Harmata, Vuono, Melofchik, Liberti and Sole among theindividual winners Harmata, Vuono, Melofchik, Liberti and Sole among the individual winners BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer PHOTOS BY JERRY WOLKOWITZ staff Matawan’s Chris Keller releases the shot put en route to his victory in the event at the Monmouth County Championships at Red Bank Regional on Saturday. Relying on its sprinters as well as its distance stars, Christian Brothers Academy won its eighth straight Monmouth County Indoor Track and Field Championship on Saturday at Red Bank Regional High School. The Colts out-distanced host Red Bank Regional, 68-47, to win yet another county title. Overall, it was an outstanding meet for area athletes, with several claiming gold. For CBA, Chris Vuono won the 400 meter (51.91) and Will Melofchik took the 3,200 (9:49.02). St. John Vianney’s Jennifer Therkorn races to a second-place finish at the Monmouth County Championships in the 800-meter run. The Colts piled up the points in these two events with Dan McLeod third to Vuono (53.10) in the 400. The Colts were one-two in the 3,200 with Chris Horel second to his teammate (9:50.23). Vuono also anchored the Colts to a victory in the 4×400 relay (3:39.89). McLeod ran the lead-off leg with Ryan DelVecchio and Joe Bellino following. McLeod also got the Colts points in the hurdles, finishing second to Neptune’s Corey Nelms (7.85-7.98). Matawan’s Chris Keller pulled off an upset in the shot put, winning an exciting three-way duel with Shore Regional’s B.J. McKenna and Wall’s Dave Zaycek, who came into the meet with one of the best throws in the state, 57-0. Keller, whose indoor best was 52-3, improved by more than three feet, reaching 55-5 with his winning toss. McKenna also improved on his indoor best with a 54-6 3/4, while Zaycek had to settle for third with a 54-5 1/4 effort. Middletown South’s Chris Sole won the high jump at 6-4. Ariana LaFerlita made it a boy-girl sweep of the high jump for the Eagles as she won at 5-2. Like Sole, she was the only jumper over at the winning height. Raritan’s Amanda Harmata gave up basketball to concentrate on the shot put this winter and one can see why. The Rocket senior dusted the field, winning by almost six feet with a 40-0. South’s Jamie Liberti won the girls’ 3,200 in 11:37.25. In the team scoring, Shore Regional nipped Manalapan for the championship, 34-32. Middletown South was third with 25. Notes… The night before the Monmouth County Championships, CBA’s 1,600-meter relay team competed in the Suburban High School Boys’ 4×400 Meter Relay at the Verizon Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden. The sprinters were the first relay team from the school to qualify for the nation’s biggest indoor meet. The Colt quartet of McLeod, Vuono, Peter Glackin and Brett Fiorovanti finished third, running 3:32.69 behind Camden (3:31.43) and Uniondale, N.Y. (3:31.4). The running track at Madison Square Garden is 11 laps to the mile and is banked on the turns. The Colts had to win their heat at a Millrose Qualifier last month in order to get an invitation to the race. Ocean County’s best will join the track and field fray today when RBR hosts the Shore Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships starting at 4 p.m. Ocean County stars include Jackson state champions Jen Clausen (3,200) and Eric Dufresne (55 high hurdles). On Sunday, Groups II (8:30 a.m.) and III (2 p.m.) will race for state championships at Princeton University. The top six placers in each event plus six wild cards from the two groups will advance to the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions, also at Princeton, on Feb. 29. Groups I and IV held their championships on Feb. 1. BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer
BY GEORGE ALBANO Staff Writer BY GEORGE ALBANOStaff Writer The Bayshore Colts Senior American Legion team couldn’t have picked a worse time to have its first two-game losing streak of the season. In fact, the team representing Post 515 in Middletown didn’t lose a single game in the 2005 regular season, compiling a perfect 16-0 record while winning the Monmouth County American Legion championship. But at the district playoffs this past weekend in Ewing, Bayshore lost its opening-round game to West New York of Hudson County 8-2 on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, the Colts dropped a 16-12 slugfest to South Brunswick to exit the double-elimination tournament. Bayshore was one of 40 teams playing at five different sites over the weekend with the top two teams at each site advancing to the state tournament. While Post 515 certainly wasn’t a lock for one of those 10 spots, veteran manager Marty Kenney and his players didn’t think they’d be two and