UEFA BANS AZERI CLUB OFFICIAL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS - The Daily Guardian
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UEFA BANS AZERI CLUB OFFICIAL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS

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An official at Azeri club Qarabag has been provisionally banned by UEFA while he is investigated for potentially “violating basic rules of decent conduct” in comments he made on social media, the European soccer body said on Wednesday.

UEFA said that Nurlan Ibrahimov had also been charged with racist and discriminatory conduct over the comments. It did not give further details and Ibrahimov did not immediately comment.

On Saturday, the Football Federation of Armenia had called for Qarabag to be expelled from European football for comments Ibrahimov allegedly made about Armenians, which it said he had subsequently deleted.

Azerbaijan’s armed forces are battling ethnic Armenian forces in a conflict over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh which has killed at least 1,000 people since fighting flared on Sept. 27.

Qarabag said in a statement on Sunday that it had opened an internal disciplinary case against Ibrahimov, described as its chief press officer, and said that his comments were not supported by the club.

It said that Ibrahimov had been traumatised while watching footage of the conflict, including the deaths of women and children in Azeri cities, and that he regretted his comments.

Last month, UEFA reprimanded players and officials from Qarabag for performing a military salute during their Europa League qualifying match away to Legia Warsaw on Oct. 1.

Qarabag are currently involved in the Europa League group stage where they face Villarreal, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Sivasspor.

UEFA has banned any club or national team matches in its competitions from taking place in either Armenia or Azerbaijan until further notice.

REUTERS

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I-League: Zuniga strike takes Churchill Brothers back to top spot

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 25 (ANI): Churchill Brothers headed back to the summit of the I-League table after beating Neroca FC 1-0 on Wednesday.
Hero of the Match Clayvin Zuniga’s 16th-minute strike from a well-built team move was enough to give Fernando Varela’s side all three points in a game full of chances. With this win, the Red Machines have also secured themselves a top-six spot in the first phase of the I-League.
Churchill Brothers opened the game strongly creating two chances within the first five minutes of the game. However, Luka Majcen was unable to reach Vinil Poojary’s deflected cross in the 2nd minute, followed by Clayvin Zuniga’s long-range attempt, which was skied on the 4th minute.
The best chance of the opening ten minutes fell on the other end to NEROCA as Judah Garcia pounced on Bishorjit’s long kick in the 7th minute. With only the keeper to beat, the Trinidadian blasted his shot high over the target.
The game turned into fast end-to-end action over the next few minutes and the opening goal came in favour of Churchill Brothers in the 16th minute.
Zuniga started the move in midfield and found Kingslee Fernandes, who lifted a perfect chipped return pass for Zuniga on the run. The Honduran then volleyed it beyond Bishorjit Singh.
Vikas found Vinil Poojary with a perfectly threaded pass in the 35th minute, but the right-winger wasted another opportunity to double the lead as his tame effort was easily saved. Churchill turned up the pressure towards the end of the half. Bishorjit Singh had to come off his line to bravely block Luka Majcen’s shot and keep the deficit to just one goal at the break.
Vikas came close to scoring the second goal after the restart when his overhit cross looked like it was creeping in at the far post. However, Bishorjit Singh recovered well and tipped it over for a corner. At the other end, NEROCA strung up a few chances.
Shibinraj was finally forced into action when he came off his line to collect Singam Subhash’s cross in the 55th minute. Three minutes later, the Churchill custodian was again sharp to come off his line and clear with his head, when Subash tried to reach Songpu Singsit’s through ball.
NEROCA pushed harder for the equaliser and came close again when Subash’s cross into the area was cleared by Hamza Kheir before Judah Garcia could pounce on it. Churchill realised they needed another goal to safeguard the result, and kept pushing for the second.
With time running out to save their campaign, NEROCA came inches within their equaliser as substitute Varun Thockchom’s header from Judah Garcia’s cross crashed against the crossbar in injury time.
That was the last action of the game, as Churchill ran the clock down and headed back to the top of the table. On the other end, the defeat confirms NEROCA out of the race for top-six, and will be in a relegation battle in the second phase of the I-League. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Zak Crawley admits ‘frustration’ in decisions not going in visitors’ favour

