58th National Hockey Championship from 28th

58th National Hockey Championship from 28th

LAHORE – The 58th National Hockey Championship will be played at Faisalabad Hockey Stadium from January 28 to February 13 2011.
The participating teams are – PIA, National Bank, Sui Southern Gas
Company, Habib Bank, WAPDA, Army, Navy, Port Qasim, Steel Mills & PTV.
Khalid Bashir will be the tournament director and Rana Mujahid Ali will be the organising secretary. Malik Muhammad Shafqat and Muhammad Farooq will be the assistant tournament directors. Other technical

WikiLeaks exposes Bulgarian football league’s mafia links

SOFIA – Some of Bulgaria’s most popular football clubs have ties with mafia bosses, who use them to launder money, according to a US diplomatic document revealed by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. “Bulgarian soccer clubs are widely believed to be directly or indirectly controlled by organised crime figures who use their teams as a way to legitimise themselves, launder money, or make a fast buck,” a January 2010 cable from the US embassy in Sofia to Washington noted.
Details of

West Brom hope to loan out Macheda

BIRMINGHAM – West Bromwich Albion are hoping to sign striker Federico Macheda on loan from English Premier League rivals Manchester United.
Baggies head coach Roberto Di
Matteo has confirmed his interest on signing the 19-year-old on a
temporary basis.
Di Matteo was initially interested in acquiring the services of Macheda for a spell at the start of last season.
“Macheda is someone we looked at right at the start of last season. He’s a striker, we are after

Pedro scores double as Barca enhance lead

MADRID – Pedro Rodriguez netted a brace as champions Barcelona started 2011 with a nervy 2-1 home win over Levante on Sunday to move five points clear of Real Madrid at the Spanish first division summit.
Pedro struck on 47 and 59 minutes to clinch an 11th successive league victory for Barca and Real must now defeat derby rivals Getafe on Monday to move back to within two points of their bitter rivals.
Brazilian Dani Alves set up the opener for Pedro, faking to shoot twice

Benzema admits to lack of ambition in the past

MADRID – French striker Karim Benzema, who has struggled to hold down a first-team place at Real Madrid, says he did not try hard enough in the past to earn time on the pitch in an interview published Monday.
“I know when I play well and when I do it badly and if at any moment I have played less it is because I did not make enough of an effort to deserve it. Today I know that I make an effort and that is why I am playing,” he told sports daily AS.
“What is key is that I have

Khawaja’s bright cameo helps lift Australia gloom

SYDNEY – Debutant Usman Khawaja briefly lit up a gloomy first day of the fifth Ashes test on Monday but Australia’s batting frailties and rain returned later in the day to leave the hosts wobbling on 134-4 at the close of play. Despite their hopes of regaining the Ashes having gone, Australia could still square the series with a victory this week but England just about edged the weather-disrupted day with some stifling bowling and key wickets.
Khawaja, the first Muslim to play

Ponting to have surgery on broken finger

SYDNEY – Australia captain Ricky Ponting is to undergo surgery on Tuesday on the fractured finger which forced him to miss his first test match in six years this week. The 36-year-old fractured a bone the little finger in his left hand while fielding in the third Ashes test in Perth and played through the injury in the defeat in Melbourne last week that ended Australia’s hopes of regaining the
Ashes. He was rested for this week’s fifth test in Sydney to give him time to

Under-fire Ancelotti considers defender swoop

LONDON – Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti will decide whether to make a centre back one of his primary January transfer targets when Alex returns to Stamford Bridge this week. Alex is currently undergoing rehabilitation following knee surgery and is due back at the club after a trip to Brazil.
The Brazilian central defender is not expected to be fit until the end of January, and Ancelotti wants to check the progress of his recovery before making a move in the transfer market.

