AC Milan will defend their two-point Serie A lead on Sunday night when they face Juventus, a huge match which threatens to be overshadowed by a gambling scandal rocking Italian football.
Battered by reports that former midfield star Sandro Tonali gambled on Milan matches while still playing for the team he supported as a boy, the seven-time European champions will try to hold off local rivals and closest challengers Inter Milan who take on Torino on Saturday.
Juventus are four points behind Milan in third but have again been engulfed in controversy as Nicolo Fagioli became the first player to be punished for illicit gambling, just weeks after Paul Pogba was suspended for doping violations.
The 22-year-old was suspended for seven months on Tuesday after admitting to betting on football matches as a criminal investigation into illegal gambling platforms and organised crime bleeds into football.
Tonali, now at Newcastle United, is certain to be slapped with a lengthy worldwide ban, while disgraced paparazzo Fabrizio Corona, who has spent time in jail for extortion, has been threatened with legal action after also accusing Roma attacker Stephen El Shaarawy and Lazio defender Nicolo Casale of betting on matches.
“He has never gambled and has no interest in doing so,” said El Shaarawy’s legal team, adding that the accusations were “totally unfounded and slanderous”.
The affair hangs over this weekend’s action with Corona and mainstream outlets publishing a raft of rumours and apparent leaks from the public prosecutors office in Turin which is leading the criminal probe.
On Thursday the head of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) Gabriele Gravina said “we will never abandon these young men”, who have admitted gambling addictions.
“I have the duty… to defend the dignity of young Italians who have become cannon fodder,” said Gravina, who has also brushed off calls to step down by Italy’s ruling right-wing government coalition.
Milan coach Stefano Pioli has a clutch of starting players unavailable either through injury or suspension and will have to pick his third-choice goalkeeper Antonio Mirante for a big test of Milan’s title credentials.
France ‘keeper Mike Maignan is suspended for his red card at the end of the frantic 1-0 win at Genoa before the international break, and on Thursday Marco Sportiello succumbed to a calf injury which will likely keep him out of action for at least a month.
Also suspended is left-back Theo Hernandez while injured Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rade Krunic will continue their absences in midfield.
However Pioli will be to count on Olivier Giroud, who will return to his usual position of centre-forward after excelling between the sticks at Genoa following Maignan’s sending off.
Ailing Napoli kick off the weekend’s action at Verona in the midst of an early-season crisis which has wiped the sheen from last season’s historic title triumph.
Seven points behind Milan in fifth and soundly beaten by Fiorentina last time out, Napoli are without star striker Victor Osimhen who picked up a hamstring injury on international duty and midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
With Osimhen out for around a month Simeone will likely be tasked with leading the line for Napoli.
The Argentine striker has always been a willing contributor from the bench and was extremely effective when Osimhen was out of action at around the same time last season, scoring four times in seven matches while his star teammate recovered from a hamstring problem.
With Milan coming to town next weekend, under-fire coach Rudi Garcia will be hoping Simeone can recreate some of that goalscoring magic.
7 – Fagioli will be absent from the Juve midfield for seven months.
2 – Milan’s points lead at the top of Serie A.
Shadab Khan provides an update on his injury
Pakistan all-rounder, Shadab Khan suffered an unexpected injury during National T20 Cup match between Rawalpindi and Sialkot in Karachi on Sunday.
The incident took place as Shadab was fielding during the match, having bowled two economical overs. The unfortunate mishap occurred when the ball unexpectedly rose above his foot, resulting in a sudden and painful ankle twist.
The video footage of Shadab being carried off the field piggyback style by a teammate went viral on social media, raising concerns about the severity of the injury.
نیشنل T20 کرکٹر شادب خان انجری کا شکار شاداب کو کندھوں پر اٹھاکر ڈرینسنگ روم منتقل کیا گیا راولپنڈی کی کپتان سیالکوٹ کے خلاف میچ کھیلتے ہوئے پائوں کی انجری کا شکار ہوئے @76Shadabkhan @TheRealPCB #shadabkhan #IslamabadUnited pic.twitter.com/mEnGqmayi2
— KHIZAR AZAM (@KHIZARAZAM) December 3, 2023
In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, Shadab recounted the incident and explained the severity of the pain that left him incapacitated for a few minutes, making it difficult for him to comprehend the extent of the injury and eventually he had to seek assistance.
“When the ball came above my foot, I had an ankle twist. When the ankle twisted, I couldn’t even comprehend it for 2-3 minutes because the pain was severe. Then I tried to walk to the sidelines. The boundary on the side was a bit short, so I walked out there, but after that, I didn’t have the courage to continue walking. Then there was a guy there, so I thought of somehow making it to the dressing room,” Shadab said.
Fortunately, Shadab provided a glimmer of optimism when discussing his current status of his fitness.
“Now the fitness is improving. The injury is not too major. The report has come, but the doctors haven’t told me how much time it will take. As soon as they tell, the rehab will start according to their instructions.” he further added.
Shadab highlighted the proactive approach being taken to ensure effective rehabilitation process ahead of Pakistan’s T20I series against New Zealand in January.
“The injury doesn’t seem too prolonged. The physios will assess it and plan accordingly for the New Zealand series.” he concluded.
