Valencia rule out Gaya sale

VALENCIA v REAL SOCIEDAD

(Tomorrow, 7pm)

Valencia president Amadeo Salvo is keen to tie left-back Jose Luis Gaya to a new deal, amid speculation linking the 19-year-old with Real Madrid.

Salvo claims his Real counterpart Florentino Perez has assured him there is nothing behind press speculation that the capital giants were ready to meet Gaya’s reported €40 million release clause.

Salvo said: “I spoke with Florentino and he told me he didn’t want Gaya. Gaya is not for sale to Real Madrid or anyone else.

“We want Gaya to stay here for many years. If one day he doesn’t want to be here, he can tell us and we’d understand.”

Valencia were fourth in the table ahead of the weekend fixtures, but would be wise not to underestimate tomorrow’s opponents Real Sociedad.

La Real are 10th in the standings and travel to the Mestalla looking to win a second straight league match, something they have failed to achieve so far this term.

LATE WINNER

A dramatic last-gasp winner from Xabi Prieto gave David Moyes’ side a 4-3 victory over Sevilla last weekend.

The win was all the more remarkable as Moyes’ men are adjusting to life without top scorer Carlos Vela, who is out until the summer after surgery on a knee injury.

It is just the latest scalp in a season where Barcelona and the two major Madrid sides have all been beaten.

Moyes said: “It proves we have a great fighting spirit, we can only be delighted with the work they have done.”

Magician Messi can be stopped

Granada man Babin plans solid defence against Barca

MAIN MAN: Jean-Sylvain Babin has a plan to halt Lionel Messi tonight.

GRANADA v BARCELONA

(Tonight, 10.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 115 & StarHub TV Ch 209)

Granada defender Jean-Sylvain Babin believes Malaga have revealed the formula for beating Barcelona and will go into tonight’s match at the Estadio Los Carmenes full of optimism. Barcelona won plaudits for their 2-1 away win over Manchester City in the Champions League, but their last league outing was a shock 1-0 home defeat by Malagawhich has left them four points adrift of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

Given their midweek display, few would bet against Barca getting their title push back on track against lowly Granada but Babin has other ideas.

FORMULA

Babin said: “There is a formula to stop Lionel Messi.

“You have to defend very well, staying close between the lines, and then quickly counter-attacking and keeping the ball.”

While Barca fret over allowing a gap to open at the top of the table, Granada’s situation is far more desperate as they sit in 19th place, four points adrift of Elche in 17th place. Babin said: “We need three points and cannot fail. The fans and the club did not deserve this situation and we are fighting to change it.”

Granada striker Youssef El-Arabi has been banned for four games following an altercation during Monday’s game against Levante.

El-Arbai was sent off in the 79th minute of Levante’s 2-1 home victory, alongwiththehomeside’s IvanRamis, and the Spanish Football Federation’s competition committee has punished them for “violent conduct in an off-the-ball incident”.

El-Arabi will sit out today’s match, as well as the Primera Division encounters against Malaga, Rayo Vallecano and Eibar.

Granada will also be without Adrian Colunga, who is on loan from Brighton, for the games against Barcelona and Malaga.

The Spanish striker, who was sent off after kicking a Levante player in the same game, has been handed a two-match suspension.

The club’s plight has not dissuaded midfielder Fran Rico from signing a new five-year contract with Granada, while Barca are celebrating a new deal for Sergio Busquets. He has reached an agreement to stay at the Nou Camp until June 2019.

It will see Busquets become one of the highest-paid players in the squad and will allow the club to increase the player’s buy-out clause to €150 million.

A youth product of Barca, the holding midfielder has made made 313 appearances for the Blaugrana since breaking into the first team in 2008.

The 26-year-old has helped the club win 16 trophies, including two Champions League titles.

Busquets was a member of Spain’s World Cup-winning side in 2010 and also lifted the European title two years later. He has started in 22 league games for Barca this season.

There is fresh speculation, however, over the future of veteran playmaker Xavi, with New York City FC director of football operations Claudio Reyna revealing his club are still interested in signing the 35-year-old and reuniting him with David Villa.