done either. “We expected to win a game or two. At least we were hoping to,” Kenney said after Sunday’s second loss. “We knew we had a tough draw. They pick the teams out of a hat and when I saw we were playing West New York in the first round I knew it would be tough to beat them. But I was hoping we’d take one today and then see what happens tomorrow.” As it turned out, there was no tomorrow. In Saturday’s opener, WNY pitcher Eric Polanko limited the Colts to just six hits and a pair of runs while striking out 12 Bayshore batters. “Their pitcher pretty much shut us down,” Kenney said. “He was a lefty and he did a nice job. We only had a couple of opportunities in a couple of innings. Offensively, he just shut us down. “He was a college freshman, and that’s part of the problem,” Kenney added. “We go with all sophomores and juniors in high school while their team had players a year and almost two years older. They had five college freshmen and another six graduating seniors. So half their team was at least one or two years older than us. “But we kind of expect that. Most of the teams we play are older than us. We have a different philosophy.” Kenney, who has managed the Bayshore Colts Legion team for 15 years, has also been the head coach of the Christian Brothers Academy baseball team for the past 31 seasons. In that dual role, he uses the Legion team in the summer to help develop his high school team the following spring. “We look to mold our high school team for the following year, whereas most teams in the district are looking to win,” Kenney pointed out. “We’re competing with juniors while teams we’re playing have graduated seniors and some college freshmen. “Their goal is obviously to win the state playoffs and advance to the regionals and even the nationals, whereas our philosophy is a little bit different. This team I had, for the most part, will be next year’s high school varsity team. The American Legion season gives us an opportunity to blend returning varsity players with freshmen and sophomores who played on the J level. It’s a great opportunity to put them all together and let them play together.” Kenney’s approach to Legion baseball has certainly proved to be beneficial. After all, at CBA he has developed one of the most successful high school programs in the state with 10 Shore Conference division championships (in the 20-year history of the league), four conference tournament and four county crowns, five state sectional titles, and a state championship in 1977. Even this past season, Kenney led CBA to a 27-4 record, including a 14-0 mark in the Shore A Division, the South Jersey sectional championship, and a berth in the Parochial A state final. Yet despite all that post-season success on the high school level, Kenney’s Bayshore Legion team has never advanced past the districts. With good reason. It all goes back to his philosophy and to using all high school underclassmen against teams with seniors and college freshmen. “We’ve been in the districts seven or eight of the last 10 or 11 years,” he noted. “So we’re kind of used to it. If we win a game or two, we’re happy with that. There are four or five teams in our district whose goals are little different than us and are a year or two older. “We’re just looking to compete and do as well as we possibly can. We look at it as it’s more experience for the players coming back and it helps us build our [high school] team for next year.” In Saturday’s game, West New York scored three runs in the first and three more in the fifth to take a 6-0 lead. Bayshore finally got on the board with a pair of runs in the seventh to make it 6-2, and the Colts were threatening for more. “That was a big inning,” Kenney said. “We scored two runs and had the bases loaded with no outs, but we didn’t come up with any big hits after that. A couple of more hits and it could have been 6-5 and we’re right back in the game. We had some of our better hitters up, too, so it was a little disappointing.” Instead, WNY tacked on two more runs in the last of the seventh (they play nine innings in districts and states) to win going away. Jimmy Laufer went 2-for-2 with an RBI single for Bayshore, while his brother, Dave Laufer, also had an RBI single to account for the Colts’ other run. But the Post 515 team rediscovered its hitting form in Sunday’s losers’ bracket game, banging out a total of 19 hits and jumping out to a 9-1 lead. South Brunswick cut it to 9-4 after six innings, but Bayshore struck for three more runs in the seventh to up the lead to 12-4 after seven. “But then, the last two innings, everything fell apart,” Kenney said. “They ended up scoring 12 runs in the last two innings.” A seven-run eighth inning by South Brunswick cut Bayshore’s lead to 