Long and winding road for CHONG WEI

KUALA LUMPUR — A clash against either Chen Long or Lin Dan at a Major tournament is almost unavoidable but playing them as early as the quarterfinals is unthinkable for Lee Chong Wei.

It may be the case for Chong Wei if the seedings released by Badminton World Federation (BWF) for the World Championships from Aug 21-Aug 27 are any indication.

Chong Wei has been seeded second while Chen Long, seeking a hattrick of World titles in Glasgow, is the fifth and five-time world champion Lin Dan is the seventh seed.

Chong Wei had suffered in the hands of the China duo in the last four editions but this would be the first time the Malaysian could face them early in the tournament.

Lin Dan denied Chong Wei glory in 2011 when he defeated him 20–22, 21–14, 23–21 in the final in London.

In 2013, Chong Wei succumbed to cramps during the final against Lin Dan in the third game, losing 16–21, 21–13, 20–17 (rtd) to miss out on the title.

Chen Long took over from there as Chong Wei lost the 2014 final 21-19, 21-19 in Copenhagen before retaining his title in Jakarta with a 21-14, 21-17 win a year later.

This could be the 35-year-old Malaysian’s last shot at winning the Major title and Chong Wei would be hoping that his reunion with former coach Misbun Sidek to change his fortunes in Glasgow.

South Korea’s Son Wan Ho is the top seed for the men’s singles while Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and China’s Shi Yuqi are the third and fourth seeds respectively.

The other top eights seeds are Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen (sixth) and India’s K. Srikanth (eighth).

In the men’s doubles, Rio Olympics silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong are the only seeded Malaysian pair at No 5.

The pair will be aiming to improve in their 2015 performance where they lost in the third round.

In the mixed doubles, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing are the only Malaysian pair to be seeded at No 8.

Rio Olympics silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Goph Liu Ying will not be competing as the latter is recovering from a shoulder surgery.

New signings to look for




As Wayne Rooney left for his boyhood club Everton, United bought Romelu Lukaku on a five-year contract in a £75 million (RM419 million) signing to fill the void.


Completed his £40 million (RM224 million) move from Chelsea to United to reunite with Jose Mourinho. He could turn out to be United’s most successful signing this season.


This defender was signed for £31 million (RM173 million) from Benfica to beef up the squad. Has not been that impressive thus far.





Signed from Atletico Madrid for an initial €24 million (RM121 million). However, he might not be regarded a first-team regular as he has never made a competitive appearance for Atletico.


Star of the Euro Under-21 this year, was signed for €18 million (RM91million) from Real Betis. He is being touted as Luka Modric’s heir.

Navas: Beat me if you can

MADRID — Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas believes it is favourite for the UEFA Super Cup and is pleased with his pre-season form.

The Costa Rica international has been the standout performer from Real’s tour of the United States which may have not won it any games.

But the 30-year-old believes the tour will benefit Real this season and against Manchester United tomorrow.

“I think we are ready for the Super Cup and to win it,” Navas told Marca.

“I am happy with how the tour has gone personally because I have been able to do all the work which I could not do last year (due to injury).

“We obviously will have to improve as the results have not been what they should be but we have done positive things which will help us this season.

“I think we have worked hard and this will stand us in good stead.”
— Agencies


Martial out to rule

LONDON — Manchester United face its first competitive game of pre-season when it take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup tomorrow (2.45am).

And attacker Anthony Martial is not underestimating its importance.

United manager Jose Mourinho said he was not interested in results on United’s tour of the United States, though his side won four of its five games there — including a penalty shoot-out success against Real.

It has since beaten Valerenga in Oslo and Sampdoria in Dublin as part of a busy and successful warm-up for the new season, which starts with Sunday’s visit of West Ham in the Premier League.

And with the Super Cup at stake against European champion Real in Skopje, Macedonia, Martial — who has had a positive personal summer — wants another victory.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” he told the club’s website.

“It has been up to us to prepare ourselves for it during these friendly matches, and to be ready to take home this title to Manchester. We are all looking forward to it.”

Real rightback Dani Carvajal, who Martial is again likely to come up directly against, is excited at the prospect of facing United.

“The game will be fantastic and you cannot ask for more,” he said.

“We will give our absolute all to win it. It is another title, a European title. For me it’s a special one because I scored a great goal against Sevilla last year and that won us the trophy.

