Asashoryu leads tournament
Grand champion Asashoryu overpowered Bulgarian Kotooshu yesterday to stay in sole possession of the lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament. Mongolian Asashoryu got a grip of Kotooshu’s arm shortly after the faceoff and swatted the ozeki wrestler out to improve to a perfect 11-0 in the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Kotooshu dropped to 8-3 and saw his hopes for the title all but dashed with four days remaining. In the day’s final bout, grand champion Hakuho remained just a win off the pace and kept his title hopes alive with a one-sided win over veteran ozeki Kaio (7-4). Mongolian Hakuho, who won the Kyushu tournament in November, got a hold of Kaio’s belt and calmly lifted the veteran ozeki out to improve to 10-1.
Sven comes under fire
Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, already under fire due to his team’s poor performances, is facing further criticism over the number of foreign-born players in his squad. Eriksson, who takes on his native Sweden on Jan. 28, has included four naturalized players for the game, upsetting even members of his own squad. Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was among those who said that Eriksson was denying native Mexicans the chance to play for their country. “It’s a very delicate situation, there are a lot of Mexicans waiting for a chance in the national team and this makes it more and more difficult for them,” he told reporters. “It’s obvious that the Mexican player should have better opportunities, so I think the matter of the naturalized players needs more analysis. I don’t think I’d like to see 11 naturalized players in the national team.” The squad for the Sweden match includes Brazilian-born Antonio Naelson and Leandro Augusto plus Argentines Lucas Ayala and Matias Vuoso.
Maverick Michalak left out
Maverick outside-half Frederic Michalak has failed to make the 30-strong France training squad for the Six Nations. Michalak’s wavering form for Toulouse has failed to impress coach Marc Lievremont. Misfiring Montpellier outside-half Francois Trinh-Duc also failed to make the squad, which will be cut to 23 next week ahead of the opening Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin on Feb. 7. Lievremont has plumped for just one specialist No 10 in Lionel Beauxis, who ironically has been playing much of his club rugby for Stade Francais at full-back and missed all the November internationals because of a thigh injury. Toulouse veteran Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and Bourgoin’s Morgan Parra offer options for both half-back slots, with Castres’ Sebastien Tillous-Borde the sole out-and-out scrum-half in the squad. There was also a call-up for Perpignan back row forward Damien Chouly, capped twice during France’s tour to New Zealand in June 2007.
Rovers earn glamor tie
Doncaster Rovers captain Brian Stock scored a goal in each half on Tuesday as the second-tier strugglers saw off Cheltenham 3-0 to secure a glamor English FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Aston Villa this weekend. Stock was first to react in the 26th minute after Martin Woods’s free-kick hit the crossbar. And Doncaster were 2-0 up against their third-tier opponents before half-time. Sam Hird scored from close range after he pounced on a deflected shot. Stock made sure Doncaster would be up against Premier League high-flyers Villa when, shortly before the hour mark, he struck a half-volley from 25m.