World Sports News in Brief

Ivory Coast, Morocco latest teams to qualify for Cup of Nations finals

Saturday, 2021-03-27 08:14:03
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Players of Mauritania and Morocco in action. (Photo: cafonline)
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The Ivory Coast and Morocco added their names to the list of qualifiers for the next Africa Cup of Nations after they booked a place in the 24-team field on Friday (Mar 26).

The Ivorians won 3-0 away in Niger with captain Serge Aurier playing a central role with an early goal and two assists in the win. A goalless draw away in neighbouring Mauritania meant Morocco finished top of Group E. Congo kept up second place in Group I when they held already-qualified Senegal to a goalless draw in Brazzaville.

* France were highly fancied to claim their first Six Nations title since 2010 before the championship started yet they ended it physically and mentally drained following a 27-23 loss to Scotland on Friday. Les Bleus, who have been playing some exciting rugby since Fabien Galthie took over last year, lost the plot in the dying minutes which allowed Scotland to record their first win in Paris since 1999.

* Anna Shcherbakova led a Russian sweep of the women's singles medals at the figure skating world championships on Friday. The 16-year-old, who celebrates her 17th birthday on Sunday, secured her first world title with a 233.17 score after leading Wednesday's short programme with a personal best of 81.00 points.

* Greece's Acropolis Rally will return after an eight year absence to replace Chile on the world championship calendar in September, organisers said on Friday. Chile's round has been cancelled as a result of travel and governmental restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

* McLaren's Lando Norris was second fastest in second practice for Formula One's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday and almost as quick in playing down his team's prospects. Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fastest in both sessions while Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton ended the evening third on the timesheets.

* Japan's government will begin talks soon on potentially halving the number of official travellers to the country for this year's Olympics to around 30,000 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyodo news agency reported on Friday.

* Aleksandar Mitrovic will head into Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Portugal determined to become his country's all-time top scorer as they look to secure a first competitive win over the European champions. Mitrovic, who has endured a goal drought at his Premier League club Fulham, came off the bench to score twice in Serbia's comeback 3-2 win over Ireland on Wednesday in their opening Group A match.

* Daniel van Tonder won his first European Tour title with a nail-biting playoff victory over Jazz Janewattananond at the Savannah Classic on Friday as overnight leader Justin Harding failed to clinch his second title in a week in Nairobi. Van Tonder carded 64 in the final round with a monster birdie putt from the edge of the 18th green to finish at 21-under overall while Thailand's Jazz missed his birdie putt to finish level with the South African.

* China's Xiong Yaxuan set a world record in the 25 metre pistol event at the Chinese shooting Olympic qualification series on Friday to qualify for this year's Tokyo Games. Xiong finished with 44 hits, four better than Hungarian Veronika Major's previous record set at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi two years ago.

* Italy will host the opening game of the European Championship as planned with a crowd in the stadium, according to the president of the Italian Football Federation Gabriele Gravina. The tournament, which was postponed last year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, is set to kick off at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on June 11 when Italy host Turkey.

* Everton's planning application for a 52,888-capacity stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock in the north of Liverpool has been approved by the government, the Premier League club said on Friday. The Merseyside club have played at Goodison Park since 1892, but with a capacity of only 40,000 the team has struggled to compete with the match-day income of their rivals.

* Belgium must do without seven squad members for their trip to Prague to play the Czech Republic on Saturday in World Cup qualification. The team’s five Bundesliga-based players will not travel for the Group E game because of quarantine restrictions on German residents travelling to the Czech Republic and the squad have been further hampered by injuries to Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Vermaelen, coach Roberto Martinez said on Friday.

* Coach Stephane Moulin said on Friday that he will leave Ligue 1 side Angers at the end of the season after 10 years in charge. Under Moulin, the longest serving coach at any club in Europe's top five leagues, Angers won promotion from Ligue 2 in 2015 and reached the French Cup final in 2017.

* The 2023 Tour de France will set off from Bilbao, marking the sixth time in 10 editions that the world's most famous cycling race starts outside France, its organisers said on Friday. The opening two stages will be held in the Basque country, where the Tour also began in 1992, when it rolled out from San Sebastian.

* The BORA-hansgrohe cycling team was excluded from the Belgian E3 Saxo Bank Classic on Friday after one of its riders returned a positive COVID-19 test. In a statement the German team said that British rider Matthew Walls had tested positive.

* Veteran Chris Thompson, who turns 40 next month, produced a masterful and highly emotional performance to win the British Olympic Marathon trials in the unusual surroundings of London's Kew Gardens on Friday to secure his place in Tokyo.

* Referee chiefs are working on an action plan to improve the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Premier League and any changes to the system will be passed on to match officials ahead of the new season, the Times reported on Friday.

Reuters