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    DAY 4 WORLD CUP PREVIEWS/STATS/H2H: : England have never lost against an African team at the World Cup PLUS Belgium, Sweden & S. Korea

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    Monday 18 June
    Sweden vs South Korea (Group F) – Nizhny Novgorod – 3pm
    Belgium vs Panama (Group G) – Sochi – 6pm
    Tunisia vs England (Group G) – Volgograd – 9pm

    Sweden and South Korea meet in a World Cup for the first time on Monday when they begin their campaigns in Russia.
    The Europeans have a fully fit squad to choose from but have only scored one goal in four games and none in their past three matches.
    South Korea will be captained by former Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-yueng, while Tottenham forward Son Heung-min is one of their main players.
    World champions Germany and Mexico are the other two teams in Group F.
    This match will take place in Nizhny Novgorod and there are reports that less than 2,000 fans have travelled from South Korea to Russia, while more than 30,000 Swedish fans have travelled to the tournament.
    Sweden are back at a World Cup finals for the first time since 2006 after beating Italy 1-0 on aggregate in their two-legged play-off.
    Their World Cup squad includes six British-based players – Swansea goalkeeper c, Manchester United centre-half Victor Lindelof, Celtic defender Mikael Lustig, Leeds centre-half Pontus Jansson, Swansea left-back Martin Olsson and Hull midfielder Sebastian Larsson.
    However, ex-Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not in the squad, sticking to his decision to retire from international football following Euro 2016.
    South Korea will be playing in their ninth successive World Cup finals and will be hoping to do better than four years ago when they finished bottom of their group with only one point (a 1-1 draw against Russia) from their three matches.
    They only won four of 10 qualifying games in the third round of Asian qualification and needed a 0-0 draw away in Uzbekistan in their final match to secure their place in Russia.
    Not in the best of form, they have only won one of their last six matches, including a 2-1 loss to Northern Ireland in March.

    Head-to-head
    Sweden are unbeaten in their four previous head-to-heads against South Korea (won two, drew two). It is their first encounter at a World Cup finals.
    Sweden’s joint-biggest win was a 12-0 victory against South Korea in the 1948 Olympic Games.

    Sweden
    Sweden have qualified for their 12th World Cup – their first since 2006 – knocking out Italy in the play-offs.
    Since finishing as runners-up on home soil in 1958, Sweden have progressed past the second round of the World Cup only once, in 1994 when they finished third.
    Sweden are unbeaten in their last nine group games at the World Cup (won three, drew six), their last defeat in the first round of the competition dating back to 20 June 1990 (1-2 v Costa Rica).
    Sweden have kept only three clean sheets in their last 24 games at the World Cup.
    Sweden have won none of their last seven opening games at the World Cup (drew five, lost two), their last victory dating back to 1958, on home soil (3-0 v Mexico).
    This will be Janne Andersson’s first major tournament as manager. He will attempt to become the first Sweden boss to take his team past the last 16 since Tommy Svensson in 1994.

    South Korea
    South Korea are unbeaten in their last four opening matches at World Cups (won three, drew one).
    South Korea have qualified for the World Cup for the 10th time, more than any other Asian team. They have not missed an edition of the finals since 1986.
    South Korea have won only one of their last nine World Cup games (drew three, lost five) – it was in their opening match of the 2010 edition against Greece (2-0). That win is also their only clean sheet in their last 12 matches in the competition.
    Five of South Korea’s last eight goals at the World Cup have been scored from outside the box. Also, 12 of South Korea’s last 13 goals in the competition have come after half-time.
    Shin Tae-yong is entering his first World Cup as a manager, while his two matches in charge of South Korea in the qualifiers produced two goalless draws (v Iran and Uzbekistan).

    Belgium defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany miss out with hamstring and groin injuries respectively.
    Celtic’s Dedyrck Boyata is expected to slot into their back three alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
    Panama suffered a blow last week when key winger Alberto Quintero was ruled out of the World Cup with a fractured foot.
    Centre-back Roman Torres has recovered from the hamstring injury that blighted his build-up to the tournament.
    Group G gets underway with a fascinating clash between Panama, who have already made history, and Belgium, who hope to create history of their own.
    A national holiday was declared after Panama sealed qualification in October and the entire country will come to a standstill as they a play a World Cup game for the very first time.
    Fellow debutants Iceland showed against Argentina that smaller countries need not be overawed against more exalted opponents. Panama will certainly not take a backward step and their ultra-competitive and physical approach will give Belgium’s gifted artists a rough ride.
    While Panama won just three times in 10 games in final qualifying, Belgium set a new joint European record of 43 goals scored, with 11 from Romelu Lukaku – two more than the Panamanians managed in total.
    Their ageing team could be brutally exposed by a Belgium side intent on making sure their ‘Golden Generation’ doesn’t fade away. Come mid-July, the Belgians are hoping they get a national holiday of their own.

