Unseeded Cirstea stuns Sabalenka to reach Miami Open semi-final

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka suffered a shock straight sets Miami Open quarter-final loss to unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who reached her first WTA 1000 semi-final in a decade.Cirstea, ranked 74th in the world, triumphed 6-4, 6-4 against the Australian Open champion to secure her first WTA 1000 semi-final since Toronto in 2013.The 32-year-old is enjoying an upturn in form since taking on Swede Thomas Johansson as her coach, reaching the quarter-finals at Indian Wells and beating world No. 4 Caroline Garcia of France in both legs of the "Sunshine Swing."Sorana Cirstea of Romania celebrates defeating Aryna Sabalenka in her quarter-final match at the Miami Open in Florida, U.S., March 29, 2023. (Photo: CFP)"Im very happy to get the win against Aryna, because she has been playing great lately. Shes probably one of the two or three best at the moment. So this gives me a lot of confidence," said the veteran.Sabalenka, whose year began with victory at the Australia Open before she reached the final in Indian Wells, losing to Elena Rybakina, said she had struggled with the heat."It definitely wasnt my best match. I was struggling a lot with the conditions, like heat. I felt like balls were flying too much and I couldnt find control," she said.Earlier this week, former U.S. Open champion and Canadas world No. 31 Bianca Andreescu suffered two torn ligaments in her left ankle at the Miami Open and is unsure when she will be fit to return to action.Jannik Sinner of Italy returns to Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland during the Miami Open in Florida, U.S., March 29, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Meanwhile, in the mens field, Italys Jannik Sinner eased into the semi-finals of the Miami Open after a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Finlands Emil Ruusuvuori on Wednesday.The 21-year-old Italian has not dropped a set so far in Miami and he coped well with the first break point of the match, holding in the fourth game.Sinner has not l...

FIFA removes Indonesia as under-20 World Cup hosts: statement

FIFA announced on Wednesday it had removed Indonesia as hosts of this years under-20 World Cup, after the draw was nixed following protests over Israels participation.Global footballs governing body said a new host country would be announced "as soon as possible" with the tournament set to start on May 20.

Two $6 billion bids submitted for Washington Commanders takeover

Two groups have submitted their bids, both worth $6 billion, for the National Football Leagues (NFL) Washington Commanders, according to ESPN. That number meets the asking price of the teams owner Dan Snyder.The Washington Commanders flag flies during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland, September 25, 2022. (Photo: CFP)One bidder is the Josh Harris/Mitchell Rales group, which now also includes NBA legend Magic Johnson. The other is Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos. If the purchase is completed, it will set a new league record for team takeover by surpassing the $4.65 billion paid by the group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton to buy the Denver Broncos in August 2022.Of course, it will take more than Snyders approval for the takeover to be completed. Once he accepts it, the deal will have to go through the NFL owners. Three quarters of them must approve the sale for it to happen.Harris and Rales have a net worth of $5.8 billion and $5.5 billion respectively, according to Forbes. The Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment owns the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League and part of Crystal Palace of the Premier League.Apostolopouloss family has a net worth of $3.9 billion, according to The Globe and Mail. ESPN revealed that he had looked into purchasing the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA.Snyder paid $800 million for the Commanders in 1999 when they were still called the Washington Redskins. Last year, multiple investigations were launched into the teams workplace culture and finances. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, said there was "merit to remove" Snyder. Though at least 24 of the other 31 owners must agree to kick him out. Snyder and his wife hired a company to explore selling part or all of their ownership of the Commanders two weeks after Irsays remarks.U.S. attorney Marry Jo White began investigation into accusation of sexu...

IOC to decide on Russian participation at Paris Olympics at 'appropriate time'

GENEVA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committees (IOC) executive board has recommended the return to competition of Russian and Belarusian athletes as individual neutrals, but has yet to decide whether they can compete at next years Paris Olympics.International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach (C) speaks during an IOC executive board meeting where the issue of Russian athletes will be discussed, in Lausanne, on March 28, 2023. (Photo: AFP)That decision will be taken "at the appropriate time," IOC President Thomas Bach said after the first-day meeting of the IOC executive board on Tuesday.The IOC released six recommendations to International Federations (IFs) and international sports event organizers that allow athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to compete as individual neutral athletes."The IOC EB confirmed that these recommendations do not concern the participation of athletes and their support personnel with a Russian or Belarusian passport at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 or the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026. The IOC will take this decision at the appropriate time, at its full discretion, and without being bound by the results of previous Olympic qualification competitions," read an IOC press release.Bach gave no specific answer to when or how the final decision would be made, only saying the IOC will "monitor the implementation of these recommendations" and make the decision at "proper time"."The results of this monitoring procedure will be an important factor in the decision by the IOC concerning the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026," IOC said.According to the recommendations, "teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered", which means Russian and Belarusian athletes are unlikely to compete in team ev...

