Flamengo aim to stop Liverpool at Club World Cup final

Flamengo players warm up during a training session. The team will play the Club World Cup final match against Liverpool in Doha on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 21 December 2019

Flamengo aim to stop Liverpool at Club World Cup final

  • Jorge Jesus was only appointed by the Rio de Janeiro giants in June, the arrival of the white-haired 65-year-old Portuguese coach raising eyebrows in Brazil

DOHA: Jurgen Klopp’s impact on Liverpool during four years in charge has been transformative, but the man in the opposing dugout in Saturday’s Club World Cup final has needed just a few short months to make history at Flamengo.

Jorge Jesus was only appointed by the Rio de Janeiro giants in June, the arrival of the white-haired 65-year-old Portuguese coach raising eyebrows in Brazil.

He immediately made his mark and in the last month has seen the country’s best-supported side win the Copa Libertadores for just the second time and then claim a first Brazilian title in a decade, finishing 16 points clear.

Jesus has overseen just two defeats in 29 league games and his team are now one win away from lifting the Club World Cup after defeating Al-Hilal 3-1 on Tuesday.

Only the small matter of Klopp’s Liverpool stands between them and a first victory for South America in this competition since Corinthians beat Chelsea in 2012.

“This is the most important game of my career. It is the cherry on the cake of Flamengo’s season, the biggest final I have been involved in,” said Jesus. Those comments speak to the importance of this occasion in South America, with the Club World Cup their one chance to compete with Europe’s giants. Interest in this competition is always muted in Europe, especially as it comes in the middle of the club season. Meanwhile, the number of Flamengo fans visible around Doha, decked out in red and black, confirms what this event means to them.

“We will be at our very best,” said the former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea full-back Filipe Luis to Globoesporte.

Jesus has taken them there, to their 74th and final game in 2019, having become a rare foreign coach to work in Brazil, never mind succeed.

Jesus was already a comparative veteran when his managerial career really took off upon joining Benfica in 2009.

He stayed six years, becoming their longest-serving coach while winning three Portuguese titles and reaching two Europa League finals. His move to Flamengo came after three more years at Sporting Lisbon and a brief stint at Al-Hilal.

Regular observers of Brazilian football have noticed the success he has enjoyed with a more typically intense, European approach, and that will give them reason to believe an upset could happen against Klopp’s team.

“Of course with Jorge Jesus there is European influence but the players themselves are already quality,” Klopp insisted.

“If there was not a European coach it would already be difficult. Jorge Jesus is very, very experienced and was very successful in Portugal and now in Brazil as well, so we have a lot of respect for that.”

Liverpool are hoping victory can give them renewed energy in their draining Premier League title push.

It has been quite a week for the Anfield club since they beat Watford 2-0 last Saturday and moved 10 points clear at the top of the table.


Kobe Bryant: NBA All-Star crowd pays tribute to fallen basketball icon

Updated 17 February 2020

Kobe Bryant: NBA All-Star crowd pays tribute to fallen basketball icon

  • Bryant died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven victims in a helicopter crash on January 26
  • NBA’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award has been permanently named for Lakers star

CHICAGO: Team LeBron beat Team Giannis by two points at the 69th NBA All-Star game on Sunday at a packed United Center that fell silent for eight seconds before tip-off as about 21,000 fans joined hands to pay their respects to global sports icon Kobe Bryant.
The silence was broken by a string of thunderous “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe,” chants that rocked the stadium as the crowd honored Bryant, who wore the No. 8 and No. 24 during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers that was highlighted by five National Basketball Association championships.
The stirring pre-game tribute began with Laker great Magic Johnson rousing the crowd and paying homage to Bryant, killed along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven victims in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26.
“We will never see another basketball player quite like Kobe,” Johnson said, highlighting his work with the Los Angeles community along with the love he had for his family. “This is a tough time for the whole NBA family.”
Johnson also paid tribute to former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his 30-year tenure. Stern died on Jan. 1.
Before tip-off, the singer and actor Jennifer Hudson, who is a Chicago native, sang with a montage of photos of Bryant and his daughter in the background.
The game was a culmination of a weekend filled with tributes to the former Los Angeles Lakers star who was an 18-time All-Star and won the All-Star game’s MVP award four times.
On Friday, Bryant, who is fourth all-time in league scoring, was named a finalist to the Basketball Hall of Fame. On Saturday, the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, announced that the league’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award has been permanently named for Bryant.
Bryant made his NBA All-Star Game debut in 1998 at age 19 – the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game. His 18 All-Star selections are the second-most in NBA history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at 19.
Players in Sunday’s All-Star game wore No. 2 and No. 24 on their jerseys to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant, while the game’s format paid homage to Bryant.
The team with the most points after three quarters needed to score 24 points to win, while the trailing team had to score 24 plus the number of points it was down.
Team Giannis held a nine-point lead over Team LeBron after three quarters, but the LeBron James-led side had the last laugh, outscoring Team Giannis 33-22 in the final period to clinch a 157-155 victory.
Team Giannis was headed by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Team LeBron’s Kawhi Leonard was named All-Star MVP after scoring 30 points, including eight three-pointers.