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 25 (ANI): England batsman Zak Crawley expressed frustration after several umpiring decisions didn’t go in favour of the visitors on the opening day of the pink-ball Test here at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday.
England saw a glimmer of hope when India batsman Shubman Gill was caught off Stuart Broad in the slips by Ben Stokes, but the third umpire decided that the all-rounder had grassed the catch.
In another incident, a quick stumping by Ben Foakes didn’t result in a wicket as Rohit Sharma had grounded his foot at the right time.
Crawley said that the English side needed that bit of a luck as they are behind in the ongoing day-night Test. The right-handed batsman wants his side to play better cricket on Thursday so that they don’t require the 50-50 things going in their way.
“Yes, it was very frustrating as we were behind in the game and we needed that 50-50 to go our way. And it when in their way today. It is frustrating as we desperately want to win and it doesn’t help in our chances of winning. Hopefully, we play better tomorrow and don’t require that 50-50,” said Crawley during the virtual press conference.
England team crumbled in front of Indian spinners but Crawley was the lone man who weathered the storm even though for a brief period. The right-handed batsman was the top scorer for the visiting side on the first day of the third Test.
“It’s great being back out there and scoring that fifty was a very nice feeling. I think it was easy to bat against the seamers and I got to 30 odd runs before the spinners came on,” said Crawley
“It’s never easy to start against spinners especially in Indian conditions. We should have got few more runs like something around 200 would have been a nice competitive score,” he added.
Ishant Sharma playing the 100th Test provided India with the first breakthrough and after the first wicket, the spinners took over the mantle from the pacer. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar spun a web over visitors to bundled out them for 112 in the first innings.
“We have a chance if we could bowl them out for like 200 and then we get any sought of the lead of that wicket. I don’t think we need a miracle to win as batting during the fourth innings on this wicket will be difficult. And if we get 100-150 lead then we have a great chance to win this Test match,” said Crawley.
India ended the opening day of the pink-ball Test against England in the driver’s seat as Rohit hit fifty to take the hosts at 99/3. India is trailing by 13 runs in the first innings with seven wickets in the bag.
After surviving the five overs in the tricky twilight phase and then battling out for 14.5 overs and India lost their first wicket off the last ball of the 15th overs when Jofra Archer dismissed Shubman Gill for a 51-ball 11.
He skied an attempted pull to give Zak Crawley an easy catch. Minutes later, the hosts lost Cheteshwar Pujara as he was trapped in front by Jack Leach.
Meanwhile, Rohit continued his good form and completed his half-century. Rohit and Kohli also brought up the fifty runs partnership to steady the Indian ship after two quick wickets. But Leach struck again to break the 64-run stand for the third wicket as Kohli chopped the ball onto his stumps. (ANI)

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Golfer Arjun Atwal will play for Dad and Tiger Woods as he joins Lahiri at Puerto Rico Open

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Puerto Rico, February 24 (ANI): India’s veteran star Arjun Atwal, who has been preoccupied with his father’s health issues, will see action for the first time in nearly four months when he tees up at the Puerto Rico Open starting on Thursday.
He will be joined by Anirban Lahiri, who last featured on the PGA Tour three weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open. The two last played at the same event in Bermuda, a holiday isle like Puerto Rico.
Atwal’s father, popularly called ‘Bindi’, has been a major influence in his golf career. The senior Atwal has rarely missed a big appearance by his son, including at the majors.
Now Atwal will be playing for him, as also his friend, Tiger Woods, who suffered a serious car crash on Tuesday and underwent surgery after suffering comminuted open fractures to the upper and lower sections of his right leg, along with significant trauma to his ankle.
Ahead of his first tournament of 2021, Atwal, who is India’s lone winner on the PGA Tour, said, “It’s obviously a lot of rest, but personally we’re going through some (difficult) stuff with my family. My dad’s been fighting two types of cancer.
“He’s getting his treatment back in India now. He was with us for the last five months in Orlando. He’s doing better. So I didn’t really touch my clubs for a couple of months, maybe three months after Bermuda, and just started practicing,” he added.
He is looking physically fit after changing his lifestyle and undertaking a new fitness regime last year. “I quit alcohol completely. It’s so good. I realized I’m going to be 48 next month and I was getting to the point where my nerves weren’t quite as good around the greens. And I had seen some of my friends maybe my age or slightly older struggle with the same thing, so I figured I would just try it. As a result, I lost weight and I started working out and just started to feel better.
“I’ve got this trainer, he’s like a physical therapist and a trainer. With all my aches and pains he gets me sorted, gets me going for the day. It’s not a lot of lifts, a lot of weight training, it’s a lot more with flexibility and strength with bands,” added Atwal, whose career has been blighted by back injuries.
Lahiri, who like Atwal is a former Asian No. 1, was unable to get a start in the Waste Management Phoenix Open after losing in a play-off in the Monday qualifiers and did not gain entry into last week’s The Genesis Invitational.
Soon after his last appearance at Torrey Pines, he said, “My game seems to be fine; I just need to get four good rounds and not drop those bogeys and doubles. Hopefully, it is ironed out.”
While Atwal last saw PGA TOUR action in October, Indo-Swede Daniel Chopra, a two-time winner on the TOUR and a popular figure in Indian golf, last teed up at the Corales Puntacana Championship in September 2020.
Lahiri is paired with Chopra and Branden Grace of South Africa in the morning, while Atwal plays with Scott Brown and Shawn Stefani in the afternoon wave.
This week’s Puerto Rico field includes a few established golfers including Englishmen Matt Wallace and Ian Poulter, who are ranked No. 55 and 59 respectively on the Official World Golf Ranking.
There are other young players on the rise including Will Gordon, Joohyung Kim, Davis Riley, Justin Suh, Kristoffer Ventura and Brandon Wu who join experienced stars including major champions Padraig Harrington and Lucas Glover.
Viktor Hovland won the tournament a year ago and broke the “curse” of Puerto Rico by winning a second TOUR tournament outside of Puerto Rico. This week, Hovland is playing the World Golf Championships-Workday Champions at The Concession.
Atwal, who won the 2010 Wyndham Championship, is treating the Puerto Rico Open with his full attention despite being the opposite of a World Golf Championships this week.
“I look at it as just as important as any other tournament on the PGA TOUR. The prize money might not be the same, but you still get a two-year exemption and I believe now you get in the Masters as well. So all the perks are the same. Even when I was playing in World Golf Championships back in the day, I considered all these tournaments the same, and I still do. I don’t think you could ask anybody here or anybody at the World Golf Championships, they all consider every tournament they play in just as important,” he said.
As he prepares to turn 48 next month, he is encouraged to see fellow veterans Stewart Cink and Brian Gay winning on TOUR this season.
“B.G. (Gay) is a member at my course, at Isleworth in Orlando, and I see him practically every day, and he’s older and he’s my inspiration right now because just for him to win Bermuda was so cool to watch. He’s such a good guy. And same for Stewart, he’s such a nice guy. And they’re all my age so it gives me kind of some encouragement. Hopefully, I can get my butt in gear and get going.” (ANI)