12-11, and set the stage for a five-run top of the ninth, which sent the Colts on their way to elimination. “Offensively, I thought we did a pretty good job. We hit the ball well, and I was really pleased,” Kenney said. “And defensively we played pretty well, too, until the last two innings. We made two critical errors, one of which led to the five runs in the last inning. Four of those runs were unearned.” Vin Avella, Marc Sansevere and Dave Laufer all had three hits for the Colts. Avella, who doubled and homered, drove in three runs, while Sansevere knocked in a run and scored two more, and Laufer doubled and also had an RBI. “We had 19 hits, so we hit the ball real well,” Kenney said. “We just fell apart in those last two innings.” Of course, the true measure of how successful this year’s Bayshore Colts Senior American Legion team was won’t really be known until next spring when the high school season rolls around. If you go by history, though, this past summer will probably be looked back upon as another successful season. Most summers usually are. “In the last 15 years we averaged 23 wins,” Kenney said of his Legion team. “So, it’s definitely doing what I hoped it would do and that is build our high school team early. “All in all, we had a good run this summer, and I told the players that,” he concluded. “We accomplished some of the things we hoped to accomplish.”
The Lincroft Knights Travel Baseball Club is looking for competitive players for its travel teams (spring season and tournament play). Cutoffs are as follows: 12U, born after April 30, 1994; 10U, born after April 30, 1996; 9U, born after April 30, 1997; and 8U, born after April 30, 1998. The 12U team will be competing in the Cooperstown Baseball World Tournament in August. Tryouts in January. For more information, call (732) 213-8216 or e-mail email@example.com The Central Jersey Hawks U12 boys basketball team will hold tryouts in the next few weeks. Any boy born after Sept. 1, 1994, or earlier, or boys who are in sixth grade, are eligible. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Emily Nealis, of Holmdel, of the Muhlenberg College women’s soccer team, was named to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll for excellence in the classroom and on the field. To be named to the Academic Honor Roll, a student must be a sophomore or higher in class standing; a starter or key reserve on her team; and carry at least a 3.40 cumulative grade-point average. A double major in music and psychology, Nealis played in six games as a reserve forward, helping the Mules to an outstanding season. Muhlenberg finished at 13-6, a nine-win improvement from 2005, and was regionally ranked at the end of the year. The Mules ended the regular season with an eight-game winning streak to qualify for the Centennial Conference playoffs, then won their first playoff game before falling to nationally ranked Johns Hopkins in the semifinals. Nealis finished her career with one goal in 42 games played. “Emily was a very consistent player for us, although she never really recovered from an injury her sophomore year,” said head coach Leslie Benintend. “She has a great shot when given the ball.” The Jersey Bombers U14 Baseball Club is looking for quality, dedicated players to add to its roster for the spring and summer seasons. The team will play in competitive weekend leagues and tournaments. Excellent coaching, player exposure and indoor winter training. Age cutoff date is May 1, 1992. The Jersey Bombers are based out of Middlesex County. All interested players should e-mail Coach Nick at Bignic714@aol.com or call (732) 433-0198 to register for a tryout. St. Joseph’s, Keyport, will hold baseball and softball registration Dec. 9, 16 and Jan. 6, 13, 21 and 27 in the gym lobby from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is for boys 5-12 and girls 5-18. For more information, call (732) 739-4503 or visit www.leaguelineup.com/stjoesbb or www.leaguelineup.com/sjgs. The Jersey Shore Breeze (12U travel) will be conducting tryouts for the 2007 season. The season includes USABL 50/70 spring and a full tournament season which includes the Cooperstown Dreams Park Invitational Tournament during the week of June 23. Please visit our Web site at www.jerseyshorebreeze.com for details. The New Jersey Interscholastic Lacrosse Officials Association will be holding cadet classes for individuals interested in becoming high school boys’ lacrosse officials. Classes will be held at various locations throughout the state beginning in January. Prior playing experience is not necessary. Individuals must be 18 years of age or older. For more information, visit the Web site at www.njiloa.org or contact Charles Talley at (908) 753-1926 or email@example.com.