McIntosh breaks Titmus's 400m freestyle world record

Summer McIntosh (Photo: Agencies)Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh clocked 3min 56.08sec to break the womens 400m freestyle world record Tuesday at the Canadian Swimming Trials in Toronto.The 16-year-old broke the previous record of 3:56.40 set by Australias Ariarne Titmus at the Australian Championships in Adelaide on May 22 of last year.

Lionel Messi scores 100th Argentina goal

Argentinas forward Lionel Messi controls the ball during the friendly football match between Argentina and Curacao at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, in northern Argentina, on March 28, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Argentina captain Lionel Messi on Tuesday scored his 100th international goal for the reigning world champions in a low-key friendly against Curacao.Seven-time Ballon dOr winner Messi opened the scoring in the friendly against the Caribbean island minnows on 20 minutes in Santiago del Estero.The 35-year-old soon added another just after the half hour mark to make it 3-0, and then completed his hat-trick on 37 minutes with the fifth of a one-sided first half.Nicolas Gonzalez and Enzo Fernandez also got their names on the scoresheet.

Rejuvenated Ding Junhui upsets top seed Mark Allen to reach Tour Championship semifinals

Ding Junhui in action during the first round of the Tour Championship at Bonus Arena in Hull, England, March 27, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Northern Irish snooker star Mark Allen has clinched three ranking titles this season, including the UK Championship, where he staged a stunning comeback to outclass Chinese veteran Ding Junhui in the final. However, he failed to repeat the same magic on Monday at the Tour Championship in Hull, England, as Ding got his revenge with an impressive 10-5 win in the first round of the elite eight-man event.It could have been another reverse for Ding, who lost the first two frames in the opening session in lackluster fashion. But the 35-year-old regained composure to fire off six consecutive frames to move into an 8-3 lead.The resilient Allen, who dominated this years World Grand Prix, managed to make the most of a remarkable run to pull it back to 9-5, but a 95 break in the 15th frame saw Ding eventually come out on top and secure a spot in Fridays semifinals. Mark Allen looks on during the first round of the Tour Championship at Bonus Arena in Hull, England, March 27, 2023. (Photo: CFP)"I played well all day, I was very focused and took my chances well," beamed Ding, who continued his rejuvenation after winning the Six Red World Championship earlier this month. "I was fighting hard. Its great to win a match like this. Mark might be tired because he has won so many tournaments. If he had played tonight like he did in the UK Championship second session, I would have been in big trouble. He had big chances, and it could have been different if he had taken them. "I am just trying to win more matches to get in to the top 16, but it doesnt matter whether that happens fast or slowly. I am just happy to win the match today."Ding Junhui (R) shakes hands with Mark Allen after the first round of the Tour Championship at Bonus Arena in Hull, England, March 27, 2023. (Photo: CFP)In sharp contrast, Allen could n...

Messi: Argentina's World Cup triumph yet to sink in

ASUNCION, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Lionel Messi said on Monday that he has yet to fully grasp the magnitude of Argentinas 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph in Qatar.The Argentina captain made the comments during a ceremony in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, during which the Albiceleste players and coaching staff received medals and trophies to commemorate the countrys third World Cup trophy.Argentinas forward Lionel Messi (C) applauds after defeating Panama during the friendly football match between Argentina and Panama at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires on March 23, 2023. (Photo: AFP)"Even with all the recognition we are receiving for being world champions, I think we are still not really aware of what we have achieved," Messi said.The 35-year-old, who scored two goals in the final against France and won the Golden Ball for the tournaments best player, reiterated his desire to continue playing at the international level."We are thinking about what is coming and not about what we did. I am satisfied with this," the Paris Saint-Germain forward said. "I have achieved practically everything in football. Now all I have to do is enjoy what I have left," he added.The ceremony came four days after 80,000 fans packed into the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires to watch Argentinas 2-0 friendly victory over Panama, the teams first match since the World Cup final in December.The Albiceleste will play another friendly against Curacao in Santiago del Estero on Tuesday.

