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Sports Briefs

Published:Tuesday | September 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Coach Simeone extends contract

MADRID, Spain (AP):

Atletico Madrid have put an end to speculations about Diego Simeone's future, extending the coach's contract for two more seasons and keeping him at the club until the end of the 2019-20 season.

Simeone's current contract with the Spanish club was due to expire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign. Some of Europe's top clubs were expected to come after the coach, who revamped Atletico and turned it into a regular title contender.

Rumours about Simeone's possible departure escalated last year when he and the club agreed to reduce the duration of his previous contract. A deal until 2020 had been announced in 2015, but last September, the terms were changed and the coach would have been on the market by the end of this season.

The former Argentina player is starting his seventh season as Atletico's coach, the longest consecutive run among managers currently in charge of a Spanish league club.

Syria to face Australia in World Cup hunt as Saudis qualify


South Korea and Saudi Arabia qualified for next year's World Cup yesterday while war-torn Syria kept alive their dream of playing on football's biggest stage for the first time.

Australia, the reigning Asian champions, will face Syria in a playoff to stay in contention for a World Cup place after both teams missed the chance to seal automatic qualification, as the group stages of Asian qualifying drew to a close.

In Group B, Australia beat Thailand 2-1 in a nervous performance. Needing to boost their goal difference to hold off Saudi Arabia in the standings, the Australians instead missed chance after chance.

That left Saudi Arabia needing to win by just one goal against Japan. Fahad Al Muwallad obliged with a fierce strike into the top-right corner in the 63rd minute to hand the Saudis a 1-0 win and their first World Cup appearance since 2006.

In Group A, South Korea drew 0-0 with Uzbekistan to claim an automatic spot ahead of Syria, continuing the South Koreans' Asian record of appearing at nine consecutive World Cups dating back to 1986.