By Michael HannTOP meets bottom in the Premier League on Saturday when leaders Chelsea make the short trip across west London to Fulham (5pm) looking to consolidate their title bid and increase the relegation worries of their neighbours.With third-placed Manchester City playing Sunderland in the Capital One (League) Cup final at Wembley on Sunday (4pm) , Chelsea can increase their advantage over Manuel Pellegrini’s side to six points.Chelsea top the table with 60 points from 27 games, one more than Arsenal (59), who are away at Stoke this afternoon (5pm), and three clear of City, who have 57 from 26 games. Liverpool are fourth on 56.Jose Mourinho’s side last lost to Fulham in 2006, the year they won their second successive league title, and they drew 1-1 at Galatasaray in the Champions league on Wednesday.“We just want to try to keep our position and not give it up for free to our opponents,” said the Portuguese, whose side went top three weeks ago.“We have to fight, we have to play. Every victory keeps us there, every defeat or draw we lose our position.”Fulham, without a win in seven, will be hoping to give new German coach Felix Magath a victory in his second game in charge after drawing against West Bromwich Albion last weekend.Second-placed Arsenal, who beat Sunderland 4-1 in their last outing, travel to Stoke on Saturday (5pm) having found wins hard to come by at the Britannia Stadium.Arsene Wenger has not seen his side beat Stoke in their last three trips to the Potteries and the Frenchman will be without left back Kieran Gibbs who has a hamstring injury.“We are still there in the table,” Wenger said after the victory over Sunderland. “It is down to consistency and our performances.”Stoke, who have won once in their last six league matches, are three points above the relegation zone but will be boosted by the return of German defender Robert Huth.Liverpool continue to breathe down the necks of the top three and travel to the south coast to play Southampton in Saturday’s late kick-off (7.30pm), with in-form Daniel Sturridge bidding to find the net in his ninth consecutive Premier League match.“He looks like he can score in every single game,” manager Brendan Rodgers said of Sturridge after he scored twice against Swansea last Sunday.“He’s got that ability, he’s got the quality and thankfully he plays for us here, and has still got a lot of improving to do.”Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has triumphed over Liverpool in the last two meetings between the sides, but after slumping to a 3-1 defeat against West Ham United they have now won once in their last six games.West Ham will have Andy Carroll back in contention for their trip to Everton (5pm) after the England striker served a three-match ban.Sam Allardyce’s men have eased their relegation fears in recent weeks as four wins in a row has seen them shoot up to 10th in the table.In contrast, Roberto Martinez’s seventh-placed Everton, who have not lost to West Ham in the last 12 meetings, have dropped off the pace after losing back-to-back league matches.They will be without injured on-loan striker Lacina Traore, but top scorer Romelu Lukaku is pushing for a return after an ankle problem.On Sunday, Tottenham host Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s struggling Cardiff City (6.30pm) with head coach Tim Sherwood calling on his side to show “character” following a poor display in a 1-0 defeat at Norwich City last weekend.“Good players and good teams come back when they’re down and that’s what we’ve got to do straight away,” said Sherwood, whose side are fifth on 50 points.Norwegian Solskjaer has found life difficult since taking charge of Cardiff and with one win away from home in the league this season, prospects look bleak for the 19th placed side.