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ISL 7: Mumbai decimate Odisha to set up exciting League Shield clash against Bagan

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Bambolim (Goa) [India], February 24 (ANI): The equation for the Indian Super League (ISL) League Winners Shield is clear. A win for Mumbai City FC in their final game against ATK Mohun Bagan, and they take home the title and with it, a spot in next season’s AFC Champions League group stage.
Anything else and it will be Bagan celebrating. After the Kolkata side failed to grasp their chance to win the League Sheild against Hyderabad FC, Mumbai completed the other side of the equation at the GMC Stadium on Wednesday, with a dominant 6-1 victory over Odisha FC.
After Odisha had taken a shock early lead through Diego Mauricio (9′), Mumbai hit back hard through goals from Bartholomew Ogbeche (14′, 43′), Bipin Singh (38′, 47′, 86), and Cy Goddard (44′). The match was the highest-scoring game of the season and Mumbai had the biggest-winning margin yet. The timely return to form ended a three-game winless run for Sergio Lobera’s side.
Yet, when the match started, it appeared as if Mumbai would continue their wretched form. Early on, Odisha were awarded a penalty when Ahmed Jahouh fouled Mauricio in the box. The latter stepped up and ensured that Odisha had an unlikely lead, despite Amrinder getting a hand to the ball.
But Mumbai were not behind for long. Just five minutes later, Jahouh made amends for his mistake by finding Ogbeche off a freekick. The Nigerian made no mistake, heading it in and restoring parity.
Odisha put up quite a fight over the next twenty minutes as Mumbai struggled to convert their dominance into clear-cut chances. But once the goal came, the floodgates opened. Mumbai’s second had an element of luck to it. After Ogbeche’s shot was blocked, the ball fell kindly for Bipin, who made no mistake from his shot.
Then, just five minutes later, Mumbai struck again, putting the result of the match beyond doubt. Jahouh and Ogbeche once again combined with the latter finding the striker off yet another freekick. Once again, the big Nigerian made no mistake, heading it in.
If Odisha interim coach Steven Dias had a tough half-time talk on his hands, it was about to get a lot worse. With just seconds to go before the half-time whistle, Goddard found the net with a peach of a goal. After receiving the ball on the right, the youngster cut inside and fired in a shot that gave Odisha keeper Arshdeep Singh no chance.
Just in case, Odisha had any hopes of a comeback, Mumbai were quick to snuff them out. Just two minutes after the restart, Bipin found the net again, Ogbeche turning provider this time. The goal prompted Lobera to give his main stars a break, with the likes of Adam Le Fondre and Mourtada Fall being subbed off.
Ogbeche too joined them on the bench later. That took the edge off the game, but there was still time for Bipin to find his hattrick — the first of the season — with just minutes left for the final whistle. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Was prepared to bowl with pink ball but didn’t expect to take 6 wickets, says Axar

