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World Cup shorts

Published:Thursday | June 14, 2018 | 12:16 AM


Mbappe fit for Saturday


Striker Kylian Mbappe has declared himself fit for France's opening World Cup Group C game against Australia on Saturday after taking a knock to his ankle in training.

The 19-year-old cut short his training session Tuesday after a challenge from behind by central defender Adil Rami. Mbappe fell following the heavy contact and stayed on the ground for several moments.

Mbappe said yesterday it was just a scare and maintained he is "100 percent fit." He said he wanted to carry on training but was advised to go off as a precaution.


Different winners


Two animals have predicted different winners for the World Cup's opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Achilles the cat at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg picked the home team.

The cat was presented with two plates of cat food one marked with a Russian flag and the other with a Saudi one. Achilles hesitated before going for the Russia plate.

Spartak the lemur picked Saudi Arabia at a separate ritual at Yekaterinburg Zoo.


Abortion debate


The issue of legalising abortion in Argentina has reached the national team at the World Cup in Russia.

Goalkeepers Wilfredo Caballero and Nahuel Guzman were asked about it at a news conference at Argentina's base in Bronnitsy as lawmakers in the South American country debate whether to allow abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancies.

Chelsea keeper Caballero said he opposes it because he's Catholic but acknowledged it could be OK in very serious situations.

Guzman called it inappropriate to discuss the issue so far from home but emphasised people's general freedom to choose.

Current law punishes women who get abortions with one to four years in prison except in cases of rape or if a woman's life is in danger.


All action for Saudis


Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi says his team will try to play an all-action, possession-based style in the World Cup's opening game despite their outsider status.

Pizzi was renowned for his emphasis on attack and constant pressure when winning the Copa America with Chile in 2016. But he's had just seven months with Saudi Arabia since he was appointed in November to prepare them for Thursday's opening game against Russia

Bert van Marwijk led Saudi Arabia through qualifying but left when he couldn't agree on a new contract. Edgardo Bauza replaced him for just two months before Pizzi took charge.

Saudi Arabia are at the World Cup for the first time since 2006 and have not won at the tournament since 1994.

- AP