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They think he can: Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

YES, surprisingly, he could. Barack Obama, is the shock choice for the Nobel Peace Prize, less than a year after his election as US President.The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision, announced last night, praised Mr Obama for his ”extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”.——————————————————————-World leaders hail Obama’s surprise PrizeTaliban condemns Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize——————————————————————-Mr Obama is only the fourth US president to receive the prize, after Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter. The decision is expected to stir controversy in the US where the President is battling Congress over changes to the nation’s health-care system and its response to climate change.”Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the Nobel communique said.”His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”The committee made special mention of ”his vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons,” and said his work had encouraged global efforts towards disarmament.”Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the US is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting,” it said. ”Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”Mr Obama’s foreign policy has been characterised by efforts to renew relations with some Middle Eastern nations. In January, he became the first president to grant an interview to an Arabic television network, Al-Arabiya. In March he sent a video message of greeting to Iran, saying he was willing to ”extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”, a reference to Iran’s nuclear program.Speeches directed towards the Arab world in April and June were generally well received by leaders of Arabic nations. Mr Obama has also pledged to end combat operations in Iraq by August, more than seven years after the US led an invasion of that country to depose its leader, Saddam Hussein.Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, was inaugurated on January 20.The former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari won the award last year. In 2007 the former US vice-president Al Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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Fergie roasts ‘unfit’ ref for lack of Fergie time

MANCHESTER: Alex Ferguson launched an extraordinary attack on referee Alan Wiley after Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, claiming he wasn’t fit enough to officiate at the highest level.United needed a 93rd-minute deflected Patrice Evra effort to earn a point against a Sunderland side who almost caused the surprise of the season. Darren Bent’s seventh-minute strike was cancelled out by a stunning overhead effort from Dimitar Berbatov early in the second half before Kenwyne Jones again restored the visitors’ lead.Steve Bruce’s side looked to have done enough to hold onto all three points before Evra’s edge-of-the-box effort took a huge deflection off Anton Ferdinand to equalise.Ferguson was unhappy with how United had performed but he saved his greatest ire for the referee in a 60-second rant where he outlined that he believed his side deserved more time after their equaliser to try and find a winner. But Football Association chiefs are likely to take a dim view of his comments, particularly his opinion that Wiley booked players just so he could catch his breath.”I was disappointed by the referee I must say,” Ferguson said. ”He didn’t add any time on for the goal we scored. He blew after four minutes and two seconds and there was another 30 seconds.”He actually walked after the second goal needing a rest. He just wasn’t fit enough for a game of that standard. The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit and I do not think he was fit.”I think it is an indictment of our game. You see referees from abroad who are as fit as butchers’ dogs. And there are some referees in this country who are fit – but he wasn’t fit.”Ferguson’s outburst is perhaps a calculated attempt to divert attention away from the fact that without Ryan Giggs United looked anything but a Premier League-winning side. Paul Scholes, who had been in terrific form prior to this game, was removed at half-time following a terrible performance.Either way, Ferguson was not a happy man, despite one point being better than none at all.”We gave the ball away continually,” he said. ”And I thought we were there then because the surge was there and the crowd was there but then we gave away a really soft second goal. Credit to the players though, they never gave in, which is a quality we always have.”It is 41 years since Sunderland have won at Old Trafford but they had a golden opportunity on Saturday to end that unenviable record.However, the draw moves them to sixth in the table and underlines their credentials this season.They only narrowly avoided relegation last season and although Bruce was shattered by only getting one point rather than the three his club deserved, it is at least an indicator of how far Sunderland have progressed. AFP
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‘Biggest club in Australia’ – Rovers boss promises world-class team

