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Manchester City unveil statue of Sergio Aguero on 10th anniversary of greatest triumph

LOS ANGELES: The Miami Heat punched their ticket to the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals with a 99-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday as the Dallas Mavericks staved off elimination in the West. Jimmy Butler scored 32 points to fuel the Heat against his former team, the victory in Philadelphia giving Miami a 4-2…

LOS ANGELES: The Miami Heat punched their ticket to the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals with a 99-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday as the Dallas Mavericks staved off elimination in the West. Jimmy Butler scored 32 points to fuel the Heat against his former team, the victory in Philadelphia giving Miami a 4-2 triumph in their best-of-seven second-round series against the 76ers. “I think he’s one of the ultimate competitors in this profession,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler. “He was brilliant all series long. “He saw there was an opportunity to end this tonight and he wasn’t going to let this get to seven (games).” But the Phoenix Suns, the top seeds in the West after amassing the best regular-season record in the league, will head home on Sunday needing a Game 7 victory after falling 113-86 to the Mavericks in Dallas. Luka Doncic scored 33 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists for the Mavericks, who seized control in the second quarter, closing the first half on a 19-6 scoring run to take a 60-45 lead. The Suns, who coughed up 22 turnovers leading to 29 Dallas points, didn’t get the deficit to single digits in the second half and trailed by as many as 27. Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 21 points while scoring star Devin Booker finished with 19 and veteran point guard Chris Paul was held to 13 on four-of-seven shooting. Doncic, meanwhile, shone on all fronts, adding four steals while surrendering just one turnover to help the Mavs shake off a blowout defeat in Game 5. “Everybody was locked in, the energy was amazing,” Doncic said, adding that taking care of the ball and attacking the paint were the keys to victory. Reggie Bullock added 19 points and Jalen Brunson scored 18 for Dallas, who still face a tall order having not won a game in Phoenix since 2019. As the Mavs gear up for Game 7 on the road, the Heat await either the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks or Boston Celtics. The Bucks take a 3-2 lead in that series into Game 6 on Friday in Boston. “We needed to get one (on the road),” Butler said. “We played well, made shots, guarded and got the job done.” The Sixers, with star center Joel Embiid playing with torn ligaments in his right thumb and a facial fracture that required a protective mask, kept pace early, trailing by just one point, 49-48, at halftime. That was despite the first-quarter departure of Danny Green, who suffered a serious left knee injury and was carried to the locker room when Embiid inadvertently came down on him after rising for a basket early in the first quarter. However, the Heat caught fire in the third quarter, with Butler scoring 14 points in the period as Miami out-scored the 76ers 25-15 to take control of the contest. Former Sixer Butler added eight rebounds and four assists on the night. Max Strus scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Miami, who double- and triple-teamed Embiid to keep the Sixers at bay. Embiid finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds. But the Cameroonian star connected on just seven of 24 shots from the field and former MVP James Harden didn’t pick up the offensive slack, finishing with 11 points on four of nine shooting. Harden missed both of the two shots he attempted in the second half. “I came to the conclusion at the end of this game that we were just not good enough to beat Miami,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. Miami reached the conference finals for the second time in three seasons. They fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals. Butler has played a key role in their recent success. He joined the team after the 2019 season, when the 76ers essentially opted to let him go as they brought in Ben Simmons. A disgruntled Simmons was shipped to Brooklyn this season in exchange for Harden. But the three-time NBA scoring champion hasn’t shown the offensive form the 76ers were looking for to take some of the burden off Embiid and Philadelphia haven’t made it past the second round since 2001.

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US calls for more crossing points for delivery of aid to Syria

More Iran sanctions needed to squeeze Hezbollah, says US Congressman Darrell Issa DAVOS, Switzerland: The Biden administration ought to apply further sanctions on Iran as a means of curtailing the influence of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon, says Darrell Issa, a US congressman who is part of the American delegation at the World Economic Forum. …