By Iacovos ConstantinouAPOLLONAS maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Cyprus standings with a deserved 2-1 win over Omonia in Nicosia.Elsewhere, APOEL kept up the pressure with an easy win against Doxa Katokopias while Ermis Aradippou recorded his first win in almost two months.14,000 fans, the large majority being Omonia supporters, turned up to watch the top of the table clash between Omonia and Apollon at the GSP stadium on Sunday.Both teams were unbeaten in 2015 but it was Apollonas who got off to the better start controlling play and moving forward with aplomb. They could have taken the lead as early as the first minute but Omonia keeper Moreira pushed the ball away for a corner.In fact with better finishing Apollon’s Greek striker Papoulis could have scored a hat-trick in the opening 15 minutes.Omonia tried to respond but just when they were getting into the game the visitors hit on the break on the half-hour mark. A defensive error allowed Lopes through on the right and his cross was met by Abraham Guie who headed over Moreira’s flailing arms.The home side did manage to create a couple of chances but it was the visitors who scored again six minutes before the break with Guie turning provider this time for Papoulis to ram the ball past Moreira.The second half was a shadow of the first even though Omonia did pull a goal back through Rounie in the 55th minute.Having conceded a goal, Apollonas’ coach beefed up his midfield and from there on his team were rarely troubled. In fact it was the team from Limassol who missed a couple of sitters to sew up the match.Omonia lost the game but an even bigger loss was the injury to their leading marksmen Pote who according to reports cracked a rib after a collision with the Apollon keepr Bruno Vale.Champions APOEL kept up the pressure with a comfortable win over relegation candidates Doxa.Despite the waterlogged pitch the Nicosia team performed well and scored at the beginning of each half through Norwegian John Arne Riise and a Leonardo own goal. The scoreline could have been much bigger but for some heroic goalkeeping by Doxa’s keeper Hadjifrangiscou.Ermis Aradippou returned to winning ways after a professional display against a disappointing Othellos. The goals came from Manou and Taralides in the first half.AEL, vying with Ermis for the coveted sixth spot, kept up their hopes with a convincing 3-0 win over bottom of the table Ayia Napa. The goals came from Bebe and Tagbanjumi in the first half, and a Markofski own goal ten minutes from the end.No goals were scored in the remaining two games with Anorthosis moving into third place despite drawing with Ethnikos, while Nea Salamina picked up a valuable point at home to the disappointing AEK.
By Andreas VouMarcos Baghdatis was knocked out of the French Open by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur in the second round on Wednesday, going down in four sets to the talented 23-year-old.The Limassol native had started the tournament in impressive fashion by beating Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic in straight sets on Sunday afternoon. However, despite his latest opponent being 63 places lower than Karlovic in the ATP rankings, Baghdatis failed to muster the consistency he showed just a few days prior and was ultimately picked off by Dzumhur.Neither player needed any motivation ahead of the game, knowing that the winner would face Roger Federer in the next round, and though it was a close fight to take down the opening set, Dzumhur eventually edged it 6-4.Baghdatis looked affected by the late break of service suffered towards the end of the first set as he would go on to have a nightmare start to the second. Dzumhur broke Baghdatis twice in a row in the second set as well as holding his own serve to earn a 4-0 lead. The Cypriot broke back once but the damage had already been done and the Bosnian took the second set 6-3.By this point, the odds were stacked against Baghdatis, but he would not go down without a fight. He opened with a 2-0 lead after breaking Dzumhur which made the telling difference as he went on to claim the third set 4-6 to reduce the deficit to 2-1 in sets.In the fourth and final set, Dzumhur broke the Cypriot’s serve to make it 3-1, then Baghdatis broke straight back to make it 3-2 but it would be his final game in the match. Despite Baghdatis’ efforts, the Bosnian was a step ahead throughout the encounter and his dominance showed in the final stretch as he ruthlessly took down every remaining game to seal his passage into the next round.The 23-year-old Bosnian now faces the biggest test of his career against Federer in the third round but, for Baghdatis, his Roland Garros run ends two rounds short of his best ever campaign in 2007.
Marcos Baghdatis progressed to the third round of the U.S. Clay Court Championship being played in Houston Texas, defeating Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.The Cyprus champion will now meet American Jack Sock, who overcame Australian Matthew Barton.Results from the U.S. Clay Court Championship Men’s Singles Round 2 matches on Thursday7-Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) beat Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 6-4 6-34-Jack Sock (U.S.) beat Matthew Barton (Australia) 6-2 7-6(5)3-Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) 7-6(4) 6-1Tim Smyczek (U.S.) beat Donald Young (U.S.) 6-2 6-4
In what is now a great and thriving rivalry, four top teams in each grade will battle it out to see who is crowned champions for each division in their inaugural competition.PNG Mixed Men’s Netball President, Adam Parker congratulated the teams that have made the finals and thanked the teams who took part in the inaugural competition.“The association is looking forward to a hotly contested finals series in all grades as over the season it has been proved with the enthusiasm and pride,” Parker said.“As mentioned at the beginning of the season, this whole season was about establishing a foot print for future competitions for Mixed and Men’s netball,” he added.The atmosphere will be electric tomorrow evening at the courts as teams take to the courts for the inaugural final for the competition in the country.In the Social A semi-final matches Veupunama 2 will take on Matrix, and PNGFP will play BSP 2 meanwhile, in the Premier Mixed Division Mona will rival against Marie Pasifika and Veupunama 1 will challenge Kamuna as Social B division will see Graffitti battle it out with HHL/CPL and Lasi will face Aura Netters.
