Dose of ‘Double Swaby’ has Jamaica on cusp of Women’s World Cup history against Brazil

Dose of ‘Double Swaby’ has Jamaica on cusp of Women’s World Cup history against Brazil
Jamaica's Chantelle Swaby, left, and her sister Allyson, right, react on the field during the Women's World Cup soccer match against France at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney. The sisters have played together for the Reggae Girlz for the last four years. (AP)
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Updated 02 August 2023
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Dose of ‘Double Swaby’ has Jamaica on cusp of Women’s World Cup history against Brazil

Dose of ‘Double Swaby’ has Jamaica on cusp of Women’s World Cup history against Brazil
  • On Wednesday night, Allyson and Chantelle Swaby and the rest of the Reggae Girlz were playing No. 8 Brazil in Melbourne for a chance to make more Jamaican soccer history
  • Jamaica’s defense against Brazil was likely to rely once more on the Swaby sisters, a pair of defenders coach Lorne Donaldson likes to call “Double Swaby.”

SYDNEY: Lennox Swaby couldn’t see who put the ball in the net to give Jamaica their first Women’s World Cup win, 1-0 over Panama. After the video board showed the replay, the fans surrounding him in the Perth stadium stands began to cheer and congratulate him.

One of his daughters — and yes, he had two on the field — had scored the goal.

“There’s hardly words to explain,” said Swaby, reached by phone Wednesday morning. “It’s just so real.”

On Wednesday night, Allyson and Chantelle Swaby and the rest of the Reggae Girlz were playing No. 8 Brazil in Melbourne for a chance to make more Jamaican soccer history.

A win would advance 43rd-ranked Jamaica past the group stage for the first time. Jamaica’s defense against Brazil was likely to rely once more on the Swaby sisters, a pair of defenders coach Lorne Donaldson likes to call “Double Swaby.”

Jamaica played No. 5 France to a 0-0 draw in their opener and both teams had four points heading to the last of the Group F games. Wedged between two top 10 teams, Jamaica needed a win or draw against Brazil to reach the knockout round.

“I think they’re gonna surprise the world,” said Lennox Swaby, a Jamaican who married an American and raised his family in Hartford, Connecticut

His daughters, called the “Swaby Babies” while growing up, have been playing side by side on Jamaica’s back line. They also played together on Jamaica’s 2019 Women’s World Cup team, which was the Reggae Girlz’ first time in the tournament.

“They are interchangeable, so I think it’s a fantastic thing for us,” Donaldson said.

Chantelle, 24, said after Jamaica’s opening draw against France in Sydney that she “never really ever thought in a million years” that she’d play alongside her older sister on the World Cup stage.

Against France, the Swaby defense was in full effect. The sisters helped to hold Les Bleues scoreless, despite France’s 14 shots on goal and 12 corner kicks.

“This started off in the backyard,” their father said of their sibling partnership. “They’re always together. I think that also plays a part in the way they’re playing for the country right now.”

When Jamaica captain Khadija Shaw received her second yellow card in the 92nd minute against France, Allyson, 26, took a turn with the captain’s band on her arm, serving in place of Shaw for Jamaica’s following match against Panama.

Selecting Allyson as the interim captain proved to be the right choice for Donaldson. In the 56th minute, midfielder Trudi Cardi sent a corner into the box from the left side, finding Allyson, who finished with a header.

She reacted with a leaping fist pump as she ran toward Jamaica’s bench.

“We all felt it,” said Scott Ferguson, the sisters’ soccer coach at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford. “To see Allyson express it when she is such a focused player, that was just wonderful.”

The Paris-Saint Germain defender earned the first goal of her international and World Cup career to deliver Jamaica’s first-ever Women’s World Cup win.

Allyson first met Ferguson in 2010, when she tried out for the high school girls soccer team. Chantelle followed her older sister’s path, trying out for the team as a freshman when Allyson was a junior.

Ferguson put both Swaby sisters in the starting lineup as high school freshmen. They started out as defenders but shared time as forward to generate offense for the team.

“I still remember the first time that she played a ball,” Ferguson said of Chantelle’s first game. “Crossfield, and it was just this beautiful kind of laser delivered ball right to the feet of someone about 40 yards away.”

The sisters’ journey parted in college. Allyson played at Boston College while Chantelle was at Rutgers. In 2019, their paths converged again, when they each earned a call-up to the Women’s World Cup squad.

“Words can’t explain,” their dad said. “It was exciting to see the list.”

Four years later, the two are making history, side by side.

“It’s been great for the last four years, just having them and just watching them grow as sisters,” Donaldson said.


Al-Ittihad progress to Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite early Benzema own goal

Al-Ittihad progress to Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite early Benzema own goal
Updated 22 February 2024
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Al-Ittihad progress to Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite early Benzema own goal

Al-Ittihad progress to Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite early Benzema own goal
  • The Jeddah giants leave it late but progress after a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Navbahor of Uzbekistan

Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad squeezed into the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on Thursday thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Navbahor of Uzbekistan, following a goalless draw in the first leg last week.