Probe must dig deep to clean up beautiful game

Photo: ICAs of the end of last weekend, dozens of people including players, referees, club managers and almost all key members of the Chinese Football Association, have been put under investigation since Li Tie, former head coach of the Chinese national team, was detained in November for "suspected serious violation of laws".Compared with the anti-corruption storm in 2009, in which more than 50 people of the same circle received criminal penalties, including the then chairman of the CFA, the anti-graft campaign this time, which stems from the unfathomably poor performance of the national team in the qualification matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, as sources said, will last much longer in a bid to address the "root cause" of soccer corruption in the country.Given that the main funders of the game over the past decade have been private real estate companies and State-owned enterprises, when so many of the sponsors openly regarded investment in soccer clubs as a speculation for personal interests, it is almost predictable that the anti-graft campaign this time will by no means be restricted to the soccer circle. Thus what has been exposed so far might only be the tip of the iceberg.While the clubs at various levels are preparing for a belated beginning to the new season, it would not be a surprise, as some players have said, if some of their teammates do not turn up for training one day. A jittery atmosphere has been formed as no one knows exactly how far back in time the investigators will go.No wonder one former national team player, who claimed he was sidelined immediately after he rejected the hints of some "big fish" that he should bribe them to keep his position in the team, said after Li was detained that "some should start counting their days, and many more will become sleepless".Notably, the current CFA system is already a result of institutional reform triggered by the 2009 reshuffle of the sector, which resulted in...

China's Zheng Qinwen advances to Miami Open last 16

Zheng Qinwen in action during her Miami Open third round match against Liudmila Samsonova in Miami, U.S., March 25, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Chinas Zheng Qinwen beat 12th seed Liudmila Samsonova of Russia 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach the Miami Open womens singles last 16 on Saturday.Zheng led 5-2 in the opening set, only for Samsonova to fight back. The Chinese player had to battle from 3-0 down in the third set, firing 18 aces in more than three hours to level their head-to-head record to 2-2. Zheng is the only Chinese player still in contention in Miami, after five others failed to make it past the first two rounds and veteran Zhang Shuai quit due to health concerns. She will next play Russian Anastasia Potapova, who saw off American Coco Gauff in what was her third career top 10 win and her first in three tries against teenage Gauff.Zheng has won both her previous matches against Potapova.

China take two golds, one silver at Women's Boxing World Championships

Wu Yu (R) of China celebrates after she is declared the winner of the competition against Sirine Charaabi of Italy during the elite womens 50-52kg flyweight final at the IBA World Womens Boxing Championships 2023 in New Delhi, India, March 25, 2023. (Photos: Xinhua) Chinese boxers bagged two world titles and a silver medal at the IBA Womens Boxing World Championships 2023 in New Delhi, India on Saturday.In the elite womens 50-52kg flyweight category, Wu Yu beat Italian Sirine Charaabi by a 5-0 unanimous verdict to grab gold, while her compatriot Yang Chengyu defeated Russias Nataliya Sychugova with a 4-1 verdict in the elite womens 60-63kg light welterweight event. Yang Chengyu (L) of China competes against Nataliya Sychugova of Russia during the elite womens 60-63kg light welter final match of the IBA World Womens Boxing Championships 2023 in New Delhi, India, March 25, 2023.Meanwhile, in the elite womens 75-81kg light heavyweight event, Chinas Wang Lina lost to her Indian counterpart Saweety Boora and took home the silver medal. It was a neck-and-neck battle between Saweety and Wang, but the Indian pugilist eventually registered a narrow 4-3 win.Indias other gold was won by Nitu Ghanghas, who defeated Lutsaikhan Altansetseg of Mongolia in the elite womens 45-48 kg minimum weight category 5-0. Elsewhere, Italys Irma Testa registered a 5-0 win over Kazakhstans Karina Ibragimova in the elite womens 54-57kg featherweight category. Russias Anastasiia Demurchian beat Australias Kaye Scott Frances in the elite womens 60-70kg light middleweight category by 5-0 verdict.As the top-level game for female boxers in the world, the sporting event brought together more than 320 athletes from 65 countries and regions, including 12 from China competing in all 12 categories.

