The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are primed to provide a grand finish worthy of a landmark Super Bowl 50 on Sunday and cap a season of celebration by the National Football League.An estimated 190 million Americans and a worldwide TV audience are set to tune in for a game that has the hallmarks of an instant classic as Carolina’s top-ranked offence clashes with Denver’s number one defense in a Silicon Valley showdown for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.The game will feature two generational talents on offense with Carolina quarterback Cam Newton on the cusp of greatness and five-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning playing what could be his last game, but the victor will likely be determined by the play of the defenses.“Our defense has just been exceptional all season long,” praised Manning. “They have led the charge for us to be here from the get-go.“Each game they had stepped up and done the job and they were awesome against Pittsburgh and against New England.“They are the reason we’re here and, like I said a couple weeks ago, I’m just glad that I don’t have to play against them this year because they are that good.”Still, the spotlight will not stray far from the two quarterbacks who bring contrasting styles and personalities to the championship game.Newton, 26, is a flashy, brash imposing quarterbacking cyborg who can beat an opponent with his arm and his feet.With a victory on Sunday the Panthers would find themselves with an 18-1 record, a Super Bowl and in the discussion about the greatest NFL teams of all-time.Manning, meanwhile, is a cerebral 39-year-old quarterbacking genius with an off-the-charts football IQ who operates primarily from the pocket.INTRIGUING CHESS MATCHA Denver defense that led the NFL in sacks can expect a long evening trying to contain Newton while Manning will engage in an intriguing chess match with a Panthers defence spearheaded by All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly that led the league in takeaways.“Newton is a special talent, a rare talent,” said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. “This league has the best of everything.“I mean you look at some of the great throwers in this league with (New England Patriots) Tom Brady and (Green Bay Packers) Aaron Rodgers and those type of guys and then now you got a guy who’s got a combination of everything.“Not only beating people with his arm but with his feet, his ability to move around. A tremendous athlete that they’ve molded their offense around.”During the regular season, the Panthers were an offensive juggernaut averaging a league-high 31 points a game.In the playoffs, they have been even more explosive in piling up 80 points in two routs, including a 49-15 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game that sent them through to their second Super Bowl.This has been far from a vintage year for Manning, who missed six consecutive starts due to a heel injury and when he did return, for the first time in his Hall of Fame career he stood on the sidelines – as backup to Brock Osweiler.Manning, who once threw seven touchdowns in a single game, had just nine in 10 games this season offset by 17 interceptions as questions over his age and diminishing arm strength became a recurring storyline.But like every great drama there are twists and in the regular season finale Manning came on in relief of Osweiler to lead the Broncos to a win, then steered Denver to narrow playoff victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.“I feel like I have a good understanding of the significance of playing in the 50th Super Bowl,” said Manning, who will be appearing in his fourth NFL title game.“This is a unique and special opportunity and obviously we’re going to take advantage of it.“There is no question it’s important to me, it’s very personal to me, and no question this season has had some unique challenges.” You will find more statistics at Statista
Work will get underway on stage two of the facility which includes the main grand stand.This follows the signing last week between the Government and Curtain Bros for the Private Public Partnership agreement and contract for stadium.Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko thanked Curtain Bros for coming on board with the National Government for building this iconic stadium.He said in the meantime the facilities will still be used as the construction goes along.The facility will be a premier stadium with eight restaurants, a huge convention centre, a leagues club, doctor’s facilities and will be the home of weightlifting.Curtain Bros will run and manage the stadium for 30 years and invest K60 million of their own funding into the project which is half of the contract value.This will allow the stadium to be professionally managed and operated in the best interest of all users and the public.“Past history has shown us governments cannot run or manage successfully our own facilities, so out sourcing to professionals is the only way to go,’’ the minister said.“We look forward to seeing stage two of the Hubert Murray Stadium completed by late next year,” he stated.
Hunters lead in the second half by 4 points but could not hold as the Seagulls clawed their way back with a stunning performance.The Tweed Heads converted a penalty goal for 2 points which cut the lead to 2 points to 12-14.Than it was Shanon Walker that broke through to score as the Seagulls took the lead in the match for the first time with the score at 18-14.However, the Hunters fought back with more confidence sending in Atte Bina with a converted try to seal the match 20-18 over the Seagulls.This is the first home win for the Hunters at the new National Football Stadium – the home of the Hunters.
