Ballack’s quit shock to crisis-hit Chelsea

London, Sep 5 (ANI): German playmaker Michael Ballack has landed another blow on crisis-hit Chelsea by revealing that he might quit at the end of the season.

Just hours after the Blues were banned from signing any new players until January 2011; Ballack has threatened to leave the club even shorter on bodies.

The German international midfielder, who will be 33 this month, is in the final year of his 130,000 pound-a-week Chelsea contract.

The club has not even opened talks over a new deal.

Ballack said on Friday: “I will decide after the 2010 World Cup if I will continue playing or if I will stop.”

“I will only continue as long as I still enjoy myself and have ambitions in the sport,” The Sun quoted him, as saying. (ANI)

Capello to remain England team’s boss until 2012

London, Sep 5 (ANI): Fabio Capello will be England football team’s manager even after next year’s World Cup finals.

There are fears that he will quit as boss if England fails to reach the quarterfinals. But the Italian has a 6 million pound-a-year deal with the Football Association until 2012.

“The target is to respect my full contract. It ends in 2012 and I want to respect it.

It is not only a matter for me but also for the FA,” The Sun quoted Capello, as saying.

Capello has led England to the brink of World Cup qualification with seven straight wins.

But after last month’s 2-2 friendly draw in Holland, the Three Lions chief has warned that there can be no more slip-ups against Slovenia today.

“We have defended very well in all of the competitive games but in the friendly matches we have been so-so. We have made mistakes and I have discussed this matter with the team,” he said.

Skipper John Terry revealed: “The manager is very strong-minded and if he sees a mistake he will sit there for 30 or 40 minutes in the team meeting until the message is clear.” (ANI)

Rooney confident of handling intense pressure

London, Sep 4(ANI): Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has expressed confidence about handling the intense pressure at Manchester United as well as handling responsibilities of the national squad.

At the club level, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, his responsibility at Old Trafford has doubled, while hopes and aspirations of the nation are on him to lead England to World Cup success.

“I started playing when I was 16 and there has always been expectation and pressure. I have no problem with that. I see it as a challenge,” the Daily Express quoted Rooney, as saying.

“I hope I can be the main man. I am probably playing the best football I have played for England, certainly over the last year. I am really enjoying myself with Manchester United,” he added.

The 23-year-old also said that Man U reckons Cristiano and Tevez’s exit as a big challenge to retain the league title and, personally it is a better opportunity for him to score more goals.

“I want to score more goals. I should be scoring more goals,” Rooney said.

Rooney further said that the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, will definitely be the biggest challenge in his career. (ANI)

Sohail’s diatribe against Butt for Pak’s World Cup hosting fiasco

Lahore, Sep.4 (ANI): Former Pakistan captain and left hand opener Aamir Sohail has criticized Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ijaz Butt for misleading board patron, President Asif Ali Zardari and the public on the 2011 World Cup hosting issue.

Sohail, who resigned from the National Cricket Academy’s (NCA) Director post recently, flayed Butt for calling general public ‘naove’.

Let me assure Mr. Ijaz that the people of Pakistan are not naove. They are passionate about cricket, knowledgeable and fully aware of what is going on in the world of cricket. With all due respect Mr. Ijaz, you are the one who is wearing blinkers and do not have a clue as how to handle the affairs of cricket domestically and internationally,” Sohail said.

Sohail, in his statement, said Butt has no idea about tackling issues at international forums and held him responsible for the 2011 World Cup hosting fiasco.

“His letter to the ICC president accusing the chief executive officer of the ICC of influencing full members to support the IDI’s (commercial arm of the ICC) decision to relocate matches from Pakistan does not augur well with diplomatic norms when you are handling international matters, Mr Ijaz must know,” Sohail stated.

He lambasted Butt for the inept method in which the probe regarding March 3 terror attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore proceeded.

Sohail raised questions over the laid back attitude of the PCB, saying the whole issue was mishandled by the board.

“It was a major contributory factor in the subsequent developments vis-a-vis the World Cup 2011. The co-hosts were not contacted after the incident despite strong advice from some of his staff. Instead, he castigated ICC match referee Chris Broad. This did not go well in the world cricket regulatory body,” The Daily Times quoted Sohail, as saying.

“It was height of incompetence of the PCB officials that rather than accepting the responsibility they tried to persistently pass the buck on the government,” he added. (ANI)

Babel accuses Benitez of breaking promises

London, Sep 3 (ANI): Dutch winger Ryan Babel has accused Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez of breaking promises which could wreck his World Cup dream.

