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Egyptians light up stadium in tribute to fallen fans

CAIRO: Even as Egypt struggled against South Africa in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday, the home fans took time to honor a recent tradition.In the 20th and 72nd minutes of a match that the Egyptians were to lose 1-0, hundreds of supporters switched on their mobile phone flashlights —…

Egyptians light up stadium in tribute to fallen fans

CAIRO: Even as Egypt struggled against South Africa in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday, the home fans took time to honor a recent tradition.In the 20th and 72nd minutes of a match that the Egyptians were to lose 1-0, hundreds of supporters switched on their mobile phone flashlights — a simple tribute to victims killed in deadly stadium clashes after the 2011 revolution.“This is our tradition that we pull out our mobiles,” said 19-year-old Mostafa Atef.“The blood of martyrs has nothing to do whether we support (rival clubs) Al Ahly or Zamalek.”The timing of the flashlight tributes reflect the numbers of fans killed in two separate incidents.There is still uncertainty at the number of fans who died in February 2012 when security forces stormed the field at the Port Said stadium of Al Masry during a match with Cairo-based Al Ahly.Some reports claim 74 fans died that day, others say 72. Whichever, it was one of the world’s deadliest football clashes.Three years later, almost to the day in 2015, 20 Zamalek fans — some reports say 22 — died after a mass stampede at the June 30 Stadium’s gates, prompted by police use of teargas and live bullets.That led to the reinstatement of a total ban on attending domestic games which is still in effect.For sales representative Islam Abdel Sadek, 30, the tragedies are a reminder that security in football stadiums will still be necessary after the tournament.“Egypt is strong and safe now,” said Sadek. “But it’s a poignant memory and we are praying for the martyrs. So of course we will always turn our lights on.”In a tournament designed to promote the country’s international image, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi told the national squad that preparations for international audiences were more important than their results on the pitch.Under El-Sisi, who led the army’s overthrow of President Muhammad Mursi in 2013, a focus on political stability and crushing dissent has meant that even football has been heavily scrutinized by the security forces.The Cup of Nations has been a testing ground for fan attendance when the domestic league resumes.“Fans going back to the stadiums has been a great thing for Egyptian football,” said Ahmad Yousef, editor of website KingFut.Authorities, though, have been selective in their choice of who attends matches with a new online system requiring a background check using an Egyptian national ID.“When the league does restart after the tournament and whether Ultras fans will make their way back to the stadiums, that’s when trouble could start again,” he added.In recent years, devoted fan groups known as the ‘Ultras’ have been politically active in mobilizing young, mostly male football enthusiasts.The Ultras Red Devils of Al Ahly and White Knights of Zamalek have been caught up with, though, in a government crackdown.Many online users, bitterly disappointed by the Pharoahs’ defeat by South Africa, pointed to the dozens of Ultras in jail as a sign of Egypt’s fear of football fans.Less then 24 hours after the South Africa defeat, the whole of Egyptian football appears to be in disarray with federation president Hani Abou Rida sacking coach Javier Aguirre and then announcing his own resignation, paving the way for a vast shake-up within the organization.Whether that will change the fans’ relationship with the security forces remains to be seen.In the meantime, supporters like Atef will continue to flash their lights.“We are honoring these martyrs so their memory lives on,” he said.

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Algeria beats Nigeria, sets up final match with Senegal in African Cup

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and…

Algeria beats Nigeria, sets up final match with Senegal in African Cup

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalize when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria or Nigeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli center-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.

Cisse made one change to the team that defeated Benin in the quarterfinals with 20-year-old forward Krepin Diatta replacing Keita Balde.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse changed two of the side that eliminated Madagascar, promoting Mohamed Drager and Ayman Ben Mohamed and benching Wajdi Kechrida and Ghaylen Chaaleli.

The countries were meeting for the sixth time in the Cup of Nations with each winning one match and the other three drawn.

Tunisia had the first clearcut chance at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital, but unmarked captain Youssef Msakni headed a corner well over.

Senegal then took control and had three opportunities before half-time to end the deadlock and edge closer to the July 19 final.

Youssouf Sabaly unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box that beat Mouez but cannoned back into play off the woodwork on 26 minutes.

Then, in a 60-second purple patch, Mbaye Niang and Liverpool star Sadio Mane were unable to convert chances before a small crowd. Niang swivelled inside the box only to fire well wide and Mane rounded Hassen but his shot from an acute angle finished well off target.

Giresse took off Msakni at halftime and introduced Naim Sliti, scorer of the stoppage-time goal that sealed a convincing last eight win over giantkillers Madagascar.

Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, a virtual spectator in the opening half, reacted quickly early in the second half to push away a Sassi snap shot.

