Day of has beens Wenger back in demand

LONDON — Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expects to be back in work in the new year and has fielded enquiries from all over the world, he told German paper Bild.

Wenger, who left Arsenal in May after 22 years in charge, said he did not know what his next job would be but felt rested and ready to work again.

“I’ll start again on Jan 1. I don’t know (where) yet,” the Frenchman said on Wednesday.

“There are associations, national teams, it could be also in Japan,” added the 68-year-old who managed Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight before joining Arsenal.

“From my 22 years at Arsenal, I have big experience on different levels. There are enquiries from all over the world.”

Wenger won three Premier League titles but his final years at the north London club were heavily criticised because of a lack of trophies and perceived poor transfer dealings.

Wenger also said Germany need Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil to come out of international retirement.

Ozil announced the end of his Germany career shortly after returning from the World Cup in Russia.

He had been widely criticised for posing alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a photograph in May which also featured Germany teammate Ilkay Gundogan.

Ozil, a member of the 2014 World Cup-winning team, said he had faced “racism and disrespect” because of his Turkish roots.

“Germany need Ozil. I hope (manager) Joachim Low can convince him to come back,” Wenger said.

“Ozil is a super player, wasn’t the worst at the World Cup. I didn’t love he left the national team.

“I love it when players are as good as possible. He loses a bit if he doesn’t play international level.”
— Reuters

Shahriffuddin Ariffin

Shahriffuddin edges forward

SEREMBAN — Local talent Shahriffuddin Ariffin put on a short game masterclass en route to a six-under 66 to take the halfway clubhouse lead at the weather-hit PGM MIDF Championship yesterday.

Shahriffuddin, who broke through on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) two months ago, fired seven birdies against a bogey to grab a one-shot edge on seven-under 137 total at the RM225,000 event.

American Tarik Can signed for a 71 to sit second while Japan’s Naoki Sekito (70) and Thailand’s Poom Pattaropong (69) were two shots off the pace at Kota Seriemas Golf and Country Club.

Play was suspended at 10am due to lightning threats before resuming at 12.20pm.

It was later abandoned at 6.56pm due to fading light.

A total of 24 players will resume their second rounds at 7.30am today with the third round scheduled to start no earlier than 9.30am.

The 19-year-old Shahriffuddin got off to a hot start with four birdies for a front-nine 32.

He grabbed two more birdies on holes 10 and 12 before stumbling with his only blemish on hole 16.

The youngster, however, recovered with a birdie on his last hole.

“I was feeling tired because it’s my second week in a row having to deal with rain delays,” he said.

“My short game saved me, I made about four up-and-downs to save par.

“I just stuck to my game plan to keep hitting fairways and greens,” added Shahriffuddin, who amassed 28 putts in his second round.

TR09_061018_BOLA_ BN201810050107

Let’s finish the job

KUALA LUMPUR — First leg matchwinner Malik Ariff vowed Terengganu will “fight till death” in the return semifinal against favourites Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) tomorrow.

Irfan Bakti’s men lead the tie 1-0 thanks to Malik, who struck the winner 12 minutes from time at Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium on Oct 6.

The Pahang-born winger is now eyeing a repeat performance at Larkin Stadium.

“I hope to give my best,” the 27-year-old told Bernama.

“My teammates and I will work hard and fight till death to ensure Terengganu make the final.

“Another goal would be a bonus but the most important thing is team success.”

Terengganu’s only success in the competition came in 2001, when they beat Perak 2-1 at National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The Turtles also finished runners-up on four occasions (1973, 1982, 1998 and 2011).

Malik, renowned for his pace, added he was confident seasoned coach Irfan will come up with the best tactics to outwit JDT. Irfan already stated on Wednesday the Southern Tigers are not invincible.

And Malik is also desperate to make it a personal hattrick.

“I want to add to my medals after winning the competition with Pahang in 2013 and 2014,” he revealed.

Rhinos won’t quit, says Jelius

KUALA LUMPUR — Sabah coach Jelius Ating refused to throw in the towel despite trailing their semifinal tie 5-0 to Perak.

Bos Gaurus aced the onesided first leg at Perak Stadium on Oct 7 with goals from Nor Hakim Hassan, Wander, Gilmar, Firdaus Saiyadi and Leandro.

But Jelius, installed as coach only last year, is optimistic of overturning the huge deficit with hard work and a “bit of homeground luck” at Likas Stadium on Sunday.

He told Bernama: “We’re counting on homeground advantage to spring a surprise.

“We’re preparing a formidable side for Sunday.”

The 47-year-old former skipper referred to past matches as proof the Rhinos cannot be written off.

“We’ve thrashed teams at Likas,” he said.

“When I was a player we once smashed Terengganu 8-2 and Selangor 5-1.

“In football, anything is possible.”

To get through, Sabah must not only score at least five goals but also keep a cleansheet.

Three-time runners-up Sabah last qualified for the final in 2003.

