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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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Pakistan announce 15-man squad for World Cup, no place for Amir

Mubashir Bukhari

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LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan on Thursday announced their Squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Pakistan Squad ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 include:

  1. Fakhar Zaman
  2. Imam Ul Haq
  3. Abid Ali
  4. Babar Azam
  5. Shoaib Malik
  6. Mohammad Hafeez
  7. Haris Sohail
  8. Sarfaraz Ahmed (Captain & Wicket Keeper)
  9. Shadab Khan
  10. Imad Wasim
  11. Hassan Ali
  12. Faheem Ashraf
  13. Junaid Khan
  14. Shaheen Shah Afridi
  15. Mohammad Hasnain

The Chief Selector Inzamam Ul Haq also announced Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif for the five-match Series against England.

The 10-nation ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will be held in England from May 30 to July 14.

 

However prior to that, Pakistan would play one T20 International (T20I) at Cardiff on May 5 and five One Day Internationals (ODIs) against England.

The first match of five-match ODI Series between Pakistan and England will take place at London on May 8, second at Southampton on May 11, third at Bristol on May 14, fourth at Nottingham on May 17, and fifth at Leeds on May 19.

In the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Pakistan will play their matches as following schedules;

Two Warm-Ups:

  • On May 24 against Afghanistan at Bristol
  • On May 26 against Bangladesh at Cardiff

World Cup Matches:

  • On May 31 against West Indies at Nottingham
  • On June 3 against England at Nottingham
  • On June 7 against Sri Lanka at Bristol
  • On June 12 against Australia at Taunton
  • On June 16 against India at Manchester
  • On June 23 against South Africa at London
  • On June 26 against New Zealand at Birmingham
  • On June 29 against Afghanistan at Leeds
  • On July 5 against Bangladesh at London

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Finch expects ‘no issues’ with Smith, Warner’s return

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London: Australian skipper Aaron Finch has welcomed the return of Steve Smith and David Warner into the national squad, saying that the duo’s comeback would not be of any issues to the team.

Former skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner are all set to make a return to the international arena after being named in the 15-member Australian squad for the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, which is slated to take place in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.

Smith and Warner are currently playing for Rajasthan and Hyderabad respectively in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after serving their one-year bans for their role in the ball-tampering scandal that took place in South Africa in March 2018.

 

Reflecting on their return, Finch said that the pair had done everything they were asked for in the last couple of months and, therefore, there would be no problem with Smith and Warner coming into the side.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done everything they’ve been asked in this last 12 months. They were very good around the group and continuing to do everything they can, that’s in the best interests of the side, and that’s a real key,” the ICC quoted Finch as saying.

“Knowing them both personally as well as I do, I don’t think that will be any kind of issue whatsoever. They’re both great guys and I can’t see there being any kinds of issues,” he added.

Echoing similar views, chief selector Trevor Hohns said that the duo’s reintegration into the team would be seamless.

“I’m quite comfortable and quite confident that they know what is expected and they know the environment they are stepping into, which is quite different to when they left,” he said.

Hohns further expressed confidence that Smith and Warner would cope well with the potential backlashing from English crowds.

“Probably going to England there will certainly be a little bit of aggro.I’m sure everyone expects that, particularly the two players themselves. The team will come in for a bit of heckling I would say,” he said.

Australia will kickstart their campaign at the 2019 ICC World Cup against Afghanistan on June 1.

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Ajax eliminate Ronaldo’s Juventus with scintillating display

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TURIN: Ajax Amsterdam followed up their elimination of Real Madrid by producing a spell-binding display of inventive, passing football to win 2-1 away to Juventusand end the Serie A team`s dreams of winning the Champions League.

Ajax`s 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt headed the winner from the corner in the 67th minute of the quarter-final second leg as the Dutch side came from behind to clinch a 3-2 aggregate win and reach the last four for the first time since 1996/97.

Cristiano Ronaldo, aiming for a fourth successive Champions League title after winning the last three with Real Madrid, put Juventus ahead in the 28th minute with a typically emphatic header, his sixth goal of the competition.

 

But Donny van de Beek levelled six minutes later before the visitors swept Juventus aside in the second half with wave after wave of attacks as they earned a semi-final against Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.

“Can we can go on to win the competition? Well, we are in the semi-finals now. And we have eliminated two of the favourites in the last two rounds. The next games will be very difficult, but so were these ones. So who knows?,” said De Ligt.

Frenkie de Jong added: “We dominated after the break and were well worth our victory. In fact, we probably should have won by more.”

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana gave his team an early scare when his clearance was charged down by Emre Can but the rebound flew wide.

Ajax settled well after that but, despite not playing well, Juventus went ahead when Ronaldo got away from the defenders to score the 126th Champions League goal of his career.

There was a long delay for the VAR review, the referee eventually going to the pitchside monitor with the ball back on the centre circle ready for the re-start, before the goal was confirmed.

Ajax kept their cool and took six minutes to level, helped by a somewhat lucky break.

Hakim Ziyech`s long-range shot hit a defender and fell perfectly for Van de Beek who, unmarked and onside, slotted the ball calmly past Wojciech Szczesny, and then had to wait for another long VAR check before the goal was confirmed.

Ajax took complete control in the second half and their geometric passing repeatedly opened up the Juventus defence, which sorely missed injured veteran Giorgio Chiellini.

Szczesny made one-handed save from Ziyech after Juventus were opened up again and then turned Van de Beeks curling shot over for a corner. Juventus were rocking but, ironically, Ajaxs winner came from an old-fashioned header as De Ligt outjumped two defenders to score.

Ajax had chances for further goals and Ronaldo`s frustration boiled over in stoppage time when he was booked for a lunging tackle from behind near the centre circle.

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