The goal of the Olympic Day is based on the three pillars of “Move”, “Learn”, and “Discover.” NOC’s are encouraged to organize sports, cultural and educational activities for all regardless of age, gender, social background or sporting ability.Coincidently, this year’s Trukai Fun Run will be held in the same week and falls on Sunday 26 June to cap off a long week of activities.Various sports will be involved in live demonstrations with students which will include Athletics, Archery, Football (Soccer), Basketball, Karate, Handball, Netball and others.While coordinating the activities, the PNG Olympic Committee who are organizing the program will also be sharing the message of Olympic values of Respect, Friendship and Excellence as well as other important values that are promoted in sports. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the Olympic Movement and the history of the Games through a series of question and answers.The public will also be able to learn these facts through a similar quiz online via Facebook and Twitter as well as the PNG Olympic Committee website.“It is going to be a fun-filled week with lots of activities and we are looking forward to meeting everyone who will be participating in our programs,” said PNGOC Secretary General, Auvita Rapilla.She said 2016 is the year of the Olympic Games with the latest edition of the Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, and the celebrations this week can also draw more support for Team PNG athletes who will be competing there.PNG Olympic Committee will also be supporting the establishment of the PNG Olympians Association at a luncheon on June 23. The association will be for all athletes who have competed at the Olympics for PNG.“The Olympics is the epitome of sport in the world and is a great achievement for all athletes. We are privileged to have been represented at that level by some of our great sports men and women and this association will be established to recognize and commemorate them.“Olympians are a special breed and are a part of our sporting history. We would like to recognize and honour their contribution to sport in PNG through this association. May they be the inspiration for future generations,” Rapilla said.Everyone is encouraged to follow the PNG Olympic Committee and Team PNG Facebook and Twitter pages and websites for the latest programs and updates on activities and participation opportunities.
This is after the Games Council confirmed Tonga’s withdrawal earlier this month, and asked for expressions of interest from “experienced” hosts.Fiji and Papua New Guinea have already declined to make a bid with Samoa the only country confirming their desire to stage the Games.Guam said it would only consider stepping forward if there were no other contenders.Noumea has hosted the Pacific Games three times – the last occasion being six years ago and the CEO of the Territory’s Olympic Committee, Michel Quintin said 2019 was not a good time for them.”We took the decision quite quickly because financially it would have been difficult to organise the Games and to organize it in two years time, so that’s really difficult, but we are really happy if someone bids and for sure we will help them to manage the Games.”Meanwhile the President of the Tahiti Olympic Committee, Tauhiti Nena, said they will meet with government next week to discuss a potential bid. Photo: RNZ Vinnie Wylie
World number one Andy Murray overcame a dreadful start to beat Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 7-5 7-5 and reach the Monte Carlo Masters third round as he made his return from a five-week injury layoff on Wednesday.The Briton, who had a first-round bye, had not played competitive tennis since injuring his elbow in March and began with three double faults as he lost his opening service game.Left-hander Muller served for the first set but Murray dug himself out of trouble to move through.Rafael Nadal began his quest for a 10th title in the principality but was also made to work hard by Murray’s compatriot Kyle Edmund – winning 6-0 5-7 6-3.Nadal made a dazzling start on one of his favourite courts but hard-hitting 22-year-old Edmund hit back to worry the Spaniard who was playing his 400th match on the red dust.Top seed Murray, 29, was all at sea in the opening stages against Muller but eventually settled into his rhythm to scramble past the world number 28.He takes on Albert Ramos-Vinolas next while Nadal, seeded four, has a tricky task against another young gun in Germany’s Alexander Zverev who eased past Feliciano Lopez.“It was a tough first match,” Murray told Sky Sports. “I started slow and wasn’t serving well at the start.“I only started serving properly four, five days ago, so I knew it was going to take time but I didn’t expect to start the match serving like that.”Third seed Stan Wawrinka beat Czech Jiri Vesely 6-2 4-6 6-2 while sixth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria lost only four first service points as he beat Robin Haase 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with Belgian 10th seed David Goffin.Fifth seed Marin Cilic of Croatia destroyed France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-0.German veteran Tommy Haas’s hopes of following up his first-round victory over Benoit Paire were dashed when he was beaten in three sets by Czech Tomas Berdych who plays Cilic next.
