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Cech: Chelsea are right up there

first_img The Blues are chasing a first Premier League title since 2009/10, but won the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013. Jose Mourinho has made it clear Chelsea are in a transitional period, but Cech is one of four survivors from his title-winning sides from his first spell in a squad full of talent and potential. Press Association “We need to rediscover our killer instinct in the way that when we have chances to kill games off we need to do it,” Cech added. “You can’t keep your opponent alive and it happened to us many times this year.” Chelsea drew at Arsenal on Monday after adopting a defensive approach which prompted home fans to label the visitors ‘boring’. Cech hit back at the criticism and could not resist pointing to Arsenal’s eight-year trophy drought. “Well in the end you count the titles,” he said. “If you have figure skating where you are judged by how nicely your routine is then obviously that is one point, but football is about points and goals and you need to get points to win trophies.” Petr Cech hopes Chelsea’s trophy-winning experience can prove crucial in the Barclays Premier League title race. In recent years Chelsea have been out of title contention by Christmas, but Mourinho’s men enter the Boxing Day bout with Swansea two points behind first-placed Liverpool, who lead Arsenal on goal difference and visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday. “We are right up there – we are two points (behind),” Cech said. “We don’t depend on anyone else. If we win our games we have a big chance of winning the title so it’s very positive and we know that we haven’t hit the best level of this team yet. We are improving and hopefully that will show. “We have won things in the past years which give us experience as a team so let’s see if we can use that as our advantage. “We have been in these situations many times fighting for the titles and playing under pressure before and after Christmas. “Towards the end of the season you have a lot of pressure because you need to get results and hopefully our experience will pay off.” Chelsea have made a stuttering start and lost away to Everton, Newcastle and Stoke, while strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba – with five Premier League goals between them – are still to fully fire. Too often, according to Cech, Chelsea have let their opponents off the hook, making their own lives difficult. last_img read more

World Cup star hit with lifetime ban after flouting South Korea rules

first_imgSouth Korea defender Jang Hyun-soo has received a lifetime ban from playing for the national team and hit with a 30 million won ($26,448) fine after he was found to have falsified records relating to his military service exemption.All able-bodied South Korean men must complete almost two years military service as part of efforts to maintain a deterrent against the North but athletes can earn exemptions by winning a medal at the Olympics or gold at the Asian Games.As part of the exemption conditions, athletes must undergo four weeks of basic military training and undertake more than 500 hours of community service over a three-year period.Jang, who has 58 caps and was part of the team that won gold at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, has admitted to submitting false records detailing how many hours of community service he has performed.The Korea Football Association met on Thursday to decide how to punish the 27-year-old, who played in all three of Korea’s games at the World Cup in Russia.”Jang has been permanently disqualified from playing for the national team and has been fined 30 million won,” a KFA spokesperson said by telephone on Thursday. In addition to the KFA sanction, the Sports Ministry has given Jang an additional five days of compulsory service.Jang, who will now miss the Asian Cup in January, had apologised on Monday and said he would undertake the required community service.”I am sorry to have disappointed everyone for such a shameful issue,” he was quoted as saying on the KFA website.The issue of military exemptions has come under the microscope in recent months.The incentive was introduced in the 1970s as part of Seoul’s drive to become a world sporting power and raise its profile on the global stage but it has come in for criticism in recent years as the country rebalances its priorities. Some have called for the exemption system to be abolished altogether, questioning its fairness in an era where the South Korean public have been yearning for an end to privilege and lopsided advantages in all walks of life.Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min was the latest high-profile athlete to win an exemption after he led South Korea to the gold medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta in September.last_img read more

