Jamaica will start a training camp in preparation for a historic appearance at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Futsal Championship to be held in Havana, Cuba, January 22-26.A 16-man squad was named by player/coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore to start training today at the National Indoors Sports Centre.A total of eight teams, divided into two groups, will participate in the CFU tournament.Group One comprises: Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, CuraÁao and Guyana, while Group Two features host Cuba, Guadeloupe, Jamaica and St Maarten.Jamaica is scheduled to face Guadeloupe on January 22 in the opening game at the Sala Polivalente Kid Chocolate Complex in Cuba.The top three from the CFU will advance to the CONCACAF Championship on May 8-15 in Costa Rica. After that, the top four will advance to the 2016 World Futsal Championship.The training squad is: Anthony Marks, Savian Maxwell, Loran Lewis, Jason Wint, Theodore Whitmore, Fabian Taylor, Edsel Scott, Ramone Sibley, Jerome Haughton, David Swaby, Marcelino Blackburn, Shavar Blake, Marvin Morgan, Michily Waul, Donovan Carey and Kemeel Wolfe.
LONDON (AP): A change of managers at Chelsea, but Arsenal still can’t conquer their London rivals. Arsenal was undone by a damaging five-minute spell in the first-half of yesterday’s derby against a Chelsea team unbeaten after a month under Guus Hiddink’s control. Per Mertesacker was sent off for tripping Diego Costa, then the striker scored the game’s only goal at the Emirates Stadium in the 23rd minute. “He got Mertesacker sent off,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of Costa. “A fact is a fact, I do not accuse him of anything. It’s just what happened.” It’s now four years, three months since Wenger figured out how to beat Chelsea, which have their fifth manager since the 5-3 loss to Arsenal in November 2011. Arsenal turned their stadium into a fortress this season, remaining unbeaten in the league since the opening day – until yesterday. Arsenal dropped from first to third place this weekend, behind leaders Leicester and Manchester City, although there are 45 points still to play for. “We had a mountain to climb with 10 men but I believe even there, there was enough to come out at least with a 1-1,” Wenger said. “It’s a shame to put such an energy into a game and come away without the point. And overall I felt we gave absolutely everything until the end.” Wenger was jeered by Arsenal fans for replacing striker Olivier Giroud with defender Gabriel after losing Mertesacker. “You want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what? I made the decision and for me it was quite normal,” Wenger told reporters. “We had to go for long distances and we needed pace to go from one goal to the other. We knew we had to drop deeper and use pace to get forward.” For Chelsea, the focus is now on the Champions League and FA Cup. Since Jose Mourinho was fired last month for turning the champs into chumps, the league campaign has been about restoring pride. Hiddink has achieved three wins and four draws, but Chelsea are still in the lower reaches of the standings in 13th place. The fourth Champions League place, occupied by Tottenham 14 points away, looks unobtainable. Everton are a point and a place above Chelsea after losing 2-1 to Swansea in yesterday’s other game. Gylfi Sigurdsson put Swansea in front from the penalty spot in the 17th minute and after Jack Cork’s own goal levelled the game, Andre Ayew netted before half-time to give Francesco Guidolin made a winning start as head coach of the Welsh club. Swansea moved four points above the relegation zone. “I dreamed of working in Premier League but I didn’t dream of winning the first match,” said Guidolin, the former Udinese coach. “I must understand what happens in this day because I am surprised. It is new for me.”
KC Graham: Are we going to see a repeat in the women’s 400-metre hurdles like we had in the men’s event where the howling favourite failed to advance from the preliminary round? Andre Lowe: Bershawn Jackson’s disaster is the first big shocker of the championships but some US officials said he wasn’t healthy so who knows? Unlikely that we will see a repeat among the women though. KC: By the way, who do you think is the favourite here as any of the big three, in Zuzana Hejnová, Kaliese Spencer and Shamier Little look like a possible winner here. Andre: That’s a tough question. Eight weeks ago I would have said Spencer without doubt but several things have happened since then. Hejnová is again looking like the champion she is, Little has shown she can run against the big girls and run fast and Spencer has had a few injury setbacks and that is key for me. I’d say that Hejnová is now the favourite because she looks fit and has the experience. KC: I have a very sneaky feeling that Sara Slott Petersen from Denmark could be a big spoiler here as she looked extremely good in Paris when finishing second behind Hejnová. Andre: It’s the World Champs, there is almost always a spoiler and she looks like as good a bet as any to mess up the party for the favourites. I certainly think Spencer breaks her duck and wins her first ever medal at the World Championships here. KC: Despite being unbeaten so far and being the world leader with 53.74 seconds I do not see Little winning here. I know she wouldn’t mind taking the Oregon track with her around the world as she has been unbeaten there for the past two seasons, including her World Junior win last year. I definitely think this occasion though will be too big for her but she has youth in her favour and she looks a future World and Olympic champion. Andre: Hejnová for the win. This Beijing track is bouncing, look for a fast time here, 53.1 or high 52 seconds with Spencer taking the silver and her first individual medal at a major global outdoor championships with a time of 53.5. She would have won here had she not suffered those two setbacks over the past month and a half. Third to Little but she’ll be back for more in the years to come. KC: The hurdles are about rhythm so the more you compete in this event it helps you and I am a bit concerned that Spencer has not competed in a while and she has a few flaws in the latter part of the race. Hejnová is the only sub-53 seconds athlete among the top athletes here and with her great finish she will win in around 52.96. It is going to be a bang up finish for the silver and bronze among Spencer, Little and Petersen.
