Arsenal Women 3 – 0 Aston Villa Women
Frida Maanum led Arsenal into the semi-finals of the Continental Cup with an inspired performance in their 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Meadow Park.
The forward opened the scoring in the 29th minute, wriggling her way past two defenders before hitting a low shot through a crowd of players, finding the bottom corner of the net.
The Norway international doubled her side’s advantage five minutes into the second half with a powerful strike after Caitlin Foord had wrestled possession, before the pair changed roles on the hour mark as Maanum’s pass found the run of Foord to round off the scoring.
Maanum has now found the net 10 times in 15 games this season.
Villa’s side included ex-Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs, but they were comfortably outclassed on the night, as the Gunners advanced to face holders Manchester City on February 8.
The semi-final draw took place earlier on Thursday with West Ham set to play Chelsea in the other semi-final.
The Gunners’ trip to Brighton on Sunday was one of three Women’s Super League matches called off on a controversial weekend that also saw Chelsea’s contest with Liverpool abandoned after just six minutes.
Sunday 5th February 6:30pm
Kick off 6:45pm
Arsenal take on Leeds in the fourth round of the FA Cup on January 29, before returning to WSL action with a trip to West Ham on February 5, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 6.45pm.
Aston Villa are also in cup action this weekend, taking on Fylde, before hosting Brighton in the WSL on February 5, kick-off 12.30pm.
Anthony Joshua should retire if he loses to Jermaine Franklin on Saturday, says Johnny Nelson | Boxing News
If Anthony Joshua loses to Jermaine Franklin on Saturday he should retire from boxing, says former WBO cruiserweight champion and expert pundit Johnny Nelson.
I’d expect Anthony Joshua to get it done. But Jermaine Franklin is 29 years old, (has had) 22 fights, won 21, stopped 14 of his opponents and in his last fight against Dillian Whyte people say he should have won. But that’s questionable.
My big question is this: Anthony Joshua, after losing two fights on the bounce, has had to relook at his confidence to think ‘who am I, do I belong here, do I want this?’
For Anthony Joshua that’s everything.
Because he’s had to go through a bit of turmoil, mentally, emotionally and come to terms with the fact that he’s no longer the best fighter, officially, in the world. He’s got to get in the queue again like everybody else.
When fighters are in a hard, tough fight, that will tell you how hungry they are. How much do they really want it? For Anthony Joshua when it comes to boxing Jermaine Franklin, he needs to be dominant, he needs to be smart, he needs to be sharp, he needs to work on that self-confidence.
Because he has the ability. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been a world champion twice. So he has the ability.
If Anthony Joshua loses, he jacks it in. If he doesn’t jack it, he should jack it. Because it’s a hard mountain to climb. Especially when you’ve had the success and the heights that he’s had. So he can’t afford to lose. That’s a must. Then from that, it’s confidence building.
We’ll see if he really thinks ‘you know what, I can eventually become world champion again, I’ll fix what I got wrong’. Because he’s only been boxing 10, 11 years as a professional fighter. So if he thinks he can fix what he think he got wrong in regards to why he’s not world champion, then there’s a reason to stick around still chase the guys that are there, one of them has beaten him twice.
Of course there’s that lucrative fight that everyone’s talking about, which is him and Tyson Fury, which personally, I fell in love with the idea at first but it was teased so much and it never happened.
So I don’t even don’t want to talk about it.
Danger for Okolie
With Lawrence Okolie what we saw clearly in his win over David Light on Saturday was his vulnerabilities are exposed. But as a world champion he has so much more to still work on, to still develop on. If he can stay world champion and develop alongside trainer SugarHill Steward then he’ll be alright.
But for the time being it’s going to be dangerous for him. He’s got the power. He’s got the unorthodox style, but his style needs refining.
It’ll take about two or three fights down the line. They’ll try to create some distance for Lawrence. Because what Lawrence does, he’ll throw a shot and he’ll grab, he’ll hold. I know it sounds silly as he’s a world champion but it’s a bit of a novice move to make.
It’s a bit of a vulnerable move to make because you can walk into shots. He smothers his opponent where actually he could make a harder job a little easier if he used his height, used his reach, used that power.
Because this young man spars with heavyweights, he’s comfortable. He’s talking about moving up to heavyweight. He’s got the power there, it’s just the confidence and self-belief to believe in what he’s actually got.
You’ve got the punch power, you’ve got the ability, but you’ve just not got the belief to go with the ability.
I’m honest with you I thought Lawrence Okolie was probably top dog until Saturday night. Then I realised actually Richard Riakporhe could beat this guy and beat him well.
Riakporhe is a dangerous, compact fighter, whose confidence is now matching his ability. So these guys are developing but at world class level.
Here in the UK we’re doing so, so well. We’ve got Chris Billam-Smith as well. We’ve got fighters that are at the world class level but they’re not the finished article. So we’ve got a good time to look forward to in the regards to the UK division.
