Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare
Morocco’s defender Achraf Hakimi celebrates with Bosnian head coach Vahid Halilhodzic after scoring his team’s 2nd goal during their Africa Cup of Nations 16th round match against Malawi at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 26 January 2022

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare
  • Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first ever knockout game at the tournament
  • Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight

YAOUNDE: Achraf Hakimi scored a brilliant free-kick to send Morocco through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over Malawi on Tuesday.
Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first ever knockout game at the tournament, a shock early lead with a stunning goal from 40 meters at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.
But Youssef En-Nesyri headed Morocco level in first-half stoppage time before Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight.
That quarter-final was due to take place at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde but will be moved after a fatal crush outside the ground on Monday which killed eight people and injured 38.
As with the earlier match between Senegal and Cape Verde in Bafoussam, a minute’s silence was observed before kick-off and players of both teams wore black armbands.
Morocco, bidding for a second Cup of Nations title and first since 1976, fell behind on seven minutes when Mhango caught Yassine Bounou off his line with a superb long-range strike.
The Atlas Lions responded by creating a series of chances as Imran Louza stung the palms of Charles Thomu, who then did well to keep out Hakimi’s powerful free-kick and the follow-up from Louza.
Mhango dragged wide for Malawi after a terrific long ball from Micium Mhone, but the Flames found themselves under sustained pressure as Morocco captain Romain Saiss volleyed against the bar.
En-Nesyri prodded weakly at Thomu from close range before the Malawi goalkeeper tipped Hakimi’s low drive onto the post and then denied Sofiane Boufal with his legs.
Morocco were finally rewarded for their persistence on the stroke of half-time as En-Nesyri rose to power Selim Amallah’s deep cross past Thomu.
Hakimi appealed vociferously for a penalty in the second half when his cross struck the arm of Malawi defender Dennis Chembezi, but the Paris Saint-Germain star took matters into his own hands to secure victory.
His late equalizer against Gabon had secured top spot in the group stage, and Hakimi delivered again with another magnificent free-kick 20 minutes from time to end Malawi’s impressive run.


World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial

World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial
Updated 8 sec ago

World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial

World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial
  • Among the other co-leaders, Nick Taylor was 5-under after an eagle at the 12th, but the Canadian also made a bogey on his final hole

LOS ANGELES: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler bounced back from his missed cut at the PGA Championship to headline a group of eight players sharing the first round lead in the Charles Schwab Challenge on Thursday.

Masters champion Scheffler acknowledged it was frustrating to miss the cut at Southern Hills — his first missed cut since October.

But he said he didn’t let it prey on him, and came back strong at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, with four birdies in his 4-under par 66.

“You never want to miss a cut,” Scheffler said. “I hadn’t missed a cut in a while up to that point, so I think it makes it even more frustrating just knowing that I was playing really good golf and I just didn’t have it that week.

“That stuff happens. If I didn’t like bad draws or making crazy mistakes and stuff like that, I would have played a different sport. A lot of weird stuff happens in golf.”

Scheffler teed off on 10 and rolled in a six-foot birdie putt at the 14th and drained a 40-footer at the 17th — where he was in a fairway bunker.

He added birdies from inside three feet at the 18th and seventh to join the big leading bunch.

That group also included former Masters champion Patrick Reed, former US Open winner Webb Simpson, Harold Varner, Chris Kirk, Nick Taylor, Cam Davis and Beau Hossler.

Reed was five-under through 17 holes but bogeyed his final hole, the ninth.

“It was steady,” Reed said. “Hit a lot of fairways, and playing this golf course from the fairway, you’re able to attack.

“To go around and birdie all four of the par-threes always helps,” added Reed, who has missed five cuts this season and posted just one top-10 finish.

“It feels good to get a number out of it,” Reed said.

Among the other co-leaders, Taylor was 5-under after an eagle at the 12th, but the Canadian also made a bogey on his final hole.

Hossler, meanwhile, joined the leading group with his second eagle of the day at his last hole, the ninth, where he holed out from 135 yards out in the fairway.