The Jeddah giants recovered from a Karim Bemzema own goal midway through the first half to take control of the game, level the score and eventually go through thanks to a late Navbahor own goal. It was no less than the Saudis deserved as they made most of the running and created the bulk of the chances.

Fabinho had the earliest opportunity to open the scoring but the former Liverpool midfielder fired just over the bar from outside the box.

The opening goal came from a familiar source but not in the way fans expected. The home crowd was silenced in the 25th minute when Jamshid Iskanderov floated over a free-kick from the right, and former Real Madrid star Benzema met it on the edge of the six-yard box to send a powerful header into his own net past a startled Abdullah Al-Mayouf.

The goal came out of nothing, against the run of play, but Al-Ittihad quickly regrouped, refocused their efforts and continued to dominate the game.

Benzema redeemed himself on the stroke of half-time, nodding down a corner to the near post where Abderrazak Hamdallah was waiting to sweep the ball home from close range.

The second half unfolded in much the same fashion, with Al-Ittihad enjoying most of the possession and creating more of the chances. Midway through the period, however, they were reminded of Navbahor’s goal threat when Filip Ivankovic fired just wide from the right side of the area.

With 15 minutes remaining, Benzema had the ball in the net, the correct one this time, when he fired home after some good work from Ahmed Hegazy. After a lengthy intervention, however, the video assistant referee ruled it out.

This only delayed the celebrations of the home fans, though, as three minutes from time the Tigers took a decisive lead, thanks to another own goal.

Substitute Saleh Al-Amri’s corner from the right failed to clear the first man but, in swinging a boot, Toma Tabatadze sliced his attempted clearance and the ball looped over the keeper into the far corner of the net.

Navbahor did their utmost to get back on level terms but time was against them and it was not to be. As a result, Al-Ittihad, back-to-back winners of the competition in 2004 and 2005, remain in the hunt for a third continental crown.


Milan and Benfica book spots in Europa League last 16

Milan and Benfica book spots in Europa League last 16
Updated 22 February 2024
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Milan and Benfica book spots in Europa League last 16

Milan and Benfica book spots in Europa League last 16
  • Benjamin Bourigeaud scored a hat-trick for Rennes, including a pair of penalties
  • Benfica also saw off French opposition as a 0-0 draw away to Toulouse

PARIS: AC Milan overcame a spirited Rennes 5-3 on aggregate despite a 3-2 loss in Thursday’s second leg to reach the Europa League last 16, where they will be joined by fellow former European champions Benfica.
Benjamin Bourigeaud scored a hat-trick for Rennes, including a pair of penalties, but goals from Luka Jovic and Rafael Leao ensured Milan were never really in danger of blowing a 3-0 lead from the first leg.
Benfica also saw off French opposition as a 0-0 draw away to Toulouse was enough to send the Portuguese side through following their 2-1 victory in last week’s first leg in Lisbon.
Marseille host Shakhtar Donetsk later in Jean-Louis Gasset’s first match at the helm following the exit of Gennaro Gattuso. The tie is level at 2-2 after the opening match in Hamburg.
Last season’s runners-up Roma take on Feyenoord in the Italian capital after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Sporting Lisbon are 3-1 up on Swiss champions Young Boys going into the return fixture, while Galatasaray have a 3-2 edge over Sparta Prague.
The draw for the last 16 will be made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Friday.


Kompany driven by family history as Burnley battle drop

Kompany driven by family history as Burnley battle drop
Updated 22 February 2024
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Kompany driven by family history as Burnley battle drop

Kompany driven by family history as Burnley battle drop
  • The Clarets are on course for relegation after a 5-0 hammering at home to Arsenal left them in 19th place
  • Offering an emotional account of his inner drive, Kompany said on Thursday: “It’s a deep answer, it’s about where you come from”

LONDON: Burnley boss Vincent Kompany has revealed his father’s experiences as a political refugee give him the drive and determination to lead the club’s fight for Premier League survival.
The Clarets are on course for relegation after a 5-0 hammering at home to Arsenal left them in 19th place with just three wins this season, but Kompany’s resolve has roots far beyond the football pitch.
Explaining his hunger to succeed, the former Manchester City captain cited his father Pierre, who fled what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo for Belgium as a dissident in 1975 having protested against the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.
He put his son on the path to a glittering sporting career and later became Belgium’s first black mayor.
Offering an emotional account of his inner drive, Kompany said on Thursday: “It’s a deep answer, it’s about where you come from.
“Where I come from is my dad, who was a political refugee. He had to flee a country not just at war, but as a dictatorship where he was getting whipped in his twenties because he was against the regime over there.
“It’s fleeing from one part of the country to the other, it’s losing family members, it’s everything you’ve experienced. It’s where I come from.
“You say where does the drive and desire come from? I have so many reasons to have that fire in me every single day. So many reasons why I can’t ever do less.
“It’s bigger than one result, or a bad month, or anything like that.”
Kompany, whose side face fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday, also pushed back against the notion that this season’s struggles were a new experience for someone more accustomed to lifting silverware than fighting the drop.
“That’s the bulk of the known experiences, yeah. But a gambler never tells you about his losses, right?” he said.
“That (a serial winner) is what you see, but my experiences feel different. I do feel I’ve had to overcome and do a lot to get where I was.”


