South Sudan to represent Africa, Japan to represent Asia in Paris Olympic basketball field

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South Sudan’s Nuni Omot (2L) shoots the ball during the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Angola and South Sudan at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, on September 2, 2023. (AFP)
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Japan guard Keisei Tominaga (30) shoots against Cape Verde forward Ivan Almeida (6) in the first half of their Basketball World Cup classification match in Okinawa, southern Japan, on Sept. 2, 2023. (AP)
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Philippines center Kai Zachary Sotto (11) shoots over China center Hu Jinqiu (21) during their Basketball World Cup classification match at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines on Sept. 2, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 02 September 2023
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South Sudan to represent Africa, Japan to represent Asia in Paris Olympic basketball field

  • South Sudan clinched the Olympic berth as the highest-ranked African team in the tournament after rolling past Angola 101-78 in Manila
  • Japan joined the Olympic field as the highest-ranked World Cup team from Asia after an 80-71 win over Cape Verde in Okinawa

MANILA, Philippines: It was a chant that Luol Deng waited years to lead. He stood along the side of the South Sudan locker room after their run in the World Cup was over, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled the same thing, over and over.

“Where we goin’?” he shouted.
“Paris,” the players all responded.
Deng’s vision when he founded the national team about a decade ago was to use basketball as a beacon of hope for his homeland. And his vision never seemed more real than on Saturday.
A struggling country just 12 years removed from gaining its independence — making it the youngest nation in the world — is headed to the Paris Olympics as the automatic qualifier from Africa. Carlik Jones finished with 26 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds, and South Sudan rolled past Angola 101-78 on Saturday in the final game of the World Cup for both teams.




Team South Sudan celebrates after winning the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Angola and South Sudan at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, on September 2, 2023. (AFP)

The win, combined with Egypt’s 88-86 loss to New Zealand in a game that went final about a half hour later, clinched the Olympic berth for South Sudan as the highest-ranked African team in the tournament. And later Saturday, Japan joined the Olympic field as the highest-ranked World Cup team from Asia — clinching that spot by holding on for an 80-71 win over Cape Verde.
“This team is a beam of light, like I keep on saying,” South Sudan coach Royal Ivey said. “We’re bringing unity, camaraderie, love and friendship to this country. This country’s only been independent for 12 years. To do this, for Luol Deng to put this together, this is incredible. This is incredible.”
Marial Shayok scored 18, Nuni Omot — the reigning MVP of the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League — scored 17 and Wenyen Gabriel added 15 for South Sudan (3-2).
Childe Dundao led Angola (1-4) with 21 points.
South Sudan and Japan joined Australia (the Oceania automatic qualifier) and France (the host nation) as teams to have clinched spots in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball field.
The World Cup serves as a qualifier for seven teams — the two highest-ranked teams from the Americas, the top two from Europe, and the top finisher from Asia, Oceania and Africa — into the Olympic field. Those seven join France, and the other four spots will be decided in last-chance qualifying spots next summer.
“I love this team,” Ivey said. “Man, this is a great feeling. This is a great feeling. I wish I could bottle this up right now.”
Japan played host to the Olympics two summers ago and now has secured another trip to the games, though it was far from easy at the end.
Keisei Tominaga put the hosts — Japan got to play its World Cup games in Okinawa — up 73-53 on a 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter.




Japan forward Yuta Watanabe raises his arm responding to supporters celebrating after the team defeated Cape Verde in their Basketball World Cup classification match in Okinawa, southern Japan, on Sept. 2, 2023. (AP)

Cape Verde roared back. It held Japan scoreless for the next nine minutes, going on a 15-0 run to get within 73-68 on a 3-pointer by Betinho Gomes. Japan went 11 minutes without a field goal, but Joshua Hawkinson had the team’s only baskets of the final quarter. They both came in the last minute, one setting up a three-point play, the other a 3-pointer to help the hosts advance.
Hawkinson had 29 points and Tominaga had 22 for Japan (3-2). Edy Tavares and Shane De Rosa each had 11 for Cape Verde (1-4).
PHILIPPINES 96, CHINA 75
At Manila, Jordan Clarkson wouldn’t let the host nation finish the World Cup winless.
Clarkson scored 24 of his 34 points in a third-quarter outburst that turned the entire game around and the Philippines (1-4) rolled past China (1-4) in the finale for both teams. The win also ensured that the Philippines will have a chance to play in an Olympic qualifying tournament next summer.
“We didn’t want our hosting to end without gifting the Filipino people with a victory,” Philippines coach Chot Reyes said in a televised interview after the national team ended a nine-game World Cup losing streak. “It’s storming outside, we’re basically playing for nothing, but they still came out.”




