Canada advances to World Cup for first time in 36 years

Canada advances to World Cup for first time in 36 years
Canada’s Tajon Buchanan celebrates his goal during Canada’s World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 27, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 28 March 2022

Canada advances to World Cup for first time in 36 years

Canada advances to World Cup for first time in 36 years
  • Canada has been to the World Cup just once before, in 1986

TORONTO: Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan and Junior Hoilett scored and Canada secured its first World Cup berth in 36 years with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday.
Canada has been to the World Cup just once before, in 1986.
Canada missed out a chance to secure a spot in Qatar last week with a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica. It was Canada’s first loss in three World Cup qualifying rounds and it snapped a six-game winning streak.
Boosted by the home crowd at BMO Filed, Canada rebounded against the Jamaicans, who were already eliminated from World Cup contention.
Canada sits atop the table in the final qualifying round, followed by the United States, which held the edge over third-place Mexico on goal difference. The United States hosted Panama and Mexico was at Honduras later on Sunday.
The top three finishers in the North and Central American and Caribbean region book the trip to Qatar. The fourth-place team goes to an intercontinental playoff against a team from Oceania.
Because Canada was ranked 73rd in July 2020 when the format was announced, it had to advance through two early rounds and was playing its 17th qualifier Sunday. Canada has improved to 33rd.
The Canadians wrap up the qualifying round Wednesday in Panama.
Snow fell at times at BMO Field. Temperatures were in the 20s at game time but its didn’t daunt a sellout crowd.
Larin put Canada in front early with his team-leading 13th goal of the qualifying tournament. He had another clear chance in the 38th minute but the ball went just wide.
Larin is one goal behind Ali Mabkhout of the United Arab Emirates for most goals in qualifying for Qatar. Larin, who leads the national team with a best-ever 24 goals, has had six goals in the final round.
Buchanan scored in the 44th, celebrating with a backflip, to put Canada up 2-0 going into the break.
Hoilett added the final goal in the 82nd and an own goal in the 88th to round out scoring.
Just one of Canada’s players Sunday was alive when the nation was last in the World Cup: Captain Atiba Hutchison was 3 when the Canadians lost to France, Hungary and the Soviet Union by a combined 5-0 at the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
Canada has been playing without star Alphonso Davies, who missed the previous three qualifying matches because myocarditis was discovered after he caught COVID-19 in January.


Attempted rape charge against Man Utd star Greenwood dropped

Attempted rape charge against Man Utd star Greenwood dropped
Updated 7 sec ago

Attempted rape charge against Man Utd star Greenwood dropped

Attempted rape charge against Man Utd star Greenwood dropped
LONDON: Charges including attempted rape and assault against Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood have been dropped by prosecutors, British police said on Wednesday.
The Crown Prosecution Service said the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light were factors in their decision to stop the case against the 21-year-old.
Greater Manchester Police said it was “only fair” that they announce that Greenwood, who was arrested in January last year, would no longer face criminal proceedings “given the significant media coverage of this case.”
The Manchester United striker originally faced one count of attempted rape, one count of controlling and coercive behavior and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, all against the same complainant.
A product of the club’s academy — and once considered one of English football’s brightest prospects — Greenwood signed a new contract at United in February 2021 that runs until at least 2025.
Greenwood made his England debut against Iceland in September 2020, but he and Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden were sent home after breaching the team’s coronavirus guidelines.
Nike suspended and later terminated its sponsorship deal with the player, while Electronic Arts confirmed his removal from active squads on its FIFA 22 game.

