World Cup: England have no plans of changing winning formula against Croatia

While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, Southgate’s language does not indicate

England manager Gareth Southgate says he is not about to change his team’s approach for Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final against Croatia, saying he wants the “same again” from his young side.



Although Croatia are the most difficult opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate’s words suggest he will continue with his attacking formation and personnel.



‘Don’t fix what’s not broken’



Asked what he would be demanding from his players, the England coach told ITV: “To be able to keep doing what we have been doing, play with real defensive discipline, good organisation, tactical awareness and then with the ball play with the freedom and expression that we have and the same patterns and movements that we have shown.”



While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, Southgate’s language does not indicate he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.



But he is certainly well aware of the threat that Croatia pose in the centre of the field.



“They of course have a very strong midfield so, (it is about) denying them space and making sure awareness of distances and coverage of the pitch is correct and (knowing) the right moments to press.



“The higher the level of opponent, if you press in a disorganised fashion, then you will get picked through and we have got to be conscious of that,” he said.



To play Raheem Sterling or not?



The contribution of Raheem Sterling remains a polarising debate in England with the Manchester City player without a goal for his country since October 2015 but Southgate says the forward’s contribution in Russia has been essential.



“I think Raheem has been fundamental to the way that we have played – his movement, the positions he takes up, his pressing of the ball, his work-rate for the team, the winning of free kicks and corners, his speed to stretch teams.



“He was a constant threat to Sweden, of course he hasn’t scored the goals he would have liked to have scored but for myself and the players he has been a crucial part of the way that we have been playing,” he said.



Facing a tired Croatia?



While England enjoyed a relatively stress-free 2-0 win over Sweden in the last eight, Croatia had to come through a gruelling extra time against hosts Russia and then a penalty shootout.



But Southgate thinks talk of that handing a physical advantage to England is being overplayed.



“We experienced the extra time and penalties (against Colombia) and we know the physical and emotional consequence of that,” he said.



“But any team in a World Cup semi-final is going to find the energy and going to find the motivation. So we won’t win the game just because Croatia had half an hour more football than us three days ago, we’ve got to win because we play better.”



Mauritania secures historic Afcon qualification: who else is going to Cameroon?

The other teams that have qualified for Afcon 2019 include Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Cameroon, Madagascar and Mali.

Mauritania secured a historic maiden qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Sunday, when they beat Botswana 2-1, to guarantee a top two finish in Group I.

The North-West African nation of at least 4 million inhabitants erupted with celebration as Moctar Sidi El Hacen and Ismail Diakite scored to clinch a sensational comeback, having conceded first courtesy of Keeagile Kobe’s strike for Botswana.

Mauritania joins Madagascar, who will also be making their tournament debut at Afcon in Cameroon next year.

READ MORE: Madagascar heads to AFCON 2019 after historic qualification

Also qualified

Madagascar and Mauritania are among 14 nations that have so far qualified for the tournament, that will feature 24 teams for the first time.

The hosts Cameroon secured automatic qualification.

The other teams that have qualified for Afcon 2019 include Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria and Algeria.

Guinea, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Mali have also secured their qualification.

Results

  • South Sudan (2) vs Burundi (5)
  • Egypt (3) vs Tunisia (2)
  • Morocco (2) vs Cameroon (0)
  • South Africa (1) vs Nigeria (1)
  • Comoros (2) vs Malawi (1)
  • Uganda (1) vs Cape Verde (0)
  • Gabon (0) vs Mali (1)
  • Namibia (0) vs Guinea-Bissau (0)
  • Equatorial Guinea (0) vs Senegal (1)
  • Gambia (3) vs Benin (1)
  • Seychelles (1) vs Libya (8)
  • Madagascar (1) vs Sudan (3)
  • Congo (1) vs DR Congo (1)
  • Mozambique (1) vs Zambia (0)
  • Eswatini (1) vs Niger (2)
  • Rwanda (2) vs Central African Republic (2)
  • Ethiopia (0) vs Ghana (2)
  • Togo (1) vs Algeria (4)
  • Angola (2) vs Burkina Faso (1)
  • Liberia (1) vs Zimbabwe (0)
  • Lesotho (1) vs Tanzania (0)
  • Mauritania (2) vs Botswana (1)
  • Guinea (1) vs Ivory Coast (1)

Uganda defeat Cape Verde to qualify for AFCON 2019

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) football club striker Patrick Kaddu’s brilliant header with 13 minutes left on the clock broke the hitherto modest Cape Verde resistance

Uganda sealed its place in the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals due in Cameroon next year with a 1-0 win over Cape Verde in Kampala on Saturday.

This will be Uganda’s seventh appearance in Africa’s biggest footballing tournament since 1962.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) football club striker Patrick Kaddu’s brilliant header with 13 minutes left on the clock broke the hitherto modest Cape Verde resistance. The Cranes only needed a draw to qualify.

The result confirmed Uganda Cranes on 13 points and the first country to book their slot in group L. On Sunday, second placed Taifa stars of Tanzania play Lesotho in Maseru. A win would move them to eight (8) points and a chance at qualification. Lesotho sit at the bottom of group L with two (2) points. Cape Verde have four (4) points after five (5) matches.

