Dhaka, Nov 26 (UNB) – Saif Sporting Club will play Team BJMC in the opening match of the 13-team Independence Cup Football Tournament beginning on Saturday (December 1) at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here.
The match will kick off at 5pm.
Dhaka Abahani Limited, which earned the 2nd hat-trick title of the Federation Cup Football recently, will start their campaign taking on Muktijoddha Sangsad KC in a Group C match on Sunday (Dec 2) at 3pm at the same venue.
Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club will play newcomers big-budgeted Bashundhara Kings in a Group D match, also on Sunday at 5:15 pm at the same venue.
Thirteen teams, split into four groups, are initially taking part in the meet with three Federation Cup semifinalists Bashundhara Kings, Sheikh Jamal DC and Sheikh Russel KC putting in a tough death Group D.
Group A – Saif Sporting Club, Arambagh KS and Team BJMC
GroupB – Chattogram Abahani, Dhaka Mohammedan SC, Rahmatganj MFS and Nofel SC
Group C – Dhaka Abahani, Brothers Union and Muktijoddha Sangasd KC
Group D Sheikh Jamal DC, Sheikh Russel KC and Bashundhara Kings.
On completion of Group matches on December 9, two top teams from each of the groups will play in the quarterfinals on December 11-14, all at 4:30 pm.
The semifinal matches are scheduled for December 19-20 while the final will be held on December 24, also at 4:30 pm.
The remaining fixture of group matches:
Dec 3 – Chattogram Abahani vs Nofel Sporting (3pm)
Dhaka Mohammedan vs Rahmatganj MFS (5:15pm)
Dec 4 - Team BJMC vs Arambagh KS (5pm)
Dec 5 - Muktijoddha Sangsad vs Brothers Union (3pm)
Bashundahra Kings vs Sheikh Russel KC (5:15pm)
Dec 06 Rahmatganj MFS vs Chattogram Abahani (3pm)
Dhaka Mohammedan vs Nofel SC (5:15pm)
Dec 07 Arambagh KS vsSaif SC (5:pm)
Dec 08 Sheikh Russel KC vs Sheikh Jamal DC (3pm)
Brothers Union vs Dhaka Abahani (5:15 pm)
Dec 09 Rahmatganj MFS vs Nofel SC (3pm)
Dhaka Mohammedan vs ChattogramAbahani (5:15 pm)
Qatar, Nov 26 (AP/UNB) — Nasser Al-Khater glances out his window across Doha Bay. The view is far different than it was eight years ago, when al-Khater served as part of the team that helped Qatar pull off a staggering upset to land the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In the distance the bare bones of Ras Abu Aboud Stadium are being laid, perhaps the most audacious and innovative of the eight venues that will play host to the biggest tournament on the planet.
Four years out, everything appears to be running on schedule, from stadium construction — including at Ras Abu Aboud, which will incorporate 1,000 shipping containers while offering a sweeping view of Doha's downtown skyline — to finding the right grass that can both meet FIFA's exacting standards while also providing a long-term benefit to the Arabian Peninsula.
Yet logistics are only a portion of Qatar's story.
The small country of 2.7 million — only 300,000 of them actual Qatari citizens — has spent the better part of a decade grappling with the white-hot spotlight landing the World Cup provides.
The construction boom that accompanied the winning bid has been built on the backs of migrant laborers from India, Pakistan, Nepal and other Asian nations, much like it has in other oil-rich sheikhdoms in the region. As oil prices crashed below $30 a barrel in 2016, construction firms in Qatar and elsewhere in the region suffered. Some stopped paying staffers on time, if at all. Others seized workers' passports or otherwise abused Qatar's "kafala" system that ties expatriate workers to a single employer.
In recent months, Qatar ended a requirement for some workers to seek their employers' permission before leaving the country. It also required contractors who bring in workers from other nations to reimburse employees for any recruitment fee they paid to an outside agency to facilitate their placement.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other activists say more needs to be done. There have been two reported deaths at Qatar's World Cup projects.