He said: “It is true that we have tried to sign him.

“Next year we need new franchise players. The door remains open.”


FIXTURES

Today:

  • Granada v Barcelona (10.55pm)

Tomorrow:

  • Rayo Vallecano v Levante (12.55am)
  • Almeria v Deportivo Coruna (2.55am)
  • Malaga v Getafe (4.55am)
  • Valencia v Real Sociedad (6.55pm)
  • Eibar v Athletic Bilbao (11.55pm)

Monday:

  • Sevilla v Atletico Madrid (1.55am)
  • Real Madrid v Villarreal (3.55am)

Tuesday:

  •  Celta Vigo v Elche (3.40am)


All matches will be telecast LIVE on Singtel TV Ch 114/115 & StarHub TV 
Ch 208/209.


# Denotes - No LIVE telecast

Lotus' new F1 development driver Carmen Jorda is turning plenty of heads

Spanish racing driver Carmen Jorda is Lotus' newest F1 development driver.
Spanish racing driver Carmen Jorda is Lotus' newest F1 development driver.

Spanish woman racing driver Carmen Jorda will join Lotus for the 2015 Formula One season as a development driver, the British team announced on Thursday.

It didn’t take long for her to attract plenty of attention on social media, and it’s easy to see why.

Jorda, 26, becomes the second woman driver on a team this season with Scotswoman Susie Wolff undertaking testing duties for Williams.

“It feels like a dream come true to join Lotus F1 Team,” Jorda said.

“I’ve been racing since I was 10 years old so it was my dream to drive a Formula 1 car since I was very young.”

Lotus said Jorda’s responsibilities would entail significant time on the team’s simulator programme and an intensive fitness programme in case she should be called on to drive the E23 Hybrid later in the season.

“We are looking forward to working with her over the course of the season and ultimately seeing her behind the wheel of the car,” said Lotus chief-executive officer Matthew Carter.

“We have a strong programme for her attending Grands Prix as well as extensive time in our sophisticated simulation facility at Enstone.

“She is a unique addition to the team and we are looking forward to helping her progress her goals as well as receiving the benefit of her insights and contributions to the development of the E23 Hybrid.”

The daughter of former racing driver Jose Miguel Jorda has spent the last three seasons in GP3 where her best race finish was 13th.

Sources: AFP, The Sport Bible

Charlton confess to staging on-pitch sex for publicity stunt

Charlton have admitted that the furore caused by footage of a couple getting intimate on their pitch was a publicity stunt of their own making.

A video which appeared to show a man and woman having sex on the centre circle at the Valley went viral on Thursday, with more than a million views of it on Vine alone.

It had been suggested that the amorous pair may have broken into the South London ground, but Charlton confessed all on Thursday night.

The Championship club are hiring out their pitch for fans to play on in the summer and launched the offer on their website under the headline “Score at the Valley”.

And, with the club having had their fun with the video, commercial manager Mark Hassan-Ali said: “We wanted to launch our pitch-hire programme with a viral that would make football fans laugh.

“We released some ‘CCTV’ footage earlier in the week of a young couple on the pitch in a rather amorous situation.

“We then decided to own up and explain that it was set up by us to launch our pitch-hire campaign. The feedback has been great and we can confirm that the young couple will be attending our next home match.”

But not everyone was tickled by the stunt.

Not sex addicts

A fan of the club nicknamed the Addicks fumed: “We are the Addicks — not the sex addicts!”

Stories of couples having sex on a football pitch are not uncommon, though.

Two Brondby fans decided to liven up the action on the pitch themselves after a dull 0-0 draw with Randers in 2013 — under the floodlights.

It also happened in Croatia in 2009.

Dinamo Zagreb defender Dino Drpic and his wife Nives Celsiu, a Playboy model, did it, too, at the centre spot of the Zagreb Stadium.

Nives later revealed in an interview to promote her book, The Naked Truth, that Drpic even arranged for the floodlights to be left on.

“Dino had arranged that people should turn on the stadium lights for us and he finally fulfilled his dream of having sex in the middle of a football pitch. It was very naughty.”

Drpic was then transfer-listed by his club, although the player subsequently denied that the romp was the cause of it.

Sources: PA Sport, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror

LeBron Jr plays just like his dad

LeBron James' son LeBron Jr has been attracting admiring glances from colleges despite being just 10 years old.
LeBron James' son LeBron Jr has been attracting admiring glances from colleges despite being just 10 years old.

Like father, like son.

Basketball star LeBron James’ son’s hoop skills has made him the subject of frenzied interest from colleges in America who are interested in offering him a sports scholarship.

And LeBron James Jr is only 10.

His famous father isn’t too pleased by all the attention.

“Yeah, he’s already got some offers from colleges,” James said on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty crazy. It should be a violation. You shouldn’t be recruiting 10-year-old kids.”

Having himself been the subject of the recruitment circus when he was the most sought-after player in basketball in his teens, the Cleveland Cavaliers star understandably wants to shield his child from a similar situation.

'Let him be a kid'

Said the 30-year-old: “My son’s going to be a kid as long as he can be.

“He loves to play the game of basketball, he loves to play video games, he loves to do his homework, that’s all that matters.

“Everything else doesn’t matter. He loves his brother and sister, his dad, his mum, his grandmas. Let him be a kid.”

But James himself should shoulder part of the blame for the hype surrounding his son, having tweeted a video of his son starring at a high-level youth tournament.

Said the NBA star: “He plays just like I did. He has great awareness, and he’d rather pass first and set guys up. Most kids nowadays just want to score.”

Chip off the old block? Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Source: ESPN, Huffington Post

WATCH: We ask Singaporeans - is this dress blue and black or white and gold?

There is only one thing right now that has the power to divide nations. Split families. And break friendships.

And that is the blue and black dress. (Although some will also argue passionately that it is white and gold).

The colour of the dress has been the subject of a raging Internet debate.

In fact, even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has stepped in to say that he sees white and gold.

 

 

 

For the record, the dress is black and blue.

 

 

But does that mean there is something wrong with your eyes?

Folks who see white and gold can heave a sigh of relief.

Your eyes are fine.

Dr Leo Seo Wei, an ophthalmologist, says that the reason why people fall into different camps is because their brains perceive the background illuminating light differently.

Read the full report in our print edition on Feb 28. 

Safuwan sparks Melbourne comeback

File photo of Safuwan Baharudin in training with Melbourne City.
File photo of Safuwan Baharudin in training with Melbourne City.

Safuwan Baharudin scored his first A-League goal for Melbourne City since joining on a three-month loan from the LionsXII last month, as the Singapore defender sparked a 3-1 comeback win at their AAMI Park home ground over title hopefuls Adelaide United.

Safuwan, 23, started at right wingback after being left out of the team's 0-0 draw with A-League leaders Perth Glory last week.

He had played the whole of City's 0-0 draw away at Wellington Phoenix at right back the week before, and lasted 60 minutes in the centre of midfield during the 3-0 local derby defeat by Melbourne Victory two weeks ago.

The home side started the match brightly but fell behind to Pablo Sanchez's goal in the 32nd minute.

In search of a way back into the game, City coach John van't Schip then tinkered with his line-up at the break and Safuwan began the second 45 minutes on the left side of a four-man defence.

What a masterstroke it turned out to be.

Just seven minutes into the second half, Safuwan scored the crucial equaliser for City when he swept home a loose ball at the back post past Adelaide's Australian international goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.

The goal rejuvenated City, and they scored a second through Josh Kennedy three minutes later.

The home side made sure of the three points in the 87th minute when substitute Iain Ramsay finished from close range after good work from David Williams and Massimo Murdocca.

The only blight on Safuwan's game was a yellow card he picked up in the dying minutes of the game as City defended their lead.

But chances are he won't be too worried about the booking after putting up a solid performance which had match commentators touting him as a candidate for Man of the Match.

Llamas on the loose in US causes online frenzy

A pair of sprightly llamas jigged their way to immediate social media stardom on Thursday (Feb 26) after they led dozens of policemen on a merry dance on the bemused streets of Phoenix, Arizona.

