The old lady’s facelift

first_imgIt’s hard to look at contemporary football-caught in a chokehold by a handful of Europe’s wealthiest, most powerful clubs-and not conclude that something essential has been lost. Has the game ever been so sclerotic, the prizes shared among so few?Juventus is among that European elite. La Vecchia Signora, the grand,It’s hard to look at contemporary football-caught in a chokehold by a handful of Europe’s wealthiest, most powerful clubs-and not conclude that something essential has been lost. Has the game ever been so sclerotic, the prizes shared among so few?Juventus is among that European elite. La Vecchia Signora, the grand old lady of Italian football, is the country’s most widely supported and widely loathed team. In their famous black and white stripes-the colours taken from Notts County, now in English football’s fourth tier-Juve have been Italian champions 33 times. Their closest challengers, the Milan clubs AC and Inter, have won 18 each. And though domestic dominance has not always translated to its European equivalent (Juve have been champions of Europe twice, to AC Milan’s 7), Juve have also reached two of the last three Champions League finals.Netflix has made Juve the subject of its first football documentary, First Team: Juventus. It’s an inside look at this still ongoing season, as the club seeks to win a record seventh consecutive scudetto (Italian championship) and the Champions League for the first time since 1996.The first three episodes are available on Netflix now, with Juve a point behind Napoli in Serie A and in a precarious position in Champions League knockout stages after a 2-2 draw in Turin against Tottenham Hotspur, with the London leg to come.So far, First Team: Juventus is tame, an extended exercise in public relations. It’s apparent that Juventus seized on the project as a means to trawl for fans in Asia and North America, markets dominated by the top clubs in England and Spain. And what’s in it for Netflix, presumably, is a slice of the audience for the world’s most popular sport.advertisementBut the result is a documentary that fails to tell the casual viewer anything about why Juventus is compelling. It homes in on the current season with only the most fleeting references to the history and context that turn any given football season into something more than just a sequence of events.What we get in First Team: Juventus is a glimpse into the lives of some of the players-a slim, fine-featured player brewing coffee in a moka pot; a slim, fine-featured player buying Christmas gifts in a market with his blonde girlfriend-and an overblown trudge through match footage, the goals shown through obscure camera angles and humdrum matches made no less humdrum by the addition of dramatic music.Little is allowed to disturb the glossy surface of Juventus, or of any top European club. Too much money goes into ensuring these teams win. And so they do win, and if the game becomes ever more sterile, who really cares? Not the clubs, not Netflix, not the fans who watch on TV, consumers of yet more product.last_img read more

CWG 2018: Pooja Dhanda settles for Silver in 57kg Freestyle Wrestling

first_imgIndia’s Pooja Dhanda went down fighting in a thrilling final of the Women’s Freestyle 57kg category to settle for a Silver.The 24-year-old wrestler lost 5-7 to Nigeria’s Adekuroye Odunayo to finish second in her discipline.This was India’s sixth medal of the day as they consolidated their third position in the medals tally .India have so far amassed 37 medals at the 2018 Games with 17 Gold, 9 Silver and 11 Bronze.CWG 2018 MEDALS TALLYCWG 2018 FULL COVERAGECWG 2018 LIVE BLOGEarlier, Bajrang Punia beat Kane Charig of Wales in the Men’s Freestyle 65kg category to win Gold.Punia beat Charig by technical superiority to bring India’s third Gold and fifth medal in wrestling. On Thursday, Rahul Aware, Sushil Kumar, Babita Kumari and Kiran had won wrestling medals for India.The first medal of the day for India came from shooting as Tejaswini Sawant and Anjum Moudgil completed a one-two in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions, bagging the gold and silver medal, respectively.Sawant broke the Games record with the score of 457.9 to win the Gold while Moudgil scooped the silver medal after shooting a total score of 455.7.Anish then won Gold in 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Gold to become India’s youngest athlete to win a medal in CWG history.The 15-year-old broke the Games record with a score of 30 after eight shots to win the yellow metal.The other medal of the day came from boxing, where Naman Tanwar claimed Bronze in the Men’s 91kg category.The 19-year-old pugilist lost his semi-final bout 0-4 against Australia’s Jason Whateley to settle for the bronze medal.advertisementlast_img read more

BIZ-IPL-MERCHANDISING(DCM31)

first_imgIPL merchandising a huge opportunity to monetise brand: Duff & Phelps Mumbai, Apr 22 (PTI) The Indian Premier League (IPL) and its franchisees can emulate other global sporting events to exploit the brand value for increasing their revenue collections through merchandising, according to global valuation and corporate finance advisor Duff & Phelps.Unlike the global sports events, the premier T20 cricket hasnt been able to monetise at a large scale through merchandising despite its huge popularity, but this could change in the next few years, it said.”Merchandising, which has not picked up as anticipated, is a huge opportunity for IPL and the franchisees to monetise the brand, and we hope to see IPL replicating the global sporting events success in monetising their brands through merchandising,” Duff & Phelps India Managing Director Santosh N told PTI.Globally, merchandising is a USD 20 billion plus industry, but in India and more specifically in the IPL, it is still at a nascent stage due to competition from the unorganised and counterfeit market in India.”Most of the global football teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrids merchandising revenue contribution is in the range of 15 per cent to 20 per cent of their total revenue, whereas in case of IPL, this may be less than 5 per cent at this stage. However, considering the huge market IPL is catering to, we anticipate the IPL merchandising revenue to grow substantially in the next few years and be on par with global sports teams in the long term,” he said.advertisementIPL as a total business was valued at USD 5.3 billion in 2017, according to Duff & Phelps.Backed by huge fan following, the franchisees and broadcasters would look at creating additional revenue streams to leverage brand in the next few years.”Various IPL stakeholders have found different avenues to monetise their association with the IPL. This unprecedented response from advertisers, broadcasters, sponsors, affiliates and general viewing public is expected to continue in the future. In the next few years, franchisees and broadcasters will look to find more avenues to leverage brand IPL,” he said.As per Duff & Phelpss brand valuation report last year, Mumbai Indians with USD 106 million became the first IPL team to cross the USD 100 million mark. Kolkata Knight Riders were valued at USD 99 million and Royal Challengers Bangalore at USD 88 million.Santosh added that JSW Sports that acquired 50 per cent stake in GMR Group-owned franchise Delhi Daredevils, “underscores the popularity of the tournament and how every big corporate house wants a slice of it”.IPL, which entered its 11th edition this year, has seen a phenomenal response from sponsors and broadcasters.The cash-rich leagues title sponsorship has seen a massive growth of 800 per cent from Season 1 to Season 11. During Season 1, DLF was paying Rs 50 crore per year for IPL title sponsorship and Chinese handset maker Vivo has agreed to pay Rs 440 crore per year for the next five years starting this year.Sony Pictures Network that was the official broadcaster for IPL for the first 10 years, generated Rs 1,200 crore in advertising revenues last year.Star India, which bagged the broadcasting rights for five years from this edition for a massive Rs 16,347.50 crore, expects the advertising revenue from IPL to cross Rs 2000 crore this year.Asked if the league would be able to sustain the interest in future, he said, “going by the historical trends, it will only keep growing as there is no other sport or sporting league that generates similar level of interest in India”. PTI DS MKJ MKJlast_img read more

