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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



    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.”

    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).

    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 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.”
    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.

    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 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).



    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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