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Boca part ways with coach after Copa Libertadores loss

Category : AFP

Buenos Aires (AFP) – Boca Juniors announced Friday it was parting ways with coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the aftermath of the painful Copa Libertadores final defeat to fierce Buenos Aires rivals River Plate.
“Though the pain and sadness have not yet gone, we understand that the best thing for Boca is a change, to start the year with a new coach,” Boca president Daniel Angelici told reporters in the Argentine capital.
Alongside the Boca chief, Barros Schelotto said that “beyond the pain of not having won the cup, I’m going with peace of mind of having given everything”.
Barros Schelotto, a former Boca player, has managed the side for the past three seasons. 
It is not known who will replace the 45-year-old, although Angelici admitted that there were “many names” being mentioned as successor.
“I want to thank Guillermo and his coaching staff for fighting to the last in the Copa Libertadores,” said Angelici.
“Everything possible was done to achieve something that in this country is not valued, that is to reach a final.”
Under his guidance, Boca won the last two Argentine championships but losing to River in a violence-tainted final has plunged the club into gloom.
River won the two-legged final 5-3 on aggregate after the second leg was moved more than 6,000 miles (9656 kilometres) away to Madrid to avoid a repeat of the fan violence that forced the postponement of the first leg.
The delayed second leg was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium after the original game was postponed following an attack by River fans on the Boca team bus.  
Several Boca players needed hospital treatment for eye injuries caused by glass shards and others said they suffered from smoke inhalation outside River’s Monumental Stadium.
The first leg at Boca’s Bombonera stadium had finished 2-2. But despite losing home advantage for the second leg, River prevailed 3-1 after extra time in Madrid.

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Salah retains BBC African Footballer of the Year award

Category : AFP

London (AFP) – Liverpool and Egypt striker Mohamed Salah has capped a sparkling 2018 for club and country by winning the prestigious BBC African Footballer of the Year Award for the second time in a row.
“It’s a great feeling to win again. I’m happy and I would like to win it also next year!” said Salah.
The 26-year-old, who beat Medhi Benatia, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane and Thomas Partey to the award, is just the second player after Jay-Jay Okocha to win it two years running.
Yaya Toure is the only other player to have twice won the award in its current form while Nwankwo Kanu won it twice when it was a broader African Sports Personality award.
Salah scored 44 goals in 52 games for Liverpool last season, his first on Merseyside after joining them from Roma, and helped them to reach the Champions League final.
His club form has continued this season with his winner against Napoli on Tuesday that saw the Reds into the Champions League last 16 taking his tally to 13.
“There have been many good moments in 2018,” he added. 
“I’m scoring goals and helping the team to get the points to be top of the league. That’s always a great feeling.”
Salah also scored twice for Egypt at the World Cup in Russia.
Earlier in 2018, Salah won the English double — the Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Player of the Year.  
Salah also won the 2017 CAF Player of the Year and is one of 10 nominees for the 2018 award which will be announced in January.

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EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 17

