Hagi back to coach Steaua
Former Romania playmaker Gheorghe Hagi returned to Steaua Bucharest as coach on Saturday 17 years after he left to join Real Madrid, the club owner said. "Hagi is the new coach of Steaua Bucharest," Gigi Becali said. "I've got his agreement to sign a contract for the next two or three years on Monday [today]." Hagi replaces Cosmin Olaroiu who is joining Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal on a contract worth about 1.7 million euros (US$2.29 million), according to local media reports. "I come to Steaua with my heart," Hagi, who quit as coach of Politehnica Timisoara in May last year, said by telephone from his native city of Constanta.
■ RUGBY UNION
Shelford battles cancer
Former All Blacks captain Wayne "Buck" Shelford, one of international rugby's iconic hardmen, is battling cancer, his wife told the Sunday Star-Times newspaper. "We found out a month ago and he has five more months of treatment," Jo Shelford said. "We are very positive and pleased with how the treatment is going." The famous backrower No. 8 is being treated for lymphoma, a cancer affecting white blood cells. Shelford, 49, captained the All Blacks from 1987 to 1990 during a golden era when they never lost a game. His reputation as a fearless, uncomprising player was born from his second international in 1986 when in a Test against France his scrotum was torn open, leaving one testicle hanging out. He calmly told the team physio to stitch the wound and carried on playing.
Dutch win Euro Under-21
An inspired Netherlands won their second consecutive European Under-21 title with a 4-1 win over 10-man Serbia in Groningen on Saturday. Otman Bakkal opened the scoring for the Dutch, chesting down a lofted pass from Daniel de Ridder in the 17th minute before tapping the ball home with his left foot. Another fine cross from de Ridder provided Ryan Babel with the chance to latch on to a loose ball and score the second goal from close range on the hour mark. In front of a capacity crowd of almost exclusively Dutch fans, Serbia began to look in disarray. A late lunge on Babel saw Aleksandar Kolarov sent off in the 62nd minute as the Serbs' fortunes sank further. Maceo Rigters grabbed the third goal of the night after a through ball from Babel in the 67th while substitute Luigi Bruins scored the fourth 20 minutes later.
■ RUGBY UNION
Lima's final bow at home
Popular Samoan rugby veteran Brian Lima said farewell to his home crowd in winning style in Apia on Saturday as his side thrashed Tonga 50-3 in a Pacific Nations Cup match. It was the last home game for the 34-year-old stalwart of Samoan rugby who has announced he will step down from Test rugby following the World Cup in France later this year. The victory confirmed Samoa as the leading island nation in the Pacific Cup, finishing third behind regional powers the Junior All Blacks, who won the series for the second consecutive year, and Australia A. Samoa were never in danger against Tonga, running in seven tries and leading 29-3 at the turn. But for the huge crowd the result was of secondary significance to the festival atmosphere in which they saw one of their great modern-day warriors do battle for the last time. Known as "the chiropractor" for his bone-crunching tackles which often left him as damaged and senseless as his target, Lima has been a feature of the Samoan side for 17 years and 63 Tests playing at either wing or center.
Golden girl deep in debt
One-time Olympic golden girl Marion Jones, her athletics career now shadowed by doping suspicions, says in court documents that she is deep in debt, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday. Citing recent court records, the newspaper said Jones claims she lost a US$2.5 million "dream home" in North Carolina to bank foreclosure last year. Jones, who once commanded millions in endorsements, has "total liquid assets throughout the world" of about US$2,000, according to her own deposition in her breach of contract lawsuit against veteran track coach Dan Pfaff, the paper said. Pfaff has countersued Jones and won a judgment for about US$240,000 in unpaid training fees and legal expenses. Responding to a question from Pfaff's attorney in her deposition, Jones says she doesn't know where all the money went.
Nigerian joins Blackhawks
Akim "The Dream" Aliu was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday with a chance to become the second Nigerian to play in the NHL. Born in Nigeria, raised in Ukraine, moved to Canada when he was 11, Aliu was picked by the Blackhawks in the second round on the second day of the NHL draft. "My dad didn't see a [ice] hockey rink until he was 40 years old," Aliu said. "My mom grew up in Russia, but hockey wasn't really part of her life, her culture. They're happy about what I'm doing right now. I'm happy for what I'm doing too."Aliu, who trains in the summers with Columbus Blue Jackets All-Star Rick Nash, said that back in his homeland nobody knows how far he has already come. "They don't even know what hockey is over there," he said with a laugh.
Colombia rally to win
Colombia hit back after conceding an early goal to beat Ecuador 3-1 in Barranquilla on Saturday in their final friendly before the Copa America. Midfielder Walter Ayovi gave Ecuador's experimental team a seventh-minute lead when he scored from a free kick. But Hugo Rodallega levelled nine minutes later and the hosts went ahead through defender Mario Yepes, who headed home from Alvaro Dominguez's cross on the half hour. Edixon Perea added the third in the 79th minute, slamming home the rebound after goalkeeper Cristian Mora failed to hold Luis Gabriel Rey's shot. "Colombia played very well and if they play the same way in the Copa America, they will certainly be among the candidates," Ecuador coach Luis Fernando Suarez said. Colombia completed an impressive warm-up which has produced five wins and a draw in their last six games.
FIRING BLANKS: West Brom and Burnley had conceded a combined 21 goals in their seven games, but the 47th match of the season was the first to end goalless Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday climbed to sixth place in the English Premier League as Raul Jimenez sealed a 1-0 win at Leeds United on a night West Bromwich Albion and Burnley played out the first goalless draw in the division this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves clinched their third league win of the campaign when Jimenez’s second-half strike deflected in off Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The Mexico striker’s third goal of the season made it back-to-back wins for Wolves after they beat Fulham before the international break. “It was a good performance with some aspects to improve. We were better in the second
China wants to unite its 1.4 billion people through soccer, while also using the sport as “a bridge to work with the rest of the world,” Chinese Football Association secretary-general Liu Yi told reporters in an interview published yesterday. Liu spoke about what lies behind the country’s push to become a major soccer power by 2050. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping — who is described by state media as an “avid soccer fan” — the world’s most populous country has grand plans to host and even one day win a World Cup. Liu spoke about “using football to motivate the whole nation.” “Football is
Maybe Kyler Murray will lose a game on the home field of the Dallas Cowboys one of these days. It was not going to be on Monday, when the Arizona quarterback watched the star running back of his hometown team have another night of “fumble-itis.” Murray accounted for three touchdowns in his first game back home as a professional and Ezekiel Elliott set up the visiting team’s first two touchdowns with fumbles as the Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-10. The speedy quarterback, who won three high-school championships and a Big 12 title at the home of the Cowboys, improved to 7-0 as
Patrick Mahomes on Monday did not mind taking a back seat to rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Kansas City Chiefs’ running attack. With the Buffalo Bills working hard to limit deep throws by Mahomes, he gladly kept handing off the ball as Kansas City beat Buffalo 26-17 in a game originally scheduled for Thursday last week. “You know my nature, I want to throw it deep every time. We want to go down and throw these long touchdowns, but if teams are going to play us like this, we’ve got to show we can run the football,” Mahomes said. Mission accomplished. Led by Edwards-Helaire’s