Liverpool hit late double to preserve Premier League home record

Liverpool hit late double to preserve Premier League home record

04/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31540299

LONDON: Liverpool produced a sensational finish to beat Fulham in a seven-goal thriller on Sunday as high-flying Aston Villa battled back to draw against Bournemouth on a dramatic afternoon in the Premier League.

Ten-man Chelsea shrugged off a red card for captain Conor Gallagher to edge Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 while West Ham United drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace. Liverpool appeared set for a rare and damaging home defeat but turned the tables on Fulham at Anfield with two late goals to close within two points of the top of the table.

Trent Alexander-Arnold helped set Liverpool on their way in the 20th minute, crashing a free-kick off the underside of the bar and into the net via the unfortunate Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno for an own goal.

But the visitors were level just four minutes later when Harry Wilson poked Antonee Robinson’s cross past goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, standing in for the injured Alisson Becker.

Alexis Mac Allister produced a moment of magic to restore Liverpool’s lead, lashing a drive into the top corner from distance for his first goal for the club but Kenny Tete pounced from close range shortly before half-time to level.

Fulham looked set for a sensational victory when they scored in the 80th minute, with substitute Bobby De Cordova-Reid leaping highest.

However, Liverpool were not finished. Mohamed Salah blasted over from close range as the home side pushed for an equaliser, but he then turned provider for Wataru Endo, who found the net from the edge of the box in the 87th minute.

A minute later they were ahead again when Alexander-Arnold drove the ball home after the ball fell to him just inside the box, sparking wild scenes at Anfield.

Meanwhile, Chelsea recorded just their second Premier League home win of the season against Brighton, despite being reduced to 10 men before half-time.

Chelsea were cruising midway through first half after goals from Enzo Fernandez and Levi Colwill.

Facundo Buonanotte halved the deficit for the visitors shortly before half-time but there was still time for Gallagher to pick up a second yellow card, changing the complexion of the match.

Chelsea were awarded a penalty when James Milner was adjudged to have fouled Mykhailo Mudryk and Fernandez made no mistake to restore Chelsea’s two-goal cushion.

Joao Pedro pulled a goal back in the 92nd minute to ramp up the pressure on Chelsea and the home fans’ hearts were in their mouths when Brighton were awarded a penalty for a handball by Colwill in the 101st minute.

But the referee reversed the on-field decision after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor and Chelsea held on.

Elsewhere, Ollie Watkins headed home a cross from Moussa Diaby in the 90th minute to rescue a point for Aston Villa, who remain in fourth place.

Bournemouth’s Antoine Semenyo opened the scoring early before a fine individual goal from Leon Bailey.

Dominic Solanke put the home side back ahead early in the second half and Bournemouth looked like hanging on for a win before Watkins’ late equaliser.

At the London Stadium, Mohammed Kudus put West Ham ahead in the first half, before Odsonne Edouard equalised in the second period to earn a point for Crystal Palace.


In Saturday’s late match, Anthony Gordon scored the winner as Newcastle United held off a frenzied late push by Manchester United in a deserved 1-0 victory over their top-four rivals at a chilly St James’ Park.

Eddie Howe’s team climbed above United into fifth in the table on 26 points after 14 games as Erik ten Hag’s side dropped to seventh on 24.

The Magpies have won three consecutive games against Manchester United in all competitions for the first time since January 1922.

Gordon scored his sixth goal of the Premier League season in the 55th minute when Kieran Trippier played a ball across the six-yard box after United lost possession in midfield.

Miguel Almiron narrowly missed getting to the ball before a wide-open Trippier swept it in from the back post for Gordon to score.

Newcastle peppering United keeper Andre Onana with 22 shots compared with the visitors’ seven.

United pressed for a late equaliser with a flurry of chances including Harry Maguire’s headed effort that was ruled out for offside.

