By Nick MulvenneyThe Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died on Thursday after being hit in the head by a ball, will be honoured with a state memorial service.The service will take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground next week, the same stadium where he suffered the horrific injury on Tuesday.State memorials are normally reserved for political figures but the New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced on Friday that Hughes, whose death has triggered a global outpouring of grief would also be afforded the honour.“This service has been arranged in consultation with Phillip’s family, and it will be an opportunity for the entire community to pay their respects to a much-loved Australian and New South Welshman,” Baird said in a statement.Hughes’ death dominated Australia’s major newspapers on Friday, with sombre eulogies for the boy raised on a banana plantation whose life ended three days before his 26th birthday.“Nation shares the agony of an innings cut short,” The Australian’s front-page headline read above a picture of Hughes gazing above with an Australian flag in the background.Sydney’s Daily Telegraph blacked out its entire back page, except for a picture of Hughes, in his honour.Government flags were at half-mast across the cricket-mad country and floral tributes were placed outside the entrance to the SCG.Local cricket clubs were painting 408 into the turf of their grounds, the number on Hughes’ national ‘baggy green’ cap signifying his status as the country’s 408th test player, while black armbands would be worn and a minute’s silence observed before games on the weekend.Junior cricketers would also retire their innings at 63, instead of the usual 50, to commemorate Hughes’ final score.ABBOTT SUPPORTThe tragedy touched the country’s other top sports, with the national Wallabies rugby team to wear black armbands in Saturday’s match against England in London.A social media tribute with the hashtag #putoutyourbats saw cricketers from around the world post pictures of their bats outside their doors.Support also rang out for Sean Abbott, the 22-year-old all-rounder whose rising delivery struck Hughes.Hughes’ family and Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke spent time with Abbott during the week and Cricket Australia (CA) boss James Sutherland said he was “holding up” well.“I had a chat to him last night and I was incredibly impressed by the way he was holding himself and his maturity,” Sutherland added.CA will launch an “immediate” review into player safety in the wake of Hughes’ death, while the fate of next week’s first test against India remained in limbo.Sutherland said the board would work with manufacturers and regulators to look into safety standards and seek improvements after Hughes was killed despite wearing a helmet.“Statistics say it is clearly a freak incident, but one freak incident is one freak incident too many, so that of course puts us in a position of looking into that,” Sutherland said.Hughes was set to replace the injured Clarke in the Australia team for the first test against India next week, according to selector Mark Waugh, but the debate has turned to whether the match should go ahead at all.Sutherland declined to confirm the Dec. 4-8 match in Brisbane, saying Hughes’ team mates needed time to grieve.“I know for many people, seven days doesn’t seem too far away but in other ways it is a million miles away. We will get there when we can,” he said.
By Toby DavisLiverpool forward Raheem Sterling has denied he is a “money-grabbing 20-year-old”, but is in no rush to sign a new contract, he told the BBC.England international Sterling has been offered an eye-watering 100,000 pounds a week to sign a new deal with Liverpool, according to media reports, but has yet to commit his future to the club.He says, however, that money is not a determining factor and ruled out discussing a new contract until at least the end of the season.“It’s not about the money at all,” Sterling said.“It’s never been about money. I talk about winning trophies throughout my career. That’s all I talk about…“I don’t talk about how many cars I’m going to drive, how many houses I’ve got. I just purely want to be the best I can be.“I don’t want to be perceived as a money-grabbing 20-year-old. I just want to be seen as a kid who loves to play football and to do the best for the team.”Liverpool last won a trophy in 2012 when they claimed the League Cup, but came agonisingly close to lifting the league title last season, before being pipped by Manchester City.Sterling says he would have signed a new deal with Liverpool had an offer been on the table last year.“If, at that point in time, I was offered a contract, I most definitely would have signed straight away, probably for far less money than being said now,” he said. “I just think the timing was a bit off.”With just two years to run on his current deal, which media reports estimate to be worth around 35,000 pounds per week, speculation has begun to grow that Sterling is eyeing a future away from Merseyside.He denies, however, that he is distracted by the whirring rumour mill.“I try to kill it off, but I don’t think the public can see it that way,” he said. “I think they just see it as this 20-year-old boy being greedy.“I just want to take the time to think about what I’ve achieved in my career so far, where I need to go and what I need to do to get better as a player.”Liverpool, who are fifth in the Premier League table, face third-placed Arsenal on Saturday.
