The much awaited Euro 2021 kicked off at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, on 11 June as the tournament this year has been spread over 11 European countries. There has been a goal scoring spree this year, in 44 matches a total of 123 goals have been scored at an average of 2.8 goals per match. Eight teams will compete in Quarterfinals commencing from today.
Haris Seferovi of SwitzerlandCiro Immobile of ItalySergio Busquets of Spain
The first match of the quarterfinal will be hosted at the Krestovsky Stadium, in Saint Petersburg. The opening match in the round of 8 will be between Switzerland and 2010 FIFA World Cup Champions Spain.
Switzerland recorded their first win at a knockout tournament since the 1938 FIFA World Cup when they shocked the fancied World Champions France in the round out 16 during the penalty shoot-out. Their form in the tournament has been a steady and disciplined one as they qualified for the pre quarter finals as one of the top four 3rd placed teams from the group stages where they drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening game, lost 0-3 to former World Champions Italy and trounced Turkey 3-1. With 4 points and 4 goals scored as compared to the 5 goals conceded, the Swiss were placed third behind Wales on goal average, while Italy topped Pool A. Their attack is spearheaded by Haris Seferović who plays for Portuguese club Benfica who scored a brace against France beating Hugo Lloris and finding the opposition net against Turkey in their pool matches. Breel Embolo will be another attacking player as the Borussia Mönchengladbach forward will be joined by the Liverpool pocket dynamite Xherdan Shaqiri who has two goals to his tally in this tournament. The only matter of worry for their coach Vladimir Petković will be the absence of their hardworking midfield dynamo and Captain Granit Xhaka who will be out due to suspension. There is a strong possibility that Denis Zakaria could take his place in the midfield and will have the task to check the Spanish skipper Sergio Busquets whose experience and presence has revitalized the Las Rojas. Manuel Akanji will have to marshal the Swiss defence against Spain who have proved that they can run riot in opposition penalty area with their pin point crosses from either flanks.
Spain is the team that grabbed the attention of one and all in the Euros this year. A team that took its time to find its stride, the Los Rojas have reaped the largest goal harvest in the tournament so far. After being held to a goalless draw against Sweden and 1-1 draw against Poland, many football pundits had thought Louis Enreque’s young Spanish armada was all set to sink, especially the fact that there was not one player from the famed Real Madrid team in this squad. The return of Sergio Busquets after Covid 19 proved to be the turning point for the squad as Spain decimated Slovakia 5-0 and outclassed a resilient Croatia in the round of 16 with the scoreboard reading 5-3 in favour of the Red Brigade.
The second quarter final match in the wee hours of tonight will be another cracker of a match featuring former World Champions Italy locking horns with the FIFA’s Number One Ranked Team in the world Belgium.
Both the sides have displayed flair, talent and a tenacious appetite for winning in this Euro Championship. Where Italy have fielded a team for the future and have been successful in wreaking havoc on their opposition, Belgium on the other hand is a team that has been expected to win major silverware for some time now. Many expect this to be Belgium’s golden generation of players who have played pivotal roles in their clubs winning big prizes at the big stage of professional football across the world.
Italy were Champions of the world four times in 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006 and later went on to win the Crown of Europe in 1968 when they hosted the mega quadrennial continental championship. Roberto Manchini has changed the way this Italian team plays its football. Italy has impressed everyone from their first game where they dismantled Turkey with the scoreline reading 3-0 and went on to win with an identical score against Switzerland. In their last group match they defeated Wales by a solitary goal to top Pool A and march into the round of 16. Italy had to dig deep into extra time to thwart a resolute Austria 2-1. Italy’s strength form a dynamic midfield and a tantalizing young attackline that have been working overtime to close down and high press their opposition inside the opposition half. Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, Atlanta Midfielder Matteo Pessina and Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli have been consistent scorers for the Azzuris firing in 2 goals each.
While there is no surprise in finding Belgium in the Quarter Finals, it would be also creditable for Roberto Martínez’s men to defeat the defending Champions Portugal and break a million hearts with Christiano Ronaldo’s exit from this Euro Championship as the highest goal scorer till date not merely in this tournament but in European history.
Belgium have one of the most dependable line-ups in the world and their run up the quarterfinals has been almost clockwork execution with the right mix of both individual brilliance and a clinical team performance. Like Italy, they were also the top team in Pool B and scored an impressive 7 goals in their group matches and conceded only once against Denmark. In their opening tie they routed Russia 3-0 at Saint Petersburg, then they outdid Denmark 2-1 before recording a 2-0 win over Poland and marching into the Round of 16 and asking Portugal to pack their bags. While the Belgium boasts of Inter Milan’s powerful Romelu Lukaku as their talismanic striker who already has 3 goals in this edition of the Euros, Thorgan Hazard of Borussia Dortmund has fired in two key goals, their Midfield general and Captain Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier have scored once for their team. Italy have the advantage as they lock horns with Belgium at Munich’s Allianz Arena with neither team letting their guard down.
