Messi sets eyes on hapless Malaga

Messi sets eyes on hapless Malaga

BARCELONA – Barcelona star Lionel Messi vindicated his selection as the World Player of the Year by netting a hat-trick in the 5-0 Spanish Cup destruction of Real Betis and now he has his sights set firmly on struggling Malaga.
Relegation-threatened Malaga face the ominous task of pitting themselves against Barca who will be seeking a record 28th straight game without defeat – they equalled their previous record tally set in the 1974-75 season with the win over Real Betis.

Armstrong heads Down Under

ADELAIDE – International cycling icon Lance Armstrong says he will not be expecting a ticker-tape farewell ahead of his competitive swansong at the Tour Down Under this week.
Australia’s premier cycling event has been steadily gathering in stature and Armstrong’s presence gives the Adelaide-based race, which begins with a hectic street criterium on Sunday, an extra boost.
After years of courting almost as much controversy as he did success on seven golden years on the Tour

Bin Hammam rules out winter World Cup

LONDON – Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam on Friday ruled out shifting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter or staging tournament matches around the Gulf region. Bin Hammam told Sky News in an interview that he was “unimpressed” by suggestions from FIFA President Sepp Blatter that the tournament could be moved to a winter time slot to avoid sweltering summer temperatures in Qatar.
He also took aim at remarks by UEFA President Michel Platini earlier this week that the 2022

Real fight back to down Atletico

MADRID – Real Madrid fought back from a goal down to defeat city rivals Atletico 3-1 in the first leg of the Spanish Cup quarter-finals on Thursday. Atletico were ahead after just seven minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu when Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan was on target following a bright burst from Sergio Aguero which was ended by goalkeeper Iker Casillas’s clumsy challenge. But Sergio Ramos powered in a header from an Angel Di Maria corner in the 14th minute to bring the home side

Lyari Town outclass Bihar

Karachi – Lyari Town overpowered Bihar Colony 4-0 in the Group D clash of the PFF-KESC Lyari Football League 2011 at Shaheed Abdul Rehman Park. After completion of three matches in Group D, Lyari Town have accumulated six points, Bihar Colony have three while Khada and Bela are yet to open their account.
Lyari Town surprisingly faced no resistance from Bihar Colony, the 14-1 winners over Khada four days ago. Lyari’s skipper Muneer Aftab opened the scoring in the 10th minute,

Socceroos hold S Korea to draw

DOHA – Australia and South Korea shared the spoils 1-1 in the battle of the big guns at the Asian Cup on Friday as both sides inched closer to the quarter-finals. The two Asian heavyweights are both seen as potential tournament winners but neither could find the decisive winner at the three-quarters full Al-Gharafa Stadium.
Exciting Jeju United 21-year-old Koo Ja-Cheol, who has already attracted interest from overseas clubs, got the breakthrough on 24 minutes, striking his third

Players finalised for youth camp

LAHORE – Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Faisal Saleh Hayat has approved forty-six players for the national youth team to appear in the 2012 Olympic football Asian qualifying tournament. The camp will start on January 15 at the famous Model Town Academy.
17 year old Muzammil Hussain, rated as one of the top upcoming keeper, is among the probables. Muzammil won the Best GK award in 19th National U18 Championship 2007, 3rd National U21 Championship and 20th National

Phelps returns to compete at Texas

AUSTIN – US Olympic hero Michael Phelps returns to the competition pool for the first time since late August when he races in the Austin Grand Prix long course meeting that starts here on Friday.
USA Swimming said Phelps was slated to compete in the three-day event, the second of seven events in the domestic Grand Prix series. Ryan Lochte, who earned six short course world titles and set two individual short course world records in Dubai in December, is also scheduled to

Beckham deal still unfinalised

CHIGWELL – David Beckham won’t face Manchester United on Sunday after Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp admitted his club’s bid to sign the LA Galaxy star is still no closer to a successful conclusion.
Redknapp had hoped to bring former United midfielder Beckham back to the Premier League in a three-month loan deal and the 35-year-old has been training with Spurs since Monday. But Tottenham have been unable to agree terms with the Galaxy as the MLS side want Beckham back in

Rooney back to pilot United title charge

LONDON – Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to unleash Wayne Rooney on Tottenham here Sunday as Manchester United aim to extend their phenomenal 23-match unbeaten streak against the Londoners. Rooney missed last Sunday’s FA Cup win over Liverpool at Old Trafford with an ankle knock but is expected to be fit as United travel to White Hart Lane looking to cement their place at the top of the table.
United last lost to Spurs in May 2001 and since then have held a hex over Harry Redknapp’s

sydney international – Li stuns Clijsters to take title

SYDNEY – China’s Li Na upset two-time champion Kim Clijsters on Friday to win the Sydney International title and her fourth career WTA crown. Eighth seed Li recovered from going behind 0-5 in the opening set to rally for a convincing 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 victory in 1hr 30min.
It was her second WTA title in Australia after winning the Gold Coast event in 2008 and last year she was a surprise semi-finalist at the Australian Open. Li will stay at her 11th ranking despite the win, while

Ding brushes aside Dott

LONDON – China’s Ding Junhui overpowered former world champion Graeme Dott 6-2 to advance into the semi-finals of the Masters tournament at Wembley on Thursday. Dott missed several easy pots during a match where the Scot’s highest break was a modest contribution of 38. Ding, by contrast, was on form right from the start as he took the first two frames with breaks of 124 and 108.
Dott won a scrappy third before Ding’s third century, a break of 124, saw him establish a 3-1 lead.

Mattek-Sands to play Groth in Hobart final

HOBART – American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is one win away from her first WTA singles title after reaching the final of the Hobart International on Friday.
After leading the USA to victory in last week’s mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth, Mattek-Sands continued her impressive start to the new season by overcoming China’s Peng Shuai 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 in 1hr 47min.
Mattek-Sands will play Australian Jarmila Groth in Saturday’s final.
Sixth seed Groth defeated her doubles partner

Nadal flirts with greatness

SYDNEY – There will be upsets, there will be drama, there will be cheers and there will be tears, but most eyes at the Australian Open will be on whether Rafa Nadal can succeed where so many great players before him have failed. The world number one left Melbourne Park last year after retiring injured from his quarter-final against Andy Murray but returned this week with the Wimbledon, French and U.S. Open titles in his possession.
A second Australian Open title on Jan. 30 would

Deaf Squash C’ship final today

LAHORE – The final of the 6th National Deaf Squash Championship will be played today here at the Punjab Squash Complex, between Bilal Tahir and Balil Atiq,
Hamid M. Mirza, Head of Marketing – Bank Alfalah, will be the chief guest at the final, which will be played at 1600 hours. Prize distribution will also be held after the final.
The second round matches started at yesterday at 10 am. Quarter-final and semi-final matches were also decided.

Sajid fastest athlete at CM Cup

LAHORE – Mohammed Sajid of Sahiwal turned out to be the fastest athlete at the divisional high school level when he won gold medal in the 100m race of the Chief Minister’s Sports Competitions, which are in full swing at different venues of the city.
Football, volleyball and athletics were held at various venues on second day. Players from different divisions are participating in the competitions.
The boys final athletics events were held at the Punjab Stadium. Sajid got the

Wozniacki Slam quest faces Henin test

MELBOURNE – World number one Caroline Wozniacki faces a likely early test against seven-time majors champion Justine Henin if she is to go on to break her Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open. In the official draw made on Friday, Wozniacki is projected to meet the former world number one and last year’s finalist in the quarter-finals.
The 20-year-old Dane reached the top ranking in October last year with the consistency of her performances outweighing her failure to win a