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Mourinho unhappy with Young Boys’ artificial pitch

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London :Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said there were fears his players would suffer injuries on Young Boys Bern’s artificial pitch and questioned UEFA’s willingness to accept such surfaces.
United beat Young Boys 3-0 in their Champions League Group H match and while upbeat about his team’s performance the Portuguese manager took aim at the pitch.
“Now I can say, I don’t understand how you can play the best club competition on artificial pitch,” said Mourinho, who had declined to comment on the surface before the game.
“You know, probably some fear injuries. I had some players after training yesterday – light training – and they were feeling ankles, back pains, sore.
“It’s not easy, especially not for people who are not adapted to it. Also a little bit of a fear in the duels.
“People are used to great surfaces in England, always watered if not rain – the clubs they provide the water and the football is much more beautiful that way,” Mourinho said.
Before the game, Mourinho had urged his team to follow the example of Swiss tennis great Roger Federer and show they were capable of winning on different surfaces.
Italian champions Juventus and Spain’s Valencia will also visit Bern in Group H.
Mourinho praises Pogba, Shaw, Dalot after United Swiss stroll
Manchester City’s Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial celebrate on scoring a goal against Young Boys during their Champions League match on Wednesday
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho heaped praise on captain Paul Pogba and full backs Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot after they shone in a 3-0 win at Champions League debutants Young Boys Bern .
France World Cup winner Pogba scored two goals and assisted compatriot Anthony Martial’s third while Shaw and 19-year old Dalot, making his United debut, looked solid on the flanks after a stormy opening 30 minutes.
“I felt Paul was a bit tired in the last part of the game, but he was class,” Mourinho told BT Sport.
“He gave the team the pace we needed at times, keeping possession and keeping control of the tempo. The goal was good, and the penalty showed personality.”
Pogba opened the scoring with a sublime left-footed finish in the 35th minute before calmly drilling in a 44th-minute penalty.
He carved Young Boys open with a defence-splitting pass which presented Martial with a simple finish at the near post in the 66th minute.


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Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns

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Melbourne: Australia has turned down Pakistan Cricket Board’s request to play two One Day International (ODI) matches in the country, citing security concerns. The PCB had asked Cricket Australia to play two of the five ODIs, which are slated to be played in UAE, in Pakistan, but security concerns made Cricket Australia decide against the same.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, though the proposal has been rejected by the Australian cricket board, it has assured the PCB that they would be open to the idea in the future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” said a CA spokesperson.

 

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” he added.

The PCB has in return, declined reports of Australia refusing to tour Pakistan, terming negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) as currently ‘open and ongoing’.

Australia have not played an away series against Pakistan since 1998 which PCB chairman Ehsan Mani had attempted to address during the former’s recent Test series against the Asian side.

Mani attempted to convince CA chief executive Kevin Roberts to schedule an away series against Pakistan, urging them to follow the lead of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe who had toured the nation since 2017.

Sri Lanka’s return was hailed as a major boost considering the deadly attack on their players in Lahore in 2009.

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja have recently expressed a desire to tour Pakistan, in case the security concerns were addressed.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing. We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away,” he added.

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Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect

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London: As the tennis world continued to digest the prospect of Andy Murray`s retirement, an evergreen Roger Federer pondered the “luck” of his longevity on Sunday ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Murray`s announcement that Melbourne Park could be his last tournament as a professional has made 37-year-old Federer`s career seem all the more miraculous.

Seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and a record seventh in Melbourne, the Swiss will plough into his 20th consecutive Australian Open on Monday with a first round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

 

While suffering an assortment of niggles common to all hardened professionals, Federer`s only major layoff came in 2016, after he tore his meniscus when running a bath for his twin daughters.

It happened a day after losing the Australian Open semi-final to winner Novak Djokovic, but a year later, he was back raising a fifth trophy at the tournament.

While knowing the limits of his body and full of praise for his team for being able to patch him up repeatedly, Federer admitted that fortune had played a part in his longevity.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.

“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn`t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

The 31-year-old Murray has been far less fortunate, with major hip surgery a year ago doing nothing to stop the pain that has driven the Scot to distraction and the brink of retirement.

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Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto

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London: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club were looking to sign a centre forward in the January transfer window after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

The league leaders want back-up for Luis Suarez after Sevilla agreed a one-million-euro ($1.15-million) deal to buy Spain international Munir on Friday, leaving the Uruguayan as the only No. 9 at the club, playing between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

“We have to look at it, it`s clear that after Munir`s departure we have a space,” Valverde told reporters on Saturday.

 

“We`ll see if we can sign a player, although we have to take into account the club`s economic conditions. We will see if we can, if someone comes.”

Asked about Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who has been linked to Barcelona in Spanish media reports, Valverde said: “I can only say the same thing — that he`s a great player, that he`s at another team, that we respect that a lot, etcetera.”

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga with 40 points, with Atletico Madrid trailing them in second place with 35 points.

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