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Nantes: Decision to end Sala search ‘disgusting;’ investigators focus on pilot license

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Calls are growing for the search for Emiliano Sala, his pilot and the plane they were in to continue.

His former club Nantes, his sister Romina, Lionel Messi and others stars, a petition in France and now his former club have begged authorities to keep searching for the small plane which disappeared from radar Monday.

Meanwhile, the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the UK is looking into whether or not the pilot flying the plane which Sala was on had the correct license to fly.

Dave Ibbotson, the pilot, and Sala were the only two people on board when the plane dropped off the radar near the island of Alderney in the English Channel.

The three-day search for the plane and both individuals was called off on Thursday by Guernsey Police, as nothing has been found. The small aircraft which was carrying the 28-year-old Argentine striker from Nantes, France to Cardiff, Wales.

Sala signed for Premier League side Cardiff on Saturday from Nantes for a club-record fee, reported to be close to $19 million. The striker was on his way back to Wales for his first training session after saying farewell to his Nantes teammates in France.

Via Sky News in the UK, here are a few more details about what is happening now:


“Investigators are checking whether the pilot who disappeared over the Channel alongside Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala had the correct license. Guernsey Police have announced an end to the search for the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane which began on Monday, having deemed the chances of survival to be ‘extremely remote’.”

“But in light of the official search being called off, the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has opened an investigation and has confirmed it is looking into the licence held by pilot Dave Ibbotson. He was tasked with flying Sala to the Welsh capital after the footballer signed from French side Nantes, where he had been enjoying a prolific season in front of goal. Mr Ibbotson, a 59-year-old from Crowle near Scunthorpe, had checked himself into Nantes airport in France on Facebook when he arrived to collect the record £15m signing – and admitted to friends that he was “a bit rusty”.”


The report from Sky added that Federal Aviation Administration records show that Mr Ibbotson held a private license and passed a medical exam as recently as November. The Civil Aviation Authority added the aircraft was registered in the US, where regulations state private pilots cannot make a profit by carrying passengers.

Cardiff have revealed they didn’t make the arrangements for Sala’s flight back to the UK, as he used soccer agent Mark McKay to arrange the flight. McKay confirmed he helped arrange the flight.

The reaction to the extremely sad incident has continued, as Sala’s former coach at Nantes, Vahid Halilhodzic, said on Friday that it is “disgusting” the police have called off the search.

“For me it’s a disgrace to stop like this. I don’t think it’s enormously deep not to be able to find it. It’s an obligation these people have,” Halilhodzic said. “You can’t just stay like this. It’s a total disgrace. You can’t leave it this way. To stop like this is unbearable and unacceptable. Can you imagine the family? Yesterday did you see how his sister expressed herself?”

Halilhodzic added: “I just have one message to those responsible, that they continue their search because it’s disgusting to leave a situation like that. It’s unbearable. I can’t imagine how his family is taking this.”

Premier League weekend friendlies: Man Utd-Inter, PL Asia Trophy

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This weekend in Premier League preseason friendlies sees Liverpool taking on a pair of top European foes, while four PL foes trade blows in Shanghai.

Man City and Wolves move on from significant defeats of Newcastle and West Ham, who in turn will face each other on Saturday.

You can watch Saturday’s Premier League Asia Trophy matches between Wolves and Man City, and Newcastle versus West Ham here on NBC Sports Live.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will tangle with Romelu Lukaku-chasing Inter Milan on Saturday (and, no, the Belgian striker won’t be in uniform).

There’s also a sneaky good match-up of Watford and Bayer Leverkusen in Austria on Saturday, while Sunday’s light docket has Spurs facing Matthijs de Ligt and Juventus in Singapore.

