Santos stands by Ronaldo

GROUP F

HUNGARY v PORTUGAL

(Tonight, 11.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 142 & 
StarHub TV Ch 220 - Eleven EURO)

Portugal coach Fernando Santos is backing misfiring Cristiano Ronaldo to break his Euro 2016 duck by netting against Hungary tonight and help fire his side into the last 16.

Ronaldo (below) is still waiting for his opening goal in France to become the first person to score at four consecutive European Championship finals.

The 31-year-old is the holder of numerous goal-scoring records, but he has yet to hit the net at Euro 2016, despite having 20 chances.

Ronaldo set a new Portuguese record with his 128th international cap in last Saturday's goalless draw with Austria - a milestone overshadowed by his penalty miss.

He also failed to score in the 1-1 draw with Iceland last week.

This has been a frustrating tournament for Ronaldo. And his Portugal side have failed to live up to their pre-tournament billing as Group F favourites.

They lie third behind Iceland and Hungary, who they must beat in Lyon to be sure of reaching the last 16.

"Ronaldo is a player who scores a lot of goals and I'm sure he will score in the next game against Hungary," said Santos.

Portugal had 23 shots against Austria - hitting the woodwork twice - and Santos expects his side to find the net and win "ugly" if need be.

"It was the first time we failed to score during my reign," said Santos.

"We're sad, but we have things in our own hands. It doesn't matter if we play better or ugly football."

Off the field, the Hungarians need to watch their step. Uefa was set to announce its punishment yesterday after crowd trouble in the 1-1 draw with Iceland.

In Marseille, Hungarian fans clashed with stewards in the Stade Velodrome and set off flares.

Their captain, Balazs Dzsudzsak wants to see the same passion against Portugal, just not the trouble.

"I ask that everyone continues to support us, but in a way which does not give reason for any possible punishment," he said.

- AFP.

Ibra to retire from international football after Euro 2016

GROUP E

SWEDEN v BELGIUM

(Tomorrow, 2.50am, Singtel TV Ch 142 & StarHub TV Ch 220 - Eleven EURO)

Sweden's superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced yesterday that he will retire from international football after Euro 2016.

"The last game with Sweden in the Euro will be my last game with Sweden. So I hope it won't be tomorrow," Ibrahimovic (left), 34, told a press conference yesterday ahead of tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) final Group E game against Belgium in Nice.

He ruled out any chance of playing at the Rio Olympics in August.

Sweden's coach Erik Hamren said: "This will be a big loss. He is unique."

Sweden's record goalscorer with 62 goals, Ibrahimovic is looking to become the first player to score in four European Championship finals.

Sweden must beat Belgium to stand a chance of advancing to the last 16.

"I will not participate in the Olympics because my last game will be the last game Sweden does in this Euro. So let's hope it goes as long as possible," he said.

Ibrahimovic, a record 10-time winner of the national Guldbollen award for Player of the Year, said he would go out with his head held high regardless of tomorrow's result.

"To finish in a disappointment, never. Because I'm very proud to be the captain of Sweden and of what I've achieved," he said.

"I want to take this moment and thank all the supporters because they made it possible for me to achieve what I have achieved.

"Without them, it would not have been possible.

"So wherever I go, wherever I come, I'll always bring the Swedish flag with me and stand with it.

"So, for me, disappointment doesn't exist, only proudness, and grateful. I'm very thankful. So thank you."

Ibrahimovic is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain after four seasons, but is yet to commit to a new club, although Manchester United are rumoured to be favourites to seal his signing. 


- AFP.

Keane says Ireland will bounce back like a boxer

Keane confident Irish can recover from Belgium setback against Italy

GROUP E

ITALY v REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

(Tomorrow, 2.50am, Singtel TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 221 - Eleven Sports EURO)

Roy Keane has challenged the Republic of Ireland to come out "swinging" as they attempt to scrap their way into the last 16 at the Euro 2016 Finals.

Ireland have to beat Italy in their final Group E match in Lille tomorrow morning (Singapore time) if they are to stand any chance of making it to the knockout stage of the competition and, even then, four points might not be enough.

Martin O'Neill's men were left on the brink of an early exit after last Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Belgium and, while their task will be no easier at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, assistant manager Keane is refusing to throw in the towel.

He said: "We've got to be careful here because what you do, in sport or in life, you can over-analyse it.

"We believed the team going out there at the start (against Belgium) would get the right result.

"It didn't pan out that way, but you move on quickly. We've watched it back - and that wasn't easy, let me tell you - but move on to the next game.

"Some days when you've played well and you've had good days, you've got to move on quickly and I've always been not bad at that really, move on quickly to the next game. It's the same for the players.

"We'll be positive. You can look back all you want, but you're talking to the wrong man. We look forward and get ready for the next challenge - that's what sport is about.

"It's like a boxer. I've seen great boxers get knocked out, but you get back up and you start swinging and hope for the best."