PNG’s top tier football competition was supposed to commence tomorrow, but the board of the NSL rescheduled by a week to allow teams more time to prepare.Seven teams have confirmed their participation this season. They are: Toti City Dwellers (formerly known as Lae City Dwellers), Madang FC, Besta PNG United FC, Buang FC and newcomers FC Morobe Wawens, Southern Strikers and FC Momase.PNG Football Assocaiton senior vice president, John Wesley Gonjuan, confirmed that the competition will start on January 13 with one game to be played in Madang, one in Lae and another in Port Moresby.“The registration for the competition will be closed on Friday and an official press conference will be held in Port Moresby to announce the draw and the format for the 2018 NSL season,” said Gonjuan.“The competition is set to start and we are excited to see new teams taking on the challenge and we welcome them.”For more information on the annual affiliation fee and players’ registration fee, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (+675) 323 2591. (Loop file pic)
In preparing his team for Saturday’s seismic first Test against the British and Irish Lions, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made a point of looking to the past for inspiration.The history of past Lions tours. The reminder that only one All Blacks side, in 1971, have lost a series to the combined team. The fact that they are unbeaten at Eden Park since 1994.And the recognition that for this group of players, the three-Test series will be their last chance to face the Lions.“The Lions come every 12 years and we’re excited about that,” Hansen told reporters ahead of the first Test, which kicks off at 7:35pm (10:35am Cyprus time) in Auckland on Saturday.“It’s a once-in-a-career opportunity for most people and look at the guys in the first game (Provincial Barbarians), they loved it and they are now keen to go to a higher level.“The Super Rugby sides, they stood up and were counted and it inspired those young kids.“You can feel the enthusiasm and real hunger in the hotel with the players. They’re really up for it.“That’s what this Lions tour does for our rugby. We respect it.”Respect for the current Lions team has been slow to come in rugby-mad New Zealand after the visitors sputtered through the first week of their tour.Since then, barring a 23-22 loss to the Otago Highlanders, they have built momentum on forward-dominated performances that starved the opposition of possession and shut down their opportunities with a quick, smothering defence.The inside back combination of Conor Murray and Owen Farell have also been superb with their tactical kicking, while the hard-running midfield of Jonathan Davies and Ben Te’o have proved the best at giving their side front-foot ball.The big test against the All Blacks is whether they will provide that space to an attacking back three of Liam Williams, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly, with coach Warren Gatland choosing the trio in the knowledge the Lions will need to score tries to beat the world champions.Gatland said there was no point playing it safe.“The message to the players before we came out to New Zealand was that to play the All Blacks you have to be bold and take risks,” he added.“Yes we are playing to a structure as every team does, but we have been giving the confidence to the players to bring in an offloading game when its appropriate.“We know we have got to be courageous coming here, we’ve got to be bold and play some positive rugby.”Gatland’s worry is that if they get too positive and make errors, which they have been prone to do, the All Blacks will exploit them ruthlessly, as evidenced by their 78-0 thrashing of Samoa last week.All Blacks captain Kieran Read has returned to the starting team after almost eight weeks out with a broken thumb, while winger Rieko Ioane was the only surprise selection for the world champions, replacing Julian Savea on the left wing.Ryan Crotty has recovered from a rib injury to allow Hansen to pair him with Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield, with Anton Lienert-Brown coming off the bench to give the All Blacks “something different,” Hansen said.“It gives us a 1-2-3 punch,” he added.