Bihar to return to domestic cricket after 18 years

first_imgBihar will return to domestic cricket after a gap of 18 years when they play the Ranji Trophy in September later this year.The state failed to play in a tournament after Jharkhand was formed on November 15, 2000, as it lost its cricket headquarter at Jamshedpur to Jharkhand.But, on Tuesday, after a long wait, Amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium informed the decision to the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in the course of the hearing of a contempt plea filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar.The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said that Bihar could not be accommodated in the domestic circuit because the domestic season had ended by the time the court had passed its January 4 order.The top court had on January 4 this year had said that Bihar will play the Ranji Trophy and other domestic tournaments under the aegis of the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA).The court had passed its January 4 order after Alok Verma of the Cricket Association of Bihar told the court that ever since the formation of Jharkhand on November 15, 2000, following the bifurcation of the state, Bihar did not get any opportunity to participate in Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy or any other domestic tournament.The court on Tuesday asked all the state affiliates of the BCCI to give their further suggestions on the draft constitution of the apex cricketing body that incorporate the directions given by it and the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee.advertisementSuggestions will also be given by three top BCCI members C.K. Khanna, Amitabh Chaudhary and Anirudh Chaudhry.The court gave them three days time to submit their suggestions to amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium, who in turn will submit to the court when its hears the matter on May 11.The court made it clear that the draft constitution that will be finalised and cleared by it will not be debated as the same would be treated as final.The Committee of Administrators managing the cricket affairs on the directions of the top court had last year submitted the draft constitution on which the court had invited suggestions by the state affiliates of the BCCI. The CoA is headed by Vinod Rai — a former CAG of India.The court will also consider revisiting the direction providing one state one vote including expanding the composition of the selection committee which might include experienced players who might not have made a big name in the cricket world.The top court in its July 24 order last year had agreed to re-examine the one state one vote principle, the strength and composition of the selection committee and the status of associate members including the Railways, tri-services and the Association of India Universities.The bone of contention is the vote of six associations — Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association, Vidarbha Cricket Association, Gujarat Cricket Association, Baroda cricket Association and Saurashtra Cricket Association — many of whom are the founding members of the BCCI.The lawyer appearing for the BCCI told the court on Tuesday that some of the north-eastern states who cannot get 11 players to form a team have got voting rights at par with the states who have contributed immensely to cricket in India.At this Justice Chandrachud reminded the lawyers that India was bundled out for a mere 42 runs in England.Recalling the fate of legendary spinner Bapu Nadkarni, though without naming him, Chief Justice Mishra said if a bowler bowls 27 maiden overs in one go that does not mean that the batsmen in the opposing team are not capable.As the Chief Justice said, “We are on the principle of inclusion and not exclusion”, Justice Chandrachud said that Vidarbha which had won the Ranji trophy this year can’t be denied voting rights.(With inputs from IANS)last_img read more

RCB victory was a birthday gift for my wife Anushka Sharma: Virat Kohli

first_imgVirat Kohli gifted his wife Anushka Sharma a perfect birthday present as Royal Challengers Bangalore condemned Mumbai Indians to a 14-run defeat in a must-win game of the Indian Premier League this season.Kohli was overwhelmed to earn two crucial points and keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the play-offs.Anushka Sharma cheered on from the stands as RCB players fought hard to earn a 14-run win at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru Tuesday.”My wife is here and it’s her birthday. This was a little gift for her. It was very important to achieve these two points in front of her,” Kohli said at the post match presentaton ceremony.MATCH REPORT | HIGHLIGHTSOn a very special occasion, Kohli also became the all-time leading run-scorer in the Indian Premier League.What made the night even more special for the Bollywood diva was the fact that it was her 30th birthday.Out of the last five matches before tonight, RCB had lost four and were in serious dangerous of not making it to the play-offs. A victory at home against Mumbai has kept Kohli’s men in the hunt while the task gets significantly tougher for MI, who are the only team in history to win the IPL thrice.”We needed that win. Very important win at such an important stage of the tournament. In the last couple of games, we were picking up. Tonight was an occasion we need that two points. This is the push we needed. We might have spoken about too many things in the past,” he said.advertisementMATCH PICTURESKohli also lauded his side’s bowling unit after Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and man-of-the-match Tim Southee bagged two wickets apiece.”To the bowlers, we said, ‘back your gut feel to bowl yorkers, take your fields.’ Everyone bowled really well. Umesh’s over. Colin’s over with the bat. The one over that JP bowled and Manan targeted, that was game-changing. Manan took the game away from them. We needed impact performances to get those two points. We had good intent, results are around the corner. The result went our way. We should take this confidence forward,” Kohli said.Kohli had celebrated Anushka’s birthday earlier in the day. The couple was also spotted on a movie date a day before but on Tuesday, Kohli was back in business, leading his men in front of a packed Chinnaswamy audience. AP PhotoAnushka looked slightly worried during the first innings. Manan Vohra smashed a fluent 45 and Brendon McCullum hit an aggressive 37 to steer Bangalore on a difficult pitch. Kohli walked in at number four, for the first time since 2014 (in the IPL), to hit a classy 32. But it all looked too little before Colin de Grandhomme blasted 23 off 10 and RCB finished with 24 off the final over to set Mumbai a daunting 168.In response, Mumbai got off to a disastrous start.Tim Southee broke through early to remove Ishan Kishan while Umesh Yadav dismissed Suryakumar Yadav and Rohit Sharma off successive balls. RCB opted for the DRS after the on-field umpire turned down a loud appeal.Anushka watched on anxiously and when the third umpire ruled in favour of the hosts, her smile said it al – RCB had it in their bag.There was a brief ray of hope for Mumbai as Hardik Pandya joined JP Duminy but the latter’s run out all but brought the curtains down on them.And all along, while RCB staged a remarkable comeback to revive their IPL campaign, Anushka beamed. One wondered if she could have asked for a better birthday gift from her husband.last_img read more

