BEIJING (AP) China has hired World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi to head its national football team. China’s football association on Saturday formally announced the hiring of the 68-year-old Lippi, who guided Italy to the 2006 World Cup title. It’s the latest move by China in a national push to become more competitive in soccer. Under President Xi Jinping, a fan of the sport, China has set the goal of becoming a soccer superpower but its foray into football has so far been a failure. The men’s national team has qualified for just one World Cup, in 2002, and did not score a single goal. Lippi replaces Gao Hongbo, who resigned after China’s Oct. 11 loss to Uzbekistan.
World Cup champion Lauren Holiday has had a brain tumor removed, one month after giving birth. Holiday’s husband, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that his pregnant wife was diagnosed with an operable tumor in September, and Lauren Holiday has publicly thanked fans for support while requesting prayers. The Holidays welcomed their first child earlier this month, and Jrue left the Pelicans preseason to help his wife. The BBC added this tidbit: Unbelievably as a three-year-old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a defect and went on to become one of the world’s most respected football players. Get well soon, Lauren.
BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Having fully recovered from a groin injury, Barcelona star Lionel Messi was named on Friday in Argentina’s squad to face Brazil and Colombia in the next round of World Cup qualifiers. Messi has been in fine form for Barcelona since coming back from his latest niggling injury, scoring four goals in two matches, including a superb hat trick against Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday. He has not played for his country since scoring the winner in a 1-0 win against Uruguay on Sept. 1. In his absence, Argentina drew 2-2 away to Peru and lost 1-0 at home to Paraguay, putting it in fifth place and out of the top four positions that ensure a direct spot for the 2018