Group J postponed
Group stage matches for clubs in the east zone have been postponed until next month due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said yesterday. The Group J matches were initially scheduled to be held in Hong Kong from May 14 to 20, but been rescheduled until June 23 to 29. “The Asian Football Confederation has agreed to the proposal by the Hong Kong Football Association to reschedule the AFC Cup East Zone Group J matches,” the AFC said in a statement. “The decision was confirmed, taking into consideration the ongoing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to allow more time to ensure the optimal delivery of the matches.” Group J features Taiwan’s Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group), Mongolia’s Athletic 220, and Hong Kong’s Eastern Long Lions and Lee Man. Last year’s AFC Cup was canceled due to the pandemic when quarantine regulations in many nations made international travel almost impossible.
Ajax claim 35th title
Ajax claimed their 35th Eredivisie title on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Emmen that gave the Amsterdam giants the crown with three games to spare. Jurrien Timber, Sebastien Haller, Davy Klaassen and Devyne Rensch scored for Ajax in a game played in front of empty stands at the Johan Cruyff Arena due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The win gives Erik ten Hag’s side an unassailable 14-point advantage over second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who could only draw 2-2 against SC Heerenveen. Ajax on Friday last week announced that they had extended coach Ten Hag’s contract until 2023, ending rumors that he was headed to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga or Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. “I am happy in Amsterdam and the management have assured me that the current squad will be retained and even strengthened in certain positions,” said Ten Hag, who has coached Ajax since 2017. Despite calls from the authorities to avoid gatherings, thousands of fans gathered outside the stadium. Ajax completed the double two weeks after beating SBV Vitesse 2-1 in the KNVB Cup final.
Slavia Prague retain title
Slavia Prague on Sunday clinched their third straight league title after securing an unassailable lead at the top of the table with four games to go. Slavia were assured of the championship when their archrivals Sparta Prague were held to a draw in their game on Sunday. Unbeaten in 42 consecutive league games, Slavia won their seventh title since the Czech championship was founded following the Czech Republic’s split with Slovakia in 1993.
Zenit claim seventh title
Zenit Saint Petersburg on Sunday claimed a third straight Russian Premier League title after a 6-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow. With two games left to play, the club have a nine-point lead over Lokomotiv. Iran forward Sardar Azmoun scored a quick-fire hat-trick, while captain Artem Dzyuba scored a brace and Malcom was also on the score sheet. Francois Kamano scored Lokomotiv’s consolation. Zenit have now won the title seven times, three fewer than the record of 10 held by Spartak Moscow since the championship started in 1992.
Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona received inadequate medical care and was left to his fate for a “prolonged, agonizing period” before he died last year, an expert medical panel said on Friday. In a 70-page document, the panel said that Maradona, who succumbed to a heart attack on Nov. 25 last year at the age of 60, “started to die at least 12 hours before” the moment he was found dead in his bed. Maradona died just weeks after undergoing brain surgery on a blood clot. A panel of 20 experts was convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor to examine the cause of death
WEEKEND MATCHES: Hang Yuan FC’s first game against CPC FC was a tense affair with no one scoring until the 80th minute, but after a flurry of goals Hang Yuan prevailed 2-1 Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) have had to postpone their trip to Hong Kong to play in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifiers. The AFC on Monday delayed the AFC Cup East Zone Group J qualifier matches in Hong Kong — which were to be held from Friday next week to May 20 — until June 23 to 29 due to international travel and quarantine challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As defending champions of the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL), Tainan TSG are representing Taiwan in Group J against Mongolia’s Athletic 220, and Hong Kong’s Eastern Long Lions and Lee
FURIOUS FANS: The biggest game in English soccer was postponed amid chaotic scenes after about 200 protesters made their way onto the pitch and set off flares Manchester United’s English Premier League clash against Liverpool on Sunday was postponed after furious United fans stormed Old Trafford in protest at the club’s owners, while Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Sheffield United 4-0. Manchester City would have been crowned champions for the third time in four seasons if second-placed United had lost to Liverpool, but Pep Guardiola’s side saw their hopes of a title party put on hold after the biggest game in English soccer was postponed amid chaotic scenes. The Glazer family, already unpopular for their leveraged buyout of the club 16 years ago that saddled
Don Mattingly starred in the action-packed 1980s. Now the Miami Marlins manager, known as Donnie Baseball, worries about a record lack of hits — and not just from his team’s bats. “I don’t think it’s cyclical at this point,” he said. “There’s so much swing and miss, it’s kind of off the charts. I think it’s something that we have to address.” It is the “Season of the Slump,” even for All-Stars like Marcell Ozuna (.202), Charlie Blackmon (.184) and Francisco Lindor (.189). Miguel Cabrera, the only Triple Crown winner in a half-century, is batting .140. Major league batters were hitting just .232