By Iacovos ConstantinouIt was an eventful weekend in the Cyprus football championship with the top game between Apollon and Anorthosis never kicking off due to security reasons. Elsewhere, champions APOEL hit six past AEL – becoming the highest scoring team in Europe – and staying top of the league while AEL’S coach resigned.The eagerly-anticipated clash between Apollon and Anorthosis had to be called off by the referee 75 minutes after the scheduled kick-off as the person in charge of security at the Tsirion stadium could not guarantee the safety of players or officials.The problem started when the Anorthosis fans, who were fenced in a specific part of the main stand, broke down the barriers, brushed aside the ground stewards and entered the pitch (through an unlocked door!). According to Apollon president Kirzis, the visiting fans then attacked his players and members of the coaching staff.Trouble was brewing throughout last week when Apollon announced the number of tickets allocated for the visiting fans. Anorthosis’ complaints fell on deaf ears and the disagreement continued on social media and fanzine radio stations with tension among fans rising.The Cyprus Football Association’s disciplinary committee will now have to decide whether to award the three points to Apollon or have the game re-scheduled. A similar incident happened a couple of years ago in a game between AEL and APOEL and the committee decided then that the game be re-scheduled.In the other big weekend game, APOEL hit six past hapless AEL turning what many expected to be a close game into a walk in the park for the home side. Argentinian striker Fernando Cavenaghi grabbed his first hat-trick in Cyprus with Efraim scoring twice, the second a peach of a shot from 25 metres out. Midfielder Artymatas got APOEL’s other goal.It could have been much worse for the visitors had APOEL not taken their foot off the pedal with 30 minutes still on the clock, but it was enough for AEL’s Christakis Christophorou to resign from his post as head coach the following day.In the other games, Paphos FC outplayed Ethnikos Achnas from start to finish and recorded an easy 3-0 win.The scorers for the Paphos outfit were Gelasvili, Maachi and Grigarasvili.Omonia had to dig deep to overcome Ermis Aradippou 1-0. The only goal of the game came from Roushias early in the second half after an inviting cross by Kirm.On Saturday, Ayia Napa twice came back from behind to steal a point against Doxa Katokopias. Doxa had taken the lead through Edmar with Doxa’s Femar equalising on the half-hour mark. A Mertakkas own goal before the break restored the visitors lead but Antoniou salvaged a point for Ayia Napa early in the second half. Ayia Napa remain the only team still without a win as Aris, the only other winless team util the weekend, fought to beat Enosis Neon Paralimni 2-1. The winning goal was scored by Aurelio from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute.In the final game of the round on Monday night, AEK blew the chance to join APOEL at the top of the table when they were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home in Larnaca by Nea Salamina.
