Moscow :The sight of players regularly hurling the ball into the box from the sideline in Russia is no coincidence as more and more teams are realising the potential of the long throw-in to create havoc, and ultimately goals, at this World Cup.
Sweden’s third goal in their Group F win over Mexico was a perfect example, as winger Viktor Claesson launched the ball into the Mexican penalty area, striker Isaac Kiese-Thelin flicked it on and Mexican defender Edson Alvarez turned it into his own net to make it 3-0.
Danish specialist coach Thomas Groennemark is in no way surprised that the throw-in is being embraced as an offensive weapon in this way — he has spent more than a decade teaching players from all over the world how to use it more effectively.
“It’s important for every team to have players who can throw long, especially for the left and right backs,” Groennemark told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that every team had a player who could learn to do so.
“It is only technical training – you don’t have to gain ten kilos in the weight room. There’s a lot of different players who can throw long, from the short, explosive type like Roberto Carlos to tall players, to normal players with flexible arms.”
The former athlete and bobsledder went to his local library in 2004 to read up on the mechanics of the long throw-in, and when he didn’t find anything on the shelves, he decided to make his own program over the next six months.
“It was adopted by Danish Superliga club Viborg, and they scored a lot of goals from throw-ins and had the best season in their history,” he says proudly.
This past season the 42-year-old has worked with FC Midtjylland, who scored 10 of their 80 goals from throw-ins en route to being crowned Danish champions, and he is also working with an unnamed English club.
The Dane, who wrote his name into the Guinness Book of Records in 2010 by hurling a throw-in a whopping 51.33 metres, or approximately half the length of a soccer field, laments what he calls the “imprecision” of many of the throw-ins in Russia.
“It’s like a corner or any other set piece, or passing — it has to be precise. If it’s five metres too long or three metres too short, it’s not good enough,” he says.
“Problem number two is that a lot of the throw-ins at the World Cup are too high, making it easy for them to defend against or for the goalkeeper to catch them. Working with players and clubs, I work on a long, hard, flat throw-in.”
For Groennemark, it’s not enough to just hoist the ball into the penalty area and hope for the best.
Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns
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.
Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect
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.
Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto
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.