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Premier League’s ‘fab four’ dominate Champions League quarter-finals

LONDON: Being born in Germany, moving to England aged 16 before playing park football and finally making it as a professional with the little-known Forest Green Rovers may not sound like a route to becoming a Lebanese international, but then the Cedars are not like most international teams.The Middle East country has a population of…

Premier League’s ‘fab four’ dominate Champions League quarter-finals

LONDON: Being born in Germany, moving to England aged 16 before playing park football and finally making it as a professional with the little-known Forest Green Rovers may not sound like a route to becoming a Lebanese international, but then the Cedars are not like most international teams.The Middle East country has a population of just over six million people but an estimated eight to 14 million of Lebanese origin living abroad. That potential pool of players has sent the country’s coach Miodrag Radulovic (below), like his predecessors, scouring the globe looking for talent.Thanks to having a Lebanese father, Omar Bugiel was brought to the coach’s attention on one of his forays abroad, and for the Bromley striker it came as something of a shock.“I was minding my own business when I got this call. It was from an unknown number and I thought it was a missed call or something,” the 24-year-old told Arab News.“It was the national team manager, Radulovic. I am not really sure how he got my number to be honest, but he asked me if I would be interested in playing for the national team and that was that. It was completely out of the blue.”That unexpected call took place two years ago and since then Bugiel has been a key member of a Lebanon team breaking new ground on the international scene, while also now playing for Bromley in the fifth tier of English football. His entry into the national team set-up coincided with the Cedars’ rapid rise up the FIFA rankings and an unbeaten stretch of 16 matches, which ended last October with a 1-0 defeat to Kuwait.To go from club player with the unheralded Forest Green Rovers to international football was “a big thing” but Bugiel’s path to professional football was, like his journey to international football, far from typical.Having been rejected by 1860 Munich aged 16 he decided to leave Germany and try his luck in England. He had spells at five clubs before getting the move to Forest Green Rovers, where he scored 48 goals in 124 appearances. That route has seemingly made him ready for anything, including playing international football for a country he admits he had “only been to a few times before.”“I flew out to Beirut about a week after the call and got my passport sorted so I could play for them in the Asia Cup qualifying game,” Bugiel said. “Next thing I knew I was traveling for my first match against Malaysia. I didn’t get on the pitch, I couldn’t expect to get in ahead of the players who had been playing for two to three years.

 

“I was patient, traveling with the squad for the North Korea match and then made my debut against Singapore.“That was a big thing for me, I only played about 45 minutes but to have played Sunday League football and then seven or so years later to be playing for your country is massive.”Like Bugiel, a lot of the Lebanon team is drawn from far and wide. As many as nine of the recent Asian Cup squad were born abroad, but rather than create divisions in the camp Bugiel claims the diversity is a unifying factor and that they all are proud to play for the Cedars.“There are Lebanese around the world and whenever I play for the team I want to do well. We have done really well these past few years, it’s a massive thing for everyone, for the players born there and the rest of the squad. For me and Hilal El-Helwe, (who is also German-born) every time we go there we cannot wait to get to play for the national team because it’s in our blood.“Everyone is going to be different, and yes the language it is a difficult thing, my Arabic isn’t the best but I get along with every single player, there are no separate groups.”That having such a diverse range of players has not hindered Lebanon’s results can easily be seen in the results they have enjoyed. The unbeaten run and leap from 178th eight years ago to 77th in the FIFA rankings last year allowed the side to qualify for a major international tournament for the first time and bring the feel-good factor to Lebanese football.Having scored his debut goal against Jordan last September — “when I came on I decided just to have a strike and lucky enough it went in, it was an amazing experience” — Bugiel suffered a hamstring injury during the friendly against Australia two months later and was not able to be a part of the Asian Cup side.While they did not make it to the second round the Cedars certainly did not disgrace themselves, losing to the eventual winners Qatar and powerhouse Saudi Arabia before winning their first ever match at an international tournament, a 4-1 thrashing of North Korea.“I am still gutted at not being part of the Asian Cup if I am being honest,” Bugiel admitted.“But we had a great team spirit, I was speaking to the boys and wishing them all the best. We did well but unfortunately the results we had weren’t enough to get to the knockout stages.“I was just gutted for the boys after all the work they had put in. To get so far and to have a few decisions that didn’t go our way and to just miss out was tough.”Now the Asian Cup adventure is over Bugiel can look forward to what he hopes is a future full of more goals for both Lebanon and Bromley. The initial aim on the international stage is for the Cedars to try to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Given the lack of resources compared to other Asian nations, Lebanon are always going to be up against it when trying to make it to the biggest tournament in football.But Bugiel said the atmosphere in the camp is positive and they will go into qualifying, starting in September, backing themselves to create another shock.“We cannot wait to get together again and play,” he said. “The team is young, you’ve also got (captain) Hassan Maatouk who can still play and we have got to try and keep that nucleus together and add in the promising young players.”“You never know what can happen, we’d love to go on another unbeaten 16-game run, which would be great. You just have to take it game by game to get to the World Cup.”Coming back from injury, Bugiel’s first thought is to get back to full fitness and do well for Bromley to get back into the squad.“Wearing the national team shirt is like nothing I’ve experienced before, I am very proud of it, and representing my country is a big part of me now.”