The duo, one white and the other black, had the eyes of the world on them as American media transmitted live footage of them darting across busy roads and parking lots in their brazen – and for an hour successful – attempt at evading capture.

Their run for freedom in Sun City, a Phoenix suburb, after numerous hapless attempts at capture by police and startled people failed, finally ended when first the black one was lassoed and taken in.

The companion so followed, when it was cornered and gave up the game.

They were whisked away in a trailer without putting up a fight, but were already minor celebrities by then.

Twitter lit up after their heroics, with #whitellama, #llamas, #teamllama and #llamadrama all trending.

Disney joined in the fun, tweeting a cartoon picture of a defiant-looking llama with the words, “Llama drama.”

Police said it was three onlookers who finally caught up with the runaway animals.


Photos: YouTube

The llamas escaped after a rancher brought them to an assisted living facility to visit an ex-llama rancher as a form of animal therapy, Lieutenant Brandon Jones told local media.

Lt Jones said the animals were spooked when the door of the trailer that was transporting them to the site opened. There were actually three llamas in the trailer, but only two ran for it.

Their bolt for freedom earned the admiration of the Internet.

One Twitter user, @devincf, wrote: “Thank you to the #llamas for helping everybody forget, briefly, that we are all going to die some day.”

 

Another, @mikezoller, tweeted: “Whoever said 24 hour news was a bad thing didn’t get 2 llama cams this afternoon.”

Source: AFP

Tags: llamas, US, police, animals and chase

Four dead in second rare shooting in South Korea

 A policeman walks outside the scene of a fatal shooting and arson attack at a convenience store (above) in Sejong on February 25, 2015.  Four people, including a policeman, were killed Friday in the second shooting incident in two days.
A policeman walks outside the scene of a fatal shooting and arson attack at a convenience store (above) in Sejong on February 25, 2015. Four people, including a policeman, were killed Friday in the second shooting incident in two days.

Four people, including a policeman, were killed Friday in the second shooting incident in two days in South Korea where gun crime is extremely rare.

A 75 year old man, armed with a hunting rifle, shot dead his brother, the brother’s wife and a policeman who responded to an emergency call, Yonhap news agency said.

The gunman then turned the weapon on himself.

Police told Yonhap that the shooting in Hwaseong City, around 40 km southwest of Seoul, appeared to have been motivated by a family dispute over money.

The incident came two days after a man shot dead three people in a convenience store which he then torched in an apparent revenge attack on the family of his former lover in the southern city of Sejong.

In that case, the gunman also committed suicide.

South Korea’s tough gun control laws effectively outlaw ownership of firearms by most civilians.

Rare exceptions are allowed for hunters but they must deposit their rifles at local police stations. - AFP

Lesbian kiss on Korean drama sparks debate

An unprecedented lesbian kiss between two high school students on a popular South Korean TV drama has fuelled a debate about portrayals of sexuality in a rapidly modernising society with deeply conservative roots.

The broadcast and internet regulatory body, the Korea Communications Standards Commission, said Friday it had received complaints about the scene which aired on Wednesday’s episode of Seonam Girls High School Investigators.

“We will decide whether this is an issue after we look into it, and whether there is any violation of broadcast policy,” the commission said in a statement.

Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea, but carries a significant social stigma, with few openly gay public figures.

The country’s prolific TV drama industry, which has become a major cultural export, largely pumps out multi-generational, family-focused soap operas with similar tragi-comic plotlines.

In recent years, some productions – especially those on cable TV – have sought to include more culturally sensitive social issues such as teenage pregnancy.

A few have experimented with gay characters, and just this month there was a kissing scene between two male actors in the drama Kill Me, Heal Me.

But the Seonam Girls High School Investigators scene was the first of its kind between two female characters, and so caused something of a stir.

A spokesman for the JTBC cable channel which produced the show said the kiss had been included because it was “necessary to the plot.”

The television controversy comes a day after the country’s Constitutional Court struck down an adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalised extra-marital sex, in another reflection of shifting cultural attitudes. - AFP

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