PMC Athletico fight to live another day

LAHORE – PMC Club Athletico Faisalabad survived the embarrassment of relegation in the Pakistan Premier Football League. This is their fifth consecutive top division season in 2011. PMC escaped relegation by narrow margin as they won their last two games on Balochistan soil and survived for another PPL season.
“I would like to congratulate all my friends, colleagues, supporters and well-wishers in Pakistan and around the globe for this success. All of them have stood with

Real must re-build sans Higuain, says Mourinho

MADRID – Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said on Sunday that he will have to re-construct his team in the absence of injured Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Higuain is out of action with a slipped disc in his back and Mourinho compared his absence to that of Brazilian playmaker Kaka, who has been out since the start of the season with a knee problem. “We were missing (Kaka) for six months and we built a team,” Mourinho said at a press conference prior to Monday’s trip to

Ferdinand pleased at United title charge

MANCHESTER – Rio Ferdinand has no qualms about Manchester United making an “ugly” charge for the Premier League title as the leaders look to extend their advantage at the top against Stoke on Tuesday. Ferdinand insists United will take three points in any way, shape or form if that is what it takes to regain the Premier League crown from Chelsea.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have been anything but fluent so far this term but remain unbeaten in the league and sit at the Premier League

Shamyl shines for Newage in Toyota Cup

LAHORE – As many as four matches were decided on the opening day of the Toyota Cup Polo Tournament here at the Lahore Polo Club on Monday. First Law, a team with two-and-a-half goals handicap, lost to Newage Cables 11-4. All the four members of Newage scored with Shah Shamyl Alam converting five while Adnan Jalil Khan and Usman Haye shared two each.
Diamond Paints glittered with 13 goals against The President’s Bodyguard, which managed six-and-a half goals.
They scored

Ali advances in British Open Junior Squash

LONDON – Pakistani youngsters competing in the British Junior Open Squash Championships in Sheffield had mixed fortunes on Sunday. Appearing in the first round of Boys Under-17 category, Syed Ali Bokhari defeated his Japanese opponent Taiki Kaido in straight games by 11-6,11-5,11-4 after 24 minutes in the court.
Saad Shahid, who is ranked 64, went past local boy Joshua Masters 11-8, 11-8, 11-3 in only 21 minutes. Malik Balaj was the third successful Pakistani in the first round

Djokovic upbeat despite heavy workload

PERTH – Serbian world number three Novak Djokovic is confident his heavy playing schedule at the end of 2010 will not hinder him as the new season gets under way.
Djokovic only had a couple of weeks off at the end of last year, after leading Serbia to a historic Davis Cup win over France in early December. Speaking after a 3-0 win for Sebia over Kazakhstan at the mixed-teams Hopman Cup on Sunday, Djokovic admitted the short break was not ideal preparation for the Australian Open

Gambhir, Tendulkar steady stumbling India

CAPE TOWN – Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar ground out the first century partnership of the match as India overcame the loss of two early wickets on the second day of the third and final Test against South Africa at Newlands on Sunday.
Gambhir (65 not out) and Tendulkar (49 not out) put on an unbeaten 114 for the third wicket to enable India to reach 142 for two at the close in reply to South Africa’s Jacques Kallis-inspired 362 all out.
The stand enabled India to stay

Americans too good for France

PERTH – e United States cruised to victory over France in their Group B tie at the mixed teams Hopman Cup on Monday, as Great Britain suffered an unexpected early exit at the hands of Italy.
The unseeded US pairing of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner won both singles matches to secure the tie, before completing a clean sweep by claiming the mixed doubles against French duo Kristina Mladenovic and Nicolas Mahut.
The talking point of the clash was the singles rematch

Sharapova starts with easy win

AUCKLAND – Top seed Maria Sharapova cruised through her first round match in the Auckland Classic women’s tennis tournament Monday disposing of Italian qualifier Alberta Brianti in straight sets. Sharapova was seldom troubled as she won 6-2, 6-3 in less than 90 minutes on court with Brianti putting up her bravest showing in the second set when she saved four match points.
“This was my first match of the year and I hadn’t played a tournament in a while, so it was important to get