Whyte can score on Flying Force

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Zainol's big break

Close to quitting football last year, Warriors' goalkeeper now relishes chance to deputise for suspended Yazid

PRAISE: Zainol Gulam (above, right) is very agile and has a good work ethic, says suspended Warriors' No. 1 Yazid Yazin.
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Gary Lim's 10 reasons behind Leicester's success

Our writer lists the reasons for Leicester's fairy-tale 
title triumph

RIYAD THE WIZARD:
Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez, the PFA Player of the Year, has played a crucial role in their season, scoring 17 goals and coming 
up with 11 assists.
GO, WES:
Leicester captain Wes Morgan leading a celebratory run after scoring in their 1-0 win over Southampton 
on April 3, during a run of five 
1-0 wins in 
six games.

1 REVERE RANIERI

Claudio Ranieri, described by former England and Leicester striker Gary Lineker as an "uninspiring" appointment when he became manager at the start of the season, has completed one of the most remarkable stories in the history of football.

The shrewd Italian has managed to draw the best out of those at his disposal.

He said recently: "We have to play like we are desperate - not every match; every second...

"The day my players relax, I get crazy. They know that.

"I think I am a nice man, but I am also demanding."

2 TERRIFIC TRIO

Riyad Mahrez

Not only has the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year scored 17 goals, but the Algerian has also contributed 11 assists.

Jamie Vardy

His 22 goals for the Foxes put him third on the top-scorers' chart, just three behind Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top.

His record-breaking run of scoring in 11 straight Premier League games between last August and November provided the title momentum.

N'Golo Kante

His energy, discipline and reading of the game form a solid shield in front of his defence - which explains why Leicester have the joint-third best defensive record in the top tier: Only 34 goals conceded.

3 FOXES FLOURISH 
WITH 4-4-2

Ranieri's biggest success lies in reviving what was thought to be an obsolete system - 4-4-2.

With the front two positioned deep and given the responsibility to defend from the front, it allows the midfield and defence to squeeze themselves into a compact unit to deny opponents space.

Fullbacks Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson help narrow the defensive block by tucking in, further congesting the central region.

With the protection from the front and the sides, centre backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth are often able to stay deep and stick close to their designated posts.

When the Foxes break down opponents' play, they hit them on the break with speed, and as directly as possible.

Mahrez's dribbling skills and intelligence have seen him cut in from the right with devastating effect.

Vardy, with his pace and superb stamina, scores plenty of goals via diagonal balls over the top and into the channel.

4 CAMARADERIE

Vardy had earlier described the players as a "tight-knit squad" with "plenty of banter flying around".

On the pitch, that energy is translated into a system where the players look out and fight for one another.

5 NO PRESSURE

With all the attention on Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester were able to escape much of the scrutiny.

Ranieri also did his best to deflect the pressure.

Leicester have topped the table for almost two-thirds of the campaign, but it was only late last month, with four games remaining, that Ranieri finally admitted that his team can win the title.

6 ADAPTABILITY

Leicester reaped the rewards for ditching their gungho approach and reining in their attacking instincts.

After conceding 17 goals in their first nine league matches, they let in only 16 goals in their next 26 games.

Explaining the improvement, Ranieri said that his players needed time to adapt to his tactics defensively.

Leicester are a team infused with English spirit and Italian tactics, he proudly said.

7 NO EUROPEAN DISTRACTION

While their title rivals fret over their European campaigns, Leicester had the luxury of resting their weary bodies in midweek.

Manchester City and Arsenal had to juggle Premiership duties with Champions League football, while Tottenham Hotspur were saddled with their Europa League commitments.

Much like Liverpool during their surprise championship charge two seasons ago, Leicester have looked fresh week in, week out.

8 NO INJURIES

Ranieri can count himself lucky to have most of his key players injury-free, which allows the side to gel as the season progresses.

Vardy started every single Premiership game until his recent suspension. Mahrez has missed just one game.

A total of eight Leicester players started more than 30 Premiership matches this season.

In comparison, Spurs have six, Arsenal five, and Man City just one.

9 PENALTY CALLS

No team have been given more spot-kicks than Leicester this season.

Of the 83 penalties awarded in the 20-team Premiership, 11 (nine converted) have gone to the Foxes, who conceded only three in return.

Man City have been awarded the second-most penalties (eight), but they managed to put away just five.

Spurs successfully converted all five of theirs, while the Gunners scored just one from the two they have been awarded.

10 1-0 WINS

If the hallmark of a champion is the ability to grind out results, then Leicester certainly fit the bill.