Uganda has not conceded a goal in the campaign.

Mali, Morocco and Nigeria also qualified for AFCON 2019 on Saturday.

AFCON 2019 qualifying weekend: Salah's Egypt, Burundi and Morocco win

Madagascar, Senegal and hosts Cameroon have also qualified for the 2019 Cup of Nations, the first to feature 24 teams, and another 15 countries could secure places this weekend.

Burundi, Egypt and Morocco won their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier matches on Friday, extending their chances of qualifying for the continent’s biggest football tournament.

Cameroon, who will be hosting the 2019 AFCON were also in action, but lost (0-2) to Morocco.

Salah inspires Egypt win

Liverpool forward, Mohamed Salah scored his fourth goal of the qualification campaign, to give his nation a win in the final minute of the game against Tunisia.

While both teams have already qualified for the 2019 AFCON, Egypt’s win at the 86,000-seat Borg el Arab stadium in Alexandria, ended Tunisia’s 100 precent record. The North Africans had beaten Egypt at home, eSwatini away and Niger twice.

Victory brought Egypt level with Tunisia in Group J on 12 points, but the losers retained first place on head-to-head records.

Burundi win

Meanwhile, Burundi climbed above Mali and Gabon to top Group C with a 5-2 win over South Sudan in Juba, where Fiston Abdul Razak scored four goals for the visitors.

Burundi have nine points, Mali eight, Gabon seven and South Sudan none with the second and third-place teams meeting in Libreville Saturday.

The top two finishers qualify and a Malian victory over Gabon would assure them of a place at the June 15-July 13 tournament in Cameroon.

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Saturday fixtures

  • South Africa vs Nigeria
  • Comoros vs Malawi
  • Uganda vs Cape Verde
  • Gabon vs Mali
  • Namibia vs Guinea-Bissau
  • Equatorial Guinea vs Senegal
  • Gambia vs Benin
  • Seychelles vs Libya

Madagascar, Senegal and hosts Cameroon have also qualified for the 2019 Cup of Nations, the first to feature 24 teams, and another 15 countries could secure places this weekend.

AFCON 2019: CAF confirms Cameroon as hosts

Somalia's first boxing tournament in 40 years held

Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has suffered years of explosions killing several and regularly claimed by armed group, al-Shabab.

This is the first time in 40 years that Somalia is holding a boxing tournament.

Years of insecurity and uncertainty meant the sport was relegated to the background.

“The reasons we are organizing this boxing tournament after 40 years may include the fact that the country’s situation is better, whether in terms of security or politics, we think there is a real change’‘, said Awil Gelle Ahmed, Second Vice President of the Somali Boxing Federation.

For locals, the contest is a sign of good things to come. They are hopeful that more young people will take part in the sport.

“I love boxing so much and my coach made me fall in love with this sport to be a well-known boxer”, said Somalian boxer, Kashmir Abdirahim Abdalla.

“Today, I am very happy with this tournament, something we have been missing for many years, and we hope the tournament will produce more boxers’‘, said Mohamed Ahmed Abdullahi a spectator.

Recently, Somalian born Ramla Ali represented her native Somalia in the International Boxing Association Women’s Boxing World Championships, becoming the first boxer to do so.

Many years ago, Ali’s family fled Mogadishu after her brother died due to a grenade explosion outside their house.

The family sought asylum in England after a first stop to Kenya on a rickety cramp boat, according to firstpost.com.

Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has suffered years of explosions killing several and regularly claimed by armed group, al-Shabab.

Djokovic stuns Zverev at ATP finals

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session

World number one Novak Djokovic produced a rock-solid performance to dismantle the challenge of German firebrand Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals on Wednesday (November 14).

The Serb, 10 years older than his opponent, was made to work hard in an absorbing first set but Zverev’s challenge crumbled at the O2 Arena as Djokovic won 6-4 6-1 to move within sight of the semi-finals.

Five-times champion Djokovic, who will end the year as world number one for the fifth time in his career after a storming second half of the season, leads the Gustavo Kuerten group with two wins and is yet to drop a set.

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session.

All seven round-robin matches played so far this week have been won in straight sets, but for a while it appeared as though the crowd would be given full value for their ticket.

The 21-year-old Zverev, who has a Tour-leading 55 match wins this year, went toe-to-toe with Djokovic from the baseline and looked to have the firepower to worry his opponent.

Djokovic netted a routine forehand when serving at 4-4 30-30, offering Zverev a break point that he did not convert.

Djokovic then double-faulted to give Zverev another chance to serve for the set but this time the German went just wide with an attempted lob after the Serb ventured into the net.

The net game always looked dangerous for Zverev and so it proved as he double-faulted to concede the set.

Zverev looked deflated and despite holding serve for 1-1 he offered no more resistance as Djokovic won five games in a row to seal his 33rd win in his last 35 matches.

His final group match is against Cilic while Zverev will hope to bounce back against Isner.

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