Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has denied that the club put pressure on England boss Roy Hodgson to rest Raheem Sterling for the Three Lions’ Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia on Sunday. “I’m fed up reading about this club v country, claims we intervened and put pressure on Roy Hodgson,” Rodgers told The Independent. “I’ve read we sent a dossier to the FA on Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge and I’m having showdown talks with Roy Hodgson on Sunday and all sorts of rubbish. The decision not to play him was a managerial decision. I haven’t said a single word but have to say I have never seen such rubbish written over the past few days.” Rodgers feels Sterling is not being fairly treated and does not believe the criticism will end any time soon. “At no point did Raheem Sterling say he didn’t want to play for England,” he added. “The boy is being hung out to dry and I dare say the criticism will continue for a few more weeks to come because of this.” Sterling started in the victory against San Marino the previous Thursday but was left out of the starting line-up on Sunday, although he came off the bench to win the free-kick from which Wayne Rooney scored the only goal. Rodgers insists that Sterling never said he did not want to play and that it was Hodgson’s decision to leave the forward out of the starting XI. Press Association
Cambiasso was inches away from giving Leicester the lead after 23 minutes as a well-struck free-kick from 35 yards curled narrowly wide with Joe Hart seemingly beaten. Cambiasso was lurking again when Andy King delivered a dangerous cross but Kompany’s header just took the ball away from him. City first threatened when Yaya Toure had a powerful drive blocked before Pozo lobbed straight to Ben Hamer after the Foxes’ second-choice goalkeeper punched away a Silva free-kick. The visitors then began to move up a gear and Toure stretched Hamer for the first time with a sweet low shot after good work by Silva. The breakthrough came six minutes before the interval as Rome hero Samir Nasri wriggled past Wes Morgan and pulled the ball back across the edge of the six-yard line for Lampard. The pass was not inch-perfect but Lampard made it look so, scooping the ball from behind him to finish with typical clinical precision. Toure drilled another shot wide as City finished the first half strongly and the inrushing Silva narrowly missed the target early in the second after Nasri got behind the defence. Leicester half-heartedly appealed for a penalty after Mangala tangled with Vardy but referee Jon Moss saw nothing untoward. The game started to drift towards a tame conclusion until Leicester rallied, with substitute Leonardo Ulloa having a shot deflected wide. Nasri might have settled it for the visitors but Hamer saved a good low effort. Leicester applied some pressure as Moss played five minutes of injury time but Pellegrini’s men held on for a hard-fought win that will probably strengthen the case for extending Lampard’s loan. His vital goal for team far from their free-flowing best after Wednesday’s momentous Champions League win at Roma also covered for the team’s missing strikers. An injury to Edin Dzeko in the warm-up highlighted their lack of options up front at present, with top scorer Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic also absent. Further concern for City came as captain Vincent Kompany lasted just 77 minutes of his comeback from a hamstring injury before appearing to suffer a recurrence. Teenage striker Jose Angel Pozo was drafted into the starting line-up at the last moment and Pablo Zabaleta, who was being rested and with the squad on a watching brief only, hastily named on the bench. Manager Manuel Pellegrini at least had playmaker David Silva back starting for the first time since October but the away team never really found their stride against the bottom side. Their sluggishness was most evident in the opening 30 minutes as Leicester made all the early running. Jamie Vardy, who troubled Manchester United earlier in the season, looked particularly dangerous and a neat turn in the area put him through on goal. Eliaquim Mangala denied him a shot and the same much-maligned defender later prevented Vardy from shooting again when clean through as well as blocking from Esteban Cambiasso. Press Association The former England midfielder – whose loan from New York City expires at the end of the month – struck the only goal late in the first half of a dull Barclays Premier League encounter at the King Power Stadium. It was the 36-year-old’s sixth goal of an increasingly important spell and his 175th in the Premier League, making him joint-fourth highest scorer in the competition’s history alongside Thierry Henry. Veteran Frank Lampard delivered again for Manchester City as the champions overcame the absence of any senior strikers to beat Leicester 1-0.
