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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Past champs kick off World Cup
Munich, June 9
Bavarian goatherds marching to the crack of long whips, traditional cowbell ringers and 170 former champions from around the world, opened the World Cup in Germany today, the world’s biggest sporting tournament.

Men dressed in traditional costume take part in the opening festivities at Munich’s World Cup Stadium ahead of the opening 2006 World Cup match  between hosts Germany and Costa Rica on Friday. Men dressed in traditional costume take part in the opening festivities at Munich’s World Cup Stadium ahead of the opening 2006 World Cup match between hosts Germany and Costa Rica on Friday. — AFP photo

Time to get physical, says Beckham
Baden-Baden, June 9
David Beckham believes England can get their rivals running scared if they reproduce the physical style of the Premiership at the World Cup.

Swedes prepare tough debut for Trinidad & Tobago
Leverkusen, June 9
Sweden plan to ruin Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup debut tomorrow and give themselves a flying start ahead of seemingly tougher matches against Paraguay and England.
Trinidad and Tobago’s midfielder Silvio Spann plays with a ball during a training session in Rotenburg on Thursday. Trinidad & Tobago will face Sweden  on Saturday. Trinidad and Tobago’s midfielder Silvio Spann plays with a ball during a training session in Rotenburg on Thursday. Trinidad & Tobago will face Sweden on Saturday. — AFP photo


 

German and Costa Rican supporters pose outside Munich’s World Cup Stadium on Friday.
German and Costa Rican supporters pose outside Munich’s World Cup Stadium on Friday. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES

In video: The contagious soccer fever grips India. (28k, 56k)




Wives, girlfriends making beautiful game sexy
Berlin, June 9
It’s not just the 32 teams at the World Cup who are about to have their shape, style and movement furiously picked over.

East UP to miss WC
Varanasi, June 9
Owing to the piffling population of football lovers and alleged “armtwisting” of ESPN-STAR SPORTS, the viewers of east Uttar Pradesh, including this holy city are all set to miss a major part of the FIFA World Cup that starts today.


India may play Pathan
St. Lucia, June 9
India were all set to bring in seamer Irfan Pathan to shore up their bowling attack, weakened further by the injury-induced absence of S. Sreesanth, for the second cricket Test against West Indies beginning here tomorrow.

Federer, Nadal reach dream final
Paris, June 9
Roger Federer reached his first French Open final today after Argentine David Nalbandian quit while trailing 3-6, 6-4, 5-2 in their semifinal clash.

Sridhar bows out
New Delhi, June 9
Anup Sridhar’s dream run at the Singapore Open badminton championship came to an end after he lost to second seed Kenneth Jonassen of Denmark in straight games in the quarterfinals.

Hockey trials

Archers disappoint

Video
Kartikayen as test driver with Team Williams should help him to remain in F1. 
(28k, 56k)

 


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Past champs kick off World Cup
Karolos Grohmann

Munich, June 9
Bavarian goatherds marching to the crack of long whips, traditional cowbell ringers and 170 former champions from around the world, opened the World Cup in Germany today, the world’s biggest sporting tournament.

Thousands of fans inside the spectacular Allianz Arena and hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide turned their eyes to Munich for the start of the month-long tournament and the opening game between hosts Germany and Costa Rica.

Triple world champion Pele from Brazil, accompanied by German supermodel Claudia Schiffer, carried the trophy into the stadium before a sold-out crowd of 60,000 including German president Horst Koehler and Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias.

For the first time in the history of the event, every living member of past World Cup-winning teams was present, walking on to the pitch amid roaring applause.

“Finally it can start,” Koehler said in his address. “Welcome to Germany. May we see lots of goals and fair play,” he said before declaring the tournament open.

Munich’s newly built stadium, completed last year at a cost of 340 million euro (430 million dollars), was mostly covered in black, red and gold flags, the colours of the host nation’s flag as a local boys’ choir kicked off celebrations some 90 minutes before the start of the match.

“This is the most beautiful game in the world and I am here at the very start of it,” said German fan Klaus Breitmann from Cologne, draped in a German flag and wearing a black-red-gold wig. “This is the biggest party in the world and I am invited.”

About 7,000 noisy Costa Rican fans in the stands added even more spice to the celebrations.

“We are outnumbered but we have a bigger heart,” said Guillermo Salas, who paid $ 5,000 for an 18-day, three-match trip. — Reuters

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Time to get physical, says Beckham

Baden-Baden, June 9
David Beckham believes England can get their rivals running scared if they reproduce the physical style of the Premiership at the World Cup.

