Tag Archives: occasion

Brad Friedel believes Tottenham"s tough run in will hlep their chance to qualify for the Champions League

Spurs' tough schedule will help their Champions League bid, says Friedel

By
Laura Williamson

PUBLISHED:

21:45 GMT, 31 March 2013

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UPDATED:

00:57 GMT, 1 April 2013

Brad Friedel believes Tottenham’s tough April schedule will benefit their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Spurs moved into third place with their 2-1 win at Swansea on Saturday but must play Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City in the next three weeks, as well as a two-leg Europa League quarter-final against FC Basel.

Friedel, though, believes his side rise to the occasion against teams in the top half of the table. Home draws against the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Norwich and Stoke, as well as defeats by Wigan and Fulham, have, after all, stunted Tottenham’s progress this season.

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Tough schedule: Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel believes Tottenham's players will rise to the challenge in the run in

Tough schedule: Brad Friedel believes Tottenham's players will rise to the challenge in the run in

The goalkeeper said: ‘We have some tough Premier League games coming up and I think that is much better for us. The bigger the game, the more the players will step up to the plate.

‘It might be nervy for the people who think about it and watch it but in-house we know what we want to do. There are no nerves hanging around the training ground.’

On fire: Gareth Bale (right) scores with a stunning strike against Swansea

On fire: Gareth Bale (right) scores with a stunning strike against Swansea

This was a vital win for Andre Villas-Boas’ side although it took a last-minute tackle from Gareth Bale to prevent Nathan Dyer scoring an equaliser after Michu led a spirited Swansea fight-back in the second half. A loss — or even a draw after establishing a 2-0 lead with two stunning goals from Jan Vertonghen and Bale inside 21 minutes — and Friedel admitted Tottenham’s Champions League hopes could have been over.

The goalkeeper, 41, started his first Premier League game since November to allow Hugo Lloris to protect a slight knee injury he sustained on international duty with France. Friedel will play again against Basel on Thursday, but Lloris is expected to resume training on Monday.

Friedel said: ‘If we had given away a two-goal lead, psychologically it would have hurt. There would have been no denying that. It was very important that we won today (Saturday).

Vital: The win over Swansea was an important three points for Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas

Vital: The win over Swansea was an important three points for Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas

‘It was a massive three points. The week we had before the international break where we had the three losses (against Liverpool, Inter Milan and Fulham) meant this was a huge, huge win for us. To top it off Chelsea lost which makes it an even better weekend.’

Bale added: ‘It was important for us to get a win because it was important to stop the rot and try and kick on and make our season as good as possible. It was a great result for us today so hopefully we can keep this run going now. We’re still in the running for our objectives and hopefully we can fulfil them.’

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Sergio Ramos to make 100th Spain cap in World Cup qualifier against Finland

There's a lot of love in the Spanish camp as Ramos prepares for 100th cap against Finland

), World Cup (2010)

Caps: 99

Goals: 8

Debut:Spain 3-0 China, 26 March 2005

In another photo tweeted by Arsenal's
Santi Cazorla, Ramos is shown to be particularly affectionate to
Chelsea's Juan Mata in rubbing his knee.

The reality could well be, however, that the defender is simply trying to ensure his team-mates are relaxed and happy so that they can secure victory on such a big personal occasion.

'I feel great pride and responsibility as it is difficult to achieve at my age but I made my debut when I was very young and have had coaches who have trusted in me,' Ramos told AS earlier this week.

'It's a record that I am proud of. I am 26 and am happy to have achieved so much so young.'

Pucker up: Ramos showed where his heart lies

Pucker up: Ramos showed where his heart lies

Close control: Ramos shows why he is so valued by the national team

Close control: Ramos shows why he is so valued by the national team

Kissing again Ramos really is a warm chap

Kissing again Ramos really is a warm chap

Competitive streak: The defender pursues the talented David Silva in training

Competitive streak: The defender pursues the talented David Silva in training

Fernando Torres jeered by Chelsea fans for the first time

Torres has had 100 chances at Chelsea… and now the fans are finally giving up on him

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

09:49 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

09:57 GMT, 10 January 2013

Fernando Torres’ dismal performance against Swansea on Wednesday night was a first for the striker.

