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Infantino says 48 teams ‘feasible’ for 2022 World Cup

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KUALA LUMPUR: FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that football’s governing body is looking into the possibility of increasing the number of teams at the 2022 World Cup and sharing the hosting rights of an expanded tournament with other nations in the region.

FIFA decided earlier this year to expand the 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, to 48 teams from 32 while leaving the door open to raising the number playing in Qatar in four years’ time.

“We have decided to increase the number of teams participating in the World Cup final tournaments from 32 to 48 and this will happen in 2026,” Infantino said in an address to the Asian Football Confederation’s annual congress in Kuala Lumpur.

 

“Will it happen in 2022? We are looking at it. You know me. It is possible. It is possible. Why not?”

Infantino said an expanded tournament would see Asia’’ allocation rise from 4.5 places to 8.5, raising cheers from the delegates assembled at a luxury hotel in the Malaysian capital.

“You will have [a bigger] chance. It is possible. It is feasible. We are discussing with our Qatari friends. We are discussing with many other friends in the region. We hope we have it happen,” he said. “And, if not, we will have tried. We will have tried because we always have to try to do things in a better way.”

Tiny Gulf state Qatar, which is home to just over 2.5 million people, was awarded the hosting rights in late 2010 and has been planning for a 32-team tournament since.

Infantino acknowledged that to increase the number of teams in 2022 would require the cooperation of other countries in the region.

Qatar, however, has been in dispute with several of its neighbours since June last year, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cutting diplomatic, transport and trade ties, accusing Doha of financing terrorism. Qatar rejects the charges.

Hassan al-Thawadi, head of the 2022 organising body, told AFP that Qatar was studying the 48 teams proposal and would make a decision before qualifying gets under way.

“We are still looking at the feasibility studies and we will be in a better position to provide a feedback in the future,” he said. “But it will be decided before the qualifications… sometime in the first quarter of next year.”


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South Africa will learn from defeat:du Plessis

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PORT ELIZABETH: South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has said that his side will learn from their defeat to Pakistan in the first One-day International at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.

The Proteas were given a timely reminder of how much work lies ahead before the Cricket World Cup in May as they lost by five wickets.

Hashim Amla’s 27th ODI century and debutant Rassie van der Dussen’s 93 was not enough for the Proteas, who lost only two wickets in scoring 266 runs after winning the toss.

 

The experienced Mohammad Hafeez’s 71 and opener Imam-ul-Haq’s 86 steered the tourists to their first win of their away series after they were well-beaten in all three Test matches.

Du Plessis felt that his team were short of where they should have been.

“The two guys [Amla and van der Dussen] batted really well, but perhaps there were 10 or 15 runs that we could have pushed a little harder for,” he said after the opening fixture of the five-match series. “Pakistan bowled better than us over fifty overs here. And then they batted really well [too], you have to give credit where it’s due. Some great learnings for us, and we know where we can get better,” said the South African captain.

“An in-form Hashim Amla is great for us. Rassie played beautifully, he had intent right through his innings. We need to adapt. You’re not going to always get conditions for the fast bowlers,” du Plessis added.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed also credited his batsmen for their first win of the tour. “The batting was very responsible,” a relieved Sarfraz said. “In the middle overs, Shadab [Khan] was great, as well as Imad [Wasim]. And the way our fast bowlers bowled was very good. And then the way Imam and Hafeez controlled the match in the run chase was simply outstanding.”

Man-of-the-match Hafeez remarked the South Africa total was below par. “It’s a team effort,” the veteran right-hander said. “It was not a par score on this track, so we were confident chasing it. To be very honest, we were very sure as a team we should chase this one. The start given by Fakhar [Zaman] and Imam was brilliant, Babar [Azam] gave us momentum.”

With this win, Pakistan maintained their unbeaten record at St George’s Park. They have now won three out of the four matches they have played at the venue, with one match ending without result.The second game, also a day/nighter, takes place at Kingsmead in Durban on Tuesday.

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Cricket a special part of my life but not the priority: Kohli

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Mumbai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has established himself as one of the world’s greatest batsmen in the modern-day cricket. Known for his committment and hardwork on the field, Kohli has been breaking records constantly and it seems that there is no turning back for the 30-year-old.

Having enjoyed a record-breaking 2018 year, Kohli continued his good form in this year as well as he not only achieved several individual records but also guided India to historic twin victories in Australia.

Kohli, the world’s no.1 Test and ODI batsman, guided India through a historic tour of Australia, during which the side clinched the Test and ODI series by 2-1 and settled with a 1-1 draw in the T20I series.

 

However, the swashbuckling batsman stated on his official app that though cricket is an important part of his life, his family still remains his biggest priority.

“Eight years down the line the priority would be my family, priority would be myself, Anushka and our family only by then. So that would be the priority for us. And cricket would obviously a part of my life always but I feel that family should be a priority at all times because nothing is bigger than life. Cricket is a part of life and nothing should be bigger than life. I know people will take things a bit too seriously that if you don’t say cricket is your life then you are not committed enough, I don’t believe in all that. If I am committed to talking right now about something, I am committed to this,” Kohli said.

He further went on to say,”But the larger picture always has to be life because whatever happens you come back home and whatever may happen in your life, you always come back home. So I think, the priority will be family, should be family and cricket will always be a very special part of my life but it is not the most important thing in life, it is the way I see it. But I think eight years down the line I will be totally focused towards my family.”

During India’s tour to Australia, Kohli added many records to his tally.

By smashing his 39th One-Day International century during India’s six-wicket win over Australia in the second match at the Adelaide Oval, Kohli became the second cricketer with most hundreds overseas. With 22 tons to his name now, the Indian skipper surpassed Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara who both have 21 centuries in their tally.

En route to his blistering knock, he also became the 11th highest run-scorer in the history of ODI cricket.With a total of 10,385 ODI runs in his tally, Kohli has went past Sri Lanka’s Tilakratne Dilashan (10,290 runs).

He has now brought up a total of 64 international hundreds to become the third batsman with most international centuries, overtaking former Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara (63).

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MU star set to join Ronaldo at JuventusSports

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London: Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian is set to move to Serie A giants Juventus on a six-month loan deal till the end of the 2018-19 season. The loan move will end Darmian’s misery at the Old Trafford as the full-back has struggled to leave a mark since moving in from Italian side Torino in 2015. The 29-year-old has just made 91 appearances in three and a half years for the Red Devils and have just played six matches this season.

According to GOAL, the loan move will cost Juventus 3 million Pounds, but the Old Lady will secure Darmian’s signing in the summer for free as his contract is set to expire after the end of this season. The signing of Darmian will allow Leonardo Spinazzola to move to Bologna from Juventus. Darmian featured for the Red Devils in their 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League, but it seems like that will be the right-back’s final game in the red jersey.

Darmian has played for AC Milan and Palermo and has 36 appearances for Italy to his name. Juventus would be bolstering their defense with Darmian’s signing and will expect that the full-back gives tough competition to their present options at the club.

 

Meanwhile, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that the Red Devils won’t be making any signings in the ongoing January transfer window and will go to the remaining matches with the present squad. For United’s full-back options, Solksjaer has the likes of Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot and Ashley Young and will hope that the levels remain the same since his takeover from Jose Mourinho, who was sacked following Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool in the December Premier League match.

Manchester United are currently sixth in the league table with 44 points to their name after the completion of 23rd game-week in the Premier League 2018-19.

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