Mon, Jun 25, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Sports Briefs

AGENCIES

■ SOCCER

Hagi back to coach Steaua

Former Romania playmaker Gheorghe Hagi returned to Steaua Bucharest as coach on Saturday 17 years after he left to join Real Madrid, the club owner said. "Hagi is the new coach of Steaua Bucharest," Gigi Becali said. "I've got his agreement to sign a contract for the next two or three years on Monday [today]." Hagi replaces Cosmin Olaroiu who is joining Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal on a contract worth about 1.7 million euros (US$2.29 million), according to local media reports. "I come to Steaua with my heart," Hagi, who quit as coach of Politehnica Timisoara in May last year, said by telephone from his native city of Constanta.

■ RUGBY UNION

Shelford battles cancer

Former All Blacks captain Wayne "Buck" Shelford, one of international rugby's iconic hardmen, is battling cancer, his wife told the Sunday Star-Times newspaper. "We found out a month ago and he has five more months of treatment," Jo Shelford said. "We are very positive and pleased with how the treatment is going." The famous backrower No. 8 is being treated for lymphoma, a cancer affecting white blood cells. Shelford, 49, captained the All Blacks from 1987 to 1990 during a golden era when they never lost a game. His reputation as a fearless, uncomprising player was born from his second international in 1986 when in a Test against France his scrotum was torn open, leaving one testicle hanging out. He calmly told the team physio to stitch the wound and carried on playing.

■ SOCCER

Dutch win Euro Under-21

An inspired Netherlands won their second consecutive European Under-21 title with a 4-1 win over 10-man Serbia in Groningen on Saturday. Otman Bakkal opened the scoring for the Dutch, chesting down a lofted pass from Daniel de Ridder in the 17th minute before tapping the ball home with his left foot. Another fine cross from de Ridder provided Ryan Babel with the chance to latch on to a loose ball and score the second goal from close range on the hour mark. In front of a capacity crowd of almost exclusively Dutch fans, Serbia began to look in disarray. A late lunge on Babel saw Aleksandar Kolarov sent off in the 62nd minute as the Serbs' fortunes sank further. Maceo Rigters grabbed the third goal of the night after a through ball from Babel in the 67th while substitute Luigi Bruins scored the fourth 20 minutes later.

■ RUGBY UNION

Lima's final bow at home

Popular Samoan rugby veteran Brian Lima said farewell to his home crowd in winning style in Apia on Saturday as his side thrashed Tonga 50-3 in a Pacific Nations Cup match. It was the last home game for the 34-year-old stalwart of Samoan rugby who has announced he will step down from Test rugby following the World Cup in France later this year. The victory confirmed Samoa as the leading island nation in the Pacific Cup, finishing third behind regional powers the Junior All Blacks, who won the series for the second consecutive year, and Australia A. Samoa were never in danger against Tonga, running in seven tries and leading 29-3 at the turn. But for the huge crowd the result was of secondary significance to the festival atmosphere in which they saw one of their great modern-day warriors do battle for the last time. Known as "the chiropractor" for his bone-crunching tackles which often left him as damaged and senseless as his target, Lima has been a feature of the Samoan side for 17 years and 63 Tests playing at either wing or center.

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