Jamaica drew with Dominica and Lance Whittaker believes the home team are in trouble with talented 'smaller' nations.

Following Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw between Jamaica and Dominica, there is growing confidence within the St. Kitts and Nevis squad competing in the preliminary round of the men’s Olympic qualifying in Kingston.

Following two weeks of solid preparations, which ended with a 1-1 draw in a practice match against Antigua and Barbuda.

With the preparation behind them and having seen their opponents at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Wednesday, St. Kitts and Nevis believe their chances are good.

“From last night I feel we can match any team in this tournament,” said 21-year-old Yohannes Mitchum who just completed his contract with Puebla U23 in Mexico. “I am very confident that we can top the group.”

Team manager, Jamir Claxton, said his central midfielder’s confidence is not misplaced.

“We are very confident. This team is a very talented team that has been playing together for a number of years,” he said.

“In fact, the core of this team has been together from the 2017 CONCACAF U20 championships, plus some players from the last CONCACAF U20 tournament.

“Preparations have been going well. The majority of the players are playing in St. Kitts so there was no problem getting them together. Over the last two weeks, we had two overseas-based players join us.”

Besides Mitchum, the team boasts game-changing talent in several other positions as well. Midfielder Tyreese Shade suits up for Leicester City’s U21 team in the United Kingdom, Tahir Harley, a forward who plays for Village Superstars in the St. Kitts and Nevis Premier League and forward G’Vaune Amory will make life difficult for Jamaica and Dominica.

Success in the qualification process and the ultimate qualification for the 2020 Olympics would be an occasion for his country to savour.

“It would be a historic feat. It would mean a lot to the people of St.Kitts. This team is representative of our people,” Claxton said.

 “We are a small nation but we are always aiming for the stars to achieve an objective of that nature would bring joy, happiness and pride to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

St. Kitts plays Dominica at 4:00 pm (5:00 pm ECT) Friday at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.

 

 

 

 

Jurgen Klopp insisted it was too early for contract talks with Liverpool with three years still remaining on his deal.

The German led the Premier League giants to Champions League success last season and reports suggested he was set to extend his contract, which runs until 2022.

But Klopp, whose side face Borussia Dortmund in a pre-season friendly on Friday, said he was unfazed about a new deal just yet.

"I will not leave before the contract is ending. That is my side. That is why a contract is important," he told a news conference, via The Telegraph.

"We have enough time to make decisions in that department. There is no need to do it now. Three years is really a bit early to be concerned. It is just a contract.

"The owners like what I do. I like what the owners are doing. I love the team, they are brilliant. Melwood is sensational. I'm looking forward to going to [the new training ground in] Kirkby and all these things. There is always a step forward.

"We all want to keep the past and traditions and all that stuff, but there needs to be a step forward. It is important that is our attitude. You cannot make that step in three or four years by making sure that I stay until 2000-and-something. It just makes sure that I will stay until then."

Liverpool lost just one Premier League game last season, earning 97 points but falling short of a first league title since 1990.

Klopp said he was only worried about his team, who have had a quiet transfer window, but also believes champions Manchester City are again favourites.

"[I am] completely focused on Liverpool. Completely," he said.

"It would be great if we could be around Man City again because that's the only possibility to have to pass them because it is already clear they are the big favourite again. No problem with that.

"They have a very good situation, which they showed last year especially after having 100 points in the season before – the greed they showed, the determination they showed, it was just impressive."

Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin must wait for his move to Benfica after the Portuguese champions postponed the transfer following a medical on Thursday.

Perin, 26, was set for a €15million switch to Benfica after Gianluigi Buffon's return to Turin left the two-time Italy international behind the veteran goalkeeper and Wojciech Szczesny in the pecking order.

However, the shot-stopper only underwent shoulder surgery in April and a longer than expected recovery will see his move to Benfica delayed.

"Sport Lisboa e Benfica informs that in the medicals aftermath, held today, was concluded that the goalkeeper Mattia Perin has a higher than expected recovering process, of approximately four months," a statement from Benfica read.

"In this regard, there was an agreement between the clubs and the player's representatives so that the recovering period might take place at Juventus, completing the transfer process only after its conclusion."

Perin, who arrived at Juventus from Genoa last year, made nine appearances in 2018-19.

James Harden has joined MLS club Houston Dynamo's ownership group.