More Iran sanctions needed to squeeze Hezbollah, says US Congressman Darrell Issa DAVOS, Switzerland: The Biden administration ought to apply further sanctions on Iran as a means of curtailing the influence of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon, says Darrell Issa, a US congressman who is part of the American delegation at the World Economic Forum.  Despite generating little of its own revenues, Hezbollah has long enjoyed free rein in Lebanon thanks to Iranian largess, Issa says. He believes targeting Iran with further sanctions would undermine the militia’s control over Lebanese affairs.  “As much as I want to sanction Hezbollah, the group doesn’t generate much of their own money,” Issa, a California Republican, told Arab News on the fringes of WEF in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.  “Their money is disproportionate because of Iranian influence. So, yes, while I do want more bank sanctions, those are ultimately irrelevant, unless we increase our sanctions on Iran.” Issa was among a group of US congressmen who traveled to Lebanon on a fact-finding mission in November last year, later reporting back to President Joe Biden and Congress to propose ways to help the Lebanese.  Iran has a policy of arming and funding proxy militias in neighboring countries to further its own geopolitical agenda, often to the detriment of the security and well-being of local populations.   Although Lebanon’s May 15 parliamentary election returned a poor result for Hezbollah and its allies, Issa says history shows the need to follow through on the results and not to simply return to business as usual. “If there’s a follow through, then there should be a new speaker and a new president free of unfair influence by Hezbollah,” Issa told Arab News.  “There should be a realignment of ministries, and more than anything else there should be a resolution to end corruption. “So far, the only thing we have are candidates who campaigned against corruption and who have achieved their goal of changing the majority, but they haven’t achieved the goal of ending corruption yet.” Hezbollah, the only militia that did not disarm after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, lost its majority in the Lebanese parliament, with its bloc winning just 62 of the 128 seats on offer — three fewer than it needed.  The election of many anti-corruption independents has presented Lebanon with a rare opportunity to break free of the militia’s grip on public life and to carry out urgent reforms. Since 2019, Lebanon has been in the throes of its worst ever financial crisis, which has been further compounded by the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation’s political paralysis. For many Lebanese, the final straw was the Beirut port blast of Aug. 2020, which killed 218, injured 7,000, caused $15 billion in property damage, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. These concurrent crises have sent thousands of young Lebanese abroad in search of security and opportunity, including many of the country’s top medical professionals and educators. For Issa, preventing this brain-drain ought to be a high priority for any incoming government.  “Lebanon can turn around very quickly, but only if those people are still in the country,” Issa said. “And today, the US is trying to help, but there’s a lot of exodus from Lebanon, and that is going to hurt the recovery.”

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Salah staying at Liverpool ‘for sure’ next season

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year,…

salah-staying-at-liverpool-‘for-sure’-next-season

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year, they will also be confident about their prospects. The draw for qualification for both tournaments took place at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. In order to get a ticket to appear at the U-20 tournament, which will take place in Uzbekistan next year, Saudi Arabia will have to find some of the form that took them to the title back in 2018, when it was an U-19 competition. That was when the young Green Falcons defeated South Korea 2-1 in the final in Indonesia to be crowned continental champions. It is still their title to defend as the global pandemic ensured that the 2020 edition never took place, though Saudi Arabia had already booked a berth by winning their group in qualification back in November 2019.  Then they just managed to finish above Uzbekistan and have been grouped with the Central Asians once again in Group A, which will take place in September. This time, however, results against the White Wolves will not matter as they are already assured of a place in the tournament as host nation. That means that Saudi Arabia will just have to finish above China, Myanmar and the Maldives to guarantee a spot, though the five best-performing runners-up in the 10 groups will also go through. It would be a surprise if that did not happen and not least because all the games will be held in the eastern city of Dammam. Playing in front of their own fans in one of the country’s most passionate football cities will be a major advantage. China will be expected to provide the main test but with football going through a terrible time at the moment in the East Asian country, youth tournaments may not be the priority they once were. Chinese Super League clubs are going out of business, the country has given up hosting the 2022 Asian Games and the 2023 Asian Cup, and the future is very uncertain.  With the political situation in Myanmar, there has not been too much football played in recent months, and the young White Angels may be struggling for match fitness. Even when the Southeast Asians are at their best, a trip to Saudi Arabia is tough. And last but not least are the Maldives. The South Asians can be difficult opponents but should be no match for the defending champions, especially on their home patch.  The U-17 tournament, which has been rebranded from the past U-16 championships, will be held much closer to home, in neighboring Bahrain. Once again, the group, this time Group D, will be held in Dammam, and while it looks a little more challenging for the two-time champions, Saudi Arabia will again be strong favorites to progress with the format the same: the 10 group winners go through along with the five best runners-up to join the hosts Bahrain. The 2020 tournament did not go ahead thanks to the pandemic, but Saudi Arabia had booked their berth before it was called off by finishing above Oman, Pakistan and Syria in September 2019. The cancelation was a bitter pill to swallow for the boys from Riyadh, Jeddah and elsewhere as they had failed to qualify for the 2018 edition, losing out to Jordan. This group does not look quite so difficult as that. Interestingly, Myanmar and the Maldives are also opponents, and the same points apply to this age category as to the slightly older one. Neither will be expected to finish in the top two spots. India have ambitions in this regard and will relish the chance to test themselves against one of the continent’s big boys but maybe do not quite have the strength in depth to challenge in West Asia. Kuwait may be tricky. After suffering at the hands of Jordan in September 2017, the hosts will be wary of the Blues in October 2022. But given the opposition, home advantage and where Saudi Arabian football is currently at, both the U-17 and U-20 teams are strongly expected to make it to both Uzbekistan and Bahrain in 2023 and once there, will be expected to challenge for the big prize.