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BOXER KALAIVANI MARCHES INTO FINAL OF ELORDA CUP
Indian boxer Kalaivani Srinivasan punched her way into the finals of the Nur-Sultan Cup with a scintillating performance in Kazakhstan late on Saturday. The Tamil Nadu boxer was at her dominating best and came up with a flawless outing to pick up a unanimous victory over Uzbekistan’s Farzona Fozilova in the women’s 48kg weight classification. In the men’s 48kg competition, Kuldeep Kumar up against local favourite Kairat Yernur showed great resiliency and calculated approach to pick up a narrow 3-2 victory to cruise into the semifinals.
However, it was curtains for Yashpal & Savita in the tournament. Taking on Kazakhstan’s Aslanbek Shymbergenov in the 71kg event, Yashpal fell by the wayside and lost 0-5 in quarterfinals, while Savita was handed a 0-5 drubbing by Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Japan’s Namiki Tsukimi in the 50kg category.
Elsewhere, Neema & Jyoti also exited the prestigious tournament after losing their respective semifinal bout 0-5 to Kazakhstan’s Anar Tursynbek & Uzbekistan’s Feruza Kazakova. Babita Bisht’s journey also came to an end as she conceded to China’s Zheng Lu by ‘Referee Stopping the Contest’ verdict .Jyoti (52kg), Neema (63kg) & Babita (81kg), however will be entitled to receive the bronze medal as they lost out in the semifinal.
NADAL DISPATCHES SONEGO; KYRGIOS WINS TENSE CLASH AGAINST TSITSIPAS
Rafael Nadal wasted little time in securing his place in the Wimbledon 2022 fourth round on Saturday evening, defeating Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the third round.
The Spaniard was at his absolute best as he thrashed Italian 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in straight sets. In his best performance of the week, the Spaniard lit up Centre Court with his fierce striking and all-court game. The 36-year-old fired the ball past Sonego from all angles, while showing elegant touches at the net to move after two hours and four minutes.
The second seed took the ball early off both wings to take time away from Sonego, shooting 14 winners across the first two sets to gain full control.
There were a few anxious moments in the game. In the third set, when Nadal was leading 4-2, Sonego persuaded officials to close the roof so that the floodlights could be turned on, and the Spaniard did not seem pleased with the decision.
However, all this did was fire up Nadal, with the second seed increasing his depth on return to break back immediately before he held to advance to the fourth round at The All England Lawn Tennis Club for the 10th time.
Nick Kyrgios knocked out fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a rough and ill-tempered clash in the Wimbledon third round. Kyrgios won the match by 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 after three hours and 16 minutes. Tsitsipas was the more solid player in the first-set tie-break, as Kyrgios let his lack of concentration affect his play. But through it all, despite playing very quickly and relying on his booming serve, the World No. 40 managed to remain in touch with the fourth seed on the scoreboard.
Bumrah puts price on his wicket: Jadeja
The second day of the ongoing fifth test match between India and England belonged to the skipper Jasprit Bumrah and his all-round performance put India in the driver’s seat here on Saturday.
After helping India to set a formidable first innings total of 416, he wreaked havoc with the red cherry running through the English top-order ending the day with figures of 3-35. However, it was not his bowling but his batting display that drew plaudits and sent the packed stadium into raucous celebration.
Coming onto bat with the Men in Blue still short of the 400 run mark, he launched into Stuart Broad and took him to cleaners plundering 35 runs off one over with the help of three fours and two sixes, earning a distinction of scoring the most runs in one over of a test match surpassing the great Brian Charles Lara of West Indies. While it might come as a surprise to many, Ravindra Jadeja the second centurion of the match after Rishabh Pant however felt that it was not an anomaly as Indian tailenders spend a lot of time batting at the nets.
“Bumrah takes his batting in the nets very seriously. He puts a price on his wicket and he does not have a casual approach when he is batting.” Jadeja said during the press conference at the end of day’s play.
PUJARA HITS HALF-CENTURY, INDIA LEAD BY 257 RUNS
A solid half-century by Cheteshwar Pujara and his 50-run stand with wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant put India in the driver’s seat at the end of Day three of the ongoing fifth and final Test against England at Edgbaston, with the score reading 125/3 at the end of the day’s play.
