MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for Covid-19, the Spanish club announced Friday.
The positive test comes a day before Madrid travel to Alaves in La Liga seeking to bounce back from an embarrassing midweek Copa del Rey exit.
“Real Madrid C.F. report that our coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for Covid-19,” the club said in a statement.
Zidane already had to self-isolate this month after coming into contact with a person infected with the virus.
He tested negative at the time and was able to oversee the team.
After successive defeats in the Spanish Super Cup and Copa del Rey, the second a shock loss to third-tier Alcoyano, Zidane is again under pressure as Real Madrid try to reignite their La Liga title challenge away to Alaves.
Zidane’s side are playing catch-up to Atletico Madrid after draws against struggling Elche and Osasuna, two of the league’s bottom three, in recent weeks.
Alaves beat Madrid 2-1 in the capital in late November but have won just once in eight matches since, their slide into a relegation scrap costing coach Pablo Machin his job last week with former Spain international Abelardo Fernandez returning to take charge.
Real assistant coach David Bettoni said that Zidane was “fine” after his positive test, although “sad” not to be among the players.
“I spoke with the coach this morning and he is fine,” said Bettoni.
“He was a little sad this morning not to be with us. He will not physically be with us, but we all know that he will be with us supporting.
“He will not be with us physically during tomorrow’s game, but he will be with us to support the players, give his energy and help everyone.”
Bettoni also played down talk of Zidane’s future after their Copa del Rey embarrassment.
“You know the boss, he likes football, it’s his passion. He is fortunate to coach this great club. In football it is a complicated time, but he is in good spirits,” said Bettoni.
“I see him every morning with a smile, with joy, wanting to train. We want to carry on, we are fortunate to train at this club, so we enjoy them every day with our players.”
Real Madrid coach Zidane positive for Covid-19
Real Madrid coach Zidane positive for Covid-19
- Real assistant coach David Bettoni said that Zidane was ‘fine’ after his positive test, although ‘sad’ not to be among the players
- Zidane’s side are playing catch-up to Atletico Madrid after draws against struggling Elche and Osasuna in recent weeks
MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for Covid-19, the Spanish club announced Friday.
Yuka Saso shoots 2nd straight 64 for 2-shot lead over Ko
- Saso, who turned pro in November 2019, plays primarily on the Japan LPGA Tour, and is ranked 43rd in the world
- Lydia Ko, the former No. 1 and two-time major champion, has not won since 2018 but may be the hottest player on tour
KAPOLEI, Hawaii: Yuka Saso shot her second consecutive 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over surging Lydia Ko after two rounds of the Lotte Championship.
Saso, who’s playing on a sponsor’s exemption, made seven birdies in her first 10 holes to catch Ko, who shot 63 earlier Thursday at Kapolei Golf Club. The 19-year-old from the Philippines then birdied the 16th and 17th holes to reach 16 under.
Not bad a player in her sixth LPGA Tour event who’s uncomfortable with the Hawaii wind.
“I’m trying to get used to it,” Saso said. “The wind is still strong. Like I said yesterday, I don’t really like windy conditions. I’m happy I’m able to play good even if I don’t really like it.”
Saso, who turned pro in November 2019, plays primarily on the Japan LPGA Tour, where she has won twice, and is ranked 43rd in the world. Her best previous LPGA score was 69, and her highest finish was 13th at the US Women’s Open last December.
Ko, the former No. 1 and two-time major champion, has not won since 2018 but may be the hottest player on tour. She has played her last three rounds in 24 under.
Ko shot a final-round 62 last week at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, to finish runner-up to Patty Tavatanakit.
“Coming into this week, obviously coming off the best round in a really long time, I kind of didn’t know what to expect,” Ko said. “Obviously you feel like your game is moving in the right direction, but you don’t want to kind of slack off. Having a good round under my belt yesterday definitely helped. This is a golf course where especially when the wind is down it’s pretty gettable.”
Fourth-ranked Nelly Korda was five shots back along with So Yeon Ryu, Hyo Joo Kim and Luna Sobron Galmes, who plays primarily on the Ladies European Tour. Sobron Galmes had 10 birdies while shooting 64.
US Women’s Open champion A Lim Kim was 10 under after a 64, joined by Ally Ewing and Brianna Do, who shot a career-low 66.
Do’s caddie for the week is Tadd Fujikawa, the longtime Hawaii pro who made the cut at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open as a 16-year-old amateur in 2007.
Fujikawa is home to play next week’s Mid-Pacific Open and practices regularly at Kapolei. He’s known Do since they were 12 years old.
“Most of the time,” Fujikawa said with a smile, “she listens pretty darn well.”
Seventeen-year-old Rose Zhang (68), the world’s top-ranked amateur, was 9 under.
