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Ferguson backs Allardyce as homegrown England boss

MANCHESTER: Sam Allardyce is the obvious candidate to replace Roy Hodgson as England manager if the FA decide to go with a home-grown candidate for the job, former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson has said. A three-man panel of the Football Association (FA) has been tasked with finding a successor for Hodgson, who resigned following England's humiliating defeat to Iceland in the 2016 European Championship. Gareth Southgate, the England under-21 coach, Bournemouth's Eddie Howe, Hull City's Steve Bruce and former England manager Glenn Hoddle are among those who have been linked with the job by the British media. Ferguson, however, said Sunderland manager Allardyce's experience of coaching in the English top flight should make him the front-runner if the FA decide to appoint a local. "Sam's the best English candidate because he's in the Premier League," the 74-year-old told Sky Sports. "It's very difficult to think of the right man and there are only three English managers in the Premier League. With Sam's experience, he is the obvious choice. "If it's Sam, fine. But they have to have someone with the capabilities, the tactical awareness and the feel for the national side." A 13-time Premier League winner with United, Ferguson felt the gruelling domestic club schedule had played a role in England's disappointing Euro campaign. "The league programme English players go through – to then play a major tournament after that makes it impossible," he added. "In Germany they have a rest in December and January and teams who play in a better climate must be better prepared than English players." — Reuters

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Serena storms into ninth Wimbledon final1

LONDON: Six-time champion Serena Williams breezed into her ninth Wimbledon final, and a potential match-up with sister Venus, by demolishing unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina in just 48 minutes on Thursday. The 34-year-old American, who is bidding for an Open Era record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, cantered to a 6-2, 6-0 win over her 50th-ranked opponent. The defending champion could face Venus in Saturday's title match for the fifth time at Wimbledon and ninth time at all four majors. Her 36-year-old sister faces fourth-seeded German Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion, in the second semi-final later Thursday. Serena, playing in her 32nd Grand Slam semi-final, blasted last-four debutant Vesnina off the sun-kissed Centre Court in front of Prince William's wife Kate watching from up in the Royal Box. The American fired 11 aces, 28 winners and committed just seven unforced errors, breaking serve five times to reach her 28th Grand Slam final. Vesnina won just three points off the Williams serve in the first set and none in the second. "I'm very happy. I was really focused today. We've had tough matches before and I knew she could bring it to me on this surface," said Williams, who has now defeated the Russian five times in five meetings. Despite the painfully one-sided semi-final Williams, into her third Grand Slam final of the year, insisted it had been a tough workout. "It's never easy out there, every point you have to fight for," she said. "I can't believe I'm in the final this year. I'm 0-2 this year so I'm determined to win one. I want Venus to win, but Kerber would be another good match." Should Venus get through against Kerber, it would set up a fifth all-Williams final at the All England Club and 28th career meeting in total. Serena triumphed in 2002, 2003 and 2009 while Venus came out on top in 2008. Thursday's contest saw Serena race to a 4-0 lead in the first set before 29-year-old Vesnina got on the board. But the set was over in 28 minutes courtesy of Williams's seventh ace. The second set was wrapped up in just 20 minutes with breaks in the first, third and fifth games. Saturday's final will give Serena a chance to win a first major of the season after losing to Kerber in the final in Melbourne and Garbine Muguruza in Paris. Vesnina's agony wasn't over. Later Thursday, she and partner Ekaterina Makarova take on the sisters in the quarter-finals of the women's doubles. Vesnina had already scratched from the mixed doubles with partner Bruno Soares on Wednesday night to prepare for her singles semi-final. — AFP

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Nine dead in Eid party stampede in Ghana

ACCRA: Nine people were killed in a stampede at a party in central Ghana to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a public official told reporters on Thursday. "We so far have nine people who are dead, six females and three males," said Nurudeen Hamidan, the head of the Asokore Mampong municipal assembly, in the city of Kumasi. There was no immediate comment from the police in the city, which is 255km northwest of the capital, Accra. But Hamidan said three bodies have been identified so far and six people were injured, one of them critically, and were receiving treatment in hospital. The party was organised on Wednesday at a community centre in the Asawase area of Kumasi as the climax to the Eid al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of a month of fasting and prayer. Local member of parliament Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka said carnivals were often held to celebrate the occasion but in the past have been marked by clashes between youths. Organisers had told police the carnival would end by 9:00pm (5am Malaysian time) and a group, thought to number about 300, moved to the community centre, where a fight reportedly broke out, he added. "In a bid for people to rush out ... there was this stampede," said Muntaka, from President John Dramani Mahama's National Democratic Congress. But Hamidan said there were conflicting reports about the cause of the tragedy and a security meeting had been called for Thursday afternoon to determine what happened. "People are saying so many things. Some are saying that there was a lights out and the meter sparked and the sound of the meter made people agitated," he said. "Others are saying that they finished the programme, they were leaving and there was a stampede along the way. "As to what caused the actual stampede the security agencies are working to unravel what happened and we will take it on from there." — AFP

