Keane: What hangover?

BELGRADE — Assistant manager Roy Keane insists there can be no European Championship hangover for the Republic of Ireland, because they had nothing to celebrate.

The Irish got knocked out in the last 16 in France and Keane says: “I wouldn’t mind having a hangover if Ireland ever won Euro 2016, I’d have one for a couple of years.

“But let’s be realistic, we got out of the group in France, we didn’t bloody win it. I don’t think we came back on a massive high.

“We really had a good go and it was a great experience, I appreciate all that but there’s no doubt in my mind or the players about the importance of the game coming up.

“If we thought we’d one or two players in our group still having a jolly from Euro 2016, we’d nail them.”

Ireland face Serbia in the opening game of their World Cup qualifying campaign in Belgrade tomorrow (2.45am) and manager Martin O’Neill must decide whether Seamus Coleman is fit enough to start.

Coleman has not played for Everton this season because of an ankle injury and Cyrus Christie is on stand-by to replace him.

Derby fullback Christie said: “The manager does have faith in me to play and if I need to be called upon … It’s just a waiting game.

“When we were away at Euro 2016, he came up to me and said I deserved the chance to play, but he couldn’t really fit me in the team at that moment and just to look forward to the World Cup qualifiers.” — Agencies

Mark Halsey

Halsey won’t be silenced

LONDON — Under-fire former referee Mark Halsey has revealed the incident which he claims he was pressurised to say he hadn’t seen by league bosses.

The 55-year-old former Premier League official sparked controversy on Saturday by alleging on social media he’d been influenced to alter post-match reports.

Yesterday, he specified the incident in question as the 2011 clash between Stoke and Blackburn, when he was told to say he hadn’t witnessed Steven N’Zonzi’s elbow on Ryan Shawcross.

“I saw the incident between Steven Nzonzi and Ryan Shawcross and was happy it was not a red card,” Halsey said.

“Then, when the assessor came in, he said there was no problem and that I’d refereed very well.

“On the Monday we had our get-together with referees and I was told, ‘Look at this’ and I was still happy with the decision.

“I was told to expect a call from the FA compliance department, which I duly got.

“When I got the call I said I was still happy — but they said my bosses weren’t happy. I was under pressure to say I hadn’t seen it.

“I was furious but no matter what industry you are in, you do what your bosses say. “So he was charged and got three matches.”

The organising body for elite referees in England, the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited), has denied it pressured officials into saying they hadn’t seen match incidents, despite Halsey naming them as the responsible party.

“Match officials submit their reports, including critical incidents, directly to the FA. Match officials ensure their reports are a full and accurate description of the incident. There is no pressure from the PGMO to include or omit anything,” it said in a statement.

PGMOL was formed in 2001 to improve refereeing standards and provides officials for across the Premier League, Football League and FA competitions, receiving funding from all three bodies.

Halsey’s alarming claims, which may have helped sway the results of retrospective appeals, should cause concern throughout football.

Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender and Valencia boss, tweeted: “Is that not corrupt? “Mark, I’d like to know who told you to say that!

“@FA and @premierleague think you have a major issue on your hands!!

“I’ve spoken with Mark. Verified the statement. Huge problem!!!”
— Daily Mirror

Romelu Lukaku (2)

Lukaku can’t wait to start firing

LONDON — Striker Romelu Lukaku (pic), vowed to score goals for Everton for at least one more year, once he is 100 per cent fit.

The 22-year-old former Chelsea man has not scored this season having started just one Premier League game after struggling with fitness since returning from Euro 2016 with Belgium.

Lukaku was the subject of transfer speculation throughout the summer after he confirmed he wanted to move away from Goodison Park at the end of last season, leaving agent Mino Raiola to handle his future while he went on holiday.

However, after Farhad Moshiri became majority shareholder at the club and Ronald Koeman arrived as manager, Lukaku remained with Everton and is now focused on scoring goals, once getting over his injury problems.

When asked if speculation around his future had affected his form, Lukaku told Sky Sports: “Not at all. I left it all to my agent, he dealt with it.

“I just went on holiday and when I came back the last game before the season started I had an injury. It kept me out for a long time. I couldn’t do anything with it.