The England skipper said that the Premiership’s increased technical standards harnessed to the league’s traditional emphasis on attack could prove to be a potent cocktail in Germany.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Group B opener against Paraguay, Beckham said England would try and play to their traditional strengths in an effort to unnerve their opponents.

“I think the physical side always scares South American teams and maybe other teams in Europe that we come up against,” said the 31-year-old Real Madrid midfielder.

“In Spain it’s a totally different game to the Premiership, which is more physical. But what I would say is that in the last five years, technically, the Premiership is now right up there with every league in the world.

“The combination of the two things scares teams. And hopefully if we play to those strengths we can go far.” Beckham said the imposing central defensive pairing of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand had drawn admiring glances from members of the Real Madrid dressing room.

“They are held in high regard,” Beckham said. “They’re two of the best centre-halves in the world.

“I know at Madrid when we’ve been watching the Premiership and either United or Chelsea have been playing I see players wince at the way ‘JT’ or Rio go in for tackles or headers. I think they get a lot of respect for that.

“The bravery that we’ve got in our back four and all the way through the team, you need that in international football,” Beckham said.

Beckham will win his 90th cap when he leads England out in Frankfurt tomorrow and is enjoying one of the best periods of his playing career as the World Cup gets underway.

His crossing and set-piece delivery were at their lethal, laser-guided best during friendly victories over Jamaica and Hungary last week. Beckham, however, is unsure why he seems to have found greater accuracy.

“I don’t know if I’ve improved it,” he said. “Maybe I’ve been playing better for Real Madrid for a little while. — AFP

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Swedes prepare tough debut for Trinidad & Tobago

Leverkusen, June 9
Sweden plan to ruin Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup debut tomorrow and give themselves a flying start ahead of seemingly tougher matches against Paraguay and England. Swedish coach Lars Lagerback has drummed into his players that losing focus against the Group B outsiders could prove costly in the final analysis.

Defender Olof Mellberg believes the group will develop into a three-horse race, with Trinidad & Tobago the also-rans.

“It’s wide open and we are determined to make it hard for England,” said the centrehalf.

Today’s matches

Group B

England vs Paraguay (6.30 pm)

Trinidad & Tobago

vs Sweden

(9.30 pm)

Group C

Argentina vs Ivory Coast

(12.30 am)

“In South America, they will think Paraguay have a really good chance of going through and if you ask people in Sweden, they will back us.” Sweden won a tough group four years ago ahead of England, Argentina and Nigeria and hope to do it again.

They rattled in 30 goals in their 10 qualifying matches, their potent attack led by Henrik Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Freddie Ljungberg.

They will have to field an inexperienced goalkeeper after first choice Andreas Isaksson suffered concussion when he was felled by a shot during a training session on Wednesday. The choice is between John Alvbage and Rami Shaaban.

Trinidad & Tobago are the smallest country in the finals — the two-island country has a population of just 11 lakh.

Their defence will be led by the astonishing Marvin Andrews.

The devout Christian ignored medical advice to get an operation for a cruciate ligament knee injury, instead relying on the power of prayer to heal the problem.

“For me, Marvin is as safe as the Bank of England,” said coach Leo Beenhakker. “He puts his heart and soul into games and can do it against the best strikers.

“We know our group is full of top attackers. Sweden have Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and they are an awesome pairing.” Beenhakker believes his players already know the side that will line up against Sweden tomorrow. — Reuters

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Wives, girlfriends making beautiful game sexy

Berlin, June 9
It’s not just the 32 teams at the World Cup who are about to have their shape, style and movement furiously picked over.

The same fate awaits the image-conscious, credit-card wielding army of players’ wives and girlfriends at the month-long tournament.

Some relish the limelight; others have it thrust upon them.

As wife of the England skipper, Victoria Beckham is used to the cameras, Wayne Rooney’s fiancee Coleen McLoughlin is growing into her role while Melanie Slade has gone from unknown blonde student to snapper’s delight courtesy of being the girlfriend of shock call-up Theo Walcott.

Asked how the pressure of being a footballer’s girlfriend was affecting her, the 17-year-old Slade said recently: “I just concentrate on my school exams. I just keep my head down and keep doing it.” However, she received advice from beauty queen Danielle Lloyd, the partner of former England player Teddy Sheringham.

“It is difficult for all of us. We are all used to this situation, but it is still scary,” said Lloyd.

It must have been equally frightening for former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham to find that she was voted top of a poll to find the most annoying footballer’s wife.

She polled 46 per cent of the votes, while McLoughlin, lampooned in the British tabloids for her love of shopping, was second with 18 per cent.

