Mbwana Samatta: 'I Wanted to Play Like Drogba, Now I Watch Videos of Harry Kane'

 Mbwana Samatta was signed by Aston Villa for £8.5m from the Belgian club Genk in January. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images
Mbwana Samatta was signed by Aston Villa for £8.5m from the Belgian club Genk in January. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images
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Mbwana Samatta: 'I Wanted to Play Like Drogba, Now I Watch Videos of Harry Kane'

 Mbwana Samatta was signed by Aston Villa for £8.5m from the Belgian club Genk in January. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images
Mbwana Samatta was signed by Aston Villa for £8.5m from the Belgian club Genk in January. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Mbwana Samatta is the son of a policeman but pays little attention to the law of probability. Good thing, too, otherwise the player who grew up kicking rolled-up plastic bags around the streets of Dar es Salaam would not be preparing to lead the line for Aston Villa at Wembley. More than 10 family members will be watching from the stands in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final and millions of his fellow Tanzanians will be cheering him on from farther afield. From Birmingham to east Africa, fans have invested a lot of hope in this 27-year-old. And that is how he likes it.

Samatta says he always wanted to be someone on whom folks could rely. At first he thought he should become a soldier – “Just to be someone for the people, they could look and say: ‘Because of him, we are safe’” – but instead he achieved something far more improbable by becoming, following January’s £8.5m arrival from Genk, the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League and the centre-forward whom Villa want to fire them to their first major trophy since 1996. Sure, Villa are underdogs but that does not matter to Samatta. Talent and strength of will have taken him a long way.

The second-youngest in a family of seven children, Samatta has played football for as long as he can remember but by the time he was 17 he knew that he, like his five older brothers, would probably have to give it up and get a proper job. He planned to enlist in the army, even though his footballing ability had attracted the chairman of the local club in Mbagala, the district of Dar es Salaam where he grew up. He joined Mbagala Market in the Tanzanian second division. The wages? None.

“I was playing football but not really thinking that football is going to take me somewhere,” he recalls. “I played something like two years in the second division and then a company called Mohamed Enterprises came and bought the club [and changed its name to African Lyon] because they were thinking the team could make it to the Premier League. When they bought the team, they started paying salaries. That was the time I started thinking: ‘This can be serious.’ It was just something like £40 or £50 per month but I was thinking: ‘If you get a salary, that means it’s a real job. So I can do this. Let’s see where it takes me.’”

Soon it took him to Tanzania’s biggest club, Simba SC, for whom he scored 13 goals in 25 matches, including one in an African Champions League tie against the Congolese giants Tout Puissant Mazembe. They swiftly made a move for him. He left his home town for the Lubumbashi base of TP Mazembe in 2011, where expectations were sky high. “Before they signed me they had played in the Club World Cup final against Inter Milan so everybody in their team was very known in Africa. I was just a boy from Tanzania. It was really a bit difficult. But I think my legs helped me. Just getting on the pitch and scoring goals. I scored in my first game.” Then Mazembe sold their main striker, Alain Kaluyituka, to a club in Qatar and Samatta stepped into the gap.

“It turned out that the players liked me, and the fans also liked me – they wanted to see me play. Because I’m fast and score goals.” With Samatta Mazembe won four successive domestic titles and lifted the 2015 Africa Champions League, with the striker scoring penalties in both legs of the final. “I knew the team looked at me and thought: ‘This is our main man, he will do something.’ So there was not very big pressure to score a penalty in the final. If you feel like you’re confident, you take it.” But the pressure was cranked up when he joined Genk in January 2016.

“When I was in Belgium, I realised that in Africa it was a little bit easy to play. It’s not aggressive. In Belgium it’s aggressive. The defenders they come at your legs kicking, pushing. In Africa, even if I was not 100%, I could just play. But [in Belgium] if you are not 100%, you are dead. You can’t do anything. I just said to myself: ‘I have to improve a lot. I want really to show it, I don’t want to fail here.’” He says it took him six months to adapt. But once he did so, he thrived.

