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Four years on, another FIFA WC ends in agony for Neymar and Brazil

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Kazan:Four years after the psychodrama of Neymar’s injury and a humiliating World Cup semi-final defeat as hosts, Brazil are forced to come to terms with the crushing disappointment of a failed mission in Russia.
It was not meant to be like this, Tite’s side dumped out of the tournament in the quarter-finals at the hands of Belgium, losing 2-1 in Kazan.
They had come to the World Cup determined to confirm their revival following the 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany in Belo Horizonte, and there were plenty of reasons for optimism.
With Germany, Spain and Argentina out, and Italy not even at the party, the path looked to be clearing for Brazil to go and win their sixth title.
But instead, Tite’s side came a cropper the first time they faced another of the contenders and it is Belgium who advance to a semi-final against France.
In the four World Cups since the Selecao won the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea, they have been eliminated three times in the quarter-finals.
The run to the semis last time around as hosts is the exception, but fans had been desperate for their team to make up for their disastrous collapse in 2014.
When Neymar was cut down in the quarter-final win over Colombia in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza and stretchered off with a fractured vertebrae, the outlook was not good for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side.
Yet nobody could have predicted exactly what would follow, with a stricken Neymar absent as Brazil dramatically capitulated to the eventual winners.
They consoled themselves with the thought that, four years later, a fit Neymar would be at his peak to lead a new assault for the title on Russian soil.
Now 26 and the world’s most expensive player, Neymar was fit here, but only just. Brazil’s build-up to the tournament was dominated by his battle to recover from an operation on a broken bone in his foot.
He goes home after scoring just two goals, his greatest impact on this World Cup being his tears against Costa Rica and, above all, his theatrics.
Neymar’s response to supposed rough treatment from opposition defenders has been met with ridicule in certain quarters, and sympathy may be in short supply.
That even applies back home — “Sublime genius or pathetic farce?” read one headline, in weekly magazine Epoca.
He goes the way of fellow superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, although he will still be just 30 by the time the next World Cup comes around in Qatar in 2022.
In four years it may be a very different Brazil — after all, Neymar was one of only six survivors in the squad from 2014.
And what of Tite? Such an impressive figure, his record since taking over following the disastrous showing at the 2016 Copa America should not simply be forgotten now.
Under Dunga, Brazil had been knocked out on penalties by Paraguay at the quarter-final stage of the 2015 Copa America, then eliminated in the group stage the following year in the United States.
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say they might not even have qualified for this World Cup had Tite not been appointed.
Even before the tournament began, it was being reported that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) were keen to tie Tite down for the next four years, through to the World Cup in Qatar.
For now all that matters, for Neymar and the whole of a football-obsessed country, is the agony of another World Cup failure.
Soon enough they may turn their thoughts to next year’s Copa America on home soil, but nothing compares to a World Cup for the Brazilians, and another one has just slipped away


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Focus on short formats alone will lead to problems: Virat

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Adelaide: Virat Kohli is peerless in ODI cricket but he has a priceless message for youngsters — focus on limited-overs formats shouldn’t be an “excuse” for not being able to cope with the challenges of Test cricket. The world’s No. 1 batsman with 25 Test hundreds warned that youngsters will have mental problems if they don’t embrace the pristine form of five-day cricket. “If we focus too much on shorter formats — yes, they’re important — but if we solely focus and look at them as an escape or an excuse to not be in the kind of situations that Test cricket presents, then I think there will a mental problem with upcoming cricketers,” said Kohli.

The Indian skipper, who has played defining knocks against world class bowlers like Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mitchell Starc and Kagiso Rabada during the past year, spoke about the hard work that goes into the making of a quality Test player.

“As long as you’re willing to wake up every morning for five days and do the hard yards and go do the dirty work — if you’re willing to bat for two hours and not score a run for the team — I think that is what people should prepare (youngsters for),” he said.

 

Kohli said the current batch of Indian Test cricketers was trying to set an example for the younger generation. “That (vision) will require the team to lay out certain things that needs to be done and for the next lot to keep following. So (when) the next lot comes in, they have to maintain that vision and then the people coming in will follow.”

