Brazil-born Elkeson to play for China
HONG KONG • Brazil-born striker Elkeson is in line to become the first player without Chinese heritage to represent China after the country's football authorities registered him for Asia's World Cup qualifying tournament next month.
The Asian Football Confederation announced Elkeson's inclusion in China's squad on its official website yesterday, ending weeks of speculation that the 30-year-old had been granted citizenship and would be a member of Marcello Lippi's selection for the upcoming qualifiers for Qatar 2022.
Chinese authorities have relaxed eligibility rules to give Lippi the chance to guide the team to the World Cup for the first time since 2002, when China made their only appearance to date at the tournament.
NBA stars' absence on Aussie tour draws ire
SYDNEY • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched a probe into the use of National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars to promote pre-World Cup exhibition games by Team USA despite many of them pulling out.
Some people paid hundreds of dollars to watch the Americans in three games in Melbourne and Sydney this month, believing they would be seeing the likes of James Harden, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard. But while Team USA boast a host of top young talent guided by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, they lack top names used to sell the event after a series of withdrawals.
World Cup the focus, not rankings: Hansen
AUCKLAND • All Blacks coach Steve Hansen dismissed concerns about losing their world No. 1 ranking yesterday as he concentrated on a Rugby World Cup selection conundrum after demolishing Australia.
Despite retaining the Bledisloe Cup with a 36-0 romp in Auckland on Saturday, the All Blacks lost the top ranking for the first time in 10 years. They were replaced by Wales, courtesy of their 13-6 defeat of England in Cardiff.
But Hansen said it was the World Cup and not world rankings that mattered and he was focused on finalising a 31-man squad.