His goals helped Genk win the Belgian title in 2019 and persuaded Villa that he could help rescue them in January when their previous striking import from the Belgian league, Wesley, got injured.

Samatta says he heard of Villa’s interest two days before the transfer was completed. “It was always my dream to play in the Premier League,” he says. “In Tanzania it is our favourite competition. I liked Manchester United because of David Beckham. Then came Cristiano Ronaldo but I switched sometimes to Thierry Henry because I liked how he played. And Didier Drogba, that was the guy I looked at most. I wanted to play like him and I tried to adapt and copy his running and stuff.”

His first match for Villa was the Carabao Cup semi-final triumph over Leicester but Samatta admits he found the going tough even before that. “Since I joined the team in training I had a feeling like: ‘If I had to be 100% in Belgium, here I have to be 200%.’ It’s not easy! In training they were running over me every time. I couldn’t get it. I was thinking: ‘Wow, this is tough. But I will make it.’”

In his next game he scored. His goal in a 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth was Villa’s first from a header all season, a particular pleasure for the striker who rates his aerial prowess as a key strength. But he was still not satisfied with his performance. He seldom is. “When the game is finished you go home and try to analyse it. What did I do? What do I have to improve?” His answer to the last question was: “A lot of stuff. But mostly my sprints. If I did 10, I have to get to 20. And where I position myself and how can I help my teammates to find me easily. Or how can I find space.”

Some particularly zealous Tanzanian admirers concluded that Samatta’s teammates needed to raise their game. The player felt embarrassed when he saw lots of his compatriots contacting other players on social media to order them to give their hero better service. “It’s like now the club and some players are receiving a lot of messages and I just asked them to leave the players alone. It’s me who comes from there [Tanzania], you don’t have to message everybody! Let them concentrate. It’s crazy! I don’t really like it.”

While Villa are counting – on Sunday and in their fight against relegation – on Samatta adapting rapidly to English football, City’s attack could be led by the most prolific foreign scorer in England in the modern era. Samatta acknowledges Sergio Agüero’s excellence but takes more inspiration from others.

“Before games I used to always watch videos of top strikers. Every time it used to be Didier Drogba. Then it was Harry Kane. I’ve watched him a lot; how he positions himself. And most of the time when he gets the ball he’s just thinking about shooting.”

Like Kane, Samatta is the captain of his country. He has found other ways of helping his people feel good. A few years ago he set up an annual charity match with one of Tanzania’s most popular singers, Ali Kiba, using the proceeds to fund education projects. “I was just thinking: ‘OK, I’m doing a job and getting paid but what can I do for society?’ We try to repair problems with schools and give it to people who don’t have anything.”

The Guardian Sport



Saudi Arabia’s PIF, ATP Announce Multi-Year Strategic Partnership to Accelerate Growth of Global Tennis

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and ATP unveiled a new multi-year strategic partnership, marking a significant shared commitment to enhancing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organizers and stakeholders at all levels of the sport.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and ATP unveiled a new multi-year strategic partnership, marking a significant shared commitment to enhancing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organizers and stakeholders at all levels of the sport.
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Saudi Arabia’s PIF, ATP Announce Multi-Year Strategic Partnership to Accelerate Growth of Global Tennis

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and ATP unveiled a new multi-year strategic partnership, marking a significant shared commitment to enhancing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organizers and stakeholders at all levels of the sport.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and ATP unveiled a new multi-year strategic partnership, marking a significant shared commitment to enhancing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organizers and stakeholders at all levels of the sport.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and ATP unveiled on Wednesday a new multi-year strategic partnership, marking a significant shared commitment to enhancing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organizers and stakeholders at all levels of the sport.

The major partnership will see PIF become the official naming partner of the ATP Rankings, celebrating players’ journeys and progress across the season and championing excellence as the Year-End No. 1, presented by PIF, is crowned at the Nitto ATP Finals which will take place in Turin, Italy until 2025.

