Beckham makes Games cut
David Beckham’s hopes of playing for a combined British team at the Olympic Games in his native London remained intact after he survived the latest whittling down of manager Stuart Pearce’s squad. Pearce, also currently the caretaker boss of the England national side, reduced his initial 191-man list to 80 players on Wednesday. They are now being contacted by the Football Association to see if they are available for Games duty. If he remains fit, it seems likely Beckham, 37, will become one of the over-age players in what is primarily an under-23 tournament when former England fullback Pearce names his 18-man squad at the end of next month.
Jakarta to fight suspension
Indonesia’s soccer association is considering appealing a FIFA-imposed four-match ban on one of its coaches who accused a referee of bribery during a World Cup qualifier, it said yesterday. Aji Santoso received the suspension after he was sent to the stands during a 10-0 loss to Bahrain in February for claiming money was influencing the outcome of the match refereed by Lebanese Andre Al Haddad. The coach of the country’s under-23 team was acting as caretaker coach of the national side when in the 75th minute of the Bahrain match, he was overheard by an official saying: “There is money [involved] here.” Bahrain needed to beat Indonesia by a nine-goal margin to have a hope of reaching the next round of qualifiers. Following the match, FIFA launched its own investigation into the result as well as suspending and fining Santoso for his behavior. On Thursday, Bob Hippy, of the Football Association of Indonesia, said: “FIFA’s sanctions are one-sided. We’ll wait for them to announce the results of the full investigation and will appeal if we find the suspension is not fair.”
Michael Lynagh stabilized
Former Australia captain and World Cup winner Michael Lynagh was in stable condition yesterday after suffering a stroke, rugby officials said. The 48-year-old, regarded as one of rugby’s all-time greats, was rushed to hospital in Brisbane, Australia, on Monday night complaining of headaches and blurred vision. “Former Queensland Reds and Wallabies captain Michael Lynagh was hospitalized in Brisbane on Monday night after suffering a stroke,” the Queensland Rugby Union said in a statement. “Mr Lynagh remains in a stabilized condition in the Royal Brisbane Hospital and is undergoing tests in an effort to discover the cause of the illness.” Lynagh, who now lives in Britain, won 72 caps for Australia in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as having a distinguished state career for Queensland.
Pirates go top in SA
The Orlando Pirates went to the top of the South African Premiership table on Wednesday despite squandering numerous chances in a 0-0 Soweto derby draw at Moroka Swallows. While the Buccaneers were collecting one point as the title race heads, overnight leaders the Mamelodi Sundowns suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat by the mid-table Platinum Stars. SuperSport United, whose hopes of a fourth title in five seasons had dimmed after a goal drought, snatched a late 1-0 victory at relegation-threatened Santos in Cape Town to stay in the hunt. Title-holders the Pirates have 47 points with five rounds left of the richest African national soccer championship with a US$1.3 million first prize followed by the Sundowns (46), the Swallows (43), SuperSport (42) and the Kaizer Chiefs (40).