They have won more games by a one-goal margin than any other top-tier side: 14. Seven of their 22 victories have been won by a 1-0 scoreline.

Spurs and Arsenal have won 1-0 just three times, and Man City twice.

Like father, like son

Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel has long stated his dislike of comparisons between him and his famous father Peter, but there are some uncanny similarities between the title triumphs of father and son.

In 1993, Peter, then playing for Manchester United, won his first English top-flight title on May 2, at 
the age of 29.

Twenty-three years on, Kasper has emulated the feat - winning his first Premiership crown on the same date and at the same age.

Also, Peter's team won it back then without playing a game, when their nearest rivals Aston Villa lost their match to make it mathematically impossible to catch up with the Red Devils.

Leicester did it the same way.

Second-placed Tottenham Hotspur could only draw 2-2 with Chelsea yesterday morning, meaning they have no chance of catching Leicester, who are seven points ahead with two matches left to play. - GARY LIM

Marathoner Neo targets personal best in Rio

Marathoner Neo wants to return from Olympics with a new personal best

FASTER: Singapore's Olympic-bound marathoner Neo Jie Shi has seen improvement in her times since training under coach Steven Quek.

She is no Joseph Schooling or Feng Tianwei - nobody is expecting local marathoner Neo Jie Shi to go to Rio and win an Olympic medal in August.

Her personal best is a 3:09:57 set last year, which is faster than just one of 107 runners who finished at the last Olympics in London, where Ethiopian Tiki Gelana won the gold medal with a new Games record of 2:23:07.

Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo was second in 2:23:12 and Russian bronze medallist Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova was 17 seconds behind.

But Neo will be there on merit, qualifying by virtue of her top-10 finish in an IAAF Gold Label Marathon - the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore last December - as per the IAAF qualification and entry standards for these Olympics.

While the 30-year-old candidly admitted to being "a bit overwhelmed" by the subsequent media attention, she rejected the notion that because there are no expectations, it will be all just fun and games at the Sambadrome.

"Yes, I may not be going for a medal, but I am still representing my country, and that is reason enough to do my best," said Neo, who was at Queenstown Swimming Complex yesterday morning to promote the Pocari Sweat Run on July 23.

COMBINE EFFORTS

Runners will combine their efforts to complete the final leg of Pocari Sweat's journey to the Moon at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Based on the philosophy of creating new products for better health worldwide, Otsuka Pharmaceutical is launching a Pocari Sweat capsule to the moon in the final quarter of the year.

In conjunction with the Lunar Dream Capsule Project, the Pocari Sweat Run aims to engage runners to contribute by taking part in either the 5km or 10km category to make up 80,000km of the 380,000km distance between the earth and the moon; 300,000km have been covered in the four years of the run here.

Likewise, Neo's journey to the Olympics, which are arguably the pinnacle of sport, has not come easy.

But, with dedication, perseverance and support from Singapore Athletics, Sport Singapore, Singapore Sports Institute and sponsors like Pocari Sweat, the finishing line is within sight.

The human resource and administration assistant manager at GP Batteries International has required physiotherapy to alleviate pain in her left heel due to wear and tear.

But she still runs 50 to 60km over five to six days per week, including two interval workouts, two to three "easy runs" over 10km, and one weekend long run under the watchful eye of coach Steven Quek, who was appointed as her coach in February.

And the results are showing.

She said: "I clocked my first sub-40 minute run in the 10km race at the Seoul Marathon in March.

"That was during the first phase of training which coach Steven had marked out for me, and showed that we are on track.

SECOND PHASE

"The second phase comes later this month when I will go for a half-marathon. My personal best is around 1hr 31min, so I'm aiming to go under 90 minutes for this.

"We should start the final phase of preparations next month, when I will take on the full marathon to see where I stand.

"We have not confirmed plans for acclimatisation but, from my research, the climate is similar to Singapore's.

"To be honest, except for the media attention which can be a bit overwhelming, nothing much has changed.

"I'm still running and I still join Jurong Safra Running Club whenever I can.

"It still feels like a dream and I feel fortunate and lucky to be able to compete at the Olympics.

"Even if I'm not going to win, I want to go there, do well, and come back with a new personal best."


“Yes, I may not be going for a medal, but I am still representing my country, and that is reason enough to do my best.”

— Singapore’s Olympic-bound marathoner Neo Jie Shi

Momentum with Stags

It won't be easy against Hougang, but Tampines should continue resurgence

RESURGENT: Tampines are now just three points behind league leaders Albirex Niigata.
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