ROME (AP): Napoli are halfway to their first Serie A title since Diego Maradona led the club to the 1990 championship. Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as Napoli routed promoted Frosinone 5-1 yesterday to earn the southern team the Italian league’s symbolic “winter title”. Through 19 rounds of the 38-match season, Napoli hold a two-point lead over Inter Milan, who were beaten 1-0 by Sassuolo earlier with a last-minute penalty to surrender the lead. The winter champions have gone on to win Serie A nearly seven out of every 10 seasons. “We’re still not sure what we’re capable of,” Napoli’s first-year manager Maurizio Sarri said. The last time Napoli earned the mid-term honor came in 1990. “Being winter champion means nothing. It means something when you’re champion in May,” Higuain said. “We’ve got to stay calm now because there are still five months to go and we want to continue this way.” Fiorentina are third, three points behind, after losing 3-1 to Lazio on Saturday. Also yesterday, it was: Atalanta 0, Genoa 2; Bologna 0, Chievo Verona 1; Torino 0, Empoli 1; and Hellas Verona 0, Palermo 1. In an entertaining match at the San Siro, both Inter and Sassuolo produced numerous chances and goalkeepers Samir Handanovic and Andrea Consigli were superb. Inter threatened early with Mauro Icardi and Adem Ljajic, then Simone Missiroli and Nicola Sansone were dangerous for Sassuolo. Handanovic tipped a free-kick from Sansone over the bar and Consigli made an extraordinary diving save to swat away a shot from Ljajic before the break. Inter substitute Rodrigo Palacio had a clear look in the 79th, but his effort was cleared off the line by defender Federico Peluso. Miranda’s decisive foul came after an error by fellow center back Jeison Murillo. Berardi then calmly beat Handanovic, improving to a perfect 6-for-6 on penalties this season. Having been beaten by Lazio before the holiday break, Inter has now lost two consecutive home matches in Serie A for the first time since May 2013. Sassuolo are sixth, 10 points behind Napoli.
Helping Jamaica to a 2018 FIFA World Cup berth may be high on his agenda, but Reggae Boyz and Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks has other things on his mind these days. Mattocks, a former schoolboy star with Bridgeport High School, is looking forward to becoming a first-time father. The 25-year-old, who is currently in Jamaica on a break from his professional duties in the Major League Soccer (MLS), beamed with excitement as he confirmed the news. He noted that he is anxiously awaiting the birth of his firstborn, expected to be delivered later this year. “The child is not yet born,” a smiling Mattocks told Saturday Sports during a Red Stripe Premier League match between his former local club Waterhouse and Montego Bay United earlier this week. Clearly in high spirits, Mattocks, who has scored 12 goals in 31 appearances for the Reggae Boyz, says he feels absolutely ready for the commitment. “I think from a young age, I have been a responsible person as I have been living on my own since age 18,” said Mattocks. “As I get older, there are different things I want in life, and this is one of them. I’m looking forward to being a father for the first time,” Mattocks noted, while sharing a bit about his relationship with his significant other. “I’m with a special female. She is a wonderful person, someone to spend my life with, so I’m really excited. I know that I’m going to do a very good job. I take care of my entire family, so this (baby) is an extension,” he said. Mattock is a graduate of Bridgeport High in Portmore and also spent two years at Akron University in the United States. He was drafted into the MLS in 2012 and has represented Vancouver Whitecaps based in Canada since. He has made 93 appearances and scored 19 times for the MLS outfit.
Janet Rowe did not fly to Jamaica just to vote. But when she realised her name was on the voters’ list, the US$197.50 fee she paid to change her ticket “was a small price to pay to support her party”, Rowe said. “The ticket was actually US$430 plus what I paid to change it.” But that cost couldn’t keep her from the polling station at the Content Gap Primary School in East Rural St. Andrew. “When my boss wished me a safe travel I didn’t tell her I wasn’t coming back just yet.” Instead, “I called one of my co-workers and asked her to work for me tomorrow and I will work back for her on Saturday,” she said with a satisfied grin, showing her ink-stained index finger. Her ticket was changed from February 23 to 26. The constituency is being contested by the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Juliet Holness (wife of opposition leader Andrew Holness) and the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Imani Duncan Price. Holness went into the elections with a five percentage point lead over her rival.
Pakistan’s coach Younis quits ISLAMABAD (AP): Waqar Younis has quit as Pakistan coach only a day after Shahid Afridi stepped down as Twenty20 captain. Pakistan lost three group matches at the World Twenty20 and made an early exit from the tournament in India. Younis, who was national coach for 19 months, says “unfortunately I couldn’t give the result which the nation was expecting.” Younis had three months before his contract with the PCB was due to expire, but he quit after meeting with the Pakistan Cricket Board officials in Lahore on Monday. Setback for WCup stadium MOSCOW (AP): The official completion date of Sochi’s stadium for the 2018 World Cup has slipped back five months to November, the second such delay for a Russian World Cup venue in the last week. Regional sports minister Lyudmila Chernova announced the delay in comments to the state-run Tass agency, but did not give any explanations. The Fisht stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but has needed lengthy construction work to convert it for football and expand its capacity to over 47,000. Last Friday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the St Petersburg stadium had fallen three months behind schedule but would still open by the end of the year. Sammy Stadium CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC): West Indies T20 cricket captain Darren Sammy yesterday expressed his delight at the decision of the St Lucia government to rename the Beausejour Cricket Ground, after him following the exploits of the regional team in the just-concluded T20 World Cup in India. Sammy, along with fellow St Lucian, Johnson Charles, returned to a hero’s welcome at the Hewanorra International Airport, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony and other St Lucians. “Big-time reception, homecoming,” Charles said in a video posted on Facebook, while Sammy said Anthony had announced that the island’s premier cricketing ground will now be known as the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium. “To God be the glory,” Sammy said, adding “I am truly honoured, I am humbled and bless. Thank you, we always know St Lucians love their own and the love and respect and admiration I have just received at the airport, oh my God, thank you very much.” Giorgi turns down Italy call-up ROME (AP): Camila Giorgi has turned down a call-up to Italy’s Fed Cup team for its World Group playoff against Spain, choosing to compete in qualifying for a tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, instead. The 48th-ranked Giorgi announced last week that she was cutting off ties with the Italian Tennis Federation – apparently because the federation insisted she play Fed Cup. Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti called her up anyhow for the April 16-17 series. Giorgi had until Monday to confirm her call-up and the federation announced yesterday that 72nd-ranked Karin Knapp was taking Giorgi’s place on the team, which also includes Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone. Giorgi is currently playing in Katowice, Poland, where she beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-4 in the first round yesterday.