Even England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson’s partner Nancy Dell’Olio couldn’t escape coming in third with 16 per cent.

Victoria won’t be too concerned. Type her name into the Yahoo search engine and it will feature in 2,520,000 entries.

Both Beckham and McLoughlin have seen their partners’ off-field activity splashed all over a voracious tabloid media.

Rooney’s girlfriend believes she is a victim of jealousy aimed at a couple who grew up together on the mean streets of Liverpool’s run-down Croxteth district.

“People call me names,” she once complained to Marie Claire magazine.

“When people see that you have money, you’re the worst person in the world.” However, she shrugged off the bricbats to buy a new car for the boy wonder.

According to one report, it was a 190mph Aston Martin Vanquish worth £195,000.

“She wanted to do something lovely for Wayne,” said a member of the army of ‘friends’, all anonymous, who are the source of a limitless production line of red-top tittle-tattle.

Brazil’s superstar striker Ronaldo can breathe a sigh of relief that his supermodel girlfriend Raica Oliveira has pledged never to pose nude.

“I never felt right about it. It’s not something that would make me proud,” said the 22-year-old at a pre-World Cup fashion show in Munich where she modelled ‘football lingerie’.

By contrast, Alena Seredova has done ‘glamour’ work which will help boyfriend and Italian World Cup goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon take his mind of seeing his name dragged into the Italy football corruption scandal.

Meanwhile, Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin has no problem with players’ wives.

He says that if his team, making their World Cup debut, reach the semi-finals, he will insist his men spend time with their wives.

“Even those who don’t want to go, I will drag them there,” said the veteran coach. — AFP

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East UP to miss WC

Varanasi, June 9
Owing to the piffling population of football lovers and alleged “armtwisting” of ESPN-STAR SPORTS, the viewers of east Uttar Pradesh, including this holy city are all set to miss a major part of the FIFA World Cup that starts today.

Talking to UNI here today, the Managing Director of Siti Cable in Varanasi, Alok Parikh said because of the reluctance of ESPN-Star to climb down from its stand in the interest of the football fans, they have has decided not to make much efforts to show the quadrennial soccer festival live to households having cable connections in the city and almost entire East UP. — UNI

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India may play Pathan
Ashish Shukla

Suresh Raina (left) and Irfan Pathan swim in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Gros Islet in Saint Lucia on Thursday.
Suresh Raina (left) and Irfan Pathan swim in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Gros Islet in Saint Lucia on Thursday. — Reuters

St. Lucia, June 9
India were all set to bring in seamer Irfan Pathan to shore up their bowling attack, weakened further by the injury-induced absence of S. Sreesanth, for the second cricket Test against West Indies beginning here tomorrow.

Sreesanth, who was in the thick of action in the drawn first cricket Test after being asked to bowl the final over, was ruled out of the match yesterday due to a sore left heel which the physio said would take at least four days to heal.

Three seamers are part of captain Rahul Dravid’s plans for the match. “It (track) probably would not help our spinners much so we have to see how we can keep the pressure through seamers,” Dravid said.

While Pathan gets a look in despite being “low on confidence”, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh might have to wait till tomorrow to know his fate after being left out of the scheme of things for the first match at Antigua.

Harbhajan can only make it if the team wants to play with five bowlers, a strategy which India have persisted with largely in the recent months.

The team took a step back in Antigua only because their batting in the preceding one-dayers had been patchy. But now that Wasim Jaffer, Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have hit the top gear, going with six batsmen appears expansive.

Dravid plans to carry on batting at number four, leaving the spot of number three, where he has struck unimaginable riches, to VVS Laxman.

“With Sachin not around, I want to be with the middle order where it could do with certain more experience. We want to give Laxman an opportunity to bat at a number he feels comfortable at. That’s the way it would be in this series,” said Dravid.

However, the experience of Dravid in the middle order probably would not be such a crying need if Jaffer continues the form he showed in Antigua.

“His development is a positive for us. But it’s important that he is consistent. He looks a lot more mature now. He has all the tools, it’s the question if he is consistent,” the Indian captain said.

West Indies too would have to fiddle with their bowling combination, injury playing a part here as well.

With Fidel Edwards out, his half-brother Pedro Collins is set to play after a gap of more than a year. West Indies also almost certainly would go for paceman Jerome Taylor at the expense of left-arm spinner Dave Mohammed.

Dravid has a healthy respect for West Indian batting and it starts with Chris Gayle.

