U.S. veterans looking to break through in Canada

Written by admin on 06/06/2019 Categories: 深圳桑拿论坛

Four years ago, the Americans were highly fancied to triumph in Germany but fell at the final hurdle, suffering a 3-1 defeat on penalties to Japan after the game ended 2-2 after extra-time.

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The bulk of that team is back again forming a squad that boasts an impressive amount of World Cup experience.

Defender Christie Rampone will be playing in her fifth World Cup, while Shannon Boxx and Abby Wambach will be making their fourth finals appearances.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielders Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly enter their third World Cup but the squad also has some exciting younger talent, with eight players set for their first tournament.

Coach Jill Ellis believes she has the right mix of youth and experience and knows that the physical demands of competing during a Canadian summer means she may well need to call on most of her 23 women.

“We’re going to need a lot of bodies up there in Canada, out in the heat, and over the past six or seven months, we’ve been able to play a lot of players and give a lot players experience,” said Ellis. “I truly feel that we’ve vetted these players through this and feel truly confident and excited about the group we have.”

While there is solidity at the back with Solo long regarded as the world’s top keeper and the back-line full of experience, it is in the attack where the team’s strengths lay.

Morgan has pace and skill, Leroux brings directness and energy and Wambach, with 182 goals in 241 international appearances, is a natural finisher.

“We are so diverse in attack, they all have tremendous assets and experience and we are really stacked at that position,” said Ellis. “We have proven goal scorers, great options and it is certainly one of our strengths.”

The United States are the favourites but have a tough group with Sweden, Australia and Nigeria all ranked in the top 10 in the world.

(Reporting By Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Cameroon hope early arrival catches some success

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The opportunity to play warm-up games against club and university opponents in Canada represented a better preparatory option for the central African country, who have played just three warm-up internationals this year against other African opposition.

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Cameroon qualified for the June6-July 5 World Cup after finishing as runners-up at last year’s African Women’s Championship, defying the rankings to take one of the three berths reserved for Africa.

It kept up the progress they had shown by qualifying for the London Olympics, where women’s soccer is played at senior level and where Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses competed for the first time in a major tournament.

It was a baptism of fire as they lost all three of their group games at the 2012 Games, conceding 11 goals and scoring just once.

Cameroon are likely to find it tough to get any points in Canada as well, with their two other group opponents being Switzerland and defending world champions Japan.

“Our main objective will be to do better than we did in 2012 during the Olympic Games, where we learnt a lot,” said long-standing coach Carl Enow Ngachu.

“We know it’s going to be very tough for us, but Ecuador and Switzerland are also here for the first time, so there can be surprises.

“We’ll have to be well prepared. If we prepare well by the time of our first game, we can get by. But I said that this is a very difficult group and Switzerland and Japan are the group favourites.”

Cameroon’s squad includes eight foreign-based players, now earning a livelihood as professionals, headlined by 30-year-old goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom, who competes for a club in Slovenia, and the 31-year-old captain Christine Manie, a defender at Olympia Cluj Napoca of Romania.

Top striker Gaelle Deborah Enganamouit was signed by a Swedish club two years ago.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Tried and trusted for Japan title defence

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Sawa scored the dramatic equaliser in the closing stages of extra time in the 2011 final against the United States but her chances of making a record sixth finals looked over after being left on the sidelines for a year by Sasaki.

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Injuries and a loss of form following a brief retirement in 2012 looked to have taken their toll before some domestic goals for her club side led to a recall.

Sasaki said their was no sentiment in bringing back Japan’s most capped international and record goal scorer.

“Let me stress that experience is not all she brings. I’m selecting her on her present form and fitness,” he said upon naming the squad last month.

Sawa, player of the tournament and top scorer in 2011, is one of 17 players in the 23-woman squad that were victorious in Germany.

Sasaki said the Algarve Cup performances, where they lost to Denmark and France, led to him opting against bringing too many new names to Canada.

“Ideally, we would’ve liked more fresh, young faces in the squad but when you look at what we’re trying to achieve — to win another title — we need players with consistency and experience.”

Despite Sawa’s return, twice Asian Player of the Year Aya Miyama will continue to skipper the side who will again employ a short sharp passing style to navigate their taller opponents.

They open their Group C campaign on June 8 against Switzerland before taking on Cameroon and Ecuador.

