Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) – Hosts Bangladesh will play Pakistan in the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Thursday, eying a semifinal berth from Group A.
A victory for each team in the match beginning at 7pm will ensure a last four spot in the seven-nation football extravaganza.
Two losing sides of the group -– Nepal and Bhutan –- will lock horns for their survival at 4 pm also on Thursday. The defeated team will be eliminated from the race.
Hosts Bangladesh and Pakistan are dominating the Group A securing full three points from their first matches while Nepal and Bhutan are yet to open the account losing their respective first match.
Nepal lost to Pakistan by 1-2 goals while Bhutan conceded 0-2 goal defeat against Bangladesh in identical fashions.
Ahead of the 2nd match against Pakistan, Bangladesh coach Jamie Day was cautious to keep his foot in the ground.
Bangladesh avoided practice session on Wednesday trying to kick the fatigue out.
“Pakistan is a strong team and they have a number of players who have experiences of playing football in Europe. They are also good in counter attacks. It’s an important match for us and we’ll be cautious not to make any mistakes,” said the Bangladesh coach.
Pakistan’s Brazilian coach Antonio Nogueria was fully confident of the challenge.
“We’re back at the international scene with a bang. We have a plan to give our best and we did the best. We were the more attacking team and we will continue to do that,” he said.
Pakistan team are more efficient on the counterattack with forward Saadullah and Muhammad Ali leading the front. Guided by experienced Zesh Rehman, Pakistani four backs were also well-organised to foil Bangladesh attacks.
Nepal and Bhutan go through their battle of existence in the SAFF Championship.
Penalties and counterattacks ruled the opening day’s matches on Tuesday as both the Himalayan countries (Nepal and Bhutan) conceded defeat in their openers.
Pakistan took the lead off a penalty and netted the winner off a quick counterattack in the dying minutes. Bangladesh also nailed Bhutan with an early penalty and struck the second off a speedy counterattack early after the re-start.
Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan has a good confidence on his attacking trio -- Bharat Khawas, Bimal Bharti Magar and Nawjug Shreshta -- who are able to deliver when required.
“I admit that they lacked the right rhythm against Pakistan, but I believe our time is not over. We have another two very hard matches to prove our worth,” he said.
Nepal have to work on its defence also as the defenders provided more space for their opponents in the crucial stages.
Bhutan saw their talisman Chencho Gyaltsen failing to make the impact and let the team down missing an open net against Bangladesh.
Tightly marked by the defenders, Chencho was looking for the air with the supply from the midfield also being relatively short. Bhutan have to rise on the occasion to save them from elimination.
New York, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Roger Federer served poorly. Closed poorly, too. And now he's gone, beaten at the U.S. Open by an opponent ranked outside the top 50 for the first time in his career.
Looking slow and tired on a sweltering night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the No. 2-seeded Federer double-faulted 10 times, failed to convert a trio of set points and lost 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3) in the fourth round to John Millman in a match that began Monday and concluded at nearly 1 a.m. on Tuesday.
It's only the second time in Federer's past 14 appearances at the U.S. Open that he's lost before the quarterfinals. He is, after all, a five-time champion at the tournament, part of his men's-record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles.
"I have so much respect for Roger and everything he's done for the game. He's been a hero of mine, and today he was definitely not at his best," Millman said, "but, you know, I'll take it."
So much for that highly anticipated matchup between Federer and 13-time major champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Instead, it'll be the 55th-ranked Millman, an Australian who had never made it past the third round at a Slam until last week, taking on No. 6 seed Djokovic.
Millman was adamant he would not be intimidated by Federer, and perhaps was helped by having spent time practicing together a few months ago ahead of the grass-court portion of this season.
Still, this was a stunner. Not simply because Federer lost — he entered the day 28-0 at the U.S. Open, and 127-1 in all Grand Slam matches, against foes below No. 50 in the ATP rankings — but how he lost. Start with this: Federer held two set points while serving for the second at 5-4, 40-15 and did not pull through. Millman knew that was the turning point.
"I felt like a bit of a deer in headlights to begin with, to be honest with you. The feet weren't moving. Roger had me on a string. He was manipulating me around the court," Millman said. "But I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet and started to be a little bit more aggressive."