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Boehly’s Chelsea takeover puts US tycoon in spotlight

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year,…

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year, they will also be confident about their prospects. The draw for qualification for both tournaments took place at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. In order to get a ticket to appear at the U-20 tournament, which will take place in Uzbekistan next year, Saudi Arabia will have to find some of the form that took them to the title back in 2018, when it was an U-19 competition. That was when the young Green Falcons defeated South Korea 2-1 in the final in Indonesia to be crowned continental champions. It is still their title to defend as the global pandemic ensured that the 2020 edition never took place, though Saudi Arabia had already booked a berth by winning their group in qualification back in November 2019.  Then they just managed to finish above Uzbekistan and have been grouped with the Central Asians once again in Group A, which will take place in September. This time, however, results against the White Wolves will not matter as they are already assured of a place in the tournament as host nation. That means that Saudi Arabia will just have to finish above China, Myanmar and the Maldives to guarantee a spot, though the five best-performing runners-up in the 10 groups will also go through. It would be a surprise if that did not happen and not least because all the games will be held in the eastern city of Dammam. Playing in front of their own fans in one of the country’s most passionate football cities will be a major advantage. China will be expected to provide the main test but with football going through a terrible time at the moment in the East Asian country, youth tournaments may not be the priority they once were. Chinese Super League clubs are going out of business, the country has given up hosting the 2022 Asian Games and the 2023 Asian Cup, and the future is very uncertain.  With the political situation in Myanmar, there has not been too much football played in recent months, and the young White Angels may be struggling for match fitness. Even when the Southeast Asians are at their best, a trip to Saudi Arabia is tough. And last but not least are the Maldives. The South Asians can be difficult opponents but should be no match for the defending champions, especially on their home patch.  The U-17 tournament, which has been rebranded from the past U-16 championships, will be held much closer to home, in neighboring Bahrain. Once again, the group, this time Group D, will be held in Dammam, and while it looks a little more challenging for the two-time champions, Saudi Arabia will again be strong favorites to progress with the format the same: the 10 group winners go through along with the five best runners-up to join the hosts Bahrain. The 2020 tournament did not go ahead thanks to the pandemic, but Saudi Arabia had booked their berth before it was called off by finishing above Oman, Pakistan and Syria in September 2019. The cancelation was a bitter pill to swallow for the boys from Riyadh, Jeddah and elsewhere as they had failed to qualify for the 2018 edition, losing out to Jordan. This group does not look quite so difficult as that. Interestingly, Myanmar and the Maldives are also opponents, and the same points apply to this age category as to the slightly older one. Neither will be expected to finish in the top two spots. India have ambitions in this regard and will relish the chance to test themselves against one of the continent’s big boys but maybe do not quite have the strength in depth to challenge in West Asia. Kuwait may be tricky. After suffering at the hands of Jordan in September 2017, the hosts will be wary of the Blues in October 2022. But given the opposition, home advantage and where Saudi Arabian football is currently at, both the U-17 and U-20 teams are strongly expected to make it to both Uzbekistan and Bahrain in 2023 and once there, will be expected to challenge for the big prize.

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