Babel now wants to join Ajax on loan after claiming he was made a scapegoat for last month’s 2-1 defeat at Spurs.

“There were all sorts of assurances and promises from the club but they have not kept them. I should get more playing time but after the first defeat of the season I was the only one who was singled out – and I lost my place,” The Sun quoted Babel, as saying.

Babel bought by Benitez for 11.5 million pounds from Ajax two years ago, has played just 14 minutes as a sub since that defeat.

He lost his place in the Holland squad for Saturday’s friendly against Japan and the midweek World Cup qualifier in Scotland – until Ibrahim Afellay’s injury saw him recalled.

“Being left out was a real shock and very worrying. I didn’t expect not to be named, I’d already booked my ticket! We will have to review the situation again in January,” he said.

“But I think half a season back at Ajax, with a World Cup coming up next summer, wouldn’t be a bad option at all. I see the current situation at Liverpool as a signal I have to be playing more,” Babel added. (ANI)

Keen contest expected at One Day tri-series cricket in Sri Lanka

Bangalore, Sep 1 (ANI): Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming has said that the upcoming One Day tri-series in Sri Lanka would see a tough competition.

The series in Sri Lanka, which also involves New Zealand and India, will be held from September 8-14.

The hosts are upbeat after clinching a recent two match test series over Kiwis 2-0.

“Well I think Sri Lanka is a decent side…this series is going to be great…India is of course a good one day side, New Zealand have been in one day format. So, Kiwis are the underdogs…” Fleming told reporters here on Monday.

India earlier this month declared the squad for the Sri Lanka tri-series followed by the Champions Trophy, recalling Rahul Dravid and leaving out explosive batsman Virender Sehwag due to his shoulder surgery.

The former captain, Dravid’s last one-day international appearance came in October 2007 before selectors opted for a more youthful side with an eye on the 2011 World Cup.

Indian selectors hope Dravid will bolster the batting in the Champions Trophy on pacy South African pitches. A young Indian batting unit struggled against short-pitched bowling at the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.

Sachin Tendulkar returned to the frame after opting out of the one-day series in the West Indies, which the tourists won 2-1 last month. (ANI)

PCB chief miscalculated on ICC compensation package to Pak

Lahore, Sep 1 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt was off the mark when he claimed last week that Pakistan would receive around Rs 1.5 billion (18 million dollars) from the International Cricket Council (ICC) after settling its 2011 World Cup dispute with the game’s governing body.

“The PCB stands to gain about Rs.1 billion (12 million dollars) from its deal with the ICC that was struck in Dubai last week,” sources said.

The settlement between the ICC and the PCB was reached following a meeting between ICC president David Morgan and Ijaz in Dubai last Wednesday.

Sources said Ijaz quoted that figure under pressure from the newsmen, who were surprised when Ijaz initially said that Pakistan would get Rs 1 billion from the deal.

“Rs 1 billion is only slightly higher than the amount of 10.5 million dollars which Pakistan would have got in any case as hosting fees for 14 of its World Cup matches,”the Daily Times quoted sources, as saying.

Before making the deal with the ICC, Ijaz had claimed that Pakistan would get a substantial compensation for settling its court case with the ICC over the staging of the World Cup.

The PCB had issued a legal notice to the ICC early this summer after the game’s governing body moved Pakistan’s share of matches out of the country because of security concerns. (ANI)

Croatia accuses England of foul play

London, Sep.1 (ANI): Croatia have accused England of a conspiracy to deliberately nobble their star players.ccording to The Sun, Croat FA president Vlatko Markovic set the tone by claiming his Premier League-based players have been targeted.

Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric is out for six weeks after fracturing his right leg on Saturday, while Arsenal striker Eduardo suffered an horrific broken leg 18 months ago.

Markovic said: “First Eduardo, now Luka Modric. This is horrible. I can only ask myself if it was really an accident. I’m close to thinking it was done to us deliberately before the England match. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what happened to Luka. He is irreplaceable.”

Modric refuses to blame Birmingham midfielder Lee Bowyer for the tackle which has left him facing almost two months wearing an Aircast boot on his right leg.

Group Six leaders England will qualify for next summer’s World Cup finals if they win at Wembley next week.

Ironically, it was Croatia who stopped Steve McClaren’s England qualifying for the 2008 European Championships. (ANI)

India’s football federation seeks legal solution in Bhutia-Bagan club row

New Delhi, Aug 31 (ANI): India’s football federation on Sunday sought a legal solution to the row involving national soccer skipper Bhaichung Bhutia and country’s oldest sport club Mohun Bagan.