New Delhi: The Australian team has had an incredible year thus far. After defeating India and Pakistan in their home conditions, the Aaron Finch-captained unit won their warm-up matches of this year’s World Cup in England and Wales. First, they brushed aside hosts England after Steve Smith amassed a magnificent century. The Aussies carried forward their momentum and defeated a hapless Sri Lanka as well.Finch and Co is now set to play their first match of the league stage against Afghanistan on Saturday at the County Ground in Bristol and stand as the favourites to win the game. The Afghans, on the other hand, rolled over Pakistan by three wickets in their first practice match. However, the team, led by Gulbadin Naib, was demolished by England as they lost by nine wickets at the Kennington Oval in London. Going into the first World Cup game, the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Asfghar Afghan will look to utilise their experience against mighty Australian and open their points tally. Team Combination:The Afghans are likely to bring back Mohammad Shahzad, who missed the second warm-up due to a hamstring injury, in place of Noor Ali Zadran. The likes of Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi have been consistent and their team would depend on them. The onus will be on Dawlat and Hamid to give Afghanistan the early breakthroughs. Their spin trio of Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb will also be in focus. For Australia, it’s still not clear who should be the openers. Khawaja did well against Lanka and it’s tough to demote David Warner as well. If the duo opens then, Finch has to drop down the middle order. There’s uncertainty over Warner’s fitness as well. Steve Smith should bat at three given the awe-inspiring form he is in. Stoinis and Maxwell can inject momentum into the innings. Starc, Behrendorff, and Pat Cummins will form the pace attack with Zampa as the lone spinner.Afghanistan (Probable XI): Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (C), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb Ur RahmanAustralia (Probable XI): David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch (C), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Starc, Adam ZampaWho will win? Australia can certainly fancy their chances for an easy win against Afghanistan. They have been able to prepare for the tournament well, and will look to execute in the first match. Afghanistan, on the other hand, are termed as the dark horse of the tournament, but against Australia, it is highly unlikely that they will make an upset. Weather and pitchConditions will be overcast but it will make no difference to the nature of the pitch, which will be flat. Bowlers are expected to suffer once again. StatisticsGoing by the statistics, the two teams have played in World Cup only once with Afghanistan making the entrance in 2015. Going by that, Australia has 100 per cent record against Afghanistan. Stadium and timingsThe match will be played at County Ground in Bristol and the match will begin at 6:00 PM IST. For all the Latest Sports News News, ICC World Cup News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.
Manchester United return to Champions League action tonight when they welcome Basel to Old Trafford on the opening night in Group A.The group’s other game sees Benfica entertain C-S-K-A Moscow.Chelsea also return to European football’s top table by entertaining Azeri champions, Qarabag. Group C’s other encounter sees Atletico Madrid go to Roma.Celtic’s Group B campaign begins with the visit of big-spending Paris Saint Germain to Parkhead. Bayern Munich face Anderlecht.Meanwhile in Group D, Barcelona play host to Juventus in the night’s glamour tie while Olympiacos take on Sporting. Photo © Pixabay
DES MOINES — Republicans on an Iowa Senate committee have approved a wide-ranging bill that sets 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m as closing time for voting in all Iowa elections.Senator Roby Smith, a Republican from Davenport, said county auditors asked for the change. “You have a number of people that are retired that have to be there all day long,” Smith said. “Sometimes they open up the polls or they’re getting reaady at 6 or 6:30 in the morning…and they have to stay there past 9 p.m., sometimes 9:30 and 10 o’clock at night.”Senator Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, objects to shortening Election Day voting.“If the auditors, for example, that nobody but maybe one person votes between the hours 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., I’d personally be against closing the polls early,” Taylor said. “…You disenfranchise one voter, it’s too many.”The bill approved by the Senate State Government Committee would require all early votes cast by absentee ballot to be in the county auditor’s office by Election Day. Smith, the committee’s chairman, said that meets the goal of uniformity.“There’s checks and balances that we have in this so that every vote counts, every legal vote counts and not one one more vote counts that’s illegal,” Smith said.The bill forbids early voting sites on the three public university campuses. It also would require graduating students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iwa to sign a form indicating if they plan to move out of state so their names can be taken off Iowa voter registration rolls. Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque said several provisions in the bill would likely spark lawsuits.“We’re treating groups of students very differently depending on whether they go to a private or a public school,” Jochum said.Jochum and the other Democrats on the committee voted against the bill. The measure is now eligible for debate in the full Senate. A bipartisan effort is underway in the Iowa House to address absentee voting. It would require all county auditors to use a Postal Service tracking system to determine if ballots are mailed before Election Day.
Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA | AFP |South Africa’s Caster Semenya is back and vowing to win an Olympic gold medal that could reignite the complex biological and ethical gender storm that once engulfed her life.The athlete, who was at the centre of a bitter dispute over gender testing seven years ago, is favourite to win the women’s 800 metres in Rio next month.Semenya shot to international stardom in 2009 when she won the 800m at the World Championships in Berlin.But her victory triggered a storm of controversy when rivals questioned her gender.She was forced to undergo medical tests and barred from the track for nearly a year, before returning to win silver at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 London Olympics.Her career appeared to be sharp decline, however, when she failed to qualify for the world championship final last year.But now Semenya, 25, is in the best form of her life, and confidently brushing off the past track disputes.“I don’t have time for that,” she said when asked about the gender issue at the African Athletics Championships in Durban in June.“I am an athlete and I focus more on the issues that concern me: training, perform, eat, sleep. So that thing — you know, it’s not part of me.”DemonisedSemenya’s full health records have never been made public, but her case triggered a debate in sport over hyperandrogenism, a condition involving overproduction of male sex hormones.Last year, regulations were suspended that required women athletes to take testosterone-lowering medication if their levels were above a legal mark.The ruling ended much of the uncertainty over Semenya’s right to run, even if some of her competitors still feel she holds an unfair natural advantage. Semenya has put in some startling track times in recent months.She scored a gold hat-trick at the African championships, winning the 1,500m and 800m titles and anchoring the 4x400m relay to first place.In April she became the first person to take triple gold in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m races — all in a single day at the South African national championships in Stellenbosch.Semenya has also run the fastest 800m times in the world this year, posting 1min 56.64sec twice, in Rome and Rabat.“She’s a clear favourite for an Olympic gold medal,” Hezekiel Sepeng, athletics manager with Athletics South Africa, told AFP.Semenya said she drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela who stood by her during the 2009 scandal, when she endured what she described as “invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being.”The test results were never released, but speculation was fuelled by unconfirmed leaks to the press.Ahead of the Olympics, IAAF president Sebastian Coe has already rallied to her defence.“I don’t like to see any athlete in any discipline under sensitive situations being demonised, we are talking about human beings here,” he said last month.Semenya, a sports science student at North-West University in Potchefstroom, who stands 1.78 metres (5 ft 8 in), is understandably wary of public attention but can open up to friends, said Sepeng.“She is talkative and feels more free when she is among people she trusts,” he said, adding that if “she does not like something she will tell you straight.”Born in the poor northern village of Ga-Masehlong, Semenya married her long-time partner Violet Raseboya in December last year.“It feels good to be back on track. I’ve been through a lot,” she told the Sunday Times in a rare interview given in April.“Now I’m back with a bang… The main target is to go to Rio and win a gold medal.”Share on: WhatsApp
Photo: Wikimedia The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has made it official that La Cartuja is the winning bid to host the next four finals of the Copa del Rey. In a process that opened at the end of December, finally the Sevillian fief is the one that has convinced the body chaired by Luis Rubiales that he will live in the Olympic venue his particular football festival until 2023. The City Council and the Board saw it more viable than Villamarín or PizjuánThe bid has ended up being greater than that of the Metropolitan and MadridOn April 18, it will host its third Cup final after those of 1999 and 2001 Neither the Wanda Metropolitano, nor the Benito Villamarín, nor the Sánchez Pizjuán. Finally, it will be the neutral stadium of La Cartuja where the final of the Copa del Rey will be held on April 18, as well as those of the next three seasons. The City of Seville and the Junta de Andalucía already bet strongly last year for the great meeting of Spanish football, which ended up being in Villamarín, and with this season they have quadrupled their interest to host all the fights for the title they had left open the RFEF when taking out the contest until 22/23.Of course, with an estimated investment of 15 million euros to match the stadium to the needs required for this type of event, the option of La Cartuja was more viable than that of the local venues of Real Betis and Seville. Also that the Metropolitan, headquarters of Atlético de Madrid and with the support behind the Madrid consistory, although with less money than the Andalusian.With this, the Federation visited the venue for the 1999 World Athletics Championships and the 2004 and 2008 Olympic nominations in Seville and approved. A stadium with capacity for just over 57,000 spectators, the fifth in Spain, who already has experience in this type of events (Valencia 3-0 Atlético de Madrid, in 1999 and Zaragoza 3-1 Celta, in 2001) and that 18 April will look for successor to the title of Valencia.
Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Creighton eventually recruited Paras, who did not flourish with the Bluejays and later transferred to Cal State Northridge where he is now on redshirt status, an academic sophomore on his first year of athletic eligibility.Paras said Sotto, given his height, would have “endless opportunities” in the United States.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson LATEST STORIES Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netKobe Paras encouraged high school sensation Kai Sotto to continue playing basketball in the United States while also taking a swipe at the current hoops scene in the Philippines.In a Twitter post, Paras made use of the new 280-character limit saying Sotto moving to the US will be the right decision instead of playing in the Philippines.ADVERTISEMENT Goods worth $400K stolen from Venus Williams’ Florida home Kiss-and-tell matinee idol’s conquests: True stories or tall tales? Coco’s house rules on ‘Probinsyano’ set Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles06:27SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold02:43Philippines make clean sweep in Men’s and Women’s 3×3 Basketball02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award “I was 15-years-old when I moved out here in LA,” said Paras, who is now a member of the Cal State Northridge Matadors.“Hopefully one day Kai may make a mature decision to continue his basketball career in the States so that he won’t get rotten and brain washed in Manila.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’SPORTSBack on the throneSotto is still in high school playing for Ateneo and his 7-foot-1 frame puts him a literal head above his opponents.Photo by: Tristan Tamayo/Inquirer.netParas, for his part, moved from La Salle Greenhills to Cathedral in Los Angeles where he made a name for himself as an athletic forward. It’s too early to present Duterte’s ‘legacy’ – Lacson Margot Robbie talks about filming ‘Bombshell’s’ disturbing sexual harassment scene Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’ Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’ Jo Koy: My brain always wants to think funny MOST READ View comments
Conor McGregor seeks to emerge from controversy in UFC comeback The credit will really come if Toronto goes deep in the playoffs.The Raptors haven’t been to the NBA Finals yet, and made the East finals only once. But these are magic times in Toronto: The Maple Leafs are going to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blue Jays are about to start their season, Toronto FC is the reigning MLS champion, and the Toronto Argonauts will defend the Grey Cup when the CFL season starts.“It’s a good time to be in Toronto,” Lowry said. “Just got to get the warmer weather.”The Finals are in June. It’s plenty warm then.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Scarlett Johansson, Sterling K. Brown among SAG Awards presenters Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ MOST READ In Liverpool, Man United sees the pain and path to recovery Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) celebrates after their 180-105 win over the Houston Rockets in an NBA basketball game in Toronto, Friday, March 9, 2018. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)They do things differently in Toronto.When it’s time for NBA public-address announcers to introduce the starting lineup before games, the Raptors don’t wait to hear their names called. The starters simply huddle up for a quick chat while their backups gather a few feet away and use a basketball to play volleyball — bumping and setting it to each other before someone spikes a dunk.ADVERTISEMENT Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Recto seeks to establish Taal rehab body to aid community, eruption victims The upcoming playoffs, though, are where the Raptors can make their noise.This is the fifth consecutive year where Toronto will be playoff-bound, matching the total from the Raptors’ first 18 seasons combined. But the recent playoff trips haven’t gone as planned, with only three series wins, a home Game 7 loss and getting swept twice.“We fell,” DeRozan said. “You could turn around and make big changes. But we stuck through it and understood the mistakes and where we needed to be better. We came back figuring out what we needed, how we needed to be better, how we could continue to push to be better. This didn’t happen overnight. This happened over the course of a long period of time.”This spring could be different for the Raptors. This team is the best-scoring group in franchise history, about to smash the team record set last season. They’re third in the NBA in 3-pointers made, second in the NBA in blocked shots. They’re 15-4 in the games immediately following a loss, and they’ve had four separate winning streaks of six games or more.Around this time a year ago, Raptors President Masai Ujiri knew there were cries in the Twitterverse to blow up the team, fire Casey, break up DeRozan and Lowry, start anew. He stayed the course. Look what happened: Casey coached the All-Star Game this year and is a coach of the year candidate, DeRozan is 10th in the league in scoring and Lowry set a career-best for 3s.ADVERTISEMENT “That’s a testament to Masai and our ownership