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Man United lose again, Guardiola back to see City comeback win



MANCHESTER, England – Manchester United slumped to a third Premier League loss of the season at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday as Pep Guardiola returned to see Manchester City side’s 3-1 comeback win at West Ham United.

Fightbacks were the order of the day as Liverpool recovered from falling behind to win 3-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the early kickoff and two goals deep into stoppage time earned Tottenham Hotspur a 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

After another tumultuous week off the pitch for Manchester United, the club needed the players to lift their supporters.

Brighton ran out comfortable 3-1 winners, however, to ensure United suffered three defeats in the first five matches of a league campaign for the first time since 1989-90, leaving them languishing 13th in the table.

United fell behind in the 20th minute when Danny Welbeck slotted home against his former club when left unmarked in the penalty area.

Big-money signing Rasmus Hojlund, on his full debut, thought he had levelled before the break, but the ball was adjudged to be out of play when Marcus Rashford pulled the ball back to the Danish striker.

Brighton capitalised on that VAR reprieve as fine goals from Pascal Gross early in the second half and a Joao Pedro strike brought groans of dismay all around Old Trafford.

Substitute Hannibal Mejbri did get one back for the hosts with 18 minutes left but Brighton held on comfortably to move up to third on 12 points.

“Definitely that (losing three from five for the first time in Premier League history) is something that bothers me, but also I have to seen the way we play,” coach Erik ten Hag said.

“It is about character, we have to see how strong we are, stick together. We have to be very disappointed and annoyed at ourselves. We will turn this. There is a demand on us.”

Never-say-die City

Having recovered from back surgery, Guardiola would have been pleased with the fighting spirit of his team at London Stadium.

New signing Jeremy Doku, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland scored second-half goals to cancel out James Ward-Prowse’s strike and maintain City’s perfect record this season. They top the standings, two points ahead of Liverpool and three clear of Brighton.

City have now started a league campaign with five consecutive victories for the fifth time in their history, although their highest finish in any of those campaigns was third.

“I’d prefer to be here than to do a surgery that’s for sure,” Guardiola told the BBC.

“All game we played a fantastic game. Even when we were losing against at half-time. We were efficient, we were patient in the second-half. It was a big win after the international break. The team showed good spirit to survive.”

Wolves dominated the first half at Molineux against an unusually sluggish Liverpool, Hwang Hee-chan stroking in a seventh-minute goal and Wolves missing other chances.

Liverpool came out transformed in the second half, however, drawing level when Mohamed Salah set up fellow striker Cody Gakpo for a tap-in.

Wearing the captain’s armband on his 200th Premier League appearance, Andy Robertson slid in Liverpool’s second from another Salah pass in the 85th minute and they added a third in stoppage time.

There were further scenes of jubilation at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Tottenham were heading for their first Premier League defeat under Ange Postecoglou as they trailed to Gustavo Hamer’s goal against the run of play in the 75th minute.

But substitute Richarlison ended his goal drought with the equaliser in the eighth of 12 minutes added on and set up Dejan Kulusevski for the winner as Tottenham made it four wins in a row and 13 points from 15 — their best start to a top-flight season since 1965-66.

Late goals also helped Aston Villa storm back to beat Crystal Palace 3-1, Fulham secured a 1-0 victory over Luton Town, and Newcastle United move up to 11th with a 1-0 home win over Brentford, their first win in four league games.



Ho Chi Minh City proposes 18 big-ticket sports projects



The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has proposed to the municipal People’s Council invest in 18 sports projects through the public-private partnership method, aiming to address deficiencies in sports facilities that the city has faced over the past decade.

Among these projects, up to 16 are earmarked for Thu Duc City. 

The remaining two sports initiatives include a new outdoor sports training and competition facility in District 11, requiring an investment of over VND465 billion (US$19.1 million), and a swimming pool within the Cultural and Sports Center of Binh Tan District with an investment surpassing VND199 billion ($8.2 million).

The flagship project is the construction of a new major stadium in Thu Duc City, featuring a roof, a seating capacity of 50,000, and an athletics track, requiring a staggering investment of VND7 trillion ($288.2 million). 

Following closely is the bicycle racing complex in Thu Duc City, comprising a 5,000-seat grandstand, a racing track, and an outdoor football field, with a total investment of VND4 trillion ($164.7 million).

Another general sports stadium project in Thu Duc City, with an investment of VND3 trillion ($123.5 million), comprises a main stadium with 10,000-seat stands and two auxiliary fields with 1,000-seat stands, covering an area of 3.63 hectares. 

An indoor stadium is designed for athletics such as javelin throwing, hammer throwing, discus throwing, high jump, and pole vaulting, with an investment of VND1.5 trillion ($61.7 million). 

A tennis arena project, featuring a 5,000-seat grandstand and an outdoor tennis court cluster, is set to receive an investment of VND1 trillion ($41.2 million).

A competition and practice swimming pool project are also in the works with an investment of VND1 trillion. 

Further projects include a new football academy and a cluster of six outdoor football practice fields, attracting an investment of VND1 trillion, and a futsal arena boasting a 3,000-seat grandstand with an investment of VND800 billion ($32.9 million). 

Notably, a medical and health rehabilitation center, aimed at promptly supporting the health of athletes and the general public involved in training and sports competitions, will receive an investment of VND500 billion ($20.6 million).

This proposal comes in response to the deterioration of Thong Nhat Stadium in District 10, one of the city’s largest, with its current capacity of nearly 14,400 seats. 

Despite ongoing renovations, the stadium’s limitations, including a degraded athletics track and insufficient capacity, hinder the growth of sports in Ho Chi Minh City. 

As a result, international matches featuring the Vietnamese national football teams predominantly took place in Hanoi and northern provinces like Phu Tho, Quang Ninh, and Ha Nam – each boasting commendable stadiums – for several years.

Football enthusiasts in Ho Chi Minh City rarely had the opportunity to spectate these matches live in the city.

Moreover, the absence of stadiums dedicated for young athletes poses a challenge for the city’s football. 

Young players must rotate between two fields at Phu Tho Indoor Sports Stadium, where rain and flooding further complicates training sessions.

The proposal thus aims to address these challenges and provide better facilities for the city’s sports development, a move welcomed by sports expert Doan Minh Xuong.

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Ten Hag admits he was warned off ‘impossible’ Man Utd job



LONDON — Erik ten Hag said he was warned off taking on the “impossible job” of Manchester United manager but admitted he could not resist the challenge at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman, who left Ajax to take over at United in 2022, ended the club’s six-year trophy drought last season but has been under intense pressure in his second campaign.

United beat Chelsea 2-1 at home on Wednesday, easing the pressure on their beleaguered boss, but have lost 10 out of their 22 games this season in all competitions.

Ten Hag told fanzine “United We Stand” that he was advised how tough it would be to revive the fortunes of the 20-time English champions, who have been in the shadow of Manchester City for a decade.

“Everyone was telling me ‘You can’t succeed in that job’,” said the 53-year-old. “They said it was impossible. Me? I wanted the challenge.”

United beat Newcastle in the League Cup final in February and finished third in the Premier League in 2022/23.

But this season they are already out of the League Cup, trail Premier League leaders Arsenal by nine points and face an embarrassing group-stage exit from the Champions League.

Since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, six managers have tried and failed to take United back to the top of English football — David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it was such a great club with such a great fanbase,” said Ten Hag.

“People love Man Utd, or they are against Man Utd. I like clubs like this. Ajax was like this.”

The Dutchman said earlier this week he was confident that he retains the backing of the United players after reports of rifts within the dressing room.

United are expected to announce that British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is buying a 25 percent stake in the club in the coming days but the deal may not make a major impact on spending in the January transfer window.

“I don’t think we will spend a lot,” said Ten Hag.

“As a club, you have to look for improvements, so if you can find better and it’s realistic financially and with financial fair play, the club has to go with it.

“But most of the time you don’t attract the best players in the winter.”


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Final berth in VBA 2023 semifinals a two-horse race



The final berth in the semifinals will come down to a face-off between the Nha Trang Dolphins and the Ho Chi Minh City Wings. 

The defending champions, Saigon Heat, clinched a thrilling 80-78 victory against city counterparts Ho Chi Minh City Wings in the 50th match of the 2023 VBA season, securing a spot in the semifinals with an 11-2 record.

The Saigon Heat’s triumph inadvertently propelled the Thang Long Warriors into the semifinals, with coach Chris Daleo expressing delight over the team’s nine victories this season, a major improvement against last year’s group-stage knockout.

VBA announces the Saigon Heat as one of the semifinalists. Photo: VBA

VBA announces the Saigon Heat as one of the semifinalists. Photo: VBA

With guaranteed spots for the Saigon Heat and Thang Long Warriors, the race for the last semifinal berth came down to a matchup between the fourth-ranked Nha Trang Dolphins and the fifth-ranked Ho Chi Minh City Wings.

The Nha Trang Dolphins maintain an 8-6 record for the current season with four matches yet to be played, while the Ho Chi Minh City Wings possess a 6-8 record and have three matches remaining in their schedule.

Thang Long Warriors’ coach Chris Daleo. Photo: VBA

Thang Long Warriors’ coach Chris Daleo. Photo: VBA

Despite posting a worse record, the Ho Chi Minh City Wings have a higher head-to-head score against the Nha Trang Dolphins.

The Nha Trang Dolphins and Ho Chi Minh City Wings are gearing up for a pivotal matchup that will determine which team reigns supreme.

With both teams vying for the top spot, this final encounter promises intense competition and thrilling basketball.

Kentrell Barkley (white jersey) helps the Saigon Heat win against the Ho Chi Minh City Wings. Photo: VBA

Kentrell Barkley (white jersey) helps the Saigon Heat win against the Ho Chi Minh City Wings. Photo: VBA

“The Ho Chi Minh City Wings have been in good form in the second half of the season,” commented Hong Gia Lan, an experienced defender for the Nha Trang Dolphins.

“The impending match presents a considerable challenge for our team.

“Nevertheless, we are actively engaged in preparations, implementing strategic changes to ensure readiness for this demanding encounter.”

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