World Cup 2018: Russian players bask in the glory of dream run at home

first_imgRussia virtually booked their place in the round of 16 of 2018 FIFA World Cup with a comprehensive 3-1 over Egypt on Tuesday.A three goal blitz in the space of 15 minutes early in the second half put the Russians firmly in command before Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, who had a subdued game on his return from injury, struck from a penalty, awarded after a video review.Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.World Cup 2018: Russia in sight of knockouts after crushing EgyptArtem Dzyuba, who scored the third goal for the hosts, celebrated in manic fashion.”The most important thing is we won. The whole country is happy I think, Russia is partying. We are unbelievably happy. Thank you to everyone for the support.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGE”Every player battled today in every area of the pitch. We didn’t give Egypt a centimeter of the pitch. We held back Salah and deserved to win,” he said.Salah, who had not played since going off injured in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid last month, managed some consolation when he converted from the spot.The penalty came after a video assistant referee (VAR) ruling that he had been brought down by Zobnin inside the area after the referee had initially awarded a free kick.FIFA WORLD CUP: FIXTURES | POINTS TABLE”We had a good first half then we had 10-15 really bad minutes and that’s why we lost,” said Cuper, who immediately faced questions over his future.advertisement”Whether I should stay or not does not depend on me and we still have another match. In a World Cup you have to wait till the very last minute although our chances are minute,” he added.(With Reuters inputs)last_img read more

World Cup history’s first denied goal through controversial VAR

first_imgVideo Assistant Referee (VAR) is making its debut in this year’s World Cup in Russia and after the first week the technology disallowed its first goal.Although it has been used in domestic competitions across Europe in the past year, some concerns have been raised about the system. Instant replay allows officials to go back and correct a decision and in the end the team which rightfully should have won, does.Iran’s 62-minute goal was disallowed after being checked to be off-side as Spain went onto win the match thanks to a Diego Costa strike.Saeid Ezatolahi thought he had levelled the scores when he swept the ball home after the Spanish defence failed to clear Rezaeian’s free kick, only for referee Andres Cunha to rule the goal out after consultation with VAR officials.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGE”I thought it was a goal and for that fraction of a second I was thinking about all the hard work that I had done and, because in the first game I was suspended, I was under a lot of pressure,” the 21-year-old said.”God helped me to play well but unfortunately we couldn’t score, the goal didn’t count. “Now we are a little bit sad but we will continue to work hard for the next game to make our fans happy.”Iran coach Carlos Queiroz chose to see the bigger picture though his team lost due to it.”For me, as a trainer, VAR is coming too late,” Queiroz told reporters at the Kazan Arena.advertisement”If we had it six months later, maybe today we had an added point, but it’s good for the credibility of football.”I’ve nothing to say about the quality of Spain’s win other than to say I think they added to the loyalty, integrity of the Iranian players.FIFA WORLD CUP: FIXTURES | POINTS TABLE”It (the Iran performance) deserved a little better in this match, but that’s football. For the Iranian players to play against Spain, we are winners because we learnt a lot. We only had two possible results; we win or we learn, and we learnt a lot.”VAR has been key reducing refereeing mistakes and has come to the aid of many teams. In France’s game against Australia, referee Andres Cunha had failed to spot Josh Risdon catching Antoine Griezmann inside the box and after reviewing the footage, a penalty was awarded as Les Blues went onto to win 2-1.Also, Andreas Granqvist had converted a 65th minute penalty awarded after video review to hand Sweden a 1-0 victory over South Korea.There has been debate too over the non-use of VAR in certain games. England had cried foul when Harry Kane was wrestled to the floor by Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi and Yassine Meriah, but no review was made despite protets from the English. Brazil had also asked FIFA why the VAR was not used to review two key decisions they believe hindered their side during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland.Brazil players complained long and hard that defender Miranda was pushed by Steven Zuber when he headed home Switzerland’s equaliser early in the second half of their Group E opener. They also believe Gabriel Jesus was manhandled inside the penalty area and should have been awarded a spot kick.As debate rages on whether VAR is useful to correct decisions or it just impedes the flow of the game, one cannot deny its impact at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.(With inputs from Reuters)last_img read more

