Inevitable divorce

BUENOS AIRES — The Argentine FA (AFA) have parted company with coach Jorge Sampaoli following their poor World Cup campaign, the federation announced on Sunday.

“Today the AFA and Jorge Sampaoli agreed by mutual consent to bring to an end his position as head of the national team,” they said in a statement.

The split comes just one year into Sampaoli’s five-year contract.

The 58-year-old’s days as coach were numbered after his Lionel Messi-led side failed to fire in Russia, their campaign fraught with tension and dispute.

Appointed in June 2017, his final game in charge was the last 16 defeat to newly crowned world champions France.

Divorce proceedings were complicated by Sampaoli’s reluctance to resign and a costly contract clause were the AFA to sack him.

Reports suggest he walks away with a US$2 million (RM8 million) payoff.

Sampaoli’s record makes grim reading given Argentina’s usually high standards: seven wins, four draws and four defeats in 15 matches.

He was hired with a big reputation after guiding Chile to the 2015 Copa America title — beating Argentina on penalties in the final.

He took over the Argentina reins with the two-time world champions struggling to qualify for the finals in Russia after an underwhelming World Cup qualification campaign.

Sampaoli’s team drew the first three qualifiers under his watch but Messi scored a hattrick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador to send Argentina to Russia.

But things quickly turned sour during the tournament itself as Messi missed a penalty in the opening 1-1 draw with minnows Iceland, followed by a chastening 3-0 defeat to Sunday’s beaten finalists Croatia.

A 2-1 win over Nigeria saw them progress as group runners-up to the knockout stages where they fell 4-3 to France, a defeat that sealed Sampaoli’s fate. — AFP

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Kane keen to kick off

LONDON — England captain Harry Kane is confident he can recover from the fatigue of a taxing World Cup campaign as he aims to return to action in Tottenham’s opening Premier League fixture against Newcastle on Aug 11.

After 48 appearances across all competitions for Spurs last term, the 24-year-old forward continued his prolific form at the World Cup, scoring six goals in as many matches to lead England to the semifinals and win the Golden Boot award.

Kane returned home with the rest of his England teammates on Sunday and has less than a month of downtime but is already focused on a stellar return for Spurs.

“I want to be playing in four weeks’ time,” Kane told British media. “We’ll have to talk to the gaffer (Mauricio Pochettino) at Spurs. It will be a couple of weeks (off).

“The most important thing is mentally (to be ready). Physically, this has been our pre-season. We tick over and are not going to just do nothing for two weeks. We will ease our way into it.

“Physically your body will take you where you never thought it would. It’s always mentally. We train all year round … With the season starting soon it will be hard, but that’s something we have to deal with.”

Kane, the Premier League’s top scorer in two of the last three seasons, has already set targets for a goalscoring return to action.

“I will hopefully be back for the first game and hopefully try and score in August (for the first time in the Premier League) this year,” he added.
— Reuters

Faint hopes for Sturridge

LONDON — Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge could still have a future at the Premier League club despite his struggles with injuries and consistency in recent seasons, manager Juergen Klopp has said.

Sturridge has been hindered by several long-term injuries over the last few campaigns, with the England international passing the 10-goal mark only once over the last four seasons, scoring 13 in the 2015-16 season.

The 28-year-old was loaned out to West Brom last January but failed to make an impact at the Hawthorns outfit, failing to score in six appearances for the relegated club.

“I always said there is a future, it’s about what we do in the moment. At the moment it’s all good and we don’t have to make decisions,” Klopp was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo.

“I don’t think about my players like this — like, maybe he’s in or out. With the young ones we make these decisions but not with the other guys. They show up, and it should be easy for me in the end.

“The window is still open, right? Is it closing tomorrow? No? Good!”

Sturridge, who was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England team for the World Cup, has been linked with a move to Spain’s Sevilla and Turkish top-flight club Besiktas by British media.

The former Chelsea and Manchester City striker will be hoping to prove himself during Liverpool’s pre-season fixtures, with the Merseyside outfit winning two of their first three friendlies.

Liverpool will travel to the US later this month for the International Champions Cup, where they will face Borussia Dortmund, City and Manchester United. — Reuters

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Back with a swagger

WITH his Grand Slam reputation and place back in the world top 10 restored, Novak Djokovic will now target a third career Wimbledon/US Open double after clinching his fourth title at the All England Club.

Djokovic defied the odds and even stunned himself by cruising to a 13th Major title on Sunday to go fourth on the all time list of Slam winners.

Only Pete Sampras (14), Rafael Nadal (17) and Roger Federer (20) are ahead of him following his 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Kevin Anderson.

Now the 31-year-old heads for the North America hard court season where he has traditionally thrived.

