All White says sorry
Disgraced New Zealand player Ben Sigmund issued a public apology yesterday for stamping on the legs of a United Arab Emirates player as he lay prone on the ground. Sigmund was red-carded after the incident involving Ali Mabkhout in the 89th minute of Monday’s 2-0 loss to the UAE in Saudi Arabia and faces possible further disciplinary action from both world governing body FIFA and New Zealand Football. “I just have to say sorry, it was not acceptable,” Sigmund said on his return home. “My son was watching the telly and that probably hurt me the most for him to say ‘where’s daddy gone?’ It’s not a nice situation and I’m not proud of that,” he said. Sigmund said he acted out of frustration and knows he has to accept any further punishment that comes his way. Former All White Sam Malcolmson said he felt “a bit sick” when he saw the incident. “If he did that to one of my team-mates when I was playing, I’d be livid,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
Pressure gets to Shevchenko
Former European Footballer of the Year Andriy Shevchenko plunged to a 12-over-par 84 on his debut on the continent’s second-tier Challenge Tour on Thursday. The former AC Milan and Chelsea striker, who has a handicap of two and plays left-handed, was 20 strokes behind playing partner and compatriot Victor Riu after the opening round of the Kharkov Superior Cup in their native Ukraine. “I am not a big fan of soccer so I didn’t really know much about Andriy, but it was great to play with him,” Riu told reporters after ending the day on top of the leaderboard at the Superior Golf and Spa Resort in Kharkov. “There were a lot of people watching and he was great. Every time I holed a putt he shook my hand or gave me a high-five.” Former Ukrainian international Shevchenko, 36, said he enjoyed the experience despite his poor round. “It’s a completely different game when you are under pressure,” said the 2004 European Footballer of the Year.
Top seed reaches final
Top seed Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia defeated Spain’s Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 6-2, 6-2 yesterday to reach the singles final of the Tashkent Open. She will play Olga Govortsova in today’s final after the unseeded Belarusian beat another unseeded player, Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, 6-2, 7-5 in the other semi-final. The 21-year-old Serb will be seeking to claim the second WTA title of her career while her 113th-ranked opponent will be hoping to land her first.
Argentina climb rankings
Argentina have climbed to second place behind World Cup winners Spain in the monthly FIFA rankings, released on Thursday. Belgium surged to No. 6 in the world while the US moved up six places to No. 13, their highest position in four years, after joining Argentina in qualifying for the World Cup. The Argentines rose two places from fourth, knocking Germany down to No. 3. Italy also qualified for the World Cup and jumped two spots to No. 4, while Colombia dropped two to fifth. Belgium, Uruguay, Brazil, the Netherlands and Croatia round out the top 10. Taiwan moved up one place to joint-175th. Japan are the top-ranked Asian team at No. 42, despite dropping five places, followed by Iran in 48th position.