Ex Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard will play for the club in an end-of-season friendly in Australia. The Reds will face A-League side Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium on 24 May and former defender Jamie Carragher, 39, and ex-Anfield winger Steve McManaman, 45, both now television pundits, will also feature, along with Danish ex-defender Daniel Agger, 32. “I thought we have to show the whole LFC package – that means the actual squad and a few of our legends,” Jurgen Klopp explained. “They are still young enough and look good enough in the kit that we can show them.”
Maria Sharapova will find out on 15 May whether she can compete at the French Open after her drugs ban, French tennis officials said. They added that the absence of pregnant Serena Williams would have no bearing on their decision. Two-time Roland Garros champion Sharapova returns next week from a 15-month drugs ban at the WTA Stuttgart Grand Prix. Stuttgart offered the 30-year-old Russian a wildcard entry because she no longer has a world ranking. She has also been invited to clay-court events in Madrid and Rome.
Chelsea and Tottenham have both had four of their players named in the Professional Footballers’ Association Premier League team of the year. Defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz and midfielders N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard are Chelsea’s representatives. Tottenham’s quartet are defenders Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, midfielder Dele Alli and forward Harry Kane. Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Everton forward Romelu Lukaku are also picked. The divisional teams of the year have also been announced ahead of the 44th PFA Awards, which are being held in London on Sunday, 23 April. The PFA Players’ Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year will also be revealed at the event.
World number two Serena Williams is pregnant and due in the autumn, her representative has confirmed. The 35-year-old had earlier posted a picture of herself on Snapchat posing in a mirror with the message: “20 weeks”, before deleting the post. The American, who won an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam in Australia around 12 weeks ago, will miss the rest of the season. This includes three Grand Slams – the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Williams, who will return to world number one next week, would be eligible to retain her ranking under the WTA special ranking rule if she is ready to play her first tournament within 12 months of giving birth. US Open Tennis responded to Williams’ message by saying: “Serena Williams will have a new pride and joy to hug and call her own soon! Congratulations on the exciting baby announcement!”
Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi would put in a transfer request to force a move to Manchester United, according to his agent. Representative Hakeem Bello says the chance to play for the Red Devils would be too good to turn down – should they come knocking. Ndidi has been a star performer for the Foxes this term and reports emerged yesterday of United’s interest. Bello has played down talk of his man leaving the King Power this summer, but he’s changed his tune today. Bello said: “Ndidi won’t say no to Manchester United. “I can proudly tell you that if a bid is launched for him, he will most likely ask Leicester City for a transfer. “We’re talking Manchester United, the biggest and most successful [club] in England. “That’s a no brainer. “Ndidi won’t turn down Man United, anyone willing to bet?”
A joint bid from the US, Canada and Mexico to host the enlarged 2026 World Cup is expected to be finalised this year for submission to FIFA, according to Victor Montagliani, the president of the region’s Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). Speaking to the Guardian before Saturday’s annual CONCACAF congress on the Caribbean island of Aruba, Montagliani contrasted the prospect of the countries’ cooperating on a World Cup with the division represented by the wall along the border with Mexico planned by Donald Trump. “Canada, the US and Mexico are aiming for a joint bid, the idea has been around for a while, discussions are continuing and it is a very exciting proposition if it comes to fruition,” Montagliani said. “We have had nothing but positive remarks about it and it is a very strong sign of what football can do to bring countries together.”
The one year countdown is on, and to celebrate the occasion, the schedule for next year’s Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast has been announced. Women’s triathlon will be the first gold medal to be won on the Games’ opening day – Thursday, 5 April 2018. The men’s and women’s 100m finals are on day five, while the rugby sevens will bring events to a close on 15 April 2018.
Nike and Cristiano Ronaldo have launched a new pair of boots – named Chapter 4: Forged for Greatness – and they tell the story of his journey from Lisbon to Manchester. The roman numerals XXVIII feature on the heel stiffener, with the VII highlighted to depict his swapping of Sporting CF’s No.28 shirt for Manchester United’s No.7. “I remember when I left Lisbon for England that Alex Ferguson said to me, ‘I want you to take the No.7’,” the Real Madrid forward recalled. “I accepted the challenge, it was great and it was the beginning of my success in football. “Probably one of the most beautiful moments in my career so far.” The colour of the boots also has a special significance, as they are a nod to the way iron is forged, with the orange gradually becoming a metallic colour.
Leicester are worried Arsenal and Manchester United will lure midfield ace Wilfred Ndidi away from the King Power Stadium. Ndidi has been branded “the new N’Golo Kante ” after his stunning turn in performances have flung the Foxes up the Premier League table. The central midfielder snubbed the Gunners’ advances in the summer before the Foxes pushed through a deal in January, but could reopen their interest when the window opens. Leicester signed the Nigerian for £17m from Genk to fill the hole left by omnipresent Kante – who joined Chelsea in the summer.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has re-appointed Kwesi Appiah as the coach of the Black Stars. Appiah, who will also take charge of the national team for locally-based players, has been offered a two-year contract to start work 1 May. He replaces Avram Grant who stepped down as coach after the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. It is a second stint in charge for Appiah, who led the Black Stars from 2012 until 2014. Since leaving the Black Stars following a poor World Cup campaign, he has been coaching Sudanese side Al Khartoum. The Black Stars failed to get out of the group at the World Cup in Brazil and were also beset by off-field problems with players being expelled from the team and a row over pay.