Manchester United have signed Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton on a five-year contract, the Premier League club said on Monday.British media reported that the fee for the 24-year-old is about £75 million, making him the Old Trafford club’s second most expensive signing after last year’s world-record deal for France midfielder Paul Pogba.“Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United. He is a big personality and a big player,” United manager Jose Mourinho said in a statement.“It is only natural that he wants to develop his career at the biggest club. He will be a great addition to the group and I know they will make him very welcome. I am really looking forward to working with him again.”Lukaku, who also attracted interest from his former club Chelsea, scored 25 league goals in 37 matches for Everton in the last campaign, four behind Tottenham Hotspur’s Golden Boot-winner Harry Kane.“I would like to start by thanking Everton and the fans for the last four wonderful seasons, I have made some special friends and we have shared some amazing moments,” Lukaku said.“However, when Manchester United and Jose Mourinho come knocking at the door it is an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I could not turn down.“I cannot wait to run out at Old Trafford in front of 75,000 fans but before that pre-season is where the hard work starts and I am looking forward to that first training session.”Lukaku, who has scored 20 goals for Belgium, rejected a new contract at Everton in March and will reunite with Mourinho who managed him at Chelsea.
Liverpool and Manchester United’s globe-trotting squads must shake off the effects of international duty for one of English football’s most eagerly-anticipated clashes on Saturday (2.30pm).According to Sky Sports their players clocked up 139,000 miles taking part in World Cup qualifiers since the last Premier League action, but all roads lead to Anfield as the English top flight resumes after a two-week hiatus with a potential cracker.The stoppage was badly-timed for United who won their last three Premier League games with nine goals scored and none conceded, albeit against sides in the lower half of the table.Jose Mourinho’s side, joint leaders on 19 points from seven games with Manchester City, will hope to continue that momentum in what will be their biggest test of the season to date.Liverpool’s form has been less impressive and Jurgen Klopp’s side, beset by defensive problems, are seven points off the searing pace being set by the two Manchester rivals.They are also without a Premier League victory over bitter adversaries United in their last six meetings but Mourinho says recent history will have no bearing on Saturday.“These kind of matches, every single moment plays a part,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “We are playing against a good team with very good players. Form doesn’t matter, the moment doesn’t matter. It’s a match of three points.”United will be missing midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who hurt his knee playing for Belgium against Bosnia, while Paul Pogba is still absent with an injury.Liverpool have a potentially more significant absentee, however, with forward Sadio Mane facing a six-week layoff after injuring his hamstring representing Senegal.City, who have built up a goal difference of plus 20 during a stunning start to the campaign, host Stoke City (5pm) with striker Sergio Aguero possibly in contention for a squad place after recovering from injuring his ribs in a car accident last month.Tottenham Hotspur, in third place, will attempt to lay their Wembley jinx in the league at the fourth time of asking as they host Bournemouth (5pm), while fourth-placed champions Chelsea, beaten by City before the international break, visit Crystal Palace (5pm).Toothless Palace are the first top-flight side to lose their opening seven games since Portsmouth in 2009 and the first in 129 years of the Football League to do so without scoring.Fifth-placed Arsenal are at Watford (7.30pm), while Burnley, the surprise package so far in sixth, will fancy their chances of when they tackle West Ham United at Turf Moor (5pm).West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has leapfrogged Everton’s Ronald Koeman as favourite to be the next managerial casualty after his side’s woeful start.Koeman’s side travel to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday (3.30pm) hoping to avoid only a second loss in 20 against newly-promoted teams in the Premier League.Southampton host Newcastle in Sunday’s other match (6pm), while West Brom visit Leicester on Monday night (10pm).