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Nov 242016
 

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A recent survey shows that hiking is the most popular outdoors activity among Chinese backpackers.

With 2,788 routes developed by China’s outdoors clubs, hiking was the country’s most popular outdoors activity from 2015 to 2016, a survey revealed recently.

The survey, issued last month by the 8264 Platform of Outdoors Clubs, one of the country’s earliest online networks of outdoors businesses, also shows that in-depth travel follows hiking as the second favorite outdoors activity among Chinese backpackers.

Moreover, this year has witnessed a rise in diversified outdoors programs, such as climbing snow-capped mountains or camping.

Concerning expenditures, the survey revealed that the routes covering a cost from 1,000 (US$145) to 4,000 yuan each per person are the most visited itineraries.

According to the survey, travelers aged between 20 and 40 made up 66.32 percent of outdoors participants.

Zhejiang Province, fueled by economic growth and abundant natural resources, has attracted 15 percent of travelers involved in outdoors clubs, securing a leading role among regions across the country, according to the survey.

Challenging outdoors activities – such as diving, drifting and paragliding – that are restrictive only to a small group of tourists also saw increasing visits.

In the past few years, outdoors clubs have expanded to every municipality in the country, thanks to the growing economies, changing consumption habits and all-around online technological support.

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Nov 242016
 

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 Lucas Moura of PSG celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Arsenal.

Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday left its hopes of finishing as Group A winner hanging by a thread.

The Gunners have paid a heavy price for finishing runners-up in recent seasons, twice being drawn against Bayern Munich and twice against Barcelona in the last 16.

Logic suggests finishing top is beneficial as group winners cannot face each other in the first knockout round. Barcelona, Monaco and Leicester City are all confirmed as group winners but former winners Bayern Munich and Porto cannot top their respective groups.

Real Madrid and Juventus could also possibly finish as runners-up so this season’s first knockout round could produce some clashes between favorites.

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad (to finish second),” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Wednesday. “You can’t guess until you know the draw.”

In total 12 teams are through to the last 16, with seven more vying for the four remaining berths when the group stage concludes on December 6-7.

Here is a rundown of the eight groups with the qualifiers and qualification scenarios:

Group A: PSG and Arsenal both qualified. PSG will win the group if it beats Ludogorets or matches Arsenal’s result against Basel in the final games.

Group B: Two from Benfica, Napoli and Besiktas will qualify. All three could still top the group. Third-placed Besiktas will reach the last 16 if it beats Dynamo Kiev. Benfica needs to beat Napoli to be sure of going through. A draw would suit both if Besiktas draws with Kiev.

Group C: Clear cut. Barcelona has won the group. Manchester City is through as runner-up.

Group D: Atletico Madrid cannot be caught by Bayern Munich at the top. Both are through.

Group E: Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen have qualified with a game to spare. Monaco as the winner and Leverkusen second.

Group F: Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have qualified. Real must beat Dortmund at home next to overtake the Bundesliga side as group winner.

Group G: Leicester City has won the group. Porto will go through as runner-up with a home win against Leicester. Failure to win would let in FC Copenhagen if it beats Club Brugge.

Group H: Juventus has qualified and will do so as group winner if it beats Dinamo Zagreb at home next. Sevilla will qualify as runner-up providing it avoids a two-goal defeat in its final game at Olympique Lyon which must win well to scrape into the last 16 on head-to-head.

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Nov 242016
 

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Steven Gerrard calls time on career.

After an illustrious playing career full of remarkable cup comebacks alongside jarring English Premier League lows, Steven Gerrard is done.

The 36-year-old Gerrard, who won every major club honor with Liverpool apart from the English title, said yesterday he was retiring from soccer after an 18-year professional career.

“You are aware that time is coming towards the end, the body starts talking to you,” the former England captain told British broadcaster BT. “The pains and the aches get more regular. The way you feel out there on the pitch changes.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve felt myself slowing down a little bit and I basically can’t deliver what I used to be able to deliver and that becomes a little frustrating as time goes on.”

Gerrard was one of the best midfielders of his era and won admiration for staying loyal to his boyhood club and resisting the riches offered by EPL rivals.

He only left Liverpool in 2015 after no longer being able to reach the formidable levels of his peak years and losing his place in the team. The final two seasons of his career were seen out with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

There were inevitably frustrations during such a long career, so often on international duty while captaining England at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and the 2012 European Championship. England didn’t progress beyond the first knockout round in those three tournaments as the team’s performances never matched the hype and expectation that Gerrard sought to temper as a cool leader.

With Liverpool, Gerrard came agonizingly close in 2014 to finally landing the one club prize that eluded him: The EPL title. Adding to the anguish, Gerrard’s own slip against Chelsea contributed to a 0-2 loss that ended up costing Liverpool the title as Manchester City emerged victorious.

“It drove me mad for a few nights, a few weeks,” Gerrard said at the time. “It was a big moment and went against me.”

But there were so many moments that went Gerrard’s way.