Kohli has reaffirmed his commitment towards Test cricket, saying he wants India to become a superpower in the game’s longest format. “I wouldn’t say a goal but I would rather speak of a vision, which is for India to be a superpower in Test cricket or a very, very strong side in Test cricket in the years to come,” he said.

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Ganguly backs Pandya and Rahul, says ‘humans make mistakes’

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Mumbai:Former Indian cricket team skipper Sourav Ganguly has defended cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, following a controversy over their appearance on a television chat show. The former skipper and legendary cricketer defended the players, saying, “people make mistakes but everyone should move on and ensure it doesn`t happen again”.

Asked if modern day cricketers should be responsible while giving statements on a public platform as a whole lot of youngsters look up to them, Ganguly said “I haven’t watched that episode. I feel that you can’t generalise that only modern day cricketers should behave responsibly. People make mistakes. Let’s not get too far into that. I am sure whoever has done it will realise that and come out as a better person. We are all human beings. We are not machines that everything you put in comes out perfect. You have just got to live life and let others live. They are responsible people. They may be role models but they are under pressure all the time to perform. Certain things happen in life and as everyone, we should move on and make sure that it doesn`t happen again.”

When asked if he feels modern day cricketers of India aren’t responsible in their behaviour as compared to the past generation of cricketers, Ganguly said “I feel modern day cricketers are also responsible, disciplined and obedient. In life, certain things happen and you make some mistakes so, let`s not get too far into that.

 

Look at Virat Kohli, he is such a fantastic role model. India is a fortunate country. Every generation produces players who all of us cherish.”

He said India has produced great cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli over the years.

“There was Sunil Gavaskar and when he retired, people thought who is next, then Sachin Tendulkar came and when Tendulkar retired, people again asked who is next then people saw Virat Kohli. So, we are a very fortunate country in terms of sports and a lot of these cricketers are fantastic human beings because they come from very middle class backgrounds and fight their way up.”

Ganguly made the remark while speaking at the trailer launch of the Hindi film “22 Yards”, with the cast members Barun Sobti, Geetika Tyagi, Chaiti Ghoshal and director Mitali Ghoshal on Wednesday.

On questioned, about who he would like to see playing his role, if a biopic is made on his life, Ganguly replied “It is difficult for me to answer that question because I haven`t thought about a biopic on my life. People should first make a biopic of other sports personalities and if people have an interest in my biopic, then we will see.”

He added, “I really liked the biopic of Milkha Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The film on Sachin Tendulkar was a bit different. Now, I have heard that the film on India`s 1983 World Cup win is being made. I feel that was a great time for Indian cricket, so I am looking forward to see that film. As far as my biopic is concerned, we will wait and see as at the moment I haven`t thought about it.”

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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to retire at end of season

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London: Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech announced that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old, who won four Premier League titles with Chelsea, revealed his decision on Twitter.

He wrote: “This is my 20th season as a professional player and it is 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire at the end of this season.”

 

The Czech, who arrived in the Premier League with Chelsea in 2004 and moved to Arsenal in 2015, added: “Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve.

“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season, then I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”

Cech joined Arsenal in 2015 and has made 129 appearances for the Gunners after winning multiple trophies at rivals Chelsea.

Signed from Rennes by Claudio Ranieri in 2004, Cech won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League, the Europa League and three League Cups with the Blues.

Cech suffered a serious head injury in 2006 following a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt.

Hunt’s knee crashed into Cech’s head, leaving him with a fractured skull, but he returned to action four months later wearing what became his trademark protective headgear.

Cech became the first goalkeeper to keep 200 Premier League clean sheets in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Watford last season, during which he saved a penalty from Troy Deeney.

He is also the Czech Republic’s most capped player, making 124 appearances.

Cech is no longer first choice at Arsenal, with Bernd Leno preferred for most of this season so far, but the club were quick to pay their own tribute.

Arsenal tweeted: “For your consummate professionalism, for being the perfect role model, for the 50 clean sheets, for your honesty, your integrity and for your inspiring work with @AFC_Foundation, we want to say … Thank you, @PetrCech!”

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