    Head-to-head
    This game will be the first meeting between these sides.

    Belgium
    Belgium are unbeaten in their last nine World Cup group games (W4, D5), winning each of their last four. They have made it to the second round in six of their last seven World Cup appearances, the only exception coming in 1998.
    The Red Devils have also only lost one of their last nine opening games at the World Cup (W5, D3), which was against Mexico in 1986.
    They haven’t scored more than two goals in an opening World Cup game since 1970, when they beat El Salvador 3-0.
    Their last eight goals at the World Cup have all been scored from the 70th minute onwards.
    They were one of four unbeaten teams in European qualifying, alongside England, Germany and Spain.

    Panama
    Gabriel Torres and Roman Torres were their joint top scorers in final qualifying with just two goals.
    Panama made it to Russia with a negative goal difference (-1), winning only three of their 10 games in the last round of Concacaf qualifying.
    Following the late call up of 21-year-old Ricardo Avila, Panama have the fifth oldest squad at the 2018 World Cup, with an average age of 28.9 years.
    Hernan Dario Gomez will become just the fourth man to lead at least three different teams at a World Cup, having coached his native Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002.
    Gomez will follow in the footsteps of Henri Michel (four different teams), Carlos Alberto Parreira and Bora Milutinovic (both five different teams).


    Wahbi Khazri is set to be available for Tunisia, although he may lack match fitness, having not played since April after injuring his thigh with Rennes.
    Full-back Ali Maaloul should also be fit despite a hamstring problem, but key forward Youssef Msakni was left out of the squad because of a knee injury.
    England players have reportedly already been told their starting line-up.
    Midfielder Jordan Henderson, centre-back Harry Maguire and forward Raheem Sterling are all tipped to play.
    An unusual state of calm has surrounded England’s build-up to this tournament; limited tabloid hysteria, a level-headed manager and low-key expectations all contributing to an air of serenity, tattoos aside.
    This is Gareth Southgate’s first major tournament as manager but he’s handled things like an old pro, adept at speaking to the media and seemingly in sync with his squad. The England boss played two games at the World Cup in 1998, including against Tunisia, and he will be aiming to repeat the 2-0 victory that day, secured by goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes.
    Tunisia will be suitable opponents to test England. Hard to break down and tidy in possession, their style is one England have struggled against before. They have the longest active World Cup winless streak of any side competing in Russia, with no win in 11, but they qualified undefeated. Their only loss so far in 2018 came against Spain, a creditable 1-0 defeat that was not settled until the 84th minute.

    Head-to-head
    Tunisia and England last met in their opening group stage game of the 1998 World Cup. England won 2-0 in Marseille.
    Their only other meeting was a friendly in 1990 which ended 1-1.

    Tunisia
    Tunisia have failed to win their last 11 games at a World Cup since triumphing in their first ever match against Mexico in 1978.
    It was the first match won by an African side at the World Cup.
    They are in a first World Cup since 2006, but have yet to reach the knockout stage in four previous attempts.
    Tunisia have only kept one clean sheet in 12 games at this tournament, a 0-0 draw with West Germany in 1978.
    The Carthage Eagles ended the qualifying stage unbeaten and conceded just four goals in six matches in the final group.
    Tunisia are 21st in the Fifa rankings, the highest of any African team.

    England
    England have never lost against an African team at the World Cup (W3, D3).
    They have topped their group just once in their last five World Cups, in 2006.
    England’s 11 goalless draws at the World Cup is a tournament record.
    They conceded just three goals in qualifying – the joint best record in Europe along with Spain.
    England are the only side in Russia with every squad member playing in the domestic league.
    This is England’s sixth finals appearance in a row, equalling their longest streak in the competition.
    Since winning the World Cup in 1966, England have progressed past the quarter-finals just once, finished fourth in 1990.
    They have not scored more than one goal in their last nine World Cup games.

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

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    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…

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    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…

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    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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