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Del Bosque is best coach

Wiesbaden (Germany): Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque has been voted the world’s best club coach in 2002 in a poll carried out by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. The 52-year-old Spaniard guided Real to victory in the Champions League last season, the ninth time the club has lifted European soccer’s premier trophy.

Arsene Wenger, the Frenchman who inspired Arsenal to the English Premier League title and FA Cup success last season, finished second in the poll of experts from 92 countries. Del Bosque secured 244 points, with Wenger on 136. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and Klaus Toppmoeller, German boss of Champions League runners-up Bayer Leverkusen, were joint third on 69. Nery Pumpido, the former Argentina World Cup winner who coaches South American champions Olimpia of Paraguay, was fifth with 61 points.

Els in record-breaking win

Kapalua (Hawaii): South Africa’s Ernie Els carded a record-breaking 31-under-par 261 to win the Mercedes Championship by eight strokes on Sunday and beat the PGA Tour previous low scoring mark by two shots.

Els closed with a six-under-par 67 to go with earlier rounds of 64, 65, 65 to secure one of the most dashing triumphs of his distinguished career. The victory sounded an early warning for 2003 to Tiger Woods, who is still recovering from knee surgery.

Eight shots back and tied for second place were Rocco Mediate, who fired a final-round 10-under 63, and South Korean K.J. Choi, who could only manage an even-par 73 after shooting a course record 62 on Saturday. Fiji’s Vijai Singh and South Africa’s Retief Goosen finished nine strokes behind Els on Sunday in a tie for fourth place.

CAF thumbs-down

Kinshasa: The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has banned clubs from the Democratic Republic of Congo from using the Kenya Stadium in Lubumbashi for continental club matches this season, Congolese officials said on Monday.

The poor condition of the pitch at the stadium, which was used for one of the African Champions League semi-finals last November, was the reason for the decision, they said.

Hefty ransom for Zapata

Buenos Aires: The kidnapped younger brother of River Plate striker Victor Zapata was freed overnight on Sunday after the payment of 120,000 pesos ($36,000) in ransom, police said.

German Zapata, 16, had been accosted on December 27 in Buenos Aires’ but was released unharmed in San Miguel, in the northeasten outskirts of the capital.

The River Plate player said Monday that he himself had organised dropping off a bag with the ransom money near a station.

Crespo injured

Rome: Inter Milan striker Hernan Crespo is in danger of missing Champions League matches against Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen and Newcastle after suffering a thigh injury in Sunday’s 2-0 Serie A win over Modena.

“We don’t yet know the extent of the injury because there's a lot of swelling, but it’s definitely some kind of muscle strain,” Inter’s chief medical officer Franco Combi was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday. When asked how long Crespo would take to recover, Combi said: “A long time - more than two months.”

Australian clubs fined

Sydney: Soccer Australia (SA) have fined the Sydney United club Aus $15,000 ($8,737) for bringing the game into disrepute after a brawl broke out during a match against Newcastle last month.

n Tennis, Australian Open, live from 5.30 am on STAR Sports n Soccer, English Premier League, highlights from 3.00 pm on ESPN n Cricket, India in New Zealand: Seventh ODI, repeat from 4.30 pm on ESPN


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