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Andre Silva lifts Portugal past Italy in Nations League

LISBON (Agencies): Andre Silva scored the only goal as European champions Portugal — without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo — got their Nations League campaign off the mark with a 1-0 win over Italy in Lisbon on Monday.

Ronaldo, 33, had been left out of the squad at his own request to focus on his new Italian club Juventus. But the Euro 2016 winners showed no sign of missing their star striker, dominating the Italians to secure their first three points in a Group 3 that also includes Poland.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini suffered his first competitive setback after being held by Poland 1-1 in their opener on Friday in Bologna, with the Azzurri on one point after two games.

“We made too many mistakes, but the lads gave everything,” said Mancini. “We need to find a solution to scoring goals because you don’t win games without scoring. That’s our main problem right now.”

Silva scored three minutes into the second half with the on-loan Sevilla striker picking up a Bruma cross to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Italy goal. Italy had been fortunate to keep their goal clear in the first half, largely thanks to Donnarumma, as Portugal dictated play in the Estadio Da Luz.

Bernardo Silva’s effort was cleared off the line by Alessio Romagnoli with a Bruma effort deflected onto the bar. Italy fought back with Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza threatening just before the break. Mancini had rang the changes with an experimental side with seven new players starting — midfielder Jorginho and Donnarumma the only pair to be retained from the draw with Poland.

In the same 4-3-3 lineup, Lazio striker Immobile came in for Mario Balotelli, who was heavily-criticised for his performance against Poland before coming off with a muscle problem. SPAL’s Manuel Lazzari made his international debut on the right of defense.

Federico Chiesa and Andre Silva both missed chances early, while a Zaza back-heel flick for Immobile was cleared in the box. William Carvalho fired just wide from distance and Jorginho’s volley was cleared.

Portugal grabbed the winner soon after the restart through Silva with Bernardo Silva coming close to a second only for Donnarumma to clear. Italy struggled to create chances, apart from a Zaza header that went wide 12 minutes from time.

The four-time world champions now risk being relegated from their Nations League group after also failing to qualify for the World Cup. “We must help the youth grow, as we don’t have alternatives,” said former Manchester City and Inter Milan coach Mancini. “Improving the physical condition overall will make things easier but the main problem we need to resolve is not scoring goals.”





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David Miller quits first-class cricket

CAPE TOWN (Agencies): Hard-hitting middle-order batsman David Miller has quit first-class cricket in a bid to concentrate on his limited overs game ahead of next year’s World Cup in England and Wales.

The 29-year-old, who jointly holds the record for the fastest Twenty20 International century off 35 balls, is a regular in South Africa’s limited overs teams and says he would rather focus on “the format I love”. “It was a tough decision to make,” Miller said in a media release from Cricket South Africa on Tuesday. “I have decided that I would, in future, like to concentrate on white ball cricket to make sure that I am in a position to give myself the best opportunity to play for the Proteas in the format that I love. “This is an important decision for me, especially with the World Cup looming next year.”

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Australia name five uncapped players for Pakistan series

MELBOURNE (Agencies): Australia named five uncapped players in a raw tour squad to play Pakistan in a test series in the United Arab Emirates, while recalling pace veteran Peter Siddle for the first time in two years and dropping middle order batsman Peter Handscomb.

With injuries having gutted the pace stocks and suspensions ruling out former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, selectors have filled the holes with a mix of unproven talents and well-travelled journeymen.

One-day international specialist Aaron Finch, 31, will have his chance for a test debut in the October matches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with Queensland’s South African-born duo Michael Neser, a pace bowling all-rounder, and batsman Marnus Labuschagne.

Another Queensland cricketer in rookie fast bowler Brendan Doggett joins the Mitchell Starc-led pace battery which will lack injured regulars Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

Despite only eight first class matches to his name, 24-year-old Doggett beat uncapped Western Australia quick Jhye Richardson for his place and could become the third indigenous player to represent Australia in tests following Faith Thomas and Jason Gillespie.

