Argentina beat Dutch in shootout to set up Germany final

admin   •   July 10, 2014   •   2102

Argentina’s national soccer players celebrate after their teammate Maxi Rodriguez scored the decisive goal during a penalty shoot-out against the Netherlands at their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo July 9, 2014.
REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

(Reuters) – Argentina reached their first World Cup final in 24 years on Wednesday, beating the Netherlands 4-2 on penalties after the first scoreless semi in the tournament’s history, with old foes Germany awaiting them in Sunday’s showpiece.

The match will be a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals, the first of which was won by Argentina before the then West Germany gained revenge four years later.

Argentina’s win compounded the misery for hosts Brazil who were humiliated 7-1 by Germany on Tuesday before seeing their worst fears realized when their South American neighbors booked their place at the Maracana on Sunday.

Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez scored the decisive penalty for Argentina after their goalkeeper Sergio Romero had saved spot kicks from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder, triggering wild celebrations among Lionel Messi’s triumphant team.

“I’m proud to be a part of this group,” Messi said in a statement posted on his social media pages.

“They are all phenomenons, what a match they played.

“What madness. We are in the final. Let’s enyoy it, it is just a little step more.”

Brazil may have won the World Cup more than any other country, but the one they wanted most of all will now be played between two of their greatest rivals.

For Brazilians, it is unpalatable prospect for the mourning samba nation but for soccer fans, it is a dream showdown between a German team that has wowed everyone at the tournament and Messi, the four-time World Player of the year who has won every honor except the World Cup.

Wednesday’s second semi-final in Sao Paulo could not have been more different than Tuesday’s goalfest in Belo Horizonte but the sheer tension of the occasion had fans on the edge of their seats.

“I’m very happy because we reached the final and now we will see what we can do,” said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella. “We will give everything as usual, with humility, work and 100 percent effort.”

Neither Argentina or the Netherlands created many chances in a dour game that was dominated by defense but ultimately came down to a battle of nerves when they finished deadlocked at 0-0 after extra time.

For players and fans, the tension was almost unbearable and it was the Dutch, who have played in three World Cup finals, including the last one in Johannesburg four years ago, but never won one, who fluffed their lines in the shootout.

It was also a second semi-final defeat on penalties for the Netherlands who suffered the same fate against Brazil in 1998.

“I didn’t have the feeling in the second half that we would lose,” said Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal.

“And when it comes to penalties you know it’s a lottery. The boys did fantastically (well). Nobody had expected this.”

The Dutch will play Brazil in the third-place playoff in Brasilia on Saturday as the recriminations into the host nation’s limp exit gather pace.

ETERNAL SHAME

Brazilian media savaged the team’s performance with newspapers describing the Germany defeat as an “historic disgrace”, “national humiliation”, “eternal shame” and a “fiasco”.

A lot of the blame was directed at Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose future is now the source of wide speculation with Tite, Muricy Ramalho and Vanderlei Luxemburgo looming as his possible successor.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff took to social media to express her disappointment to a country reeling from the loss after spending more than $11 billion on hosting the tournament.

“I’m immensely sorry for all of us, our fans and players,” she tweeted. “But let’s not let ourselves give up. Brazil, get up, dust yourself off and bounce back.”

Riot police, who had been deployed at fan sites around the country to handle any violent outbreaks, had a quiet night with most fans too traumatized by the manner of defeat to revolt.

An Argentine journalist was killed in Sao Paulo early on Wednesday morning when his taxi was hit by a stolen car fleeing police. He was the second Argentine reporter to die in a car wreck while covering the World Cup.

The mood in Germany could not have been more different with more than 32 million people watching their country’s victory on television, a record rating which accounted for an audience market share of almost 88 percent.

Hundreds of thousands of Germans watched the match from the avenue leading to the Brandenburg Gate and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to attend the final.

Off the field, FIFA suspended the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) because of government interference.

A regional court in Nigeria last week ordered the sacking of the existing NFF executive after the team’s performance at the World Cup, where they were eliminated by France in the second round.

The court appointed a new administrator to run the game in the populous west African nation but FIFA warned Nigeria they would be banned from competing internationally unless the old leadership was restored to power.

“The suspension will be lifted once the court actions have been withdrawn and the properly elected NFF Executive Committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without any interference in their affairs,” FIFA said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond and Nigel Hunt)

Iraqis defy tear gas, upcoming curfew as protests stretch on

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

 Iraqi protesters react after police fired tear gas at them during a protest at al-Tahrir square, central Baghdad, Iraq, 28 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF

Thousands of people in Baghdad continued their protests at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Monday (October 28), defying a curfew scheduled to be imposed from midnight until 6am (2100GMT to 0300 GMT).

Protesters took to the streets for a fourth day, despite having endured bloody clashes over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.

At least 74 Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded across the country on Friday (October 25) and Saturday (October 26) as demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of this month’s protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.

More than 200 people have been killed in October so far.

Iraqi security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from the prime minister and joined anti-government protests.

A spokesman for Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious as he faces the largest challenge since he came to power a year ago, said on Sunday (October 27) that anyone disrupting work or school days would be severely punished.

Mass street protests in Baghdad and other cities in the southern Shi’te heartland against economic hardship began at the start of the month and resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks. (Reuters)

READ: DFA cautions Filipinos against travel to Iraq

(Production: Haider Kadhim, Mohammed Al-Ramahi, Mohammed Katfan, Hannah Ellison)

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US Military: No footage on Baghdadi’s death will be released

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

US President Donald J. Trump answers a reporter’s question as he participates in a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 07 October 2019. At right is United States Army General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. EPA-EFE/Ron Sachs

Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains had been disposed of and there were no plans to share footage on his death, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley announced on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria.

Trump said earlier that part of the footage on the operation would be released, but military sources said that the footage might expose some confidential information about the U.S. military, adding that the footage should go through strict checks before it is published.

The Associated Press on Monday released footage taken by a witness when the U.S. military launched a raid in northwestern Syria — but the authenticity of the footage has not been verified.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday expressed “prudent welcome” to Baghdadi’s death, saying the U.S. has made a big contribution to fighting terrorism “if confirmed”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that it does not have reliable information about the U.S. operation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria that allegedly killed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday stressed that the extremist ideology and the support for it still exist in the Middle East, and the death of Baghdadi was a “creature” killed by the U.S.

On the same day, Iranian government Spokesman Ali Rabiee said al-Baghdadi’s death is the end of a symbol of “destructive terrorism,” and the U.S. should end its interventions in the Middle East. (Reuters)

Tokyo 2020 gymnastics, boccia venue unveiled

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) on Tuesday (October 29) unveiled the new Ariake Gymnastics Centre, which will host Gymnastic and Boccia events during the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The 12,000-seat, 30-meter height venue, whose construction was completed on 25 October, has no pillar in the performance area.

The central element of the architecture is a 90-meter spanned, local larch wood roof that arches over the building’s core.

Timbers of Larch were all domestically sourced including from Hokkaido, Nagano and Miyazaki prefectures to name a few.

The venue, located in the Ariake district of the Japanese capital that will host many other Olympic events, will be also used as an exhibition center when the Games are over.

One of the Tokyo 2020 officials at a press viewing of the venue, Koichi Fukui, told reporters that wood materials would eventually be used as partitions at exhibitions and all the bench boards would be recycled into shoe shelves for schools.

The venue will host the 34th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in November. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Yoko Kono)

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