Jamaica College Manning Cup captain and U-20 Reggae Boy Duncan McKenzie has signed with Serbian Club RFK Graficar Beograd, the club announced on Wednesday.

“We are proud to introduce the newest footballer to our team, Duncan McKenzie,” the club said in an Instagram post.

Graficar competes in the Serbian First League, the second tier of Serbian club football and is affiliated with Serbian SuperLiga side Red Star Belgrade.

“The Jamaican footballer has signed a three-year contract with Graficar and is a great reinforcement for us in the coming years,” they added.

The 18-year-old McKenzie, who previously represented Real Mona FC, was a crucial member of the Jamaica U-20 side that narrowly missed out on a place at next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia.

The team lost 1-0 to the Dominican Republic in the quarter-finals of the Concacaf U-20 Championship on the 29th of June knowing a semi-final berth would secure a spot in the 24-team World Cup.

Former Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov has announced his retirement after leaving Inter.

Kolarov's contract at San Siro officially expires at the end of June, bringing an end to his two-season stay with the Italian giants.

The 36-year-old made just 15 appearances for Inter in all competitions, seven of those being starts, after joining from Serie A rivals Roma in September 2020.

He previously enjoyed a spell with Lazio in the Italian top flight prior to joining City in 2010 for a seven-year stint.

The 94-cap Serbia international won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two EFL Cups with City.

In a statement released to ANSA on Sunday announcing his retirement, left-back Kolarov said: "I always knew that sooner or later this moment will come.

"Although I am sorry that I am closing one chapter of my life, I am grateful that I managed to achieve what has always been my dream.

"I thank all the people who followed me in this first part of my career."

"First of all, to every team-mate in the clubs in which I played as well as in the football team of Serbia, my homeland, which I have always represented with great pride. 

"I thank the clubs, presidents, managers, coaches, technical staff, doctors, economists, physios and all those who helped in my career, and worked hard from the background."

Kolarov, who started his career with Serbian sides Cukaricki and OFK Beograd, intends to remain in football by taking up a new role.

"I am coming to the end of this phase in my life, feeling great satisfaction with what I have achieved," he said.

"Now I am already focused on my 'other' life in the world of football. I will soon start training as a sporting director and scout at the national football centre of the Italian Football Federation in Coverciano."

Luka Jovic admitted he was "tired" after scoring the winner in Serbia's 1-0 win over Sweden in the Nations League on Thursday.

Jovic scored the winning goal for the Orlovi at the Friends Arena just before half-time, driving home Strahinja Pavlovic's header back across the penalty area from Dusan Tadic's corner.

The 24-year-old striker put in a commendable performance over 77 minutes despite the lack of match minutes at club level, seeing 551 minutes across all competitions for Real Madrid this past season.

After the match, Jovic revealed his fatigue was different to that of his team-mates.

"Honestly, I'm tired after this match," Jovic told RTS. "I believe the others are too, it's a long season, they’ve played a lot of games.

"I haven't played a lot of games this season, which is also a problem, probably an even bigger one than theirs. We have to tighten up, play that one more game and suffer for those three points."

The Orlovi bounced back from their opening Nations League loss in Belgrade to Norway, moving to six points with the win over Sweden, after defeating Slovenia on Sunday.

Jovic asserted it was important win, keeping Serbia in contention for promotion to League A.

"It was a very important victory for us," Jovic said. "We kind of broke back because we lost the first game in Belgrade.

"I think we played a good game, in a fight, against a quality opponent. We are going to Ljubljana to try to take three points."

Aleksandar Mitrovic did not rue Serbia's performance following Thursday's 1-0 defeat at home to Norway, but the relative lack of home support.

The Orlovi opened their Nations League campaign going down by a solitary goal at the Stadion Rajko Mitic following Erling Haaland's close-range strike in the 26th minute.

Serbia were unable to manage an equaliser despite a positive second half but in a growing trend for Dragan Stojkovic's side, they had to do it without much in terms of support from the home crowd in Belgrade.

After directly qualifying for the World Cup over Portugal, a visibly frustrated Mitrovic was frank in assessing his side's dwindling reception.

"I'm not expecting the stands to be full at our matches," Mitrovic told RTS post-match. "If we're going to the World Cup or in any other situation, the stands are never full.