Category : Leagues: EPL

The Premier League’s fight atop the table continues this weekend when Mohamed Salah and first-place Liverpool host Manchester United in a highly-anticipated match on Sunday, Dec., 16 at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Telemundo. Liverpool jumped into first place after a 4-0 rout of Bournemouth last weekend, while Manchester United also scored four goals in the team’s victory over Fulham. NBC Sports’ lead Premier League play-by-play announcer Arlo White calls Liverpool v. Manchester United on NBCSN, joined by analysts Graeme Le Saux and Lee Dixon. The trio will also offer pre-match commentary from a pitch-side desk at Anfield.
This weekend’s live Premier League coverage begins Saturday at 7 a.m. ET with Premier League Mornings on NBCSN, followed by 2nd-place Manchester City v. Everton at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Universo. 2nd-place Manchester City sit one point behind Liverpool after their first loss of the season to 4th-place Chelsea, while Everton look for a win after back-to-back draws.
Last Saturday’s Chelsea-Manchester City game, which was the showcase match at the “Premier League Mornings Live” Fan Fest in New York City, averaged 1.1 million viewers on NBC to rank as the most-watched Premier League match this season.
NBCSN’s live coverage continues Saturday at 10 a.m. ET with 3rd-place Tottenham v. Burnley. Tottenham come off a 2-0 win over Leicester City, while Burnley look for a second straight victory after defeating Brighton & Hove Albion last week.
Also Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold presents four exclusive live matches: Crystal Palace v. Leicester City, Huddersfield v. Newcastle, Watford v. Cardiff City, and Wolverhampton Wanderers v. Bournemouth.
Live match coverage concludes on Saturday with Fulham v. West Ham at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Fulham aim to win their third match of the season, while West Ham look to extend their three-match winning streak. White calls the match, joined by Dixon.
Live match coverage on Sunday, Dec. 16, begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with Premier League Mornings on NBCSN, followed by Brighton & Hove Albion v. 4th-place Chelsea. Brighton & Hove Albion come off a narrow 1-0 loss to Burnley, while Chelsea look continue their momentum after handing Manchester City their first loss of the season. Derek Rae calls the match, joined by Danny Higginbotham.
Also at 8:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold presents coverage of Southampton v. fifth-place Arsenal. Southampton look to win their second match of the season, while Arsenal will hope to break into the league’s top-4.
Rebecca Lowe hosts Premier League Mornings, Premier League Live, and Goal Zone, joined by former Jamaica National Team player Robbie Earle, and former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Kyle Martino.
 
Here’s the schedule of soccer commentators for the weekend Premier League matches (all times Eastern):
 
Saturday, December 15
Man City vs. Everton, 7:30am, NBCSN, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue — Peter Drury and Jim Beglin
Spurs vs. Burnley, 10am, NBCSN, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue — Dave Stowell and David Phillips
Crystal Palace vs. Leicester, 10am, NBC Sports Gold — Tony Jones and Andy Walker
Huddersfield vs. Newcastle, 10am, NBC Sports Gold — Rob Palmer and Keith Andrews
Watford vs. Cardiff, 10am, NBC Sports Gold — Gary Taphouse and Tony Gale
Wolves vs. Bournemouth, 10am, NBC Sports Gold — Jim Proudfoot and Matt Holland
Fulham vs. West Ham, 12:30pm, NBC, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue — Arlo White and Lee Dixon
 
Sunday, December 16
Brighton vs. Chelsea, 8:30am, NBCSN, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue — Derek Rae and Danny Higginbotham
Southampton vs. Arsenal, 8:30am, NBC Sports Gold — Jon Champion and Andy Townsend
Liverpool vs. Man United, 11am, NBCSN, fuboTV, Sling Blue and PlayStation Vue — Arlo White, Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux
 

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Portugal winger Guedes out for two months after surgery

Category : AFP

Madrid (AFP) – Valencia winger Goncalo Guedes is expected to be out of action for two months following surgery on Friday, the La Liga club announced.
The 22-year-old Portuguese international has been struggling with a pubalgia, commonly known as a sports hernia.
“The player will return to Valencia in the coming days to start the recovery work that, according to the initial forecast, is around two months,” said the Valencia statement.
Guedes, who joined Valencia from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer after a successful campaign on loan at the Mestalla last season, originally sustained the injury during a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in early October but has played in matches since, including the 2-0 defeat at Real Madrid at the start of the month.
Marcelino’s Valencia have been disappointing so far this season, having finished fourth in La Liga to qualify for the Champions League seven months ago.
They sit 15th in the Spanish top flight after winning just three of 15 matches, and dropped into the Europa League last 32 after finishing behind Juventus and Manchester United in their Champions League group.

