Raritan girls volleyball team enjoying newfound success

first_imgKristina Pruckowski is among the seven seniors who remember the years of frustrating losses on Raritan High School’s girls volleyball team.This season has been different, though. Raritan reached double figures in wins for the first time at 12-7, and it made the Shore Conference Tournament (SCT) for the first time and the state tournament for only the second time in its young six-year history.“I’ve been there for four years, and this year is a very big accomplishment,” said Pruckowski, a defensive specialist, also known as a libero. “Being in two tournaments is overwhelming and awesome.”Raritan, which is in the middle of the pack in the Shore Conference A Central Division at 6-6, made its SCT debut on Oct. 20 at home against Jackson Liberty High School. Jackson Liberty is a Shore Conference B South team that came in with a 10- 9 record, but it has won only one of five matches that went to a third game.“We worked every single day, and worked hard. A lot of new players challenged us,” Pruckowski said. “It’s a great feeling. We’re definitely ready, definitely excited.”Jackson Liberty was pressed into a third game again, but it came out on top this time against Raritan in the SCT, 25-20, 21- 25, 25-15. Senior setter Nikki Morales had 11 assists.Pruckowski also credited the dedication of head coach Denis Caruano and new assistant coach Sarah Roman, who played volleyball in college and also coaches Raritan’s junior varsity team, which is enjoying a 12-3 season.“They’re very good friends on and off the court, which helps,” Caruano said of his players. “This group remembers the trials and tribulations of losing.”Last season, Raritan had a shot at making the state tournament, but it faltered in its closing matches. It made its only other appearance in the state tournament two years ago when it won eight matches, its highest number of victories before this season. Caruano admitted that he was concerned going into last week before Raritan reached the SCT. The team swept all four of its matches played over four days after backto back losses to St. John Vianney High School and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School the prior week.“I don’t know if I imagined we’d do this well a couple of months ago. And when we lost to Rumson-Fair Haven, I did not want to see this team have another ‘what if’ for this year,” Caruano said.Last week, Raritan beat Long Branch High School on Oct. 13 and followed with victories over Holmdel High School, Point Pleasant Beach High School and Keyport High School. In the last of those victories, Morales got seven of her 21 aces on the season in one game, as Raritan had a 15-0 edge in that category. She also has 55 assists.Raritan won a pair of close 25-23 games over Point Pleasant Beach.Lily Marten, a senior middle hitter who is the team’s all-time blocks leader in a season with 46, got five against Point Pleasant Beach. She also has 49 kills this season.“We’re very strong in our service game,” Caruano said, citing 155 aces in the first 19 games coming into this week, led by sophomore middle hitter Lauren Christ with 31. “And we have good defense.”Christ had seven kills against Jackson Liberty.That aspect is shared by senior Francesca Svoboda, the other setter in Raritan’s 4-2 formation, and junior outside hitters Katy Peterson and Alexis Sideris as the other starters.Four players graduated from last year’s 7-14 team, but Caruano, who took over the team as coach four years ago after it did not win a game in its first two seasons, believed this team had the makings of a winner.Raritan has been ranked No. 8 in one Shore area poll late in the season. It also got a defining victory when it pulled out a third game against Shore Conference A South opponent Lacey Township High School, which has beaten perennial Shore power Southern Regional High School this season.“From the first game, I thought this season could be special,” Caruano said. “The number I kept saying to the players is 10 for a winning record. Qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament we thought was a lofty goal.”Making both tournaments means a longer season for Raritan and a shorter break time for Caruano, who starts another season as boys basketball coach at Raritan next month. The state has mandated an earlier start for the basketball season from the Friday after Thanksgiving to the Monday beforehand.“Our offense can be stronger, but we can keep the ball alive. Teams don’t score on us on the first return,” Caruano said about the volleyball team.If there are some shaky moments, there are other players who can step in and help settle things down. Many of them are underclassmen, which bodes well for the future and the prospects of the powerful junior varsity team.Raritan can turn to sophomore defensive specialist Michelle Nestor, who Caruano called a “godsend off the bench” with her solid service game and offense. Senior Erin Gill and junior Gabrielle Pantilla also play on the defense, while senior Franny Nizza and junior Hayley Eckert are two outside hitters ready to step in. Boys basketball As for the boys basketball side, Caruano’s team won only five games last season. However, only three players graduated, and two of them were injured much of last season. This season’s team comes off a solid summer as it prepares for Shore Conference A Central Division play against the likes of Manasquan High School, Holmdel High School, Shore Regional High School, Monmouth Regional High School and Rumson-Fair Haven.Raritan swept five teams through the Ironman Tournament at Kean University over the summer, beating Donovan Catholic in the finals. Junior point guard Joe Strand led the scoring last season, and senior shooting guard Chris Nicholl “had probably his best summer,” Caruano said.Dylan Dewysockie, a 6-foot-5 senior, also had proven playing time last season as the biggest player.“We have seven players who, at any point, can start,” Caruano said with preseason tryouts about a month away. “Our biggest issue last season was turnovers. When we were bad, we had twice as many, from 20 to 30 a game. We’re trying to move the ball up the floor into a secondary break, instead of the traditional point guard handling the ball and instead of motion to attack from the lanes.”Raritan is guard-heavy with juniors Ed Tynion at the shooting spot and athletic Jordan Smith able to play both spots. Senior Jepi Tonuzi was the first guard off the bench over the summer. Others who can play at guard are John Rodriguez, John Guccione and Dan Lehan. Kevin Rodriguez, a senior who transferred from St. John Vianney, is also expected to contribute. RARITAN By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img read more

