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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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MESSI: Suarez Was Unfairly “Forced” Out…

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Argentinian star and Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi has expressed emotional grief after the departure of Uruguayan counterpart Luis Suarez to rivals Atletico Madrid for £5.5m on a two-year deal.

The 33 year old had one more year to run on the contract he signed with Barca in 2016, but was told by new head coach Ronald Koeman last month that he was not part of his plans.

Suarez and Lionel Messi struck up a strong friendship on and off the field at Barcelona.

With Messi, Suarez won La Liga titles, four Copa del Reys, the Champions League, the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup during his hugely successful time at the Nou Camp.

Suarez was filmed leaving Barcelona’s training ground in tears on Wednesday as his transfer to Atletico neared completion.

Suarez departs Barcelona as their second-highest goal-scorer of all time, having scored 198 goals since signing from Liverpool in 2014.

Lionel Messi has aimed fresh criticism at the Barcelona hierarchy, following Suarez’s departure from the club to Atletico.

Messi, who came close to leaving the Nou Camp earlier in the transfer window before reversing his threat to end his contract unilaterally, has hit out at the club’s management of Suarez’s departure from the Spanish giants.

He wrote on Instagram: “You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: one of the best players in the club’s history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively. You didn’t deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.

 

Via SkySports

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Kajoba Has No Excuse Of Not Retaining The League Title For Vipers – Coach Makumbi…

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Former Bunamwaya FC coach, Richard Makumbi has said that Fred Kajoba will have no excuses for not winning the Uganda Premier League title next season.

Makumbi who is the current head coach, for Mbarara outfit Nyamitoobora in the FUFA Big league added that Vipers management have given Kajoba everything he needs like; signing players of his choice and recruiting experienced Paul Kiwanuka from Bright Stars as his assistant coach.

Coach Makumbi says there will therefore be no excuse if Kajoba doesn’t win the league, because he has been given what he asked for to retain the league.

“If you are given what you ask for, you have to get the job done, there’s is no excuse for that, coach Kajoba must make sure Vipers are crowned league champions,” Makumbi emphasized.

The experienced coach however also cited the need for coach Kajoba to make winning at home traditional, and register victories on the road,  as part of his bargain.

Makumbi who was baptized the ‘King of promotions’ after leading various clubs to the Uganda Premier League from the FUFA Big League tipped Vipers for the title crown.

He however also noted that KCCA and URA have prepared well and are in for some stiff competition.

 

By Juma Ali

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COVID19 Has Left Us Penniless, We Now Need Support – Boxing Council Boss Katongole Cries Out…

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Uganda Professional Boxing Council (UPBC) Vice President, Simon Katongole has said that their lives have been negatively affected since the outbreak of the COVID19.

In an interview with theGrapevine, Katongole said that the cancellation of all boxing fights buried their source of income.

Katongole disclosed that before the lockdown, three international fights had been arranged, one at Hotel Africana and two at International University of East Africa (IUEA).

Frank Kiwalabye was scheduled to take on a South African opponent while heavy weight boxer Shafic Kiwanuka was set to face an Egyptian.

Katongole said that they now need support like all the other organisations that have been affected by COVID19, “We are broke, we don’t have anything in our pockets.”

Katongole further hinted that even if government opens up sporting activities including boxing, as long as fans are excluded from attending these events, they will still struggle financially.

 

By Juma Ali

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