“In both the innings of Antigua Test, he showed he can switch gears. That’s the sign of a very good player. We probably did not bowl to him well in the first innings but did not allow him much liberty in the second.”

The threat of Brian Lara is ever present and with the grass on the pitch most likely to be a misnomer, draw must rate as the most favourite outcome of this Test.

The nets are generally a good indicator of the areas where the team needs more attention. There was serious practice afforded to the slip fielders by coach Greg Chappell, who also spelled out correctives on the generally tentative footwork of the Indian batsmen.

West Indies fast bowlers are generally bowling a restrictive line and Chappell probably felt a bigger stride could act as a counter.

The ground and facilities at this new stadium is a credit to burgeoning facilities in the Caribbean. The lush outfield, Chappell reckons, would be most welcomed by his players.

“The field for the first Test was a bit uneven and hard on the players. They generally felt it on the ankle and around the knees. Their lower limbs were not that good after the last match. But this one is lush and most welcomed by the players,” he said.

Teams (from): West Indies: Chris Gayle, Runako Morton, Daren Ganga, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Pedro Collins, Jerome Taylor, Ian Bradshaw and Corey Collymore.

India: Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and VRV Singh. — PTI

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Federer, Nadal reach dream final

Roger FedererParis, June 9
World number one Roger Federer and number two Rafael Nadal set up a dream finish to the French Open Friday by advancing to the final.

Federer, 24, made his first Roland Garros title match as Argentina's David Nalbandian retired injured while the Swiss player was leading 3-6, 6-4, 5-2 in their semi-final tie.

Reigning champion Nadal was his usual unstoppable self in storming past world number four Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (9/7) to reach Sunday's final.

He never gave the Croatian a chance, breaking once in the first and twice in the second before securing victory on his second match point in the third.

Ljubicic had said before the match that Nadal's record winning streak on clay - now standing at 59 matches - had to come to an end at some point but he was not the man to do it and never really looked like he believed in his chances.

Federer now sits on the brink of history as he became only the third man to reach four successive Grand Slam finals.

If he wins, he will match Rod Laver's 1969 record of holding all four titles at the same time.

Third seed Nalbandian suffered an abdominal strain in the second set and although he tried to continue he eventually called it quits as Federer threatened to canter off into the distance.

It was a recurrence of an injury Nalbandian felt in the previous round against Russian Nikolay Davydenko, only worse.

Nalbandian had started so well, breaking three of Federer's opening six service games, but from 6-3, 3-0 he won only three of the next 11 games.

Federer was unusually slow out of the blocks and made a host of errors but he looked unruffled as Nalbandian produced his best tennis to open up a commanding lead. — AFP

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Sridhar bows out

New Delhi, June 9
Anup Sridhar’s dream run at the Singapore Open badminton championship came to an end after he lost to second seed Kenneth Jonassen of Denmark in straight games in the quarterfinals.

The Indian national champion, who upset some top players en route to his last eight appearances at the prestigious five-star event, failed to work his magic on the world No. 6, going down 15-21, 15-21 in 35 minutes.

Sridhar, ranked 43, had disposed of world No. 20 Dicky Palyama in the first round before defeating Yi Lu of China and Andrew Smith of England to book a quarterfinal berth.

But Jonassen, who has not dropped a game in the tournament so far, proved to be Sridhar’s nemesis again, having beaten him twice earlier, including the recent straight game defeat in the quarterfinals of Thomas Cup in Tokyo.

With Sridhar’s ouster, the Indian challenge at the $ 170,000 event came to an end as Saina Nehwal and Chetan Anand had lost their second and third round battles in women’s and men’s singles, respectively, yesterday. — PTI

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Hockey trials

Chandigarh, June 9
Trials to select subjunior and junior players in the age groups of 12-15 years and 15-18 years, respectively, for the Punjab and Sind Bank Hockey Academy will be held at the Olympian Surjit Singh Memorial Hockey Stadium, Burlton Park, Jalandhar, on June 15 and 16, according to Mr SPS Bains, Zonal Manager. Those desirous of participating in the trials should report to Mr Charanjit Singh Raheja, Sports Secretary, at the venue on June 15 with certificates showing date of birth and achievements. — TNS

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Archers disappoint

New Delhi, June 9
India’s campaign at World Cup archery in Antalya, Turkey, ended on a disheartening note today with the archers failing to impress in team events.

In men’s recurve section, India, boasting of three star players, Jayanta Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee, narrowly went down to China (213-214) in the first round.

In women’s recurve, the Indian team, comprising Dola Banerjee, S. Sushma and Reena Kumari, lost to Mexico after a close fight. — PTI

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