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Salah in line to retain African Player of the Year award

Category : AFP

Johannesburg (AFP) – Title-holder Mohamed Salah of Egypt was among 10 African stars named Friday in a Premier League-dominated short-list for the 2018 CAF Player of the Year award.
The 26-year-old scored 44 goals for Liverpool in all competitions last season, his first at Anfield afer moving from Roma, and is set to be voted number one in Africa again.
After a slow start to his second season in England, Salah is joint leading Premier League scorer on 10 goals with Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal.
Salah and 2015 African Player of the Year Aubameyang are among five nominees from England’s top flight, with Manchester City winger Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, who won the award in 2016 after helping Leicester City to a historic Premier League title, joining them.
Salah’s Senegalese Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane, and Nigerian Alex Iwobi of Arsenal are the other candidates from the most-watched football league in the world.
There are two goalkeepers vying to become the first to win the award since Badou Zaki of Morocco 32 years ago — Cameroonian Andre Onana of Ajax Amsterdam and Ugandan Denis Onyango from South African club Mamelodi Sundowns.
Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia, Egyptian midfielder Walid Soliman and Tunisian striker Anis Badri complete the list.
French coach Herve Renard, who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia and the Ivory Coast and is now in charge of Morocco, is among three Coach of the Year contenders.
His rivals are Aliou Cisse of Senegal and Moine Chaabani, who guided Tunisian side Esperance to the CAF Champions League title after being put in charge just one match before the final.
The award winners will be announced on January 8 at a ceremony in Dakar.
African awards short lists
Player of the Year
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria, Arsenal/ENG), Andre Onana (Cameroon, Ajax/NED), Anis Badri (Tunisia, Esperance), Denis Onyango (Uganda, Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco, Juventus/ITA), Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool/ENG), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon,Arsenal/ENG), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria, Manchester City/ENG), Sadio Mane (Senegal, Liverpool/ENG), Walid Soliman (Egypt, Al Ahly)
Women’s Player of the Year
Abdulai Mukarama (Ghana), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Bassira Toure (Mali), Chrestinah Kgatlana (South Africa), Elizabeth Addo (Ghana), Francisca Ordega (Nigeria), Gabrielle Onguene (Cameroon), Janine van Wyk (South Africa), Onome Ebi (Nigeria), Raissa Feudjio (Cameroon), Tabitha Chawinga (Malawi)
Youth Player of the Year
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco), Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Coach of the Year
Aliou Cisse (Senegal), Herve Renard (Morocco), Moine Chaabani (Esperance/TUN)

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Premier League calls on fans to behave after incidents of abuse

Category : AFP

London (AFP) – The Premier League published a message to fans on Friday calling on them to support their teams in the right way following recent  incidents of abuse that have blighted the game.
Raheem Sterling was subjected to alleged racial abuse during Manchester City’s defeat at Chelsea last week.
The England forward later issued a statement accusing the British media of fuelling racism in the way it reports certain stories about black players.
Chelsea banned four supporters pending an investigation and were then forced to condemn anti-Semitic chanting during Thursday’s Europa League tie with Vidi in Budapest.
A Tottenham fan was also arrested during the recent north London derby at Arsenal after a banana skin was thrown onto the pitch in the direction of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he celebrated putting the Gunners ahead.
With a packed festive schedule to come, the Premier League has asked for any abuse to be reported.
“Some brilliant football has been played this Premier League season and the vast majority of fans have generated exciting and passionate atmospheres in stadiums,” the statement said.
“However, there have been incidents recently where a very small minority have behaved unacceptably.
“As we head into the festive season, with matches coming thick and fast, we ask all supporters to get behind their teams in passionate, positive and respectful ways. Support for a club should never include excessive aggression or discrimination towards the opposition.”
Chelsea earlier promised to take the “strongest possible action” against any supporters found to have sung an anti-Semitic chant in Budapest.
Minutes into the match with Vidi, which ended 2-2, a vocal minority of Chelsea fans were heard singing a derogatory chant about Tottenham supporters, featuring anti-Semitic language.
Chelsea in January launched a campaign to raise awareness and educate fans about anti-Semitism in football and the club, including owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, have expressed disgust at the latest incident.
“Anti-Semitism and any other kind of race-related or religious hatred is abhorrent to this club and the overwhelming majority of our fans,” said a Chelsea spokesman. “It has no place at Chelsea or in any of our communities.
Anti-discrimination leaders and Jewish groups condemned the chanting.