“I keep that memory as one of the best in my life.” — Agencies

Don’t mess with ‘Bosnian Hulk’

LONDON — Arsenal’s summer signing Sead Kolasinac attracted the applause of Arsene Wenger, as he came off the bench to score the equaliser in its Community Shield triumph on Sunday.

Victor Moses had given Chelsea the lead just after the break at Wembley, but when referee Bobby Madley sent Pedro off in the 80th minute, it took Kolasinac only two more minutes to level the game.

The match went straight to penalties, a first opportunity for the ABBA format to come in to play, and after Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata missed, Olivier Giroud dispatched the winning penalty.

The Gunners won 4-1.

“He’s normally a fullback,” Wenger told reporters of Kolasinac. “I had hesitation to start him because of the pressure. When he came on he was outstanding.

“He’s physically very strong. We have players pumped up in the gym and players who are born strong.”

And Bosnian Kolasinac, who replaced the injured Per Mertesacke, cost Arsenal nothing in the transfer market.

Kolasinac, 24, has various nicknames even before arriving in England included “The Destroyer”, “The Tank” and “The Bosnian Hulk”.

Meanwhile, Wenger believes Mertesacker will be fit for Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester after suffering a cut head when caught by an accidental elbow from Gary Cahill.

Wenger was also delighted with his side’s performance.

“We put ourselves in a difficult position just after half-time, but in the end we produced a performance that we did at the end of last season,” he said.

“We were dominating (at the time of Pedro’s dismissal) and I just wondered whether we would come back or not. But I think we always looked dangerous.”

Wenger had praise for another new signing, striker Alexandre Lacazette, too: “He is getting better every week.” — Agencies


Blues manager cries ‘Mamma Mia’ after ABBA penalty drama

THE new football season got off to a controversial start at Wembley on Sunday.

A new system of taking penalties — dubbed “ABBA” — had been introduced at the FA Community Shield.



Also name of the famous Swedish disco group.

Will be used across all English Football League Cup and trophy tournaments this season.

Left Chelsea manager Antonio Conte facing own Waterloo after Arsenal won on penalties.

But it wasn’t to be for Conte’s side, who went down 4-1 on penalties.

Heck, even Alvaro Morata and Thibaut Courtois forgot how to take a spot-kick.

The coach knows there’s work to do ahead of what’s tipped to be a tight season.

The Gunners had got off to a winning start to the season.

So what is ABBA?

Team taking the first kick alternates in each pair of penalty shots.

Meaning: AB, BA, AB, BA instead of usual AB, AB, AB format.


Did it go down well with the fans?

System created more confusion and the lack of a dramatic climax.

On the pitch:

Victor Moses had put the Blues ahead shortly after halftime.

Gunners new boy Sead Kolasinac equalised eight minutes before fulltime.

Dream debut for the man known as the “Bosnian Hulk”.

Supporters vented frustration on Twitter:

@Chelsea_HQ said: “Right, first time I’ve watched this ABBA penalty thing. What’s the point?”

@danlevene said: “Thoughts on the ABBA penalty format? Weird, if you ask me. But if it makes the TV people happy, it’ll stay.”

@_CarltonCole9: “Why do they keep changing the rules of football? What’s with this ABBA penalty system. It’s all about money, money, money.”


Dembele’s no French fry

LONDON — Barcelona has begun talks with Borussia Dortmund over a £90 million (RM503 million) move for Ousmane Dembele having already agreed a contract with the star winger, according to reports in France.

Barca is seeking a new attacker to fill the sizable gap left by Neymar’s £198 million (RM1.1 billion) departure for Paris St Germain.

The Catalans have reportedly identified France international Dembele as that player and have already agreed a contract with the 20-year-old.

L’Equipe reported Barca is now speaking with Dortmund over a fee, believed to be in the region of £90 million, as it look for a long term option.

Barca wants the deal done quickly as it aim to re-sharpen the third prong of its attacking trident, along with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Dembele was announced as the Bundesliga’s “Rookie 2017” on Saturday before Dortmund faced Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup.

Bayern won it 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

New Barca manager Ernesto Valverde’s summer business has been slow, with only rightback Nelson Semedo joining the first-team, and it is being constantly linked with big name players.

