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12:00 AM, April 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 06, 2019


TT C'ships start today

Sports Reporter

After a one-and-half year hiatus, the 38th National Table Tennis Championships gets underway from today at the Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Indoor Stadium with Bangladesh Ansar and Bangladesh Army expected to dominate the six-day meet.

The Bangladesh Table Tennis Federation (BTTF) this time inserted a new law that each team must have a player from their own district or division in the three-member squad for team events. Each district or division is allowed to rope in two players from beyond their respective district or division.

However, the service teams are not bound by the law and usually form their squads with top players and the title contenders this time are also confined to three service teams -- Bangladesh Ansar, Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Biman.

Bangladesh Ansar clinched four titles out of seven -- men's singles, doubles, team, women's singles, doubles, team and mixed doubles -- while the rest went to Bangladesh Army in the last edition.

Some 260 players from 44 men's teams and 13 women's teams are expected to vie in seven events. The return of Dhaka University is also a new attraction for the championships, sponsored by Wisdom Attire and co-sponsored by Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).    

Sevilla down Alaves to move back into contention


Goals from Roque Mesa and Pablo Sarabia lifted Sevilla back into European contention on Thursday with a crucial 2-0 win over Alaves.

The Basque side moved up from seventh to sixth, displacing Alaves to go level on points with fifth-placed Valencia who downed Real Madrid 24 hours earlier.

Mesa put Sevilla into a 41st minute lead with a perfectly weighted rising shot from the right that dipped over keeper Fernando Pacheco and into the far corner of the net.

With Alaves struggling to make an impact the home side doubled their advantage when Sarabia's skimming shot flashed past the hapless Pacheco and into an empty net with 10 minutes remaining.

For Sevilla this was a vital three points after Valencia had inflicted Zinedine Zidane's first defeat since returning as Real boss on Wednesday.                

Pele 'improving' in Paris hospital


Brazilian football legend Pele is "improving" after being hospitalised in Paris for a urinary infection, his spokesman said Thursday, although it was not clear when he would be released.

The 78-year-old three-time World Cup winner was admitted for treatment on Wednesday and his entourage had expressed hope he would be out within two days.

"Everything is under control, always improving," the spokesman confirmed in a WhatsApp message to AFP.

Pele, who won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, had been in Paris for a promotional appearance alongside France star Kylian Mbappe.

The declining health of the player known as 'O Rei' has been a cause for concern in recent times, and the planned meeting with Mbappe had already been postponed last November.        

Simeone demands Atletico show true colours against Barca


Diego Simeone called on his Atletico Madrid side to show their true colours when they face La Liga leaders Barcelona on Saturday in a crucial title clash.

Barcelona hold an eight-point lead over second-placed Atletico, which would be reduced to five if the visitors can win at the Nou Camp.

Atletico, however, have never beaten the Catalans in the top flight since Simeone took charge in December 2011.

"That we've never won at the Nou Camp (actually) makes me very optimistic," Simeone told reporters on Friday.           

Barca want to keep Messi till end


Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has said he plans to offer Lionel Messi a new contract in the hope the Argentinian will stay at the club his whole career.

Messi's current deal runs until 2021, the same year he turns 34, but the Argentinian has been in brilliant form again this season.

He has 42 goals for club and country while his 32 scored in La Liga have propelled Barca to within touching distance of their fourth league title in five years.

"We would like to renew his contract, that's the idea," Bartomeu told ESPN in an interview published on Friday.  "I believe he still has many years in front of him and in the coming months we will sit down with him so that he has many more years at Barcelona."

Messi joined Barcelona's academy aged 13 and is one of the few players left from Pep Guardiola's iconic team that won the treble in 2009.   

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