FARRAH MAFFAI St. John Vianney senior Cheri Wittlieb shoots over RBC’s Danielle Storz during the Lancers’ 45-42 home win on Friday night in Holmdel. What better way to pay tribute to the late, great Audrey Gomez than to beat Red Bank Catholic in a battle of the Shore’s two most prolific girls’ basketball programs? That was the task at hand for the St. John Vianney girls basketball team on Friday night as it played host to the Caseys, following an emotional tribute to the Shore Conference’s greatest girls basketball player. At 6 p.m. on Friday, the Lancers’ gymnasium in Holmdel was filled to capacity with high school basketball fans gathered to pay homage to a legend. When footage of Gomez, who was murdered in August, was shown on a big screen, it provided a somber reminder of what she accomplished while at St. John Vianney. She was the cornerstone of what has become the state’s elite girls basketball program. As more and more friends, teammates and fans have come forward in the last few months to share their memories of Gomez, it has become clear that her accomplishments on the court were never as breathtaking as her influence off it. She has been called the Shore’s Michael Jordan of girls basketball, a player whose talents were simply limitless and whose impact on the local hoops scene is still being felt nearly a decade since she left New Jersey to play at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and later at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. But it was the 28-year-old Audrey Gomez the person who was memorialized on Friday, and for everyone in attendance, the respectful ceremony should help to cement the many memories she provided over the course of both her brilliant career at SJV, and her brilliant life as a loving daughter, sister, teammate, friend and, for many of the current players, idol. When the ceremony had ended, it was up to the current Vianney players and their RBC counterparts to do their part to preserve what Gomez had helped create, namely one of the state’s greatest basketball rivalries. The Caseys came out firing, scoring the game’s first five points on baskets from Erin Cusmano and Alisa Kresge. RBC (7-2), who entered the game with a rare five-game winning streak over Vianney, showed early that it was there to win. Vianney answered back, and at the end of the first quarter the Lancers had jumped out to a 16-10 lead. By halftime that lead had jumped to 26-18, although Vianney was not playing with the crispness that head coach Nick Russo has seen from his team so far this year. In the third quarter, RBC closed the gap a bit with its aggressive play, although it didn’t reflect in the score, with Vianney outscoring RBC 13-12 to put the game at 39-30 entering the final quarter. The fourth quarter marked a return to the type of game we’ve come to expect from these teams. Some untimely problems at the free-throw stripe for Vianney allowed RBC to stick around, and when Kresge and Heather Westrol hit a pair of three-pointers in the game’s closing minutes, RBC found itself within striking distance, and was poised to steal the game from the 6-1 Lancers. On a night when Vianney’s scoring leader, Cheri Wittlieb, was struggling with her shot, a freshman point guard introduced herself to this storied rivalry with style, consistently making her way to the foul line where her four successful free throws helped ice the game. Shantel Brown’s flashy all-around play seemed fitting on this night, when the greatest of all St. John Vianney players had been memorialized. When it was over, the Lancers held on for a 45-42 win, and gave the home team fans something to cheer about. A night that began with tears in Holmdel ended in celebration. And St. John Vianney proved once again that it is among the state’s best teams — which is exactly where it’s been since the very first day Audrey Gomez stepped on the court in a Lancer uniform. By doug mckenzie Staff Writer
