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FA Cup one of the most prestigious cups in the world: Tuchel

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London [UK], February 10 (ANI): Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said that FA Cup is one of the most prestigious cups in the world while stressing that his side has to be “totally focussed” in their upcoming game in order to win it.
Chelsea are currently preparing for the FA Cup fifth-round match against Barnsley, slated to take place on Friday.
“The FA Cup is one of the most prestigious cups in the world, is played in Wembley. Even if you’re a little boy in Germany with no internet at that time and no sports channels where you can watch every game like nowadays, for sure you know the word Wembley and the words FA Cup,” the club’s official website quoted Tuchel as saying.
Asserting the importance of the upcoming match, Tuchel said: “You know that it is a big game to play and a big goal to achieve, but my approach is always that tomorrow is the most important game of this cup campaign, because tomorrow is a decisive match and is an elimination match and we all know very well that we can expect anything in the game of football.”
“So we have to go step by step, but for sure we do everything to prepare to win this game and then to go one round ahead. When we play any competition we play to win it, so every round in any cup competition is the most important round because it is an elimination game and we have to be totally focused and totally on point tomorrow when the match starts to finish with a win,” he added.
Tuchel also admitted that although he knew what to expect from English football in general before taking the role of Chelsea head coach, there is no substitute for experiencing it every day.
“It was not a surprise, but in the end when you feel it and you experience it on the sideline every three days it’s different, because suddenly you experience what you expect and it is big intensity. It is a big intensity also in coaching and in the dugout next to me, a big physical input, very disciplined defending, very disciplined teams in their structure and in their belief in their approaches,” he said. (ANI)

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‘Hard decision’ to drop Abraham from Chelsea squad against Man Utd: Tuchel

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London [UK], March 1 (ANI): Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admitted that dropping forward Tammy Abraham from the clash against Manchester United was a hard decision for him.
The striker was not part of the 18-man squad as the Blues played out a goalless draw with United in the Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.
It was the fourth time that Abraham has not featured for the London side in February, having been left on the bench against Tottenham, Sheffield United and in the Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.
“It was a hard decision. It was about judging the alternatives that we have and we opted for Olivier Giroud to begin, Timo Werner on the bench. We have Kai Havertz who can play as a number nine so there was no need to bring a fourth number nine to the pitch,” Goal.com quoted Tuchel as saying.
“Things are difficult for him. Things are not as easy as they should be for him in the moment and he will get full support. This was the decision,” he added.
Tuchel admitted that it is a tough time for the 23-year-old striker but said there was no place for him in the team this time around.
“Selection. We have 21 strong players and only 18 possible [to be picked]. It is my job to take hard decisions. This was the decision for 18 guys and Tammy was not with the group,” the Blues manager said.
“At the moment he is only struggling with my decision. We have a strong squad. We have only Thiago Silva injured that means we have to make hard decisions. We can nominate 18 players, plus goalkeepers so it is clear. It was also an unfair decision for Billy Gilmour because Billy played well in the cup and he was very strong in training,” he added. (ANI)

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Afridi thanks fans for birthday wishes, creates more confusion about his “age”

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi is celebrating his birthday today and he took to Twitter to thank the fans for sending their wishes.
However, a simple tweet by Afridi has ended up creating more confusion about his age which has always been a huge point of debate in the cricketing world.
“Thank you very much for all the lovely birthday wishes — 44 today! My family and my fans are my biggest assets. Really enjoying my stint with Multan and hope to produce match-winning performances for all MS fans,” tweeted Afridi on Monday.
As per the official website of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Afridi was born on March 1, 1980, which makes his age 41.
This is not the first time that Afridi has been talking about his age. Back in 2019, Afridi had revealed that he was not 16 but he was 19 when he made his debut way back in 1998.
As per the record books, Afridi had smashed the fastest-hundred in international cricket against Sri Lanka when he was just 16 years old.
“I was just nineteen, and not sixteen like they claim. I was born in 1975. So yes, the authorities stated my age incorrectly,” Afridi had written in his autobiography titled ‘Game Changer.’
Now if Afridi’s claim of being born in 1975 stands correct, then that makes his age 46, so saying that he is 44 only adds to the confusion.
Afridi had retired from international cricket in 2017. He bid adieu to the longest format of the game in 2010 and he retired from ODIs in 2015.
The former Pakistan skipper was part of the T20 World Cup-winning squad in 2009. The tournament was played in the UK and Pakistan had defeated Sri Lanka in the final.
Afridi was adjudged Player of the Tournament for his performance throughout the T20 World Cup. (ANI)

