Hoping to give fans a local “treat”On Friday, September 4, the Reggae Boyz will play Nicaragua in their opening World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.Hoping to replicate their historic, Gold Cup and Copa America performances, Reggae boy Darren Mattocks wants the team to give local fans a treat.In the Gold Cup, Jamaica topped a group, including Costa Rica, before beating Haiti 1-0 in the quarterfinals and the United States by the same margin in the semi-finals.The performance pushed the Reggae Boyz ranking in the FIFA standings to 55, making them firm favourites to get by the 144th ranked Nicaragua.That fact, Mattocks says, is not a factor in the way the team will prepare for or approach the match on Friday.Midfield Je-Vaughn Watson, who had a standout performance in the Gold Cup, mimicked Mattocks’ sentiment, saying the side would not be taking Nicaragua or any other team lightly. According to Watson, the aim of the qualifiers was to win every game.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey recalled when he knew for certain his life had dramatically changed: A woman charged him at the league’s football media days asking for an autograph on an 8×10 glossy of himself.“It doesn’t stop,” said Sankey, less than four months into his new job. “I knew that, but I didn’t know that.”Sankey’s two predecessors, Roy Kramer and Mike Slive, grinned knowingly Friday. All three were on hand for a panel discussion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of South Carolina accepting membership into the conference.The three, along with University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides, shared stories of past successes, the Gamecocks growth in the SEC and where the 14-team conference is headed with Sankey in charge.Kramer is credited with bringing the conference championship into big time college football as commissioner from 1990 until 2002. Slive’s legacy will be establishing the SEC Network, which he proudly told the audience had jumped to 70 million households in the past year, an increase of five million from its 2014 launch in climate where other cable networks are shedding subscribers.Under Slive’s leadership, the SEC cleaned up much of its rogue reputation as a rules-breaking league whose schools were continually on probation. He also navigated conference schools through the choppy waters of autonomy, cost of attendance stipends and other NCAA governance issues.Sankey understands he has perhaps even bigger and stickier issues ahead. There are several lawsuits that could affect the school-student athlete relationship permanently and the league must be ready for anything.“While we’re not perfect in college athletics, we don things exceedingly well,” he said.Sankey will look for the SEC to do more in areas of athlete health and wellness, continuing oversight to injured or affected players beyond their college days.“We can improve what we do in all those domains,” Sankey said.Kramer recalled when the call went out that the SEC was looking to expand. After adding Arkansas a few weeks earlier and several site visits to South Carolina, the school’s board of trustees voted on Sept. 25, 1990, to accept the SEC’s invitation as the 12th member.When then interim university president Arthur Smith called Kramer with the news, he urged the commissioner to announce things as quickly as possible because Smith feared the trustees would spill the beans to the media. So Kramer flew in from Alabama headquarters and the announcement came at the stadium that evening.“It was one of the most memorable nights,” Kramer said.Pastides said the SEC brought the Gamecocks a credibility and allure that increased applications, enrollment and the university’s financial bottom line. “That can’t be overstated,” he said.Slive oversaw a time of tremendous athletic success. The SEC won seven consecutive football national championships from 2006 through 2012. South Carolina was a baseball power, going to the College World Series six times and winning national titles in 2010 and 2011 during Slive’s tenure.“We’ve lived through a golden age,” Slive said.The issues ahead might not be as clear-cut as those recently completed like building the SEC Network or achieving cost-of-attendance stipends, Sankey said. He plans to keep on identifying areas of need and making sure the SEC remains at the forefront of giving college athletes a first-rate experience.“We’ve drilled a lot of the easy oil,” Sankey said. “Now, we have to manage the resources.”
Ole Miss is heading to the Sugar Bowl for the first time since 1970.OXFORD – Hugh Freeze has wanted to coach in another New Year’s Six bowl for the past year.The Ole Miss coach received his wish Sunday afternoon when the Rebels received a berth in the Sugar Bowl, in which they’ll play No. 16 Oklahoma State on Jan. 1 (7:30 p.m., ESPN). They haven’t played in the game since 1970 and are 5-3 in the Sugar Bowl.“We’re honored to accept the invitation to the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” Freeze said. “Growing up in these parts, hearing the stories of how the Ole Miss people feel about this bowl, we’re pumped about bringing our fans and our team. It’s kind of a bucket list thing if you’re the head coach of Ole Miss to take a team to participate in this bowl. We’re excited for this opportunity.”The Rebels won’t have defensive end Fadol Brown (left foot) and safety Tony Conner (right knee), who will undergo season-ending surgeries soon. Freeze said safety C.J. Hampton (stinger) is day-to-day and that he doesn’t expect linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche to play in the bowl game.The No. 12 Rebels (9-3, 6-2 SEC) join Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Ohio State as the only programs to make consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games the past two seasons. Ole Miss lost, 42-3, to TCU last season in the Peach Bowl.“That’s great company to keep,” athletic director Ross Bjork said. “What I think it means is it validates we’re a relevant program. I think it validates we’re on the right track, we’re building a ton of momentum around our program. Every metric within our program is on the way up.“It also says we got work to do. We did lose three games. We have high aspirations here. We believe we can compete and win championships here.”The Rebels’ spot in the Sugar Bowl seemed secure after they beat Mississippi State, 38-27, on Nov. 28. Ole Miss needed Alabama to defeat Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday to finalize the trip to New Orleans, which the Crimson Tide did, 29-15.Baylor seemed a likely option to play Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, but it suffered a 23-17 loss to Texas on Saturday. The Bears entered the game as favorites but allowed 17 first-quarter points and were forced to turn to their fourth-string quarterback because of injuries.Ole Miss has beaten No. 13 Oklahoma State (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) in both games the two teams have played, picking up Cotton Bowl victories of 31-28 in 2004 and 21-7 in 2010.The Cowboys enter the Sugar Bowl with consecutive losses to Baylor and Oklahoma. The Cowboys held a tiebreaker over TCU for the Big 12’s berth in the Sugar Bowl after Big 12 champion Oklahoma qualified for the College Football Playoff.“I think (qualifying for the Sugar Bowl after the struggles is) a tremendous lift,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “I can’t imagine our players won’t be excited about playing in the Sugar Bowl and looking forward to another couple of weeks of practice.”Contact Daniel Paulling at [email protected] Follow @DanielPaulling on Twitter.<!–iframe–>
The Super Falcons of Nigeria will face Kazakhstan in the opening game of their debut appearance at the Turkish Women’s Cup.Nigeria, who have been pooled in Group B, will tackle Kazakhstan in their tournament opener on Wednesday, February 28.Thomas Dennerby’s team will then face Kosovo on Friday, March 2 before tackling France B on Sunday, March 4.The invitational tournament, to be held in Alanya, Turkey from February 26 to March 7, is part of plans to prepare the Super Falcons ahead of the 2018 African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON).It will be Nigeria’s second of the year with the team currently competing at the WAFU Women’s CupSuper Falcons Fixtures:February 28: Nigeria vs. KazakhstanMarch 2: Nigeria vs. KosovoMarch 4: France B vs. NigeriaRelated