Zimbabwe seeks happy farewell to Taylor

Updated 13 March 2015

Zimbabwe seeks happy farewell to Taylor

AUCKLAND: Zimbabwe hope their World Cup campaign and the international career of Brendan Taylor end on a happy note in their last Pool B match against India in Auckland on Saturday.
The Africans started with an impressive performance against South Africa in Hamilton, losing by 62 runs before beating the United Arab Emirates.
But they then collided with record-shattering Chris Gayle in the West Indies match and a revived Pakistan as their hopes of reaching the last eight dwindled.
Their five-run defeat against Ireland in Hobart ended any outside chance for them to sneak into the next stage.
Taylor, who deputized as skipper for injured Elton Chigumbura, hit a fighting hundred, which was in vain as a controversial catch by John Mooney to dismiss Sean Williams sealed their fate.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Taylor will be playing his last international match after signing a three-year deal with Nottinghamshire.
Taylor could still lead the team on Saturday in case Chigumbura fails to recover in time from a tear to the quadriceps muscle in his left leg.
Taylor believes his team have the capacity to beat defending champions India who have already reached the quarterfinals.
“Well, it’s another opportunity to try and get all three departments right, and if we do that, there’s no reason why we can’t beat India,” said Taylor.
“We’ve beaten them before back home, so we have that belief we can do it.
“Yes, they’re one of the best teams in the world playing on a pretty small ground in Auckland, but it’s a great opportunity for us to be in the World Cup and showcase our talent and skills against the best in the world.
“There’s a lot to play for, a lot of pride at stake. We want to try to finish on a high note.”
But it’s easier said than done as the defending champions have won all their five matches to march into the quarterfinals as the top team in Pool B.
Despite the match bearing no significance for India, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni promises the same intensity.
“We’re highly motivated, in this game also. If it comes to the points, we have qualified for the next stage, but still, it was a challenge in itself,” said Dhoni after a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Ireland.
“The next game will be the last before we get into the knockout stages, so we’ll keep improving every game. That’s our motive so that we can maintain the forward shift that we have got.”
Asked if India could try its bench strength before the knock-out stage, Dhoni replied: “We will have to take input from the physio because the situation demands some rest (for players) but if there are no injury concerns then we want to put the best eleven on the ground.”
India are likely to face Asian neighbors Bangladesh in the quarter-finals in Melbourne on March 19.

Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

Updated 10 December 2019

Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

  • Injury-hit Reds have consistently leaked goals despite streaking clear at the top of Premier League

LONDON: Liverpool travel to Salzburg on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat to the confident Austrian champions to guard against an embarrassing Champions League group stage exit for the holders.

Jurgen Klopp's men are used to getting through to the knockout stages the hard way. In each of the past two seasons they have needed home wins to secure a place in the last 16 before going on to make the final.

However, the specter of a free-scoring Salzburg, led by the Champions League's top scorer in Erlin Braut Haaland spells trouble for an injury-hit Liverpool backline that has consistently leaked goals this season despite streaking clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds' recorded a first clean sheet in 14 games in Saturday's 3-0 win at Bournemouth, but lost another center back as Dejan Lovren limped off in the first half.

Should the Croatian miss the trip to Austria, Joe Gomez will be Klopp's only fit partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defense.

Van Dijk narrowly missed out to Lionel Messi in the battle for the Ballon d'Or last week in recognition of the transformative effect he has had on Liverpool's fortunes over the past two years.

But even the towering Dutchman has been incapable of stopping the steady flow of goals against in recent months.

Injuries have meant there has been a constant rotation of Lovren, Gomez and Joel Matip alongside Van Dijk, while the attacking impetus offered by fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold leaves space in behind to be exploited.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker also missed the first two months of the season due to a calf injury to further unsettle the backline.

The Brazilian is now back, but another injury to Fabinho has robbed the back four of the best player to protect them in the holding midfield role.

"I forgot how it feels, to be honest," said Klopp on finally ending the long wait for a clean sheet at the weekend.

"It's great, we should have them more often. It was the most-used word in the dressing room by the boys — "clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet."

"Obviously everybody was desperate for that, now we have it so let's have it more often.

"The next game where a clean sheet would be useful is already around the corner, against Salzburg on Tuesday."

That is easier said than done as Liverpool know from their first meeting with Jesse Marsch's men in October.

The hosts seemed to be cruising to another Anfield win in the Champions League as they raced into a 3-0 lead, but Salzburg hit back to level at 3-3 before Mohamed Salah's winner ensured Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller.

Salzburg have scored 87 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season, 28 of which have come from Norwegian wonderkid Haaland in just 21 appearances.

The 19-year-old started on the bench when the sides met at Anfield due to injury, but came on to inspire the visitors' revival in the second half and scored one of his eight Champions League goals.

"He's not the only threat from Salzburg but he's a proper one," said Klopp of the danger posed by Haaland ahead of the sides' first clash.

Salzburg need to win to make the last 16 on their first appearance in the group stage in 25 years.

A point would be enough for Liverpool to progress, but they need to win to secure top spot in Group E ahead of Napoli.

Given Liverpool's paucity of clean sheets and Salzburg's thirst for goals, attack would appear to be the best form of defencse for the European champions.