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Halliday, Sullivan added to White Ferns T20 squad

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Wellington [New Zealand], March 1 (ANI): Northern Districts all-rounder Brooke Halliday has replaced Lea Tahuhu in the New Zealand women (White Ferns) squad for the upcoming GJ Gardner Homes T20I series against England.
Meanwhile, Canterbury’s Gabby Sullivan remains with the squad as injury cover for seamer Hannah Rowe. Rowe tweaked her quad in Sunday’s third ODI in Dunedin and will be monitored over the next 24 hours.
All-rounder Halliday, who scored back-to-back half centuries in the opening two ODI’s against England, gets her opportunity on the back of an impressive start to her international career.
“Everyone saw how well Brooke went in the recent ODI series,” said White Ferns skipper Sophie Devine.
“She stepped up with the bat and ball offering some handy overs. Although she’s not a like-for-like replacement for Lea Tahuhu, it’s good to see her getting a chance in the T20 format,” she added.
The White Ferns assembled in Wellington today ahead of the T20 series to be played alongside the New Zealand men v Australia T20I series as double-header fixtures at Sky Stadium in Wellington on March 3, 5 and 7.
All the matches will be played behind closed doors. (ANI)

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Yasir Shah, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail to attend month-long High Performance camp

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Lahore [Pakistan], March 1 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday informed that the High Performance department will hold a month-long camp for elite cricketers who are either not featuring in the Pakistan Super League 2021 or knocking at the doors of international cricket or recently lost their places in the national side.
“The camp will commence at the National High Performance Centre in Lahore on Tuesday, March 2, in which the High Performance coaches will work on various technical and physical aspects of the elite cricketers,” PCB said in a release.
National High Performance Centre’s world-class coaches, including Atiq-uz-Zaman, Mohammad Yousuf, Mohsin Kamal, Saqlain Mushtaq, Umar Rasheed, will work with these elite cricketers according to a robust programme.
“This camp is being organised as part of our philosophy and strategy to build the profile of the National High Performance Centre as a developing and finishing school for the cricketers so that our national coaches can extract the required performances at the international stage,” Director – High Performance, Nadeem Khan said.
“This camp has been designed in such a way that the current players who are not part of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2021 and may potentially be in contention for the April tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe can remain connected and can hit the ground running when they land in Africa,” he added.
Players invited for the camp are: Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Ahmad Bashir, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Bismillah Khan, Fawad Alam, Hammad Azam, Haris Sohail, Hasan Khan, Imran Butt, Irfanullah, Kamran Ghulam, Khurram Shahzad, Mohammad Abbas, Nauman Ali, Rehan Afridi, Sajid Khan, Salman Irshad, Saud Shakeel, Tabish Khan, Taj Wali, Umar Khan and Yasir Shah. (ANI)

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You’re going to land of spin, should expect that: Vivian Richards bats for same pitch for 4th Test

