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Afghanistan want direct passage to World Cup: coach DUBAI: Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan is backing his team to clinch back-to-back wins over Kenya in Sharjah on Wednesday and Friday and seal direct qualification for a maiden outing at the World Cup."It is very important for us to qualify directly, otherwise there would be extra pressure on the boys to go to New Zealand for another round of qualification," said Khan, a former Pakistan Test fast bowler."We want to qualify directly and start preparing for the ICC Cricket World Cup," being played in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.The former fast bowler was confident that Afghanistan would perform well in the do-or-die matches against Kenya because of the pressure the side has successfully borne for much of the competition, after winning only three of the opening eight matches."Since I joined about 18 months ago, we knew that we had to win all remaining matches to qualify directly to the ...

All Blacks skipper McCaw set to face Springboks JOHANNESBURG: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen expects star flank Richie McCaw to start against the Springboks at Ellis Park Saturday in the Rugby Championship title decider.A knee injury against Argentina this month forced the skipper to miss a home match against South Africa and the return game against the Pumas.New Zealand arrived in Johannesburg Monday with Hansen upbeat that McCaw will be in the starting line-up for the sell-out Test."Richie got better and better last ...

Current champ Azarenka blames schedule on China exit BEIJING: Reigning China Open champion Victoria Azarenka lamented her lack of preparation after crashing out in Beijing at the first stage Monday -- her second early exit from a tournament in a week.The world number two also blamed her mental fragility for the 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 loss to Andrea Petkovic, a match in which she was often seen cursing to herself as she committed a staggering 15 double faults.The second seed had earlier in September ...

McClaren set for Derby job: Redknapp LONDON: Former England manager Steve McClaren is set to be announced as the new manager of English second-tier club Derby County later Monday, according to Queens Park Rangers' boss Harry Redknapp. McClaren, 52, has been working under Redknapp since July and has helped west London side QPR to the top of the second-tier Championship. Derby are currently without a manager after Nigel Clough was sacked on Saturday following a 1-0 defeat by bitter local rivals ...

Bayern brush off Ibrahimovic's Guardiola slur BERLIN: Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has branded Zlatan Ibrahimovic an "aggrieved prima donna" after the Sweden star's latest verbal attack on coach Pep Guardiola.Since Guardiola took charge of Bayern in June, the European champions have dropped just two league points, winning six of their seven Bundesliga games so far and are at Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.Guardiola and Ibrahmiovic were both at Barcelona for the 2009/10 season, but their relationship soured ...

Franco replaces suspended Flip in Springbok squad PARIS: South Africa have called up Franco van der Merwe to replace banned namesake Flip for the Rugby Championship-ending match against New Zealand at Johannesburg's Ellis Park on Saturday.Flip van der Merwe was found guilty at a Sanzar judicial hearing of a dangerous tackle after he was cited during the match against Australia at the weekend, and was suspended for one week up to and including October 5.Van der Merwe received a yellow card at ...

Aussie 'backlash' talk doesn't bother Gatting LONDON: Former England captain Mike Gatting has laughed off suggestions Alastair Cook's men could face an Australia 'backlash' when they defend the Ashes 'Down Under.Despite losing the recent Ashes series in England by a convincing 3-0 margin, the Australia camp have been in bullish mood ahead of the return campaign which starts with the first Test in Brisbane in November.But Gatting, who led England to Ashes glory in Australia in 1986/87, told BBC Sport on ...


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