Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations

Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations
Portuguese soccer club Famalicão suspended their coach of the women’s team on Friday after a Portuguese newspaper published accusations of verbal sexual harassment by him of his players at a previous club. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 September 2022

Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations

Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations
  • Famalicão said they were suspending coach Miguel Afonso “until the truth of the facts is ascertained”
  • Público said that it had contacted Afonso but he declined to comment on the accusations

LISBON, Portugal: Portuguese soccer club Famalicão suspended the coach of its women’s team on Friday after a leading newspaper in Portugal published accusations of verbal sexual harassment by him of his players at a previous club.
Famalicão said that “in view” of the report published by Público newspaper that they were suspending coach Miguel Afonso “until the truth of the facts is ascertained.”
The club said they were putting themself at the “total disposition of all parties involved and the competent authorities to assist in obtaining the truth.”
The alleged verbal harassment of players, some of which were 19 years old at the time, reportedly took place while Afonso coached fellow Portuguese club Rio Ave during the 2020-21 season.
Público said that it had contacted Afonso but he declined to comment on the accusations.
In a statement, Rio Ave acknowledged that they had been “aware of some circumstantial comments reported by athletes regarding alleged inappropriate approaches by the coach.”
But, Rio Ave said they took no action because “the coach denied such situations and, at the request of the athletes, the matter was not followed up.”
Famalicão, in a separate statement preceding the suspension of Afonso, said that when they hired Afonso they were not aware of the accusations.


Odds stacked against African teams at World Cup, says Ghana coach

Odds stacked against African teams at World Cup, says Ghana coach
Ghana's coach Otto Addo addresses a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) in Doha. AFP
Updated 11 sec ago

Odds stacked against African teams at World Cup, says Ghana coach

Odds stacked against African teams at World Cup, says Ghana coach
  • No African side has ever gone beyond the quarter-finals at a World Cup
  • “There was never a point where everybody had an equal chance at the start. Never in FIFA history,” Addo said

DOHA: Ghana coach Otto Addo said Sunday the chances of an African team reaching the latter stages of the World Cup will remain limited until the continent is awarded more places at the tournament.
No African side has ever gone beyond the quarter-finals at a World Cup, although Ghana were a missed penalty away from reaching the last four at South Africa in 2010.
Addo, speaking on the eve of his team’s Group H match against South Korea, said Africa, with 54 teams, deserved more slots.
“There was never a point where everybody had an equal chance at the start. Never in FIFA history,” Addo said in Doha.
“It’s very, very difficult if you have five slots to get far. If you have 12 or 14 slots — I don’t know how many Europe get — the probability that a team will get further is much, much higher.”
Thirteen of the 32 nations present in Qatar come from Europe. Asia has six representatives, with South America and the CONCACAF region sending four each.
Senegal are the only African side to have won a match at the Qatar World Cup. None of the five African teams who took part four years ago in Russia made it out the group stage.
“Everybody still has chances, some more, some less, but I’m hoping and praying at least one or two (African) teams can advance to the next stage,” said Addo, who played for Ghana when they made the last 16 on their World Cup debut in 2006.
The Black Stars play South Korea in their second match on Monday after losing their opening game 3-2 to Portugal.
Addo had criticized the performance of American referee Ismail Elfath, insisting the penalty Portugal were awarded for a challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo was a “gift.”
But he said he had had time to reflect on the defeat.
“I can use this stage to apologize if I was a little rude, I was very emotional after the match,” said Addo.
“It’s in the past. It’s over, you can’t change it. Everybody on the pitch is a human, everybody makes mistakes. I do mistakes too. 
“I was surprised the VAR didn’t come but there’s nothing we can do. The day after the match we cut it off and we concentrated on South Korea.”


Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ past best, admits Hazard

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ past best, admits Hazard
Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez attends a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha. AFP
Updated 3 min 11 sec ago

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ past best, admits Hazard

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ past best, admits Hazard
  • “To be fair I think we had a better chance to win four years go,” admitted 31-year-old Hazard
  • Hazard has struggled to repeat the form he showed at Chelsea since he moved to Spain in 2019

DOHA: Eden Hazard admitted Saturday that Belgium’s best chance to win the World Cup had come and gone but said they still have the quality and experience to lift the trophy in Qatar.
Belgium, who finished third at the tournament in Russia in 2018, are still ranked second in the world but many of the much-vaunted “Golden Generation” are now in their 30s.
“To be fair I think we had a better chance to win four years go,” admitted 31-year-old Hazard, speaking on the eve of Sunday’s match against Morocco.
“The team was better four years ago but still we have the quality to win games and to win the competition. We have a few guys, they are a bit older now but we have experience and the best goalkeeper in the world (Thibaut Courtois).
“We have one of the best midfields in the world, right now. We have good strikers. We have the team and I think it’s just the desire to want to win, and the mentality.”
He added: “Belgium can win the World Cup if we are in form. If we are not it will be tough.”
The Real Madrid forward said he was not over-worried by Belgium’s struggles in their opening Group F match against Canada, which they won 1-0, but he urged the team to play without fear.
- No fear -
“The first match you always have a bit of fear, you don’t always want the ball,” he said. “Now we need to get over that. We need to not be afraid to dribble, to play the killer pass. That’s what was missing in the first match.”
Hazard has struggled to repeat the form he showed at Chelsea since he moved to Spain in 2019 but he said he was able to brush off criticism over his performances.
“There has always been criticism,” he said. “Even when you play well you get criticized. I just try to focus on playing the best I can for my country and I’ll give everything I can.”
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was relaxed about his side’s form, highlighting the lack of preparation time before the tournament in Qatar.
“Slowly you’re going to see teams getting ready after three games in the tournament,” he said.
“So rather than having that preparation for a World Cup, for a major tournament where you have three friendlies and you have four weeks to get everybody in the optimal condition, the teams need to get ready while they are in the tournament and that’s dangerous because it can cost you points.”
Martinez gave an update on the fitness of leading striker Romelu Lukaku, who is recovering from a thigh injury.
The Spaniard said the forward was not expected to be available until the third group game against Croatia, in line with previous expectations.
“He’s ahead of what he should be,” said Martinez. “I don’t expect him to be involved tomorrow unless something goes extremely well today.”


Japan make five changes for Costa Rica World Cup match

Japan make five changes for Costa Rica World Cup match
Updated 27 November 2022

Japan make five changes for Costa Rica World Cup match

Japan make five changes for Costa Rica World Cup match
  • Attackers Ritsu Doan, who came on and scored against Germany, Yuki Soma and Ayase Ueda come into the starting line-up

DOHA: Japan made five changes from their team that beat Germany in their World Cup opener as they face Costa Rica on Sunday.
Attackers Ritsu Doan, who came on and scored against Germany, Yuki Soma and Ayase Ueda come into the starting line-up as Japan look to take a big step toward the knockout round.
Right-back Miki Yamane replaces the injured Hiroki Sakai, while fit-again midfielder Hidemasa Morita comes in for Ao Tanaka.
Costa Rica make only two changes to the team that started the campaign with a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain in Group E.
Teenage winger Jewison Bennette and defender Carlos Martinez drop to the bench, with Gerson Torres and Kendall Waston replacing them.

Starting line-ups:
Japan (4-2-3-1)

Shuichi Gonda; Miki Yamane, Kou Itakura, Maya Yoshida (captain), Yuto Nagatomo; Wataru Endo, Hidemasa Morita; Ritsu Doan, Daichi Kamada, Yuki Soma; Ayase Ueda
Coach: Hajjime Moriyasu

Costa Rica (5-3-2)
Keylor Navas; Keysher Fuller, Oscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo, Bryan Oviedo, Kendall Waston; Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Gerson Torres; Anthony Contreras, Joel Campbell
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez (COL)

Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)


Messi magic guides relieved Argentina past feisty Mexico

Messi magic guides relieved Argentina past feisty Mexico
Updated 27 November 2022

Messi magic guides relieved Argentina past feisty Mexico

Messi magic guides relieved Argentina past feisty Mexico
  • Messi equalled Diego Maradona's Argentina record of 21 matches and eight goals at the World Cup
  • Substitute Fernandez made sure of the three points when he curled a superb shot into the top corner in the 87th minute

