The whole of Argentina will be thanking Ahmed Musa for the two goals that he scored on Friday as Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0 in their Group D fixture at the Volgograd Arena.Iceland’s loss means Argentina’s campaign in the tournament is still alive as Nigeria moved to the second spot in the group behind Croatia with 3 points in 2 games.Musa scored a brilliant brace in the second half to ensure victory for his side even though the scoreline could have been different had Gylfi Sigurdsson not missed a penalty for Iceland.FIFA World Cup 2018, Nigeria vs Iceland: HighlightsAfter a goalless first half, Musa broke the deadlock in the 49th minute after Victor Moses sprinted deep into the Iceland half and curled a cross to the near post. Musa deftly controlled the ball before slamming it past Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson on the half-volley.The 25-year-old then doubled the lead in the 75th minute, picking up the ball on the left side of the Iceland penalty area. He mazed his way past Halldorsson and picked his spot in the Iceland goal to take his tally of World Cup goals to 4. This was also Musa’s third successive goal in World Cups for Nigeria.#CRO are guaranteed to be Group D winners, but who will join them?A massive win for #NGA means it is all to play for! #NGAISL pic.twitter.com/Fdlqqfsl4vFIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018FIFA World Cup 2018: Full CoverageNigeria will now face Argentina in its final group match on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. If Nigeria wins, it will advance to the round of 16. But if Argentina claims all three points, it can still advance depending on the result of the other match between Croatia and Iceland.advertisementIceland had a chance to get one back but Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a penalty kick way over the Nigeria bar in the 83rd minute. The penalty was awarded after a video review showed that Alfred Finnbogason had been brought down by Tyronne Ebuehi.After that penalty miss, have #ISL ran out of time in #NGAISL? pic.twitter.com/OFc0d5XsA9FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in its opening match, with Lionel Messi missing a penalty. And with Croatia routing the Argentines 3-0 on Thursday, it opened the way for Iceland to claim the group’s second spot in the round of 16.But Nigeria’s second-half display in Volgograd was arguably as good as any in the World Cup and came after a fairly dour first half in which the Super Eagles did not register a shot on target.Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr made some tactical changes, including bringing Musa into the starting lineup to inject some pace into the attack. Also, Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel played in a more defensive role in midfield, his presence helping to shore up the defense against Iceland’s two-man forward line.The win also vindicated the decision of Rohr to overhaul his attack after a limp 2-0 defeat to Croatia in Nigeria’s opener, bringing in Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho at the expense of strikers Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi.(With AP inputs)
England fans were left disappointed after their country’s 1-0 defeat against Belgium in the third and final Group G match at the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Thursday.However, the supporters still have faith in the Gareth Southgate side and hope England repeat their 1966 World Cup journey.Both England and Belgium went into the match in Kaliningrad knowing they had qualified for the last 16 but the atmosphere among England fans after the game was more subdued than celebratory.”Dull, boring, lifeless – nothing else to say really. But we’re going to win the World Cup anyway so don’t worry about us!” said Leighton from Liverpool.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEWith both teams qualified, much of the pre-game talk had revolved around speculation a second-place group finish might offer an easier path through the tournament as it avoided a potential clash with Brazil.ROUND OF 16 LINEUP & SCHEDULEFans like Tom, 26, from Milton Keynes chided England, saying they had fielded a weaker side showing eight changes from the team who crushed Panama 6-1. England will face Colombia in the round of 16 (Reuters Photo)He said the strategy had backfired as the loss meant Gareth Southgate’s side finished second in Group G and face Group H winners Colombia next, rather than Japan who play Belgium.FIFA World Cup 2018: Who plays who in the round of 16″Absolute disgrace. You play your best team. If it’s not good enough, then so be it,” he said.”We’ve got a harder game now in the last 16. We were too busy being concerned about avoiding Brazil in the quarter-final and now we might not even get there,” he said.advertisementThe atmosphere among England fans outside the stadium in Kaliningrad was quiet with a few fans chanting “We’re on our way!”Belgium beat England to top Group G, Tunisia thump PanamaGraham Waites, 57, who had travelled to the game from Sweden, was less critical of the performance. England won a FIFA World Cup in 1966 (Reuters Photo)”Belgium maybe deserved to win, but nobody was really playing so far because we’d already qualified. But it was disappointing because we want to keep winning to keep building confidence in the team,” he said.Michy Batshuayi sees funny side after his goal celebration goes wrongHe was unsure if England would overcome Colombia.”Who knows, Colombia, sometimes they play brilliant, other times they are disorganised. Hopefully, we will be more organised,” he said.(With inputs from Reuters)
The Galaxy Tab S4 is turning out to be a very interesting tablet if recent reports and leaked renders are anything to go by. The successor to the Galaxy Tab S3 is expected to sport slimmer bezels than ever before for a wide and immersive display. We now have some renders courtesy tipster Evan Blass, which pretty much confirms that the Galaxy Tab S4 is going to bring narrow bezels, the S Pen will see a new design language and both will come in white. The tablet is expected to be unveiled alongside the Galaxy Note 9 at an Unpacked event on August 9.Blass posted a couple of renders on Twitter revealing the Galaxy Tab S4 and the redesigned S Pen. Notably, both the tablet and the stylus are going to come in a white colour option, apart from the expected black colour variant. Talking about the tablet first, we can see the front at an angle, revealing slimmer bezels all around. We can also notice the missing home button, which has been reported in the past. The black keyboard cover will be an optional accessory as per Blass. The cover hides the back and sides of the tablet, which are going to be in white as per Blass.Samsung has been emphasising the stylus quite a bit, suggesting some new functionalities, although details around it are slim. A render posted by Blass shows the new stylus next to the Galaxy Tab S3 S Pen to show what’s different. From the render, it seems Samsung is ditching the matte finish and is going with a glossy look. It also looks as though the new stylus will have some additional twisting functionality, but we cannot say anything for sure right now. The S Pen will beadvertisementThe latest tip doesn’t mention any other detail regarding the Galaxy Tab S4. However, we do know some information about the hardware courtesy a benchmark listing last month. The Galaxy Tab S4 could bring a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED (1600X2560) display. The benchmark further revealed that the Galaxy Tab S4 will be powered by last year’s flagship Snapdragon 835 chipset along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.As for the cameras, the tablet will likely bear a 12-megapixel sensor on the back and a 7-megapixel sensor up front. This suggests the front camera is getting a bit of an upgrade over the Galaxy Tab S3. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S4 is also going to support LTE and either a 6000mAh or 7,300mAh battery. It is expected to run Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box.
