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    DAY 14 WORLD CUP PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: Brazil Are Unbeaten In 13 Matches, Germany Have Never Failed To Progress From The Group Stage At A World Cup PLUS Mexico, Sweden & Serbia



    Wednesday 27 June
    South Korea vs Germany (Group F) – Kazan – 5pm
    Mexico vs Sweden (Group F) – Ekaterinburg – 5pm
    Serbia vs Brazil (Group E) – Moscow (Spartak) – 9pm
    Switzerland vs Costa Rica (Group E) – Nizhny Novgorod – 9pm
    Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner are available for Switzerland after avoiding bans for a ‘double-headed eagle gesture’ during their crucial victory over Serbia.
    The trio were instead fined by Fifa for “unsporting behaviour” following their controversial celebrations.
    Costa Rica saw their resistance broken in the 91st minute in a 2-0 defeat against Brazil last time out.
    Oscar Ramirez’ side are yet to earn a point or score in Group E.
    Switzerland took a huge step towards securing last-16 qualification courtesy of Shaqiri’s 90th-minute winner against Serbia, leaving Vladimir Petkovic’s side only requiring one point from their final match to progress.
    Largely outplayed by their opponents in the first-half, the Swiss rallied as Xhaka’s powerful strike cancelled out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s opener to set up a thrilling finish.
    However, in the days since that win in Kaliningrad the team have been made to sweat over Fifa’s verdict on whether Xhaka, Shaqiri and Lichtsteiner would receive two-match bans.
    With that threat lifted, focus returns to qualifying from, or potentially winning, Group E.
    Costa Rica were the surprise package in Brazil four years ago, reaching the quarter-finals, but have fallen short in Russia and are unable to qualify,
    A narrow opening defeat to Serbia, followed by two injury-time goals for Brazil last time out have left Los Ticos playing for pride in Nizhny Novgorod.
    Having only once failed to take a point in three group games at a World Cup in 2006, the Costa Ricans could have a big say in who progresses from Group E.

    Switzerland and Costa Rica will be meeting for the third time and for the first time at a major tournament.
    Both nations have recorded one win each; Switzerland defeated Costa Rica 2-0 in 2006, before Costa Rica recorded a 1-0 victory in 2010.

    The Swiss are unbeaten in their previous four World Cup games against sides from Concacaf (W2 D2) – most recently defeating Honduras at the 2014 World Cup (3-0).
    Switzerland have conceded a goal in each of their last three World Cup games; they had only conceded in three of the previous 10 before this run.
    Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in five of Switzerland’s last six World Cup goals (four goals, one assist).
    Stephan Lichtsteiner made his ninth World Cup appearance for versus Serbia – the most of any Swiss player.

    Costa Rica
    Costa Rica are winless in their last four World Cup games against European sides (W0 D3 L1), scoring just one goal across those four matches.
    Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (W0 D3 L2), failing to score in four of those.
    A loss for Costa Rica will mean they will finish the group stage on zero points – only at World Cup 2006 have they failed to pick up a single point at the tournament.

    Brazil are expected to be unchanged from the side that started the 2-0 win over Costa Rica, as Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored injury-time goals.
    Danilo is out with a thigh problem and Douglas Costa has a hamstring injury.
    Six of the Serbia squad have been booked and will be suspended if they are booked again and reach the last 16, but coach Mladen Krstajic is expected to stick with his first-choice side.
    Both sides can still top Group E, finish second or be eliminated.
    Five-time winners Brazil started the competition with a 1-1 draw with Switzerland but the win over Costa Rica kept them on course to advance as group winners.
    For Serbia, they won 1-0 against Costa Rica thanks a goal from former Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov, before suffering a 2-1 loss to Switzerland as Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a last-minute winner.
    However, Serbian Football Association president Slavisa Kokeza and Serbia coach Krstajic were each fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,800) for comments they made after the match.
    Krstajic told Serbian journalists that German referee Felix Brych should be tried for war crimes in The Hague for failing to award his team a second-half penalty.
    The Serbian FA was also fined 54,000 Swiss francs (£41,250) for the behaviour of fans during the game – they displayed discriminatory banners and messages and threw objects.
    Brazil’s performances have been surprising considering they had only lost one match in 21 in the build-up to the tournament, scoring 47 goals and conceding just five.
    However, a draw for them against Serbia will be enough for a place in the knockout stage. If they win and second placed Switzerland beat Costa Rica, then both teams will have seven points, although Brazil currently have a one-goal advantage in goal difference to see who wins the group.
    If both Brazil and Switzerland have identical records then the group winner could be decided by disciplinary records: Brazil have three yellows, Switzerland four. If they both lose then it will be the second and third places potentially decided by the same process.
    Serbia will qualify if they defeat Brazil. A draw would be enough if Switzerland lose to Costa Rica by more than one goal. Serbia can still win the group but need to beat Brazil and hope Switzerland lose to Costa Rica.