Britain’s Anthony Joshua moved a step closer to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion of the world on Saturday after beating New Zealander Joseph Parker on a unanimous points decision in their title unification bout.The 2012 Olympic champion, taken to 12 rounds for the first time in his professional career after 20 previous knockouts, added Parker’s WBO belt to his own WBA Super, IBF and IBO titles.The three judges scored it 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to Joshua, leaving only Deontay Wilder’s WBC title still to conquer.“Wilder. Let’s go baby, let’s go,” shouted Joshua from inside the ring to raucous cheers from the 78,000 crowd packing Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, also namechecking Tyson Fury as another possible opponent.“Do I want to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world? IBO, WBO, IBF, WBA…I’m not into the hype, I’m about business. So let’s get the business done.“Let’s see what the future holds, I’m down for whatever, whenever,” added the Briton, making clear he wanted Wilder to face him in Britain rather than Las Vegas.The American was not among those present, despite being invited by organisers, the undefeated champion opting to watch from afar instead.STICK BEHIND THE JABBoth fighters had stepped into the ring undefeated, with Joshua weighing in six pounds heavier than his shorter opponent and with a longer reach.If some had expected an early knockout it did not pan out that way, even if Joshua could be said to have controlled most of the 12 rounds by using his jab and left hooks to telling effect.Apart from an explosive sixth round, with both trading some stinging blows, neither looked likely to buckle with Parker showing more staying power than any of Joshua’s previous opponents.The referee also intervened repeatedly, breaking up the fight whenever the fighting livened up and calling a time out in the ninth with Joshua returning to his corner to tighten up his gloves.“My strategy in there was to stick behind the jab,” said Joshua.“It’s one of the most important weapons. The old saying is the right hand can take you around the block, but a good jab will take you around the world. And that secured me another world title belt,” he added.“I know the bookies say I might get a knockout…but forget the hype, Joseph Parker is a world champion. So I knew he was going to be determined. So this does become a boxing match, not a fight.“Joseph Parker stated this would be war, I stated this would be boxing finesse. I stuck to my word and I controlled it behind the jab, the counter-punches.”The 26-year-old New Zealander, who had been led into the ring by Samoan chiefs under a barrage of strobe lights before Joshua walked in to the sound of ‘Paid in Full’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, was gracious in defeat.“Today I got beaten by a better champion, a bigger man,” he said.“I’m going to come back stronger. No regrets, take it on the chin. Better man on the day.“I would love to have another go.”
Two days after Ronnie O’Sullivan described the venue as a “hellhole”, the five-time world champion treated the crowd at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley to the 15th maximum break of his career.The 147 sealed O’Sullivan’s 4-0 victory over Allan Taylor in the second round of the English Open.Earlier in the week O’Sullivan complained that he could smell urine in the player interview area and criticised event organisers for not separating the tournament from other sports being played at the leisure centre.But the TV table at least seemed to be playing perfectly as the 42-year-old potted blacks with each of the 15 reds before clearing the colours, despite claiming to be “twitching” on shots.“I did think about it from the first red because I thought I’ve got to try and do something in this match to get myself excited,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.“From about 40-odd I was in bits, I was twitching all over the gaff. My back arm was like a bit of fish, flapping all over the gaff and then they’ve (fellow players) all gone quiet to watch the max and I thought, ‘That’s the worst thing you can do, just carry on playing, make some noise, do something’.“When it went too quiet you felt the pressure is on you even more. I didn’t even fancy potting that (last) black to be honest with you, I was feeling it.”O’Sullivan, who also made a break of 135 in the second frame, added: “I felt sorry for Allan out there because you could see he was struggling, he’s a lot better player than that. I think the conditions and just being on the TV table got to him a bit.“I got a bit fortunate earlier on, I missed quite a few balls. We both did and my bad was a bit better than his bad.”O’Sullivan will play either Jimmy White or Matthew Stevens in the third round.
Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City team to be ready – because Manchester United will have their moments in Sunday’s derby.City have thrashed Southampton and Shakhtar Donetsk 6-1 and 6-0 respectively in the past week but Guardiola is expecting something much different as the Premier League leaders face improving United at the Etihad Stadium.The City boss said: “Against the top teams like United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool – you cannot imagine for 90 minutes we are going to play amazingly and not give them a chance.“When they have the ball and the people in front – wow – they can create something.“They have an incredible amount of talent up front and in the middle as well. That is why we have to defend deep and strong, defend the crosses and avoid set-pieces as they are huge and far better than us.“We have to control more for as many minutes as possible and be clinical. That’s the game we’ll try to do.“What we have to do is try to play good. If we don’t we have no chance to win.”City were outplaying United when the sides last met but let their guard slip to surrender a 2-0 lead and lose 3-2.Guardiola said: “For 75 minutes I’d like to play the same game as against United in April but United have shown us they need only 10 or 15 minutes to create a lot of chances.”United have lifted the gloom that was surrounding Old Trafford about a month ago, when manager Jose Mourinho was under the most pressure, with some positive results in recent weeks.On Wednesday they came from behind to claim a famous 2-1 victory at Juventus in the Champions League.Guardiola said: “No doubt about that – they’ve improved. I see a team with a lot of commitment, aggressive without the ball, everybody runs in front and everybody runs in behind the ball. A team has good and bad moments and at this moment they have confidence.”Mourinho meanwhile is ready to go toe-to-toe with “untouchable” City in the eagerly-anticipated derby as United look to emerge from a daunting double-header with another memorable away win.Wednesday’s 6-0 defeat of Shakhtar underlined the quality of Sunday’s opposition, but life off the field is not as rosy as City face allegations that they have tried to cheat European football’s Financial Fair Play rules.Asked if he felt United were operating on a fair playing field ahead of the derby, Mourinho said: “It’s difficult for me to answer because I focus on my job, I focus on the four lines.“I focus on football. If you want to speak about their football potential, we can speak.“And football potential starts with investment. After that, of course, there is a quality of the work and the quality of the organisation and I think that is untouchable. But what is behind, I cannot say.“But, in this moment, I have only to think about football, and to think about football is just to think about Manchester City as a football team.”The allegations about City’s finances have been made by German publication Der Spiegel, citing documents and private emails obtained from the whistle-blowing group Football Leaks.City have described the reports as the product of an organised attempt to damage the club’s reputation, based on “materials hacked or stolen”.Mourinho sidestepped the allegations and instead praised a side that he hopes to go toe-to-toe with, just as he did at Juventus and in the recent 2-2 draw at Chelsea.The United boss said: “We are going to try. I cannot say we are going to be successful in our motivations, in our desire, but we played two difficult matches away against two very good teams, Chelsea and Juventus, and we managed to get good results.“And even if the good results were not in our pockets, the performances were there, the positive attitude was there, so we are going to try. But you are right, Manchester City is a very powerful team.”Yet United know they can hurt Guardiola’s side, having come from behind to win 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in April and delay their title party.
With just three games to go before the end of the season and the two championship contenders, Apoel and Apollon, dropped further points giving third-placed AEK a glimmer of hope of taking the title as they now trail by six points. In the relegation scrap Pafos FC pulled well clear of the danger zone leaving Doxa, Alki and Enosis Neon Paralimniou to fight it out as to which team will join Ermis Aradippou in the second division, with Enosis the team in the worst position.Apoel missed another great chance to pull clear at the top as they went down 1-0 to 10-man AEK at the Arena stadium in Larnaca. This was the seventh time the two sides have met this season and the seventh time the champions were unable to win, a bleak record for Apoel that left their coach Paolo Tramezzani bemused at the end of the game.“We are bitterly disappointed we did not even take a point from this game,” he said.AEK created precious little, especially in the second half, and the winning goal, in the 66th minute by defender Gonzalez was their only attempt on goal. However they did have to play the final 30 minutes with ten men after Acoran received his marching orders for a reckless tackle on Apoel’s Souza. However apart for a last gasp effort by Apoel’s de Vincenti that came off the crossbar the Larnaca side were rarely troubled as Tramezzani’s side was found lacking in the final third of the game for yet another game. Apollon missed a great chance of moving to within a point of Apoel as they could only draw 1-1 with AEL in the Limassol derby.The first half was highly entertaining with both sides throwing caution to the wind and attacking in numbers. AEL managed to take the lead in the 19th minute through Ion Gaztanaga and kept the lead until the break.In the second half Apollon took control of the game and in the 53rd minute it seemed the tide was turning in their favour as they were awarded a penalty and at the same time their opponents were reduced to ten men as Anganovic was shown a second yellow card.However Zelaya’s spot-kick was saved by AEL goalkeeper Vozinia.Apollon continued to press forward and were finally rewarded when Yuste equalised with 15 minutes still to play.Despite a frantic finish AEL managed to hold onto the point with the biggest chance falling to Bru in the final minute of added time.Alki found it tough against relegated Ermis Aradippou who took the lead through Constantinou.Alki managed to equalise just after the hour mark through Fylaktou while Dushko Trajchevski fired in the winner four minutes from the end.In a highly-entertaining game in Pafos, Pafos FC secured the three points thanks to Nemec’s winning goal in the 74th minute.Papafotis had given Doxa the lead with a long-range strike but a brace by Cools had given the Pafos team a half-time lead.Bolievic restored parity midway into the second half before Nemec hit the winner.Enosis Neon Paralimniou and Anorthosis took a point each in a 2-2 draw in Paralimni.Two players, Anorthosis’ Ruben Rayios and Enosis’ Ioannis Pittas, scored in each half with Rayios’ equaliser coming five minutes from the end, denying Enosis what would have been a well-deserved win.Nea Salamina beat Omonia 5-2 in the final game of the round on Monday night.