“So now for me it’s just my pre-season phase so I’m working really hard to be 100 per cent fit. As soon as I’m fit the goals will come.”

Lukaku is away with the Belgium squad ahead of their World Cup Qualifier against Cyprus on Wednesday, where Roberto Martinez, who was sacked as Everton manager in May, will take charge of his second game.

Koeman spent £28 million (RM152 million) to bring in Yannick Bolasie and £12 million (RM65 million) to add defender Ashley Williams this summer, and has overseen an unbeaten start to the season.

However, Lukaku revealed he and Koeman had little direct contact during the transfer window.

“We didn’t talk too much about the situation,” said Lukaku.

“He was in contact with my agent throughout the period.

“I just focused on my football. For me personally I just want to do my best for the team.”

On whether he would stay one more year at Everton, Lukaku said: “Yeah.”

Rumours Lukaku was unhappy with Martinez taking over as Belgium manager emerged after he was pictured animated while on the Everton substitutes bench when news of Martinez’s appointment broke.

However Lukaku — who has 49 goals for Belgium — dismissed the speculation.

“You are on the bench you cannot focus on stuff happening outside the pitch,” he said.

“I don’t know how people get stuff like this it’s really crazy.”

Lukaku praised the appointment of former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry as Belgium assistant manager.

“He is really demanding and somebody who have won a lot and is always really vocal. That’s something we really need,” he said. — Agencies

Ozil wants special 
jersey

LONDON — Playmaker Mesut Ozil insisted he will definitely have the No 10 shirt at Arsenal following Jack Wilshere’s loan to Bournemouth.

The Germany international has worn No 11 since arriving from Real Madrid for a club-record fee in 2013, with Wilshere handed No 10 when Robin van Persie left for Manchester United 12 months earlier.

Ozil recently took up the No 10 shirt for Germany following Lukas Podolski’s international retirement.

Now, with Wilshere spending the season at Bournemoth, he is confident of wearing the same number at the Emirates.

“For me, the number means a lot,” Ozil told Express about his new Germany number.

“It is my favorite number. Football legends such as Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona and Pele have worn this number. I’m really happy about it.

“I wanted the number a few years ago, but so did Podolski and he had played more matches than me. Now I have access!

“Of course, I’ve previously given those in charge a signal. The number is right for me and my position as playmaker.”

When asked if he is going to do similar with Wilshere’s shirt number, Ozil said: “Yes, it has become free and I definitely want it.” — Agencies

Public information mess

CONFUSION reigns among authorities in disseminating public information as the first locally-transmitted Zika case reported in Sabah was revealed yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, three from a family in Malacca were suspected of being infected with the virus following their return from Singapore recently. Hours later, they were declared Zikafree.

The Health Ministry admitted it should issue regular statements to clear the air and keep people updated.

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Big Sam, huge ego

ENGLAND manager Sam Allardyce takes charge of his first game on a stage he has been craving for all his life. Although he has not won a major trophy in the English top flight, the former Bolton and Sunderland boss believes he is better than previous England boss Roy Hodgson. — Picture by Getty

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Lawlessness in city with ‘zero crime’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visits the site of a bomb blast at a night market in Davao City that killed 14 and injured 71 on Friday.

Authorities blamed Islamic militants for the attack as Duterte declared a ‘state of lawlessness’ in the country.

Picture by AFP

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First man to contract virus locally dies of heart complications

PETALING JAYA — A 61-year-old man from Taman Public Jaya Likas, Sabah — the first Malaysian to contract the Zika virus locally — has died of heart complications.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry received a report on the locally transmitted Zika case on Friday.

He said blood and urine tests showed the patient tested positive for Zika. The man, however, died at 5.30pm yesterday from heart-related complications.

Dr Noor Hisham said the man also had high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and gout. The full result of the cause of death is still pending.

The man had been scheduled to undergo heart surgery next month.

In an earlier statement, Dr Noor Hisham said the patient had fever on Aug 27 and received treatment at Luyang Health Clinic on Tuesday.

His fever worsened on Wednesday and he suffered from muscular aches and diarrhoea. The patient received further treatment and was warded at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.

As the patient had hypertension, cardiovascular problems, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and gout, his condition was quite serious when he was treated at the Emergency and Trauma Department of the hospital, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry was also investigating the patient’s recent travel history.