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Cambodia cracks down on scantily-clad visitors to Angkor

PHNOM PENH: Tourists showing cleavage or wearing skimpy clothes will be banned from Cambodia's famed Angkor temple complex, authorities said Thursday, after a slew of photos emerged of scantily-clad visitors at the sacred site. From Aug 4 tourists wearing "revealing" clothes will be asked change or face a bar from the vast site, according to the state agency charged with managing the Angkor complex. Long Kosal, of the Apsara Authority, explained that clothes considered to be revealing would be "too short — so they reveal buttocks — or not wearing bras, or T-shirts that show the back and upper body." "The clothes show disrespect to our beautiful culture and tradition," he added. The decree by the Apsara Authority carried photos showing tourists who appeared to be western in various states of undress at the site — including a woman walking around in a T-shirt and her underwear. Angkor is "a sacred place of the national and cultural soul", the statement added. Last year several tourists were arrested for taking cheeky nude photographs at the Angkor complex. They received suspended sentences and were expelled from Cambodia. Their arrests followed a series of photos of Asian women posing nude at ancient Cambodian temples which went viral online, outraging officials who vowed to step up efforts to prevent similar stunts. The Angkor Archeological Park, a world heritage site, contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries, and is Cambodia's most popular tourist destination. It is one of Asia's most visited sites and more than two million tourists travelled to Angkor last year. — AFP

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Raisin' cash: Japan grapes fetch US10,900 at auction

TOKYO: A bunch of grapes in Japan sold for US10,900 (RM43,826) Thursday, a record price for the variety in the fruit-obsessed nation where the produce can be a huge status symbol. Seasonal fruit offerings in Japan routinely attract massive sums from buyers seeking social prestige, or from shop owners wanting to attract customers to "ooh and ahh" over the high-flying edibles. The buyer of Thursday's bunch of about 30 Ruby Romans — who paid about US360 per grape — showed no wrath, promising to dole out samples to a few fortunate patrons. "These are truly Ruby Roman gems," bidder Takamaru Konishi from western Japan told media. "We will display them at our store before giving our customers a sample taste," he said. Even to the untrained eye, the super-sweet grapes — about as large as a ping pong ball — stand above their more affordable cousins readily available in supermarkets elsewhere in the world. The 1.1 million-yen sale kicks off the auction season for Ruby Romans in Japan. Other fruits, from apples to watermelons, can also fetch jaw-dropping sums under the hammer. Fruit is comparatively expensive in Japan and it is not unusual for a single apple to cost as much as US3. The king of fruits in the country is the melon, which serves as a status symbol akin to a vintage wine, and is given as a high-ranking gift. A single pair of melons fetched US12,400 at an auction last year. — AFP

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Tevez wage demands dashed West Ham return: Sullivan

LONDON: West Ham United's bid to re-sign Carlos Tevez stalled because of the striker's salary demands, the Premier League side's co-chairman David Sullivan has said. The 32-year-old returned to his native Argentina with childhood club Boca Juniors in 2015 after nine successful seasons in Europe, where he won league titles with English sides Manchester United and Manchester City and Italy's Juventus. Tevez, who helped save West Ham from relegation during his one-year spell in the 2006-07 campaign, also had an outstanding final season with Juventus to help them win the Serie A and the Coppa Italia and reach the Champions League final in 2015. "We tried to get Tevez but he wanted £250,000 (RM1.3 million) a week. In his last year at Juventus he was great. But 250 grand a week!" Sullivan told British media. "He'll probably stay where he is now but he doesn't pay a lot of tax down there. I actually offered him 150 grand a week to come back plus bonuses. I thought that was an incredible offer for someone who loves West Ham. "He was a fantastic player." — Reuters

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Mickelson casts doubt on future Scottish Open participation

UNITED STATES: Phil Mickelson is uncertain whether he will retain the Scottish Open on his annual schedule but the American still believes the event is an ideal warm-up for the British Open. The 46-year-old was the last winner of the Scottish Open at this year's Castle Stuart venue in 2013, before he went on to win his only British Open to date at Muirfield the next week. Dundonald will host the Scottish Open next year. "I doubt it will be the last time I will play but I don't know if it will be an every year occurrence," the world number 21 told British media. "I know it was difficult to get accustomed to Royal Aberdeen, and to get accustomed to Gullane. I thought they were terrific, and I hear great things about Dundonald... I don't know how my schedule is going to play out. "I have played in the Scottish Open now for 15 years or so and it has been a real treasure for me. I really enjoy coming over early and playing here." The five-time major winner is yet to taste victory this year, missing five cuts in 16 events, but was hopeful he could gather some momentum ahead of the British Open at Royal Troon. "It (Scottish Open) gives you a chance to get accustomed to the wind, the air, the fescue grass, the challenge of links golf, playing the ball on the ground, getting it out of the air," he added. "But it doesn't beat you up and punish you the way the Open Championship does, so you arrive at the British Open fresh and ready to play, as opposed to worn out already." — Reuters