New Delhi, Jul 13 (PTI) Highlights at 1745 hours:TOP STORIESDEL17 BIZ-JAITLEYIndia poised to pip Britain to become 5th largest economy next year: JaitleyNew Delhi: Union minister Arun Jaitley today exuded confidence that India will pip Great Britain to become the fifth largest economy in the world next year if economic expansion continues at the projected rate.DEL15 POL-CHIDAMBARAM-IIPIndustrial production growth down; Chidambaram takes dig at govtNew Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram today attacked the government for the slip in industrial production growth and said that retail inflation had hit a five-month high.DEL JK-2NDLD ATTACKTwo CRPF jawans killed in militant attack in KashmirSrinagar: Two CRPF jawans were killed and one injured in a militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district today, official sources said.NATION:DEL19 RAHUL-PM-CHINARahul attacks PM for capitulating to foreign pressure, cites China visitNew Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi today cited a media report to hit out at Narendra Modi’s visit to China in April, saying never in India’s history has a prime minister “capitulated to pressure from a foreign power as this one has”. DEL32 CBI-MLA-RAPEBJP MLA charged by CBI for framing Unnao rape victim’s father in false Arms Act caseNew Delhi: BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was today listed in a charge sheet by the CBI for framing the father of a minor girl, allegedly raped by the lawmaker in Unnao, in a false Arms Act case, officials said.DEL16 CONG-LD REDDYadvertisementFormer Andhra CM Kiran Kumar Reddy rejoins CongressNew Delhi: Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy returned to the Congress fold today, four years after quitting the party.DES17 RJ-MARINE-FOSSIL47-million-year-old fossils of marine life found in deserts of Jaisalmer districtJaipur: In the deserts of Rajasthan, palaeontologists have stumbled upon 47-million-year-old fossils of primitive whale, shark teeth, crocodile teeth and turtle bones, which according to experts suggest that the area was under sea in the pre-historic age.MDS3 TN-LD-STUDENTCoimbatore college student dies as disaster drill goes wrong, trainer arrestedCoimbatore/Chennai: A 19-year-old student died when she jumped off the second floor of a college building here during a disaster management drill, following which a trainer was arrested for allegedly prodding her to take the leap, police said today.BOM2 MH-THAROOR-SENAWill Shah apologise for UP BJP MLA’s remark on rape, asks SenaMumbai: The Shiv Sena today asked whether BJP president Amit Shah would apologise for his party’s UP MLA’s remark that even Lord Ram cannot curb rapes.DEL7 JK-MEHBOOBAAttempt to create split in PDP will have ‘extremely dangerous’ results: MehboobaSrinagar: In her first public appearance after resigning as Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti today said any attempt by the Centre to “engineer” a split in her party will have “extremely dangerous” consequences.LEGAL:LGD7 SC-LD SOCIAL MEDIASetting up of social media hub is like creating surveillance state: SCNew Delhi: The Supreme Court today took a strong note of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s decision to set up a social media hub for monitoring online data, observing that it will be “like creating a surveillance state”.LGD14 DL-COURT-COAL-LAUNDERINGED files chargesheet against Naveen JindalNew Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate today filed a charge sheet against industrialist and Congress leader Naveen Jindal and 14 others for alleged money laundering in a case pertaining to irregularities in allocation of a Jharkhand coal block.LGC1 BH-COURT-SEXUAL ASSAULT2 woman teachers convicted of sexual assault on 5-yr-old girl in BiharPatna: A court here has convicted two woman teachers of a renowned English-medium school for “unnatural sexual act” with a five-year-old girl student.BUSINESS:DCM43 BIZ-PRABHU-PHARMAPrabhu asks pharma companies to invest in R&DNew Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu today asked pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development (R&D) to bolster the growth of the sector.DCM41 BIZ-LD-RIL-MCAPRIL’s market cap breaches Rs 7 lakh-cr markNew Delhi: The market valuation of Reliance Industries today briefly surged past Rs 7 lakh crore mark, making it the second company after TCS to achieve this milestone.FOREIGN:FGN15 PAK-2NDLD SHARIFSharif, daughter set to arrive in Lahore to face arrest in graft caseLahore: Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam are set to be arrested after their arrival here from London following their conviction in a corruption case described by Pakistan’s embattled former prime minister as a “blind revenge” amid a crackdown on his party activists.FGN4 UN-KASHMIRadvertisementUN chief supports Zeid’s call for human rights probe in KashmirUnited Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voices support for the UN human rights chief’s call for an independent international investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir, saying his action “represents the voice of the UN” on the issue. By Yoshita SinghSPORTS:SPF13 SPO-IND-PREVIEWIndia eye series win, England face ‘Kuldeep conundrum’By Chetan NarulaLondon, July 13 (PTI) A high-on-confidence India look set to wrap up another series on the UK tour unless England find a way to tackle the marauding Kuldeep Yadav when the two teams clash in the second and penultimate ODI at Lord’s here tomorrow. PTI ABHABH
Hundreds of Australian cricket supporters have travelled a vast distance at great expense to follow their side on the tour of South Africa and many have been left disillusioned and angry by the ball-tampering scandal that has erupted around the side.Australia captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner stood down on Sunday morning, the fourth day of the on-going third Test against South Africa at Newlands, after admitting a pre-meditated attempt to tamper with the ball on the third day.It is a scandal that has sent shockwaves through Australian sport and for those who spend money following the team around the world, it has left them with a deep sense of displeasure.”It is amazingly disappointing. It’s disgraceful actually,” Scott Keeley from Adelaide told Reuters at Newlands. (Australian government wants Steve Smith to be sacked after ball-tampering row)”We are staying in the same hotel as the players and walking through there last night and this morning, it is like being at a funeral. It was very sombre.”Some of the players not involved in this match were going about their business as usual, but the ones involved in the game were harder to spot, which is a change from the previous days. (Ball-tampering row: Under Cricket Australia rules, Steve Smith and David Warner face life bans)”It has left us in absolute shock. This is not what Australian sport is about. The tough but fair (style) is something that we share with South Africa in the way we like to play our sport.”advertisementKeeley thought Smith had no option but to resign and said many in his sizeable tour party had decided to shun the cricket on Sunday. (Integrity of Australian cricket is laughing stock of world sport now: Adam Gilchrist)”It feels like a token gesture, though, because I see him out there. But I think the worst is still to come for Steve Smith,” he said.”In our tour group, I know there are a lot of people who didn’t come today. The yellow t-shirts are nowhere near as prevalent. The vibe amongst the group is very much one of disgust and disappointment.”A member of another tour group, Chris McIntyre from Brisbane, agreed that Smith’s position was no longer tenable. (On ball-tampering issue, IPL to wait for ICC decision before acting, says Shukla)”You have got to maintain the credibility of the game,” he said.”Steve is a great cricketer, but he was captain of Australia … everybody involved in Australian cricket should be disappointed in the actions of yesterday. It is against the spirit of cricket. (Ball-tampering row: Don’t see Steve Smith continuing as Australia captain, says Ganguly)”We would like to say we are competitive and that we do like to win, and we are out to win. But the game of cricket is bigger than one result.”He suggested that all those who had spent thousands of dollars to be part of the tour had been let down.”Just in our tour group there is excess of 100 people and there are probably three or four other groups,” McIntyre added. (Harbhajan Singh ‘shocked’ after ICC hands only 1-Test ban to Smith over ball-tampering row)”So you have three or four hundred Australians who are here at Newlands and you would like to see cricket that is in the spirit of the game.”
