Chelsea waiting for Hazard to emerge from slump

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP) Guus Hiddink’s arrival as Chelsea manager has sparked a drastic improvement in a number of the team’s attacking stars. Diego Costa, Oscar, Cesc Fabregas, even Pedro Rodriguez. All look different players now Jose Mourinho is no longer in charge at Stamford Bridge. So when is Eden Hazard going to come good? Because the slump in form of the Belgium winger is one of the mysteries of the season. Hazard was voted English football’s Player of the Year for the 2014-15 season by both his peers and writers, after scoring 19 goals and being arguably Chelsea’s standout player in their run to the Premier League and League Cup titles. Many felt he would make the step up to challenge Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the game’s top star. Fast forward to this season and Hazard is no longer assured of even being in the team heading into Sunday’s FA Cup match against Manchester City, which is the headline fixture of the fifth round. He has completed 90 minutes just once in 2016 and has scored only one club goal all season a sympathy penalty in a big win over MK Dons in the FA Cup fourth round. Already testing the patience of Chelsea fans with his performances, Hazard didn’t do himself any favours this week by telling French newspaper Le Parisien, ahead of a Champions League game against Paris Saint-German, that it would be ‘difficult to say no to’ PSG or any other team capable of winning the Champions League. Is he eyeing a big move for next season already? Hazard was substituted against PSG after another sub-standard display and may even lose his place to Oscar against City for the first high-profile match in the FA Cup this season. Chelsea are looking to win the world’s oldest club knockout competition for the fifth time in the last 10 years and is in better form than City, having lost only once 2-1 against PSG in 12 games since Hiddink took over. City, meanwhile, have lost their last two games, at home against title rivals in the Premier League, and have injury problems in midfield. Manager Manuel Pellegrini may also have one eye on next week, when City resumes their Champions League campaign with a trip to Dynamo Kiev in the last 16, and could play a weakened team at Stamford Bridge. There has been a shortage of shocks in this season’s FA Cup, meaning most of the country’s big teams are still involved. TAMED BY THE SHREWS? The biggest so-called ‘giant-killing could come when Manchester United heads to third-tier Shrewsbury on Monday. And it’s the last thing Louis van Gaal needs right now. The United manager has enough on his mind, with his team struggling to qualify for the Champions League through the Premier League and seeing captain and star striker Wayne Rooney joining an injury list that now contains 13 players. Rooney has a knee injury and British media are reporting he could be out for six to eight weeks. Shrewsbury, a market town from central England whose football team plays at a 9,875-capacity stadium, has already beaten two teams higher up the English pyramid second-tier Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday and are in the fifth round for the first time since 1991. And they caused a big shock in 2003, winning 2-1 in the third round against an Everton side containing Rooney. In 19th place in the third tier, Shrewsbury are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition. REMATCH Arsenal are four victories away from winning the FA Cup for a third straight time. Next up for Arsene Wenger’s side is second-tier Hull, in a rematch of the 2014 final that Arsenal won 3-2 after extra time. There are two more all-Premier League matchups: Bournemouth vs Everton; and Tottenham vs Crystal Palace. In other games, Reading host West Bromwich Albion, West Ham visit Blackburn and Watford are at home to Leeds.last_img read more