At the end of Day three, Pujara (50*) and Pant (30*) stood unbeaten. India maintained a healthy 257-run lead in the match. India started off things after Tea at 37/1, with Cheteshwar Pujara (17*) and Hanuma Vihari (10*).
England got an early breakthrough after tea as Vihari was dismissed for 11 by Stuart Broad after the batter edged the ball to Bairstow, who was present at the third slip. This brought Virat Kohli to the crease. He and Pujara took the innings forward and built a solid partnership. Kohli looked really good, hitting four really good boundaries. But the batter fell prey to a peach of a delivery by Ben Stokes for 20 after the ball hit his glove, got dropped by wicketkeeper Billings and went to the hands of Joe Root who was standing at the slip. With this, a solid 38-run stand between Kohli and Pujara was over.
This brought in-form Rishabh Pant to the crease. After scoring 146 in the first innings, he continued looking in good touch, hitting some good shots. Pujara also kept the scoreboard ticking with some good running between the wickets and a hit sent for four. Pujara fought his way to a brilliant half-century off 139 balls, his 33rd in the longest format of the game. A fifty-run partnership was also complete between Pujara-Pant. The duo helped India carry through the remainder of the day without any loss of wicket.
Earlier, Indian pacers once again excelled as they bowled out England to 284 and the pair of Cheteshwat Pujara and Hanuma Vihari ensured that India took a healthy first-innings lead of 169 with 9 wickets in hand.
‘I am proud of my achievements: Saba Nasim
Saba Nasim, who is a lawyer by profession has been awarded the British empire medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to cricket and training young people in London. In an exclusive conversation with The Daily Guardian she gave her insights on her achievements and her experience in training young girls. Excerpts
Q. How difficult or easy is it for an Asian face to break into mainstream cricket as you have achieved?
A. I think definitely playing is much easier and that’s how I started about I think 13 years ago. When I was just leaving university, I wanted to play the sport, I played a lot in secondary school. So we used to play cricket quite a lot, so I wanted to get back after a break of four or five years because of my studies and doing a degree in university. I thought I want to get back into this sport, so then I went around looking for local cricket clubs and there weren’t many female cricket clubs. But luckily I came across a club which was only 10 minutes away from my house, a state cricket club, and they luckily just had set up a new women’s team two years ago before I started so in 2007. So in 2009, I joined in and then a few years later one of the coaches said to me why don’t you also do the level two coaching course and you can become a coach yourself, as well and you can go out and teach girls. I said that would be great because I was already volunteering my time at the club teaching the youngsters, so I did my course, I passed it in 2013. And then from then on it just went a little bit crazy because I was apparently the only female coach in that area and all the schools and youth clubs wanted female coaches. So then I went around and then slowly but surely ended up coaching thousands of girls.
Q. Saba please explain your Red Bridge project to our fans.
A. The Redbridge project started off when I was coaching in schools and then the girls in the schools would ask, is there a club I can join after school or in the weekend. And then I thought let’s make a project which is accessible for the girls within the East London area. Then we hired out the leisure centre and luckily they had an outdoor space which was a basketball court actually it wasn’t a cricket pitch, and we asked them if we do cricket sessions there, and then they luckily gave that to us. So then that’s how I moved the girls from coaching in the schools into the youth project in the Red Bridge Project.
Q. How satisfying does it feel when you train young girls and create a brigade to fight on the grounds to win trophies for the country how does it feel?
A. It feels really good to give back to the community from a young age.
Even with my family, there was always an element of charitable giving and doing things for the community. Not necessarily for a financial reward so it was always in me to do that so it was nice that I could teach them the sport that I love to play as well. And see the happiness on their face when they take a wicket or when they hit a four or when the group gets together on the pitch to celebrate a wicket. That team spirit, that spirit of cricket that is there, it is really nice to see.
Q. Share your first feeling when you heard the news of receiving the British Empire Medal and also getting invited to the Royal Garden party held at Buckingham palace in the summer did you get the goosebumps?
A. I think, I got a letter through the post and my mom opened it and she said it has got some royal stamp on it. So I said to just open it, I was at work at that time and I think she opened it and she said that I have got some medal or an award and I asked to send me a picture quickly. And then I read it, somebody had nominated me for this award. I didn’t start the coaching because of that I just did it because I enjoy doing what I do and then somebody saw me in the community and nominated me for this award. Gathered all the information somehow from internet articles and stuff and nominated me. So it was really great to receive that award and to know that, I had been invited to Buckingham palace to have tea with the queen.
Q. Saba, you have been a successful women’s coach and like in tennis it’s happening that women are training men. Do you see any women cricket coaches training the male cricketers anytime soon?