PIF will partner with ATP Tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the Nitto ATP Finals, in addition to the Next Gen ATP Finals, hosted in Jeddah until 2027. Following the launch of ATP’s Baseline program earlier this year, PIF has further committed to develop and unlock new opportunities for young players and player pathway initiatives, providing a significant boost to the game’s next generation of stars.

The ATP partnership forms part of PIF’s broader sponsorship platform, investing in people, projects and partnerships with an emphasis on the brand’s four pillars: inclusivity, sustainability, youth and technology.

Together, PIF and ATP will also collaborate to elevate the long-term future of tennis. PIF will actively contribute to ATP’s OneVision Strategic Plan which focuses on driving unity, enhancing fan experiences and leveraging scalable growth opportunities across the sport.

“Our strategic partnership with PIF marks a major moment for tennis. It's a shared commitment to propel the future of the sport,” said ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli.

“With PIF’s dedication to the next generation – fostering innovation and creating opportunities for all – the stage is set for a transformative new period of progress,” he stressed.

Mohamed AlSayyad, Head of Corporate Brand at PIF, said: “As PIF expands its portfolio of innovative sponsorships, our commitment to 'Invested in Better' remains unwavering. Through our collaboration with ATP, PIF will be a catalyst for growth of the global tennis landscape, developing talent, fostering inclusivity and driving sustainable innovation.”

“This strategic partnership aligns with our broader vision to enhance quality of life and drive transformation in sport both within Saudi and across the world,” he added.

Tennis is rapidly becoming a key sport in Saudi Arabia with the number of registered players increasing by 46% between 2019 and 2023. PIF will leverage ATP’s expertise to develop further opportunities for young Saudis in tennis, including through state-of-the-art facilities, coaching, and an enhanced player pathway in Saudi Arabia.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is one of the largest and most impactful sovereign wealth funds in the world. Since 2015, when the Board was reconstituted and oversight transferred to the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, PIF’s board of directors has been chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund.

PIF plays a leading role in advancing Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation and diversification, as well as contributing to shaping the future of the global economy. Since 2017, PIF has established over 90 companies.

PIF is building a diversified portfolio by entering into attractive and long-term investment opportunities in 13 strategic sectors in Saudi Arabia and globally.


Ten Hag Not in Need of Assurances Over Man Utd Future 

Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Fulham - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks on. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Fulham - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks on. (Reuters)
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Ten Hag Not in Need of Assurances Over Man Utd Future 

Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Fulham - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks on. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Fulham - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks on. (Reuters)

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said he does not require promises of job security from new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe amid uncertainty over his future, adding that he is focused on ensuring the club continues to progress and improve.

Ten Hag was hired in 2022 and guided United to a third-place finish in the Premier League as well as the League Cup title in his first season, but their current campaign has been less convincing.

United's season has been plagued by inconsistent performances and injury woes, with the Manchester club in sixth place after their 2-1 league loss to Fulham on Saturday.

The defeat, which came just three days after Ratcliffe vowed to bring United back to their glory days, added to the intense scrutiny and pressure on Ten Hag.

Asked whether it would benefit the club for Ratcliffe to publicly confirm Ten Hag as United's long-term manager, the Dutchman told reporters: "I'm under contract for three seasons, so I don't care.

"I am in this process, I'm only focusing on the process, so I don't care what's going on around me," Ten Hag added, speaking ahead of a fifth-round FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.

"I have many talks with Sir Jim Radcliffe, also with Sir Dave Brailsford and others in that group, so I know what we are talking about and I have a strong belief and I feel that they believe in me.

"I want to win every game. I know I'm in a process, I know what I'm doing. I focus on those two points - progress of the team in this moment and the next game, and to think about the future, and to do that in togetherness."


