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Xavi’s magic substitutions lead Barcelona to victory in thrilling encounter with PSG

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PARIS, April 10 (Xinhua) — Barcelona’s manager, Xavi Hernandez, showcased his tactical genius by making two substitutions that led directly to goals, propelling his team to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The game was an emotional rollercoaster, with Barcelona initially taking the lead, only to fall behind, and then executing a stunning comeback.

Brazilian forward Raphinha scored twice, including the opener in the first half, taking advantage of a mistake by PSG’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to net his first Champions League goal at the 37-minute mark.

PSG quickly turned the tables after halftime, with Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha scoring to give the Parisians a 2-1 advantage.

It was at this juncture that Xavi made a tactical masterstroke. In the 61st minute, he brought on Rodri and Joao Felix for Lamine Yamal and Sergi Roberto, a change that quickly paid off.

Pedri, just two minutes after coming on, lofted a perfect pass to Raphinha, who calmly finished past Donnarumma, drawing the teams level.

In the 76th minute, Xavi’s strategic acumen was on display again when he substituted Andreas Christensen and Ferran Torres for Frenkie de Jong and the key player Raphinha. Christensen scored with a header from a corner just a minute later, sealing a dramatic comeback for Barcelona.

“Pedri came on and helped us a lot. I’m very proud of the team. Christensen also came on and helped,” Xavi said. “Tactically we did really well.”

Since Xavi announced his departure from the team at the end of the season following a January defeat to Villarreal, Barcelona has been unbeaten in 12 matches across all competitions, a stark contrast to PSG’s previous unbeaten streak of 27 matches, which ended with this loss.

“We made things a bit difficult for ourselves. We managed to turn things around in the second half and could have had a third (goal),” PSG coach Luis Enrique said. “Everything’s still open for us and we will go there with ambition.”

The return leg is set for April 16th at Barcelona’s home ground.

Source(s): Xinhua

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The table tennis star Dheema, first Maldivian athlete to qualify for Olympics

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The table tennis star, Fathimath Dheema Ali, who will be partaking in the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, has received a warm welcome upon returning to Male’ City. Dheema showcased her exemplary skills amidst stiff competition from the finest table tennis players in South Asia and emerged victorious in the South Asia Regional Olympic Qualifications. Her triumph signifies a momentous milestone for the Maldives in the realm of international sports.

Upon arrival back to the Maldives, the Minister of Sports, Fitness and Recreation Abdulla Rafiu and senior officials of the ministry along with the President of Maldives Olympic Committee (MOC) Mohamed Abdul Sattar and key figures from the Table Tennis Association of the Maldives extended their heartfelt and warm welcomes to Dheema. The minister organised a special ceremony held in the Youth Centre, commemorating the groundbreaking achievement of Dheema.

Speaking at the ceremony, President of the table Tennis Association Ali Rasheed rejoiced, stating that Dheema’s historic performance marked a significant milestone in the history of the Maldives. Highlighting that this remarkable victory was a result of 10 years of her unwavering commitment and dedication, Ali affirmed that the administration and countries in which she received training played a pivotal role for her success. On this stance, he expressed heartfelt gratitude towards all who were engaged in assisting to ensure this significant opportunity was secured.

While Dheema successfully qualified for the Olympic Games, previously Maldivian athletes competed in the games in invitational (tripartite) opportunities provided. As such, Maldivian athletes have been actively participating and competing in athletics, badminton and swimming since 1988.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Minister announces survey for 20-year sports development plan

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Minister of Sports, Fitness, and Recreation Abdulla Rafiu has announced a special survey for the Maldives’ 20-year sports development plan.

The draft plan was developed in February and focuses on cultivating top athletes by training coaches in schools, hosting major tournaments in the Maldives, and expanding sports associations’ activities in the atolls.

At a press conference, Minister Rafiu highlighted ongoing collaboration with sports associations. He said that detailed work on the long-term policy is available on the ministry’s website. He also said that the survey is a critical part of the process and spans 22 pages and requires time for completion by each association.

Additionally, Minister Rafiu mentioned agreements with Malaysia for training athletes and administrators. He also said that discussions about the plan have taken place with France, and talks are ongoing with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Source(s): PsmNews

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Mbappe announces PSG departure at end of season

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MARSEILLE, May 10 (Xinhua) — Kylian Mbappe confirmed on Friday that he will leave French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season, without revealing his next destination.

But according to multiple media reports, he will join the La Liga powerhouses Real Madrid after the season ends.

“I wanted to announce to you all that it’s my last year at Paris Saint-Germain. I will not extend and the adventure will come to an end in a few weeks,” Mbappe said in a video posted on social media.

“I will play my last game at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.”

The French international joined PSG on loan from Monaco in 2017 and officially signed with the capital-based side after the season ended for a transfer fee of 180 million euros.

During his seven years with the team, Mbappe helped the club claim six league titles and three French Cup victories, making 306 appearances and scoring 255 goals, becoming the top scorer in the team’s history.

“It’s a lot of emotions, many years where I had the chance and the great honor to be a member of the biggest French club, one of the best in the world,” said the 26-year-old.

“It allowed me to arrive here, to have my first experience in a club with a lot of pressure, to grow as a player of course, by being alongside some of the best in history, some of the greatest champions,” he added.

“It’s hard and I never thought it would be this difficult to announce that… but I think I needed this, a new challenge, after seven years.”

PSG have already secured the Ligue 1 title of this season and reached the French Cup final, where they will compete for the championship against Lyon on May 25th.

However, in the Champions League where the team most aspired to make a mark, they suffered another disappointing exit as they were eliminated in the semifinals after being defeated in both legs by Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.

Source(s): Xinhua

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