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Liverpool’s Klopp hails Man Utd quality ahead of Premier League clash

Category : AFP

London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Manchester United have “unbelievable quality” despite their struggles this season, playing down his own team’s growing injury problems ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash.
Liverpool are top of the Premier League heading into the weekend fixtures, 16 points ahead of Jose Mourinho’s side, but the Klopp is taking nothing for granted.
“I was never interested in the points of Manchester United and I am not today,” he said on Friday.
“I am aware of the criticism and stuff but when we analyse them and switch off the sound there is a lot of quality.
“There is speed, technique, physical strength, pretty much everything. They still have (David) de Gea in goal, unbelievable. They have strikers they can switch between (Marcus) Rashford, (Romelu) Lukaku, (Jesse) Lingard, (Anthony) Martial, unbelievable quality.”
Mourinho has been wrestling with the problem of how to get the best out of midfielder Paul Pogba, who has not been in the starting line-up for the past two Premier League matches.
Klopp was asked whether he thought United were better with or without the World Cup winner but said he would not comment beyond calling him a “world-class player”.
He said he is unlikely to make a move during the January transfer window after insisting his mounting injury problems in defence are not a crisis.
Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold (foot) and Joel Matip (broken collarbone) this week joined Joe Gomez (broken leg) on the injury list.
Midfielder James Milner played at right-back recently and Nathaniel Clyne has returned to fitness but has barely featured since the beginning of last season.
Klopp admits he may have to get creative but that is unlikely to involve spending in January.
“A crisis is if you feel it is a crisis,” he said. “With Trent, it’s not as serious as with the other two boys, but of course it’s not top-class news, that’s clear.”
A back problem restricted Clyne to just five appearances in the final few weeks of last season and his injury issues have continued into the current campaign but his return to full training is timely.
“Clyne is a very experienced player,” said Klopp. “Is it perfect? No. But is he experienced enough to do it? Yes, 100 percent.
“We have other options so we will not push Clyney after not the longest spell of training.
“As long as we have options everything is fine. If we don’t have the obvious option any more then we need to be creative.”

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Struggling Fenerbahce turn to former coach Yanal

Category : AFP

Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish side Fenerbahce have turned to former coach Ersun Yanal to fill the hole left by the sacking six weeks ago of Dutch coach Phillip Cocu, the club announced on Friday.  
Yanal, who led Fenerbahce to the league title in 2014, has signed a contract for a year and half. 
“Welcome home,” read a post on the official club Twitter page showing Yanal on the field and walking through the players’ tunnel and changing room. 
The 57-year-old arrives with his old club in some trouble. 
Fenerbahce, 19 times champions of Turkey, have won just three matches in the league this season and lie one place off the bottom of the table in the relegation zone. 
The one consolation lies in the Europa League where they qualified on Thursday for the knockout stage.
Cocu was sacked six weeks ago since when another Dutchman Erwin Koeman has been holding the fort as caretaker coach.  
Yanal was in charge of the Turkey national team in 2004-2005 although his last management job with Trabzonspor ended 14 months ago.

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beIN SPORTS refiles FCC carriage complaint against Comcast