Djokovic Thrilled to Return to Indian Wells After Five Year Hiatus 

Tennis player Novak Djokovic and former NBA player Vlade Divac celebrate a goal by Dejan Joveljic #9 of the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half against Inter Miami at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 25, 2024 in Carson, California. (Getty Images North America/AFP)
Tennis player Novak Djokovic and former NBA player Vlade Divac celebrate a goal by Dejan Joveljic #9 of the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half against Inter Miami at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 25, 2024 in Carson, California. (Getty Images North America/AFP)
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Djokovic Thrilled to Return to Indian Wells After Five Year Hiatus 

Tennis player Novak Djokovic and former NBA player Vlade Divac celebrate a goal by Dejan Joveljic #9 of the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half against Inter Miami at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 25, 2024 in Carson, California. (Getty Images North America/AFP)
Tennis player Novak Djokovic and former NBA player Vlade Divac celebrate a goal by Dejan Joveljic #9 of the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half against Inter Miami at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 25, 2024 in Carson, California. (Getty Images North America/AFP)

Novak Djokovic on Tuesday said he was excited to be back in Indian Wells to compete at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2019 after US travel restrictions related to COVID-19 had kept him away.

The world number one is seeking an unprecedented sixth title at the Masters 1000 event that begins next week and is regarded as the biggest tennis tournament outside of the four Grand Slams.

"It has been five years, way too long to not be part of the Tennis Paradise tournament, one of the best tournaments in the world without a doubt," Djokovic said in a video from the small, picturesque city in the Southern California desert.

"It's probably the favorite Masters tournament of so many players including myself. I can't wait to come and perform once again in front of some of the best tennis fans that we have on the tour."

The Serb won the first of his 24 Grand Slams at the Australian Open in 2008 and backed that up a few months later by capturing his first Indian Wells crown.

"The first time I won the title in Indian Wells, it was one of the greatest titles of my career at that point. I remember I played Mardy Fish in the finals," he said.

"I was fortunate to win the tournament another four times and played some epic matches in the finals against (Roger) Federer and (Rafa) Nadal and many of the great players in that era. I'm really looking forward to coming back."

Three-times Indian Wells champion Nadal is set to compete at the tournament after missing last month's Australian Open due to a muscle tear.

The 2020 BNP Paribas Open was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and Djokovic missed the next three editions as the United States did not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.

Djokovic was spotted in Los Angeles on Sunday night watching fellow sporting great Lionel Messi and his Major League Soccer side Inter Miami take on LA Galaxy.

Carlos Alcaraz and Elena Rybakina are the defending champions at this year's BNP Paribas Open, which runs from March 3-17.


Mallorca Beats Real Sociedad on Penalties to Return to Copa Del Rey Final Two Decades Later 

RCD Mallorca's players celebrate after the Spanish King's Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Real Sociedad and RCD Mallorca at Reale Arena in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain, 27 February 2024. (EPA)
RCD Mallorca's players celebrate after the Spanish King's Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Real Sociedad and RCD Mallorca at Reale Arena in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain, 27 February 2024. (EPA)
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Mallorca Beats Real Sociedad on Penalties to Return to Copa Del Rey Final Two Decades Later 

RCD Mallorca's players celebrate after the Spanish King's Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Real Sociedad and RCD Mallorca at Reale Arena in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain, 27 February 2024. (EPA)
RCD Mallorca's players celebrate after the Spanish King's Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Real Sociedad and RCD Mallorca at Reale Arena in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain, 27 February 2024. (EPA)

More than two decades later, Mallorca is back in the Copa del Rey final.

The Spanish club partly owned by Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and former NBA great Steve Nash defeated Real Sociedad 5-4 in a penalty shootout on Tuesday to make it to the final 21 years after it won the competition for the only time.

Mallorca goalkeeper Dominik Greif saved the opening penalty by Mikel Oyarzabal, then Sergi Darder converted the decisive kick to put Mallorca in the final. The teams drew 1-1 in regulation and were scoreless in extra time at Sociedad's Reale Arena.

