Harry Kane takes aim at Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo

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Harry Kane is a man with a plan. He wants to join soccer royalty.

[ MORE: Pressure is on for USMNT

The Tottenham Hotspur and England striker has 11 goals in seven games for club and country in September, well and truly ending his usual August slump as he scored a perfect hat trick in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

At the age of 24, Kane has already won the Premier League Golden Boot as its top scorer in each of the past two campaigns and the English striker has now scored six hat tricks in 2017 and 25 league goals in the calendar year. Only Lionel Messi has scored more league goals in 2017 than Kane in Europe’s top five leagues.

Speaking ahead of his hat trick at APOEL Nicosia, Kane revealed the stats likening him to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s output drive him on to improve.

“With social media these days, it’s difficult to stay away from the stats,” Kane said. “Everyone is tweeting this thing or that thing and you see it. I want to be one of the best players in the world, so when people put stuff up and I see I am close to those players [Messi and Ronaldo] it is a great incentive to get even closer and go to the next step. I use it, yes. Staying consistent at the top level is what it’s all about.”

That mentality is why Kane has become perhaps the most complete striker in the Premier League with goals via headers, his left foot, right foot and an ability to drop deep and link up the play. He has everything to succeed and has clearly improved in each of his full three seasons in the Premier League.

After loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City, Kane has grasped his chance at Tottenham with both hands and has now scored 108 goals in 173 games in all competitions for Spurs and 10 in 21 games for England.

Messi has 519 goal in 592 games for Barcelona. Ronaldo has 411 goals in 400 games for Real Madrid. Messi had scored 180 goals for Barca, five La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies by the time he was 24. Ronaldo had 118 goals for Manchester United, three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League title before he joined Real Madrid at the age of 24.

Kane has someway to go if he will ever reach their majestic and frankly ridiculous levels, especially when it comes to winning trophies, but as the talisman for Tottenham, and now England, he has shown progression every step of the way so far.

He shouldn’t be ridiculed for wanting to get on the same level as Messi and Ronaldo and Kane’s goalscoring feats can now see him mentioned in the same breath as those players. All he has to do is keep this level of play up for another six years into his early 30s.

Consistency. That’s the hard bit.

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