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Hockey: Olympics-Away from the NHL, Staal cherishing spot on Canada ice hockey roster



(Reuters) - Canadian Eric Staal may not have made it back to the National Hockey League (NHL) this season, but a ticket to next month's Beijing Games has proven the ultimate silver lining.

The 37-year-old forward helped the Montreal Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup finals last season but was unsigned this year, joining the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild earlier this month in the hope of earning a spot on Canada's Olympic roster.

"The goal was initially to get back in the NHL," said Staal. "Having the finish that I did with the Habs and getting all the way to the finals, I figured, you know, I'd stay in shape and kind of see what was what is out there... obviously, this opportunity was something that is too good to pass up."

Had he succeeded in earn

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Football: Soccer-Morocco fight back to beat Malawi and reach Cup of Nations quarters



YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Achraf Hakimi curled in a long-range free kick as Morocco came from behind to beat Malawi 2-1 in the last-16 of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday and stay on course for their first African title in over 45 years.

Fullback Hakimi’s precise strike completed the turn around at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium after Youssef En-Nesyri had equalised on the stroke of halftime.

Malawi went ahead early after a world class goal from Frank Mhango, who hit a speculative left-footed effort from some 40 metres out and watched in delight as the swerving ball caught out Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou and crashed into the top of the net.

Morocco will meet either Ivory Coast or Egypt in their quarter-final in Yaounde.

After a tournament lit

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Football: Soccer-Watford appoint former England coach Hodgson as interim manager



(Reuters) - Watford have named former England and Liverpool coach Roy Hodgson as their manager after sacking Claudio Ranieri on Monday following their 3-0 defeat at home by Norwich City, which left them in 19th place, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.

"The ex-England national team boss is joined by his trusted assistant Ray Lewington. Hodgson and Lewington begin preparations immediately for Watford's next Premier League fixture, away to Burnley on Saturday Feb. 5," the club said in a statement.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; Editing by Toby Davis)


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Football: Soccer-Senegal reach 1ast eight as Mane scores but suffers head injury



(Reuters) -Senegal's Sadio Mane scored but then went off with a head injury as they beat nine-man Cape Verde Islands 2-0 in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations at the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam on Tuesday.

Mane fired home from a set-piece after 62 minutes but had been hurt earlier in a nasty clash of heads with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha, who was sent off for the incident.

Liverpool forward Mane then left the field shortly afterwards complaining of a headache and could be a doubt for the quarter-final in Limbe on Sunday.

Substitute Bamba Dieng scored the second goal deep in stoppage time against a gallant Cape Verde side, who also had Patrick Andrade sent off after 20 minutes.

"It was a difficult game because Cape Verde were very organise

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Rugby: Rugby-England’s Marler tests positive for COVID-19



(Reuters) - England prop Joe Marler has withdrawn from the squad for this week's Six Nations training camp in Brighton after testing positive for COVID-19, England Rugby said on Tuesday.

Marler, who plays for Harlequins in the Premiership and has made 72 appearances for England, went into isolation after returning a positive test on Tuesday.

"A subsequent PCR test taken that morning confirmed the result," England Rugby said in a statement. "All of the other England players and staff have undergone daily lateral flow testing -- all of which returned negative results."

England begin their preparations for the Six Nations at the camp in Brighton, and will kick off away to Scotland on Feb. 5 before facing Italy in Rome and hosting Wales and Ireland, compl

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Football: Soccer-Police open investigation after Fiorentina’s Vlahovic receives threats



ROME (Reuters) - Italian police have launched an investigation after insulting and threatening banners aimed at Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic appeared on Tuesday amid media reports that he could be set for a move to rivals Juventus.

A series of banners appeared outside Fiorentina’s Artemio Franchi stadium in response to media reports that the 21-year-old Serbian, who is joint-top scorer in Serie A, has agreed a deal with Turin-based club Juve.

One banner read: “Your guards won’t save your life gypsy. It's over for you.”

Another called him a “modern mercenary”, while others included obscene insults.

“The Digos (police Special Branch) of Florence is working on the case and carrying out thorough investigations to try and find t

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Hockey: Olympics-Eric Staal back to lead Canada at Beijing Winter Games



(Reuters) - Eric Staal, who helped Canada to gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, will once again wear the Maple Leaf after being named in the men's ice hockey team on Tuesday for the Beijing Winter Games.

Staal, who scored 441 goals and 1,031 points in his 17-year National Hockey League career, will be the leader on a squad cobbled together from European, minor and junior leagues after the NHL decided in December to end its Olympic participation after a surge in COVID-19 cases forced the postponement of more than 100 games.

Canada was among the nations hardest hit by the NHL's decision.

Instead of stocking its roster with NHL All-Stars and future Hall of Famers, Canada was left scrambling to find coaching staff and players.

"The management gr

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Tennis: Tennis-Medvedev faces Auger-Aliassime in Australian Open quarters



MELBOURNE (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev will battle Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday as he looks to capitalise on the absence of world number one Novak Djokovic and win his second Grand Slam title.

Medvedev, runner-up to Djokovic last year in Melbourne, beat Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals of both last year's U.S. Open and this month's ATP Cup, but was cautious ahead of his fourth career meeting with the Canadian.

"Last two (matches) I managed to have the edge on him, but he's a phenomenal player," said world number two Medvedev, who has won their three previous meetings.

"It's the later stages of the biggest tournaments in the world," he added, referring to the pair's previous meeti

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Football: Soccer-Feyenoord great Jansen dies at 75



(Reuters) - Former Netherlands international Wim Jansen, who was part of the Dutch squad that reached consecutive finals in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, before going on to manage Feyenoord and Celtic, has died at the age of 75, the Eredivisie club said on Tuesday.

Jansen won the Eredivisie on four occasions with Feyenoord as a player, as well as the European Cup in 1970. He returned to manage the Rotterdam-based club in 1991, leading them to two KNVB Cups.

"It is with great sadness that Feyenoord has learned of the death of club icon Wim Jansen," the club said in a statement. "Wim Jansen is one of the greatest footballers to ever play for Feyenoord.

"He served the club as a youth player, youth, assistant and head coach, technical director and adviso

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Cricket: Cricket-Middlesex chair’s lack of diversity comments part of ‘endemic problem’-Rafiq



(Reuters) - Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq has criticised Middlesex County Cricket Club chief Mike O'Farrell's comments attempting to explain English cricket's lack of diversity, saying it was indicative of an "endemic problem" in the sport.

The county cricket chairs of Middlesex, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Glamorgan appeared before a Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) select committee on Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into cricketing governance.

The committee was formed after a number of players, including Rafiq, alleged they were victims of institutional racism at their clubs.

Speaking before the DCMS committee, O'Farrell suggested that a lack of diversity in English cricket could be attributed to minority communities foc

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