Waterhouse tell Young goodbye… Patrick returns to RSPL strugglers

first_imgJust over two months after taking over as technical director and head coach of Waterhouse FC, coach Paul Young has been relieved of his duties, with the familiar face of Anthony Patrick now charged with rescuing the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) strugglers. Young, a former Jamaican international, was handed the reigns of the Drewsland-based club in December after returning from the United States with the team sitting at the foot of the RSPL points table with 13 points from 16 games. However, after picking up a mere eight points from his nine games in charge of the two-time national champions, the club felt it was necessary to make the change in an effort to lift the team from its current cellar-dwelling position. Club president Fitzroy Vidal credited Young for his effort, but believes the change will bring renewed energy to the team’s torrid campaign. Vidal noted that the decision was made mutually, while adding that Kevin Lamey will act as Patrick’s assistant for the remainder of the season. “Football is about wins,” said Vidal. “Of course, we have been in a precarious position and we felt it necessary to make some changes to see if we can bring some energy to the team.” “The coach (Young) has done a valiant job; discipline has improved, but we are still not scoring enough goals and winning as a habit,” said Vidal. “We have a few games to go in the season and we are giving ourselves a chance. We need to invigorate the team, psychology is a big part of the sport, and we are confident this change will have the desired effect.” This is the third coaching change at Waterhouse this season. Calvert Fitzgerald started the campaign on the club’s bench, but he was replaced by Patrick, who served for a month before committing his focus to Dinthill during their schoolboy season. Young was brought in at the end of the year with Patrick working alongside him for a period. Waterhouse fans will welcome Patrick’s appointment after the tactician led them to the final in the 2013/14 season and the semi-finals last year. “Anthony Patrick is a senior member of our coaching staff and we are happy that he was available. Kevin Lamey will be his assistant, as was the case before,” added Vidal. “We are optimistic that we can improve our results. We have a very good squad a very good team. Its surprising that this team is where it is in the table; if you see them in training, they are a delight, but we are not coming together on match day. But I remain confident, we have to take it on a game-by-game basis and fix things,” Vidal added. Waterhouse’s next game is away to Cavalier on Sunday. PREVIOUS COACHESlast_img read more

Caymanas tips



first_imgASTON VILLA VS SWANSEAAston Villa have not won in the Barclays Premier League since the opening day of the season at Bournemouth and last won at home in the league in May against West Ham. But after a four-game unbeaten start, Swansea have taken two points from their last five outings in the league.LEICESTER CITY VS CRYSTAL PALACELeicester’s games at the King Power Stadium have seen goals in abundance with 20 scored there (10 by Leicester), the most in the Premier League. Palace lost 3-1 at home to West Ham last Saturday, but they have won three and lost just one of their four away games so far. In three Premier League visits to Leicester, they have won two and drawn one.NORWICH CITY VS WEST BROMNorwich City have dropped from eighth place in the Barclays Premier League to 16th following a run of four games without a win, and they have conceded20 goals, the most in the division. But West Bromwich Albion have scored only seven goals, the fewest in the top flight.STOKE CITY VSWATFORDStoke City are on a roll; after six games without a win in the Barclays Premier League, the Potters have won their last three – four including the Capital Cup – and bid to claim a fourth straight league victory for the first time since December 2011. Watford, meanwhile, are seeking only their third win of the season in the league and first in four games.BOURNEMOUTH VS TOTTENHAMPrevious results point to a game with few goals. Games at the Vitality Stadium have produced just seven, four from Bournemouth and three by the opposition. And Spurs have scored just four and conceded four on the road. Tottenham have not lost in the league since the season’s opening day, but have drawn five of their last eight.LIVERPOOL VS SOUTHAMPTONLiverpool have won their last three games against Southampton, but the last five clashes between these teams at Anfield have seen the winners claim the points by only a one-goal advantage. Overall, Southampton have won just three times at Anfield in the Premier League while losing nine and drawing four.last_img read more

