Harry Kane inspires England to World Cup knockout stage with Panama thrashing

England's Harry Kane celebrates scoring their second goal. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
Updated 24 June 2018
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Harry Kane inspires England to World Cup knockout stage with Panama thrashing

  • Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as England demolished Panama 6-1
  • England recorded their biggest ever victory at a World Cup despite the heat of Nizhny Novogrod

NIZHNIY NOVGOROD: Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as England demolished Panama 6-1 on Sunday to ease into the World Cup last 16 alongside Group G rivals Belgium.
Kane, who now has five goals in Russia, leapfrogged Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot as the Central Americans were sent packing along with Tunisia.
Belgium and England — who meet in Kaliningrad on Thursday to battle it out for top spot — both have six points after two games and are level on goal difference and goals scored.
England recorded their biggest ever victory at a World Cup despite the heat of Nizhny Novogrod.
Two penalties from Kane and two goals from John Stones, plus an impressive strike from Jesse Lingard, gave England an unassailable 5-0 lead at half-time.
Kane completed his hat-trick in the 62nd minute and was then taken off by Gareth Southgate, who was looking to preserve the energy of his captain with tougher challenges ahead.
Felipe Baloy, 37, scored the first goal ever for Panama at a World Cup to narrow the gap but it could not mask the vast gulf in quality between the two sides.
“I’m very proud. Not many players get to score a hat-trick in the World Cup,” said Kane, who is only the third player to score three goals in a World Cup match after Geoff Hurst and Gary Lineker for England.
“We have to enjoy this. It’s not every day we get to go through after two games.”
Southgate said he was pleased with the ruthlessness of his side.
“It was a different type of win to the other day (against Tunisia),” he said. “Then we had to go right to the wire and show qualities that are going to be really important to our resilience and sticking to our principles of play.”
Belgium hammered Tunisia 5-2 on Saturday, with two goals from both Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
In other games on Sunday, Japan can all but guarantee a place in the second round if they follow up their surprise opening defeat of Colombia by beating Senegal in Group H.
The Asian giants have vowed to take an aggressive approach against Senegal, who are spearheaded by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
Japan coach Akira Nishino said his team planned to mark Mane closely in Yekaterinburg.
“I am sure we can deal with him but with the contribution that Mane can make, it might be possible to mark him one on one or even three on one,” Nishino said.
“It is possible to stop him but the trouble is that he has influence too on other players, and that is what we are concerned about.”
Nishino said he had encouraged his team to chase victory in the second half against Colombia in their first game, and would adopt a similar approach against Senegal.
Poland and Colombia round off the second round of group matches in the late game in Kazan, both knowing they dare not lose if they want to retain any realistic hope of progressing.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has hinted that 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez could start against the Poles, who were beaten by Senegal in their opening game.
Rodriguez has been bothered by a calf injury which meant he started on the bench against Japan, but Pekerman indicated he may be ready to face Poland.
“His appearance off the bench last time out gave him some confidence,” Pekerman said.
“We’ve had to fine-tune a few little details but he’s been working hard in recent days and we’re hoping he’ll be 100 percent.”
World Cup holders Germany were breathing a sigh of relief after Toni Kroos’s 95th-minute missile secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden on a dramatic Saturday in Sochi.
But they are not out of the woods yet — to guarantee they have the chance to become the first team to successfully defend the title since Brazil in 1962, Germany must beat South Korea by a two-goal margin in Kazan.
Defender Mats Hummels said Kroos’s goal could be a turning point.
“Something like this can be a big moment in the tournament. But if we lose against South Korea or don’t make it to the next stage, the goal isn’t worth anything.”


NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

Updated 17 February 2019
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NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

  • The Basketball Africa League is a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA
  • Qualification tournaments will be held to determine those clubs that will take part

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.
The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January, and former President Barack Obama is among those who are expected to have direct involvement with the league’s plan to keep growing the game in Africa through the league and other initiatives.
The scope of what Obama’s involvement will be remains unknown, and it’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from many of our NBA team owners ... and in addition, several of the partners of the NBA have expressed a strong desire to work with us in Africa,” Silver said.
Silver said Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan Brand — Charlotte owner Michael Jordan was among the owners in the room where Silver made the announcement — are among the partners who have reached out to the NBA and said they want to be part of the Africa league. Silver also said that Obama, an enormous basketball fan, has told him he wants to “be directly involved with these activities in Africa.”
Silver said talks between the NBA and Obama are ongoing. Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league.
“I hope you know through sport, that if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said. “I hope you learn through sport what it means to play as a team, and even if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better.”
The NBA and FIBA’s involvement will include financial support and resources toward continued growing of the game on the continent, as well as providing training for players, coaches and referees and some infrastructure for the new league. Silver said there are 438 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually, but that sport there has not seen the same growth — yet.
“Africa is a huge economic engine,” Silver said. “And one place, though, where we haven’t seen enormous economic growth yet is in the industry of sport. And that’s something that we are all particularly focused on.”
The NBA has held three games in Africa since 2015, all of them selling out — two games in Johannesburg, the other in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, have been part of those trips.
“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”
The league has an office in South Africa, has helped create 87 learn-and-play facilities in seven African nations, and 13 players who were born in Africa on opening-night NBA rosters this season. The league also built an academy in Senegal that opened nearly two years ago.
“It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter uncharted territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s secretary-general.
This marks the first time the NBA has been involved with the operation of a league outside of North America.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
The NBA says more details about the new league will be released in the coming months.