It was their second straight run to the showpiece match, which they lost to
MPPJ 3-0.


Pliskova pleased as punch

MOSCOW — Former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova was stunned 6-1, 6-2 by qualifier Vera Zvonareva in the Kremlin Cup second round on Wednesday.

The defeat, however, came with a silver lining for the Czech who secured WTA Finals qualification.

Pliskova’s loss booked Elina Svitolina her place at next week’s season-ending tournament.

Fellow contender Kiki Bertens’ defeat in three sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich initially gave Pliskova the eighth and final spot in Singapore.

But Dutchwoman Bertens grabbed that spot after world No 1 Simona Halep withdrew yesterday with a back injury.

“I’m delighted to be appearing at the Finals for the third time,” world No 5 Pliskova said.

“I have such great memories from playing in 2016 and last year.

“I can’t wait to close out the year against the other elite players.” — Reuters


Genie ‘frees’ herself

LUXEMBOURG — Former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard thrashed Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro on Wednesday to claim her first victory over a top 50 player since August last year.

The Canadian qualifier raced to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over the world No 24 in under an hour to reach only her third quarterfinal of the season at Luxembourg Open.

The last opponent ranked in the top 50 she beat was American Lauren Davis in New Haven, while this was her best victory since defeating then-world No 2 Angelique Kerber in Madrid last May.

The 24-year-old, who climbed into the top five in 2014 after reaching the Wimbledon final and Australian and French Open semifinals, is ranked 108.

Elsewhere, two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza was dumped by Ukrainian world No 66 Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-3.

The 18-year-old claimed her maiden title last week at Hong Kong Open. — AFP

All about team

MADRID — Gerard Pique on Wednesday brushed aside concerns stars like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will not participate in next year’s Davis Cup, saying the event is not about individuals.

Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Federer has said he is unlikely to play in the new-look tournament, spearheaded by Barcelona player Pique’s investment group Kosmos.

In August, he questioned why the Spain defender was “meddling” in the tennis calendar.

Changes to the format will see the 118-year-old competition turned into a week-long event taking place in November, with the first two editions in Madrid.

“We want to focus on teams not individuals, on players representing their nation and on building the best teams possible,” Pique said at the competition’s presentation.

“The Cup survived 118 years because of national teams, individuals haven’t
been so important.”

World No 2 Djokovic has said he would “prioritise” ATP’s World Team Cup, set for January 2020.

Djokovic also joined players such as Alexander Zverev in criticising the Davis Cup’s timing at the end of a congested schedule, when most players rest in preparation for the new season.

“Novak is important as he’s the ATP players’ council president, the link to all of tennis,” said Pique.

“I’m positive about him, we’re on the same page although we need to keep talking so we can understand each other better.”

Founded in 1900, the Davis Cup suffered in recent years because many top players opted out of its three-day ties during the season.

In current format, 16 World Group nations take part in a knockout competition over three weekends in February, April and September before the November final.

Ties are hosted by one of competing nations, producing a partisan atmosphere — a popular feature of the event.

The new format will feature 18 teams, this year’s four semifinalists, two wildcards (Britain and Argentina for next year), and 12 nations who win qualifying rounds in February.

Pique said his project had the backing of 17-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal.

“Rafa has been positive. Now it’ll be in Madrid he likes it more. If he’s fit he’ll come,” Pique added.

“For many Roger’s the best of all time but he hasn’t played Davis Cup much. If he wants to play, we’ll open the door to him.

“If not, that’s fine. Also, Switzerland may not qualify.”
— Reuters


‘Senna my target, not Schumi’

NEW YORK — Lewis Hamilton will edge closer to Michael Schumacher’s all-time record if he wins a fifth world title this weekend in Austin.

But the 33-year-old said on Wednesday chasing the German great was never his plan.

The Mercedes driver will move to within two of Schumacher’s all-time mark of seven championships if he scores eight points more than Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel on Sunday.

Yet Hamilton said he realised his lifelong ambition in 2015 when he equalled the tally of boyhood idol Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian triple champion who died in 1994.

“(Chasing Schumacher) has never been my goal,” Hamilton said.

“I started out to match or equal my idol Senna. And I did two years ago. Since then it’s kind of been going into unknown territory.

“Michael’s stats are incredible and quite a long way away, but I’m here for some
time still.

“I’m just going to keep working hard and do what I love, enjoy it and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Hamilton is 67 points clear of Vettel with three races and a maximum 75 points left after Texas.

He will fancy his chances of sewing up the title having won five of the past six races at the Circuit of the Americas — including the last four.

Hamilton already has nine wins and looks likely to end the year in double figures, no mean feat considering he feels this year has been his toughest.

“The most intensive year, the cars faster, requirement on drivers’ side physically and mentally on another level,” he said.

“We’ve been fighting another team who have had the upper hand for a long part of the season.