The Dynamo announced on Thursday that the Houston Rockets superstar had become part of the group led by Gabriel Brener, also owners of the NWSL's Houston Dash.

Harden, arguably the face of Houston sports and winner of the NBA MVP award in 2018, joins six-weight world champion Oscar De La Hoya in the group.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future," Harden said in a statement.

"Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime.

"I've been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose."

"We are thrilled to welcome James into our club. He's an icon in the Houston community, and not only is he a great basketball player, he has an extremely smart and savvy mind for business," Brener said.

"James will bring a very unique perspective to our ownership group, and I'm looking forward to hearing his thoughts and opinions on the club going forward."

Barcelona have loaned Marc Cucurella to Getafe only two days after signing him back from Eibar.

Cucurella caught the eye in his loan spell with Eibar last season and scored in a 2-2 LaLiga draw with Barca in May.

Eibar took up the option to sign him for €2million but Barca inserted a €4m buy-back clause in that deal, which they activated on Tuesday.

Cucurella, who can play as a full-back and a winger, had been linked with Sevilla, Real Betis and Bundesliga clubs Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

But he will be playing his football for Getafe in 2019-20 after they agreed a temporary deal with the option to make it a permanent one.

Cucurella made 31 LaLiga appearances for Eibar last term, scoring once.

Jordan Henderson hailed the off-field influence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when the midfielder was injured and predicts he will be "like a new signing" for Liverpool in the new season.

England international Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a serious knee injury at the end of the 2017-18 campaign and missed most of the following season.

In 2018-19, the 25-year-old was only able to return for the final few weeks as he made two substitute appearances amounting to 19 minutes of action.

However, he has been fully involved in pre-season training in recent weeks and club captain Henderson has his fingers crossed for the former Arsenal man.

"I'm quite close to him. He's a fantastic person off the field," Henderson said in a news conference on Thursday.

"I'm sure he'll have been going through some painful times [but] he was always positive, always happy around the team, always there to support us when we needed him.

"He was a massive part for us off the field last season. This season I hope he's a massive part on the field as well and shows everyone what he's capable of like he did before he got injured.

"This pre-season is important for him to get back to playing games regularly, to get his match fitness back, and I'm sure once he does that he'll be flying again.

"He's like a new signing for us. He's a fantastic player, so powerful and he gives us something different in this team. Hopefully he can stay injury-free for a while now."

Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has started chemotherapy following his leukaemia diagnosis.

The 50-year-old announced at a news conference on Saturday he had been diagnosed with cancer.

However, Mihajlovic confirmed he is to remain in charge at the club regardless.

Former Yugoslavia international Mihajlovic began receiving treatment on Thursday, with the club informing supporters the coach is in "daily" contact with his colleagues.

A statement from Bologna read: "Three days after the admission of Sinisa Mihajlovic to the haematology department of the Istituto Seragnoli of the Policlinico Sant'Orsola, the typing of the disease was concluded: it is a mainly myeloid acute leukaemia.

"Mihajlovic started the chemotherapy treatment today [Thursday]. Despite the tests and treatments, the technician is in direct daily contact with his colleagues in Castelrotto [Bologna's base]."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected the Palestine Football Association president's appeal against a 12-month ban for "inciting hatred and violence" against Lionel Messi.

Ahead of Argentina's scheduled pre-World Cup friendly against Israel in June 2018, Jibril Rajoub spoke out about the match amid the conflict and political tension between Israelis and Palestinians.

The match was due to take place in Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem, a ground built on land said to have belonged to a Palestinian village before its destruction in 1948.

Rajoub urged fans to target Messi and incited them to burn shirts bearing the Barcelona star's name, with the match ultimately being cancelled.

FIFA received a complaint from the Israeli Football Association and Rajoub was given a 12-month ban from all matches at any level until August 23, 2019, while also being fined 20,000 Swiss francs (€18,056).

His appeal to FIFA was rejected in September, two months before he raised the case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Rajoub has again been unsuccessful in fighting the punishment, with the CAS panel adjudging him to have "failed to establish that any procedural violations were committed in the proceedings before the FIFA disciplinary committee...  that could justify the annulment of such decisions".

CAS, in its statement, added: "Accordingly, the CAS panel dismissed the appeal and confirmed FIFA appeal committee decision of 24 September 2018."

Kosovare Asllani has become the first signing for Real Madrid's women's team after a stellar Women's World Cup campaign with Sweden.