One negative for Newcastle, already depleted by injuries, was keeper Nick Pope’s replacement by Martin Dubravka in the 86th minute after dislocating his shoulder. Pope walked gingerly off the pitch with the help of medical staff.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023
Pakistan women thrash New Zealand to make history

Pakistan women thrash New Zealand to make history

04/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31540297

 Pakistan opener Muneeba Ali plays a shot during the first T20 against New Zealand at Otago Oval on Sunday.—courtesy PCB
Pakistan opener Muneeba Ali plays a shot during the first T20 against New Zealand at Otago Oval on Sunday.—courtesy PCB

DUNEDIN: Pakistan women made history on Sunday as they registered their maiden win over New Zealand, beating the hosts by seven wickets in the first Twenty20 International at the University of Otago Oval.

The win was orchestrated by an impressive show of bowling by pacer Fatima Sana and a clinical batting performance by opener Shawaal Zulfiqar.

While Fatima took three wickets, while giving away only 18 runs to restrict New Zealand to 127-6 after they had chosen to bat first, Shawaal gave Pakistan’s chase a solid start with her 41 off 42.

She added 40 runs with fellow opener Muneeba Ali (23 off 24, four fours), who was the first batter to return to the pavilion. At that stage, captain Nida Dar promoted herself up in the order and knitted 51 runs for the second wicket with right-handed batter Shawaal.

The 18-year-old Shawaal, playing her sixth T20I and first on New Zealand soil, scored her highest T20I score with help of seven boundaries before losing her wicket.

Following her departure at the end of the 13th over with 91 runs on the board, Nida too was dismissed after a quick-fire 23 off 14 balls, the knock studded with a four and a six.

With both dismissals haven slightly shaken Pakistan’s pursuit of the target, the seasoned pair of Bismah Maroof and Aliya Riaz ensured the visitors sail over the finish line smoothly with 10 balls to spare.

Aliya returned unbeaten on 25 off 12 balls. Her innings included two fours and a six, the latter of which she struck on the second ball of the 19th over to finish the match. Bismah was undefeated on 13 off 18 balls.

Earlier, Fatima capitalised on the overcast conditions to keep the White Ferns from scoring freely. Nida, Diana Baig and Aliya took a wicket each as well.

For New Zealand, Maddy Green was the top-scorer, smashing an unbeaten 43 off 28 balls with the help of five fours.

The second of the three-match series will be played at the same venue on Tuesday

Scores in brief:

NEW ZEALAND 127-6 in 20 overs (Maddy Green 43 not out, Suzie Bates 28; Fatima Sana 3-18); PAKISTAN 132-3 in 18.2 overs (Shawaal Zulfiqar 41, Aliya Riaz 25 not out, Muneeba Ali 23, Nida Dar 23; Sophie Devine 2-23).

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023
Ukrainians strive to force IPC into Russia Paralympics U-turn

Ukrainians strive to force IPC into Russia Paralympics U-turn

04/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31540301

PARIS: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is “aware of numerous specific violations of the IPC Constitution” by the Russian Paralympic Committee and should ban Russia and Belarus from the 2024 Paralympics, the president of the Ukrainian Paralympic body has told AFP.

Russia and its ally Belarus will compete in Paris under a neutral flag after a vote to ban them outright due to the invasion of Ukraine was narrowly defeated in September.

The vote at the IPC’s General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, resulted in 74 members opposed to an outright ban, 65 in favour and 13 abstentions.

Ukrainian Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Sushkevych said the vote was tainted, claiming some delegates from African countries told him “there was significant political pressure from Russia through embassies and governments.”

Sushkevych says he has “new facts” that reveal the extent of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s support for the war in Ukraine and their efforts to integrate para-athletes in land occupied by Russia into their team.

“We are preparing information for the IPC on new facts that vividly demonstrate the Russian Paralympic movement is an active participant in the implementation of Russia’s deadly special military operation,” he said.

The Games run from Aug 28 to Sept 8, after the Olympics.

Sushkevych, 59, said among the illegal acts was the inclusion of Russian soldiers wounded since the invasion.

His Russian counterpart Pavel Rozhkov has announced that veterans are being selected for Russian Paralympic teams.

“The Russian Paralympic Committee and the Russian authorities actively integrate members of the Russian army, who killed Ukrainian children, assaulted Ukrainian women, and destroyed hundreds of peaceful towns and villages on Ukrainian territory,” said Sushkevych.

He claimed that not only were Ukrainian athletes appalled at competing against former soldiers, so were others in the Paralympian community.

“Some European countries are already asking IPC leaders: do you really think that our athletes want to live in the same Paralympic village with these killers and rapists? “Even be alongside them on the same podium during award ceremonies?”

Other potential evidence of infractions could include the creation of a new sport organisation for disabled people in the occupied territory of the Donetsk region, spearheaded by Russian athletics Paralympic champion Olga Semenova.

Sushkevych, who with his family had to leave their home due to “Russian rocket attacks”, is confident the extraordinary General Assembly of European Paralympic committees in Latvia next year will be decisive.

“Decisions are planned that should effectively influence the leadership of the IPC, in accordance with the IPC Constitution, to prevent Russia and Belarus from participating in the Paralympics in Paris in any capacity,” he said.

The IPC declined to comment on the allegations but directed AFP to the words of its president Andrew Parsons after the Manama vote allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete at the Paralympics, when he said: “As this was a decision taken by the IPC General Assembly, I expect all IPC members to fully respect it”.


The conflict has inflicted destruction and suffering on Ukrainian Paralympians.

“Over 100 homes where our Paralympians lived have been destroyed,” said Sushkevych.

“Dozens of Ukrainian Paralympians now reside in western regions of Ukraine and abroad, in various European countries, in temporary residences.

“There are Paralympic athletes who have personally suffered from bombings, shelling, and violence in the occupied territories.”

The grandparents of four-time swimming Paralympic medallist Anton Kol have fled due to constant shelling in the Nikopol region.

The 33-year-old told AFP focusing on training and competing was “very difficult” and he was “constantly under stress and fear for my family.” The triple world champion has found little compassion being expressed by either his Russian or Belarusian rivals.

Indeed Belarus swimmer Alexei Talay, who lost his arms and legs when he stepped on an unexploded World War II shell aged 16, has been placed under sanctions by Poland accused of illegally deporting hundreds of Ukrainian children.

Kol’s fellow Paralympian, five-time world para-canoeing champion Marina Mazhula, has family in Russia and told AFP their relations remain good.

The 40-year-old, who has suffered the loss of a friend and whose nephew Oleksandr has been wounded twice on the frontline, said however she can’t wait to compete against the Russians and Belarusians if they are in Paris.

“I will ‘fight’ for my country wherever I can!” she said. “The sports arena will become my frontline. Not showing up at the Paralympics would be seen as a sign of weakness. We cannot surrender our country without a fight, and medals should not be handed over without a struggle.”

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023
Nerveless Arshdeep sees India edge Australia to win T20 series 4-1

Nerveless Arshdeep sees India edge Australia to win T20 series 4-1

04/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31540300

 AUSTRALIAN opener Josh Philippe is clean bowled by Indian pacer Mukesh Kumar during their fifth Twenty20 International at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.—AFP
AUSTRALIAN opener Josh Philippe is clean bowled by Indian pacer Mukesh Kumar during their fifth Twenty20 International at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.—AFP

BENGALURU: Shreyas Iyer smashed 53 and fast bowler Arshdeep Singh kept calm in a tense final over as India edged Australia by six runs to seal the Twenty20 series 4-1 on Sunday.

India posted 160-8 in the fifth match after Iyer propelled the total with his 37-ball knock despite losing regular wickets after the tourists elected to field first in Bengaluru.

Fast bowler Mukesh Kumar (3-32) and leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi (2-29) stood out as the hosts, who took an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the fourth T20, restricted Australia to 154-8.

But it was left-arm quick Arshdeep who defended nine in the last over when he began with two dot balls and then the wicket of skipper Matthew Wade for 22 to dim Australia’s hopes.

The next three balls got the batting team just three runs as India celebrated victory.

It was a second-string Indian team which gave some consolation to the fans who witnessed hosts India lose the ODI World Cup final to Australia on November 19 in Ahmedabad.

Ben McDermott smashed 54 off 36 deliveries but the batting wobbled after his departure and Mukesh struck twice on two deliveries to dent the chase.

He took down Matthew Short, for 16, Ben Dwarshuis, on a duck, to be on a hat-trick averted by Nathan Ellis.

The left-handed Wade sma­shed four boundaries and looked set to get the team home but a rising delivery from Arshdeep at the start of the final over made him angry as he signalled to the umpires for a no-ball.

Wade protested and got out two balls later to take back his team’s hopes, still dejected and waving his bat.

Earlier, India lost regular wickets but Iyer set up victory after he put on fighting partnerships of 42 with Jitesh Sharma, who made 24, and 46 with Axar Patel, who hit back with 31 from 21 balls.

Iyer, who returned in the previous match after resting following the team’s World Cup defeat, raised his fifty with a four and six before be was bowled by Ellis.



Y. Jaiswal c Ellis b Behrendorff21

R. Gaikwad c Behrendorff b Dwarshuis10

S. Iyer b Ellis53

S. Yadav c McDermott b Dwarshuis5

R. Singh c David b Sangha6

J. Sharma c Short b Hardie24

A. Patel c Hardie b Behrendorff31

R. Bishnoi run out2

A. Singh not out2

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, W-3)6

TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs)160

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-33 (Jaiswal), 2-33 (Gaikwad), 3-46 (Yadav), 4-55 (R. Singh), 5-97 (Sharma), 6-143 (Patel), 7-156 (Iyer), 8-160 (Bishnoi)

DID NOT BAT: A. Khan, M. Kumar

BOWLING: Hardie 4-0-21-1, Behrendorff 4-0-38-2, Dwarshuis 4-0-30-2 (1w), Ellis 4-0-42-1 (2w), Sangha 4-0-26-1


T. Head b Bishnoi28

J. Philippe b Kumar4

B. McDermott c R. Singh b A. Singh54

A. Hardie c Iyer b Bishnoi6

T. David c Khan b Patel17

M. Short c Gaikwad b Kumar16

M. Wade c Iyer b A. Singh22

B. Dwarshuis b Kumar0

N. Ellis not out4

J. Behrendorff not out2


TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs)154

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-22 (Philippe), 2-47 (Head), 3-55 (Hardie), 4-102 (David), 5-116 (McDermott), 6-129 (Short), 7-129 (Dwarshuis), 8-151 (Wade)

DID NOT BAT: T. Sangha

BOWLING: A. Singh 4-0-40-2 (1w), Khan 4-0-39-0, Kumar 4-0-32-3, Bishnoi 4-0-29-2, Patel 4-0-14-1

RESULT: India won by six runs.


SERIES: India won the five-match series 4-1.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023
Warner included in settled Australia squad for first Pakistan Test

Warner included in settled Australia squad for first Pakistan Test

03/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31539093

Australia opener David Warner looks likely to get the Test farewell of his choice after being named in the 14-man squad for the opening clash in the three-match series against Pakistan on Sunday.

Warner said in June that he wanted to bring down the curtain on his 12-year career in the longest format after the third Test against the tourists in his home city of Sydney early next year.

His lack of recent Test runs, an average of less than 30 with just one century over the last two years, had threatened to stymie his plans but his contribution to Australia’s recent World Cup triumph looks to have secured his place in the squad.

The one minor surprise in a settled squad was the inclusion of Western Australian bowler Lance Morris, who would offer plenty of raw pace if he got the nod to make his Test debut in familiar conditions at Perth Stadium from December 14-18.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon also returned to the squad in place of Todd Murphy after missing the back end of last year’s Ashes series with a calf injury.

Otherwise, Australia retained the players who earlier this year won the World Test Championship for the first time and retained the Ashes in England.

Chief selector George Bailey said there were still opportunities for others to play themselves into contention for the Tests against Pakistan in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the two-match series against West Indies that follows.

“We look forward to seeing the continued strong performances from players who have been performing domestically, many of whom will get a tremendous opportunity in the Prime Minister’s XI fixture against Pakistan later this week,” he said in a statement.

Pakistan, who have not won a Test match in Australia for nearly three decades, are already in Canberra preparing for the start of the four-day tour match at Manuka Oval on Wednesday.

Australia squad: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Lance Morris**
Kashmiri students arrested for celebrating India’s Cricket World Cup defeat get bail

Kashmiri students arrested for celebrating India’s Cricket World Cup defeat get bail

03/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31539488

An Indian court has granted bail to seven Kashmiri students who were arrested under anti-terror laws for allegedly celebrating Australia’s victory over India in the men’s Cricket World Cup final last month, a lawyer said on Sunday.

The students from an agriculture university were detained in occupied Kashmir after one student filed a complaint accusing them of using anti-India slogans and cheering for Pakistan along with Australia after the match.

Local political leaders opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s rule had said the arrests were a way to intimidate locals using the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The act deals with inciting any unlawful activity and is punishable with seven years’ imprisonment.

Police dropped the UAPA charges and an Indian court granted bail to the students on Saturday, according to the lawyer of students, Shafiq Bhat, and a court order seen by Reuters.

In granting bail, the local court imposed a condition that the students should be available when needed for the investigation and “shall not indulge in any anti national activity,” the order stated.

The students still face allegations under other Indian laws that related to making statements inducing public mischief.

Australia had entered the World Cup match as clear underdogs against an all-conquering India side, who had won 10 matches in a row to storm into the final. But India was defeated in the final match on Nov 19.
Messi focused on Copa America title defence, not long-term Argentina future

Messi focused on Copa America title defence, not long-term Argentina future

03/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31538807

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina captain Lionel Messi is not thinking about his international future beyond next year’s Copa America, where he will try to lead the country to a second successive continental title at the tournament in the United States.

The 36-year-old said earlier this year that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where he led Argentina to their third title, would likely be his last.

He is now not ruling out playing at the 2026 World Cup in the US, Mexico and Canada and says he is enjoying his best time with Argentina despite acknowledging that time is working against him.

Messi, who recently won his eighth Ballon d’Or, raised the World Cup almost a year ago after starring for Argentina in the final against France in Doha.

But having moved to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami and continued performing for the national team in qualifiers for 2026, he says the door remains open.

“I’m not thinking about the World Cup and I’m not saying 100 percent that I won’t be there because anything can happen. Because of my age, the most normal thing is that I won’t be there. Then we’ll see,” said Messi in an interview with Argentina’s Star+.

“Maybe we’ll do well at the Copa America and everything will work out for us to continue. Maybe not. Realistically it’s difficult,” he said of the chance of a sixth consecutive appearance in the World Cup.

Messi said he would be “the first to know when I can be there and when I can’t. I’m also aware that I’ve gone to a lesser league. But it’s all about the personal side of things and the way you deal with it and how you compete.

“As long as I feel I’m well and can continue to contribute, I’m going to do it. Today all I’m thinking about is getting to the Copa America. After that, time will tell if I’m there or not.

“I’m going to arrive at an age that, normally, doesn’t allow me to play in the World Cup. I said I don’t think I’m going to be there. It looked like after the World Cup I was retiring and it was the opposite. Now I want to be there more than ever.

“We are experiencing a special moment, I want to enjoy it to the fullest, without thinking two or three years ahead, which in football is a lot.”

Messi has bittersweet memories of the last time the Copa America was held on American soil in the 2016 centenary edition, where Argentina reached the final but lost on penalties to Chile.

It was the third consecutive final Argentina had lost with Messi as captain, after the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa, before he led the country to claim the continental title in 2021.

The South Americans then went on to win the 2022 Finalissima against Italy before beating France on penalties in the World Cup final last year.

“Being world champion changed me in the peace of mind knowing that, in my job, I could achieve everything,” added Messi.

The Copa America will feature six guest teams from the CONCACAF region, including the US and Mexico. Argentina will discover their opponents when the draw is made on Dec. 7.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023
Iftikhar, Tayyab and Yasir shine in National T20 Cup

Iftikhar, Tayyab and Yasir shine in National T20 Cup

03/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31538806

KARACHI: Crucial knocks by Iftikhar Ahmed, Tayyab Tahir and Yasir Khan led their respective teams to victories in the ongoing National T20 Cup on Saturday.

Iftikhar-led Peshawar registered their second consecutive triumph of the tournament as they beat Karachi Whites by 56 runs at the UBL Sports Complex.

Asked to bat first, Peshawar were reeling at 43-3 when skipper Iftikhar (72 not out off 45, nine fours and two sixes) and Adil Amin (75 not out off 44, six fours and four sixes) combined to for 143 taking Peshawar to a total of 186.

Iftikhar was as lethal with the ball, claiming three victims as Karachi were bowled out for 130. They would have lost by a bigger margin had it not been for Ammad Alam and Omair Bin Yousuf, who put on a 56-run partnership put on a partnership.

At the NBP Sports Complex, Tayyab rescued Lahore Whites after early jitters to ens­ure a five-wicket win over Lahore Blues.

In pursuit of a 149-run target, the Whites had lost two early wickets but debutant opener Imran Dogar (45 off 29, five fours and two sixes) and Tayyab (67 not out off 54, five fours and a six) took the team all the way across the finish line.

Earlier, Lahore Blues managed to post a total of 148 in the allotted 20 overs after Lahore Whites won the toss and elected to bowl first.

After a decent start to their innings, Lahore Blues lost wickets at regular intervals. Wicketkeeper batter Junaid Ali coming in to bat at number six, played a vital knock of 34 runs with the help of six boundaries.

Rawalpindi made it two wins out of two games in the Super Eight stage as they thrashed Fata by seven wickets at the National Bank Stadium. Rawalpindi made no fuss in chasing Fata’s total of 168 courtesy of a brilliant hundred by the opener Yasir.

Fata lost their openers in batting powerplay as they were put in to bat by Rawalpindi’s captain Shadab Khan.

Barring Salman Khan Jr’s 83 off 52 (eight fours and three sixes), no other Fata batter managed to convert their starts. Towards the end of innings Asif Afridi chipped in with a unbeaten cameo of 16 from nine balls, including a six and a four, to help FATA post a respectable total.

Rawalpindi’s Zaman Khan impressed with three wickets including a hat-trick chance.

Rawalpindi lost Zeeshan Malik early in the chase but aggressive batting by Yasir (107 off 59b, eight fours and as many sixes) combined with Umar Amin’s 48 off 38b (four fours and a six)efforts with the bat allowed a massive partnership of 154 runs.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023
Hosts Germany to face Scotland in Euro 2024 opener

Hosts Germany to face Scotland in Euro 2024 opener

03/12/2023, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31538809

HAMBURG: Hosts Germany will face Scotland in the opening match of Euro 2024 in Munich following the draw on Saturday.

The Germans, three-times winners, will kick off the one-month tournament in Munich on June 14, with the final on July 14 in Berlin’s Olympic stadium.

The draw was held at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, one of the 10 host cities of the tournament.

The hosts qualified automatically and 20 teams advanced through the European qualifiers. Three teams are still unknown and will come through the playoffs in March.

The top two in each of the six Euro 2024 groups proceed to the round of 16 along with the four best third-placed finishers.

Reigning champions Italy were placed in the same group as Spain in Saturday’s draw, while France will come up against the Netherlands.

Much-fancied England will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia.

The draw ceremony was disrupted by unexplained noises that competed for attention with the team names being read out on stage.

The interruption, which seemed to sound like sexual noises, was clearly heard for several minutes on the ceremony.

UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti noted the noise in his commentary before continuing with the draw for the last six places for lower-ranked teams in the 24-nation tournament lineup. The sound continued sporadically until the draw was completed.

Group stage draw:

Group ‘A’: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland.

Group ‘B’: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania.

Group ‘C’: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England.

Group ‘D’: Play-off winner A (Poland/Wales/Finland/Estonia), Netherlands, Austria, France.

Group ‘E’: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Play-off winner B (Israel/Bosnia/Ukraine/Iceland).

Group ‘F’: Turkey, Play-off winner C (Georgia/Greece/Kazakhstan/Luxembourg), Portugal, Czech Republic.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023