Sports Briefs

first_imgPacquiao to return April 9 against Bradley LAS VEGAS (AP): Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring April 9 for the first time since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and it will be against a familiar foe. Promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday that Pacquiao will fight Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a third time in his first bout since losing a decision to Mayweather in the richest fight ever. Pacquiao re-injured a shoulder in that fight and was ineffective against Mayweather in dropping the unanimous decision. Technically, the fight with Bradley will be the rubber match of their three-fight series. However, most in boxing believe Pacquiao won the first fight in 2012 easily – the judges gave it to Bradley – and was largely dominant in the rematch, which he won by decision. Top rank spokesman Lee Samuels said the pay-per-view fight has not officially been signed, but that both fighters had agreed to terms and would be signing soon. Pacquiao was given a $2 million advance on his guaranteed $20 million purse, Samuels said. Messi scores in 500th game for Barca BARCELONA, Spain (AP): Lionel Messi scored in his 500th match for Barcelona to help them ease past Real Betis 4-0 on Wednesday and ensure they kept the lead of the Spanish league to conclude a superb year for the Catalan club. Barcelona broke a run of consecutive draws in the league to cap one of their best years in club history. Before kick-off Andres Iniesta paraded the recently won Club World Cup trophy, their fifth title won in 2015. The four goals scored took the year’s tally to 180, bettering Madrid’s milestone of 178 from 2014. “It was a spectacular year, and we wanted to finish it in the same way,” Messi said. “It will be complicated to better this, but like always we will try to do so.” Messi recovered from a hard knock with Antonio Adan that was ruled a penalty against the Betis goalkeeper, by scoring Barcelona’s second goal, after an own goal put the Catalan side on its way. CAS rejects appeal from Musa Bility LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP): The Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed Musa Bility’s appeal to overturn his exclusion from the FIFA presidential election. Bility, who is from Liberia, failed to make the field after failing an integrity check. FIFA’s election monitoring panel ruled the Liberian football federation president ineligible last month. No reason was publicly given, but Bility said a previous criminal allegation against him was dismissed by a Liberian court. CAS says it will release the grounds for its decision early this year. FIFA has approved five candidates for the election to be held on February 26. Michel Platini, who has been handed an eight-year ban but still hopes to run for FIFA presidency, is also expected to appeal to CAS. Monfils out of Hopman Cup with leg injury PERTH, Australia (AP): Gael Monfils has withdrawn from the Hopman Cup mixed team event due to an unspecified leg injury and will be replaced by French compatriot Kenny de Schepper. It was not clear whether the injury would prevent the 24th-ranked Monfils from competing in the Australian Open beginning January 18 in Melbourne. Hopman Cup tournament director Paul Kilderry said yesterday “it’s unfortunate to hear Gael is unable to play in Perth … we wish him well over the next couple of weeks ahead of the Aussie Open.” De Schepper and his partner Caroline Garcia play their first match Monday against the Britain team of Andy Murray and Heather Watson. Serena Williams and Jack Sock open for the United States, also on Monday, against Elina Svitolina and Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.last_img read more

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Iceland are out to win everyone’s hearts again at the World Cup

first_img Iceland fans perform the famous Viking Clap Live on talksport GROUP D “Before anyone asks,” said Hallgrimsson, “I’m still a dentist and I will never stop being a dentist.”Priceless. And it got even better, not least when asked about what makes his team – and the country as a whole – so infectious.“People can’t help but love us,” he replied. “We certainly feel it. We have not attacked anyone or been at war with anyone. Well, except the ‘cod war’ and nobody got hurt there.”Hallgrimsson can’t hide his pride at being in Russia. Argentina, he said, was the biggest game in the lives of every one of his players – far bigger than England two years ago. Group D 4 But there is a serious side too. He believes 100 per cent in his team who, he said, had planned meticulously. And woe betide anyone who uses the “M” word again.“What we did two years ago was not a miracle,” he retorted when asked about Iceland’s exploits in France.“We are 22nd in the FIFA rankings and we won our qualifying group. We deserve to be here.“It’s down to knowing your strengths and weaknesses. We play a different style of football to many teams but if you work together as a unit then anything is achievable and I hope we can continue showing that. Anyone who thinks it is a shock we are here doesn’t know much about the Iceland national team.” Argentina World Cup team guide – fixtures, kits, key player, probable line-up Heimir Hallgrimsson oversees an Iceland training session They’re back. And everyone has fallen in love with them – again.Two years after making the quarter-finals at the European Championship, knocking out England in the process, guess what Icelandic head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson’s first words were at his media conference on the eve of the country’s World Cup debut against the mighty Argentina? Iceland World Cup team guide – fixtures, kits, key player, probable line-up ICE BREAKER He continued: “I understand that, for other nations, this is strange and probably couldn’t happen but it shows the unity between the fans and the team.“It’s more than a football game – this is part of them. We give the fans ownership in the team and vice versa. You can see it in their eyes.”But after their unexpected exploits two years ago, surely Iceland can only go one way: down. Not so, says the dentist.“Icelandic football doesn’t stand or fall by the results in three group games. We know we can have the best game of their lives tomorrow and still lose to Argentina. That’s just reality.” 4 Argentina v Iceland is LIVE on talkSPORT Argentina v Iceland: Preview, team news, kick-off time and commentary Messi and co head to training on golf buggy driven by Di Maria Iceland manager – and dentist – Heimir Hallgrimsson Iceland celebrate knocking England out of Euro 2016 Former England assistant explains Iceland horror show – ‘there was mass panic’ BUGGING OUT But how on Earth will his team be able to cope with the other “M” word – Messi?“I don’t have a magic formula,” said Hallgrimsson. “Everyone has tried everything against him and he always manages to score a goal. We’ll help each other and try to do it as a team.“It would unfair to give one player the role of guarding Messi. But it’s not just Messi. They are crammed with talent. If you focus on one player, someone else will punish you.”Win or lose, Hallgrimsson will probably end up in bar somewhere during the tournament mixing with the fans. 4 4 Iceland’s bearded captain and inspiration Aron Gunnarsson has recovered from  a knee injury to  push the team on.“He’s invaluable,” says the coach.  “Every trainer in the world looks for a player who will sacrifice everything on the pitch.”Gunnarson says he and his teammates will take heart from beating England at Euro 2016.“We’ve taken that experience into this tournament and have nothing to lose,” he said.“We weren’t sure what to expect last time. This time, the preparations have been far easier.”Argentina v Iceland is LIVE on talkSPORT on Saturday, kick-off 14:00last_img read more

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