"Maybe it's better that we have 10,000 fans or so who are actually cheering us on instead of a full stadium that starts whistling us after 15 minutes."

"I think we gave our all and want to thank those who did come out and support us. There weren't many but thanks to them. We play for them, and they're our strength. We could have expected more fans but however we play and whatever results we manage, some just don't value or respect that."

Since November's win over Portugal in Lisbon to secure an automatic berth in Qatar, Serbia have lost two of their past three friendlies.

Despite the lack of support in Belgrade against Norway, the performance gave reason for the Orlovi's record goal-scorer to remain buoyant, heading into Sunday's match at home to Slovenia.

"It's the second loss since we qualified, and our first at home," Mitrovic said. "It wasn't a sight for sore eyes as a match – it's the end of the season, we're exhausted. The most logical result would have been a draw, but we weren't able to equalise.

"We started the second half stronger, but they shut the game down well. Still, it's the start of the group phase. The next game's at home too."

Tite says Brazil were dealt with neither the group of "death nor of life" after they were drawn to face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in the 2022 World Cup.

The Selecao faced Switzerland and Serbia in the last World Cup in Russia four years ago, so there was a sense of deja vu when the draw was made in Doha on Friday.

As the top-ranked side in the world, Brazil will be expected to win Group G, which also includes Cameroon.

But Brazil boss Title says there will be no room for complacency.

He told reporters: "It is neither [the group] of death nor of life. Everything is the same [as Brazil’s group at Russia 2018] – all that was missing was Costa Rica!

"We're talking about Switzerland and Serbia, the teams who stopped Italy and Portugal, and also a Cameroon team that is very strong in Africa.

"We will have to raise our own game."

All three of Brazil's opponents qualified for the tournament as group winners, but Tite is focused on ensuring his side are in the best possible condition to take the tournament by storm.

"That is part of the chapter of a book. Now it's another reality, another moment," he said.

"We have to consolidate this work now. There are eight, nine more months until the end of the year. We have to confirm an evolution of the team, to affirm the quality of the team, that the athletes individually can be in their best condition.

"We have to do an invisible job of monitoring them, which for the fans maybe do not see, but it's the medical follow-up, the physical follow-up, the follow-up of the technical commission with the athlete himself.

"All this [while] respecting their clubs. We have to have all the follow-up and guidance so that they can be in the best conditions, apart from the preparatory games that we will have until the World Cup. This is the most important thing for me."

Brazil will face Serbia in their opening game of the tournament on November 24.

Tite says Brazil were dealt with neither the group of "death nor of life" after they were drawn to face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in the 2022 World Cup.

The Selecao faced Switzerland and Serbia in the last World Cup in Russia four years ago, so there was a sense of deja vu when the draw was made in Doha on Friday.

As the top-ranked side in the world, Brazil will be expected to win Group G, which also includes Cameroon.

But Brazil boss Title says there will be no room for complacency.

He told reporters: "It is neither [the group] of death nor of life. Everything is the same [as Brazil’s group at Russia 2018] – all that was missing was Costa Rica!

"We're talking about Switzerland and Serbia, the teams who stopped Italy and Portugal, and also a Cameroon team that is very strong in Africa.

"We will have to raise our own game."

All three of Brazil's opponents qualified for the tournament as group winners, but Tite is focused on ensuring his side are in the best possible condition to take the tournament by storm.

"That is part of the chapter of a book. Now it's another reality, another moment," he said.

"We have to consolidate this work now. There are eight, nine more months until the end of the year. We have to confirm an evolution of the team, to affirm the quality of the team, that the athletes individually can be in their best condition.

"We have to do an invisible job of monitoring them, which for the fans maybe do not see, but it's the medical follow-up, the physical follow-up, the follow-up of the technical commission with the athlete himself.

"All this [while] respecting their clubs. We have to have all the follow-up and guidance so that they can be in the best conditions, apart from the preparatory games that we will have until the World Cup. This is the most important thing for me."

Brazil will face Serbia in their opening game of the tournament on November 24.

Qatar 2022 is fast approaching and the anticipation will surely be at its most intense so far when Friday's draw for the group stage is completed.

The Doha Exhibition and Convention Center plays host to the milestone event, which will see eight groups drawn from pots as the eventual storylines of the World Cup begin to unfurl.

Among the narratives that will start being mapped out on Friday is France's title defence, with Les Bleus hoping to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their World Cup crown.