Of his 69 career titles, 51 have been on hard courts with 17 of those in the
United States.

When he won his first title in 2011, he was to add his maiden US Open, repeating the grass court/hard court double four years later.

His desire to repeat that feat burns even deeper after he missed last year’s New York showpiece with the elbow injury which threatened to torpedo his career after his 2017 Wimbledon bid ended prematurely at the quarterfinal stage.

“Well, I understand people are questioning whether I can consistently play at this level. Trust me, I am, too,” said Djokovic.

“If you asked me a month and a half ago whether I can win this tournament, part of me says yes, I hope, but maybe I wasn’t sure at that time of my level of tennis.

“But this is going to be a huge confidence boost and springboard for whatever is coming up. I like to play on hard courts.

“The US Open was always a successful tournament for me. I didn’t play it last year. I’m looking forward to go out there and play my best.”

Djokovic’s title triumph on Sunday was his first at the Majors since Roland Garros in 2016 when he completed the career Grand Slam.

He arrived at Wimbledon in a prolonged slump after undergoing elbow surgery and with his ranking at 21, his lowest for 12 years.

But with two-time champion Andy Murray missing, eight-time winner Federer defeated by Anderson in the quarterfinals and Djokovic beating world No 1 Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion in a 5-hour 15-minute semifinal, the stage was set for the Serb.

He will head to the US boosted by his rejuvenation and knowing he has a winning record against all his leading rivals.

He is 27-25 against Nadal, 23-22 when up against Federer and 25-11 in his head-to-head series with Murray.

Despite his joy at winning his first Slam for two years, Djokovic admitted there were times when he thought he would never return to the top.

“Yeah, yeah, absolutely. There were several moments where I was frustrated and questioning whether I can get back on the desired level or not.

“But that makes this whole journey even more special for me.” — AFP

Hafizh surges ahead in rookies’ battle

PETALING JAYA — Malaysia’s Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah seized back the momentum in the Rookie of the Year challenge after finishing a creditable 11th at the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring circuit on Sunday.

The 24-year-old earned five points in his best finish of his debut season to push Franco Morbidelli to second spot in the rookies standings.

The Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider skipped the German GP after sustaining injuries during the Dutch GP a fortnight ago.

Hafiz, however, said he needs to stay focused to maintain his position ahead of Italy’s Morbidelli.

“The 11th position is the best I have achieved so far but I continue fighting to the last race. I’m also happy to have bounced back after going through bad performances in the last few races,” said the Monster Yamaha Tech3
rider.

“Now I felt like in the beginning of the season. Honestly this track is really tricky but I did very well.”

Hafizh leads the rookie standings with 22 points while Morbidelli has 19
points.

Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez cruised to his ninth consecutive German GP win to extend his lead at the top of the riders standings.

Starting from pole, the Spaniard finished ahead of Valentino Rossi while the Italian veteran’s Yamaha teammate Maverick Vinales was third.

Marquez leads the standings with 165 points, 46 ahead of Rossi and 56 more than Vinales.

The next race — Czech Republic GP — will be on Aug 5.

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Wholesome meals at Yin’s

If you can’t get enough of Yin’s sourdough bread and/or have been dreaming about sinking your teeth into one of her sourdough pizzas, the baker now has a restaurant in Bayan Baru called Yin’s Wholefood Manufactory.

The Italian oven, used for the pizzas, was shifted and installed at the restaurant after they closed her Yin’s Sourdough Pizza outlet in George Town.

Opened in late 2017, Yin’s Wholefood Manufactory is all about food made from scratch with locally-sourced ingredients.

The person behind the the bakery and restaurant, Chan Su Yin, said they want to offer food that is healthy with vegetables and poultry from local farms.

“Most of the items on the menu are homemade, including the chicken sausages and chicken nuggets in the children’s menu,” she said.

Though the menu consists of what seems to be normal Western fare such as spaghetti, sandwiches and sourdough pizzas, some of these dishes are fused with local flavours to enhance the natural ingredients used.

A must-try is the confit chicken and warm brown rice salad that is served with a nutmeg and tomato relish to add a burst of sour spicy flavours.

This is also one place to enjoy some French fries without worries as the mixed potato fries — chunks of potatoes and sweet potatoes — are air fried.

Children will love their homemade nuggets made from minced chicken and deep fried to a nice crunch and then served with papaya and green chilli BBQ sauce and fries.

There are also vegetarian options such as their baked pumpkin kefir rice that is served with brinjals, tomatoes, dried fruits, cashews and mozzarella.

They have set lunch menus that come with a starter of either a salad or soup, mains that can be chosen from the a la carte lunch menu, and a drink.

The sourdough pizzas are only available for dinner and the same options as before are available; Italian Margherita, the vegetarian zucchini and eggplant pizza, the eggs benny and some specials of the day according to the ingredients available.