The teams had drawn 0-0 in the first leg in Mallorca on Feb. 6.

Mallorca will play the April 6 final in Seville against either Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao, which will play the second leg of the other semifinal on Thursday in Bilbao. Athletic won the first leg 1-0 in Madrid.

It will be the fourth Copa final for Mallorca, which hadn't made it the title game since it won the tournament in 2003 against Recreativo Huelva. Its other final appearances were in 1991 and 1998. It hadn't made it to the semifinals since 2009.

Mallorca's Mexican coach Javier Aguirre had taken Osasuna to the 2005 final, when it lost to Real Betis.

Sociedad was trying to return to the Copa final for the first time since it beat rival Athletic to lift the trophy in the 2019-20 season.

Vedat Muriqi, Manu Morlanes, Omar Mascarell and Nemanja Radonjic also scored for Mallorca in the penalty shootout. Beñat Turrientes, Jon Ander Olasagasti, Martín Zubimendi and Sheraldo Becker scored for Sociedad.

Mallorca took the lead in the 50th with a header by Gio González into the far corner in what was the visitors' only attempt on target during regulation. There was a long delay before the goal was confirmed as video review looked for a possible offside in the buildup.

The hosts, which had nearly 30 attempts throughout the match, equalized in a breakaway in the 71st with Oyarzabal finding the net with a low shot after a nice through ball by Brais Méndez.

Mallorca, which sits just outside the relegation zone in the Spanish league, had won only one of its last six games.

Sociedad, seventh after 26 league rounds, had one win in its last seven matches across all competitions. The Basque Country club is in the round of 16 of the Champions League, having lost the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 in France.


Bag with Paris 2024 Data Lost, Possibly Stolen, Prosecutor Says 

Workers set up a giant poster announcing the Olympic Games on the façade of the Solidarity and Health ministry in Paris, on February 27, 2024. (AFP)
Workers set up a giant poster announcing the Olympic Games on the façade of the Solidarity and Health ministry in Paris, on February 27, 2024. (AFP)
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Bag with Paris 2024 Data Lost, Possibly Stolen, Prosecutor Says 

Workers set up a giant poster announcing the Olympic Games on the façade of the Solidarity and Health ministry in Paris, on February 27, 2024. (AFP)
Workers set up a giant poster announcing the Olympic Games on the façade of the Solidarity and Health ministry in Paris, on February 27, 2024. (AFP)

A bag containing a computer and two memory sticks with data about the Paris 2024 Olympics has been lost by a City Hall engineer and may be stolen, the Paris prosecutor's office said on Wednesday. 

An investigation into theft has been handed to transport police following the incident at the city's Gare du Nord railway station late on Feb. 26, the office said in a statement. 

"Although he was careful to point out that his bag contained a professional USB memory stick ... it is important to specify that this stick only contained notes relating to traffic in Paris during the Olympic Games, and not on sensitive security plans," the office said. 

Paris 2024 organizers declined to comment. 

The Paris Olympics will be held from July 26-Aug 11. 

Some 30,000 members of the police force are expected to be mobilized every day during the Olympics, with about 300,000 spectators expected to attend the opening ceremony along the River Seine. 


Altmaier Stuns Zverev and Moves on to Second Round of Mexican Open 

Germany's Daniel Altmaier celebrates victory over Germany's Alexander Zverev during the Mexico ATP Open 500 men's round of 32 tennis match at Arena GNP Seguros in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico on February 27, 2024. (AFP)
Germany's Daniel Altmaier celebrates victory over Germany's Alexander Zverev during the Mexico ATP Open 500 men's round of 32 tennis match at Arena GNP Seguros in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico on February 27, 2024. (AFP)
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Altmaier Stuns Zverev and Moves on to Second Round of Mexican Open 

Germany's Daniel Altmaier celebrates victory over Germany's Alexander Zverev during the Mexico ATP Open 500 men's round of 32 tennis match at Arena GNP Seguros in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico on February 27, 2024. (AFP)
Germany's Daniel Altmaier celebrates victory over Germany's Alexander Zverev during the Mexico ATP Open 500 men's round of 32 tennis match at Arena GNP Seguros in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico on February 27, 2024. (AFP)

Daniel Altmaier pulled off a major upset on Tuesday, beating top seeded Alexander Zverev in a battle of German players to qualify for the second round of the Mexican Open.