West Ham United are hoping to ride a wave of emotion all the way to the FA Cup semi-finals when they host Manchester United on Wednesday in the last Cup tie to be held at their historic Boleyn Ground.Manager Slaven Bilic felt the atmosphere, at the east London stadium that has been home to some of the greats of English soccer, would give his players an extra boost for the quarter-final replay.The Hammers will be moving to the Olympic Stadium next season after more than a century at the Boleyn and still harbour hopes of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.“We are fully motivated and it is a massive game of course. It is massive for us and it is massive for them,” he told reporters on Tuesday.“It’s the final FA Cup tie at the Boleyn Ground, it’s Manchester United and it’s the quarter-finals. It can’t be bigger.”West Ham are sixth in the Premier League, five points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and one point behind United.Bilic said, however, that the sole focus was on booking a trip to Wembley to face Everton on April 23 in the semi-final.With the first tie ending 1-1 at Old Trafford, the Croatian sympathised with his Dutch counterpart Louis van Gaal, who has come under intense scrutiny this season.“It’s the stature of the club that they’re not happy with losing games, with being fifth in the table. They are Manchester United and they have not been as consistent this season,” Bilic said.“But they are very capable of beating any team. It’s hard to be a manager. It’s the greatest job in the world, but at those massive clubs you’re expected to win every game.”Bilic also heaped praise on striker Andy Carroll, who scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-3 league draw with London rivals Arsenal.“Carroll, when he is fit and in form, is a very special kind of player. He is different…He doesn’t have to score, but his presence on the pitch gives us another dimension,” said the 47-year-old. Van Gaal meanwhile has warned his players to prepare for the “Andy Carroll show” when they confront West Ham and their marauding striker.Carroll scored a six-minute hat-trick against Arsenal at the weekend and Van Gaal knows that his last chance to win a title with United may well hinge on how his side cope with him.United’s defence fell apart in a 3-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, conceding three times – also in six minutes – and all but scuppering their hopes of Champions League qualification as well as raising more questions about Van Gaal’s future.Any repeat of that at the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday and United’s FA Cup ambitions will vanish and the odds on Van Gaal failing to see out his three-year contract will shorten.“I saw the Andy Carroll show (against Arsenal),” the Dutchman told reporters. “Carroll has special qualities and we have seen that in the match at Arsenal.“Arsenal have great central defenders but still he could do that. We have to cope with Andy Carroll.”Van Gaal accused his defenders of failing to communicate properly at Tottenham and says they must quickly recover from that beating.“I hope we improve because this game is very important for us, it’s the last chance for a title, very important for the players, the club, the manager and the fans.“We have to recover mentally because Spurs was a blow. Everyone knows this is the last chance.”West Ham manager Slaven Bilic will be tempted to start with the injury-prone Carroll against a vulnerable United side who may have forward and skipper Wayne Rooney on the bench after his recovery from a knee problem.But United must not be pre-occupied with the player Bilic describes as probably the best header of a ball in the world, according to Van Gaal, whose side still have an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League.“It’s not just Carroll, they have other players and a certain player called Dimitri Payet, and Manuel Lanzini who can score goals,” he said. “It’s always difficult to cope with these kind of players.”Payet scored a magnificent free-kick in the original tie at Old Trafford last month before Anthony Martial equalised late on to earn United a replay.
Jason Day’s wire-to-wire four-stroke victory at the Players Championship on Sunday earned accolades from his fellow competitors, but some perspective as well.Adam Scott described the performance by fellow Australian Day as “Tiger-esque” but another player said it was not really appropriate to compare anyone with 14-times major champion Woods.Jordan Spieth, who vacated the world number one spot for Day recently, weighed in on Twitter, complimenting his fellow competitor.And former world number one and Players Championship winner David Duval said Day was in a class of his own.Day’s win on Sunday was his seventh in 17 starts. By comparison, Woods won seven times in a row in 2006-07.And Woods has 79 career wins on tour, while 28-year-old Day, for all his brilliance, has 10.“Well, that’s Tiger-esque, that kind of a run,” former world number one Scott said of 28-year-old Day.