A. I think at the club level it is happening now but it is yet to happen at the international level. But I think slowly but surely the more you know women’s cricket is getting exposure, the better it will be for women’s cricket. I think just recently Sue Redfern one of our umpires is now going to be the first female umpire to umpire first-class men’s matches. So it’s a step in the right direction and I think the more exposure we are getting in the last few years or so, the better it will be and then we’ll see more things in more prominent roles in international quicker especially.
Q. Will we be able to see you training male cricketers?
A. I am training under 15 boys at my club. So I have reached that level and
at the moment because my priority is women’s cricket and there are such few female coaches around at the club level. Whenever they want a female coach then I’m there, so I always give priority to that. But yeah I think in the future why not I can coach some of the male club and hopefully at the county level someday.
Q. I have a list of accolades a list of honours, a list of achievements, and what you have achieved, you were ECB coach of the year 2015. And the coach of the year at last year’s Asian cricket awards, in addition to being honoured as a point of light by Prime Minister David Cameron and nominated for a NatWest outstanding service to cricket award that is OSCA. Your room shelves will no doubt soon need reinforcing under the weight of the awards you have for your coaching work, isn’t it?
A. I know it’s just amazing since I’ve got one award then people nominate me for more awards. And then my family asks how many more awards are you going to win, I said it’s not my fault, I’m winning all of them. But they’re very proud of me and I’m proud of the achievements and especially what I’m doing for women and girls cricket here in England.
Q. Let’s talk about women’s cricket. Is the success of cricket 100 in England, are we just a step away from IPL-type leagues.
A. I think it was quiet, very sceptical at the start. But I think having been to the final and been to a few matches at lords and the oval there. I think it’s been successful. It really attracted the family aspect, people coming with their children, with their moms and dads and having a good time. So I think the 100 is probably going to be here to stay for quite a long while now.
Q. Who is your favourite team and which country’s team do you like to cheer for always?
A. In the women’s I follow the England women very closely, along with the Australian women because they are the best in the world at the moment. And then in the men’s, I follow England of course and then Pakistan, India. And I would love to see more Pakistan- India matches if circumstances allow. I think they’re great for cricket in general.
Q. You have been a cricketer you have been a coach what when can we see you behind the mic?
A. At the moment I think I’ve done a few commentaries in club matches but I think the more experienced I get, maybe you will see me one day behind the mic.
PANT-JADEJA POWER INDIA TO 338/7 ON DAY 1
A brilliant century from wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant and his 222-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja powered India to 338/7 on the first day of the fifth and final Test against England at Edgbaston Stadium here on Friday. At the end of day one, Jadeja (83*) and Mohammed Shami (0*) were on the crease. India resumed their innings at 174/5 after Tea. Rishabh Pant showed his attacking intent by smashing pacer Matty Potts for two brilliant fours in the very first over after Tea. The duo continued kept piling runs, bringing up their 100-run partnership.
Jadeja kept rotating the strike as Pant took a more aggressive role as the innings progressed. Potts, James Anderson and spinner Jack Leach faced some hard hitting from Pant. He brought up his fifth Test hundred off just 89 balls. This was the third fastest hundred by an Indian outside Asia, with Virender Sehwag hitting the fastest in 78 balls against West Indies in 2006, followed by Mohammed Azharuddin against England in 1990 in 88 balls. Pant went ballistic in the 61st over bowled by spinner Leach, smashing him for 4,6,4,6.
Jadeja also continued looking good with the bat and brought up his half-century. The pair also brought up their 200-run stand in 218 balls. Joe Root earned his team the breakthrough, dismissing Pant for an entertaining 146 off 111 balls. The 222-run stand between Pant and Jadeja finally ended in the 67th over after Zak Crawley caught Pant at the slip.
This brought Shardul Thakur to the crease. He was dismissed by Ben Stokes for one, caught by wicketkeeper Billings. Mohammed Shami was the next man on the crease. India ended the first day of the match in a comfortable position.
India was 174/5 at Tea due to an unbeaten 76-run stand between Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja. India were struggling at 98-5 when the duo joined forces.
Resuming the innings at 53/2 after lunch, the duo of Hanuma Vihari and Virat Kohli added eleven more runs to their partnership, before Vihari was dismissed for 20 after being trapped leg before wicket by pacer Matty Potts.
This brought wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant to the crease. Kohli was soon back to the pavilion as well. He was caught by fantastic delivery from Potts at 11 runs, with the ball hitting the inside edge of his bat and hitting the stumps. Shreyas Iyer then came to the crease and was looking good and hit Potts for three fours. But he was dismissed for 15 by James Anderson after being caught by wicketkeeper Sam Billings.
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