Pep Guardiola tells Chelsea to back under-fire Graham Potter after 4-0 FA Cup rout

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Chelsea manager Graham Potter after the FA Cup match, which finished 4-0 to the hosts, at the Etihad Stadium. (Action Images via Reuters)
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Updated 09 January 2023
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Pep Guardiola tells Chelsea to back under-fire Graham Potter after 4-0 FA Cup rout

  • Mahrez’s late spot-kick capped Chelsea’s first FA Cup third round exit since 1998
  • Chelsea have won only three of their last 12 games in all competitions, but Guardiola came to Potter’s aid

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola told Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly to back under-fire boss Graham Potter after Manchester City thrashed the Blues 4-0 in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.
Potter’s troubled side were beaten by City for the second time in four days as their hopes of winning a domestic cup this season came to a painful end.
Already knocked out of the League Cup by City in November and defeated 1-0 by the Premier League champions on Thursday, Chelsea’s turbulent season was pushed deeper into crisis as Guardiola’s men ran riot at the Etihad Stadium.
Riyad Mahrez started the demolition with a fine free-kick before Julian Alvarez’s penalty and a Phil Foden strike made it 3-0 before half-time.
Mahrez’s late spot-kick capped Chelsea’s first FA Cup third round exit since 1998 after they had finished runners-up in the competition for the last three years.
With Chelsea languishing in 10th place in the Premier League — 10 points adrift of the top four — Potter is already beginning to feel the heat just four months after replacing the sacked Thomas Tuchel.
The former Brighton manager will hardly have been comforted by the sound of Chelsea fans chanting Tuchel’s name and sarcastically shouting “shoot” whenever they embarked on a rare attack during their latest abject defeat.
Chelsea have won only three of their last 12 games in all competitions, but Guardiola came to Potter’s aid as he urged the Blues hierarchy to give him time to make his methods work.
“I would say to Todd Boehly, give him time. I know in big clubs, results are important but I’d say give him time,” Guardiola said.
“What he’s done at Brighton is outstanding, but we need time in the first season. I had (Lionel) Messi in Barcelona my first season so I didn’t need two seasons because Messi was there.”
Chelsea did not muster a single shot in a first half even Potter described as “painful.”
Potter could point to an injury crisis which kept nine players sidelined and led to teenager Bashir Humphreys making his senior debut in defense.
But the 47-year-old conceded performances must improve quickly.
“The results in a small space of time are not positive. You can make excuses and look for reasons or say it isn’t good enough. Both of those answers are correct,” Potter said.
“We have to keep improving and stick together because clearly we are suffering as a football club and it’s not nice at all. But that’s where we are at the moment.
“We can’t do anything apart from do our jobs better and work harder. You understand the supporters’ frustration, we respect that. But our job is to do our job and keep working.”
Insisting he still has the backing of his players, Potter added: “I think there is support in the dressing room.
“We are just going through a bad moment. We have to stick together and keep working.”
Meanwhile, the Football Association will investigate alleged incidents of homophobic chanting by City fans.
“We strongly condemn the use of the term ‘rent boy’ and we are determined to drive it out of our game,” an FA spokesperson said.
“We continue to work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, as well as the UK Football Policing Unit, in relation to the use of this term.”


Laporte takes aim at critics after strong Spain Euros start

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Laporte takes aim at critics after strong Spain Euros start

“They said everything, there was a lot of speculation and not enough information to come out with so many opinions,” Laporte told a news conference
“There’s a lot of bad information out there that generates more headlines... I prepared myself (to play at the Euros)“