AC Milan looks to stem terrible run in derby against Inter

AC Milan looks to stem terrible run in derby against Inter
Updated 36 min 47 sec ago

AC Milan looks to stem terrible run in derby against Inter

AC Milan looks to stem terrible run in derby against Inter
  • Milan have had a terrible start to the year, dropping from second-place and five points behind leader Napoli to fifth place and 15 behind
  • Inter, conversely, have risen to second place — albeit 13 points behind Napoli

MILAN: The dispiriting jeers turned to encouraging cheers, even though the result was still bad for AC Milan.
The fans’ quick change in attitude wasn’t exactly a surprise, however, with a derby against Inter Milan next on the Serie A schedule.
Milan have had a terrible start to the year, dropping from second-place and five points behind leader Napoli to fifth place and 15 behind. Inter, conversely, have risen to second place — albeit 13 points behind Napoli.
Milan’s last match ended up being a disastrous 5-2 loss to 16th-place Sassuolo, sparking the boos from the crowd. The defending champions have now conceded 12 goals in their past three matches, and they were also eliminated from the Italian Cup and lost to Inter in the Italian Super Cup.
The heartening display from the fans at the end of the match on Sunday was followed by a supportive visit from the team’s executives on Wednesday. Milan president Paolo Scaroni and director Paolo Maldini — a former Milan great — went to the training ground with other club directors.
They watched a practice session and then had lunch with the players.
“We have great confidence in you,” Scaroni reportedly told the players. “We feel such a strong bond with you that we want to be on the field with you.”
The Sassuolo match was Milan’s worst home result since a 6-1 loss to Juventus in 1997. It was also the first time Milan have conceded four goals in back-to-back Serie A matches.
“We’ve hit a rough patch both mentally and tactically so I’ll have to work even more on the mindset of my players to understand what they need to get over this difficult period and also try to understand the tactical issues in order to find the right remedy,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said.
The same Milan players who were drawing compliments from around Europe for their style of play and spirit last season now look lost and simply without answers.
“We have to make the most of the fact we have a big game coming up, because big games are certainly very hard but the higher the mountain to climb, the higher the reward,” Pioli said. “We need this sort of mindset.”


Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’

Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’
Updated 02 February 2023

Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’

Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’
  • Threshold for permitted amount of elbow straightening is 15 degrees for all bowlers

There are certain elements of cricket that are considered to be unsavory or objectionable. One of them is throwing the ball instead of bowling it. A recent example occurred in South Africa, but it is by no means a new phenomenon.

Until the early 19th century, underarm bowling was the norm. Apparently, women found it difficult to navigate their long skirts using this form of delivery, with some resorting to roundarm delivery. The brother of one lady became something of a martyr in deploying the method in a match at Lord’s in 1816. This led to a new ruling, which stated that “the ball must be delivered underhand, not thrown or jerked, with the hand below the elbow at the time of delivering the ball.”

Despite the ruling, attempts to contravene it were frequent and contentious. Eventually, in 1835, roundarm bowling was legalized, deliveries allowed at shoulder height. The next battle centered on the legality of delivering the ball with the hand raised above the shoulder. In 1864, Law 10 was amended to allow this, provided the arm was straight and the ball was not thrown. Rotation or flexing of the wrist in the delivery swing was allowed.

In essence, the Law has remained the same for well over 100 years. Interpretation of whether the Law was being broken rested on the visual interpretation of an action by the umpire standing square to the striker.

No doubt, off-field discussions about the legality of an individual bowling action would have taken place prior to the call of no-ball. Several careers were ended by such calls between 1880 and 1950, after which an outbreak of illegal bowling occurred. Tougher enforcement of the Law and individual bans curbed the trend. At the time, Neville Cardus, one of cricket’s great writers, objected to throwing because it looked ugly.

Who knows what he would have made of the Sri Lankan, Muttiah Muralitharan, who claimed 800 Test wickets, the most yet. His right arm is congenitally bent and hyperextends during delivery. One Australian umpire called him for throwing in 1995, making clear that he would do so again. This is not the first time that a single umpire has taken the view that it is his responsibility to focus on a particular bowler’s action. In Muralitharan’s case, most other umpires were reluctant to call him, while the game’s administrators could not agree on his action’s legality

Most Australians seemed to be in little doubt. This was despite the availability of biomechanical testing, which showed that Muralitharan did not extend his arm any more than bowlers with actions that were considered to be legal. Indeed, the tests show that most bowlers flex and extend their arms as they rotate around the shoulder, to varying degrees.

As a result, thresholds were drawn up for the allowable amount of elbow straightening — 10 degrees for fast bowlers, 7.5 for medium pacers and five degrees for spin bowlers. Subsequent testing, based on empirical evidence in the early 2000s, provided a basis on which the tolerance threshold was raised to 15 degrees for all bowlers. Actions deemed to be illegal are usually well in excess of that level.

There have been occasions when I have been playing or watching cricket, that, instinctively, it looks as if a bowler is throwing the ball. People on either side turned to ask the question — was it a throw? It is possible that those whose bowling actions appeared suspect were well within the threshold which currently applies.

The previous Law which allowed no flexing of the arm is now proved to be draconian, condemning some high-quality bowlers to opprobrium. These days, assistance is provided to a bowler who is called for throwing. An independent review is conducted and, if the action is deemed to be illegal, remedial assistance is available. Although suspended from international cricket, the bowler is not subject to the public ordeal that was once the norm.

In January, Joburg Super Kings left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso was suspended from bowling in the SA20 cricket league after an independent panel ruled his action illegal. His team has requested that the bowler’s action be biomedically tested. Phangiso has claimed two four-wicket hauls in the tournament and played 37 white ball internationals for South Africa. He had been reported previously for having a suspect action in 2016. After remedial work, he was cleared to resume playing.

One of Pakistan’s fastest bowlers, 22-year-old Mohammad Husnain, was reported for an illegal action during the 2021-22 Australian Big Bash League. This was confirmed by tests in Lahore that showed his elbow extension to be beyond the 15-degree threshold. After remedial work, Husnain was reassessed and cleared to return to play in June. Shortly afterward, while bowling in the Hundred competition in England, he dismissed Australian Marcus Stoinis, who made a throwing motion as walked from the field. No official censure was given to Stoinis, although commentators and Pakistani supporters were left unimpressed.

It does seem that the main characteristic of the issue of illegal, thrown deliveries in cricket is its ability to recur, almost always with acrimony. It is pertinent to ask why any bowler would intentionally do so, given the detection systems now in place. Clearly, a throw travels more quickly, providing a greater opportunity to dismiss the batter. It also generates a greater threat of physical danger. More than one bowler has been rumored to slip in the occasional “throw” in attempting to realize these opportunities.

This does not explain the existence of bowlers who are assessed to be bowling illegally when they do not set out to do so. Fortunately, scientific metrics have generated tolerance thresholds by which those with certain physiological structures, which lead to bowling actions, judged visually to be illegal, can be more realistically assessed.

It ought to lead them to be judged more sympathetically, but old attitudes die hard, if Husnain’s experience is typical. The line between legal and illegal bowling is fine, the latter falling into cricket’s bete noire, that of cheating.


Australian Open champions confirmed for Dubai Tennis Championships

Australian Open champions confirmed for Dubai Tennis Championships
Updated 02 February 2023

Australian Open champions confirmed for Dubai Tennis Championships

Australian Open champions confirmed for Dubai Tennis Championships
  • Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka, Grand Slam winners earlier this week in Melbourne will take part alongside women’s World No. 1 Swiatek
  • Nineteen of world’s top 20 women join a strong line-up between Feb. 19 and March 4

DUBAI: Australian Open champions Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka have been confirmed alongside women’s world No.1 Iga Swiatekfor for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships later this month.

The official entry lists show that while the men’s draw is headed by the indomitable Serb, a remarkable 19 of the top 20 women are now confirmed to compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium over the course of the championships’ two-week tennis extravaganza. The very best of the best are coming to compete from Feb. 19 to March 4.