Then Federer had a set point in the third at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, but again was stymied.
In the fourth set, he went up a break at 4-2, yelling "Come on!" and getting all of those rowdy spectators in their "RF" gear on their feet, prompting the chair umpire to repeatedly plead for silence. But Federer uncharacteristically got broken right back with a sloppy game, most egregiously when he slapped what should have been an easy putaway into the net.
And then there was his serve.
In the final tiebreaker, he double-faulted twice in a row.
The first obvious signs of trouble for Federer came far earlier, in the second game of the second set. He started that 15-minute struggle by missing 18 of his initial 20 first serves. While he eventually held there, he needed to save seven break points along the way. It was clear the 37-year-old Federer was not at his best.
Maybe the 75 percent humidity played a role. Millman's big rips on groundstrokes didn't help matters. As the unforced errors mounted — Federer would finish with 77, nearly three times as many as Millman's 28 — Federer's wife, Mirka, couldn't bear to look, placing her forehead on her hands in the guest box in the stands.
Federer hung his head at a changeover, a little black fan pointed right at his face, but nothing seemed to make him feel like himself.
Hours before, Djokovic left the court for a medical timeout — the second time during the tournament he's sought help from a doctor because of harsh weather — during what would become an otherwise straightforward 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 68th-ranked Joao Sousa of Portugal.
"I'm not 21 anymore. That was 10 years ago. I still don't feel old. But at the same time, there is a little biological clock that is not really working in your favor," Djokovic told the crowd afterward. "Sometimes, you just have to survive."
He reached the quarterfinals for an 11th consecutive appearance in New York as he bids for a third U.S. Open championship and 14th Grand Slam trophy.
The other quarterfinal on the bottom half of the draw will be a rematch of the 2014 U.S. Open final: No. 7 Marin Cilic against No. 21 Kei Nishikori.
Cilic, who beat Nishikori four years ago for his only major title, was a 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4 winner against No. 10 David Goffin, while Nishikori advanced by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.
New York, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Maria Sharapova won the U.S. Open as a teenager. More than a decade later, she can't seem to make it past the fourth round.
With a mistake-filled performance, Sharapova lost a night match at Flushing Meadows for the first time in her lengthy career, beaten 6-4, 6-3 by No. 30 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain on Monday.
"Just a little too up-and-down," is the way Sharapova described her performance.
It's the third consecutive appearance that ended one step short of the quarterfinals for the 31-year-old Sharapova, who had been 22-0 under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Sharapova collected the trophy in New York at age 19 in 2006 and owns a total of five Grand Slam titles, but the Russian was far shakier during this match than Suarez Navarro, who never has made it past the quarterfinals at a major.
The Spaniard, who turned 30 on Monday, will be at that stage for the second time at the U.S. Open, five years after her other run to that round.
"A really complete performance," is the way she described her play.
On Wednesday, Suarez Navarro and her smooth one-handed backhand will take on 2017 runner-up Madison Keys of the United States. Keys advanced by beating No. 29 Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 6-3.
"I have to be ready," Suarez Navarro said about facing Keys, "and I think I am ready."
Suarez Navarro often let the 22nd-seeded Sharapova create her own problems.
Sharapova had all sorts of trouble serving, repeatedly catching wayward ball tosses and committing eight double-faults. She was broken in six of her 10 service games.
During lengthy exchanges from the baseline, Sharapova repeatedly blinked first, although a couple of times the righty managed to switch her racket to her left hand for a desperation shot to extend a point.
While both women finished with 15 winners, Sharapova had nearly twice as many unforced errors as Suarez Navarro, 38-20.
"I didn't take care of the chances that I had. By 'chances,' I mean the balls that were a little bit shorter. I hesitated to move forward," Sharapova said. "The balls where I did attack, I made unforced errors, especially on that inside-out forehand today."
Since her championship, Sharapova has only once made it to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open — in 2012, when she lost in the semifinals. Since then, the best she's done are fourth-round exits in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
After this latest loss, Sharapova was asked whether she envisions herself getting back to her best in the future.
"First of all, if I didn't have the belief to keep doing this and to keep having the motivation and the grind of doing this every day in order to get myself in these positions, I don't think I would be here. I think I've done plenty in my career, established a lot for myself personally, professionally," she replied.