sticking with it, Masai sticking with coach,” Lowry said. “I think that’s them believing in us and giving us opportunity. We’ve always had good years. We went to the Eastern Conference finals, we went to the second round, we went to the playoffs every year that I’ve been here besides one. We’ve always continued to get better.”Out of the 30 NBA coaches, there are three — San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle — who have held their current job longer than Casey has been leading the Raptors. Popovich, Spoelstra and Carlisle have all won titles while holding those jobs; Carlisle got his in 2011 over Miami with Casey on his staff.The overwhelming majority of attention from the outside goes to Golden State, Houston, Cleveland and Miami. Around the league, though, some applaud that the Raptors had a plan and let it take root.“When you’re constantly dealing with change, good luck,” Spoelstra said. “But that’s a great lesson. What you’re seeing is great stability from ownership and the front office, great vision and maturing to understand they’re a lot closer than they are far away and if you start over you’re going way back. Just by bringing that whole group back and tweaking a few things, they’ve gone from good to great.”The core players — DeRozan, Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas — are the constants. The Raptors are enthralled with their young players like Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl. The oft-enigmatic Serge Ibaka has been steady, and veteran C.J. Miles has been a steadying influence in Toronto’s second unit.Ask the Raptors, and they think it’s a perfect mix.“We can’t play for other people’s opinions and thoughts,” DeRozan said. “As long as we go out there and play and do what we know how to do, all that will speak for itself at the end of the day.”There’s seven different nationalities represented in the Raptors locker room as well, a true melting pot.And Casey has made coaching them look easy.“Their two leaders have done a phenomenal job of coming in and being better,” said Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, whose career started in Toronto. “I think their scouting and the guys who are making decisions did a great job of adding depth to their team. And that’s why they’re so good, man. Dwane Casey is doing a phenomenal job coaching them as well. Got to give him some credit.” Cabuyao City rising above the ashes through volunteerism D-League: Marinero coasts to 7th win, eliminates Perpetual They’re laughing. They’re loose. And they don’t mind if few are noticing.These are happy times for the Toronto Raptors, who kept their stars and coach together even after a string of playoff flameouts and are seeing that continuity rewarded. If they win three of their final eight games, they’ll break the franchise single-season record of 56 victories. And they’re in position to go into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed for the first time, entering Monday with a 3 ½ game lead over No. 2 Boston.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown“I feel like we have something special that is a well-kept secret,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.Canada’s lone NBA team doesn’t seem to move the needle much in the United States. The Raptors are No. 2 leaguewide in wins so far this season, but the NBA doesn’t list them among the top 10 in merchandise sold. They’re led by dynamic All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and their jerseys aren’t in the league’s 15 best-sellers either. Toronto hasn’t even been tapped for one of the 10 Christmas Day spots on the NBA schedule. Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew View comments
Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Weinstein rape trial Lionel Messi, center, winks as the Argentina national soccer team arrive at Zhukovsky international airport outside Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 9, 2018 to compete in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The 21st World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14, 2018, when host Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Without Lionel Messi, would Argentina even be going to the World Cup?The team’s destiny is more closely tied to the Barcelona forward than ever before.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sampaoli’s first experience in European football came with Sevilla in 2016, but he quickly left to carry Argentina to the World Cup in its last four games of the South American qualifiers.Drawing inspiration from Marcelo Bielsa, Sampaoli likes his teams to attack as a block to impose their superiority. But Argentina is still to implement his style after 10 matches.GOALKEEPERSSergio Romero was set to be Argentina’s No. 1 in his third World Cup. But just after Sampaoli included him in the final list, the Argentine soccer federation announced that he will miss the tournament because of a right-knee injury. The competition to replace him will be among River Plate’s Franco Armani, who has been outstanding with River Plate this season, and Chelsea’s Wilfredo Caballero. Armani has not played for Argentina, but is now the people’s favorite at home. Caballero has not been a starter for Chelsea, but he’s known for his quick reflexes. The 36-year-old saved three penalties to win the League Cup for his previous club Manchester City. He also consistently displays strong skills with his feet, which could be the deciding factor for Sampaoli. The team’s third option is Nahuel Guzman (Tigres, Mexico).DEFENDERSCenter back Nicolas Otamendi is the stalwart of the backline, with a likely partner in the towering Federico Fazio. Gabriel Mercado is likely to start on the left, while Nicolas Tagliafico is expected to secure a spot on the right wing. But Sampaoli is known for swapping players depending on the rival, so he could also try options including Eduardo Salvio and Marcos Acuna.MIDFIELDERS:Until the dismal loss to Spain, Sampaoli’s preferred option in the center was Lucas Biglia, but he will be racing to be fit for the World Cup after injuring his back.Sampaoli dismissed critics and included veteran Javier Mascherano, who will play at his fourth World Cup at the age of 34. The stakes will be higher than ever for the veteran defender, who is expected to start against Iceland on June 16, if Biglia is not fit. Mascherano has made 143 appearances for the national team, making him the most capped player in Argentina’s history.The lack of better options should present opportunities to Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini. Winfrey details her decision to withdraw from Simmons film DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displaced Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding Here’s a closer look at the Argentina team:COACHThe 58-year-old Sampaoli took over in June 2017 to replace Edgardo Bauza when Argentina was on the verge of missing a World Cup spot.Sampaoli was never a footballer and didn’t manage a first division club at home, developing his career in Peru and then Chile. His success at Universidad de Chile pushed him to the Chilean national team in 2012.At the 2014 World Cup, Sampaoli’s Chile reached the round of 16 but lost to host Brazil on penalties. But a year later, Chile won its first-ever title while hosting the Copa America.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Giovani Lo Celso seems to have the better chance than Eduardo Salvio. The coach could also use Maximiliano Meza and Matias Kranevitter.FORWARDSMessi will turn 31 during the World Cup, and Russia might be his last chance to lift the coveted trophy. The team will work around its captain and all-time leading scorer.Aguero was expected to start as center forward in Russia, until he injured his left knee in early March. Tests in April have forced Sampaoli to consider other options in case Aguero is not fit.Sampaoli left striker Mauro Icardi out of Argentina’s World Cup squad, even after he finished as joint top scorer in Serie A. Sampaoli instead put his trust in Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. His dazzling skills and scoring ability with his club are unquestioned. But he has struggled with the national team, and his emotional frailty could play against him.Dybala has never recovered from saying it was hard for him to play with the best player in the world. Sampaoli now considers him as a natural replacement for Messi or a potential No. 9. Cristian Pavon of Boca Juniors, which won the Argentine league, has had a good understanding on the field with Messi in the two friendly games they’ve played together. Pavon has speed and can overtake rivals on both flanks.GROUP GAMESBased in the Moscow region, Argentina opens its Group D campaign in the capital against Iceland on June 16. Then there’s a trip to Nizhny Novgorod to play Croatia on June 21, followed by a meeting with Nigeria in St. Petersburg on June 26.FULL SQUADGoalkeepers: Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres de Mexico) Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Defenders: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Federico Fazio (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)Midfielders: Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Giovani Lo Celso (PSG), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Milan), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica)Forwards: Paulo Dybala (Juventus) Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew WORLD CUP: Peru returns to finals after 36-year absence China population now over 1.4 billion as birthrate falls In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ There are plenty of doubts for coach Jorge Sampaoli ahead of the tournament in Russia.Defender Javier Mascherano is reaching the end of his career, while striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Lucas Biglia both experienced injury problems recently. Paulo Dybala is yet to deliver for his country despite all the promise on display at Juventus.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownMuch of the squad also carries the burden of mass disappointment, following three successive losses in finals: 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America.Argentina secured its spot in Russia in the last round of South American qualifiers thanks to Messi’s hat trick against Ecuador. The deficiencies in the team were underscored in a 6-1 loss to Spain in a friendly in March. MOST READ Dave Chappelle donates P1 million to Taal relief operations View comments