Rafael Nadal defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6(3) 6-4 in a rain-delayed evening match to set up the Rogers Cup final in Toronto against Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.Nadal overcame six aces from the big-serving Russian Khachanov to punch his ticket to his fifth final of the year, where he will be seeking his 33rd career Masters 1000 title.”I’m happy with the way that I played and overall I think I have been improving,” said the 32-year-old Nadal.”Tomorrow is a big test against a player who is playing great, a young one.”I am looking forward to play that match. I’m excited about it and it’s an opportunity for me to play a good match against one of the best players.”World No.1 @RafaelNadal is into his 116th @ATPWorldTour final, defeating Khachanov 7-6(3) 6-4.#RogersCup pic.twitter.com/KoJgD87n2pTennis TV (@TennisTV) August 12, 2018Tsitsipas on the other hand slayed another tennis giant on Saturday, saving a match point as he toppled big-serving Kevin Anderson 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(7).Tsitsipas will play his first ATP Masters 1000 final on his 20th birthday on Sunday, has dispatched Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in tournament so far.READ – Rogers Cup: Stefanos Tsitsipas stuns Kevin Anderson to reach final”It never gets easier. You just get better,” Tsitsipas wrote on a camera lens after the match.Fourth top 10 win this week.One match point saved.@StefTsitsipas reaches first Masters 1000 final 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(7) over Kevin Anderson.#RogersCup pic.twitter.com/6nup1mxTgoadvertisementTennis TV (@TennisTV) August 11, 2018With the win, Tsitsipas is projected to climb to at least number 15 when the new rankings are released on Monday.”I didn’t even have this in my head,” Tsitsipas said of reaching the final.”I thought winning a couple of rounds would be amazing but I’m in the final already. I can’t believe what just happened.That feeling you get when you reach the biggest final of your young career. @StefTsitsipas #RogersCup pic.twitter.com/mHKFzQrbXjRogers Cup (@rogerscup) August 11, 2018″I didn’t aim that high and I think with low expectations I managed to pull out my best tennis.”Despite his recent success Tsitsipas will be a big underdog when he takes on the French Open champion.Nadal dominated in his only previous meeting with Tsitsipas, a straight sets win in the final of the Barcelona Open on the Spaniard’s preferred surface of clay.(With inputs from Reuters)
By Amanpreet Singh Jakarta, Aug 19 (PTI) Battling an identity crisis in India, the Greco Roman style of wrestling has taken a few steps in improving its image but desperately seeks a big medal for a complete make-over. The practitioners and coaches of the Greco Roman style, which forbids holds below the waist, do feel they are an ignored lot as freestyle wrestlers hog all the limelight. Sushil Kumar’s bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics revolutionised the sport in India, taking freestyle popularity to a new high. “The trend is changing now because even if there is a switch, it is happening at a young age. Earlier, the wrestler would switch (from GR to FS) after 18, 20 years of age but now it has started happening from the age of 14, 15,” India’s National Greco Roman coach Kudeep Singh told PTI. “Earlier, if 100 people were picking wrestling as their sport, 95 would opt for freestyle. But now the game is being promoted at school and university level, so the change has picked up pace. It’s real effect will be known in next four to five years and Greco Roam style will match the popularity of Free Style,” Singh added. Singh conceded that Greco Roman wrestlers feel like poor cousins of their freestyle counterparts. “Yes, that feeling is there. Freestyle wrestlers get more attention of the media and the fans but the WFI is taking good care of the Greco Roman athletes and keeps motivating them and us the coaches. “And it is only in India. In European countries, Greco Roman is more popular. It depends on the country’s culture. We have dangals and freestyle from the ancient times.”advertisement Harpreet Singh, who hails from Sangrur District and trains in Faridkot in Punjab, is being tipped as the wrestler who can effect a change by delivering a big medal. And he has the opportunity now as he is set to compete in the 87kg category at the Asian Games. “It really feels bad. In Pro League, there is no Greco style. Then there are Dangals in our country but they do not have Greco, we feel bad. If there are medals at the Asian Games, Olympics, it will change the face of Greco Roman in India. I feel I can do it,” said the soft-spoken Harpreet. He switched from Freestyle to Greco a decade back and says it was because he got immediate results and also that his body is more suited to Greco Roman, which requires immense strength in the upper body. “The last time (Incheon Games) I was close to a medal but committed some mistakes. I was more aggressive in the first round and lost stamina. So, the opponent took advantage in second round. This time I will be careful,” he said. Kuldeep Singh, who is also the coach of freestyle wrestler Sandeep Tomar, said the change has begun but needs a push. “There are a lot of coaches now of this style but the number is still less. Now, almost at every wrestling training centre, Greco Roman style is taught, though quantity may be different. If there are 80 freestyle coaches in four districts, Greco would be 10. Navy and Services also have Greco Roman. “If one of our Greco Roman wreslter achieves the similar feat, it will make a huge difference. Harpreet, Gurpreet and Hardeep, who competed in Olympics, are there who have it in them to do it.” Singh said it’s a task to keep Greco Roman wrestlers motivated and that’s why motivational lectures are a must at training sessions. Freestyle wrestling is liked by spectators because it allows grapplers to be more attacking by using both arms and legs, while Greco Roman wrestlers use only upper body. “Free style is dynamic, Greco needs lot of strength, endurance. Now that kids are taking it up from base level, it will look attract when they will compete.” PTI AT PM PM PM