Mohun Bagan handed the 32-year-old striker a six-month ban in May after he missed training to appear on a celebrity-based dancing show on television and accused him of lacking commitment during the league season.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF), which met on Sunday, decided to refer the dispute to an arbitrator after a meeting between the two parties failed to break the deadlock.

“Both sides have a very firm view on the issue. So we need to have a kind of a legal solution to the issue because we cannot take a ruling… based on what both sides have stated. We feel it is better that we take a legal opinion and we will solve the issue. But it is being dragged that much, especially in this case because Bhaichung Bhutia is our national captain and a very respected player. So we want to settle it and resolve it at earliest,” said Praful Patel, acting president of the AIFF.

Bhutia is regarded as the player who can inspire India in the 2011 Asian Cup, which has been seen as vital to reviving the game in the country. (ANI)

Pak hypnotist vows to change KKR’s fortunes, writes letter to SRK

Islamabad, Aug.30 (ANI): After having helped the Pakistan cricket team win the ICC World T20 Championship, famous psychotherapist and hypnotist Maqbool ‘Max’ Babri has expressed his interest in holding training sessions for the troubled Indian Premier League (IPL) team, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to change its fortunes.

Babri has written a letter to KKR owner Shahrukh Khan and the team’s former captain Sourav Ganguly’s brother, Snehashish Ganguly, expressing his desires to be KKR’s ‘mental’coach and ‘thought manager’ for the third season of the IPL.

“I will very much like to be a part of your team as a thought manager and mind coach. People think I am a magician, but I must confess that I am not a magician but certainly what I do appears to be like magic and transforms people to really excel in what they do and makes them happy and buoyant,” Babri stated in his letter.

Interestingly, Babri had predicted that Pakistan, which was considered underdogs in the tournament, would win the T20 World Cup after spending six days with the team ahead of the event.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had appointed Babri to help players cope up with pressure and perform well in the T20 World Cuo after the team’s dismal show in previous events and lack of international exposure due the refusal of foreign teams to visit Pakistan citing security reasons, The Nation reports.

Babri is regarded highly in the Pakistan team, with former coach Geoff Lawson describing him as a ‘terrific asset’ for the squad. (ANI)

Kanu backs Adebayor to be next King of Africa

London, Aug 29(ANI): Portsmouth striker Kanu, who has won two African Player of the Year awards, has said that Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor is a serious threat to his reign as King of Africa.

Kanu is the most valued African footballer in footballing history, having won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals amongst others.

Kanu further backed Adebayor to fire Manchester City to the Premier League title

“I am happy for Emmanuel. If he keeps playing well, as I am sure he will, City can win the league,” The Sun quoted Kanu, as saying.

The Nigerian faces Togo pal Adebayor when City visit Fratton Park on Sunday. (ANI)

International cricket to return only in ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ Pak : ICC

Lahore, Aug.29 (ANI): The International Cricket Council (ICC) has assured Pakistan that international cricket would return to the troubled nation as soon as it is safe to for the foreign teams to return there.

ICC President David Morgan said international cricket will return to Pakistan as soon as it is ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ for the game to be played there.

Morgan said resumption of international cricket in Pakistan is on top of ICC’s agenda, and the apex cricket authority would not let the game suffer unduly.

“Our number-one priority is that cricket in Pakistan must not be allowed to suffer unduly and I believe this agreement is the best possible outcome for the game,” The Nation quoted Morgan, as saying.

It may be recalled that the ICC had declared Pakistan an unsafe destination for foreign team in the wake of the terror attack on the visiting Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore in March.

The ICC also shifted the 2011 World Cup matches from Pakistan after the attack in which seven Sri Lankan players were injured and six security personnel were killed. (ANI)

Alam backs Pakistan to win Champions Trophy, says momentum is with team

Karachi, Aug.27 (ANI): Pakistan cricket coach Intikhab Alam has backed his team as favourites for winning the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled to be held in South Africa in September.

Despite the disastrous tour of Sri Lanka, Alam said the momentum is with Pakistan.

“We lost the Test and one-day series in Sri Lanka but won the last three games of the tour. Those results were very important and now the momentum is with us ahead of the Champions Trophy,” said Alam.

However, Alam admitted that Pakistan would have to play really well to succeed in the eight nation tournament, in which it shares the group with India and Australia.

“Australia and India are two of the world’s best teams but in a way it’s good for us that both of them are in our group,” The News quoted Alam, as saying.

Alam said his boys were looking forward for battle against arch rivals India.

“A match against India is always a big one and the team is planning to go all out for a win against them,” he said.

Pakistan has never won a game in ICC tournaments like the World Cup and the Champions Trophy against India.

