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Despite his enthusiastic vibe, Blake Austin admits part of him would like to be watching rather than playing when Super League heads to Anfield for the Magic Weekend.

This year's two-day gathering of all 12 clubs in Liverpool will be the former Canberra Raiders half-back's first experience of the concept, with the NRL having only staged their first Magic Round this year.

Austin and his Warrington Wolves team-mates headline Saturday's matches when they take on Wigan Warriors at 7 pm, although the 28-year-old would be happy sitting with the fans soaking up the atmosphere too.

"Some other codes would have riots for days if you tried to pull off something like this," Austin told Sky Sports.

"I think there is real mutual respect between the fans and it's something special about our sport.

"I'm a little jealous that I have to play this weekend because I'd love to be sat in the stands and enjoy it as a fan, but hopefully we can put on a good show for the people who turn out.

"It's going to be a great weekend and I hope all of the teams do it justice."

Austin has certainly been enjoying life on the pitch so far this season, taking quickly to life at Warrington after making a try-scoring debut in the season-opening 26-6 win at home to Leeds Rhinos.

His performances have been recognized by the Man of Steel judging panel too, with Austin one of the leading contenders for the accolade, and he is pleased with how his switch to these shores is working out so far.

"One of the big reasons for coming over was to get some enjoyment back in my game and I've been able to do that at Warrington," Austin said.

"Off the field, myself and my family are really happy and it certainly makes things easier on the field."

The Magic Weekend is something Austin has had an eye on for a while as well and has heard good things about the event, which sees an entire round of Super League matches played at a single venue, from his team-mates.

"From what I know, it's a bit of a carnival atmosphere," Austin said. "The fans really get behind and I know coming over it was certainly one of the biggest things I was looking forward to.

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The erratic Australian star, Nick Kyrgios, was disqualified from the Italian Open on Thursday after throwing a chair across the court in a foul-mouthed tantrum before storming off during his match against Norwegian Casper Ruud.

The controversial 24-year-old, who had marked his presence in Rome by criticizing Djokovic and Nadal in an interview on Wednesday, starting arguing with the umpire in the third set.

"Very eventful day to say to the least. Emotions got the better of me and I just wanted to say that the atmosphere was crazy out there today, just super unfortunate that it had to end in default," Kyrgios later wrote on Instagram.

"Sorry Roma, see you again, maybe," he added before his troubles worsened when he was fined  €20 000 and made to forfeit his tournament prize money and ranking points.

His astonishing outburst came in his second round tie against 76th-ranked qualifier Ruud who had won the first set 6-3.

Kyrgios won the second set 7-6 (7/5) to level but was furious after sending a forehand wide to hand a break back to Ruud early in the third set.

The 24-year-old turned and berated the crowd for walking during the point before slamming his racquet to the floor amid a string of swear words.

Kyrgios told a spectator: "You're not supposed to walk across the court as I'm serving, do you understand that?"

Kyrgios then received a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct and a game penalty, with the umpire calling the tournament referee courtside.

"I'm giving 100 percent. I don't want to play when this shit is going on," Kyrgios was heard saying.

He then kicked a water bottle, before throwing a chair across the court, packing his bag, shouting: "I am fu***ng done".

The Australian later posted "Hahahahaha" on Twitter along with crying with laughter emojis alongside a clip of Ruud celebrating going through 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 2-1 to the third round.

"I think he got what he deserved," said Ruud of Kyrgios.

The Norwegian, who went on to lose to former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, said he thought the ATP should take action.

"He thinks he can do what he likes.

"He was angry from the start, at that point in the third, I thought 'this has to be it' you can't go on like that and go on playing'.

"He was getting more and angrier. There's been a lot of talk about it with other players.

"I think there should be some hard punishment, there's been some other stuff as well. He should be suspended for at least six months."

But Swiss star Roger Federer - who Kyrgios has termed "the greatest player of all time" - did not agree.