Inside Borussia Dortmund’s academy: From the footbonaut to virtual reality – the innovation game explained | Football News
The name of Borussia Dortmund conjures images of the awesome Yellow Wall that is the Sudtribune at Signal Iduna Park, home to Europe’s biggest attendances. In the industrial heartlands of Germany’s Ruhr, for many, Dortmund epitomises proper football.
Every academy player at BVB is reminded of these roots, taking a trip to the Yellow Wall upon signing. Traditions matter. But this is a place of innovation too, with a cutting-edge sports science department building the footballers of the future. Just whisper it.
“We are quite a traditional club,” Paul Schaffran tells Sky Sports. “It is a very down-to-earth area. On the one side, the identity of the club is based on hard work and humility. On the other side, we are very technology focused.”
Schaffran is the head of sports science at Dortmund’s academy, based across the city from the stadium. A youthful 35, a tour of the grounds with the cap-wearing Schaffran is not quick – he stops to shake hands with every colleague, as is the custom at the club.
He is proud to be part of what happens here.
“We are a benchmark over the last decade when it comes to accompanying players on the final steps of their development into professional footballers. Players like Jadon Sancho, Gio Reyna, Christian Pulisic, Youssoufa Moukoko, Ansgar Knauff and many more.
“That has been the strength of Borussia Dortmund for years.”
Under Lars Ricken, a scorer for Dortmund in the 1997 Champions League final and now head of the academy, this has become a finishing school for Europe’s best talents. But what they really want to find is the next Mario Gotze, who joined at nine and went all the way.
“That is what Lars Ricken tells us every day must be our goal. Not only to bring in players at from other clubs but also to develop our own players from the youngest age groups. But it is hard to say a nine-year-old can be a Champions League player.”
They are willing to innovate to make it happen. Perhaps you have heard of the footbonaut, a contraption housed inside its own building at the training ground for almost a decade now. “Jurgen Klopp was the guy who started that,” says Schaffran. It has been a big success.
What might have been seen as a gimmick when introduced remains integral to the academy coaching at Dortmund, booked out daily between 4pm and 8pm as players build up their hours in contact with the ball. It is fired at them in at all angles. Reactions are tested.
“The emphasis is on perception, decision-making, working on the weaker foot. What pace is the ball coming at? What spin is on the ball? What angle is it coming at? It is about visual scanning and a clean first contact, and then it is the space that you can create.
“Let us say that you play five minutes in the footbonaut. That is 40 to 50 balls that you play. If they train three times per week for half an hour in the footbonaut, they will have more touches in there than they will have in the whole week in game situations.”
As a player is put through his paces in the footbonaut, the attention is drawn to his boots. “There is a sensor on the foot, tracking the technical movement,” Schaffran explains. “It tells you how many touches they have with each foot and the kicking speed.”
The collection of this data has allowed Dortmund to develop benchmarks for their academy players. Not only can these be used to compare individuals but a series of tests help them to identify which areas each young player needs to focus on improving.
“We start our cognitive training at the age of eleven, looking at eye movements, perception, visual scanning. We have been focusing on this cognitive criteria for six or seven years now, so we have data on all of our players that we collect two or three times a year.
“Twice a year, for example, our players will go in the footbonaut and play 32 balls in a standardised setting. Sixteen on the right side and 16 on the left side. Sixteen in front and 16 behind. In the end, you can see how fast and precise they act in each area.
“We have an average score and we often see a big difference in perception between the right side and the left side. If their scanning is not good on one side then their reactions will not be as good on that side. Most of the time it is not about the technique.”
There is a growing appreciation of the importance of scanning in football, a realisation that a player’s awareness of what is around them can be the difference between good and great. It has led to Dortmund implementing a virtual reality tool to help train that.
The Be Your Best software is similar to the FIFA games but through the use of a VR headset is totally immersive, testing players’ scanning ability in various situations. Since September, the first cohort of Dortmund academy players are using them to accelerate their learning.
“It is not just the number of scans but the timing of them,” Schaffran explains. “For me, the timing of them is much more important than the number. If you let the players train on Be Your Best, they can get a feel for when they are able to do their scan.
“When the ball is free, when there has been a long pass from player A to player B, that is the right time for me to do a scan. The next question is where you are scanning. Is it the left shoulder or the right shoulder? Where is the blind spot?
“I talked with our U19 coach. He says that if a midfielder only looks over their left shoulder for years and years then it is pretty easy to stop them because they will never turn to their right because they are unable to get any information on that side.
“We need them to be flexible. A full-back might be playing in the centre in a few years, or the other way around, so it is important that they have no blind spot in terms of their scanning. It is important they can see what is happening on all sides of the pitch.”
Many would argue that this is no substitute for playing – and Schaffran agrees. “Time on the training ground is limited because they have school. The U12s are at our training ground for about 15 hours a week. They should be on the pitch for as long as possible.”
But that is one of the advantages of virtual reality. It increases the total hours of training. “If you have a solution like Be Your Best I can say that once per week you come early and you can also train for five hours per week at home. You can do those extra hours.”
