Monaco, Aug 31(AP/UNB) — Cristiano Ronaldo is going back to Manchester United and Paul Pogba will return to Juventus after the storied teams were drawn together at the Champions League group stage on Thursday.
After winning four titles at Real Madrid, and one with United, Ronaldo aims to end Juventus' 23-year wait for a third European title.
Pogba played for Juventus in its 2015 final loss against Barcelona and won four straight Italian titles before moving back to Manchester — where he was first recruited as a teenager — for a then-world record fee in 2016.
Valencia and outsider Young Boys, Swiss champion for the first time in 32 years, are also in Group H with United and Juventus.
"We cannot hide the fact that we are among the favorites this year," Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta said.
Three-time defending champion Real Madrid will start its quest for a record-extending 14th European title in Group G with Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.
Barcelona heads a tough-looking Group B with Tottenham, plus former champions PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan.
Three more former European champions Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax are together with underdog AEK Athens in Group E.
Liverpool, the runner-up last season, was the toughest third-seeded team and landed with Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade in Group C.
"I expected a difficult group, we have a difficult group and that's what the Champions League is all about," Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said.
English champion Manchester City got a favorable draw in Group F with Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim.
Atletico Madrid, whose Metropolitano stadium hosts the final on June 1, is grouped with Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Club Brugge in Group A.
Lokomotiv Moscow, seeded in the top pot as Russia's champion, will play Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray in Group D.
The 32 teams will share 1.95 billion euros ($2.28 billion) in prize money from UEFA with the winner likely to top 100 million euros ($117 million) for the first time..
Games kick off on Sept. 18, and two teams from each group advance to the Round of 16 in February.
There were 13 former champions in a draw that included three teams — Hoffenheim, Red Star and Young Boys — making their group-stage debuts in the 27-season Champions League era. Red Star won the old European Cup in 1991, one year before the format changed.
Teams from the same country could not be drawn together Thursday, and teams from Ukraine and Russia were also kept apart due to ongoing political tensions.
This season kicks off a new three-year cycle of broadcasting and sponsor deals that have raised prize money to record levels. All 32 teams get a basic 15.25 million euros ($17.8 million) just for being in the draw.
UEFA will also allocate 30 percent of the total to reward teams for their storied history in European competitions and results over the past 10 years.
Real Madrid is guaranteed to earn at least 50 million euros ($59 million), plus a share of Spanish TV rights money and results bonuses.
UEFA pays 2.7 million euros ($3.2 million) per group-stage win and 900,000 euros ($1.05 million) for a draw. More fees are earned for reaching each subsequent round.
Dhaka, Aug 31 (UNB) - The preparations of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) are going on in full swing to smoothly arrange the 12th edition of the SAFF Championship, now known as SAFF Suzuki Cup, which will kick off at Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) here on September 4.
LOC Chairman and Senior Vice-president of the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) Abdus Salam Murshedy on Friday said, “We have lapses in some areas of our preparations, including the renovation of seats at the stadium with a capacity of 23,000 audience. But we hope to successfully hold the event with our best efforts.”
The LOC chairman was talking to reporters at a press conference at the BFF House.
Of the participating nations, Sri Lanka are already in the capital after their FIFA Friendly match against Bangladesh at Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari on August 28 which they won 1-0, arriving here on August 26.
Bhutan and Nepal are scheduled to arrive here on September 2 while India and the Maldives on September 3. The schedule of Pakistan’s arrival is yet to be confirmed.
Abahani Club playground, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club playground, Dhanmondi, Navy playground and ABPN playground have been designated for team practice.
The participating teams will stay at three hotels -- The Westin, FARS Hotel and Hotel Purbani.
Tickets -- Tk 100 for VIP Box, Tk 50 and Tk 20 for galleries -- for the tournament will be available at the BFF House, BNS and Dhaka Metropolitan Football League Committee office from Saturday.
Salam Murshedy expressed optimism to revive their glory of Bangladesh football through a successful campaign in the tournament, though the hosts had no much sounding achievement in recent times.
“I hope Bangladesh will play the final. We need only a winning start to bring back our football loving-people to the stadium as I believe football is still a popular game in Bangladesh,” he added.
Bangladesh have been seeded in the Group A to play against Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal on September 4, 6 and 8 in the group stage matches respectively. Nepal will face Pakistan in the biennial tournament opener.
Defending champions India will face Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the Group B matches on September 5 and 9.
On completion of the group stage battles, top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals to play on September 12 before the final on September 15.
This is the third time -- after 2003 and 2009 -- Bangladesh is going to host the event since its inception in 1993.
Bangladesh tasted title once in 2003 when they defeated the Maldives 1(5)-1(3) in the final in penalty shootout at home.
Nilphamari, Aug 29 (UNB) – Bangladesh conceded a solitary goal defeat against visiting Sri Lanka in their one-off FIFA Friendly match at jam-packed Sheikh Kamal Stadium here on Wednesday.
Mohammad Fazaluzzaman scored the match winner by a right-footed long shot from midfield in the 11th minute as his shot fired the net edging the crosspiece, 1-0.
Bangladesh could not stage a comeback from the position although they played an attacking game after 70 minutes and created fruitless chances one after another till the end.
The friendly battle, which started at 4 pm, pulled huge local crowd at the venue hosting the first international event with a capacity of 20,000 audience.
Both sides played the match ahead of their campaign in the seven-nation SAFF Suzuki Cup Football’2018 beginning on September 4 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
Rajshahi, Aug 29 (UNB) – Gigantic multinational Unilever’s leading men’s shampoo brand “Clear” accorded a reception to the national U-17 Football Champions Rajshahi Sonadighi High School at the Uttara Community Centre in Rajshahi on Wednesday.
The high officials of Rajshahi Divisional Sports Association, Unilever Bangladesh and the teachers, students and guardians of the champions Sonadighi High School were also present in the function.
General Secretary of Rajshahi District Sports Association Rafius Sams Pady, General Secretary of Godagari Upazila Sports Association Prof. Akbar Ali, Head Teacher of Sonadighi High School M Mainul Islam and the Manager of Northern Region of Unilever Bangladesh Sabbir Al Harun spoke on the occasion.
The reception was followed by a rally that paraded the main parts of the city and a cultural program.
Sonadighi High School, under Godagari Upazila of Rajshahi, clinched the National U-17 Football crown defeating BAF Shaheen School of Dhaka in the final at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on May 12, among 272 participating school teams from all over the country.
The best 26 players have also been picked up for the national football camp. In continuation of the first year’s success, Clear Men in association with Bangladesh Football Federation will keep organizing the tournament in the years to come.
Dhaka, Aug 29 (UNB)- The countrywide Bangabandhu Gold Cup Under-17 National Football Tournament, organized by Youth and Sports Ministry, will begin on Saturday (Sept 1) at Sheikh Russel Mini Stadium of Barhatta Upazila in Netrakona.
Some 1,25,000 promising footballers of 5,500 teams will compete in the tournament in four phases--union, upazila, district and division level.
Later, 40 talented footballers will be picked from the tournament to undergo intensive training under Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) and as well to make necessary arrangement to admit some eligible players in BKSP, Savar.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Dr Biren Sikder disclosed it at a press conference at the NSC conference room on Wednesday.
Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Arif Khan Joy and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Youth and Sports Ministry Zahid Ahsan Russell were also present on the occasion.
Addressing the pressmen, Dr Biren Sikder said his ministry was inspired to organize this new tournament to ‘bridge the Bangabandhu and Bangamata football tournaments’ – the latter being the name bestowed on the equivalent age group football championship for girls.
A budget of Tk 15 crore has been earmarked for the tournament