Inside Ground

Ronaldo responds to "lies" about his Ballon d'Or rivalry with Lionel Messi.

Publish: 11:56 AM, 30 Nov, 2021


Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at comments made by Ballon d'Or organizer Pascal Ferre, saying the editor-in-chief of France Football "lied" about his rivalry with Lionel Messi.

Ferre told the New York Times on Friday that Manchester United forward Ronaldo's sole ambition was to retire with more of the awards for the world's best player than Messi.

Argentine Messi, who joined Paris St Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona during the close season, beat Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho to claim a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or award.

"Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for," Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, said in an Instagram post on Monday.

"It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d'Or."

France Football did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Ronaldo's post.

"I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who love me. I don't win against someone," added the Portugal forward.

"The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football."


Inside Ground

With stadium beer ban, World Cup fans look for sip of hope

Publish: 02:29 PM, 20 Nov, 2022


Football fans who travelled thousands of kilometres to get a glimpse of the sport's most prestigious event savoured their first sips of beer at the launch of a fan festival on Saturday, a rare place where they can drink alcohol at the World Cup.

In a last-minute U-turn, two days before the tournament's opening match, the international football governing body Fifa said on Friday that alcoholic beer would not be sold at Qatar's World Cup stadiums.

Budweiser, a major World Cup sponsor, had been set to exclusively sell alcoholic beer within the ticketed perimeter surrounding each of the eight stadiums three hours before and one hour after each game during the month-long event.

Now fans can only consume beer at the Fifa Fan Festival in Doha. Alcoholic beverages remain available at the stadium hospitality areas.

One Mexican fan in a sombrero, his country's tricolour flag draped over his shoulders, balanced a cardboard drink holder containing four beers as he joined a group of his compatriots at Doha's Al Bidda Park, hosting the Fifa Fan Festival.

"Not having alcohol is not good because the World Cup it's a party of the world," said Brazilian fan Julio Cesar, wearing a felt hat in his country's colours.

The 2022 World Cup is the first edition of the tournament held in a conservative Muslim country with strict controls on alcohol, the consumption of which is banned in public.

Qatar has also faced criticism from some countries playing in the 32-nation tournament over its rights record on migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community.

For the fans unfazed by Qatar's dire human rights record, the absence of beer at World Cup venues has proven a major disappointment.

"It's tough to tell what happened in Qatar, whether it is the truth or not," said 41-year-old Guilherme, another Brazil fan.

"My only problem is banning alcohol."

- Reuters

FIFA World Cup 2022   Qatar World Cup 2022   FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022  


Inside Ground

Sadio Mane out of World Cup, to begin rehab in Munich

Publish: 02:08 PM, 18 Nov, 2022


Senegal star Sadio Mane has lost his race to be fit for the 2022 World Cup and has been withdrawn from their squad, the country's football federation announced on Thursday.

His club Bayern Munich added later that the 30-year-old, who was voted second in the Ballon d'Or last month behind Karim Benzema, had undergone "successful surgery" in Innsbruck where "a tendon was reattached to the head of his right fibula".

Bayern said Mane "will begin his rehab in Munich in the next few days".

The absence of the talismanic Mane is a massive blow to the Senegalese. He scored the winning penalty in a shootout victory against Egypt in the African Cup of Nations final and repeated the feat against the same opponents to qualify the Lions of Teranga for the World Cup.

Mane was voted African footballer of the year for his feats, and has scored 33 times in 92 matches for Senegal.

He picked up his shin injury playing for Bayern earlier this month but was named in the World Cup squad in the hope he could regain fitness.

But on Thursday Senegal said the former Liverpool star would not make it.

"Unfortunately, today's (Thursday) MRI shows us that the improvement is not as favorable as we imagined and unfortunately we have to withdraw Sadio from the World Cup," said team doctor, Manuel Afonso in a video on the official Senegal Twitter account.

Senegal had originally hoped the forward would be fit in time for their opening game on November 21 against the Netherlands.

