Messi,Balotelli miss friendly

Italy play Argentina in Rome on Wednesday — their first encounter since 2001.

Written by Agencies | Published: August 14, 2013 2:09 am

* Lionel Messi will not lead Argentina against Italy in Wednesday’s friendly in Rome after pulling out with muscle fatigue,Argentine media reported. Rumours of Messi’s absence were confirmed by Guillermo Tofoni,who arranges Argentina’s friendly matches,La Nacion reported. Italy striker Mario Balotelli will also miss the eagerly awaited match between the two countries. Balotelli has a knee problem and doesn’t want to take any risks ahead of AC Milan’s Champions League playoff match against PSV Eindhoven. Italy play Argentina in Rome on Wednesday — their first encounter since 2001.

India take on Tajikistan

* Exposure-starved Indian football team will take on higher-ranked Tajikistan in an international friendly here tomorrow,in what will be their first show of strength in more than six months. India have played just one international match so far in 2013,a 2-4 loss against Palestine in February and Wim Koevermans men will be aiming to give a good account of themselves ahead of the SAFF Championships scheduled in Kathmandu from September 1-11. In recent times,India and Tajikistan are even in terms of head-to-head results. Tajikistan are ranked 114th in FIFA charts while India are presently 145th.

Mehta for Indian Open

* Indian cueist Aditya Mehta notched up a 4-2 win over China’s Xiao Guo Ding to join Pankaj Advani in qualifying for the inaugural Indian Open snooker championship to be held in New Delhi from October 14-18. Aditya,who won the World Games gold medal at Cali,Colombia in July,beat Xiao Guo Ding in six frames at Doncaster Dome,20 kms from Sheffield in England yesterday. Tony Drago,Peter Ebdon,Nigel Bond,Marco Fu,James Wattanna,Ding Junhui,Liang Wenbo,Yu de Lu,Mark Selby,Neil Robertson,Alister Carter,Michael Holt,Mark Williams,Joe Perry,John Higgins & Ken Doherty also qualified for the October 14-18 event in New Delhi.

Six medals in Asian Wushu

* India returned with a haul of one silver and five bronze from the seventh Asian Junior Wushu Championship at the Makati Collesium in Manila,Philippines,today. 22 countries participated in the event held from August 6 to 13. Mahipal Singh (75kg) won silver. The bronze medal winners for India in the Sanshou event were Neha Kashyap (48kg),Kiwlani Brhma (56kg) and Naveen Jatin (80kg). In Taolu Chanquan individual category,Jyoti Kumari won a bronze while T Arita Devi won another bronze in the Nanquan Taolu event.

Jackson,Lennon & Gandhi

* How about this for a football trio? A team with Michael Jackson playing alongside John Lennon and Mahatma Gandhi. Carlos Adriano,director of football for Brazilian Serie B side Atletico Goianiense,tells reporters the club has signed a forward known as Michael Jackson — his real name is Carlos Adriano de Sousa Cruz. Like many Brazilian players,he goes by a nickname rather than his family name. Jackson could play with team members including John Lennon — full name John Lennon Silva Santos — and Mahatma Gandhi,whose full name is Mahatma Gandhi Heber Pio.

Pope has divided loyalties

* Pope Francis told the Italian and Argentine soccer teams on Tuesday that he could not decide who to back in their friendly match on Wednesday. “It’s a bit hard for me to decide who to support,” Francis,an Argentine whose parents hailed from northern Italy,said in an audience with players and officials at the Vatican ahead of the fixture,which has been organised in his honour.

Oltmans deflects pressure

* With a relatively young and inexperienced side,High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans is doing his bid to take the pressure off his wards. Being the interim coach,he said he would be solely responsible for India’s performance in the Asia Cup hockey tournament to be held in Ipoh,Malaysia,from August 24 to September 1,where India face a must-win situation. They need to win the tournament to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Hague,The Netherlands. “I’ll be responsible for the team’s performance but at the same time I’m confident also,” Oltmans said.

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