Daily Archives: July 21, 2016

England to face Australia in Rugby League World Cup opener

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England is set to play against Australia in the opening match of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Australia is also hosts for the 15th edition of the tournament, alongside New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The event begins on 27 October, and England is also set to face Lebanon and France in Pool A.

14 spots remain available through qualifiers.

England prop James Graham relishes the challenge of facing a difficult opponent in the opening game of the tournament.

“Australia first off the bat in Melbourne is going to be a great spectacle,” he said.

“They have set the standard in terms of international rugby league for the majority of the last 30 or 40 years,” he conceded.

“New Zealand have won the odd tournament here and there but the Kangaroos have been the sport’s dominant force, so playing them first up in their own back yard in Melbourne is a great way to kick the tournament off.”

However, the hosts had come under criticism after it was revealed that the rugby league stronghold of Sydney will hold only two matches. Michael Brown, chief executive officer of the event said that the New South Wales government was not insistent on playing more games there.

He also supported the idea to spread fixtures across the continent.

“It is about the involvement of each of the governments willing to host matches and sadly that didn’t happen in NSW,” he said.

“The decision to take matches to places like Darwin, Christchurch and Port Moresby was made with the future of the game in mind. They are matches we believe will give profile to the sport in markets that have already shown an appetite for rugby league.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic for God of Manchester United

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“Manchester, welcome to Zlatan.” – Ibrahimovic arrives at Manchester United with much pomp.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has expressed his desire to be “God” of Old Trafford.

The 34-year-old was responding to Eric Cantona’s video message for Eurosport.

Cantona, who was affectionately styled “The King” during his time with Manchester United, has appeared in a series of humourous videos for Eurosport as the “self-appointed commissioner of football.”

In one of them, he welcomed the Swede to the Premier League club and offered him the No7 shirt.

However, the Frenchman had also claimed that Ibrahimovic would not be able to wear his crown but could still become prince at United after the latter joined United on a free transfer.

“I have a personal message for Zlatan,” Cantona said. “You decided to go red. It is the best choice you ever made. …(but) there can only be one King in Manchester. You can be the prince if you want to. And the No7 is yours if you are interested. That is my welcome gift to you… The King is gone! Long live the prince!”

Eric Cantona has appeared in a series of humourous videos for Eurosport as the “self-appointed commissioner of football.”

Ibrahimovic responded in typical Zlatan fashion.

“I admire Cantona and I heard what he said,” Ibrahimovic is quoted in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “But I won’t be King of Manchester. I will be God of Manchester.”

In the meantime, Zlatan will not be following Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United to China for the club’s pre-season tour. The Portuguese may hand the striker his friendly debut against Galatasaray on 30 July or Everton on 3 August, after Ibrahimovic’s holiday in America.

Claudio Ranieri confident Mahrez will stay at Leicester City

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Claudio Ranieri has provide reassurance that Leicester City’s midfield star Riyad Mahrez is likely to remain with the Premier League champions.

Speculation shrouded Mahrez’s future with the club following N’Golo Kante’s departure to Chelsea, but Ranieri insisted that Mahrez will stay.

“Only Kanté wanted to go – that’s OK,” Ranieri said. “But I understood him, he came from a little team in France and had a fantastic season.” I said to him stay with us and have another year with us but he wanted to go.”

“Everybody here is happy and, yes, he (Mahrez) wants to stay. No other players will go away – we will stay together,” Ranieri added.

“The football continues without Riyad or without Kanté but Riyad will stay with us for all of the years. It’s important to maintain the group, with the spirit, with the humility – that’s important for me.”

As they fight to keep their star players, Leicester City also looks to add players into their forward line after signing on 23-year-old Ahmed Musa from CSKA Moscow for a club record fee of approximately £16m.

The Foxes now contends against West Ham United for Wissam Ben Yedder for the Toulouse forward.

Toulouse coach Pascal Dupraz had been keen to let other clubs make their interest in Ben Yedder known, with the Ligue 1 club hoping to complete a deal for the Frenchman by next week.

Meanwhile, Leicester would visit Glasgow for a friendly against Celtic. Their remaining pre-season calendar includes trips to Stockholm and California, to play Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain respectively in the International Champions Cup.