The jampacked leaderboard saw another seven players a stroke back on 67: South African Dylan Frittelli, Colombian Camilo Villegas and Americans Kevin Na, Davis Riley, Scott Stallings, Pat Perez and Austin Smotherman.

Another 10 players were two shots off the lead on 68.

Justin Thomas, who won his second major title with a playoff triumph at Southern Hills on Sunday, carded a 1-over par 71. Will Zalatoris, beaten in the playoff, carded a 72.

Chile’s Mito Pereira, who missed out on the playoff after a 72nd-hole collapse on Sunday, opened with an even par 70.


Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage

Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage
Updated 27 May 2022

Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage

Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage
  • The powerfully-built 30-year-old De Bondt outsprinted Jumbo’s Edoardo Affini for a photo finish as Magnus Cort of EF was third and Davide Bardiani of CSF fourth after they had worked together over two laps of a tight downtown circuit at Treviso

TREVISO, Italy: Belgian Dries De Bondt won stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday as a quartet of escapees defied a frantic bid from the sprinters to reel them in over the final kilometer.

The final flat stage on this 21-day race around Italy was supposed to be the last chance for sprinters such as Arnaud Demare and Mark Cavendish, but in a rare event the mass bunch sprint was denied by the escape group.

“It’s a we question, not an I question. It was a collaboration (working together) until the last kilometer,” De Bondt said.

“Everyone said Cavendish or Demare or (Alberto) Dainese was going to win — it was written in the stars.

“But there was no moment of doubt, nobody skipped one turn,” he said of the escape.

The powerfully-built 30-year-old De Bondt outsprinted Jumbo’s Edoardo Affini for a photo finish as Magnus Cort of EF was third and Davide Bardiani of CSF fourth after they had worked together over two laps of a tight downtown circuit at Treviso.

The sprint pack started that 20km slog with a deficit of only 2 minutes, and would have caught the quartet on a less technically demanding circuit.

Frenchman Demare of FDJ still leads in the sprint points rankings with a tally of 254 while the 37-year-old Cavendish is second on 132.

Ecuadorian former Giro winner Richard Carapaz of Ineos maintains his 03sec lead in the overall standings on Australian Jai Hindley.

“Today was a fast stage. We thought it was going to be relaxed and easy but it went quickly today,” said Carapaz, who had been hoping for a slower run ahead of the finale.

Hindley had a fright on Thursday when he took a puncture late in the race.

“The rules say if it’s in the last 3km its ok, you don’t lose time,” said a relieved Bora director Jens Zemka.

“We are highly motivated for the run in,” he said.

Bahrain Victorious leader Mikel Landa is third at 1min 05sec.

“If I see any opportunities I’ll attack,” said the Spaniard. “There’s no fear of losing my podium place now (Joao) Almeida is out.”

Almeida’s hopes of finishing on the podium ended overnight as he withdrew after testing positive for Covid-19 when he was just 49 sec off third-placed Mikel Landa.

Friday’s ride from Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte features four climbs.

But Saturday’s high altitude affair will be the real showdown as it climbs over 2000m altitude three times.

Sunday’s final stage is a medium length 17.4km individual time-trial into Verona where Carapaz claimed overall victory three years ago.


Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic

Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic
Updated 27 May 2022

Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic

Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic
  • Swiatek, the 2020 champion in Paris, is on the best streak since Serena Williams’s 34-match winning run in 2013 and goes on to face Danka Kovinic of Montenegro for a place in the last 16
  • Fourth seed Tsitsipas needed another epic performance to reach the third round, beating world No. 134 and qualifier Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic

PARIS: Unstoppable world No. 1 Iga Swiatek racked up her 30th successive victory at the French Open on Thursday as 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas survived another Roland Garros rollercoaster.

Swiatek swept past Alison Riske of the US 6-0, 6-2 to reach the third round as only three of the top 10 women’s seeds survived the opening two rounds.

Eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova and Danielle Collins, the ninth seed, joined fellow top 10 players, defending champion Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur, Anett Kontaveit and former winner Garbine Muguruza in failing to reach the last 32.

Swiatek, the 2020 champion in Paris, is on the best streak since Serena Williams’s 34-match winning run in 2013 and goes on to face Danka Kovinic of Montenegro for a place in the last 16.

Swiatek raced through the first set against 43rd-ranked Riske in just 21 minutes and was 3-0 up in the second before the American avoided a ‘double bagel’.

The Pole still managed to take her record of 6-0 sets in 2022 to a season-leading 15.

“I’m pretty happy to play some solid tennis,” said Swiatek who joins third seed Paula Badosa and seventh-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the last 32.

Fourth seed Tsitsipas needed another epic performance to reach the third round, beating world No. 134 and qualifier Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic.

The Greek star saved four set points in the fourth set tiebreaker to win 6-3, 7-6 (10/8), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (9/7) in a little over four hours.

On Tuesday, Tsitsipas had to come back from two sets down to defeat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round.

Kolar, 25, was playing in his maiden Grand Slam having tried and failed 16 times to qualify.

Tsitsipas will face Sweden’s Mikael Ymer for a place in the last 16.

“He drove me crazy,” said Tsitsipas. “It was really frustrating because he got behind every ball.”

Pliskova was knocked out by French world number 227 Leolia Jeanjean while Collins fell to American compatriot Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3.

Pliskova, a semifinalist in Paris in 2017, lost 6-2, 6-2 to 26-year-old Jeanjean.

Jeanjean is the lowest-ranked woman to beat a top 10 player at Roland Garros in 34 years.

Considered a future star at 12, she saw her career abruptly halted by injuries, including a triple dislocation of the knee.

She then left to study in the United States, only returning to top-level tennis at the end of 2020.

“I wanted to come back so as not to regret anything. I think I made the right choice,” she said.

Pliskova has made the second week at Roland Garros just once in 11 visits.

Jeanjean will next face Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu who was fortunate not to be defaulted in her 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4 win over 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Begu, in frustration, bounced a racquet into the crowd which then hit a child who burst into tears.

The supervisor was called but the 31-year-old escaped with a warning.

“It was embarrassing and I apologize,” said Begu.

World No. 3 Badosa overcame a scare to defeat 68th-ranked Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Spain’s Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, recovered from a break down in the decider to set up a meeting with 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova.

New York-born Badosa has endured a mediocre clay court season with a semifinal run in Stuttgart but early exits at the elite events in Madrid and Rome.

“That competitive streak that I had lost in recent weeks has come back,” she warned.

Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, fell to big-serving Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen, playing just her second Slam, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Halep admitted after the match that she had suffered a panic attack at the end of the first set. Sabalenka saw off Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev, the men’s second seed, had few problems in making the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Laslo Djere of Serbia.

Medvedev, who made the quarterfinals in 2021, goes on to face another Serb in Miomir Kecmanovic, the 28th seed.

Djere hit 39 winners Thursday but was undone by 68 unforced errors.

Danish teenager Holger Rune reached his first Slam third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen.

The 19-year-old fired 28 winners and managed to avoid a worrying injury when his foot became lodged in a tarpaulin cover on Court 12.


Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part

Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part
Updated 26 May 2022

Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part

Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part
  • Saudia chief executive Ibrahim Koshy said his airline would run at least 30 daily round trip flights from the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, that could carry 10,000 fans
  • Qatar Airways will cut flights to destinations that are ‘irrelevant’ to the World Cup, so that it can increase flights to countries taking part

DOHA: Qatar will only let football fans with match tickets enter the Gulf state during the World Cup tournament, officials said Thursday as they announced that scores of shuttle flights would bring in thousands of fans each day from neighboring countries.

Facing growing pressure to cope with the four-week football tournament, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the national airline would halt some routes to countries not involved in the 32-nation tournament during the tournament and reduce others.

Baker, who is also tourist minister, said Qatar’s Hamad International Airport and the older Doha International Airport would double capacity so that they can process more than 200,000 people a day.

The tiny state is desperately trying to find rooms for the 1.4 million predicted visitors and a top World Cup organizing committee official said only fans with tickets would be allowed in during the four weeks from November 21.