Tough clash – Boyz face Panama in World Cup Qualifier

first_imgREGISTERING victory will be the prime target for Jamaica’s senior men’s national football team when they tackle Panama in a Group B CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) match at the National Stadium tonight, beginning at 9 p.m. The match is one of six in the Fourth Round (Semi-finals) series, which consists of three groups of four, from which the top two will advance to the six-nation (Hexagonal) to make the ultimate challenge for places at the 2018 Finals in Russia. Reggae Boyz head coach Winfried Schäfer has rounded up close to his strongest squad for the match, with practically all the players who participated in their successful summer campaigns at the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup at hand. “Panama plays good against Jamaica in the past. Now we have to change this. We’ve to win. But it’s not easy,” said Schäfer, who will not be on the bench owing to a one-match ban by FIFA for a verbal spat with match officials after winning in Nicaragua. “From the first minute, we’ve to control the match. This will not be easy. We have to find a way to do what we’ve to do in the match. The players have to be intelligent,” the 65-year-old German reasoned. In the South American championship, they lost 1-0 in group games all the time despite playing well against Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, teams loaded with world-class players. Against regional rivalry, they created history by advancing to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time. They lost 3-1 against Mexico. However, this is not a time to rest on laurels. Jamaica were given a harsh reminder in third-round clashes against Nicaragua as they faced elimination following a 2-3 home loss on September 5. In the return clash in Managua, thanks to Simon Dawkins’ goal at the death, they beat the Central Americans 2-0 to prevail 4-3 on aggregate. Had Dawkins not scored and Jamaica won 1-0 to even up the scoring aggregate 3-3, the Jamaicans would have been knocked out of 2018 WCQ by way of the away goals rule. Matches at this stage promise to be more difficult in what can be considered the Group of Death (toughest group) as all the teams, on current form, are among the strongest in the confederation. Costa Rica, quarter-finalists in last year’s World Cup Finals in Argentina, and Haiti, both made the Gold Cup quarter-finals, while Panama, though playing from the first half and through extra-time with 10 players, lost 1-0 to a last-minute controversial penalty against Mexico in the semi-finals. “Our group is very strong … all four teams can go in the next round,” Schäfer observed,” noting the reason they would be hunting an early advantage in the qualification. “It’s very important for the players to go to a Haiti with a win,” he said. The fact that their number 10 player, Luis Tejada, was sent off against Mexico, though controversially as well, tells another story about the Panamanians. They play very hard and fight, literally, tooth and nail, never giving up. This makes them very hard to beat. Tejada is still unavailable as he is serving a two-match ban. In the interim, their goal hunt will be led by Roberto Nurse and Armando Cooper. Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have experienced Panama’s toughness all the time, with both teams notching two victories apiece and sharing four draws in their past eight encounters, dating back to September 2004. Their closeness is also reflected by their rankings – Jamaica at 61 and Panama 65. Neither has ever won by more than one goal, and when they last met for WCQ, in 2013, the results were 0-0 in Panama and 1-1 at the National Stadium. Other matches that may have included current players saw Panama winning 1-0 at ‘The Office’, before the Boyz exacted revenge with a 2-1 victory in Panama City. That was in 2012. “It’s a very strong team. We have to concentrate 100 per cent and fight and be disciplined on the field,” the Jamaican coach noted as he called for crowd support. “I hope the stadium is full. That is important.” Now, as far as team building for these crucial WCQ matches, the Boyz are at a delicate stage. They appeared to have built a very good defensive system through Copa and the Gold Cup, but some key players were missing against Nicaragua and especially in the first game, when it all went to pieces. Now, captain Rodolph Austin is back to partner Je-Vaughn Watson in central midfield, as well as influential flank midfielders Joel (Jobi) McAnuff and Garath McCleary, plus Wes Morgan, the Leicester City captain and defence line leader. As they have been playing together in competition for some time, they make for a stronger and more understanding system of defence. Others complementing that sector are Adrian Mariappa, an offensive threat at times, and Michael Hector, who was unnecessarily booed last occasion at the stadium. Also among the defensive options is Alvas Powell, who is still being rewarded with a spot in the Jamaica team despite walking out on his country at the Gold Cup, following their match against El Salvador in Toronto nearly three months ago. Offensively, the team has had problems scoring goals. With two per game against Nicaragua, they made fair improvements. It is also fair to predict that there will be need for better finishing as Panama are up a notch. As far as scoring goes, and for the Jamaica team, Darren Mattocks is the man. He has scored one goal in the last four games for Jamaica – in both clashes against Nicaragua, against Mexico in the Gold Cup final, and against the United States in the semi-final. Giles Barnes, his strike partner, has scored a couple but is also somewhat unlucky, with a number of his shots crashing into the goalposts or being saved. McCleary, McAnuff, and Simon Dawkins, who netted the spectacular life-saving goal against Nicaragua at the death, also numbers among the scoring options, which have a new recruit in Britain-based six-footer Clayton Donaldson. “I’m happy about those players who played against Nicaragua,” said Schäfer, adding that “Mariappa was a good leader”. He said they showed a lot of character, much of which will be needed to secure victory in tonight’s challenge against hard-to-beat Panama. No time to rest Two-match banlast_img read more

