After 36 years, Canada has to wait longer for World Cup win

After 36 years, Canada has to wait longer for World Cup win
O Canada: Goalkeeper Milan Borjan, left, Steven Vitoria, center, and Kamal Miller react disappointed after losing their World Cup group match against Belgium on Nov. 23, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 24 November 2022

After 36 years, Canada has to wait longer for World Cup win

After 36 years, Canada has to wait longer for World Cup win
  • A large part of the crowd of 40,432 in the Arabian desert stadium supported Canada in their match versus Belgium

AL-RAYYAN, Qatar: O Canada, the wait remains.
Alphonso Davies had the chance to score his nation’s first-ever World Cup goal, to grab a quick lead on Belgium. As Davies readied for the spot kick in the 11th minute after a hand ball, red-clad Canadian fans at the other end of Ahmed bin Ali Stadium buzzed in anticipation for a moment decades in the making.
“You’re carrying the weight of a nation: 36 years of waiting — longer than 36 for our first goal,” coach John Herdman said.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois guessed correctly to dive right and batted Davis’ attempt with his forearm. The ball bounced away, and the Canadians never got any closer to scoring.
Despite dominating the world’s second-ranked team in Canada’s first World Cup match since 1986, the Canadians fell to Belgium 1-0 Wednesday night as Michy Batshuayi scored on a quick counter in the 44th minute.
Davies did not speak with media after the game.
“He’s our star player. He’s one of the best players in the world. He’ll move on and he’ll have another chance and he’ll bury it,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said. “There was also the best goalkeeper in the world in net he had to put it past.”
Courtois had studied video of Davies.
“He shot twice that side, so that’s why I decided to go that way,” Courtois said.
A large part of the crowd of 40,432 in the Arabian desert stadium supported Canada.
Many waved the Maple Leaf and they proudly sang “O Canada” before the match.
“Goosebumps,” Osorio said. “Times are changing in this country for this sport. I was little bit surprised. It’s not a close trip from Canada to get here. It shows you how much support we have, how much the fans love football, how much people love football in Canada. This is a change in the history of this sport in this country. It felt like a home game. And I think Belgium felt like an away game.”
Players brought along the sword they carried around Central America and the Caribbean during qualifying, which is inscribed “Nihil timendum est (Fear nothing).”
Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield spoke with the team before the match.
Atiba Hutchinson, at 39, became the oldest non-goalkeeper to start a World Cup match.
Even though Canada dropped to 0-4 in the World Cup, players felt proud and felt they had momentum going into Sunday’s game against Croatia, the losing finalist in the 2018 World Cup. Croatia opened with a 0-0 draw against Morocco.
“They walk away proud, I’m sure, proud of the feeling that we’re a football nation,” Herdman said. “We came into that game with a couple of goals. The first goal was to play fearless, and the second goal was to entertain. We had some other goals, which were to create some firsts, but we weren’t quite up to those moments.”
He gathered players on the field after the final whistle.
“I was really passionate in the circle,” Herdman said, recounting what he told them. “I thought that was a big step for this country. We deserve to be here. You’ve shown that. You’ve shown that you can live here.”


Ukraine on mission to ban Russia from Olympics, IOC says sanctions stand

Ukraine on mission to ban Russia from Olympics, IOC says sanctions stand
Updated 31 sec ago

Ukraine on mission to ban Russia from Olympics, IOC says sanctions stand

Ukraine on mission to ban Russia from Olympics, IOC says sanctions stand
  • Kyiv wants bar on Russian and Belarusian athletes
  • IOC has opened door to them competing in qualifiers

KYIV: Ukraine hopes to secure widespread international support for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris Olympics in 2024 due to Moscow’s invasion, the sports minister said on Tuesday.

Vadym Huttsait, 51, a former Olympic fencing champion, told Reuters the idea of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals was unacceptable.

“It is impossible for us at a time when the full-scale war is going on, when our athletes, our soldiers are defending our homeland,” he said in his Kyiv office, beside a wall with portraits of athletes killed in the war.

Last week the International Olympic Committee said it was open to including Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals at the Games and opened a door to them competing in qualifiers, prompting an international campaign by Kyiv to keep them out.

Moscow said on Tuesday it would welcome any IOC moves to allow its athletes to compete in the Olympics. But hours later the IOC said it was standing by sanctions imposed against the countries over Russia’s invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday that “Russian politization of sport would invariably mean justification of terror.”

At least 220 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have died in the war, said Huttsait, who won an Olympic fencing team gold in 1992 for the so-called Unified Team, which comprised 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics. He also coached Ukraine’s winning team at the 2008 Games.

“Ukraine will unite with many countries ... and it (Russians competing) will not be allowed,” he added, saying 40 nations had given Ukrainian athletes housing and training assistance abroad during the war.

There has been little public support yet from other nations for an outright ban on Russians at Paris.

The IOC’s initial recommendation to ban Russians and Belarusians has been applied by many sports federations.

But last week, it backed a proposal by the Olympic Council of Asia to allow them to compete in Asia, which could potentially include Olympic qualifying events.

