US Women's boss Vlatko Andonovski says his do not have an ego problem

‘I do not see any superstars or egos’: US Women’s boss Vlatko Andonovski insists his all-conquering side do not have an ego problem despite their cocky reputation as they prepare for World Cup rematch with England

  • USA manager Vlatko Andonovski has played down talk of huge egos in his squad 
  • The World Champions are brimmed with household names like Megan Rapinoe 
  • Andonovski insists the mentality of his playing group makes his job easier
  • USWNT face England on Thursday for the first time since World Cup semi final  

USA manager Vlatko Andonovski insists he has no problem managing the egos in the dressing room despite much of the squad rocketing to household fame on the back of last summer’s World Cup win.

The Macedonian-American coach, who succeeded Jill Ellis at the helm of the four-time world champions in October having twice won the NWSL Championship, says his number one ranked side have an unwavering commitment, despite their new found distractions.

‘I haven’t had any problems and do not see the superstars or egos when we are in training camps,’ Andonovski told Sportsmail.

US women’s boss Vlatko Andonovski insists there are no egos in his star-studded squad

The Macedonian-American (R) was appointed new boss in October after Jill Ellis’ departure

‘They come in with the mindset that they have to prove themselves every day. They feel like they have to compete with themselves. Their mentality is what makes my job easier.’

Goal scoring Megan Rapinoe, who played for Andonovski with the Reign for two seasons, is believed to have had a hand in his appointment.

She revealed the new head coach is steadily introducing his methods, though firmly believes given their unprecedented success on the international stage, only minor tweaks are necessary.

The US team have seen their fame skyrocket following their World Cup triumph last summer

Rapinoe was a key figure in the appointment of Andonovski following Jill Ellis’ departure

‘We don’t want to turn over too much, but there has been a lot change – we have a new coach with a different philosophy and there are things he wants to put in [place].

‘It’s kind of a balance between doing as much as we can, but we don’t just want to throw everything out – we were decent before so we want to keep a little bit of that,’ she laughed.

The USA is riding a 28-game unbeaten streak going into the SheBelieves Cup opener against England in Orlando on Thursday night.

 

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Australia beat South Africa and wet weather to advance to T20 World Cup final

It was the game that was off, then on, then off, then on again but after a see-sawing and thrilling evening, Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign is still alive.

Australia will be there at the MCG on Sunday in an historic final against India after overcoming wet weather and all sorts of adversity to clinch a remarkable rain-reduced five-run victory over South Africa at the SCG.

Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy looks on as South Africa’s Dane Van Niekerk is bowled. Credit:AAP

The Bureau of Meterology received some serious traction from mobile phone devices on Thursday evening in the Moore Park precinct as amateur meteorologists tried to guess the severity of storms looming around the SCG.

The ground's curator, Adam Lewis, was quietly confident on Wednesday a game would be had and his educated prediction was spot-on.

It was, however, an anxious wait as rain poured all through the afternoon, which cancelled the first semi-final between India and England.

After 32.4 millimetres of rain since 9am, the match got under way 26 minutes after its initial scheduled time and South Africa, unsurprisingly, elected to bowl in order to gauge how audacious they would need to be in a run chase.

Once on the field, Australia instantly knew the odds were in their favour to prevail.

Alyssa Healy (18) began her innings with usual exuberance but chipped a ball to mid-wicket with the bat turning in her hand.

Australian captain Meg Lanning and Delissa Kimmince celebrate their semi-final win at the SCG. Credit:AAP

Her opening partner Beth Mooney (28 from 24 balls) was eager to hit square. She cover drove with conviction and looked dangerous before her leg stump was knocked out of the ground by an ecstatic Nadine de Klerk.

De Klerk was the best of South Africa’s bowling, returning figures of 3-19 as she removed Ash Gardner (0) and Rachael Haynes (17 from 18) to stifle Australia’s middle order.

Australia went past 100 in the 16th over as Lanning chalked up her highest score against South Africa. The cameo, featuring five boundaries, was her most productive in the World Cup and at the most critical time.

What a message it sends heading into Sunday's final from a skipper with a point to prove.

A handy 17 runs off the 18th over helped Australia post a total that would certainly be competitive, depending on the fickle weather.

Despite the unpleasant weather, organisers will be disappointed with an SCG crowd who braved conditions but the thought of Katy Perry in action in front of a potential world-record crowd for a women’s sport event … no wonder Australia’s golden girls couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces after a brilliant win in dramatic circumstances.

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Sixes and sevens but Australia give World Cup the final it needed

One calamitous half-hour against India on the opening night of the Women’s T20 World Cup had hung over Australia’s campaign like a swollen cloud. On Thursday night at the Sydney Cricket Ground, it almost broke and washed away their hopes of a fifth title.

