their laurels
The Premier League champions are second in their Champions League group and need one win to seal their spot in the knockout stages with two group fixtures remaining. But boss Antonio Conte has urged his side to get the job done in Azerbaijan and avoid the tension of battling for progression during a busy schedule that sees the West Londoners play 11 matches, after today’s clash, before the end of the year.
“We have to play the most important game of the season from the start until now,” Conte said.
“If we are able to win against Qarabag, we can go through to the next round of the Champions League and this is very important because this period from now until January is very busy, so it is very important to win the game.
“It won’t be easy because in the last two games they drew twice against Atletico Madrid. It is very important to be focused, to work and to try to win the game.”
• Arjen Robben claims Bayern Munich won’t be taking it easy against Anderlecht when they face the Belgians in their Group B clash tonight.
The German giants only need a draw to be certain of making the knockout stages. But when asked whether that would affect their approach to the match Robben said Bayern would do what they always do, play to win.
“When we play, we play to win. That won’t be any different tomorrow.
“We need to concentrate and push forward from the first minute to get a good result.”
The Germans currently lie second behind Paris Saint-Germain with the French side unbeaten and with a goal difference of 17. Such has been their dominance that Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has ruled out his side’s chances of finishing ahead of PSG.
“We’re not expecting PSG to lose. They’ve won everything up till now and haven’t conceded a goal,” he said. “The team seems very stable. We would have to beat them 4-0 to be top. Obviously we want to win, but I’m not optimistic that it will be 4-0. We’re concentrating on ourselves and want to keep playing well.”
• Once again Neymar dominated discussion surrounding Paris Saint-Germain as they prepared for their match against Celtic.
PSG coach Unai Emery insisted he is not concerned about Neymar’s lifestyle after the Brazilian star was photographed at a Paris nightclub in the early hours of Sunday.
“Outside of his work, his football, he can enjoy himself with his friends,” Emery said.
“In training he is great. He is young, and he also needs to go out, but he is still responsible.”
PSG have already qualified for the knockout stages having won all four of their matches so far, and of the Celtic clash Emery added: “We want to demonstrate that we want to go very far in this competition.”
Nadiya Abdul Hamid punching the way for Arab women in the boxing ring
- Hamid has moved from inside the ring to teaching boys outside it.
- Egyptian hero has had to deal a right hook to preconceptions about women and boxing.
BUENOS AIRES: When Nadiya Abdul Hamid, a seven-time Egyptian national champion, hung up her boxing gloves almost a decade ago, she turned her talents instead to coaching.
Yet even while she last week became the first Arab female to train athletes at an Olympics, at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Hamid feels she is still fighting daily for the respect she deserves.
Hamid is a 29-year-old who gives little away, likely the result of a career in which she has been forced to overcome cultural subjugation and sexual discrimination since the day she first entered the ring 15 years ago. A late starter at 14, she quickly learnt the ropes and finished fifth at the 2008 International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Championships, competing as a light-heavyweight.
“At the time, it was something unusual in Egypt,” Hamid told Arab News. “I was the first woman in my country to make a professional career out of boxing. I became Egypt’s first female boxing coach and it was so hard for men to accept this idea of a woman coaching boxing, let alone boys. Some people still say ‘We are in a Muslim country, how can a woman coach the men?’ but with time they are accepting the idea.”
Since receiving an invitation in 2009 to work alongside a new Cuban coach hired by the Egyptian Boxing Federation, Hamid has slowly negotiated her way through the system, eventually in 2016 earning the role of head coach of her country’s youth team. Two of her fighters won bronze medals at the World Youth Championships in Budapest in August, while at the African qualifying tournament for this month’s Youth Games, her fighters won all three slots available to them.
“Training three boxers simultaneously is nothing new,” she said. “You just have to train everyone separately and give everyone their own time, that’s it. It gets harder when you have a big competition such as the Olympics because you must be focused on everyone and sometimes schedule individual training. But we are used to this.”
Youssef Ali Mousa reacts after the points decision against Britain's Karol Itauma went against him at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.
In Argentina and working alongside coach Said Hassan, Hamid watched from the corner as all three of her fighters reached the semifinals. When Youssef Ali Moussa lost harshly to eventual gold medallist Karol Itauma of Britain, it was she who carried the tearful young man back to the training area. Marwan Madboly and Ahmed El-Sawy Elbaz also lost in their final-four bouts, but Elbaz recovered to beat Canada’s Tethluach Cguol and secure a bronze medal.
“Some people did not accept the idea (of a Muslim woman working with young men) until they saw me coaching,” Hamid said. “Every day, I am still in a fight, but I am winning. Now it is finally being accepted and becoming more popular because many people talk about this woman who became the Egyptian national team coach. For me, you have to show your respect everywhere you go, not only with the people but also in the way you work. You need to show you deserve to be where you are.”
Hamid said one of the most positive developments of the past eight years has been women in the Middle East beginning to make their voices heard, pointing to Sahar Nasar, her government’s investment minister.
“Now (women) have a voice. They said ‘We are here; we are not focusing our minds on war or revolution, but instead on evolving ourselves.’ Arab women only want to show that if you give us a chance, we will surprise you. Now the women in my country and some other Arab countries are getting those chances and taking them.”
Hamid hopes her chance will lead to the fulfilment of a dream she has retained since the first time she donned training mitts. For while people often speak of athletes setting objectives around Olympic Games, coaches are no different. “Absolutely,” she said. ”It’s been a dream for me for a long time, since I started coaching nine years ago. Always I wanted to go to the Olympic Games, so I am looking to Tokyo 2020. That’s my target.”