SYDNEY ROVERS chairman Ian Rowden believes the sky’s the limit for the A-League’s newest franchise, promising would-be fans they’ll have a ”world-class” club to support by the time the team enters the competition in 2011.Six days after the club was handed the A-League’s 12th licence by Football Federation Australia, and two days after the release of the name, colours, and logo, Rowden says he has been ”overwhelmed” by the positive response.Rowden, Asia-Pacific boss of Saatchi & Saatchi, has said his high-powered board – which includes marketing boss John Moore, and Charlie Yankos and Peter Tredinnick, two former Socceroos with successful business careers – will set a cracking pace to deliver a club the region can be proud of.”This club deserves to be, and will be, the biggest club in Australia,” Rowden said. ”It has to be competitive in the most competitive sporting market in Australia and one of the most competitive in the world. There’s an enormous catchment of fans out there, and they deserve a world-class club.”To be successful in this city, you have to be big, powerful, and smart in everything you do. There’s no way the board would be interested if they didn’t believe this club could become everything we want it to be. We’ve all got careers and reputations, and we wouldn’t be risking them if we weren’t confident we could build a club we’ll be proud of.”While some have suggested the FFA has rushed to admit Sydney Rovers, many of the ideas have been carried over from the failed bid of businessman Joe Meissner. Rowden was chairman of that bid and confirmed the new club had been ”several months” in the making. Discussions with investors and stadiums are well advanced, partly because it wasn’t until the last minute that the FFA decided to delay the entry of the club by 12 months.”You don’t create something like this overnight,” he said. ”This club has developed and evolved over several months. We wouldn’t be at this point, we wouldn’t have got the licence, if things weren’t well developed. Truth is we’re a long way down the track on several fronts. It would be naive of people to assume otherwise. There will be a lot of significant announcements over the next six months.”The announcement about the club’s name, colours and logo may have been precipitated by a leak via the internet, but Rowden remains comfortable with the timetable, saying: ”We’ve been really enthused by the response. Once you take an idea that has been developed over several months and put it in the public domain, you never know what sort of response you’ll get. But [it] has been overwhelmingly positive.”We knew the fans wanted a traditional name, because that was our research. We actually had three names in the mix – Rovers, Rangers and Wanderers – and they all had their attributes. But we’ve gone with Rovers, and the response is telling us people like it. There are plenty of Rovers clubs in Sydney, and it’s also got international connections as well, which is nice.”He revealed the club was pushing suppliers hard to have merchandise available before the next A-League season. He said: ”That’s not just important for the fans, but also for the commercial side of things. We want people, whether they’re fans, sponsors, or members, to engage with the club sooner rather than later.”We want a long lead-in time with everything we do. You’ll see our stuff around during the next A-League season, definitely. We’re out there now, we’re in the marketplace, and although it’s two years before we play our first game, we’re going to set a cracking pace.”
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Mariners coach vows to run a tight ship against Sydney

CENTRAL Coast Mariners boss Lawrie McKinna believes the best way to unsettle Sydney FC is to frustrate them at every turn – and that’s exactly what he’ll instruct his players to do this afternoon.The Mariners have proven their mettle this season as having arguably the league’s toughest defence but, aside from the 0-0 draw in round three, matches between the two clubs have historically been marked by poor defending.McKinna said the key to holding the Sky Blues on that occasion was getting in their face and not allowing them time on the ball.”I think what we did then really well was frustrate them the whole time and eventually the game swung in our favour,” McKinna said yesterday. ”Defensively they were pretty good, but obviously they went for the long ball quite a bit and that was because we frustrated them. We’ll definitely be trying to do that again tomorrow.”The only negative for the Mariners on that occasion was seeing Clint Bolton stop Adam Kwasnik’s injury-time penalty – which, as McKinna points out, would see the Mariners on top of the league now had it been converted.Still, McKinna is of the view that frustrating Sydney doesn’t necessarily mean dumping every man behind the ball and he’ll be instructing them to press with purpose when the time is right.”Just looking at Sydney over the past few weeks, we’ll probably try and use our width and that could be the key,” he said. ”We need to be patient when we have the ball rather than rushing things. There’s no use getting the ball off them and then giving it straight back.”If you look at how we played against Wellington last week, it was reasonable performance in difficult conditions and we played some good football. We probably didn’t create as many chances as we have been and that’s probably where we need to get a lift out of our midfield.”The Mariners’ coaching staff have also identified nullifying Sydney’s front pairing of Mark Bridge and Alex Brosque as a key issue.”Bridgey in particular just loves playing against us so we really need to close him down,” McKinna said. ”Together they’re very dangerous and we need to watch them closely.”McKinna will be sweating over the fitness of key striker Matt Simon, who is battling a hip flexor injury sustained during the draw against Wellington and has continued to give him problems all week.”He’s the only potential change from last weekend and he’s just been struggling with it all week,” McKinna said. ”We’ve got [Adam] Kwasnik and [Nik] Mrdja on stand-by if he doesn’t make it but we’ll see how he pulls up in the morning.”
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NRL fan Keller loves his A-League