Category : beIN SPORTS

beIN SPORTS has refiled their FCC carriage complaint against Comcast arguing that the cable provider is discriminating against beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español.
In July 2018, Comcast removed beIN SPORTS from its cable networks in what appeared to be retaliation for beIN SPORTS filing a FCC carriage dispute complaint against the country’s largest cable provider. That filing by beIN SPORTS was dismissed by the FCC without prejudice due to a lack of evidence, thus allowing beIN SPORTS the opportunity to refile the complaint at a later date, if they so wished.
The original FCC filing in March 2018 argued that Comcast was unfairly discriminating against beIN SPORTS by having beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español only available on premium, upper-tier sports or Spanish-language packages while Comcast-owned channels such as NBCSN and Universo were widely available on lower-tier packages. Since Comcast owns NBC Sports who are the exclusive rights-holders to the Premier League in the United States, it was in the best interests of Comcast to block access to beIN SPORTS, thereby preventing subscribers from watching the biggest competitor to the Premier League, which is Spain’s LaLiga that’s exclusively available via beIN SPORTS.
By Comcast removing beIN SPORTS from its programming, which was quickly followed by DIRECTV doing the same, beIN SPORTS lost millions of subscribers practically overnight.
During the summer, Comcast defended their decision to drop beIN SPORTS because they were “asking for a major increase in fees for the channel [subscribers] already have, which could have a big impact on [a cable] bill.”
However, during the summer and fall of 2018, beIN SPORTS managed to renew every single carriage agreement with TV providers in the United States except for two holdouts — Comcast and AT&T’s DIRECTV.
The reality is that beIN SPORTS is trying to compete in a TV industry that is largely controlled and influenced by media giants. Comcast appears to be trying to limit the distribution of beIN SPORTS, which helps the business interests of Comcast, a media giant that has a monopoly in many markets across the country.
In a statement issued today by beIN SPORTS, the network argues that “We have spent many months tirelessly trying to negotiate reasonable terms with Comcast. But Comcast has now, point-blank, refused to negotiate with us. Thus, beIN SPORTS is today refiling our carriage complaint against Comcast, providing more detailed and robust evidence, consistent with FCC guidance, to substantiate Comcast’s discriminatory practices against beIN SPORTS and in favor of Comcast’s NBC affiliates. Such practices are not only damaging to fair competition and plurality in the broadcast market, but also deny sports fans premium sports content.
“As described in the original complaint, Comcast has discriminated against beIN SPORTS in favor of its own soccer content and other sports-related programming to the detriment of beIN SPORTS’ loyal viewers and sports fans across the country. beIN SPORTS feels this violates the program carriage rules.
“As a network that puts sports fans first, beIN SPORTS USA is committed to providing our passionate viewers with equal access to the world-class sports coverage and content they deserve. We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached to reinstate beIN SPORTS at the same levels of distribution as Comcast’s own sports networks, with which beIN SPORTS simply seeks to compete on a fair basis.”

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Aguero, De Bruyne close to Man City return, says Guardiola

Category : AFP

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are both on the verge of a return to action for Manchester City as a busy December programme gathers pace, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
Aguero, City’s leading scorer, has missed their past four matches with a groin problem but has been able to train without discomfort and could face Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Belgium midfielder De Bruyne suffered ligament damage to his right knee in August and although he returned in October, he then injured his left knee during the League Cup win over Fulham on November 1.
He too has resumed full training and Guardiola will assess both players in the hope that his lengthy casualty list might be about to ease.
The City boss said he was down to 15 fit senior players for Wednesday’s 2-1 Champions League victory over Hoffenheim, and remains without a significant chunk of his squad.
Playmaker David Silva, full-back Benjamin Mendy and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo are longer-term absentees, while defenders John Stones and Danilo, plus midfielder Fernandinho, will have late fitness checks before Guardiola makes a decision on whether to include them.
The manager, though, is optimistic on 30-year-old Aguero, who has 12 goals in all competitions this season.
“He did the last two training sessions, including on Thursday and he has no pain in his injury so we’ll decide,” he said.
“Kevin is in the same situation as Sergio. Yesterday he trained with no pain, we will see.”
The win over Hoffenheim enabled City to get back on track after the disappointment of seeing their 15-match unbeaten start to the Premier League season end in a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea last Saturday.
With Liverpool not playing until Sunday, when they host Manchester United, City will go back to the top, at least for a day, if they avoid defeat against Marco Silva’s side.
– Everton threat –
Everton were one of only three visiting league teams to avoid defeat at the Etihad Stadium last season, and Guardiola is wary of opponents who start the weekend sitting seventh in the Premier League.
The manager also wants his players to step up their form going into the Christmas programme in order to bring some extra cheer to supporters.
“Last season, when we dropped points, we were able to respond with another big run,” he said.
“We must focus on what we have to do. Christmas is here, people are on holidays, the families are back together, enjoying their Christmas. For us, it’s the toughest time of the season and it’s time to be focused.”

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