Ahead of the draw, Stats Perform provides a lowdown of all the key information…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, the draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section ahead of Mexico and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

It's nearly four years since Didier Deschamps became only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, as he guided France to their second success on football's grandest stage.

The target now for Les Bleus is to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain their crown, and that journey begins on Friday with the draw for the group stage of Qatar 2022.

Four years is a long time to wait for anything, but the draw for the World Cup is always a milestone event that sees the anticipation taken up a notch.

The eyes of the football world will be on the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, where the eight groups will be drawn and potential routes to December's finale can start being plotted.

But there is a little more to the draw than that…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, Friday's draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

Christian Eriksen's best performances for Denmark could well be yet to come, according to coach Kasper Hjulmand. 

After scoring when Denmark faced the Netherlands last week – his first international outing since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch last June – Eriksen took the captain's armband for his return to the site of his collapse in Tuesday's friendly against Serbia at Parken.

The Brentford midfielder marked the occasion with a lovely curling finish from the edge of the box, adding to strikes from Joakim Maehle and Jesper Lindstrom to complete a 3-0 victory. 

Eriksen was greeted by a banner reading "Welcome back, Eriksen" as led his team-mates out in Copenhagen and was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the second half. 

"It was Christian Eriksen's comeback at Parken – it was magical," Hjulmand said. 

"We can see the blueprint for a relaxation and lightness in Christian's game, which is fantastic. He is so clear and calm, and he plays a lot of deep balls with his right and left feet, he keeps the game going when he needs to. It is a pleasure to see the way he makes himself comfortable on the pitch. 

"I think we can get something even better out of Christian for the next few years." 

Jannik Vestergaard believes Eriksen, who only returned to competitive action last month, has a new outlook on life and his career that is enabling him to perform to a high level. 

"You have to be careful what you say, but he was almost better than ever," said Vestergaard. 

"He played with ease … it may have really dawned on him how happy he is to play football. The pressure on him as our best player for many years then takes second place. 

"I think Christian enjoys every moment. Football is not everything in life, but for us football players it takes up quite a lot. He looks like someone who loves to be back, loves to play football and loves to play for Denmark. 

"I think there were many people who looked forward to getting Christian Eriksen back at Parken, and we had that too. 

"It was also great for us. It was a way to really put an end to some experiences we have had." 

Christian Eriksen made a memorable return to Parken by scoring while captaining Denmark to a 3-0 friendly victory over Serbia on Tuesday. 

Brentford midfielder Eriksen was playing at the stadium in Copenhagen for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest there during the Euro 2020 game against Finland last June. 

The 30-year-old, who had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, only returned to competitive action in February and was handed the captain's armband for the game by Kasper Schmeichel. 

Eriksen was welcomed to the pitch with a banner that read "Welcome back, Christian" and followed up his goalscoring comeback against the Netherlands last week with a fine curling effort from just outside the box in the 57th minute. It rounded off the win after goals from Joakim Maehle and Jesper Lindstrom. 

A rapturous standing ovation met the former Inter and Tottenham playmaker when he was withdrawn by head coach Kasper Hjulmand in the 80th minute, bringing an emotional comeback to a close. 

Eriksen began speaking to the media after the final whistle but was pulled away by Schmeichel so he could take part in the celebrations with his team-mates. 

"This evening ranks high. And that reception gave me chills. Yes, it's hard to describe," Eriksen said to Discovery, before Schmeichel interrupted the interview so they could enjoy the occasion together.

Christian Eriksen will captain Denmark when he returns to Parken in a friendly against Serbia on Tuesday. 

It will be the first time Eriksen has played in the stadium since he suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 group game against Finland last June. 

The 30-year-old had to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, which made him ineligible to play in Italy and resulted in him leaving Inter for Brentford.

He returned to competitive action in the Bees' 2-0 loss to Newcastle United in February, and scored within two minutes of being introduced as a half-time substitute on his international comeback against the Netherlands in Amsterdam last week. 

Eriksen will now have the honour of captaining his country when he steps back onto the pitch at Parken. 

"It will definitely be very special because I have not been to Parken since it happened," he said. "Now, I'm really looking forward to being back on the pitch and being a football player again. 

"That's what it's about for me. But, I also look forward to the fact that after the match, we can put it behind us. 