They will also take on hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.

Senegal football federation chief Augustin Senghor told AFP Thursday there was no panic over the loss and said the player's health had been paramount in their decision.

"We have been ready for this since the news of his injury," Senghor said.

"We had been waiting for new test results and when they came in we all agreed his health had to come first."

When asked how the team had taken the blow Senghor replied: "Zen".

But Senegal international Pape Gueye told AFP that Mane would be missed.

"Mane is irreplacable," he said.

"But we do have other options on the flank, and that's a ray of hope on a dark day for Senegal."

After naming Mane in his World Cup squad a week ago, coach Aliou Cisse was optimistic but cautious.

"Losing Sadio Mane is not an easy thing for a coach, for the team, even for African football," he said.

Mane had been in Munich receiving treatment with his club.

- Reuters

Sadio Mane   World Cup  


Inside Ground

End of an era for Uruguayan strike duo Suarez and Cavani

Publish: 02:11 PM, 09 Nov, 2022


For the last decade and a half, Uruguay's national football team has been led by a formidable attacking duo but now veterans Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are heading into their final World Cup with retirement edging ever closer.

Born just 21 days apart in the northern Salto department, the two 35-year-olds have graced some of Europe's most prestigious clubs while never failing to light up their homeland shores.

Their remarkable careers have left them as the two greatest goalscorers in the Celeste national team's history: Suarez has 68 goals in 134 matches with Cavani scoring 58 from 133 games.

For the better part of 15 years they have been pillars of a plucky Uruguay outfit that reached the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa in 2010 before lifting the Copa America the following year.

This will be their fourth World Cup and despite their advancing years they remain heroes to their compatriots.

They are "the best forward pairing in the history of the Celeste", ESPN journalist Diego Munoz told AFP.

"They put their egos aside, always put the team first and strengthened each other. (They were) essential to a generation that gave back the national team and hope to the people."

Once their boots are hung up for good, they will be sorely missed.

The attacking duo guaranteed "an important goalscoring potential that the Celeste has rarely had, at least in the last 60 years," said journalist Luis Prats, an author of many books on football history.

"Relying on them gave you the confidence that you could even win tight games with few chances. You just had to give them the ball and they finished it.

"On top of that they had great understanding: Cavani created many of Suarez's goals and vice versa."

Passing the baton 

The Qatar World Cup will bring to an end the transformative era under iconic former coach Oscar Tabarez, who spent 15 years at the helm and brought back glory to a side that had not won the Copa America since 1995 nor reached a World Cup semi-final since 1970.

But Cavani says there will be no special emotion attached to this tournament.

"For those that live, feel and love football, and more so for those that wear their country's jersey, there is no mystery: it's a World Cup," Cavani told a local radio station.

"Whether it's the first or the fifth" makes no difference. "If this doesn't motivate you, we're in trouble."

Neither Suarez nor Cavani are quite the players they once were.

Having played for Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, Cavani is currently at a Valencia side that is a shadow of the team of the early 2000s, when they won two La Liga titles and reached successive Champions League finals.

And after Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Suarez stunned the footballing world earlier this year by returning to his first professional club, Nacional.

But Suarez is as competitive and confident as ever.

"We have a mix of experienced and quality players -- I believe Uruguay can have a great World Cup," he said.

Under new coach Diego Alonso, Uruguay are building a new team of talents with Real Madrid's Federico Valverde, Darwin Nunez of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur.

Even so, there is something unique about the Suarez-Cavani partnership that may never be repeated.

"It's very difficult to find a Suarez-Cavani duo," said Prats.

Although new talents have appeared on the horizon, "they still need to complete their development."

But Munoz points to the fact that alongside Diego Godin, Suarez and Cavani took over the mantle from Diego Forlan and Diego Lugano when they retired.

"The key is to maintain the legacy and to learn to play without them, to modify the power axis towards the midfield and for Valverde-Bentancur to lead the next generation," said Munoz.


