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    WORLD CUP – ROUND OF 16: Can France Eliminate Stubborn Argentina? Portugal Unbeaten Against Uruguay

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    WORLD CUP – ROUND OF 16

    Saturday 30 June 
    France vs Argentina 5:00pm
    Uruguay vs Portugal 9:00pm

    France coach Didier Deschamps will be without Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy because of a muscle injury.
    Lucas Hernandez should be available and Deschamps is expected to recall the players he rested against Denmark.
    Nabil Fekir is pushing for a start after impressive cameos off the bench so far, while right-back Djibril Sidibe may play instead of Benjamin Pavard.
    Argentina have no new injury concerns and could stick with the same side that began the 2-1 win against Nigeria.
    Midfielder Enzo Perez has a slight thigh problem but should be fit enough to start.
    This will be Argentina’s 15th game under coach Jorge Sampaoli and it could be the first time he has named an unchanged side.
    Two footballing heavyweights who haven’t even come close to finding their best form so far face off in Kazan knowing they are going to have to seriously up their game if they are to win one of the most open World Cups in years.
    Argentina’s nerves were jangling before they somehow sneaked through a tumultuous group stage thanks to a rare and priceless goal from defender Marcos Rojo in the 86th minute against Nigeria.
    “It was win or die,” said Gonzalo Higuain, while Lionel Messi admitted he “could not remember such suffering before.”
    The French, on the other hand, fielded their youngest team in a World Cup game since 1930 in their opening match against Australia. But despite their youthful exuberance they have underwhelmed.
    Their passage to the last 16 may have been as serene as Argentina’s was fraught, but coach Didier Deschamps still can’t seem to get the best out of the fabulous array of attacking talent at his disposal.


    Head-to-head
    This will be the first time these sides have met in the knockout stage of a World Cup.
    France and Argentina will be facing each other for the 12th time. The South Americans hold the upper hand with six wins to two, keeping a clean sheet in eight of their previous 11 encounters.
    They have only played twice in the last 32 years, in friendlies in 2007 and 2009, which were won by Argentina (1-0 and 2-0 respectively).
    The fixture is the first between two previous world champions at this World Cup.

    France
    The French haven’t lost in their last eight World Cup matches against South American opposition at the World Cup, since a 2-1 defeat to Argentina in 1978.
    Didier Deschamps will take charge of his 80th game as France head coach, overtaking Raymond Domenech’s record.
    Excluding penalty shoot-outs, France have lost only one of their last 11 games in the knockout stage of the World Cup (W8, D2), which was a 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Germany in 2014.
    Since the introduction of the round of 16 in 1986, Les Bleus have always made it past that stage whenever they’ve reached it (1986, 1998, 2006 and 2014).
    France only conceded five shots on target in their three group games. The only goal they let in was a penalty from Australia’s Mile Jedinak. It is the first time they have not conceded a goal from open play at a World Cup group stage since 1998, a tournament they went on to win.

    Argentina
    Argentina have gone past the first round for the 12th time in their last 13 World Cup appearances, with the only exception coming in 2002.
    Their last four knockout games in the tournament have produced only three goals (two goals for, one against).
    They have won each of their last 27 World Cup matches in which they were leading at half-time, since a 4-2 defeat in the 1930 World Cup final against Uruguay.
    Argentina have been involved in five World Cup penalty shoot-outs, more than any other nation – winning a joint record four. France have been involved in four, winning twice.
    They have reached the quarter-final stage in four of their last five World Cups, only failing in 2002 when they didn’t get out of their group.
    Three of Argentina’s four knock-out games at the 2014 World Cup went to extra time.


    Uruguay centre-back Jose Gimenez could return to the side after missing the game with Russia with a back injury.
    Portugal winger Gelson Martins and left-back Raphael Guerreiro are in contention to play after they returned to full training.
    Defensive midfielder William Carvalho is a doubt after he missed a training session on Thursday.
    Midfielder Joao Moutinho could come into the side after starting on the bench against Iran.

    WILL A FAILURE TO WIN THE GROUP HAUNT PORTUGAL?
    Will Portugal live to regret the injury-time goal they conceded against Iran? That 1-1 draw on Monday saw them finish second in Group B to set up a match against Luis Suarez and Uruguay, whereas group winners Spain face an easier-looking tie against hosts Russia.
    Two-time winners Uruguay cruised through Group A, winning all three games, scoring five times and not conceding any, with a 3-0 win over Russia securing top spot.
    A late goal from Jose Maria Gimenez gave them a 1-0 win over Egypt in their opener before Barcelona striker Suarez scored the only goal to see off Saudi Arabia.
    Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored four times in the tournament, with only England’s Harry Kane having scored more (five).
    Ronaldo’s hat-trick gave them a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain in their first game, before the Real Madrid forward got the only goal in a 1-0 win over Morocco.
    Ricardo Quaresma’s superb strike gave them the lead against Iran in their third group game, before Ronaldo missed a penalty.
    Iran then gained an injury-time penalty after a handball by Cedric Soares, with the spot-kick given via the video assistant referee, and Karim Ansarifard converted it to drop Portugal from first to second in the group.

