SPORTS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Football crème of Chiang Mai do battle at Prem

Pacquiao stops Cotto to win 7th title

Sharapova and Venus to compete at Hua Hin’s centenary event

France, Portugal, Russia edge ahead in playoffs

Football crème of Chiang Mai do battle at Prem

Paul Middleton
This past weekend saw the PREMiership Football Academy host its second tournament in as many weeks, as twelve teams from Chiang Mai and the surrounding area came together in a tournament for all ages. The competition welcomed some of the best teams in Chiang Mai on to the Prem Tinsulanonda School campus, in a tournament which promised to exhibit a very high level of football, and didn’t disappoint.

A Nakorn Chiang Mai player shoots from the penalty spot during the ‘open age’ football tournament held at the Prem Tinsulanonda School last weekend.

Once again, the weather was bright and sunny, and this was certainly reflected in the quality of the football. Players gave 100 percent effort which resulted in some very close encounters, but likewise spectators were treated to some thrilling examples of skill, technique and quick passing.
The initial group stages of the competition were held on the first day, Saturday November 7. The twelve teams were broken down into four individual leagues of three teams. Of these teams, two progressed on to the next level from each group, and into the quarter final knock-out stages of the competition. This is where the competition really began to heat up on the second day of football, as the teams got closer to the prize.
Eventually there were only four teams remaining in the competition, Hong Nhuea, Mae Rim Kan Yang, Nakorn Chiang Mai and S. Ja Rern Mai Kao and these were whittled down once more until we had the two finalists; S. Ja Rern Mai Kao vs. Nakorn Chiang Mai, both of whom battled hard in the final game of the tournament.
It was Mai Kao that came out the eventual winner in a game that saw great drama, including a missed penalty by Mai Kao, and a couple of bookings to boot. The final score was 2-1, marking a fitting end to an exciting competition.
For more information of upcoming tournaments and matches at the Prem Tinsulanonda International School, please check the website at http://football .premcenter.org/.


Pacquiao stops Cotto to win 7th title

Tim Dahlberg
Las Vegas (AP) - Manny Pacquiao knocked down Miguel Cotto twice and turned his face into a bloody mess before finally stopping him 55 seconds into the 12th round on Saturday (Sunday morning Thai time) to win his seventh title in seven weight classes.
The Filipino star used his blazing speed and power from both hands to cement his stature as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Cotto took such a beating that his face was a river of red from the fury of Pacquiao’s punches but he refused to quit even as his corner tried to throw in the towel after the 11th round.

Referee Kenny Bayless directs Manny Pacquiao to his corner after knocking down Miguel Cotto in the fourth round of their WBO welterweight boxing title fight Saturday, Nov. 14, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The fight was billed as a 145-pound classic, and in the early rounds it didn’t disappoint. The two went after each other with a vengeance and Cotto more than held his own as they traded punches in the center of the ring.
Pacquiao dropped Cotto with a right hand early in the third round, but he wasn’t badly hurt and came back to finish the round strong. But after Pacquiao put Cotto on the canvas with a big left hand as Cotto was advancing forward late in the fourth round, the Puerto Rican was never the same again.
“Our plan was not to hurry but to take our time,” Pacquiao said. “It was a hard fight tonight and I needed time to test his power.”
Cotto fought gamely but in the later rounds he was just trying to survive as blood flowed down his face and Pacquiao kept coming after him relentlessly. In the 12th, Cotto went back out to take even more punishment before a final flurry along the ropes prompted referee Kenny Bayless to stop the fight.
Cotto’s wife and child, who were at ringside, left after the ninth round, unable to watch the beating any longer. They later accompanied him to a local hospital for a post-fight examination.
“My health comes first. I just want to make sure I’m fine, but I feel great. I’m swollen but that’s all,” Cotto said.
Cotto’s face was swollen, blood was flowing from his nose and his cuts, and he simply couldn’t stop Pacquiao from bouncing inside and throwing both hands at will.
“I didn’t know from where the punches were coming,” Cotto said. “Manny Pacquiao is one of the best boxers I ever fought.”
Pacquiao, coming off spectacular wins over Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, added another one against Cotto, who had lost only once and held the WBO version of the welterweight title. Pacquiao did it in trademark fashion, throwing punches in flurries and from all angles until Cotto began to slow down and then pursuing him relentlessly until the fight finally ended.
The fight will likely set up an even bigger fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., and many in the capacity crowd at the MGM Grand arena began chanting “We want Floyd! We want Floyd” after the fight ended.
“I want to see him fight Mayweather,” trainer Freddie Roach said.
Mayweather may have second thoughts after Pacquiao did what no fighter has done before and win a belt in a seventh weight class. More impressive, though, is how he has fought, dismantling opponents despite moving up consistently in weight.
The welterweight ranks will be the last ones Pacquiao conquers, though. He said he will not move up any more in weight.
“This is the last weight division for me,” Pacquiao said. “It’s history for me and more importantly a Filipino did it.”
Pacquiao was credited with landing almost twice as many punches - 336-172 - as Cotto. He earned a minimum $13 million for the win, while Cotto got $7 million.
Pacquiao was favored, largely off his last two performances in which he forced De La Hoya to quit on his stool and then knocked out Hatton with a huge left hook in the second round.


