HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens 2019: 7 players set to light up the Singapore Sports Hub

FOX Sports Asia picks out seven stars to keep a close eye on at the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens, which will be held at the Singapore Sports Hub from April 13 to 14, 2019.

JERRY TUWAI (FIJI)

Tuwai shows his knack of finding space to inflict damage.

Small in stature but big on heart and impact on the field, it seems fitting that Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai is affectionately known as the “the little magician”.

His low centre of gravity and rapid footwork, coupled with his uncanny ability to find space, make him a genuine star of the game – one that has been nominated for the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in the past two years.

Fiji star Jerry Tuwai looks ahead to HSBC World Sevens Series

CARLIN ISLES (UNITED STATES)

Isles proving impossible to stop in full flight.

Widely regarded as the world’s fastest rugby player – having clocked a time 100-metre timing of 10.13 seconds in his days as a high school athlete – Carlin Isles’ sheer speed makes him one of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ excitement machines.

The American was the top try scorer last season with 49 to his name and has showed no signs of slowing down in 2018-19, again leading the way with 41 with three legs left to go in the campaign.

SIVIWE SOYIZWAPI (SOUTH AFRICA)

A familiar sight – Soyizwapi crossing for a try.

Considering South Africa are currently a team in transition, the likes of Siviwe Soyizwapi and Werner Kok have only grown in importance both in terms of shouldering much of the workload on the field, while showing the ropes to the next generation.

With 23 tries to his name thus far this season, Soyizwapi is currently the fifth-highest on the charts and recently had the honour of captaining the Blitzboks in their final two matches of the triumphant Canada Sevens campaign in the absence of Philip Snyman.

CONNOR BRAID (CANADA)

Braid making quite the impact on home soil at the Canada Sevens at the start of March.

The Singapore Sports Hub holds a special place in Canada’s heart given it was the venue where they won their maiden World Rugby Sevens Series title in 2017, and one man who has been a standout this season has been Connor Braid.

The 28-year-old has been awarded was named the Impact Player in both Las Vegas and Vancouver – awarded to the player who records the highest cumulative score in tackles made, line breaks, offloads and carries – and currently leads the overall standings by a healthy 25 points.

SIONE MOLIA (NEW ZEALAND)

Molia effortlessly skipping away from his opponent.

Renowned for his outstanding work ethic and consistency, it is no surprise that Sione Molia currently leads New Zealand in tackles and is fifth on the overall list with 75.

In addition to his defensive fortitude, Molia also offers the New Zealanders plenty going forward and is their second-top try scorer with 18, with his two-way contribution going some way in helping his side to triumphs in Dubai and Sydney so far this season.

DAN NORTON (ENGLAND)

A familiar sight – Norton making his way between the posts.

Despite traditionally being one of the most-successful teams in Rugby Sevens history, recent times have been tough for England with just four triumphs in the past six seasons, of which they finished inside the top three in the final standings just once in 2016-17.

Success has continued to elude them so far this season but one man that has continued to shine for the English is Dan Norton, who is the all-time record try scorer in the game with 328 and already has 29 in the current campaign – 12 behind the chart-topping Isles.

ALAMANDA MOTUGA (SAMOA)

It takes two to halt Motuga on the charge.

There is no denying that Alamanda Motuga has been one of the most influential players this season as his 231 Impact Player points is second only to Braid, with the Samoan dynamo having also claimed the Impact Player award in Cape Town last December.

With Samoa looking for their first win since the Paris Sevens in May 2016, the powerfully-built Motuga has been at the forefront of their challenge by leading them with 20 tries (joint-9th overall), 117 runs (6th overall), 22 clean breaks (joint-5th overall) and 76 tackles (4th overall).

HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens: Where drama and history beckon again in 2019

The HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens is back once again and promises to deliver more thrills and spills on April 13 to 14, 2019.

Since Singapore returned as a host of the World Rugby Sevens Series in 2016, there has been no shortage of drama and excitement on offer at the Singapore Sports Hub.

More of the same can be expected when the world’s most exciting players descend once again on the Lion City to deliver another exhilarating spectacle for the fourth year running.

World Cup Winner Piri Weepu in Lion City to promote Singapore Rugby 7s

As ever, there is plenty at stake with United States currently leading the series on 130 points but with Fiji (123) and New Zealand (118) within touching distance, with only two legs remaining after Singapore.

But, perhaps the biggest reason for fans to turn up is the fact that the National Stadium has been the venue where history has been made twice in the past three years.

Back in 2016, Kenya created waves by claiming their maiden series victory, as they stunned Fiji 30-7 in the final to become the first side from their continent – other than perennial heavyweights South Africa – to achieve such a feat.

12 months later, it was Canada’s turn to break new ground as they emerged triumphant in Singapore with a 26-19 win over United States in the decider, claiming their first-ever crown in the 18-year history of the series.

Then, in last year’s tournament, the history-making was replaced by sheer drama as Fiji trailed Australia with effectively no time left on the clock and 90 metres between them and the try line, before Alasio Sovita Naduva embarked on a blistering run that carved the entire opposition defence apart en route to sealing a last-gasp 28-22 win.

This weekend, the Singapore Sports Hub once again transforms into a cauldron of excitement and not just for fans of the sport but everyone from young to old – with the Singapore Sevens billed as the “Family Sevens”.

Singapore Rugby 7s reveal 2019 entertainment plans

Nonetheless, the main attraction will always be the action on the field.

And, if the past three editions are anything to go by, those turning up at the Singapore Sports Hub this weekend can expect drama and history in the making.

Maybe even both.

Mauricio Pochettino urges Tottenham Hotspur to think and act like a big club

Ahead of Tottenham Hotspur playing in their new stadium, manager Mauricio Pochettino has urged his players to think and behave like a big club.

Spurs are set to play in their new stadium against Crystal Palace in an important match for their UEFA Champions League hopes for the next season and Pochettino knows that this will transform the club into new heights.

While Pochettino knows that their spending is still far behind from the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, he feels that playing in the new stadium will give them the opportunity to battle big European squads.

“Now, when you arrive here, it looks like a big club. Before you could say: ‘Yeah, but the stadium only holds 36,000’. But now, when you arrive here there is no point in thinking like a small club. You must think like a big club. But for sure to be close to the big clubs, the way that the big clubs think.

“If you want to compare to Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus or Real Madrid, you can’t think you are Tottenham with 36,000. We need to think like a big club and that is the most important step that we need to make. Of course, you say to me: ‘With you? Without you?’ I don’t know. That is about Daniel.

“But I think my responsibility, like it was five years ago, is to tell the club: ‘Now, we’ve finished the new stadium, we are going to think like a big club. What does it mean to think like a big club?’ That is what we have to discuss about the project. It’s normal, isn’t it? Nothing wrong, its just describing the situation in terms of what has happened.

“My project, when I started five years ago, was to arrive in the new stadium and try to be a competitive team in year two and then be in the Champions League. We are ahead [of schedule] now. In the new stadium we will play in the Champions League.

“Over the next five years in my mind we are going to finish [the chapter] and we need to close the chapters and we need to start thinking we are a club in different dimensions – we are not in Chigwell any more we are not at White Hart Lane with 36,000. The magnitude of the club has grown 10 times, 100 times. We are in another dimension. We cannot operate in the same way as five years ago – we are a different dimension.”

Following their 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League, many have compared the two sides but Pochettino revealed that the Merseyside club’s spending is big compared to what they have.

“I was talking with Daniel after the Liverpool game and sometimes people compare us with Liverpool and say the very good action of [Virgil] van Dijk. Van Dijk was £75m 18 months ago. The keeper [Alisson Becker] was £70m. They had two midfielders on the bench who they spent more than £100m on in the summer.

“The people sometimes say an opinion of Tottenham is like Liverpool. In what? Yes now we are going to be better than Liverpool because we have a better stadium and better training ground. Yes but now is another thing to compete as we need to operate maybe similar to them in the future or not. We will see which is the project.

“But the effort we were doing – first the chairman, the fans, the players and the staff – to be now sitting here is massive. And when you look back for a few games that in the past few weeks that we were not good. And in the last game we deserved much more against a team that is building and competing to win the Champions League and Premier League but with pressure as they invest a lot in the last four-five years. And we are there. It is a massive point to be so happy. But thinking that we must be clever in how we are going to start and project and the vision for the future of the club.

“Now we need to behave like a big club in every single aspect and every single department. That is only my point when I talk with Daniel.

“But I feel more than proud sitting with you after five years to say ‘job done’ we are here, we are in the Champions League, we are in the top four when no one believed that five years ago when it was only to reduce the gap with the big clubs. No one believed when we explained five years ago that we are going to do this and that and be contenders and we are going to compete. I think that the people start to write that this guy what does he smoke and what pills does he take.”

As for the summer and whether Spurs will be spending big, Pochettino said: “It’s going to be massive.”

When asked if it was the biggest, he said: “Yes.”

Atletico Madrid set to face MLS All-Stars in summer showdown

According to reports, La Liga side Altetico Madrid will face-off against Major League Soccer All-Stars in an exhibition match in Orlando.

Diego Simeone’s men were picked to be this year’s opponents of the top crop of players the MLS has to offer – as the tradition continues as it did in the last 14 years.

MLS All-Stars have battled teams like Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and Juventus and will now add Atletico to the list.

During the European side’s summer schedule, Atletico are also set to have a few matches outside of the All-Star game, with a battle against rivals Real Madrid in New Jersey as a part of the 2019 International Champions Cup.

Reports: Manchester United set to beat out Real Madrid, PSG for English star

It appears Manchester United have Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho as their prime target during the summer.

For the Bundesliga club, the Englishman has been a revelation and for him to move away, it would cost around £100 million.

Reports have been linking him to Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain as well but it is believed that Old Trafford is the most likely move for the 19-year-old.

With United said to go through changes in the summer to help them challenge for the Premier League title, having Sancho in tow will definitely be a big factor.

Having a young star who already has the experience in big matches will see manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have someone he can use as his anchor for a long time and play alongside the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Former Barcelona star set to switch nationality from Spain to Croatia

Dinamo Zagreb star and Spanish international Dani Olmo may be switching allegiances soon, as reports reveal he’s close to switching to represent Croatia.

The 20-year-old winger has been making waves since his youth days, climbing up the ranks of FC Barcelona from 2007 to 2014 and has found Dinamo Zagreb a home since 2015.

He has represented Spain in various youth teams but a source says and Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic wants to make it happen.

At one point, Dalic even called for the country’s president to help out.

He said: “Given the player’s characteristics, we’d be losing out on a big talent so I am prepared to given him a chance.

“We once missed out on the chance to bring in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and we can’t let this similar chance to bring in Dani Olmo escape us.”

Naturally, the Spanish FA will also have their piece with this conversation but ultimately, Olmo will have the final say on the matter.

Manchester United to hire technical director to work with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

To help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager Manchester United in the coming season, it is reported that the management are looking to appoint their first technical director.

While a timeframe for when the technical director arrives is still uncertain, reports are fairly confident that it’ll happen before the start of the new campaign.

Outside of being a technical director, the role of the new man to be hired is to help in long-term recruitment strategy for the team and integrating the club’s academy.

With Jose Mourinho adamantly against restructuring when he was in charge at Old Trafford, Solskjaer admitted he is working with United brass to change things.

As for Solskjaer’s current coaching staff of Mike Phelan, Michael carrick and Kieran McKenna, their future with the club seems to be safe.

When asked whether he had an opinion on who would be the coming technical director, the United gaffer said: “Yes. I have an input on most of the things now and I give my advice.

“The communication between myself and the owners is very good and we discuss different names. I’m not the one who decides.”

Chelsea striker struggling to adapt to Premier League – Sarri

According to Chelsea FC coach Maurizio Sarri, Gonzalo Higuain has found life difficult in the Premier League.

The two forged a relationship in Napoli and the Argentine striker made his way to Stamford Bridge in January but he has failed to replicate his form.

In 10 appearances, the Juventus loanee has only scored three times and has struggled against teams in the top half of the table.

“[Higuain] said to me that it’s difficult, because the physical impact of the defenders here is really very strong,” Sarri revealed in an interview.

“The referees here are really very different than in Italy, and so it’s another football for him, especially for a striker and a goalkeeper, it’s really very different.

“I think he needs time, but we have no time. So we need him at his top level in the last two months.”

As for Higuain staying past this season, Chelsea’s transfer ban may put a glimmer of doubt and Sarri admitted: “I don’t know.

“I’d like to see him at the top in the last two months. At the moment only this is really very important.

“We need Gonzalo at the top. It’s not easy I think to get used to this championship.”

AFC Cup 2019: Group C teams battle for a tight race at the top

In Group C of the AFC Cup 2019, all four teams were in action and first to kick-off ere Al-Ahead as they went up against Al-Suwaiq.

Both teams were looking for their first wins in the campaign as Al-Suawiq had lost their first two matches while Al-Ahead drew their first two.

It was action from the beginning as Nour Mansour scored in the match’s first minute to give Al-Ahed the lead. Mohamad Kdouh would double it in te 16th minute.

Al-Suwaiq were able to answer back with Thamir Al Zaabi setting in the 37th as they cut the deficit in half after the first 45.

However, it was Kdouh’s night as he bagged a brace in the 60th before completing the hat trick in the 69th to make it four for Al-Ahed.

A consolation goal for Khalil Al Alawi in the 85th made it 4-2 but Al-Suawiq are still looking for their first points.

Meanwhile, Malkiya were looking to maintain their unbeaten record by facing off against Al-Qadsia.

Malkiya had won and drawn their first two matches with the same going for Al-Qadsia.

It was Sayed Hashim Isa who opened up the scoring in the 42nd for Malkiya but it was ultimately erased by a penalty awarded to the hosts in the second half.

Yousef Nasser converted the penalty to level things in the 70th minute but it only took two minutes for Isa to respond with his brace and ultimately give Malkiya the final 2-1 victory.

With these results, Malkiya are atop with seven points, followed by Al-Ahed. Al-Qadsia are third and Al-Suwaiq are last.

Photo courtesy of AFC

AFC Cup 2019: Group A action sees Al Jaish atop the standings

As the AFC Cup 2019 resumed, Group A also welcomed the battle between Al Jaish and Al Wehdat.

Putting their unbeaten record on the line, Al Wehdat were facing another opponent yet to taste defeat, but are stuck in second place in Group A.

It was a very close match between the two teams where they traded attacks and close calls before the deadlock was ultimately broken in the 72nd minute with Al Jaish taking the lead.

Ahmed Ashkar collected a fine pass from Mohamed Sharifa to score on a left-footed effort to record the night’s only goal.

Down, but not out just yet, Al Wehdat tried to respond but couldn’t break through he Al Jaish defence and were left wanting and waiting for a goal.

The win brings Al Jaish to first place with seven points, while Al Wehdat is second with six.

Hilal Al-Quds and Nejmeh SC’s match had to be postponed after the latter could not travel to Palestine to play.

Photo courtesy of AFC

AFC Cup 2019: Kaya FC – Iloilo looking to maintain top form against PSM Makassar

Ahead of their AFC Cup 2019 match against PSM Makassar, Philippine squad Kaya FC-Iloilo claims they want to leave the match still atop Group H.

At the moment, Kaya FC-Iloilo sit above the three teams thanks to their 5-0 thrashing of Home United.

A win over PSM would give them even more comfort atop the standings and the team are definitely taking things seriously.

In an interview, Kaya coach Noel Marcaida said: “We all know the importance of tomorrow’s (today’s) game – it will determine who will be top of the group after the first round of matches.

“PSM is one of the oldest clubs in Indonesia. Looking at their AFC roster, (I think) they have an obvious height advantage. They have very technical, skillful, and experienced players so we’re expecting a tough game,” he admitted.

Photo courtesy of Kaya FC

Reports: Paris Saint-Germain looking to extend contract for Gianluigi Buffon

It seems that Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is still set to add more years between the sticks for Paris Saint-Germain.

According to sources, there is a new deal set for Buffon which will keep him at Parc des Princes until 2021.

Furthermore, it seems that both parties are still looking further down the line as they are still open for a possible extension – with Buffon staying until he’s well on his 40s.

The deal is said to also include a few bonuses and performance-based payouts.

Buffon has done well in Ligue 1, helping the team close in on yet another domestic title. However, they cam painfully short of the UEFA Champions League for yet another season, with many believing Buffon is to blame.

Reports: Juventus looking to swoop in on FC Barcelona target, pair Dutch star with Cristiano Ronaldo

While many believe that FC Barcelona and AFC Ajax have all but an official deal confirmed as the Catalans chase Matthijs de Ligt, it seems a new bidder has arrived that could change things.

According to reports, Juventus are also looking to swoop in and bring the AFC Ajax star to Turin.

The Serie A giants know that Barcelona are serious with their bid but Juve feel that they are still in the running to try and bring in the Dutchman to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

At 19 years old, De Ligt has been very impressive, leading the Dutch squad to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals as they now face Juve for a place in the last four.

Juve know they have an uphill battle against Barca for De Ligt, but they know that in the business of football anything is possible.

WATCH: Borussia Dortmund’s top 10 Der Klassiker goals

This weekend, Bundesliga fans are surely going to be glued to their screens as Der Klassiker takes on a lot of weight.

Borussia Dortmund have a two-point lead over Bayern Munich in the standings and the result of their clash at the end of the week could spell big news for the title race.

With that, we take a look at some of the best goals between the two teams!

Today, we start off with the current table leaders, Borussia Dortmund.

Borussia Dortmund – Der Klassiker Top 10 Goals

It could be Mats Hummels’ great header or Paco Alcacer’s gorgeous finish, they certainly have had moments in front of goal that would make Bayern Munich fans turn in agony.

They already picked up a win earlier in the season at home, can they duplicate it at the Allianz-Arena?

Enjoy!