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    DAY 7 WORLD CUP PREVIEWS/STATS/H2H: Can Ronaldo, The Oldest Player To Score A Hattrick In WC Do It Again? PLUS Uruguay, Spain & Morocco



    Uruguay have no injury concerns but could make changes to the side that beat Egypt 1-0.
    Winger Carlos Sanchez is tipped to start on the right, while the experienced Cristian Rodriguez could get the nod on the left wing after Giorgian De Arrascaeta failed to impress.
    Saudi Arabia head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi could drop a number of players, with goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf likely to replace Mohammed Al Owais.
    Elsewhere, he may be tempted to start with Muhannad Assiri in the lone forward role in place of the ineffective Mohammed Al Sahlawi.
    It may seem odd to talk about a potential managerial sacking just one game into a major tournament, but Saudi Arabia head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi may need a result in this match to keep his job. Pizzi described a “feeling of shame” after his side were thumped 5-0 by Russia on the opening day, and another inept performance here could see him removed from his position on Thursday morning.
    Uruguay have no such managerial issues, with the 71-year-old Oscar Tabarez in his 12th year and second spell as boss. This game will be his 17th World Cup match and the wise old coach won’t have been that impressed with how his side played in their opening game, with La Celeste needing a late header from centre-back Jose Gimenez to snatch the points.
    Unless Egypt beat Russia, Uruguay will kick off knowing that a win will send them through to the knockout stage at a third consecutive World Cup. The South American side have never failed to get out of the group stage under Tabarez and it looks safe to assume that he’ll repeat that feat here. Defeat would confirm Saudi Arabia’s elimination – unless the Egyptians win their second game.

    Saudi Arabia and Uruguay have never met at the World Cup.
    However, the Green Falcons are undefeated in their two previous games with Uruguay (W1, D1), both home friendlies.

    Uruguay could win their opening two matches of a World Cup for the first time since 1954.
    They have lost just one of their last nine World Cup group games (W5, D3), winning five of their last six.
    The Uruguayans have also won all three of their previous World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring five and conceding just once.
    The last time they won their opening group game, a 2-0 victory over Israel in 1970, they went on to reach the semi-finals.
    Luis Suarez is set to win his 100th cap in this game. He’ll be the sixth Uruguayan to reach that milestone.

    Saudi Arabia
    This is Saudi Arabia’s 15th game at a World Cup but the first time they have ever faced South American opposition.
    The Saudis are on an 11-game winless run at the World Cup finals (D2, L9) dating back 24 years.
    Their last win was a 1-0 victory over Belgium in USA 1994.
    The Green Falcons have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 World Cup games, conceding 37 goals during that spell.
    They have also conceded 14 headed goals since their World Cup debut in 1994, more than any other team in that period.
    Saudi Arabia have failed to score in eight of their last 10 World Cup games and didn’t register a shot on target in the 5-0 defeat to Russia on Thursday.
    The Saudis have finished bottom of their group in their last three World Cup appearances.

    Portugal have a fully-fit squad to choose from although Bruno Alves could be preferred to Jose Fonte in defence.
    Sporting Lisbon winger Bruno Fernandes underwhelmed on his World Cup debut against Spain and may be replaced by Gelson Martins or Joao Mario.
    Morocco have an injury crisis at right-back, with Nordin Amrabat ruled out with concussion following a clash of heads in the defeat to Iran.
    Regular right-back Nabil Dirar remains sidelined with a knee injury.
    One week in and this is already gearing up to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup. Arriving in Russia with a point to prove having scored just three times overall in three previous tournaments, he doubled that tally in one game against Spain. That Portugal got a draw from a match in which Spain were largely dominant was down almost solely to him.
    Aside from rubbing salt in the wounds of their Iberian rivals following the sacking of Spain coach Julen Lopetegui, Ronaldo’s late equaliser puts Portugal in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stage if they beat Morocco, in just the second meeting between the two nations.
    However, a small but significant portion of history is on Morocco’s side. They beat Portugal 3-1 in the group stage of the 1986 World Cup; it was Morocco’s first ever win at the tournament and Portugal’s only World Cup loss against African opposition.
    It is a feat the Atlas Lions need to repeat; a second loss of this tournament, coupled with a positive result in the game between Spain and Iran, and Morocco are out.