As well as the reigning Australian Open champion in Sabalenka and the reigning US and French Open champion in Swiatek, Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina is among the women’s field that will compete between Feb. 19-25. Also on the official entry list is Arab icon Ons Jabeur, a two-time Grand Slam finalist in 2022, and Coco Gauff, the 2022 French Open finalist.

The field for the ATP Tour 500 event meanwhile includes 22-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic, as well as last year’s Dubai winner and World No. 5 Andrey Rublev, Canadian rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is ranked No. 7 in the world, 2021 US Open winner Daniil Medvedev, and 2020 US Open finalist Alexander Zverev.

“Less than a week ago, Novak and Aryna were making history at the Australian Open, so it is fantastic to be able to confirm that tennis fans here in Dubai will get the chance to watch both inside the stadium,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

“The official entry lists this year speak for themselves. To confirm all 10 of the world’s top 10 women is rare for a tournament outside the Grand Slams and a great demonstration of the popularity of our WTA event, which is marking its 23rd edition this month.”


Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023

Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023
Updated 02 February 2023

Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023

Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023
  • Neom Cup welcomes newcomer Castle for Prince Saud bin Salman
  • Asfan Al-Khalediah competes in the Manifa Cup for Arabian Horses

RIYADH: The Saudi Cup 2023 evening is gearing up to host several locally bred and trained horses that secured qualifying cards for the accompanying rounds of the world’s most expensive race event from Feb. 24-25.

The locally bred horses distinguished themselves in the Gulf Day races and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Cup, organized by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, last Friday and Saturday, on the dirt and turf tracks of the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Janadriyah.

Raaed in the 1351 race, Castle in the Neom Cup

Raaed, son of Dark Angel, claimed his sixth victory by winning the Turf Sprint Qualifier 1351 out of a total of 26 entries.

During its racing career, the 6-year-old horse has achieved first-four positions at a rate of 87 percent.

Meanwhile, the Neom Cup is gearing up for the participation of newcomer Castle, Frankel’s son, owned by Prince Saud bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, after winning the Middle Distance Turf Qualifier on Friday in its second successful participation.

The 2,100-meter Neom Cup race will be held on a turf track in the accompanying rounds of The Saudi Cup 2023.

Asfan participates in the Manifa Cup, Pagan runs in the Riyadh Cup

The stable of the sons of Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz competes in the Manifa Cup round for purebred Arabian horses with Asfan Al-Khalediah on the 2,100-meter turf track.

Asfan has prepared well for the race, starting from the Taif Racing Season at King Khalid Equestrian Square in which it won its first prestigious titles, including the tough King Faisal Cup-ranked race for Arabian horses.

Pagan, owned by Fihan bin Faisal Almindeel Sons, has booked its place in the Riyadh Pace Cup, another accompanying round of The Saudi Cup 2023, after winning the 1,200-meter Dirt Sprint Qualifier race.

The 5-year-old horse, son of Sir Prancealot, clocked a record time of 1 minute, 10.29 seconds in its 90-0 Parity Round appearance last season.

My Map reaches the Derby Cup, with Hamdani in the Obeya Cup

My Map presented itself as one of the most promising colts the Saudi field has acquired in recent times as it won the title in its previous races over progressive distances based on the choices of its trainer.

The 3-year-old colt, son of Liam’s Map, owned by Prince Sultan bin Mishal, won the 1,600-meter Saudi Derby Qualifier race on Friday.

Finally, Hamdani Khaled Al-Khalediah won the Al-Diriyah Cup for Arabian horses to reach the Obeya Round at The Saudi Cup 2023.

Hamdani faced fierce competition against Dergham Athbah in the Al-Diriyah Cup race which it won by a nose.

Hamdani’s superb performance in the Al-Diriyah Cup was expected based on its results over the past two years as one of the best Arabian horses in the Al-Khalediah stable.

His victory was the second achievement for Hamdani so far this season, after winning the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia Cup for Arabian horses two months ago.