While al-Khater, deputy-secretary general of the World Cup organizing committee, understands "this is an area we're going to have to do a lot of work," he points to the headway made since 2010 as proof the World Cup has already made a lasting impact.
"I think we should be very proud of ourselves," al-Khater told The Associated Press from his office in the 33rd floor of the shimmering glass-ensconced Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy building in Doha's West Bay. "And I think people should take a look at everything that's happened here in the past eight years when it comes to worker's welfare. Look at the progress and I think it's a case study. I believe right now in the Middle East we are basically ahead of everyone else when it comes to this."
The questions about worker's rights are one of many Qataris have grown accustomed to addressing. They stress they are taking great pains to answer them one by one. Do that and Qataris believe the conversation will turn away from "should Qatar be hosting the World Cup?" to "can Qatar pull it off?"
On that front, the answers are far less nebulous. Qatar is intent on putting on a show, but doing it creatively and financially responsibly.
In an era of bloat where budgets for big ticket events like the World Cup and the Olympics are calculated and then blown up, Qatar is determined to prove it can dazzle without saddling itself with hulking stadiums left unoccupied once the party ends. The majority of the venues used in the World Cup will have their capacity diminished from 40,000 to 20,000 after tournament, with the sections taken out then put up for sale. What's left will serve as the home pitches for the local professional teams.
Ras Abu Aboud won't exist at all. After a champion is crowned, it will be meticulously taken apart and dismantled to make way for a mixed-use area that will feature housing and shops.
Other innovations could lead to more far-reaching changes.
Yasser Al-Mulla oversees a turf farm a few miles west of the city center, where he's tested 36 different kinds of grass, exposing them to various amounts of shade, sunlight and other forms of treatment to see what works. The turf isn't designed simply for the games but for the open recreational areas that will surround the venues after the World Cup is gone. The strain of grass it believes it will use for the World Cup could possibly signal an opportunity for other arid countries to introduce their own public green spaces.
Qatar is taking these steps despite being under an economic boycott by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since June 2017 over a political dispute. That has seen its air routes affected and other regional airlines cut their flights. What should be a flight under an hour from Dubai now lasts far longer and requires a layover.
Regardless Qatar continues to forge ahead, intent on making sure that its promise to "Deliver Amazing" is not broken. What once felt like a far-off goal is becoming more tangible — and Qataris believe — more attainable by the day.
"I actually think it's going to be something that really proves that ... the World Cup can go beyond football and beyond sports and beyond what it means for the athlete," al-Khater said. "But it goes toward real social and economic change and human change and I think that's the beauty of the World Cup."
Atlanta, Nov 26 (AP/UNB) — After the final whistle blew, the Atlanta players lingered in the middle of the pitch, doling out hugs and soaking up the cheers of more than 70,000 fans.
Everyone knew this was a huge step toward the MLS Cup.
Everyone knew how much this meant to a city that has known so much sporting heartbreak.
Josef Martinez, Franco Escobar and Hector Villalba scored for Atlanta United to lead a 3-0 rout of the Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls in the opening leg of the Eastern Conference final Sunday.
"We've just raised our game," captain Michael Parkhurst said. "We've raised the energy, the desire, the fight."
Atlanta has a huge edge heading into the second leg Thursday night in Harrison, New Jersey. The winner of the two-game, cumulative-goals series will host the MLS Cup final Dec. 8 against either Portland or Sporting Kansas City.
In just its second season and already wildly popular, United is hoping to give Atlanta its first pro sports championship since the Braves won the 1995 World Series. That remains the city's lone major title, its history defined mostly by performance such as the Falcons squandering a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl.
"Play with passion," Parkhurst said. "Play for the city."
Before a crowd of 70,016 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, United defeated the Red Bulls for the first time in franchise history after three losses and a draw in their previous meetings. Atlanta also got a bit of redemption after losing the Supporters' Shield to New York on the final day of the regular season.