“There is a high possibility the Zika infection was transmitted locally considering the patient had not travelled out of the country recently,” he said.

“Based on the latest findings of the inquiry, the ministry has initiated vector control activities in the residential area of ​​the patient and other places visited by the patient.”

He said the ministry had initiated vector control measures for the housing area where the man lived as well as places he had visited.

Checks were also being conducted on the patient’s acquaintances and others who may have come into contact with him to verify if they could have contracted the virus.

The latest case came two days after Malaysia confirmed its first imported case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman residing in Bandar Botanic, Klang, who had visited her daughter in Singapore on Aug 19.

Dr Noor Hisham said the number of Zika cases was expected to increase if there were no preventive and precautionary efforts taken by the community.

“The ministry once again emphasises that the most effective way to prevent Zika cases is to ensure your environment is clean and free from Aedes breeding grounds,” he said.

It was previously reported that Zika was detected in Aedes aegypt mosquitoes in Peninsular Malaysia in 1969. In 2001, Zika serepositivity was demonstrated in a native Borneo resident, two migrants to Borneo and two Borneo orangutan. A later study found an additional eight orangutan to be seropositive for antibodies against Zika.

A letter published by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention stated a 45-year-old woman who returned from Sabah in 2014 after a three-week vacation started experiencing fever and maculopapular rash on her arms and legs. She was found infected with acute Zika virus.

In George Town, Penang, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said efforts were ongoing to prevent the virus from spreading.

“We have devices to scan passengers to identify those with high body temperature at our international entry points. Those with high body temperature will be asked to undergo tests to confirm if they have contracted Zika,” he said..

He warned Penang folk not to take the warning lightly as the state had one of the highest number of dengue cases in the country.

“We must do the necessary to ensure we are not infected by the virus which can be transmitted through the Aedes mosquito,” he said after officiating the national level “World Breastfeeding Week” at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Penang Health Department director Datuk Dr M. Sukumar, who was present, said the department would double its efforts including intensified fogging at hotspots for dengue cases.

“We are also educating the public on the danger of the virus through health talks in schools and public places,” he said.

Malacca clears family of three after tests

MALACCA — Blood and urine tests conducted on three members of a family here suspected of being infected by the Zika virus turned out negative.

State health, sports development and anti-drugs committee chairman Datuk Ab Rahaman Ab Karim said the confirmation was issued by the state Health Department based on tests done by the Durian Tunggal health clinic here.

“The mother and two daughters have been confirmed to be free of Zika infection and this puts to rest earlier reports about them being victims of Zika,” he told a press conference yesterday.

“So I wish to confirm there are no Zika cases in Malacca.”

The press conference was called in response to reports about the family suspected of being infected with the Zika virus and had been quarantined at their home in Durian Tunggal after returning from Singapore on Tuesday.

Earlier, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said in Segamat his ministry would conduct an investigation and all necessary tests would be conducted on the three. — Bernama

Patient Zero’s movements tightly guarded

PETALING JAYA — The movements of the nation’s first Zika patient appear to be a closely guarded secret.

The authorities were not forthcoming with their answers when asked where the 58-year-old woman from Bandar Botanic, Klang, had travelled upon returning from Singapore where she was infected with the virus.

An official from the Selangor Health Department, who declined to be named, confirmed the patient visited a clinic in Taman Sri Pesona, Klang.

“Patient Zero sought treatment there. She also visited a home near the clinic located at Jalan Mempelam,” the official said.

The source said decontamination and preventative procedures were carried out in those areas.

The official added a similar operation was done at the patient’s home in Bandar Botanic and a nearby hypermarket.

“The hypermarket was inspected and the area surrounding it was fogged, including a small section of plants and undergrowth located near this hypermart.”

A Kuala Lumpur Health Department official confirmed the patient had visited a mega mall and that the building was inspected.

“But we found there were no larvae or mosquito breeding spots in the mall,” the official said.

The official said the Health Ministry had issued directives that the department not disclose the locations the patient had visited.

“They said there was no need to create public panic and that they had assessed the situation and found there was no need to inform the public where the patient went,” the official said.

“But people would want to know … if they should get themselves checked. If they have Zika or dengue-like symptoms, then they need to get tested.”

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