Powerhouses in unfamiliar positions as SCT begins CBA, SJV enter conference tourney jerry woLkowitz Monmouth University-bound Chris Kenny, shown here in an earlier game against Freehold Township, and his CBA teammates will need step up their play if they hope to maintain their status as the Shore Conference’s top boys’ basketball team. The Colts will look to begin their defense of their Shore Conference Tournament title on Friday, when they face the winner of tonight’s St. Rose/RBC match-up. as No. 2 seeds By doug mckenzie Staff Writer There’s something different about this year’s Shore Conference basketball tournament. Usually around this time of year the argument is over which teams have the best shot at knocking off the top seeds, usually made up of squads from the local parochial schools who have established themselves as the elite programs of the Shore’s basketball scene. But this year the teams that are normally penciled into the No. 1 spots for the SCT when the season begins are finding themselves in unfamiliar positions. This year the Shore’s perennial top dogs have become underdogs as a pair of talented public school teams have played their way to the top spots in the brackets. On the boys’ side, the Colts of Christian Brothers Academy, Middletown, enter this year’s tournament as the No. 2 seed, despite the fact that they’ve won the last two, and six of the last nine, titles. However, this year it is the Neptune Scarlet Fliers, led by their dynamic backcourt duo of Taquan Dean and Terrance Todd, who have earned the top spot, primarily because they’ve already beaten the Colts twice this season. In their most recent meeting last Thursday in Neptune, it was the Terrance Todd show as the lightning-fast point guard torched CBA for 17 points in front of a raucous hometown crowd, leading his squad to a 57-47 win and the Class A North title. After defeating CBA for a second time, with both wins coming in convincing fashion, Neptune is the favorite to win the title, its first since 1998. Coaches always tell you that it’s difficult to beat a solid team three times in one season. CBA did it to the Fliers last year. Dean and company are looking to return the favor this time around, although they are being careful not to overlook anyone along the way. In order to get to the finals, Neptune will likely have to beat some quality teams. A solid Lakewood team got the No. 5 seed and will likely face fourth-seeded Monmouth Regional in the quarterfinal round. Monmouth is a very dangerous team at 16-3, and it raised eyebrows throughout the Shore when it nearly knocked off the state’s top-ranked team, St. Anthony’s of Jersey City, last month. The Golden Falcons have proven that they can play with anyone in the Shore and are among the leading candidates to pull off an upset of a top team. Another local team that could make some noise is Hazlet’s Raritan Rockets, who have earned the 13th seed and will face 20th-seeded Central Regional in tonight’s preliminary round. A win over Central will earn them a shot at Monmouth in the next round. The 12th-seeded Holmdel Hornets are another team that can be dangerous in SCT play. Holmdel, which faces No. 21 seed Rumson-Fair Haven tonight in its opening round game, is hoping for a shot at Lakewood. Both the Rockets (13-6) and the Hornets (13-7) are in the midst of successful years and are looking for solid showings in the SCT to propel them as they head into state tournament play. On the other side of the bracket, CBA will await the winner of tonight’s St. Rose/Red Bank Catholic game, while seventh-seeded Long Branch, an athletic team that could give CBA a scare, awaits the winner of the Red Bank Regional/Toms River North matchup. Sixth-seeded Middletown North will face the winner of tonight’s Jackson/ Mater Dei game in what could be an interesting second-round game. The Lions are having an excellent season, with four of their five losses coming to Neptune and CBA, and could be a candidate to knock off a top seed. They will meet CBA in the semifinals if they’re able to get by No. 3 seed Manasquan in the quarterfinals. The Lions won’t be looking past their first game, particularly if the 11th-seeded Seraphs get by Jackson. Mater Dei has quietly built a 14-4 record, and has raised some eyebrows with its solid play. When it’s all said and done, nobody would be surprised to see Neptune and CBA meet for a third time with the SCT title on the line. Neptune has been waiting since last season to avenge its SCT final loss to the Colts, and would undoubtedly be disappointed if the Colts were knocked off before the finals. Once in a while, CBA loses an SCT final, but it almost always makes it there. On the girls’ side of play, both St. John Vianney of Holmdel and Red Bank Catholic face a task similar