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India to face Tajikistan in Hero Intercontinental Cup opener

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India are the defending champions of the Intercontinental Cup.

New Delhi: Hosts India will take on Tajikistan in the opening clash the 2019 Hero Intercontinental Cup on July 7, as per the fixtures released on Monday.

India will next face DPR Korea on July 13 followed by Syria on July 16. The top two teams from the round robin stage will qualify for the final that is scheduled on July 18.

According to the latest FIFA rankings released on April 2019, Syria are placed 83rd followed by Tajikistan and DPR Korea, who are at 120 and 121 spots respectively. India currently occupy the 101st position in the rankings.

India are the competition’s defending champions, having beaten Kenya in the final last year. The other two teams that competed last year were New Zealand and Chinese Taipei.

The home team, under new head coach Igor Stimac, will head into the tournament on the back of a 3-1 to Curacao and a 1-0 win against Thailand in the 2019 King’s Cup.

The fixtures: July 7: India vs Tajikistan

July 8: Syria vs DPR Korea

July 10: Tajikistan vs Syria

July 13: India vs DPR Korea

July 15: DPR Korea vs Tajikistan

July 16: India vs Syria

July 18: Final

All the matches will kick off at 8 PM IST.

Football Lounge

Coutinho stars as Brazil thump Bolivia in Copa America opener

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Brazil lacked a cutting edge in the absence of star forward Neymar.

Sao Paulo (Brazil): Philippe Coutinho scored two second-half goals as Brazil kicked off their Copa America with a 3-0 victory over Bolivia.

On Friday, the Barcelona attacker netted twice inside five minutes before substitute Everton put the result beyond doubt with a long-range strike at Sao Paulo’s Morumbi Stadium, reports Xinhua news agency.

Despite the comprehensive scoreline, the five-time world champions were below their best against an organised if unthreatening Bolivia outfit.

For long periods, Brazil lacked a cutting edge in the absence of star forward Neymar, who was ruled out of the tournament last week because of an ankle injury.

“It was a tough match for us,” Coutinho told reporters after the game. “At half-time, the manager (Tite) asked us to focus more and to control the ball better. We managed to do that. The first goal changed the course of the match.”

Brazil dominated possession early but struggled to find ways past a resolute Bolivia defence. Roberto Firmino and Thiago Silva had early chances from corners while Coutinho failed to make clean contact with a header after a Filipe Luis cross.

Tite opted against making changes at half-time and his faith was rewarded almost immediately.

Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana consulted the video assistant referee before ruling that Adrian Jusino used his left hand to obstruct Richarlison’s chipped shot. Coutinho then dispatched the resultant spot-kick into the bottom left corner.

The goal quickly released the pressure on Brazil and the Selecao netted again four minutes later when Coutinho headed in after a precise cross from his former Liverpool teammate Firmino.

Everton, introduced as an 85th-minute substitute for David Neres, completed the rout with a fine solo goal, five minutes from time.

The Gremio forward cut in from the left before smashing a low drive from the edge of the box that curled into the bottom right corner of Carlos Lampe’s goal.

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Star Sports renews exclusive broadcast rights for EPL till 2022

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Star Sports will broadcast over 250 Premier League games LIVE across the network and beam all 380 games LIVE on its digital platform Hotstar

Mumbai: For the past two decades, Star Sports, India’s leading sports broadcaster has continued to entertain football fans in India with top flight English football. On Friday, Star Sports announced that it will continue its partnership with Premier League for the next three years running up to the 2021-22 season.

The renewal reinforces Star Sports’ and Hotstar’s commitment to football in India, with the best of global and Indian football action. Star Sports will broadcast more than 250 Premier League games LIVE across the network and beam All 380 games LIVE on Hotstar.

Commenting on the partnership, Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports, said, “We are excited to continue our partnership with the Premier League and are proud to showcase the best of football on Star Sports. As the home of sports, we are delighted to bring the Premier league to passionate fans in India and look forward to many fantastic seasons of football in the years ahead.”

Premier League director of broadcasting, Paul Molnar said, “We look forward to continuing to work with Star to make the best Premier League action available to the many passionate football fans in India who closely follow our clubs and the competition.”

The world’s most watched league will continue to showcase the talent of Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Mo Salah (Liverpool), Paul Pogba (Man United), Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Harry Kane (Tottenham) on the field with Pep Guardiola (Man City), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Unai Emery (Arsenal) and Ole Gunnar Solskjær (Man United) orchestrating the team movements from off the field. The quality of play continues to get better in the league with promoted teams putting up a challenge.

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Football Lounge

Casillas yet to decide on future

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Iker Casillas suffered a heart attack recently.

Madrid: Former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas on Thursday said he had not yet decided whether he would retire from the sport after suffering a heart attack amid rumours in several Portuguese newspapers that he would hang up his gloves before the start of the next season.

Cassilas, on his Twitter account, reshared a previous tweet in which he said he was yet undecided about his future in the sport.

In the original tweet, published just over two weeks after his heart attack on May 1, the former Real Madrid goalie said: “Retirement, there will be a day that I’ll have to retire. Let me announce this when the moment comes. For now … everyone relax! I had an appointment yesterday with Dr. Filipe Macedo. Everything is ok. This is great news that I would like to share with all of you!”

In his retweet, he said: “The same from this tweet from one month ago, except the part of the meeting with the Doctor. More than anything because my appointment is tomorrow. Big hug to everyone.”

The former Real Madrid captain suffered a heart attack during a training session with his current team, FC Porto, casting major doubt about his ability to continue in the sport.

Casillas’ personal situation got even more complicated when his wife, journalist Sara Carbonero, announced that she went through a malignant ovarian tumour surgery on May 21.

On June 6, various Portuguese newspapers said that Casillas met Pinto da Costa, President of FC Porto, where he was offered the possibility to continue working in the club, but as part of the technical staff.

Casillas made his professional debut with Real Madrid under then coach, Welshman John Benjamin Toshack, against Athletic Bilbao in September 1999 in San Mames at the age of 19.

At Real Madrid, Casillas was in the team that won the UEFA Champions League three times, LaLiga five times, the Copa del Rey twice, the Spanish Super Cup four times and the FIFA Club World Cup twice.

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