"I don't think he should be suspended personally," said the 20-time Grand Slam winner.

"He walked off the court. What did he do? Did he hurt a chair? I mean, that's not enough for me.

"I don't know if he's on probation or not from his Shanghai (walked off the court in 2017) thing or not.

"If that's the case, then obviously you can maybe look into it. If that's run its course, I don't think he should be suspended.

"A zero pointer, fine, all this stuff is already tough enough. He knows it's a mistake what happened."

World number one Djokovic, however, would not comment, stating: "I'll let others, officials, decide that. I have no opinion."

Kyrgios had earlier whipped up a storm over comments made about Djokovic and Nadal in an interview with NCR Tennis Podcast.

"I just feel like he's got a sick obsession with wanting to be liked," he said of world number one Djokovic.

"He just wants to be (Roger) Federer. I feel he wants to be liked so much that I just can't stand him. This celebration thing is so cringeworthy.

"No matter how many Grand Slams he wins, he will never be the greatest to me.

"For me, Federer will always be the greatest of all time."

He also said Nadal, who had lambasted the Australian as "disrespectful" after losing to him in Mexico earlier this year, was a bad loser.

"He's just my polar opposite like literally my polar opposite. And he's super salty," said Kyrgios.

Kyrgios has a long and chequered history when it comes to discipline.

In 2015, in one of his more notorious outbursts, he was fined for making a sexually disparaging remark in Canada about the girlfriend of three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka.

The following year, he was banned for eight weeks after being accused of not trying at the Shanghai Masters.

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NAN- Rangers International FC of Enugu on Wednesday defeated visiting Bendel Insurance FC of Benin 1-0 to consolidate leadership position in the group A of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Rangers’ victory has confirmed the team’s position as one of the top four teams with only two matches to go.

Felix Ogbuke netted the only goal of the match in the 85th minute to ensure the club qualify for the Super Four competition.

Speaking after the match, Rangers gaffer Olugbenga Ogunbote said that the match was difficult for them as their opponent was desperate to escape relegation.

He noted that Bendel Insurance came for victory with the way it made the game tight for them.

“Though we missed lots of chances, Insurance really worked for the three points but thank God we have the day.

“Ogbuke is a superstar and has shown that today by bailing the club from a difficult situation,” he said.

He said that with the earned three points, the club would now rest its injured players to see if they will be ready before the super six battle ahead.

“Today we have a couple of new injured players as Pape Ousmane and Ajani Ibrahim joined the injury table.

“I was scared when the match was heading to full time without any goal to show for our efforts.

“You know, when we play them in Benin we lost because we played the majority of the match with 10 players.

“Here now, what do we tell our supporters as the game is open with 11 against 11, so the victory is a very big relieve for us,” Ogunbote said.

The hero, Ogbuke, said he was excited scoring the only goal of the match.

“Am happy that my goal come when we needed it most, and today’s victory has to give us firm balance at the top three of the group A.

“Before now, I was not playing because of some family challenges and now I am back and I want to continue scoring for my club.

“Am fulfilled being a Rangers player and it is my dream to win laurels for the club in the ongoing season,” he said.

NAN reports that Rangers lead the group A with 37 points from 20 matches, followed by Lobi Stars FC with 30 points after 19 matches.

Enyimba FC occupies the third position with 29 points after 19 matches, while MFM FC is in fourth place with 29 points from 20 matches.

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Real Madrid has made an initial move for Paul Pogba, as it is understood intermediaries are now discussing a potential deal for the Manchester United star.

The 26-year-old actively wants to leave for the Bernabeu in this window and is one of the main summer targets of Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who so wants Pogba he has agreed to compromise on preferred number-one Keylor Navas.

Zidane has agreed to sell the Costa Rican, to try and aid and fund the purchase of Pogba.

United’s preference has always been to keep Pogba, but a number of factors - from lesser commercial value than anticipated to his influence on the dressing room - have made them more open to a potential sale.