to CBA’s. The two teams, who have become accustomed to battling with each other for the Shore’s top spot, are both battling for a chance to face the No. 1 squad, the Marlboro Mustangs. Marlboro earned the No. 1 seed by virtue of its two-point win over Vianney two weeks ago. However, the close outcome may have brought the high-flying Mustangs back to earth a little in the sense that, entering the game, they were expecting to have an easier time with the Lady Lancers. Vianney head coach Nick Russo’s squad put a scare into the ’Stangs and served notice that if and when these two teams meet again, Marlboro had best not take anything for granted. Marlboro will await the winner of tonight’s Jackson/Monmouth Regional preliminary round game, while Vianney awaits the winner of the Monsignor Donovan/Middletown South matchup. With Marlboro and Vianney securing the top two spots, Chrissy Fisher and the Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs crept into the No. 3 seed. Rumson is a very dangerous club and would like nothing more than to get another shot at Marlboro after getting blown out in its first meeting of the year. Rumson will face the winner of tonight’s Raritan/Point Boro game. Meanwhile, RBC earned the No. 4 seed and will face the winner of tonight’s Colts Neck/Shore game. The Caseys have come back to the pack this year with the graduation of both Jessica DePalo and Brooke Tomovich, but remain a dangerous club. With wins in their first two games, they will face the daunting task of knocking off Marlboro in the semifinals. Other local teams who will look to make some noise in SCT play include 11th-seeded Middletown North and seventh-seeded Freehold Township. The Lions will face sixth-seeded St. Rose of Belmar on Friday, while Township faces 10th-seeded Toms River East. The gap between the top three girls’ teams in the Shore and the rest of the pack is big. The Marlboro girls have been nearly unbeatable in Shore Conference play, and have Saturday’s loss to Our Lady of Lourdes, N.Y., fresh on their minds. They are not likely to slip up on their way to the finals. Vianney is also playing its best ball of the year and is eager to get another shot at the Mustangs. The Bulldogs are lying in the wings, waiting for their chance to pull off an upset. With the University of Maryland-bound Fisher in the paint, the Bulldogs are a certain candidate to do just that. Look for Marlboro and Vianney to make their seeds hold true once again. They are the two best girls’ teams in the Shore, and possibly the state. When they played that classic game two weeks ago, they gave the impression that they’d be meeting again. The SCT seems like the inevitable venue for that rematch. Don’t discount the possibility of an upset changing the entire scope of the tournament on either the boys’ or girls’ sides of the bracket. Anything can happen in SCT play, particularly this season, when something felt different from the very beginning.
The Matawan-Aberdeen Recreation Volleyball League coordinates two coed community leagues which play at the Matawan Ave Middle School in Cliffwood, Tuesday evenings (6-10 p.m.). Tryouts will be held 6:30-9 p.m. at the school gym Sept. 10 for the B1 (intermediate/advanced) league and again Sept. 11 for the B2 (novice/intermediate) league. Space is limited. Visit the Web site for information about the leagues, tryouts, and to register at http://www.njvb.com/clubs/hovb/. For any questions, contact Michael Mills (Email: [email protected]) or Joe Arias (732) 817-5004; e-mail [email protected] The 22nd annual Bruce Berritt 5K Memorial Race Against Hunger was held Aug. 14 in Battlefield State Park, Manalapan. The leading male runner was Michael Dulong of Verona in a time of 18:16, followed by Bill Winterbottom of Jackson in 19:18, and Tom Schaefer of Keansburg in 19:57. Age group winners for the males were: Under 15: Thomas Golden, Freehold 22:04; 15-19: Manny Colon, East Rutherford 20:44; 20-24: Greg Yaecker, Freehold 20:19; 25-29: Josh Epstein, Manalapan 21:10; 30-34: Al Musmanno, Metuchen 22:13; 35-39: Jim French, Manalapan 20:01; 40-44: Mark Leary, Roselle Park 20:18; 45-49: John Palladino, Manalapan 21:07; 50-54: Shelly Ludwig, Marlboro 21:41; 55-59: John Kopko, Colts Neck 22:24; 60-64: Stan Edelson, Wayside 23:25; 65-69: Ralph Garfield, Englishtown 22:30; 70-over: Jim Robbins, Eatontown 