Tag Archives: preparations

Santos dismiss Man City interest in Neymar as beaten Brazil make low-key departure from London

Santos dismiss Man City interest in Neymar as glum Brazilian makes low-key exit from London

By
Simon Jones

PUBLISHED:

21:50 GMT, 7 February 2013

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 7 February 2013

Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro has rejected the idea of selling his prize asset Neymar to Manchester City.

Following reports appearing in Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo on Thursday that City will offer a blank cheque for the Brazilian superstar, Ribeiro has rubbished suggestions he may seek to cash in.

Neymar at Heathrow as the Brazilian team leave the UK

On his way: Neymar at Heathrow on Thursday to catch a flight to Brazil

Anything to declare: Man City reportedly held talks with Neymar's agent in London

Anything to declare: Man City reportedly held talks with Neymar's agent in London

While he admitted it was 'not a lack of funds' that would prevent a sale to Manchester City, Ribeiro insists there is no amount of money he would accept from the Premier League champions.

'I anticipate my answer to any bids that might come: the answer is no,' he said. 'Neymar will stay at Santos until 2014, and I hope that he'll continue here for even longer.'

Despite his disappointing performance for Brazil in a 2-1 friendly defeat to England on Wednesday, Neymar is widely considered one of the world's most prestigious talents and has a long list of suitors.

And with Roberto Mancini's men trailing Manchester United in the title race, the Italian is keen to learn from the lessons of last summer – when his side were pipped to the signings of Robin Van Persie, Eden Hazard and Javi Martinez – by making an early move for the 21-year-old.

Picture this: Ronaldinho with a female fan at Heathrow

Picture this: Ronaldinho with a female fan at Heathrow

Setback: Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari saw his World Cup preparations hit by England defeat

Setback: Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari saw his World Cup preparations hit by England defeat

Ribeiro, however, is adamant Neymar is going nowhere.

He added: 'I have a very clear base to why Neymar stayed here, resisting offers from the Spanish clubs [Barcelona and Real Madrid, in 2011], for one basic reason: he's happy.

'He costs us a relatively modest amount of money, given his talent. His presence translates into intangible gains, like our fan base growing 20% in the last two years.'

Ribeiro even admitted he has taken inspiration from a former Santos president, who dug in to ensure Pele did not leave the club during his pomp.

He added: 'It's the repetition of the phenomenon experienced in the the 50s and 60s, when Pel attracted a legion of new fans, that went beyond the limits of the city.

'Repeating history is not very creative, but what Athi [Jorge Coury, former Santos president] did with Pel has inspired me.'

Wembley winner: Frank Lampard scores for England against Brazil

Wembley winner: Frank Lampard scores for England against Brazil

Neil Lennon tells his Celtic side to be fearless against Spartak Moscow

Show no fear: Lennon tells his Bhoys to be bold in bid for glory

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UPDATED:

00:25 GMT, 5 December 2012

Neil Lennon has urged his Celtic side to show no fear in their quest to march into the last 16 of the Champions League.

Scotland’s champions must beat a Spartak Moscow side in turmoil at Parkhead, whilst trusting Barcelona to take care of business against Benfica at the Nou Camp.

No Scottish side have ever qualified for the knock-out stages with 10 points.

Task is clear: Neil Lennon oversees training at Lennoxtown ahead of his side's final group game against Spartak Moscow

Task is clear: Neil Lennon oversees training at Lennoxtown ahead of his side's final group game against Spartak Moscow

Desperate to avoid being only the eighth club in the competition’s history to crash out with of the group stages with such a high points tally, however, Lennon will urge his players to put their insipid domestic form behind them and embrace a bold approach.

'I think we’ve got to go for it,' said the Celtic boss.

'This is their moment and they might never get this opportunity again.

'I am not going to put any extra pressure on them, I just want them to go and play as we can at home on a European night. Aggressively and with a good tempo to the game.

'We have got players who can score goals. We’ve got flare players in the team who can rise to the occasion.

Final preparations: The Celtic squad train ahead of their Champions League match against Spartak Moscow

Final preparations: The Celtic squad train ahead of their Champions League match against Spartak Moscow

'So you are hoping that will all encompass itself on the one night.

'They are capable of doing it.

'Spartak are a dangerous team, but they haven’t got the calibre of Barcelona. I’m not too sure they have the structure of Benfica, either, or the way they play.

'But they do have a lot of flare in their team as well.'

