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Spain coach Julen Lopetegui fired after signing for Real Madrid

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Julen Lopetegui

Krasnodar (Russia), June 13: Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui was fired on Wednesday, two days before their first match in the 2018 FIFA World Cup after Real Madrid announced that he will take charge of the record European club football champions next season.

Julen Lopetegui, whose signing for Real Madrid was announced on the club’s website on Tuesday, had been at the helm of the Spanish national squad since 2016, and remained unbeaten in 20 games, reports Efe.

Spanish football association RFEF President Luis Rubiales said in a shock presser that he had lost confidence in Lopetegui after learning about the news five minutes before it was made public by La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid.

“We have been forced to break our agreement. The Spain team is the team of all the Spaniards, you can not do things this way, 2-3 days before the World Cup. We have been forced to make this decision with Julen Lopetegui, who has done an impeccable job,” Rubiales said.

“But we cannot accept this behaviour. This has been done without our knowledge. I do not feel betrayed. But this is how it must be.”

Spain are in Group B of the World Cup, alongside Portugal, Iran and Morocco. Spain will begin their campaign against Portugal on Friday.

The line-up, which features the likes of Diego Costa, Sergio Ramos, Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Piqué, is one of the hot favourites to walk away with the trophy at the end of the campaign in Russia. But the current situation will mar their campaign.

Even though Rubiales didn’t name the caretaker coach, he hoped that the national squad will overcome the difficulty.

“We are in a very difficult situation, but the players and the new coaching staff will do everything in their power to take us to the furthest,” he said.

IANS

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Lionel Messi named best La Liga player in September

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Messi

Madrid, Oct 17:  Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi on Wednesday was named the best player in the Spanish football league for the month of September, La Liga said in a statement.

Messi is to receive the award in Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sevilla, reports Efe.

“Leo Messi, the FC Barcelona forward, has been named the La Liga Santander Player of the Month for September,” La Liga said via their website.

“The Argentine scoops the first prize of the 2018/2019 season after an impressive start to the campaign which saw his side go to the top of the standings,” the statement added.

Messi scored three La Liga goals last month, one against Girona and a brace against Huesca, as well as collecting four assists.

Barcelona holds the second spot in the Spanish league table with 15 points, one point behind Sevilla.

IANS

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Wrestlers Bajrang, Sakshi to lead Indian challenge at World C’ships

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Bajrang Punia Sakshi Malik

New Delhi, Oct 16 : Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Punia will spearhead the 30-member Indian contingent at the World Wrestling Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary from October 20 to 28.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has selected 10 members each in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling categories.

The burden of India’s medal hunt at the worlds will mostly be on the shoulders of Bajrang (65kg) and Sandeep Tomar (57kg) in the men’s freestyle category.

In the women’s section, Sakshi (62kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg) and Ritu Phogat (50kg) are expected to be strong medal contenders in their respective weight categories.

Ritu is the only Phogat sister to feature in the squad as Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh was ruled out because of an elbow injury during the trials.

Four wrestlers — Bajrang, Kuldeep, Gurpreet and Harpreet — have been training in Hungary for more than a fortnight while the rest of the squad joined a week back.

The squads:

Freestyle: Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Sonba Tanaji Gongane (61kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Pankaj Rana (70kg), Jitender (74kg), Sachin Rathi (79kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg), Deepak (92kg) Mausam Khatri (97kg), Sumit (125kg), Jagminder Singh (chief coach).

Women: Ritu Phogat (50kg), Pinki (53kg), Seema (55kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg), Sangeeta (59kg), Sakshi Malik (62kg), Ritu (65kg), Navjot Kaur (68kg), Rajini (72kg), Kiran (76kg), Kuldeep Malik (chief coach).

Greco Roman: Vijay (55kg), Gyanender (60kg), Gaurav Sharma (63kg), Manish (67kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Manjeet (82kg), Harpreet Singh (87kg), Hardeep (97kg), Naveen (130kg), Kuldeep Singh (chief coach).

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Saina survives, Sindhu ousted from Denmark Open

Saina, who lost to Cheung in their sole previous meeting two years ago, came back from a game down before eventually holding her nerve to advance to the next round.

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P.V. Sindhu And Saina Nehwal

Odense (Denmark), Oct 16 (IANS) Star shuttler Saina Nehwal survived a scare before progressing to the second round of the Denmark Open but it was heartbreak for Rio silver medallist P.V. Sindhu, who crashed out after being stunned by unseeded American Beiwen Zhang in the opening round of the womens singles event here on Tuesday.

Saina overcame stiff resistance from Hong Kong’s Ngan Yi Cheung before eventually pocketing the match 20-22, 21-17, 24-22 in 81 minutes. However, third seed Sindhu lost 17-21, 21-16, 18-21 to Zhang in another tough opening encounter that lasted 56 minutes.

Saina, who lost to Cheung in their sole previous meeting two years ago, came back from a game down before eventually holding her nerve to advance to the next round.

The match went down to the wire with both the shuttlers going for the kill. But the London Olympics bronze medallist finally managed to keep her cool and save two match points at 21-20 and 22-21 in the decider which helped her pocket the pulsating tie.

Earlier, Sindhu succumbed to her third consecutive loss to American Zhang, who also beat the Hyderabadi at the Indian Open in February this year.

After meekly losing the opening game 17-21, the 23-year-old Sindhu came back strongly in the second and did not allow the American to move ahead before finally winning it 21-16.

In the decider, the American bounced back in style to first take a 12-8 lead before Sindhu hit back to make it 14-13 in her favour.

From thereon, both the shuttlers went neck and neck before the match ended in Zhang’s favour with the scoreline reading a close 21-18.

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