Holmdel tennis team aims for return trip to the TOC

first_imgBy MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent After a strong 2014 campaign, the Holmdel High School girls tennis team expects to make another run at a state title this fall.The Hornets lost three of their seniors from last season, two of whom were starters. But overall, the team will return five out of the top seven players from a 2014 squad that advanced all the way to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions (TOC) finals.“We’re going to be tough this year,” Hornets head coach Chuck Chelednik said. “We won’t miss a beat too much.”Ola Wojciak, who led Holmdel at first singles a year ago, will be back for her sophomore season. Also returning to the court are senior Sarah Yan and junior Brianna Gibbs, last season’s second and third singles players, respectively. Junior Emily Kong is slated to play doubles again this season. Senior Tiffany Chen, a key player at first doubles last year, will bring experience to Holmdel’s doubles tandems.Chelednik raved about an incoming freshman class that includes Vicky Vought and Natalie Cipriano. The two newcomers and Vought’s sophomore sister, Rita, are in the doubles mix as well.With a large group of players in line for prime spots on the roster, Chelednik said challenge matches this week will determine the order for singles and doubles in 2015.“We have 11 girls, maybe 12, that would legitimately be in the top three on any other Shore Conference team,” Chelednik added.“It’s good if you’re a soccer team, but when you can only start seven?” he joked. “Some of the toughest matches they’ll have all year will be this week.” That’s the challenge facing Holmdel, as the defending Shore Conference Tournament champions gear up for a new season. It’s an enviable problem to have, of course, and Chelednik is thankful that the Hornets have so many weapons to choose from.“We should be close to where we were last year,” he said. “I’ve spoken to the girls about this. We were so close [to a TOC title] last year, so let’s improve. They learned a lot last year. It was a great experience.”The 14-year head coach believes that doubles play can make or break Holmdel’s season. Since the Hornets lost experienced doubles contributors to graduation, he expects that singles will have to carry the team early before this year’s new doubles partners become fully acclimated.“We just need to find the best doubles combinations. It all comes down to doubles,” Chelednik said. “We have the talent level.”last_img read more