Missing the suspended Victor Wanyama Lennon seems certain to gamble on the fitness of captain Scott Brown, with Beram Kayal and Joe Ledley also fit.

Celtic know that their efforts will all be in vein if Benfica pull off a shock win in Barcelona against a home side already safely through to the knock-out stages.

Job to do: Celtic captain Scott Brown (right) speaks to team-mate Kris Commons at training

Job to do: Celtic captain Scott Brown (right) speaks to team-mate Kris Commons at training

With a shrug, however, Lennon admits he can do nothing to affect events elsewhere.

After winning just two of their last six Celtic have enough to contend with getting their own form right.

'I just have to try and make sure we win our game. I have to focus on that. If Benfica win in Barcelona, so be it. We would have to congratulate them on doing that.

'That would be a magnificent effort from their point of view. We have to make them win, so the onus is on us to win at home.

'Of course Benfica could win. There is always that scenario with the unpredictability of football. While that is at the back of mind, right at the forefront of it is winning our game.

'It will be difficult, it will be tense. We are playing a team who are coming here with nothing to really play for but their pride. They are very dangerous coming forward, but they do concede goals. So it is there for us.

'I'm not saying we will win it, but if we play as well as we can we have a good chance.

'If we don’t we would still have made progress in Europe this season and we would have the Europa League in the New Year anyway. But we all want the big one.'

Manny Pacquiao: Ricky Hatton comeback is a mistake

Pacquiao on Hatton's return: I respect Ricky but he's making a big mistake

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UPDATED:

13:42 GMT, 21 November 2012

Ricky Hatton is making a big mistake returning to the ring this Saturday. That is the verdict of Manny Pacquiao, the man whose knockout blow consigned the two-weight world champion into retirement three years ago.

The Hitman makes his big comeback this Saturday against Ukraine's former WBA welterweight king Vyacheslav Senchenko in front of a sell-out crowd at Manchester Arena.

But Pacquaio, who brutally defeated Hatton inside two rounds at the MGM Grand in May 2009, thinks the 34-year-old should have stayed away from the ring for good and insisted it is not something he will ever do once he walks away.

Comeback: Ricky Hatton undergoes his final preparations with his trainer Bob Shannon before Saturday's big return

Comeback: Ricky Hatton undergoes his final preparations with his trainer Bob Shannon before Saturday's big return

'I do not think it is a good idea to come back once a fighter has retired. It’s not something I plan on doing,' said Pacquaio, quoted in the Daily Express.

'I know how hard it is to get back into good boxing shape after being out of the training camp for only three or four months.'

Pacquiao is preparing for his first fight since controversially losing his WBO welterweight title to Timothy Bradley last June with a fourth fight against rival Juan Manuel Marquez next month in Las Vegas.

Blow: Manny Pacquiao destroyed Hatton inside two rounds in May 2009

Down and out: Manny Pacquiao destroyed Hatton inside two rounds in May 2009 (celebrating, below)

Down and out: Pacquiao celebrates his win over Hatton in May 2009

Despite voicing his concerns over Hatton's return, the Filipino legend insisted he respects the Manchester fighter's decision.

'I cannot imagine what it is like after a number of years,' Pacquaio added.

'It’s not just the conditioning, it’s the reflexes, legs, mental conditioning, and so much more.

'But this is Ricky’s decision to make and I respect him for it.'

Crunch test: Hatton will collide with Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena

Crunch test: Hatton will collide with Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena

India preparations leave England in a spin – The Top Spin, Lawrence Booth

India preparations leave England in a spin, but for captain Cook's charges the warm-up has barely begun

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UPDATED:

12:41 GMT, 13 November 2012

A fortnight in India is usually enough for the wide-eyed tourist to get his bearings. Some need a little longer. But for England's cricketers – 10 of whom are on their first Test tour here – time has now run out.

Ten days of warm-up cricket have, it's true, brought some reward. There have been five hundreds and 10 fifties, and not a single member of the Test top seven can reasonably fret about being out of nick. It is hard to recall an England trip quite like it.

But the effect has been almost unreal, like sitting a mock exam with the answers laid out in front of you. Because, as you will have noticed unless you've only just returned from a holiday on Pluto, England's exposure to top-rank spin has been strictly limited.

Final preparations: England begin their Test series against India in decent shape

Final preparations: England begin their Test series against India in decent shape

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Why India are clinging to faith in England's ineptitude against spin
06/11/12

The Top Spin: England's batsmen show they are still struggling to get to grips with spin
24/09/12

The Top Spin: England voyage into the unknown on a wing and a prayer
18/09/12

The Top Spin: Bears, Twitter and textgate… a review of the summer that was
10/09/12

The Top Spin: KP's England future is more dependent on his attitude than he may realise
03/09/12

The Top Spin: Strauss's future uncertain after mid-table mediocrity takes hold at precisely the wrong moment
21/08/12

The Top Spin: Don't judge Pietersen – leave that up to Flower and Strauss
14/08/12

The Top Spin: Pietersen chasing omnium of desires… love, 10,000 Test runs and to be rich
07/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The Indian teams have been well within their rights, of course. The days when tourists were given a proper workout ahead of the Tests are gone now that Australia no longer have the same depth. And there are times when county cricket ought to be ashamed of the XIs it fields against our guests.

Yet the upshot is that we are no closer to knowing whether England's achilles heel – everyone's favourite Trojan War hero has been clocking up the name-checks of late – has been properly plastered over.

It's not just that the best spinner they have faced has been Amit Mishra, who ascribed his bowling of only 17.1 overs out of 193.3 for Haryana partly to a sore finger.

But England are yet to bat on a pitch that has been anything other than flat, nor older than three and a bit days. The true test will come on a fifth-day crumbler against Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, with Ashwin already talking darkly of a mystery ball – another pre-England-series staple these days in the grand manner of Shane Warne and Saeed Ajmal.

England have done all they can in the circumstances, chalking up totals of 426, 345 for 9, 149 for 2, 521 and 254 for 7 (when several of their wickets were thrown away ahead of a declaration). It's just possible that India may come to regret allowing all of their batsmen to find their groove. As own-goals go, it would be spectacular.

Yet for all the focus on spin, there are other issues to resolve. For a start, England are yet to encounter anything approaching the skill of Zaheer Khan or the pace of Umesh Yadav, who are likely to share the new ball for India – at least until Zaheer's next injury crisis.

Their own bowling attack is hardly a picture of fighting fitness itself. Steven Finn – to his chagrin – is out of the reckoning after failing to bowl at training on Tuesday morning, while Stuart Broad is set to play in the Ahmedabad Test, starting on Thursday, after sending down only 10 first-class overs on tour.

The phrase 'not ideal' has become de rigueur in press conferences. It may be erring on the side of generosity.

Neither has Graeme Swann been fine-tuned to the degree England would like. To the relief of everyone, not least the Swann family, his baby daughter Charlotte recovered well enough for her dad to return to India on Monday morning. But since bowling 23 overs on the opening day of the tour's curtain-raiser against India A, he has sent down only a further five.

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick... but are yet to face frontline spinners

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick... but are yet to face frontline spinners

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick… but are yet to face the frontline spinners

In the meantime, Monty Panesar has bowled 66. Panesar could yet be an outside bet for a place in a four-man attack ahead of Tim Bresnan, yet the balance of so many aspects of England's game depends rather more on Swann.

THE TOP SPIN ON TWITTER

For cricket-related snippets from England's tour of India, go to twitter.com/the_topspin

It's not just the bowling attack. The retirement of Andrew Strauss means Swann is now England's banker in the slips, standing at second early on, then ousting Alastair Cook to become the lone slip when the ball gets older (although Jonathan Trott, and not Jimmy Anderson, will take the spot when Swann or Samit Patel are bowling).

Cook's fallibility – his miss of Alviro Petersen at Headingley arguably cost England their No 1 ranking – and the fact that the third-slip position will depend on who is bowling, both place extra pressure on Swann to catch everything that comes his way.

And that may just sum up England's predicament. India may have a few issues of their own, but Cook needs to wring every last drop of perspiration and inspiration from his team if they are to stand a chance. Really, the warm-up has barely begun.

Sitting it out: Finn is expected to miss the first Test in Ahmedabad

Sitting it out: Finn is expected to miss the first Test in Ahmedabad

EVEREST COMPETITION WINNERS

Last week we asked you to name the member of the England tour party who climbed to Everest base camp five years ago. As most of you knew, it was Nick Compton.

But there are only three lucky winners of a copy of Alan Curr's new book: Cricket on Everest: The Inspirational Story of the World’s Highest Cricket Match. Congratulations to John Bartlett, Mark Klein and Duncan MacKenzie.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

All-out attack

Full marks to the Indian brains trust, whose attempts to remind England of their fallibility against spin at every, ahem, turn, even extended during the bore-draw against Haryana to the press conferences.

On the second evening, the 22-year-old off-spinner Jayant Yadav was impressively quick to make the point that England had been 'very uncomfortable' against him, a view based on his contention that they had been quick to use their feet (damned if you do, damned if you don't).

In a spin: Yadav says England struggled against him in the Haryana warm-up

In a spin: Yadav says England struggled against him in the Haryana warm-up

Yadav's assault was almost as withering as England's on the Haryana bowling during their first-innings 521 at 4.4 an over. And yet there was a point amid the propaganda. Against Yadav and the leg-spin of Amit Mishra, England lost 8 for 177. Against Haryana's four seamers, it was 1 for 332.

Gavaskar plays down the hype

Duncan Fletcher once made the point that it is always sad when a good wine goes sour. He was talking about Sunil Gavaskar. The Top Spin couldn't possibly comment, except to say that Gavaskar's columns in the Times of India do a consistently fine job of proving Fletcher’s point.

In his latest one, a bizarre screed in which he argues that a three-Test series has more chance of producing a result than a four-Test series, Gavaskar writes: 'The India-England series has been over-hyped, as is the case with any series involving England.' Pots and kettles, Sunny, pots and kettles…

Anorak heaven

After attending our first Ranji Trophy match in Mumbai the other week, the Top Spin now cannot get enough. And some of the scorecards in the recent round of games made for eye-watering reading.

The stattos at Tamil Nadu (538 for 4) v Karnataka (562 for 6) would have enjoyed themselves, but not half as much as those who sat through Maharashtra (764 for 6) against Uttar Pradesh (528 for 5).

Master blaster: Tendulkar at the crease during a Ranji Trophy match - but the big runs were scored by others

Master blaster: Tendulkar at the crease during a Ranji Trophy match – but the big runs were scored by others

But our favourite has to be Gujarat against Saurashtra. Gujarat had done pretty well to make 600 for 9. Or so they thought. Because Saurashtra responded with a merciless 716 for 3, which included a third-wicket stand of 539 between Sagar Jogiyani (carelessly run out for 282) and Ravindra Jadeja, who finished unbeaten on 303.

The partnership takes its place in the top ten highest stands for any wicket in first-class history.

Come again!

The most unsettling part of last week's story about former Australian batsman Greg Ritchie's use of a racist epithet during a lunch-time speech at the Gabba Members' Club was that no one had complained before.

'I have told the story 500 times during the course of my speaking career,' said Ritchie. 'I do it verbatim.' Tasteless and unoriginal – it's some double whammy.

Jenson Button to practice marathon at Dubai Autodrome

Marathon man Button steps up race preparations with 20-mile run at Dubai Autodrome

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UPDATED:

15:01 GMT, 29 October 2012

Jenson Button will take to the track this week and put in the miles in a different way as he prepares for his first crack at a marathon.

Outside of a Formula One car, Button has become renowned for tackling triathlons, mainly a half-ironman event which comprises a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13-mile run.

The 32-year-old McLaren star, however, has never run a marathon, but is due to enter one in Hawaii in early December as part of a month-long winter programme on the island ahead of the 2013 campaign.

Next challenge: Button will run a marathon in Hawaii next year

Next challenge: Button will run a marathon in Hawaii next year

To prepare for the event, Button and trainer Mikey Collier are to run six laps of the 3.6-mile Dubai Autodrome on Tuesday, amounting to 20 miles.

Button said: 'It's good to do training in hot conditions, which is perfect for this weekend's race in Abu Dhabi.

'It's also good for my weight. It keeps it down. If I run I lose so much weight, which I need because you're limited on weight when you are a tall driver.

'And have you seen marathon runners They're quite skinny.'

Asked as to his thinking on opting for a marathon, Button said: 'It is just another challenge, a mental challenge.

'I'm not going to set a quick time because it's a tough hilly course. The quick guys, the Africans, they will run it and be 10 minutes off the world record, so that tells you it's not a quick circuit.

'But for me it will be mentally very challenging, and I love doing that sort of stuff, pushing yourself.

Triathlete: Button has already been involved in a number of races

Triathlete: Button has already been involved in a number of races

'It will also be the start of training for next year, so it's a good place to start.

'I'm not looking forward to next year too much just yet, but I'm obviously excited about next season.

'Hawaii will be the perfect place to prepare, to refresh myself for the year.'

For
Button, the rest of this campaign has become about enjoyment, and
extracting as much information as possible to aid his cause in 2013.

The
current campaign has been a rollercoaster for Button with more lows
than highs, with the 32-year-old 99 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel in
the wake of the German's four consecutive wins.

Button
could only manage fifth in yesterday's Indian Grand Prix as Vettel
emphasised his dominance with a third successive lights-to-flag victory.
In terms of what can be learned from the final three races, Button said: 'We want to end the year with some good results.

'With
next year's car there are not a lot of rule changes, so it will be a
development of what we end this year with, and everything we put on the
car now we could use next year.

'In
particular, understanding why one tyre works for us and another doesn't
is something that's important. We still don't know why that is.

'I
don't know if it's something to do with the geometry of our car, but it
was transformed for both myself and Lewis (Hamilton) from the first to
the second stint.'

World Twenty20 2012: Pallekele reminds England captain Stuart Broad of Kandy

Broad: Pallekele is reminiscent of Kandy, scene of England's greatest T20 triumph

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UPDATED:

10:29 GMT, 26 September 2012

England had their first glimpse of Pallekele on Wednesday, and immediately felt at home in their bid to retain the ICC World Twenty20 title.

Captain Stuart Broad saw reminders everywhere, at the picturesque stadium near Kandy, of the scene of England's 2010 success in this tournament in the West Indies.

There is no sea view, of course, at this inland venue. But otherwise it was not difficult, as England prepared to practise before their first Super Eight match against West Indies, to see exactly what Broad was getting at.

Bowled over: Broad has noticed the similarities between Kandy and Pallekele

Bowled over: Broad has noticed the similarities between Kandy and Pallekele

He was in the ranks when England won their first and still only International Cricket Council global trophy, under the captaincy of Paul Collingwood, two years ago.

This time, they are at least through to the second stage and know they are only four wins away, in five remaining matches, from lifting the silverware again.

'It's my first time at the ground, and it looks a fantastic ground,' said Broad.

'It reminds me a bit of the Caribbean grounds, so it brings back good memories.'

To sustain the feel-good factor, Broad's England will need to play much better against the Windies than they did in their final Group A match in Colombo – where India trounced them by a record margin.

Final preparations: England are hoping to win the next five matches to retain their crown

Final preparations: England know they are only five matches away from retaining their crown

Final preparations: England are hoping to win the next five matches to retain their crown

'It was important to get through the group stages, and this is where it starts for us,' added Broad.

'We are only five games away from winning the World Cup, but it's important we don't look at it like that and break it down into small bits, starting with the West Indies.'

Broad's opposite number Darren Sammy echoed those sentiments, on behalf of his team, and is unperturbed that West Indies have reached this stage without a victory yet – having qualified via a rain-shortened defeat against Australia and then a no-result with Ireland, when bad weather again intervened in Colombo.

'I don't think that's important at all,' said Sammy. 'One of our first objectives was to get to the Super Eights – and now we're here.'

Waiting game: West Indies have played and lost their only completed match of the tournament

Waiting game: West Indies lost their only completed match of the tournament thus far

Steven Gerrard: England need a miracle to win the World Cup

We need a miracle to win the World Cup, says England captain Gerrard

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 6 September 2012

England embark on another World Cup campaign as captain Steven Gerrard admits it will be a miracle if the team triumph in Brazil in 2014.

Roy Hodgson’s team start the journey here in Moldova aware that no European side has ever won football’s top prize in North, Central or South America.

‘I’m realistic and honest,’ said Gerrard. ‘At the moment we’re not one of the favourites to win the World Cup.

Tough ask: England begin their quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, with captain Steven Gerrard admitting they are not one of the favourites

Tough ask: England begin their quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, with captain Steven Gerrard admitting they are not one of the favourites

Big draw: Gerrard signs a Liverpool shirt for locals in Chisinau

Big draw: Gerrard signs a Liverpool shirt for locals in Chisinau

‘That doesn’t stop you believing and working hard to improve and learn from mistakes you’ve made at previous tournaments. This team have every chance to improve and get better in the next few years with players coming through and those players with experience. We have to have that faith and keep believing. In football, miracles do happen.’

Moldova’s players will take home 2,500 each if they win and 800 each if they draw against Hodgson’s team of mega-rich stars from the Barclays Premier League.

The tiny nation of only 3.5 million inhabitants is ranked the poorest in Europe and the win bonus is roughly the annual salary of an average Moldovan.

Outpost: England players warm up at the Zimbru Stadium

Final preparations: England players warm up at the Zimbru Stadium

Outpost: England players warm up at the Zimbru Stadium

‘If
we win or draw we will have money,’ said Moldova captain Alexandru
Epureanu. ‘But we are not here for the money. The most important thing
is to play England.’

Moldova are ranked 141st in the world and have not scored a goal in almost a year. But they seem confident of delivering a surprise against an England team without many key players, including star striker Wayne Rooney.

Hodgson confirmed there are nine players missing whom the England manager would have liked to have selected while James Milner, Theo Walcott and Joleon Lescott barely trained at the Zimbru Stadium.

‘I’m fully aware the task of qualifying is an important one,’ said Hodgson. ‘A World Cup in Brazil has a slightly greater allure than World Cups in the countries where it’s been recently.

‘We know what we have to do, we’re going
to try and do it. But this is football, you don’t get what you want by
talking about it and saying the right things. You have to be good
enough.’

Old guard: Hodgson briefs Frank Lampard and John Terry as England prepare for Moldova

Old guard: Hodgson briefs Frank Lampard and John Terry as England prepare for Moldova

Training: England

If the home players require further incentive than their win bonus, there is the fearsome figure of assistant coach Ivan Testemitanu.

Stocky and shaven-headed, Testemitanu is the only Moldovan to play professional football in England after a move to Bristol City he secured following the two countries playing in 1996.

‘They smiled at how I was dressed,’ he recalled. ‘They said I looked like a sailor. They thought I was from the past. Now it seems funny but for me it was very hard. I didn’t speak English and they left me with nothing to wear.

‘They had sold my clothes. I think they wanted to frame them and hang them on the wall like a piece of history.’

England v Moldova preview

Left cold by England's clash with Moldova This match has real Becks appeal!

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 5 September 2012

Moldova v England

7.45pm at Zimbru Stadium, Chisinau

The road to Brazil 2014 begins in earnest for England on Friday evening as their campaign starts with a trip to Moldova.

David Beckham made his debut when England last travelled to the eastern-European nation's capital Chisinau in what was Glenn Hoddle's first game in charge.

Current boss Roy Hodgson will be hoping for a repeat performance of that night when the Three Lions cantered to a 3-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Nick Barmby, Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer.

But will it be as straightforward as the statistics suggest Here's Sportsmail's inside track on England's opponents.

Final preparations: England begin their battle for a place in Rio against Moldova

Final preparations: England begin their battle for a place in Rio against Moldova

Final preparations: England begin their battle for a place in Rio against Moldova

Manager: Former Moldova and FC Zimbru Chisinau defender Ion Caras will pit his wits against Hodgson and look to mastermind an unlikely win with the limited resources available at his disposal.

Caras will make a huge impression if his side can fashion a result just months into his second tenure as boss.

Best player: In order to spring what would undoubtedly be the biggest result in their history, the Moldovans will be looking to Dynamo Moscow defender and national team captain Alexandru Epureanu to keep England at bay.

He plays club football in Russia for Krylia Sovetov Samara – on loan from Dynamo Moscow – and has 43 international caps to his name.

Blast from the past: Beckham made his debut in Moldova - where Gascoigne was one of England's goalscorers

Blast from the past: Beckham made his debut in Moldova – where Gascoigne was one of England's goalscorers

Blast from the past: Beckham made his debut in Moldova - where Gascoigne was one of England's goalscorers

Last three results: Venezuela 4-0 Moldova, El Salvador 2-0 Moldova, Albania 0-0 Moldova.

Best result: Euro 1996 qualifiers – Moldova 3-2 Wales.

Moldova's most famous victory in their short history came in a home Euro 1996 qualifier against Wales, a game in which current boss Caras featured. The 3-2 win was secured by an inspired solo goal from midfielder Valeriu Pogorelov in the 80th minute.

The Wales team included Neville Southall, Gary Speed and Chris Coleman.

They also hammered San Marino 4-0 last year. But then who doesn't

VIDEO: Moldova's magic moment…

World Cup history: Having only emerged as a footballing nation in 1991, Moldova have never qualified for the World Cup finals.

Their 2010 qualifying campaign ended without registering a victory and they managed only three draws as they finished bottom of UEFA Group 2.

Versus England: The two sides have met twice before, during qualification for the 1998 World Cup. England triumphed 3-0 in the first match in Chisinau, before comfortably winning the return 4-0 at Wembley.

Moldova 0-3 England (September 1, 1996)

Team: Seaman, Neville, Pallister, Southgate, Pearce; Beckham, Barmby, Ince, Gascoigne; Hinchcliffe, Shearer.

Scorers: Barmby (24), Gascoigne (25), Shearer (61).

Attendance 9,500.

VIDEO: Becks makes his bow…

The second match between the two
countries the following year, came just 11 days after Diana,
Princess of Wales, died in Paris.

Fans held a candlelit
vigil and a rendition of Elton John's Candle In The Wind was played in tribute before kick-off.

Vigil: Fans lit candles in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales at Wembely

Vigil: Fans lit candles in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales at Wembely

Did you know While rugby and football are growing in popularity, a local variant of wrestling called Tranta remains the Moldovan national sport.

Tantra places emphasis on fairness and remaining on your feet as opposed to suppressing your opponent on the ground.

England v South Africa – live score second ODI

LIVE: England v South Africa – follow the score from the second ODI in Southampton

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UPDATED:

07:50 GMT, 28 August 2012

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England finally start their NatWest Series against South Africa on Tuesday at the Ageas Bowl after the washout at Cardiff last Friday.

Warwickshire's Chris Woakes is set to keep his place after being recalled to the side in place of the rested Stuart Broad in Cardiff. Test captain Andrew Strauss is not available while Matt Prior is not in the squad, and star batsman Kevin Pietersen remains in exile.

South Africa are also likely to make sweeping changes to the side which won the Test series 2-0, with lead seamer Dale Steyn unlikely to be selected and a handful of limited-overs specialists, including Dean Elgar, Robin Petersen, Wayne Parnell, Ryan McLaren and Lonwabo Tsotsobe all set to be included.

Follow the live score when the match gets underway at 1pm local time.

Final preparations: England's Eoin Morgan bats at nets at the Ageas Bowl

Final preparations: England's Eoin Morgan bats at nets at the Ageas Bowl

London 62 Warrington 18

London 62 Warrington 18: Dorn shreds Wolves but Rea insists he's still just a quick fix

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UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 17 August 2012

Tony Rea insisted he still intends to head back to Australia at the end of the season despite his continuing inspiration of resurgent London.

Broncos chairman David Hughes drafted in Rea as coach for the last seven matches of the season after sacking former boss Rob Powell, who had overseen two wins in 20 games.

Rea has now recorded three wins on the bounce, with this 10-try romp wrecking Warrington’s Challenge Cup final preparations and all but killing off their hopes of reclaiming the League Leaders’ Shield.

Hot to handle: Luke Dorn on the move

Hot to handle: Luke Dorn on the move

But Rea said: ‘I wouldn’t react to one
performance. The coaching bug is inside you but the (planned) course is
still the same as it always was.’

Four-try hero Luke Dorn was the
Broncos’ star on Friday night, with his second touchdown making him the
first player to score 100 times for London.

Rea added: ‘We’ve been building on a couple of things. We want to make sure it’s ourselves that control what we want to do.

‘Warrington were in red hot form but
our focus has been about us. We wanted to find out what we’re about and
keep building on a couple of things from the last few games.’

Three London-born players scored as
the hosts established a 24-18 half-time lead at the Twickenham Stoop,
with Kieran Dixon’s second-minute try giving the Broncos a dream start.

Over the line: Michael Robertson of Broncos scores a try

Over the line: Michael Robertson of Broncos scores a try

Will Lovell and Omari Caro also
crossed to complement Dorn’s first score, with Richie Myler, Stefan
Ratchford and Rhys Williams getting over for the Wolves.

But that was as good as it got for Warrington, who must regroup ahead of next week’s Challenge Cup final showdown against Leeds.

Wolves boss Tony Smith said: ‘It’s far
from the end of the world, even if it feels like you’re looking over
the edge of it. We’ll dust ourselves off pretty quickly and learn plenty
of lessons.

‘We put out a talented enough team to perform better than we did, and that comes back to me.’

Michael Robertson’s brace sandwiched Julien Rinaldi’s try and three more for Dorn as the Broncos cut loose after the break.

I'm the one: Julien Rinaldi of Broncos celebrates scoring

I'm the one: Julien Rinaldi of Broncos celebrates scoring