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Amid debate over the third Test pitch, West Indies great Vivian Richards slammed England for complaining about the spinning wicket and added that he wants to see a similar track in the final Test of the series.
India had managed to defeat England within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen.
India batsman Rohit Sharma clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams. Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also echoed the sentiments.
Further, Richards also feels that batters need to prepare themselves for these conditions rather than complaining about the spinning conditions.
“I’ve been asked questions recently about the Test match that was played in India… the second and third Test match against England. And I am a little confused about the question really because there seems to be a lot of moaning and groaning about the wicket that they were playing on. I just felt that the ones who are moaning, in my opinion, should realise that there are times that you’re going to get a seaming track, a ball that is basically jumping off a good length and everyone thinks that’s a problem for batters. There are times batters sometimes cope with that,” Richards said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
“But now you’ve seen the other side, and this is why I think it was given the name Test match cricket, because of the test of the mind and will and everything else that goes with it when you’re competing. And the complaints have been that the wicket is spinning too much and all that sorts of stuff. This is another side of the arc guys. People seem to forget that if you’re going to India, you should expect that. You are going to spin land. You should basically prepare yourself to know what you’re going to encounter.
“Rather than the moaning and groaning, especially just recently how quickly that Test match was over. It gives England an opportunity and a chance to assess things, to believe that for some reason the wicket that they’re going to encounter in the fourth Test is going to be the same. If I was India or I had anything to do with the preparations of the wicket, I would bring in very much the same,” Richards added.
One of the living legends of the game Richards went on to praise the Indian side and said England should come out of their comfort zone and they have to face the spin.
“Ever since that first Test match, England were in their comfort zone. They have now been taken out of their comfort zone at present and they have got to find ways and means to cope with what they are going to encounter. Spin in all part of the game, this is what a Test match brings. The Indian pacers have been brilliant over the past few years in terms of substance, wicket-taking ability and stuff like that. But now that you’re in India, you are going to encounter things and have got to find a way. You’re going to get dirty. There is nothing in the rule book that says I’ve got to score my runs in pretty, classical ways,” he said.
“I just believe all the moaning and groaning has got to stop and just see the classical side of things in terms of the Indian armoury. And from where I’m sitting, it’s good to see,” the West Indian signed off.
On Sunday, England wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes said that his side knows that the pitch is going to turn from ball one as the hosts are pushing their conditions to the extremities.
“Obviously, we got thoroughly outplayed. Those were tricky conditions, but they played well. They have a couple of class spinners and we did not have answers to them so I think going forward, we have to be good enough to counter that to score big runs on the board. I think we know what we are going to get in the last Test in terms of surface. They are pushing their conditions to the extremities and we know it is going to spin from ball number one, it is about finding a way to play well in those conditions,” said Foakes during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The last two pitches are the hardest I have kept on, the last game, the pink-ball was skidding and the amount it was spinning, I have never seen that and it was a challenge to keep on those wickets. We have been outplayed in the last two games, but we are in a position to draw the series, we have to put a good performance and if we go away with a 2-2 draw, it will be a good performance,” he added.
The fourth-Test of the series will commence on Thursday at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash. England is now out of the WTC final contention after losing the third Test against India. (ANI)

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Klopp expects Alisson, Jota and Fabinho to be ready for Chelsea clash

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Sheffield [UK], March 1 (ANI): Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping to have Fabinho and Alisson Becker available for the upcoming home clash against Chelsea.
Liverpool boss is also hopeful on Diogo Jota’s chances of returning against the Blues.
Fabinho has resumed full training after a muscle injury had kept him out of Liverpool’s last four outings, while Alisson was absent from the Reds’ 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday evening on compassionate grounds following the passing of his father earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Jota had been set to be included in the squad for the first time since December 9 after a knee issue; however, the forward fell ill at the team hotel overnight and was ruled out of the contest.
“Alisson and Fabinho, I am pretty sure [they can play],” Klopp said after the win over Sheffield United.
“With Diogo, he was with us last night in the hotel, but he got sick overnight and we had to send him home. So it will depend how quickly he recovers, obviously. He wasn’t in the squad, but he’s trained with the team before [this week] and looked really good, like I said before. I think he will be available but I don’t know,” he added.
The defending Premier League champions are now at the sixth spot in the standings with 43 points from 26 games and the side is just one point behind fifth-placed Chelsea. The first-half between Liverpool and Sheffield United saw no goals being scored and the honours were level at the halfway mark. (ANI)

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