China beaten by New Zealand in second soccer friendly

WELLINGTON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese national team lost 2-1 to New Zealand in their second friendly encounter this week held at the Sky Stadium here on Sunday.New Zealands Joe Bell (R) and Chins Chen Pu (L) vie for the during the friendly football match between New Zealand and China at Sky Stadium in Wellington on March 26, 2023. (Photo: CFP)China was held to a goalless tie by 10-man New Zealand in their previous game on Thursday, which was Serbian head coach Aleksandar Jankovics debut in Chinas dugout.The first half saw the All Whites dominate the field. Their efforts were rewarded with a penalty in the 32nd minute after a rough tackle by Wu Shaocong in the box, but Alex Greives shot was saved by Chinese goalkeeper Yan Junling. In the 43rd minute, Zhu Chenjie scored an own goal when defending a free kick from the All Whites.At the beginning of the second half, China made several substitutions to strengthen its midfield, but couldnt stop New Zealand from doubling the lead in the 81st minute, as Matthew Garbett slotted home Joe Bells chipped pass.Substitute Ba Dun pulled one back for China with a header in the last minute, but he and his teammates were unable to turn around the game in injury time.Chinas head coach Jankovic said after the match that Chinas performance in the first half could have been better and the intensity shown during the game needed to be increased. He admitted that because the physical condition of the Chinese players was not at its best, the scope for adjustment in the second half became limited."Ninety minutes, New Zealand deserved to win. We tried pushing, but the energy level was not good enough. For me, it is very important to see how the players can manage the high intensity of two games in three days," said Jankovic.Jankovic believed that playing with the All Whites in high-intensity away games in New Zealand brought an ideal opportunity for the team."These games against...

China grabs 2 golds at Women's Boxing World Championships

Two Chinese boxers Wu Yu and Yang Chengyu both lifted the world titles at the IBA Women's Boxing World Championships 2023 at Indira Gandhi Sports Complex on Saturday. Competing in the elite women's 50-52kg flyweight category, Wu beat Italian Sirine Charaabi by a 5-0 unanimous verdict to claim the

Two Chinese Football Association senior officials placed under investigation

WUHAN, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Wang Xiaoping, director of the disciplinary committee of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), and Huang Song, director of the competition department of CFA, have been placed under investigation for suspected severe violations of laws, according to an official statement released on Friday.Chinese Football Association. (File photo: Xinhua) Huang Song is also suspected of seriously violating Party discipline, said the statement.The two officials are being investigated by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Commission of Supervision, according to the statement from the Hubei provincial commission for discipline inspection of the CPC and the provincial supervisory commission.

World Athletics bans transgender women athletes

World Athletics has banned transgender women from competing in elite female competitions from March 31 and tightened testosterone restrictions for other athletes, the governing body said on Thursday. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said that the decision to exclude transgender women who had gone through male puberty was based "on the overarching need to protect the female category." The tighter measures around one of the most contentious and divisive issues in sport follow a similar move by World Aquatics in 2022.World Athletics president Sebastian Coe attends a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, January 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)World Athletics council also voted to cut the maximum amount of plasma testosterone for athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD) in half, to 2.5 nanomoles per liter from five. DSD athletes will also have to reduce their testosterone levels below the new limit for a minimum of 24 months across all events to compete, double the previous time. The governing body had previously floated the option of transgender athletes being allowed to compete in the female category if they, too, maintained testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per liter for 24 months.Yet it said on Thursday that it became apparent there was little support within the sport for that proposal.Coe announced the formation of a working group, which will be chaired by a transgender athlete, to further study the issue of trans inclusion.Caster Semenya of South Africa competes in the womens 5000m heats at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, July 20, 2022. (Photo: CFP)The tighter testosterone rules will impact DSD athletes such as two-times Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist in the 200m, and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800m at the 2016 Olympics.Semenya and others had been able to compete without restrictions in events outside the ran...