Pacific squads confirmed for OFC U-19s Women’s Championship

first_imgKicking off just over a year after the 2016 OFC U-17 Championship – and only a few months after the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea – there are many familiar faces coming to Auckland this July.Defending champions New Zealand have recruited an army of international experience for their attempt at a sixth-consecutive title including Malia Steinmetz, Grace Jale, and goalkeeper Anna Leat – who will offer senior international football experience to Gareth Turnball’s squad having already been in the mix for the New Zealand national women’s team.Steinmetz and Jale were also part of New Zealand’s squad at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, along with Hannah Blake, Jacqui Hand, Elizabeth Anton, Sarah Morton and goalkeeper Nadia Olla. Hand, Blake and Jale –along with 11 other players in the team – represented New Zealand at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan as well.After their historic FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup campaign last year, Papua New Guinea also hold a handful of players from their world cup squad including Nicollete Ageva, who scored the nation’s only goal of the tournament against eventual champions Korea DPR.Adding more experience to his side in an effort to face-track the development of domestic players, Tonga coach Christian Koaneti has recruited three New Zealand-based players to meet the team in Auckland for the competition.Also contributing experience to the team, Tonga-based player Seini Lutu has already represented her nation at the 2014 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, 2015 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, and the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship. At only 16 years old, Lutu is a well-seasoned national team player and will be one to watch throughout the competition.Although Fiji will be making their debut in this age group, many players in the team have already made a name for themselves, representing Fiji in the U-17 competition last year.After edging New Caledonia 3-2 and placing third, many of the players have moved up to the next age-group, including goal-scorers Aliza Husseiin, Koleta Likuculacula, and Cema Nasau. The latter found the net five times in the U-17 competition, scoring twice in their third-place playoff against the Francophones.Also taking the field for Fiji is goalkeeper Francine Lockington, who proved her ability between the posts last year earning the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship Golden Glove Award.New Caledonia did a great job showcasing their development at last year’s U-17 competition –  finishing second in their group behind eventful champions New Zealand – but the nation was less fortunate with results in 2015’s U-20 competition.With nine players moving up to join the next age group including Darnelle Hace, Ami-Nata Ajapuhnya, Isabelle Ilengo and goalkeepers Karine Xozame and Kathleen Waunie, New Caledonia are hopeful of an improved performance.This year’s Samoa U-19 team will have large shoes to fill after 2015’s representatives earned their highest placing in the nation’s history – finishing runners up behind New Zealand.As older players in the team have moved into the senior women’s football age group, spaces have been filled by players from last year’s U-17 team, including goalkeeper Jecky Toma, striker Sophia Aveau, and U-17 captain Shalom Fiso.After a tough campaign in the U-17 competition last year, the young Samoan players will be battling for redemption against plenty of other familiar faces moving up the ranks to U-19s when the competition kicks off next month.The 2017 OFC U-19 Women’s Championship will be played as a round-robin competition, running from 11-24 July at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland, New Zealand, to determine Oceania’s representative nation at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.last_img read more

NBA: Retired five-time champion Rodman charged in hit and run

first_imgSmart’s Siklab Saya: A multi-city approach to esports If convicted on all charges, the five-time NBA champion and seven-time NBA rebound champion faces a maximum of two years in county jail.Rodman, 55, will be arraigned on January 20, 2017.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra teammates show love for SlaughterSPORTSWe are youngSPORTSCone plans to speak with Slaughter, agentPolice say that in the early hours of Sunday morning, Rodman drove a sport utility vehicle north in the southbound carpool lane of Interstate 5 in Santa Ana and drove head-on toward a sedan, causing the driver of that vehicle to swerve into a dividing wall to avoid a collision with Rodman’s vehicle.Police say Rodman did not exchange information with the other driver and fled the scene before police arrived. Rodman became best known for his outrageous behavior and appearance — tattoos, body piercings and dyed hair among his trademarks — during an NBA career that lasted from 1986 to 2000, including titles with Detroit in 1989 and 1990 and alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls from 1996-1998.Rodman was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and finished his NBA career with 6,683 points, 11,954 rebounds and 1,600 assists.After his NBA career, Rodman played in Mexico, Britain, Finland and the Philippines. He promoted gambling websites, vodka and backed US President-elect Donald Trump’s bid for the White House, having appeared with him on the television show Celebrity Apprentice.Rodman also made three notable visits to North Korea within 12 months in 2013 and early 2014, meeting leader Kim Jong-un and bringing a team of ex-NBA players for exhibition games against North Korea’s national team, one on Kim’s birthday. CBBADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Dennis Rodman speaks with fellow US basketball players during a team meeting at a Pyongyang, North Korea, hotel Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. APLOS ANGELES, United States — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman was charged with hit and run and property damage Monday for driving the wrong way on a freeway and causing a car crash, police said.Rodman was charged with misdemeanor counts of hit and run with property damage, driving a motor vehicle across a divide, giving false information to a police officer and driving without a valid license.ADVERTISEMENT Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan PLAY LIST 01:31Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan01:33WHO: ‘Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient’01:01WHO: now 31,211 virus cases in China 102:02Vitamin C prevents but doesn’t cure diseases like coronavirus—medic03:07’HINDI PANG-SPORTS LANG!’03:03SILIP SA INTEL FUND EDITORS’ PICK Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Smart hosts first 5G-powered esports exhibition match in PH Shanghai officials reveal novel coronavirus transmission modes Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol towncenter_img We are young Mainland China virus cases exceed 40,000; deaths rise to 908 PH among economies most vulnerable to virus Where did they go? Millions left Wuhan before quarantine 30 Filipinos from Wuhan quarantined in Capas Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. As fate of VFA hangs, PH and US forces take to the skies for exercise F2 spells trouble for Army View commentslast_img read more