Sharapova and Venus to compete at Hua Hin’s centenary event

Maria Sharapova. (AP Photo/File)

Good news for tennis fans in Thailand, superstars Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams are to compete against each other in a special match to mark Hua Hin’s centennial celebration on January 2, next year. The friendly match, held over three sets, will be staged on a temporary court with a capacity of 4,000 seats at the Hua Hin Centennial Park.

Venus Williams. (AP Photo/File)
According to Lawn Tennis Association Thailand president Suwat Liptapanlop, the two tennis stars will be paid more than Bt10 million in appearance fees.
“The meet is designed to create awareness of tennis among fans but also to boost Hua Hin tourism,’’ said Suwat. “Maria and Venus are amazing players and fantastic people, and they were delighted to have the opportunity to return to Thailand to play for the Thai people and celebrate the new year in Hua Hin.”
Sharapova and Williams played a previous exhibition game in Chiang Mai in 2005.
After their singles match, Maria and Venus will combine with local stars Paradorn Srichaphan and current Thai No.1 Danai Udomchoke for a set of mixed doubles. Both matches will be broadcast live on Thai TV Channel 3.
For those wishing to attend the event, tickets are priced at 1,500 baht and go on sale from November 21 at all Thaiticketmajor outlets.


France, Portugal, Russia edge ahead in playoffs

Robert Millward
London (AP) - Nicolas Anelka’s deflected winner over Ireland put France in sight of the 2010 World Cup on Saturday and Portugal took a slender 1-0 first-leg advantage over Bosnia-Herzegovina without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, Russia edged Slovenia 2-1 in another playoff and Greece were held 0-0 at home by Ukraine.
With nine European teams already in next year’s finals in South Africa, eight more chased the final four spots through the playoffs and France made the biggest move.
Anelka’s 72nd-minute strike in Dublin, which cannoned off a defender and the post before finding the net, gave the French a 1-0 victory over the Irish. Raymond Domenech’s team, which stumbled through the qualifying group phase, now has to avoid defeat at home on Wednesday to book a flight to the finals in South Africa next June.
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made two top-quality late saves to protect his side’s lead and Domenech’s star-studded but erratic side will be confident they won’t miss out for the first time since 1994.
“We have seen that the Irish team are a very difficult team to beat,” said France striker Thierry Henry, who is bidding to play at his fourth World Cup. “They didn’t lose a game in qualification so what we did tonight is nice. But it’s still 90 minutes to go and it’s going to be a tough game for us in Paris.”
There were angry exchanges on the field after the final whistle, with Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews involved in a melee with several French players.
Although Ronaldo is sidelined from both legs with an ankle injury, Portugal dominated for long spells against Bosnia, who have never been to a World Cup.
Although Bruno Alves gave Portugal a 31st-minute lead in Lisbon, Bosnia almost equalized with a minute to go when Edin Dzeko hit the bar and Zlatan Muslimovic the post in quick succession.
Two goals by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov put Russia seemingly in control in Moscow before an 87th-minute header by Slovenia substitute Nejc Pecnik left the situation wide open. A 1-0 victory for the Slovenes at home on Wednesday will put them through.
European champions five years ago, Greece failed to break down Ukraine’s defense in Athens and now have a tough task in Donetsk on Wednesday.
“The players probably had in their mind to keep (the Ukrainians) from scoring,” said Otto Rehhagel the 71-year-old German who led the Greeks to their amazing triumph at Euro 2004 and is likely to step down it they don’t make it to the World Cup.
“They couldn’t make good combinations, while the Ukrainians moved the ball better.”