But they managed to survive, much as they have throughout the tournament, their cricketing smarts and underlying class keeping them in the fight even when their performance was below its best. Now they get a chance, in Melbourne, to make amends against the unbeaten Indians.

Australia’s women celebrate the wicket of Dane Van Niekirk en route to yet another T20 World Cup final.Credit:AAP

Repeating the recent pattern, Australia’s innings ticked ominously but never quite exploded. Healy’s bright start was cut short by a clip to mid-wicket. Lanning finally looked free to produce a destructive, match-sealing innings, but the loss of Beth Mooney, Jess Jonassen and Ashleigh Gardner in the space of 11 balls forced the captain to rein herself in and play a longer game, if such a thing is possible in this format.

Lanning’s adaptation to circumstances showed tremendous mental strength and maturity under pressure. Australia’s run rate plummeted as Lanning and Rachael Haynes sought to consolidate against an accurate attack, particularly from the combative young right-armer Nadine de Klerk and opener Shabnim Ismail. The dependable Haynes made another critical contribution before Lanning was able to accelerate again, albeit never quite cutting loose.

Australia’s 134-run total, owing so much to Lanning’s unbeaten 49, translated to a requirement of 98 from the 13 overs South Africa were left to face after another rain delay.

Two outstanding catches – on the boundary by Gardner and at cover by Lanning – punctured South Africa’s early momentum, and Australia came up with another professional effort in the field to get the win, notwithstanding some superb strokeplay from 20-year-old Laura Wolvaardt.

Some intelligent bowling from the experienced Megan Schutt and Delissa Kimmince was as necessary for Australia, in the end, as had been Lanning’s leadership with the bat.

The gap between Australia and the chasing pack continues to narrow. This will surely be the last World Cup when Australia can produce less than their best and still make a final. But they have done it, and perhaps when they arrive in Melbourne they will feel like the load has been lifted.

A rematch with India gives the event the final it needed, a genuine play-off between the world’s best.

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‘Embarrassing’ drama in 12-year thriller

The Sydney Kings have made their first NBL Grand Final in 12 years after bouncing back to claim game three against Melbourne United 89-87.

It was a thriller after the Kings were blown off the court in game two in a 45-point demolition that saw star Andrew Bogut ripped by commentator Corey “Homicide” Williams.

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The 45-point margin was the biggest in any NBL game since the matches dropped from 48 minutes to 40 minutes long in 2010.

The Kings weren’t about to let it happen again, coming to play as the sides traded the lead throughout the match.

Jae’Sean Tate celebrates with teammate Deshon Taylor.Source:AAP

The win sees the Kings make their first NBA Grand Final since the 2008 season, when they lost the five-game series to the Melbourne Tigers.

But post-match, rather than social media praising the thrilling match, all the talk was about the officiating.

Three different people (first or second-time NBL viewers) messaged me during that game. All of them asked about the officiating. It's embarrassing for the league; it shouldn't be the story, but it is. It's been an issue for years, and nothing. I don't know, guys.

1) Credit to the Kings for bouncing back from game 2. Massive effort.
2) Cooks was awesome for Kings. Can see why he was picked for Boomers for WC.
3) Given MU copped some truly appalling refereeing, maybe something will finally be done about the biggest issue in comp. #NBL20

Reckon you could ref too based on the officiating tonight, Roy….entertaining game tho

Foul trouble early hurt us, dubious calls didn’t help.
Next year boys @MelbUnitedHQ #nbl #nblfinals

God. This officiating makes the game so painful to watch. Stop calling bulls**t and let them play! #NBL20

Melbourne had many chances despite the shaky whistle but didn’t convert at the critical moments in the second half.

Post-match, United coach Dean Vickerman took aim at the refereeing.

“Overall this year, to say the interaction with referees — off-court or in meetings — it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “We started the year with not even a meeting at the (NBL pre-season) Blitz. There was no meeting ever that we came together and said this is how it’s going to be played. Everything was email or phone calls or different things.

“So we didn’t start the right way, and I think we saw that halfway through the year, we’re still trying to work things out. We’ve just got to be better as a league to say ‘we want video examples, we want to see exactly how it’s going to be played, we want to debate things at the start of the year.”

Vickerman said United began attending all the referees meetings through the year, even though opponents often wouldn’t.

While he was clearly frustrated by the refereeing performance in the third match of the series, Vickerman said it spoke to bigger issues the league still needs to understand.

“We’ve got to work together in a better way, and I think we’ve still got to find the true identity of this league, how we want it to look and how we want it to be (in terms of) officiating,” he said. “I think that has to happen very quickly this year, so we have the ability to recruit, and understand this is the style of play we can put on the floor next year.”

Chris Goulding reacts during the third NBL Semi-Final.Source:AAP

The Kings had a pile of free throws in the first quarter, taking a 24-22 lead at the break, having hit just 12 of 21 attempts from the free throw line.