Should that happen, Ukraine’s sporting authorities and athletes will face a “very difficult decision” whether to boycott Paris, Huttsait said.

“When we lose so many people, so many athletes, the lives of Ukrainians are more important to us than any medal at international competitions,” he said.

Ukrainian officials have turned on the IOC in recent days for promoting “violence, mass murders, destruction” with the idea of giving Russia a “platform to promote genocide.”

The IOC has called that defamatory and said such words do not promote constructive discussion.

Zelensky said “only the free world acting together can protect sport from those sports bureaucrats who for some reason are ready to close their eyes to reality.”

On Tuesday, former boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko called on IOC head Thomas Bach not to betray the Olympic spirit and become an “accomplice in this abominable war.”

Moscow is trying to turn the page on years of doping scandals after its teams were forced to compete without their flag or anthem at the Olympics and major international events.


Newcastle sink Saints to end 47-year wait to reach League Cup final

Newcastle sink Saints to end 47-year wait to reach League Cup final
Updated 51 min 44 sec ago

Newcastle sink Saints to end 47-year wait to reach League Cup final

Newcastle sink Saints to end 47-year wait to reach League Cup final
  • Newcastle had all the momentum, sweeping forward in a black and white wave that left Southampton powerless to stem the tide

NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom: Newcastle reached the League Cup final for the first time in 47 years as Sean Longstaff’s double inspired a 2-1 win against Southampton in Tuesday’s semifinal second leg at jubilant St. James’ Park.
Longstaff’s first-half strikes ensured Eddie Howe’s side finished the job after winning 1-0 in the first leg last week.
Che Adams reduced the deficit before the interval and Magpies midfielder Bruno Guimaraes was sent off in the closing stages.
But Newcastle held on to clinch a 3-1 aggregate victory that booked a final date with Manchester United or Nottingham Forest at Wembley on February 26.
United hold a 3-0 lead against Forest heading into Wednesday’s second leg at Old Trafford.
The Magpies’ most recent domestic final ended in defeat against United in the 1999 FA Cup.
Newcastle, who have never won the League Cup, are aiming to lift a major domestic trophy for the first time since the 1955 FA Cup.
Their last major silverware in any competition came in the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
On a cathartic night for Newcastle after decades of suffering, it was fitting that Longstaff, a boyhood Magpies fan, should be the one to send them to Wembley.
With Newcastle legends Alan Shearer and David Ginola joining the celebrations in the stands, raucous Magpies fans were ready to keep the party going all night long in the football-crazy city’s Bigg Market and Quayside bars.
Revitalized by Howe’s astute leadership and the financial muscle of a largely Saudi-backed ownership group, a club once regarded as the laughing stock of the Premier League can finally hold their heads high.
They sit third in the Premier League and look set for a sustained period as contenders for the English game’s top honors.
Reaching their first domestic cup final this century is another significant landmark in Newcastle’s rebirth.
Ramping up an already vociferous atmosphere, Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon was paraded on the pitch before kick-off after completing his £45 million ($51 million) move from Everton.
Howe had labelled the second leg a “season defining” moment for Newcastle and it took his fired-up side just five minutes to raise the decibel levels even further.
Longstaff found Kieran Trippier on the right flank and sprinted onto the defender’s return pass before guiding a low finish past Gavin Bazunu from 12 yards.
Longstaff’s first goal at St. James’ Park in four years was nearly followed by a second moments later when he flashed just wide from Guimaraes’ reverse pass.
Newcastle had all the momentum, sweeping forward in a black and white wave that left Southampton powerless to stem the tide.
Once again it was Longstaff who provided the finishing touch to a breathtaking raid in the 21st minute.
Exposing Southampton’s fragile wing-back system, Joe Willock sprinted into space behind James Bree and found Miguel Almiron, whose cutback was drilled home by Longstaff.
Newcastle keeper Nick Pope had kept 10 successive clean-sheets, but his unbeaten streak ended in the 29th minute.
Completely against the run of play, Willock gifted possession to Adams and the striker smashed a superb shot into the far corner from outside the penalty area.
In a symbolic passing of the torch, Jonjo Shelvey — a veteran of Newcastle’s darker days — waved farewell to fans on the pitch at half-time ahead of his move to Nottingham Forest.
Shelvey has been left behind by Howe’s revolution, an overhaul that has given Newcastle a much stronger spine.
In the past, Newcastle would have wilted when Southampton pushed hard in a tense second half, but they are made of sterner stuff now.
Pope’s brilliant save from Adam Armstrong ensured Newcastle’s long-awaited return to Wembley wasn’t derailed despite Guimaraes’ 82nd minute red card for stamping on Samuel Edozie.