The Old Trafford hierarchy would want well in excess of £150m, but that is just one of many factors set to make this one of the sagas of the summer.

The first is that Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola is now suspended by Fifa until 9 August, the day after the closure of the Premier League window. That will likely mean any signing will be delayed until the end of the summer if a deal can be struck.

While Zidane is intent on Pogba, meanwhile, the Bernabeu hierarchy is less sold on the player’s influence and more interested in Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen.

It is understood that Zidane’s willingness to let Navas go might have solved this, though, especially as he has previously preferred the Costa Rican to Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid wants to make Courtois their marquee number-one, so concession on this sees them more willing to back the purchase of Pogba.

The midfielder’s wage demands, however, could yet prove the biggest obstacle of all. Pogba wants to be made the highest-paid player in the world, which could involve a basic wage of up to £500,000.

That would make Madrid balk since they would struggle to fund both the price of the purchase and such a salary.

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More than two decades must have gone by since the sisters last met on the red clay of Rome. Serena Williams is set to take on Venus in the second round of the Italian Open on Wednesday.

Both sisters advanced in different styles on Monday.

Four-time Rome winner Serena, 37, returned after two months out injured easing through 6-4, 6-2 against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Petersen.

But 38-year-old Venus, whose only Rome title came back in 1999, needed over three hours to battle past Belgian Elise Mertens 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).

Serena has not played since a hard-fought three-set win also over Petersen in the second round at the Miami Open in March before withdrawing with a knee injury.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner — now ranked 11th — also withdrew from Indian Wells in March complaining of illness.

Watched by her husband Alexis Ohanian, Williams sealed victory on her second match point against her 64th-ranked opponent after 76 minutes on court.

“I felt good, I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel,” said Williams.

“It’s been a while, I haven’t played a ton of matches this year, not by choice, just by force.

Despite her lack of practice, tenth-seeded Williams was never threatened by Peterson, despite 22 unforced errors by the American in the first set.

Venus came out on top of a tight contest that went all the way to a third-set tie-break despite letting the Belgian back in by missing six match points on her serve.

She missed a further two match points as Mertens battled to level the set at 6-6, before finally taking the match in the tie-break and setting up a 31st clash with her sibling.

“We’re just as fierce, Venus is just as fierce. We both really want to get some match play. We’ll both do the best that we can,” warned Serena, who leads 18–12, the most recent at last year’s US Open.

Venus said she remembered “pretty much zero” about their last meeting in Rome which she won all those years ago.

“I know that’s she’s going to play well and compete really well, that’s a given,” added the 7-time Grand Slam singles winner.


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NAN- There are indications that English Premier League (EPL) champions Manchester City might lose their UEFA Champions League spot over alleged breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP).

With this development, Arsenal is likely to be handed a Champions League lifeline if the ban finally comes from Europe’s football governing body (UEFA).

According to UK Sun, the Etihad club side is under probe by UEFA for providing “unconvincing” explanations over the club’s finances.

However, Arsenal is waiting to benefit from City’s setback as it offers another window for Unai Emery’s side to return to Europe, irrespective of finishing fifth at the end of the campaign.

Arsenal was banking on beating Chelsea in the Europa League final on May 29, as their only Champions League hopes after they missed out of a top-four finish.

The Gunners had suffered three straight defeats in April – against Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester thereby ending the season on the fifth spot one behind North London neighbors Tottenham, two behind London rivals Chelsea and four points ahead of sixth-place Man United.

Interestingly, City has been repeatedly linked with flaunting FFP, with “Football Leaks” document revealing series of allegations.

At the last count, UEFA is accusing Man City of “several alleged violations” of FFP regulations during its formal probe in March. Initial inquiries commenced last year after the Football Leaks reports.

Reports say Man City allegedly failed to disclose about £70m funds from owners Abu Dhabi United Group – the financial arm of the Emirate’s ruling family, declaring it was sponsorship income.