Andre: We saw how competitive things were in the men’s 400 metres, and the 4x400m will certainly be another event where we could see some exciting action.KC: Yeah! Gone are the days when the United States would start as overwhelming favourites. Things have changed and it should be close-going all the way to the end.Andre: Absolutely, the gap has certainly closed between the US and the other top teams in this event and nothing is guaranteed for the Americans. This is a tough one and one that has three to four possible winners.KC: Despite the gap closing, it will be hard betting against them, though, as the athletes in their line-up have all gone sub-45 secondsAndre: They are a team with a lot of class, but there are several teams with multiple guys running sub-45, such as Trinidad and Tobago and even Jamaica. That is not such a rarity these days, so it can hardly been seen as an advantage for the Americans.KC: Trinidad and Tobago, I think, have the greatest chance of upstaging the Americans, while the likes of Great Britain, Belgium, and Jamaica will ensure that the top two are fully extended.Andre: Yes. Trinidad and Tobago have a very good crop of athletes, but they have failed to deliver in the past so I don’t trust them too much.KC: I had expected The Bahamas to be major threats, but, unfortunately, they will not be there in the final and their absence will see the United States under less pressure as they have one less top team to worry about.Andre: Good point, but The Bahamas quarter-milers have not been doing that well comparatively and, pressure or not, this USA team is primed to do well at this event, like they always do. The real battle is going to be among Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Russia, and look out for Kenya on this one.KC: The key for Jamaica here is Javon Francis, but something went wrong with him after his anchor leg in the preliminary round and if he is not good to go in the final, we can forget about getting any medal here as he is the backbone of the team.Andre: He is good to go, according to the team officials, but I don’t know if there will be any lingering effects of the injury while he is actually competing. He suffered this injury when another athlete crashed into him at the end of his heat.KC: If he is good to go and with Rusheen McDonald inserted in the team, Jamaica will definitely be a medal contenders as I think this quartet is much stronger than the one two years ago that got silver. And Francis will definitely not get the baton too far off the pack on anchor this time around.Andre: I’m picking USA for the win. I’m not sure about Trinidad and Tobago. On paper, they ought to beat Jamaica, but they hardly live up to expectations these days. USA first, Jamaica repeats their Moscow performance for the silver, and Kenya with the bronzeKC: It has not been a good championship for the United States. They surely need a win here to ensure that they stay above Jamaica on the gold-medal table and will be pumped up. With LaShawn Merritt back at his best, he should anchor them to an impressive victory. I give Trinidad and Tobago the edge for silver with Jamaica just edging out the Great Britain team for bronze.
Former West Indies ‘A’ batsman Shacaya Thomas will be eyeing a century when play resumes today, the second day of Jamaica Scorpions’ third four-day trial match at Sabina Park.The usually aggressive Thomas, in his best knock of the three games thus far, closed the day on 56 not out, as Paul Palmer XI, responding to a meagre 124 made by John Campbell XI, closed the day on 84 for one, 40 runs behind.Earlier, former Scorpions’ vice-captain Nikita Miller, with four for 51, led the way for Palmer XI.The sidelined West Indies left-arm spinner was supported by young pacers Gavan Brown and Chris Powell, who earlier on did most of the damage, before finishing with three for 30 and two for six, respectively.
