State media in Iran are reporting that Voria Ghafouri, a former member of the country’s national football team, has been arrested for criticizing the government.
The semi-official news outlets Fars and Tasnim reported Thursday that he had been arrested for insulting the national soccer team currently playing in the World Cup and criticizing the government.
Ghafouri, who was not selected for the World Cup, has been an outspoken critic of Iranian authorities and politics throughout his career.
Iran has been rocked by anti-government protests for more than two months, the biggest challenge to its Islamic theocracy in more than a decade.
The reports of his arrest came ahead of Friday’s World Cup match between Iran and Wales. In Iran’s opening game against England, members of the Iran national team refused to sing the national anthem and some fans protested during the game.
The protests were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of the country’s vice squad in September. They quickly escalated into nationwide demonstrations demanding the fall of the Islamic Republic. The country’s western Kurdish region has seen particularly fierce protests and a deadly crackdown by security forces.
Ghafouri, who also belongs to Iran’s Kurdish minority, has criticized government policies in the past. Officials have not said if this was a factor in not picking him for the national team.
Steve Smith scored an unbeaten 114 to equal Donald Bradman’s 29 Test centuries and helped Australia tighten its grip in Thursday’s opening cricket Test against the West Indies.
Marnus Labuschagne (204) fell to the last ball on day two before lunch as Australia went 402-3 at the break, finishing a 251-run streak for the third wicket.
Labuschagne, who smashed fast bowler Jayden Seales for his 20th boundary to reach the milestone, fell while beating offspinner Roston Chase when wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva finally pinned a catch after falling Labuschagne twice at 132 and 194 had left.
Australia resumed day two at 293-2 with Labuschagne at 154 and Smith at 59, and the West Indies were desperate for a breakthrough in overcast conditions conducive to swing bowling.
Instead, Labuschagne and Smith picked up where they left off overnight, stubbornly adding to the misery of the tourists by stealing their game with every run.
Smith batted clean to draw level with former Australian batting legend Bradman in his 88th Test appearance. Only Ricky Ponting (41), Steve Waugh (32) and Matthew Hayden (30) have scored more hundreds for Australia.
Smith was more cautious, hitting just nine boundaries in his century, making 179 balls. It was Smith’s second century in three innings after a 145 non-elimination against Sri Lanka in Galle in July of that year.
Labuschagne’s double century is his second since his 215 against New Zealand in Sydney in January 2020. He batted for 483 minutes, hitting a six and 20 fours with 350 balls.
After the lost opener David Warner On the first morning, Labuschagne endorsed opener Usman Khawaja (65) in a 142-run second wicket stand to set up the innings.
Australia won the toss, choosing to bat first in the first of two Tests. The second test, a day-night game, will be played in Adelaide from December 8th.
The top game in Group G on Friday evening is likely to come in the form of Serbia versus Switzerland. It’s a tie for both European nations as the team that takes three points is likely to finish second as Cameroon face Brazil in the final game.
Preview of the 2022 World Cup
Serbia and Switzerland go into their final Group G game in relatively good positions. Things are looking much better from a Swiss perspective, aware that a point is good enough to take them through to the next round. Switzerland’s only World Cup victory so far came in the opening game, when they narrowly defeated Cameroon 1-0.
In fact, this win is the only time a non-Brazil game has seen a Group G winner. The Swiss put up an excellent fight in their previous game but were narrowly denied a crucial point against Brazil in the closing stages. when Casemiro superbly fired the winner home. However, this seems like a good chance for them to reach the round of 16.
Serbia are currently bottom of Group G but they will be aware that a win in this game is likely to take them to the last 16 in Qatar. It was their own fault in the last game when they lost a 3-1 lead against Cameroon.
Defensive mistakes were evident throughout this game and they have now conceded more goals than any other team in Group G. Their record in the last group stage games at the World Cup is also extremely poor as Serbia lost their previous three.
Serbia vs Switzerland Head to Head
This is the second World Cup in a row in which Serbia and Switzerland meet. The 2018 World Cup clash was a dramatic affair as Switzerland won 2-1 and Xherdan Shaqiri scored the winning goal in the 90sth Minute.