“It’s that thing I always try to explain how good you feel after one win and I try to imagine how good Tiger felt just playing about five years into his pro career having won like 50 events and imagine how you’d feel confidence-wise.“You can see it with Jason. I played with him one day this week in practice. You can see there’s that calmness inside him, calm confidence, and the way he’s walking around, he’s got that kind of unbeatable look about him.”Spieth, who missed the cut at the Players Championship, was particularly impressed with Day’s six-foot bogey putt at the ninth hole on Sunday.“JDay bogey putt on 9 was possibly most underrated shot of the day.. Gathered emotions knocked it in and led to a clutch back nine.Great win!” Spieth tweeted.Duval, meanwhile, is in no doubt who is the top dog right now.“You watch him (Day) hit golf balls now, there almost has become a discernible pause at the top of his swing, where you can see that transition getting better and better,” Duval said on Golf Channel recently.“If he does that, there is nobody who is going to beat him. He is that good … We’ve talked about Jordan Spieth, we’ve talked about Rory McIlroy, we’ve talked about the talent of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, but day in and day out this is as sound as it gets.”But American veteran Ken Duke, 47, warned not to get carried away by Day’s form.“I don’t think you can ever put Jason in Tiger’s league right now,” said Duke, who tied for third on Sunday.“Jason’s playing great. Jordan (Spieth) had a wonderful year last year. Tiger is Tiger. I think that’s enough said about that. He set the bar and his stats show it.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ended any slim hopes that Russian athletes might have had of competing at the Rio Games in August by backing the IAAF’s decision to extend its ban on the country for systematic doping on Saturday.The IOC said in a statement it “fully respects” Friday’s ruling by world athletics’ governing body (IAAF) to maintain its suspension of the Russians.The IOC added “the eligibility of athletes in any international competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective international federation.”That was exactly what IAAF president Sebastian Coe said on Friday after the IAAF Council voted unanimously to retain the ban on Russia competing in any athletics events.Rune Andersen, who heads the IAAF task force overseeing Russia’s attempts to reform, said on Friday that a “deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, appears not to be materially changed”.“No athlete will compete in Rio under a Russian flag,” he said.He and Coe will therefore be relieved that the IOC came to the same conclusion after a teleconference of its executive committee on Saturday.IOC president Thomas Bach had earlier this month given Russia hope that his organisation might overrule the IAAF at its own meeting next week over concerns that innocent athletes would be punished, saying he “refused to speculate” whether the IAAF vote would be the end of the issue.Russian President Vladimir Putin also appeared to retain hope of a change when he said on Friday: “We’ll talk to our colleagues at the anti-doping body, and I hope there’ll be an appropriate response from the International Olympic Committee.”The only Russian athletes who might now compete in track and field in Rio are a handful — thought to be fewer than five — who are based outside the country and can apply to the IAAF for special dispensation to compete as independents.It is the first time the country, which finished second behind the United States in the track and field medal table in the 2012 Games, will be absent since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles which they, along with several other Eastern Bloc countries, boycotted.An IOC Olympic summit in Lausanne next Tuesday is still due to discuss the issue, along with reports that Russia put in a place a complex system to beat anti-doping measures at the Winter Olympics that it hosted in Sochi two years ago.“The IOC will initiate further far-reaching measures in order to ensure a level playing field for all the athletes taking part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the organisation said on Saturday.“The upcoming Olympic summit on Tuesday will address the situation of the countries in which the National Anti-Doping Organisation has been declared non-compliant by WADA for reasons of the non-efficient functioning of the national anti-doping system.” (
