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West Ham into top four, Newcastle beaten again by Leeds

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Czech mate: Tomas Soucek struck twice to send West Ham into the Premier League's top four

West Ham moved into the Premier League’s top four as Tomas Soucek scored twice in a 3-2 win at Crystal Palace, while Leeds inflicted more misery on Newcastle with a 2-1 victory at St James’ Park on Tuesday.

The Hammers suffered an early setback when Wilfried Zaha put Palace in front after just three minutes.

But the stronger mentality that David Moyes has lauded in West Ham this season showed as Soucek struck twice in 16 minutes to turn the game around.

Only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has scored more Premier League goals from midfield than the Czech since he joined from Slavia Prague a year ago.

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Soucek powered home a header from close range from Michail Antonio’s cross and then bundled in Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick at the back post.

“This is the performance that we wanted to show everyone and I hope that we can carry on,” said Soucek.

“Our dressing room is beautiful and we have so much confidence.”

West Ham could have been out of sight by half-time as Antonio then twice struck the post.

A third goal was no more than the visitors deserved and it came 25 minutes from time when Craig Dawson headed in Jarrod Bowen’s corner.

Michy Batshuayi pulled a goal back with virtually the last kick of the game but it was too little, too late for Palace.

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A sixth consecutive win in all competitions takes Moyes’s men above Liverpool in the table and Jurgen Klopp’s struggling Reds will be wary of their trip to the London Stadium on Sunday.

At the other end of the table, Newcastle’s dreadful form continued as their winless run stretched to 11 games to pile more pressure on beleaguered boss Steve Bruce.

“This league is demanding and cruel at times,” said Bruce.

“I don’t know if I’ve been on a worse run in 20 years, but tonight I’ve seen a little bit of something and we will start again tomorrow.”

The Magpies have a seven-point cushion over the bottom three, but have now played two games more than Fulham in 18th.

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Leeds had been on a poor run themselves, but secured their first win of 2021 to move 14 points clear of the drop zone in 12th.

Raphinha slotted home Rodrigo’s cut-back to give Marcelo Bielsa’s men a deserved half-time lead.

Miguel Almiron levelled with Newcastle’s first goal for five games early in the second half, but parity lasted only four minutes before Jack Harrison’s sensational finish with the outside of his left foot claimed all three points for the visitors.

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South Africa to bid for 2027 Cricket World Cup

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Cricket South Africa will bid to host the 2027 men’s Cricket World Cup, acting president Rihan Richards said on Friday.

Richards made the announcement at a press conference at which details of a new governance model for CSA were revealed following months of wrangling.

He said agreement on the composition of a new board, with a majority of independent directors, would enable CSA to put the focus firmly back on cricket matters.

Richards said South Africa will take part in a bidding process for International Cricket Council events over a new eight-year cycle. Bidding is expected to open within the next few months.

ALSO READ:   Female referees create African football history at CHAN

“We will be bidding for both men’s and women’s World Cups, an Under-19 World Cup and a T20 World Cup,” said Richards.

“But our focus will be on the 2027 men’s World Cup. We believe it is an ideal opportunity as it will be 24 years since we last hosted it.”

South Africa staged the 2003 men’s World Cup and the 2005 women’s World Cup as well as the inaugural 2007 World T20 and the 2009 Champions Trophy. It also has staged two Under-19 tournaments.

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa earlier announced he would no longer be withdrawing government recognition of CSA, which he threatened last week after the failure of the members’ council, headed by Richards, to reach agreement with an interim board on a governance structure.

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Mthethwa attended Friday’s conference and said he would now move aside after a process which he said was “between life and death in cricket”.

Interim board chairman Stavros Nicolaou said a target date of June 12 had been set for an annual general meeting –- postponed from last October -– at which a 15-member board would be installed, with eight independent directors and five nominated by the members’ council as well as the chief executive and chief financial officer of CSA.

There will be an independent chairman.

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Female referees create African football history at CHAN

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Three female referees created history Saturday as Guinea and Zambia moved closer to the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-finals, Tanzania clawed back into contention and Namibia were eliminated.

Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse and her assistants, Malawian Bernadettar Kwimbira and Nigerian Mimisen Iyorhe, became the first women to control a match at a senior CAF male tournament.