Fans, media slam biggest disgrace in German World Cup history

first_imgGermany were hit with the ‘Curse of the Champions’ as they crashed out of the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup after humiliating 0-2 loss at the hands of South Korea in their last Group F match.It was the first time Germany has been eliminated in the first round since 1938. Besides Germany this year, France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 were the previous defending champions to get eliminated in the group stage.German fans responded with shock and dismay after the national team suffered their first elimination in the first round of the World Cup for 80 years.MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | REPORTTop selling daily Bild splashed “OUT!” across its website after the defending champions’ 2-0 defeat by South Korea, calling it a nightmare but adding “We didn’t deserve any better”.”The biggest disgrace in German World Cup History. The 0:2 loss is the embarrassing end to a catastrophic group phase,” it wrote on its website.Fans in tears and shock after Germany eliminated from #WorldCup#KORGER pic.twitter.com/NFRo3hTb0J Ruptly (@Ruptly) June 27, 2018In West Berlin, along the swanky shopping avenue Kurfuerstendamm normally filled with cheering fans and honking cars, the mood was eerily silent. Glum-faced fans in Germany shirts moved slowly and quietly away from cafes and bars. Tens of thousands of German supporters who had gathered to view the game at the Brandenburg Gate stood stunned after the South Korea loss, some moved to tears.Also read – Joachim Low shocked after Word Cup 2018 eliminationadvertisement”It didn’t go well from the start. The first game wasn’t great, the second game wasn’t great and we shouldn’t even talk about today,” said Robert Koeschinger, one emotional fan.”We deserved to lose. Something definitely has to change now.”2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGE”The team just didn’t even fight. It was a terrible game,” said Janin Roethig with tears in her eyes.Its gonna be damn bouncy for any Korean in Mexico for the rest of the day ??#MEXSWE #KORGERpic.twitter.com/mp1VdJiB0R Aurelia | ?? BTS – Fake Love ?? (@AureUnnie) June 27, 2018Coach Joachim Loew told broadcaster ZDF it was too soon to answer a question about his future as the national trainer.”I’m terribly disappointed,” Loew said. “I need a few hours to digest it.” Die Welt newspaper dismissed the team’s performance as “disgraceful.” “Tame, lacking in ideas and passion – the team deservedly lost against South Korea,” it said.”‘The miracle of Sochi’ was not repeated today,” the German interior ministry tweeted. “Out in the group stage. The sports ministry is as sad as you all are.”WORLD CUP 2018 – FIXTURES | POINTS TABLEFelix Kroos, brother of Germany midfielder Toni, tweeted, “That’s sport. Heads high for all those who truly cheered on.”German comedian Jan Boehmermann offered hope for the future.”Chin up. In the next World Cup, Germany will form a joint European team with Italy, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia and Spain, and will be world champion every time thereafter,” he said on Twitter.(With inputs from Reuters)last_img read more

World Cup 2018: Cavani speechless after destroying Ronaldo’s dream

first_imgEdinson Cavani was left struggling for words after his sensational brace helped Uruguay defeat Portugal 2-1 in the round of 16 at FIFA World Cup 2018. On Saturday at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, Cavani scored twice to send Ronaldo packing in what was possibly his last World Cup appearance.Cavani put Uruguay ahead in the seventh minute when he evaded the Portugal defence to meet Luis Suarez’s pinpoint cross with a bullet header at the far post.Pepe headed Portugal level in the 55th minute, the first goal Uruguay have conceded in the tournament, but Uruguay regained the lead seven minutes later when Rodrigo Bentancur found Cavani and he curled a brilliant first-time shot past Rui Patricio from the edge of the penalty area.Portugal dominated possession but their attack did not have enough bite to break through the Uruguay defence twice, leaving their captain Cristiano Ronaldo a frustrated figure throughout the match.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEThe Real Madrid forward could not add to his four goals in the first two matches, failing to improve his record of failing to score in all six World Cup knockout matches he has played.HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTOSCavani will surely be the toast of the nation. Earlier in the evening, France had knocked out a major South American country, Argentina. Later in the night, a South American country rallied hard to dash the hopes of the 2016 European champions.Messi, Ronaldo dreams dashed as Argentina, Portugal bow outUnderstandably, the 31-year-old PSG striker was ecstatic.”I am happy for what happened today, I hope we can go further,” Cavani said. “It’s exciting…there are no words to describe this. Really, really, really happy – look at our fans! I want to continue dreaming,” he said at the end of the match.advertisement2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEMeanwhile, Portugal coach Fernando Santos said the result was not fair.”It’s not a fair result, we did enough for another result,” Santos said. “Uruguay scored with their first shot on our goal. We are very sad but that’s football.”Edinson Cavani sends Uruguay into quarter-finalsUruguay will play France in the last eight in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday.(With Reuters inputs)last_img read more

Cong targets PM over fall in value of Rupee

first_imgNew Delhi, July 6 (PTI) The Congress today took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the sharp drop in the value of the Rupee and wondered which of the two — the BJP or the Indian currency — will fall lower.Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also asked as to who was the country’s finance minister, saying one is “acting” to be the FM, while the other is “pretending” to be so, an apparent dig at Piyush Goyal and Arun Jaitley.He also attacked the government over the move to legalise betting, saying this was the government’s priority at a time when the country’s economy was in “shambles”. Tewari also claimed that there is erosion of confidence in the banking sector due to the numerous multi-crore scams that have taken place in the country in recent past and that it is reflected in the reduction in the savings rate. “We would like to ask the Prime Minister that there seems to be a competition between the BJP and the Rupee and the competition is – who will fall lower,” he asked. Recalling Modi’s tweet questioning the fall in rupee during the UPA regime, Tewari said at that time Sushma Swaraj, now the External Affairs Minister, had tweeted saying – “the Rupee has lost its value and the Prime Minister has lost his grace”. “We think that the Prime Minister’s tweet of 2013 and the External Affairs Minister’s tweet around the same time apply very squarely to the BJP today,” Tewari said.advertisement The Indian rupee hit a record closing low of 68.95 on Thursday. Alleging that social disharmony has put brakes on economic development, Tewari cited the rise in cases of lynching in the country saying “window-dressing” of the economic achievements will not help even if the government tries so. “We have been saying this repeatedly that social discord acts as a brake on economic development. Social disharmony and economic development cannot go hand in hand,” he said, alleging that in the past one year 27 people have been lynched across nine states. “When lynching becomes the overriding headline day after day, month after month, which was absent before the NDA-BJP Government assumed office, it clearly shows that as long as there is social discord, there cannot be any economic development, howsoever much the government may try and window dress its economic achievements,” he said. On legalising betting, he said, at a time when the economy is down the priority seems to be that of legalising betting in sports. “When there is huge economic distress across the length and breadth of the country, agrarian distress, unemployment, jobs not being created, what is the NDA-BJP Government obsessed or its instrumentalities obsessed with? How do you legalise betting in sport,” he said. Tewari also said the reason why most states do not have lottery or the fact that lottery is banned is because of the extremely negative social implications of the vices of gambling. “If you legalise betting in sports, not only will you destroy the sport, you will turn every ‘Paan shop’ of this country into a ‘juye ka adda’ (gambling den),” he said. Taking a dig at the finance minister, he said, “All this happens because the Finance Ministry has fallen between two stools. So, therefore, you have an acting Finance Minister and you have a pretending Finance Minister. “So the acting one does not know whether he is acting and the pretending one does not know whether he is pretending.” He claimed the country’s economy is “like a rudderless boat on a very choppy ocean”. “It is high time that the NDA-BJP Government and the Prime Minister realize the consequences which the country will have to face because of their mal-governance and mal-administration of the Indian economy,” he said. Tewari cited the RBI data which suggests that deposit growth in banks has slowed down by 7.59 pc year on year, saying it signifies an erosion of peoples confidence in the banking system. “When the rate of deposit growth slows down, it is indicative that because of the kind of gross mismanagement that you have seen in the Banking sector, the manner in which non-performing assets have been spiralling, there is an erosion of confidence amongst the depositors in the Banking sector, something which has never ever happened,” he said.He also took on the prime minister for quoting EPFO data to claim that in 2017-18, 70 lakh new jobs have been created. He said the revised EPFO data shows that between September and March 2017-18, EPFO enrolments actually fell by 12.58 pc, which translates to a fall of 4.95 lakh in absolute terms.advertisement”We would like to ask the Prime Minister that if on the basis of this data, you are asserting that 70 lakh new jobs have been created, then are you prepared to concede now, that if the data has been revised, it means either people have become unemployed or that data in the first place was incorrect. “You can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hound,” he said, asking the prime minister to wither admit that the data is wrong or concede that there is job loss in formal sector. PTI SKC SKC RTRTlast_img read more