Boyz depart for Gold Cup

first_imgJamaica senior men’s football team, 23 man strong, departed the island yesterday for the for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament in the United States. The Theodore Whitmore coached Reggae Boyz, who recently lost the CFU Caribbean Cup final 2-1 to Curacao, will play the said opponent in their opening game at the Qualcomm stadium in San Diego, California on Sunday at 6 pm Jamaica time. The Jamaicans will play out of Group C, which also comprises Mexico and El Salvador. The Reggae Boyz will play their second game against Mexico on Thursday July 13, before closing out their Group C fixtures against El Salvador on Monday July 17. The top two teams in each group and the two best third place teams will move on to the knock out round of the competition. Jamaica’s best showing in the Gold Cup came in the last staging in 2015, where they finished runners up after losing 3-1 to Mexico in the final. The 23 man squad reads: Andre Blake, Damion Hyatt, Dwayne Miller, Ladale Richie, Sergio Campbell, Damion Lowe, Kemar Lawrence, Shaun Francis, Oniel Fisher, Rosario Harriott, Jermaine Johnson, Shamar Nicholson, Je-Vaughn Watson, Alvas Powell, Darren Mattocks, Cory Burke, Ricardo Morris, Ewan Grandison, Michael Binns, Owayne Gordon, Jermaine Taylor, Kevon Lambert and Romario Williams.last_img read more

Ahead of MSME’s National Conference on Trade Fair in Monrovia: IBEX Completes Training on…

first_imgAhead of this year’s third Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) national conference trade fair, one of the lead agencies in business development, Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) has completed a one-day intensive training in access to finance and record keeping for local business people in Monrovia.The upcoming conference is intended to focus on enterprise-development promotion, inclusive economic growth and empowerment of Liberians.The training was organized and facilitated by IBEX as one of the technical working groups working with the Ministry of Commerce on the pending MSME’s conference in Monrovia, slated from 17-18 November.The IBEX seminar brought together over 50 participants from diverse business backgrounds.IBEX Deputy Chief of Party, Augustus J. Flomo, told the Daily Observer over the weekend that the training would provide opportunities for participants to explore ways to break down national and international obstacles to inclusive economic growth in the country.He said as lead agency in business support, the seminar will provide platform for local business people where they will discuss key issues that are affect them in getting access to finance and how to document their businesses.Mr. Flomo assured the business community of IBEX’s commitment to improving the country’s economy.In remarks, the participants expressed thanks and gratitude to IBEX for the opportunity to acquire such knowledge that will help them explore their businesses in Liberia.IBEX program offers financial services to local businesses and commercial bank staff, including technical assistance and capacity building support such as training, coaching, mentoring, advice and loan facilitation for business growth and expansion. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

How Does UNMIL Recruit Peacekeepers?

