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    WORLD CUP ROUND OF 16 PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: England Are Unbeaten Against Colombia In 5 Previous Meetings PLUS Sweden vs Switzerland

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    Sweden named the same side in their final two group games but will have to make at least one change, with Hull midfielder Sebastian Larsson suspended.
    He is likely to be replaced by either Genoa’s Oscar Hiljemark or Seattle Sounders’ Gustav Svensson.
    The wife of Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist is due to give birth on Tuesday, but he has hinted he will play regardless of any developments.
    Switzerland are without two of their regular back four.
    Fabian Schar and captain Stephan Lichtsteiner are both serving one-game bans.
    Michael Lang will deputise for Lichtsteiner at right-back, while Schar’s place at centre-back is expected to go to either Johan Djourou or Nico Elvedi.
    Neither Haris Seferovic nor Mario Gavranovic have convinced up front, so it remains to be seen who leads the line against the Swedes.
    It is 24 years since Sweden won a knockout game at the World Cup, while opponents Switzerland have not scored a goal at this stage since 1954. But despite that limited pedigree, both will sides will have realistic ambitions of reaching the latter stages in Russia.
    The Swiss, who sit sixth in the Fifa rankings, are the highest-placed side in the bottom half of the draw, while the Swedes come into this game on a high following the impressive 3-0 win against Mexico, their biggest World Cup victory since 1994.
    The Swedes had just 24.5% possession against the Germans and 33.5% versus the Mexicans, and are happy to sit deep and play on the counter-attack. It may not please the purists, but midfielder Albin Ekdal is unconcerned.
    “Who the hell cares?” he said. “We’re best at maximising. We can’t compete with France or Spain when it comes to skill on the ball, but luckily football is not decided by ‘tiki-taka’ passes.”

    Head-to-head
    This will be the first time these sides have met in a major tournament.
    The most recent encounter was a 1-1 draw in a friendly in Malmo in 2002.
    Roy Hodgson was the Swiss coach the last time they beat the Swedes. He guided them to a 4-2 win in a European Championship qualifier in Berne in October 1994.
    Sweden are unbeaten in the three meetings since then (W1, D2).

    Sweden
    This will be Sweden’s 50th World Cup game (W18, D13, L18). They will become the 11th team to reach that tally. Only Mexico have featured in more games than the Swedes without winning the trophy.
    The Swedes have never won back-to-back World Cup games (excluding penalty shoot-outs) outside of their own country. They did so twice as a host nation in 1958, reaching the final.
    Since ending as runners-up in 1958, the Swedes have progressed past the second round (whether last 16 or second group stage) just once – when they finished third at the 1994 tournament.
    Between them, Emil Forsberg and Marcus Berg have had 21 of Sweden’s 37 shots at the 2018 World Cup (57%), but neither player has scored.
    The Swedes have reached the knockout stage at each of their last four World Cup appearances (in 1994, 2002, 2006 and 2018).
    Sweden completed just 72.8% of their passes in the group stage – only Iran and Iceland recorded lower figures.

    Switzerland
    Switzerland have not scored a goal in the knockout stage of a World Cup since their 7-5 loss to Austria in the quarter-finals at the 1954 tournament (which they hosted).
    The last Swiss to score a knock-out goal at the tournament was Josef Hugi, who netted a hat-trick in the 7-5 defeat, including Switzerland’s final goal.
    Switzerland reached the round of 16 in 1994, 2006 and 2014, bowing out to Spain, Ukraine and Argentina respectively and failing to score a single goal.
    Their only knockout goal at a major tournament since 1954 was Xherdan Shaqiri’s spectacular volley against Poland in the last 16 at Euro 2016.
    Vladimir Petkovic’s side have only lost one of their last 25 games (W17, D7). That was a 2-0 loss to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in October 2017.

    England’s Dele Alli is available for selection again after missing the group matches against Panama and Belgium.
    Manager Gareth Southgate is set to recall the players he rested against the Belgians, including captain Harry Kane, who has five goals so far.
    Colombia will monitor the fitness of star midfielder James Rodriguez, who was forced off against Senegal.
    A scan of his right calf has revealed swelling but no muscle tear, though it is unclear if he will be fit to start.
    Fellow midfielder Wilmar Barrios could be recalled to the starting line-up, with Colombia potentially fielding a more conservative line-up than in their must-win game against Senegal.
    No previous winners left in England’s side of the draw, only one country ranked higher, a young hungry team seemingly unburdened by previous failures, and a golden boot chasing striker…what could possibly go wrong?
    …Well, if history is anything to go by, quite a lot. The Three Lions have infamously won just two, yes two, knockout games at a World Cup since the heady days of Italia ’90 (v Denmark in 2002 and Ecuador four years later).
    Aside from the glory of 1966 they have also never beaten a top-tier team in the knockout stages at a finals. Oh, and the dreaded spectre of penalties looms large. No country has lost more shoot-outs at a World Cup than the three England have (level with Italy and Spain) – they’ve lost a total of six out of seven at major tournaments.
    But what of opponents Colombia? They achieved their best-ever performance at a World Cup in 2014 by reaching the quarter-finals before losing to hosts Brazil. “We are a better team than four years ago,” says goalkeeper David Ospina. “We are together, more experienced and a stronger squad of players than we were in Brazil. Our players play in the best clubs, the best leagues, and are used to playing in matches of this size, so nothing will frighten us.”
    Head-to-head
    England are unbeaten against Colombia in five previous meetings. Michael Owen scored a hat-trick in the most recent match, which England won 3-2 in New Jersey in 2005.
    The Three Lions beat Colombia 2-0 in their only previous World Cup encounter thanks to goals from Darren Anderton and David Beckham in the group stage of the 1998 tournament.