    Head-to-head
    This will be the third encounter between Uruguay and Portugal and their first at the World Cup. They have not faced each other since July 1972, when they drew 1-1 at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. Portugal are so far unbeaten in their two previous meetings (won one, drew one).

    Uruguay
    Since the format of the World Cup changed in 1986 to include a round of 16, Uruguay have been eliminated on three of the four occasions they have reached that stage, losing in 1986, 1990 and 2014, but progressing in 2010 against South Korea.
    Uruguay will be looking to win their opening four games at a World Cup for only the second time after 1930, when they won the first ever World Cup.
    Uruguay are yet to concede a single goal at the 2018 World Cup, facing just six shots on target in three games – the last South American team not to concede in their first four matches of a World Cup tournament was Brazil in 1986.
    All five of Uruguay’s goals at the 2018 World Cup have been scored from set-pieces (three from corners, one from a direct free-kick and one from an indirect free-kick). Meanwhile, three of Portugal’s last four goals have come from outside the box.
    Luis Suarez has scored seven World Cup goals for Uruguay, second only to Oscar Miguez (eight) – Suarez scored twice against South Korea in his only previous World Cup appearance in the round of 16, in 2010.

    Portugal
    Penalty shoot-outs excluded, Portugal have lost only one of their last 17 games at major tournaments (won eight, draw eight), a 4-0 defeat against Germany at the 2014 World Cup. However, they have lost their last three games in the World Cup knockout stages (one goal scored, five conceded).
    Cristiano Ronaldo has so far failed to score a single goal for Portugal in the knockout stages of the World Cup: 424 minutes, no goals. However, he did score a hat-trick against Spain in his previous game at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium.
    If he plays, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (37) will equal Bastian Schweinsteiger (38) as the player with the most appearances at World Cups and European Championships.
    This is Fernando Santos’ fourth major tournament in a row as manager. He has reached the knockout stages on each previous occasion: Euro 2012 quarter-finals & World Cup 2014 round of 16 with Greece; Euro 2016 winners and at least World Cup 2018 round of 16 with Portugal.

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    I’m Going To Win Commonwealth Medal For My Mum Who Was Knocked By Speeding Boda Boda – Bombers Captain Vows…

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    Bombers captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa in action

    Bombers captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa has told theGrapevine that he is determined to win a medal at this year’s commonwealth games in Birmingham, England for his late mother.

    Tukamuhebwa’s mother, Enid Bindishanga died after she was knocked by a speeding motor bike along Jinja Road.

    Enid had gone at the meat parker along Port Bell Road to buy meat for the family.

    She was rushed to hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

    “I am going to do everything possible to win a medal in this competition for my mum,” the Naguru based boxer said.

    Tukamuhebwa narrated that after his mother’s death, life became meaningless because she meant a lot to him and his siblings, “that’s why I want to win a medal in her memory.”

    I AM THE FATHER NOW

    Tukamuhebwa  also disclosed that after his mum’s death, he is now the bread winner at home and has to act like a parent to his young siblings and also look for their school fees.

    I WILL USE THE MONEY I GET TO HELP MY SIBLINGS

    He added that he is going to use the money government will give him as his facilitation, funds from Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) president Moses Muhangi and President Museveni’s pledge if he wins a medal, to cater for his siblings.

    This will be Tukamuhebwa’s second international competition after the all Africa games in 2019 in Morocco, where he was defeated in the first encounter.

    The commonwealth games are scheduled to take place between 28th July to 8th August 2022.

    Uganda will be represented in several sports disciplines which include; boxing, athletics, swimming, squash, table tennis, badminton, rugby 7’s and netball.

    theGrapevine wishes our men and women the best in Birmingham.

     

    By Juma Ali

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    UOC President Discusses How Team Uganda Is Prepared To Sweep Medals In Commonwealth Games And How They Are Going To Handle Issue Of Athletes Disappearing…

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    President Museveni with wife Janet flagging off Teams for the Commonwealth games. Bottom right is UOC boss Donald Rukare

    Few days are left to the commonwealth games that are scheduled to take place in Birmingham in England, between 28th July to 8th August 2022.

    Uganda will be represented in several sports disciplines which include; boxing, athletics, swimming, squash, table tennis, badminton, rugby 7’s and netball .