STEPHAN KELLER will have to put his new obsession with rugby league behind him today when he takes to the field for Sydney FC in their crunch match against the Mariners.The Swiss defender was glued to the television yesterday watching the NRL grand final, filling in his family – who have only recently arrived from Europe – about the finer points of the game he’s quickly come to love.Keller will have his own mighty battle at the Sydney Football Stadium this afternoon when he fronts up to Matt Simon, the Mariners striker who loves getting physical with his opponents. Still, Keller reckons he’d rather face up to Simon than what was on offer at ANZ Stadium yesterday.”Obviously I played against Matt Simon when we played against the Mariners, so I know what he’s like and I see he’s scored a couple of goals,” Keller said. ”But I don’t think he hits as hard as Fuifui Moimoi.”Keller’s no-nonsense approach has seen him become a valuable part of the Sky Blues’ back four, which is probably why the rough-and-tumble of rugby league appeals to him so strongly. ”The players are really tough. They don’t cry on the field. They get up, they go on – and it’s a sport, for me, that would be too hard to play,” he said. ”It’s great to watch and I have a lot of respect for these guys.”Normally by the age of 30, you’re done, your career is over because you’ve had so much pain, so it’s just a respect and admiration to see how these guys play every game. They gave all their energy, force and power to try and win.”After missing the past two games with a calf injury, Keller has trained at full tilt all week and says he’s looking forward to getting himself back into the heart of defence.”I’m very excited to be back,” he said. ”No player likes to be injured for any amount of time. I was actually hoping to be back last week, but the medical staff made a decision not to take the risk because if there was a tear then I would be out much longer. We gave it another week’s rest and this week it was a good training week, so I’m ready.”Joining Keller on the comeback trail has been Terry McFlynn, who has recovered from a thigh problem and is free to play after his partner gave birth on Thursday.Keller says his injury slowly developed over time and became a real problem for him during the 1-0 loss against North Queensland.”It didn’t happen in just one moment, I just kept getting treatment on it and it would go away on Mondays but come back all the time during the game,” he said. ”In the Fury game, the pain was simply unbearable and in the rush to get an equaliser, I had to give my spot to someone fit and go off the field. But now the pain has gone and it feels like the way it should.”The 30-year-old was criticised following the last match against the Mariners, habitually playing long balls out of defence for the entire game – not that he regrets it. ”In the A-League, you get closed down quickly and sometimes playing a short pass is not an option,” he said. ”It just makes more sense to get out of trouble and sometimes that means you have to play a long ball.”Still, Keller is also feeling much better about life now that his family is here and they’re quickly settling into life in the new family home, just north of Manly.”They arrived two weeks ago and I’m very happy that they’re finally out here. I was here for a long time by myself,” he said. ”For the first couple of weeks, it was all right you’re busy settling in.”But when you’re used to having family around at your place, it gets quiet. I’m used to going out with my boys – doing sports, going to the beach – but without them here, I really missed it and you don’t really do that stuff when you’re alone.”It just means things are back to normal for me now, which is great.”
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