Dhaka, Sept 14 (UNB) – The 7th times champions, India, will play former champions the Maldives in the much-awaited prestigious final of the seven-nation SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at country’s premier sports venue Bangabandhu National Stadium under floodlight on Saturday.
The match will kick off at 7 pm Bangladesh time.
Holders India are the only unbeaten team in the ongoing SAFF meet to make their 11th final berths in 12th version, except in 2003, with an inspiring 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2nd semifinal to play the final with 2008 edition champions the Maldives, who made the final berth shocking Nepal 3-0 in first semifinal on Wednesday.
In a pre-match press conference at the BFF House on Friday, coaches and captains of both the teams expressed their determination to play their best to win the match.
India coach Stefen Constantine and Captain Subashish Bose said their team are studded with youth players and will play for win.
Maldives coach Peter Segert and Captain Akram Abdul Ghanee said they will try their best to play an entertaining match, saying the need support from local fans.
In the previous four finals in the South Asian Football, the Maldives clinched the crown once in 2008 beating India 1-0 in the final as co-host with Sri Lanka.
The Maldives lost two finals against India in 1997 and 2009 and lost final to hosts Bangladesh in 2003.
India enjoyed upper hand in the both the South Asian and International Football against the Maldives.
In the 11 South Asian Football encounters, India won eight, lost two and one match ended in draw against the Maldives.
In total 18 international encounters, India won 13, lost three and the rest two matches ended in draw.
After a barren first half in the 2nd semifinal on Wednesday, Manvir Singh struck twice and Sumeet Passi netted one for the India while Hassan Bashir netted the lone goal for Pakistan.
Stephen Constantine's India smartly won both of their group matches by 2-0 goals each, first against Sri Lanka and the 2nd against the Maldives.
However, there was a little concern shown by Constantine as the Indian team were not convincing in their wins and should have easily managed to score a lot more goals in these two matches.
Maldives, on the other hand, also had an eventful semifinal as they defeated Nepal 3-0. The Maldivian players looked in great knick as Nepal is no easy team to defeat and to do it with such a margin is commendable. The upcoming final of the SAFF Championship promises to be a nail-biter. The Maldivian side played with tremendous grit and determination to reach the final.
Ibrahim Waheed Hassan scored a brace for the Maldives in the semifinal and he is one player Indian defenders will need to mark closely as he is lethal when given space.
India defeated the Maldives 2-0 in the group stage game but playing in the final is a different ball game all together so it will be interesting to see if the young Indian players -- being led by Subhashish Bose -- can handle the pressure to clinch the trophy.
Dhaka, Sept 14 (UNB) – Bangladesh will take on Sri Lanka in the opening match of the 14th edition of the Asia Cup Cricket at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the UAE on Saturday.
The Group ‘B’ match of the six-nation tournament will begin at 5:30 pm Bangladesh time with both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, both plagued with injuries, looking for a winning start.
With Afghanistan, the third team in the group, both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will try to make a good start to the tournament and make sure they do not fall behind in the race for the Super Four.
In Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s Bangladesh camp, talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan needs a surgery on his left little finger, but has pushed it back till after the Asia Cup; senior opener Tamim Iqbal has a swollen right ring finger and off-spinner Nazmul Hossain also has an injury in his bowling hand.
On to Sri Lanka now, Danushka Gunathilaka has returned home even before the start of the tournament with a lower back problem, and has been replaced by off-spinning all-rounder Shehan Jayasuriya. Before the Gunathilaka-Jayasuriya swap came the news that Dinesh Chandimal was out with a finger injury -- wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella replaced him.
It’s not an ideal situation for either team, but Bangladesh do not worry too much about things what they cannot control - as Bangladesh manager Khaled Mahmud said on Thursday, “I don’t think injuries will have a big effect on us.”
Hosts for the last three successive times, Bangladesh reached the final of the 50-over Asia Cup in 2012 and the T20 version in 2016, but both times they missed out titles, losing to Pakistan and India by two runs and eight wickets respectively.
This time, Bangladesh have come into the tournament on the back of a 2-1 series win over the West Indies in the Caribbean, while Sri Lanka lost their last assignment, a five-match home series, against South Africa, but have some momentum after having won the last two games of that series and then the one-off T20I.
If recent bilateral history is anything to go by, the team currently coached by Chandika Hathurusingha beat the team formerly coached by the same man twice in a row to win the triangular series in Dhaka -- with Zimbabwe as the third team -- in January.
However, the Bangladesh boys had taken their revenge in the Nidahas Trophy against the hosts, and come into this tournament as the higher-ranked of the two teams.
Bangladesh have a full-strength side to pick from, fitness permitting, with the mainstays Shakib, Tamim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mustafizur Rahman all there.
With Chandimal out, Sri Lanka cannot quite make the same claim, but their squad looks strong on papers too.
Angelo Mathews has tremendous experience and class, qualities that are not lacking in the core of Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Suranga Lakmal or returning Lasith Malinga either.
The return of Malinga, indeed, has been one of the stories in the lead-up to the event, with the pace bowler not having played any international cricket since September last year. Despite the presence of Lakmal and Malinga, Akila Dananjaya, the off-spinner with a big bag of tricks, could well be the front man of the bowling attack on the slowish tracks.
Bangladesh’s best batsman Tamim Iqbal has come into the Asia Cup in rollicking form, having hit two centuries in the three matches in the Caribbean. The centuries came in the two games Bangladesh won, 130* and 103, both innings of maturity and responsibility. If in the groove, he can take the game away from Sri Lanka early on.