Topping the pool would ensure a last 16 clash against a third ranked side and then a probable quarter-final against Brazil. If results go to rankings, they would avoid the United States and top-ranked Germany until the final.

The ingredients are all there for another Japanese triumph and the favourable draw also helps.

“Because of the experience, we will be able to gel quickly and it shouldn’t take time to get everyone on the same wavelength,” said Sasaki.

“And every player on the squad is a fighter.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Group of death no waltz for confident Matildas

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The United States, 2003 runners-up Sweden and African champions Nigeria loom in Group D in Canada with the Americans first up in Winnipeg on June 8.

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Facing the second ranked twice world champions in front of what is likely to be a bumper crowd of border-crossing American fans is a tough way for any team to start their tournament.

“It is, but we’re all excited by the challenge,” co-captain Clare Polkinghorne said.

“It’s the World Cup so you are not going to get any easy games. You have to beat the best to be the best.”

Australia’s optimism is based on a strong run of form since they finished runners-up to Japan in last year’s Asian Cup, which earned the Matildas their World Cup spot.

Coach Alen Stajcic had taken over in a caretaker capacity less than a month before when Dutchwoman Hesterine de Reus was sacked after a player mutiny over her disciplinary regime.

Stajcic got the job full time after the tournament despite the 1-0 defeat to the world champions in the final and has spent the last year moulding a side he hopes will play vibrant, attacking football in Canada.

Australia have goal-scoring threats all over the park and Stajcic has such strength up front that he was able to leave out the country’s most prolific striker in Kate Gill, who has 40 goals in 83 internationals.

That Stajcic has also repaired the team culture was perhaps most evident in his selection of Lisa De Vanna as one of the co-captains, handing the 30-year-old a leadership role for the first time.

The pacy and skillful forward, kicked out of the training camp before the 2011 World Cup, has played in both the United States and Sweden and is convinced the Matildas can do much better than their quarter-final finishes in 2007 and 2011.

“I honestly believe that this team is going to go all the way,” De Vanna said. “I’ve been in this team for a very long time and this is probably the most prepared Matildas team that we’ve ever had.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Swedes need attack to fire at World Cup in Canada

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Ranked fifth in the world with 10 straight wins and an average of over three goals per game in qualifying might look impressive, but Sweden scored the fewest goals of any group winner and coach Pia Sundhage has lamented their inability to create chances.

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With Nilla Fischer at centre back, Caroline Seger anchoring the midfield and Lotta Schelin leading the front line, Sundhage sets out her team with an emphasis on strength through the middle of the pitch.

The purpose is to allow her more creative players to do what they do best, but unfortunately, despite the undoubted talents of Schelin and fellow forward Kosovare Asllani, the Swedish attack often come up short.

Never was this more apparent than in the 1-0 defeat on home soil to Germany in their Euro 2013 semi-final, where despite a slew of chances Sweden failed to deliver.

Sweden’s 2015 results in preparation for the June 6-July 5 World Cup haven’t exactly set the world alight either, losing not only to frontrunners Germany and Brazil, but also to outsiders Switzerland and drawing with a Danish side that failed to qualify.

Some players have also expressed dissatisfaction with Sundhage’s leadership, which departs somewhat from Sweden’s consensus society and introduces a more hierarchical structure to the squad.

Whatever about her management style, Sundhage is a proven winner as a coach, delivering two Olympic gold medals for World Cup favourites USA in 2008 and 2012.

Her knowledge of the Americans will be put to the test almost immediately in Group D, where they will face a tough challenge from Nigeria before taking on the United States and finishing up against Australia.

There may be some hurdles to be overcome, but it is far from all doom and gloom for the Swedes.

Despite the financial difficulties of some clubs, the top-flight Damallsvenskan league is one of the world’s best, attracting some of the top players in the game.

With enormous home support, Sundhage’s squad is blend of youth and experience, talent and skill, and if she can get her charges to remain disciplined in defence and increase their effectiveness in attack, the Swedes could well be in the shake-up in the latter stages of the World Cup.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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New dad Harris itching for Ashes success

Written by admin on 07/05/2019 Categories: 深圳桑拿论坛

Australian fast bowler Ryan Harris says he’s well on the road to full fitness as the Ashes series in England draws closer.