DONAUESCHINGEN, Germany: Spain defender Aymeric Laporte fired a shot at his critics on Saturday after his fine display against Italy at Euro 2024.
The 30-year-old center-back, now playing for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, started as Spain defeated the reigning champions 1-0 on Thursday to qualify for the last 16 top from Group B.
Laporte missed the opening 3-0 win against Croatia with a muscular problem and some Spanish media speculated over whether he was at the right level to play for La Roja after a year in the Saudi league.
“They said everything, there was a lot of speculation and not enough information to come out with so many opinions,” Laporte told a news conference ahead of the third group match against Albania on Monday.
“There’s a lot of bad information out there that generates more headlines... I prepared myself (to play at the Euros).”
Laporte arrived in Germany after his team-mates, and coach Luis de la Fuente said although the former Manchester City player could have featured against Croatia, it was better not to take risks.
“I played 90 minutes against Italy and I feel good,” added Laporte.
“I spoke with the (Spain) coach before taking the decision to go to Saudi Arabia.
“For me the national team is very important, it’s one of the most important things in my career.
“I’m proud of representing Spain, each time I wear the shirt I feel very proud and like I identify.”
Laporte, born in the French Basque region, became a naturalized Spaniard in 2021.
The defender played alongside Robin Le Normand, another French-born player, against Italy.
“I speak (to him) a lot on the pitch, we have fluid communication,” said Laporte.
“On and off the pitch we’re constantly talking, we played well against Italy.”
In January Laporte said many new players in the Saudi league coming from Europe were not happy, but defended the competition on Friday.
“I think people are prejudiced about it,” he explained.
“It’s also true that it’s a young league, in terms of marketing it’s evolving bit by bit and maybe in the future it will be seen as a more competitive league.
“But I also have to say that the player of the match in both of France’s games was (Al-Ittihad player N’Golo) Kante, and that shows something.”

UAE jiu-jitsu national team passes weigh-in for Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024 

Updated 22 June 2024
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UAE jiu-jitsu national team passes weigh-in for Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024 

  • 19 Emirati male and female fighters are among more than 300 athletes from 31 nations taking part in the tournament

ABU DHABI: The UAE jiu-jitsu national team completed the official weigh-in on Friday night for the Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024, which run until May 23 in Bangkok.

The Emirati fighters are aiming to build on their strong performance from May in Abu Dhabi, where they won the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship title for the fourth consecutive year.

This championship is crucial for the team, which consists of 19 male and female athletes as it provides an opportunity to test their skills before big events, particularly the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Greece this October and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand in November. More than 300 athletes from 31 nations are participating in the Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024.

Mohamed Salem Al-Dhaheri, vice chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, expressed confidence in the athletes’ skills and their readiness to compete at the highest level.

“The successful weigh-in reflects the exceptional efforts during training camps and the athletes’ professionalism and commitment to following the technical staff’s directives. The team is all prepared to compete strongly against some of the best athletes in the world,” he said.

“The team aims to maintain their excellence in continental and international competitions and build on their successes in 2024, starting with the recent Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship win.”

Al-Dhaheri highlighted the importance of grand prix tournaments in improving the team’s standing in the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s ranking. This ranking provides advantages in terms of the draw and brackets for the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship. 

Sultan Hassan, of the national team, competing in the 69 kg weight category, said: “We aim to represent the nation well and add another title to our country’s record of achievements. We have prepared intensively over the past weeks and are eager to continue performing well on the international stage.

“We worked hard with the technical staff and underwent an intensive training program, both physically and mentally. Our training included advanced techniques and various strategies, enhancing our preparation to compete at the highest level. We are confident that we can perform well and fly the UAE’s flag high.”

The men’s team delegation includes Rashid Al-Shehhi, Omar Al-Suwaidi and Mohammed Al-Ketbi who will compete in the 56 kg weight division; Mayed Al-Shehhi and Khaled Al-Baloushi in the 62 kg weight division; Muhammad Al-Suwaidi and Sultan Hassan in the 69 kg weight division; Mahdi Al-Awlaki and Sultan Al-Hosani in the 77 kg weight division; Saeed Al-Kubaisi in the 85 kg weight division; and Hazza Farhan in the 94 kg weight division.