Not his first shambolic showing in a Chelsea shirt, by any means, but the first time the crowd at Stamford Bridge treated his display with the respect it deserved.

Or lack of, rather, with first cheers going around the ground when the fourth official held up his No 9 in red on the electronic board, and then jeers as the striker made his way from the field with as much vigour as he had put in at any other point of the night.

Turning: Fernando Torres was booed by sections of the Chelsea fans and cheered when he was substituted

Turning: Fernando Torres was booed by sections of the Chelsea fans and cheered when he was substituted

Of course, many Chelsea fans have kept this view on the Spaniard for quite some time.

This, though, is the first occasion, on his 100th appearance for the club, on which the sentiment has been so widely displayed.

But why have Chelsea fans drawn a line under this display, rather than any of the others

Time perhaps – anybody’s patience will wear thin at some point. Perhaps it is because he is so fond of the widely disliked manager, Rafael Benitez (and the feeling is mutual).

Struggling: Torres fails to make an impact against Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi final first leg

Struggling: Torres fails to make an impact against Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi final first leg

Benitez was brought to Chelsea to try and get the best out of Torres, but after an initial goal-rush, he is still putting in lethargic, often hopeless performances. No spirit, no guts.

All of those may be factors, but really, the solution to the question – and much of Chelsea’s woes – lay on the other half of that electronic board, in bright green. The No 29.

Demba Ba entered the fray, making his home debut, with just 10 minutes remaining.

He proceded to cause havoc in Swansea’s penalty area, scoring a goal which was harshly ruled out for offside, being booked unfairly for a dive, and connecting with two headers which went close.

On his knees: Torres has failed to live up to the 50m transfer fee

On his knees: Torres has failed to live up to the 50m transfer fee

His contribution in those 10 minutes was many times that of Torres’s, in the previous 80.

Finally Chelsea have an alternative to Torres up front. Finally the fans can show how they feel.

Prior to Ba’s departure, showing dissent to Torres was essentially shooting themselves in the foot.

Daniel Sturridge had been injured for much of the season and many believed he was not a satisfactory alternative anyway.

Not the reaction he was hoping for: Some Chelsea fans boo and cheer the substitution of Torres

Not the reaction he was hoping for: Some Chelsea fans boo and cheer the substitution of Torres

Booing Torres would only have served to bring his morale down lower than it already was.

But in Ba, Chelsea have a striker at the top of his game. A striker hungry for goals, eager to find the perfect positions and willing to run for anything which could turn into a chance.

Shouts for the Senegalese hitman began after the interval. That would have been an apt time to bring him on – Chelsea dominated the first half, with 14 shots to Swansea’s two.

All they were missing was someone to put the ball in the net.

Replaced: Torres shakes hands with Rafael Benitez as he is taken off

Replaced: Torres shakes hands with Rafael Benitez as he is taken off

Although it was two mistakes by the usually reliable Branislav Ivanovic which created Swansea’s goals, it was the lack of a real striking presence which cost them the game.

Upon leaving the ground, after the defeat which leaves Chelsea’s Capital One Cup hopes hanging by a thread, one fan remarked loudly: ‘I’d be happy if I never saw or heard of Torres again.’

Ba may go some way to making that the case, although Benitez is headstrong and unwilling to bend to pressure.

But it would surprise nobody if at Stoke away this weekend he dropped his former Liverpool golden boy for the man who could save Chelsea’s season. If given the chance.