Report from Cancun: China’s Climate Progress Since Copenhagen

first_imgIn arriving at Cancun, China would appear to have quite a bit to offer, and yet it often ends up appearing defensive. There is broad political consensus within China that measurement and reporting are crucial for ensuring domestic goals are met. Improving its own measurement and information systems. Despite the contentiousness of international discussions about measurement, there is broad political consensus within China that measurement and reporting are crucial for ensuring domestic goals are met. The Party Plenum document lists improving these systems among the climate policies needed, and in fact the Chinese government has been working on these systems over the past year as it gets ready for its new Five Year Plan goals. What is even more striking is that we are now hearing demands for better systems not just from the central government officials charged with monitoring local performance, but from the localities that want to ensure they get credit for the changes they make. I attended a UK-sponsored seminar of central and local officials with climate responsibilities and local officials said, we know what to do, we want to make sure that it is measured properly so we get credit. This reflects a real change in local awareness both of the policies, but also of what they can do and creates bottom-up pressure for these improvements in monitoring.So in arriving at Cancun, China would appear to have quite a bit to offer, and yet it often ends up appearing defensive. Part of the reason is illustrated in the discussion posted by the China Dialogue Beijing Office Director Meng Si on November 29. Meng interviews China’s Climate Minister Xie Zhenhua, who speaks frankly about China’s growing understanding of the importance of transparency, but also about his frustration in getting China’s message out into the press. All sides of the climate debate seem to understand the importance of transparency, and Xie showed interest in using that to help resolve issues surrounding measuring and reporting. One point to keep in mind is that greater transparency is also needed on accounting for developed country emissions reductions and on the financial support to be given to developing countries. My WRI colleagues suggest new approaches to these issues in two new papers on accounting and climate finance.As Chinese negotiators have become more open with the press, the Chinese press has also become more interested in the climate negotiations. China’s major dailies and television stations now send reporters to the major climate meetings, and a number are now providing continuous web coverage. Interest in the issue is strong in China in part because many see the opportunities from improving efficiency and investing in new technologies, rather than focusing only on the costs. An overview of China’s evolving domestic climate policy.This post originally appeared on ChinaFAQs.org.As negotiators arrive in Cancun for the next round of global climate talks, speculation once again hovers around China’s positions. China is a tough negotiator, and we can once again see it expressing concern about its core issues, including developed country mitigation commitments, technology transfer and the adequacy of financing. But as we look to negotiating positions, it is also worth stepping back for a minute to reflect on what China is doing domestically and how China’s efforts to promote energy efficiency and low carbon technologies can contribute to the global effort to combat climate change.China’s commitments for emissions control over the next decade – its 40-45% carbon intensity reduction target by 2020, as well as forestry and renewable energy goals – are not contingent on the international negotiations or on commitments by any other country. China bound its commitment domestically through a State Council decision even before last year’s Copenhagen meeting, and it has said that the 40-45% carbon intensity reduction target will also be incorporated into its 12th Five Year Plan to be adopted by its National People’s Congress in March 2011. The Five Year Plan is the key tool for directing policy at all levels of government. In the past year China has been moving forward on domestic policy implementation, and key developments include:Reforming the Renewable Energy Law to address problems with how new sources are added to the grid by funding more rural grid development and reinforcing fines on grid companies that don’t purchase renewables as required.Adding new requirements to improve energy intensity performance. China’s goal for the 11th Five Year Plan (2006-end 2010) is a 20% reduction in energy intensity. This has proven a challenge, especially because of China’s massive stimulus plan after the global economic downturn. During 2010 the Chinese government has responded by increasing the number of companies under rigorous energy efficiency plans, shutting down additional inefficient plants and equipment, and giving local governments new targets for energy efficiency, among other programs.Major improvements in energy efficient transportation, including the world’s largest high-speed rail program and new construction of both subway lines and bus rapid transit systems in dozens of cities. By next year it will be possible to travel the over 800 miles from Beijing to Shanghai by rail in 4 hours or about 200 miles per hour, as compared with 12 hours now. That means that China has made rail genuinely competitive with much more carbon-intensive air travel.Improvement in energy efficiency standards in areas ranging from industry to buildings to appliances. Standard-setting doesn’t get the kind of attention that carbon markets and negotiations do, but it is the true nuts and bolts of improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.Investing in clean technology. China continues to invest heavily in wind, solar and nuclear power, as well as in experiments in carbon capture and storage. China is widely expected to soon overtake the United States in total installed wind capacity.Exploring new policy options, including carbon taxes and carbon markets. China already uses a range of policy instruments to control the growth of greenhouse gases, including targets and quotas (from goals for renewable and nuclear energy, to the energy/carbon intensity goals), standards, and financial support for new technologies. It is now looking at new market-based mechanisms. It is widely expected that there will be experiments with these new approaches during the 12th Five Year Plan period, 2011 – end of 2015, although most do not expect to see them as early as 2011.Increasing the political support for climate policy . China’s Communist Party Plenum included a full paragraph supporting climate policy. While the statement did not break new ground in terms of policy concepts, it raised the political profile of climate policy in a country where local governments pay close attention to the central government’s political priorities.last_img read more

New Tool Reveals How Jamaica’s Development Projects Impact People and Planet

first_imgDevelopment Alert! proactively collects and consolidates information from different government agencies on applications for new development projects, obtaining this information through requests made using the country’s Access to Information Act. The free, mobile-friendly website plots recently approved or proposed large-scale development projects on an interactive map and acts as a hub for data and information about these projects. The map includes overlays of the boundaries of protected areas, fisheries, forest reserves, and land cover so users can easily see which projects are located in environmentally sensitive areas.Types of development projects featured include mining and quarrying; water management, treatment, and sanitation; housing developments; transportation systems and highways; tourism projects like hotel construction; hazardous waste; and more.Through the site, users can:View proposed and approved projects and learn about the potential impact of developments happening in their areaReport a development they’ve seen in their neighborhood to help increase awareness about new projects, andGet involved by commenting on a development and voicing their concerns. The website allows users to email public authorities directly and provides details about scheduled public hearings.A Clearer Picture of Development in JamaicaIn Jamaica, Development Alert! currently identifies 32 projects that are likely to have significant health, environmental, social, or cultural impacts, including four projects classified as high impact. Of these, 11 are located in or around protected areas.Development Alert! shows, for example, that the trans-shipment port in Goat Islands is not only within the Portland Bight Protected Area, but is also located within a fishery—the Galleon Harbour Nursery—and the Great Goat Island forest reserve. The fishery acts as a critical habitat for rebuilding fish populations and safeguarding marine resources, while the forest reserve protects the biodiversity found within these natural and nationally important ecosystems.Users can click on the project to see that CHEC submitted an application on January 1, 2014 to conduct a geotechnical survey, and that the government has already approved this survey through the grant of a beach license. The license allows the company to investigate the suitability of the area, including the bearing capacity of the soil and rock, by conducting a survey of the “foreshore and floor of the sea at Galleon Harbour.” As the map shows, this area is protected as a Special Fisheries Conservation Area. The survey is done through the drilling of 27 boreholes on and offshore. By signing up for alerts, posting comments, or emailing the government agency listed, anyone can voice their concerns about the Goat Islands project.The proposed trans-shipment port in the Goat Islands overlaps with protected areas (brown), fisheries (blue), and forest reserves (green). Portland Bight (PBPA) is Jamaica’s largest protected area, extending more than 200 square miles of land and 524 miles of sea. The region is home to 30,000 acres of mangroves, four dry limestone forests, and several threatened species, including the critically endangered Jamaica Iguana.But last year, the Jamaican government revealed plans to lease Goat Islands, two cays located in the protected area, to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to develop a sprawling $1.5 billion trans-shipment port. The project is expected to flatten the Goat Islands and dredge sizable areas, impacting fishing, tourism, biodiversity, and coastal resilience. What’s also troubling is that the government has released scant information about the project, preventing citizens from learning about how the port may impact them or voicing their concerns at an early stage of development.This is not an isolated incident: Like many governments, Jamaica does not proactively disclose applications at an early stage for development projects like shipping ports, highways, housing developments, and more. What information is released—such as environmental impact assessments—is presented in a format that’s difficult for citizens to access and understand.Enter Development Alert!: The new tool from WRI’s Access Initiative and the Jamaica Environment Trust aims to promote transparency and public involvement around development projects that affect the environment and public health—projects like those planned in Goat Islands.Green areas represent protected forests, brown areas are legally protected areas, and blue areas are fisheries. Development Alert! currently identifies 32 proposed or approved development projects that are likely to have significant health, environmental, social, or cultural impacts. Shedding Light on Development and Empowering CommunitiesDevelopment Alert! aims to bring an unprecedented level of transparency and participation to energy, transportation, mining, and other types of development projects in Jamaica. It will help shed light on potentially harmful projects, and provides resources to ensure the public can understand their rights to participate in decisions about their country’s development. Strengthening the involvement of those most affected by development decisions can lead to better, more inclusive decision-making.Over the coming months, the Access Initiative hopes to launch similar platforms in other countries. Visit developmentalert.org to explore the tool and learn more.last_img read more

Lionel Messi back in Argentina squad for first time since 2018 World Cup

first_imgArgentina captain Lionel Messi is back in the national squad for the first time since last year’s World Cup in Russia, and will play in at least one of their friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco this month, coach Lionel Scaloni said on Thursday.The Barcelona forward has not played for his country since their last-16 exit at the hands of eventual champions France, opting to take a sabbatical after what was a disappointing tournament for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.However, Scaloni said in January that he had a “good feeling” about Messi’s possible return from his self-imposed exile, and included him along with 30 other players.”Leo has been selected, we’ll decide later if he plays one game or two,” Scaloni told reporters in Buenos Aires. “I will make that decision.”Messi is Argentina’s leading goal scorer with 65 goals but he is often criticised for not reproducing his club form for the national side.He joins a squad featuring four goalkeepers, 10 home-based players but no Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain or Mauro Icardi.West Ham United midfielder Manuel Lanzini also returns to the squad for the first time after suffering a knee injury days before the World Cup that ruled him out of action for nearly nine months.SquadGoalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin, Juan Musso, Esteban Andrada, Franco ArmaniDefenders: German Pezzella, Gabriel Mercado, Juan Foyth, Nicolas Otamendi, Walter Kannemann, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Gonzalo Montiel, Renzo Saravia, Lisandro MartinezMidfielders: Leandro Paredes, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Manuel Lanzini, Roberto Pereyra, Angel Di Maria, Matiaz Zaracho, Ivan Marcone, Domingo Blanco, Rodrigo De PauladvertisementForwards: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Angel Correa, Lautaro Martinez, Dario Benedetto, Matias Suarez.Also Watch:last_img read more