Spanish sports paper Mundo Deportivo link Barca not only with Dembele, but with another attacking option in Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

It is also connected with Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez, with Valverde seeking reinforcements as Barca looks to topple bitter rival Real Madrid.
— Agencies

ibra to make milan return?

MILAN — Zlatan Ibrahimovic could yet end up back at AC Milan, with club director Massimiliano Mirabelli teasing a return for the former Manchester United striker.

The enigmatic Swede is a free agent after being released by United at the end of a 12-month deal.

It has been suggested he could be brought back into the Old Trafford fold once clear of a knee injury which brought his campaign last season to a close.

A a move to Major League Soccer — potentially with the Los Angeles Galaxy — has also been mooted.

Ibrahimovic’s former employer at Milan is keeping a close eye on his situation, though, with the door being kept open to a potential emotional return for a former favourite and Serie A title winner.

Mirabelli told Sport Mediaset when pressed on the rumours: “Ibrahimovic? In life, never say never. Maybe an old acquaintance of ours could come back.

“I don’t want to hint at Ibrahimovic, that’s not the case. We have our feet on the ground.

“We’ll evaluate the things that we have to do after Aug 15.”

Ibrahimovic took in two years with Milan between 2010 and 2012, helping it to its last Italian top-flight title success.

He is still held in high regard at the club, and proved at United last season he has lost none of his touch at 35, scoring 28 goals in all competitions.

There may be a role for him back at San Siro, as the Rossoneri piece together ambitious plans for the new season.

More than £100 million (RM559 million) has been spent freshening up their ranks this summer, with the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Franck Kessie acquired in high-profile deals.

Milan will open the new season away at Crotone on Aug 21, with it possible that Ibrahimovic could figure for itagain at some stage if he can prove his fitness and value to the cause. — Agencies

transfer gossip

CHELSEA, Manchester United and Monaco are all interested in a move for 25-year-old Barcelona fullback Sergi Roberto, who could be available for £36.1 million (RM202 million).


CHELSEA is ready to challenge Manchester United for the signature of Real Madrid and Wales attacker Gareth Bale who will cost about £90 million (RM503 million).


LEICESTER has rejected a third bid, this time of around £31.6 million (RM177 million) from Roma for Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez.


STOKE has agreed a three-year deal for Cameroon forward Jean-Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, 28, who is out of contract at German side Schalke and will join on a free transfer.


CRYSTAL PALACE and Everton are interested in a permanent deal for

20-year-old Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, who is expected to go out on loan this season.


New Bill on child conversion to be tabled today

KUALA LUMPUR ― The government will table a new Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 on the religious conversion of children to Islam in Parliament this morning.

This comes after the initial Bill was withdrawn yesterday, sparking a public uproar as it was seen as a “u-turn” on the part of the government.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman said a new version of the Bill would be tabled for first reading today.

She said it would not include Article 88(A) from the original Bill.

The article states that should a spouse convert to Islam, a child must remain in the religion of the parents during their marriage prior to the conversion unless both spouses agree to convert their child to Islam, subject to the child’s wishes upon turning 18.

She said the government was amending the Bill to prevent any conflict with the Federal Constitution and that the amendment was in line with the stare decisis doctrine.

The doctrine obligates courts to look to precedent when making decisions, where the highest court’s decision on the interpretation of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution is bound.

Article 12(4) states that the religion of a person below 18 years shall be decided by “his parent or guardian”.

The Malaysian Bar has previously said that according to interpretation provisions in the Constitution, all words in the singular also include the plural.

“We hope all parties will take this matter positively to preserve the harmony between the races and faiths in our diverse community,” Azalina said.

“We hope for your support and that no party politicises this issue.”

The deferment of the Bill from the last parliamentary session, which had been tabled for first reading in November, came amid protest, including from some of the country’s muftis who claimed the amendments were against the Federal Constitution.

Many had anticipated the government to table the Bill for second reading in the current Dewan Rakyat meeting after it was already delayed in April.

Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years.

It also highlights the complications of the dual legal system, where Muslims are bound by both civil and Shariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims.

The nature of the controversy had prompted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself to pledge to resolve the problem, which resulted in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016.

One of the biggest ongoing child conversion battles involved M. Indira Gandhi and her ex-husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, who unilaterally converted their three children to Islam eight years ago.
— Malay Mail Online

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