AFC nominates players
Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa and his Japanese teammate Yuto Nagatomo have been nominated for the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) first Asian International Player of the Year award. The AFC announced the three-man shortlist for the new honor yesterday along with the nominees for their Asian Player of the Year award, open to candidates who play for clubs in the continent. South Korean winger Lee Keun-ho, who won the AFC Champions League with Ulsan Hyundai last week, and Australian captain Lucas Neill, who plays for Al Wasl in the United Arab Emirates, were shortlisted for the prize. Also nominated were 2004 winner Ali Karimi, his Iranian teammate Mohsen Bengar and Guangzhou Evergrande defender Zheng Zhi. The winners will be announced at the AFC awards night in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 29. Three Japanese, Aya Miyama, Homare Sawa and Yuki Ogimi, were nominated for the Women’s Player of the Year award, while a trio of Brazilians, Bruno Correa, Ricardo Oliveira and Rogerio De Assis Silva Coutinho are up for the foreign Player of the Year.
The Beast bounces back
South Africa prop Tendai Mtawarira says his rugby career is not under threat after having a medical procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. The South African Rugby Union says Mtawarira, who left the Springboks’ tour to Europe after a recurrence of heart palpitations, underwent a “minor” procedure on Wednesday. He was released from hospital in Cape Town on Friday. Mtawarira has managed the condition for some time, but had a recurrence of the palpitations on the morning of the game against Ireland last weekend. He was briefly hospitalized in Dublin. In a statement yesterday, the 27-year-old forward says the procedure was successful and there was “no need to worry. This is something that has happened to me before and can be treated ... it’s not career-threatening.”
Coetzee chases Stenson
South African George Coetzee hit a course-record 63 at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate to end the third round of the South African Open in second place on Saturday. At 13 under par, 26-year-old Coetzee is tied in second place with Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson, just three strokes behind leader Henrik Stenson, who had his worst round yet at 69, after 66 and 65 in the previous two rounds. His round puts him only one stroke behind the lowest score in SA Open history, after John Bland who shot a 62 at the Durban Country Club in 1993.
Czechs eye Davis Cup
Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek used a roaring home crowd to come back from a set down on Saturday, putting the Czech Republic 2-1 up over holders Spain and a win away from the Davis Cup title. The Czech pair triumphed 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3. Spain’s top duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez silenced the 14,000-strong crowd early on, but the Czechs shook off the slow start by racing ahead in the second set. They took control of the match by winning the third with a Berdych backhand volley and then easing through the fourth set. The Czech pair improved their doubles record to 12-1. World No. 6 Berdych would hope to take that momentum into the first singles match yesterday against fifth-ranked David Ferrer. A win would give the Czech Republic its first Davis Cup crown in 32 years.