But Man City have condemned “the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails” and added: “The accusations of financial irregularities are entirely false.”

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Danilo Hondo, Switzerland cycling coach has been sacked with prompt effect after the German admitted to being involved in blood doping, the Swiss Cycling Federation said in a statement on Sunday.

Hondo told German TV channel ARD he went through with blood manipulation in 2011 and “made the biggest mistake of my life”.

“As I am a national coach in Switzerland and am active with a lot of young riders, and I made a point in recent years of active anti-doping (campaigning), it was clear to me that if I was involved in this case I had to come clean in order to continue what I have been doing since the end of my active career as a pro in recent years,” he added.

The 45-year-old, who was a professional cyclist until 2014, had already served a two-year doping ban after failing a drug test at the 2005 Tour of Murcia.

Hondo, who won two Giro d’Italia stages in 2001, was named head coach of the Switzerland team in 2017.

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AFP- Chelsea FC has qualified for the final of this year’s Europa Cup after defeating German club side Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties.

Eden Hazard stepped up to smash home the winning penalty to book final spot after the match ended 1-1 after full time.

Chelsea opened the scoring through the in-form Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who rattled the bottom corner of the Frankfurt goal after being picked out following passage of trickery from Eden Hazard.

The Germans refused to roll over, however, as talisman Luka Jovic hit back in the second half and controlled a Mijat Gacinovic pass to slot the ball into the bottom left corner to equalize.

With things all square on aggregate, the sides passed through extra-time with David Luiz saving Chelsea with a last gasp clearance off the line.

Penalties followed, with Chelsea winning despite Cesar Azpilicueta’s early miss.

Victory for Chelsea ensured they face Arsenal in an all-English final after the Gunners humbled Valencia 4-2 in an earlier semifinals encounter.

The win saw Arsenal progressing on 7-3 aggregate.

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Nura Abdullahi, AS Roma’s Nigerian defender, has been made to retire from football on medical advice at the age of 21.

The central defender who has a contract with the club until 2021 was initially placed on rest by his club after heart tests in March 2018.

According to BBC Sport, the club has agreed to honor his contract and he will now take up a non-playing role with them.

Roma are also exploring the idea of enabling him to continue work as a scout or ambassador for the club

He played in Serie B with Spezia and on loan at Perugia from Roma.

Abdullahi was a member of the club’s 2015-16 title-winning Primavera (under-19) squad, he was promoted to the first-team group in 2017 but did not make a senior appearance for the three-time Italian champions.

He also starred for Roma in the Uefa Youth League and back in February 2016, Abdullahi told the Roma website that he would love to win the Champions League someday.

Abdullahi started his career at Abuja Football College before moving to Italian side Spezia in the summer of 2013.

He then switched to Roma Primavera, a squad for players aged between 15 and 19, in July 2015 and went on to make 22 appearances for Alberto De Rossi’s side, scoring four goals.

A pacy full-back, his career has been dogged by injuries which prevented him from honoring a call-up for Nigeria’s friendly against Senegal in March 2018.

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Nigeria midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo has been nominated for Stoke City Player of the Season award following his superlative displays in his first season at the club.

Etebo who linked up with the Potters from Portuguese outfit CD Feirense last summer has been one of the standout performers for the club this season.

The 23-year-old has scored two goals in 32 Championship appearances for Stoke City this season.

He netted his first goal for Stoke City in their 2-0 home win against Nottingham Forest in March and got the second early this month in the 1-0 away victory at Blackburn Rovers.

The former Warri Wolves star has also scooped two men of the match awards this season.

Etebo will battle the likes of Jack Butland, Ryan Shawcross, Thomas Edwards, and Joe Allen for the top prize.

Stoke City will host Millwall in a Championship clash at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

The midfielder is expected to be named in Nigeria’s squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer.

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