Serbia vs Switzerland prediction
This is likely to be a close game between two equally talented teams. However, Switzerland have an excellent habit of making it out of the group stage at major tournaments and that experience could be key to this high-profile showdown. Therefore, we could see a draw between the European nations.
It was a difficult slot choice as none of today’s four games were a fantastic display of sport on their own. But given the tension and drama they bore in relation to one another, it was one of the best prospects a World Cup can offer. For geeks like us, who have two TVs in the living room, that’s our reward, our justification, or our reason for being.
Anyway, Mexico are going home because they didn’t score the one more goal they needed. For the first time this tournament, and truly for the first time in a while, Mexico looked like a real attacking threat. Saudi Arabia attempted the same gambit they did against Argentina, at least initially, with an insanely high line behind their forward line in a center block that basically surrounded the center line, trying to condense play into a 10-15 yard range. But while Argentina is built on patient, complicated, short passes to work their way up, Mexico is more conditioned to playing direct, hitting balls and going over the top. And to be clear, Saudi Arabia’s ploy only worked against Argentina because Lautaro Martinez was maybe two centimeters offside. It was as much luck as cunning.
So Mexico created a wealth of chances but have been their bogeyman for most of the cycle, or at least since Raul Jimenez was injured two years ago they haven’t had a surefire striker. Jesus Corona’s injury before the tournament only exacerbated this problem, leaving Chucky Lozano as the only world-class player Attacker. It comes as no great shock that Mexico’s two goals in the second half came from set pieces.
Nonetheless, Mexico gave its fans a thrill, if only a cheap thrill in the end. As they threw most of the nation at the Saudi goal, they scored twice in five minutes, making both Group C games exciting. Thanks to Argentina’s 2-0 lead, Mexico and Poland’s aggregate goal difference was back to 0. Which meant Poland’s plan from there was tangled in their minds to score their own goal to capitalize on goal difference and at the same time to be Fear of giving Argentina more space to score again. Or they could sit still, try to bore Argentina to death and take their advantage in fair play points (yellow and red cards). Mexico’s attack was easier, scoring again against a Saudi side who were effectively eliminated. And if that didn’t work, there was hope Graham Zusi suddenly becoming Argentinian, substituting for Poland and getting out of trouble again. Neither happened.
Of course there was another twist. Saudi Arabia scored in injury time, pushing the goal difference battle back to Poland. But Mexico just needed one more goal because if they got it, they would go through on the goals scored. But they couldn’t find it and I think they can feel better if they’re eliminated on goal difference tie-break instead of fair play points as most of the second half was ready to send them on. Although most of us would have giggled forever and might have burst a kidney if Mexico ate it because they were some dirtier shit than Poland.
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Argentina 2 – 0 Poland
As I said, Poland had their place in the knockout stages more in hand than they did anything for. Nobody expected Poland to try to take on Argentina with the ball and getting them to put you down and try to get on the counterattack is hardly a bad plan. It’s worked for someone in this tournament, after all. The whole point of this though is that you at least try Part 2 or even think about Part 2 or look like you know how Part 2 works or have ever tried Part 2 in the recent past.
Poland offered nothing in that game and Robert Lewandowski was so isolated from his teammates that he began painting a face on a volleyball. Poland could only nudge the ball in the direction they hoped Lewandowski would and if he could somehow achieve it, he would have to hold it up for three minutes before a teammate could get to him. This has been Poland in virtually every tournament they play in, which seems a shame as there are players here. They should be able to do more than just see if they cast a shadow outside of their own 18 every seven minutes.
Poland can thank its keeper for progressing. Wojciech Szczęsny looked like he could smash Tim Howard’s record for saves in a World Cup game, and he might have had to if Argentina hadn’t largely repelled the dogs in the last 10 minutes. He saved a Messi penalty that eliminated Poland from the group and made eight more saves.
The panic over Argentina was always exaggerated after the opening defeat. After all, Spain lost their first game in 2010. They were at the bottom of flashes deposited in a bottle and have grown into the last two games and are looking pretty sharp now. The first half against Mexico was terrible. The second half was better. The first half was against Poland pretty good, and the second half better. The big change today was that Martinez was taken out of the starting XI for Julian Alvarez and he responded with six shots and the second goal. Enzo Fernandez, Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis Mac Allister didn’t really have to do much in midfield considering how clumsy Poland were, but that’s a scary steel wall for the real teams later in the tournament.
