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Since 1st March, 1999
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Iran, Qatar book berths

Kuala Lumpur: Iran and Qatar have booked their places at the 2004 Asian Cup, while Thailand boosted their chances with a second successive victory, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Thursday.

Iran beat Lebanon 3-0 in Beirut on Wednesday to improve to nine points from four games, three behind Group D leaders Jordan, who qualified for the finals in China after a 3-0 win over North Korea the previous day.

Striker Ali Daei converted a 38th-minute penalty to give Iran the lead. Second-half goals from Yahya Golmohammadi and Vahedi Nikbakht sealed the points. In Group B, Qatar scored 2-0 home victory over Singapore. Strikers Syed Basheer and Mubarak Mustafa scored first-half goals in Doha to give Qatar eight points from five matches.

Larsson’s no to request

Stockholm: Sweden striker Henrik Larsson will not come out of retirement to play in next year’s European Championship despite a personal request from Uefa president Lennart Johansson, Swedish media reported on Thursday.

“It’s nice to receive a personal letter from Europe’s most powerful football leader,” Larsson told the daily Expressen. “(But) it’s not going to change anything. I made my decision once and for all.”

Chinese star’s ‘debut’

Munich: 1860 Munich’s Chinese star Jiayi Shao is set to make his debut in the commentary box for Saturday’s derby match against Bayern Munich with live coverage of the match relayed to China.

Shao, 23, cannot show his skills on the pitch due to a knee injury but his Chinese fans will be able to enjoy a 90-minute commentary from the midfielder with radio broadcaster Deutsche Welle working in collaboration with the German Football League (DFL).

Liu improves own records

Vancouver: Liu Chunhong of China improved her own world records in the women’s weightlifting 69kg en route to a sweep of the gold medals at the world weightlifting meet on Wednesday.

Liu claimed the combined gold with a total of 270.0kg, improving on her own previous world mark of 265.0kg.

Liu twice bettered her own snatch world mark, finishing the competition with 120.0kg that followed a lift of 118.0kg on her second attempt — both better than her own previous world record of 117.5kg. In the clean and jerk she lifted 150.0kg, bettering her world record of 148.5kg.

Voeller praise

Berlin: Germany coach Rudi Voeller claims the current crop of under-21 players are similar to his generation that went on to win the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

The German under-21 team qualified for the 2004 European championships with a play-off win over Turkey. “This generation promises a lot,” Voeller said.In fact it reminds me of our group at the time that went on to win the 1990 World Cup.”

Chievo not for sale

Rome: Chievo president Luca Campedelli on Wednesday quashed rumours of plans to sell the debt-free Serie A club to a consortium of local businessmen. “I categorically refute every whisper that the club is to be sold,” he said. “It amazes me how these false reports can circulate so quickly.”

n Golf, President’s Cup — Live from 11.30 pm on STAR Sports n Cricket, England vs Sri Lanka — Second ODI, live from 1.30 pm on TEN Sports n Cricket, Classics — India vs New Zealand from 11.30 pm on ESPN

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