Exhausted Croatia must summon reserve strength for World Cup final against France

On Sunday, the Croats will play the biggest match of their lives against a France side bursting with youth and vigour that has had a day more rest and played the equivalent of a match fewer over the k

It was no surprise that Croatia danced on the pitch in celebration with fans and family long after beating England in the semi-finals of the World Cup on Wednesday night.



The ecstasy of taking a tiny nation to the final of the World Cup for the first time needed to be worked through with the people that provided the players with support and inspiration.



Croatia’s biggest football match



On Sunday, the Croats will play the biggest match of their lives against a France side bursting with youth and vigour that has had a day more rest and played the equivalent of a match fewer over the knockout rounds.



While going to 30 minutes of extra time in all three of their sudden death matches, not to mention emotional energy-sapping penalty shootouts in two of them has proved beyond doubt Croatia’s resilience, it has also taken its toll.



“Some players played with minor injuries with which they would not have played some other games. Two players played with half a leg, but it didn’t show,” coach Zlatko Dalic said.



Croatia’s ‘Golden Generation’ has delivered: coach Dalic



“Nobody wanted to give in when I was preparing the first eleven, nobody wanted to say I was not ready in extra time, no one wanted to be subbed and this shows character and what makes me proud. Nobody gave up.”



Tired Mandzukic scores the winner against England



Mario Mandzukic typified their efforts, running himself into the ground in the lone striker role but taking his chance to score the winner clinically when it presented itself nearly 20 minutes into extra time.



Even before his goal, Mandzukic had spent some minutes on the turf after a collision with England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and an agonising attack of cramp left him once again prone on the pitch in the wake of his decisive strike.



The Juventus striker finally limped off utterly exhausted six minutes from time but promised unstinting effort on Sunday to bring the World Cup back to the nation of some four million people.



“We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final,” he said.



Croatia’s 12th man



That the nation will be backing them to gain revenge for the World Cup semi-final loss to France in 1998 is without question, as is the fact that there will once again be an army of fans decked out in red and white checks at the Luzhniki Stadium.



“We were louder, they were carrying us, they picked us up when we were not in control of the game,” Dalic said of the supporters.



“For Croatian football and Croatia as a country, this is history being written. I don’t know of a smaller country in a World Cup final.



“But we have our hearts, our pride and our players and that is what is really important to us.”



REUTERS



AFCON U-20: Mali crowned champions

Mali beats Senegal at the finals of the U- 20 AFCON in Niger to back home her first continental title for the category.

Mali beats Senegal at the finals of the U- 20 AFCON in Niger
to back home her first continental title for the category.

Liverpool, Juventus, Barcelona and Fc Bayern all take center stage as the journey to unseat Real Madrid as Europe’s best continues with the 16th finals of the Uefa Champions League.

Ahead of the 2019 Afcon Yannick Bolasie of the DR Congo seeks play time in Belgian top flight, we shall be getting his reaction at the end of his first game with his new employers.

Kaepernick reaches deal with NFL - Lawyer

He was unsigned as a free agent through the fall of the season after he opted out of a contract with the San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick, one of the most visible players to protest against racial injustice during the U.S. national anthem, has resolved grievances with the National Football League.

His attorney, Mark Geragos said via Twitter on Friday that the resolution was subject to a confidentiality agreement and so the team said there would be no further comment by either party.

Kaepernick, 31, filed a collusion grievance against NFL owners in October 2017.

He was unsigned as a free agent through the fall of the season after he opted out of a contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, the former NFL quarterback has been unable to find a team to play for.

Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl game in 2013.

Reuters

Saudi flags Crown Prince - Man United acquisition report 'offside'

Reports that Mohammed Bin Salman intends to buy the club are “completely false”, the minister, Turki al-Shabanah, wrote on social network Twitter.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is not seeking to buy Premier League football club Manchester United, the kingdom’s media minister said on Monday, denying reports and adding that there had only been a meeting with the Saudi wealth fund regarding sponsorship.

Reports that Mohammed Bin Salman intends to buy the club are “completely false”, the minister, Turki al-Shabanah, wrote on social network Twitter.

He was reacting to reports that the crown prince had sought to tempt the Glazer family to cede control of the club.

“Manchester United held a meeting with PIF Saudi to discuss (a) sponsorship opportunity,” Shabanah said, adding that no deal materialised.

On Sunday, the British newspaper, the Sun, said the crown prince was in a £3.8-billion ($4.9-billion) takeover bid for one of football’s most popular clubs.

The paper said a bid was first submitted in October but the fallout from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul put the “skids” on a potential offer.

REUTERS

Ethiopian teenager smashes 1,500m world indoor record

It came on the same Birmingham track where Tefera had won the world title last year.

Ethiopian teenager Samuel Tefera outduelled compatriot Yomif Kejelcha to break the world indoor 1,500 metres record in Birmingham on Saturday.

Tefera, 19, clocked three minutes, 31.04 seconds at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting to take down Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1997 record of 3:31.18.

It came on the same Birmingham track where Tefera had won the world title last year. Tefera kicked past Kejelcha after the bell for the final lap and charged to the finish line. Kejelcha finished second in a personal best of 3:31.58.

Kejelcha, the 21-year-old two-time world indoor 3,000m champion, had come within 0.01 of the world indoor mile record last week in New York. He had announced before Saturday’s race he would be going for the 1,500m record.

Scotland’s Laura Muir became the third-fastest indoor miler of all-time at the same meeting when she broke the British record. The European champion clocked 4:18.75.

The world record is 4:13.31 by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in 2016.

REUTERS

Sala's family bids final farewell

28 year old Sala, had been flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales on January 21 to make his debut for the Premier League team.

A coffin carrying the remains of footballer, Emiliano Sala carried from a vigil site to a hearse by the star’s friends and family on Saturday.

Sala’s coffin was at a vigil inside Sala’s childhood club, San Martin de Progreso, in Santa Fe, Argentina, during the day before being moved to a hearse.

Crowds applauded and some openly wept as the Cardiff player’s coffin was driven through the streets to a private ceremony in Santa Fe city, where Sala’s body is due to be cremated.

Sala,28, had been flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales on January 21 to make his debut for the Premier League team.

His single-engined Piper Malibu aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel.

Wreckage was found on February 3 following a privately-funded underwater search and a body recovered on February 6.

The body was taken to southern England where it was positively identified as Sala.

Reuters