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Real stars head Golden Ball list

Paris: Spanish champions Real Madrid lead the way in the nominations for this year’s European Footballer of the Year award, with eight of their players among the short-list of 50.

The winner of last season’s Golden Ball, Brazilian striker Ronaldo, again features along with teammates David Beckham, Iker Casillas, Luis Figo, Raul Gonzalez, Roberto Carlos, Michel Salgado and Zinedine Zidane. Italian Serie A champions Juventus have six players nominated while Champions League holders AC Milan have five. The winner will be announced next month.

Indian women upbeat

New Delhi: The Indian boxers are all charged up to take on their counterparts from various countries in the second Asian women’s boxing championships to be held in Hisar from November 19 to 24. As many as 16 countries including China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Nepal will be in fray for top honours.

India’s 15-member squad is currently undergoing a training-cum conditioning camp in the venue. M.C. Mary Kom, gold medallist at world women’s boxing championship in Turkey last year, is the biggest medal prospect in the 46 kg weight category.

Gerrard stays at Anfield

Liverpool: England midfielder Steven Gerrard has signed a new Liverpool contract which ties him to the English Premier League club until 2007, it was announced Tuesday.

Gerrard, 23, who has been handed the captain’s role this year, has given under-fire Anfield manager Gerard Houllier another boost after the contract extensions of defender Jamie Carragher and goalkeeper Chris Kirkland earlier this month.

Houllier said: “I think Stevie signing a new deal is exciting for the supporters. It shows the players at the club share our vision for the future.”

Azzurri tryst with the Pope

Rome: The Italian national team together with a Polish delegation met Pope John Paul II on Tuesday a day ahead of the friendly international match between the two teams.

The match in Warsaw and was arranged to mark the 25th anniversary of the election of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as head of the catholic church.

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro presented the Pope with an Italy team jersey signed by all the players, while France Carraro, president of Italy’s football federation, donated a crystal football.

Napoli job for Simoni

Rome: Fallen Italian giants Napoli have appointed Luigi Simoni as their new coach following the sacking of Andrea Agostinelli. Simoni, who was in charge of Inter Milan when they won the Uefa Cup in 1998, became available after being sacked by Napoli’s second division rivals Piacenza on Sunday.

Kenyan dilemma

Nairobi: Athletics Kenya (AK) selectors look set to stumble yet again in their quest to name a strong marathon squad for the Athens Games.

Three years ago, Tegla Loroupe was dropped from the Sydney Olympics team after she defied AK orders to return home for the mandatory pre-Olympic residential training.

But with Kenyan runners dominating top marathons this year, and the country desperate to end its search for Olympic gold in the event, the selectors are determined to pick the strongest ever squad.

Sport on Screen

Football, Uefa Champions League from 9.30 am on ESPN
Cricket, Bangladesh vs England — third ODI live from 12.52 pm on STAR Sports
Cricket, Zimbabwe vs WI — Second Test, Day I, live from 1.25 pm on ESPN
Cricket, Tri-series — India vs Australia, live from 2 pm on DD Sports


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