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Since 1st March, 1999
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Patrick Vieira’s ‘dearest wish’

Paris: Patrick Vieira, nursing his sore knee in the south of France, has underlined his desire to remain with Arsenal next season, but has urged the London club to strengthen its squad.

“I’m discussing with the coach. I know the club has approached quite a few players,” he said in French sports daily L’Equipe on Friday. “My dearest wish is to stay at Arsenal. But I want to win titles as well.”

The Arsenal captain, who will miss the rest of the campaign, including the FA Cup final against Southampton and the Confederations Cup for France, has played with a knee injury sustained in a Champions League game against AS Roma in March. But he says carrying on could risk serious injury. “Given the condition of my knee, I was facing a tearing of my ligaments at any given time. I had to stop,” he said. “I needed to think about the end of my career rather than the end of my season.”

Indian referee for qualifier

New Delhi: Rizwan-ul-Haq, a Fifa referee of the Delhi Soccer Association, has been selected by the world body to officiate in a qualifying round match for the Athens Olympics.

Haq will referee in a second-round match to be played between Palestine and Kuwait in Jordan on June 7, a press release said here on Friday. Another DSA referee, Krishan Avatar, had recently supervised a pre-Olympic qualifier between Tajikistan and UAE in Tajikistan.

Goran’s comeback plans

Zagreb: Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion, is targeting a return to action next month after almost two months out with a heel injury. Ivanisevic, 31, had surgery in early April after cutting his left heel on a shell while walking on a beach in Miami. Prior to the freak injury, the veteran had been sidelined for ten months after shoulder surgery a year ago that cost him a chance of a Wimbledon title defence.

Croatian media reports said on Friday that Ivanisevic was hoping to be fit in time for this year’s Wimbledon build-up that should see him enter the warm-up event in Nottingham.

Baboor, Mouma lead challenge

New Delhi: The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) Friday announced a seven-member team for the upcoming world table tennis championship in Paris from May 19 to 25. Chetan Baboor, A. Sharath Kamal and Sourav Chakraborty form the men’s team while the women’s challenge will comprise Mouma Das, Mantu Ghosh, T. Pradeepa and Mamta Prabhu, TTFI said in a press release Friday. Bhawani Mukherji and Sunil Babras were named the coaches while Hukam Singh will be the manager, the release added.

Kanu left out again

Lagos: Arsenal forward Nwankwo Kanu has again been left out of the Nigeria squad for next month’s crunch 2004 African Nations Cup qualifying match against Malawi. Kanu was not one of 11 foreign-based pros called up for the June 7 match which Nigeria need to win to book their passage to the finals in Tunisia in January. Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha from Bolton, Joseph Yobo of Everton and Ifeanyi Udeze, who plays for West Brom.

Manager sacked

Derby: Derby County manager John Gregory, suspended from his post in March, has been sacked. Gregory was suspended after what the club described as “serious allegations” were made against him. The first division club said in a statement on their website that Gregory had decided to appeal against his dismissal, an appeal the club chairman would hear “as soon as is practicable”.

Sport on Screen

Tennis, ATP Rome Masters: Semi-finals, live from 6 pm and 10.30 pm on STAR Sports Cricket, Australia in West Indies: Fourth Test, Day II, live from 7.30 pm on ESPN
Soccer, Spanish League: Live from 1 am (Sunday) on STAR Sports

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