LUSAIL, Qatar: Lionel Messi thumped in a 64th minute goal and Enzo Fernandez added another late in the game to give Argentina a 2-0 victory over battling Mexico in their World Cup Group C match on Saturday and reignite their tournament hopes.
Messi, who equalled Diego Maradona’s Argentina record of 21 matches and eight goals at the World Cup, was nowhere to be seen for more than an hour before picking up an Angel Di Maria pass, finding just enough space and rifling in from 20 meters.
Substitute Fernandez made sure of the three points when he curled a superb shot into the top corner in the 87th minute.
The result restored order for the Argentines in Group C after their shock opening 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia.
Argentina, on three points, can guarantee progress with a win over Poland, top on four, in their final game on Wednesday.
“Today starts another World Cup for Argentina,” Messi said. “I tell people the same thing, that they continue to believe.
“The first half we didn’t play as we should and in the second, when we calmed down, we started to play the ball better and until the goal we went back to being what we are.”
Mexico, who have now lost all four World Cup clashes with Argentina, have one point and must beat Saudi Arabia, on three, to have any chance of continuing their run of making the last 16 in the last seven World Cups, but even that might not be enough.
HIGH TENSION
With the prospect of an Argentina elimination, tensions were high on and off the ball in a scrappy first half but with the two sets of fans creating an electric atmosphere in the stadium.
The opening period did not live up to the match’s billing with neither team wanting to commit too many players forward and apart from a free kick by Mexico’s Luis Chavez in the ninth minute that sailed past the goalmouth there were few chances.
Mexico’s high pressing game stifled most of their opponents’ attack and Argentine talisman Messi, struggled to find any space to maneuver in a congested midfield.
Apart from a Lautaro Martinez effort that was well off the mark and another from Messi, Argentina were toothless up front.
But in a major blow to Mexico, skipper Andres Guardado, a veteran of five World Cups who until then had been a commanding presence in midfield, had to be taken off injured in the 42nd.
The Mexicans still carved out two more chances before the break with Alexis Vega first curling a free kick over the wall for keeper Emiliano Martinez to save and minutes later thundering a shot over the bar.
The South Americans looked more determined after the break but had no real chance before their 35-year-old captain dragged them out of trouble with his second goal of the tournament.
The stadium erupted in cheers once more with Fernandez’s late strike which sealed Argentina’s first win in the tournament and rekindled Messi’s hopes of a first ever World Cup title.


Saudi Arabia ‘will keep focused and fighting,’ Coach Renard says

Saudi Arabia ‘will keep focused and fighting,’ Coach Renard says
Updated 26 November 2022

Saudi Arabia ‘will keep focused and fighting,’ Coach Renard says

Saudi Arabia ‘will keep focused and fighting,’ Coach Renard says
  • ‘Don’t think that we are finished,’ Frenchman says after defeat by Poland
  • Green Falcons will play their final Group C game against Mexico on Wednesday

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s soccer players will remain focused and keep fighting until the World Cup’s last moments, their head coach said on Saturday after the team’s 2-0 loss to Poland.
“I am proud of my players and football is a team sport in which there is success and failure,” Herve Renard told a press conference. “The most important thing is that we have one match (left) and we must remain focused.”
After an epic win against Argentina in their opening game, the Green Falcons failed to soar to the same heights against Robert Lewandowski and his Polish teammates at the Education City Stadium in Qatar and so remain on three points in Group C.
Despite the disappointment, Renard said his team were far from giving in.
“We will play to the last second of this tournament and we will not give up,” he said.
“We will play the third match with the same energy and we need the fans to be present and fill the stadium against Mexico.
“We didn’t lose because of luck but because we weren’t so effective, and I will support all the players. I made a lot of changes after the first half to have a good reaction and get back into the game.”
The French coach said the reason he substituted Nawaf Al-Abed was because the player had suffered an ankle injury.
“I am very proud of what the players have achieved … we should have tied before the end of the first half,” Renard told Alkass Sports Channel, adding that his team had worked incredibly hard.
“The most important thing is that we remain standing here. And don’t you think that we are finished,” he said.
Poland’s coach Czeslaw Michniewicz was also full of praise for the Saudi team.
“They have good players,” he said. “The best for me is the captain, No. 10, Salem Al-Dowsari, and goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, who is a great goalkeeper and saved dangerous balls from our players.”
Poland had gained a hard-fought victory “with two goals against a valuable team,” he said.