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Oman 1-0 Syria

 Oman kicked off their AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Syria in Group A on Wednesday evening with Abdulaziz Al Maqbali scoring the only goal of the game.

Paul Le Guen’s side held firm against the Syrians to make a positive start to their campaign to qualify for the finals of the continental championship for the third time and the first since 2007,according to the AFC.

After dominating the opening half, the Omanis picked up the goal their performance deserved six minutes before the break when Al Maqbali volleyed home Qasim Said’s cross from the left past Syrian goalkeeper Mosab Balhous.

Said went close to doubling Oman’s lead on the stroke of half time when his effort from the left beat Balhous but Hussein Al Jwayed cleared the ball before it crossed the line.

The Omanis chose to sit back and defend their lead in the second half and the Syrians pushed for the equalizer.

With 11 minutes to go, Oday Al Jafal went closest to giving Syria a share of the spoils but his shot was just wide of the post.


2015 Asia Cup Qualifiers:Syria to Meet Oman

 The men's national soccer team are due to leave soon for Oman to take on their Omani counterparts in the 2015 Australia Asia Cup qualifiers.

Before leaving for Oman, the national team, under Husam al-Sayed,held a training camp in Egypt where they played a number of friend lies against Egyptian leading clubs .

The national team also played against the Sudanese club of al-Ahli.

Syria's group includes :Oman.Jordan and Singapore.

Some sports critics believe that the Syrian side is a strong contender to make it through to the second phase of the qualifiers.


Drogba: African triumph would be massive

Like many of his Côte d’Ivoire team-mates, Didier Drogba has won countless trophies with his club sides, but what has eluded him, at least so far, is a winners' medal from a major international competition with the national team. At age 34, time is against the big striker, but as he tells, it would be a grand achievement for the Elephants if they could win the ongoing CAF Africa Cup of Nations title.

Last year, Côte d’Ivoire made it through to the final of the tournament in Gabon. There they faced underdogs Zambia, and with the score goalless in the 70th minute, they were awarded a penalty, which Drogba shot over. Although the striker made his spot kick in the eventual penalty shoot-out, the Chipolopolo went on to win 8-7 to deny Drogba and his team-mates once again. Ironically, given the plaudits for his winning penalty for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final last year, Drogba is also known in Africa for missing a spot kick in the 2006 final shoot-out against Egypt.

But the irrepressible Abidjan native is keeping things positive ahead of what is sure to be a rugged quarter-final on Sunday against two-time champions Nigeria as he looks ahead to a possible final on 10 February in Johannesburg. "I am really hoping that we can win the tournament this time around. It has been a long wait for us, and it would be massive if we could win," Drogba said after the Elephants drew their final Group D match with Algeria 2-2. The 1992 AFCON winners had already guaranteed top spot in the group after their two opening victories against Togo and Tunisia.

In the 3-0 victory against Tunisia, Drogba started the game on the bench - the first time in recent memory he has not started a match for his national team - but Ivorian coach Sabri Lamouchi said Drogba remained an important member of the team and that he was not concerned with the striker’s fitness level, even though he has hardly played in the last three months. "I am not worried. We see him work every day. He is stepping up every day. Hopefully we will go as far as possible, and he will be a key element in our future success. We are not worried about him, and he himself does not worry," the coach said.

We showed a lot of character and strength, and it is better to have to make such corrections during the group phase, rather than later in the tournament.

Against Algeria, Drogba was again in the starting line-up and his 77th-minute goal started off the Elephants' come-back after being two goals down. Asked about his performance, Drogba was his typically modest self. "I’d rather not comment on my individual performance, but on the team's performance. The goal I scored was nothing special, it did not bring us a victory, but it only helped us to come back for a result."

He said that the game proved two things to him, an astute observer of the game. "First, if we ease up our efforts, we will be made to pay. And second, when we decide to push forward, showing our determination and delivering the goods, we see that there is quality in this team. I hope we learn these lessons. It was also good to see that we could come back from being two goals down. We showed a lot of character and strength, and it is better to have to make such corrections during the group phase, rather than later in the tournament."


FA charges Ferguson over Tottenham comments

The Football Association has charged Sir Alex Ferguson over comments he made to the media following Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

The United boss was incensed by referee Chris Foy's decision not to award a penalty to Wayne Rooney, although it was assistant referee Simon Beck who drew most of Ferguson's ire.

Ferguson said after the match: "There was no way the linesman was going to give that - he gave them everything.

"It was a clear decision. And he was 10, maybe 12 yards away from the incident and he doesn't give it. And yet he gave everything else."

Ferguson also alluded to a previous incident involving Beck, when he allowed a Didier Drogba goal to stand despite the player appearing to be offside when United were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea in April 2010.

Ferguson submitted his observations about the case on Friday and now the FA

have decided there is sufficient evidence to call the United boss to account.

A statement on the FA website read: "The FA has charged Sir Alex Ferguson in relation to post-match media comments made following Manchester United's game at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 20 January 2013.

"It is alleged the Manchester United manager breached FA Rule E3 in that he implied that the match official was motivated by bias.

"Ferguson has until 4pm on Friday 1 February 2013 to respond to the charge."

Victoria Azarenka beats Li Na in three sets to retain title

Victoria Azarenka beat Li Na in three sets to retain her Australian Open crown in Melbourne.

The Belarusian came from a set down in a topsy-turvy final to record a 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory which also sees her retain the world No 1 ranking.

Twice the Chinese contender had to call for the trainer - the first time after going over on her ankle midway through the second set and again after tumbling in the first point after play resumed following a third-set stoppage for a firework display to celebrate Australia Day.

Roared on by a partisan crowd, she battled on bravely but, despite her best efforts, Li was unable to prevent Azarenka from claiming the trophy and holding off Serena Williams at the rankings summit.

On a cool night, the final took some time to heat up with both players struggling with nerves. They exchanged early breaks before Li held and then broke again for 3-1.

Azarenka, whose controversial semi-final win over Sloane Stephens meant she had to face a smattering of boos when she made her way on to Rod Laver Arena, hit back after Li missed a

But she was still struggling on serve and the Chinese, who won the 2011 French Open, took advantage again and clinched an error-strewn opening set 6-4 with her backhand proving her most potent weapon.

Although she dropped the opener, there were signs that Azarenka was starting to find her range and she swiftly motored into a 3-0 lead in the second set.

Li appeared in serious danger of having to retire when she went over on her left ankle during the fourth point of the fifth game - the trainer dashing straight on to court before administering seven minutes of treatment.

When she returned, having had the joint heavily strapped, there appeared no immediate sign of her movement being impaired as she starting hitting winners from all angles, but Azarenka took the set at the fourth time of asking.

The Belarusian remained on the front foot as the deciding set got under way, breaking for an early advantage and Li was always playing catch-up.

Li had a chance to draw level at 4-4 only to push a backhand return beyond the baseline. And it proved to be her final opportunity as Azarenka held and then broke to claim her second successive Melbourne crown.