Philippine’s Jordan Clarkson (L) dribbles the ball during the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Philippines and China at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on September 2, 2023. (AFP)

Kaier Li, who goes by the name Kyle Anderson when he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, led China with 17 points. China was outscored 34-11 in the third quarter.
NEW ZEALAND 88, EGYPT 86
At Manila, Izayah Le’Afa and Finn Delany each scored 27 points for New Zealand (2-3) in a back-and-forth game with 10 lead changes and nine ties.
Ehab Amin and Amr El Gendy each scored 19 for Egypt (2-3).
FRANCE 87, IVORY COAST 77
At Jakarta, Isaia Cordinier scored 19 points and Rudy Gobert added 17 in his 100th national-team appearance for France (3-2).
The Olympic silver medalists were eliminated from medal contention after losing their first two games of group-stage play, then won their final three games in Indonesia and leave the World Cup with a winning record.
Nisre Zouzoua scored 18 points for Ivory Coast (1-4).
FINLAND 90, VENEZUELA 75
At Okinawa, Lauri Markkanen needed just under 25 minutes to score 32 points and grab nine rebounds while leading Finland (2-3) in its tournament finale. Pedro Chourio led Venezuela (0-5) with 17 points.
MEXICO 93, JORDAN 80
At Manila, Gabriel Giron scored 21 points for Mexico (2-3). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Jordan (0-5).
LEBANON 81, IRAN 73
At Jakarta, Wael Arakji scored 21 points for Lebanon (2-3). Mohammed Amini led Iran (0-5) with 22 points.
 


New Liverpool boss Slot admits he could not resist lure of club

Updated 21 May 2024
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New Liverpool boss Slot admits he could not resist lure of club

LONDON: Arne Slot said the chance to work at one of the world’s biggest clubs was “difficult to ignore” after Liverpool confirmed on Monday that the Feyenoord coach would be their new manager.

Just 24 hours after Jurgen Klopp’s emotional farewell at Anfield, the Premier League club said in a statement that the Dutchman would take up the position of head coach on June 1, subject to a work permit.

The club did not specify the length of Slot’s contract but it was widely reported in the British press that he had signed a three-year deal.

The new manager’s arrival was an open secret, with Liverpool reportedly agreeing a compensation deal worth up to £9.4 million ($12 million) with Feyenoord.

Slot, 45, confirmed Anfield was his next destination at his final pre-match press conference at the Eredivisie club on Friday.

“It is certainly not an easy decision to close the door behind you at a club where you have experienced so many wonderful moments and worked successfully with so many wonderful people,” he told Feyenoord’s website on Monday.

“But as a sportsman, an opportunity to become a head coach in the Premier League, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, is difficult to ignore.”

Klopp, 56, announced in January that the 2023/24 season would be his last at Anfield, and took charge of his final game on Sunday, a 2-0 win against Wolves.

In his farewell speech to the crowd, the German urged fans to throw their full support behind his successor, leading them in a chant of “Arne Slot, na na na na na.”

“You welcome the new manager like you welcomed me,” he said. “You go all-in from the first day. And you keep believing and you push the team.”

Slot, linked with a move to Tottenham last year, became Feyenoord boss in 2021 after impressing in his first managerial role at AZ Alkmaar.

He led the Dutch giants to the inaugural Europa Conference League final at the end of his first season, which they lost 1-0 to Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

Slot then delivered just a second league title in 24 years to De Kuip last season before penning a new three-year deal.

Feyenoord have enjoyed a strong season, winning the Dutch Cup and coming second to an all-conquering PSV Eindhoven side in the league.

Under Slot, Feyenoord have delighted the fans at De Kuip with an attacking brand of football and Slot has won praise from Klopp himself.

“I like the way his team plays football. If he is the one, I like that he wants it,” Klopp said last month.

“It’s the best job in the world, best club in the world. Great job, great team, fantastic people. A really interesting job.”

Liverpool captain and fellow Dutchman Virgil van Dijk has hailed Slot’s attacking mindset, saying it would suit the philosophy at Anfield.

Speaking about the future under the new boss, Van Dijk said: “It is all about sticking together and giving him the chance of showing what he is capable of with the other guys who will come in.

“He probably knows already but everyone knows our expectations are always huge and it is about managing that in the right way and getting the maximum out of all of our players.”