Shadab Khan opens up about Babar Azam’s resignation from captaincy
Pakistan all-rounder, Shadab Khan, has expressed his perspective on Babar Azam’s recent choice to relinquish the captaincy across all formats of the national cricket team.
In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, Shadab conveyed his admiration for Babar’s decision and conveyed his heartfelt best wishes.
The leg-spinner also shared positive sentiments regarding the newly appointed T20I captain for the national side, Shaheen Shah Afridi.
“Look, everyone has their own decision, and Babar has stepped down. We send him our best wishes. We’ve had a great time with him as the captain for Pakistan. Now, Shaheen has taken on the role, and we’re excited about it. We’ve witnessed his [Shaheen’s] captaincy in the PSL, and it feels great. Let’s see how it goes playing under his captaincy for the first time; it will give an idea of how much fun it is, and I am very excited to play under Shaheen’s captaincy,” Shadab said.
On November 15th, Babar relinquished his captaincy following a meeting with Zaka Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee.
After stepping down, Shan Masood was appointed as the Test captain of the Pakistan Men’s Cricket Team, and Shaheen Shah Afridi was named as the T20I captain by the PCB.
Shaheen’s first task as the T20I captain for the Men in Green side will be leading the team against New Zealand in a five-match T20 series scheduled to take place from January 12 to January 21, 2024.
Pakistan vs New Zealand T20I series schedule:
- January 12: New Zealand vs Pakistan – First T20I in Auckland
- January 14: New Zealand vs Pakistan – Second T20I in Hamilton
- January 17: New Zealand vs Pakistan – Third T20I in Dunedin
- January 19: New Zealand vs Pakistan – Fourth T20I in Christchurch
- January 21: New Zealand vs Pakistan – Fifth T20I in Christchurch
Messi’s Argentina to face Chile in Copa America
Lionel Messi and Argentina will get the chance to avenge their defeats to Chile in the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals after being grouped with their old rivals in the draw for next year’s tournament on Thursday.
Reigning Copa America champions Argentina will defend their title in the United States next summer in an expanded 16-team tournament which features 10 South American teams and six qualifiers from the CONCACAF region.
Argentina, winners of last year’s World Cup, will kick off the tournament on June 20 in Atlanta against either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago, who meet in a playoff next year to determine one of two remaining CONCACAF slots.
The Argentines will then face Chile in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on June 25 in a repeat of the 2016 Copa America Centenario final held at the same venue.
Argentina, beaten by Chile in Santiago on penalties a year earlier in 2015, also lost the 2016 final on spot-kicks, with Messi blazing his penalty over the bar.
The Argentine captain later announced a short-lived retirement from international football after the defeat, before reversing the move and continuing his career.
The world champions will wrap up their Group A campaign in familiar territory for Inter Miami’ Messi, facing Peru in Miami on June 29 in their final first-round game.
Elsewhere, Mexico were drawn in a Group B alongside Ecuador, Venezuela and Jamaica, while the United States face Uruguay, Panama and Bolivia in Group C.
Five-time world champions Brazil, beaten in the 2021 final on home soil by Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, have a potentially tricky group containing Colombia, Paraguay and either Costa Rica or Honduras.
Next year’s Copa America is being seen as an effective test run for the 2026 World Cup taking place in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said at Thursday’s draw that the tournament would be a “Copa America of the World.”
“The world champion team (Argentina), the only five-time world champion team (Brazil), the first world champion team (Uruguay) will take part, along with the best players in the world, who are Latin Americans,” Dominguez said.
Brazil open their campaign at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, the futuristic home of the Los Angeles Rams NFL team, against either Costa Rica or Honduras on June 24.
They face Paraguay in Las Vegas on June 28 before concluding their group play against Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
A total of 14 stadiums will be used for the tournament, most of them large capacity venues that belong to NFL teams.
If Argentina win Group A, they will face the runner-up from Group B in the quarter-finals on July 4 at Houston’s NRG Stadium – where they defeated the United States in the semi-final in 2016.
The Arlington, Texas home of the Dallas Cowboys will host another quarter-final on July 5, with Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium and the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, rounding out the last eight venues.
The semi-finals will take place at East Rutherford on July 9, and in Charlotte on July 10, with the final taking place at Miami on July 14.
MQM-P urges devolution via constitutional amendments
Sukuk oversubscribed by 16 times
US vetoes UN ceasefire bid as Israel continues Gaza assault
Pakistan team finally issued visas for World Cup in India
Regional players to meet in Russia on Afghanistan
Attack plots the norm since Danish cartoon crisis: experts
Business2 weeks ago
Using technology to hit the right notes
Technology3 weeks ago
a futuristic tech unable to replace smartphones
World4 weeks ago
Saudi Arabia to host extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit
World4 weeks ago
Israel warning to Lebanon sharpens amidst cross-border enmity
Sports3 weeks ago
Mohammad Hafeez replaces Mickey Arthur as Pakistan team’s director
Pakistan3 weeks ago
Use of force by any militia, entity or group ‘unacceptable’: COAS
Pakistan3 weeks ago
Hajj applications open from November 27
World4 weeks ago
Erdogan criticises top Turkey court, stoking ‘judicial crisis’