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The 35-year-old skipped Australia’s two-Test tour of the Caribbean to prepare his body for the Ashes and so he could be present at the birth of his first child, Carter, who was born last week.

Harris departs Australia on June 12 and has announced he’ll take part in a two-day academy match against a Hampshire Cricket XI on the Isle of Wight on June 18.

After spending much of his time away from cricket strengthening his wobbly knees, Harris says he feels ready to get back out on the field.

“I’ve been bowling for about a month, so I’ve had plenty of bowling to add to my intense gym program,” Harris said.

“It’s got me in a good place ready to go when I head over to England.

“All-in-all it’s probably been the best comeback I’ve had and I haven’t been as sore as I’ve been in the past.

“Now it’s a matter of getting the rhythm of the ball and getting to where I want to be with my bowling, which I’m getting closer and closer to every time I bowl.”

Harris’s fitness is a key component of Australia’s bid to defeat England on their soil for the first time since 2001.

The right-arm quick has nabbed 57 wickets at 20.63 in 12 Ashes Tests including 24 wickets the last time Australia toured England in 2013.

And while he’s loving the time at home with his wife Cherie and their new son, Harris says he’ll be ready to go when he joins his teammates in England later this month.

“I’ve played enough cricket over there to know what I have to do,” he said.

“It will be good to play a few games to revisit and get used to the conditions.”

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Benitez takes on greatest challenge at Real

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Spaniard Benitez quit Serie A side Napoli last week and returns to his boyhood club to succeed Italian Carlo Ancelotti, sacked after Real failed to either defend their Champions League crown or win the domestic league or Cup.

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A former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Chelsea manager, Benitez began coaching in Real’s youth academy in 1986 after injury ended his hopes of becoming a professional player.

He is the 10th coach to be appointed by president Florentino Perez during the construction magnate’s two six-year stints at the helm of the world’s richest club by income and appeared close to tears when he was presented to the media at the Bernabeu stadium.

“It’s an emotional day returning here to my home,” Benitez said. “I have a good technical team behind me and I hope things go well, that we win titles and the team plays well.”

Benitez, who has signed a three-year contract, told a later news conference he was aware he would not be given time to bed in and that, given the quality of the squad, which he called the best he had managed, the team would have to be competitive from the start.

“When you have a roster with such quality you have to attack, to try to score goals, and to win if possible playing attractive football,” he told reporters.

Real would be monitoring the transfer market to see if there was room to strengthen the team, he added.

Ancelotti was dismissed a year after ending 12 years of Champions League failure by leading Real to a record-extending 10th European crown in 2013-14.

After leaving Real in 1995, Benitez graduated to several modest teams in Spain as he developed his coaching philosophy.

He made his name with Valencia, whom he led to two La Liga titles before leaving for Liverpool, where he won the FA Cup and the Champions League.

He moved on to Inter Milan but was sacked three months into the 2010-11 season and had mixed fortunes during his last job with Napoli.

They won the Coppa Italia last term and finished third in Serie A but lost to Lazio in Benitez’s last match in charge to finish fifth, missing Champions League qualification.

(Writing by Iain Rogers; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Justin Palmer)

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Williams eases into French Open semis

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Top seed Serena Williams has secured her place in the semi-finals of the French Open by defeating Italian 17th seed Sara Errani 6-1 6-3.

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Williams, who is looking for her third title at Roland Garros and 20th grand slam crown, will meet either 23rd seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland or unseeded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck in the last four.

The American had lost the first set in each of her last three matches in Paris but on Wednesday she meant business right from the off, breaking immediately to lead 2-0 on the central Court Philippe Chatrier.

The diminutive Errani, who was the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2012 and lost to Williams in the semi-finals a year later, broke back straight away but once more she could not hold her own serve and fell 3-1 behind.

Williams then saved another break point against her in the following game with a brilliant cross-court forehand and, with Errani struggling against her opponent’s power, she broke again before serving successfully to take the first set in just 27 minutes.

The second set was tighter, going with serve until Williams broke in the seventh game to lead 4-3, and she then went on to clinch victory on her fourth match point in a marathon ninth game as the match concluded in just one hour and five minutes.

Williams, who has now won all nine of her meetings with Errani, said: “In the last three matches I lost the first set and today I knew I needed to play very well because she is very good here at Roland Garros so it was very important for me.”