New York, Sept 3 (AFP) Defending champion Rafael Nadal on Sunday reached the US Open quarter-finals for the eighth time where he will face Dominic Thiem, one of only three men to defeat him in 2018. World number one Nadal saw off a battling Nikoloz Basilashvili, the first Georgian in a fourth round in New York, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4. “It’s a big victory for me,” said the 32-year-old Nadal, the champion in 2010, 2013 and 2017. “He was hitting the ball very strong and when I thought I was in control of the points, he always came back with strong shots.” It was world number 37 Basilashvili’s strength, however, which proved his undoing. His 56 winners were erased by 59 unforced errors, three times as many as Nadal. Elsewhere, Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, beat Borna Coric 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 to make the last-eight for a third successive year. The third seeded Argentine will next face John Isner, the last American man standing, who defeated Milos Raonic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, taking his tournament aces total past the 100-mark. Thiem, who beat Nadal on clay in Madrid in the run-up to Paris, booked his place in the quarter-finals for the first time with a 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) win over 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson. The ninth-seeded Austrian’s three other appearances in the last-eight of a Slam were all on Paris clay in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Nadal leads their head-to-head 7-3 with all of their matches coming on clay courts, including in the final of Roland Garros in June when he captured an 11th French Open.advertisement “Thiem is a great opponent, he has the big serve and he had a big win today against Kevin,” said Nadal who has made the last-eight of every Slam in the same year for the first time since 2011. Thiem has unfinished business at the US Open. Last year, he had two match points against del Potro in the fourth round but fell in five sets. — ‘Against Rafa? I’m not sure’ — ================================== Thiem’s progress to the last-eight comes despite choosing to play European clay court events after Wimbledon before then losing his only summer hard court outing in Cincinnati to Stefanos Tsitsipas. He is the first Austrian in the last-eight at the US Open since Thomas Muster in 1996. “Against Rafa, I’ve had three very nice experiences and seven horrible experiences,” said Thiem who turns 25 on Monday. “On clay, it’s one of the biggest challenges in sports to beat this guy. I hope that it’s a little bit more comfortable on hard court, but I’m not sure.” Third-seeded del Potro made the last-eight for the sixth time against Croatian 20th seed Coric who was playing in his maiden last 16 of a Slam. Coric, 21, saw his challenge undone by a right thigh injury which needed two visits by the trainer as well as general unhappiness with the humidity of the Arther Ashe court. “To win in straight sets in every round is good for the body and physical condition,” said del Potro. “But every round is a battle. I just hope to keep my level high against John in the next match.” Isner reached the quarter-finals for the first time in seven years and hailed the patriotic tournament atmosphere as a “jungle.” Isner, the 11th seed, is attempting to become the first home winner since Andy Roddick in 2003. “There were a lots of ups and downs in the match. The atmosphere was like a jungle,” said Isner of the crowd on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium enjoying a raucous Labor Day weekend. Isner, 33, who will become a father for the first time in two weeks, said he will not fear del Potro even though he has lost to the Argentine star seven times in 11 meetings. Their most recent clash saw del Potro triumph in straight sets in the fourth round at Roland Garros this year. “Why not me? Let’s keep going,” said Isner after firing 56 winners past Raonic and 20 aces taking his ace count to a tournament-leading 112. (AFP) ATKATK
Former Barcelona and Italy player Gianluca Zambrotta spent a good three four months in India back in 2016 when he coached Delhi Dynamos FC (DDFC) in the Indian Super League.Zambrotta guided DDFC to the play-offs spot but failed to advance to the final but the kind of football he displayed through the players and club received a lot of appreciation. However, Zambrotta left to become assistant coach in the Chinese Super League just the next year.Zambrotta, though, had a great time in Delhi, guiding youngsters and developing a hard working Italian philosophy at the club. At the training he was seen a hard taskmaster but off it, he was always seen smiling and mingling with the players and people around.Rohan Sharma, owner of Delhi Dynamos FC, was with the team but in background at that time. Now he is at the forefront, making decisions at the club and in charge of what happens at DDFC.In a conversation with indiatoday.in, Rohan shared a very funny story related to Zambrotta, that shows how much Italians love their cheese and how much Zambrotta missed that here in India.Perhaps, he is still missing it in China.”We had an Italian friend of ours, family friend who came and he got six packs of Italian cheese. I showed that to Zambrotta and that’s the most excited he has been.”He’s like ‘cheese’ and he grabbed the whole box, ran to the kitchen and in broken english tells the cook, ‘cheese pasta, pasta cheese’ and the chef wasn’t getting it. So he started to grate the cheese all over pasta saying ‘pasta, pasta’.advertisement Gianluca Zambrotta, in his broken english, attempted to ask the chef to make him pasta with the Italian cheese. (Delhi Dynamos Photo)”That’s the most excited I have seen Zambrotta. Even more than scoring goals, seeing the cheese, the light in his eyes and he went crazy,” Rohan laughingly shared the tale.Rohan further said that he is still in touch with the former Italian defender and they did speak about him coming back but it didn’t really work.”Zambrotta is a great guy, I am still in touch with him. In fact we did talk about coming back and stuff, this season, but he is settled, getting paid well. It basically did not work out.”Also read – Indian Super League: Carlos’s late strike earns FC Pune City a point vs Delhi DynamosZambrotta had last come to India for a La Liga event, where the El Clasico (Real Madrid vs Barcelona) was screen at a stadium in New Delhi. Even then Zambrotta had spoken of the fact that he liked India and it was nice to be back in Delhi.”We have actually not really had players or managers and coaches, who have not wanted to come back to Delhi Dynamos. Even some of the foreigners who have played here want to come back. We have actually never had an encounter where a former associate of the club just did not want to come back to Delhi,” Rohan shared. Gianluca Zambrotta guided Delhi Dynamos FC to play-offs finish in ISL season 3. (Delhi Dynamos Photo)Two years since Zambrotta left Delhi Dynamos, they are yet to replicate the kind of form they showed under the Italian. Of course, season 4 saw a complete overhaul at the club with a completely new set of players, who could only gel along with each other by the end of the season.”This year I am genuinely hopeful of the team doing well. I have seen them play together and I feel we have very good players, I really like what I am seeing right now. Last year, it was more of the fact that I was defending the club but this year I really think we have a chance at the trophy,” Rohan told.
