Nigeria on Saturday became the first team from Africa to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, doing it with a game to spare and emerging from the so-called “group of death” after beating Zambia 1-0 at home.
The victory, clinched by substitute Alex Iwobi’s goal with 17 minutes to go, ensured that Nigeria will win Group B and qualify for the World Cup for the sixth time in the past seven tournaments.
Only the five group winners qualify from Africa and at least three of the groups will go down to the wire and the last games next month. It could be four out of five groups if Egypt did not take its chance yesterday.
Tunisia could have joined Nigeria in Russia next year, but despite a 4-1 win in Guinea, will have to wait after Congo beat Libya to keep alive its hopes.
Egypt can reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990 if it beats the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end the penultimate round of qualifiers.
AP, GENEVA, Swizerland
Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday scored and helped Portugal win an eighth straight game in World Cup qualifying — and could still fail to qualify.
While Portugal was laboring to beat Andorra 2-0, using its superstar as a substitute, Group B leader Switzerland’s 5-2 win over visiting Hungary ran its own win streak to nine, and the Swiss still could fail to advance.
It set up a showdown game in Lisbon tomorrow that Portugal must win while the Swiss need only a draw to top the group and avoid the playoffs next month.
“If you win nine out of nine and you can still have fear of not qualifying — it’s anyway a bit complicated,” Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner said.
France’s third-minute goal in Bulgaria was enough for a 1-0 win to retain the Group A lead by one point from Sweden, which earlier routed Luxembourg 8-0.
The third-place Netherlands need a miracle in its final game at home to Sweden tomorrow, despite winning 3-1 in Belarus.
Belgium already qualified from Group H last month and won 4-3 in Bosnia-Herzegovina to dent the home team’s chance of claiming a playoffs place as one of the eight best runners-up in the nine European groups.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017