World Cup picture opens up for Pacific league teams

first_imgPhoto: PHOTOSPORT Toa Samoa rugby league coach Matt Parish Toa Samoa coach Matt Parish said the squad he named to take on England was probably the strongest he’s selected in his four years in charge.Wing Antonio Winterstein believes they’re more than capable of causing an upset.”When you put that blue jersey on you go in there to do your best and to do your country proud so definitely be going out there to get a result,” he said.”We believe we’ve got the team to do it so the result is the big picture but, at the end of the day, the boys are going out there and doing their best for their country.”Fiji will be looking to improve on last year’s shock loss against Papua New Guinea when they take on Mate Ma’a Tonga.Bati coach Mick Potter said this week had been an important step in Fiji’s World Cup preparations.”To build that camraderie and build that friendliness the Fiji Bati team creates,” he said.”It’s a unique atmosphere that I’ve been associated with…it’s a good environment to be in and they become very tight and close.””I want that to keep building, I want a competitive game and I want them to build those combinations on the field as well. Those off the field things that happen will help them on the field and they will be more committed to each other.”Papua New Guinea are looking to build on last year’s upset win against Fiji with a strong showing against Pacific Test debutants the Cook Islands in the first match of the day.It will also mark the long-awaited test debut of Tommy Butterfield, who toured France with the Kumuls back in 2007.”It’s a true honour and a privilege to run out for my country and run out for my family.””It’s been ten years – I know I’ve been on the tour and played tour games and a few other games for PNG but none have counted as tests, so definitely looking forward to this one and I know a lot of people back home are definitely going to be tuning in as well so really forward to it,” Butterfield said.Meanwhile the Cook Islands head coach Tony Iro said they are just excited to be a part of the Pacific Test after four years of being ignored.”Just the opportunity to pull on the jersey rep one round just gives them an opportunity to show them what the Cook Islands, even though we are not here in the World Cup this year, we are really serious about making it in 2021.”The 2017 World Cup kicks off at the end of October.last_img read more

Liverpool Face Napoli Again, Barcelona Get Tough UEFA Champions League Draw

first_imgMonaco: Barcelona will have to come through a group containing both Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan after the three former winners all came out together in Thursday’s UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco, while holders Liverpool will face Napoli again.Barcelona, Dortmund and Inter, with nine European Cups between them, were drawn together in Group F along with the Czech champions Slavia Prague. Beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals last season, Lionel Messi and Barcelona remain favourites to advance as they seek a first Champions League crown since 2015.Dortmund won the trophy in 1997 and lost in the final in 2013. Now coached by Antonio Conte, Inter beat Barcelona in the semi-finals en route to winning the most recent of their three titles in 2010.Liverpool advanced from their group at the expense of Napoli last season on the way to lifting their sixth European Cup in Madrid, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side now have a chance to gain revenge.Both clubs will be fancied to progress from Group E, which is completed by Austrian champions Salzburg and Genk, the Belgian title-holders.Liverpool are hoping to return to this year’s final which will be played in Istanbul, where they won their fifth title back in 2005.After losing in last season’s final, Tottenham Hotspur can look forward to a meeting with German champions Bayern Munich in Group B.That will be the first meeting of the clubs since the 1983-84 UEFA Cup. They will also meet Greek champions Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade of Serbia, the 1991 European Cup winners, in Group B.After winning the Europa League, Chelsea are back in the Champions League and can look forward to taking on last season’s semi-finalists Ajax as well as former Champions League runners-up Valencia and Lille in Group H.Premier League champions Manchester City were handed the kindest draw of all four English representatives, with Pep Guardiola’s men coming up against Italian debutants Atalanta along with Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb in Group C.City beat Shakhtar 3-0 in Ukraine in last season’s group stage before a 6-0 victory in the return fixture.There will be glamour ties between familiar opponents elsewhere, with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid renewing acquaintances with Paris Saint-Germain in Group A.Real eliminated the French champions in the last 16 on the way to winning the trophy two seasons ago.Turkish champions Galatasaray and Club Brugge of Belgium complete Group A.Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus will come up against Atletico Madrid again after beating the Spanish side in the last 16 last season. They will also face Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow in Group D.Perhaps the most balanced section sees Zenit Saint Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon and RB Leipzig clash in Group G. The first fixtures in all groups will be played on September 17 and 18. Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time. AjaxAtalantaatletico madridbarcelona First Published: August 29, 2019, 11:10 PM ISTlast_img read more