    In the last edition, in 2018, bomber’s boxers Reagan Ssimbwa, Nasir Bashir and table tennis player Halimah Nambooze disappeared in Gold Coast in Australia and never returned with the team.

    This has been a norm after several international games. Some athletes disappear after the games in search for greener pastures.

    theGrapevine sat down with Uganda Olympic Committee president Donald Rukare to discuss how the Ugandan team is prepared for the games and how they are going to handle the issue of athletes disappearing.

    Grapevine: How are you prepared for the commonwealth games as team Uganda?

    Rukare: The preparation are good and we are ready to win medals.

    Grapevine: How many medals do you hope to win this time around?

    Rukare: In 2014, we got 5 medals, in 2018 we scooped 6 medals, this time around we hope to double the medals we got in 2018 to twelve or more.

    Grapevine: Of all athletes, who do you think has more chances of getting a medal?

    Rukare: All the athletes have equal chances of getting medals.

    Grapevine: What were the challenges you are facing as you prepare the teams for the commonwealth games?

    Rukare: We still need financial assistance to help us prepare our athletes.

    Grapevine: Will athletes like Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Halimah Nakayi, Peruth Chemutai, who competed in World Athletics Championship in Oregon also compete in commonwealth games? And will it not affect them?

    Rukare: Are you a coach? Hahaha [he laughs], they will definitely participate and it will not affect them because they are sportsmen and women. So, they are aware of the tight sports schedules sometimes.

    Grapevine: Have you prepared any incentives like prizes for those who will win medal?

    Rukare: We are still discussing that, but the prize money from President Museveni is there. Gold medal winners get Shs.5 million, silver medal winners get Shs.3 million and bronze medal winners get Shs.2 million.

    Grapevine: Why were you given few athlete slots [18 athletes] yet Uganda’s hope is in athletics?

    Rukare: We were given only 41 slots which were supposed to be shared with other federations.

    Grapevine: What challenges do athletes face when they go to such competitions?

    Rukare: The issue of food. Sometimes they are not used to the food in some of these countries.

    Grapevine: So, are you going with your own cook this time around?

    Rukare: Yes, we hope to go with our own cook.

    Grapevine: Let us talk about the issue of athletes who escape during international games, how do you plan to handle it this time around?

    Rukare: (Jokingly says) I think if it is possible, we need to hire the services of Maama Fiina to come to our rescue and tell us those who are going to escape since she is a traditional doctor who can see things before they happen.

     

    By Juma Ali

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    It Will Be A Tight Race This Year – Dr. Nsereko Reveals Who Will Win Rally Championship This Year and Why Female Drivers Are Not Part Of This Year’s Challenge…

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    Dr. Godfrey Nsereko

    Uganda rally driver, Dr. Godfrey Nsereko has told theGrapevine that the national rally championship race will be tight this year.

    In an interview with this website, Nsereko also disclosed why female rally drivers have not been part of the race this time around.

    Below is his conversation with theGrapevine;

    Grapevine: How competitive is the race for NRC title this year?

    Nsereko : The title is still competitive because the gap between the leader, Ponsiano Lwakataka and his competitors is small with only three races remind.

    Grapevine: Who do you think will win the NRC title?

    Nsereko: Ponsiano Lwakataka because he is leading and has led most of the races. I can see him performing well in the remaining three races.

    Grapevine: You are also a rally driver, what has hindered you from winning the NRC title?

    Nsereko: I’m still driving a 2 wheel drive car which is not powerful like those of Jas Mangat, Arthur Blick, Duncan Mubiru and others.

    Grapevine: What are the challenges you are facing in this sport?

    Nsereko: Most challenges are financial because I don’t have sponsors to support me.

    Grapevine: Why do you think, female rally drivers don’t drive now days?

    Nsereko: I will still state that the problem is financial. Apart from Suzan Muwonge who can manage herself, Rose Lwakataka has financial problem and Leila Mayanja is a federation secretary and is not allowed to take part.

    Grapevine: What challenges still hinder this sport from growing?

    Nsereko: When a sport lacks enough funds to push it and help the sportsmen and women in that sport, it will always struggle. Secondly, the money which is coming from the government is still small yet a lot of money is needed to organise rally events.

    Grapevine: There was a conflict recently because rally drivers and bikers, how far with this beef?

    Nsereko: Talks are still ongoing; I believe very soon they will reach an understanding.

    Grapevine: What was the cause of that conflict?

    Nsereko: It was a Fight for power. Each group was fighting to lead.

    Grapevine: By the way, why did you decide to join motor sport?

    Nsereko: At first, I was a footballer, but later, I realized that my future was in motor sport.

    Grapevine: Which rally drivers, do you fear most?

    Nsereko: Ponsiano Lwakataka and Jas Mangat because of their tactics and driving skills.

     

    By Juma Ali

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