Alam believed that Australia would be vulnerable in the tournament, particularly after their morale-shattering Ashes defeat against England.

“For Australia, Ashes is the ultimate thing. Their morale would be really low and I believe that would be good for our cause,” he added.

Commenting on the selection committee’s controversial decision to include tainted fast bowler Mohammad Asif omitting experienced all-rounder Abdul Razzaq from the 15-man squad, Alam said Asif will add strength to bowling line-up.

“We certainly need a bowler like him. Asif will add to our team’s strength. He is fully fit and has played plenty of cricket in the last five or six months,” he said. (ANI)

Qadir criticizes selection committee for dropping Razzaq, Butt

Lahore, Aug.27 (ANI): Former chief selector of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Abdul Qadir, has criticized the selection committee for omitting experienced all-rounder Abdul Razzaq from the ICC Champions Trophy squad.

Qadir also condemned the committee’s decision to ignore opening batsman Salman Butt for the eight nation tournament.

“I don’t know in what direction this present cricket board is taking Pakistan cricket into. There is no consistency in selection at all. Salman is your most experienced opener with an average of close to 40 in Tests and one-day internationals.Yet the selectors have ignored him for such a big tournament and instead opted for only one specialist opener in Imran Nazir,” Qadir said.

He expressed amazement at the exclusion of Razzaq, saying even though the all-rounder had performed well during the ICC World Twenty20 Championship, and did satisfactory job during the Sri Lanka tour, he was axed.

“If the board and selectors didn’t want to pick Razzaq for a major tournament like the Champions Trophy then why send him to Sri Lanka or England for the T20 World Cup in the first place,” The Daily Times quoted Qadir, as saying.

He also raised questions over the selection of tainted fast bowler Mohammad Asif in the 15-man squad.

“I don’t understand what was the hurry of picking Asif when he has not played for over a year. The pace department is already strong with Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamir, Rao Iftikhar and Rana Naved bowling well. So what was the point in rushing Asif into the main fray,” he said. (ANI)

Kangaroos set for never-ending road trip following the Ashes

London, Aug 21(ANI): If the Australian team manages to claim the Ashes in the series decider at The Oval, they will celebrate with a train trip to Edinburgh the next day.

However, it won’t be a victory holiday, but to play a one-day game against Scotland just three days after the fifth Test.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do there, but even when we’ve won World Cups and things we’ve maybe had a small reception somewhere and then get back onto playing cricket. It’s an incredibly busy international schedule. I guess if we happen to win I’m sure we’ll celebrate accordingly,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Australian captain Ricky Ponting, as saying.

“But, we are jumping on a train and going to Scotland for a one-day game up there. With those World Cup wins we’ve had we haven’t had a great amount of time to celebrate. We know the reason why, it’s because that much international cricket is being piled on top of each other. We’ll have our chance to celebrate if we win this week,” he added.

Meanwhile, former Australian cricketer Doug Walters was considerate enough with the Australian team and said that Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board must have marked the Scotland match at the start or end of the England tour, to spare the team from such horrendous travelling.

“Do I feel sorry for them? No. They have a duty to play against Scotland, perhaps they should have scheduled it for the start of the tour. The officials have got themselves to blame. Hopefully they do get to celebrate and do it on the train on the way up,” Walters said.

After Australia’s trip to Edinburgh, they travel to Manchester, then far south to Southampton, back to London, before jetting north again to Nottingham and finishing at the top end of the country in Durham for the final match. The team must then make its way south to London again to fly out for the Champions Trophy tournament in South Africa. (ANI)

ICC Champions Trophy unveiled in Mumbai

Mumbai, Aug 21 (ANI): The International Cricket Council Champions Trophy 2009 was unveiled at a function here on Thursday.

The ICC Champions Trophy will be held in South Africa from September 22 to October 5. All the matches will be held in two venues, – Wanderers in Johannesburg and Centurion in Pretoria.

“Well the great thing about hosting this event this year in South Africa is that South Africa is trying to improve as a host of many international cricket events, hosting very successfully 2003 cricket World Cup, the 2007 Twenty20 (T-20 World Cup) and last is Indian Premier League which was well and successfully staged,” said Campbell Jamieson, ICC General Manager (Commercial).

A total of eight teams will take part in this year’s Champions Trophy. The teams are divided into two groups. Defending champions Australia, Pakistan and India are placed in the same group.

The winner will bag a total prize money of four million dollars. (ANI)

Pink concert alerts Oz woman to her ballooning breast implant

Cairns, Aug 20 (ANI): An Aussie woman, who woke up with one breast double the size of the other, said that had she not attended American singer Pink’s concert, she would not have known there was a problem with her breast implant.