Inter beat Atalanta to reach Italian Cup semifinals

Inter beat Atalanta to reach Italian Cup semifinals
Updated 38 min 30 sec ago

Inter beat Atalanta to reach Italian Cup semifinals

Inter beat Atalanta to reach Italian Cup semifinals
  • Matteo Darmian struck the only goal 11 minutes after half-time

MILAN: Inter Milan set up a potential Italian Cup semifinal clash with arch rivals Juventus after the holders saw off Atalanta 1-0 on Tuesday.
Matteo Darmian struck the only goal 11 minutes after half-time, his low strike across Juan Musso enough to put a tight quarter-final at the San Siro in Inter’s favor.
Simone Inzaghi’s side will take on either troubled Juve or Lazio in April’s two-legged semis, with the pair facing off in Turin on Thursday.
Inter beat Juve in last season’s final to claim their eighth Italian Cup.
The other side of the draw will be decided on Wednesday when Fiorentina host Torino and Roma welcome Cremonese to the Italian capital.
Inter came through a tough test with Atalanta who are a direct rival for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Milan Skriniar was dropped for the match, which was played just after the closure of the winter transfer window in Italy which left him at Inter until the summer.
Slovakia captain Skriniar will leave at the end of the season as a free agent for Paris Saint-Germain.
Inter’s attentions now turn to Sunday’s Serie A derby with AC Milan, whose league title defense has crumbled after a series of bad results culminating with last weekend’s 5-2 home hammering at the hands of Sassuolo.
Defending champions Milan have dropped to fifth with Inter now the closest challengers to league leaders Napoli, 13 points off the pace.


Jorginho joins Arsenal from Chelsea on deadline day

Jorginho joins Arsenal from Chelsea on deadline day
Updated 31 January 2023

Jorginho joins Arsenal from Chelsea on deadline day

Jorginho joins Arsenal from Chelsea on deadline day
  • "It's an important shirt. It's an amazing club, a big one, and I'm really excited and happy to be here," Jorginho told Arsenal.com

LONDON: Jorginho joined Premier League leaders Arsenal from Chelsea on transfer deadline day on Tuesday for a reported fee of £12 million ($15 million).
“Welcome to The Arsenal, Jorginho,” the club said in a post on their official Twitter account.
Gunners manager Mikel Arteta said the 31-year-old Italy international would bring “intelligence, deep leadership skills and a huge amount of Premier League and international experience.”
The midfielder, who is understood to have signed an 18-month deal at the Emirates Stadium, told Arsenal.com: “I’m very excited for this new challenge and I just can’t wait to be on the pitch to be honest.
“Everything has happened so fast. I was a bit surprised, but I took the opportunity of this amazing challenge.
“It’s an important shirt. It’s an amazing club, a big one, and I’m really excited and happy to be here.”
The former Napoli player has made 143 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, with whom he won the Champions League in 2021.
He was also part of the Italy team that won the European Championship the same year.


Russian Olympic chief says athletes must compete without restrictions

Russian Olympic chief says athletes must compete without restrictions
Updated 31 January 2023

Russian Olympic chief says athletes must compete without restrictions

Russian Olympic chief says athletes must compete without restrictions
  • "Russians must participate exactly on the same conditions as all other athletes," Stanislav Pozdnyakov said
  • IOC said last week it was examining a "pathway" for Russians to take part in the summer Games next year

MOSCOW: The head of Russia's Olympic Committee said Tuesday that athletes representing Russia must not be subjected to different conditions from those of other countries, amid a growing row over their participation in the 2024 Paris Games.
"Russians must participate exactly on the same conditions as all other athletes. Any additional conditions or criteria are unwelcome, especially any that have political overtones, which are completely unacceptable for the Olympic movement," Stanislav Pozdnyakov said, according to Russian news agencies.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said last week it was examining a "pathway" for Russians to take part in the summer Games next year, probably as neutral athletes rather than under their national flag.
Russia and its ally Belarus, which allowed its territory to be a stage ground for the offensive, have been sidelined from most Olympic sports since Russian forces invaded Ukraine last February.
That announcement sparked an immediate backlash from Kyiv, with a Ukrainian presidential aide accusing the IOC of being a "promoter of war".
Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Paris Games if Russians are allowed to take part.
Pozdnyakov said his organisation welcomed efforts by the IOC to allow Russian athletes to compete.
"But as for additional conditions, we strongly disagree. The Olympic Charter states that all athletes must participate on an equal footing," he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia's participation in the Paris Olympics would amount to showing that "terror can allegedly be something acceptable".
Zelensky also last week said he had invited IOC president Thomas Bach to visit the frontline Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, "so that he can see for himself that neutrality does not exist".
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday that of the 71 medals that Russian competitors won at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 45 were won by athletes who were members of the Central Sports Club of the Russian Army, or CSKA.
"The army that commits atrocities, kills, rapes, and loots," Kuleba said. "This is whom the ignorant IOC wants to put under (the) white flag allowing (them) to compete."
The Olympic Council of Asia, however, last week offered Russian and Belarusian athletes the chance to compete in this year's Asian Games, arguing that "all athletes, regardless of their nationality or the passport they hold, should be able to compete in sports competitions".
That was a significant move because it would allow athletes from those two countries to achieve qualifying standards they would need to compete in the Paris Olympics.
The IOC reiterated last week that the international federations for each Olympic sport were "the sole authority for its international competitions".