The 27-year-old Altmaier and world's 57th ranked player defeated his countryman for the first time in three tries in 2:26 hours and will play Miomir Kecmanovic next.

Zverev, sixth in the ATP rankings, lost a seven-match winning streak against German players. His previous loss against one was in 2019, when he fell to Dustin Brow, in Stuttgart.

Earlier, second-seeded Holger Rune eased past American Michael Mmoh 6-2, 6-3 and advanced to the second round.

Rune, ranked seventh in the ATP, needed 92 minutes to dispatch Mmoh, who made his way into the main draw through the qualification tournament.

The 20-year-old Rune, from Denmark, reached the semifinals in Acapulco last year and now will meet Aleksandar Kovacevic, who took care of Jordan Thompson 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Earlier, fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Roman Safiullin 6-3, 6-4 and moved on to the second round where he will face Flavio Cobolli.

The 25-year-old Greek reached the semifinals last week in Los Cabos, Mexico, and is trying to win his first career 500 tournament.

Also Tuesday, Frances Tiafoe, seeded eighth, rallied to beat Max Purcell 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. He moved on to face Dominik Koepfer, who took care of Terence Atmane 6-4, 4—6, 6-0.

Tiafoe is the highest-ranked American player in contention in the tournament after fourth-seeded Taylor Fritz and seventh-seeded Tommy Paul were knocked out on Monday.

In another result, Casper Ruud outlasted Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 and moved on to the second round.

Ruud is going to play against Dusan Lajovic, who beat local Rodrigo Pacheco 6-2, 6-2.


South Korea Replaces Klinsmann with Asian Games-winning Coach Hwang

U-23 Korean national team head coach Hwang Sun-hong speaks at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on Oct. 8, 2023. (Kim Geun-soo/Newsis via AP)
U-23 Korean national team head coach Hwang Sun-hong speaks at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on Oct. 8, 2023. (Kim Geun-soo/Newsis via AP)
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South Korea Replaces Klinsmann with Asian Games-winning Coach Hwang

U-23 Korean national team head coach Hwang Sun-hong speaks at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on Oct. 8, 2023. (Kim Geun-soo/Newsis via AP)
U-23 Korean national team head coach Hwang Sun-hong speaks at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on Oct. 8, 2023. (Kim Geun-soo/Newsis via AP)

Jurgen Klinsmann's successor as South Korea coach is former international Hwang Sun-hong.
Hwang will take temporary charge of the team for at least two 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Thailand in March, the Korea Football Association said on Tuesday.
He led the under-23 team to gold at the Asian Games last October and has also coached in the domestic league with Seoul, Busan IPark and Pohang Steelers. The former international scored 50 goals for South Korea.
“Hwang has recently demonstrated his achievements with his team’s victory at the Hangzhou Asian Games,” said Jung Hae-sung, the new chief of the KFA national team committee. “He also has experience in international competitions and an understanding of Asian soccer.”
The KFA is expected to name a full-time coach before World Cup qualification continues in June with games against Singapore and China.
Klinsmann was dismissed on Feb. 16, 10 days after Korea lost to Jordan in the semifinals of the Asian Cup. He was widely criticized for his strategy on the field and working methods off it.