Relentless rain in Melbourne meant the second T20 International between Australia and India had to be abandoned after the hosts had finished with 132 for seven off 19 overs.There was a brief exchange of words between Virat Kohli and the umpires who did not stop play even as it started raining heavily in the 18th over. The first T20I in Brisbane was also affected by rain but play was possible after the match had been reduced to 17-overs-per-side.The second T20I at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was crucial for India, who had arrived in Australia as favourites. But after losing a thriller at the Gabba, Australia had their tail up.India, however, were back at their best on Friday. Bhuveshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed and Jasprit Bumrah were brilliant up front and reduced Australia to 41 for 4 in the 7th over. Ben McDermott held the innings together and was involved in useful partnerships with Nathan Coulter-Nile and Andrew Tye as Australia looked like finishing decently.India vs Australia, 2nd T20I: HIGHLIGHTS | SCORECARDThe rain break changed things.After play had remained halted for over an hour, the players were back on the field with India set to chase 90 runs off 11 overs according to the DLS method. But moments before play could resume, the rain returned.Not long after, there was news India might have to chase 46 off 5 overs. But the relentless rain meant match officials had to call play off.The T20I series now moves to Syndey where the final match will be played on Sunday. The best India can now do is draw the series.advertisementBefore coming to Australia, India had won seven successive T20I series. That streak now comes to an end.Also watch –
Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc’s wife Alyssa Healy taken a sly dig at former speedster Mitchell Johnson for criticising her husband’s performance during the first Test against India.Johnson, who was commentating during the Test match, was not impressed with Starc’s body language while he was bowling on the fourth day and wanted the Aussie quick to show some aggression.”I just don’t like his body language. He hasn’t given a bit of a glare or puffed his chest out with a good follow-through, let the batsman know he’s in the contest, that he’s going to rip the pegs out,” Johnson said on air on ABC Grandstand.Starc’s performance also drew a bit of criticism from legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne, who had infamously called Starc ‘a bit soft’ during the 2014 Ashes series.”He just finds that rhythm, he’s a real rhythm-type bowler and once he gets into that rhythm he’s lethal. I just reckon this year he’s struggled a bit because he’s had a lot of time off,” Warne said.But Healy, who is the wicket-keeper and a key member in the Australian women’s cricket team, thought otherwise and shot back at Johnson’s tweet, tagging her husband as well.”Will your preparation be getting grumpy?,” Healy replied on Johnson’s tweet which read, “Congratulations to India. Loved Australia’s fight to the end, need to move on quickly from this loss & prepare for Perth which is a quick turn around.”@mstarc56 will your preparation be getting grumpy?Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) December 10, 2018Starc picked up 5 wickets in the Test match including three in India’s second innings but still ended up on the losing side as India won the match by 31 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series on Monday.advertisement”When Starcy’s on song, there is no better bowler in the world, particularly with the new ball. In Perth, the conditions will suit him down to the ground … from what I am hearing, the wicket is going to be really fast so he’ll be a handful.”For the majority of the Test, Starcy actually bowled really well,” he said. “I saw a bit of stuff … that people were pretty critical of him. “But I think his economy rate for a lot of the Test was really good – he took some wickets.”He didn’t set the world on fire but I think, for a long time, there’s been a really big gap between Starcy’s best and his worst,” captain Tim Paine said after the match.Chasing 323 for victory, Australia gave a tough fight but were eventually bowled out for 291 with significant lower-order contributions from Tim Paine (41), Pat Cummins (28), Starc (28) and Nathan Lyon (38 not out).The second Test of the series will be played in Perth from Friday (December 14).Also Read | Perfect match: Alyssa Healy-Mitchell Starc become first couple to win best player at World CupsAlso Read | Mitchell Starc proud of wife Alyssa Healy’s historic ODI hundredAlso Read | Saw Kohli and his wife give up business class seats for India pacers: Michael VaughanAlso Read | Sunil Gavaskar heaps praise on India’s pace attack after Adelaide win: Outstanding stuff
Former India cricketer Aakash Chopra took a dig at the Australian cricket team and the Aussie media for making a villain out of Virat Kohli.Kohli was involved in a heated war of words with Australian captain Tim Paine during the Perth Test – the exchange culminated with Paine asking Murali Vijay how he could like his captain as a bloke.There was widespread criticism of Kohli’s behaviour. Former Australian pace ace Mitchell Johnson said Kohli was disrespectful and added his antics in Perth made him look silly.But Chopra, who had toured Australia in 2003-04 and recalled a moment he was sledged even when he was not playing a Test, said the Australians needed to look inward and figure out how they behaved in the past.”The Australian media is rallying behind their cricket team and, in fact, making India and Virat Kohli as the villains of world cricket. I am very, very surprised. It’s the classic case of pot calling the kettle black. Perhaps, it’s time for them to look inwards and just ask themselves the question, regards to how they have behaved in the past,” Chopra told India Today.Chopra said he found nothing offensive in Kohli’s behaviour and insisted India did not cross any line.”Personally, I have been watching Virat Kohli and the team’s behaviour very closely. I have found nothing that is offensive, nothing that is crossing the line.”Yes, he is getting under the skin of the Australian team but that’s how we expected it to be. I think they [Australian media] are overreacting and making a mountain of a molehill. During my time, I was sledged even when I wasn’t playing,” Chopra said. An Australian cricketer, who is a friend now, sledged me once when I walked in as a substitute fielder. Well, Australians… They shouldn’t be saying anything about it.”advertisementEarlier, speaking on India Today, Sunil Gavaskar had said India had started the sledging war and they had to be now prepared to cop some of it from the Australians.”We have not been saints either. Way back in 2014, when Australia were down with the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, we started it. They were too shocked in the first Test and we started it. In a situation like this, we will always lose. Australia are used to playing like that, we are not. It’s not in our DNA to play cricket like that. You also have to take into account if everyone in the team can take it. Even over here, we have started it,” Gavaskar said.Also Read | Allan Border defends Virat Kohli’s antics: He feels the need to show passion and driveAlso Read | India vs Australia: Virat Kohli extends dominance as No. 1 Test batsmanAlso See:
Ranji Trophy champions Vidarbha won the Irani Cup against Rest of India at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha, Nagpur on Saturday. Vidarbha emerged winners thanks to their first innings lead as they defended the Irani Cup. They became the third team after Bombay and Karnataka to defend Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup titles.Vidarbha rode on half-centuries from Atharwa Taide (72) and Ganesh Satish (87) as the match ended in a draw but Vidarbha won on first innings lead. Vidarbha had scored 425 in their first innings in reply to Rest of India’s 330.After a poor start to their chase of 280, Sanjay Raghunath and Atharwa Taide ensured Vidarbha finish Day 4 with 37 for 1. The duo slowly but steadily revived the Vidarbha innings before putting the Ranji Trophy champions in a strong position.The duo then dominated the Rest of India bowlers and took control of the chase. The two batsmen were going strong before Rahul Chahar struck just before lunch on Day 5 when he trapped Sanjay Raghunath leg before wicket. Raghunath had scored 42 of 131 deliveries.Raghunath was also involved in a 116-run stand with Taide, who in the process completed his second half-centuy, for the second wicket.However, that did not stop Taide from playing an attacking game. Taide was joined by seasoned campaigner Ganesh Satish and the duo continued to dominate the proceedings.Soon after lunch, Chahar struck once again to remove Taide for 72 off 185 balls.Satish and Mohit Kale then took charge of the chase as the pair added 83 runs for the fourth wicket as Satih completed his 33rd half-century. But the stand was broken when Kale (37) was caught by Tanveer Ul-Haq off Dharmendrasinh Jadeja at the stroke of tea.advertisementWith just 11 more required to win, Satish departed and it denied Vidarbha an outright win. The captain of Vidarbha Faiz Fazal and Rest of India skipper Ajinkya Rahane decided to call truce before Vidarbha completed the chase and the match ended in a draw.Earlier, Hanuma Vihari scripted history by becoming the first player to score a hat-trick of hundreds in the Irani Cup, helping Rest of India set Vidarbha a tricky 280-run target.Vihari had scored 183 for Rest of India during last year’s Irani Cup match against Vidarbha, who recently retained the Ranji Trophy with another exemplary showing.Besides Vihari’s 180, India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane made 87 and Shreyas Iyer raced to a 52-ball 61, helping Rest of India to declare their second innings at 374 for three, a day after conceding a big first-innings lead.