Friday
Borussia Dortmund v. Liverpool (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Saturday
Girona v. Bournemouth
Arsenal
v. Fiorentina (Charlotte)
Fulham v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Cheltenham Town v. Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra v. Burnley
Port Vale v. Burnley
Bromley v. Crystal Palace
Man City 
v. Wolves (Shanghai)
Inter Milan v. Manchester United (Singapore)
Newcastle United v. West Ham (Shanghai)
Northampton Town v. Sheffield United
Preston North End v. Southampton
Watford 
v. Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Sunday
Shrewsbury Town v. Aston Villa
Liverpool 
v. Sevilla (Boston)
Juventus v. Spurs (Singapore)

PL friendly wrap: Pukki leads Norwich past Schalke

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London sides went 0-2, while three other Premier League sides won ahead of Friday night’s friendly between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in Indiana.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The wins included defeats of Schalke and Monaco, while Brighton and Hove Albion topped lower league Crawley Town.

Schalke 1-2 Norwich City

Teemu Pukki had a goal and an assist, giving hope that the Championship goal collector can bring his game to the Premier League.

Pukki’s 13th minute goal was assisted by Man City loanee Patrick Roberts, and the Finn later assisted Moritz Leitner‘s winner.

Rabbi Matondo scored Schalke’s only goal, and American midfielder Weston McKennie was neither with the starters nor the bench.

Everton 1-0 Monaco

Seamus Coleman scored and Maarten Stekelenburg stopped a penalty as the Toffees handled their Ligue 1 opposition in Switzerland.

Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 ChelseaRECAP

Leandro Damaio scored the lone goal as Chelsea had plenty of chances to win in Christian Pulisic‘s debut. The American came off the bench for the final 25 minutes in Japan.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Crystal Palace

Albert Adomah scored the lone goal in a win for the Championship side.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Crawley Town

New signing Taylor Richards‘ late penalty kick was enough for the Seagulls to get a result at home. The Man City midfielder arrived on Thursday.

Liverpool v. Borussia Dortmund (Notre Dame, Indiana) — 8 p.m. ET

Algeria wins Africa Cup of Nations

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In the words of a Missouri-born rapper, you only get one shot. In Algeria’s case in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, that was true and it was all the Desert Foxes needed to claim their first AFCON title since 1990 with a 1-0 defeat of Senegal on Friday at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.

Baghdad Bounedjah’s wildly-deflected second minute shot was enough to give Algeria its second AFCON crown.

Senegal out shot Algeria 11-1 on the day, but Sadio Mane and Co. couldn’t find their way over the goal line.

One-time Man City and Southampton player Djamel Belmadi has now managed an AFCON winner and a Gulf Cup of Nations champion (Qatar, 2014).

[ MORE: Ballon d’Or w/o Messi, Ronaldo? ]

Bounedjah’s wild rip after a cut-in from the left bounded into the air and looped into the far corner. Senegal goalkeeper Amigo Gomis made it look more odd with his befuddlement (Scramble, my guy!).

Referee Neant Alioum’s ruling of a penalty to Senegal after Ismaila Sarr’s rip hit the arm of Adlene Guedioura was overturned when review showed the Algeria midfielder’s arm was at his side.

We mean, was this going to be the goal that won Africa’s most important tournament? Yep.

Ajax seals El Tri’s young star Alvarez for $17M

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Ajax has developed a ton of youngsters, and now has a pair of CONCACAF starlets in the fold for 2019-20.

A day after selling Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus for a reported $84 million, the Dutch side has delivered on reports that it wanted Edson Alvarez.

That puts the 21-year-old Mexican defender/defensive midfielder in the Eredivisie side with 18-year-old Dutch-American defender Sergino Dest.

While Dest has yet to break into the full USMNT, playing in the U-20 World Cup this summer, Alvarez already has 28 caps and five goals for El Tri.

He’ll bring a relative wealth of experience from Club America, and Ajax could use him to help offset the sale of Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona. While Alvarez has played a lot of center back in Liga MX, he’s been used at defensive midfielder by Tata Martino with the national team.

The reported fee is $17 million, according to Goal.