Sat, May 25, 2019 - Page 16 News List

SOCCER SHORTS

Agencies

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Spurs hopeful about Kane

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane has entered the final stages of recovery from an ankle injury and manager Mauricio Pochettino is optimistic the striker will be fit enough to play in the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday next week. Kane sustained what appeared to be a season-ending ligament injury against Manchester City in the quarter-finals, but Pochettino believes he now has a good chance of at least making the bench against Liverpool. He “is training and has entered the final stage of his recovery,” the Argentine told reporters in Spain on Thursday. “We’re hoping he’ll be able to give us a hand, either from the start, from the bench, or if not, then by giving us moral support in the dressing room, but we’re optimistic he’ll be able to help us on the pitch.”

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Barca had ‘mental block’

Barcelona suffered from a mental block during their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool that knocked them out of the Champions League, having been scarred by the memory of a similar collapse to AS Roma last year, defender Gerard Pique said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais published yesterday. Pique described the semi-final, second-leg defeat that wiped out his side’s 3-0 first-leg win as “a nightmare,” saying it would take years to get over. “You could see that the team just wasn’t functioning, they were putting us under pressure and what had happened last year [against Roma] was very present in our minds,” he said. “I’m sure it was a mental block, but we also didn’t play good football.”

MALAYSIA

City owners eye addition

The owners of Premier League champions Manchester City are eyeing a stake in a Malaysian team to add to their growing portfolio of clubs, City Football Group chief executive Ferran Soriano said yesterday. The group, which is bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family, raised the possibility when he met Minister of Sports Syed Saddiq in Malaysia.

CHINA

Lippi set for return

Marcello Lippi is set to return for a second stint in charge of China’s national team as the country targets a place at the 2022 World Cup with qualification starting in September. The Chinese Football Association yesterday announced that the 71-year-old would start back next month. He ended his initial 27-month tenure after China’s exit in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in January. “When Lippi was previously in charge of the national team, the players showed a positive attitude and a fighting spirit,” the association said in a statement. “We believe that with Lippi and his team of assistant coaches, the Chinese men’s football team will leave no stone unturned in realizing their dream of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.”

JAPAN

Young squad named

Japan named a young squad for next month’s Copa America in Brazil with head coach Hajime Moriyasu yesterday naming only six capped players in the 23-man squad. Moriyasu’s decision to take such a young and raw squad to Brazil is further indication of Japan’s desire to go for gold when they host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year. Soccer at the Olympic Games allows only three players aged over 23.

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