Reggae Warriors crash out of contention after tie

first_imgThe Reggae Warriors conceded 18 points in the last 17 minutes and were eliminated from contention for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup as their do-or-die match against Canada ended in a thrilling tie on Tuesday.The Warriors, who lost 20-14 against the United States last week Friday, looked certain winners against the Canadians, a team they had never beaten.The Warriors were all over the Canadians early on and Wayne Rettie’s try in the 53rd minute seemed to put them back into contention for World Cup qualification. The Canadians had other ideas, as full back Robin Legault crossed for two tries in three minutes in an astonishing climax.Canada could have capped an amazing comeback for the win had Canadian scrum half and co-captain, Steve Piatek, who had scored the equalising conversion from the touchline to Legault’s second try, not missed with a final second drop goal attempt.NO SHAME IN LOSSWarriors head coach Romeo Monteith was devastated.”I’m proud of the performance from the team. There’s no shame in losing to the world No. 10 by six points, and drawing with the world No. 12 in these qualifiers. We tried our best and I wish we could have held on at the end, but it wasn’t to be, and we have to move on,” he said. “Canada had more urgency towards the end. They had one particularly dangerous play, turning the ball inside from the play … to the full back that kept opening up our middle. We needed more discipline there; we were calling for the team to be tighter around that area, but we weren’t.”Lamont Bryan opened the scoring in the 21st minute, barrelling over from close in, Joel Farrell converting and, five minutes later, the Jamaican lead was doubled, crisp passing seeing Corey Hanson and Richie Barnett combining to send in winger Alex Brown for a lovely score, Farrell wide with the conversion.Canada will play the USA on Saturday, with a World Cup berth awaiting the winners.last_img read more

Somerset eager for Gayle’s return

first_imgLONDON (CMC):Somerset officials said they were anxiously anticipating Chris Gayle’s appearance in the Twenty20 Blast later this year, after the West Indies batting star signed off on a six-match deal to represent the English county.The 36-year-old Jamaican had a massive impact when he played in last year’s tournament, smashing scores of 92, 151 not out and 85 not out to pile up 328 runs in just three games.Director of Cricket Matthew Maynard said the club was already looking forward to Gayle’s presence.”We are absolutely delighted to have secured the services of Chris Gayle once again. He is a genuinely world-class player and was absolutely phenomenal for us last year,” Maynard said.”He is probably the biggest name in the sport at the moment and his performances in the Big Bash recently have only underlined his status as one of the most explosive players that cricket has ever seen.Club chief executive Guy Lavender said what had been even more impressive about Gayle during his stint with Somerset last year was his community involvement and charity work.This aspect, Lavender pointed out, had been a key factor in extending the relationship with the superstar left-hander.”Everyone sees the runs that he scores, but not everyone will be aware of his willingness to help off the pitch. It is these two elements which have maintained our desire to ensure that he would be back with us in 2016.”Gayle is arguably the most valued T20 batsman in the international game and is coming off a successful outing in the Australia Big Bash for Melbourne Stars.His stint for Somerset will run from June 1-17 following his campaign in the Indian Premier League, and Gayle says he is keen on helping Somerset qualify for the advanced rounds of the competition.”I really enjoyed my time at Somerset last year. It’s a great Club and the supporters were absolutely incredible,” Gayle said.”I’m looking forward to seeing the fans again and to scoring some more runs. Hopefully, I can help the club make it through to the later stages of the NatWest T20 Blast.”last_img read more