    Yugoslavia included, Serbia and Brazil have met four times at the World Cup. Their head-to-head record is perfectly balanced with one win each and two draws.
    Serbia and Brazil’s first ever World Cup appearance was in a match against each other in 1930 – Yugoslavia running out 2-1 winners.
    In total though (including as Yugoslavia), Serbia have faced Brazil on 19 occasions – winning just twice (drew seven, lost 10).
    This will be the second meeting between Serbia and Brazil with the former as an independent nation – their first encounter was in a friendly in June 2014, Brazil winning 1-0.

    As an independent nation, Serbia have lost each of the six World Cup matches in which they have conceded, winning the two in which they kept clean sheets.
    Serbia forward Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 18 goals in 26 games for club and country in 2018.
    A victory for Serbia in this match will see them qualify from their World Cup group for the first time as an independent nation, after qualifying for the next phase in the 1998 tournament as Yugoslavia.
    Yugoslavia qualified for the next round on three of the four occasions when they won their first match at the World Cup, doing so in 1930, 1954 and 1998; their only failure to qualify was in 1950. The 1-0 win over Costa Rica was the first time Serbia, as an independent nation, won their opening match.

    In all competitions, Brazil are unbeaten in 13 matches (won nine, drew four), conceding just three goals in that run.
    Brazil have only managed one victory in their past seven World Cup games against European opposition (drew two, lost four) – a 3-1 win against Croatia in 2014.
    Philippe Coutinho has scored in each of his past three appearances for Brazil.
    Brazil’s Neymar has been directly involved in 18 goals in his past 17 appearances for the national side (10 goals, eight assists).
    Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil; only Ronaldo (62) and Pele (77) have scored more.
    Brazil have managed only one shot on target in the first half in each of their past three World Cup games.

    South Korea will be without captain Ki Sung-yueng, who has a calf strain.
    Coach Shin Tae-yong knows his side have to win so may pick an attacking line-up as a result.
    Germany are without Jerome Boateng after his red card against Sweden, but fellow central defender Mats Hummels is fit again after a neck injury.
    Midfielder Sebastian Rudy may be able to play with a protective mask after undergoing a minor operation on his nose on Sunday.
    Never write off the Germans. Toni Kroos’ spectacular and dramatic late winner against Sweden kept their hopes of becoming the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962 firmly alive.
    But they have a long way to go before they can seal a place in the last 16, let alone dream of another final on 15 July. The permutations of what they need to do could be complex, but in simple terms Joachim Low’s side must beat South Korea by two or more goals or better Sweden’s result to guarantee qualification.
    Their win over the Swedes has been tarnished somewhat by the unsavoury touchline scenes that marred their celebrations after Kroos’ goal. The German Football Association (DFB) has suspended two members of staff following the angry exchanges that occurred between both benches.
    South Korea are the only side at this World Cup to have lost their first two games but to still be in with a shout of qualifying, albeit a very, very slim one.

    Two of the three matches between South Korea and Germany have been at World Cup finals, with the Germans winning both matches (3-2 in 1994 & 1-0 in 2002). South Korea’s only victory against Germany was in a friendly in 2004.

    South Korea
    Son Heung-min attempted eight shots in their defeat to Mexico – three more than South Korea managed in their opening match against Sweden.
    South Korea have conceded a penalty in both of their matches – they had conceded just one penalty in their previous 29 World Cup games combined.
    They have lost their last four consecutive World Cup matches, their joint-worst run since they also lost four in a row between 1986 and 1990.