Of course, it's not over yet.
Atlanta can afford to play conservatively in the second leg, but doesn't want to totally abandon the attacking style that has served it so well.
"You go and play the game," Jeff Larentowicz said. "You can't sit on top of your goal and think you're going to defend for 90 minutes. It's not going to work."
A matchup between the two best teams in MLS was a one-sided affair. Atlanta dominated much of the game and could have won by an even bigger margin. While a New York goal was waved off after a video review and goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a clutch save in the closing minutes, this game was played mostly in the Red Bulls' end of the field.
United finished with a 14-6 edge in shots. That late stop by Guzan was New York's only official shot on goal.
New York is facing another postseason flop. A charter member of MLS and one of the league's most successful teams during the regular season — including three Supporters' Shield titles in the last six years — the Red Bulls have never won the cup.
Now, the Red Bulls need to match their second-leg performance in the conference semifinals, when they lost the opener at Columbus 1-0 but bounced back to win the series with a 3-0 victory on their home field.
After controlling play from the opening whistle, Atlanta finally broke through in the 32nd minute.
Of course, it was Martinez who got the honors .
Larentowicz set up the play with a towering pass into the penalty area toward the Golden Boot winner and MVP finalist, who set an MLS scoring record with 31 goals during the regular season. Martinez wound up with the ball between two defenders after Tim Parker missed an attempted header, settling it with his chest and blasting a left-footed shot inside the far post that left keeper Luis Robles with no chance.
The Red Bulls appeared to tie it in the 53rd.
The ball was lofted into the area, where Aaron Long was able to head it back toward the front of the net. One New York player let it go by — straight to an unmarked Bradley Wright-Phillips, who sent a right-footed shot past a diving Guzan. But when referee Kevin Stott took another look at the play on video, it clearly showed Alex Muyl lingering offsides behind the last Atlanta defender as Wright-Phillips connected with the shot.
"It took me by surprise," Parkhurst said. "Pleasantly."
Atlanta padded its lead in the 72nd , this time on a play set up by its other MVP candidate, Miguel Almiron. He split the defense up top and threaded a pass down the left wing to Julian Gressel, who crossed it back in front toward Martinez. The United star unselfishly let it go by him, knowing Escobar was racing in all alone off the opposite wing.
Escobar ripped a shot past Robles to give United a two-goal edge.
Villalba provided an extra cushion when Atlanta hits the road , scoring in stoppage time with a brilliant shot that curled past two defenders and left Robles standing flat-footed.
With New York pressing for a goal, United had two other good scoring chances. Almiron shot wide on a 4-on-2 break, and Villalba hit the post with another attempt after brilliantly eluding two players and breaking in all alone on Robles.
London, Nov 26 (AP/UNB) — In its second season away from the Champions League, Arsenal is showing signs it intends to return to the elite competition.
The Gunners won 2-1 at Bournemouth on Sunday to move within one point of fourth-placed Chelsea and the Champions League spots.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his eighth Premier League goal of the season as Arsenal extended its unbeaten run to 17 matches in all competitions.
Jefferson Lerma scored a remarkable volleyed own-goal to give the visitors the lead at the Vitality Stadium, with Joshua King levelling for Bournemouth before Aubameyang's second-half strike.
Arsenal has not lost since August but had drawn its three previous games.
"We know that is not enough for us — for our objectives," Arsenal coach Unai Emery said. "We were speaking during the week and above all in the two days before the match that it was very important today. ... Today the three points is a big moment for us."
Arsenal took the lead a half hour in as Lerma accidentally turned Sead Kolasinac's cross past Asmir Begovic.
However, Arsenal's run of not leading at halftime continued.
Cardiff is the only other top-flight side yet to hold a halftime lead in the league this season and King's smart finish with the last meaningful kick of the opening 45 minutes ensured Bournemouth went in level. Arsenal was again pushing for a second goal but, having lost possession in the Bournemouth box, a rapid counterattack ended with King converting past Leno.
