Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this week’s Safeway Open, saying his game is “vulnerable”. The 14-time major champion will not take part in the event, which would have been his return to competitive action after more than a year out. The American, 40, last competed in August 2015, since when he has twice had surgery on his back. Woods is planning to return in early December at the Hero World Challenge, which he hosts in the Bahamas. The former world number one, now ranked 786, said he had come to his decision after “a lot of soul searching and honest reflection”. In early September Woods had announced he would make his comeback at the Safeway Open before competing at the Turkish Airlines Open in November.
England captain Wayne Rooney says he “understands and respects” Gareth Southgate’s decision to drop him and accepts he is no longer the first name on the team sheet. Rooney, the country’s all-time leading scorer, will hand the skipper’s armband to Jordan Henderson for Tuesday night’s World Cup Qualifier in Slovenia and be replaced in midfield by Eric Dier. With conflict and indecision over his best position, the 30-year-old has also been dropped to the bench by Jose Mourinho at Manchester United and Rooney admits he is in a “difficult” period in his career. “I’ve played 13 years non-stop for England and given everything, and the time comes when you are not the first name on the team sheet,” he said. “It is a chance for other players. I’m not denying my game in a difficult period. I’ve been on the bench the last few games for Manchester United but that’s part of football.
Chelsea star Diego Costa was sitting down for dinner with his Spain teammates on his 28th birthday when a surprise cake was wheeled out to brighten up his international break. The pantomime villain’s usually surly features transformed themselves into an elated grin when he saw the flamboyant sparkly candle, and he gave a brief speech of gratitude before resuming his place at the table. But that wasn’t all. Slighty oddly, the squad seemingly had a whip around and decided to buy Costa, who earns a reported £185,000 a week, an LG gram ultra-thin laptop. And, judging from the striker’s delighted face, it’s just what he always wanted.
Belgium striker Christian Benteke scored the fastest World Cup qualifying goal after seven seconds against Gibraltar. The 25-year-old’s strike is also the quickest goal in Belgium’s history. The Crystal Palace striker pounced on a loose ball from the kick-off and dribbled into the box before scoring with a left-footed shot. The goal beat the record of 8.3 seconds set by San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri against England in November 1993. Benteke added his second before half-time with Axel Witsel also on the scoresheet as Belgium led 3-0 at half-time at the Estadio Algarve in their 2018 World Cup Group H qualifier. Belgium won the match 6 – 0 away in Gibraltar.
Zambia president Edgar Lungu has told the football association to employ a local coach for the national team, Chipolopolo. The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) had been looking to employ an expatriate coach and even conducted interviews for the position. Former South Africa coach Gordon Igesund was tipped for the job after impressing in interviews. But Lungu said: “Forget about an expatriate coach. We can do with an indigenous [coach].” Lungu also offered his support to interim Chipolopolo coach Wedson Nyirenda, who was appointed as a replacement for George Lwandamina last month, saying “he is doing well”. That assessment came after Zambia’s 2-1 defeat by Nigeria in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier on Sunday. Lungu remains optimistic about Zambia’s chances of booking their place at the tournament in Russia. “We can make it. Others have made it before us. Now it is our time and I ‘m sure we will make it,” he added. “Our eyes should be on the ball, we are a winning side and we should strive to win until we get to Russia.”
Former Super Eagles of Nigeria striker, Daniel Amokachi shared a picture of himself and his twins on facebook. The boys are so grown and are footballers taking after their father. Amokachi won the African Cup of Nations and Olympic gold medal with Nigeria. He also represented Nigeria at two world cup finals. He played professional football for Ranchers Bees, Club Brugge, Besiktas and Everton where he won the English FA cup. Amokachi wrote on facebook: “Visiting my sons in Istanbul. They are eligible to play officially for #besiktas u21 soon and have been training with the first team. See me standing on my toes so that I would not look so small in between them! “
Spain defender Gerard Pique will retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup following a controversy surrounding his shirt sleeves. The Barcelona player, 29, is unpopular with some Spain fans for his support of independence for Catalonia. In Sunday’s 2-0 win in Albania, his shirt – unlike his colleagues – did not have a Spanish flag trim on the sleeve. After social media criticism, the Spanish FA released a statement to explain why, and defend Pique. Pique was wearing the long-sleeved shirt – as was Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos – which does not feature the flag trim. The statement said that Pique had cut the sleeves off his shirt, “the same way other players have done on many occasions,” for comfort. Pique, who won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, said: “I have tried everything, but I can’t bear this anymore. “Today’s issue of the sleeves is the the straw that breaks the camel. They’ve managed to make me lose the excitement of coming here and although after Russia I’ll only be 31, I’ll leave.”