31:15. Top Race Walker: Richard Benthuysen, Monmouth Beach 30:00. The winning female runner was Sue Patla from Matawan in a time of 22:23, followed by Robin Domanski of Manalapan in 22:38, and Deb Laurie of Morganville in 22:45. Age group winners for the females were: Under 15: Ashley Higginson, Marlboro 22:53; 15-19: Kerri Walker, Hamilton 22:57; 20-24: Kelly McCarthy, Howell 26:43; 25-29: Liz Spector, Manalapan 23:02; 30-34: Krista Baker, Jackson 26:30; 35-39: Laura Weiss, Freehold 25:57; 40-44: Julie Davidson, New York 27:09; 45-49: Kathy Craven, Freehold 26:30; 60-64: Michele Telesca, Colts Neck 28:03. Top Race Walker: Joan Venslavsky, Robbinsville 32:48. The Race Against Hunger is the oldest continuously run race in Western Monmouth County and raises funds for Open Door Food Pantry in Freehold which feeds the hungry in the community. Freehold Township’s Kristopher Urbano and Raritan High School’s Gregory Casha will be playing on Team New Jersey at the Blue-Grey Baseball Classic held this week at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Urbano and Casha were chosen to play for Team New Jersey at tryouts in June at St. John’s University, in Queens, N.Y. The Baseball Classic is a way for select players from across the country to showcase their talents before college coaches and major league scouts. Urbano will be a senior at Christian Brothers Academy, where he plays outfield/pitcher for the Colts. Casha will be a senior at Raritan.
CBA wins team title BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, Raritan’s Mike Bucceheri looks good on take-off, but has a tough landing while competing in the long jump at Saturday’s Monmouth County Championships in Brick. Below, Middletown South’s Knowshon Moreno wins the 100–meter dash, one of three gold medals he won on the day. Track and field may not be Knowshon Moreno’s No. 1 sport, but don’t tell that to the competition. The Middletown South sprinter/jumper captured three titles at the Monmouth County Track and Field Championships, held Thursday and Saturday at Brick Township High School. Moreno outlasted Monmouth Regional’s Charles Cox in one of the meet’s most anticipated races, the boys 100-meter dash. Cox, a sophomore, had beaten Moreno in a dual meet, and Saturday was the rematch. “I knew he’d push me the whole way,” Moreno said. “I knew he would be there.” With neither sprinter gaining an edge out of the blocks, at 50 meters the runners were side by side. They stayed the way until the final meters, where Moreno’s strength prevailed as Cox tied up ever so slightly, but enough to the give the soaring Eagle the edge on the line. “I got out of the blocks pretty good,” Moreno said. “From there it was a matter of holding the momentum and speed.” Moreno stopped the clock in 11.1 to win his first country sprint crown. Cox was second in the same time. Track and field may help Moreno get faster and stronger for football, but he pointed out that it is still a competition. “Basically, it’s about competition,” he said. “You want to compete and you want to do your best.” Moreno collected his first gold medal on Thursday when he had another athlete push him, Manalapan’s Adam Hegel, in the triple jump. With just one round of jumps remaining, the Brave was in the lead at 42-9. But Moreno rose to the occasion and took the championship away from Hegel with a 43-8 1/2 effort. “I had to do something on my last jump,” he said. After his 100-meter win Saturday, Moreno went to the long jump and picked up his third title of the championship. He won his second straight title with a jump of 21-1 1/2. Moreno wasn’t the only multiwinner at the county championships. Peter Glackin, following in the footsteps of his brother Nat Glackin, helped Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) claim another team championship with a pair of wins. Nat Glackin, who is now running for Georgetown, was a 400 intermediate hurdles and 800 specialist for the Colts. Peter Glackin won both Saturday. He began his big day with a come-from-behind win in the 800 (1:57.27). He came back later to win the demanding 400 hurdles by more than a second in 55.51. Glackin’s day was not done as he teamed up with Brandon Leniart, Brandon Pierson and David McLaughlin to win the 1,600-meter relay in 3:25.03. CBA totaled 76 points to outdistance runner-up Middletown South (46). Matawan’s Matt