Holmdel’s Mickey Zudonyi has been named one of the two new assistant baseball coaches at Felician College in Lodi. Clifton’s Arlan Freeman will also join Felician head coach Chris Langan’s staff.“Both of these coaches offer our program numerous attributes,” said Langan, who is entering his 10th season with the Golden Falcons. “Their experiences will certainly touch each player and promote growth on and off the field.”Zudonyi joins Langan’s staff directly off a successful playing career with the Golden Falcons. A former All- Region second baseman, he is Felician’s all-time leader in base hits with 217. He also owns school career records for games, at-bats, runs, walks and assists. Zudonyi was a two-time All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) and a three-time Academic All-CACC honoree. He was the lone captain of the 2012 Felician squad that won the CACC regular season championship. Zudonyi, who also works as an instructor at the Langan Baseball Academy in Morganville, will assist with hitting, base running and infield play. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing from Felician in 2012. “Mickey had an outstanding career and has made the transition to coaching very seamlessly,” Langan said. “He was a great competitor and leader, and I think those are very important skills in mentoring the young athletes.” Freeman and Zudonyi join holdover and volunteer assistant John Torres of Brooklyn, N.Y., on the 2013 Felician baseball coaching staff.Felician is a member of NCAA Division II and it was the runner-up in the 2012 CACC Tournament.
Bill Britton, PGA director of instruction at Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck, captured the 2013 Charity Clambake — his second Clambake crown — by shooting a 2- under-par 142. The clambake was held at the Rockaway River Country Club in Denville.Britton carded rounds of 67-75 to win by one stroke. Rumson Country Club’s Brian Gaffney was fourth with a 73-71-144.Britton, who lives in Rumson, played on the PGA Tour for 15 years, winning once and finishing with top 10 status 23 times, including fourth place at the PGA Championship and seventh place at the Masters.This New Jersey PGA Charity Clambake has raised more than $1 million for charitable organizations since its inception. Joseph Schmid (Kingston, Pa./Wyoming Valley West), Monmouth University’s senior midfielder, has been named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy Watch List by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).The Hermann Trophy is given yearly to the best men’s soccer player in the country.Schmid joins Ryan Clark (2012), R.J. Allen (2011), Max Hamilton (2011), Anthony Vazquez (2011), Ryan Kinne (2009, 2010), Bryan Meredith (2010), Chase Barbieri (2009) and Tom Gray (2007) as recent Monmouth selections to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.“It’s definitely an honor for sure,” Schmid said. “I’m grateful to be on that list with all the great players in the country. But I’m most concerned with us winning games.”A two-year team captain, Schmid earned NSCAA All-Region First Team and All-Northeast Conference First Team honors as a junior in 2012.The Hawks open the 2013 season at nationally ranked No. 4 University of North Carolina on Aug. 30. Christie Rampone was named Sky Blue FC’s Defender of the Year and Most Valuable Player by a vote of the coaches, players, staff and media.Rampone, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) and Sky Blue FC captain, has been the anchor for Sky Blue FC’s back line this season. Her leadership has been pivotal for the squad.“She’s been our most important player by not only providing leadership, but also direction and experience in the back line,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra said. “She’s had to play with three to five rookies in the back, and having that back line for a period be one of the best defenses in the league is a real credit to her leadership.”Sky Blue FC set a franchise record 435-minute shutout streak this season and had nine clean sheets.Rampone has played a total of 1,800 minutes, missing only two games while on USWNT duty. Rampone starred at Monmouth University prior to her USWNT play.Forward Monica Ocampo claimed the Golden Boot after leading the squad with eight goals at the conclusion of the regular season — two being game winners. She also had two assists.Sky Blue FC has qualified for the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs.