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Sixth season of ​​Formula E to start in Saudi Arabia’s Ad Diriyah in November

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch and pace bowler Mitchell Starc stole the show as the holders eased to an 87-run win over Sri Lanka at the Oval on Saturday. Finch equalled his career-best one-day international score with a masterful 153 and Steve Smith chipped in with 73 as Australia scored 334-7. Needing a World Cup…

Sixth season of ​​Formula E to start in Saudi Arabia’s Ad Diriyah in November

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch and pace bowler Mitchell Starc stole the show as the holders eased to an 87-run win over Sri Lanka at the Oval on Saturday.

Finch equalled his career-best one-day international score with a masterful 153 and Steve Smith chipped in with 73 as Australia scored 334-7.

Needing a World Cup record run-chase to claim a shock win, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start thanks to a first-wicket partnership of 115 between captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera.

But Perera departed for 52 and when Karunaratne fell on 97 the game swung back in Australia’s direction.

Starc was the catalyst with a fiery spell of three wickets in six balls, Australia eventually dismissing Sri Lanka for 247 thanks in large part to his 4-55 from 10 overs.

Kane Williamson added three wickets of his own as Australia made it four wins from their five group matches after previously beating Afghanistan, the West Indies and Pakistan.

Their lone defeat in the 10-team tournament came against India and their latest victory puts them well on course for a semifinal berth.

Sri Lanka, who lost their last seven wickets for 42 runs, have only one win from their five matches, a disappointing run that includes two washouts.

They face a struggle to reach the semifinals with only four matches left, a spell that features encounters with title contenders England and India.

Sri Lanka had briefly looked capable of surpassing the World Cup chase set by Ireland, who made 329-7 to beat England in 2011.

Karunaratne and his opening partner Perera blasted 24 from the first two overs and reached their fifty partnership in just the seventh over.

But Starc bowled Perera and Jason Behrendorff dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne for 16 as Australia hit back.

A six from Kusal Mendis in the 31st over signalled Sri Lanka’s intent to get cracking.

But crucially Karunaratne stumbled short of his maiden World Cup century when he carelessly flicked Richardson to Glenn Maxwell at backward point.

That left Sri Lanka 186-3 and set the stage for Starc to turn the screw by dismissing Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera and Mendis in quick succession.

Mendis’s mistimed drive off Starc reduced Sri Lanka to 222-7 and shattered their resistance.

Earlier, Finch took the Sri Lanka attack apart with a dazzling display that included 15 fours and five sixes.

He was well-supported by Smith’s 73 from 59 balls and the pair put on 173 runs for the third wicket.

Together with opening partner David Warner, Finch took the attack to the Sri Lankans after being put in to bat under cloudy skies in south London.

The pair passed 50 for the opening wicket for the fourth time in five games at the World Cup.

Sri Lanka had no answer to Finch’s brutal assault and by the time he departed, caught by Karunaratne off Isuru Udana, he had put Australia in a commanding position.

Maxwell’s quick-fire 46 from 25 balls rubbed salt into Sri Lanka’s wounds.

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Finch, Starc shine as Australia beat Sri Lanka in World Cup

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch and pace bowler Mitchell Starc stole the show as the holders eased to an 87-run win over Sri Lanka at the Oval on Saturday. Finch equalled his career-best one-day international score with a masterful 153 and Steve Smith chipped in with 73 as Australia scored 334-7. Needing a World Cup…

Finch, Starc shine as Australia beat Sri Lanka in World Cup

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch and pace bowler Mitchell Starc stole the show as the holders eased to an 87-run win over Sri Lanka at the Oval on Saturday.

Finch equalled his career-best one-day international score with a masterful 153 and Steve Smith chipped in with 73 as Australia scored 334-7.

Needing a World Cup record run-chase to claim a shock win, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start thanks to a first-wicket partnership of 115 between captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera.

But Perera departed for 52 and when Karunaratne fell on 97 the game swung back in Australia’s direction.

Starc was the catalyst with a fiery spell of three wickets in six balls, Australia eventually dismissing Sri Lanka for 247 thanks in large part to his 4-55 from 10 overs.

Kane Williamson added three wickets of his own as Australia made it four wins from their five group matches after previously beating Afghanistan, the West Indies and Pakistan.

Their lone defeat in the 10-team tournament came against India and their latest victory puts them well on course for a semifinal berth.

Sri Lanka, who lost their last seven wickets for 42 runs, have only one win from their five matches, a disappointing run that includes two washouts.

