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Mahdi quits after loss to Socceroos
Sydney: Australia boosted their World Cup qualifying hopes on Tuesday with a tense, 2-0 win over UAE, whose under-pressure coach Mahdi Ali announced his resignation after the match. Two defeats -- against Australia, as well as Japan and Saudi Arabia -- forced Ali into making the decision. While Australia lived to fight on, there were tears in the UAE camp. Their fourth defeat means their chances of qualifying for the World Cup
 
 
Foul-mouthed Messi banned for four fixtures
Zurich: Barcelona star Lionel Messi was suspended for four Argentina matches by FIFA on Tuesday for swearing at an assistant referee, a decision the Argentinian federation said had left him feeling “sad”.Messi was found guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” in the World Cup qualifier against Chile last Thursday which Argentina won 1-0 thanks to a penalty from the Barcelona hitman.
   
India beat Australia to clinch Test series
Dharamsala: Skipper Virat Kohli said Australia were no longer his friends after India wrapped up a bad-tempered Test series 2-1 with a thumping eight-wicket win in Dharamsala on Tuesday. Chasing 106 on the penultimate day of the fourth Test, opener Lokesh Rahul hit 51 not out at India’s newest Test venue as the hosts seized back the Border-Gavaskar trophy from Australia. India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane (38 not out) hit
 
 
Heartaches, vegan lifestyle fuel Jermain Defoe
London: Fuelled by the pain of past rejections and revitalised after turning vegan, Jermain Defoe insists he can defy father time by firing England to the World Cup. Less than a year ago, Defoe feared his England career was over after Roy Hodgson ignored the striker’s fine form with Sunderland and left him out of the Euro 2016 squad. Defoe was devastated and the blow was even tougher to take because Hodgson didn’t deem it
   
‘FIFA decision process on 48-team WC unacceptable’
Athens: The decision-making process that led FIFA to increase the number of teams at the World Cup to 48 starting with the 2026 tournament is unacceptable, European Club Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Tuesday. The ECA, an organisation representing 220 soccer clubs, opposes the world governing body’s decision which Rummenigge, the former Germany international who is also Bayern Munich’s chief executive,
 
 
Coleman can follow Larsson example: O’Neill
Dublin: Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill hopes injured captain Seamus Coleman will be able to follow the example of former Celtic star Henrik Larsson in recovering fully from a broken leg. Coleman, 28, was still in a Dublin hospital on Monday, two days after he had surgery on the tibia and fibula bones in his right leg which were snapped by an appalling tackle from Wales’s Neil Taylor, who was promptly sent off in a
   
Southgate irked by Palace chief’s Zaha remark
London: England manager Gareth Southgate has taken issue with Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish’s views on the international tug-of-war involving Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Zaha. Zaha was capped twice by England, in 2012 and 2013, but switched allegiances to Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, late last year and has since made six appearances for them. He scored a fine solo goal in Ivory Coast’s 2-0 friendly win over
 
 
Swedish football still waiting for next ‘Zlatan’
Stockholm: Swedes have a reputation as level-headed and patient, and it’s just as well: they’ll have to wait a while for a new “Zlatan” to suit up on the national football squad. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s all-time high scorer with 62 goals, put an end to his 116-cap international career in June 2016. Since then, the team has had no star player of top international calibre to fill Ibrahimovic’s shoes. Some young hopefuls have
   
Campbell urges Arsenal to emulate Sanchez mentality
LONDON: Arsenal players must mirror the never-say-die attitude and work-rate of forward Alexis Sanchez if they hope to salvage their faltering campaign, according to former England defender Sol Campbell. The north London club were knocked out of the Champions League 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich and lost ground in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four after a run of four losses in five games left them sixth.
 
 
Kolkata chosen to host U-17 WC quarters and final
KOLKATA: Football’s world governing body FIFA has chosen the eastern city of Kolkata to host the final of the under-17 World Cup to be held in India. A team of FIFA officials completed a week-long tour and finalized six venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, which is scheduled to begin on Oct.28. The Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata will also host the quarter finals and the play-off for third place. Tournament matches will
   
FIFA probes Ivory Coast, Senegal crowd trouble
Geneva: FIFA said on Tuesday it had launched an investigation into incidents which led to the abandonment of a friendly match between Ivory Coast and Senegal in Paris following a series of pitch invasions. The sides were level at 1-1 late Monday when French referee Tony Chapron called off the match in the 88th minute as fans from both sides flooded onto the pitch. Images showed rowdy supporters chasing across the pitch after
 
 
Federer and Wawrinka advance in Miami Open
Miami: In-form Roger Federer powered his way into the fourth round of the Miami Open with a 6-3 6-4 win over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro on Monday. Del Potro always enjoys plenty of crowd support in Miami, which has a large Argentine community, and it was the same story again with football-style chants of support ringing out for the 28-year-old on a packed Crandon Park center court. It was the pair’s first meeting since
   
Mulled English T20 tourney gets Vaughan backing
London: Former England captain Michael Vaughan has given his support after officials on Monday set in motion the procedure that could lead English cricket to have a new eight-team Twenty20 tournament. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chiefs, having seen the success of the Indian Premier League and especially Australia’s city-based Big Bash Twenty20 tournaments, believe they need something similar to help them reach family
 
 
Spurs drop Cavs to second; Thunder roar back
Los Angeles: Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and left to a standing ovation Monday as the San Antonio Spurs humbled the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 less than three weeks before the start of the playoffs. The late-season glamour match-up in San Antonio fizzled as the Spurs took control in the first quarter thanks not only to stars like Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge but also to stellar play from their reserves.
   
Fatigued Johnson withdraws from Houston Open
Washington: World number one Dustin Johnson withdrew from the PGA Houston Open on Monday, citing fatigue after winning seven matches last week to capture his third consecutive US PGA Tour victory. The 32-year-old American edged Spain’s Jon Rahm 1 up in Sunday’s championship match of the World Golf Championships-Match Play at Austin, Texas. Johnson won seven matches over five days, including two each on Saturday and Sunday, to
 
 
Rain washes out match after Taskin, Mendis feats
Dambulla: Heavy rain washed out the second one-day international of a three-match series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Dambulla on Tuesday. Bangladesh could not start their innings due to rain after bowling out Sri Lanka for 311 runs in 49.5 overs, thanks to a hat-trick of fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, who finished with 4-47. The wash-out means Bangladesh now cannot lose the series after winning the first match by 90 runs on
   
Injured Murray to miss Davis Cup quarter-final
London: World number one Andy Murray has been ruled out of the British team to play France in next month’s Davis Cup quarter-final with an elbow injury, it was announced on Tuesday. The same injury forced him to pull out of the ongoing Miami Open and he will now miss the April 7-9 tie away to France in Rouen, with the absence of the three-time Grand Slam champion and double Olympic gold medallist dealing a huge blow to Britain’s
 
 
New Zealand rip apart South Africa’s top order
Hamilton: Colin de Grandhomme fired with bat and ball to back up Kane Williamson’s 176 as New Zealand tightened the screws on South Africa in the series deciding final Test in Hamilton on Tuesday. At stumps on day four, South Africa were 80 for five in their second innings, still 95 runs short of making New Zealand bat again. Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock were both 15 not out. De Grandhomme, whose lower order 57 helped
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