Wang Changhao breaks Chinese swimming record twice in one day

Wang Changhao sets the new national record of the mens 50m butterfly at the Chinese national spring swimming championships in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, March 23, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Finishing the final race in 23.25 seconds, Wang Changhao of Tianjin grabbed the gold and set the new national record in mens 50m butterfly at the Chinese national spring swimming championships on Thursday.Earlier on the same day, Wang finished the events preliminary in 23.32, slicing 0.04 seconds off the six-year-old national record."I have got more expectations for myself. I am looking forward to curing the injury and making more breakthroughs in the upcoming races," Wang said.Wang, the new national record holder of the mens 50m butterfly. (Photo: CFP)Olympic champion Zhang Yufei grabbed the womens 50m freestyle gold medal in 24.40 seconds."I am satisfied with my performance today. But still, I was not confident enough. It is my hope that more courage will come by to help me face those stronger rivals in the future," Zhang said.Ye Shiwen took the womens 200m breaststroke gold with 2:24:01. "I am more mature and relaxed in the race now. Do all the details, you will have good results," Ye said.In other events, Qin Haiyang won the mens 200m breaststroke gold.

Messi scores in Artgetina's homecoming celebration

Argentinas forward Lionel Messi celebrates with midfielder Rodrigo De Paul (top) after scoring a goal during the friendly football match between Argentina and Panama at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on March 23, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Lionel Messi capped a night of unbridled joy with the 800th goal of his career as world champions Argentina celebrated their homecoming with a 2-0 friendly victory over stubborn Panama in Buenos Aires on Thursday.The 35-year-old seven-time Ballon dOr winners stunning free-kick in the dying minutes came after 21-year-old MLS sensation Thiago Almada gave a glimpse of what the future holds with his first goal for the national team in only his third appearance.Argentinas forward Lionel Messi shoots a free kick and scores during the friendly football match between Argentina and Panama, at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on March 23, 2023. (Photo: AFP)It was an emotional night as fireworks crackled overhead before kick-off at the impressive Monumental stadium where the 83,000 lucky fans that managed to get tickets among the more than 1.5 million people who tried, created an atmosphere that produced goosebumps.Messi, coach Lionel Scaloni and numerous players came onto the pitch with their children and several seemed on the brink of tears as fans in unison sung Argentinas World Cup anthem.It was clear that this was more a celebration than a football match but Panama clearly had not read the script.Despite fielding a weakened side, they were organized and disciplined and managed to frustrate the new world champions for 78 minutes before their defenses were finally breached.Argentina, who started the game playing champagne football, created relatively little given their 73 percent possession in the first period.Argentinas forward Lionel Messi (C) applauds after defeating Panama during the friendly football match between Argentina and Panama at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires on March 23, 2023. (P...

Ronaldo sets record for most appearances, Portugal wins

It didn’t take long for Cristiano Ronaldo to put the World Cup disappointment behind him.Back as a starter with Portugal’s national team, Ronaldo became the most-capped player in men’s international soccer on Thursday, scoring twice in a 4-0 rout of Liechtenstein in 2024 European Championship qualifying. The game marked the debut of coach Roberto Martínez with Portugal.Portugals Cristiano Ronaldo heads the ball ahead Liechtensteins Noah Frommelt during the Euro 2024 group J qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Liechtenstein at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Thursday, March 23, 2023. (Photo: AP)Ronaldo converted a penalty kick and scored off a free kick while making his 197th appearance with the national team. He had tied Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa with 196 caps after coming off the bench in Portugal’s loss to Morocco in the quarterfinals of the World Cup last year.Ronaldo was benched in the knockout rounds in Qatar and left the field in tears after the defeat to Morocco. He had said his return to the national team was in doubt after the World Cup, but eventually decided it was not time “to throw in the towel.”“To be in the national team, you have to be committed," Martínez said of Ronaldo. "It’s a new cycle. It is very important that a player shows commitment and that he can use his experience. Cristiano has that: A lot of experience and a lot of commitment to the national team.”The 38-year-old Ronaldo is also the all-time scoring leader in men’s soccer and took his tally to 120 goals after scoring with his penalty kick in the 51st and a powerful free kick from just outside the area in the 63rd.Portugal dominated from the start at the José Alvalade Stadium, and João Cancelo opened the scoring in the eighth minute. He also set up Bernardo Silva’s close-range goal in the 47th and the penalty that Ronaldo converted for the third goal.Ronaldo received a standing ovation after being substituted by Gonçalo Ramos in the 78th.He had...