The second quarter was all United as Goulding hit 14 points and Melbourne took the 50-45 lead to the break.

As the game firmed into a close slog down the stretch as the Kings hit back, it was always going to go down to the wire.

With United ahead by one with just over two minutes to play, Kevin Lisch drilled a three-pointer and Jae’Sean Tate followed up with a basket to put the Kings up 89-85.

The minor premiers then held firm at the defensive end to earn their chance at a fourth title in franchise history.

Tate scored 20 points and Casper Ware added 15 while Xavier Cooks (14 points, nine rebounds) impacted the game at both ends of the floor.

Goulding was held scoreless in the second half but still finished as United’s leading scorer with Mitch McCarron tallying 18 points and import duo Melo Trimble and Shawn Long each adding 17.

— with AAP

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Floyd Mayweather delivers update on McGregor and Khabib fights

Floyd Mayweather told a London crowd he fully intends to make a comeback in 2020 – as long as he gets $600million for two fights.

Mayweather has been tipped for a rematch with Manny Pacquiao as he works with UFC supremo Dana White over a return to boxing.

But, speaking at an event at London's York Hall promoted by DKM Promotions, he insisted clashes with UFC stars Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov are the only fights on his radar.

Explaining how he will only fight opponents who have a "whole country behind them", Mayweather highlighted he has named his sky high price to step back into the ring.

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Mayweather said: "Like we talked about on social media, there’s two names right now.

"We talked about the Conor McGregor fight, we talked about the Khabib fight.

"For myself, the number is $600m. If I’m going to go out there and risk it, it’d have to be worth it."

Mayweather stopped McGregor in the 10th round when they met in a money-spinning encounter in August 2017, which netted him a cool $300m.

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"That was a business move," he said of his first fight with McGregor.

"In the boxing world as of right now, it doesn’t make sense for me to fight any ordinary fighter. I’m a business man. The Conor McGregor fight made sense. If it makes money, it makes sense.

"I don’t fight fighters or compete against competitors that only have cities behind them. If I’m going to fight you, you have to have a whole country behind you.

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"The first fight was entertaining. It’s an entertainment business."

Mayweather is widely considered one of boxing's pound for pound greats after putting together an unbeaten 50-0 record.

His bout with Irish superstar McGregor was his last professional bout, although he returned for an exhibition event against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nakamura at the end of 2018 which lasted only 140 seconds.

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Michel Platini: Ex-UEFA president and former FIFA vice-president loses appeal

Former UEFA president Michel Platini has failed to overturn his appeal against a ban from involvement in football at the European Court of Human Rights.

The court announced on Thursday that a seven-member panel had dismissed Platini’s application against world governing body FIFA’s 2015 decision and maintained his human rights had not been violated.

“The court found in particular that, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct, the senior position held by Mr Platini in football’s governing bodies and the need to restore the reputation of the sport and of FIFA, the sanction did not appear excessive or arbitrary,” the court said in a statement.

Platini, who was UEFA president between 2007 and 2015, served a four-year ban from football after he was found guilty of receiving a “disloyal payment” from former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, although it expired in October. Both men denied wrongdoing.

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Tottenham news: Jose Mourinho has big concerns as Real Madrid dream revealed

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has claimed Jose Mourinho was waiting for the Real Madrid manager job to become vacant when he was contacted by Tottenham to replace Mauricio Pochettino – and he took the offer even though there were some lingering concerns.

Manchester United sacked Mourinho in December 2018 after making no progress despite spending £400million on 11 players.

But he was only out of work for 11 months as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy made the controversial decision to end Pochettino’s five-year reign in north London.

Mourinho was appointed the Argentine’s successor the next day but he has been unable to get the side into the Champions League places.

Spurs have had to battle on with no striker as Harry Kane and Son-Heung Min are sidelined through injury.

But Balague reckons the Portuguese boss has big worries over the squad prior to the injury crisis.

“I don’t think Mourinho would have thought that the Tottenham job would have been more straightforward,” Balague told GentingBet.

“He must have known that this is the worst squad that he’s ever had since he left Porto.

“I know that he was waiting for Real Madrid and the call never came, so it would suggest that perhaps this wasn’t his first choice.

“As soon as he came in, he realised – and especially with the injuries – that it was going to be difficult.

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“To be honest, he’s done well by keeping the level of the team, sometimes you make a [managerial] change and it’s for the worst.

“At least he’s stabled the team, but he hasn’t been able to improve it. Partly because of the injuries, partly because of his approach for a team that’s used to a different thing.

“And partly because, for three or four years, Tottenham have been punching over their weight anyway, so perhaps they’re finding their real level.”

Meanwhile, Mourinho placed his trust in young forward Troy Parrott late in Spurs’ FA Cup clash with Norwich last night.