In the women’s category, Balqees Alhashmi and Aysha Al-Shamsi will compete in the 45 kg weight division; Maitha Shraim in the 48 kg weight division; Asma Al-Hosani in the 52 kg weight class; Alanood Alhosani in the 57 kg weight class; Shamma Al-Kalbani and Bashayer Al-Matroushi in the 63 kg weight division; and Muhrah Mahfoudh in the 70 kg weight division.


DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3

Updated 22 June 2024
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DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3

  • Franchises had option of retaining maximum of two UAE players, with no limit on retention of international players.
  • DP World ILT20 Season 3 to begin from Saturday, Jan. 11, 2025, with final to be played on Sunday, Feb. 9

DUBAI: The six DP World International League T20 franchises have retained a total of 69 players for the tournament’s third season, which will be played from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9, 2025 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The window for retaining players was opened on June 1 with the teams given two weeks to submit the list of the retained players.

Among the 69 players, 26 players were parts of various ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2024 squads.

The retained players include T20 heavyweights such as Andre Russell, David Willey, Sunil Narine (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Alex Hales, Azam Khan, Muhammad Amir, Sherfane Rutherford, Wanindu Hasaranga (Desert Vipers), Dasun Shanaka, David Warner, Rovman Powell, Sam Billings, Sikandar Raza (Dubai Capitals), Chris Jordan, James Vince, Shimron Hetmyer (Gulf Giants), Akeal Hosein, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, (MI Emirates), Johnson Charles and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Sharjah Warriors).

Each of the six franchises have retained two UAE players each.

The UAE players retained for Season 3 include Aditya Shetty and Alishan Sharafu (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Ali Naseer and Tanish Suri (Desert Vipers), Haider Ali and Raja Akif (Dubai Capitals), Aayan Afzal Khan and Mohammad Zohaib Zubair (Gulf Giants), Muhammad Rohid Khan and Muhammad Waseem (MI Emirates), Junaid Siddique and Muhammad Jawadullah (Sharjah Warriors).

Following the completion of the players' retention window, the teams can now sign new players in the player acquisition window, which will stay open till Sept. 15.

Each franchise can sign a minimum two additional UAE players to complete their quota of four UAE signings after the completion of the ILT20 development tournament, which will be held in October.

 
Retained players for DP World ILT20 Season 3:

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders: Aditya Shetty, Ali Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Andre Russell, Andries Ghous, Charith Asalanka, David Willey, Joe Clarke, Laurie Evans, Michael Pepper and Sunil Narine.

Desert Vipers: Adam Hose, Alex Hales, Ali Naseer, Azam Khan, Bas de Leede, Luke Wood, Michael Jones, Muhammad Amir, Nathan Sowter, Sherfane Rutherford, Tanish Suri and Wanindu Hasaranga.

Dubai Capitals: Dasun Shanaka, David Warner, Dushmantha Chameera, Haider Ali, Raja Akif, Rovman Powell, Sam Billings, Sikandar Raza, Zahir Khan, Jake Fraser McGurk and Oliver Stone.

Gulf Giants: Aayan Afzal Khan, Blessing Muzarabani, Chris Jordan, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gerhard Erasmus, Jamie Overton, James Vince, Jamie Smith, Jordan Cox, Mohammad Zohaib Zubair, Rehan Ahmed, Richard Gleeson and Shimron Hetmyer.

MI Emirates: Akeal Hosein, Andre Fletcher, Daniel Mousley, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Jordan Thompson, Kieron Pollard, Kusal Perera, Muhammad Rohid Khan, Muhammad Waseem, Nicholas Pooran, Nosthush Kenjige, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth and Waqar Salamkheil.

Sharjah Warriors: Dilshan Madushanka, Johnson Charles, Junaid Siddique, Muhamad Jawadullah, Kusal Mendis, Luke Wells, Peter Hatzoglou and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.