    Germany have never failed to progress from the opening group stage at a World Cup.
    They have won all five of their World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring 19 goals in total and keeping clean sheets in each of their last three matches.
    Germany’s victory over Sweden was their first at the World Cup after they had conceded the opening goal since the 1998 finals when they beat Mexico 2-1.
    They have won 15 of their last 17 competitive matches (D1, L1) since losing to France at Euro 2016.
    Toni Kroos has been involved in five goals in his last five World Cup games (three goals and two assists).
    Joshua Kimmich has put in 22 crosses, the most of any player at this World Cup after two rounds of matches.

    Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio is renowned for rotating his squad and with a third game in 11 days, several changes could be made.
    Marco Fabian is pushing for a first start of the tournament, while Jesus Corona is also in contention.
    Sweden should stick with the side who were only denied a draw with Germany by Toni Kroos’ injury-time winner.
    Sebastian Larsson, Viktor Claesson and Albin Ekdal are one booking away from suspension.

    Qualifying permutations
    Mexico need a point against Sweden to go through and top the group. They are definitely through with a defeat if Germany fail to win.
    Sweden are guaranteed to qualify if they win or better Germany’s result. If they beat Mexico and Germany fail to win, Sweden will top the group.
    Germany must win by two or more goals or better Sweden’s result to guarantee qualifying.
    If both Germany and Sweden draw, the team in the higher-scoring game will finish second.
    If both draws are the same scoreline, Germany finish second on head-to-head.
    South Korea must beat Germany and hope Sweden lose to Mexico to have a chance of qualifying.

    With everything to play for in Group F, the build-up to this match should be dominated by football, but in an age of social media, when the stakes are high, unpleasant things can follow.
    Following Germany’s last-gasp equaliser against Sweden, via the brilliant boot of Toni Kroos, knives were quickly sharpened in sickening fashion. Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz, who conceded the free-kick which Kroos converted in the 95th minute, was subjected to death threats online.
    Durmaz issued a statement in response, with support from his team-mates, branding the abuse “unacceptable” and added: “We stand united. We are Sweden.”
    Unity on the pitch will also be required if Sweden are to recover from that heartbreaking defeat to make it into the knockout stage.
    Mexico have performed well in winning their opening two games and could become the first CONCACAF team to win three consecutive World Cup matches. They need just a point to go through while a win would be enough for Sweden.

    This will be the 10th game between these sides but just a second at a World Cup.
    Sweden won their only previous meeting in this tournament, a 3-0 victory as hosts in the opening group match in 1958.
    Mexico are unbeaten in four of their last five matches against Sweden (W2, D2), although all of those games were friendlies.

    Javier Hernandez scored his 50th international goal against South Korea, taking him level with Luis Hernandez as Mexico’s leading scorer.
    Forty eight (96%) of Javier Hernandez’s 50 goals for Mexico have come from inside the box.
    Mexico have won their opening two World Cup games for just the second time (also 2002).
    On the previous seven occasions Mexico have gone unbeaten in their opening two games, they have progressed to the knockout stage.
    They’re now unbeaten in their last five group stage matches and have lost just two of their last 19 games at this stage.

    Sweden’s defeat to Germany was their first in the group stage of the World Cup since 1990, when they lost 2-1 to Costa Rica.
    They registered just 24% possession in their 2-1 defeat to Germany, their lowest figure in a World Cup match since 1966.
    Sweden have won only four of their last 13 World Cup games when they have scored first (D5, L4).
    After not scoring in 23 games for Toulouse this season, Ola Toivonen’s strike against Germany came in just a second World Cup game via his second shot of the tournament.
    Toivonen’s goal was Sweden’s first from open play at a World Cup since Freddy Ljungberg’s strike against Paraguay in 2006.



    She Cranes Star Nuba Reveals Why She Decided To Play For Uganda Not South Sudan; Why She Regrets Giving Birth Early…



    She Cranes player Mary Nuba

    Born in South Sudan but grew in Uganda, that’s the story of the She Cranes goal shooter Mary Nuba Cholhok who was voted as the best shooter in the just concluded Fast5 Series tournament which was held in New Zealand.

    Uganda emerged in fifth position in the tournament. theGrapevine had a chance to talk to Nuba before she went back to England for her professional career.

    Grapevine: Why did you decide to play for Uganda and not for your native country South Sudan?