Madrid have incorporated CD Tacon into their structure after completing a takeover of the club, announcing the merger last month.

Tacon will keep their name for 2019-20 before being rebranded as Madrid, and their hopes of challenging Atletico Madrid and Barcelona following promotion to the top division have been boosted by the addition of Asllani.

Asllani scored three goals as Sweden reached the semi-finals in France, where they lost 1-0 to Netherlands, her third strike coming in the third place play-off win over England.

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City forward joins from Linkopings and wrote on Twitter: "Proud to announce that I'll be the first official signing for Real Madrid/CD Tacon.

"Excited to write history, to help build and be part of this team's journey from the very start. It'll be a dream to wear the most beautiful jersey in the world starting next season. HALA MADRID."

John Obi Mikel has announced his retirement from international football after helping Nigeria to third place in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles lost to Algeria in the last four in Egypt, but atoned for that disappointment to a degree with a 1-0 win over Tunisia in the third place play-off.

That game marked the last appearance in a Nigeria shirt for Mikel, who confirmed the end of his career for his country in a post on Instagram.

It read: "Egypt is a country where I've started and have finished my national career. In 2006 I played my first official championship for my country. [The] 2019 Africa Cup of Nations marks my last championship for national team with Super Eagles. 

"My national career started in 2003 [at the] under-17 World Cup and I'm grateful for the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skill and have an incredible national and international career.

"At the age of 32 it's time for me to retire from the national team and let the youth take over, who've done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019. 

"Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my country for all the trust, support and love you've shown me over the past 15 years.

"Mikel am out!"

MIkel won the AFCON in 2013 and collected a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, while he also featured for the Super Eagles at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

Lyon boss Sylvinho confirmed Nabil Fekir is in negotiations for a transfer as rumours of the club captain's impending move to Real Betis gather momentum.

The France international, who turned 26 on Thursday, is expected to be announced as a Betis player soon, although a barrier to a reported €25million move could be Giovani Lo Celso's unresolved future.

Betis are believed to want Fekir as a direct, ready-made replacement for Tottenham target Lo Celso but the Seville-based outfit are also said to be demanding €75m for the Argentina midfielder.

That fee would require the usually frugal Spurs to shatter their club record expenditure for the second time in less than a month, having brought in Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.

Ndombele's former Les Gones team-mate Fekir, at least, appears likely to be playing in Spain next season.

"We don't control the situation," Sylvinho told a news conference.

"He is negotiating his transfer, we don't know when it will be resolved but, for him and for the club, it would be best that it happens as quickly as possible.

"Of course we will miss him if he leaves. Nabil is a wonderful player, his technical level is exemplary, and it's beautiful to watch him play."

Betis, meanwhile, have signed Spain Under-20 goalkeeper Dani Martin from Sporting Gijon on a five-year deal.

Old friends Aliou Cisse and Djamel Belmadi go up against each other for a shot at history as the two coaches take centre stage ahead of Friday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

There is little doubt Cisse's Senegal and Belmadi's Algeria have been the two standout sides at the 2019 AFCON, suffering just one defeat combined.

That single loss came in the group phase when Algeria defeated the Teranga Lions 1-0, with Senegal now having the opportunity for revenge.

But do not expect vengeance borne out of animosity to be on the mind of Cisse, as he and Belmadi know each other well having been former Ligue 1 adversaries.

The two coaches grew up in the same Paris suburb, Champigny-sur-Marne, while Senegal-born Cisse is just a day older than his counterpart.

Having had numerous tussles in their youth, in domestic French football and also at the AFCON as players, the two now do battle again with historic achievements on the line; Senegal hope to win the tournament for the first time, while Algeria have never lifted the trophy without being hosts.

"I haven't spoken to Aliou," Belmadi told reporters on Thursday. "It's not the time to talk right now, but we will talk after the game. Before the game also, there will be no problem.

"It's extraordinarily ironic that the two kids who grew up together in Champigny-Sur-Marne are now facing each other in the final. We should check if anything like that ever happened in the past.

"We used to play together as young boys in Paris. We grew up in the same city.

"It's amazing that we are now the head coaches for our national teams. Fate brought us to this final. It has a special taste."

Cisse remained entirely fixed on the task at hand, however, and is convinced the early defeat to Algeria has served a purpose by allowing Senegal to learn more about themselves.

"The second group match was a misstep on our part and this defeat allowed us to regroup, to be even stronger," Cisse said.