A lot has been written regarding the appointment of 52 Government boards whose members were, as The Gleaner columnist Gordon Robinson puts it, “considered, vetted and approved in absolute secrecy”. It goes without saying that ideally, in a modern democracy, such appointments would be subject to scrutiny from the very people who would be affected by an unsuitable (incompetent) appointee. But the reality is that we have to live with it until we the people, understand and use our power to force elected representatives to govern on our behalf, not theirs or their ‘pardies’. In the popular sport of horse racing, there appeared in the Track and Pools publication of April 13, the results of an appeal heard by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC). This appeal was held on April 7. The facts outlined in the report of the appeal were that a horse, PRINCE OSHAUN, trained by Colin Blair and ridden by the apprentice jockey, Bebeto Harvey, won the fourth race on the 28th November 2015. At the conclusion of the race there was a Stewards Inquiry, where the film of the race was reviewed. After the review, the winner, PRINCE OSHAUN, was disqualified for intimidation and interference to horses #5, MONEY NEVER SLEEP and horse #15, ROMAN SPY. Therefore, all those punters on and off the racetrack who had backed PRINCE OSHAUN, lost their money as second-past-the-post GRAND CORAZON was now declared to be the winner. However, at the appeal, the aggrieved trainer submitted that his horse (PRINCE OSHAUN) came down from the outside after the interference occurred and could not have intimidated any other horse or jockey. Mr Blair further submitted that if his horse, PRINCE OSHAUN, was not in the race, the infractions that happened would have still occurred. The trainers’ submissions at the appeal reflected the opinions of fans of racing who were present in the North Lounge at the Caymanas racetrack on that fateful day. UPHELD THE APPEAL The appellate body reviewed the film of the race and listened to evidence from Harvey and Operation Steward Robert Clark. Its conclusion was that PRINCE OSHAUN could not have intimidated any other horse or jockey, and upheld the appeal. Thus, the new results would reflect that PRINCE OSHAUN was, indeed, the winner and directed that the appropriate adjustment to the purses be made. Unfortunately, those knowledgeable punters who had selected PRINCE OSHAUN to win the race (and who witnessed PRINCE OSHAUN winning the race) have absolutely no possibility of being rewarded for their correct decision, while those responsible for this error is allowed to say, “oops”, and continue to adjudicate on races ostensibly to keep making these errors with absolutely no possibility of any sanction, while punters are actively encouraged to “come on down to the track and support the sport of kings”. Here now is an opportunity for the new commission to inject some long-lost confidence in the administration of the sport by taking decisive action against any member of staff whose actions repeatedly are found (on appeal) to have no basis in fact. Those responsible for these (numerous) errors only serve to turn off punters (the lifeblood of the sport) as there are many alternatives for the betting dollar. Racing cannot afford to keep alienating those whose money keeps the sport alive. For even though there was no parliamentary vetting and public comment on their suitability, competence or integrity, the sport of kings, horse racing, needs board members to do the right thing.
Tennis Jamaica’s president John Bailey has urged members of his association to move forward in a positive way after he was re-elected unopposed at a rescheduled annual general meeting on Thursday evening at Campion College. “We really want to focus on moving forward and not looking back,” Bailey told The Gleaner yesterday. “We can spend a lot of time talking about what went on in the past, but it is not going to help us. It’s just time to move on.” At last November’s AGM, where Bailey was challenged by John Azar, a disparity in numbers between ballots and eligible voters forced the association to declare the elections null and void. Aswad Morgan was returned as first vice-president, Llockett McGregor; second vice-president and Marcus James, the third vice-president. The treasurer is Charles Pennicook, while Leroy Brown remains the secretary of the association. The regional directors are Pierre Battaglia and James Samson, while the directors are Micola Bicknell, Paula Harris, Charmaine Chin-Loy, Nigel Casserly, Yussuf Migoko, and Steven Shirley. Bailey also revealed that plans to develop the sport include a new playing facility in St Ann, which he hopes will get off the ground in a few months. “The exciting thing is that we are looking to open a new facility in St Ann, Drax Hall in particular, and hopefully, in the next few months, that will start,” he stated. Bailey, who is in his second term as president,, reiterated that the main players in the tennis fraternity are turning their attention to the development of the sport. “The mood in the fraternity is very positive. We will press on and continue to develop the sport and look to Jamaica being on top in the region again in the next few years. So we are back on track, absolutely,” he insisted.