"It will be very emotional and very special, but I am looking forward to it because it is something positive we are talking about." 

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand revealed that Kasper Schmeichel, who has skippered the side in the absence of the injured Simon Kjaer, approached him to ask that Eriksen be given the armband. 

"It's great to have him back. We've missed him," Schmeichel added. "It's not only on the pitch - we all saw what he can bring in the second half against the Netherlands – but also off the pitch. Something was missing."

Christian Eriksen says his comeback goal against the Netherlands was "just a warm-up", as he prepares to make a "special" return to Copenhagen with Denmark.

Eriksen will make his long-awaited return to the Parken Stadium, where he suffered a cardiac arrest during his country's Euro 2020 clash with Finland in June 2021, when Denmark host Serbia in a friendly on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old made an incredible return to international football on Saturday, scoring 114 seconds after coming on as a substitute during Denmark's 4-2 loss to the Netherlands. 

Having netted with a fine right-footed finish into the top corner at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the stadium where he began his club career with Ajax, the Brentford midfielder is now looking forward to what is sure to be an emotional return to home turf.

"That [the Serbia match] will be even more special," Eriksen told Danish TV station Kanal 5.

"[Saturday's goal] was just a warm-up for Tuesday, when I'll be running in exactly the place where it happened."

 

Kasper Hjulmand has already confirmed that Eriksen, who joined Brentford after being left unable to play for former club Inter due to Serie A rules around his implanted cardioverter-defibrillator device, will start the much-awaited contest.

Denmark qualified for this year's World Cup in eye-catching style, picking up 27 points from their 10 qualification games, and Eriksen is looking forward to competing in Qatar.

The 30-year-old also thanked the Dutch fans for the standing ovation he received upon his return to international football.

"To start the comeback in international football like this was the perfect way," Eriksen told Sky Sports on Saturday.

"I felt very welcome. I've been here before for many years so, of course, they [the fans] know me, but it was a very heart-warming reception for sure.

"I'm looking forward to playing at the Qatar World Cup, but there are a lot of games in between and I'm focused on them."

Less than a year after she shattered the outdoor world record of 15.67m at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas shattered the world indoor record in the triple jump with a massive 15.74m on Sunday’s final day of the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk produced a lifetime best of 14.74m to bump Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams, who jumped a season-best 14.62, down to third.

Williams medal means Jamaica now has two medals from the championships following Stephenie-Ann McPherson’s bronze medal in the 400m on Saturday.

However, it was Rojas, who stole the spotlight when on her final jump, she flew beyond her own world record of 15.43m, to establish a new mark and become the first woman to win three world indoor titles.

She also shattered the previous championship record of 15.36 set by Tatyana Lebedeva in 2004. She has equalled that mark on her penultimate jump of the competition.

Rojas already owned the world-leading mark indoors with 15.41m she set in Spain on March 2.

 

Bahamian superstar, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, added to her massive trophy case by winning gold in the Women’s 400m at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade on Saturday.

Adding to a bronze medal in the 400m from the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Miller-Uibo got a good lead on the field at the start and used her strength to carry her home in a time of 50.31. Dutch 400m Hurdles Olympic bronze medallist Femke Bol was second in 50.57, while Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann-McPherson was third in a national indoor record 50.79.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards ensured the Caribbean swept the 400m events with a brilliant championship record 45.00 to win gold ahead of the USA’s Trevor Bassitt (45.05) and Sweden’s Carl Bengstrom (45.33).

The 2017 World Championships 200m bronze medallist now has two World Indoor Championships medals after his bronze from the 4x400m in the 2012 edition in Istanbul.

 

Devynne Charlton and Britany Anderson finished first and second in the first semi-final of the Women’s 60m to advance to the final scheduled for later on Saturday.

Charlton capitalized on a bullet start to cross the finish line in 7.81, a Bahamian national indoor record, while Anderson ran 7.85 for second.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Jerod Elcock advanced to the final of the Men’s 60m after finishing second in the first semi-final in 6.63 behind the USA’s Marvin Bracy who eased to 6.51 for the win.

A big clash is expected in the final, later on Saturday, between Italy’s Olympic 100m champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs and 2019 World 100m champion and 2018 World Indoor 60m champion and world record holder Christian Coleman. Jacobs won semi-final two in a world-leading 6.45 while Coleman won the third semi-final in 6.51.

 

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