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Cook Islands won the biennial event two years ago but will not defend their title, choosing to focus their limited resources on November’s Olympic Sevens Qualifier.Newcomers American Samoa open proceedings against Solomon Islands at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, followed by hosts Papua New Guinea against Tahiti, in the first round of matches.The General Manager of Rugby PNG, Frank Genia, says pride and silverware aren’t the only things on up for grabs.”Although you could call this a dead rubber tournament, so to speak, it is crucial for the development of a lot of the Melanesian countries. For PNG in particular, we are using it as an opportunity to start to build and develop and establish our player pathways and develop our talent coming through, leading into World Cup qualifiers in two years. There’s a lot of incentive here – there’s a long road ahead – but it starts off this weekend”.The four countries will play each other once over the next nine days, with the top team declared the winner.
Wesley named 12 debutants in his starting 15 that beat Tahiti 32-10 last Saturday and he was pleased with their performance.He said there were no major injury concerns adding that only winger Wesley Vali will be rested after suffering concussion during last Saturday’s win over Tahiti. “We have a few niggling injuries but the boys are otherwise fit and ready for tomorrow. I will be using relatively the same side who made a few errors in the Tahiti game, but we’ve fixed this.”We got the first game out of the way with a win and we’re going in confident about tomorrow,” said Wesley.Tomorrow’s game kicks off at 3:30pm.
The province has lost a sporting leader in the soccer code as well as an employer to hundreds of officers in the Orion Security Firm in Kimbe.Late Reimann was instrumental in the planning and initial stages of the WNB Soccer Academy, intending to place WNB on the map as one of the nation’s best soccer producing provinces.He has contributed immensely to the development of the soccer code in the New Guinea Islands region, being voted as the NGI representative as well as being on the PNGFA board as junior vice president.Many people interviewed were shocked at the loss of this young man, and were lost for words.His funeral mass was held at the St Peter’s & St Paul’s Catholic Church in Kimbe last Saturday (May 28). It was attended by dignitaries including West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel, provincial and local level government leaders, prominent business men and women, West New Britain Chamber of Commerce reps and executives of Kimbe Soccer Association, among others. Picture courtesy of PNGFA Newsletter
Tkatchenko said that he received a letter from World Rugby hand delivered last week and not directly sent to him.The letter stated that World Rugby doesn’t appreciate political interference in decision making or in any part of rugby union in PNG.Tkatchenko came out in the media and clarified that he has never got involved personally with rugby union.Tkatchenko said: “I want to clarify that I have never interfered with rugby union at all in the administration, management or the running of the game.“I find this letter that I’ve received from World Rugby a total insult to our Government and to me as a Minister because they haven’t found out the facts first before writing this letter to me.”Tkatchenko highlighted that the only statement he made publicly in regards to rugby union is acknowledging the newly appointed PNGRFU president Steven Kami at a public function late last year. “I don’t see that as interfering and I don’t make statements for nothing but based on facts.“For World Rugby to say that I’m politically interfering is a misjudgment on their behalf and they have been fed lies and false information by sources that are only looking after their own self-interest.”Tkatchenko has made a formal response in writing to World Rugby in reference to the letter dated December 20, 2016.He stressed that the Government continues to assists rugby union to get it back on track but it does not interfere.Tkatchenko stressed that he supports and will push for PNGRFU to get the management and administration right, and to get the sport back on its feet for the benefit of everyone without fear or favour.
Manchester City have won many admirers in their “wonder season” but need more trophies to be considered the best Premier League team ever, ex-Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has said.City won manager Pep Guardiola his first silverware in England on Sunday, romping to a 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the League Cup final. The runaway league leaders are also on course to win a third Premier league title in seven seasons.“Everyone recognises the football that they’re playing this year is high up there with some of the best we’ve seen in the Premier League era,” former Wales winger Giggs said.“But to compare them to ourselves, Arsenal and Chelsea, you have to win multiple titles. You have to be consistent, not just one wonder season, which they are having.”United have won 13 championships since the Premier League era began in 1992-93, Chelsea have five, Arsenal are third in the list with three followed by City on two.Giggs, who won 13 Premier League titles with United and made a record 963 appearances for the club, said City were capable of reaching greater heights in the coming seasons.“It’s up to other clubs, the likes of United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham to do better next year and to challenge and see how they handle that.”City, who have 72 points from 27 games and are 13 points above their neighbours United, visit sixth-placed Arsenal in the league on Thursday night.Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger meanwhile has urged his team to make the most of their chances when they face City for the second time this week.“We are very disappointed because we lost an important game. We need first to recover and then prepare for the next challenge together,” Wenger told a news conference on Wednesday.“When you look at the end of the game Man City had three shots on target and we had two. We need to turn the decisive moments in our favour and play with more freedom than we did.”City can re-establish a 16-point lead atop the standings when they travel to Arsenal, who are 27 points behind Guardiola’s side.The defeat, along with Arsenal’s inconsistent performances this campaign, has led a number of supporters and pundits to call for an end to Wenger’s 22-year reign but the Frenchman said that he was not worried about his future.“My position is my position. That’s the last problem I have,” Wenger said. “We are in that kind of situation where you want to focus on the next game,” he said, adding: “My job is to focus on performing.”