Neither side could create anything of note at the start of the second half. Arsenal fans began to call for the introduction of Mesut Ozil, who was dropped to the bench, but were soon celebrating the lead as Aubameyang slid in to score from six yards in the 67th after another Kolasinac cross.
Arsenal finished fifth and sixth, respectively, the last two seasons.
Aaron Mooy scored twice as Huddersfield climbed off the bottom of the table with a 2-0 win against Wolverhampton.
The Australia midfielder found the net in each half as the Terriers were deserved winners at Molineux, where the hosts looked off the pace on their return from the international break.
Mooy's double was the first time Huddersfield had scored twice in a league game this season and its second win of the campaign lifted David Wagner's team up to 14th in the table. Wolverhampton is now without a win in five league games, losing four.
Madrid, Nov 26 (AP/UNB) — A day after seeing its rivals falter, Sevilla took care of business.
Sevilla moved past Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to go top of the Spanish league by beating Valladolid 1-0 on Sunday.
Atletico and Barcelona had played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday, opening the way for Sevilla to take the lead with a home win.
"We have to enjoy this," Sevilla coach Pablo Machin said. "We have to enjoy it for now, and then we will get back to preparing for the difficulties that lie ahead."
Sevilla also benefited from setbacks by other teams near the top of the standings. Alaves had a chance to go top on Friday but lost 1-0 at Leganes, while Real Madrid is sixth after a shock 3-0 defeat at Eibar on Saturday. That result ended the team's perfect run under coach Santiago Solari and left the Spanish powerhouse six points off the lead.
Sevilla, which had already led the league after the eighth round, has 26 points from 13 matches, one point more than Barcelona and two more than Atletico. Fourth-place Alaves is three points back.
"We knew we had an opportunity today and we took advantage of it," said forward Andre Silva, who scored Sevilla's winner. "This the result of our hard work day after day. We have to try to keep it up."
Looking to avoid its own setback, Sevilla controlled the match from the start at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. It didn't create many significant scoring chances but was always closest to scoring.
Silva got the winner with a 30th-minute header after a well-placed cross by Pablo Sarabia, giving Sevilla its seventh straight home win in all competitions. It was the eighth league goal for the Portuguese forward who hadn't scored for Sevilla in five matches.
Valladolid had a 74th-minute goal disallowed for offside, and its biggest chance was a stoppage-time shot by substitute Enes Unal that forced a difficult save by Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
The team owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo hasn't won in two matches and dropped to 12th.
Athletic Bilbao's struggles continued with a 1-1 home draw against midtable Getafe, extending its winless streak to 12 matches.
The result left Athletic with 11 points from 13 matches, just inside the relegation zone.
The Basque Country club hasn't won since the league's first round in August, enduring eight draws and four losses since then.
It opened the scoring with a goal by defender Peru Nolaskoain in the 67th, but Jaime Mata equalized for the visitors in the 77th.
It could have been worse for Athletic if Getafe had been awarded a penalty kick late in stoppage time after Mata was held by a defender inside the area, but the referee ended the match before a video review.
Getafe, winless in three matches, sits 11th in the standings.
REAL BETIS STUMBLES
Real Betis followed its win against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium with a 2-1 loss at Villarreal, and remained near the bottom of the standings.
Gerard Moreno and Samuel Chukwueze scored goals two minutes apart early in the second half to give Villarreal its first win in six matches in all competitions, moving three points clear of the relegation zone.
Villarreal hadn't won at its Ceramica Stadium in six league matches this season.
GIRONA MOVES UP
Girona reached seventh place by defeating Catalan rival Espanyol 3-1 with a pair of goals by striker Cristhian Stuani, the league's leading scorer with 10 goals.
The Uruguayan striker scored in the fourth and sixth minutes to lead Girona to victory.
Fifth-place Espanyol, which had won all of its five matches at home, missed a chance to move level with Atletico Madrid on 24 points.