Impa Kasanganay earns top seed after victory in PFL light heavyweight playoffs

Updated 22 June 2024
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Impa Kasanganay earns top seed after victory in PFL light heavyweight playoffs

  • Kasanganay will face Josh Silveira in the 2024 PFL light heavyweight semifinals
  • The 2024 PFL Global Season action continues Friday, June 28 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota

SALT LAKE CITY: Impa Kasanganay emerged victorious on Friday night as the 2024 PFL Global Season resumed from the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The 12-fight Professional Fighters League event card featured the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions.

The evening’s co-main event featured 2023 PFL light heavyweight champion Kasanganay squaring off with Jakob Nedoh. The two battled back and forth until Kasanganay landed a flurry of devastating punches leading to a doctor’s stoppage after the second round. Kasanganay continues his million-dollar journey with a berth in the 2024 PFL Global Season playoffs.

In the night’s other main event, Clay Collard and Mads Burnell went the three-round distance. Burnell took control of the action with a superior ground game, nullifying Collard’s striking advantage. Burnell earned a unanimous decision, playing the spoiler in Collard’s hometown return.

Former lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull faced Bruno Miranda in a lightweight global season bout with Miranda defeating Pitbull by split decision. Unfortunately for both fighters, Miranda and Pitbull were eliminated from the PFL playoffs due to points.

The 2022 PFL light heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson met 2023 runner-up Josh Silveira in Global Season action. The two battled for three rounds, showcasing their technical acumen. In the end, it was Wilkinson taking the razor-thin, split-decision victory. Both competitors clinched 2024 PFL playoffs berths.

Turkmenistan’s Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov squared off with Cameroon’s Simon Biyong in a light heavyweight PFL Global Season matchup. After three intense rounds, Yagshimuradov was judged as the superior fighter, winning by unanimous decision. As a result, Yagshimuradov clinched a spot in the 2024 PFL playoffs.

“The Professional Fighters League’s debut in Salt Lake City was an unforgettable event featuring the best athletes in MMA as they continued their million-dollar journey,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “The PFL season format makes every fight a must-win, giving us an unparalleled connection to the fans while providing unrivaled action with the highest stakes in the sport.”

“Salt Lake City saw eight athletes qualify for the 2024 PFL Global Season playoffs in a night of non-stop PFL action,” said Ray Sefo, president of fighter operations at PFL. “We look forward to next week’s 2024 PFL regular season finale in Sioux Falls.”

Antonio Carlos Jr. and Alex Polizzi met in Global Season light heavyweight action. Polizzi earned a hard-fought unanimous decision. The decision ended both fighters’ hopes of moving on to the 2024 PFL playoffs.

Brent Primus defeated Solomon Renfro by submission in the third round in a lightweight PFL Global Season matchup. Primus clinched a 2024 PFL playoff berth with the victory.

Sadibou Sy faced off against Andrew Sanchez in a light heavyweight Global Season bout. In an action-packed fight, both men traded strikes until Sy ended the affair in the third round by TKO.

In a lightweight Global Season matchup, it was win-or-go-home time for Gadzhi Rabadanov and Elvin Espinoza. The fight went the distance, with both fighters trading shots for three rounds. In the end it was Rabadanov who left the PFL smartcage victorious after a unanimous decision, earning a spot in the 2024 PFL playoffs.

In lightweight PFL Global Season action, Adam Piccolotti defeated Michael Dufort by split decision in a hard-fought matchup. The victory was not enough to put Piccolotti into the postseason, Dufort however, did eventually earn his first trip to the PFL playoffs.

In an exciting PFL Global Season lightweight alternate bout, Sergio Cossio defeated Anthony Romero by unanimous decision in his PFL debut. The win extends former lightweight champion Cossio’s winning streak to nine.

The first fight of the night, a featherweight showcase bout between undefeated fighters Brahyan Zurcher and Julian Ruiz, resulted in a second-round KO by Zurcher. Zurcher improves to 9-0 as a pro with seven stoppage wins.