Coffee snobs will be happy with the drip coffee and Japanese ice style of Ethiopia Ditmu or Yirgacheffe beans. These are roasted by the Bayan Coffee Roasters.

They offer thirst-quenchers like the Japanese cucumber and apple one called the Japanese Apple and for banana lovers, a Cookies gone Bananas smoothie.

There are also kefir-based drinks mixed with fresh fruits that are loaded with natural probiotics and sweetened by raw honey.

The restaurant shares a space with an organic food and grocery store so you can also do a spot of shopping for organic food after your meal.

Yin’s Wholefood Manufactory

5-G-17, Promenade Persiaran Mahsuri,

11950 Bayan Lepas.

Time: 8am-11.30pm

Tel: 011-24195118

Ice cream indulgence

Durian lovers, if you haven’t already marked your calendars you might want to keep today clear for McDonald’s All-You-Can-Eat D24 Durian McFlurry event.

The D24 Durian McFlurry is one of McDonald’s hottest-selling menu items and you can expect to savour a free-flow of the irresistible treat at all McDonald’s restaurants nationwide.

Made with vanilla soft serve mixed with real D24 durian, it is the ultimate treat for all fans of the king of fruits which is why McDonald’s will be setting aside two one-hour sessions (3pm to 4pm and 5pm to 6pm) for this exclusive, never-before-held event.

Do take note that each hourly session will be limited to 20 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration for the first session will start at 2.30pm while registration for session two will be at 4.30pm.

Customers lucky enough to join the sessions will be seated at a designated area in the restaurant and shall be entitled to unlimited refills of the creamy D24 Durian McFlurry during each hourly session.

This exclusive offer is valid for dine-in customers only at RM10 for adults and children aged four and above. Little ones under the age of three eat for free.

For more details, check out McDonald’s Facebook page or website here. You can also follow the Durian McFlurry craze on social media with the hashtag #DurianMcFlurry.

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TV shows to binge watch

Summer is a great time to catch up on the TV shows that you haven’t got round to watching yet. From the surprise hit Money Heist, the must-see Mindhunter and the dramatic The Looming Tower to the humorous antics of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve, here are five shows to binge watch this summer.

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel)

This is THE hit series of 2018. After proving popular in Spain, Money Heist — also known under its Spanish title La Casa de Papel — scored phenomenal success worldwide after landing on Netflix.

Ahead of season three, due in 2019, this summer is the perfect time to get up to speed on the hit drama, which follows a gang of eight recruits working for a criminal mastermind known as The Professor who is plotting a heist on the Royal Mint of Spain.

The Looming Tower

Screened on Hulu — also home to The Handmaid’s Tale — in the USA and internationally on Amazon, The Looming Tower looks back at the run up to the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States.

Based on the 2006 book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, the series traces events leading up to the 9/11 attacks, notably on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

The cast includes Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation), Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven) and French actor Tahar Rahim (A Prophet). A potential second season is apparently being discussed.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Amazon’s new show proved a surprise winner at the Golden Globes in January, where it took two gongs, including best musical or comedy TV series. The show follows the emancipation of Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a New York housewife in the late 1950s who discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy.

The American actress, Rachel Brosnahan, also won a Golden Globe for her performance in the show.

Killing Eve

Sandra Oh made a successful return to TV after leaving Grey’s Anatomy. In this new show, the former Cristina Yang plays Eve, a desk-bound agent of the British security service, MI5, who starts tracking down a psychopathic assassin.

The series premiered in April on BBC America, and the network has already renewed the psychological thriller for a second season.

Mindhunter

Produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron, Mindhunter explores the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling techniques in the FBI, based on the true story of agents John Douglas and Robert Kessler.

Set in 1977, the show follows Bill Tench and Holden Ford, two FBI agents interviewing serial killers and psychopaths to understand how they think. Mindhunter is set to return for a second season on the streaming site with Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany reprising their lead roles.

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Best known resting places

IT may not be as popular as heading to the beach or visiting a museum but tombstone tourism counts its fair share of enthusiasts — and the number seems to be growing. Whether one is in search of a favourite artist’s final resting place, a graveyard dedicated to the sacrifices of soldiers, or a unique historical and cultural site, here’s a list of six of the world’s best-known cemeteries.

France

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Notwithstanding competition from the Normandy American Cemetery and the Marine Cemetery of Bonifacio in Corsica, Pere Lachaise continues to be France’s best-known resting place. Located in the French capital’s 20th arrondissement, Pere Lachaise extends over 44 hectares, divided into 70,000 plots. Balzac, Apollinaire, Chopin, Jim Morrisson, de Musset, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde are just some of the many famous people to be buried there.