“Brendan is an exciting prospect, a fast bowler with raw pace and wicket-taking ability,” selector Trevor Hohns said. “He provides an additional option to Mitchell Starc if extra pace is called for.” Warhorse Siddle is back after nearly two years in the freezer – his last test being a home fixture in Perth against South Africa in November, 2016.

Siddle earned his recall after a strong season with English county side Essex. “You always need a little bit of luck on the way no matter how old you are,” the beaming 33-year-old told reporters in Melbourne. Young South Australia captain Travis Head was the fifth uncapped player in the 15-man squad and will have a chance to slot into Handscomb’s spot in the middle order, with all-rounder Glenn Maxwell missing out.

Batsman Joe Burns was dropped from the side that was thrashed by 492 runs in the fourth and final test against South Africa in Johannesburg in March, but fellow opener Matt Renshaw was retained. Two-test spinner Jon Holland joined fellow left-armer Ashton Agar in a slow bowling brigade led by Nathan Lyon.

Plenty of queries will follow Tim Paine’s Australia to the Emirates as they attempt to rebuild after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal which led to long bans for the nation’s two top batsmen in Smith and former vice captain Warner. The team has yet to name a replacement vice captain for Warner but will settle on one before the tour starts with a four-day warmup against a Pakistan A team starting Sept. 29.

“We firmly believe the squad selected is up to the challenge ahead, and is capable of playing a brand of cricket that can perform well in this series against Pakistan,” said Hohns.

Squad: Aaron Finch, Matt Renshaw, Brendan Doggett, Michael Neser, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (captain), Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Jon Holland, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle.

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US Open prompts promises of improvement

NEW YORK (Agencies): Issues of sexism, officiating double standards and adverse playing conditions have dominated the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Open, raising uncomfortable questions and prompting authorities to promise a review of existing policies.

Chair umpires took centre stage at Flushing Meadows this year, more than at any other tournament in recent memory, and culminated with Serena Williams being reduced to tears at her treatment in the women’s final. Her conduct, which earned her a game penalty during Saturday’s defeat by Naomi Osaka, and her comments that a male player would not have been penalised in the same way, have split the tennis world.

While Williams was fined a total of $17,000 by the tournament referees’ office for the three code violations she received from Portuguese umpire Carlos Ramos, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) also said it would review its policies in the wake of various officiating controversies. Swedish umpire Mohamed Lahyani was reprimanded by the USTA for going “beyond protocol” when he climbed down from his chair to give Nick Kyrgios a pep talk during his second-round match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Umpire Christian Rask was also criticised after he gave Frenchwoman Alize Cornet a code violation for removing her shirt on court after she realised she had put it on back-to-front in the locker room during a mid-match heat break. All that pales in comparison to the furore surrounding Williams, who was given a game penalty for accusing chair umpire Carlos Ramos of being a “liar” and “a thief for stealing a point” from her in the women’s final.

Debate Rages

Several prominent figures in the sport have backed Williams for exposing the double standards within tennis while others have criticised her for lacking sportsmanship. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has also weighed in, offering its backing to Williams, with chief executive Steve Simon saying different standards of tolerance exist for men and women.

“Yesterday brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches,” Simon said on Sunday. “The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men v women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. “We do not believe that this was done.”

Searing Conditions

The beginning of the tournament saw organisers struggle to contend with a heat-wave in New York that resulted in the implementation of a heat policy — the first time ever it was applied in men’s matches. As players sweated it out in the humidity and searing temperatures, some of the game’s top names spoke out against the conditions, with questions raised about amount of air circulation present in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The tournament’s main showcourt was given a new roof two years ago, but the lack of ventilation within the arena when the roof is open drew plenty of criticism, not least from the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and men’s champion Novak Djokovic. “The way that the system is built… we really can’t operate our (air management) system unless the roof is closed,” a USTA spokesman told Reuters, adding that organisers would discuss ways to improve playing conditions next year.



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Relations with Iran to go unaffected, says Abdullah

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday said Afghanistan’s relations with Iran would not be affected by its ties with other countries.