BCCI CoA clears Kapil Dev and team to pick next India head coach

first_imgThe Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Monday decided that the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising of Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy are clear of any conflict and free to pick the next India head coach.Speaking after the meeting, CoA chief Vinod Rai said that the committee looked into the declarations given by the three and they have been cleared to pick the coach.”We have seen, it is fine. The meetings with the shortlisted candidates will happen in mid-August and the appointment will follow after that. CAC’s decision with regards to appointment will be final,” he said.Kapil, Anshuman and Shantha had been formally appointed the new CAC by the CoA in the last meeting and had been asked by CEO Rahul Johri to give declarations regarding any conflict.With regards to the appraisal of the BCCI employees, Rai refused to make any comment.In another development, 26 state associations have complied with the new BCCI Constitution and have appointed electoral officers. Rai said he is confident that the number will read at least 30 by the time state elections are held. He once again made it clear that those non-compliant will not be allowed to vote.”Twenty six states have complied and appointed electoral officers. Only those states that are compliant will have voting rights,” he said.Asked if he was aware of the discussions in the meeting between the state associations, Rai said he didn’t have an idea, but the state associations have contested the “cooling off” clause.advertisementlast_img read more

39TH ANNUAL WAYNE CHICKEN SHOW BEGINS FRIDAY

first_imgThere will be lots of clucking heard this weekend in Wayne, Nebraska.The 39th annual Wayne Chicken Show begins Friday with the theme “Chickens Around the World”.The world’s largest chicken dance takes place Friday at 6 p.m. followed by a cement chicken auction at 7.That’s followed by a hot wing eating contest at 8 p.m. and a fireworks show around ten.The annual parade begins at 9:30 Saturday morning with the main event of the weekend, the National Cluck-off, set for 1:30 p.m.Saturday’s activities also include a hard-boiled egg eating contest, rubber chicken chuck, and the annual best chicken legs contest.Sunday activities include a car show and the Last Cluck Poker Run.last_img read more

Six-Shooter: Britton Abbott Would Bring Back Abe Lincoln if he Could

first_imgWelcome to the Six-Shooter, a weekly segment with an Oklahoma State athlete where we ask six random, non-sports-related questions to get to know these athletes a bit better.If you have watched the Oklahoma State football games this year, at some point, you’ve probably wondered who that white No. 41 kid is.He has a name, it’s Britton Abbot, and he was actually put on scholarship this season. So because he is a relative unknown piece to a Cowboy offense he is very much a part of, Abbott was a perfect candidate to get to know.Here is Britton Abbott in the Six-Shooter.What is your stance on this whole J.J. Watt deal, him raising millions in relief of Hurricane Harvey in Houston?“I think it’s just kinda a test to who he is as a person. He’s more than a football player.“He’s one of those guys that I’ve always looked up to. He’s got all the talent, the size, but what really sets him apart is just how he handles himself. He does all the things to get ready to play the game, and then he goes out and makes a difference in the lives of millions.”What’s your favorite animal, or if you had to be an animal, what animal would you be?“I’d probably be like a dog or a cat. Probably as a dog.”Why? (I laughed at how stereotypical that answer was.)“My brothers, we would always say that we’re a bunch of dogs. They’re loyal.”Kids someday?“As of now, no. No, sir.”(He smiled real big and laughed a lot at that.)Do you have a stance on the whole Kaepernick deal?“I respect his ability to say what he wants and protest, but I think he should probably do it a little differently. I mean because people died for that flag, so I probably think that he should do it in a different way. I probably wouldn’t put him on my team, but the talent is there.”Let’s say you get a magic power where you can bring anyone back to life, who would you bring back? Famous, family-related, anyone.“I would probably go with Lincoln. I would probably bring back Abe Lincoln.”Why?“Just what he did for the country and just his leadership. He would be a cool guy to be around.”Favorite movie?“Have you seen the movie ‘Cindarella Man’? I watched that lately. It’s a boxing movie. It’s kinda like a history movie, but it’s a great flick, and it’s probably my favorite movie right now that I’ve seen recently.”Previous Six-Shooters:Brad LundbladeRamon RichardsZach Crabtree If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img read more

Chelsea make £32m offer for Drinkwater

first_imgTransfers Chelsea make £32 million Drinkwater offer but have yet to approach Mahrez Nizaar Kinsella Click here to see more stories from this author Chelsea correspondent Last updated 2 years ago 19:24 8/31/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) Danny Drinkwater Leicester City Getty Images Transfers Chelsea Leicester City Premier League Riyad Mahrez The Blues are expecting to secure the midfielder but are facing more negotiations over financial terms with the Foxes Danny Drinkwater’s move to Chelsea is edging closer after the Premier League champions upped their bid for the Leicester midfielder to £32 million on transfer deadline day, Goal understands. The England international has handed in a transfer request in an attempt to secure his move away from Leicester before the transfer window closes.Chelsea 11/2 to win Premier League Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Chelsea have been trying to finalise a deal for Drinkwater for the past month as they hope to add another English player to their squad after two Premier League games of fielding none in their starting line-up. Leicester’s original asking price for the 27-year-old was £40m but Chelsea are expecting to bring that down a little with the transfer window closing at 23:00 BST. The Foxes, meanwhile, are pushing to secure a deal for Sporting’s Adrien Silva as a replacement for Drinkwater after their attempts to sign him failed last summer. Drinkwater’s team-mate Riyad Mahrez has also been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge but it is understood that no approach has yet been made. Chelsea are also no longer favourites to sign Fernando Llorente after Tottenham agreed a £15m fee to sign the 32-year-old striker from Swansea City.last_img read more