Dangmei Grace scored a brace as the Indian women football team defeated Indonesia 2-0 in the AFC Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 match here on Wednesday.Grace (27th, 67th) scored once in each half as the team in blue took control of the proceedings right from the first whistle.”The goals were a gift for me. The team did all the hard work! “Watch @aditi03chauhan interview goalscorer Dangmei Grace after the win against Indonesia #BackTheBlue #ShePower #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/Iq9C02YvtjIndian Football Team (@IndianFootball) April 3, 2019Speaking later, head coach Maymol Rocky said: “We wanted to start our qualifying campaign on a winning note and we have done so. Indonesia proved to be tough opponents that committed bodies in defence but we found a way to gather three points.”It is important to keep the winning momentum alive… We are taking one match at a time and our focus shifts on our next opponents Nepal (on April 6)”, she added.Keeping their winning momentum alive after the success of their 5th consecutive SAFF title win, the Indian women heaped pressure on the opponents from the opening minute.Some crafty work down the wings by Sanju and Ratanbala Devi caused havoc on the opposition defence that was unable to read the play of the Indian women.Sanju’s cross in the 24th minute caused chaos in the Indonesian defence, with one defender almost turning it into an own goal before clearing the lines.Sandhiya’s run in the 26th minute, after she was found by Sanju, caught the Indonesian defenders napping.advertisementStellar run by SandhiyaRasping shot by SumithraEasy pickings for GraceFinal score: 2-0Watch the highlights as India get off to a start against Indonesia in the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2!#IndianFootball #ShePower #BackTheBlue #INDIDN pic.twitter.com/cMsPJHZyr6Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) April 3, 2019Her stinging shot from inside the box was saved by Indonesian custodian Riska Julianti but Dangmei Grace applied the finishing touches from close range to give India the lead in the next minute.The Indian defence made quick work of Indonesian counterattacks. Indian goalkeepr Linthoingambi Devi was not tested even once.India’s momentum continued in the second half. Ratanbala Devi’s shot from a distance in the 56th minute was thwarted by the Indonesian goalkeeper.Three minutes later, Grace failed to score from close range after Sanju found her with a rasping cross that bewildered the Indonesian defence.In the 67th minute, Dangmei Grace again applied the finishing touches to a shot from Sumithra Kamaraj that was haphazardly parried away by Riska Julianti and fell in front of her — to double India’s lead.January 27 – 3-0January 30 – 2-0April 3 – 2-0.3rd straight win against Indonesia in 2019 get the Indian Women off to a winning start in the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2.#BackTheBlue #ShePower #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/qyBRqE3PCDIndian Football Team (@IndianFootball) April 3, 2019The midfield then dominated possession and kept Indonesia on their toes. India take pole position in Group A of the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2.Also Read | India women’s football team beat Indonesia 2-0Also Read | U.S. women’s football players sue federation for gender discriminationAlso Read | Indumathi Kathiresan stars as India beat Hong Kong in women’s footballAlso Watch | What is wrong with their culture? Sangakkara, Styris discuss RCB’s poor start to IPL 2019
Kolkata Knight Riders star Chris Lynn heaped praise on his fellow opener Sunil Narine after the duo batted Rajasthan Royals out of an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 contest at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday.Chasing a modest total of 140, Kolkata Knight Riders were off to a flyer after Narine and Lynn took the Rajasthan Royals bowlers to the cleaners. The home side were made to work hard for their runs on what seemed to be a sluggish wicket in Jaipur.Steve Smith was the only bright spot in Royals’ batting performance as none of the other batsmen, including big guns Ajinkya Rahane and Ben Stokes, were able to get going.However, Narine and Lynn batted as if the the Knight Riders’ chase was happening on a different surface. Narine hit a six and four boundaries in Krishnappa Gowtham’s first over as KKR raced to 32 for 0 in 2 overs.The visitors were 65 for 0 at the end of the powerplay as Narine and Lynn brought up their highest opening stand of IPL 2019 with some stunning shot-making.Narine missed out on a fifty when he was dismissed on 47 (in 25 balls) but the two KKR openers had already done the damage by putting on 91 in just 51 balls.Lynn got out just after getting to his seventh IPL fifty but Robin Uthappa (26 off 16) made sure KKR got past the finish line without further hiccups.”Unbelievable (batting from Narine). He has done it for a couple of years now. We don’t talk too much. Just keep it simple. I am traditionally a slow starter. It is a long tournament, we are building nicely with important wins,” Lynn told Star Sports after KKR’s 8-wicket win.advertisementClinical effort: Dinesh Karthik elated after KKR’s 8-wicket winMeanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik praised the collective effort of his men in their table-topping win in Jaipur.KKR are now No. 1 on the points table with four wins from five matches and a better Net Run Rate than second-placed Chennai Super Kings.”It was a pretty clinical effort, the bowlers bowled well and the batsmen backed it up well too. In India you get to play on a lot of slow surfaces and you need to adapt to them. We need to improve in a few situations, but that’s always the case,” Karthik said.Despite Lynn and Narine putting on a big-hitting show, pacer Harry Gurney walked away with the Man of the Match on his IPL debut.The seasoned English pacer finished with figures of 2 for 25 after getting the wickets of Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi.”It was a pitch that suited my cutter options, so a nice one to make my debut on. I work hard on my variations and on my yorker and it is nice to have them in tough situations, although I didn’t use it much tonight,” Gurney said.Having won two in two, KKR will travel to Chennai to take on the Super Kings on Tuesday at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, which has been MS Dhoni-led side’s fortress so far.Also Read | IPL 2019: Kolkata Knight Riders crush Rajasthan Royals to become table toppersAlso Read | Ready to rock and roll for KKR in IPL 2019: Chris Lynn
