Refreshed Kane aiming to keep Sterling in the shade

Harry Kane celebrates after he scores the team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa on August 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2019
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Refreshed Kane aiming to keep Sterling in the shade

  • Kane got his and Spurs’ season off to flying start with two goals in the final five minutes
  • He returned just in time for Tottenham’s first ever Champions League final

MANCHESTER: Harry Kane feels he is already reaping the rewards of a rare month off as Tottenham’s talisman hopes to outgun England teammate Raheem Sterling when Spurs visit Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday.
Kane was beset by ankle injuries last season after just a three-week break between lifting the Golden Boot as the World Cup’s top scorer and the start of another gruelling Premier League season.
He returned just in time for Tottenham’s first ever Champions League final and England’s Nations League semifinal against The Netherlands in June, but looked well short of match fitness as he ended up on the losing side in both games.
Rejuvenated by a summer off, in which he got married to childhood sweetheart Kate Goodland, Kane got his and Spurs’ season off to flying start with two goals in the final five minutes to beat Aston Villa 3-1 on the opening weekend.
“I had four weeks off, the most I’ve had off in a few years now,” said the England captain.
“I’ve had a good pre-season, been here from the start, worked with the team and everyone’s feeling good.
“We’ve still got work to do, I’ve still got work to do in terms of fitness and things like that, but playing games will only help.
“I feel in a good place and hopefully I can continue doing what we’ve done.”
A double still was not enough to gain an early lead in the Premier League Golden Boot race, though, as Sterling scored a hat-trick in City’s ominous 5-0 demolition of West Ham.
But for Tottenham, City could have celebrated a quadruple of trophies last season as even shorn of Kane for the majority of the tie, Mauricio Pochettino’s men edged a thrilling Champions League quarter-final on away goals.
Son Heung-min was Tottenham’s star then, scoring three of his side’s four goals, but Spurs’ lack of depth slowly caught up with them in the final few months of the season.
With 12 Premier League games of last season to go, Spurs were just five points adrift of City and had a game in hand.
However, they won only three to finish 28 points behind the champions and clinging onto fourth place.
Tottenham’s squad has been bolstered by the signings of Tanguy Ndombele, who scored on his debut last weekend, Giovani lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon.
Yet, with Son serving the last of a three-match ban, the pressure is on Kane to ensure they do not falter at just the second hurdle in the title race.
“We kept up with them for a while last year but they blew ahead after January,” said Kane on challenging City and European champions Liverpool for the title this season.
“It’s important that we stay in touch as long as we can.
“We have full belief that we can go all the way but there’s a long road ahead and we’ve got to be fully focused.”
However, stopping the City juggernaut on home soil is a huge ask for Spurs, particularly with Sterling continuing the fine form he showed to win the football writers’ player of the year award in England last season.
Tottenham let Kieran Trippier leave for Atletico Madrid last month and did not replace the England international meaning the inexperienced Kyle Walker-Peters has the unenviable task of keeping Sterling quiet.
“Since we started this season in China and the Community Shield he’s scored one goal minimum every game,” said City boss Pep Guardiola on Sterling’s thirst for goals.
“I know the special quality of the player, the consistent physicality and the finishing.”


Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019
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Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.