Suarez   Cavani  


Inside Ground

Bangladesh ends T-20 campaign with another dismal batting display

Publish: 03:07 PM, 06 Nov, 2022


Bangladesh ended another T20 World Cup campaign with little to cheer about. They showed another dismal batting display in their last Super 12 match against Pakistan and lost by a big margin of five wickets on Sunday in Adelaide. While Bangladesh ended the World Cup with only two wins, Pakistan marched to the semifinals as the second team after India from Group 2.

Pakistan had to chase down a target of 128 and they did it with ease. They have lost some important wickets occasionally, but that did not harm their chase. Mohammad Rizwan led the charge by scoring 32, while Mohammad Haris posted 31. Nasum Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, and Ebadot Hossain each bagged a wicket for Bangladesh.

Opting to bat first, Bangladesh posted a moderately below-par total of 127 for 8 wickets, with Najmul Hossain Shanto registering a slow 54 off 48 balls. Shanto and Liton Das opened the innings for the Tigers in this match, and Liton hit an early six, showing the Tigers' positive intent in batting. But he lost his wicket to Shaheen Afridi inside the powerplay for 10 off eight balls. It was a short ball from Shaheen, and Liton tried to pull it off but ended up giving a regulation catch to Shan Masood.

Bangladesh didn't lose any more wickets in the first 10 overs, but in the 11th over, they suffered a double blow when Soumya Sarkar fell while playing a reverse sweep off Shadab Khan. Off the next ball, Shakib suffered a controversial lbw. TV replays showed the ball was touching Shakib's bat before hitting his pads, and the bat was not grounded either. But the umpire called him out. Shakib left the field in utter disbelief with a golden duck that put Bangladesh into further trouble.

Mosaddek Hossain made only five off 11 balls, and Nurul Hasan Sohan also suffered a three-ball duck. Their dismissals made it tough for Bangladesh to go for a big total. But Afif Hossain was unbeaten for 24* off 20 balls. He helped Bangladesh pass the 100-run mark in this match. Eventually, Bangladesh ended up on 127 for eight. For Pakistan, Shaheen bagged four wickets, conceding 22 runs, while Shadab bagged two.

This match came as a great chance for both Bangladesh and Pakistan to qualify for the semifinals. Pakistan made use of it with both hands, but Bangladesh failed in every way. They failed to bat well, they failed to field well, and they failed to bowl well too.

Throughout the event, Bangladeshi batters performed miserably in the middle. Their last Super 12s match of the T20 World Cup against Pakistan was no different. If the batters could have done better, Bangladesh might have ended the World Cup with a better outcome. In contrast, Pakistan made a brilliant comeback in the last two matches after a poor start and advanced to the semifinals by overcoming Bangladesh by five wickets in Adelaide.



Inside Ground

Another batting disappointment: Bangladesh puts 127 on score board

Publish: 11:55 AM, 06 Nov, 2022


The chances were there; the plot was set, yet the batsman could not do their job. A disappointing middle order batting performance and lack of power hitting resulted Bangladesh to put only 127 on the scoreboard.

Nazmul Hasan Shanto scored the highest 54 runs for the team, which came at a cost of 48 runs.

Earlier, Bangladesh won the toss and chose to bat first against Pakistan in their fifth match of the Super 12 encounter of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Adelaide on Sunday (November 6).

Bangladesh have brought three changes in their Playing XI. Soumya Sarkar, Nasum Ahmed and Ebadot Hossain have replaced Shoriful Islam, Yasir Ali Rabbi and Hasan Mahmud respectively.

Bangladesh (Playing XI): Najmul Hossain Shanto, Soumya Sarkar, Litton Das, Shakib Al Hasan(c), Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan(w), Mosaddek Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Nasum Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman.

Pakistan (Playing XI): Mohammad Rizwan(w), Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi. 

Bangladesh   Pakistan   T-20 world cup