St Jago tipped to retain PCJ title

first_imgKINGSTON:Defending champions St Jago High School is favoured to retain the title, as Jamaica’s top 16 high school chess teams do battle in the finals of the 2015/16 Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) National School’s Chess Championships, at the PCJ Auditorium in New Kingston today and tomorrow.The finalists include defending champions St Jago High A, Campion College, Mannings A and B, Ardenne, Jamaica College, Wolmer’s Boys’, Glenmuir A and B, St Jago B, Calabar, St Catherine A and B, Excelsior A and B and Decarteret College.This year’s format will see all the teams playing four rounds and the team with the most points at the end of the tournament will be crowned national champion. This new format, according to the Jamaica Chess Federation, will allow more teams to experience the intensity and excitement of the finals, which was normally only contested by the top corporate and rural area teams.St Jago A retained all their players from last year’s championship team and are the overwhelming favourites. However, strong challenges are expected from Campion College, Ardenne and Wolmer’s Boys’. Calabar High, which boasts Jamaica’s national junior champion, National Master Shreyas Smith, may cause some trouble for the defending champions.Two matches will be played on both Saturday and Sunday. Match time is scheduled for 10 a.m.last_img read more

Yaya says sorry

first_imgLONDON, England (AP): Seeking to mend his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure apologised yesterday for outbursts by his agent. A statement of contrition was demanded two months ago by Guardiola before Toure would be considered for selection again. But it’s still not clear if the four-time African Player of the Year will play again for City. “I wish to apologise – on behalf of myself and those who represent me – to the management team and all those working at the club for the misunderstandings from the past,” Toure wrote on Facebook. “Those statements do not represent my views on the club or the people who work there.” While Guardiola was receptive to Toure’s statement, the midfielder’s representative, Dimitri Seluk, had other ideas. Seluk infuriated Guardiola in September by accusing the manager of humiliating Toure by leaving him out of City’s Champions League squad. “Maybe Toure has apologised. But I don’t know for what. I think Yaya (doesn’t) mean this,” Seluk said yesterday in an interview with Talk Sport radio shortly after the 33-year-old Toure published his statement. Still, Guardiola cautiously welcomed yesterday’s apology. “We spoke this morning and, of course, it’s private,” Guardiola said. “I read what he wrote and that’s all. Of course it is good news for Manchester City. “Yaya is in all meetings and all our training sessions,” Guardiola said, shedding little light on Toure’s playing future. Toure struggled for form last season and could have trouble adapting to Guardiola’s high-energy pressing game. “I have nothing but respect for Manchester City and only wish the best for the football club,” Toure said in his apology. “I am immensely proud to have played a part in the club’s history and want to help City succeed further. I live to play football and entertain the fans.”last_img read more