France 0-1 Tunisia, Denmark 0-1 Australia
Similar to the shenanigans in Group C, there were two games in the morning that must be watched together in Group D. Neither was a great game in a vacuum. France sent the B team because they basically already had the group. Australia’s plan has always been the same, which is to work hard, defend and see what they can capture if the opportunity arises. Boy did they.
The headline here is that Denmark are eliminated after reaching the semi-finals of the European Championship just 16 months ago (and being awarded a very questionable penalty to knock them out). But they really can’t have any arguments because they looked bland for most of the tournament. Their hopes really depended on what they would do in the opener against Tunisia and they never really threatened. The Danes have always worried that they simply don’t have a forward or even a forward line that they can count on to take advantage of any chances they create.
And while Christian Eriksen is a wonderful story, as we said before, wonderful stories don’t win on their own. Australia didn’t find it too difficult to grapple with the Danish plan. They just always had one or two guys around Eriksen. Eriksen is not Luka Modric as he cannot dribble his way into space to then start his otherworldly vision and passing. He’s pretty stationary. Denmark didn’t have a plan B.
Without Eriksen at Euro, the Danes had to find different ways to score, whether it was raging full-backs or pushing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg into a more attacking role or whatever. We basically haven’t seen any of that in this tournament and everyone is waiting for Eriksen to make things work. In a game they had to win against a very limited Aussie side, they only managed .65 xG and three shots on target. Compare that to Mexico, which amassed 11 in a similar situation.
But fair play to Australia, who knew what they were and did it to the max. They were hardly threatened by Denmark and took their only chance. And it turned out they needed that goal as Tunisia beat JV France. Only the most confused kangaroo would have given the Aussies six points in this group, but here we are. And hey, we get Videos like this.
Goal of the day: Well, they might be back on the plane, but Mexico got us covered this Luis Chavez free-kick. Dive in, my son:
Funeral speech for the deceased – Mexico
I’ll try to keep my joy about the U.S‘s greatest rival takes home his fluttering gums… and fails miserably. One wonders if Memo Ochoa still thinks the U.S want to see Mexico in the mirror now, dingus.
It’s not really a shock that Mexico are going home as they have been one of the least impressive Mexican sides in recent memory. As mentioned above, they had no significant striker, and Corona’s injury deprived her of a foil for Lozano at the other end. But this is Mexico and they should have more depth than seeing an injury leaving them with no answers.
We’ve seen them in four games against the U.S and Canada in qualifying. You didn’t win any of them. They scored a goal. In fact, they should have lost all four.
This will likely inspire a lot of self-reflection in Mexico, and it should. Mexico is arguably the third most populous country in the world where soccer is the main sport, behind Brazil and Nigeria. It has three times the population of Argentina. It has a very popular league. But either through their own silliness, or corruption, or arrogance, or a combination of all three, they have faltered. Mexico shouldn’t worry about reaching the quarterfinals as some sort of Valhalla. You should be worried about winning the damn thing. And they hadn’t been further from either in a very, very long time.
Saudi Arabia – They made their shot, they have a result that they will always remember, but you can’t beat Argentina and then look like you lost your limbs against Poland and expect to go through. Anyway, let’s have one last Right Said Fred moment before they go:
Denmark – Find a striker or just try to convince FIFA that Norway and Denmark are the same and let Erling Haaland run out there. It’s FIFA, it might just work.
Tunisia – Defeating France probably feels great for many reasons. At least they will have that.
Did Alexi Lalas say something stupid? He was still in the USMNT glow and we can’t blame him.
Did VAR mess something up? In the end it was a BALL DON’T LIE situation but the penalty against Argentina felt terribly soft. Yes, Szczesny caught Messi with his hands after Messi headed the ball in, but it was a light touch. We would like to thank Fox’s Mark Clattenburg for pointing out that it would be a foul for an outfield player to have caught Messi with his feet after playing the ball. Still feels very soft but once the referee is called on screen it feels like he’s being forced to change his call simply to justify the time taken. In the end it didn’t matter, thank God.