NBA Draft: Jakob Poeltl believes he can play like Pau Gasol

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Poeltl believes joining a rebuilding team, such as the Lakers, would also take him to the next level. “Having a team that is rebuilding where I could be on the court and develop with my teammates would be a great,” Poeltl said. “Being on a young team and having a chance to develop would be great.”Could Poeltl develop into another version of Gasol? Too early to say, obviously. During his six-year tenure with the Lakers (2008-14), Gasol won two NBA titles (2009, 2010) and established himself as one of the NBA’s most versatile big men. Yet, Poeltl could already fill many needs the Lakers lack. They are not expected to retain unrestricted free agent Roy Hibbert, who posted a career low in points (5.9) and oversaw a defense that finished 27th in points allowed (106.9) as the Lakers’ starting center.Meanwhile, Poeltl characterized himself as a versatile center. He also has spent most of his training perfecting his mid-range jumper. CHICAGO >> With the Lakers hoping to accelerate their rebuilding process, they spoke with one college prospect who believes he can emulate a certain player that once delivered them NBA championships. “I can be a lot like Pau Gasol,” said University of Utah sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, who interviewed with the Lakers on Friday here at the NBA pre-draft combine. “He’s a guy who has good touch around the basket and is a very good passer. He can dribble the ball. He’s even stepping out and shooting 3’s. I hope I can get there too. He’s a winner and won championships. I can do that, too.”Most NBA talent evaluators projected the 7-0, 235-pound Poeltl as a lottery pick last year. Poeltl stayed another year, however, because he “could get better.” After averaging 9.1 points and 6.8 rebounds his freshman season, Poeltl posted 17.2 points 9.1 rebounds per game his sophomore year.“I knew I could dominate at the collegiate level,” Poeltl said. “I felt like the added pressure of being the go-to guy, I would perform being the go-to guy every single night. That would help me mature as a leader and as a basketball player. That would help me at the next level.” center_img “The league is getting smaller, so you have to be more versatile as a big,” Poeltl said. “You have to do more different stuff like step out a little bit, handle the ball and pass the ball. I feel like that’s something I’m pretty good at, so I’ll fit in pretty well.”Should that happen, Poeltl would do more than just imitating Gasol. Poeltl would give his native Austria a towering hoops presence more noticeable than his tall frame. Poeltl would become the first NBA player from Austria, which has not qualified for EuroBasket since 1977.“It’s a surreal feeling to know I’m probably going to be the first player from Austria to play in the NBA,” Poeltl said. “That’s something I’m very proud of, and I hope I can help Austrian basketball. Maybe there’s more kids that will play basketball and more money being put into the sport.” Then, maybe players will try to emulate Poeltl with the same determination he wants to model his game after Gasol.Lakers also interview EllensonThe 6-foot, 10-inch frame has made Marquette center Henry Ellenson feel tall. Apparently so has his confidence. After completing 13 interviews on Friday at the NBA pre-draft combine, including one with the Lakers, Ellenson proclaimed something that usually has described Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. “I’m a top pick. They all think that, too,” Ellenson said, grinning. “It’s a good position to be in.”The Lakers hardly think that, no matter what Ellenson says. Should the Lakers land a No. 1 or No. 2 pick, they will surely select Simmons or Ingram. Concerns also persist on Ellenson’s defense, an area the Lakers ranked nearly last in every statistical category. In case the Lakers land at No. 3, they considered Ellenson a worthy fit. After averaging 17 points on 44.6 percent and 9.7 rebounds in his freshman season, Ellenson reported the Lakers envisioned him as a so-called stretch four that could both hit outside shots and help with ball-handling duties. “I’m a mismatch problem. Whatever that night gives me, I feel comfortable playing all over,” Ellenson said. “I’ll fit any team’s system too. Some nights will be more on the perimeter. Some nights I’ll go inside.”To master all those skills, Ellenson has tried to model his post-up game to New York’s Carmelo Anthony and his outside shooting to Cleveland’s Kevin Love. Ellenson also reported becoming stronger in his 245-pound frame so he can absorb the physical poundings he could experience as a rookie. The Lakers beat Ellenson up during his interview in a different way. As Ellenson talked himself up, the Lakers dressed him down. They jokingly teased Ellenson for growing up in Rice Lake, Wis. “They had some funny questions on how big the town size is. They asked, ‘Is there only one stoplight?’” Ellenson said. “I was like, ‘Come on guys. It’s not that small. There’s more than one.’”last_img read more