A statement from the CEO office received by Pajhwok Afghan News said Abdullah met with Iranian deputy foreign minister Sayed Abbas Iraqchi in Kabul on Tuesday.

The two sides discussed cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Abdullah said the national unity government’s leadership was interested in completing “the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement” between the two countries and signing it.

The CEO thanked Iran for its cooperation with the Afghan people and the government and said both the sides would work on the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement and its five committees. He termed the trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Iran and India as important and hoped the meeting would help bring fresh opportunities for investors and traders in the three countries.

Talking about the ongoing situation in the country, he said, “Terrorism is a national threat to our security. Cooperation between Afghanistan and Iran in fighting terrorism exists, but common threats need joint cooperation.”

Deputy Iranian foreign minister, Sayed Abbas Iraqchi, said he came to Kabul to attend the trilateral meeting and discuss the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement.

“Three committees of the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement have been created while work on two other committees is currently underway,” he said.

He said finalizing the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement would ensure ‘new discipline’ and ‘flourish’ the two countries.

Iraqchi said his country was supporting Afghanistan and its national sovereignty and the Afghan government’s initiative for the protection of national unity, security and peace. He stressed on joint fight against terrorism and said they were worried about the presence of Daesh or Islamic State (IS).

He said banking cooperation and strengthening economic relations between the two countries was important.

He added trade between Iran and Afghanistan had currently reached three billion US dollars.




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‘HIA against temporary govt formation’

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has opposed the proposed formation of a temporary government and said such formulas could not resolve the country’s crisis. A statement from HIA media wing said that Hekmatyar addressed HIA loyalists delegation from Logar Council.

Hekmatyar said agreement of all sides on temporary set up was not possible and the formula could not be implemented and could not resolve the country’s crisis. The HIA head said his party was against the formation of an interim government, adding all sides should agree on elections as a matter of principles and all political forces small or big should support it.

“We, a group of 37 political parties, have agreed on the national issue which is the conduct of free, fair and transparent Wolesi Jirga elections on time and under the watch of political parties to make sure the creation of a credible and acceptable parliament,” he said.

He said the HIA and other political parties stood by their decision and would never accept rigged elections. Elections related decisions of political parties were logical and they would never back down from their decisions.

The HIA head made it clear they did not want to be in clash with government but wanted coordination. He, however, warned some powerful circles within the government were trying to choose the path of confrontation and wanted their selective individuals to become Wolesi Jriga members and stop public representatives.

It is worth mentioning that jihadi leader and former minister Mohammad Ismael Khan has demanded the formation of a temporary military government to resolve the existing crisis and put the country on the path to progress.


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Afghans need greater humanitarian assistance, says United Nation

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Amid growing humanitarian need, Afghanistan deserved greater support than ever to deal with its challenges, top UN officials said on Monday.

UN humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, after a joint two-day visit to the country, told journalists in Geneva that Afghanistan needed greater global assistance. A UN statement quoted Lowcock as saying: “The world needs to pay a bit more attention again to Afghanistan to help them through this challenging period.”

In a year, he hoped, Afghanistan could be back on a positive trajectory in case it got the right engagement and help. Nearly 4.2 million people in Afghanistan are in acute need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.9 million internally displaced and more than 60,000 refugees who have returned home.

According to UNHCR, outside the country, 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees are hosted by Pakistan and Iran, along with an even larger number of undocumented Afghans.

Insecurity, including terrorist attacks and growing criminality, continued to produce internal displacement and had caused a sharp decline in the number of people going back to Afghanistan, Grandi said.

The UNHCR chief explained the number heading home around the same time last year reached 40,000 to 50,000; whereas this year it had fallen to around 12,000.

European countries must not rush to repatriate Afghan refugees to their increasingly insecure homeland or blame their community for isolated crimes such as recent deadly attacks in Germany and in France, he said.

Sending Afghan refugees home was a complex issue in Europe, despite a string of suicide bombings and attacks across Afghanistan, he noted.

“There is a lot of pressure for Afghans to return. Our advice is to carry out this process with great caution because conditions from the security point of view are deteriorating,” he added.