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 24 (ANI): India all-rounder Axar Patel, who spun a web over the visitors on Wednesday, was well prepared for the pink-ball challenge against England in the third Test.
Axar, playing in just his second Test, scalped six wickets on the first day of the day-night Test. This was Axar’s second five-wicket haul in a row as he had scalped five in the second innings of the second Test as well.
And the all-rounder admitted that he was riding on the confidence from the second Test and focused on bowling a consistent line and length.
“I didn’t expect to take six wickets on the opening day because didn’t know whether we would be bowling or batting on the first day. But I was prepared as I had taken five wickets in the last too. And was bowling well so I was prepared to bowl with the pink ball as well. Didn’t know about what pink-ball brings to the table but had confidence in my line and length and it paid off,” said Axar while replying to a query from ANI in a virtual press conference.
Ishant Sharma playing the 100th Test provided India with the first breakthrough and after the first wicket, the spinners took over the mantle from the pacer. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar spun a web over visitors to bundled out them for 112 in the first innings.
“When the fast bowlers were bowling they were facing trouble while landing during the run-up. So I was called on early to a bowl and I think the pink ball has a little glare due to which the ball was skidding. So I think the ball skid more than Chennai in Ahmedabad,” said Axar.
Even after playing in front of the home crowd, Axar didn’t feel that the hosts had any advantage on the opening day of the first Test.
“Home advantage was there but since I was playing after five years and that too on a new wicket not much advantage was felt. However, if you look at the Gujarati crowd we had, it gave me a sense of having the home advantage but if you keep that factor aside it was evenly poised for the two sides,” said Axar.
India ended the opening day of the pink-ball Test against England in the driver’s seat as Rohit hit fifty to take the hosts at 99/3. India is trailing by 13 runs in the first innings with seven wickets in the bag.
After surviving the five overs in the tricky twilight phase and then battling out for 14.5 overs and India lost their first wicket off the last ball of the 15th overs when Jofra Archer dismissed Shubman Gill for a 51-ball 11.
He skied an attempted pull to give Zak Crawley an easy catch. Minutes later, the hosts lost Cheteshwar Pujara as he was trapped in front by Jack Leach.
Meanwhile, Rohit continued his good form and completed his half-century. Rohit and Kohli also brought up the fifty runs partnership to steady the Indian ship after two quick wickets. But Leach struck again to break the 64-run stand for the third wicket as Kohli chopped the ball onto his stumps. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 3rd Test: Kohli departs but Rohit hits fifty as hosts maintain advantage

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 24 (ANI): Spinner Jack Leach dismissed Virat Kohli just before concluding minutes of the day’s play but Rohit Sharma hit fifty as India ended the opening day of the pink-ball Test against England in the driver’s seat at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday.
At stumps, India’s score reads 99/3 with Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 57 and one runs respectively. The hosts are trailing by 13 runs in the first innings with seven wickets in the bag.
Ollie Pope put down a chance at gully as Jimmy Anderson nearly got rid of Kohli just before the concluding minutes of play and England could blame only themselves for not making any further inroads but Leach dismissed the Indian skipper to give the visitors some relief on the day one.
After surviving the five overs in the tricky twilight phase and then battling out for 14.5 overs and India lost their first wicket off the last ball of the 15th overs when Jofra Archer dismissed Shubman Gill for a 51-ball 11.
He skied an attempted pull to give Zak Crawley an easy catch. Minutes later, the hosts lost Cheteshwar Pujara as he was trapped in front by Jack Leach.
Meanwhile, Rohit continued his good form and completed his half-century. Rohit and Kohli also brought up the fifty runs partnership to steady the Indian ship after two quick wickets.
But Leach struck again to break the 64-run stand for the third wicket as Kohli chopped the ball onto his stumps.
Earlier, hometown boy Axar Patel and seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had a field day as India bundled out England for a paltry 112 in the first innings.
Axar, playing in just his second Test, scalped six wickets while Ashwin returned with three wickets as the visitors were bowled out in just 48.4 overs. This was Axar’s second five-wicket haul in a row as he had scalped five in the second innings of the second Test as well.
Kohli might have lost the toss in the third Test, but his bowlers ensured that the hosts dominated the first session.
If the former England players were critical of the Chepauk wicket, the lack of application from the English batsmen in the first innings of the third Test can have no excuse.
Playing down the wrong line was the crux of the story and just like the top-order batsmen, Jofra Archer (11) too tried to cut a straight delivery and was clean bowled by Axar as the visitors were reduced to 93/7.
This was Axar’s fourth scalp in the innings. Jack Leach (3), Stuart Broad (3), and Ben Foakes (12) all failed to stay at the crease for long and as a result, the hosts have given themselves the best possible chance to make this contest a one-sided affair.
Brief Scores: England 112 (Zak Crawley 53; Axar Patel 6-38); India 99/3 (Rohit Sharma 57*, Virat Kohli 27; Jack Leach 2-27) (ANI)

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