Few surprises in Northern Ireland squad

first_img “Anything is concevable in football, but one thing you have to look at as a manager is it is dangerous if you look too far ahead in football and my focus at the moment is on preparing the squad for the Euros,” O’Neill said to BBC Northern Ireland when asked if he had thought about remaining in charge after Euro 2016. “I have had discussions with the IFA and they have all been very positive – hopefully between now and the early part of the new year those discussions will remain positive and I am the manager going forward. “I have also said I have been in the job four years, which is a long time, there were difficult days in the early campaign and times when I thought maybe it was not the right job for me, but obviously where we are now in terms of qualification, I think this squad will probably change over the next campaign. “We have a very difficult World Cup group with Germany and the Czech Republic being in there but that is a massive challenge and one I would not be scared to take on.” O’Neill added: “A number of younger players are going to have to step up and come into the squad after the Euros, but for now the time is to let us enjoy where we are, let’s look forward to the tournament and go there to give a great account of ourselves.” O’Neill guided Northern Ireland into the Euro 2016 finals following a successful qualifying campaign at the top of Group F, securing a place at a major championships for the first time in 30 years. Manchester United defender Paddy McNair suffered an abdominal injury in the last competitive match against Finland, so remains out. Press Association Leading scorer Kyle Lafferty retains his place despite continuing to find club chances at Norwich limited. There was, though, no recall for striker Martin Paterson, who has just returned to English football with Blackpool after an injury-ruined spell in Major League Soccer with Orlando City, while defender Aaron Hughes, now playing in Australia with Melbourne, misses the chance to close up on 100 caps. With a relatively small squad selected, defender Ryan McLaughlin, on loan at Aberdeen from Liverpool, has not been called up to join from the under-21s. Northern Ireland squad to face Latvia: R Carroll (Notts County), M McGovern (Hamilton), A Mannus (St Johnstone); Baird (Derby), G McAuley (West Brom), J Evans (West Brom), C Cathcart (Watford), S Ferguson (Millwall), L Hodson (MK Dons), C McLaughlin (Fleetwood); , S Davis (Southampton), C Brunt (West Brom), C Evans (Blackburn), O Norwood (Reading), P McCourt (Luton), S Dallas (Leeds); K Lafferty (Norwich), N McGinn (Aberdeen), J Ward (Nottm Forest), J Magennis (Kilmarnock), B McKay (Dundee Utd), W Grigg (Wigan), L Boyce (Ross County). O’Neill’s contract expires following the European Championships. The 46-year-old was appointed in December 2011, having guided Dublin-based League of Ireland club Shamrock Rovers to the group stages of the Europa League. The one-time Newcastle, Dundee and Wigan midfielder had been linked with another of his former clubs Hibernian before making the step into international management. While O’Neill makes no secret of his desire to one day return to club coaching, he also refused to rule out staying in his current role. Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill produced few surprises when naming his squad for the friendly against Latvia at Windsor Park on November 13. last_img read more