Bradley won the pole vault at 14-0. The senior took a crack 14-7 to top the conference record of 14-6 set last year by Adam Sarafian, of Ocean Township. Also collecting gold was Middletown North’s Tom Rice, who was the only jumper at 6-6. Ever since the late Bob Roggy put Holmdel on the national map as an NCAA champion and American record holder in the javelin, the spear has been a Hornet tradition. Keven Waldron continued the tradition by winning the javelin with a 171-11 mark. Glackin and Moreno were named the meet’s Most Outstanding Track and Most Outstanding Field performers. On the girls’ side, Middletown South’s Julianne Toto is at the point where she is breaking her own records. The 2005 Penn Relays high school champion cleared 12-0 to break her 2004 meet record of 11-0. Toto, a senior, was the only vault over 10-0. The meet record earned Toto Most Outstanding Field Performer honors. Matawan had a pair of winners in the field. Zakeyan Pitts won the javelin 124-3 and Donna Alexander won the triple jump in a meet record 35-10. She topped by 1 foot the record set last year by Howell’s Devin Barnett. Ocean Township and its fleet sprinters, led by four-time champion Tiffany Grant, was the girls’ team champion with 72 points. Matawan had the best local finish in fourth place (36). The Shore Conference Championships are up next this weekend at Brick Township. The meet will be held on Friday and Saturday.
The Holmdel High School baseball team narrowly missed qualifying for the NJSIAANorth Jersey 2 Group III playoffs last year, and coach Ed Reckage is intent on getting in this time around. The Hornets were sitting at .500 with two games remaining before the cutoff last year.Unfortunately,Holmdel dropped a pair of one-run decisions to Middletown North andManalapan, and failed to qualify for the tourney.Reckage’s teamended the campaign at 9-14. “We lost a lot of close games last season and it cost us,” the veteran coach said. “This year we really have to keep our focus as a team and avoid giving teams extra outs or walks or any other freebies. They come back to bite you. Another thing: we can’t be careless on the bases. That cost us, too.We really want to get back into the state and Shore Conference tournaments. To do that, we have to play smart consistently.” Another goal is to be a contender in the conference’s Class A Central division. The Hornets get their first crack at divisional competition on April 1 when Holmdel visits Red Bank Regional. Two nonconference games follow against Spotswood and Wall before the Hornets meet Rumson-Fair Haven onApril 10 and RBC onApril 12. Holmdel has an ace hurler in hardthrowing Ian Wladika. The junior, who can also throwa knuckleball, posted a 4-4 ledger a year ago with a 2.66 ERA. Reckage is looking to find a second and third starter and expects another junior, Jean-Luc Orlando, to fill one of those holes. Orlando went 1-3 last year. For leadership, Holmdel is looking to fill the bill with its three captains: Chris Monfasani, Joe Solfaro and Ryan Garber. Monfasani returns to left field and the lead-off spot in the Hornets’ batting order, where he hit .355. The speedy senior has a good eye at the plate and showed speed on the base paths, stealing 10 bases in 13 tries. The strong-armed Solfaro is likely toman the hot corner, but may also play shortstop. He’s coming off a .286 showing at the plate. Garber returns to second base, where he played solid defense, and Reckage said he expects an increased offensive contribution this spring. Other returning seniors include Glenn Grainger, who started in center field last year; first baseman BrianAmabile and designated hitterMatt DiMaso. Junior JayHyland will play in the outfield in addition to occasional duty at first base, and versatile Rob Palermo, another junior,moves up from the junior varsity to fill the utility role. Reckage will also start a pair of sophomores: catcher Paul Searles, who made a good impression a year ago, and hard-hitting Trevor Sackawitch,who can play the outfield or third base. Thus far,Holmdel has played four scrimmages and is 2-2 as Reckage experiments by using players at different positions. “I’ve been pretty pleased so far,” the coach said. “These kids really get after it andwork hard – and I like our leaders. We’re still working on some things, but they’re coming along nicely.” BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer
Matawan track and field athletes feasted on the Shore Conference Divisional Championships. The Huskies won eight of the 11 events in the A Central boys competition that was held on Jan. 2 at the John Bennett Indoor Complex in Toms River. The Huskies displayed their incredible balance and depth by picking up wins in all the track and field disciplines. In the sprints, Brian Ramcheran won the 400 (53.6) and helped the Huskies capture the 4×400 relay (3:41.50). Kyle Robinson was a double-winner for Matawan. He took the 55-meter hurdles (7.60) and won the high jump (6-0). Back on the track, Sean Donohue also had a pair of wins in the distance races. He was first in the 1,600 (4:49.60) and the 3,200 (10:09.50). Pole-vaulter Jon Bartlett soared 13-0 to win his event, and Derek Garland won the shot put with a throw of 48-1. In two of the three events Matawan didn’t win, it got second-place finishes. Robinson was runner-up in the 55-meter dash (6.90), and Kyle Clonan (2:06.30) finished behind Red Bank Catholic’s Kevin Byrne in a fast 800 (1:58.70). The Huskie girls were not left out as Mackenzie Chambers won the 55-meter dash (7.26). St. John Vianney had two winners in A Central in sprinter Jessica Barnes, who got to the line first in the 200 in 27.40 and in the 800 where Chelsea Delaney beat the field in 2:29.80. Hanafy Hadeer and Angela Newman collected wins for the Raritan girls. Hadeer won the 55 hurdles (9.20) and Newman topped the shot putters, reaching 32-10. In A North, Christian Brothers Academy’s Mark Lee took the 1,600 in 4:35.0 and high jumper Jake Bartlett was first clearing 6-3. Middletown North’s Mark Untisz won the pole vault by negotiating 12-0. The Lions’ Justine Berger won the girls 800 (2:31.99). Over in B Central, Mater Dei’s Ciara Chaly won the girls high jump (5-0). Friday, indoor track and field action returns to the Bennett Complex for the Monmouth County Relays.
By Neil MaidmentMuch-fancied Belgium needed extra time to crack heroic United States goalkeeper Tim Howard in a thrilling 2-1 extra-time victory on Tuesday that set up a World Cup quarter-final clash with Argentina.The Belgians had dominated the first 90 minutes but a barrage of efforts were thwarted by an inspired Howard, whose resistance was finally broken in the 93rd minute when midfielder Kevin De Bruyne buried an angled shot from seven metres.In a pulsating extra time, substitute striker Romelu Lukaku powered home a second in the 105th minute after a clever De Bruyne pass, before Julian Green’s neat volley ensured a tense finish in which Clint Dempsey almost sneaked an equaliser.“We had about 15 chances, we were controlling the game I think it is largely deserved even though at the end we conceded one,” Belgium coach Marc Wilmots told reporters.“My players reached their limits to qualify. I said fresh legs would be important today and that is how it was. Now the whole of Belgium can celebrate.”Wilmots’s side had arrived at the Fonte Nova arena with three successive wins in Brazil, although the team’s lacklustre performances had raised doubts about their ability to go deep into the tournament.Much sharper attacking intent against the U.S. would have pleased their fans, although congratulations would have turned to recriminations had U.S. substitute Chris Wondolowski not horribly skewed wide from five metres in the last seconds of normal time.“It was real drama, a thriller, we had enough possibilities to equalise the game or even put it away earlier,” said U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann, whose side had seen off Ghana and Portugal to qualify for the last 16.“It was a game that just went to the extreme.”LOW DRIVEIn a sign of things to come, striker Divock Origi was in on goal inside 40 seconds, only to see his low drive parried away by Howard and more chances stacked up as the U.S. were forced to set up camp outside their own box and look for quick breaks.The lively De Bruyne should have done better after 23 minutes having found space in the box, while Clint Dempsey’s tame volley was the Americans’ only chance of the first half.The Belgian onslaught cranked up a gear after the break with the scrambling U.S. defence grateful to see Howard save efforts by Dries Mertens and Jan Vertonghen before Origi’s header hit the crossbar.A Kevin Mirallas run and shot, two