And sometimes show just works better than tell. “Another advantage is that they can see what is important in visual scanning. I can tell them it is important but if you go into a VR environment and do a loop 100 or 200 times then that has a big improvement.”
Dortmund have noticed the results already. The footbonaut prepares players for the pitch. Now, Be Your Best prepares them for the footbonaut. “That adaptation is fast. After 10 to 15 sessions with Be Your Best there will be an improvement in the footbonaut.”
Saturday 1st April 5:20pm
Kick off 5:30pm
Importantly, the academy players enjoy it. “They absolutely love it. They would do more if they could.” There are plans to make that happen, expanding the use beyond those housed on-site at the club’s boarding house to include all 240 players in the academy.
Just do not expect Dortmund to shout about it unless asked. “Look on our website,” adds Schaffran. “There is no mention of virtual reality, bio-banding training, ultrasound bone measurements or other innovations.”
An old-school football club at the vanguard of new ideas.
Cricket Scotland: Four resign from anti-racism group due to frustrations with governing body’s tackling of racism | Cricket News
Four members of Cricket Scotland’s anti-racism and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) advisory group have resigned due to the organisation’s handling of tackling racism.
It follows last week’s update from Cricket Scotland chair Anjan Luthra, who said progress had been made by the governing body.
Those comments were criticised by anti-racism group Running Out Racism, which labelled Luthra’s claims as “unsubstantiated nonsense” and said the update from Cricket Scotland was “tone deaf” and “arrogant”.
Scotland international Abtaha Maqsood, Running Out Racism’s Raza Sadiq, businessman Imran Khan and academic Khadija Mohammed are those who have stepped down.
Funding body SportScotland is now holding “urgent discussions” with Cricket Scotland.
Last July, Sky Sports News revealed a damning review found that the governing body failed on almost all tests of institutional racism.
The full Cricket Scotland board stepped down prior to the publication of the independent report that found 448 instances of racism in the sport.
The anti-racism and EDI group was formed following recommendations from the report – in a bid to help create change alongside Luthra and interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, who has announced he will be leaving the organisation next month due to personal reasons.
A spokesperson for SportScotland – Scotland’s national agency for sport – said: “It is deeply disappointing that members of Cricket Scotland’s anti-racism and EDI advisory group have decided to resign their positions. However, we fully respect and understand their decision to do so.
“We have been consistently clear that only by engaging in real and meaningful consultation and engagement will cultural change be delivered within the sport. We are having urgent discussions with Cricket Scotland on this issue.”
‘Cricket Scotland claims are unsubstantiated nonsense’
Following the review conducted last July, Cricket Scotland was placed in ‘special measures’ by SportScotland.
As part of its six-month update, Cricket Scotland chair Luthra said last week that he expected the progress being made would lead to those measures being lifted.
Luthra said: “Our current trajectory means that we will exit special measures by October 31 and ensure Cricket Scotland continues its work towards becoming the most inclusive sport in the country over the long term.”
Luthra outlined significant progress made around Cricket Scotland’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, citing the new diversity working group as another step in the right direction.
However, anti-racism group Running Out Racism said Luthra’s statement “set back trust significantly” and “demonstrated that the governing body is failing in learning from mistakes of the past”.
Running Out Racism also revealed it has tried to raise concerns in private but is “sick of fighting for change in public with no results”.
The statement read: “The release by Cricket Scotland today has set back trust significantly and demonstrated that the governing body is failing in learning from the mistakes of the past.
“In order to address the issues in the sport, they must meaningfully engage with people. Not just Running Out Racism, but the wider cricketing community.
“Today’s release flies in the face of that. It is tone deaf and arrogant.
“To say they have significantly upgraded [their] approach to EDI is unsubstantiated nonsense. Unless that substantial upgrade is referring to ticking boxes as opposed to the previous strategy of ignoring the problem. They continue to ignore the very people who have been ignored for so long.
“To cite the EDI working group as an achievement is frankly embarrassing. At the first meeting in January, formed after five months of faffing around, some members of the group raised significant concerns around the intent of the governing body to meaningfully engage with people who have expertise in this area.
“Following that, the governing body put out a positive update, which was astounding to some who sat in that same meeting, and has subsequently ignored the group. None of today’s changes have made it to that group for consultation. A group that took five months to form and has only met once.”
‘Cricket Scotland not fit for purpose’
The issues of institutional racism came to light following an interview on Sky Sports News with Scotland’s Majid Haq and team-mate Qasim Sheikh
The lawyer representing both players, Aamer Anwar, said last week: “Despite the horrific exposure of institutional racism, Cricket Scotland’s empty soundbites today shows that it remains unfit for purpose.
“Both Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh are sad to see the chief executive Gordon Arthur step down, he was a man who genuinely fought for change to take place.
“My clients, both Majid and Qasim, believe the chair has failed to deliver or inspire genuine confidence from across the sport, and they regard the process as little more than an ‘arrogant cosmetic box ticking exercise’.
“It’s time that Sport Scotland stepped in with special measures, the only winners today are institutional racism and the dinosaurs who now appear even more entrenched.”
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