The breakthrough came two years after female referees handled matches at the African under-23 and under-17 Cup of Nations tournaments.

Former professional basketball player Tafesse gave a flawless performance as Tanzania edged Namibia 1-0 in Cameroon city Limbe to remain third in Group D, one point behind leaders Guinea and Zambia.

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Earlier, Zambia scored three minutes from time to snatch a 1-1 draw with Guinea in a lively match between the two teams most likely to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament reserved for home-based players.

Tafesse exuded confidence in every decision she made, was extremely fit and tolerated no foul play as she yellow-carded three Tanzanians within 10 minutes during the second half.

African male footballers often dispute decisions against them, but most accepted without hesitation the rulings of Tafesse at the Stade Omnisport in the southwestern coastal resort.

“Lidya really enjoyed herself tonight and was a wonderful advertisement for female referees,” a CAF official, who requested anonymity as he is not an official spokesperson, told AFP.

ALSO READ:   Female referees create African football history at CHAN

CAF referees manager Eddy Maillet from the Seychelles was overjoyed as the trio created history eight days into the sixth edition of the Nations Championship.

“The CHAN is the second most senior national team competition in the continent after the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.

“It is a wonderful platform for Lidya, Bernadettar and Mimisen to prove what they are capable of. They competed with male referees for places at this tournament and now they have made history.”

Both goals in the top-of-the-table clash between Guinea and Zambia came from substitutes introduced at the start of the second half.

Victor Kantabadouno latched on to a deflected shot and fired past goalkeeper Allan Chibwe on 58 minutes to give Guinea a lead they retained until Spencer Sautu nodded in a deep cross.

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The draw added to the pressure on Tanzania and Namibia, who had lost their opening matches, as defeat for either side would end hopes of making the knockout phase.

Farid Mussa proved the 65th-minute match-winner for Tanzania, hammering a loose ball into the net after Namibia goalkeeper Kamaijanda Ndisoro feebly parried a cross into his path.

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About Tottenham’s Amazing New Stadium

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A first glimpse of Tottenham’s new stadium takes the breath away, and will leave many forgetting the setbacks, delays and trips to Wembley over the past two seasons. The wait was more than worth it.

Fans, players and even chairman stood in awe as they made their way into their new home for the first time, Mauricio Pochettino sharing brief moment of celebration with Daniel Levyas they stood on the pitch in the empty stadium before the supporters made their way in.

They have every right to be proud. Everyone connected with Tottenham has seen CGI images, pictures and videos of the new stadium, but that does nothing to lessen the impact of the frankly astonishing view, the South Stand in particular. Holding 17,500 it is the largest single stand in the country, is ready for safe standing and, even when empty, is more imposing than many stadiums at capacity.

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The football on the day took a back seat, though there were special moments for J’Neil Bennett and Harvey White as they eased Spurs into the lead with the first and second goals ever scored here, while midfielder Oliver Skipp showed just why he’ll be turning out for the senior team at the stadium on a regular basis.

There will, undoubtedly, be teething problems. But everything in this stadium is built to purpose, to impress. Their stadium is now one of the best in Europe, and Pochettino’s ambitions appear to match it.

“My feeling is unbelievable,” the Spurs boss, who watched from the new directors’ box alongside Levy, said at half time.

“It’s so difficult to explain with only a few words. We all feel the same, so excited. I think I got the same feeling when we left the last day White Hart Lane. We were crying, now the first day here at the new stadium we feel the same emotion.

“It’s going to be a huge impact for the club. We’re in a good place. 62,000 in the quarter-final of the Champions League it’s going to be fantastic. We can make possible our dream to be in the semi-final, why not?”

Wembley grew stale with Tottenham as tenants. Attendances dwindled and performances could often be flat as frustrations kept increasing numbers away from their temporary home.

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This new stadium, the events that will be a Premier League opener against Crystal Palace before that Champions League clash with Manchester City, they are all worth the frustrations suffered over the past two seasons.

Nothing has been handled particularly well regarding the delays since the start of the season, but Tottenham’s new home sits resplendent as one huge ‘thank you’ to the club and the fans. The remainder of the season should be fun back in north London.

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