more stinging Origi drives and a Vincent Kompany effort were all dealt with by Howard, who faced 38 attempts on his goal during the game.With extra time moments away, Wondolowski missed a glorious chance that the Americans would come to rue.All Belgium’s goals in Brazil had been scored after the 70th-minute mark and their persistence finally paid off in extra time when De Bruyne was given time and space to turn and fire home after Lukaku raced down the right wing to cross.The midfielder soon returned the favour, teeing up the frontman to power home a second and spark a thrilling finale.Roared on by deafening chants of ‘USA’, Klinsmann’s side summoned the energy to raise American hopes.Midfielder Green met a delicately chipped Michael Bradley pass to volley home two minutes later and Dempsey almost forced penalties, only for his clever set-piece effort to be foiled by Thibaut Courtois.“It was heart-breaking. We left it all out there but we lost to a really good team. It hurts but hats off to Belgium they were fantastic,” Howard said.“Sometimes when you give your best it doesn’t come off.”The win sealed Belgium’s first World Cup quarter-final appearance since 1986 and they will next play Argentina on Saturday.
By Brian HomewoodThe 2022 World Cup in Qatar is to be played in November and December and the final will be held on December 18, FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio said on Thursday.De Gregorio told reporters the decision was made by the executive committee of football’s ruling body FIFA following a recommendation by a task force that was set up specifically to discuss the issue.He added the starting date had yet to be decided but the intention was the tournament would last four weeks.“I can confirm the executive committee today, based on the proposal of the task force…decided that, yes, we are going to play in November and December and, yes, the final is going to be played on December 18,” De Gregorio said at FIFA headquarters.“It’s a Sunday and it’s also the national day of Qatar and, in principle, we try to play in 28 days. Next steps will be to have different talks especially related to the match calendar.”The announcement ended more than four years of indecision.Qatar was awarded the 2022 finals in December 2010 on the basis it would take place in the summer in air-conditioned stadiums.But within days Franz Beckenbauer, an executive committee member at the time, and UEFA president Michel Platini suggested a winter World Cup would be possible.The decision could set FIFA on a collision course with the European clubs who had suggested staging the tournament in May.The European Clubs Association (ECA), which represents more than 200 teams, previously said they would demand compensation for having to alter the domestic season.
Louis van Gaal’s position in the Old Trafford hot seat looked even more precarious as Stoke City swept Manchester United aside in a comfortable 2-0 victory to kickstart a busy day of Premier League holiday action on Saturday.Goals from Stoke forwards Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic punished United for a dreadful start at a blustery Britannia Stadium and although the visitors improved in the second half they could not repair the damage.Dutchman Van Gaal has overseen a seven-match winless run in which United have been eliminated from the Champions League and fallen out of the Premier League’s top four.Having stormed angrily out of his pre-match news conference on Wednesday, Van Gaal will now face further questions about his future in charge of England’s record 20-times league champions.United, who slipped down to sixth in the table, face Chelsea at home on Monday.Stoke’s opener after 19 minutes was an embarrassing moment for Dutch winger Memphis Depay, one of numerous expensive signings made by Van Gaal.Attempting to knock the ball back to his goalkeeper David de Gea with a diving header, Memphis only succeeded in gifting the ball to Glen Johnson who crossed for Bojan to stab home.United were stunned six minutes later when Bojan’s free kick was blocked and Arnautovic thundered a shot past De Gea.England striker Wayne Rooney, left on the bench by Van Gaal in the first half, spiced up United’s attack after the break but Marouane Fellaini wasted their best chance when he shot straight at Stoke keeper Jack Butland from close range.
The teams were deadlocked at 4-all after 40 minutes as Leeds threw an adventurous brand of football at the NRL champions but the Cowboys got pumped up for the season ahead by showing the type of patience that only comes with a premiership victory.The Cowboys scored 34 unanswered points in the second half which erupted nine minutes from full-time when Leeds prop Mitch Garbutt was sent off for punching James Tamou, Tamou himself sin-binned for a slap to the face of Keith Galloway that sparked the hostilities.The final scoreline was somewhat of an unfair reflection of what was a gripping contest for the first 40 minutes, the Leeds crowd taken out of the equation when North Queensland scored from the opening set of the second half.”It was tit for tat there going set for set and we made a few errors that put us under the pump but they’re a quality side, Leeds,” said Johnathan Thurston, was awarded the Graham Murray Medal as man of the match.”They’ve been at the top of the table for a number of years and we knew they were going to come at us hard which they did and we ended up controlling the ball in the second half and got some points.”It’s a good reward for last year and couldn’t be prouder of the boys. They’ve worked extremely hard the last couple of years and they deserve everything they get.”I see the sacrifices they make week in and week out and how hard they train so they deserve everything they get.”We’re a special bunch of guys now and we’ve achieved something special and we’re the world club champions now so they should be proud.”After the Roosters and Broncos had dished out floggings in the first two matches of the World Club Series, Leeds ensured the World Club Challenge will continue into the future with a spirited display that gave the boisterous home crowd plenty to cheer about.With a strong wind at their backs they kept the Cowboys to 4-all at half-time but a mistake from Ash Handley in trying to take a Johnathan Thurston bomb at the end of the first set handed the NRL champions an easy four-pointer to Kane Linnett and from that point they were never headed.Winger Kyle Feldt – who discarded Jordan Lilley with a brutal let-hand fend moments earlier – brushed aside England Test winger Ryan Hall to score in the 48th minute and Lachlan Coote grabbed his side’s fourth when he juggled a Thurston grubber kick that ricocheted off the legs of a Leeds defender close to the line.Having had the final hand in three of the first four tries Thurston claimed one for himself when he spun out of a tackle and dived over in the 65th minute, Justin O’Neill sliced through four minutes later and grabbed a second four minutes from full-time to close out a 34-point victory.With a vastly different looking team to that which swept all before them in the Super League in 2015 Leeds chanced their hand from the opening set of the game, former Manly forward Adam Cuthbertson with an audacious offload in the very first tackle as they looked to unsettle the Cowboys defence.Having created history by naming the same 17 that won the grand final – the first team in the history of the World Club Challenge to do so – the Cowboys were greeted not only by a willing Leeds team but driving rain and a stiff wind in the first 40 minutes.On the back of their first penalty of the game Thurston laid on the opening try of the game for Michael Morgan, an aggressive decoy run by Ethan Lowe creating space on the outside for Morgan to slice through and score wide out in the 22nd minute.Cuthbertson’s insistence on never dying with the football in his grasp eventually paid dividends in the 32nd minute when he crashed into two Cowboys defenders close to the line and then popped a pass back to Leeds captain Rob Burrow who dived over to level the scores but that would be the only cause for celebration for the home side.James Tamou (127m) and Ben Hannant (152m) were outstanding up front for the Cowboys, Coote was faultless in difficult conditions and Thurston picked up where he left off in 2015 with a classy display that sparked the majority of North Queensland’s points.North Queensland Cowboys 38 (Justin O’Neill 2, Michael Morgan, Kane Linnett, Kyle Feldt, Lachlan Coote, Johnathan Thurston tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 goals) def. Leeds Rhinos 4(Rob Burrow try) at Headingley Stadium. Penalties: 12-5 Leeds. Half-time: 4-all. Graham Murray Medal: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys). Sent off: Mitchell Garbutt (Leeds Rhinos). Sin bin: James Tamou (Cowboys).