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Security forces recapture multiple areas in Baghlan

Monitoring Desk

KUNDUZ: The security forces retook those areas from Taliban which they had captured in Markazi Baghlan district of Baghlan province few days ago, officials and local residents said on Tuesday.

The security regained control over Mangalo, Kog Chinar, Qaisar Khel, Araban and other areas as a result of military operation, a local resident told AIP.

The foreign troops supported the Afghan forces in the offensive, he added.

Meanwhile, media official of 20th regiment Ghulam Hazrat Karimi told AIP that Taliban suffered heavy casualties in the operation over the past two days. The security forces regained control over the areas which the Taliban had captured few days ago, he added.

About 30 Taliban fighters were killed and 15 more injured in the gunfight, he said. The dead and injured Taliban including some commanders, he added.

He confirmed that the foreign troops provided aerial support to the Afghan forces in the offensive. The operation was still in progress, he added.

Taliban captured these areas after fierce gunfight early this week. It was believed that dozens of security personnel suffered casualties in the gunfight. The Taliban took away multiple weapons.

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AIP that the areas captured in Markazi Baghlan district were still under their control.

The reports of officials about recapturing the areas were false, he added.

The foreign forces have not said anything in this regard so far.



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5 cops killed, three injured in Jawzjan

Monitoring Desk

SHEBERGHAN: Five police personnel were killed and three more wounded in separate incidents in Qoshtipa district in Jawzjan province. Taliban attacked two checkpoints of Afghan National Army (ANA) and civil order police in Jaraqdooq area in Qoshtipa district, Jawzjan provincial assembly chairman Babar Eshchi told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

Three civil order police personnel were killed and three more wounded in the gunfight, he said. Two civil order police personnel were captured alive by Taliban, he added.

The checkpoints were destroyed in the gunfight, he said.

Separately, he said Taliban attacked a security checkpoint meant for providing protection to a gas reservoir in Qoshtipa district.

Two police personnel were killed and three more went missing after the gunfight, he added. He said he did not have information about casualties to Taliban.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AIP that four security personnel were killed and two more were captured alive by their fighters in Jaraqdooq area.

Taliban put fire to the checkpoints, he said. They took away all the weapons and war gadgets. He, however, did not say anything about the second attack and casualties to Taliban fighters.


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32 killed in Nangarhar suicide bombing

Monitoring Desk

JALALABAD: As many as 32 people were killed and 128 more wounded in a suicide attack on the Jalalabad-Torkham highway in Momand Dara district of Nangarhar province on Tuesday.

A suicide bomber exploded himself up near a protest camp in Daka area on Torkham-Jalalabad highway, leaving 32 people dead and 128 more injured, Nangarhar governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khugiyani told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

According to officials, the dead and injured people were taken to various hospitals. However, it is believed that some of the dead persons were taken to their nearby homes.

Earlier, some sources told AIP that at least 40 protestors were dozens more wounded in the bombing. The victims belonged to Shinwari tribe.

President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the suicide bombing in and the blasts on schools in Behsud district of Nangarhar.

No one claimed responsibility for the suicide attack so far. However, the Taliban rejected involvement in the incident and condemned the blast. The Taliban faction headed by Mullah Rasool also condemned the blast and expressed grief over the loss of precious lives.

It is pertinent to mention here that the residents belonging to four districts of Shinwari tribes have launched protect movement against a local police commander Bilal Bacha.

They have blocked the Jalalabad-Torkham highway for all kinds of traffic. The protestors accused Bilal Bacha of illegal activities. They urged the government to sack the aforesaid police official as soon as possible.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has condemned the attack on civilians in Nangarhar.

“I feel profound indignation at this latest wave of attacks deliberately targeting civilians. Our deepest sympathy is with the victims, families and the Afghan people,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.

“We learned with sorrow that terrorist attack that targeted a demonstration in Nangarhar province resulted in loss of lives and many injuries.”

“We strongly condemn this terrorist attack,” the the statement said.

“We wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives, speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey our condolences to the friendly Government and the brotherly people of Afghanistan,” it added.