By Josh ReichIT would be a brave gambler who wagered against Luis Suarez becoming the first Liverpool player to score 30 goals in a Premier League season when the leaders head to struggling Norwich City on Sunday.The Uruguayan has played a major role in taking Liverpool – two points clear of Chelsea with four games left – to the brink of their first league title since 1990, with his 29 league goals one better than Robbie Fowler’s previous club best in the Premier League era.He is also two goals shy of equalling the Premier League 38-game season record held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.Suarez has taken particular pleasure in tormenting Norwich, netting 11 times in four games including four goals in their last meeting, a 5-1 demolition at Anfield in December, and has scored hat-tricks in his past two trips to Carrow Road.Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen said Suarez’s performances this season were on par with Arsenal great Thierry Henry.“Suarez has been the best player in the Premier League this season,” Owen said.“Yes, there are others who’ve done well – Yaya Toure, Steven Gerrard, Adam Lallana and Eden Hazard.“But, when it comes to Suarez, I don’t think I have seen anything that good since probably Thierry Henry was playing in the Premier League. He has been absolutely outstanding.“And it’s important to mention he has been absolutely exemplary this season. His discipline has been great.”Sunday’s match comes at the end of an emotional seven days for the Merseyside club, with last Sunday’s 3-2 win over Manchester City putting them in the driving seat for the league crown, and Tuesday the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster which claimed the lives of 96 fans.Liverpool will be heavy favourites against 17th-placed Norwich, who also have to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal as they bid to retain their top-flight status.Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said they had to treat their lowly opposition like they did AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.“Every game is getting bigger because we are getting closer to the last game of the season,” he said.“Man City was always going to be huge because they are in the race with us, but Norwich now become Man City. Norwich become Chelsea. Norwich become Manchester United. That’s how big it is.“We have got to treat Norwich like we treated AC Milan in 2005. That’s just how football is. We can’t think about what colour shirts Norwich are wearing and the personnel in them. We have got to treat them like the best team in the world.”David Moyes will return to Everton on Sunday for the first time since leaving to become Manchester United manager, hoping to build on consecutive league wins over Aston Villa and Newcastle.United’s hopes of retaining their league title have long since gone and they are very unlikely to qualify for next season’s Champions League.In seventh spot on 57 points, three behind Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, United are still in the running for the Europa League.“There are still plenty of important games to play. We are Manchester United and it’s our duty to win every game we take part in,” Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea told the club website (www.manutd.com).“That’s what we’ll try to do now because we want to finish as high as we can in the league, ensure we’re playing in a European competition next season, and show we are still around and that we will never give in.”Everton, who suffered a shock 3-2 home defeat by Crystal Palace on Wednesday, are on 66 points, locked in a battle with Arsenal (67) for fourth spot and a place in next season’s Champions League.The Gunners visit Hull City in Sunday’s other match, a dress rehearsal for next month’s FA Cup final.Chelsea will seek to keep the pressure on Liverpool when they host Sunderland on Saturday, with the Black Cats’ hopes of an eighth season in the top-flight improved by a shock 2-2 draw at Manchester City on WednesdayThird-placed City, six points behind Liverpool with one game in hand, host West Bromwich Albion on Monday.Saturday’s other matches see 18th-placed Fulham travel to Spurs looking to continue their recent revival after two successive wins, and fellow relegation candidates Cardiff City host Stoke.Aston Villa entertain Southampton, Newcastle play Swansea and Palace visit West Ham United.