If Lasith Malinga makes the XI, Malinga will definitely corner a fair bit of the viewers’ attention. His appearances for Sri Lanka have been sporadic in recent times, and he is not the force he once used to be with his searing yorkers and mix of slower deliveries. But he is still a force to reckon with, and will want to put in a big effort as the preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 gather steam.
It is expected to be bright and sunny in Dubai through the day, and warm -- perhaps humid too -- in the evening. Runs are there to be had, but spinners will likely have a big say in how things pan out.
Among their 44 ODIs, Bangladesh only have six wins against Sri Lanka to 36 losses and two matches had seen no results.
Bangladesh squad: Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Liton Kumar Das, Ariful Haque, Mominul Haque, Abu Hider, Rubel Hossain, Tamim Iqbal, Nazmul Islam, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat and Nazmul Hossain.
Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Amila Aponso, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva and Upul Tharanga.
Zadar, Sept 14 (AP/UNB) — The chair umpire who penalized Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final is pleased to be getting back to work.
Carlos Ramos is assigned to the Davis Cup semifinal between Croatia and the United States this weekend in Zadar.
"I'm just focusing on this tie and working again. That's all I can say," Ramos told The Associated Press before the opening singles between Borna Coric and Steve Johnson, which he was not officiating.
Ramos was expected to direct the second singles between Marin Cilic and Frances Tiafoe.
Ramos gave Williams three code violations in her straight-set loss to Naomi Osaka last weekend, and the American great argued she wasn't being treated the same as some male players.
USTA president and CEO Katrina Adams, who defended Williams, was overheard apologizing to Ramos on the sidelines of Thursday's draw ceremony.
Ramos wouldn't go into details over his discussion with Adams, who initiated the conversation.
"You know I cannot talk about that," Ramos said.
Barcelona, Sep 14 (AP/UNB) — After patiently waiting his turn, Saul Niguez is doing more than just making the most of it. The 23-year-old Atletico Madrid player is revolutionizing what it means to be a Spanish midfielder.
Saul didn't play a single minute for Spain at the World Cup. Instead, he watched his country manage only one win in three group matches before losing to host Russia in the round of 16.
But the arrival of Luis Enrique as Spain coach, combined with the retirement from international soccer by Andres Iniesta and David Silva, has given Saul his chance.
Saul started and scored goals in both of Spain's UEFA Nations League matches. He netted the equalizer in the 2-1 win over England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, and three days later he scored the opening goal in a 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-up Croatia.
"I have been working very hard on my team to have this chance, and for two years on the national team," Saul said after the win in London.
After the victory over Croatia in Saul's hometown of Elche in southern Spain, the midfielder admitted it had been frustrating not getting off the bench at the World Cup.
"I spent a lot of time thinking during the summer, but now is not the time to talk about the past because it doesn't matter," Saul said. "Even though I didn't play, I had an unforgettable experience at my first World Cup."
Saul made his international debut under coach Julen Lopetegui in September 2016 after he had not been called up Vicente del Bosque for that year's European Championship. He has made 12 national appearances in total.
Before his strong performances over the past week, Saul started his season in August by scoring a spectacular volley in extra time for Atletico's third goal in a 4-2 win over Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
Saul will now hope his scoring run with Spain will carry back over to Atletico when it hosts Eibar on Saturday. Atletico, which finished second in the league behind Barcelona last year, has only one win in three matches and is already five points adrift the defending champions and Real Madrid.
Spain won the 2010 World Cup in between European titles in 2008 and 2012 by deploying its unique "tiki-taka" style, which prioritized keeping possession and picking teams apart with precise passers like Iniesta, Silva and former Spain players Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas.
But that once-successful formula had lost its unbeatable status before proving completely outdated at the World Cup in Russia. The nadir came when the team, coached by Fernando Hierro at the time, completed more than 1,000 passes — a large portion of them completely harmless — before succumbing to a far-less talented Russia in a penalty shootout.
Luis Enrique has shaken up the team since, putting a new focus on speed, youth and fitness — all qualities embodied in Saul.
All three of Saul's goals this season were first touches from crosses and culminated quick attacks. He used his left foot to score Atletico's winner in the Super Cup, his right foot against England, and a powerful header against Croatia.
As Saul defined himself, he is a "player that works hard for the team, and above all a player who arrives to the area looking to score."
That type of muscular midfielder charging into the box in a second wave behind the forwards is the opposite of the compact, lightweight playmakers that defined Spanish soccer for more than a decade.
While acknowledging that Spain is changing, Saul said the foundations of a team built around a strong midfield — regardless of its strengths — still remains.
"I don't know what will happen in the future, but Xavi and Iniesta made history with our national team and made us the best team in the world," Saul said. "What we have coming up now is another type of player, but our playing philosophy is what they and (coach) Luis Aragones established at the start of this run.
"It will be difficult to repeat what they did, but we will try to win a title."
Manchester, Sep 14 (AP/UNB) — Manchester City generated a club-record 500.5 million pounds ($655 million) as it won the Premier League by amassing an unprecedented 100 points.
The annual report for the 2017-18 financial year was released Thursday showing the Abu Dhabi-owned club made a profit of 10.4 million pounds.
City's revenue has increased 44 percent in five years, fueled by the rise in value of television rights, progress in the Champions League and more lucrative sponsorship deals.
Commercial deals are the biggest source of revenue, generating 232.3 million pounds in the year to June 30.
Four of City's nine global sponsors are Abu Dhabi companies. Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family and deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, bought City 10 years ago.