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Obiri, Lokedi to clash in explosive New York Marathon field



Reigning champion Sharon Lokedi will clash with Boston Marathon champion in what is expected to be an explosive field at this year’s New York Marathon, penciled for November 5.

The hugely talented and explosive field also includes 2021 New York winner Peres Jepchirchir as well as world record holder Brigid Kosgei.

This is the first time ever in New York Marathon history that a Boston Marathon champion, Olympic champion, and world-record holder line up against each other in the same field.

Since winning in New York last year on her debut over the distance, Lokedi has not competed as much as she would have wished and pulled out of this year’s Boston Marathon due to injury.

But with a fully fit frame and an ambition to show that her victory last year was no fluke, the USA-based Kenyan will be going all out in her title defense.

In preparation for the marathon, Lokedi had raced the United Airlines NYC Half and the Mastercard New York Mini 10K, finishing fourth and second, respectively.

“Last year, I came into the New York City Marathon with the goal of being in the thick of the race, and the result was better than I could have ever hoped for. This year, I’m returning with a different mindset, hungry to defend my title and race against the fastest women in the world,” Lokedi said speaking to race organizers, New York Road Racing (NYRR).

She will come into a full contest, with Obiri, fresh from winning her first ever marathon in Boston in her second appearance at the race, looking to stamp her authority.

Obiri, winner of multiple titles on track, showed that she is slowly mastering the 42km distance with an imperious performance on the streets of Boston.

In her third race over the grueling distance, Obiri, who has moved most of her training to the USA, believes she is more experienced and will perform even better, with an eye on setting a new personal best.

“With a year of marathon experience now under my belt, a win in Boston, and my move to the U.S., I’m coming to New York this year with more confidence and in search of a title. I’m excited to show the people of New York what I’m capable of and that my win at the United Airlines NYC Half in March was just the beginning,” she said.

Competition will be aplenty with Peres also keen to have a stake at the cake. She is the only athlete to have won the Olympics, New York City Marathon, and Boston Marathon. She is also a two-time world championships gold medalist in the half marathon.

She missed the race last year due to injury, but has maintained her hunger and will be all out to try and get her title back.

“New York is an important step in defending my Olympic gold medal next summer in Paris, and I will do my best to make my family and my country proud,” she said.

Meanwhile, world record holder Brigid will be making her New York debut.

She is not a stranger to US soil though as she broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old world record by 81 seconds, running 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon in 2019. It was her second Chicago Marathon victory, as she’d also won in 2018.

“I am very excited to make my New York City debut, and attempt to win my fourth different Major. I am not worried about the course, as I have had success in hilly marathons before, but New York has always been about head-to-head competition, and I know I must be in the best possible shape to compete with the other women in the race,” Kosgei said.

She has also battled through injury over the last two seasons, but she believes she is in perfect condition to battle for victory.

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Int’l Friendlies: FIFA appoints referees, VAR officials for Eagles, Saudi Arabia game




World football-governing body, FIFA has appointed Portuguese official Luis Godinho as referee for the international friendly match between three-time African champions Nigeria and Asian giants Saudi Arabia, coming up at the Estadio Municipal de Portimão next week Friday.

Godinho will be assisted by compatriots Bruno Jesus (assistant referee 1), Tiago Costa (assistant referee 2) and Miguel Noguera (fourth official) at the match kicking off by 5pm Portugal time (same time as in Nigeria).

Also appointed are Helder Carvalho to head the situation in the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) room, to be assisted by Bruno Vieira.

It is the second-ever clash between both countries. The Super Eagles and the Green Falcons battled to a scoreless draw in a pre-2010 FIFA World Cup friendly game at the Alpenstadion in Wattens, Austria on 25th May 2010.

The Eagles have another friendly encounter against the Mambas of Mozambique at the same venue on Monday, 16th October 2023, starting at 4pm.

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Argentina, Spain among six countries to host 2030 World Cup




A unique 2030 World Cup is set to be played in Europe and Africa with the surprising addition of South America in a deal to allow the men’s soccer tournament to start with a 100th birthday celebration in Uruguay.

FIFA reached an agreement Wednesday between soccer’s continental leaders to accept only one candidate for hosting the 2030 tournament, the sport’s governing body said.

The Spain-Portugal bid grew to add Morocco this year and now also includes long-time bid rivals Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

A key lure of the unprecedented three-continent project will open in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, where the Centenario Stadium hosted the inaugural 1930 World Cup final.

“The centennial World Cup could not be far from South America, where everything began,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of South American soccer body CONMEBOL. “The 2030 World Cup will be played in three continents.”

The consensus reached by once-rival soccer continents also let FIFA fast-track opening the 2034 World Cup bidding contest Wednesday which is limited to member federations from Asia and Oceania.

Argentina became three-time world champions when they won the tournament in Qatar last year. Juan Ignacio Roncoroni/EFE via ZUMA Press
“In a divided world, FIFA and football are uniting,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“The FIFA Council, representing the entire world of football, unanimously agreed to celebrate the centenary of the FIFA World Cup, whose first edition was played in Uruguay in 1930, in the most appropriate way.

“As a result, a celebration will take place in South America and three South American countries — Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay — will organise one match each of the FIFA World Cup 2030. The first of these three matches will of course be played at the stadium where it all began, in Montevideo’s mythical Estádio Centenário, precisely to celebrate the centenary edition of the FIFA World Cup.”

“The FIFA Council also agreed unanimously that the only bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2030 will be the joint bid of Morocco, Portugal and Spain,” the FIFA president added. “Two continents — Africa and Europe — united not only in a celebration of football but also in providing unique social and cultural cohesion. What a great message of peace, tolerance and inclusion.

“In 2030, we will have a unique global footprint, three continents — Africa, Europe and South America — six countries — Argentina, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay — welcoming and uniting the world while celebrating together the beautiful game, the centenary and the FIFA World Cup.”

Saudi Arabia has targeted the 2034 edition and Australia also is interested after successfully co-hosting the Women’s World Cup this year with New Zealand.

The FIFA Council’s acceptance of a unified 2030 candidacy still needs formal approval next year at a meeting of the 211 member federations. That should be just a formality.

The 48-team, 104-game tournament scheduled for June-July 2030 is expected to start with games in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay before the action moves to the core host nations Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

The South American co-host bid has been promoted since the 2018 World Cup in Russia and had included Chile, which was not mentioned Wednesday.

Ukraine also was added to the European bid a year ago at a news conference at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland. However, Ukraine has not been mentioned in official comments about the UEFA-backed bid this year.

The first 48-team men’s World Cup will be hosted in 2026 by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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UK, Ireland sole bidder for Euro 2028 after Turkey withdraws




The UK and Ireland will host Euro 2028 – subject to final approval from UEFA’s executive committee next week – after Turkey withdrew its interest.

The five-nation bid is now the only option on the table for the finals in five years’ time after Turkey pulled out of contention for the 2028 finals to focus on a joint bid with Italy for Euro 2032.

UEFA will formally announce the hosts for the two tournaments following a meeting of its executive committee in Switzerland next week.

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