They face a struggle to reach the semifinals with only four matches left, a spell that features encounters with title contenders England and India.

Sri Lanka had briefly looked capable of surpassing the World Cup chase set by Ireland, who made 329-7 to beat England in 2011.

Karunaratne and his opening partner Perera blasted 24 from the first two overs and reached their fifty partnership in just the seventh over.

But Starc bowled Perera and Jason Behrendorff dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne for 16 as Australia hit back.

A six from Kusal Mendis in the 31st over signalled Sri Lanka’s intent to get cracking.

But crucially Karunaratne stumbled short of his maiden World Cup century when he carelessly flicked Richardson to Glenn Maxwell at backward point.

That left Sri Lanka 186-3 and set the stage for Starc to turn the screw by dismissing Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera and Mendis in quick succession.

Mendis’s mistimed drive off Starc reduced Sri Lanka to 222-7 and shattered their resistance.

Earlier, Finch took the Sri Lanka attack apart with a dazzling display that included 15 fours and five sixes.

He was well-supported by Smith’s 73 from 59 balls and the pair put on 173 runs for the third wicket.

Together with opening partner David Warner, Finch took the attack to the Sri Lankans after being put in to bat under cloudy skies in south London.

The pair passed 50 for the opening wicket for the fourth time in five games at the World Cup.

Sri Lanka had no answer to Finch’s brutal assault and by the time he departed, caught by Karunaratne off Isuru Udana, he had put Australia in a commanding position.

Maxwell’s quick-fire 46 from 25 balls rubbed salt into Sri Lanka’s wounds.

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Taylor puts England in World Cup last 16 with game to spare

Reims, France, June 14, 2019 Agence France Presse: Cristiana Girelli fired Italy into the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup on Friday with a controversial VAR-assisted hat-trick that helped see off hapless Jamaica 5-0, while Japan beat Scotland 2-1 to put their campaign back on course.Italy join France and Germany in the knockout stages…

Taylor puts England in World Cup last 16 with game to spare

Reims, France, June 14, 2019 Agence France Presse: Cristiana Girelli fired Italy into the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup on Friday with a controversial VAR-assisted hat-trick that helped see off hapless Jamaica 5-0, while Japan beat Scotland 2-1 to put their campaign back on course.Italy join France and Germany in the knockout stages following the Juventus striker’s treble and a late brace from Aurora Galli, which gives Milena Bertolini’s side a perfect six points — three more than both Australia and Brazil — and puts them both top of Group C and through with a game to spare.“We never thought we would have got this kind of result at the outset of the tournament,” said Bertolini, whose side were among the outsiders before the start of the World Cup.“Honestly I don’t think I could have imagined this a year ago (when Italy secured qualification).”However the penalty with which Girelli opened her tournament account caused controversy, with referee Anna-Marie Keighley pointing to the spot after a VAR check in the 10th minute for a what looked like a soft foul on Barabara Bonansea.Girelli then missed the spot-kick, but Keighley allowed her to retake following another VAR check that Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider had encroached.The 29-year-old made no mistake the second time round — two minutes after the original penalty was given — before doubling Italy’s lead 13 minutes later when she bundled home Bonansea’s flick-on from a corner.Girelli became just the second Italian woman to score a World Cup hat-trick just after the break when she beat Schneider to a looping cross.“I couldn’t have even dreamed scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup, it’s an incredible personal satisfaction,” said Girelli.Substitute Galli completed the rout, first firing home a long-range effort in the 71st minute before neatly taking Manuela Giugliano’s through ball and rounding Schneider to slot home the fifth 10 minutes later.Italy can now guarantee top spot in the group by getting a result from their final game against Brazil, although their superior goal difference means they can lose and still maintain first place.Earlier Japan coach Asako Takakura insisted there is more to come from her young team after the Nadeshiko gave their campaign a shot in the arm by beating Scotland 2-1 in Rennes.Mana Iwabuchi set the 2011 winners on their way and Yuika Sugasawa converted a penalty as Japan closed in on the last 16, just four days after a disappointing display in a goalless draw against Argentina.Takakura’s side will now go into their final Group D game against England, who will qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Argentina later on Friday, with a chance of finishing top and ensuring a more favorable draw in the last 16.“It was a must-win game and, although there were difficult moments, we needed to be aggressive and score goals, and that is what we did,” said the coach.“We have beaten a wonderful Scottish team, but there is room for improvement so we will discuss how we can get better.”Scotland got a goal back late on through substitute Lana Clelland, but they will be disappointed at offering nothing going forward until it was too late after being 2-0 down at half-time, just like in their opening defeat against England.“I thought we saw the real Japan today. Their movement was incredible — we knew it would be, and we tried to set up in a way to stop them,” said Scotland coach Shelley Kerr.“In spells of the game we didn’t do that, which sometimes can be understandable because you’re playing against world-class players.”Their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 at their debut World Cup are slim before a final group game against Argentina in Paris.

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