Williams is the heavy favourite to win the title, with the other semi-final pairing seventh seed Ana Ivanovic, the Serbian who was the French Open champion in 2008, with Czech 13th seed Lucie Safarova.

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Montreal offers Hamilton an antidote for Monaco

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Montreal is a favourite race for the double Formula One world champion, a fast track where he celebrated his first pole position and victory in his stellar 2007 debut season with McLaren.

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Since then, the Mercedes driver has won twice more in Canada.

“I think everything that needs to be said about Monaco has already been said. Obviously, it was a huge disappointment for me and also for the team,” the Briton said before heading to Montreal.

“But we’ll learn from it and move forwards together like we always do. I just want to get back out there and bounce back — and I could hardly ask for a better place to do that than Montreal. This is always one of my favourite weekends.”

Hamilton has suffered disappointments too at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with its 300kph blasts and the ‘Wall of Champions’ at the treacherous final corner, and has yet to win there for Mercedes.

But when he has finished, it has been on the podium and his track record eclipses that of team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

Three-nil on wins, 4-1 on podium appearances, 3-1 on poles and 6-1 on front row starts, the statistics all point to Hamilton.

“The racing is fantastic, the city is a lot of fun and the crowds are really enthusiastic…and it’s given me some great memories, including my first win,” said the Briton.

“I know I’ve got the car underneath me and the team behind me to do it again, so I’m aiming for nothing less.”

Rosberg, who became only the fourth driver to win Monaco three times in a row after Mercedes blew a surefire victory for Hamilton by calling him in for a needless pitstop while leading, is not to be under-estimated however.

The German, now only 10 points adrift of his championship-leading team mate after six races, qualified on pole in Montreal last year and is aiming for a hat-trick of wins for the season.

Both Mercedes drivers have new power units, having completed six race weekends on the previous ones, while rivals Ferrari may have upgrades to theirs.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, a first time winner in Montreal last year, can only dream of such reliability but the race — traditionally hard on brakes and engines — can throw up surprises.

The Australian is on his fourth and final penalty-free engine already, with the team leaving Monaco mulling whether to take a hit and use a fifth in Canada.

Ferrari, who have not won since 2004 at a circuit named after their late local hero, will be hoping four times world champion Sebastian Vettel can at least finish on the podium for the sixth time in seven races.

Williams are confident too of a much better showing after failing to score in Monaco while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso aims to open his account for the season two weeks after Jenson Button did the same.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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French Open hopeful Bacsinszky gets her hands dirty

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So, beaming widely, she bent down and rubbed her hands firmly on the red clay that brought her so much joy on Suzanne Lenglen Court and then walked off carrying some precious grains.

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“You don’t get to be playing a semi-final of a grand slam every day, so I really just appreciate the moment for what I did today,” grinned Bacsinszky, who is no stranger to getting her hands dirty having taken jobs in restaurants, bars and kitchens during a break from tennis in 2013.

The 23rd seed, who now faces world number one Serena Williams, produced a fearless brand of baseline tennis to became the first Swiss woman since Martina Hingis in 2001 to reach the last four at Roland Garros.

World number 93 Van Uytvanck, who was bidding to become the lowest ranked woman to reach the semi-finals of the claycourt major, barely had a chance to blink before she found herself 3-0 down in the first set.

Considering the ginger-haired 21-year-old had won only one grand slam match prior to her arrival in Paris, it was little wonder that she let the occasion of playing on the 10,000 seater Suzanne Lenglen Court get to her.

Once her nerves settled, she held her own but by then the damage had been done and Bacsinszky whipped a forehand winner to wrap up the set.

Cheered on by her idol Kim Clijsters from the stands, Van Uytvanck unleashed a string of gutsy shots to recover from 3-1 down to level at 3-3 in the second set.

Bacsinszky, however, refused to give up on her grand slam dreams and broke in the 11th game before blasting down a backhand down the line to seal a place in the last four.

Having knocked out Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, Bacsinszky is ready to stop 19-times grand slam champion Serena in her tracks.

To do that, she plans to take some lessons she learnt during her stint in the hospitality industry.

“I was trying also to clean plates quicker than my colleagues … competition is something I have in my blood,” she grinned.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Douglas Beattie)

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