CHANGES

Italy boss Antonio Conte is expected to make wholesale changes with top spot in the group already secured, and the Ireland camp do not really know what to expect in terms of his selection.

However, Keane is sure whatever team the Italians field, Ireland will have their work cut out to get the result they need.

He said: "I don't want to be talking them up too much, but they've got a bit of everything and that is why they are a good team. There are no real weaknesses, so we'll have to be at our very, very best.

"But we have beaten Italy before, so it can be done."

Meanwhile, Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi says the country's lack of star power will not work against them at Euro 2016.

The Azzurri have not won the European Championship since 1968, but victories over Belgium and Sweden have given them a solid foundation on which to build in France.

"We are a team without that eye-catching star. We don't boast an (Eden) Hazard - and I mention him as he was the first we came across - or (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic. They are worldwide known stars," said the Roma star.

"But we have other skills that many better teams don't have. We are one, we are a team. A group that comes to life in terms of bench depth.

"Many teams field stars, but there is a big gap between this star and his replacement. In Italy, there is a big balance between he who plays and he who sits on the bench." 


- Wire Services.

Hong Kong Races

MOREIRA can win on FANTASTICO

COMMENTS BY PHILLIP WOO, COURTESY OF THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB

Joao Moreira
Premium content not available

It's fingers crossed for Funkadelic

Trainer michael Clements.
Premium content not available

Stirling can put in back-to-back wins

BACK IN FORM: Stirling winning on Feb 22 last year before going on a long winless streak until May 27.
Premium content not available

Mr Connery has a win in his cross-hairs

TRIAL 4: Mr Connery (J Powell astride) racing away from Stick Seeker (K Toh) for a comfortable 1½-length win.
Premium content not available

Kuala Lumpur trackwork

WORKOUTS BY HORSES ENTERED FOR SATURDAY:

Class 4 - 1,300m: Big Surprise canter/39.9. Little Jumbo canter/40.8. Dirac * 36.2. D'Great Era pace work. Just Duit pace work.

Barrier practice: Another Son 38.2.

Class 4 - 1,500m: Sea World canter/41. Segar The Best canter/40. Real Mean canter/41.6. Swiss Bank * canter/42. Q Nine Master canter/39.4. Keeper's Princess 36.2. Unme pace work.

Class 5 - 1,200m: Air Strike canter/44. Champagne Rose canter/42.2. Rainbow Easy canter/42.2. Acme 39. Dynamic Trio * 44.6. Easy Ahead pace work. Big Gallant pace work.

Barrier practice: Kingship Admiral 38.2.

Class 5 - 1,200M: Chinese Silhouette * 40.2. You Never Know 40.6. Gold Star Princess canter/44. Prince Nano canter/44.6.

Class 5 - 1,400m: D'Great Hawk canter/41. Happy Family pace work.

Barrier test: Red Eastern 35.5.

CLASS 5 - 1,400m: Qi Power canter/37.8. Kim Salute canter/39.3. Stealth 39.5. Vista 41.2. Contented pace work.

Class 5 - 1,600m: Lim's Mirage canter/40. No Nonsense canter/37.8. Turned Out canter/39.9. Talisman 39. Little Man 42.2. Brunei Tale pace work.

Barrier test: Loyalty Gaya 35.5.

Class 5 - 1,600M: Grand Show 40. Philip canter/41.6. Blue Delago canter/40. Happy Surpriser canter/49. Dragon Eight 40. Amongst The Stars pace work. Fly Now pace work.

WORKOUTS BY HORSES ENTERED FOR SUNDAY:

Supreme B - 1,100M: Impel canter/40.9. Q Nine Max canter/39.8.

Class 3 - 1,300m: Sacred City 39. Ghost Hana * canter/39.5. Black Fiery pace work.

Class 4 - 1,300M: Noble Four 39.3.

Prohibition canter/42. Dekati 40.8. Heirro 44.7. Ocean Fortune pace work and Sandy Might pace work.

Class 4- 1,500m: Perfect Attack canter/38. Sweet Lodge canter/41.8. Jacksean 40. Happy Eddington pace work. Gypsy pace work.

Class 5 - 1,200m: Its Only Money 39. D'Great Victory 39.5. Tavan Bogd * canter/37.2. Buzz Man canter/44.2. Kim Diva pace work. Wow pace work. D'Great Legion pace work. Dubleo Beauty * pace work.

Class 5 - 1,200m:

Reaching 42. Jai Ho 39.5. Vagabond canter/37. Little Lion * 38.2. Rise Up The Rank * canter/38.8. Twist Oliver pace work. D'Great Eminence pace work.

Class 5 - 1,400m: Black Coffee canter/43.4. Mario Attila pace work. Berni Dancer pace work.

Open Maiden - 1,200m: Eclipse Star 39.9. Ivanhoe 37.6. D'Great Rich canter/44.2. Temujin 44.

Barrier test: Ghost General 37.

Pages