Author: AFP

Kaepernick ditches private NFL workout for public session

Washington (AFP) – Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protest during the national anthem became a major controversy, displayed strong passing skills at a Saturday workout and vowed he’s “ready to play” after nearly three years out of the league. The 32-year-old former San Francisco 49ers star ditched the NFL’s planned private workout for a throwing session at an Atlanta-area high school, showing top-level accuracy and arm strength while making his case for a comeback before scouts from eight NFL clubs. “I appreciate you all coming out. It means a lot to me,” Kaepernick said. “My biggest thing with ... Read more

Kaepernick ditches NFL workout, holds own public session

Washington (AFP) – Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose anthem kneeling protest became a major controversy, ditched the league’s planned private workout Saturday over liability waiver and transparency issues, instead holding a public session. The mess figures to hurt the former San Francisco 49ers star’s chances of returning to the NFL for the first time since 2016, even though 25 clubs had sent representatives to watch Kaepernick’s session. The NFL had planned a private workout at the Atlanta Falcons training facility, but Kaepernick representatives said about 30 minutes before its scheduled start that he was instead moving the workout to ... Read more

Euro 2020 takes shape as Netherlands, Germany and Croatia qualify

Paris (AFP) – The Netherlands, Germany and World Cup finalists Croatia became the last big hitters to qualify for Euro 2020 on Saturday as the trio booked their places at next summer’s finals. Austria also made it through to the multi-host tournament, which kicks off on June 12, with 16 teams now ensured of a spot at the 24-team event and only four places remaining from the main qualifying route. They join other big names such like Spain, Italy, England and Belgium, who will all fancy their chances come kick-off at the opening match at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Ronald Koeman’s ... Read more

Kroos calls for improvements as Germany book Euro 2020 berth

Mönchengladbach (Germany) (AFP) – Toni Kroos struck twice as Germany qualified for the Euro 2020 finals on Saturday by thumping Belarus 4-0 but the Real Madrid star insists there is still room for improvement. A deft back-heeled goal from defender Matthias Ginter and impressive finishing by Leon Goretzka and Kroos gave the Germans a comfortable 3-0 lead early in the second half. Germany captain Manuel Neuer produced a superb save to keep out Belarus striker Igor Stasevich’s penalty before Kroos dribbled through the defence to claim his second goal seven minutes from time. “Until we went 1-0 up, it is ... Read more

Netherlands book Euro 2020 berth after Davis penalty miss

Belfast (AFP) – The Netherlands booked their place at Euro 2020 as they survived a missed penalty from Steven Davis in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland. Ronald Koeman’s side arrived at Windsor Park knowing one point would be enough to ensure they qualified from Group C. They achieved that goal thanks to a stroke of luck when Northern Ireland captain Davis blasted his first-half penalty high over the bar. The Netherlands had failed to qualify for the Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, so this was a cathartic moment for a country with such a rich football heritage. ... Read more

Benzema hits out at continued French exile

Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has told French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet he and he alone will decide when the time to end his international retirement has come. After Real coach Zinedine Zidane called for Benzema’s four-year France exile, caused by his alleged part in an attempt to blackmail Mathieu Valbuena, to end this week, Le Graet told French radio Benzema’s adventure with the French team was finished. “Noel, I thought you didn’t interfere with the decisions of the France coach,” said Benzema on Twitter. “Please understand that I and I alone will call an ... Read more

Ronaldo targets 100th goal, Euro 2020 berth and revenge

Lisbon (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo travels to Luxembourg on Sunday with the objective of helping reigning champions Portugal qualify for Euro 2020 and the 100-goal mark for his country within his reach. The former Real Madrid star is also eager to prove he is not a player in decline after his angry reaction to being substituted by Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri in the past two games. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who turns 35 years in February, responded in typically defiant fashion with a hat-trick in Portugal’s 6-0 win over Lithuania on Thursday. It brought his tally to 98 goals ... Read more

Mancini’s Italy visit ‘wounded’ Venice

Venice (AFP) – Roberto Mancini’s Italian national football team travelled to flood-hit Venice on Saturday, the morning after extending their winning streak in Euro 2020 qualifying. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma donned knee-high wellington boots along with Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina to visit the inundated St Mark’s Square. The iconic square had been reopened earlier Saturday after unusually intense “acqua alta”, or high water, which hit its highest level in half a century. “On behalf of the whole team, we stand close to the city of Venice,” said AC Milan’s Donnarumma. The FIGC delegation visited several businesses damaged by ... Read more