NBA legend Kobe Bryant killed in Calabasas helicopter crash

first_imgUSC students reflect on Kobe Bryant’s life and legacy. He was an 18-time All-Star and the 2008 league MVP, bringing the Lakers to five NBA championships. (Photo via Los Angeles Lakers/Twitter) Bryant was always one of the most respected players in the league during his career and a staple of Los Angeles inside and outside of sports. The news of his passing impacted USC students — Lakers fans or not — who grew up watching and idolizing the “Black Mamba.”  Bryant moved to Italy when he was 6 as his father had retired from the NBA to play internationally. Overseas, Bryant not only learned how to speak fluent Italian and play soccer but he started to seriously learn how to play basketball. Almost four years after the final game of Bryant’s career — a 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center in April 2016 — his impact is still felt in the NBA. Now, after Bryant’s passing, his legacy in the sport and in the lives of fans around the world is sure to live on.  “Kobe’s legacy isn’t even basketball, it’s work ethic and dedication,” said Jayden Smith, a sophomore majoring in political science. “The way Kobe trained, he did that in every aspect of his life. Everything he does he obsesses over it, over the minute details, and does everything he can to be better than the person that he’s competing against.” Bryant’s legacy is a somewhat complicated one. In 2003, Bryant was arrested and charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel employee in Colorado. The accuser later dropped the charges after refusing to testify but later filed a separate civil suit against Bryant. Bryant did not directly admit guilt but publicly apologized for the circumstances between himself and the employee. After the news of Bryant’s death was first reported by TMZ Sports and followed by confirmation by multiple outlets, numerous celebrities, sports figures and fans were quick to share their grief on social media. Memorials were quickly set up near the crash site and outside Staples Center, the Lakers’ home arena and site of the 2020 Grammy Awards show that began just hours later, bringing a mix of attendees and mourners to L.A. Live. Bryant had three straight championship-winning seasons with teammate Shaquille O’Neal and head coach Phil Jackson from 2000-02 before O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004. That trade, however, cemented Bryant’s role as the Lakers’ franchise leader. He would go on to win two more championships with Jackson and teammate Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010 before tearing an Achilles tendon in 2013 at age 34. “It’s more than just basketball really with Kobe, he kind of just encompassed everything L.A.,” said Diego Briones, a junior majoring in political science. “Especially because it’s such an artsy town, he was such a sophisticated, intellectual person … He really viewed the sport like an art and I think that really resonates with a lot of Los Angeles citizens.” “He’s an international icon,” Briones said. “He helped take basketball international … I think he’s pivotal in that regard.” Bryant has become a household name for many across the globe, including those outside of the basketball community and fanbase. His legacy and approach towards his goals even impacted people off the court that did not tune in to witness his impressive on-court performances. Bryant and Gianna are survived by Kobe’s wife Vanessa and three daughters — Natalia Diamante (17), Bianka Bella (3) and Capri Kobe (7 months). Tributes to Kobe Bryant hang on the windows of Cale & Irani Residential College at USC Village. (Photo courtesy of Jayden Smith)center_img Bryant’s tenacious work ethic, highlighted in his book “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” has served as a model for young athletes and others inside and outside the realm of sports. He was known for his unwavering, constant willingness to improve. Former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed Sunday morning after a helicopter crashed in Calabasas just before 10 a.m. Bryant and Gianna were on their way to Thousand Oaks for her basketball practice. He was 41. Bryant grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and played with them for all of his 20-year career. Considered by many as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant was an 18-time All-Star and the 2008 league MVP, leading the Lakers to five NBA championships.  Bryant — especially after his retirement — was also an outspoken advocate for growing women’s basketball, frequently attending college and WNBA games, coaching Gianna’s teams and using social media to praise women’s basketball players. For many, that drive and determination extends past basketball. “I think his passing is definitely a part of the city is passing, too,” Ghajar said. “And any sport you can apply his mindset, the Mamba Mentality to it. You can apply the Mamba Mentality to anything in life, really. [He] will be missed everywhere.” “Kobe has been my role model my whole life, sort of my idol,” said Tyler Ghajar, a freshman majoring in art. “I got inspiration from his work ethic and determination … to sort of apply that to my life. He was more than an athlete in terms of what he meant for this city and just for people in general.” “Kobe Bryant really was a huge influence even on those of us who never really were big on basketball,” freshman Economics major Freya Haksar said. “He was the kind of icon that gave you a vision of success…He was always kind of a figure for us to keep pushing forward, to turn our challenges and pressures into lessons, and a drive to always keep our heads up and better ourselves and spread that energy to the people around us.” Bryant was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Beijing and London and served as a key figure in helping expand the NBA’s international reach, attracting and inspiring young fans from all across the world. “I hope people — regardless of their affiliation to teams, whether they’re a Laker fan or whether they’re a Celtic fan, whether they’re even a basketball fan or even a sports fan — just recognize what he meant to the city,” Smith said. “He was able to get a whole city to get behind him and embrace him … Kobe is L.A. basketball.” Bryant’s death comes just one day after he was passed by current Lakers superstar LeBron James for third all-time on the NBA’s career scoring leaderboard. James was seen in tears after the Lakers landed in Los Angeles after flying in from Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.last_img read more

Wimbledon 2017: Agnieszka Radwanska fights back to beat Timea Bacsinszky

first_imgPoland’s ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska recovered from a slow start to beat injury-troubled Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 3-6 6-4 6-1 on Saturday and reach the last 16.Radwanska, beaten finalist in 2012, will face Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round on Monday — a player she has beaten just four times in 17 meetings.The 28-year-old Bacsinszky, playing on Centre Court for the first time, mixed up the pace of her shots well to take the first set, but had to call a medical time-out at the end of the second set and received heavy strapping on her thigh.The injury, picked up when sprinting to the net, clearly affected the Swiss in the third set.”It’s quite frustrating, because I think I played a great first set. I was putting so much strength as well in my shots and I could go for the winners and I was able to really plant my feet solidly,” said Bacsinszky.”At around 3-2 in the second set, there was this sharp pain coming to my quad and more the adductor muscle. I was struggling a lot to get low in my knees and which had helped me very much in my first two rounds. I’m pretty sad that happened,” she said.Radwanska though clearly felt that the momentum had already turned in her direction.”I had a great match, especially (given) she’s a really tricky opponent. She can do everything on court and you can expect everything. Playing aggressive and then also slices, mixing up all the things. I think it was a great match from the beginning till the end.advertisement”After the second set I just found my game and I was trying to be more aggressive. I think, as well, I was serving better in the third set,” she added.Kuznetsova has proved a tough opponent for the Pole, who last beat the Russian on clay at Madrid in 2014 although she did triumph at Wimbledon in 2008.”We have played so many matches, so many good ones, so many three-setters. Playing her is always very challenging. You know, every ball is going to go to your side over and over again. You’re not going to have any free points,” said Radwanska.last_img read more