Man City’s Grealish Must Hit the Ground Running After Injury Return, Says Guardiola 

Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester City's Jack Grealish during the warm up before the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester City's Jack Grealish during the warm up before the match. (Reuters)
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Man City’s Grealish Must Hit the Ground Running After Injury Return, Says Guardiola 

Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester City's Jack Grealish during the warm up before the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester City's Jack Grealish during the warm up before the match. (Reuters)

Manchester City midfielder Jack Grealish must quickly find his rhythm upon his return from injury to force his way back into the Premier League club's starting line-up, manager Pep Guardiola said.

Grealish was a key player in City's treble-winning campaign last season, but his performances have been underwhelming with three goals in 26 games in all competitions this season.

The England international has not featured for City since picking up a groin injury in a 3-1 Champions League victory at FC Copenhagen earlier this month, and was left on the bench in a 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday.

"He is the same player, he has the same manager, and the way we play has not changed," Guardiola told reporters on Monday ahead of City's FA Cup fifth round clash against Luton Town.

"It's just the way he has performed. That's the difference. I said from day one, we need him. He has a special quality for our team. But it depends on him. Hopefully he can do a good last three months."

Guardiola added that he could not afford to give injured players time to ease themselves back into the team, saying: "They have to find the rhythm to play for 20 minutes or 90.

"At a high level, the team don't wait to be fit. You cannot give someone three or four games to be fit. What about the 10 who don't play? They deserve not to play?

"You have to see the training sessions and all the small details. The players don't have to convince me. They have to convince themselves that they deserve to play."

City travel to Luton in the FA Cup later on Tuesday, before hosting rivals Manchester United in a league clash on Sunday.


Andy Murray Hints Heading Into ‘Last Few Months' of his Career after Dubai Win

Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates after beating Denis Shapovalov of Canada during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates after beating Denis Shapovalov of Canada during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Andy Murray Hints Heading Into ‘Last Few Months' of his Career after Dubai Win

Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates after beating Denis Shapovalov of Canada during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates after beating Denis Shapovalov of Canada during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Andy Murray hinted he is heading into the “last few months” of his career after rallying past Denis Shapovalov 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 at the Dubai Championships for his 500th hard-court win.
“I obviously still love competing and still love the game, but it obviously gets harder and harder the older you get to compete with the young guys and keep your body fit and fresh,” the 36-year-old Murray said in an on-court interview after his first-round win on Monday. “I probably don’t have too long left, but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months.”
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion playing with an artificial hip, has considered retirement before. This was only his second win of the year.
After losing in straight sets to Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the first round of the Australian Open last month, Murray said it might be the last time he enters the season’s first major.
Murray improved to 18-5 for his career in Dubai, where he lifted the trophy in 2017. He’ll next face Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils.
The only other players with 500 hard-court wins in the Open Era are Roger Federer (783), Novak Djokovic (700), Andre Agassi (592) and Rafael Nadal (518).
“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that,” The Associated Press quoted Murray as saying. “There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”


Saudi Arabia Makes History as Majrashi Wins Bronze at Asian Field & Track

Muhammad Majrashi took the bronze medal in the Elimination Race, as part of the Asian Field & Track Championships 2024. SPA
Muhammad Majrashi took the bronze medal in the Elimination Race, as part of the Asian Field & Track Championships 2024. SPA
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Saudi Arabia Makes History as Majrashi Wins Bronze at Asian Field & Track

Muhammad Majrashi took the bronze medal in the Elimination Race, as part of the Asian Field & Track Championships 2024. SPA
Muhammad Majrashi took the bronze medal in the Elimination Race, as part of the Asian Field & Track Championships 2024. SPA

The Saudi youth cycling team won its first bronze medal in Asian history after Muhammad Majrashi clinched it in the Elimination Race, as part of the Asian Field & Track Championships 2024.

The championships concluded on Monday in the Indian capital, New Delhi. More than 300 female and male athletes representing 18 Asian teams participated in the event.

Korean Park Woojin won gold and Japanese Kazuma Muara silver in the race, which witnessed strong competition and enthusiasm among 10 riders representing the teams of Saudi Arabia as well as Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Taipei and Uzbekistan.