Slot has huge shoes to fill at Anfield after Klopp restored Liverpool to the elite of English and European football during his nine-year reign.

Under his leadership Liverpool won a sixth Champions League crown and a 19th league title, as well as a clutch of other trophies.

Initially, Bayer Leverkusen boss and former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso was the favorite to succeed Klopp at Anfield.

However, Alonso committed to staying at Leverkusen as he led them to a first-ever Bundesliga title.

Liverpool finished third in the Premier League, qualifying for next season’s Champions League, and won the League Cup in Klopp’s final season.


PIF, WTA sign multiyear partnership to speed up global growth of women’s tennis

Updated 20 May 2024
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PIF, WTA sign multiyear partnership to speed up global growth of women’s tennis

  • PIF will become first naming partner of the WTA rankings
  • PIF to continue to be a catalyst for growth of women’s sport

NEW YORK: The Public Investment Fund and the Women’s Tennis Association on Monday signed a multiyear partnership to support the growth of women’s professional tennis and inspire more females around the world to take up the sport.
The partnership also aims at enhancing and developing initiatives that support players at all levels.
As a global partner of the WTA, the PIF will become the first naming partner of the organization’s rankings, the highest official rankings for professional women tennis players.
And through the partnership with the WTA, the PIF will continue to be a catalyst for the growth of women’s sport, according to Mohamed Al-Sayyad, the fund’s head of corporate brand.
Al-Sayyad said: “We look forward to working with the WTA to increase participation and inspire the next generation of talent. Underpinned by PIF’s four strategic sponsorship pillars, this partnership aligns with our ambition to elevate the game and bring positive growth to the sport around the world.”
The PIF WTA rankings will track players’ journeys, and the PIF will work with the WTA to celebrate and support players’ progress.
WTA’s CEO Marina Storti said: “We are delighted to welcome PIF as a global partner of the WTA and our first-ever official naming partner of the WTA rankings.
“Together, we look forward to sharing the journey of our talented players across the season, as we continue to grow the sport, creating more fans of tennis and inspiring more young people to take up the game.”
As part of its commitment to inspire youngsters, the PIF will work with the WTA to expand existing initiatives and develop new opportunities for young players, providing a significant boost to the game’s next generation of stars.
The PIF announced its partnership with the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) in February and became the official naming partner of the PIF ATP rankings. The PIF has now become the only global partner across both the WTA and ATP tours.
The new partnership between the WTA and the PIF follows the recent announcement that the season-ending WTA Finals will be hosted in Riyadh for the next three years, starting in 2024.


Liverpool confirm Slot will replace Klopp as manager

Updated 20 May 2024
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Liverpool confirm Slot will replace Klopp as manager

  • Liverpool said in a statement that the Dutchman, 45, would take up the position of head coach on June 1, subject to a work permit
  • Slot’s arrival has been an open secret, with Liverpool reportedly agreeing a compensation deal worth up to $12 million

LONDON: Feyenoord coach Arne Slot was Monday confirmed as Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Liverpool by the Premier League club.
Liverpool said in a statement that the Dutchman, 45, would take up the position of head coach on June 1, subject to a work permit.
The club did not specify the length of his contract in their statement but Sky Sports said it understood Slot had signed a three-year deal.
Slot’s arrival has been an open secret, with Liverpool reportedly agreeing a compensation deal worth up to £9.4 million ($12 million).
He confirmed Anfield was his next destination at his final pre-match press conference at the Eredivisie club on Friday.
Klopp announced his departure in January and took charge of his final game on Sunday, a 2-0 win against Wolves.
In his final speech to the Anfield crowd, the German urged fans to throw their full support behind Slot.
“You welcome the new manager like you welcomed me,” he said. “You go all-in from the first day. And you keep believing and you push the team.”
Slot moved to Feyenoord in 2021 after impressing in his first managerial role at AZ Alkmaar.
He led the Dutch giants to the inaugural Europa Conference League final at the end of his first season. They narrowly lost 1-0 to Jose Mourinho’s Roma.
Slot then delivered just a second league title in 24 years to De Kuip last season before penning a new three-year deal.
“You can see people are genuinely sorry you are leaving,” he said on Friday.
“You can say that with words, but when you see it in people’s faces, it affects me quite a lot.”
Feyenoord have enjoyed a strong season, winning the Dutch Cup and coming second to an all-conquering PSV Eindhoven side.
Liverpool captain and fellow Dutchman Virgil van Dijk has hailed Slot’s attacking mindset, saying it would suit the philosophy at Anfield.
Initially, Bayer Leverkusen boss and former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso was the favorite to succeed Klopp at Anfield.
However, Alonso has committed to staying at Leverkusen after leading them to a first-ever Bundesliga title.
Liverpool won the League Cup in Klopp’s final season in charge and finished third in the Premier League, qualifying for next season’s Champions League.


Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop

Updated 20 May 2024
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Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop

  • Topics included data analytics, injury prevention and team-building
  • Event attended by 32 coaches from Kingdom, Africa

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation held a five-day educational workshop on women’s football aimed at empowering coaches from the Kingdom and Africa.

The event in Riyadh, held in partnership with the Confederation of African Football, ran from May 14-18 and was attended by 32 coaches — 16 from CAF member associations and 16 from local sports clubs, regional training centers as well as the Saudi Arabian women’s national teams.

Lluis Cortes, head coach of the Saudi Arabia women’s national team, led the workshop, which also featured Aalia Al-Rasheed, head of the Women’s Football Department at SAFF, as well as elite international women’s football experts and prominent CAF officials.

“The success of this event demonstrates our commitment to fostering the growth and development of women’s football both in Saudi Arabia and across Africa,” Lamia Bahaian, vice president of the SAFF, said in a statement.

“Through these collaborative efforts, we aim to create a strong network of coaches who can share their experiences, support one another, and contribute to the global advancement of women’s football. The enthusiasm and dedication shown by the participants has been truly inspiring, and we are confident that their influence will be felt on and off the field.”

Aimed at improving coaching capabilities and expertise, the SAFF-CAF workshop included a variety of panel discussions, practical lessons and theoretical sessions.

Key football-related topics covered in the workshop included data analytics, female health and injury prevention, leadership and communication, and team-building.

The CAF member associations represented in Riyadh included Botswana, Burundi, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.


Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius

Updated 20 May 2024
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Maradona’s 1986 World Cup Golden Ball up for auction, a reminder of Argentine’s genius

  • FIFA award for devastating displays in Mexico will be up for auction on June 6 at the world famous Aguttes International Auction House in Paris

Diego Maradona played once in Saudi Arabia, incredibly wearing the shirt of Jeddah powerhouse Al-Ahli in 1987, for a friendly game against Brondby of Denmark.

Yet it was the year before when he really made football history.

Many think Maradona is the best to have ever played the game, but all would surely agree that he was the star of the 1986 World Cup, and dragged Argentina to the title in heroic fashion. FIFA certainly thought so, and awarded the legend the Adidas Golden Ball trophy after it all finished, the prize given to the tournament’s best player.

Now, a piece of World Cup history is up for grabs, as the award is set to go up for auction on June 6 at the world famous Aguttes International Auction House in Paris. Serious interest is expected.

“At that 1986 World Cup, Diego shone like never before or since in his career; it was his monument,” Jorge Burruchaga, Argentina teammate of Maradona and scorer of the winning goal in the 1986 World Cup final as the South Americans defeated West Germany 3-2, said. “We knew we had the best player in the world, there was no doubt about it, we knew it for a fact.”

As dramatic as that final was, it is the 2-1 quarterfinal win against England in Mexico City that everyone remembers. Maradona’s first goal was the “Hand of God” goal, when he punched the ball into the net. It remains one of the most famous goals ever scored, matched only, perhaps, by the second he scored that day. Maradona picked the ball up from inside his own half, ran past half the England team, and the rest is history.

“My favorite recollection of this World Cup is the second goal he scored against England, which remains the most beautiful in history for me, because you must consider the state of the pitch, the altitude, the context between the two countries, and what he managed to do,” said Burruchaga.

“He breezed past six players ... It was divine. On that day, he created a lasting legacy for all Argentinian sportsmen and women, not just footballers, showing just how much you have to fight to be worthy of wearing the Argentine jersey.”

That shirt was handed by the man himself to England midfielder Steve Hodge at the final whistle. In 2022, it was sold at auction by Hodge for a figure reported to be around $7 million.

The golden ball, which was fittingly awarded to Maradona in Paris 38 years ago, is another piece of football history according to Francois Thierry, sports expert for Aguttes Auction House.

“Used far too often wrongly, the word ‘legend’ fits Diego Maradona perfectly,” Thierry said. “He is to football what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Michael Jordan to basketball — an icon who goes far beyond the boundaries of his sport. He is certainly one of the most human athletes we have ever known, with his strengths and weaknesses. The golden kid, ‘El Pibe de Oro,’ is a special case … The history of football with a capital H is closely linked to that of Maradona.”