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It is very easy to coach Cristiano Ronaldo: Paul Clement

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Cristiano Ronaldo has always been perceived as one of the best in the world but many believe that the striker is not an easy person to work with. Former assistant manager of Real Madrid Paul Clement has debunked all rumors and stated that ‘it is very easy to coach Cristiano Ronaldo.’

“It was a privilege to share a dressing room with him, it is very easy to coach Cristiano Ronaldo. I cannot remember anybody who was a better professional; the demands he puts on himself, the aim for perfection, to improve every day,” said Paul Clement to The Athletic.

Clement was a valuable part of Jose Mourinho’s staff during his time at Real Madrid and went on to reveal how important a player of his capability is for any side.

“A player like Cristiano is always different but, with Jose, the team was always above everybody. There were moments when Cristiano scored goals, as he always did, but there were also moments when Jose and the team knew they needed to defend. And Cristiano was the first who defended, too. You have to make him see that, apart from all the goals he scores, there are other moments when you need to do certain tactical things,” added Clement.

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Cristiano Ronaldo joined Los Galacticos in 2009 and went on to produce perhaps the greatest stint by any player at the best club in the world. He played 438 games with the club and scored 450 goals and 131 assists whilst winning four UEFA Champions League trophy and two La Liga titles.

“After a game, it’s 4 am and I turn around and there’s Cristiano, pulling Pepe and Fabio Coentrao towards the main building: ‘We’re going for an ice bath’. It’s 4 am and not only is he doing it, he’s getting others to participate as well. It’s ultra-professional. These are the things he does, over and over,” he concluded.

–IANS

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'I’m a believer of dreams': Southgate and England stand on the cusp of greatness

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Berlin, July 14 (IANS) The 1996 Euros were not a pleasant one for English manager Gareth Southgate. The former Three Lions defender was the one who missed the penalty in the shootouts against Germany in the semi-finals of what was their home tournament. Deutschland went on to win the tournament.

After 28 years, Southgate has the chance to lead the nation to their very first European Championship in Germany. When asked about the chance to complete his fairytale ending, Southgate answered with a wonderful response.

“I am not a believer in fairytales, but I am a believer in dreams. We have had big dreams and felt the importance of that, but you have to make those things happen. The run we’ve had, the late goals and penalties, doesn’t equate to it being our moment. We have to make it tomorrow and perform. It would be a lovely story and it’s in our hands but the performance is the most important thing,” said Southgate to reporters in the pre match conference.

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Germany were eliminated by Spain in the quarterfinals of the tournament in what was perhaps one of the best games of the tournament.

Southgate is not the only one who has the chance to finally complete his dream. England captain Harry Kane has been criticized for many years on his trophy record. The all-time top scorer in English football claimed ‘it is no secret,’ when asked about his trophy aspirations.

“It is no secret that I haven’t won a team trophy. Every year that goes by, you are more determined to change that. Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to win one of the biggest prizes you could ever win and to make history with my mates. I’m extremely proud to be English, so no question I would swap everything I’ve done in my career to have a special night and a win,” concluded the Bayern Munich striker.

–IANS

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Durand Cup returns to Kokrajhar for the second consecutive year

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Kokrajhar, July 14 (IANS) The return of the Durand Cup tournament, now in its 133rd edition, is a very prestigious event for Kokrajhar in Assam. The three coveted Durand Cup trophies (Durand Cup, President’s Cup and the Shimla Trophy) were displayed at the Bodofa Cultural Complex, Chandamari here on Sunday.

The iconic trophies were presented in the presence of Pramod Boro, Chief Executive Member, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and Nandita Gorlosa, Minister for Power, Sports & Youth Welfare.

Also present at the event were the Cooperation and Indigenous Tribal Faith & Culture (Archaeology) Dept Government of Assam, Lt General RC Srikanth VSM, Chief of Staff, HQ Eastern Command, Chairman Durand Cup Organising Committee (DCOC).

Kokrajhar hosted six group matches in the previous edition of the Durand Cup, when it became only the second city in Assam to host the prestigious tournament. The tremendous response received has ensured that Kokrajhar not only continues as hosts this year, but also hosts an additional match and that too a knockout game.

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Clearly enthused on the occasion, Boro while welcoming all dignitaries and guests said, “I am very happy that the Indian Army has favourably responded to our request of holding an additional game this year in Kokrajhar and have kept their promise to us. As a result a seventh game, that too a quarter-final knockout of the Durand Cup will be held here for the very first time. We are very grateful and such magnanimity will only do wonders to the already cordial civil-military relationship, existing in the Bodoland region.

“Like everyone here, I too will be rooting for our favourite Bodoland FC boys, however, we look forward to competitive and exciting football matches in the coming days and wish all visiting teams and guests a wonderful time at Kokrajhar,” he added.

Assam Sports Minister Gorlosa said, “We have seen last year how a tournament like the Durand Cup brought the entire Kokrajhar together and this year, thanks to the leadership of our Chief Minister and the Chief Executive Member, it promises to be bigger and better here. Boro has done a tremendous job with the infrastructure here and Kokrajhar is now firmly established on the footballing map of India, thanks to his tireless efforts. I wish the football-loving youth and fans of Kokrajhar a wonderful time supporting your local heroes, while also appreciating good football from all quarters.”

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Of the six groups, Group E, comprising ISL sides North-East United FC (NEUFC) and Odisha FC along with BSF, besides the local Bodoland FC team, will be based in Kokrajhar.

The first match is scheduled to kick off at the SAI Stadium between the popular Bodoland FC and NEUFC, in what can be dubbed as an all-Assam derby, on July 30.

All matches of the Durand Cup will be broadcast live on the Sony Sports Network and can also be live-streamed on the SonyLiv OTT platform.