Europe produced a barnstorming Ryder Cup comeback on Friday as they swept the foursomes in devastating style to take an overnight 5-3 lead after the United States has drawn first blood by taking the fourballs 3-1.It was the first time Europe had won all four foursomes matches – having suffered a 4-0 reverse in the format en route to defeat in Hazeltine two years ago – and their first sweep in either format since 1989.But it was not just the points tally that will have sent European captain Thomas Bjorn off to dinner on a high, but the crushing nature of the victories as the home team dealt much better with the strong wind that developed through the afternoon as many of the big name Americans fell apart.Sergio Garcia and rookie Alex Noren annihilated Phil Mickelson and first timer Bryson Dechambeau 5 and 4 in a battle between four men rested in the morning.Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who won Europe’s solitary fourballs point, completed a memorable day by smashing Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 5 and 4.Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson reunited their highly successful partnership to hammer Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 3 and 2 having been 5-up after 11.Ian Poulter and Rory McIlory, who was badly off form in the morning, came from 2-down to triumph 4 and 2 over Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson in a game that had the massive crowds finally roaring after they had little to shout about in the morning.The U.S., seeking a first overseas win in 25 years, had the better of a topsy-turvy fourballs session, with Spieth particularly impressive when he and Thomas beat Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton 1-up.World number one Johnson and Fowler notched the first point of the first Ryder Cup to be held in France, 4 and 2 against McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen.Tony Finau took advantage of a huge slice of luck on the 16th as he and Brooks Koepka came from 2-down to beat Rose and Jon Rahm on the 18th. There was no fairytale comeback for Tiger Woods, however, on his return after missing the last two Ryder Cups as he and Patrick Reed lost 3 and 1 to Molinari and Fleetwood.The result took Woods’ fourball record to nine defeats from 12 games. Having sat out only one session in his previous seven Ryder Cups, he was then stood down from the foursomes.
Italy, fielding another experimental lineup, produced a lively first-half performance but were still held to a 1-1 draw at home by Ukraine in a friendly on Wednesday.Coach Roberto Mancini made eight changes to the starting line-up from the team which lost 1-0 to Portugal in the Nations League in their last outing where he in turn had made nine changes from the previous game.The attacking trio of Federico Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa combined well and carved out half a dozen clear-cut chances but were unable to find a way past Andriy Pyatov before halftime.Bernardeschi finally opened the scoring in the 55th minute with a low shot which Pyatov got a hand to, only for the ball to bounce over his arm and into the net.But Ruslan Malinovskyi levelled seven minutes later with a low shot which Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma appeared to see late. Shortly afterwards, Malinovskyi hit the crossbar with a curling free kick.The match was stopped in the 43rd minute for one minute’s applause in memory of the 43 people who died when a motorway bridge collapsed in the city on Aug. 14.“We deserved to score a couple of goals tonight, we have to improve on this aspect and continue on this path,” said Mancini. We need to be more incisive.”
Anorthosis goalkeeper Francis Uzoho was sent-off on his return to the Anorthosis team after a six-game absence due to his well-publicised health certificate scandal.The Nigeria international goalkeeper received the first red card of his career in the 23rd minute of Monday night’s 3-0 home win over Alki Oroklinis.The fourth official, Timotheos Christofi, informed the referee that Uzoho made an offensive gesture towards the Alki Oroklini supporters.Witnesses say the Nigerian raised his middle finger to the crowd.The keeper was given his marching orders for unsportsmanlike conduct, shortly after Anorthosis had scored their second goal of the game.
Lionel Messi has become the first player to win Europe’s Golden Shoe award for three straight years after his nearest challenger Kylian Mbappe failed to score the four goals he needed in Paris St Germain’s final league match of the season on Friday.Messi earned the honour, which goes to the leading scorer in league matches in Europe’s top divisions, for a record-extending sixth time after finding the net 36 times for Barcelona, while Mbappe ended the campaign on 33 goals after scoring PSG’s only goal in a 3-1 loss at Stade de Reims.While Messi’s goal haul helped his side clinch the La Liga title last month the 31-year-old Argentine said earlier on Friday that he was not giving the Golden Shoe race much thought with the side still coming to terms with their Champions League semi-final elimination to Liverpool.“I haven’t been thinking about that prize at all, we are still coping with what happened against Liverpool and I’m not thinking about personal awards,” Messi told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Valencia. (