Moscow: Croatian soccer fan Dubravko Flegar was so keen to support his team in the World Cup that he tried to drive to Russia, only to be turned back when he attempted to cross into annexed Crimea.
As a result he missed his team`s quarter final on July 7 but Croatia`s successful run all the way to a final against France given him time to re-draw his travel plans and finally make it to Russia.
The 51-year-old Croatian dental technician and three friends set off on a 2,000 km (1,250 miles) drive in a camper van, hoping to attend Croatia`s quarter-final against Russia in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
But after crossing Hungary, Romania, Moldova and the breakaway state of Transdniestria – which none of them had heard of – they drove to southern Ukraine only to learn they could not drive into the peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
So they missed the game.
Crossing into the peninsula, which has effectively been integrated into Russia, is a complex process that requires prior permission from Kiev and Moscow.
“We didn`t know this,” Flegar said. “It took almost three days. The road is terrible.”
The only alternative route for them involved driving to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov north of rebel-controlled territories and then driving south through Russia. But the huge distances meant they would not make it in time.
They traded their quarter-final tickets for semi-final tickets, betting on a Croatia win against Russia, and drove home in what Flegar said was a 4,000 km round trip.
They booked a flight to Moscow to watch their team beat England 2-1 in the semi-final on July 11 and have stayed on in Moscow in the hope of securing tickets for Sunday`s final against France.
No cricketer has served India like Dhoni: Kapil
New Delhi: Former India all-rounder Kapil Dev believes twin World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the biggest contributor to the gentlemans game. Coming from the man who himself lifted the 1983 World Cup in England, this is no mean appreciation.
As Dhoni walks into the last stretch of his international career, there has been quite a few statements made by former cricketers and pundits, especially after the most decorated captain hit a lean patch in 2018.
For Kapil, however, it is all about respecting what Dhoni has achieved on the field. Speaking to IANS, Kapil said: “I don’t have to say anything about Dhoni. I think he has served the country very well and we must respect him.”
It’s almost certain that the showpiece event in England and Wales that kicks off on May 30, will be Dhoni’s last and Kapil wants the former India skipper to finish on a high lifting another WC trophy.
“No one knows how long he wants to play and how long his body can continue to take the workload. But, there is no other cricketer who has served the country so well as Dhoni. We should respect him and wish him good luck. I hope that he wins this World Cup too,” he said.
The only player in the history of the game to have taken more than 400 wickets and scored over 5,000 runs in Tests, Kapil has come out with a coffee book titled “We The Sikhs” and while his impeccable record is there for all to see, the former cricketer feels it will not be easy for Virat Kohli and his men.
“This Indian team looks very good. However, it won’t be very easy. They have to play like a team. I hope that they will have no injuries,” he said, adding: “If they have a stroke of luck, they will definitely win.”
Interestingly, the Indian selectors decided to pick Dinesh Karthik, 33, as the second wicketkeeper over the young and rising star Rishabh Pant for the showpiece event.
Commenting on the move, Kapil said: “The selectors have done their job. Let’s respect the team. They have picked Karthik over Pant, then it’s alright. We should just believe that the selectors have done a good job.”
Pakistan is ready for the WC: Arthur
Islamabad: Pakistan’s cricket coach Micky Arthur believes that Pakistan is ready to take on the challenges of the upcoming World Cup.
Speaking to the media at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore , Arthur said: “We have worked really hard over the past two years. We are as prepared as we can be.”
“We have to bring all our capabilities to produce results in our favour,” Arthur said while showing confidence in the squad picked for the upcoming world series.
Speaking about Shadab being ruled out of the upcoming series against England, Arthur said: “Shadab Khan is a wonderful cricketer. As the buzz word nowadays goes, he’s ‘three-dimensional’. He plays a key role for us just outside the power play. However, we have tried to cover with another wrist spinner Yasir Shah.”
Arthur termed bringing in Yasir for Shahdab as an even exchange. “Yasir is under no illusion that he has to challenge both the outside and inside edge of the bat,” Arthur said, pointing out that the spinner has a hard act ahead.
“Our expectations are high from Babar Azam as he’s our best batsman in squad. He is so talented, he is a batsman who get the required scores,” Arthur said while adding that as long as Babar acts as he main batsman in the team, everyone around him will be able to bring the score up to the 300 mark and above.
“Mohammad Hafeez will be available for us during the World Cup as an off spinner too. We have faith in our team. All 15 of those players have the ability to win games,” the coach said.
“Our strategy will be to attack, we’re going to eye wickets. We have got all the bases covered,” the coach concluded.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was also present at the press conference, said that the team was ready to give their best during the World Cup.
“We are heading to England with complete preparations and wish to win. Our players are ready to give it their best shot,” said the captain.
When asked about who would open for the team, Sarfaraz said that Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq will be the best choices for opening partnership.The captain also shrugged off the suggestion that there may be some difficulty for the team since both the batsmen are left-handed.
“Both Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq are in good form,” he said and added that new addition Abid Ali will be a good choice for the number three spot.
East Bengal extends Samad’s contract for 3 years
Kolkata: East Bengal handed full back Samad Ali Mallik a three-year contract extension, the club said in a statement.
“Samad is confident that under coach Alejandro, his game will grow from strength to strength and he will be an asset to the team in the seasons to come. Samad has thanked the supporters for their overwhelming support and is certain that he will perform at his best with their backing,” the statement read.
East Bengal narrowly missed the I-League title this season, finishing runner-up behind Chennai City FC.