A total of 24 teams, including two Services teams from Nepal and Bangladesh, will be seen in action across 43 matches, which will be played in the four host cities of Kokrajhar, Shillong, Jamshedpur (last two named making their debut as host cities) and Kolkata. Kolkata will also host the grand final at the hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 31.

–IANS

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5th T20I: Mukesh, Riyan come in as Zimbabwe win toss and elect to bowl first against India

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Mukesh Kumar and Riyan Parag come into India’s playing eleven as Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first in the fifth and final T20I of the series at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

India have already sealed the series with a 3-1 unassailable lead, thanks to their ten-wicket triumph in the fourth game on Saturday. Mukesh and Riyan replace Khaleel Ahmed and Ruturaj Gaikwad in India’s playing eleven, as they aim to end the series with a 4-1 scoreline.

“We were looking to bat first anyway. Our spinners have bowled well and the fast bowlers have been economical. The players have been hungry. It’s not easy to play back-to-back matches,” said India captain Shubman Gill after winning the toss.

Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said Brandon Mavuta has replaced Tendai Chatara in the playing eleven for Sunday’s game, which they are eyeing to win for ending the series on a high.

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“The wicket will get better when we bat second. Not difficult at all, the motivation is there, the confidence is there and the skillset is there. We want to do well and finish the series on a high. Chatara has been rested, he’s played four games in a row and we have a Test match coming up (against Ireland),” he said.

Playing XIs-

India: Shubman Gill (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Abhishek Sharma, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Riyan Parag, Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Tushar Deshpande and Mukesh Kumar

Zimbabwe: Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Brian Bennett, Dion Myers, Sikandar Raza (captain), Johnathan Campbell, Faraz Akram, Clive Madande (wicketkeeper), Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani

–IANS

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Copa America final: 28-game unbeaten Colombia stand in the way of Argentina’s record title win (preview)

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Miami, July 14 (IANS) The 2024 Copa America has boiled down to its final game. The defending champions Argentina, will be taking on a strong Colombian side at the Hard Rock Stadium on Monday (IST).

Argentina’s path to the finals was straightforward with their biggest hurdle proving to be Ecuador in the quarter-finals which the side won on penalties thanks to the heroics of Emiliano Martinez. Lionel Scaloni’s men defeated Canada 2-0 in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Colombia on the other hand are on a dream run which has seen them remain unbeaten in 28 games which is a national record. Their previous record was of 27 games and their victory over Uruguay in the semi-finals saw them create history.

Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez is currently the leading scorer at the tournament with four goals to his name whereas James Rodriguez sits miles above the rest in the assists leaderboard with six to his name with the next best being several players tied with two assists.

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Head-to-head: The two sides have faced each other 42 times in their history with Argentina holding a impressive lead with 25 wins to their name compared to Colombia’s eight, nine games ended in draws.

What the managers said-

“I hope the fans have a party, I want it with all my heart. Apart from the joy of winning the title, I think it would be a joy for everyone if it ends well,” said Scaloni to reporters in the pre-match conference. “Even though we know it will be his(Angel Di Maria) last game, we will always decide first what is best for the team. If he has to play it’s because he has to play, if we decide not to play him it’s because we think differently,” he added.

“We hope that everything goes well and that Angel can retire in the best possible way. We need to be the best Colombia, the best version, to beat Argentina, the champions of everything. To win against Argentina, we have to be very well-prepared, because they are the champions, it will be a very demanding match,” said Colombia head coach Nestor Lorenzo.

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–IANS

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England will miss Anderson, it's difficult to replace his rare skill: Ian Chappell

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes England are going to miss James Anderson in Test cricket, citing the difficulty to replace his rare skills of swinging the ball.

Anderson finished his 21-year Test career for England as the third-most successful bowler in the longest format with 704 wickets at an average of 26.45 in 188 matches, when the hosts’ thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 114 runs at Lord’s earlier this week.

“Jimmy Anderson retired as the greatest swing bowler the game has seen. There have been many other fine swing bowlers but none have plied their skill for such a long period at the highest level.

“Anderson had that rare ability to swing the ball both ways with very little change to his action. Where other good bowlers gave the batter a clue with their change of arm slot, Anderson was able to produce swing both ways minus the early warning signal.

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“This is a remarkable skill and it made Anderson an extremely tough opponent. England will miss Anderson as it’s difficult to replace his rare skill. Importantly, though, Anderson’s career is now a celebrated one where he’s recognised as the best swing bowler the game has produced,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.

He also went on to laud Anderson for his hardwork in terms of maintaining his longevity and not wandering from his testing lines and lengths in Test cricket. “Twenty-one years at the top is a tribute to his fitness, skill and ability to learn. There was also his desire to keep playing when big life changes, like having a wife and kids, could easily have surpassed the priority of Test cricket.

“His subtle skills became more obvious as he continued to run in with the same smooth rhythm and produce a probing delivery on a testing line. He continued to do so no matter whether he was bowling to a right- or left-handed batter. That was another skill that set him apart from many swing bowlers – it made little difference what type of batter he was facing.”

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Chappell signed off by praising Anderson for maintaining his patience despite getting no rewards in his stern bowling spells, a factor which he thinks was crucial in the pacer’s success.

“The tributes for Anderson have been many, touching not just on his undoubted bowling skill but also his grumpiness, the changes of hairdo and his stubbornness with the bat. It’s not surprising that he was occasionally grumpy, which resulted in the odd terse comment.

“Most people’s patience would be severely tested if they regularly charged in to bowl only to beat the bat and receive no reward. Despite the occasional outburst Anderson retained his patience, which was partly responsible for his amazing success.

“As retirement loomed, the thing that stood out most in Anderson’s often reluctant comments was his desire to win. This was a crucial motivating factor in his success.”

–IANS

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