    Their only previous meeting came at the 1986 World Cup. Morocco’s 3-1 victory was their first ever win in the tournament.

    Portugal have not lost against a non-European nation at the World Cup since June 2002 (W5, D3), in a 1-0 defeat to South Korea.
    Against Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo became just the fourth player to score in four World Cups, after Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose.
    It was Ronaldo’s 51st hat-trick and the 51st in World Cup history.
    At 33 years and 130 days, it made Ronaldo the oldest scorer of a hat-trick in a World Cup.
    Ronaldo’s third goal drew him level with Ferenc Puskas as the second-highest scorer in the history of international football with 84 goals. Only Iran’s Ali Daei (109) has scored more.
    Before the opening match, Ronaldo had scored just three goals in 13 World Cup appearances.

    Morocco had 68% possession in their 1-0 defeat to Iran, the most by a losing team in a World Cup match since June 2010, when Spain had 73% possession against Switzerland, but lost 1-0.
    The Atlas Lions did not face a single shot in the second half of that game, but lost to a 95th minute own goal.
    Aziz Bouhaddouz became just the third substitute to score an own-goal in a World Cup match. The others are Hungary’s Laszlo Dajka in 1986 (against USSR) and Portugal’s Petit in 2006 (versus Germany).

    Iran have suffered a blow with defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi ruled out of the rest of the tournament after suffering a muscle injury in training.
    Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh is set to replace the 24-year-old alongside Morteza Pouraliganji in defence.
    Spain could be unchanged with striker Diego Costa’s performance in the 3-3 draw with Portugal likely to mean he keeps his place ahead of Iago Aspas.
    Iran top the group after one game, having beaten Morocco 1-0.
    Iran’s victory over Morocco, their first at a World Cup finals since 1998 and only their second in five tournaments, means they head Group B.
    There is a long way to go before they can think about qualifying for the knock-out stages, though. Any hopes of advancing now rest on being able to spring a surprise in this fixture and their final group game against Portugal on 25 June.
    However, rising above adversity has been a theme for Iran during qualification and the build-up to this tournament.
    First-choice goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, 25, slept rough earlier in his career while trying to establish himself and Nike withdrew its supply of boots to the Iranian players before the World Cup because of new US sanctions.
    Spain came into the event as one of the big favourites, having dominated in major football tournaments between 2008 and 2012.
    But coach Julen Lopetegui’s sacking on the eve of their opening match last week threw a spanner in the works and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo rubbed further salt into the wounds with his heroic late equaliser in Sochi.
    Spain made a shock exit in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup following a humiliating 5-1 defeat by the Netherlands, so they will be keen to avoid a similar fate this year.

    This will be the first encounter between Iran and Spain.
    Iran are winless against European opposition at the World Cup, having lost five of their six previous fixtures (D1).
    Spain are unbeaten against Asian opponents at the World Cup (W2, D2), though they did lose on penalties after one of those draws (against South Korea in 2002).

    In their 1-0 victory over Morocco, Iran became the first team since 1966 to score a goal without attempting a shot during a half of World Cup football – their winner was a 90th minute own goal by Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz.
    That goal was scored after 94 minutes and seven seconds – it was the latest winning goal in a World Cup match since June 2006, a Francesco Totti penalty against Australia for Italy in a 1-0 win (94:24).
    Their last three World Cup goals have all come in the final 15 minutes of matches – they have never scored before the 36th minute at a World Cup,
    Iran could become the first Asian team to win consecutive World Cup matches since South Korea in June 2002.

    Spain have been eliminated at the group stage in two of the last three World Cup tournaments in which they have failed to win their first match (1998 and 2014) – however, they won the tournament on the other occasion, doing so in 2010 despite losing their first match to Switzerland.
    Spain have conceded 10 goals in their last four World Cup matches – as many as in their previous 15 World Cup matches combined.
    Diego Costa has scored eight goals in his last eight international starts for Spain – he scored with both of his shots on target in their 3-3 draw with Portugal.



    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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