Neymar eyes ‘dream’ World Cup

Neymar is facing a race against time to be fit for the World Cup. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2018
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Neymar eyes ‘dream’ World Cup

  • Forward broke a bone in his foot on Feb. 25
  • 'I hope I won’t watch the World Cup on TV'

SAO PAULO: Brazilian superstar Neymar said Tuesday that he won’t be back playing at least until the second half of May, when he is scheduled to have his final medical exam following foot surgery.
“There isn’t an exact date yet. I have the last exam, if I’m not mistaken, I’m not sure, on May 17,” the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward told a press conference in Sao Paulo.
“I’ll be cleared to play. Then I’ll see, it depends on how things develop, it depends on my next exams ... It has not been decided,” he said.
The timing leaves the world’s most expensive footballer in a tight race to feature again for PSG with the freshly crowned French champion’s season ending on May 19 with a game against Caen.
However, his prospects for starring in Brazil’s much-fancied side at the World Cup in Russia, which runs from June 14 to July 15, look much better. Brazil open their campaign on June 17 against Switzerland in Rostov.
“I hope I won’t watch the World Cup on TV,” Neymar joked, calling the tournament a “dream.”
“I will have enough time to prepare,” he said at the press conference, where he walked with crutches and his foot immobilized in a medical boot. “It’s evolving well.”
With the enforced rest period Neymar added, “I will arrive better than I was before.”
Neymar, 26, broke a bone in his right foot on Feb. 25 in a Ligue 1 game against Marseille, before returning to his home country for surgery and rehabilitation.
Brazil’s national team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar, performed surgery on March 3 and then estimated that Neymar would be out for “two-and-a-half to three months.”
In his absence, PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid in the last 16 in March.
Brazil will also face Costa Rica and Serbia in their group, as they target winning a sixth World Cup, four years after the nightmare of their 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals on home soil in 2014.
For now, Neymar said he spends much of his time playing poker, his “favorite pastime,” and “playing video games and going on the computer.”
Not that he enjoys the couch potato experience much.
“There are doubts, of course. I feel them too. But it’s normal for a guy who ended up injured. This was the first surgery in my career,” he said. “It’s really hard seeing my team score and becoming champions without me being with them.”
“Still, I am more rested,” he said. “We have to look on the bright side.”


Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 20 July 2019
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Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

CAIRO: Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.
Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.
For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.
It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.
With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.
Senegal had understandably feared the absence of Napoli star Koulibaly, banned after two bookings in the knockout rounds, although the towering Sane was desperately unlucky as Algeria grabbed the lead with scarcely a minute played.
As Bounedjah took aim from 20 yards his effort smacked off Sane and arced high into the air before dropping underneath the crossbar and beyond a static Gomis, sparking delirious celebrations from both players and fans, some of whom arrived for the final on military planes provided by the Algerian government.
It was the first time Gomis had conceded in almost 400 minutes in Egypt having replaced the injured Edouard Mendy ahead of Senegal’s final group game.
Henri Saivet, who missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia, tried to catch Rais Mbohli out with a free-kick while Mbaye Niang fizzed a powerful drive just over as Senegal gradually showed signs of life before the half ended with both sets of players embroiled in a scuffle as they headed for the tunnel.
Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.
Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.
The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.
Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.