Cattle station worker Kimberley Koy’s breast had ballooned out overnight after a plane trip to Sydney to see Pink perform, and fearing that it might be breast cancer, she immediately visited her doctor.

But at the clinic, Koy came to know that the breast problem had started a week earlier, when she was stabbed in the chest by a runaway cow’s horn while working on a Cape York property.

Koy, who has C-cup silicone gel breast implants, had brushed the incident off as the horn did not break her skin or leave a bruise, and was oblivious to the damage it had done to her implant until it popped up after the plane flight.

“When I told the doctor I’d flown she said, ‘That makes perfect sense because air pressure forced out the silicone’,” quoted her as saying.

“I could have gone years without knowing.

“When I woke up the day after the plane trip it was double the size of my right one … I thought I had breast cancer.

“If I hadn’t have gone to the Pink concert I wouldn’t have known my breast was leaking,” she said.

Koy said that her breast had since shrunk, but still edged out further than the right one.

“It was like a coconut to an orange; it was bloody weird and incredibly noticeable,” she said.

“I just wanted everyone to hear my story because I think it is very funny.

“It felt like one breast had filled up with milk and the other hadn’t,” she added. (ANI)

Bob Houghton confinement of Indian team faring well in Nehru Cup

New Delhi, Aug 14(ANI): Bob Houghton, chief coach of Indian football team, on Friday exuded confidence at the team and denied that players were under any sort of pressure prior to the Nehru Cup 2009.

Houghton said this while addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Friday.

India will be the defending the title that it won in the last edition of Nehru Cup held in 2007.

The Nehru Cup is scheduled to kick-off on August 19 at the Ambedkar Stadium in the national capital when hosts India will take on Lebanon.

Houghton said that India is well in contention to win the Nehru cup as India is on a roll of winning international competitions.

“I don’t think it is adding pressure to the boys. I think it’s nice feeling for them to come to a tournament where they are regarded by all the other countries that are taking part here to be the team to beat. And that’s because we won that thing two years ago and then we won the challenge last year,” said Houghton.

“It has changed people’s opinion about us. And all these countries coming here they will be concerned about the games against India thinking India is the team to beat and that’s a very comfortable position to be in,” he added.

He further said that the players are not taking any of the opponents lightly and it is important that India starts the Nehru Cup campaign with a victory.

Indian football team returned from their tour to Spain last week, where they played practice matches against Tercera Division sides.

Houghton also stressed on the need to allow players recuperate from injuries before allowing them to play in matches.

“Finally, players don’t return to playing national leagues until they are absolutely fit irrespective of the importance of the upcoming games. And this is something we will do with (Sunil) Chettri. I don’t think there is no way we will play (Sunil) Chettri if we thought there was any doubt about his fitness,” he said. (ANI)

Ramiz wants senior players to make way for young blood

Lahore, Aug.13 (ANI): Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja has asked some of the senior players of the current team to bid adieu to international cricket in order to give youngsters more chances to perform.

Raja said senior players should step down themselves rather than being axed from the squad after their lacklustre performance in just concluded Sri Lanka series.

“I think it is time for the selectors and team management to have a look at the available players and decide which players will be around and useful to the team in the next five to six years,” The Daily Times quoted Raja, as saying.

He said selectors should start building-up a formidable squad for the 2011 World Cup from now onwards, and for that such players who have just an year or two of cricket left in them must be shown the way.

Raja criticized some of the former players who had claimed that some Pakistani cricketers were in contact with Indian bookies during the Lanka series.

“If anything, I think the players need to be given a pat on their backs and appreciated for immediately bringing to the notice of the team management invitations from strangers which is unusual and not allowed by the ICC,” he said. (ANI)

It’s official: A nice cup of tea soothes away stress

London, Aug 13 (ANI): A new study has confirmed what millions of brew-lovers have long believed – a nice cup of tea helps us calm down during stressful times.

The study’s researchers commissioned by insurer Direct Line asked 42 volunteers, and found that the drink makes people feel “looked-after” and “at home”, reports The Daily Express.

But that’s not it: Even the tea-making ritual provides a “chillout moment” that significantly reduces anxiety levels after stressful experiences.

In the study, scientists carried out a maths test and afterwards half the group was given a glass of water and half got a cup of English breakfast tea.

The research found that the water-drinkers showed a 25 per cent increase in anxiety compared with before the task, while the tea-drinkers were four per cent less stressed.

Participants said the tea relaxed them and helped to “draw a line” under their stressful experience. (ANI)