2012 football review: people of the months – Michael Walker

From the return of the King to the magic of Messi… the people of the months of 2012

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 23 December 2012

As a dramatic and memorable 2012 draws to a close, Michael Walker looks back on a year on the footballing road, naming his people of the month from January through to December…

January: Thierry Henry

They will not forget 9/1/12 in north London. It was the night King Henry came back to Arsenal, hopped off the bench and scored the only goal in an FA Cup third-round tie against Leeds. They were crying out for a special occasion at the stadium. Henry walked past his statue outside the ground and delivered.

Return of the King: Henry celebrates netting the winner against Leeds

Return of the King: Henry celebrates netting the winner against Leeds

February: Eddie Howe

In his Burnley office, one of England's brightest young managers discussed the fact that the Premier League had just three English managers while, in the Championship, there were 17. 'Strange', was Howe's assessment. Adkins and Allardyce have since upped the numbers. Howe's back at Bournemouth.

March: Pete Williams

On a bitter Tuesday night in Burslem, Pete Williams was outside Port Vale's grand old ground with a bucket. It is people like Williams – supporters – who keep clubs going. Vale's future was in doubt in March. They had entered administration and been docked 10 points. Thanks to fans such as Williams, Vale are going again, second in League Two.

April: Brian McDermott

It was easier being Reading's manager in April. The club had just returned to the Premier League by winning 14 of 16 league games from the end of January. The previous May's play-off final defeat could be forgotten and McDermott spoke of his 'lovely club'. Along the way, he turned down Wolves. Some people may choose to forget that.

Man of the hour: McDermott is hoisted aloft by his players after securing the Championship title

Man of the hour: McDermott is hoisted aloft by his players after securing the Championship title

May: Harry Gregg

48 hours after Manchester United had the title snatched out of their hands by Sergio Aguero, Sir Alex Ferguson took his players to Belfast to honour Harry Gregg. Sometimes the build-up to testimonials is more meaningful than the game and, in the programme, Ferguson recalled hearing of the 1958 Munich crash and wrote: 'Harry, for this 16-yearold from Govan, you were and remain my hero.'

June: Vicente Del Bosque

Remember when Spain were boring In northern Poland, Del Bosque was flabbergasted at the lack of understanding of his team's style, and the non-stop chatter. He was visibly bemused: Spain were about to become the first country in history to win three major tournaments in a row. Del Bosque reminisced to a time when there was less noise inside and outside the game, to a time when 'dressing rooms were utterly still, like inside a cathedral'.

Champions of Europe: Del Bosque's side parade through the streets of Madrid

Champions of Europe: Del Bosque's side parade through the streets of Madrid

July: Stewart Regan

Thunderous July rain in Glasgow accompanied an apocalyptic vision. Regan, the SFA chief executive, reacted to Rangers' shock exclusion from the SPL by inviting reporters upstairs at Hampden Park to warn of 'Armageddon' and 'the game withering on the vine' if Rangers were forced to re-start below Scottish Division One. A month later, Rangers drew 2- 2 at Peterhead in Division Three.

August: Rob Green

He didn't look happy and you could understand why. After six years at West Ham, Green joined QPR. His debut was a 5-0 home defeat by Swansea. Yet, 10 days later, against Walsall in the League Cup, it got worse. QPR won 3-0, but up in the stands was Julio Cesar. QPR were making a statement. Green, given no explanation, was left to read between its lines. Shoddy.

Shunned: Green was harshly treated by QPR

Shunned: Green was harshly treated by QPR

September: Margaret Aspinall

The report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel was a release of sorts for the Family Support Group. Football responded, notably Everton on the night they hosted Newcastle. They played the Hollies' He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Margaret recalled that her son James, 18, killed at Hillsborough, had bought the record for her.

October: Georgios Samaras

Unlikely, unfashionable but unflagging, Samaras had a year to remember. He was relentless for Greece at Euro 2012 and, for Celtic, he has been decisive in Europe. It was his deflected header in October that gave them a lead in Barcelona. They lost to a late goal, but we all know what happened when Barca came to Celtic Park two weeks later.

Unlikely hero: Samaras (right) heads home in Barcelona

Unlikely hero: Samaras (right) heads home in Barcelona

November: Chib Chilaka

For a while, it seemed like the most memorable feature of Torquay v Harrogate in the FA Cup first round proper would be the view from Plainmoor. Then, beaming Chilaka popped up for Harrogate to produce a trademark upset. Afterwards, he spoke like an ambassador for the part-time game. It was a classic FA Cup day.

December: Lionel Messi

We are fortunate to be witnessing greatness. Some can moan about the calendar year goal-tally, but not over Messi's talent. He has joined the list of the true greats at 25. Without him, Barcelona would be a very good team; with him, they are as good a side as has been seen. A prediction for 2013, or more like a guess: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea (again) and Arsenal will have new managers in place by August. For United, that would mean the end of the Ferguson era. It is difficult to behold, but if another title or European Cup comes, it would be an appropriately successful way for Ferguson to go. But it is an if.

The world's greatest: Messi celebrates yet another goal for Barcelona

The world's greatest: Messi celebrates yet another goal for Barcelona

Roy Hodgson says England needs to stop asking what has gone wrong and instead look to the future

Hodgson urges England to forget the failures since '66 and look to the future

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UPDATED:

16:38 GMT, 15 December 2012

Roy Hodgson cannot see the point in England handicapping themselves by constantly lamenting what has gone wrong since 1966.

After a solid start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, the Three Lions visit San Marino and Montenegro next March before an autumn push towards the World Cup in Brazil.

If England do achieve their first objective, Hodgson knows references to their sole World Cup win are bound to be raised, plus the inevitable debate about why progress has been so slow since that memorable occasion.

England boss Roy Hodgson says England need to stop lamenting past failures and focus on the present and future

England boss Roy Hodgson says England need to stop worrying about what has gone wrong since 1966 and focus on the present and future of the team

But England's coach feels that assessment is counter-productive.

'One of my concerns for England has always been that we're not trying to win in the present, we're trying to win in the past and we can't do that,' Hodgson told FATV.

'I know there's 1966 and that it's 50 years and that we've failed here and there and missed penalty shoot-outs, but unfortunately there's not very much I can do now to change anything that's historical.

England manager Roy Hodgson

'You can't turn back the clock and you can't win yesterday. You can only win today and while winning today, you can only have an eye on how we can win tomorrow.'

Hodgson cannot be faulted for the number of younger players he has introduced to the Three Lions fold since he took charge in May.

Raheem Sterling and Carl Jenkinson were amongst those to make their debuts in Sweden last month, whilst others, including Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were part of his Euro 2012 squad despite their limited experience.

With the exception of Sterling, none of that quartet could be regarded as first-choice for their clubs in a league where so many of its top men are foreign.

Hodgson sees little point arguing against the mass continental influx.

Instead he feels the onus is on those young English players to prove themselves indispensable.

'Clubs will do what they have to do and I can't expect that a manager who is under pressure to get results is thinking long-term for the benefits of the English national side,' he said.

'If he thinks his interests are best served by getting a player from Montenegro, Russia or Israel, they're entitled to do that.

'Rather than complain that there are a lot of foreign players, let's turn it on its head and make certain that our players do better.

'Take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for example, who plays some games but not others. He has got to become so good that Arsene Wenger doesn't want to look elsewhere.

'That's what I've got to hope for and that's got to be their ambition.'

Challenge: Hodgson has said that players like Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (pictured) have to 'become so good that Arsene Wenger doesn't want to look elsewhere'

Challenge: Hodgson said that players like Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (pictured) have to be 'so good that Arsene Wenger doesn't want to look elsewhere'

Frankie Dettori drugs hearing underway, outcome not expected today

Dettori drugs hearing gets underway in France but jockey must wait to discover fate

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UPDATED:

12:29 GMT, 20 November 2012

An outcome to the Frankie Dettori hearing with the French racing authorities appears unlikely to be announced today.

Dettori’s case is being heard by the Medical Committee of France Galop, made up of three doctors, at its Paris HQ and was due to start at 11.30GMT.

Under France Galop procedure, if the Medical Committee finds a jockey guilty of a charge, he must face the Stewards committee which decides on punishment.

Hearing: Frankie Dettori could face a six-month ban after his failed test

Hearing: Frankie Dettori could face a six-month ban after his failed test

The gap between the two committees convening can be a least a week and up to a fortnight.

Dettori’s team had been hoping that the case could be expedited with both hearings being held on the same day.

Dettori, 41, the best known jockey riding in Britain and a public face for racing failed a drugs test, believed to be for cocaine or a metabolite of it, when riding at Longchamp on September 16.

The usual shroud of secrecy hangs over the internal workings of France Galop, who released minimal information when Kieren Fallon twiced tested positive for cocaine, incurring a six-month ban on the first occasion and 18 months the second time.

Trouble: Dettori failed the test while riding in France in September

Trouble: Dettori failed the test while riding in France in September

The Fallon case has led to speculation that Dettori could be facing a similar ban if he is found in breach of regulations.

That would potentially rule him out until May next year. /11/20/article-2235723-15DEDCE0000005DC-383_468x319.jpg” width=”468″ height=”319″ alt=”Benchmark: Kieren Fallon served two bans for failing drug tests” class=”blkBorder” />

Benchmark: Kieren Fallon served two bans for failing drug tests

The official line from Godolphin was that 'the retainer was not really working', although Dettori was expected to continue working his present contract until the end of 2012.

The British-based jockey has won more than 500 group races in his career. He is best known for riding seven winners at Ascot in 1996.

Dettori partnered nine English Classic winners in the royal blue silks, including their first in 1994 Oaks victor Balanchine, and a total of 110 Group or Grade One winners for the owner.

Frankie Dettori cocaine shame: Jockey"s drugs hearing opens tomorrow

D-day for Dettori as jockey's 'cocaine' hearing opens in Paris tomorrow

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UPDATED:

14:25 GMT, 19 November 2012

Frankie Dettori faces a disciplinary hearing of the French racing authorities tomorrow in Paris with the prospect of a long ban hanging over his head.

The three-time champion tested positive to a prohibited substance, believed to be cocaine or a derivative of it, while riding at Longchamp on September 16.

Normal procedure is for the Medical Committee of France Galop to judge whether rider has a case to answer before the Stewards’ Committee is asked to decide on a penalty.

French date: Frankie Dettori, pictured here celebrating winning the Darley Irish Oaks last year, has failed a drugs test in France and tomorrow faces a hearing into that failed dope test (FILE IMAGE)

French date: Frankie Dettori, pictured here celebrating winning the Darley Irish Oaks last year, has failed a drugs test in France and tomorrow faces a hearing into that failed dope test (FILE IMAGE)

These two hearings can be up to 10 days apart.

However, it is understood that the French authorities could be persuaded to stage hearings of both committees on the same day.

The usual shroud of secrecy hangs over the internal workings of France Galop, who released minimal information when Kieren Fallon twiced tested positive for cocaine, incurring a six-month ban on the first occasion and 18 months the second time.

The Fallon case has led to speculation that Dettori could be facing a similar ban if he is found in breach of regulations.

That would potentially rule him out until May next year.

Career threatening: Dettori has reportedly tested positive for cocaine or a derivative

Career threatening: Dettori has reportedly tested positive for cocaine or a derivative

Carl Froch: I won"t take Yusaf Mack for granted

Froch insists he won't take Mack for granted despite having one eye on bigger challenges ahead against Bute, Kessler and Ward

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UPDATED:

16:25 GMT, 16 November 2012

Carl Froch is not worried about failing to live up to expectations in Nottingham on Saturday night, believing he has it in his armoury to produce another memorable occasion.

Froch enjoyed arguably the defining night of his career at the Capital FM Arena on May 27, destroying the previously unbeaten Lucian Bute inside five rounds to become the super-middleweight world champion for a third time.

The 35-year-old has gradually become a crowd favourite over the course of his career, and in stopping Bute to claim the IBF title he will defend against Yusaf Mack, he stood firmly in the spotlight.

Weigh in: Carl Froch (centre left) and Yusaf Mack (centre right) fight on Saturday night

Weigh in: Carl Froch (centre left) and Yusaf Mack (centre right) fight on Saturday night

Mack is not as feared an opponent as Bute was, though, and Froch enters this bout as the overwhelming favourite, with Mack carrying a record of 31-4-2, meaning that another explosive event may not be guaranteed.

'I'll just do what I do,' Froch said. 'The crowd are already turning up, we've got a packed arena and obviously, Lucian Bute is a different opponent. He was an unbeaten fighter and I was the underdog and I shocked the world that night.

'People know what to expect and I'm expecting a fantastic night.'

Froch takes great pride from having won a world title on three different occasions and has a resume that would be the envy of many a champion.

Over the last four years he has taken on a stellar cast of punchers, starting with Jean Pascal, going on to Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson, Andre Ward and ending with Bute.

Brit of alright: The Nottingham Cobra destroyed Lucian Bute to win the IBF super-middleweight belt

Brit of alright: The Nottingham Cobra destroyed Lucian Bute to win the IBF super-middleweight belt

Kessler and Ward were the only ones to better him – the two losses of his 31-fight career – and rematches with the pair, as well as a second shot at Bute, are being eyed up for 2013.

Froch, though, knows none of that can be possible without beating Mack.

'I went through one of the biggest tournaments in the world, the Super Six, where I knew who I was fighting for the next five fights, so you've always got your eye on your next opponent,' he said.

'That said, you can't take someone like Yusaf Mack for granted. I am looking at the future, but that's nothing new for me.

'I was in the amateur game for many years, boxed at the top level and had a massive pedigree. I've been a professional for 10 years and nothing is going to faze me.

Boxers in boxers: Froch shows off his patriotic pants

Grand: Froch at the Albert Hall in Nottingham

Boxers in boxers: Froch shows off his patriotic pants at the grand Albert Hall in Nottingham

'I'm not going to be complacent or lackadaisical, to take my eye off Yusaf Mack. I know I've got a job to do and I know that job could be a difficult one tomorrow night.'

With his penchant for taking on such punishing fights, Froch is surprising many by getting better as he grows older.

Bouts against Kessler, Ward and Bute next year would no doubt be one of his toughest-ever assignments as well, but he is confident he has the body and the game to keep going.

'It's two fights a year, so that's not the end of the world, and I don't take many punches,' he said.
'I live cleanly between fights. It's how you abuse or treat your body between fights that determines your longevity. I'm a clean liver, a consummate professional, I don't eat rubbish food, I don't drink and I don't smoke.

Return of the Mack: The American does not possess a fearsome record but Froch is still wary of his opponent

Return of the Mack: The American does not possess a fearsome record but Froch is still wary of his opponent

'Physically I was a late developer and I feel like a young 35. I feel in my prime, at my peak and as long as I have the desire to train in the gym, there's no reason why I can't go on until I'm 39, 40 years old. I'm not saying I want to, but physically I think I'm going to be able to.'

For his part, Mack has had little to say this week, having earlier branded Froch as a 'fake Joe Calzaghe'.

The 32-year-old was muted when the two met on Tuesday, saying little more than: 'I am ready to rumble. I've been the underdog all my life. I am ready. I've been training hard. He says he is fit, but I am fitter and stronger.'

Royal and Ancient Golf Club must "get real" and allow women members, says Lord Moynihan

Royal and Ancient Golf Club must 'get real' and allow women members, says Lord Moynihan

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UPDATED:

20:39 GMT, 8 November 2012

Lord Moynihan has told the Royal and Ancient Golf Club that it is time to 'get real' and allow women to become members.

'It should be an embedded
characteristic of 21st century sport, especially when you see the
contribution the athletes make,' said the outgoing chairman of the
British Olympic Association.

Traditions: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club

Traditions: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club

'It is remarkable that Augusta has changed, but the Royal and Ancient is still there having not entitled and allowed complete equality of opportunity for women in this country.'

The Royal and Ancient, based at St Andrews, was founded in 1754. Sportsmail revealed earlier this year that the Augusta National had lifted their ban on women.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Lord Moynihan added: 'Let's get real and let's get on with the job of providing equality of opportunity across sports, sports administration as well as sporting opportunity.'

Augusta made the decision to
admit its first two female members in August – one of whom was Condoleezza Rice,
the former US Secretary of State.

Over
the past 80 years, the home of the Masters has played host to some of
the greatest golf ever played. But it has also been a bastion of
bigotry, racism and sexism and now the last of these has gone the way of
the first two.

'This is a
joyous occasion,' said Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, raising
the question that if the membership consider it that joyous, why on
earth did it take them so long

Now pressure has fallen on the Royal and
Ancient and other men-only British clubs that host The Open, such as
Muirfield and Royal St George's, to follow suit.

Rather sensibly, Augusta has admitted
two female members rather than have one subjected to the taunt of
tokenism. South Carolina financier Darla Moore was the other new member.

ends

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool"s West Bromwich win shows improvement

Spot the difference Rodgers says first win shows Liverpool have transformed

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UPDATED:

09:13 GMT, 27 September 2012

Manager Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will not easily loosen their grip on the Capital One Cup as he looks forward to a home fourth-round meeting with his former club Swansea.

Rodgers decided to change the entire team for the tie at West Brom but two goals from on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin ensured their first win in domestic football this season.

It was in stark contrast to the 3-0 defeat suffered by the Reds against the Baggies in the opening Barclays Premier League encounter of the campaign.

Voila: Nuri Sahin gave a sign of what might be to come

Voila: Nuri Sahin gave a sign of what might be to come

Rodgers said: 'It was a symbolic night because it shows how far we are moving as a group from our first day of this season.

'Then, we were a bit disjointed and players were not quite understanding my methods.

'But in the last three or four weeks our tempo and relentless possession has started to come through in games.'

Rodgers, who left the Swans for Anfield this summer, said: 'The Swansea game will be a special occasion, very much so.

'It is a wonderful club, a brilliant club, and I was in no rush to leave there.

'I could only leave there to go to another special club. It will be a great night.

'I said to the players afterwards that the cup is stored at Anfield and I don't want to give it up too easy.

'I want us to fight even though it is difficult because of our lack of depth in the group. It is a competition we want to do well in.'

Rodgers in confident the best is still to come from Sahin who was also an Arsenal target before moving to Anfield.

Much better: Brendan Rodgers (right) was pleased with the performance

Much better: Brendan Rodgers (right) was pleased with the performance

He said: 'Nuri is still getting up to speed. It has been difficult for him.

'He was out for a long time and has come here having missed a big part of pre-season.

'But every day he is getting better. He has got great football arrogance, is terrific on the ball.'

Baggies boss Steve Clarke, a former number two at Liverpool, believes the rare mistake by keeper Ben Foster for Sahin's opening goal was crucial after Gabriel Tamas had broken the deadlock.

He said: 'We said we'd have a go, we certainly started that way. I think their first goal knocked the stuffing out of us a bit.

At the double: Sahin pockets his second goal

At the double: Sahin pockets his second goal

'I don't know why, maybe because it was such a soft goal to lose, but it knocked us back a bit in the first half.

'It is unusual for Ben. I don't think it's even worth having an in-depth discussion about it. It is not like Ben, it doesn't happen very often and we move on.'

Clarke admitted left-back Liam Ridgewell is a doubt for Sunday's derby at Aston Villa after limping out of action during the first half with a calf injury.