Syahmi wants to forget SEA Games disappointment

first_imgMalaysia Cup Ahead of JDT clash, Syahmi wants to forget SEA Games disappointment Zulhilmi Zainal Last updated 2 years ago 13:27 7/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Syahmi Safari, Selangor, Malaysia Cup, 29072017 Twitter @OfficialPBSNT Malaysia Cup Selangor Johor Darul Ta’zim v Selangor Selangor winger Syahmi Safari had a comparatively underwhelming outing during the recent SEA Games. BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter Despite having been lauded as one of the best Malaysian prospects in the Malaysia Super League this season, Selangor winger Syahmi Safari had a comparatively underwhelming outing during the recent SEA Games.He struggled to make his mark in Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s squad which eventually finished runners up, starting only in two matches and mostly used as a late substitution.In a video interview published by the club, the 19-year old admitted his disappointment with the outing, but said that he has turned his attention back to club football. Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing “We’ll be facing JDT (Johor Darul Ta’zim) this Saturday and I hope everything will go according to plan. I did not get to play much in the SEA Games so now I have to capture my rhythm again.”I have to forget it as it’s now all in the past and I have to take it as a valuable experience. I need to use that experience from the SEA Games in the remaining domestic matches,” revealed the youngster.The Malaysian domestic competitions resume this weekend with the final matchday of the Malaysia Cup group stage. The Red Giants will travel to Johor this Saturday, to face JDT.Both sides have confirmed their qualification to the quarter-final stage, having picked up 10 points in Group D, but the Southern Tigers lead the group on goal difference. The 33-time champions need to defeat the home side in order to snatch the top spot. It may seem like a tough challenge, but out of their three matches this season, Selangor have won two and drawn one.And according to Syahmi, it is not impossible for Selangor to upset the home side this Saturday.”Nothing is impossible in football as long as we work hard to reach the next stage.”This Saturday’s match is very important, as it will determine the group winner,” he remarked.last_img read more

Boateng hits out at personal criticism

first_imgKevin-Prince Boateng ‘I thought about quitting’ – Boateng hits out at personal criticism Ben Spratt Last updated 2 years ago 03:01 14/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) KPBoateng - cropped Bongarts Eintracht Frankfurt Bundesliga The midfielder has suggested that the press must be more responsible when it comes to taking aim at players as it can cause them much mental strife Kevin-Prince Boateng has hit back after being criticised in the media, claiming only a strong mind has kept him from being seriously affected by the negative attention.The former Ghana international has struggled to fulfil his immense potential, enduring difficult spells at Schalke and AC Milan in recent years prior to hitting form again at Las Palmas last season.Liverpool, Spurs, Man City & Man Utd to win at 2/1 Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Now at Eintracht Frankfurt, Boateng believes that his feelings have not been given any consideration when criticism has become personal.”If you think about Robert Enke’s suicide, one per cent of that was to do with the press and the whole hubbub,” he told Kicker.”If we take a look at all the articles which were written about me, who knows what I would do if I was not strong in my mind. There have been days where I have said, ‘I can’t go any longer’.Kevin Prince Boateng Ghana 2010 World Cup“I’m not only criticised because of my performances. It can happen that you play badly. A mark of six [the lowest rating]? OK, I deserved it.Training #prince17 pic.twitter.com/xEbq8LxfFt— Kevin-Prince Boateng (@KPBofficial) September 12, 2017″But when personal things are written to hurt you, that must not be the case. But we footballers are like robots who have to accept everything.”Boateng was suspended by Schalke in 2015 – with then-head coach Roberto di Matteo citing a lack of trust – and the midfielder admits he considered retirement.”I thought about quitting,” he added. “Why not? I’ve earned a lot of money, I saw everything and I have a wonderful family. What should I do anymore?”But I only had these thoughts for two days. My wife said, ‘You can think about the end of your career one day, but tomorrow you’ll get up and go to training’.”last_img read more

What you need to know about Syria’s fairytale

first_imgWC Qualification Asia What you need to know about Syria – the fairytale team keen to crash Australia’s party Kieran Francis @kieran_francis Last updated 2 years ago 12:49 10/5/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Syria natonal team WC Qualification Asia Syria Syria v Australia Australia v Syria Australia The Socceroos must not take Syria lightly otherwise their road to Russia may become a lot more complicated Australia’s winding path to Russia continues at Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka, Malaysia on Thursday night (AEDT) – against an opponent they know little about.Syria, a nation who have never qualified for a World Cup, stand in the way of the green-and-gold, despite the war raging in their country and having to play all their home matches in south-east Asia.Syria 4/1 for victory Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. What the Socceroos should know is they can’t take their Middle East opposition lightly, especially considering they nearly qualified directly for Russia in a group featuring several Asian heavyweights.In fact the Syrians drew both matches against Asia’s top ranked team Iran, and failed to lose at their adopted Malaysian home, defeating Uzbekistan and getting draws versus South Korea and China.They achieved all of this with an average possession percentage of only 39.61 and a passing accuracy of 62.04 percent – the lowest ranked of the 12 Asian teams in the group stage.And it’s clear from the highlights of Syria’s matches they prefer to sit deep and hit teams with speed on the counter attack.Syria’s talisman is Al-Ahli striker Omar Al Somah – who has scored an extraordinary 78 goals in 73 matches in Saudi Arabia’s top division – and the Australian defence must not allow the 28-year-old space to finish.Omar Al Somah - Al Ahli vs. Al Qadesiya - Saudi League 15.10.2016During the 2-1 win against Thailand, Australia absolutely dominated possession and chances but still allowed the Thais to score and have several chances on the break.If the Socceroos again struggle to take opportunities and they allow the Syrians space to counter, the road to Russia could become even rockier ahead of their home leg in Sydney on October 10.Regardless of the winner, a two-leg playoff against the fifth-placed team in CONCACAF (currently the United States) is still to be navigated before a spot at the World Cup is secure.There is still a long way to go for the Syrian fairytale to be complete but they could cause an Australian nightmare if there is any complacency.last_img read more