The Thunder led 58-46 at halftime, but the Lakers chipped away and pulled to 77-71 by the end of the third quarter.A putback dunk by Enes Kanter and a steal and dunk by Oladipo pushed Oklahoma City’s lead to 10 in the first minute of the fourth.The Lakers tried to hang tough. Nick Young made a 3-pointer to trim Oklahoma City’s lead to 95-91 with just under five minutes remaining. Adams scored in close, and Westbrook followed with a fast break dunk after a steal by Adams to put the Thunder back in control for good.TIP-INSLakers: Randle made 5 of 6 shots in the first half, while the rest of the team made 13 of 39. … Los Angeles shot 5 for 18 on 3s in the first half and finished 7 for 32 for the game. … Luke Walton was denied his first road win as Lakers coach.ADVERTISEMENT PH among economies most vulnerable to virus J Pat Carter/Getty Images/AFPOKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 33 points as part of another triple-double to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-96 on Sunday night to remain unbeaten.Westbrook, coming off a 51-point triple-double against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, also had 16 assists and 12 rebounds against the Lakers. According to the Thunder, he joined Magic Johnson, Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with two triple-doubles in the first three games of a season.ADVERTISEMENT Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan PLAY LIST 01:31Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan01:33WHO: ‘Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient’01:01WHO: now 31,211 virus cases in China 102:02Vitamin C prevents but doesn’t cure diseases like coronavirus—medic03:07’HINDI PANG-SPORTS LANG!’03:03SILIP SA INTEL FUND READ: Westbrook has 51 points, triple-double as Thunder beat SunsThe Thunder have won 20 straight regular-season games when Westbrook registers a triple-double. He clinched this one, the 39th of his career, in the third quarter. He ended the game with season averages of 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra teammates show love for SlaughterSPORTSWe are youngSPORTSCone plans to speak with Slaughter, agentVictor Oladipo added 20 points for the Thunder.D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle each scored 20 points for the Lakers. Thunder: Westbrook ranks second among active players behind LeBron James in triple doubles. James has 43. … Oklahoma City had 17 assists on 23 baskets in the first half. … Westbrook attempted 44 field goals and 20 free throws on Friday. He took 21 shots and six free throws on Sunday.UP NEXTLakers travel to Indiana to play the Paul George and the Pacers on Tuesday.Thunder head west to play the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and the Golden State Warriors and former teammate Kevin Durant on Thursday.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Mainland China virus cases exceed 40,000; deaths rise to 908 Smart hosts first 5G-powered esports exhibition match in PH Where did they go? Millions left Wuhan before quarantine 30 Filipinos from Wuhan quarantined in Capas Smart’s Siklab Saya: A multi-city approach to esports Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol town We are young Durant’s 37 lifts Warriors past pesky Suns MOST READ Brad Pitt wins his first acting Oscar as awards get underway EDITORS’ PICK BREAKING: Solicitor General asks SC to forfeit ABS CBN’s franchise Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments