YEKATERINBURG: With all their attacking talent, France proved they also has class in defense.
Other coaches might envy Didier Deschamps, who has a forward line bursting with skill, speed and goals. But Peru coach Ricardo Gareca looked at the other end Thursday after his team lost 1-0.
"I think France did some outstanding work of defense," said Gareca, whose team was eliminated while the French advanced to the knockout stage.
"Credit needs to be given to France, it's not that Peru fell short," Gareca said. "Unlike their other games, France had very strong tactical discipline to neutralize Peru. Something that wasn't visible in their other matches."
After Peru lost their opening game to Denmark 1-0, they needed a least a point against France to stay in contention following a 36-year absence from the tournament. With striker Paolo Guerrero back in the starting lineup, Peru's players used any and every opportunity to put France under pressure.
It didn't work.
Deschamps made two tactical changes for the game, using Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi in the starting line-up. The result upfront was visible. France were more fluid than in the 2-1 victory over Australia and the cooperation between midfielders Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante with the attackers resulted in a number of scoring opportunities.
But when Peru were on a desperate attack, they all were ready to help at the back.
It was not just defenders Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Hernandez who were solid for the second straight game.
"It doesn't come only from the French defense," Deschamps said. "The attacking players did what they had to do. They made an effort for the team to be compact, to work together. It was very important to have very solid defense."
France neutralized Guerrero to a single chance in the first half. But goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made his 100th international appearance, saved his low shot from close range.
In the second half, France kept Peru at a distance, allowing mostly only long range attempts on goal.
Even such an offensive ace as Kylian Mbappe, who scored the winning goal in the first half, came to help.
"If the team needs it, you need to sacrifice yourself," Mbappe said. "Today, sometimes we didn't need to be up the field ... this is what I did."
France defense excels in narrow 1-0 victory over Peru in World Cup
France defense excels in narrow 1-0 victory over Peru in World Cup
YEKATERINBURG: With all their attacking talent, France proved they also has class in defense.
Kashmiri students arrested for celebrating India's Cricket World Cup defeat get bail
- Police dropped the charges and an Indian court granted bail to the students on Saturday, according to their lawyer
- In granting bail, the court imposed a condition the students should be available when needed for the investigation
SRINAGAR: An Indian court has granted bail to seven Kashmiri students who were arrested under anti-terror laws for allegedly celebrating Australia's victory over India in the men's Cricket World Cup final last month, a lawyer said on Sunday.
The students from an agriculture university were detained in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after one student filed a complaint accusing them of using anti-India slogans and cheering for Pakistan along with Australia after the match.
Claimed in full but ruled in part by India and Pakistan, Muslim-majority Kashmir has seen a bloody insurrection against New Delhi for decades. Muslims in the region have in the past cheered for the competing side in India cricket matches as a way of protesting Indian rule.
Local political leaders opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's rule over J&K had said the arrests were a way to intimidate locals using the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The act deals with inciting any unlawful activity and is punishable with seven years' imprisonment.
Police dropped the UAPA charges and an Indian court granted bail to the students on Saturday, according to the lawyer of students, Shafiq Bhat, and a court order seen by Reuters.
In granting bail, the local court imposed a condition that the students should be available when needed for the investigation and "shall not indulge in any anti national activity," the order stated.
The students still face allegations under other Indian laws that related to making statements inducing public mischief.
Australia had entered the World Cup match as clear underdogs against an all-conquering India side, who had won 10 matches in a row to storm into the final. But India was defeated in the final match on Nov. 19.
India blames Pakistan for supporting the Muslim insurgents. Pakistan denies this and accuses India of violating the rights of Kashmir's Muslim people, a charge India rejects.
UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl crush Al-Bataeh to go 5 points clear of nearest rivals
- Matches involving second-placed Al-Ain and third-placed Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai were postponed until Dec. 20 due to AFC Champions League commitments
Leaders Al-Wasl’s storming campaign continued with an affirmative thrashing of Al-Bataeh and Alfred Schreuder’s Al-Nasr debut finished in frustration during ADNOC Pro League’s truncated matchweek nine.
Ivorian youngster Adama Diallo’s excellent brace helped the unbeaten Cheetahs to a 4-1 victory, adding further veracity to dreams of ending their pained wait for an eighth top-flight trophy since their success in 2006-07.
Al-Wasl now hold a five-point lead, because of AFC Champions League commitments delaying until Dec. 20 second-placed Al-Ain’s match against Khor Fakkan, and third-placed holders Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club’s trip to continental contenders Sharjah.
A second-half penalty from 2017 AFC Player of the Year Omar Khrbin, meanwhile, saw fourth-placed Al-Wahda earn their 1-1 draw against ex-Al-Ain and Ajax supremo Schreuder’s Nasr. Jamal Maroof’s 97th-minute spot-kick for bottom-placed Hatta curtailed third-bottom Ajman celebrations in their dramatic 1-1 stalemate, while resurgent Iran starlet Mehdi Ghayedi had a hand in all four goals when Andres Iniesta’s sinking Emirates Club were beaten 4-2 by Ittihad Kalba.
UAE legend Ali Mabkhout got a brace as Al-Jazira produced a much-needed 4-1 derby beating of neighbours Baniyas.
Here are Arab News’ top picks and a talking point from the latest action.
Player of the week: Mehdi Ghayedi (Ittihad Kalba)
Ghayedi had gone from Asia’s golden boy, to an unfulfilled afterthought.
The diminutive attacker with magic in his boots appeared to have the world at his feet after becoming AFC Best Young Player of the Year in 2020. A switch to Shabab Al-Ahli in the following summer was meant to take his game to another level, with this pathway having previously helped send exalted compatriot Ali Karimi to Bayern Munich back in 2005.
Ghayedi’s forgettable 2021-22 season was followed by sparks of life returning to his play on loan at former club Esteghlal. These reached full luminescence in a sensational display for latest temporary employers, Kalba, during victory against Emirates.
The now 24-year-old moved onto seven goal contributions in nine league run-outs under former mentor Farhad Majidi, thanks to a well-taken brace. Added influence was supplied by winning penalties ably converted by the superb Daniel Bessa and Andres Vombergar.
Ghayedi featured in June’s inaugural CAFA Nations Cup, but has since been ignored by Iran head coach Amir Ghalenoei. If he can continue to inspire Kalba’s rise up the standings from their current ninth during a packed December, a way back in may be found for the Asian Cup.
Goal of the week: Adama Diallo (Al-Wasl)
A star is on the ascendancy at Zabeel Stadium.
Diallo has gone from unheralded youngster, to keeping veteran Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic out of the XI and being tipped for naturalisation by the UAE.
The 21-year-old Ivorian produced a mesmerising double in a dominant victory over dark-horses Bataeh, with the 16th-minute opener especially outstanding.
Slipped behind the midfield by Nicolas Gimenez, there was still 40 yards+ to goal from the left flank. Lightning acceleration allied with tight control took him beyond a trio of retreating Bataeh defenders, before smashing into the near post’s bottom corner.
Diallo — who later delivered a deft Fabio De Lima-esque curled finish — now sits on four strikes in eight ADNOC Pro League run-outs this season, averaging out at one every 92 minutes.
Coach of the week: Frank de Boer (Al-Jazira)
Frank de Boer managed to find the release valve, just as pressure began to build toward dangerous levels.
A 4-2 chasing by surging Wasl in matchweek eight left a richly talented Jazira well off the pace in eighth. Their nine-point gap to top spot remains, but impressive victory at Baniyas Stadium provides a superior gloss in fifth.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi lived up to their nickname via a virtuoso display by Mabkhout, moving onto a record-extending 213 goals in 286 top-flight run-outs with a tremendous brace.
Host left-back Joao Victor’s 34th-minute red card ensured 68 percent possession and a shot count of 24/11 favoured the visitors.
That this fine work was supplemented by ex-Fulham star Neeskens Kebano netting his second Jazira goal, a pair of assists from winger Oumar Traore and UAE matchwinner Abdullah Ramadan getting involved at club level speaks volume of the vast potential contained within De Boer’s ranks.
A generous end to 2023 in the league pits the Netherlands great against the current bottom three, in descending order. A perfect, nine-point haul — plus, progress in ADIB Cup’s quarter-finals versus bitter-rivals Wahda — would thrust Jazira right into the trophy mix.
De Boer collected ample silverware when employed as manager at Ajax and Atlanta United, despite a mixed record elsewhere.
This pedigree is unquestionable. So, too, the squad depth at his disposal.
Jazira’s foreign quintet is enviable, while six members of Paulo Bento’s victorious UAE roster hail from there.
Baniyas may have witnessed the start of another trophy charge in De Boer’s intermittently glittering managerial career.
Are Al-Wasl the real deal?
These are good times at Wasl.
ADNOC Pro League’s only unbeaten side have taken more points than any other in the last five matches, have triumphed in their last five outings in all competitions and swept the latest “The Best” monthly awards. They have netted six more goals than any other club and boast the joint-third meanest defence.
This form is underpinned by belief head coach Milos Milojevic can replicate in Dubai his prior double-winning campaign at Red Star Belgrade.
Wasl are, though, stung by recent memories. Strong starts under the likes of Juan Antonio Pizzi and Rodolfo Arruabarrena faded into obscurity.
The 21st century has not been kind to this storied club. But, the same was said of Sharjah ahead of 2018/19’s surprise title success.
Anthony Gordon sparkles in Newcastle win over Manchester United giving Gareth Southgate a Marcus Rashford headache
NEWCASTLE: In Paris, many were keen to compare Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon with Kylian Mbappe. And while the young Scouser was overshadowed by his more storied opponent that night, he showed many, four days later, including Gareth Southgate, that there are few more electric forwards in English football right now.
While Marcus Rashford still edges ahead of Gordon in England squads, the time is nearing where questions must be asked about the validity of that call. On Saturday night’s evidence, Gordon is head and shoulders the man who should own England’s left.
On the day when England’s European Championship opponents were announced — they face Serbia, Slovakia and Denmark in Germany in the summer of 2024 — Gordon sparkled, providing the only goal in a dominant 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
Rashford, like many others in red, wilted in St. James’ Park’s unforgiving atmosphere.
“I couldn’t be happier with the players,” said Howe. “The performances we put in against three top teams (Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Man United) were brilliant, so that will give us confidence. Then, when we get some players back, we can push on even further.
“(An) Incredible physical and mental effort. The level of technical performance, I don’t think should be underestimated, I thought we dominated the first half and attacked really well down both sides.
“The left side of Tino, Anthony and Joelinton was really productive for us. And on the right side, I thought that was Lewy Miley’s best game for us out of the three, which is saying something given how well he played in the other two but I thought he was, especially in the first-half, excellent. He, Miggy (Almiron) and Kieran (Trippier) worked really well down that righthand side so a good balance to the team today.”
Gordon was judged by many last summer to be a player who looked an ill-fit for Newcastle’s high-intensity, high-pressing style. He’s now the main man in the Magpies’ front three after netting his sixth strike of the season. Gordon has now scored seven in his last 21 games for the Magpies, matching his goalscoring tally for the rest of his career combined.
Howe said: “From day one, when he arrived at the club, you could see the passion he had and his desire to achieve and be successful. He puts the work in every day and sometimes we have to go and get him off the training pitch.
“He was very good again up against a very good defender in (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka. Physically he was so good today, it was a really good battle between the two of them.
“I am delighted he is scoring the goals now and getting the recognition he deserves.
“I thought he played really well at the start of the season but every attacker needs to score to get that feeling and the confidence that brings. Not just the goals but he’s getting assists as well, he’s involved in match-winning moments. I thought he played really well again today. It was a brilliant cross from Kieran. A good move and good finish.”
Gordon was overlooked by Southgate for the recent England internationals, in which only Kieran Trippier was called up from the Newcastle squad. Howe thinks it’s only a matter of time before all of that changes.
“I’d agree he’s playing at a very high level and he has done for this season,” said the head coach when asked about a possible call-up.
“When you come here to watch Anthony, that’s been his level. He’s getting the goals and you need the headlines really if you’re going to force your way into the England squad and the competition he has in those positions.
“There’s a long way to go, I just think he’s got to keep very level and focused on playing well for us then the rest will take of itself.”
Another who may well force his way into Southgate’s thinking, in a very stacked and competitive department, is full-back Tino Livramento. A star in Paris in the Champions League, the youngster’s tireless running down the left was a real feature of the Magpies’ win.
Howe said: “Very good in maybe a slightly different way to Paris to when he was having to deal with (Ousmane) Dembele. He was having to play against various opponents but good opponents in Antony and Rashford but he gave them a problem going back the other way, which was great to see. His athleticism, pace, speed and positioning, although he’s playing on a side maybe not natural to him, was of the highest level.”
The only real negative to take from the encounter was yet another injury to another key player, as Nick Pope was taken off with a shoulder problem.
“It will be a massive blow for us if he is ruled out for any length of time,” said Howe. “It looked really innocuous, but that is usually the way and they are normally the more serious ones. You could see he was in distress and it looked like he dislocated his shoulder just diving.
“Martin Dubravka came on in a tricky situation with 10 minutes to go with a narrow lead, which is not nice for any goalkeeper, so I have to compliment him for doing so well.”
Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi aims to upend David Warner’s farewell Test series in Australia
- Afridi acknowledges Warner’s ‘great career’ but says he doesn’t want him to perform well against Pakistan
- Afridi says Pakistani players have faced the 14-member Australian squad and were up for the challenge
ISLAMABAD: In a charged prelude to the upcoming Test series, Pakistan’s fiery fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has set his sights on challenging Australian batting icon David Warner, vowing to make Warner’s farewell Test series a memorable contest.
Afridi shared his bold ambitions with the media in Canberra on Sunday, just before Pakistan’s first practice session, igniting anticipation for an electrifying cricket showdown.
Afridi began by acknowledging the Australian opener’s “great career,” saying he had consistently delivered stellar performances across all three formats.
“We would wish him good luck but not hoping for a good end for David Warner in his last Test series against us,” he said with a hint of competitive spirit.
Warner made a triple century against Pakistan at Adelaide in 2019, though his recent performance in Test matches has remained mixed.
He plans to say goodbye to the format during the Pakistan series but will continue to play for Australia in white ball cricket.
“This is an important series for Pakistan as we are leading the World Test Championship’s point table at the moment,” the left-arm fast bowler said.
Having faced the majority of the recently announced Australian squad, Afridi expressed the team’s preparedness for the challenge that lies ahead.
“We have played against the recently announced Australia’s 14-member squad, and we are all up for this challenge,” he said.
“We don’t have much experience of Canberra, but I am sure this four-day match against PM XI [from Dec. 6 to 9] will help us prepare well for the series against the home team starting from Perth,” he added.
Pakistan will play the first test against Australia at Perth from Dec. 14-19.
Rodman’s goal caps 3-0 victory for the US women over China
- Kilgore said about Rodman: She’s obviously a very gifted individual player and she’s looking to play more with her teammates
- The matches close a difficult year for the US after the four-time champions were eliminated from the Women’s World Cup this summer in the round of 16, the team’s earliest exit ever
FORT LAUDERDALE: Trinity Rodman had a goal and two assists to help the US beat China 3-0 in an exhibition match on Saturday.
Sophia Smith and Lindsey Horan also scored in the first of two exhibition games against China. The second is set for Tuesday in Frisco, Texas, outside of Dallas.
The matches close a difficult year for the US after the four-time champions were eliminated from the Women’s World Cup this summer in the round of 16, the team’s earliest exit ever.
Smith scored in the eighth minute, beating China goalkeeper Xu Huan off a pass from Rodman. It was Smith’s 15th goal in 37 national team appearances.
Horan made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, striking the ball from distance before it bounced past Xu. It was her 30th goal.
Rodman capped the scoring in the 77th with an assist from Jaedyn Shaw. Rodman celebrated with a cheeky dance in front of the goal.
“She’s just being really intentional, we see that in training, we see that in games. And she’s starting to play more and more with the players around her as well,” interim US coach Twila Kilgore said about Rodman. “She’s obviously a very gifted individual player and she’s looking to play more with her teammates.”
Veterans Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alyssa Naeher and Crystal Dunn were given some time off as Kilgore focused on youth for her roster.
Among the players called up for the matches were three teenagers: Shaw, Olivia Moultrie and Alyssa Thompson. It was also the first roster appearance for Jenna Nighswonger, who plays for Gotham FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Korbin Albert.
Moultrie and Nighswonger both made their US debuts as second-half substitutes.
Kilgore, an assistant under former US coach Vlatko Andonovski, chose the roster in consultation with US Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker and Emma Hayes, the new coach who will join the team in May after finishing out the season with Chelsea.
Hayes visited the team during the training camp ahead of the two final matches.
“Twila’s been doing such an amazing job in going from being an assistant coach to being the interim head coach,” Rodman said. “She’s done it so seamlessly and she has a game plan she wants us to execute. She’s so good at communicating it and she holds us to a standard.”
Veteran defender Abby Dahlkemper started against China, making her first appearance for the team in 599 days after having back surgery in October 2022.
Also returning to the starting lineup was Rose Lavelle, who hadn’t played with the team since the World Cup because of an injury. Lavelle played as a winger in Kilgore’s 4-3-3 formation.
“I think it’s so exciting to see the youth coming in and what they can bring,” Lavelle said. “I think they all have such different talents, but I think it’s coming together. It’s an exciting time.”
The Steel Roses, ranked 15th in the world, were runners-up in the 1999 World Cup, won by the US at the Rose Bowl.
Wang Jun served as interim coach for China. Former coach Shui Qingxia was dismissed after the Steel Roses failed to qualify for the Olympics.