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Stewart racing to find a cure for dementia

LONDON: At 77-years-old, Jackie Stewart has a new challenge that he ranks among the biggest of his life. The Scot, who raced through one of Formula One's deadliest eras and won three world championships, and who campaigned for driver safety when others mocked and blocked, says he has his work cut out this time. Stewart is putting £1 million (RM5 million) into a new global charity he has set up to accelerate research into finding a cure for dementia, an illness his wife Helen was diagnosed with two years ago. "It's not the same as motor racing safety. That was a tough enough task. But this one's tougher," he told Reuters in an interview. "It's difficult enough finding money to start a Formula One team that we did, Paul (his son) and I. This is a much bigger task. And it's bigger money in the long run. So I've got to work awfully hard on this. "Obviously it's a shock. And it's a different kind of shock," added the man whose life has been marked by profound dyslexia and the deaths of some of his closest friends and rivals on the racetrack. "I've been through a lot of unhappy times with everybody that I have close to me, really all of them died – if you think of Jimmy (Clark) and Jochen (Rindt) and Francois (Cevert), Jo Bonnier. A long list... and I haven't had anything like that for an awfully long time." Stewart, as always, will be at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix this weekend, and so too will the woman he has been married to for 54 years. Once a familiar face on the pitwall, and on the movie screen in Roman Polanski's 1972 Monaco documentary Weekend of a Champion, she timed laps to fractions of a second but now forgets to wear a watch. "She could take down 26 racing cars on the same track at the same time on one single stopwatch. As did Betty Hill, Pat Surtees, Bruce McLaren's wife, Jochen Rindt's Nina," said Stewart. "It was Nora Tyrrell and Helen Stewart timing for the whole team, but at the same time in the race doing a lap chart for 26 cars. Here's the sharpness, a laser brain ... and then suddenly not remembering the most simple thing." Stewart said his charity, called 'Race against Dementia' (www.raceagainstdementia.com), would aim to find and fund original thinkers who might come up with solutions in a way motor racing people would understand. "I want to find an Adrian Newey in Sri Lanka, China, India, America or the UK," he said, referring to Formula One's standout designer whose cars have won titles for three different teams. "If we can find around the world those sort of people, I have to believe we are going to find a cure for this or a preventive medicine for it." — Reuters

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Car bomb kills 11 soldiers in Libya's Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Libya: A car bomb killed 11 soldiers in Libya's second city Benghazi as they held evening prayers on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, a military source said Thursday. Benghazi has been hit by repeated bombings since troops under the command of controversial General Khalifa Haftar drove Islamist fighters out of most of the city earlier this year. Haftar refuses to recognise a joint military command set by the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, saying he still takes orders from a rival administration based in the far eastern city of Tobruk. Wednesday's blast follows a car bomb targeting a security chief that killed two people on Sunday and a June 24 bombing that killed four civilians. Meanwhile, a MiG-23 fighter jet of Haftar's air force crashed in the west of Benghazi on Wednesday, killing its pilot, a spokesman said. "The crash was due to a technical fault," Ahmad al-Mismari, spokesman of the Haftar-led army command, told AFP. — AFP

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Body in suitcase in Tokyo canal identified as Chinese: Police

TOKYO: A human body found inside a suitcase floating in a Tokyo canal last month has been identified as that of a Chinese woman missing for over two years, police said Thursday. The corpse, clad in a camisole and short pants, was not badly decomposed when discovered on June 27, which local reports said indicated the woman had not been dead for long. But police were unable to confirm the identity of the body as being that of 34-year-old Yang Mei until Thursday, a police spokesman said. Yang came to Japan in September 2013 as a trainee, one of the tens of thousands of foreigners — mostly from China, Vietnam and Indonesia — who participate in the government's Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program (TTIP). A Tokyo police spokesman told AFP that Yang had been put on a missing persons watch list by police in Kyoto, western Japan. "She was working at an auto-parts plant in Kyoto but disappeared from her dormitory after being seen in its cafeteria in March 2014," the spokesman said. He added that police matched the fingerprints of the body with those of Yang from the immigration bureau. TTIP is officially described as an internship programme under which people from developing countries can learn skills at Japanese companies. But it has been criticised by rights activists as a scheme to provide cheap labour for the textile, construction, farming, manufacturing and other industries. The programme has been plagued by participants running away and going missing in Japan when no longer able to stand working conditions activists have described as "abusive" or simply seeking better wages. — AFP

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