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‘I don’t care’: Aussie coach tetchy ahead of Confed opener

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) Being cranky and prickly is a badge of honor for Australia coach Ange Postecoglou.

No need to lighten up just because you’re at a FIFA tournament.

“Maybe that’s just my demeanor,” Postecoglou said after a series of abrasive responses to questions ahead of Australia’s Confederations Cup opener against Germany on Monday.

Postecoglou was on guard throughout Sunday’s media conference, fearing reporters were trying to trip him up or somehow undermining his team in Sochi.

Asked why he brought a full-strength squad, unlike the Germans, Postecoglou let out a sigh, paused and then ventured a reply.

“Because we want to continue to evolve as a team and we want to do well here,” he said. “I’m not really sure if that’s a trick question or something. But I usually pick my best team.”

That team is out of the automatic qualification places to return to Russia for the World Cup next year with two matches remaining in the group stage.

So could the next three months define his four-year reign as Australia coach?

“No,” Postecoglou responded bluntly. “I think my tenure has already been defined. So I don’t care about it.”

After being comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Brazil in a friendly on Tuesday, Australia has arrived at the eight-team Confederations Cup on a low.

“People forget this was an award for something we achieved,” Postecoglou snapped back. “It wasn’t given to us.”

The Socceroos qualified for the World Cup warm-up tournament by winning the Asian Cup in 2015 to be crowned Asian champions.

“So if people are easily dismissing that, they’ll dismiss everything else,” Postecoglou continued. “So I don’t really care.”

What Postecoglou does care about is not being given credit for bringing young players into the squad. Inevitably the focus on Germany has centered on its callow squad, containing only three world champions from 2014 while many of the established stars have been given a break.

In the Sochi news conference, a Brazilian journalist enquired in English what the advantages and disadvantages were of playing against such a youthful opponent.

“Let’s dispel one myth,” he said. “When the teams walk out tomorrow, if I had to have a guess, I reckon we will be younger. If people actually want to do some research, have a look tomorrow who the younger team is.

“From that point of view, I don’t buy into any of that stuff … it’s a great game for us, we’re playing against the world champions.”

Pressing home the point, Postecoglou concluded: “Do the maths … I could be wrong.”

Few would want to be the one to tell him he was wrong.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)

VIDEO: A sneak peek of Everton’s Europa League journey – Part 2

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In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.

Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.

[ MORE: Live Europa League scores

[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ] 

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/everton-unseen-part-2-everton-host-mfk-ruzomberok-europa-league

FIFA to send in emergency team to run Cameroon football

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.

The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.

FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.

CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.

FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”

Transfer Roundup: Tottenham complete signing of Sanchez, Clucas joins Swansea

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Tottenham reportedly broke the bank for its first transfer of the summer.

The North London club confirmed that it had completed a transfer with Ajax for defender Davinson Sanchez after the Colombian international passed a medical. According to The Telegraph, the deal is worth around $54 million, a club record. The deal is subject to acquisition of Sanchez’s work permit but given the transfer fee and him being in Colombia’s squad, it’s likely a mere formality at this point.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The 21-year-old defender brings speed and strength to Tottenham’s backline as well as a year of seasoning in the Eredivisie, which features plenty of attacking talent. Sanchez will battle with Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen for a place in Spurs’ three-man backline.

It’s a risk moving to a new club a year ahead of the World Cup, but Sanchez is hoping that with appearances in the UEFA Champions League and Premier League up for grabs, he can do well enough to keep his place in the Colombia National Team squad.

Here’s some more transfer news from across England:

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