By Simon EvansA 55th minute Thomas Mueller goal gave Germany a 1-0 win over the United States on Thursday but the result allowed both teams to progress to the second round of the World Cup.Germany top Group G and will face the runner-up in Group H while the United States finish second and will face Group H’s winner. Portugal who beat Ghana 2-1 are eliminated with the Africans.The Germans dominated the game with Juergen Klinsmann’s team, with their backs against the wall, creating very few chances.The breakthrough came when Tim Howard parried out a Per Mertesacker header but Mueller collected the loose ball on the edge of the area and superbly side-footed into the bottom corner.Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner for Portugal, his first goal of the tournament. Starting the day on a point each, both teams knew they needed a victory to have any chance of progress and Portugal started strongly as Ronaldo hit the bar and sent a close-range header straight at goalkeeper Fatawu Dauda before Ghana’s John Boye sliced a cross into his own net after 31 minutes.Asamoah Gyan headed the equaliser from a lovely Kwadwo Asamoah cross 12 minutes into the second half and Abdul Majeed Waris missed the chance to put Ghana ahead when he headed wide from point-blank range five minutes later.Ronaldo finally found the net in the 80th minute but Portugal, thrashed 4-0 by Germany in their opening game, needed a far bigger win to overhaul the Americans’ goal difference.
By Brian HomewoodFIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia resigned on Wednesday in protest at the way his report into the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process was handled by Hans-Joachim Eckert, the ethics judge of football’s governing body.Garcia said he had lost confidence in the independence of the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber following a 42-page statement issued by Eckert, based on Garcia’s still-secret report, in November.In comments which are likely to deal another blow to the credibility of FIFA’s ability to police itself, Garcia also said that sport’s world authority lacked leadership.UEFA president Michel Platini, a member of FIFA’s executive committee, said Garcia’s resignation was a step backwards.“FIFA’s ethics committee was created to increase the transparency of the organisation, that’s what we wanted, but in the end it has just caused more confusion for FIFA,” the Frenchman said in a statement.FIFA president Sepp Blatter added: “I am surprised by Mr Garcia’s decision. The work of the Ethics Committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the ExCo meeting in the next two days.”Former US prosecutor Garcia’s report examined allegations of corruption in the awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively.Garcia, who formerly served as chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, had appealed against Eckert’s statement, saying it contained misrepresentations, but that appeal was ruled inadmissible by FIFA on Tuesday.“It now appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Eckert Decision will stand as the final word on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process,” Garcia said in a statement, adding that a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport would be impractical.“No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organisation.“And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert Decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.”German judge Eckert’s statement recommended that there was not enough evidence to justify reopening the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.“The issues raised by Mr. Eckert’s selection and omission of material from the Report, and his additional comments, went far beyond the initial transparency concerns,” added Garcia.“As my public statement at the time explained, the Eckert Decision contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of facts and conclusions”.”Garcia said in Wednesday’s statement that his report “identified serious and wide-ranging issues with the bidding and selection process.”Garcia also revealed that FIFA’s executive committee reported him for publicly asking them to authorise publication of his report.“The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, Claudio Sulser, ultimately rejected the Executive Committee’s referral,” he said.Garcia, who was appointed in 2012 and spent 18 months probing the 2018/2022 bidding process, said he felt that initially the ethics committee was making progress.“For the first two years after my July 2012 appointment as independent Chairman of the FIFA Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber, I felt that the Ethics Committee was making real progress in advancing ethics enforcement at FIFA,” he said. “In recent months, that changed.”FIFA’s Executive Committee is meeting in Marrakech, which is hosting the Club World Club, this week.The Exco is due to debate a proposal from Germany’s Theo Zwanziger to allow the publication of Garcia’s report in full.FIFA and Qatar World Cup organisers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.Qatar, which has repeatedly denied the allegations, has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers in the construction industry.