Nigerian striker, Peter Osaze Odemwingie, has joined the league of players heading to play club football in Indonesia. Odemwingie on Monday after a successful medical was signed on to Indonesian first division club, Madura United FC. The club on Monday confirmed the signing of Odemwingie as a marquee player for the 2017 League 1 season. The 35-year old became the third high profile signing after the duo of Micheal Essien and Carlton Cole also joined Indonesian first division club.
The FIFA Council has agreed on a proposed slot allocation for the 48-nation World Cup, which begins with the 2026 edition. According to a report published on the world football governing body’s website, the Council which comprises of the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the presidents of the six confederations (CAF, AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC, UEFA), reached the agreement on Thursday. UEFA will get 16 direct slots while the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will get nine direct slots. Asian Football Federation will get eight direct slots, while the Oceania Football Confederation gets one slot. North and Central America’s CONCACAF and South America’s CONMEBOL are allotted six direct slots respectively. “The recommendation will now be submitted for the ratification of the FIFA council, whose next meeting is scheduled for 9 May in Manama, Bahrain, two days prior to the 67th FIFA congress,” FIFA stated.
A former coach of the Nigerian senior national team, Super Eagles, chief Paul Hamilton, is dead. Hamilton who also coached the Super Falcons had battled several ailments that led to the amputation of his leg at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital earlier this year. He died at the military hospital on yesterday at the age of 75.
Lionel Messi has been banned from Argentina’s next four World Cup qualifiers, starting with Tuesday’s game in Bolivia. Messi was banned for “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” during a home qualifier against Chile on Thursday, FIFA said hours before kickoff in La Paz. “This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s previous rulings in similar cases,” the world soccer body said. Messi and the Argentine soccer federation can appeal against the ban to FIFA. Messi was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160). FIFA intervened when the incident was not initially reported by the Brazilian referee after Argentina’s 1-0 win at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires.
Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela has been ruled out for the rest of the season because of a hip injury. The 25-year-old Argentina international has not played for Spurs since October because of the problem and will undergo surgery on Saturday. Tottenham said Lamela had “achieved a good level of function” but was not at a stage to make a return to training, leading to the decision to operate. “I tried everything to recover but my hip is still not 100%,” Lamela tweeted. “I can’t compete at the level I want to. I’ll face this challenge with a positive attitude and can’t wait to get back with the team and be stronger.” Lamela had made 14 appearances this season for Spurs before the injury. He joined Tottenham from Roma in 2013 and enjoyed a superb season last term, scoring 13 goals. Spurs are second in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, who they also play in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Football fans have been questioning the resemblance of a statue of Cristiano Ronaldo unveiled on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Many on social media say the work looks more like former Republic of Ireland captain Niall Quinn than Ronaldo. The statue was revealed at a ceremony to name the island’s airport after him. Portugal’s president and the prime minister flew to the island to unveil the tribute to the player outside the terminal entrance. President Rebelo de Sousa said Ronaldo “projects Madeira and Portugal across the world far more than anybody else”. The 32-year-old is a local hero in Madeira, where he is seen as a rags-to-riches success. He already has a museum about him in his hometown of Funchal. The player later said on Twitter: “Happy and honored to have my name given to the Madeira airport!”
Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi wants Arsene Wenger to remain as manager and says criticism of the Frenchman is “unfair”. Wenger, 67, has been criticised by some fans after Arsenal slipped to sixth in the Premier League following four defeats in their past five games. A 10-2 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League added to the pressure and Wenger says he will make a decision on his future “very soon”. “He’s a great man in my opinion,” said Iwobi, 20. “I’d like him to stay.”
Four cyclists in Australia have used “GPS art” to turn a 202km (125-mile) ride into the outline of a goat around Perth. Why a goat? Because it was “an easy animal to draw” according to Ben Jones. “Apart from riding 200km, it’s relatively simple,” “You basically drop little dots on the road and it plans directions out.”
Manchester City have accepted a Football Association charge of failing to “ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion” during Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool. It follows the penalty that led to Liverpool’s goal when referee Michael Oliver penalised Gael Clichy for a raised boot on Roberto Firmino. Both Clichy and David Silva were booked after Oliver pointed to the spot. The case will be heard by an independent regulatory commission in due course.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been banned for three European matches after being sent off against Gent at Wembley in the Europa League in February. Alli was dismissed for a challenge on Brecht Dejaegere in the 2-2 draw. Should Spurs secure a top-three Premier League finish, Alli would miss half of their Champions League group campaign.