"The belief is not something that I'm eager to show everybody else," Sharapova continued. "The belief matters most when it's internal and when you have a passion for something. If you don't, it's your choice to not continue that, not for anyone else to tell you so."
Asuncion, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Paraguay hired former Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio to lead its own national team on Monday.
Osorio was contracted to the end of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the Paraguay Football Association said in a statement.
Osorio guided Mexico at the World Cup in Russia, where it was eliminated in the round of 16 by Brazil.
The Colombian, who had led Mexico since 2015, did not want to extend his contract. Ricardo Ferretti of Brazil became Mexico's interim coach last week.
Paraguay's first major challenge under Osorio will be the Copa America in Brazil next year.
Paraguay has won the Copa only twice, in 1953 and 1979.
Osorio suggested weeks ago he wanted to coach Colombia, which was currently coached by Argentine Jose Pekerman.
Dhaka, Sept 4 (UNB) – Hosts Bangladesh got off to a flying start in the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018, the biggest soccer carnival of the region, beating Himalayan nation Bhutan by 2-0 goals in the 2nd opening day match at the country’s premier sports venue -- Bangabandhu National Stadium -- here on Tuesday.
With the day’s feat, Bangladesh not only took revenge of their frustrating 1-3 goals defeat against Bhutan in the ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers in Thimphu in 2016 to refrain from international football for 17 months but also brightened their chance to reach semifinals from Group A obtaining full three points from the first engagement.
In the previous SAFF Championship in India in 2015, Bangladesh outplayed Bhutan by 3-0 goals to record their 8th win in eleven encounters.
Bangladesh, which were eliminated from the group stage of the last three SAFF Championships after winning the title 15 years ago in 2003, displayed a good brand of football on their way to long-cherished SAFF mission.
In the day’s match, veteran defender Topu Barman scored the first goal for Bangladesh in the very 3rd minute from a penalty amid huge cheers from home crowd (1-0).
Bangladesh awarded the spot kick when their onrushing Atiqur Rahman Fahad was fouled by Bhutanese defender Tshering Dirji in the danger zone while trying to tackle a corner kick of Waly Faisal from right wing.
Finally, Topu Barman did no mistake to convert a penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner of the post. Tshering Dirji was also cautioned with a yellow card for the offence.
Teenaged striker Mahbubur Rahman Sufil sealed the fate of the match in the very 2nd minute of the 2nd half (47th minute) by an angular volley shot from the right wing (2-0).
There was a huge crowd in the stadium after a long time to witness the match.
Though the host sides had less ball position -- 39.7 percent-- compared Bhutan, they took their expected win job greatly.
There was a little rain after 60 minutes of the game, but the local spectators continued to enjoy the game support the team defying the odd.
Bangladesh brought three changes in their playing eleven in the second half as Emon Mahmud, Faisal Mahmud and Mamunul Islam came in replacing Masuk Miah Zoni, Saad Uddin and Faisal Mahmud respectively.
Bhutan also brought three changes in their eleven as Choki Wangc, Tsenda Dorji and Kingay Rabgay replaced Tshering Samdup, Galey Zangpo and Kencho Tobgay respectively.
Bangladesh put pressure from the very beginning of the match and drew applaud of the local crowd at the Bangabandhu Stadium, which got a huge number of spectators after a long time.
Earlier, in the tournament opener on the day, Pakistan got a 2-1 margin victory against Nepal at the same venue.
After the day’s win, Bangladesh topped the Group A list ahead of Pakistan by virtue of better goal difference.
In the remaining Group A matches, Bangladesh will play Pakistan on Thursday (Sept 6) at 7 pm and meet Nepal on Saturday (Sept 8) at the same time.
On Wednesday, defending champions India will take on Sri Lanka in the Group ‘B’ battle at 7 pm.
Bangladesh Team : Shahidul Alam Sohel, Topu Barman, Bishwanath Ghosh, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Waly Faisal, Masuk Miah Zoni (Emon Mahmud), Biplo Ahmed, Atiqur Rahman Fahad, Saaduddin (Faisal Mahmud, Mamunul Islam), Jamal Bhuiyan and Mahbubur Rahman Sufil.