The biggest of them all came in Istanbul in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final. Trailing 0-3 at halftime against AC Milan, Liverpool was facing humiliation until Gerrard scored to begin a comeback that culminated in the club’s fifth European title — won on penalty kicks.

A year later in the FA Cup final, Liverpool was trailing 2-3 heading into stoppage time until Gerrard pounced with a long-range equalizer. Just like in the European final, the FA Cup was collected by winning a penalty shootout.

Liverpool’s scouts spotted Gerrard’s talent as an 8-year-old and he went on to score 186 goals in 710 first-team appearances.

Gerrard, who also made 114 appearances for England, now has a decision to make about his next job.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be,” Gerrard said. “I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

Gerrard was in talks about becoming manager of third-tier club MK Dons last week but decided that vacancy came a “bit too soon”.

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Nov 242016
 

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Chinese President Xi Jinping chats with youth players from Zhidan in China’s Shaanxi province in Berlin, March 29, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

China and Germany are poised to launch a top-down cooperation on football following Vice Premier Liu Yandong’s visit to the European country.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong is in Germany for the Hamburg Summit 2016: China Meets Europe as well as other activities and people-to-people exchanges.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement that China and Germany have been advancing bilateral relations in recent years by deepening mutual political trust, improving practical cooperation in various sectors and enriching all-round strategic partnership. The statement also said that Liu would promote in-depth cooperation on football between the two nations.

German media Sport1 reported earlier that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would facilitate a more deepened cooperation between the Bundesliga and China.

During the past G20 Summit held in China, senior leaders from both China and Germany held in-depth discussions on developing football in China. Merkel shared with Chinese President Xi Jinping much experience on how Germany had successfully developed football.

Along with Vice Premier Liu, some officials from the Chinese Football Association as well as Chinese footballer Shao Jiayi, who once served in Bundesliga, will also visit Germany to promote football-based cooperation at all levels, with a priority on youth training and campus football. The football clubs from the two countries will also enhance exchanges.

It’s expected that this cooperation will be long-term and will mark a development path for Chinese football in the decade to come.

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Nov 242016
 

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A miraculous putt from Rafa Cabrera Bello on the 18th green gave Spain the lead after a challenging opening round of the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne yesterday.

Cabrera Bello and his youthful teammate Jon Rahm executed a flawless game plan in the blustery conditions, which made foursomes — alternate shot — play difficult for the two-man teams at Kingston Heath.

With only six countries returning scores under par, the Spanish combination took a one-shot lead over the United States, France and China — courtesy of the late birdie that resulted from Cabrera Bello’s snaking 15-foot putt.

Rahm drove the ball magnificently and Cabrera Bello did the rest around the greens as the pair gelled well to notch a 3-under-par 69 ahead of today’s fourballs.

Cabrera Bello said he could not believe his last putt had dropped.

“I thought I had holed it, then it looked like it was going to miss right and then, I don’t know how, maybe someone upstairs put some backspin on it to go in the hole,” the two-time European Tour winner said.

Spain will be grouped on the second day with France whose Victor Dubuisson and Romain Langasque returned a 2-under par round of 70.

Pre-tournament favorites, the US, with Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, made the most of every opportunity to card a 70.

US PGA champion Walker holed a sensational bunker shot on the 13th to ignite a run of two more birdies.

It was another “unbelievable” putt on the 18th green from China’s Wu Ashun that helped him and Li Haotong emerge as crowd favorites in a round of 2-under 70.

The China pair had the galleries cheering as they drained a series of long putts and celebrated each with jumping chest bumps.

Host Australia battled all day just to stay at 2-over 74, five shots behind Spain. Playing alongside the Americans, world No. 7 Adam Scott and Marc Leishman struggled to get the ball close to the pin.

South African pair Jaco van Zyl and George Coetzee stumbled seven shots behind the leader with a 4-over 76.

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Nov 232016
 

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Jan O Jorgensen believes China still rules the badminton world even though it was routed at the China Open last weekend, but warned yesterday that the West is catching up.

Jan O Jorgensen (right) of Denmark and Chen Long of China pose after the China Open men’s final in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, Nov. 20, 2016.

The Dane led Sunday’s drubbing of the Chinese in Fuzhou, southwest Fujian Province, when he shocked the world and Olympic champion Chen Long to win the men’s singles title.

China has ruled the sport for a decade but the golden age may be over. It left the China Open without a trophy for the first time in the event’s 30-year history.

Jorgensen, however, remained cautious following one of the biggest wins of his career, saying China was far from a spent force. “The western world is catching up a bit, but still (China) have so many good players,” he said at the Hong Kong Open, after winning his first-round match in straight games.

“They’re still so strong and the favorites going into every tournament.”

With the great Lin Dan in the twilight of his career and other stars facing growing competition from foreign players, China is now looking for a new generation of world-beaters to emerge.

Following the rout China’s top prospects called for patience and vowed to reassert the country’s dominance.