A brace from Gonzalo Higuain gave Juventus a 2-0 win at home to Chievo on Saturday and moved them closer to a sixth consecutive Serie A title as they forged nine points clear of their closest pursuers.Juve extended their run to 32 successive home league wins and left second-placed AS Roma needing to win away at Bologna on Sunday just to keep the gap down to six points.Higuain opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after fellow Argentine Paulo Dybala burst down the right and pulled the ball back into the area.Dybala was in inspired form and nearly added the second after a one-two with Sami Khedira but shot wide. He then set up another chance for Higuain who missed the target from 12 metres.Dybala was also involved in the second goal six minutes from time when he found Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right and the Swiss full back’s cross was turned in by Higuain for his 21st league goal of the season.Juve, who host Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, now have 77 points from 31 games with Roma on 68.Atalanta ensured that they will finish the weekend in the Europa League places after a 1-1 draw at home to Sassuolo.Sassuolo went ahead nine minutes before halftime when Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara was caught in possession and Lorenzo Pellegrini ran on to score.The hosts took until the 73rd minute to equalise when Bryan Cristante headed in Alejandro Gomez’s free kick.Summaries from the Serie A matches on SundaySunday, April 9Crotone 2 Diego Falcinelli 18pen,22Inter Milan 1 Danilo D’Ambrosio 65Halftime: 2-0;Attendance: 6,500– – –Bologna 0AS Roma 3 Federico Fazio 25, Mohamed Salah 41, Edin Dzeko 75Halftime: 0-2;Attendance: 21,000– – –AC Milan 4 Suso 6, Mario Pasalic 19, Carlos Bacca 37, Gerard Deulofeu 70Palermo 0Red Card: Giancarlo Gonzalez 83Halftime: 3-0;Attendance: 40,000– – –Udinese 3 Rodrigo De Paul 20, Duvan Zapata 31, Rubinho 49ogGenoa 0Halftime: 2-0;Attendance: 17,000– – –Cagliari 2 Marco Borriello 19pen, Han Kwang-Song 90+5Torino 3 Adem Ljajic 33, Andrea Belotti 39, Afriyie Acquah 54Red Card: Afriyie Acquah 90+1Halftime: 1-2;Attendance: 14,000– – –Sampdoria 2 Bruno Fernandes 5, Ricky Alvarez 71Fiorentina 2 Gonzalo Rodriguez 60, Khouma Babacar 89Halftime: 1-0;Attendance: 20,000– – –Saturday, April 8Juventus 2 Gonzalo Higuain 23,84Chievo Verona 0Halftime: 1-0;Attendance: 39,477– – –Atalanta Bergamo 1 Bryan Cristante 73Sassuolo 1 Lorenzo Pellegrini 36Halftime: 0-1;Attendance: 18,119– – –Empoli 1 Omar El Kaddouri 9Pescara 1 Gianluca Caprari 31Halftime: 1-1;Attendance: 7,711
The master’s semi-finals saw Alotau thump Central (2) 38-11.Alotau will face off with Central (1)in the grand final.Central (1) defeated Kairuku Hiri 24-15 in the second semi-final.To the B Grade, Alotau proved too strong for newcomers Kavieng with a 26-10 win. Meanwhile, Lae edged out Central (1) 35-31.Alotau will now meet Lae in the B Grade Grand final.The A Grade division semi-finals again saw Alotau come out victors 28-13 over Lae.Alotau have set themselves up for a fiery encounter with Central in the grand final.Central were too strong for Kairuku Hiri handing them a 34-12 beating.The Master’s and B Grade grand final will be played at 2:30pm with the A Grade Grand final to follow straight after.
The grand final will be between defending premiers Lae City Dwellers and minor premiers MRDC Hekari United FC.The game will kick off at 3pm with gates to open at 12pm and close at 4pm.Tickets are selling at Telikom outlets at Boroko, Vision City and Telikom Rumana at K10 for outer stand, K20 for outer grandstand and K50 for the main grandstand.The last time they met in the minor premiership fight, Hekari thrashed Dwellers 5-0.Dwellers this time will have to fight even harder to defend the premiership title.They will bank on their top goal scorers; Nigel Dabinyaba and Raymond Gunemba.Hekari is in top form and have faith in their greats Tommy Semmy, Koriak Upaiga and David Muta to steal the premiership from the defending champions.
The PX girls beat Theodist two weeks ago in a thriller match by one point, 25-24 to secure a spot in the grand finale.Theodist went on to play Deloittes last weekend and came out winners, and so they will be challenging the PX girls again this Sunday to see who takes home the shield.Air Niugini were the minor premiers of Division 2 and the girls now look forward to taking on Theodist in the grand final.Early this month, the PX team received a new set of uniforms from the airline’s Customers and Markets Department.The ladies were all smiles when receiving uniforms from ANG Marketing Manager, Nori Maniana who congratulated them for making it to the grand final and for promoting the company’s brand in sports.Maniana said “We are pleased to know that our girls have secured a spot in the grand final and wish them all the best for the game this Sunday. The new netball uniform reflects Air Niugini’s corporate colour and it’s a great way to promote good sportsmanship as ANG brand ambassadors on the sports field.”Air Niugini Team Coach and player, Christabella Amona thanked the company for sponsoring their team this year. She said the girls have committed themselves to ensure they remain in the competition and make it to the grand finale, adding that the new uniforms only boost their morale to play even harder.“We acknowledge Air Niugini for the support and will do our best in the grand finale to win the game. We would also like to encourage all PX staff and families to come along and support us.” Ms Amona said.Air Niugini fielded two teams in the competition this year including division 2 and 3 respectively.The Port Moresby Private Netball competition comprises 73 teams, challenging each other in 11 divisions. The participants represent various private companies operating in the nation’s capital.