Attackers Niang and Diatta were having little success and came off with Mbaye Diagne and Ismaila Sarr replacing them as an intriguing semifinal entered the final quarter.

The Sassi penalty was weak, allowing Gomis to save comfortably, while Hassen made a brilliant one-hand block to foil a powerfully struck spot kick by Saivet.

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Senegal reach Africa Cup final as own goal sinks Tunisia

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and…

Senegal reach Africa Cup final as own goal sinks Tunisia

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalize when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria or Nigeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli center-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.

Cisse made one change to the team that defeated Benin in the quarterfinals with 20-year-old forward Krepin Diatta replacing Keita Balde.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse changed two of the side that eliminated Madagascar, promoting Mohamed Drager and Ayman Ben Mohamed and benching Wajdi Kechrida and Ghaylen Chaaleli.

The countries were meeting for the sixth time in the Cup of Nations with each winning one match and the other three drawn.

Tunisia had the first clearcut chance at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital, but unmarked captain Youssef Msakni headed a corner well over.

Senegal then took control and had three opportunities before half-time to end the deadlock and edge closer to the July 19 final.

Youssouf Sabaly unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box that beat Mouez but cannoned back into play off the woodwork on 26 minutes.

Then, in a 60-second purple patch, Mbaye Niang and Liverpool star Sadio Mane were unable to convert chances before a small crowd. Niang swivelled inside the box only to fire well wide and Mane rounded Hassen but his shot from an acute angle finished well off target.

Giresse took off Msakni at halftime and introduced Naim Sliti, scorer of the stoppage-time goal that sealed a convincing last eight win over giantkillers Madagascar.

Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, a virtual spectator in the opening half, reacted quickly early in the second half to push away a Sassi snap shot.

Attackers Niang and Diatta were having little success and came off with Mbaye Diagne and Ismaila Sarr replacing them as an intriguing semifinal entered the final quarter.

The Sassi penalty was weak, allowing Gomis to save comfortably, while Hassen made a brilliant one-hand block to foil a powerfully struck spot kick by Saivet.

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England eye World Cup glory as New Zealand plot shock

London: Eoin Morgan’s England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday desperate to win the World Cup for the first time after four years of hard graft.When England exited the 2015 tournament after an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few tipped them as potential champions four years later.As captain Morgan put it: “If you had offered…

England eye World Cup glory as New Zealand plot shock

London: Eoin Morgan’s England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday desperate to win the World Cup for the first time after four years of hard graft.When England exited the 2015 tournament after an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few tipped them as potential champions four years later.As captain Morgan put it: “If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you.”One person not laughing was Andrew Strauss, the former England director of cricket.Drafted into the newly created role, Strauss set about an overhaul that saw the former England captain appoint Australia’s Trevor Bayliss as coach, and place greater emphasis on white-ball cricket.The value of that work showed when England, now top of the one-day international rankings, thrashed reigning champions Australia by eight wickets in the semifinal at Edgbaston with the kind of performance that justified their billing as pre-tournament favorites.Pacemen Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes destroyed the top order, leg-spinner Adil Rashid chipped in and the dynamic duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow launched the run chase with another blistering century partnership.Australian World Cup-winning captain Steve Waugh said England could go down as one of the greatest teams in one-day international history if they win on Sunday.

But the challenge for the host nation, as they seek a first title in the 44-year history of the World Cup, is to embrace Sunday’s occasion at Lord’s without it inhibiting their “fearless” brand of cricket.“It’s the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup,” said Morgan.Back-to-back group-stage defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia effectively saw England playing knockout cricket before the semifinals but they got their campaign back on track with impressive victories against India and New Zealand.“I think it has helped us because it’s lent itself to actually being more positive and aggressive and a bit smarter about how we play. It’s sort of been the last-chance saloon,” explained Morgan.New Zealand, who have also never won the World Cup, helped shock England into a change of approach by humiliating them in Wellington four years ago and cannot be underestimated after seeing off Virat Kohli’s India in the semifinals.The 2015 losing finalists boast a well-balanced attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult but their batting has been hugely reliant on captain Kane Williamson, who has scored 548 runs in the tournament at an outstanding average of 91.33, and Ross Taylor.Williamson said his side were happy to embrace their underdog status, acknowledging that England deserved to be favorites.“But whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play,” he said. “And we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody — regardless of breed of dog.”While some members of the home side were not even born when England made the last of three losing appearances in a World Cup final in 1992, the Black Caps have the experience of their heavy defeat by co-hosts Australia in the climax of the 2015 edition in Melbourne to call on.But there is a sense that England will never have a better chance.“I haven’t allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy,” said Morgan.“Cricket and sport in particular is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside. For us to win it, I think around the country it would be awesome, great for the game.”

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