China's Wu Yibing into Miami Open second round

Yibing Wu of China plays a backhand against Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in their first round match during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 22, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo: VCG)WASHINGTON, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinas Wu Yibing advanced to the second round of the ATP Masters 1000 Miami after defeating Britains Kyle Edmund 7-5, 7-5."I tried to stay in the point, play the ball deep, to make myself stay in the court and stay focused, doing everything I can. Hopefully I can go further here in Miami," the 23-year-old said.The Chinese will play No. 31 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in the next round.

Zhang Jingyin proud to be first Chinese in Polish volleyball league

WARSAW, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Zhang Jingyin, a Chinese outside hitter who made an impressive start with his Polish volleyball side Trefl Gdansk in the Polish PlusLiga, believes that he is "the first Chinese player in the competition but not the last."Zhang Jingyin (L, top) of China spikes the ball during the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Mens Pool 3 match against Argentina in Quezon City, the Philippines on June 24, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)The 23-year-old, who played in the Chinese league with Zhejiang, signed with Trefl Gdansk in February a contract that is valid until May 2023. Zhang showed his best in his first performances as he impressed primarily with his jumping ability and excellent attacking efficiency."Im proud to be here. I also feel the pressure and responsibility that comes with it. In China, however, we have a saying that where there is pressure, there will be motivation. I want to show my best shape and help my team. Im the first player from my country in the PlusLiga, but Im sure that I wont be the last," the player told Polish media on Wednesday."I like the great volleyball atmosphere in Poland and fans who support their teams with dedication. Its nice to play when there are thousands of people cheering for volleyball players in the stands. This is a positive surprise for me," he said."The atmosphere in the Trefl team is also excellent. During training, I feel a lot of support from other players and the coach. I also feel that others are enthusiastic about training. You can see that playing volleyball gives them joy," the Chinese outside hitter added."If I have such an opportunity, I would love to return to playing in the Polish league. Its level is high and the time I spend performing in it is fruitful for me. I will also encourage my colleagues to take advantage of Chinese-Polish cooperation and try their hand at PlusLiga. I hope that cooperation will develop," Zhang conc...

China head coach seeking win in New Zealand friendlies

AUCKLAND, March 22 (Xinhua) -- China head coach Aleksandar Jankovic says his team is seeking victory when they play a pair of friendlies against New Zealand.Jankovic stressed that his team is ambitious, is aiming for victory in every game, and should focus more on their own performances regardless of the opponent.Head coach of Chinas national football team Aleksandar Jankovic instructs players ahead of a training session in Qingdao, east Chinas Shandong Province, July 14, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)"One of the targets is to play our football, and 95 percent of the game will be our way of playing," said Jankovic.The coach also noted that the team knows New Zealands tactics and style of play, adding that tactics would be adjusted to match the opposing team for five percent of the game.At this stage, the New Zealand team is an ideal opponent with their physical strength and fast pace. The Chinese team, still in its early stages of forming under his leadership, will need to adapt to the strong opposition in the matches, said Jankovic.Regarding the young players and lack of experience in the new national team, Jankovic acknowledged that the team is in a transitional phase. But he was confident that the team has a good mix of skills and talents.He reiterated that his standard was evident, which requires teamwork, discipline, running ability and fighting spirit, regardless of players age or experiences. He encouraged the new members to play the matches with a good attitude and to bring unique chemistry to the team.Jankovic revealed that the Chinese national team are in good shape during the three-week training course under his leadership. All players are ready for the upcoming matches.The interim head coach of the All Whites, Darren Bazeley, said the New Zealand team is keen to play at home."The players had a taste of playing on home soil last year vs Australia and are looking forward to once again playing in front of our home fans, both in Auc...

Mbappe named new France captain after Lloris retirement

In this file photo taken on December 10, 2022 Frances forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (R) celebrates with Frances goalkeeper #01 Hugo Lloris after they won the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between England and France at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha. (Photo: AFP)Kylian Mbappe has succeeded the retired Hugo Lloris as France captain, a source close to the team told AFP on Monday.Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, 24, accepted the proposal after discussions with coach Didier Deschamps earlier in the day.Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris brought an end to his international career in January after losing the World Cup final a month earlier.Lloris, 36, had been skipper for more than a decade.Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann was named vice-captain after Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane also hung up his boots following the defeat to Argentina in December.Mbappe, who has played 66 times for his country, had been heavily linked with the role for weeks and scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final loss after helping Les Bleus to the title in 2018.The former Monaco attacker is vice-captain at PSG behind Brazils Marquinhos and led the side in the defenders absence during Sundays loss to Rennes.His first game as captain will be Fridays Euro 2024 qualifier against the Netherlands at the Stade de France.