But he insists the 18-year-old is not ready for first team football after missing a penalty in the shoot out defeat.

“The penalty is nothing. He is a penalty taker in the under-23s, he scores every one in the unders,” he told BBC Sport.

“He was so confident, he wanted to take one, he wanted to take the responsibility, it’s an experience in his career.

“The problem is not his experience. The problem is the 30 minutes. Now people can see that he has to work a lot so don’t think that Parrott is the second Harry Kane because he’s just a young kid that needs to work.

“Let’s forget the penalty because we all miss the penalties, it was not Troy.”

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MENA Tour season postponed until September due to coronavirus

The coronavirus threat has forced golf authorities in Asia and the Middle East to postpone several upcoming tournaments.

The MENA Tour, based in Dubai, issued a statement confirming that the remainder of the their 2020 season has been postponed until September, while the Asian Tour have called off next week’s Royal’s Cup in Thailand.

The European Tour announced last month that The Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur and the Volvo China Open had both been pulled from the schedule, with the Tour “investigating alternative dates for both events”.

The MENA Tour have now delayed six tournaments which they are planning to reschedule for between September and December.

A statement posted on social media read: “The MENA Tour by Arena has been closely monitoring all channels of information related to issues involving COVID-19. As an international Tour, the health and safety of our players, staff, venue partners and partners is our paramount goal.

“Accordingly, we are going to postpone the final six tournaments of the 2020 MENA Tour season and reschedule them between September – December. We will endeavour to release the revised schedule by the end of this month.”

Unfortunately, due to the various travel issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the MENA Tour by Arena has decided to postpone the remainder of our 2020 season to September-December. We will post the new schedule as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/oMJAZHWtYY

The Asia Tour then announced: “The Royal’s Cup 2020 scheduled to be played at the Grand Prix Golf Club in Kanchanaburi next week will be postponed due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

“The continued health concerns and advisories from the Thailand health authorities means that the inaugural event will be postponed to a later date.”

Asian Tour commissioner and CEO, Cho Minn Thant, added: “The Asian Tour and the event promoter- Grand Prix International have decided to postpone the Royal’s Cup 2020 on the advice of the health authorities of Thailand.

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Arsenal injury news: Lucas Torreira set for long spell out after suffering fractured ankle

Lucas Torreira’s season looks to be over after the Arsenal midfielder fractured his ankle in the FA Cup fifth-round victory over Portsmouth on Monday.

The club have confirmed the diagnosis, yet there is no timescale for his recovery, though the 24-year-old will certainly be out for the foreseeable future.

The Uruguay international was stretchered off after 16 minutes at Fratton Park following a strong challenge by James Bolton.

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Torreira was replaced by Dani Ceballos in the cup tie, which Arsenal went on to win courtesy of goals from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Eddie Nketiah.

An update from the Gunners read: “Right ankle. Sustained fracture to right ankle during Portsmouth (a) on Monday. Awaiting further specialist reviews which will determine recovery plan”.

The Gunners will now play Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the last eight of the competition.

The former Sampdoria star will now be a doubt for Uruguay at the Copa America too.

La Celeste will have high hopes of going far in the tournament hosted by Argentina and Colombia, which starts on 12 June.

There was better news for full-back Kieran Tierney as Arsenal announced he is back in full training having dislocated his shoulder in December.

While Cedric Soares could join full training by next week. 

Sead Kolasinac and Calum Chambers remain out for the foreseeable future though.

Arteta’s focus switches back to the Premier League, with West Ham at the Emirates on Saturday.

With the gap now eight points from Arsenal in 10th to fourth-placed Chelsea, three points is imperative with just 10 games left in the race for a top four finish.​

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Arsenal confirm Lucas Torreira suffered broken ankle in win vs Portsmouth

Arsenal have confirmed that midfielder Lucas Torreira has suffered a broken ankle.

The Uruguayan midfielder was taken off on a stretcher during Monday’s FA Cup win over Portsmouth.

Torreira was caught in a heavy challenge after just 12 minutes of the 2-0 success, and played no further part in proceedings. A group of home fans could be heard chanting: "You're going home in an ambulance" as he received treatment.

He underwent further test at Fratton Park, before leaving post-game on crutches, wearing a protective boot.

Now Arsenal have confirmed that he suffered a fracture to his right ankle and that he is facing a spell on the sidelines.

A club statement declared that they are “awaiting further specialist reviews which will determine recovery plan.”

The former Sampdoria player had not previously started for the Gunners since the 2-2 Premier League draw at Chelsea on January 21.

Mikel Arteta admitted post-game that the club needed to wait to find out the full extent of the injury.

"He was in a lot of pain," the Gunners boss told BT Sport . "He is in a brace at the moment, he will be assessed in the next few days and we will know more then.

"I don’t know if it’s the bone or ligaments, we don’t know yet."


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