Brooke Henderson, the 2018 and 2019 Lotte champion, was eight shots back after her second straight 68. She has hit all 36 greens in regulation.
Amy Yang had a hole-in-one on the 12th hole, the third ace on tour this year.
Pakistan beat South Africa with one ball to spare
- The game clinched a 3-1 series win for the tourists
- The win completed a clean sweep of four successful series against S Africa during the season
CENTURION: Pakistan beat South Africa by three wickets with one ball to spare in the fourth and final Twenty20 international South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
It clinched a 3-1 series win for the tourists.
Pakistan seemed to be cruising when they reached 92 for one in the 10th over after bowling out South Africa for 144 on what is usually a high-scoring ground.
But six wickets fell for 27 runs after Fakhar Zaman was out for a hard-hit 60 off 34 balls before Mohammad Nawaz sealed the win with a six off the penultimate ball.
Pakistan's 3-1 series win completed a clean sweep of four successful series against South Africa during the season.
They won Test and T20 series in Pakistan and a one-day and T20 series in South Africa.
Tokyo Olympics must be ‘reconsidered’ due to Japan’s failure to contain pandemic — health experts
- A survey of more than 1,000 Japanese doctors last month showed that 75% believed it was better to postpone the Games
- Japan began its inoculation push in February, later than most major economies
TOKYO: Japan’s inability to contain the COVID-19 pandemic means that plans to hold the Olympics in Tokyo should be reconsidered, health experts wrote in a commentary.
The 2020 Games, already delayed by one year, are due to begin in fewer than 100 days, even as Japan expands quasi-emergency measures to halt a fourth wave of infections.
Japan has exhibited “poor performance” in containing virus transmission, along with limited testing capacity and a slow vaccination rollout, according to the commentary published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.
“Plans to hold the Olympic and Paralympic games this summer must be reconsidered as a matter of urgency,” wrote lead author Kazuki Shimizu of the London School of Economics.
“Holding Tokyo 2020 for domestic political and economic purposes — ignoring scientific and moral imperatives — is contradictory to Japan’s commitment to global health and human security.”
The commentary adds to a drum beat of doubt among medical professionals that the Olympics can be carried out safely this summer. A survey of more than 1,000 Japanese doctors last month showed that 75% believed it was better to postpone the Games, according to physician referral company Ishinotomo.
Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishiura, an adviser to the government’s pandemic response, urged in a magazine commentary this week that authorities postpone the Olympics one year to allow for more time to vaccinate the public.
Japan began its inoculation push in February, later than most major economies. Only 0.9% of the Japanese public have received their first shot so far, compared with 2.5% in South Korea, and 48% in the United Kingdom.
Olympic and government officials have said further postponement of the Games is out of the question.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday the government would do “everything possible” to prevent further contagion ahead of the Games, after a ruling party official said canceling the event remained an option.
City star Foden on course to reach status of Mbappe, Haaland
- Foden was widely expected to eventually fill the shoes of now-departed midfield playmaker David Silva at City
LONDON: Phil Foden had just finished his latest post-match chat with Erling Haaland when a message from the Manchester City forward’s Twitter account made its way to another of the world’s top soccer players.
“Are you ready,” read the post to Kylian Mbappe, alongside a handshake emoji.
Ignoring who actually sent the tweet — it has since been deleted, suggesting Foden might not have been behind the brazen calling-out of Mbappe — it is a sign of the lofty circles this outstanding English talent is currently mixing in.
Away from social media, Foden is letting his feet do the talking. With winning goals in both legs, the 20-year-old nicknamed the “Stockport Iniesta” — after a town near Manchester where he was born and the former Spain and Barcelona midfielder — was the difference-maker as City beat Haaland’s Borussia Dortmund to reach the Champions League semifinals for only the second time.
Next up: Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain, pitching together the only two players to have scored in both legs of a Champions League quarterfinal when under the age of 21. Mbappe did so also against Dortmund, when playing for Monaco in the 2016-17 season, and has gone on to become one of the world’s best players.
Foden appears to be on that path.
“We knew it from the beginning and how he grew up,” said City manager Pep Guardiola, who described Foden’s talent as “unique” after inviting the then-17-year-old player to train with City’s senior squad for the first time in 2016.
City are reaping the rewards of Guardiola’s careful nurturing of Foden over the last few years. Many criticized the Spanish coach’s reluctance to play Foden more — he had a total of 36 appearances in all competitions in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons combined — but Guardiola repeatedly said his time would come and that Foden still needed to learn his trade.
That time is now, in big matches in the Premier League and now on the grandest stage of all in club soccer: the Champions League.
He is sure, too, to play a big role for England at this summer’s European Championship, having seemingly established himself in the preferred front three of his national team.
