Championship Sunday focus: Southampton

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Story so far…  Saints have been one of the major success stories this season in the Premier League as their youngsters have played silky soccer that has wowed neutrals. In Mauricio Pochettino’s first full season in charge the South Coast club have equaled their best-ever PL finish of eighth and have amassed their record points tally. Captain Adam Lallana has shone all season and along with Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw should be heading to the World Cup with England. Jay Rodriguez’s injury was a cruel blow as the clubs top scorer will miss Brazil. Superb season at St. Mary’s but can the hold onto their star youngsters?

MORE: Head here for all things Championship Sunday

This summer is pivotal in the clubs future. Saints are at at crossroads as they’ve risen from the bottom of England’s third-tier to being on the precipice of the Premier League’s top six in just five years. The owner Katharina Liebherr must now decide whether to keep pumping money into the team or to go with a more sustainable model. If they go with the latter approach it could be ‘bye. bye Lallana and co.’ as well as Pochettino.

Who do they play and where can I watch it: Southampton host Manchester United in their final game of the season, as they sit one place behind the Red Devils in the standings. They’ve upset the English giants plenty of times in the past, would it be a surprise if Pochettino’s side ended their superb season on a high? Watch live on SyFy at 10 a.m. ET and stream it online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

Form guide: Saints drew away at Old Trafford back in October thanks to a last-gasp goal from Adam Lallana to nick a 1-1 tie. After a lull in their season following some bad injuries to key players, Saints have picked themselves up and finished the season strongly with three wins from their last six and they are unbeaten in three.

March 29 – vs. Newcastle, W 4-0
April 5 – at Manchester City, L 1-4
April 12 – vs. Cardiff City, L 0-1
April 19 – at Aston Villa, D 0-0
April 26 – vs. Everton, W 2-0
May 3 – at Swansea, W 1-0

What’s at stake: They will finish in eighth, equaling their highest ever PL finish and they have already accumulated 55 points, their best-ever tally. One more chance to impress for Saints’ string of internationals before the World Cup.

When the final whistle blows: Saints will be in eighth spot no matter what and a true party atmosphere will be in full swing on the South Coast as Man United come to town. Lallana, Shaw and Lambert could well be off to Brazil this summer. Will this finale be Lallana and Shaw’s last game for Southampton?

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

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The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Seismologists clarify Mexico fans didn’t cause earthquake

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Seismological Service says there was seismic activity around the country’s capital Sunday, but it wasn’t linked to soccer fans celebrating their country’s game-winning goal vs. Germany at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The service says in a report that there were two small earthquakes at 10:24 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. The goal came around 11:35 a.m. local time.

A geological institute reported Sunday that seismic detectors had registered a false earthquake that may have been generated by “massive jumps” by fans.

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

Mexico’s Seismological Service explained Monday that the city’s normal bustle of traffic and other movement causes vibrations that are detected by sensitive instruments.

It says those vibrations notably quieted during the match as people gathered in front of TVs to watch, and rose after the goal.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 6 — Colombia vs. Japan; Salah’s debut?

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Day 6 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Tuesday — and would you believe it? — there’s another three games on the schedule. This whole “back-to-back-to-back games of soccer” thing isn’t so bad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Up first, it’s the 2018 debut of Colombia, winners of tens hundreds of millions of hearts in 2014, as they take on Japan. In the day’s other Group H fixture, it’ll be Robert Lewandowski and Poland facing Sadio Mane and Senegal. Star power aplenty.

Then, we swing things back around to Group A, where the hosts Russia will look to continue their hot start against Egypt with Mohamed Salah expected to make his World Cup debut.

Below is Tuesday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Tuesday, June 19

Group H
Colombia vs. Japan: Saransk, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Senegal: Moscow, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group A
Russia vs. Egypt: St. Petersburg, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE