Neymar back with Brazil in Ecuador clash

PORTO ALEGRE - Brazil have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup but all eyes will be on superstar Neymar playing Ecuador on Thursday in his first international since a record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. The Selecao are on the fast track to Russia, with a good chance of ending the qualifiers as South America's top team. Ecuador are only sixth and in danger of missing out on the finals in Russia. For Brazil coach Tite, who has overseen 8 out of 8 victories in competitive matches since taking over, the priority for the clash in Porto Alegre is to maintain the high standards. "The World Cup is now properly underway," he said. Tite has available his full stable of stars, led by Neymar who became the world's most expensive player with a 222 million euro transfer to PSG from Barcelona.–AFP



Gibbs joins West Brom from Arsenal

LONDON - England international left-back Kieran Gibbs has joined West Bromwich Albion from Arsenal on a four-year contract, his new club announced on Wednesday. West Brom did not reveal how much they paid for the 27-year-old, but British media reports put the fee at around £7 million. Gibbs came through the youth ranks at Arsenal, but having played regularly between 2012 and 2015, he subsequently found himself on the fringes of the first team. "I watched the boys in the first few games of the season and they've got a lot of energy," Gibbs said. "They've made some good signings and I feel this is a good move for me." Gibbs follows Jay Rodriguez, Ahmed Hegazi, Gareth Barry, Yuning Zhang and Oliver Burke in signing for West Brom during the current transfer window.–AFP



Hafsa helps Popo Academy win title

ISLAMABAD – Brilliant brace of Hafsa helped Popo Academy clinch World Health Organizations (WHO) Women Football Championship 2017 title after defeating Islamabad 2-1 in the final played on Wednesday. Islamabad took lead in the 10th minute through Abia, but only after 4 minutes, Hafsa equalised the score in 15th minute, as the first half ended at 1-1 draw. It was once again Hafsa, who scored the winning goal in 65th minute. Hamza Wasti, Shafique Ahmed and Shaukat supervised the match. Anjman Tajrain G-7 Markaz president Syed Altaf Hussain Shah graced the occasion as chief guest and gave away trophies, medals and cash awards to the winners and runners-up. Young Rising Star Women Club president Haji Ghiasuddin Baloch, DFA secretary Amjad Chaudhry, Ch Muhammad Din and a large number of football lovers were also present there.–Staff Reporter



New Ittefaq defeat Young Prince Club

LAHORE - New Ittefaq Club defeated Young Prince Cricket Club by 2 wickets in a festival cricket match played here at the Ittefaq Club ground. Batting first, Young Prince Club hit up 210 in stipulated 35 overs. Zeeshan Mughal was top scorer with 41 while Ali Sultan hit 22, Hasnain Shah 22 and Hurair 15. Ahsan and Sharjeel got three wickets each conceding 20 and 29 runs respectively. New Ittefaq Club, in reply, collected the required runs losing 8 wickets in 34.2 overs. Zain slammed 65 and Khalil 51. Pacer Bilal Azhar was the highest wicket-taker for Young Prince with the figures of 3-25. Zeeshan Mughal, Maqbool and Suleman Sheikh got one wicket each. Former Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA) secretary Mian Javed Ali was the chief guest of the match.–Staff Reporter



LAHORE: Lahore Regional Cricket Academy U-19 players in a group photo with head coach Kamran Khan, assistant coach Saud Khan, trainer Farhan Masood Khan, analyst Faisal Rai and physio Adnan Freedi after completion of NCA/PCB 2-month players’ development programme.