Fans will have to get a special pass, a Haya card, to enter the country and stadiums. They will need a match ticket to get the pass.

Saeed Al-Kuwari, director of the Haya digital platform for the organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, told AFP: “The only people who will enter the country during the tournament are holders of the Haya digital card.”

Qataris and legal residents will also be able to enter but authorities have yet to announce how business people will be processed.

Baker announced that Saudia, Kuwait Airways, flydubai and Oman Air will organize more than 160 daily flights from November 20 to bring supporters on one-day trips to see matches.

Officials estimate that more than 20,000 fans could come in each day on the shuttles.

Saudia chief executive Ibrahim Koshy said his airline would run at least 30 daily round trip flights from the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, that could carry 10,000 fans.

Flydubai would operate at least 30 return flights, Kuwait Airways 10 and Oman Air 24, Baker said.

All flights would be reserved for fans with World Cup tickets who would go through a special booking that Baker promised would provide a “seamless” immigration and security processing as though they were entering on a domestic flight.

Baker said Qatar’s civil aviation authorities were increasing airspace capacity so that the three runways at Hamad airport could operate “continuously” during the World Cup.

He said Qatar Airways would cut flights to destinations that are “irrelevant” to the World Cup, so that it could increase flights to countries taking part.

Some 70 percent of Qatar Airways regular flights would see their times changed so that extra flights can be organized.

The airports would have to handle extra charter flights and airlines that have asked to establish regular lines because of the World Cup.

He said “state of the art immigration systems” would be introduced to speed up the arrival of international passengers.


Bernie Ecclestone arrested in Brazil for illegally carrying a gun

Bernie Ecclestone arrested in Brazil for illegally carrying a gun
Updated 26 May 2022

Bernie Ecclestone arrested in Brazil for illegally carrying a gun

Bernie Ecclestone arrested in Brazil for illegally carrying a gun
  • Brazilian police found an undocumented LW Seecamp .32 gun in Ecclestone’s luggage during an X-ray screening
  • Ecclestone is married to Brazilian-born Fabiana Ecclestone, an FIA vice president and member of the World Motor Sport Council

SAO PAULO: Former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was arrested in Brazil late on Wednesday for illegally carrying a gun while boarding a private plane to Switzerland, local police said on Thursday.
The Brazilian police found an undocumented LW Seecamp .32 gun in Ecclestone’s luggage during an X-ray screening, police said in a statement, adding that the 91-year-old was then arrested and taken to a facility at Viracopos airport in Campinas.
Ecclestone acknowledged owning the gun, but said he was unaware it was in his luggage at the time, police said. The Briton paid bail and was freed to travel to Switzerland.
Asked about Ecclestone’s arrest, the Sao Paulo state public security office confirmed in a statement to Reuters that a businessman was arrested for possession of a firearm at Campinas’ airport, but did not name him directly.
The office said the “small, silver colored pistol” was out of ammunition and that the arrestee had to pay 6,060 reais ($1,257.55) as bail. The handgun was seized, it added.
Ecclestone was not immediately available for comment on why he had a gun.
He is married to Brazilian-born Fabiana Ecclestone, an FIA vice president and member of the World Motor Sport Council.
Her mother Aparecida Schunck was kidnapped in Sao Paulo in 2016, with criminals demanding 120 million reais ($25.07 million) in ransom before she was freed nine days later in a police raid without any money being paid.
Such kidnappings have become less common in recent years, however.
Ecclestone also suffered a head injury in 2010 after being mugged in central London, his attackers making off with jewelry including a watch.
The Ecclestones attended several events in the South American country in May, including a local Stock Car race in the countryside near Sao Paulo and a meeting with triple world champion Nelson Piquet in Brasilia.
The Ecclestones own a coffee plantation near Sao Paulo, which they bought in 2012 and where they regularly spend time when not in Europe. Piquet drove for Brabham when it was owned by Ecclestone in the 1970s and 80s.
For decades Ecclestone was Mr. Formula One, the man who did the deals, turned the wheels and transformed the sport into today’s billion dollar business.
He was moved aside in 2017 when US-based Liberty Media took control of the commercial rights.