Foden was widely expected to eventually fill the shoes of now-departed midfield playmaker David Silva at City — they have similar characteristics with their touch, technical qualities, low center of gravity and left-footedness — but it appears his future lies closer to goal, in a wide-forward role.
At least in the opinion of Guardiola, who shared a warm embrace with Foden after his 75th-minute goal that sealed City’s 2-1 win on Wednesday, and a 4-2 victory on aggregate.
Guardiola described Foden as “dynamic offensively” and someone who “always creates something” but, tellingly, added that his all-round game had matured.
“He is learning right now not to take just one touch. He is able to make more touches when making decisions,” said Guardiola, one of the deeper thinkers about the game.
“In the quarterfinal of the Champions League, he was the important player to go through.”
With Foden flourishing, he is somehow managing to cover the offseason departures of both Silva and Leroy Sane, a mercurial winger who City decided to sell to Bayern Munich.
Silva will forever hold a special place in the hearts of City fans — to many, he is the club’s greatest player. But Foden’s development along with the prolific scoring this season of Ilkay Gundogan, who has assumed Silva’s attacking-midfield role, has ensured Silva hasn’t really been missed.
Newcomers Al-Wehdat hold Al-Nassr on bleak opening day of AFC Champions League
- Four of the six fixtures ended in draws, two of which were goalless, while the other two were settled by a single goal
RIYADH: Al-Wehdat ensured that Al-Nassr’s frustrating season continued on Wednesday, as Group D of the AFC Champions League got underway. The Jordanian side held the struggling Saudi club to a goalless draw at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.
The team from Amman, which was playing its first-ever match in Asia’s premier club competition, maintained a fine defensive rearguard throughout the game. They are the first Jordanian club to reach the group stage of the competition, and despite the troubles Al-Nassr have been having on and off the pitch this season the Saudi side was still expected to win this match on home soil.
But while last season’s Saudi Professional League runners-up initially were the more threatening, Al-Wehdat coach Abdullah Abu Zema’s side showed little fear and the 70 percent of the first-half possession Al-Nassr enjoyed rarely led to any clear-cut scoring chances.
An Abdullah Muda header did force a fine save from Al-Wehdat goalkeeper Ahmad Nawwas but this proved to be one of only a handful of occasions on which Al-Nassr’s forward line got a glimpse of their opponent’s goal. The second half proved to be little different. Al-Wehdat almost took the lead after 10 minutes but Brad Jones managed to save Ahmad Zreik’s dangerous strike.
In the same group, Boualem Khoukhi’s 89th-minute equalizer for Qatari side Al-Sadd salvaged a 1-1 draw against Foolad Khuzestan, from Iran, at the King Fahd Stadium just as a shock defeat was starting to look all but certain.
Al-Sadd started dangerously but after withstanding the early assault the Iranian side began to grow in confidence and played themselves back into the tie. After a barren first half, Foolad took the lead on 61 minutes through Brazilian forward Chimba’s header.
Khoukhi almost leveled it for Xavi Hernández’s team with an 81st-minute free-kick but was denied by Foolad goalkeeper Foroozan. With a minute left of normal time, however, he would not be denied a second time.
With all four teams in the group sitting on a point each, in the next round of matches Al-Wehdat will face Foolad Khuzestan, while Al-Nassr take on Al-Sadd in clash that could go a long way to determining who will top the table in two weeks’ time. Both games will be played on Saturday.
In Group E another of the competition’s debutants, FC Goa from India, also managed to record a goalless draw, against Al-Rayyan, from Qatar, at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
As expected, the visitors started on the front foot and could have taken the lead after five minutes when captain Yacine Brahimi shot wide from the edge of the penalty box. Minutes later, FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh saved a close-range strike by Naif Al-Hadhrami.
Coach Laurent Blanc’s team continued to dominate possession, with Yohan Boli spearheading the efforts to make a breakthrough. Minutes before the break, however, it was Goa who almost took a shock lead, only for Alexander Romario’s long-range effort to be palmed away by goalkeeper Fahad Younis.
Having held out until half time, Goa came out with renewed purpose after the break but neither side proved incisive enough to break the deadlock. The shared points will have left Goa’s Juan Ferrando the happier of the two coaches.
The result left the teams joint second in the group, two points behind Iranian side Persepolis FC, who earlier in the day defeated Emirati club Al-Wahda 1-0.
Next up in the group, on Saturday, FC Goa will take on Henk Ten Cate’s Al-Wahda, while Al-Rayyan face last year’s finalists, Persepolis.
In the day’s other matches, in Group B, Emirati side Sharjah FC recorded a 1-0 victory over Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, from Iraq, while Pakhtakor Tashkent, from Uzbekistan, played out dramatic 3-3 draw with Tractor, from Iran.