TOP TEAMS and individuals will be on the hunt for major prizes as the Digicel Grand Prix Finals takes place today with the staging of the G.C. Foster Classics starting this morning at 9 a.m.This will culminate after the staging of five meets, which included the Youngster Goldsmith Classics, Western Championships, Camperdown Classics, Central Championships and Corporate Area Championships.Defending champion Edwin Allen along with St Jago Boys are in pole position to take home top prize of $1 million, as both teams have big leads going into today’s grand finale.After their big win at the Central Championships and good results at Youngster Goldsmith, the Michael Dyke-coached team Edwin Allen is on 133 points – 52 points ahead of second place St Jago on 82 points. Excelsior (80), Holmwood (77) and St. Elizabeth Technical (70) close out the top five.St Jago Boys are in a dominant position among male teams as they have a 55-point lead over nearest rival Calabar, who are on 110 points. Kingston College are in third with 82 points, ahead of defending champions, St Elizabeth Technical, on 76 points in fourth, while Munro College are in fifth position on 58 points.While Edwin Allen girls and the boys of St Jago look a cinch for the top team prizes, it is expected to be keen competition in individual events as with the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships a few weeks away, athletes will be hoping for bragging rights as they seek psychological advantages going into ‘Champs’.MORE WINNINGCalabar’s Christopher Taylor, the World Youth champion in the 400m, looks set to continue his winning ways here and after his fast time in the 100m a week ago, he looks ready to go faster than his 47.18 seconds posted at the Youngster Goldsmith meet and should come out on top here as overall winner.St Elizabeth Technical’s Nigel Ellis has been having a great season so far in both the 100m and 200m and he is down to defend his title in the 100m for Class I boys.Among the girls, the 100m and 400m are expected to keep the crowd on their feet throughout as both events should be thrillers. In the 100m, Edwin Allen’s Shellece Clarke will be hoping to avenge her mid-week defeat to St Jago’s Kimone Shaw, who won the Class II event at Central Championships in a close finish.The Class I 400m will see two sub 53 seconds girls in action as St Elizabeth Technical’s Junelle Bromfield and Holmwood’s Ashley Williams are expected to have an epic battle. At Western Championships, Bromfield cracked 52.43 seconds, but the vastly improved Williams with her 52.72 seconds clocking at Central Championships will be hoping to go much faster.Today will also see the staging of the Ben Francis Invitational meet. This will take place at Jamalco Sports Club in Halse Hall Clarendon starting at 9 a.m:
POOR CHANCES FOR UNITED LONDON (AP): Leicester’s first target was exceeded long ago: Premier League survival. Another landmark was achieved yesterday: Champions League qualification for the first time. By the end of the month, Leicester should have secured the prize once simply unthinkable for such a team: the Premier League trophy itself. Jamie Vardy’s double at Sunderland sealed a 2-0 victory that guaranteed a coveted top-four finish. Leicester remain seven points clear at the top and are starting to resemble a Premier League thoroughbred with their effortless march to a first title. This isn’t what a title run-in should look like for a team yet to win the league title in its 132-year history and were in a relegation scrap this time last season. Tottenham are waiting to pounce on any slip-up by Leicester. The second-place London club responded to Leicester’s Sunderland success by ending a 15-year wait for a home win over Manchester United. A 3-0 victory was secured by Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela scoring within five minutes, 46 seconds in the second half. It pushed Tottenham a step closer to joining Leicester in the Champions League next season, having only featured in Europe’s top competition once before. United look unlikely to be with them, given that cross-town rivals Manchester City are four points ahead in fourth place. As things are progressing, record 20-time English champions United could see Leicester guarantee the title by winning at Old Trafford in three games time. Leicester are in unfamiliar territory but not showing it. There are no nerves, no sign of anxiety from Claudio Ranieri’s team. Some observers suggested the manager was crying when he entered the field after yesterday’s fifth successive win. “It’s fantastic when you see before the match a lot of old ladies with Leicester shirts outside the stadium,” Ranieri said later. “I said, ‘Unbelievable, they came from Leicester to support us.’ That is emotional; that is fantastic; that is football. “I want, through you, to say thank you for the support. It’s unbelievable. They are amazing. They are dreaming and we want to continue to dream. But to do this, we must be concentrated.” It’s looking bleak for Sunderland, who are four points from safety but with a game in hand over Norwich. There was little at stake in yesterday’s third game apart from Liverpool gaining confidence ahead of their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund, which is locked at 1-1. Liverpool dislodged Stoke from eighth place by beating the Anfield visitors 4-1. Alberto Moreno’s fine Liverpool opener was cancelled out by Bojan Krkic in the 22nd minute. But Daniel Sturridge restored Liverpool’s lead before half-time and substitute Divock Origi netted twice after the break.