The 2024 PFL Global Season continues on Friday, June 28 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota with featherweight and welterweight action.


Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

Updated 22 June 2024
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Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

  • With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third
  • The crowd support helped keep DeChambeau going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer

COLLEGE GROVE: In his first round since winning the US Open, a worn-out Bryson DeChambeau continued to thrive off the energy of his growing fan base, shooting a 4-under 67 on Friday at LIV Golf Nashville.

Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Abraham Ancer continued to ride the form that’s already led to one LIV Golf victory this season, as he grabbed the first-round lead at The Grove with a bogey-free 7-under 64.
 

With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third. The Fireballs, captained by Sergio Garcia, are seeking their first team title this season after trying for second in each of the previous two tournaments.
 
Ancer opened his round with a birdie, and then took the lead on his final nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch. He finished by getting up-and-down on his last hole to keep his scorecard clean.
 

“Extremely happy the way I fought today,” said Ancer, the winner at LIV Golf Hong Kong earlier this year in a playoff. “Even the last hole, I put myself in a tough spot and then made a longish putt for par, which was really nice. You don’t want to finish on a bogey.”

One shot back is Legion XIII’s Tyrrell Hatton, the only player this season to finish inside the top 24 in points in each of the first eight tournaments. Hatton leaned heavily on his putter during a round in which he needed just 24 putts. 

“The big thing that I was most pleased with today was just the putter,” Hatton said. “Feel like I holed out really well from inside 10 feet.”

In solo third is John Catlin, a reserve player who is filling in for injured Crushers veteran Charles Howell III for the second consecutive LIV Golf tournament. Catlin’s 5-under 66 was highlighted by a stretch of four birdies in five holes around his turn.

No reserve player has finished inside the top 5 of a LIV Golf tournament, but Catlin, a 13-time winner in his professional career and currently second in the International Series standings, is confident he can continue to make noise this week.

“I feel like if I can go out and play my game, I’m capable of anything,” he said.

DeChambeau is in a four-way tie for fourth with Torque’s Sebastián Muñoz, Fireballs’ Eugenio Chacarra and Majesticks GC’s Sam Horsfield.
 
The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Crushers captain after winning his second US Open with a clutch up-and-down on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst. A media tour in New York followed the next day before he traveled to Nashville for this week’s tournament.
 
“I’m a zombie right now. I’m a dead man walking,” he said.
 
But the crowd support Friday helped keep him going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer.
 
“It’s quite an honor to be out here and have so much support,” DeChambeau said. “It’s fantastic. This is what LIV is all about.”

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Nashville:

 

1. FIREBALLS GC -14 (Ancer 64, Chacarra 67, Garcia 68)

 

2. CRUSHERS GC -10 (Catlin 66, DeChambeau 67, Casey 70)

 

3. TORQUE GC -9 (Muñoz 67, Ortiz 68, Pereira 69)

 

4. LEGION XIII -8 (Hatton 65, Rahm 70, Surratt 70)

 

5. MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Horsfield 67, Westwood 69, Stenson 70)

 

T6. STINGER GC -4 (Schwartzel 69, Burmester 70, Oosthuizen 70)

 

T6. RIPPER GC -4 (Leishman 69, Smith 69, Jones 71)

 

T6. CLEEKS GC -4 (Kaymer 68, Bland 70, Samooja 71)

 

9. IRON HEADS GC -3 (Na 69, Vincent 69, Kozuma 72)

 

10. SMASH GC -2 (Koepka 69, Kokrak 71, Gooch 71)

 

11. HYFLYERS GC E (Mickelson 70, Steele 71, Ogletree 72)

 

12. RANGEGOATS GC +1 (Watson 70, Wolff 72, Uihlein 72)

 

13. 4ACES GC +2 (Varner III 71, Reed 72, Perez 72)