“So collectively we’ve had to go above and beyond to deliver more than them.”
— Reuters

Oh, we’re fighting, says Mayweather

LOS ANGELES — Former world welterweight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather insisted on Wednesday he plans to fight mixed martial arts star Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In comments to TMZ Sports, Mayweather was adamant a fight with the Russian was “happening” provided it took place in the boxing ring.

The 41-year-old said: “Oh, we’re fighting.

“I’m my own boss. I can’t say what’s going on on Khabib’s end, but on mine we can make it happen.”

Mayweather, who came out of retirement to defeat Conor McGregor in a money-spinning fight in Las Vegas last year, stressed the clash would be under boxing rules.

“Who’s the A-side? He called me out, so he has to come to my world,” Mayweather said.

Mayweather, who boasts a perfect 50-0 record, and the unbeaten Nurmagomedov (27-0) would generate another bumper payday if they fought.

“I’m getting a nine-figure payday,” Mayweather said.

“More than the McGregor fight. Probably US$100 million more, guaranteed. It could be somewhere upwards of US$110m to US$200m guaranteed.”

Nurmagomedov is facing possible disciplinary action in Nevada following the stormy end to his victory over McGregor at T-Mobile Arena two weeks ago.

He jumped into the crowd immediately after winning to trade blows with McGregor’s entourage while other members of Nurmagomedov’s support leapt into the octagon to attack the Irish fighter.

Nurmagomedov has also spoken enthusiastically about facing Mayweather.

“Let’s go Floyd. We have to fight now: 50-0 versus 27-0. Two guys who never lose,” he said Sunday.

“In the jungle there’s only one king. Of course, I’m the king because he cannot drop McGregor but I drop him easily.” — AFP

*US$1 = RM4.16


‘Best new drama’ from Britain and Brazil

The strongest new television dramas this year are coming out of Britain and Brazil, according to experts at the world’s top entertainment showcase.

Huge ratings hits like the BBC’s The Bodyguard and The Cry led “a particularly strong fall season in the UK,” said Virginia Mouseler of The Wit database, “that combine star power with complex, gripping stories.”

“British drama is very much back,” added the analyst, whose influential Fresh TV talks are one of the highlights of the Mipcom gathering of programme makers and buyers in the French Riviera city of Cannes.

New Brazilian series are also making waves, with three gritty dramas from the Globo broadcaster going down a storm with Latin American audiences.

Richard Madden of Game of Thrones fame leads the cast of The Bodyguard, a taut political thriller, which has broken download records in the UK.

Mouseler described The Cry — starring Jenna Coleman — as coming from a new “maternity noir” genre.

It the story of a young mother not coping with her new baby who is plunged into a nightmare when the child disappears during a trip to Australia.

Britain’s rival commercial ITV network has also won a lot of fans with its two big new series, she said.

Strangers is set against a backdrop of Hong Kong Triad organised crime, and Tony Marchant’s new gender change drama, Butterfly, which began last week, was both “timely and moving,” the story an 11-year-old boy who wants to be a girl.

The big Brazilian hits are led by the high-octane favelas drama Impure on Fox Premium about a mixed-raced soldier who “goes from being a good citizen to a crime genius” to take revenge on the police after they murder his brother.

The harrowing Harassment is based on “the terrifying true story of a doctor who raped 37 patients and was sentenced to nearly 300 years in prison” for his crimes, Mouseler said.

Reaction to the oil rig-set drama Iron Island was so good a new series was commissioned before the first one was shown, she added.

“Latin American drama is very impressive this year,” Mouseler said, also picking out the souped-up Argentinian telenovela, 100 Days to Fall in Love.

More book and movie adaptations were also hitting the small screen, she said, with the German-Austrian M, about a child killer stalking Vienna, taken from Fritz Lang’s classic 1931 film.

A TV version of Jacques Audiard’s gritty 2009 French drama A Prophet is also in the pipeline, according to reports yesterday.

Elena Ferrante’s bestseller My Brilliant Friend will be screened in the US and Italy next month as an eight-part series, with the rest of her much-loved Neapolitan novels also set to follow.

The mysterious Italian writer pulled the strings behind the production, which is said to be extremely faithful to the spirit of her tale of the enduring friendship between two girls from a dirt-poor Naples neighbourhood.

An international publishing sensation, the series is being shown in the US by HBO.

Another Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen has also been winning plaudits at Mipcom for his performance as astrophysicist Allen Hynek in the UFO thriller Project Blue Book, which is based on the US Air Force’s true-life investigations into sightings in the 1950s.

After Money Heist breaking all records for a non-English series on Netflix, Spanish drama was also performing strongly, Mouseler said.

The number one show in Spain so far is Unauthorised Living about a narco crime boss with Alzheimer’s Disease who must try to pass on his empire without his rivals realising his weakness.

Victim No 8 about a fictional jihadist attack on the Basque city of Bilbao, and More Than 100 Lies, a school hacker who causes chaos when he breaks into the phones of teachers and students, also impressed, she said. — AFP-Relaxnews

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