Kroos announces Germany return ahead of Euro 2024

Kroos announces Germany return ahead of Euro 2024
Updated 22 February 2024
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Kroos announces Germany return ahead of Euro 2024

Kroos announces Germany return ahead of Euro 2024
  • “Hey folks, short and sweet, I’ll be playing for Germany again from March,” Kroos said

BERLIN: World Cup winner Toni Kroos announced his return to the German national team on Thursday ahead of Euro 2024 on home soil.
Kroos, 34, will be eligible for selection in the upcoming March international friendlies against France and the Netherlands.
“Hey folks, short and sweet, I’ll be playing for Germany again from March,” Kroos said in an Instagram post.
“Why? Because I was asked by the coach and I’m up for it.
“I’m sure that much more is possible with the team at the European Championship than most people think right now.”
The Real Madrid midfielder, who has 106 caps for Germany, stepped down from international duty after the Euro 2020 last-16 elimination at the hands of eventual finalists England.


Ex-Brazil star Dani Alves sentenced to 4.5 years in jail for rape

Ex-Brazil star Dani Alves sentenced to 4.5 years in jail for rape
Updated 22 February 2024
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Ex-Brazil star Dani Alves sentenced to 4.5 years in jail for rape

Ex-Brazil star Dani Alves sentenced to 4.5 years in jail for rape
  • It also ordered the three-time Champions League winner to five years’ probation after he serves his jail term
  • “The victim did not consent and there is evidence that, beyond the complainant’s testimony, permits the rape to be considered proven,” the Barcelona court wrote in a statement

BARCELONA: A Spanish court on Thursday sentenced former Brazil international Dani Alves to four and a half years in prison after finding him guilty of raping a young woman at a Barcelona nightclub in December 2022.
It also ordered the three-time Champions League winner to five years’ probation after he serves his jail term, and demanded he pay 150,000 euros ($162,000) in compensation to the victim.
“The victim did not consent and there is evidence that, beyond the complainant’s testimony, permits the rape to be considered proven,” the Barcelona court wrote in a statement.
“The court considers as proven the fact that the defendant abruptly grabbed the complainant, threw her to the ground and penetrated her vaginally, preventing her from moving, while the complainant said no and wanted to leave.”
Prosecutors had called for a nine-year jail sentence for the 40-year-old followed by 10 years of probation.
Alves, who maintains the sex with the woman was consensual, will appeal the ruling, his lawyer told reporters outside the court.
One of the world’s most decorated footballers who played for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain during a storied career, Alves went on trial earlier this month on charges of raping a woman at the Sutton nightclub in the early hours of December 31, 2022.
His accuser — who testified behind a screen to protect her identity — said Alves had violently forced her to have sex in a private bathroom of the nightclub despite her begging him to let her go, causing her “anguish and terror,” according to prosecutors.
Police officers who attended the woman told the court about the victim’s state of agitation and “shock” when they arrived at the nightclub, as well as her anxiety that “nobody would believe her” if she filed a complaint.
During the trial, his defense focused on trying to show that Alves was drunk when he met the woman.
Alves, who was present in court throughout his three-day trial, testified that his sexual encounter with the woman was consensual and denied hitting her and grabbing her hair.
“I am not that type of man, I am not violent,” he told the court after his defense lawyer asked if he had forced her to have sex.
“If she wanted to leave, she could have left, she was not obligated to be there,” he added.
But the court ruled that the injuries found on the victim’s knees were “the result of the violence used by Mr. Alves,” and said her testimony had been “consistent” throughout the proceedings.
Spain’s leftist government in 2022 passed new legislation — dubbed the “only yes means yes” law — that strengthens the country’s penal code against rape by requiring explicit consent for sex acts, a move long demanded by assault survivors and women’s rights groups.
The player’s defense had argued that the young woman had danced “glued” to him at the nightclub, and there was “sexual tension” between the two.
But the court ruled that “these attitudes... do not mean giving ‘carte blanche’ to... a subsequent aggression.”
Alves initially denied knowing the woman in a TV interview but later acknowledged having sex with her, saying it was consensual.
He told La Vanguardia newspaper in June that he had lied because he was afraid his wife would leave him.
The player has been in detention since he was arrested in Barcelona in January 2023. His requests to be released on bail have been repeatedly denied by the courts which considered him a flight risk.
Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.
Alves is widely considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, winning 42 trophies during a highly successful career.
The peak of his career was with Barcelona between 2008 and 2016 when he won 23 trophies. At the time of his arrest, he was contracted to Mexican club Pumas UNAM. He was sacked soon after being detained.