Alberto Zaccheroni hopes UAE can kick on from win over India

Mabkhout and Zaccherroni celebrate after the 2-0 win over India. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Alberto Zaccheroni hopes UAE can kick on from win over India

  • Italian coach confident victory over India is just the start.
  • UAE face Thailand in crunch clash on Monday.

LONDON: Alberto Zaccheroni said the UAE’s 2-0 win over India on Thursday could be a springboard to a successful tournament.
The hosts needed a late goal to rescue a point in their opening match against Bahrain last Saturday — the only thing more underwhelming than the result being the performance.
That came on the back of a patchy run of form and questions about the ability of the Whites to to mount a title challenge on home soil.
But having beaten India — thanks to goals either side of half-time from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout — the side’s Italian coach praised his players for the improved showing.
“I think our first game and performance against Bahrain was a rather deceiving one,” he said.
“We were very disappointed not to get the win in that match, but against India we started very well from the beginning, and our performance was gradually evolving and getting better throughout the match.
“We faced some difficulties at times against a very good and fast India side.
“I congratulate my players for their efforts, they truly deserved the victory.”
The UAE’s progress is still far from assured, with just one point separating them from India in second and third-placed Thailand who they will meet in their final group match on Monday.
Zaccheroni is only too aware of what is at stake and will now study the Southeast Asians closely in order tmake sure his side can make the second round.
“We admit that our defense has not been entirely effective, but the general performance was good and winning with a great spirit was very important,” he said.
“Following their loss to India, the Thailand team changed their coach. However, they then went on to change their style and tactics when they beat Bahrain. I now need to study Thailand closely in order to prepare my team for what will be a difficult match.”


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.