Tony Becca | The Super50 was almost super

first_img IMPRESSIVE TOTALS NOT UP TO STANDARD Other impressive totals which were recorded included the Leeward Islands 336 for six against the Windward Islands, and Barbados’ 314 for seven against the Leeward Islands, and of the 11 centuries scored, three came from Kieron Powell, two from Brathwaite, two from Hope, and one from veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with Jamaica’s Rovman Powell scoring a blistering 95 of 45 deliveries in the semi-final, a performance which he followed up with five for 36 also in the semi-finals. Right behind Kieron Powell’s 513 runs at an average of 87.99 came Kraigg Brathwaite with 484 at 65.40, Hope with 482 at an average of 79.80 and quite a few batsmen who reeled off some glittering and important innings at crucial moments in matches. The bowling suffered this time around, although that was expected, partly because of the nature of most of the pitches and the brilliance of the batsmen. TOP OF THE CLASS The big six, however, were quite good, and especially so, the performance of the Leeward Islands – the home of players like Viv Richards, Richie Richardson, Andy Roberts, Curtly Ambrose, Ridley Jacobs, Winston and Kenny Benjamin. The Leeward Islands not only made it to the semi-finals, but they also had on show opening batsman Kieron Powell, who, with most runs, 513, and three centuries, strolled back into the West Indies team, and promising wicketkeeper in Jahmar Hamilton and Sunil Ambris, one promising wicketkeeper and two equally promising batsmen. Thankfully, the matches between the big six made up for those between involving the four ‘outsiders’, except for one or two matches, or games. The batting, especially, was delightful to see as the batsmen came up trumps this time around, with Jamaica’s semi-final effort being the pick of the lot. Four hundred and thirty-four for four off 50 overs was unbelievable, even though the approach of Jamaica’s batsmen disappointed on a different kind of pitch and against a different kind of bowling two days later in the final. It was something special and something to remember, however, just as good or better than Barbados’ brilliant display in the final when they were down, fought their way back, and then powered their way to 271 for nine with Shai Hope hitting his second century in a row and Jason Holder hammering 69 while blasting 127 runs in 13.3 overs for the sixth-wicket partnership. Although one understands the importance of development and the reason for the inclusion of the Under-19 team and also that of the American and the CCC teams, the tournament is a regional championship, and, as such, it should not be a place for teams which are not up to standard. Weak teams, as their performances, despite the presence of a couple of good ones, devalue the competition and they do not help development. There is a time and a place for the development process. The inclusion of Kent is even more baffling, especially and apparently as it appears that they took the West Indies tournament as a preseason exercise and nothing else. A tournament should be a tournament, a fight for points and for honours, and a testing ground to find out if one is good enough or not. It should not be used to technically prepare young players for a smaller, though globally bigger, tournament, and it should not be used to provide practice for anyone. On top of that, a tournament, especially one in which people are expected to attend and to pay to attend it in order to keep the game going, and will want to attend, must be filled with competition, good competition from start to finish. That is what attracts the fans, and will get them to spend their money. Top of the class, however, were off-spinner Ashley Nurse with a table-topping 26 wickets at an average of 12.50, pacer Ravi Rampaul, 19 at 15.42, left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, 18 at 10.22, pacer Holder, 18 at 14.55, and right leg-spinner Damion Jacobs, 17 at 17.88. Coming in with a good all-round performance was Rakheem Cornwall, and it is now left to see if he can get his weight down to make himself a worthy contender for a place going forward. As it is, Cornwall’s size and, therefore, his immobility in the field is against him. The disappointment of the tournament was undoubtedly the failure to assess the pitch in the semi-final match by Dinesh Randin when he won the toss and sent Jamaica to bat first, and although it might not have influenced the final outcome of the match, Nikita Miller’s decision to hold back Rovman Powell and send him to bat when the game was just about over. The tournament was a good one, however, and hats off to president Dave Cameron and the board members for a job well done. BIG SIX GOOD The Super50 cricket season ended in Antigua a few Saturdays ago, and looking at the ESPN coverage, it was a season to cherish and one which seems to augur well for the future of West Indies cricket. It was a season which all West Indians, especially those who love cricket, were sorry to see come to an end and could not wait for the start of the next one. It was also a season in which the West Indies young cricketers, and especially so, their batsmen, demonstrated their pedigree and showed that with a little help, they were ready, or determined, to the make the fight back to the top. And the fans were happy, most of them, because Barbados, who played the best cricket throughout the competition and in the final, were the winners, because the tournament of 43 matches was long, but not too long, up from 15 matches in 2014 and 23 in 2016, and also because the cricket and the players on show were quite good and exciting. For years, we have been talking about the little cricket played, the need for more cricket, and the poor quality of play all round, and although this season was marked by the presence of the West Indies Under-19s, the ICC Americans, Kent, and the continued presence of the Combined Colleges and Campuses (CCC), this season saw an improvement in all three areas. The more cricket that is played, the better the cricket will be, and the better it must be.last_img read more