The latest and the last season of Game of Thrones is finally out and if you are a die-hard fan of the series, you must have been preparing for the next episode, which will debut on Monday. In India, for the first time, you can watch Game of Thrones simultaneously with the US on Hotstar. The edited version of the show is also being aired on Star World and its HD iterations. Therefore, Hotstar is the only way to catch up with the latest episodes on par with the world. And it seems Hotstar isn’t leaving any opportunity to reap more benefits.Hotstar has increased the price of its monthly plan to the Premium subscription. The monthly plan now costs Rs 299. Previously, this plan was available for Rs 199 per month. Hotstar hasn’t mentioned any reason for increasing the price of the monthly plan. However, from what it seems, the company must be seeing an increase in membership during the Game of Thrones Season 8 duration and wants to cash-in on the opportunity.For Rs 299, subscribers will get access to all the Premium content for the duration of an entire month, including all the English shows and Hollywood movies. Additionally, the monthly pack also gives access to Hotstar Specials and live cricket matches.For fans of Game of Thrones, this may be a slight setback. However, Game of Thrones Season 8 will span for a period of two months. Therefore, a two-month subscription via the monthly plan will amount to Rs 598. This is comparatively cheaper than the annual Premium plan that costs Rs 999. However, the annual plan at Rs 999 offers superior value over the monthly pack. You will get access to all the Premium content for the period of an entire year.advertisementHotstar also has another plan for value-conscious consumers. A few months ago, the company came up with the VIP plan that costs Rs 365. The plan offers a yearly subscription to some of the premium content. The VIP pack will let viewers watch all the sports channels with the live broadcast, all Hindi TV shows as well as Bollywood movies. However, the VIP plan doesn’t offer access to English content, which means you won’t be able to watch Game of Thrones with this pack.ALSO READ | Hotstar 365 VIP plan is cheap and nice but you can’t watch Game of Thrones with itALSO READ | How to watch Game of Thrones in India: What are the legal options and how much will it cost
Updated 3:58 pm 1/22/18HIGHWAY 20 JUST EAST OF SIOUX CITY NEAR BUCHANAN AVENUE WAS BLOCKED BY JACK-KNIFED SEMIS IN BOTH THE EAST AND WESTBOUND LANES OVER THE NOON HOUR INTO MONDAY AFTERNOON.VISIBILITY WAS DOWN TO 20 FEET AT TIMES BECAUSE OF THE BLIZZARD CONDITIONS WITH SCATTERED ICY PATCHES AND 45 MILE AN HOUR WIND GUSTS CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEMS TRUCKERS HAD TO DEAL WITH.TRAVEL IS NOT RECOMMENDED IN THE TRI-STATE AREA THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY TUESDAY MORNING.————————————————————-HIGHWAY 20 JUST EAST OF SIOUX CITY NEAR BUCHANAN AVENUE IS BLOCKED BY JACK-KNIFED SEMIS IN BOTH THE EAST AND WESTBOUND LANES AS OF NOON.VISIBILITY IS LOW BECAUSE OF THE BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AND ITS NOT KNOWN HOW LONG THE ROAD WILL BE BLOCKED.TRAVEL IS NOT RECOMMENDED IN THE TRI-STATE AREA THROUGH TONIGHT.PHOTO BY SHERIFF DAVE DREW
The offensive line has been much maligned the past few seasons. With good reason. In 2015, the running game produced 126.8 rushing yards per game, which qualified for ninth (out of 10) in the conference. That number was down from a brutal 2014 season in which they finished No. 7 in the conference with 136.6 yards per game.Looking at the overall trajectory of the rushing game, the regression is staggering. They’ve gone from 215 rush yards per game in 2012, which was good for second behind Baylor, to one of the most struggling ground attacks in the conference.There’s no doubt the rushing game is an area of emphasis to improve on this offseason. They’ve brought in junior college All-American Larry Williams, who is competing for the starting guard position as an early enrollee. And they’ll also welcome in junior college transfer Shane Richards later this summer, who will at the least provide quality depth.Beyond that, the Cowboys also have redshirt freshman tackle Marcus Keyes, redshirt freshman center Johnny Wilson, and redshirt sophomore Matt Mucha who all appear to be serviceable backups, proving as much last Saturday.But are they any better as a unit than last year? If you look at the results from Saturday, the answer is a resounding no. But there’s still optimism among the coaching staff.“The offensive line is much improved,” Mike Gundy said Saturday after a lackluster statistical performance. “We’ve got a long ways to go.”The spring game, for what it’s worth, showed no real progress up to this point, other than a definite development of depth behind the first unit. They rushed for 90 total yards on 30 carries Saturday – an average of 3.0 yards per carry. For reference, that would have tied for 127th (out of 128 teams) in the FBS last season. That doesn’t exactly scream Big 12 title contender status.On one hand, this offense has seen this same defense the entire spring. So you would expect some sort of familiarity may help in their attack.But on the other hand, the defense has seen the exact same stuff from the offense all spring, and they have the upper hand in this matchup. After all, it’s not the defensive line who has struggled the past few years.We’re still more than five months away before real football games will be played. But Saturday’s exhibition proved that despite the focus of improving a struggling area with the run game, there is still plenty of work to be done this offseason.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!