“Some players are getting older and then there are the up-and-coming players. We need time and experience,” said women’s doubles player Li Yinhui.

“But that doesn’t mean things are shifting away or that we cannot maintain our top position.”

The 19-year-old was among China’s runners-up in Fuzhou when she lost in both the women’s and mixed doubles finals.

Her women’s doubles partner, Huang Dongping, 21, was confident China would reassert its grip and brushed off suggestions the pressure was increasing.

“No, I don’t feel any pressure. We just focus on every match,” said Huang, after the pair beat Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Kai-hsin and Hung Shih-han in the opener in China’s Hong Kong.

 

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Nov 232016
 

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Atletico Madrid put domestic troubles behind to defeat PSV Eindhoven 2-0 in the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as group winners.

Atletico kicked off, knowing Bayern Munich’s defeat in Rostov meant a draw will assure them a first place finish in their group, but they also needed to show a more positive face following consecutive defeats in La Liga, including Saturday’s 3-0 loss at home to Real Madrid.

Coach Diego Simeone reacted to that defeat by bringing Jose Gimenez and Tiago Cardoso into his side for Saul and Stefan Savic.

The first half was a relatively cagey affair with Antoine Griezmann having an early chance for Atletico, while Gaston Pereiro went closest for the Dutch side.

However, it was not until 10 minutes into the second half that Atletico opened the score when Griezmann fed Kevin Gameiro who fired home from a relatively narrow angle.

Griezmann doubled Atletico’s lead in the 66th minute with a low left foot shot after a neat pass from Tiago to ensure Simeone’s side is the only team in the competition with 5 wins from 5 games.

Leo Messi returned following a stomach bug and scored twice as FC Barcelona won 2-0 away to Glasgow Celtic to ensure they finish top of their qualifying group.

Messi’s first goal was a typical left foot finish as he reacted well following a low ball into the box and his second was a penalty after a foul on Luis Suarez.

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Nov 232016
 

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Spanish football coach Jose Gonzalez was appointed new head coach of Chinese Super League (CSL) club Beijing Guoan, the capital-based club officially announced on Wednesday.

Spanish football coach Jose Gonzalez. [Photo/Beijing Guoan Club]

“Jose’s coaching ability meets Guoan’s goals. He is an experienced football coach with Spanish football style which represents the advanced technical and tactical trends nowadays,” the club’s official announcement said, “Jose will come with his solid coaching team which are very young and full of confidence and they are going to be integrated into our club in a very short time. “

The 50-year-old spaniard is familiar with Beijing and CSL. He had been an assistant of Guoan’s former head coach Gregorio Manzano, his Spanish compatriot, for two seasons. Jose was appointed as the head coach of La Liga team Granada in February this year and helped the Andalucian team stay in the top-flight at the end of the season.

According to the club, Jose will arrive in China in January to join the squad.

 

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Nov 232016
 

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Manchester City-bound teenager Gabriel Jesus has the potential to be among the top 10 players in the world, according to his coach at Brazilian club Palmeiras.

The 19-year-old striker has scored five goals in six matches for Brazil’s national team and was a key player in the Selecao’s Olympic Games triumph in August.

“He may not be mature for England, but he is a starter for Brazil, and will be very important and a starter at City,” Palmeiras coach Cuca was quoted as saying by Sambafoot.

“You cannot think that at 19 he is at his peak. He will still improve 30% or 40%. Experience will give him more maturity. He will do this by himself, not Cuca or Guardiola.

“In England, football is more tactical and he will learn many things, establishing himself among the top 10 in the world. He is a young man with great technique, strength and speed. And he has a characteristic: he enjoys physical confrontation and knows how to use it to his advantage.”

Jesus will join Manchester City in January after the Premier League club agreed to pay 27 million British pounds for the forward in August.

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Nov 232016
 

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Real Madrid will be without striker Gareth Bale for at least four weeks and possibly into 2017, the club confirmed.

According to the official Real Madrid website (realmadrid.com), the Welsh international suffered “a traumatic dislocation of the peroneal tendons of his right ankle” during Tuesday night’s Champions League tie away to Sporting Lisbon.

This is an injury which may or may not need surgery with the club explaining the treatment is “depending on the evolution” of the injury, but in the most optimistic of circumstances Bale will need around a month to recover, meaning he will not play again in 2016 and will miss both the Classico away to FC Barcelona on December 3rd and the World Club Championships in the middle of December.

However, there is a chance that he may need an operation to repair the damaged ligaments, in which case the recovery time would double to around two months, meaning it would be unlikely to reappear before the end of January.

The club has not announced now long left back Marcelo, who also had to limp out of Tuesday’s 2-1 win, will be sidelined for, but with Bale’s name added to an injury list which already includes Tony Kroos and Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane will hope for good news regarding the left back.

The positive for Zidane was that midfielder Casemiro was able to return to full training with his team-mates after around 2 months recovering from a broken bone in his leg, although he is unlikely to be fit to face Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

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