Men's marathon record set by Ningxia runner

He Jie, 24, broke the national record for the mens marathon in China on Sunday with a time of 2 hours 7 minutes 30 seconds. He is preparing to compete at 2024 Paris Olympics.He Jie, 24, broke the Chinese national record for mens marathon at the 2023 Wuxi Marathon on Sunday with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes and 30 seconds. (Photo provided to, from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, joined the 2023 Wuxi Marathon in Jiangsu province, with 33,000 runners, including 27 foreigners. The event was seen as the highest-level marathon this year, as it combined multiple events — the national marathon championship (Wuxi station), qualification for 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest and qualification for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. About 160 professional runners from national and regional teams took a part.He broke the record set by Ren Yunlong in the Beijing Marathon in 2007. Ren finished in 2 hours 8 minutes 15 seconds. In the Shenzhen Marathon a month ago, He finished in 2 hours 13 minutes 29 seconds.

Debutant Li Shifeng crowned at All England Badminton Open

BIRMINGHAM, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinas Li Shifeng clinched the mens singles title in his first appearance at the All England Badminton Open here on Sunday.Li, 23, played confidently in the final against compatriot Shi Yuqi, who had won the tournament in 2018. He held off Shis fightback in the late stages of the first game to win 26-24, then breezily took the second game 21-5. Photo: Courtesy of IOC"I was quite relaxed today after winning the tough match last night," said Li, who took a sensational win over Anders Antonsen of Denmark 21-11, 19-21, 21-18 in Saturdays semifinal. "I definitely wanted to clinch the title, but I care more about trying my best and enjoying the game."Mixed doubles top seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China beat South Korean pair Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung 21-16, 16-21, 21-12, clinching the All England Open title for the second time."Although we took home ten titles last year, this year is a new beginning," said 29-year-old Huang, who had paired up with Zheng to take silver at the Tokyo Olympics."We will start our journey for the Olympic qualification soon and I hope we will be in our best form."In the womens singles, Chinas Olympic champion Chen Yufei failed to repeat her 2019 triumph, as the 25-year-old lost to South Koreas second seed An Se-young 17-21, 21-10, 19-21.But Chen, who outplayed world No.1 and reigning champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the semifinals, said she could look forward with more confidence."I feel Im not left behind. I should be confident in my ability," said Chen. "Although Yamaguchi and An are top in the rankings and have played consistently for a long time, I have the opportunities to beat them as long as I handle all the details well."Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong of South Korea won the womens doubles, while Indonesian Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rain Ardianto took gold in the mens doubles.

Djokovic to miss Miami Open over lack of COVID vaccination

Novak Djokovic will not play at the Miami Open after failing to receive a waiver to enter the United States despite not being vaccinated for COVID-19.Serbias Novak Djokovic reacts during his match with Russias Daniil Medvedev (not pictured) at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship semi-final match in Dubai, on March 3, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Tournament director James Blake told The Tennis Channel on Saturday that the world number one, a six-time Miami champion, was denied entry despite the best effort of tournament officials."We did all we could. We tried to talk to the government but its out of our hands," Blake said ahead of the start of the tournament next week."We tried and he wasnt able to play, same result as he had in Indian Wells."Djokovic was not allowed a spot in the ongoing Masters 1000 event in the California desert."Wed love to have him and hes our greatest champion, six times here, so wed obviously love to have him here but unfortunately thats way above my pay grade," Blake said.Djokovic has missed other events due to being unvaccinated against COVID, but was allowed to compete in this years Australian Open and won his 10th crown at Melbourne for his 22nd career Grand Slam title -- level with Spains Rafael Nadal for the all-time mens record."We exhausted all the options that we know of that we can handle," Blake said. "Hopefully Novak will be back next year."US authorities are expected to ease vaccination entry requirements in May, which would allow Djokovic to play at the US Open."Hopefully he will be back probably in all the later events in the States, Cincinnati and the US Open," Blake said.Djokovic has not played in Miami since a fourth-round exit in 2019.


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