By Mike CollettMANCHESTER City’s chances of winning the Premier League title for the third time in four seasons will almost certainly end if they lose at Stoke City and Chelsea beat Everton on Wednesday.The gap between the leaders and the champions widened to seven points on Saturday when Chelsea won 2-1 at Aston Villa and City drew at home with Hull City, needing a stoppage-time free kick from James Milner to grab a point from a 1-1 draw.With 14 matches to play, Chelsea have 56 points and City 49, followed by Southampton on 45, Manchester United on 44 and Tottenham Hotspur on 43.Spurs are at Liverpool on Tuesday while Southampton host West Ham United and Manchester United face Burnley at Old Trafford on Wednesday.Southampton and Spurs maintained their challenges for Champions League football by winning on Saturday, with Saints needing a stoppage-time goal from Sadio Mane to beat Queens Park Rangers 1-0. Two goals from Harry Kane gave Spurs a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in a thrilling north London derby.United also scored in stoppage time, Dutchman Daley Blind emulating Milner by salvaging a late point for his team in a 1-1 draw.“We can’t really afford too many more slip-ups if any. Chelsea have a big lead now, but we know, more than anyone, you have to keep going to the death and anything can happen,” Milner told reporters.“But I think we have got to be pretty much faultless between now and the end of the season to get close.”Stoke stunned City when they won 1-0 at the Etihad in August and although the last four league matches between the two at the Britannia have been drawn, City must win and hope Chelsea slip up to stay in the title hunt.Arsenal will be hoping to bounce back from their loss at Spurs with a win over bottom-placed Leicester City who will have Nigel Pearson in charge despite widespread speculation he had been sacked as manager on Sunday.Leicester have not won at Arsenal for nearly 42 years and been beaten there on their last seven league visits.Managerless QPR, one place and two points above Leicester, will be seeking to avoid a 12th successive away league defeat at Sunderland, while Alan Pardew, who left Newcastle United six weeks ago, will be looking to continue Crystal Palace’s revival when his old team visit Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
By Mitch PhillipsSebastian Coe is stepping down from his ambassadorial role with Nike, the IAAF president said on Thursday.Coe, who leads the ruling body of world athletics, has worked as a paid ambassador for the sportswear firm but faced repeated questions about a potential conflict of interest.An internal Nike email leaked this week appeared to show him supporting the bid of Eugene, the US city with close links to the company, to host the 2021 world athletics championships.Coe also announced that CSM, the sports marketing firm he heads, will not tender for any contracts that might lead to allegations of a conflict of interest.The Briton also said he was stepping down as chair of the British Olympic Association (BOA) after next year’s Rio Games.“I have sought advice from the IAAF’s Ethics Committee to review my interests and was told I could retain my positions in Nike and CSM as long as I do not seek to influence any decisions that could influence them,” Coe said at a news conference following an IAAF Council meeting.“I’m grateful for that advice but it is clear that perception and reality have become horribly mangled.“I’ve made the following decisions: I’ve stepped down from my ambassadorial role with Nike which lasted 38 years. The current noise level around it is not good for Nike or the IAAF and is a distraction.”Coe’s relationship with Nike was thrust deeper under the spotlight this week when he faced fresh allegations about his involvement in the controversial award of the 2021 world championships to Eugene.In April this year the hosting rights were surprisingly awarded without a bidding process, much to the surprise of the Swedish city of Gothenburg that was in the process of preparing to present its own case.The then-president of the IAAF (the International Association of Athletics Federations), Lamine Diack, supported the idea to give Eugene hosting rights.But in the light of the 82-year-old being investigated by French authorities over a doping corruption scandal, many observers questioned the validity and transparency of the decision.On Tuesday the BBC published internal emails it said it obtained from Nike that suggested Coe gave support to the US city’s bid.The emails raised questions about whether there was a conflict of interests in Coe, who succeeded Diack as IAAF chief in August, supporting Eugene’s bid given his links to Nike.