    Nuba: South Sudan is still lagging behind in Netball and I’m getting old, that’s why I decided to play for Uganda’s She Cranes.

    Grapevine: What challenges have you faced so far in your career?

    Nuba: Thinking about my five-year baby who stays in Uganda yet I’m in England playing for my professional club.

    Grapevine: Then what about your husband [the baby’s father] ?

    Nuba: I’m not married, though I gave birth.

    Mary Nuba was awarded Fans player of the Fast5 Series tournament

    Grapevine: How did you manage giving birth and playing Netball?

    Nuba: I realized that later that I made a mistake of getting pregnant. But I stood on my feet, forgot all the past and decided to move on with my child and my career.

    Grapevine: How do you manage those good performances?

    Nuba: I work very hard ever day in order to achieve my goals.

    Grapevine: Where do you see She Cranes in four years to come?

    Nuba: I see She Cranes winning the Netball World cup because we have good players who are still young.

    Grapevine: Tell us about the best game in your career?

    Nuba: When we defeated South Africa in the Common Wealth games in Birmingham.

    Grapevine: Who’s your role model in the game of Netball?

    Nuba: Peace Proscovia because of the way she managed to lift her life from a poor background. She is now superstar in the game.



    By Juma Ali


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    MIRACLE: All She Cranes Players Return After Incidents Of Players Disappearing While On Duty Abroad…



    She Cranes players and one of the start player Goal Shooter Mary Cholhok Nuba

    It was a miracle this time around after all the She Cranes players returned from New Zealand.

    It has been a habit for some Netball players to escape when the team travels for international tournaments.

    Just last month, two She Cranes players; Nakanyike Shakira, who was a Police Player and Rose Namutebi, who was a KCCA Player, disappeared in UK, during She Cranes international friendlies.

    The disappearance of these two players followed the disappearance of centre Player, Halimah Nakachwa, who disappeared in UK, in 2017 during another international friendly in UK.

    However, this time around, all the nine players who went for the first five series tournament in New Zealand, where She Cranes emerged fifth, after wining three games and losing three games, all returned with the team.

    National players disappearing while on duty abroad is also a habit in other sports disciplines like; boxing, table tennis, Rugby among others.


    By Juma Ali


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    It’s Time For Golola To Rest: I’m Going To Punch Him Into Retirement – General Fungu Vows…



    Moses Golola (L) and General Fungu (R)

    General Hamza Fungu has vowed to fight Moses Golola and send him into retirement come 26th December. 2022.

    Fungu said this during the launch at Akamwesi gardens today.

    Uganda’s middle weight kick boxing champion, Golola Moses is set to face his former trainer, General Hamza Fungu on bixing day at Akamwesi shopping mail gardens.

    Golola, who is known for his many words said that he has beaten many fighters who were better than Fungu, “now look at this piglet, I’m going to show him why I’m called Golola Moses ‘of Uganda ‘  and I call upon Ugandans to come and be witnesses on that day.”

    Though Golola said that he signed a contract which allows both fighters to fight until one gets tired, officials in charge of organizing the show said they will fight K-1 style for five rounds.

    Grapevine had a chance to sit down with Golola’s challenger General Fungu and and this is what he had to say;

    theGrapevine: How are you prepared for this fight?

    Fungu: I’m well prepared but they have also given us enough time. So, I’m going to prepare more.

    theGrapevine: Why, among fighters did you choose Golola?

    Fungu: I have been asking to fight Golola for the last five years but he has been dodging me. He one time asked for 20,000 dollars to fight me.

    theGrapevine: Why do you think he accepted this time around?

    Fungu: I think this time, he has been given a lot of money.

    theGrapevine: Which tactics are you going to use to defeat Golola?

    Fungu : Golola has words but I have the tactics which will defeat Golola.

    theGrapevine: Many people have come out to challenge Golola but he finally wins?

    Fungu : He has been favoured many times.

    theGrapevine: Is it true that the contract you signed for the fight allows you to fight until one of you gets tired?

    Fungu : The contract is a disadvantage to Golola not me because I was born a fighter.

    theGrapevine: What next after this fight?

    Fungu : After this fight, I will fight three more three bouts and retire.


    By Juma Ali


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