first_imgWe do not know whether the officials of the United Nations are either aware or watching. But they definitely should be, if they are at all concerned about the reputation of this leading and most powerful international organization.We say this because we are very concerned that too often and all too consistently, UN peacekeeping forces have been embroiled in sex scandals of the worst kind, involving even very young children. These unscrupulous, wicked UN people, who call themselves, and whom the UN calls, “peacekeepers,” have frequently been involved in the most heinous of sex crimes, molesting children. They have forgotten, neither do they care to remember, that the UN created in the 1940s, not long after its own founding, a whole new organization solely for the care and protection of the world’s children. It is called the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).Alas! It is these same UN people who go about molesting the world’s children, especially the most vulnerable, the children of Africa. And they do so with impunity—why? The United Nations, from the highest level, it seems, has for decades been bent on covering up its vicious sex offenders and child molesters. We vividly recall how three or more young girls were a few years ago molested by UNMIL personnel. When they were found and sent to court, UNMIL did not rest until they were freed and shipped out of the country. Who knows? Maybe they were later brought back and deployed in other stations to continue the same nefarious practice under cover.We recall, too, what happened last August when a 12 year-old was raped in the Central African Republic, while a 16 year-old boy and his father were indiscriminately killed by “peacekeepers.” There was another incident in that same country involving the molesting of women and children, some of whom were denied food until the “peacekeepers” could have sex with them! Yes, those involved were French “peacekeepers,” and there was a grand cover-up until a whistleblower, fed up with the indiscriminate atrocities against innocent women and children, reported the matter to the UN headquarters in New York. The headquarters’ first reaction was to say that the report had been “prematurely” leaked, until the thing became so foul (offensive) that the headquarters backed off, and a few peacekeepers and some of their superiors were investigated.We recall that it was this same cover-up involving thousands of Roman Catholic priests across many countries in Europe, but especially in the United States, that rocked the church and caused a major embarrassment to many bishops—and The Vatican— who had suppressed the evil behaviors of its priests for decades, until the whole thing exploded.Now here we are, finding this same filth in the very organization that was founded in San Francisco at the end of World War II in 1945 with the sole purpose of restoring peace to the world.Just this past weekend, Radio France International (RFI) reported that a nine-year-old boy in the Gbarnga area was found molested by the same UNMIL “peacekeepers,” who clearly have absolutely no interest in peace, but in patent (blatant) crime against an innocent and hapless Liberian child. How does the UN select its “peacekeepers”? Do they undertake comprehensive background checks? Or are the wrongdoers so entrenched that they consistently employ and give chances to one another?The world must be warned and know that there are some of these international organizations that are infested with many people of deviant behaviors. In this case, women, teenagers or children they come into contact with are at serious risk.Parents, school principals and teachers, student and youth organizations and all concerned organizations and individuals among the Liberian citizenry must beware of the people who enter our borders to engage in “doing good.” We must remember that not all “good doers” are genuine. Many are afflicted with miscreant (criminal-minded) behaviors. The sooner we know this and be on our guard, the better for our children and us.Eternal vigilance should be our watchword. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Armed forces of Venezuela will not obey Maduro

first_imgDear Editor,Beatrice Rangel, a former Chief-of-Staff to former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez has said that a desperate President Nicolás Maduro may well order military intervention into Guyana as a means of trying to divert attention from his internal troubles but not a single platoon of the armed forces of Venezuela will obey that order. “It is not going to happen, the military is too fragmented,” she said, in response to questioning by myself, in capacity as a former Guyanese diplomat about such a possibility during a forum on Thursday here entitled “Voices from Venezuela” – put on by the Council of the Americas.Rangel had earlier argued that the Venezuelan President is desperate and is being “propped up” by a number of international criminal organisations, including the Russian and Chinese mafia and the Colombian drug cartels which are currently directing the Maduro regime’s every move. She criticised the international community’s lack of action on brokering a solution to the crisis in the once oil rich Latin American republic, saying that the violence which is likely to erupt this Sunday, may force it to act. The Opposition and the Government are scheduled to hold votes this month; the Opposition holding a referendum on Maduro’s leadership this Sunday and Maduro holding a vote for a constituent assembly on July 31. This could be the bloodiest day in Venezuela’s recent history, Rangel said, pointing out that this may be the occasion for the Organisation of American States (OAS) to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter and request the United Nations (UN) Security Council to address the crisis in Venezuela.Rangel said the OAS resolution, which fell short of passage by three votes at the recent General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico, was a result of threats and scare tactics carried out by Venezuela’s mafia connections which forced countries such as neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago to abstain on the resolution out of fear. She said these groups had been terrorising Trinidadian fishermen off the coast of Tobago, making life difficult for Tobagonians. However, a representative of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s non-governmental organisations participating in the forum later told me that Rangel’s analysis was flawed and that his country’s abstention had to do with future joint exploitation of oil and gas resources that are to be found in the maritime space of the two neighbouring countries.Asked about the role of the oil industry, Rangel said that is a complicated architecture of relationships and accused Venezuela’s State oil company PDVSA of helping to finance and facilitate companies and interests whose access to finance and financial institutions has been cut off as a result of US sanctions placed on them. She cited as an example a reported recent telephone conversation between Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Putin suggested that Maduro may want to ensure he operates within the Constitution and to which Maduro responded that such advice could force him to ask Russian oil interests to leave Venezuela.As for a solution to the crisis in Venezuela, Rangel said the international community has to broker a deal but in the process of negotiation has to recognise that it is not dealing in an environment of traditional negotiations and therefore has to be tough, offering Maduro the option of peaceful exile or imprisonment. She also argued that there will have to be the emergence of a new political entity to counter balance the current Opposition. The new political party would have to be one that would represent the interests of the working and middle classes that supported the late Hugo Chávez.The forum also heard from a number of other presenters from Venezuela, including Jose Domingo Mujica, National Coordinator of the Electoral Assembly of Education; University Professor Juan Manuel Raffle; and journalists Marianela Balbi and Nathan Crooks; Venezuela Bureau Chief, Bloomberg.President of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) Mike Mc Cormack and President of the Transparency Institute of Guyana, Dr Troy Thomas were among participants from Caribbean Community member states in the forum.Regards,Wesley Kirtonlast_img read more