Czech Republic

The Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

This cemetery tells the story of the city’s ancient Jewish community, whose relics and history are presented in the nearby Jewish Museum of Prague. Much of the graveyard is surprisingly wild with certain headstones barely standing and others overrun by vegetation. It includes some 12,000 marked plots, but many more people were buried there. Several layers of earth were added, up to 12 in some places, to find room for more graves without disturbing existing ones.

United States

Green-Wood Cemetery, New York

Located in the rolling hills of Brooklyn, Green-Wood Cemetery offers unusual views of the New York skyline. Rising above the graves, you can even see the Statue of Liberty. French visitors may have the impression that they are actually in Père Lachaise, which served as an inspiration for the designers of Green-Wood. The Brooklyn graveyard is nonetheless a lot greener and more like a park than its Parisian counterpart.

Romania

The Merry Cemetery, Sapanța

Not far from Transylvania, the legendary homeland of vampires, Sapanța offers a much more optimistic vision to the point where it is known as the Merry Cemetery. All of its tombstones are decorated with brightly coloured paintings inspired by stories from the lives of those who are buried there. In some cases, the deceased wrote their own humorous epitaphs before they passed away.

Philippines

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Luzon

Some ethnic groups in the Pacific archipelago still honour an ancient custom in which relatives are buried in coffins that are placed on beams or rocks projecting from cliffs. In the village of Sagada, the coffins are actually suspended with ropes. The tradition developed from a wish to prevent deceased relatives from being eaten by animals. Similar funeral sites are also found in Southern China and Indonesia.

Japan

Yanaka Cemetery, Tokyo

A short distance from Ueno Park, Yanaka is home to some 7,000 graves that benefit from the shade of its cherry trees and regular visits from neighbourhood cats who enjoy its peaceful atmosphere. The most famous cemetery in Tokyo, and in Japan, Yanaka is also known as the final resting place of the last shogun of the Edo period and writer Ichiyo Higuchi, who features on the ¥5,000 banknote. — AFP-Relaxnews

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Rock music his first love

Charismatic actor Wan Hanafi Su’s first love is rock music.

“Not many people know that I started as a musician and I used to play in pubs, back in the day,” said the silver-haired 68-year-old.

Having been in the industry for 40 years, starting as an assistant in the 1978 drama Kalut, his heart still craves returning to the world of music.

The jovial Terengganu native told Malay Mail, “I want to make a musical comeback to show everyone ‘the older you are, the more the rocker’.”

However, revival of his seven-piece rock band called Anak, Baru Band, is on hold, as his eldest son is currently attached to the band Opsi as a guitarist.

Wan belongs to an elite group of musicians like Ringo Starr and Phil Collins who are the kings of coordination, as they can sing and play the drums at the same time.

“It’s not hard. Drums are bass, so you can also sing. I find it better than someone else drumming while I sing,” said the father of six.

The LuQman star also wants to return to composing music. “I used to write songs during the ‘rock kapak’ time and some of the songs are evergreen.”

To his credit are classics like Aku Hanya Serangga, Penemu Ruang Rindu, and the soundtrack for drama series Hari-Hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman.

Wan won Best Actor at the Anugerah Skrin 2013 for his role in Hari-Hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman.

The multi-talented artist made history in the Malaysian film industry as the first actor to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, for his role in Singaporean director Boo Junfeng’s movie Apprentice.

While that movie was the island’s entry for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category that year, it was not the first time a movie starring the old-timer was up for Oscar consideration.

Wan also starred in Malaysia’s Oscar submissions Bunohan (2012) and Lelaki Harapan Dunia (2015).

His artistic skills are not confined to acting and music. Wan loves to paint and was a Fine Arts student at Institut Teknologi Mara, Petaling Jaya in 1969.

“I paint sceneries but in a different perspective much like Pablo Picasso.”

On why he didn’t complete his diploma, he said, “I guess acting called”.

Wan currently plays the lead in a 13-episodes drama series by Sabri Yunus.

He also has a cameo role in HBO Asia’s upcoming movie The Garden of Evening Mists, based on a book by Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng.

“I am very happy that at my age I can get a role in an HBO movie. I play a rich Malay guy who owns a plantation and wants to see Malaya achieve independence.”

“It is not that difficult to find work as a senior actor, as almost every genre requires older characters to make an appearance. The drawback is payment.

“Filmmakers pay older actors less when it should be the opposite. Sometimes, if the pay is too low, I decline the role, as I have to make a stand.”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Wan’s daughter Budi Citawan has also taken up acting.

“She has a fulltime job with Astro now. I would rather she only acts part time.”

On how long he intends to keep acting, he said, “I will stop when people don’t want to see me anymore, although I hope that never happens.”

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