"Friday is a final, it's a special match, but it's not a question of holding a speech like going to war. We stay in football. We are very calm and focused."

Senegal will be without the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly, though Cisse insists he has a plan to cope without the Napoli star.

"Kalidou is one of the best in his position in the world, but we have the solution to replace him. We are ready," Cisse added.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal – Cheikhou Kouyate

With key man Koulibaly absent, extra responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Kouyate. The experienced midfielder, who has featured as a centre-back at the AFCON, will likely be the senior figure in a defence that needs to stay alert – Algeria's forward options have been lively and potent throughout the tournament.

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez

While he has not necessarily lit the tournament up consistently, Mahrez's glorious late free-kick secured Algeria's spot in the final. It was his third goal of the competition, proving that even when he is not at his very best, he can still be an inspirational figure.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Algeria are unbeaten against Senegal in four AFCON encounters (winning three, drawing one). Moreover, the Teranga Lions are the team the Fennec Foxes have faced most without losing to in the AFCON.
- Senegal will play their second AFCON final, after 2002 (defeat to Cameroon). The Senegalese have won their last four games, their longest winning streak in the competition.
- Algeria will play their third AFCON final after 1980 (a 3-0 defeat to Nigeria) and 1990 (a 1-0 win, also against the Super Eagles). They have conceded two goals in the 2019 AFCON, only in 1984 have they conceded fewer in a single edition, whey they finished third, letting in one goal.
- Senegal forward Sadio Mane is the player who has attempted (34) and completed (20) the most dribbles.
- Nine Algeria players have been involved in at least one goal (excluding own goals) during the 2019 AFCON: Youcef Atal, Youcef Belaili, Ismael Bennacer, Ramy Bensebaini, Baghdad Bounedjah, Sofiane Feghouli, Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani. That is more than any other team.

Atletico Madrid's close-season spending spree has continued with the €29million acquisition of Spain defender Mario Hermoso from Espanyol.

The 24-year-old centre-back has cost Atletico €25m upfront despite having just 12 months left on his Espanyol contract, with Hermoso signing an five-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano.

A Real Madrid academy product, Hermoso only made his top-flight debut in the 2017-18 campaign but has since enjoyed a rapid rise.

Hermoso particularly impressed last term as Espanyol - who have a 20 per cent sell-on clause - finished seventh in LaLiga, earning his first Spain cap last November.

With Atletico seeing Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis and Juanfran all depart at the end of last season, Hermoso had long been suggested as a likely arrival.

But Espanyol's apparent initial reluctance to reduce their asking price from the reported €40m release clause in his contract meant negotiations dragged on.

An agreement has been found, though, and Hermoso is the latest defender to join Atletico after Felipe, Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier, who arrived a day earlier.

Hermoso takes Atletico's reported expenditure to €248m with Marcos Llorente, Joao Felix, Hector Herrera, Nicolas Ibanez and Ivan Saponjic also new to the club, although they recouped €120m from Antoine Griezmann's controversial departure to Barcelona.

Kieran Trippier says he had no hesitation about leaving Tottenham for Atletico Madrid because of his long-held ambition to play abroad.

The right-back signed a three-year contract in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, bringing an end to his four-season stint at Spurs.

Serie A side Napoli expressed interest before Atleti swooped on their replacement for Juanfran, who left the club on a free transfer at the end of June.

Trippier, 28, has the chance to rediscover the form that eluded him last season as he forges a place in Diego Simeone's notoriously mean defence.

"The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world, but I didn't think twice when Atletico were interested," Trippier said at Thursday's presentation.

"It's a great opportunity to come and live in Madrid. Not many British players come abroad, but I always wanted to play abroad, especially in LaLiga, since I was young.

"I'm looking forward to learning the language straight away, which is my first priority. The quicker I can do that, communicate with my coach and team-mates, the better.

"I want to enjoy playing for Atletico and living in Madrid."

Trippier greeted the local media moments after Atletico sealed the signing of another defender, centre-back Mario Hermoso.

The Spain international, formerly of rivals Real Madrid, arrives from Espanyol in a €29million deal.

If starting his career across town does not attach enough pressure, Hermoso also has the unenviable task of trying to plug the gap left by Diego Godin's departure for Inter.

"It's a beautiful, important challenge," the 24-year-old said.

"Diego has been a symbol for the club. What better way to continue making history. I hope to continue that line."

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