Bayern oust Man United as top brand

first_imgSpanish giants Real Madrid ($621 million) and Barcelona ($572 million) are third and fourth in the new ranking.Bayern, who beat domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in Saturday’s Champions League final at London’s Wembley Stadium, have seen their brand value increase by 51 million euros compared to last season, while United’s value has dropped by 20 million euros.“The challenge now for all Bundesliga clubs and the league itself is to see if they can export their domestic brand strength into global opportunities,” said Brand Finance’s CEO David Haigh.Interest in Bayern from overseas fans has shot up this season, with one million Munich replica shirts expected to be sold in 2013, compared to 600,000 in the 2012 calendar year.By comparison, Dortmund have sold around 350,000 replica shirts this season.The report’s figures were calculated using a formula based on future turnover attributable to the brand name and reflect Bayern’s growing power, with the Bavarians poised to become the first German club to win the treble of European Cup, German Cup and league titles.“It’s a record year in terms of turnover, as we’ll break the 400 million euros turnover mark for the first time,” said club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.“No German club has ever been close before. Propelled by our success on the field, we’re breaking every record off it, too. The club is in great shape for the future.”Bayern face Stuttgart on Saturday in the German Cup final, having already broken or equalled 25 German league records en route to success in the Bundesliga.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000LONDON, England, May 29 – Champions League winners Bayern Munich have overtaken Manchester United as the most valuable brand in world football, according to a report released on Wednesday by London-based consultancy firm Brand Finance.According to the report, Bayern are now valued at $860 million (669 million euros, £572 million), overtaking last year’s top side United ($837 million) as football’s most lucrative brand.last_img read more

Wenger ‘concerned’ about lack of defensive cover at Arsenal

first_imgArsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he is concerned about the lack of defensive cover in his squad.The Gunners were without first-choice defender Per Mertesacker for their Premier League opener against Crystal Palace, with the German international yet to reach full fitness following the summer’s World Cup.Summer signing Calum Chambers, 19, put in another impressive display as a makeshift centre-half in the last-gasp 2-1 win over the Eagles, though an injury to Kieran Gibbs proved another blow to Wenger’s already stretched defensive resources.And the Frenchman did confess he isn’t satisfied with his options at the back, suggesting he could dip back into the transfer market before the end of the month.“Yes, I am concerned,” said the Gunners boss.“We’ve had to be creative with buying a right-back [Chambers] and playing him as a centre-back, that shows you it’s difficult to find the right quality in that position.“As I’ve said many times, we’re still on the market and should the right opportunity present itself we will take it.”Asked if the club have made any offers, he added: “No, but it’s possible [they will before the window closes].”Arsenal left it late to secure three points against a plucky Palace, Aaron Ramsey tapping home in stoppage-time to secure victory over the managerless side.The Eagles were left devastated following Tony Pulis’ exit as boss less than 48 hours before their trip across the capital, but Wenger praised the spirit of his opponents, who took the lead through debutant Brede Hangeland in the first half.“Credit to Palace, they fought hard,” he said. “They were physically strong and well organised.“We still lack a little bit a change of pace, but they gave us big problems in defence. But we keep going, that’s one of our strengths, and it paid off today.”Ramsey seems to have continued his match-winning form in the new top flight season and the Welshman, too, was impressed with their London neighbours.The midfielder added: “It was very difficult. They came out and defended really well and were very tough to break down.“They lost their manager earlier in the week but you’d never have known that the way they played. But that’s irrelevant. The result is what we were looking for and we got the three points.”last_img read more