Nigerian pleads innocent
A Nigerian soccer star sentenced to 40 lashes in Sudan for driving under the influence of alcohol insisted on Thursday on his innocence and said he could not imagine himself being flogged. “I am not guilty of this crime ... and I cannot even imagine myself being flogged so I don’t put my mind there,” said Stephen Worgu, 20, who plays for Sudanese first division outfit al-Merreikh of Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city. On Tuesday, a Khartoum court condemned the soccer player to 40 lashes and ordered him to pay a fine of 50 Sudanese pounds (US$20) for alcohol consumption and 200 Sudanese pounds for driving under the influence. Worgu, who signed a contract with al-Merreikh last year for US$2.6 million, was stopped in the Sudanese capital on Aug. 21. “They took me to the police station. I was the one that drove the car to the station,” he said, adding he could not understand what was said because he does not speak Arabic. He was later told by friends that he had been stopped for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. “They say I drank araki ... I asked my lawyer what is araki? He said it is a local drink that contains alcohol,” he said. “The lawyer was like saying, ‘This guy earns good money, how he can drink araki?’”
Klose in flu quarantine
Germany and Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose has been quarantined after his twin sons contracted the A(H1N1) influenza virus. “This is why Klose did not join the national squad in Bonn ... and he did not train on Thursday for Bayern,” the club said on their Web site. It was unclear whether the 31-year-old would attend a memorial tomorrow for Germany keeper Robert Enke, who committed suicide on Tuesday, or if he would play for the national team in Wednesday’s friendly against Ivory Coast.
Hercules oust Almeria
Almeria were knocked out of the King’s Cup by second division Hercules after losing 1-0 in their last-32, second leg match on Thursday and 3-1 on aggregate. By far the biggest shock of the round came on Tuesday when Real Madrid were dumped out 4-1 on aggregate by lowly Alcorcon, the second year in a row the La Liga giants have been eliminated by a side from the third tier of Spanish soccer. Last year’s finalists Athletic Bilbao lost 4-2 to second division Rayo Vallecano over two legs and La Liga sides Sporting Gijon and Tenerife were also eliminated.
Cordoba gives Plate win
Jorge Cordoba hit the winner as River Plate secured a 2-1 home leg victory over Ecuador’s Liga de Quito in the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals on Thursday. In the other semi-final, Fluminense of Brazil beat Cerro Porteno 1-0 in Paraguay on Wednesday.
China to make debut
Afghanistan and China will be star attractions in the 12-nation Asian Twenty20 Cup, which starts in Dubai next Saturday and serves as a qualifying round for next year’s Asian Games, official said Thursday. While Afghanistan surprised the world by finishing among the top six in the World Cup 2011 qualifying rounds to gain one-day international status earlier this year, China will be making their debut in an Asian Twenty20 event. Sharjah and Abu Dhabi will host matches of the event from which top three teams will join Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.