They are one step away from lifting the title and are quite familiar with the venue, but head coach of the Wolmer’s Boys School Vassell Reynolds, says his team will step into today’s ISSA/FLOW Super Cup finale as underdogs. Wolmer’s will come up against the offensive machine that is Cornwall College at Sabina Park in a 6 p.m. kick-off, on a turf that might as well have been the Maroon and Gold’s backyard given their successes there. Wolmer’s, one of the more consistent teams in the island particularly in knockout competition, will face a stern test in Cornwall College, who are unbeaten after 16 games. “The fact that most people don’t expect us to win, we will be a little bit more relaxed and comfortable. I want my boys to feel that way, and play freely,” underlined Reynolds as he looked forward to today’s contest. “Possibly 10 percent of the public expects Wolmer’s to win, but we are gearing up to use that as a motivating tool and we relish that, to perform under the under-dog status banner,” he told The Gleaner. “Ninety per cent of the public will expect Cornwall to steam roll us but we are not daunted, we are just confident and privileged to go out there and perform against a very good Cornwall College team,” he added. Reynolds is adamant his charges will not allow Cornwall to take the game to them, dismissing any notion his team will play boring football. “It won’t be any boring football, sometimes to grind out a result you have to do what you have to do, and we will do whatever is necessary to win important games,” Vassell noted. “We have to take our chances, I am certain that the sort of fire-power they have in terms of the number of goals they have scored, we have to defend well. Reynolds will have a fully fit and focused roster of players today and ready to rotate properly for extra-time or penalties. He contends there will be room for error, and while Wolmer’s have not scored big in the campaign, they will be hard to score on. “We are positive that we are capable of winning the game, the guys will have to come out and play to the best of their ability. Tomorrow’s performance will have to be our best for the season so far,” Reynolds warned.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is not worried about speculation surrounding his star duo of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and does not expect their contract situation to affect performance. Both players have just over a year remaining on their current deals with the North London club, and some sections of the media have reported that the two are pushing the club to match the figures earned by the Premier League’s other top names. Sanchez is reportedly expected to be offered a mega-deal from the cash-rich Chinese Super League, with claims that former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who is now in charge of Hebei China Fortune, is ready to make a move for his fellow Chilean, with wages as high as £500,000 a week. “There is no concern, not at all. There is no concern. I answer you straight away,” said Wenger when asked if he was worried that he might lose his two stars. “You waste your time because these players have 18 months (left on their) contract, and I don’t see why there is any urgency in every press conference to have that question. Maybe you lack a bit of creativity in the newspapers and you always come up with the same subject. I don’t see why that should turn up in every press conference,” Wenger added. “If people want to go to China, they go to China. You can understand that I have completely different worries than China today ahead of the Manchester City game.” Arsenal have the financial ability to pay Sanchez and Ozil what they are asking for, even if it means breaking the club’s wage structure after years of being unable to compete with Europe’s richest teams. Ahead of the team’s clash this weekend, Arsenal have actually lost quite a few of their better players to Manchester City, who have not had any issue with paying out big wages while Arsenal focused on balancing their books after their move to the Emirates. Players such as Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Bacary Sagna have all moved to City from Arsenal. “It has reduced, but it is still there,” Wenger said when asked if the financial gap between the two clubs had lessened. “We are not (as vulnerable) because today, I feel we can give financial satisfaction and support ambitions and values that can make the players happy at this club. Before, perhaps the financial gap was too big a difference to keep our players. We could not compete. we had to sell players,” Wenger reasoned.
SHARED RIDING HONOURS Apprentice Anthony Thomas, who rode both TIMEFORARMS and FRANCIA’S PRIDE, shared the riding honours with Halledeen, who also rode two winners. Meanwhile, CTL presented cash awards to the winners and runners-up in the 2016 overall monthly winners in each category – Garth Samuels and Oneil Hinds (owners), Wayne DaCosta, Anthony Nunes (trainers), Bebeto Harvey (jockey), Sterling Smith, Ferron Hall (grooms). Racing continues on Wednesday. CAMPESINO confirmed his status as one of the country’s top sprinters with a facile victory in the season’s first grade one race, the $1.2 million Eileen Cliggott Memorial Trophy over 1300 metres, at Caymanas Park yesterday. Toting topweight of 57.0kg with Robert Halledeen riding for 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny and popular owner Howard Hamilton, CAMPESINO, running as the 4-5 favourite in a field of five, chased the leader, SIR BUDGET, for most of the way before going by entering the straight. Thereafter, it was smooth sailing as he moved away to win by 33/4 lengths from 8-5 second favourite BRAWN and FRANFIELD in the smart time of 1:17.3 JAMAI RAJA (lame) was declared a late non-starter. This was CAMPESINO’s second consecutive win and his third from his last four starts. The consistent seven-year-old gelding by Campadre out of Yaella had previously won the St. Catherine Cup open allowance feature over 1100 metres on January 7 and the prestigious Glen Mills O.J. Caribbean Sprint Championship over 1200 metes on November 12, ahead of his more fancied stable-companion BUZZ NIGHTMARE. On a day when O&S Tack Room provided product prizes, a bag of Alfalfa Cubes feed to the winning owner of each race, trainer FItzroy Glispie highlighted the 11-race programme with three winners. These were BIRD CATCHER (2-1), who humbled the highly-thought-of three-year-old colt FEARLESS SAMURAI (1-9 favourite) in the opening race over a mile, 3-5 favourite FRANCIA’S PRIDE in the second and the veteran campaigner TIMEFORARMS (2-1), who produced a tremendous late run on the rails to win the overnight allowance race over 1500 metres in a driving finish.