    Colombia
    This is the third time Colombia have made the knock-out stage. The only previous occasion they’ve gone past the round of 16 was in Brazil four years ago.
    They are unbeaten in eight games versus European opposition since head coach Jose Pekerman took charge in 2012 (W6, D2).
    Los Cafeteros have scored in each of their last eight World Cup games – the last side to stop them scoring in the tournament was England in 1998.
    None of Colombia’s 21 matches at the World Cup have ended goalless. Only the USA (33) and Austria (29) have played more games in the competition without registering a 0-0.
    Juan Quintero has been directly involved in three of Colombia’s five goals at this World Cup, scoring in their first match and delivering an assist in the second and third game.
    Against Senegal, Colombia didn’t have a touch inside the opposition penalty area until the 57th minute (from substitute Luis Muriel).

    England
    England have won two of their last eight World Cup knockout games.
    Their last knock-out victory in the World Cup came against South American opposition, when they beat Ecuador 1-0 in the round of 16 in 2006.
    England have only failed to score in one of their 18 knockout games at the World Cup – in the 0-0 draw against Portugal in the 2006 quarter-finals (won by Portugal on penalties).
    Harry Kane has played just 153 minutes at the World Cup but he has already scored five goals, second only to Gary Lineker’s record of 10 for England.
    If Kane finds the net against Colombia, he will become the first player to score in six consecutive appearances for the Three Lions since Tommy Lawton back in 1939.
    This will be England’s 18th game against South American opposition at the World Cup. They have won eight of the previous 17 (D3, L6).

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    SHOCKING: NCS Officials Forced To Vomit She Cranes Money After Girls Protest Being Given Shs.50,000 Upon Returning From Birmingham Instead Of Shs.7 Million…

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    She Cranes in Birmigham

    It was a tug of war as the netball national team (She Cranes) persuaded officials from the National Council of Sports [NCS] to give them their money.

    The drama started when the first batch of Ugandan Athletes who competed in the just concluded Common Wealth games in Birmigham, England returned today.

    Kayiira Jackson, the netball media officer told theGrapevine that the netball federation hired a minibus to pick the players from Entebbe airport.

    Kayiira divulged that upon reaching the airport, they found a parliamentary mini bus already picking some players and because it was not enough to take all of them, including the cyclists, the remaining athletes had to occupy their mini bus.

    TEARS AT NCS

    Upon reaching the premises of National Council of Sports in Lugogo, where the players hoped to get their seven million shilling (Shs.7,000,000)  allowances, which was promised to them by NCS as soon as the tournament ended, they were given the bad news that their allowances were not ready.

    Each player was quickly given fifty thousand shillings (Shs.50,000) as transport by the gate man at the premises to return home.

    According to Kayiira, no NCS officials was around by the time the team arrived at the premises. Instead, the official decided to run into hiding and gave the gateman money the Shs.50,000 for each player as transport.

    TheGrapevine has learnt that two players from netball, Juan Nampungu and Jesca Achan received their seven million shilling while in Birmingham and the rest were told that their money is in Uganda, 10 players and 4 officials were not paid.

    Later today, when the officials learnt that the media was following up on the matter, they started quietly paying some players.

    Sandra Nabirige, who plays as a goal defender (netball), told theGrapevine that she received six million shilling (instead of seven) on her mobile money account at 1:46pm.

    Irene Eyaru, who plays as a goal attack (netball) also assured theGrapevine that she received the six million shilling on her mobile money at 1:46pm.

    Sources in NCS have intimated to theGrapevine that officials decided to vomit part of the money after increasing pressure from the players, that is why they had to pay them via mobile money.

    According to inside information, each player who went to Birmingham for the commonwealth games was supposed to receive their money through equity bank.

    When Grapevine called the assistant general secretary NCS, he said that he cannot comment on the matter.

    Uganda netball team beat South Africa 54-48 to end their campaign in a historic 5th place – one better than their 6th-place finish in 2018 in Australia.

    The final position meant that Uganda ended the Games as the highest-ranked African nation, with South Africa taking 6th place and Malawi 7th.

    Overall, Team Uganda bagged a total of five medals in Birmigham and they included three gold medals.

    Notably, Teddy Nakimuli became the first Ugandan female boxer to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

     

    By Juma Ali

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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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