Tottenham Hotspur Kane ready to get to grips with Champions League heavyweights Rob Lancaster Last updated 2 years ago 23:34 12/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Tottenham Hotspur UEFA Champions League Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund Borussia Dortmund Harry Kane The London club have been given a daunting task in Europe after being drawn with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in Group H Harry Kane has urged Tottenham to adopt a fearless approach as they prepare to face some of Europe’s elite sides in the Champions League.Spurs endured an underwhelming campaign in the competition last season, finishing third in their group after managing just two wins from six matches.Kane 10/3 to score 2+ v Dortmund Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing This year’s draw has pitted Mauricio Pochettino’s men against reigning champions Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL in Group H.But Kane is relishing the prospect of tackling some of the biggest clubs on the continent.”It’s 50-50 really. If you’re in the Champions League you want to be playing the best teams. We’re playing them in the group stages. You’re going to have to play them one way or another,” said England international ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Dortmund.”If we can get through the group we’re in there’s no reason we can’t go further in the competition.”We’ve got a great team and we know the style and the way we want to play. We’ve got a philosophy here and it’s about being stronger than as individuals.”80 – Fewest apps to 80 Premier League goals:@alanshearer – 102@HKane – 120@RvN1776 – 122@aguerosergiokun – 128@ThierryHenry – 132Stars pic.twitter.com/uJRwmvxyYq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 10, 2017With the aim to push for honours at home and abroad this season, Tottenham added depth to their forward line before the deadline by bringing in Fernando Llorente from Swansea City.Kane, who scored twice in Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League win over Everton, is delighted to have the opportunity to work with such an experienced forward.”Fernando has been a fantastic addition,” he added. “He’s a guy I can learn a lot from. He won the World Cup, Euros, Serie A and more. It’s a learning curve for me.”
“Frankly, I was fortunate to discover Dries as a centre-forward,” the Neapolitan admitted, “because I had to make the change when Arkadiusz Milik was injured last year.”But it’s honestly a pity that we only discovered Mertens as a striker at the age of 28, because he could have been at the top level in the world for years and years.”Indeed, Mertens is no ‘false nine’, he’s the real deal, a complete forward, one of only two players to have both scored and assisted 10 goals in 2017 – the other is Inter ace Ivan Perisic.Of course, there were never any doubts about Mertens’ ability to create chances for others, given his terrific footwork and blistering pace. However, Sarri’s decision to deploy him as a No.9 shocked many.Mertens had netted 11 times during his debut season in Serie A, in 2013-14, but needed another two years to double that tally. Indeed, by the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Mertens was no longer a certain starter and grew frustrated at being used only sporadically by Sarri, who had succeeded Rafael Benitez at the helm that summer.“I’m basically only playing one of every two games,” he told Het Nieuwsblad . “That’s sometimes irritating.“With our busy schedule I understand you can’t play every game, but one match in two is too little.”However, after Milik suffered knee ligament damage while on international duty with Poland on October 8 of last year, Sarri was left with the hit-and-miss Manolo Gabbiadini as his only recognised centre-forward, so Sarri turned to Mertens.The Belgian responded sensationally, netting 26 times in his next 29 Serie A appearances for a grand total of 28 goals from 35 games by the season’s end.His transformation into a prolific centre-forward prompted the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and even Barcelona to try their utmost to profit from the fact that Mertens’ wife, Kat Kerkhofs, was allegedly unsettled in Naples.There was also a colossal cash offer from China in January but the Belgium international ultimately decided to extend his stay at the San Paolo.“My father drove a bus in Anderlecht and he took me to training every day in Brussels from when I was 11 to 18,” he explained to La Libre . “I have so much respect for what my parents did. They did not raise me talking about money and I would have disappointed them if I had gone to China.”You hear players saying that they’re signing for the adventure but no-one believes them. Maybe if I had been a substitute, like last season, I would have gone and chosen the money.“But we weighed up the pros and cons – my wife read testimonials from people of who live there – and you think about the smog and it doesn’t seem like a healthy atmosphere.”So I decided to say no, and I can tell you it’s difficult to refuse such an amount. My children and even my grandchildren would not have had to worry about their future.”It is possible that Barca were also interested, but I have not had any direct contact. After a season like that, I am super happy at my club. I didn’t want to leave.”There was also interest from Chelsea and other clubs, but, in my head, there was never any intention to change clubs. I am happy at Napoli.”Indeed, Mertens has genuine affection for the club and the city. The fans have always recognised that fact – and loved him for it. Not since Diego Maradona have they so readily taken a player to their hearts.Even before Mertens started scoring freely, he was referred to as ‘Ciro’ – a popular Christian name in Naples – because he had immersed himself in the local culture. When he speaks Italian, he often does so in the Neapolitan dialect.Furthermore, for all of the talk of his wife being unsettled, she has done nothing but cast the city in a positive light in her blog. Indeed, the couple have talked so much about Naples to their friends that they have been overwhelmed with visitors, with Mertens revealing that he once had to go sleep at Gonzalo Higuain’s house because “mine was full; my home has become a hotel!”It is, thus, easy to understand why Mertens decided to stay at Napoli for another season and why he looks just so happy in himself right now, having made an impressive start to the new Serie A season, with six goals in five games.Indeed, his most recent effort, against Lazio last Wednesday, took the breath away, with Mertens beating a back-peddling Thomas Strakosha with an expertly-weighted, first-time chip from an acute angle wide on the left-hand side of the pitch.It bore an uncanny resemblance to Maradona’s iconic strike against the same opposition in February 1985 and Mertens joked afterwards, “Mine was further out, so I get extra credit!”I just turned around, saw the goalkeeper was getting slowly back to his line and that there was a small gap, so I said to myself: ‘Go for it’!”After all, he who dares wins. Or better yet, earns the love of an entire city – and Pamela Anderson. UEFA Champions League The right-footed Maradona? How world-class Mertens won the love of Napoli – and Pamela Anderson Mark Doyle Deputy Features Editor Last updated 2 years ago 18:39 25/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty UEFA Champions League Napoli Napoli v Feyenoord Feyenoord Serie A Manchester United Chelsea Barcelona Premier League Primera División Transfers Opinion After being left heartbroken by the loss of Gonzalo Higuain, the Partenopei have a new hero – and he’s scoring goals a lot like another former idol When Dries Mertens’ former club Utrecht arrived on Merseyside in December 2010 for a Europa League clash with Liverpool, he ran into actress Pamela Anderson, who was staying at the same hotel.”She looked at me and fell in love!” he later joked. “My team-mates didn’t dare ask her but she posed for a photo with me.”Napoli 17/10 to win Serie A Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Mertens, it seems, has always been one for making the most of unexpected opportunities. Therefore, perhaps we should not be so surprised that the Belgian winger has developed into a world-class No.9 since being moved into the centre of Napoli’s attack almost exactly a year ago.Then again, not even coach Maurizio Sarri was confident that Mertens could make a success of the positional switch.